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Elton's Weekly Wrestling High Spots and Botches: July 12-July 18

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WWE

WWE Raw

High Spots: I can’t find it in me to care about Nikki Cross anymore now that she’s doing a worse rendition of Mighty Molly’s superheroine shtick. Crazed NXT Nikki will forever be my fave by a country mile. Anyways, the Fatal 4-Way match she was involved in with Alexa Bliss, Asuka, and Naomi was actually better than I expected. I despise the whole Nikki A.S.H. gimmick, but she can damn sure still wrestle her ass off so at least there’s that.

For the third week in a row, Ricochet and John Morrison blew the roof off of the ThunderDome with their quality Falls Count Anywhere match. It was easily the match of the night and was a fine way to bring an end to the ThunderDom Era for Raw. Now you see how good things turn out when you just let Ricochet do his thing in the ring, WWE? Yes, his promo ability leaves a lot to be desired. But he’s just too damn good and worth more than just keeping around as a good hand. I say pair him with Robert Stone (yes, I actually enjoyed the guy’s whole shtick on NXT!) and let him do all the talking while Brother ‘Chet shines between the ropes.

Botches: I enjoyed everything about the Bobby Lashley/Kofi Kingston feud...up until the point where “The Almighty” took an unfortunate L to Xavier Woods via a lame-ass roll-up. And this happened mere days before Lashley’s WWE Championship defense against Kofi Kingston! Like, what was the point of having that banana peel finish happen to the top champion on Raw before his PPV title defense? Lashley’s unexpected loss played into the intense show-closing promo with MVP, but I feel like they could have arrived at that result in a much more satisfying manner.

Alexa’s Playground was horrendous, but what else is new? Drew McIntyre is continuing to be down tremendously as he kept his beef with Jinder Mahal alive by destroying his prized motorcycle. That was also ass. AJ Styles vs. Ivar and Omos vs. Erik were just...meh. The same goes for Rhea Ripley vs. Natalya. And Sheamus vs. Humberto Carrillo barely lasted 20 seconds. And to think, I actually wanted to see that match go 10+ minutes. For shame...

NXT

High Spots: So Xia Li wants all the smoke with NXT Women’s Champion Raquel Gonzalez, I see! Ay, count me in for that future matchup! They're both known for being hard-hitting powerhouses that make their stuff look as real as possible, so pitting them against each other sounds like a real treat. I just knew Cameron Grimes (TO THE MOON!) would bring all the laughs as LA Knight’s new butler. This feud between NXT’s biggest moneymakers has lowkey been one of the best feuds for WWE’s third brand if we're keepin’ it a stack! Can’t wait for Grimes to break away from Knight in front of the fans and get the biggest pop we’ve ever heard in recent memory. The first round of the Breakout Tournament did a great job of showing just what Duke Hudon and Ikemen Jiro are capable of, which has me excited to see how the rest of the field measures up. Pete Dunne vs. Timothy Thatcher is going to look and feel like one of those throwback catch-as-catch-can matches that’s all about rugged grappling and super stiff strikes - SIGN ME UP! 

Adam Cole is still beefing with his former Undisputed Era brethren, but I’m far more interested in seeing what he can do with Bronson Reed after their tense promo segment. As for the main event, it delivered in spades. Even though I’m a bit tired of Johnny Gargano and am bored to tears of Karrion Kross, I can’t front - their match was a damn fine way to bring this episode to a close. The big news coming out of this match was Kross’ choke out of special guest referee Samoa Joe. I get the feeling that both men will eventually settle their differences at a future TakeOver event. I’m guessing Kross will drop the title at some point beforehand, then lock up with Joe in a Loser Leaves NXT match with Joe. Joe will get the big W, which will lead to Kross getting the main roster call-up that Vinnie Mac has probably been dying to do ever since he laid eyes on the man.

Botches: I gotta get this off my chest, my dear readers - I’ve never been all that enamored with Ember Moon. Her dark edgelord moniker never appealed to me, so her past stint in NXT and main roster run on SmackDown never did anything for me. And at the moment, I don’t really care for anything she does now that she’s back on the black and yellow brand (her theme song is a definite banger, though). So with all that being said, Ember’s match with Dakota Kai was pretty much a non-factor to me. I feel the exact same way about Bobby Fish, so his presence on this episode against Tyler Rust was also meaningless to me.

Gigi Dolan vs. Sarray was inconsequential as well, but that random appearance of Mandy Rose piqued my interest a bit. Could she be back in a managerial role or will she step back through the ropes? Who knows at this point. I’m a big Dexter Lumis guy (shocking, I know!), but his match with Santos Escobar fell a bit flat with me. Kyle O'Reilly and Adam Cole are my guys, but I’m cool on watching them get embroiled in yet another match at this point. And finally, Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter did some stuff that just existed for the sake of existing.

AEW Dynamite

High Spots: This may have been the best episode of Dynamite thus far. And that’s due in part to the perfect trifecta of a hot crowd, strong matches, and good storyline development. Jon Moxley set the pace early as he stormed out through the crowd and earned himself a roaring ovation. His match with Karl Anderson for the IWGP United States Championship ended up being a fun opener. Moxley has to heal back up in time since he’s destined to face Lance Archer in a second Texas Death Match on Fyter Fest Night 2. Now I’d love to see Archer rip the title out of Moxley’s hands, but NJPW obviously gets the final say on their championship winners and losers. Since NJPW loves Moxley, I just can’t see Archer winning the title from him just yet. Which pains me to say cause Archer really needs something good to sink his teeth into.

Ricky Starks and Brian Cage kept the good vibes rolling with their FTW Championship match. Their match started out a little sloppy, but it quickly recovered and grabbed the crowd’s attention. It was so strange hearing the crowd boo Cage since he was clearly the babyface, but I totally understood their reactions since Ricky Starks is just a bit hotter as a personality. Looks like Cage is out of Team Taz while Starks has been crowned as the new diamond for the whole stable. Andrade El Idolo called out The Death Triangle, which leads me to believe that he’s either trying to steal Penta El Zero M and Rey Fenix from PAC or take them all on in singles matches. Santana and Ortiz pulled up on Tully Blanchard, which did a good job of further building up the eventual dream match between them and FTR. That’s a tag team classic in the making if you ask me!

The build to Kenny Omega and Adam Page’s AEW World Championship continues. We got a more confident Page verbally jousting with Omega that led to them setting up a 10-man tag team elimination match that will determine if their match will happen or not. Page’s team is obviously gonna get the W, which will hopefully set up their epic encounter at All Out. I didn’t care to see Matt Hardy vs. Christian Cage when it was first announced, but I was pleasantly surprised by how good it turned out to be. I should have known their match was going to be better than expected since Cage hasn’t lost a step and Matt still has it in him to hold up his end of the bargain this late in his career. We got a Wheeler Yuta sighting on this episode as he proved to be the perfect opponent for the Texas hometown boy in Sami Guevara. A good showing there from the two young stallions.

Chris Jericho has his work cut out for him now that MJF has set up his Pinnacle comrades to put him down. Jericho caught a beatdown in the back from Shawn Spears that set up their match on the next episode. Penelope Ford vs. Yuka Sakazaki was a solid showcase for the women’s division. And speaking of the women’s division, I’m pretty hype to see how Britt Baker vs. Nyla Rose unfolds. Shout out to God’s favorite champion Miro. His promo work stayed strong as ever on this episode as he debuted the new white and green TNT Championship strap. And finally, kudos to Ethan Page and Darby Allin for being the madmen they are during their show-closing Coffin Match. They went above and beyond to keep the crowd alive thanks to their brutal spots and incorporation of their signature partners. That top rope powerbomb to the steel steps and Allin’s Coffin Drop after the match popped the hell outta me. The sight of a damaged Allin looking up triumphantly at the camera was a great closing shot from a great episode of Dynamite.

Botches: The only blemish on this excellent installment of Dynamite was that needless backstage segment that saw QT Marshall heel it all the way up on Tony Schiavone. I think I speak for everyone when I say we’re cool on seeing QT pop back up in the ring for a while. Let’s get more screen time for Aaron Sollow, Nick Comoroto, and Anthony Ogogo now and let QT play the manager role for the time being.

Impact Wrestling

High Spots: The last show before Slammiversary was serviceable at best, which is kinda deflating for a show that’s heading into such a major PPV. There were some halfway intriguing moments here and there - the continued tease of who Deonna Purrazzo’s PPV opponent will be excited me when it came to the more realistic possibilities. I figured it would be Chelsea Green at first, but she’s currently injured and plying her trade in ROH these days (turns out I was wrong here. More on that later!). So a returning Mickie James (I WAS RIGHT ABOUT THIS, THOUGH!) seems like the safest bet and the best usage of her is to produce a good to great match with the current Impact Knockouts Champion. 

The eight-man X-Division tag team scramble was chaotic fun - I can’t wait to see how six of those match’s participants come to blows during their Ultimate X match. Moose is still on a rampage, I see. He and Chris Sabin are definitely gonna put in a strong effort at Slammiversary, that’s for sure. I just hope some new blood comes in for Moose to tangle with cause he's feeling a bit stale at this point without a championship belt around his massive waist.

Botches: Steve Maclin is still getting a push. And I still don’t like it. Not one bit. The opening women’s tag really had nothing going for it and was ultimately average at best. And sadly, I felt the exact same way about the other women’s tag. Tenille Dashwood’s inclusion in the ongoing feud between Matt Cardona and Brian Meyers fell flat to me. Plus the main event was only held up by Joe Doering and Doc Gallows’ interactions, which there should have been a lot more of. There sure was a lot of boring filler on this episode, wasn’t it? Like, we couldn’t get a heated promo segment between Kenny Omega and Sami Callihan before their big title match at Slammiversary? For shame, Impact. For shame...

WWE SmackDown

High Spots: Man, when I tell you a live and energetic crowd makes all the difference in the world for a wrestling show? It’s straight facts! The return of fans to WWE’s weekly shows officially kicked off here and it felt oh so good to hear them cheer in unison again. Starting off this “Return to Normalcy” edition of SmackDown with fire entrances from Roman Reigns and Edge was hype-inducing, plus the six-man tag was the right call as far as exciting opening matches go. The promo that took place backstage after the match clearly set up Edge and Seth Rollins’ future dream match meeting at SummerSlam, which I’m 100% for! Finn Balor is back, baby! Hopefully, he keeps his badass NXT persona and gets pushed hard to the point where he squares up with the “Tribal Chief.”

Bianca Belair got one of the biggest pops of the night and it was well deserved. Her match with Carmella wasn’t anything special, but it was just nice to see the fans get a kick out of watching the SmackDown Women’s Champion work. I despise those angles where wrestlers fake like their pockets are hurting and need financial support. It’s so hard for me to suspend my disbelief when those types of situations arise. But I’d be fronting if I said I didn’t get a kick out of watching Baron Corbin asking the crowd to meet his crowdfunding goal of $100,000. Owens handed him a crowd popping Stunner, which led to a pretty good Fatal-4 Way main event. While it was a bit too short for my tastes, I enjoyed the anarchy of it all (Owens’ ladder-assisted elbow drop to Shinsuke Nakamura through the announce table was lit!). This was a really fun edition of SmackDown thanks to the lively crowd and strong build to MITB.

Botches: The women’s tag team match was whatever. It was mostly used as a way to add a bit more heat to the Women’s MITB match. I did get a kick out of Liv Morgan roasting Zelina Vega, though. That “longest vacation” line definitely got a good chuckle outta me. But yeah, the match was an afterthought. At least the new blood in Shotzi and Nox got another W! I would have loved to have seen Otis and Cesaro go for a good 15+ minutes or so, but their seconds-long affair was nothing more than angle advancement, which was quite disappointing. Can’t wait to see them get the proper time to throw hands, though!

Random Rumblings Around the Squared Circle

High Spots: Impact Wrestling is heating up once again! Their Slammiversary PPV delivered in spades when it came to a hot crowd, good matches, and genuine surprises. I was thoroughly entertained by the Ultimate X match, Moose vs. Chris Sabin, Deonna Purrazzo vs. Thunder Rosa, and Kenny Omega vs. Sami Callihan. The biggest story coming out of this show was definitely the unexpected faces that showed up to compete or simply make headlines by menacingly standing in the ring.

So let’s break down who popped up outta nowhere at this year’s Slammiversary - Chelsea Green (THE HOT MESS HAS RETURNED!), David Finlay & Juice Robinson, No Way Jose, Thunder Rosa, Mickie James, and, most importantly, JAY FRIGGIN’ WHITE! That’s the sort of run-in that needed Don West’s overenthusiastic commentary behind it. Could we see Omega go to war with the latest leader of the Bullet Club over the Impact World Championship at some point? Man, the “Forbidden Door” has been trampled by all the inter-promotional talents that have stepped into the Impact Zone. And I’m all the way here for it.

The other PPV event that happened this past weekend was WWE Money in the Bank, which ended up being a solid event. The Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match delivered in spades (that’s what I heard since I was forced to go on Twitter to watch clips of it since Peacock was acting up) and gave us the right winner in Big E. Bobby Lashley entered God Mode and completely demolished Kofi Kingston, which was quite delightful. Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair managed to make a crowd that started out uninterested in this match eventually grow to love it. And most importantly, John Cena made his grand return to set up his big SummerSlam match with Roman Reigns. I’m super hype to see that one go down in Vegas!

Botches: Peacock. Is. ASS! The constant stuttering that took place before, during, and after the Men’s Money in the Bank match was so infuriating. This wasn’t the first time I’ve had to deal with Peacock’s streaming issues during a live WWE PPV. I’d much rather have the far more reliable WWE Network pop up once again here in the States. I know it’ll never happen since Vince McMahon and Co. already got their millions to make the deal with NBC happen, though. Man, reality friggin’ bites...

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