WWE Monday Night Raw Review (1/6/20)

Venue: Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City, OK)

After a recap video highlight of Liv Morgan and Rusev crashing Lana and Bobby Lashley’s wedding ceremony last week, the show began with Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar in the ring for a promo. Heyman said no one on the roster is man enough to challenge Lesnar for his WWE Championship. Paul announced that Brock will make history by declaring for the Royal Rumble and entering the match first. Heyman ended the segment by predicting his client will be the last man standing when the Rumble ends.

Backstage, Rey Mysterio thanked his son Dominick for convincing him to stay. Mysterio  said he was going to take his US Title back from Andrade before heading down to the ring. Rey hit the first big move of the match, slamming Andrade head first into the steel steps on the outside. After rolling the champion back in the ring, Mysterio tried to hit a springboard move off the top rope but Andrade countered with a dropkick. Mysterio got the first near fall of the contest after hitting a springboard moonsault into a DDT combination. The crowd showed their support for the challenger with loud 619 chants. Andrade went for a double stomp off the top of the ring post but Mysterio moved and he went crashing down to the outside. After hitting a double knee stomp to Rey on the outside, the two traded attacks until Mysterio pinned Andrade for a three count, which was ultimately waved off after the referee spotted the champ’s foot on the rope.

The match was restarted. Early on, Mysterio had the advantage over a wobbly Andrade, hitting him with a sunset flip powerbomb into the post. The crowd showed their appreciation for the legendary luchador’s performance with a “this is awesome” chant. It looked as if Mysterio had the match won after a 619 but Andrade rolled outside of the ring and tossed Mysterio into Zelina Vega and tossed Rey into the steps. Mysterio showed his concern for a fallen Vega. Andrade took advantage of the distraction by finishing off Mysterio with a Hammerlock DDT. It was a rather flat finish to an otherwise exciting match that got the crowd heavily invested. After the match, Andrade ripped off Rey’s mask and gave it to Vega as a post-match present.

A recap highlight video of Seth Rollins and AOP’s brawl with Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe was shown. Charly Caruso interviewed both Owens and Joe backstage. Kevin admitted that he doesn’t usually play well with others but the circumstances call for him and Joe to watch each other’s backs. Joe challenged Seth and AOP to a six-man tag match, assuring KO that he’s got a guy that can help them even the odds.

Charly caught up to Rollins and AOP roaming the halls backstage. She relayed the challenge to Seth. Rollins said the challenge he was most concerned about was the challenge of being the chosen one and the messiah of Monday Night Raw.

The Street Profits cut a quick in-ring promo, mocking The O.C.’s hand signals and saying that they were going to be the one pillaging tonight instead of the Viking Raiders. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson and the Viking Raiders made their way down to the ring for the three-way tag title match. Montez Ford and Ivar had the first big sequence of the match, displaying their athleticism with matching cartwheels and flips. The action slowed down a bit when Anderson entered the match and took turns with Gallows grinding down Ford. Erik tagged in and managed to single-handedly take out Gallows, Anderson and Angelo Dawkins before Ivar came in to join the fun by hitting a Viking Experience on Ford. The pin was broken up by The O.C. The Raiders regained the advantage for a while before Ivar accidentally crotched himself in the corner. Dawkins and Ford were able to create a quick flurry of offense. Montez hit a flip over the top rope onto Anderson and his partner Dawkins on the outside. The champs took advantage of the two on one advantage on Anderson. Ivar finished him off with a big splash off the top rope to retain the tag titles.

Backstage, Charly asked Samoa Joe if he would reveal who his third man would be. Kevin Owens said he was also interested to find out. Joe declined to say who it was, instead saying that he would rather show KO by letting Owens peek inside the locker room where the third man was waiting. Kevin came out looking happy while Charly was left looking confused.

Becky Lynch cut an in-ring promo. Lynch said that she had spent months wondering what kind of champion she wanted to be. She admitted that she had second thoughts about demanding a match with Asuka at Royal Rumble. A video of Asuka tapping out Becky at last year’s Rumble and The Kabuki Warriors beating Becky and Charlotte at TLC was shown. Just as Becky was about to say what she had figured out, Asuka’s music hit and she made her way down to the ring. Becky leveled her with a right hook before walking off and taunting a visibly upset Asuka.

Backstage, Erick Rowan and Mojo Rawley had a quick face to face confrontation. Rawley asked if he could take a look at what’s inside Rowan’s cage. Surprisingly, Rowan agreed. Mojo peaked in and quickly recoiled in disgust, asking “what the hell is wrong with you, man?” Rowan smiled and continued walking.

Backstage, Sarah Schreiber interviewed Andrade, asking him if he crossed the line in his match against Rey Mysterio. Andrade laughed and held up Mysterio’s mask. Rey came running in to attack him and reclaim his mask as Zelina screamed for him to stop.

Erick Rowan squashed KJ Orso in 25 seconds. He forced Orso to look inside the cage. KJ emerged with blood running down his face and then ran up the ramp screaming. Rowan smiled and picked up the cage.

A recap video was shown of last week’s in-ring interaction between AJ Styles and Randy Orton, which ended with a possum-playing Randy stunning Styles with an RKO. AJ looked to take out his frustrations on Akira Tozawa. He hit a quick Phenomenal Forearm and went to pin Akira but instead picked up his shoulders before the ref could count three. He teased a Styles Clash before changing his mind and mimicking Orton’s vintage DDT off the second rope. He finished off Tozawa with an RKO. He posed on the ropes in a similar arms up style as Randy. As AJ walked up the ramp the camera briefly caught a man in a blue suit running into the ring and being tackled by security as the show rushed to a commercial break.

The man in the suit turned out to be the wedding officiant from last week’s ceremony. Bobby Lashley and Lana came down to the ring and said that they were going to get married right here, right now. The officiant pronounced them man and wife. Lana took the mic and said that she felt extremely sad. She flaunted her ring and called the fans basic, pathetic civilians that should be honored to be in her midst. Rusev appeared on the screen, saying he was taking a honeymoon of his own on the beach. He said he had a present for the two of them: a special wedding album of last week’s ceremony. After sitting through a quick photo montage of the hijacked festivities, Lana screamed “I hate you” over and over again before Bobby told her to shut up. Lashley told Rusev that if he had any balls left, he should show up to Raw next week so Bobby could shove them down his throat. Rusev said that next week will be the return of the Bulgarian Brute. He threatened Lashley, saying that he was going to brutalize every part of his body and Lana could have whatever was left.

Backstage, Liv Morgan interrupted an interview between Charly and R-Truth. She offered up her services to be in Rusev’s corner when he faces Lashley next week.

Sarah Logan jumped Charlotte before the bell could ring. The two briefly brawled into the crowd before the ref finally was able to get the Sarah back into the ring. Logan wiped her feet on Flair’s robe before throwing it at Charlotte. That antagonistic action earned her a spear and a suplex into the barricade. Flair finished things off with a boot before putting her robe back on and wiping her feet in Sarah’s direction.

Drew McIntyre delivered a Glasgow Kiss to one of No Way Jose’s conga line before body slamming another. McIntyre entered the ring and inflicted some punishment on Jose. He  made his way back outside and slammed another member face first into the apron. McIntyre finished off Jose with a Claymore Kick and tossed him over the top rope onto the conga line. Drew grabbed a mic and asked the crowd “who dares me to do one more Claymore?” He tossed Jose back into the ring and hit him once again. McIntyre cut a promo saying he’s never had the chance to fight for the world title since everyone was too scared to fight him. He declared for the Royal Rumble and said “when it was all said and done, there can only be three, two, one.”

Aleister Black squared off with Shelton Benjamin. The two had a feeling out process to start and did some grappling on the mat. Benjamin picked up the advantage early after slamming Black. The two traded strikes before Aleister finished off Shelton with a Black Mass. After the match Buddy Murphy attacked Aleister and threw him all over the ringside area. He hit two knees to the head that left Black flat on his back.

Seth Rollins and AOP came out. Rollins grabbed a mic and talked about being chosen to be the one to lead Monday Night Raw to the promised land. He said he needed to eliminate people like Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe who impede progress. He dared Joe and Owens to come down to the ring and meet their fate at the hand of the AOP and the Monday Night Messiah. Joe and KO obliged. They revealed The Big Show as their surprise partner. Show started things off with Akam. He quickly tossed Rollins in the ring and delivered a big slap to the chest as the show headed to commercial break.

Back from the break, Owens and Rollins were battling it out before Rezar nailed Owens with a cheap shot. Rezar tagged in and worked over Owens as the crowd chanted “we want Big Show.” Akam and Rollins took turns beating on KO as well. Kevin eventually made the hot tag to Show who came in and inflicted punishment on the messiah. Big Show eventually caught AOP in position for a double chokeslam but Rollins broke things up with a steel chair to the back, which earned him and AOP a disqualification. Big Show got the last laugh, however, nailing Seth with a KO Punch.

The show ended with match announcements for next week’s show, which will feature Randy Orton vs. AJ Styles, Buddy Murphy vs. Aleister Black, Rusev vs. Bobby Lashley and Samoa Joe, Kevin Owens and The Big Show vs. Seth Rollins and AOP in a fist fight.

Overall Thoughts

Rey Mysterio vs. Andrade was the match of the night. Although the finish was a little convoluted and fell a bit flat, the crowd was invested for the majority of the action.

The three-way tag match was predictable but still pretty fun. It was a good way to get the Street Profits in the ring with some established teams without forcing them to eat a loss.

The other four matches were quick squashes but each of them at least had a bit of nuance and meaning. Rowan is now letting people peek inside his pet cage. Styles mocking Orton helps add some more fuel to that feud’s fire. McIntyre seems to have something with his “three, two, one” gimmick. Tonight’s crowd was into it and gave him the desired reaction. Murphy’s post-match attack on Black was actually fairly violent and gives cause for a match, considering Aleister has already beaten him twice.

The main event was more of an angle than a true match. The crowd did seem excited for Big Show’s return, so it can be deemed a success. Show also looked to be in good shape after such a long layoff.

Lashley telling Lana to shut up during her promo added an interesting dynamic to that storyline.

The Charlotte/Sarah Logan brawl was a bit odd. Charlotte’s still just treading water without any real direction at this point.

Becky Lynch’s promo felt like a reiteration of things she’s already said in the past few weeks, so there really wasn’t any new ground covered there.

Brock Lesnar entering the Rumble No. 1 seems like a bit of a cop out since it just doesn’t feel like there is any believable challenger for him to face right now. It could be good if done right and somebody gets the rub of eliminating him (preferably an ascending NXT talent like Keith Lee or Matt Riddle), or it could be a disaster if it turns the Men’s Rumble into a Brock-centric affair in which he just squashes the entire roster.

Overall, tonight’s show started off hot with Mysterio and Andrade, had some squashes in the middle, and finished with a well received surprise return of an established veteran. This seemed like the set up show for a big lineup next week but it was still a worthwhile watch without any real low points.

Match Results

Andrade vs. Rey Mysterio
Bell Times: (8:20:10 – 8:40:03)
Result: Andrade pinned Mysterio following a Hammerlock DDT (19:53)

The Viking Raiders vs. The O.C. vs. The Street Profits
Bell Times: (8:58:53 – 9:14:13)
Result: Ivar pinned Karl Anderson following a splash off the top rope (15:20)

Erick Rowan vs. KJ Orso 
Bell Times: (9:36:32 – 9:36:57)
Result: Rowan pinned Orso following an Iron Claw (25 seconds)

AJ Styles vs. Akira Tozawa
Bell Times: (9:46: 22 – 9:48:32)
Result: Styles pinned Tozawa following an RKO (2:10)

Drew McIntyre vs. No Way Jose
Bell Times: (10:21:39 – 10:23:22)
Result: McIntyre pinned Jose following a Claymore Kick (1:43)

Aleister Black vs. Shelton Benjamin
Bell Times: (10:33:07 – 10:35:31)
Result: Black pinned Benjamin following a Black Mass (2:24)

Seth Rollins and AOP vs. Kevin Owens, Samoa Joe and Big Show
Bell Times: (10:48:24- 10:58:37)
Result: Rollins was disqualified following a steel chair attack (10:13)

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (12/30/19)

Venue: XL Center (Hartford, CT)

Show Summary

Kevin Owens began the show with an in-ring promo and reminded viewers who may have forgotten about the repetitive cycle of his angle with Seth Rollins and AOP that “every week, I call them out, and every week, I get the hell beaten out of me. Guess what, I’m going to keep calling them out every week. I’m going to keep getting the hell beaten out of me. But I swear, sooner or later, I’m taking one of you idiots down with me.” Owens went on to talk about the respect he has for Rey Mysterio and how sick it made him to watch Rollins stomp Mysterio’s head through the stage.

A video played of Mysterio losing the US Title to Andrade at Madison Square Garden.

Rollins came out with AOP and told KO that he was forced into the current position he’s in. Seth talked about being a leader and a messiah and taking the industry into the next decade. Owens charged Rollins and his crew. Just as his words had foreshadowed, they started to beat the hell out of him. Luckily, an angry Samoa Joe came charging down to the ring, looking to get revenge on AOP for putting him through a table to end the last Raw. Joe beat on Seth for a bit and briefly locked him in the Coquina Clutch before AOP broke it up. Owens came back into the ring with a chair and nailed Akam and Rezar before security personnel came down to break up the scuffle. Owens took to the top rope and hit a cannonball down to the outside onto a crowd of security, Rollins and AOP.

After a commercial break, Charly Caruso interviewed Owens and Joe in the locker room. Joe explained that he got involved because Seth Rollins quote: “made a choice that Kevin Owens will never stand alone again.” Owens responded with, “I’ve met a lot of bad people but nobody is as bad as you.” Security escorted the two out of the locker room.

Aleister Black squared off against Buddy Murphy in the first match of the night. Early on, Murphy taunted Black by doing his sit down pose, only for Aleister to respond by doing the same pose at a charging Buddy. Black nailed a series of kicks, the loudest being a running kick to the head when Murphy was perched on the top rope. Buddy was able to recover, slide under Aleister and slam him face first into the top of the ring post. That sent him sailing down to the outside.

Back from commercial, Black hit a moonsault to the outside, threw Buddy back in the ring and hit him with a moonsault off the second rope. Murphy was able to toss Aleister to the outside and hit him with a flip over the top rope. He followed that up by tossing him back inside and hitting a double knee strike off the top rope.

After Black kicked out at two, a “this is awesome” chant quickly emanated from the crowd. Murphy tried to put him away again with a sitout powerbomb but it was just another near fall. Aleister was able to counter a knee strike attempt and hit a few quick kicks before nailing Buddy with a brainbuster for a near fall of his own. Buddy was able to catch Black and put him in position for Murphy’s Law but Aleister rolled through and almost got a quick roll up pin. He then hit two consecutive black masses to finally put down Buddy for long enough to get a three count.

Backstage, Seth Rollins was talking with AOP about how they were being tossed out of the building. Security surrounded them and they left. Lana was shown in a makeup chair. A frustrated Erick Rowan approached her and complained about not getting an invitation to her wedding ceremony before screaming and walking off.

Erick Rowan destroyed Kip Stevens in less than two minutes.

Lana was shown applying some lotion in her dressing room.

Charlotte Flair came out for an in-ring promo. She announced her entrance into the Women’s Royal Rumble match. She listed off her career accomplishments before saying she was tired of talking about how she was the queen of the WWE. She issued an open challenge, which was disappointingly accepted by Natalya. The two traded offense early on before Natalya gained an advantage on the outside by slamming Charlotte’s face into the stairs and suplexing her on the bottom of the ramp. Natalya went for a dive into the corner but Charlotte countered and caught her in a Boston Crab on the second rope. With Natalya down on the outside, R-Truth came out and ran around the ring with the usual 24/7 title chasers nipping at his heels. At one point, Eric Young decided to try to cut through the ring to catch Truth, but he was met with a big boot from Charlotte.

The show returned from a commercial break with Charlotte attempting a superplex off the top rope but Natalya was able to counter and hit her with a high cross body. Flair went for a big boot but Natalya countered with a german suplex. Charlotte responded with a suplex of her own, tossing Natalya into the corner. She went for a big boot again but Natalya caught her and hit her with a sitout powerbomb, garnering a two-count before Charlotte powered out. Natalya attempted a sharpshooter but Flair escaped and nailed her with a big boot and spear combo but Natalya kicked out. Charlotte hit her with a natural selection. Astonishingly, Natalya was able to get her shoulder up once again, which left me decidedly nonplussed. Flair headed to the top for a moonsault but Natalya got her feet up for the block. A frustrated Charlotte finally hit her with another big boot and locked her in a Figure Eight. Natalya wailed in pain for a bit before finally tapping.

Backstage, Charly interviewed Becky Lynch, who made the official announcement that her Raw Women’s Championship match with Asuka will take place at the Royal Rumble. Lynch said that her contract is coming up soon, and that getting this match with Asuka was her key bargaining chip. Becky said she could have taken the easy way and signed a big new contract.Instead, she needed to prove to herself that she could beat Asuka, the woman who not only beat her but tapped her at the last Rumble to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship. If it weren’t for a fluke win by Charlotte right before Wrestlemania 35 just to get a second belt into the triple-threat, Asuka would probably still be the Smackdown Women’s Champion at this very moment. This could have been a year-long, belt vs. belt, major Mania feud. Instead, it’s a Rumble rematch for the Raw title, which is nothing to shake a stick at. An Asuka-less Four Horsewomen Raw/SD unification match might be the way it goes for the women’s division at Mania.

Bobby Lashley was shown in his dressing room, clad in a sleeveless suit jacket, staring into a mirror.

The O.C. came down to the ring. They began by showing a recap video of their win over the Viking Raiders two weeks ago and their six-man tag win over those two and Randy Orton to end last week’s show. Karl Anderson talked about being the best tag team in the world. Luke Gallows attempted to make a case for why they deserved a shot at the Raw Tag Team Titles. He was interrupted by the Street Profits. Montez Ford reminded The O.C. that they beat Anderson and Gallows in their Raw debut. AJ Styles responded by saying that they were lucky and advised them to “stick to their cute little skits backstage.” Anderson told them to get in the ring.

The Profits obliged.

Ford and Angelo Dawkins took turns working over Karl Anderson before Styles broke up their rhythm by grabbing Dawkins’ foot from the outside. That interference earned him an ejection from ringside. After a commercial break, Gallows was in control, beating on Ford. The beating continued for a bit before Montez was able to buy some time with a kick. He managed to get a hot tag to Dawkins who ran wild with a series of running punches, an uppercut, a dropkick and a suplex. Anderson came in to break up the momentum, which gave Anderson an opening to drop Angelo with a spinebuster. The two worked over Dawkins, hitting him with a neckbreaker. Eventually, all four participants ended up in the ring. Gallows was tossed to the outside. Ford managed to duck under a clothesline attempt and hit a flip over the top rope right before Dawkins nailed Anderson with a sky high. Montez went up to the top rope and finished off Anderson with a frog splash.

Lana was shown surrounded by flowers backstage.

In the bowels of the arena, Dawkins and Ford talked about multiple universes in a convoluted dialogue that managed to get even less of a reaction than their pre-match promo which compared The O.C. wrestling group to The O.C. mid-00’s television show.

Mic in hand, Drew McIntyre walked to the ring, talking about how he was going to squash Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder. He did just that, in less than a minute’s time.

Randy Orton came down to the ring on crutches with a brace on his left knee. He talked about how injuries can happen at any time before pausing for a minute to let the crowd chant “Randy!” He talked about how Edge had to sacrifice his entire career due to an injury (Seems they want to squash that Edge is returning at the Rumble rumor). Orton said he screwed his leg up bad last night and heard something pop in his knee. He talked about how he’ll be out a very long time and said he wasn’t sure if he’ll ever be able to come back. Still, he said he’s going to do everything in his power to make sure that somebody gets RKO’d at Wrestlemania.

AJ Styles came down and mocked him, asking, “Mr. RKO, you gonna strike?”

“Isn’t it funny that fate bit Randy Orton before Randy Orton could bite me?” Styles asked before breaking out some schoolyard bullying tactics to taunt him. He told Randy he was a patient man that was going to wait until Wrestlemania to retire him. He kicked out his crutch, which earned him an “AJ Sucks” chant from the crowd. Orton said that the big difference between the two of them was that Styles was patient and he wasn’t and followed that up with an RKO, proving that the knee injury was simply a ruse. He slammed his leg on the mat a few times for impression and then did his turnbuckle pose.

A video of Rey Mysterio backstage at MSG following his US Title loss to Andrade was shown. Mysterio said he was looking forward to his rematch with Andrade. He then delivered a message to Seth Rollins and AOP, saying he will stand tall.

Andrade faced an unnamed local talent. Andrade beat him up for a minute before Zelina Vega told him to deliver the same type of move on the concrete that he injured Humberto Carrillo with. Ricochet interrupted before he could finish the dastardly deed and challenged him to a match. Andrade hit the first big move of the contest, nailing a flying Ricochet with a dropkick. Vega exposed the concrete on the outside again. Andrade worked over Ricochet before Ricochet was able to hit him with a body drop sending him to the outside. Ricochet then nailed him with a flip over the top rope. Andrade and Ricochet wandered over near the exposed concrete. Andrade body dropped Ricochet onto the concrete as the show headed to a break.

Back from commercial, Ricochet was able to fire up and hit Andrade with a step up enziguri. He then hit a standing shooting star press. The two traded blows before Andrade got a near fall with a spinning elbow. Ricochet was able to counter a Hammerlock DDT into a small package but Andrade managed to kick out at the last second. Ricochet headed up top, but Vega interfered and pushed him down to the mat. Andrade was able to capitalize and finish off his challenger with a Hammerlock DDT.

Backstage, Sarah Schreiber interviewed Andrade and Zelina Vega. The confident pair didn’t seem concerned about Rey Mysterio and the US Title rematch that will take place on next week’s Raw.

The show ended with the wedding of Lana and Bobby Lashley. Midway through the ceremony, Lana took control of the mic from the marriage officiant and told the crowd to shut up. She told Lashley that it was the luckiest day of his life and gave her usual self aggrandizing spiel in her normal rushed cadence as the crowd showered her with “Rusev Day” chants. She said she wanted to jump onto him and make love to him right here, right now. Lashley managed to calm her down and get the ceremony back on track. He delivered his vows, expressing to her how lucky he is, as the fans gave him the “what?” treatment.

As the official asked if there was anyone who objected, Lana’s first husband spoke up and came marching down to the ring. He said that Lana and him were married the day she turned 18 and then she left her for Rusev. He tried to warn Bobby that she would do the same to him but Lashley responded by chokeslamming him out of the ring. Lashley’s first wife then came down to the ring to object but Lana slapped her off the apron before she could get her story out. Liv Morgan then came out and said that she came to WWE a lost soul and she never knew she could be herself until they met and fell in love with each other. She asked, “How could you do this to me?” Lashley responded by saying “I’ve never touched this woman in my entire life.” Liv responded by saying, “Oh, no, I’m not talking about Bobby. I’m talking about Lana.” Liv and Lana stared at each other for a few seconds before they began to slap and brawl with each other before security came down to escort Morgan out. Just as the official was about to announce Lana and Lashley husband and wife, Rusev popped out of the cake and assaulted Bobby as he taunted a crying Lana. Morgan then reappeared to smash Lana’s face into the cake as the show went off the air.

Final Thoughts

It was a messy ending to a messy decade of Monday Night Raw. The surprising Liv Morgan insertion into the shenanigans adds some flavorful intrigue to a storyline that a once growing stale storyline which reached a fun-filled climax in a cliffhanger-feeling end-of-the-year/end-of-the-decade episode. Morgan got a quick spotlight for her return as a changed character. There’s some momentum there to start the ball rolling. Hopefully they can build off of it because she’s felt like an underutilized talent ever since the Riott Squad disbanded. It’s possible, they could build to a mixed tag of her and Rusev vs. Lana and Lashley at the Rumble. Critics of this angle can call it trash TV all they want but judging by the “Jerry!” chants during the ceremony, the crowd clearly responds to it all.

Buddy Murphy vs. Aleister Black was a PPV quality affair. Black needs an important-feeling singles match at the upcoming Wrestlemania. Aleister vs. Andrade for the US Title in the ‘start of hour three’ slot might be something, especially given their history in NXT and the whole Zelina dynamic.

There was yet another Erick Rowan squash match. It’s grown stale at this point. This is what killing five minutes of time is. An occasional quick backstage vignette with him and the hidden pet in the cage with an interruption by someone who at least the audience knows (i.e. any of the 24/7 title chaser conga line lowcarders who struggle to make it onto television) would be more effective. On a show that’s averaging at least two other squash matches per episode, this strategy has officially proven to be a horse that needs the reins.

Natalya kicking out of all of Charlotte’s finishers in succession was the WTF moment of the night. Why? What segment of the audience cares about a Natalya heel turn? Why sacrifice the entire finishing maneuver arsenal of the most decorated women’s performer currently on the roster for someone the caliber of Natalya?

When the Street Profits misfire on a promo, they really miss. The reference to a television show that hasn’t been talked about in over a decade in the prematch promo and the whole multiverse conversation backstage after the match got absolute crickets.

Drew McIntyre squashing Hawkins and Ryder in under a minute accomplished what?

Unsurprisingly, Andrade vs. Ricochet had some good action but Ricochet is absolutely rudderless as a character right now, which is maybe why live crowds have seemingly cooled on him a bit. I feel like I’ve seen him do the whole coming down to stick up for other good guys shtick before. There was never any real reason to care about it then, just as there wasn’t really a reason to care tonight either. That guy needs a direction and a meaningful feud in a hurry. There doesn’t even have to be a heel turn, maybe just tease a bit of friction with him and Mysterio and do the older veteran wants to prove himself against the younger high flyer kind of thing.

Overall, when you consider that big names like Becky, Asuka, Rollins and Owens weren’t even in action tonight, it was an OK show. Black/Murphy was the high point. The Lana/Lashley wedding segment at least had a bit of a twist besides just Rusev ruins it.

Brock Lesnar returns next week. With Owens and Rollins, and Orton and Styles all occupied with each other, it’s tough to narrow down who Lesnar’s potential challenger could be at the Rumble. The Andrade/Mysterio rematch is worth looking forward to, although that seems like it could be setting up for a Carrillo interference finish. It will also be interesting to see how Liv fits into the whole Lana/Lashley/Rusev storyline.

Match Results

Aleister Black vs. Buddy Murphy
Bell Times: (8:19:48 – 8:35:21)
Result: Black pinned Murphy following a Black Mass (15:33)

Erick Rowan vs. Kip Stevens
Bell Times: (8:43:52 – 8:45:38)
Result: Rowan pinned Stevens following an Iron Claw (1:46)

Charlotte vs. Natalya
Bell Times: (8:58:49 – 9:13:22)
Result: Charlotte tapped out Natalya with a Figure Eight (14:33)

The Street Profits vs. Anderson & Gallows
Bell Times: (9:27:31 – 9:39:08)
Result: Ford pinned Anderson following a Frog Splash (11:37)

Drew McIntyre vs. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder
Bell Times: (9:50:45 – 9:51:35)
Result: McIntyre pinned Hawkins and Ryder following a Claymore Kick (50 seconds)

Andrade vs. Ricochet
Bell Times: (10:24:00 – 10:35:37)
Result: Andrade pinned Ricochet following a Hammerlock DDT (11:37)

Ranking the Best Pro Wrestlers of the Decade

Yearly ratings, great matches, title reigns and big stage moments are the four categories that were used to determine this greatest wrestlers of the 2010-2019 decade list. 20 male wrestlers and six female wrestlers met the qualifications for inclusion. Here are the final overall rankings along with explanations and breakdowns of the overall criteria and the four specific category formulas used.

# Wresler C1  C2 C3 C4 Rank
1 Kazuchika Okada 4 (35) 1 (70) 1 (1,785) 2 (30) 2
2 Hiroshi Tanahashi 6 (34) 2 (54) 4 (858) 1 (40 3.2
3 John Cena 2 (43) 7 (16) 10 (441) 3 (26) 5.5
4 AJ Styles 1 (44) 5 (28) 5 (818) 17 (50) 7
5 Seth Rollins 5 (35) 11 (10) 7 (534) 12 (15) 8.7
6 Daniel Bryan 9 (29) 9 (13) 12 (415) 11 (15) 10.2
7 Shinsuke Nakamura 10 (28) 6 (19) 21 (169) 5 (115) 10.5
8 Randy Orton 3 (38) 21 (3) 13 (413) 7 (19) 11
9 Brock Lesnar 25 (12) 13 (8) 2 (1,000) 6 (19) 11.5
10 Roman Reigns 8 (32) 17 (6) 19 (183) 4 (25) 12
11 Charlotte Flair 13 (25) 20 (3) 3 (859) 14 (14) 12.5
12 Kenny Omega t21 (18) 4 (38) 20 (209) 9 (16) 13.5
13 Kevin Owens 7 (33) 14 (8) 14 (331) 19 (9) 13.5
14 Tetsuya Naito 23 (16) 3 (44) 24 (84) 8 (17) 14.5
15 Alberto El Patron 11 (28) 19 (4) 15 (317) 15 (40) 15
16 CM Punk 17 (20) 12 (9) 10 (464) 22 (5) 15.2
17 Becky Lynch t21 (18) 22 (2) 9 (482) 10 (15) 15.5
18 Finn Balor 15 (24) 15 (8) 16 (293) 18 (9) 16
19 The Miz 12 (27) 18 (5) 23 (160) 15 (12) 17
20 Jon Moxley  14 (62) 8 (13) 25 (84) 23 (5) 17.5
21 Bayley 16 (23) 22 (2) 8 (517) 24 (3) 17.5
22 Adam Cole 18 (20) 10 (10) 18 (213) 25 (2) 17.7
23 Asuka 24 (15) 22 (2) 6 (610) 20 (7) 18
24 Chris Jericho 23 (17) 16 (6) 22 (160) 13 (15) 18.5
25 Sasha Banks 19 (19) 22 (2) 17 (274) 21 (6) 19.7

Category 1

AJ Styles

This is the initial qualifying category. It’s based purely off Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s yearly Top 500 male and Top 100 female rankings from each of the past 10 years. To qualify, a wrestler had to have at least one elite ranking (Top Five) or at least two standout rankings (Top 15) during that time frame.

37 male performers met the criteria: Adam Cole, AJ Styles, Alberto El Patron, Austin Aries, Bobby Roode, Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, Bully Ray, Chris Jericho, CM Punk, Cody, Daniel Bryan, Dolph Ziggler, Finn Balor, John Cena, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jay Lethal, Jon Moxley, Kane, Kazuchika Okada, Kenny Omega, Kevin Owens, Kofi Kingston, PAC, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Rob Van Dam, Roderick Strong, Roman Reigns, Samoa Joe, Seth Rollins, Sheamus, Shinsuke Nakamura, Takashi Sugiura, Tetsuya Naito, The Miz and Will Ospreay.

36 female performers met the criteria: AJ Lee, Alexa Bliss, Allie, Allysin Kay, Angelina Love, Asuka, Bayley, Becky Lynch, Beth Phoenix, Charlotte, Cheerleader Melissa, Courtney Rush, Gail Kim, Io Shirai,  Ivelisse Vélez, Jessika Havok, Kairi Sane, Layla, Lisa Marie Varon, LuFisto, Madison Eagles, Madison Rayne, Mayu Iwatani, Mercedes Martinez, Mickie James, MsChif, Natalya, Naomi, Paige, Saraya Knight, Ronda Rousey, Sara Del Rey, Sasha Banks, Sexy Star, Shayna Baszler and Velvet Sky.

The formula used to measure the rankings was pretty simple. Only a wrestler’s rankings within the top 50 were used. The top 50 was broken up into five different 10 number segments and each was given a different weighted value: A ranking in the 1-10 range was worth five points, 11-20 earned four points, 21-30 earned three points, 31-40 earned two points and 41-50 earned one point. For example, AJ Styles, the category’s leader, had seven top 10 finishes (35 points) and three finishes in the 21-30 range (nine points), so his total was 44. John Cena, who ranked second in the category, had seven top 10 finishes (35 points) and two finishes in the 11-20 range (eight points), so his total was 43 points.

Category 2

Screen Shot 2019-12-21 at 10.18.14 PM

The intention of this category was to determine the total amount of great matches a wrestler had in the decade. Obviously, rating matches is subjective and is dependent upon the personal taste of a viewer, so the formula used for this category was a combination of two different forms of published match ratings: The first being the star ratings of Dave Meltzer, arguably the most famous figure in wrestling journalism, and the second being the match ratings posted on cagematch.net, one of the internet’s largest interactive wrestling databases which allows fans the opportunity to rank wrestlers and their matches on a 0-10 scale. It’s not a perfect formula but it at least builds towards a consensus. If a match was rated so highly by both parties, it was likely to be one of the better matches of the respective year it took place.

To be counted as a great match, a bout had to be ranked over four stars by Meltzer and over eight points by cagematch users. Matches from all federations were counted but only singles matches, no tag team matches or battle royals were included.

This was also used as a weed out factor following the initial qualifying category. The thinking was that a wrestler should have at least two great matches in the decade to be considered one of the best. Anyone who did not have at least two great matches was eliminated from the list.

Seven males failed to meet the criteria: Bobby Roode, Bray Wyatt, Bully Ray, Kane, Rob Van Dam, Sheamus and Takashi Sugiura.

30 females failed to meet the criteria: AJ Lee, Alexa Bliss, Allie, Allysin Kay, Angelina Love, Beth Phoenix, Cheerleader Melissa, Courtney Rush, Gail Kim, Ivelisse Vélez, Jessika Havok, Kairi Sane, Layla, Lisa Marie Varon, LuFisto, Madison Eagles, Madison Rayne, Mayu Iwatani, Mercedes Martinez, Mickie James, MsChif, Natalya, Naomi, Paige, Saraya Knight, Ronda Rousey, Sara Del Rey, Sexy Star, Shayna Baszler and Velvet Sky.

Category 3


This category was used to measure total days spent this decade as a world champion. The belts considered were the WWE Championship, Universal Championship, WWE World Heavyweight Championship, IWGP Heavyweight Championship, NXT Championship, AEW Championship, WWE Raw Women’s Championship, WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship and the NXT Women’s Championship.

Kazuchicka Okada, the category leader, earned the top spot by holding the IWGP Championship five different times. The second place finisher, Brock Lesnar, accumulated his total by holding the WWE Championship, the Universal Championship and the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

For the male wrestlers, John Cena (9) and Randy Orton (7) had the most total number of championship reigns but many of them were on the shorter side. All but one of Cena’s title reigns were less than 100 days and six were less than 50 days. Orton also only had one title reign that lasted over 100 days. Charlotte was far and away the leader of the women in total championship reigns with 11 different title possessions.

Category 4

Screen Shot 2019-12-21 at 10.20.35 PM

The final category was used to measure big moments on the big stage. Personally, when I think of a big stage, the two annual wrestling shows that immediately come to mind are Wrestlemania and Wrestle Kingdom, so I devised a similar type of weighted formula as category one, which also takes into account Royal Rumble wins.

Being a part of the main event (the last match on the card) at either Wrestlemania or Wrestle Kingdom was worth five points, a Royal Rumble win was worth four points, having a heavyweight title match that was not the last match was worth three points, having a midcard singles title match was worth two points and having a regular singles non-title match was worth one point. Tag team matches and battle royals were not considered.

Unsurprisingly, this was another category that was dominated by Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi, who have both been mainstays in the main event scene of Wrestle Kingdom for the past decade.

Final Thoughts

The last weed out criteria was the totaling of the average ranks that a wrestler had in each of the four categories. To be considered for the list, a wrestler had to have a total average rank of 20 or below. 10 male wrestlers failed to meet this criteria: Austin Aries, Cody, Dolph Ziggler, Kofi Kingston, Jay Lethal, PAC, Rey Mysterio, Roderick Strong, Samoa Joe, and Will Ospreay, as well as one female wrestler, Io Shirai. That group’s considered an honorable mention.

The result was 20 male wrestlers making the final cut and five female wrestlers.  The fact that so many females were weeded out in the great match category is indicative of how women’s wrestling as a whole was viewed and rated up until just a few years ago. It’s a testament to the women included in the final rankings and the job they’ve done elevating the women’s division in the last few years.

There were two ties in the final rankings: Kenny Omega and Kevin Owens at 13.5, and Jon Moxley and Bayley at 17.5. The first tiebreaker used was whichever of the two had the more total lower ranks in the four individual categories. Omega and Owens had two apiece so the second tiebreaker of lowest average rank in one specific category was used which Kenny won with four in category two. Moxley beat Bayley with three lower ranks compared to her one.

Ultimately, the goal of this project was to come up with an unbiased, strictly numbers based list that took emotion and personal preference out of the equation and fairly measured a wrestler’s accomplishments and accolades for a full decade’s worth of work.

My personal rankings list would probably have a few minor tweaks and changes. Kazuchika Okada isn’t necessarily my cup of tea, as I tend to find many of his matches to be too long and drawn out. However, it’s impossible to deny his dominance and his resume. He would be my top wrestler of the decade. After him, I would probably rate AJ Styles No. 2 since he’s been a standout star regardless of the federation he’s been in, whether it’s WWE, New Japan, TNA or Ring of Honor. Brock Lesnar would likely be my No. 3 mainly for the fact that he’s had the biggest presence and his matches have felt like such a big deal and a special occasion.

After those three, the rest of the top 25 list looks pretty solid with no real notable admissions. Time missed is a bit of a factor for guys like Daniel Bryan, who missed three years of in-ring action with an injury, and CM Punk, who accomplished so much in the first half of the decade that he was able to overcome the fact that he was out of action for the entire second half of it. Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens also missed significant time as well. John Cena has been more sporadic in recent years due to obligations outside of WWE.

Charlotte would be my personal No. 1 women’s wrestler. The rest of the Four Horsewomen: Bayley, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks would round out the top four in some fashion since it feels like they’ve made an important impact on women’s wrestling and just professional wrestling in general this past decade. Asuka, though she’s had her ups and downs on the main roster, had such a dominant run during her time in NXT and before that in her home country of Japan, belongs in the conversation as well.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (12/16/19)

Venue: Wells Fargo Arena (Des Moines, IA)

Show Summary

The show began with a video recap of Seth Rollins and AOP’s backstage attack on Kevin Owens and Seth’s subsequent promo in which he called out the WWE fan base for their negativity. Rollins started this week’s show with another message for the audience. With AOP flanking him, he told the fans that being a leader is “not about being cool and making popular decisions. It’s about making decisions for the sake of progress.” Rollins then described himself as a leader and a visionary who was going to lead the brand into the next decade and beyond. He said that he will impose his will and that Akam and Rezar will enforce it. Seth ended the promo with a cryptic declaration, saying that he has a score to settle and that the fans weren’t going to be happy, ending his promo simply with “I’m sorry.”

Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson came down to confront the Viking Raiders in a rematch from the previous night’s TLC show, a bout that ended with a universally loathed double count out finish. The two teams went back and forth for a while before Ivar attempted the first big crowd-popping move of the night: a moonsault from the top rope. Fortunately for Anderson, Gallows was able to pull him out of the way just in time as Ivar slammed down onto the canvas with a loud thud. Anderson then kicked Eric off the apron. The two then double-teamed a woozy Ivar, hitting him with a Magic Killer to get the win. Samoa Joe exclaimed, “New Champs!” before realizing this was a non-title match.

Backstage, an excited AJ Styles met with Gallows and Anderson and talked about how he was going to end Randy Orton’s career and meet his brothers in the winner’s circle.

In this week’s edition of Eric Rowan beats up a local jobber, Rowan made short work of Dante Leon, who started off the match by running under the ring before popping out the other side and nearly uncovering Rowan’s pet cage. After enraging Rowan by messing with his pet, Leon stumbled as the big man gave chase. He was soon caught and thrown back in the ring, where he ended up on the receiving end of two claw chokeslams.

Backstage, Charly Caruso interviewed Andrade and Zelina Vega. Neither seemed to be in a particular good mood following Andrade’s loss the night before to Humberto Carrillo.

Lana and Bobby Lashley celebrated Bobby’s win over Rusev at TLC with an in-ring promo. As Lana showered Lashley with compliments, the crowd chanted Rusev Day, We Want Rusev, and Bobby Sucks. Lana then whipped out a ring and told Bobby she wanted him to ask her to marry him. Bobby responded by saying “he doesn’t like when anyone tells him what to do, except you.” He then got down on one knee and obliged with the request. Lana responded with a number of enthusiastic yeses. She said the wedding would be the most ravishing in the world and that it would happen on Lana Day.

Next up was a gauntlet match to determine who will earn a shot at US Champion Rey Mysterio. 24/7 Champion R-Truth came down to the ring and talked about being inspired by his childhood hero John Cena’s US Open challenge. Truth then promised that he was going to win tonight’s gauntlet match and go into Wrestlemania as a double champion. Truth’s first challenger was Akira Tozawa. Akira picked up the advantage following a missile dropkick off the top rope before rolling up Truth to get the win. Eric Young, Titus O’Neil, Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins and No Way Jose all came running out of the back and chased Truth out of the arena.

Ricochet was next up, starting the match off with a quick flurry of offense and an impressive display of quickness and athleticism. But his attack was short lived, as Tozawa caught him and threw him outside of the ring. Akira went for a missile dropkick but Ricochet met him with a dropkick of his own to regain the advantage. Instead of going with his usual quick-paced offense, Ricochet changed up his style a bit and broke out a few unique looking submission moves to wear down Tozawa. Akira showed off his conditioning, fighting back valiantly before being eliminated following a recoil knee.

Matt Hardy was the next to enter the fray. Hardy started the match off by hitting Ricochet with a side effect which got a two count on a pin attempt. Hardy then slammed Ricochet’s head into multiple turnbuckles and proceeded to hit him with a suplex, a back body drop and a series of strikes. Ricochet hit an enziguri in the corner to stun a charging Hardy to buy some time to recover. Ricochet went on the offensive but he was caught going for a clothesline off the ropes and hit with a side effect. Matt went for broke with a moonsault from the top rope but he whiffed. Ricochet missed on a top rope move of his own but luckily he was able to surprise Hardy with a roll up pin to get the win.

Humberto Carrillo was the next challenger. Carrillo offered a show of sportsmanship handshake at the start of the match but Ricochet took the opportunity to surprise him with a roll up pin for a near fall. Humberto employed his usual high-flying attack, barely holding on to Ricochet with an arm drag off the ropes. After hitting Ricochet with a flip over the rope to the outside, Humberto slowed the pace down and worked over his opponent’s left arm. Carrillo controlled a tired Ricochet for a while before Zelina Vega made her way out onto the stage. Humberto missed on a moonsault off the top and Ricochet answered with an enziguri. The two then collided with each other near the ropes and both fell to the ground. After both were nearly counted out, the two traded blows before they ended up face to face on the top rope. Ricochet sent Humberto crashing down to the mat with a superplex. Ricochet hit multiple suplexes before heading back to the top rope. Carrillo met him up there, though, and attempted a reverse rana but Ricochet rolled through. Humberto managed to subdue Ricochet and keep him down for long enough to go up top and hit a moonsault to finally finish him off.

Andrade’s music hit and Zelina posed at the top of the ramp as if she was waiting for him. As Carrillo looked at Vega, Andrade came charging him from behind with a sneak attack. Andrade beat on Carrillo before tossing him to the outside. He ripped up one of the mats, exposing the concrete. Andrade dropped Humberto head first onto the floor with a Hammerlock DDT. Rey Mysterio came out to check on Carrillo as Andrade and Vega fled from the ringside area.

As Carrillo was stretchered to the back, Seth Rollin’s music hit. Wielding the same pipe that Mysterio gave to Owens, Seth and AOP attacked and laid out the US Champion in the middle of the ring before taunting him. Rollins initially made it seem like he was going to show mercy on Mysterio before heading back into the ring and finishing off Rey with a stomp.

Backstage, Charly asked Seth why he attacked Mysterio. Rollins said he was a leader and that he was going to lead by example.. He also said that he was challenging Rey for his US Title next week on Raw.

In her main roster debut, Deonnna Purrazzo had the tough task of facing Asuka. Purrazzo surprised one half of the women’s tag champs with a pump kick before the bell rang. That only served to anger Asuka who locked Deonna in a number of ankle and arm submissions. The NXT superstar showed her toughness and resilience by countering Asuka and slamming her face first into the canvas. However, that was the last offense she was able to get in. Asuka was soon able to clasp Purrazzo in an Asuka Lock and tap her out for the win.

In an interview with Charly Caruso, Becky Lynch talked about not being herself in recent months. She talked about being the golden goose that the powers at be were trying to protect. She then delivered a message to Asuka. Lynch said she needed to face Asuka to prove something to herself.

In the locker room, Rey Mysterio answered the challenge laid down by Seth Rollins, telling his attacker, “instead of settling a score, all he did was start a fight.”

In the main event of the evening, Randy Orton and AJ Styles looked to settle a score of their own. Randy tried to hit an early RKO but Styles was able to roll out of the ring and survive the early threat. AJ answered by locking Orton in a calf crusher but Randy was able to crawl to the ropes to break the hold. As The Viper hobbled around on the outside, Styles came charging in from behind to take out his injured left leg. A wobbly Orton was able to keep Styles at bay for a bit before hitting AJ with a powerslam and an inverted backbreaker. Randy got a bit too overconfident, heading to the top rope to try a superplex, but Styles was able to slide under and then once again chop Randy’s leg out from under him. AJ attempted a Styles Clash but Orton flipped him over the ropes and hit him with one of his vintage DDTs. Orton then went for another RKO but Styles countered into a calf crusher, which Randy managed to escape. After faking a phenomenal forearm attempt, Styles actually went for it a second later, a move which he instantly regretted, as Orton was able to catch him in midair and finish him off with an RKO.

Following the match, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson ran down to beat on Randy but the Viking Raiders came out to his defense to even the score. Ultimately, though, it was The O.C. who stood tall as the show went off the air.

Overall Thoughts

Given the nature of tonight’s two episodes in one taping structure, it’s a bit hard to judge the success of this Raw without seeing how next week’s episode turned out. This was clearly the set up episode, while next week’s pretaped edition will likely be the payoff.

It appears as if the Seth Rollins/Kevin Owens feud is going to play out until the Royal Rumble, so it makes sense for Rollins to have an in between feud with someone like Mysterio for the time being. Asuka/Becky Lynch also appears to be a feud that will culminate at the Rumble, which is apropos considering Asuka beat Lynch for the Smackdown Women’s Title back in January at the Rumble in Phoenix.

As for the match quality tonight, The Viking Raiders and The O.C. got more than twice the amount of time tonight than they did at last night’s TLC show. Though the match was much longer, it wasn’t much better, but at least it did have a decisive ending.

Hopefully, the Eric Rowan’s secret pet cage has a payoff sooner than later, because the storyline is really starting to feel stale. His opponents keep resorting to the same tactic week after week and all of his squash matches seem to follow the same formula.

The gauntlet match had some good high points, especially the Ricochet/Akira Tozawa and Ricochet/Humberto Carrillo interactions. Still, it never felt like the crowd was all that invested in the match. It certainly didn’t help that the match simply ended due to a stoppage and didn’t feature a proper finish or an actual winner.

Though she only had a few offensive maneuvers, the debuting Deonna Purrazzo showed she could handle herself in a main roster ring. It will be interesting to see if Purrazzo stays in a Raw women’s division that could use an infusion of new blood or heads back down to NXT’s crowded women’s scene where it’ll be hard to stick out.

AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton felt a bit plodding since it was mostly just Orton hobbling and crawling around on an injured leg. The phenomenal forearm into an RKO will never not be an impressive looking spot. It was a move that got arguably the biggest reaction of the night. Judging by the post-match action, it looks as if next week’s episode will probably feature a six-man match of The O.C. against Orton and The Viking Raiders.

Kevin Owens’ absence was felt tonight but it made sense to keep him off screen this week to sell the beating he took from Rollins and AOP. There’s a good chance he reemerges to save Mysterio from a beat down following Rey’s US Title match with Rollins.

It was good to see Kairi Sane make an appearance, considering how out of it she looked in the last half of the women’s tag team championship match at TLC.

There was no reference to Aleister Black’s win over Buddy Murphy at TLC but that might be because it was saved for the taped episode.

Overall, it was a decent show that started some new key storylines (Seth/Rey and Becky/Asuka) and kept a few other feuds (Orton/Styles, Viking Raiders/The O.C., Andrade/Humberto) going.

Match Results

The Viking Raiders vs. The O.C.
Bell Times: 8:19:34 – 8:39:03
Result: Gallows pinned Ivar following a Magic Killer (19:29)

Eric Rowan vs. Dante Leon
Bell Times: 8:47:35 – 8:49:29
Result: Rowan pinned Leon following a claw chokeslam (1:54)

R-Truth vs. Akira Tozawa
Bell Times
: 9:15:32 – 9:17:44
Result: Tozawa pinned R-Truth with a roll up (2:12),

Akira Tozawa vs. Ricochet
Bell Times: 9:22:29 – 9:28:34
Result: Ricochet pinned Tozawa following a recoil knee (6:05)

Ricochet vs. Matt Hardy
Bell Times: 9:32:45 – 9:39:15
Result: Ricochet pinned Hardy with a roll up (6:30)

Humberto Carrillo vs. Ricochet
Bell Times: 9:44:16 – 10:02:14
Result: Carrillo pinned Ricochet following a moonsault (17:58)

Asuka vs. Deonna Purrazzo 
Bell Times: 10:29:17 – 10:33:30
Result: Asuka submitted Purrazzo with an Asuka Lock (4:13)

AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton
Bell Times: 10:45:18 – 11:01:36
Result: Orton pinned Styles following an RKO (16:24)

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (12/9/19)

Venue: Bon Secours Wellness Arena (Greenville, SC)

Show Summary

The show began with Jerry “The King” Lawler in the middle of the ring. Lawler solemnly informed the crowd that this will be the first time that he will preside over the signing of divorce papers. Lana then made her entrance with her lawyer trailing behind. Rusev then came out donned in a daffy duck t-shirt and a suit jacket. Lana, in her trademark rushed cadence, told Rusev that she used to love him but the adulation of the fans and their Rusev Day chants got to his head. She then blamed the WWE Universe for the failure of their marriage. After a video recap of Lana and Bobby Lashley getting arrested last week was shown, Lana reiterated the talking points from before and then broke down and wept. The two then argued about who would get custody of their dog before King intervened and got the signing back on track.

Rusev said he would sign on only one condition, that he get a match with Lashley. Bobby then came down and said he was tired of all this nonsense. He was waiting for the divorce to be finalized so he could ask Lana to marry him. Lashley slammed Rusev’s head on the contract signing table and the two brawled for a bit to the outside before ending back in the ring where Rusev caught Lashley in position for a belly to belly suplex and slammed him through the table. Lana looked on with fire in her eyes.

Backstage, Charly Caruso interviewed Kevin Owens, asking him why he thought AOP attacked him last week. Without hesitation, Owens said AOP attacked him because Seth Rollins told them to. Kevin said he was lucky that he was able to get away from AOP last time and tonight, that was going to be a problem because he was going to go looking for them. KO then went walking through the backstage area where he ran into Rey Mysterio, who offered up his lead pipe as an equalizer.

Matt Hardy got a nice pop from the crowd during his entrance. Drew McIntyre then came down to the ring and talked about Hardy’s recently born third child. He made a few groan-inducing cracks about Hardy’s out of the ring behavior and how he probably shouldn’t be reproducing. Matt hit him with the twist of fate as soon as Drew entered the ring. Matt took the fight to Drew early on but it didn’t take long for McIntyre to gain the advantage. After Drew ran shoulder first into the post, Matt was able to hit him with a side effect but he only got a one count on the pinfall. Matt then tried another pin attempt but McIntyre rolled through, hit him with a future shock DDT and finished him off with a Claymore Kick.

An ‘Earlier Tonight’ video was shown of Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch in the locker room. Charlotte told Becky she didn’t like her, but right now, she has more of a dislike for the Kabuki Warriors. Flair asked Lynch if she would like to be Becky Two Belts again. Lynch said she’d rather face the Warriors two-on-one than team with Charlotte.

Kevin Owens was shown walking through the backstage area with the pipe Mysterio lent him. He ran into Mojo Rawley and asked him if he had seen the AOP. Rawley toyed with Owens for a bit before KO slapped him and walked off.

Batista was announced as the first inductee into the 2020 Hall of Fame.

The Viking Raiders came out to the ring and issued an open challenge. The Street Profits answered the call. Ford and Dawkins started off hot out of the gate. Ford hit Erik with a frog splash to get an early near fall that was broken up by Ivar. Ford and Ivar then did some dueling cartwheels before Ivar got the advantage on Ford with a spinning kick to the head. Dawkins soon came in to match Ivar in the size department, slamming him with an overhead belly to belly suplex. Ford then tagged in but Ivar hit them both with flying elbows before tagging in Erik who did some damage  before bringing his partner back in the ring to hit a Viking Experience for the win. After the match the two teams gave each other some mutual respect forearm bumps.

Seth Rollins’ music then hit. Rollins came down to the ring and said he had to take care of some unfinished business. He invited both teams to stay out there if they wanted to but both tandems opted to head to the back instead. Seth said he wanted to fight the AOP right now, but instead of getting Akam and Rezar, he got a pipe-wielding Kevin Owens to greet him in the ring. Owens asked Seth where the AOP were but Rollins denied being in cahoots with them. Suddenly, a video of a van pulling through the backstage entrance was shown on the screen and AOP hopped out.

Rollins and Owens bickered a bit before Seth said he was going to leave. KO then invited AOP down to the ring. Instead, they appeared on the screen, speaking in their native tongues in a threatening manner. Sami Zayn’s music hit and he walked out with Mojo Rawley. Zayn said that although he was officially part of the SmackDown roster, he was able to appear on Raw because he had applied for a managerial licence. Zayn then described himself as a liberator who sets people free. He then told Kevin that what he did to Mojo backstage was uncalled for and then demanded an apology. Rawley said everyone was tough when they have a steel pipe in their hands. Owens then tossed Mojo the pipe and stunned him.

After a commercial break, KO was shown walking through the backstage once again looking for AOP.

Back out in the arena, Aleister Black made his entrance for a match with Akira Tozawa, which was intercut with a video of a backstage promo of Buddy Murphy talking about how he was going to beat Black at TLC. The two had a back-and-forth feeling out process early on before Black hit the first big move of the match, nailing Tozawa with a knee as Akira came diving through the ropes on a suicide dive. Aleister then tossed his opponent back in the ring and knocked him silly with a thunderous Black Mass for the win.

Charly introduced a highlight video package of Humberto Carrillo before welcoming him into the backstage area for an interview. Zelina Vega and Andrade interrupted. Humberto and Andrade had a quick screaming and shoving match before parting ways while Zelina exclaimed, “Tonight?”

Out in the ring, Andrade went after Carrillo from the opening bell with what Samoa Joe called “unparalleled aggression.” The announce team wondered why Andrade was so fired up, theorizing it might have something to do with Carrillo and Zelina. After a few minutes of getting thrown around and beaten on, Humberto finally got his feet under him and started to fight back, hitting his usual high cross body/arm drag off the second rope combo. He then leaped to the top of the post and hit a moonsault on Andrade who was trying to regroup on the floor outside.

After a commercial break, the action was still going at a fast pace. Andrade hit Carrillo with a double foot stomp but then whiffed on a running double knee strike attempt into the corner. Carrillo countered with a missile dropkick off the top rope. He then went for an aztec press off the top rope but he missed by a lot. Andrade hit his spinning elbow but it wasn’t enough to put the rookie away. The two traded a stomp spot and kick spot before Andrade accidentally ran into Zelina and sent her flying off the ropes. Humberto capitalized with a surprise roll up pin for the win. Andrade and Zelina argued in the ring after the match.

Backstage, Rey Mysterio cut a promo talking about how important the US Championship was to him.

Buddy Murphy came down to the ring for a match with Zack Ryder. In a reverse of Murphy cutting a promo during Black’s entrance from before, this time Aleister was the one making the threats to Buddy. Murphy and Ryder then had a two-minute match in which Zack got a little bit of offense in before Buddy ended things with a Murphy’s Law.

Backstage, Owens walked up to AOP’s tinted van with a pipe in hand. He smashed the windows and passenger side mirror before breaking open the back door to reveal a hooded figure sitting in the backseat. Before he could see who it was, AOP attacked him from behind and beat him down, slamming his head into the back door. The figure then turned around and revealed himself to be Seth Rollins. Seth said “It’s come to this Kev. It’s a shame. I’m sorry,” before stomping KO’s head into the pavement.

Seth Rollins came out to face the live audience, passionately asking “What do you want from me?” Rollins finally cut the promo he’s seemingly been waiting to cut since he first started getting the boo bird treatment in the build up to the Brock Lesnar Summerslam match, a reaction which only became more pronounced during his ill-fated feud with “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. The fans responded with “you suck” chants. Seth said that the fans’ negativity has forced him to stand side by side with the AOP. Akam and Rezar then came out to join him for a quick pose on the stage.

Backstage, Owens was shown being stretchered into an awaiting ambulance.

After a two-week absence from Raw, Becky Lynch returned to square off with the Kabuki Warriors. Lynch and Asuka started things off. Lynch got the upper hand early but the Warriors’ numbers advantage eventually got the best of her. Becky eventually overcame the odds and ended up dropping both with a double DDT. Sane and Lynch took turns missing on an elbow and a leg drop respectively. Eventually, Becky caught Asuka in her own submission hold but Sane pulled her partner out of the ring. After nearly being counted out due to Kairi holding her down, Becky made her way back into the ring, where she was met with a shining wizard by Asuka. Lynch showed her resilience, though, kicking out at two. Sane hit Becky with a forearm off the top rope but Becky would not stay down. Kairi then went back to the top for an elbow drop but Becky got her feet up. Lynch put Sane in the Disarm-Her but Asuka pulled her out of the ring. On the outside, Asuka hit Becky with a chair, which forced the ref to call for a disqualification. Kairi and Asuka then set up a table on the outside and Sane hit her insane elbow from the top rope. The Warriors walked off, holding their belts high.

Backstage, AJ Styles talked about how The O.C. were going to take the tag titles from the Viking Raiders. Styles then threatened Randy Orton, saying they might just end his career.

In the trainer’s room, Lynch and Charlotte had a brief encounter. Charlotte asked Lynch, “How’d that go?” before walking off. As she was strolling down the hallway, the Kabuki Warriors attacked her with a chair from behind.

Erick Rowan faced an unnamed local talent. The guy started off the match by running out of the ring and stealing Rowan’s mysterious covered pet cage, bringing it to the top of the ramp. Rowan went to go check on the cage as his opponent ran back to the ring, hoping to win via count out. Instead, Rowan dashed back and gave him a barrage of claw chokeslams before the ref stopped the match. Rowan then went up the ramp to check on his creature.

Backstage, Charly caught up with the Kabuki Warriors, asking them what’s next. Asuka then laid down the challenge to Becky and Charlotte for the women’s tag titles at TLC. Back in the trainer’s room, Lynch asked Flair if she wanted to fight them. She said “yes, but let’s up the ante.” Becky, understanding full well what that meant, replied, “Tables, Ladders and Chairs.”

The Street Profits had a pretaped “Monday After the Weekend Update” spot spoofing SNL’s Weekend Update. This was the usual Street Profits backstage segment hyping up matches that have already been announced only in a very low budget studio setting.

Rey Mysterio and AJ Styles battled for the US Title in the main event.  The two were each dressed in red and black gear. They started the action in quick fashion, trading roll up near falls before taking a breath. Mysterio eventually tossed Styles through the rope to the outside and followed it up with a dropkick through the ropes and a moonsault from the second rope to the outside. Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows then made their way down to the ring to add some muscle. Their appearance was enough to distract Mysterio who got thrown shoulder first into the post by AJ.

Styles worked over Rey for a few minutes before Mysterio was able to fly through the ropes and hit Styles with what Samoa Joe referred to as a “sunset flip wall bomb” into the barricade.  The two barely beat the count of nine to keep things going. Mysterio hit a flurry of offensive maneuvers before AJ countered by slamming him directly onto his face.  Rey hit an enziguri and went for a 619 which Gallows shielded AJ from. Styles went up top but Mysterio met him up there. A hurricanrana attempt didn’t go that well. Both men crashed awkwardly towards the canvas. Styles regrouped and hit Rey with a power bomb and a Styles Clash but just as he was going for a potential winning pinfall, Randy Orton popped into the ring and winked at him. Having surpassed the 11 pm ending time, Rey rolled up a confused AJ to retain the United States Championship with the trademark & copyright graphic on the screen. The show awkwardly went off the air during the “still united states champion” announcement and a KFC waffles commercial played.

Overall Thoughts

Ultimately, it was a bit of a rushed, awkward ending to what was otherwise a pretty good show. This Mysterio/Styles bout didn’t reach the high points that the match which Mysterio won the title did but it was a decent main event that featured another Orton run-in that was telegraphed but still popped the crowd regardless.

The left of the ramp corner had some bad juju tonight. There were two rough botches: Humberto Carrillo’s Aztec Press and Rey Mysterio’s hurricanrana into what looked liked it was supposed to be a Styles Clash counter spot. Both were towards the end of their respective matches and both took the wind out of the crowd for the finishing sequences.

Otherwise, it was a good go-home show that built up three Raw matches for the TLC card: Kabuki Warriors vs. Charlotte and Becky Lynch, Rusev vs. Bobby Lashley and Buddy Murphy vs. Aleister Black. It was a bit odd to end with an Orton interference on Styles spot, unless they’re planning to announce that match up later in the week. The Drew McIntyre/Orton stuff also had no resolution, so maybe they’re shelving those storylines for after Sunday.

The AOP/Kevin Owens/Seth Rollins stuff had a good payoff. After beating around the bush for a few months, Rollins finally came out and cut the true heel-turn promo on the fans that’s been building for a while now, and he delivered it well. Rollins’ run as a face champion post-Wrestlemania win over Brock started off so promising, but then the Becky/Corbin/Lacey Evans stuff happened and he just never recovered. The feud against The Fiend proved to be the nail in the coffin. Now, he has a fresh start and a good direction to head into with Royal Rumble/Mania season on the horizon.

The Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte vs. Asuka Tables, Ladders and Chairs match from last year’s TLC was one of the best overall matches of 2018. Adding Kairi into the fold and forcing Charlotte and Becky to work together adds some fresh, interesting dynamics this time around. From a pure ‘entertaining match’ standpoint, that one looks like it has the highest upside on the TLC card as of now. Though the build has been way more miss than hit, Rusev vs. Lashley may end up being a fun, shenanigans filled brawl as well. Black vs. Murphy should be good, but how well received it is by the crowd will likely depend on where they put it on the card. Hopefully, Buddy can match Cesaro’s performance against Aleister at Extreme Rules, which is possible, but it will be no easy feat.

Match Results

Matt Hardy vs. Drew McIntyre
Bell Times: (8:30:37 – 8:32:53)
Result: McIntyre pinned Hardy following a Claymore Kick (2:16)

The Viking Raiders vs. The Street Profits
Bell Times: (8:48:07 – 8:51:19)
Result: Ivar pinned Ford following a Viking Experience

Aleister Black vs. Akira Tozawa
Bell Times: (9:13:35 – 9:17:10)
Result: Black pinned Tozawa following a Black Mass (3:35)

Andrade vs. Humberto Carrillo
Bell Times: (9:25:41 – 9:36:42)
Result: Carrillo pinned Andrade with a roll up (11:01)

Buddy Murphy vs. Zack Ryder
Bell Times: (9:45:00 – 9:46:59)
Result:  Murphy pinned Ryder following a Murphy’s Law

Becky Lynch vs. The Kabuki Warriors
Bell Times: (10:04:51 – 10:17:46)
Result: Lynch won via disqualification following an Asuka chair shot (14:55)

Erick Rowan vs. Local Talent
Bell Times: (10:28:39 – 10:29:58)
Result: Rowan via ref stoppage following a claw chokeslam (1:21)

Rey Mysterio vs. AJ Styles
Bell Times: (10:45:58 – 11:30)
Result: Mysterio pinned Styles with a roll up (14:22)


Monday Night Raw Review (12/2/19)

Venue: Bridgestone Arena (Nashville, TN)

Show Summary

Walking back his “we all sucked” comments from last week’s town hall, Seth Rollins shifted tones in his show opening promo this time around, apologizing to the fans, the locker room and Kevin Owens. KO came down to the ring and let Rollins know that his apology didn’t pass the smell test. AOP then appeared at the top of the stage to challenge both Seth and Kevin to a fight. Ever the skeptic, Owens predicted such a scenario would end badly for him. Still trying to display the aura of peacemaker, Rollins simply shrugged and said he tried and walked to the back, having a brief stare down with AOP at the top of ramp before the two let him pass without incident. KO was clearly in fighting mode.

Lana came out to the top of the ramp and had some back and forth banter with Owens. KO said she was beautiful on the outside but repulsive on the inside. Lana called Owens a candy eater, pizza eater, basic everyday man. Lashley then came down the ramp with two local police officers trailing behind to protect Lana from Rusev. Bobby and Kevin then went on to have the kind of punch-heavy brawl that one would expect from those two. After Owens hit Lashley with a pop up powerbomb, AOP came down to attack KO before dragging his body to the back. 

Charly Caruso entered the ring to talk with Lana and Lashley. As the detectives and Lana and Lashley all faced the stage, Rusev came running in from the crowd to surprise Lashley from behind with a superkick. He then taunted Lana before running off as the crowd chanted Rusev Day. Incensed, Bobby got in the detectives’ faces to scold them. One of the officers responded that in the state of Tennessee, they do things differently. Bobby angrily bumped the officer, which earned him a set of handcuffs. Lana then slapped him, which earned her the same fate. After a commercial break, footage was shown of Lana and Lashley being loaded into a squad car and being taken out of the arena as R-Truth and the Street Profits looked on. 

Drew McIntyre had a quick ‘throw around a smaller competitor like a rag doll’ match with Akira Tozawa. Tozawa got a brief hope spot following a missile dropkick but McIntyre dashed those hopes with a Claymore Kick that turned Tozawa inside out. 

After a dominant win, Drew picked up the mic and talked about cowards complaining on social media. He said he’d rather take a more direct approach and called out Randy Orton. McIntyre said that Randy was the most ferocious thing of the past but now the only thing Orton is ferocious at is posting on social media. Randy responded by saying there wasn’t a Drew McIntyre/Randy Orton problem; there was a Drew McIntyre/Reality problem. He then offered to solve that problem, but before the two could work out a proper solution, The O.C. interrupted things. They expressed their displeasure over the fact that Randy helped Rey Mysterio beat AJ Styles for the US Title last week. McIntyre excused himself from the ring, and Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows proceeded to beat him down. Ricochet, Humberto Carrillo and Mysterio luckily made the save. 

After returning from commercial, Orton was backstage with Ricochet, Carrillo and Mysterio. Rey asked him if he was alright. Randy said he appreciated the assistance but that he didn’t need it. 

Aleister Black and Tony Nese squared off in a match in which the former cruiserweight champion got in a surprising amount of offense. As usual, Black got some big “oh” reactions from the crowd with his thunderous kicks and strikes before finishing off Nese with a Black Mass, which Jerry Lawler referred to as Black Magic. Charly then interviewed Buddy who was watching the match on a monitor backstage, asking him if he regretted knocking on Aleister’s door. Murphy said that Black is a hothead who takes himself too seriously and he was going to be the one to calm him down. 

Andrade beat Eric Young in a quick match that didn’t seem to accomplish much besides getting Andrade a win. R-Truth then came running out with the usual crowd of 24/7 title challengers chasing behind him. Truth decided to hide at the feet of NASCAR drivers Michael Waltrip and Kyle Busch who were sitting at ringside. The strategy worked as the chasers all went running by him into the crowd. Unfortunately, Waltrip took off his fleece to reveal a referee shirt as Busch rolled up Truth from behind to become the new 24/7 Champion.

A frustrated Seth Rollins talked with Charly backstage and said he can’t win, because he’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t. He said everyone’s a critic, but not everyone’s got the guts to be a leader. 

Erick Rowan came out with his mysterious covered animal cage for a match with No Way Jose. He beat up some of the members of Jose’s conga line before turning his attention to their leader. He beat Jose after two claw chokeslams. Backstage, Sarah Schrieber asked Rowan what was in the cage but he simply glared at her before walking away.

The Kabuki Warriors battled Charlotte Flair in a handicap match. The Women’s Tag Champions got a two on one advantage on Flair throughout the match but Charlotte managed to fight them off and survive. Flair eventually attempted a moonsault off the top rope onto both her competitors but they each got their knees up. Charlotte went for a figure four leg lock but Asuka caught her in an armbar. Flair was able to power up and slam Asuka down to the mat but Kairi Sane saved her from a pinfall. Charlotte attempted to superplex both Warriors from the top but they countered and slammed her down to the mat. Charlotte hit a double spear on both Asuka and Sane. Shen then nailed Asuka with another spear and then applied the figure eight. Unfortunately, Flair didn’t realize Sane had tagged in. Kairi went up to the top rope and nailed a preoccupied Charlotte with an elbow drop to get the pinfall. 

In the main event, Rey Mysterio, Ricochet and Humberto Carrillo faced off against The O.C. in a six-man tag match, which was the usual heels get the heat early and the faces make a comeback with all their exciting moves kind of affair. The crowd was pretty invested in the final few minutes of the bout, which ended when Styles hit Ricochet with a Styles Clash off the second rope and then another for good measure. As Styles was celebrating, Randy Orton sneaked in from behind and hit him with an RKO, then did his pose on the ropes as the show went off the air.

Overall Thoughts

Some pretty good enthusiasm from the fans in attendance for the duration of the entire show is something that’s noticeably been missing from Raw crowds in recent months, so that was a welcome change. Speaking of welcome changes, Samoa Joe being put back on commentary was a great move.

As for the show itself, it was decent but it felt a little repetitive when compared to last week’s episode. There was another AOP assault on Kevin Owens. There was another Rusev/Lashley angle that ended in an arrest. The Kabuki Warriors’ numbers advantage got the best of Charlotte again. Erick Rowan had another squash match. Rinse and repeat.

There was no match tonight the quality of Rey Mysterio vs. AJ Styles for the US Title, although Charlotte vs. The Kabuki Warriors had some good action and intensity.

No Becky Lynch for the second week in a row is a bit strange. It seems like they could be saving her for next week’s go home show to have some sort of possible angle with Charlotte and the Kabuki Warriors and maybe build toward a tag title match at TLC.

Randy Orton’s a bit all over the place right now. Before Survivor Series, he was teasing tension with Ricochet. Last week, he cost AJ Styles his title. This week, he’s having face-to-face confrontations with Drew McIntyre and also getting into it with Styles and The O.C. as well.

They’re doing a nice job drawing out Rollins’s heel turn and having him fence hop a bit.

Overall, this felt like sort of a holding pattern episode. Last week set up a lot of angles coming out of Survivor Series. This week fleshed them out a bit. There are still no Raw matches announced for TLC, which is in less than two weeks, so presumably there should be a lot that happens on next week’s show.

Match Results

Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens
Bell Time: 8:20:23 – 8:29:10
Result: Owens won via disqualification following an AOP attack (8:47)

Drew McIntyre vs. Akira Tozawa
Bell Times: 8:45:33 – 8:49:45
Result: McIntyre pinned Tozawa following a Claymore Kick (4:12)

Aleister Black vs. Tony Nese
Bell Times: 9:12:11 – 9:15:38
Result: Black pinned Nese following a Black Mass (3:17)

Andrade vs. Eric Young
Bell Times: 9:23:09 – 9:27:46
Result: Andrade pinned Young following a hammerlock DDT (4:35)

Erick Rowan vs. No Way Jose
Bell Times: 9:47:19 – 9:48:55
Result: Rowan pinned Jose following a claw chokeslam (1:36)

Charlotte Flair vs. The Kabuki Warriors
Bell Times: 10:01:27 – 10:15:23
Result: Sane pinned Charlotte following an elbow drop (13:56)

The Viking Raiders vs. Mark Sterling & Mitchell Lyons
Bell Times: 10:25:55 – 10:27:28
Result: The Viking Raiders won via pinfall following a Viking Experience (1:33)

Rey Mysterio, Ricochet and Humberto Carrillo vs. The O.C. 
Bell Times: 10:43:47 – 10:58:26
Result: Styles pinned Ricochet following a Styles Clash

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (11/25/19)

Venue: Allstate Arena (Rosemont, IL)

The show began with a Raw town hall featuring Seth Rollins in the ring surrounded by the entire roster. Rollins was initially greeted with a mix of boos, CM Punk chants and NXT chants before telling the roster that they all sucked last night at Survivor Series. He called out Randy Orton and referred to him as the weak link of the Raw Men’s Survivor Series team. Orton responded by walking to the backstage and giving Rollins a not so respectful hand gesture on his way out.

Seth, in his trademark nasally, whiny voice, then criticized Charlotte and called out AOP who followed Orton’s lead and walked backstage. He then admonished Rey Mysterio for not being able to beat Brock Lesnar with a lead pipe and “his stupid kid.” That was the comment that turned the entire roster against him

Kevin Owens then entered the ring for a face to face showdown. Seth called him a “lazy piece of crap” and told Owens he could “never be Seth Rollins.” Owens decided to let his actions speak louder than words and stunned Seth, which received the first big cheer of the night.

Commercial Break No. 1

Charly Caruso interviewed a frustrated Rollins backstage. Seth laid down the challenge to Owens to fight him later tonight before storming off.

Bobby Lashley vs. Titus O’Neil

Bell Times: 8:17:22 – 8:18:23 (One minute and one second)

Donned in his finest Bloodsport t-shirt and sweatsuit, Rusev came charging out of the crowd to attack Lashley for the quick disqualification. He then let out his pent up anger by pounding away on Lashley, shouting “Come on Bob!”

Result: Lashley won via disqualification following a Rusev attack

As Lana screamed in horror, Rusev dragged Lashley up the ramp to the announce table before he was finally apprehended by police for violating the terms of the restraining order. The police unfortunately weren’t able to stop the enraged Bulgarian Brut from kicking over a metal stage truss onto the fallen Lashley.

Commercial Break No. 2

AOP vs. Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins

Bell Times: 8:27:22 – 8:29:14 (One minute and 52 seconds)

As expected, AOP”s first match back was nothing more than a quick dominant squash.

Result: Rezar pinned Hawkins following a sit out powerbomb

Akam and Rezar have changed up their look a bit, ditching the swat team vests and instead wrestling shirtless. They showed some good tandem slams but the crowd didn’t seem to care all that much, which isn’t surprising considering how low on the totem pole Hawkins and Ryder are.

Andrade vs. Akira Tozawa 

Bell Times: 8:35:43 – 8:38:12 (Two minutes and 29 seconds)

Besides a quick kick and a german suplex by Tozawa, this one was completely dominated by Andrade.

Result: Andrade pinned Tozawa following a Hammerlock DDT

Aleister Black warned Buddy Murphy that he was going to come collect what he is owed.

Commercial Break No. 3

Matt Hardy vs. Buddy Murphy

Bell Times: 8:45:29 – 8:48:26 (Two Minutes and 53 seconds)

Matt Hardy got a big pop from a crowd that was obviously surprised and excited to see him back in action. That excitement was short lived, though. Murphy quickly took the fight to Matt, knocking him woozy with a kick before throwing him into the post and slamming him to the outside. Hardy was able to hit a side effect to buy some time to recover. He actually gained the advantage and attempted the twist of fate before Buddy countered and him with three straight knees to the head to knock him out for good.

Result: Murphy pinned Hardy following a knee to the head

Following the match, Buddy got on the mic and called out Aleister who came storming down to the ring for a confrontation. Black nailed Murphy with a spinning elbow and a knee to the head, which got a big “oh!” reaction from the crowd, sending Murphy fleeing to the back. Aleister is one of the best pure strikers on the roster and it’s always a treat to see those skills on display even if it’s just for a few seconds.

Backstage, Charly interviewed Charlotte, asking her about her confrontation with Asuka at Survivor Series. Flair reminded everyone that she was the one that ended Asuka’s undefeated streak at Wrestlemania 34.

Commercial Break No. 4

The planned US title match pitting the champion AJ Styles against Humberto Carrillo never materialized. The O.C. took out Carrillo before he even got into the ring hitting him with a magic killer on the steps. Ricochet then came out to check on Carrillo and offer to be an impromptu replacement in the title bout.

Styles declined the request. Randy Orton’s music then hit and he offered to be the challenger instead. AJ reminded Orton that he already beat Randy at Wrestlemania and he had nothing left to prove against him. Drew McIntyre then came down to the ring to throw his hat into the ring. Styles said he’s a little to sore to compete, though.

Rey Mysterio then came down to the ring  and was met with the same response as his three predecessors. Ricochet then came up with the idea to have a fatal fourway match and the winner would get the chance to fight Styles for the title.

After consulting with Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows, who were surprisingly supportive of the idea, Styles finally gave in and agreed to the idea.

Commercial Break No. 5

Ricochet vs. Randy Orton vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Rey Mysterio

Bell Times: 9:13:45 – 9:28:13 (14 minutes and 28 seconds)

Orton hit an interesting move early sliding Mysterio under the bottom rope who then splashed onto Ricochet down on the floor. McIntyre and Orton teamed up to work over Ricochet before Mysterio entered the fray and took control. McIntyre, Mysterio and Orton came up with a unique combination superplex/german suplex off the top rope. While Randy was putting Rey into position for a superplex, Drew, who was dangling from the top rope by his knees, popped up and hit Orton with a german suplex of his own, sending Randy and Rey flying down to the mat.

The O.C. then returned to the ringside area to get a closer look at the finish.

Commercial Break No. 6

The two big fellas had a quick stare down in the middle of the ring and traded slaps before Randy raked Drew in the eyes.

A few near falls, including an O.C. interference spot which cost Orton a possible pinfall, got the crowd invested before Mysterio got a surprise roll up pin on Ricochet for the win.

Result: Mysterio pinned Ricochet following a roll up

Overall, this match was the type of fun, fast-paced affair that would be expected of these four. The McIntyre-Orton confrontation had some decent intensity.

Rey Mysterio vs. AJ Styles

Bell Times: 9:33:46 – 9:49:03 (15 minutes and 17 seconds)

Styles wasted little time going on the offensive right from the opening bell and wearing down his already fatigued challenger. Mysterio got a hope spot after managing to counter Styles and toss him shoulder first into the ring post. A 619 attempt was thwarted by an interfering Karl Anderson. Unfortunately, that mischief caught the attention of the referee who tossed both Anderson and Luke Gallows and sent them to the back.

Commercial Break No. 7

AJ had another issue with the ring post, this time going in for a baseball slide on a dangling Mysterio who moved out of the way and sent Styles sliding crotch first into the post. Mysterio got multiple near falls before finally hitting a 619 which got a standing ovation from the crowd. Unfortunately, Styles went flailing and knocked out the referee. The O.C. Took advantage of the situation by coming back down to the ring and beating on Rey. Fortunately for Mysterio, Randy Orton came down to fight them off before the two teamed up to hit Styles with a 619/RKO combination before Rey went up to the top and finished off AJ with a frog splash to pick up the win and the US Title.

Result: Mysterio pinned Styles following a Frog Splash

This match was a little slow to start but it built up well and finished with a bang. By the end, the crowd was standing and going nuts and they popped huge for the title change. Rey deserves major props for pulling double duty, especially considering he went to battle with Brock Lesnar last night. One minor gripe is that referee John Cone whiffed on the three count, hitting Styles’ foot on his way to slam down his hand for the final strike to the mat, but the crowd didn’t really seem to notice or care so it didn’t really have an effect on the moment.

Commercial Break No. 8

Backstage, Kevin Owens took the mic from Charly and delivered an emotional response to Seth Rollins, talking about how he is authentic and knows who he is. Owens then accused Seth of trying too hard to be a company man and in doing so, turning himself into a “miserable, whiny, insufferable prick.” He then said the next stunner he hits on Seth is “going to turn Monday Night Rollins into the Kevin Owens Show.”

This was a short but to the point passionate promo by KO. It outclassed any promo Rollins has cut as of late.

Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka

Bell Times: 10:00:21 – 10:17:38 (17 minutes and 17 seconds)

These two were in the unenviable spot of having to follow such a hot Mysterio/Styles match. Charlotte wasted no time taking out some leftover frustrations from Survivor Series, beating on Asuka early. Eventually, the presence of Kairi Sane on the outside distracted Flair and allowed Asuka to gain an advantage.

Charlotte eventually chased off Kairi who went running out into the crowd.

Commercial Break No. 9

The two traded some big shots before Charlotte went up to the top for a moonsault. Asuka was able to move out of the way. The women’s tag champ got a nice “oh!” reaction from the crowd with a running knee for a near fall.

There was a nice counter maneuver when Asuka reversed a natural selection attempt into an arm lock. Charlotte was able to escape and apply a submission of her own, locking in a Boston Crab.

Kairi returned to ringside to distract Charlotte some more. While the ref tended to Sane, Asuka repeated her Survivor Series shenanigans, once again spitting the green mist into the eyes of Charlotte before rolling her up and getting the victory.

Result: Asuka pinned Charlotte following a green mist spit

Overall, the crowd was pretty cold for this one, which probably had more to do with the fact that they were a bit drained from the Mysterio match. Asuka and Charlotte were actually working pretty hard and trading big moves and near falls but they just happened to be in a tough spot on the card tonight.

Commercial Break No. 10

Erick Rowan vs. Kyle Roberts

Bell Times: 10:24:04 – 10:25:28 (One minute and 24 seconds)

Robert started the match by rolling to the outside and trying to look inside the covered pet cage. That enraged Rowan who came out to powerbomb Roberts spine first into the ring post before tossing him back in the ring and hitting two claw chokeslams to pick up a quick victory.

Result: Rowan pinned Roberts following a claw chokeslam

This was like all the other Rowan squashes jobber matches they’ve been doing in recent weeks. This got absolutely no reaction from a disinterested crowd. It feels like Rowan actually had a bit of momentum going from the Daniel Bryan/Roman Reigns stuff on SmackDown. Since he’s moved to Raw, though, he seems to have lost that. Hopefully, the hidden pet in the cage angle has somewhat of an interesting pay off because if it doesn’t, he really doesn’t have much else going for him.

Commercial Break No. 11

AJ Styles was interviewed backstage. When asked what was going through his head, Styles struggled to come up with an answer before finally uttering “Randy Orton” and then walking out of frame.

Charly asked Lana about what she thought of Rusev’s actions. She called him an animal and said that the WWE should fire him. She then said that she’s going to be OK.

Commercial Break No. 12

Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins

Bell Times: 10:42:50 – 10:56:50 (14 minutes)

The two went back and forth for a bit before Seth went to the outside to grab a chair and stair at Owens menacingly. Kevin gestured to bring it on.

Commercial Break No. 13

Owens went for a cannonball off the top rope but Seth was able to get his knees up. Rollins worked over KO for a bit before Kevin was able to buy some time to recover with a DDT. He hit Seth with a running cannonball before heading to the top rope but Rollins rolled out to the floor. Owens improvised and decided to hit it off the apron instead.

After hitting a frog splash off the top rope, Owens proceeded to mock Seth’s setup for the stomp before missing on a pop up powerbomb attempt. Rollins countered with a falcon arrow before warming up for the stomp. Owens moved out of the way and missed on a stunner attempt but followed that up with a successful pop up powerbomb.

The two traded superkicks before Owens finally hit a charging Seth with a stunner. The two drained competitors both laid on the mat trying to compose themselves while AOP came down to the ring.

They both attacked Owens tossing him into the post shoulder first multiple times why the crowd voiced their displeasure at the unsatisfying finish, chanting “Bullshit!” Akam and Rezar then glared over at Seth before leaving the ring. Rollins took the opportunity to send a message to the helpless Owens by giving him two stomps and yelling at him as the show went off the air.

Result: Owens won via disqualification following an AOP attack

This is the second week in a row a Kevin Owens match ended prematurely right as it started to get really good. Last week, it was HHH coming out to halt his bout with Drew McIntyre. This time, it was AOP coming out for a beat down that the crowd obviously did not want to see.

Overall Thoughts

After a few quick squash matches, this show peaked in the middle with the No. 1 contenders fourway and the US Title match between Rey Mysterio and AJ Styles. Mysterio winning the belt clearly felt like the biggest moment of the show. The build up of tension between Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens throughout the night was also well done. Ultimately, though, that build up ended up feeling almost all for naught in the end given the AOP interference ending it led to. Still, it was a good start of what looks to be a long overdue heel turn for Rollins. After getting bombarded with boos at Survivor Series, it seems like they really had no choice but to lean into the crowd’s dislike for Seth.

Seeing how the show played it out and how tired the crowd was after Mysterio’s title win, it probably would have made more sense to start the show with the Asuka-Charlotte match, especially given the unresolved issues they had from Survivor Series, and swapped its position with the Lashley/Rusev angle.

Four straight sub three minute squash matches to start things off had this episode trending down in a hurry. Luckily, Mysterio, Styles and the other competitors in the fourway were able to pick up the excitement level. The KO/Seth match was good but it felt like it could have been a little better, and it was definitely hurt by a flat interference cop out ending.

Samoa Joe was missed on commentary. An absent Becky Lynch was missed in general. Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman were also not in attendance but that was to be expected.

Overall, now that the brand invasion stuff and Survivor Series is done, it at least looks as if Raw has a direction and some interesting feuds (Owens/Rollins, Murphy/Black, Charlotte/Asuka) moving forward.

WWE Monday Night RAW Review (11/18/19)

Venue: TD Garden (Boston, MA)

Match Results

Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair vs. The IIconics
Bell Times: 8:11:27 - 8:13:44
Result: Charlotte submitted Billie Kay with the Figure Eight (2:17)

This was a quick squash that was used to set up a post-match attack by Shayna Baszler, Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir, who came out from the crowd and beat up The IIconics. Lynch and Charlotte looked to save the opponents they had just vanquished but the three-on-two numbers advantage of the NXT women proved to be too much. After getting knocked out momentarily, Lynch and Flair chased Baszler and her friends throughout the crowd before security stopped them. Unhappy with the obstacle in her way, Becky decided to give one of the security guards a punch to the face, knocking him down to the floor.

Karl Anderson vs. Humberto Carrillo 
Bell Times: 8:27:15 - 8:36:50
Result: Carrillo pinned Anderson following Montez Ford's interference (9:35)

The Street Profits came out at the beginning of the match to even the odds. Besides a quick CM Punk chant early on, the crowd was rather quiet for this one until the final pin, which is the usual reaction Humberto has been getting from crowds. As usual, Carrillo impressed with his athleticism and high-flying offensive maneuvers but fans simply have yet to be given a good reason to invest or care about him.

Bobby Lashley vs. No Way Jose
Bell Times: 8:47:44 - 8:49:12
Result: Lashley submitted Jose with a Full Nelson (1:28)

Jose actually got a bit of offense in as well as a quick dance move and a blown kiss to Lana before Lashley took control and put him to sleep. The crowd did not care about this whatsoever.

Seth Rollins vs. Andrade
Bell Times: 8:58:08 - 9:13:23
Result: Rollins won via disqualification following interference by the Lucha House Party (15:15)

This one was slow to start as the two took turns feeling each other out. The heat picked up a bit and the crowd started to get into it following the commercial break when Rollins hit Andrade with multiple dives to the outside. Andrade got a near fall following a double knee strike in the corner and Rollins got one of his own following a buckle bomb. Andrade got a nice “oh!” reaction from the crowd with a spinning elbow before hitting a trio of suplexes. A Falcon Arrow got a near fall as well. Ultimately, the Lucha House Party interference ending felt flat and didn’t really make much sense considering none of those three are even on the SmackDown Men’s Survivor Series team. Admittedly, I had higher hopes for this match and was left feeling underwhelmed.

Akira Tozawa vs. Buddy Murphy
Bell Times: 9:23:00 - 9:29:41
Result: Murphy pinned Tozawa following Murphy's Law (6:41)

There was a good spot early on where Murphy caught Tozawa on a suicide dive attempt and suplexed him down onto the floor. Tozawa got a few nice “oh!” reactions with a series of loud kicks. This was a good performance by Akira and he managed to get a quiet crowd to pop a few times with some impressive looking kicks and leaps. Unfortunately, he’s also in the same boat as Humberto Carrillo. The fans need to be given a reason to care about him besides just what he does inside the ropes.

Erick Rowan vs. Unnamed Performer
Bell Times: 9:36:35 - 9:37:28
Result: Rowan won via pinfall following a Claw Chokeslam (53 Seconds)

For the second week in a row, Rowan squashed a local jobber in quick fashion. The Singh Brothers and R-Truth had a quick chase around the ring before the match. This seems to be building towards Rowan eventually unveiling what his hidden caged pet is.

Kevin Owens vs. Drew McIntyre
Bell Times: 9:47:09 - No Official Finish
Result: Match just stopped when HHH came out

McIntyre launching Owens from the apron into the barricade was one of the most impressive spots of the night. Kevin’s cannonball on the outside and his big bump on the apron were also big moves that got good reactions. The crowd was invested in the near fall-filled finishing sequence since Owens’ thunderous frog splash, his pop up powerbomb and his stunner as well as McIntyre’s Claymore Kick and DDT all felt like potential match enders. Then HHH came out and sucked the energy out of the arena.

Asuka vs. Natalya
Bell Times: 10:33:20 - 10:37:18
Result: Asuka pinned Natalya following a kick to the head (3:58)

This match got the type of reaction one would expect from a Natalya singles match, which is none at all. It was another in a long line of completely forgettable performances by her.

The Viking Raiders vs. Randy Orton and Ricochet
Bell Times: 10:47:21 - 10:55:34
Result: Orton and Ricochet won via disqualification following the attack by SmackDown performers (8:13)

Besides a quick little duel of athletic feats by Ricochet and Ivar there wasn’t really anything to this match. It was mainly used as a setup for the show-ending SmackDown and NXT attacks.

Other Stuff

-Becky Lynch began the show by cutting a promo calling out Shayna Baszler and Bayley. “What better place for an Irish person to fight than right here in Boston?” she asked. Instead of being greeted by either of her Survivor Series opponents, Lynch was interrupted by Peyton Royce and Billie Kay who came out to express their displeasure of being left off the Raw Women’s Survivor Series team. Lynch laid out the challenge to fight both of The IIconics. However, Charlotte Flair, looking for a warm-up to her match at Survivor Series, came down to even the odds and tag with Lynch.

-Samoa Joe joined the commentary team as Dio Maddin’s replacement.

-Charly Caruso interviewed Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins who assured her they were prepared for their tag team title match against the Viking Raiders. What they weren’t prepared for was a surprise attack by AOP who jumped them and took them both out.

-AJ Styles cut a quick promo talking about how he would love to defend his US Title against Humberto Carrillo but Carrillo disrespected him last week, so instead it would be fellow O.C. member Karl Anderson taking on Carrillo.

-Charly interviewed Seth Rollins who talked about accepting Andrade’s challenge and putting his Survivor Series spot on the line tonight. He also vaguely compared himself to Tom Brady, saying “Boston knows a thing or two about leaders, about champions. They’ve got a football team with a quarterback who has been so good for so long that half the world wants to see him fall. Sound familiar?” He then talked about being a leader and uttered his usual “Monday Night Rollins” and “Burn It Down” catchphrases. It was a typical bland Rollins promo that pandered to the home city and got his buzzwords in.

-Before Bobby Lashley’s match, Lana grabbed a mic and talked about how she filed for divorce as the crowd chanted “Rusev Day!” She also talked about filing a restraining order which forbids Rusev from coming within 90 miles, 90 days, 90 feet of his soon to be ex-wife. Even with the 90 miles slip up, this was still a slightly less embarrassing promo by Lana than last week’s abomination.

-Erick Rowan was seen talking through a cage to his unseen pet.

-Buddy Murphy went to knock on Aleister Black’s door but Black emerged before he could and the two had a quick stare down.

-Charly asked Randy Orton if he’d be able to coexist with the rest of the Raw Men’s Survivor Series team. Orton said “he doesn’t play well with others unless it benefits him, and being the greatest superstar in the history of Survivor Series benefited him.” He then ordered Charly to go find the Viking Raiders and let them know that he’ll be in the ring waiting to fight them with a partner of his choosing.

-HHH came out during the finish of the Kevin Owens-Drew McIntyre bout with his NXT watchdogs Damian Priest, Dominik Dijakovic and the Forgotten Sons. He then gave Owens a lecture which was interrupted when the red RAW shirt clad foursome of Buddy Murphy, Ricochet, Cedric Alexander and Mojo Rawley came out to brawl with the invaders. While that was going on the Undisputed Era attacked Owens from behind. The O.C. then came out to make the save and chase off Adam Cole and his gang.

-Charly announced that AJ Styles will defend his US Title against Humberto Carrillo on next week’s episode. Carrillo said he is humbled and excited to have the opportunity.

-Paul Heyman cut a promo recapping the events that led up to the Brock Lesnar vs. Rey Mysterio match at Survivor Series. He then announced that there will be a no holds barred stipulation for Sunday’s WWE Title match. Heyman said that it will be a miracle or a massacre. Mysterio then appeared with Charly and Humberto and told Carrillo he was proud of him. He then turned his attention to Lesnar and told Brock he was going to hunt him down and make him pay.

-The show ended with the SmackDown representatives of Lucha House Party, Dolph Ziggler, Bobby Roode, Heavy Machinery and Cesaro interrupting the tag team title match. The NXT representatives of Tommaso Ciampa, Pete Dunne, Matt Riddle, Keith Lee, Lio Rush and Isaiah Scott then came down to attack the SmackDown performers. The Undisputed Era, Killian Dain, Dominik Dijakovic, Damian Priest and the Forgotten Sons then came charging through the crowd to surround the Viking Raiders, Randy Orton and Ricochet. Seth Rollins’ music hit and the Raw locker room came charging down and a massive brawl ensued. HHH then appeared on the screen and said “This was just the beginning. This just the beginning of the end. In six days at Survivor Series, we will finish this and show the world that NXT is the A brand of the WWE. Until then, this Wednesday night, it’s an open door. Raw, SmackDown, bring everything you got. I’m going to leave the doors wide open for you.” The camera then cut back to the carnage in and around the ring. Keith Lee scooped up Humberto Carrillo and threw him over the top rope down onto the Street Profits as Vic Joseph asked, “Who is going to survive at Survivor Series?”

Overall Thoughts

RAW has developed a troubling trend of quiet crowds, and tonight was no exception. Besides the last few minutes of the Kevin Owens/Drew McIntyre match, the fans were largely silent and seemingly unenthusiastic during the rest of the show, including for the key show-ending brawl which was supposed to have a climactic energy but instead ended up feeling overstuffed with too many people. Although there were way more bodies in this brawl, the end to this show paled in comparison to last year’s iconic image of a bloody Becky Lynch standing tall as the crowd surrounding her went wild.

It definitely didn’t help that none of the true stars from SmackDown were part of the invaders from the blue brand. None of the five members from the SmackDown Survivor Series team (Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Mustafa Ali, King Corbin and Shorty G) were even there. Instead it was the likes of Lucha House Party, Ziggler and Roode who are much lower on the totem pole and not people the fans really care about seeing.

For a key go home RAW before such a big pay per view, this show ended up feeling rather weak and uneventful. The Owens/McIntyre match was fairly entertaining and one of the few bouts the fans actually got invested in but the lack of a proper finish hurt it. The same can be said for the Rollins/Andrade match although that wasn’t quite as good.

There were some other positives, though. Just like he did as an analyst for the WWE Draft, Samoa Joe proved to be a natural in a commentary role.

Akira Tozawa had an encouraging showing in a losing effort.

The tease of an Aleister Black/Buddy Murphy feud feels like it’s going to give both those guys something important to do following Survivor Series.

The no holds barred stipulation adds a little more intrigue to the WWE Title match between Brock Lesnar and Rey Mysterio.

HHH laying down the challenge to Raw and SmackDown to walk through the door at Full Sail does at least add a bit more suspense to Wednesday night’s NXT show.

Everything else from this episode just kind of happened, which is a problem that RAW has been suffering from lately. A lot of times it just feels like the matches are thrown together just to fill time and there’s really no purpose to the fights, which is probably why crowds simply aren’t getting invested in the action. The fact that it’s the lead up to Survivor Series obviously plays a factor in the lack of interesting feuds. Hopefully, next week’s episode establishes some better and more interesting storylines going forward.

WWE NXT Review (11/13/19)

Venue: Full Sail Live (Winter Park, FL)

Cruiswerweight Championship Match
Angel Garza vs. Lio Rush

(8:06:02 – 8:18:58)

There were dueling Garza and Lio chants from the crowd as the opening bell rang. Garza opened things up with a nod to last week’s episode, offering up a handshake before quickly going for a slap which Lio ducked under. The two ran around and bounced off the ropes, missing each other with strikes, before Gaza stepped outside the ring and into the first row to show the ultimate sign of disrespect: ripping off his pants right in front of Rush’s wife and two children.

“You don’t spit in the wind. You don’t pull on Superman’s cape. And you don’t mess with Lio Rush’s family” – Mauro Ranallo

Lio came diving through the ropes to nail Garza and toss him back into the ring. It was there where Lio hit a kick strike before whiffing on a second attempt. He then went for springboard stunner off the ropes but Angel had him scouted. Garza then charged at him but Lio moved out of the way and tossed him underneath the bottom rope to the outside.

After a wrecking ball dropkick, Rush attempted a topé suicida but Garza caught him and slammed him on the outside.

Commercial Break No. 1 (Picture In Picture)

Garza hit Lio with a knee and Rush responded with a slap. Once again, Lio went for a springboard stunner but Garza nailed him in the back with a drop kick, which led to a near fall. Angel then went for a moonsault off the second rope but missed.

After a swinging neckbreaker, which Beth Phoenix referred to as beautiful, the champion got a near fall of his own.

As the split crowd once again dueled it out with chants for both competitors, Rush made his way to the top rope but was crotched. Garza then made his way to the top and hit a moonsault powerslam but Rush got his shoulder up just in time as the crowd chanted “Holy Shit!”

“This is Awesome!” chants rained down on the ring as Rush hit a charging Garza with a desperation Spanish Fly. He then hit a spinning heel kick and followed it up by finally landing the springboard stunner off the ropes. He held on to his head so he could get a retribution slap to the face. Getting a bit greedy, Lio went for another stunner but Garza caught him and hit him with his Wing Clipper finisher but Rush refused to stay down.

Looking to add some extra impact on his next Wing Clipper attempt, Angel climbed to the second rope but the “Please Don’t Die!” chants from the crowd awoke the woozy champion and they proceeded to trade headbutts before Rush flung the challenger back down to the canvas. A Final Hour frog splash wasn’t enough to put Garza away, so using the same attitude he did with the stunners a short time before, Lio went with the ‘let’s try it again’ game plan and headed back up top to hit another one on Angel who by that time had rolled to the ropes. It proved enough to get a three count but it was clear to everyone in the building except the referee that Garza had his foot under the ropes.

Result: Rush pinned Garza following a Final Hour (12:56)

That was an incredibly disappointing and unfulfilling finish to such an exciting match. It killed a crowd that had been absolutely invested in every single move and ebb and flow of the match until then. This one seemed like it was possibly trending to an ending shot of both guys finally giving a mutual respect handshake in the middle of the ring after a tremendous battle and having the crowd give a standing ovation to each performer and maybe giving Garza a nice push towards being a cocky but likable face. Instead, it was a cop out finish that the crowd hated and booed. Not only did the disputed ending not do any favors to either, it actually hurt both and diminished what was otherwise a great performance by the two of them. That was a sour taste leaver for sure.

The show then cut to a shot outside where an injured Tegan Nox writhed in pain and an unconscious Rhea Ripley laid sprawled out in a gated area of stones.

Commercial Break No. 2

A video package for the Becky Lynch/Bayley/Shayna Baszler Survivor Series triple-threat match was shown.

Xia Li vs. Aliyah

(8:28:00 – 8:30:05)

The two traded offensive attacks before Xia hit Aliyah with a springboard double axe handle and finished her off with spinning back kick.

Result: Li pinned Aliyah following a spinning back kick (2:05)

This was the ‘let the fans catch their breath’ match after an exciting opener.

Finn Balor came down to the ring to cut a promo.

He called out and criticized both Johnny Gargano and Matt Riddle.

“I used to be proud of this place but now it’s a joke. I built this place but since I’ve been gone a bunch of little boys moved in.”

Riddle emerged from the darkness and attacked Balor and the two brawled outside the ring before Finn made an exit through the crowd and Matt called him a putz.

The Undisputed Era’s theme hit and all four of the gold holders surrounded him.

Just as Adam Cole told him it was the wrong place, wrong time, Tommaso Ciampa’s music hit and he and Keith Lee made their way down to the ring to help out their War Games teammate. Lee picked up the mic and commended Cole for his performance on Raw and SmackDown before laying down a challenge to the NXT Champion to fight him as the crowd chanted “Oh, Bask In His Glory.” Roderick Strong intervened and said Cole deserved the night off and volunteered to fight Keith instead.

Commercial Break No. 3

Roderick Strong vs. Keith Lee

(? – 9:04:52)

The opening bell occurred during the commercial break. Lee made the most of his size and strength advantage in the first few minutes, tossing Roderick around and showing off his power. Eventually the North American Champion caught Keith with a few kicks and shoulder blocks.

The two traded chest slaps with Lee hitting the final and hardest of the exchange with a double slap that sent the sweat flying off Strong’s chest. Roderick recovered, though, and managed to crotch Keith on the second turnbuckle before nailing him with a kick to the head.

Commercial Break No. 4

The two ended up on the outside. Strong was able to hit him with multiple wrecking ball dropkicks before tossing him back into the ring.

As Roderick put Lee in a rear chin lock, this commentary exchange happened.

“Keith Lee, a huge Star Wars fan, possibly channeling the force, Nigel.” – Beth

“That’s not going to help him much.” – Nigel McGuinness

“I find your lack of faith disturbing.” – Beth

Lee powered up and threw Strong around the ring with a belly to belly suplex but Roderick showed his feistiness, hitting some counter punches. Eventually, the two ended up on the top rope where Strong managed to hit a Superplex for a near fall.

Roddy hit a slew of forearms before Keith nailed him with a clothesline as both men collapsed to the canvas to catch their breath. The pause in action provided the other three members of the Undisputed Era a chance to come down to the ring but they were soon met by Ciampa and Riddle. Balor emerged to take out Riddle with a double foot stomp into the stairs outside. The fracas on the outside distracted a reawakened Lee for long enough so that Strong could hit him with a jumping knee and a Roddy Slam. A pinfall attempt could not keep him down for three, though.

“It’s unbelievable, Lee kicked out again” – Mauro Ranallo

Eh, it’s not that unbelievable. Trends show to always bet the over for total number of kick outs in a Keith Lee match. The Limitless One, a nickname which apparently references Keith’s kick out abilities, then hit Strong with a Jackhammer and picked up the victory.

Result: Lee pinned Strong following a Jackhammer (Match time unknown)

Following the match a brawl between Ciampa, Lee and the Undisputed Era ensued before Donovan Dijakovic came out to make the save and let Tommaso know by way of a handshake extension that he’d like to join his War Games team. Ciampa accepted but Keith needed some more convincing. After a quick stare down and a standoff, the two heard the crowd chanting “Hug It Out!” and opted for a simpler but still satisfactory handshake agreement instead.

Commercial Break No. 5

Back from commercial, Mauro got some breaking news in his headset that there was some more pandemonium going on backstage. The cameras then cut to the outside area where a bunch of concerned backstage personnel were seen tending to the unconscious bodies of Marina Shafir, Jessamyn Duke and Candice LeRae. HHH consulted with a scantily clad Scarlett Bordeaux about how this could have happened but both just shot bewildered looks and gestures back at one another.

Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Bronson Reed

(9:14:43 – 9:26:39)

Swerve hit a dropkick off the top rope early but Reed responded with a shoulder block that knocked him down to the mat. The “thicc” 300-pound Australian native sat on Scott’s back for a bit while Beth and Mauro referenced John Tenta and Yokozuna.

Bronson tossed Isaiah over the top rope with ease and then headed out to do some more damage. Scott managed to reverse a slam attempt and sent Reed face first into the ring post.

Commercial Break No. 6

Scott hit a Flatliner for a two count. After Isaiah delivered a few strikes to the chest of Reed, the Aus-zilla returned the favor with a thunderous clothesline and a senton bomb. He then made his way up to the top rope but Scott recovered in time and met him up there. After teasing a a tombstone piledriver, Scott flipped out of it and hit Bronson with a DDT.

Scott attempted a sunset flip but failed. Luckily, though, he moved out of the way of a dropping Reed just in time and was able to nail him with a House Call strike to the back of the head to pick up the win.

Result: Scott pinned Reed following a House Call (11:36)

Another good showing from Scott and another good showing from Reed. Nothing spectacular here but it was solid nonetheless. They’re bringing these two along slowly but surely which seems like the way to go.

Cathy Kelley made the announcement that William Regal had added Finn Balor vs. Matt Riddle to the War Games card, thus Riddle relinquished his spot in the men’s War Games match to Dominic Dijakovic.

Pete Dunne was shown doing push ups backstage.

Commercial Break No. 7

A Forgotten Sons video package was shown in which they said, “We are the savages of NXT and you will never forget us.”

Pete Dunne and Killian Dain were set to do battle but Damian Priest took the opportunity to get revenge on each of them by beating down both Daine and Dunne as well as the stage crew to likely set up a triple-threat that was already to be expected judging from what happened on last week’s episode.

Backstage, Cathy interviewed Mia Yim, asking her how she was able to concentrate with all the chaos unfolding around her.

As Yim talked about how she was trying to keep her focus, Dakota Kai knocked on the door and came in to let Mia know that she had her back.

Commercial Break No. 8

Mia Yim vs. Io Shirai

9:46:00 – 10:05:58

It didn’t take long for the two to end up on the outside. Less than a minute in, both were looking to get to the ladder first. With a ladder bridged between the guard rail and the apron, Shirai managed to kick the ladder into Mia’s face. Yim answered by slamming Io’s hand in the ladder.

The two struggled on the outside for a bit before rolling back in.

Commercial Break No. 9 (PIP)

Shirai hit a 619 on Yim. Then Mia countered with a belly to belly onto a ladder perched in the corner. That gave Mia enough time to set up the ladder for the first attempt of a climb but Io grabbed her foot and yanked her down before she could get too far. Shirai then sandwiched Yim in between the ladder and drove the rungs into her back.

Sensing that ladder had become too weak to stand on and climb, Io went looking for another one beneath the ring. She found it and tossed it in. Mia was able to counter with a kick to the head, sending Shirai rolling to the apron. Yim, in the center of the ring, then picked the ladder up with both hands and spun around only to find the soles of Shirai’s feet flying at her, knocking the steel into her face and cutting her open with a loud thud.

A concerned hush spread throughout crowd as Nigel and Beth traded worried “No’s” while Mauro didn’t beat around the bush, saying “Yim’s leaking like a faucet.”

Forced replays, avoiding camera angles, a lot of plastic glove clad officials and some stalling by Io let the viewers at home know that Mia was in an unexpected bad way. A credit goes to Yim for finding a way to persevere and continue. With the crowd transitioning from the earlier “Io” chants to the newfound “Mia” mantra, a bloodied Yim began to climb before finding herself being suplexed back down to the mat.

A running double knee strike from Io followed by a subsequent headbutt did their intended damage, sending a wounded Mia crashing down to the floor outside. As promised, Dakota Kai came down to check on Mia. Eating a moonsault off the top rope was the reward she got for her concern.

Kai managed to regain the strength to interfere and powerbomb Io off the ladder, which bought Yim enough time to recover and begin an ascent of her own. NXT UK Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray showed up looking to counteract Kai’s act of charity with some interference of her own. She tilted the ladder and sent Mia flying over the ropes and crashing down into the bridged ladder below. Io then climbed up and snatched the briefcase to earn Team Baszler the advantage at War Games.

Result: Shirai won by unhooking the briefcase (19:58)

Following the match Bianca Belair came down to pose with Shirai and Lee and Baszler came out to show her approval but a chair-wielding Bayley interrupted the celebration by taking out Shayna before the rest of the team chased her off as the show went off the air.

It’s tough to judge the home stretch of this match considering the dynamic obviously shifted once Mia drew some hardway blood and the crowd rallied behind her. Regardless of that, the ending seemed like it was setting up to be a little too convoluted, just like last week’s episode. The whole NXT blending in with the main roster, War Games, Survivor Series, all the teams, all the feuds, it’s getting to be a bit overwhelming and hard to keep track of at this point.

It’s…well, it’s a lot. Hopefully, someone makes a good flowchart and simplifies it.

Final Thoughts

The crowd never seemed to fully recover from the ending to the opening Cruiserweight Championship match. Instead of a crescendo, they got a fizzle, and there was a definite sense that the fans weren’t happy that they got so emotionally invested only to be rewarded with such a meaningless payoff.

A credit to the folks in attendance, they did organically get behind Mia in the main event following the events that unfolded only to have their hopes dashed. It’s hard to rate that main event match. It was slow to start, then Yim got cut, and then things got thrown out of whack for a minute, then the fans got behind Mia, and then a whole bunch of interference happened and ultimately no one really seemed happy at the end. The ‘who attacked everybody?’ angle does set up some good intrigue for next week’s episode. Hopefully, there’s a good payoff.

AEW Dynamite Review (11/13/19)

Venue: Municipal Auditorium (Nashville, TN)

After a highlight package of Full Gear and a quick rundown of tonight’s lineup, the proper show began with a video update of a black-eyed Kenny Omega who’s apparently still too beat up from his bloody brawl with Jon Moxley to be cleared to compete tonight.

Moxley was ready to go, though. He kicked off the action against Michael Nakazawa.

Jon Moxley vs. Michael Nakazawa

(8:06:46 – 8:07:57)

The crowd showed their adoration for the Purveyor of Violence with loud “Moxley!” chants as the opening bell rang.

This was a quick nothing match. After absorbing a back elbow from Nakazawa, Moxley hit the Paradigm Shift for the victory.

“Well, Moxley has proven once again he doesn’t work by the hour. That was fast and furious.” – Jim Ross

“One of the most unpredictable and scariest men I’ve seen in a long, long time.” – Tony Schiavone

Result: Moxley pinned Nakazawa following a Paradigm Shift (1:11)

Afterwards, Moxley grabbed a mic and and began cutting a promo, starting by mockingly looking towards the back and asking Tony Khan, “So that one counts, right?”

“Kenny Omega will never be the same again. Now, Kenny, you are one radical son of a bitch. Our personal difference notwithstanding, I do respect you. You had the balls to do something I don’t think anyone else in AEW is going to have the balls to do anymore. I don’t think anybody in that dressing room is going to have the balls to step in the ring with me. But can’t nobody run, can’t nobody hide forever. I am on a pilgrimage to scorch the Earth of AEW one broken neck ata time until I am the last man standing.”

Moxley then challenged the entire locker room to see if anyone was man enough to step in the ring to fight him.

“Just do me a favor, if you’re going to step in the ring with me, kiss your loved ones goodbye before you leave the house. Have an ambulance on speed dial, and when it’s all over, nobody ask me for any damn apologies.”

The Dark Order vs. Jurassic Express 

(8:15:46 – 8:25:17)

“Let’s talk about Marko Stunt real quick. Much has been talked about, much has been written about his size and how it comes into play. I like his enthusiasm. I like the fact that he is so quick, so fast and so agile, it is very, very difficult to be able to get a read on him.” – Schiavone

“I admire his courage. He is trying to live his dream. He is not the normal sized wrestler, if there is such a thing anymore.” – Ross

Stunt and Evil Uno started things off. Marko got the chance to show off his enthusiasm and agility by reversing one of Uno’s moves into an arm drag before both men tagged out.

Jungle Boy and Stunt took turns working over Stu Grayson. Marko got a little too cocky, however, taunting Uno before the big man came in, slammed him and hit him with a senton bomb off the top rope.

Commercial Break No. 1 (Picture In Picture)

Back from commercial, Stunt managed to make the hot tag. Jungle Boy came in the ring and picked up the energy level, taking out both Uno and Grayson. Surprisingly, he quickly tagged back out to Stunt and they worked together to take out both of Uno and Grayson with some tandem offensive maneuvers.

A whiff and a slip off the top rope by Stunt got on an “eww” reaction and deflated the crowd. Those ewws soon turned to boos as both Grayson and Uno worked together to put Stunt away with a Fatality.

Result: Uno pinned Stunt following a Fatality (9:31)

After the match, Uno grabbed a microphone, gave Marko a mask and offered him the chance to become one of the Dark Order’s creepers. Jungle Boy intervened and threw the mask to the ground, earning both him and his partner a beat down.

Luckily, Luchasaurus appeared for the save and single-handedly decimated all the creepers before taking out Grayson with a chokeslam followed by a standing moonsault as Uno escaped.

The three members of the Jurassic Express embraced in the middle of the ring and posed.

Commercial Break No. 2 (PIP)

Shawn Spears vs. Peter Avalon vs. Darby Allin

(8:35:20 – 8:39:04)

The fans made it clear who they were rooting right from the start, chanting “Let’s Go Darby” as the opening bell rang.

Avalon missed a splash off the top rope and got tossed out of the ring to start things off. Allin then gained the advantage on Spears early but an attempt at a high risk move off the top rope backfired as Spears took his legs out and sent him bouncing down to the canvas.

Joey Janela then appeared at the top of the ramp and he and Spears then started brawling throughout the crowd. Back in the ring, Allin and Avalon duked it out for a minute before Darby hit a Stunner and Coffin Drop to pick up a pinfall victory.

Result: Allin pinned Avalon following a Coffin Drop (3:44)

Following the match, with the crowd once again loudly chanting “Darby!” Allin picked up a microphone.

“Jon Moxley, I accept!”

Commercial Break No. 3

Nyla Rose vs. Dani Jordan 

(8:45:21 – 8:46:57)

Jordan got a slap in early but all that did was anger Nyla who proceeded to clotheline her, whip her into the corner and give her a Samoan Drop before finishing her off with a sitout powerbomb.

Result: Rose pinned Jordan following a sitout powerbomb (1:36)

Schiavone began to interview Allie at ringside before the lights went out and Awesome Kong and Brandi Rhodes appeared at the top of the ramp. Kong came down and knocked Allie out. Brandi pinned her to the ramp while Kong cut off a lock off her hair in the same fashion she did to Bea Priestley at the Full Gear pre-show.

“What the hell is going on? Does anybody know? This is freaky.” – Ross

Commercial Break No. 4

AEW Champion Chris Jericho came to the ring to cut an in-ring promo and got an overwhelmingly warm response for a heel champion.

“I demand a thank you from every single member of the AEW roster, the back office, the front office, the side office. I want my thank you.”

The fans then cheered, but Jericho told them he wanted a thank you from people that matter; not jackasses from Nashville.

“I told you I was going to prove that Cody is not as good as you think he is, and that he’s nothing more than an entitled millennial son of a bitch.”

The lights went out, and Cody’s music and pyro hit, but instead of Cody, it was MJF, Cody’s once best friend who betrayed him with a low blow at Full Gear, who emerged from the smoke.

The crowd let MJF know what they thought of his actions with loud “Asshole!” chants. MJF soaked in the boos and did his usual mocking of the fans. 

“You people don’t like me very much do you? Are you upset because I threw the towel in, yeah? What you people don’t seem to understand is if I didn’t throw that towel in, your favorite little wrestler’s career would be over. And yet you want to boo me as if I’m the villain. Meanwhile, you people have been cheering for the real villain the whole time. And that villain’s name is Cody.

(In southern accent) MJF, what do you mean man, Cody’s in my living room every week. He’s a stand up guy. I love me some Cody Rhodes.

Oh do you guys, huh? You love Cody, huh? Well guess what, Cody couldn’t give less of a shit about any single one of you. Because the real Cody only cares about himself. But you sheep don’t want to believe that. There is only one person on this plant who knows the real Cody and you’re looking at him.

The real Cody is a liar. The Real Cody is a user and abuser. The real Cody saw a young, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed kid from Plainview, Long Island, New York and he looked at him, and all he saw was someone he could make into his puppet. And that sociopath put his hand out with a smile on his face and said, hey kid, I want to be your mentor.”

The crowd responded with “Bullshit!” chants. MJF said that he is the new face of AEW.

“Cody Rhodes, I’m better than you and you know it.”

MJF then turned his attention to Jericho and the two had a back and forth exchange about whether MJF would like to join The Inner Circle before they both agreed upon who the biggest jackass was in AEW: Cody Rhodes.

Cody then came charging down to the ring, whiffed on a powerslam on Jericho before successfully hitting it on a second attempt. Then Wardlow made good on the promise of his vignettes and arrived to beat down Cody and choke him with his own tie.

Commercial Break No. 5

Pac vs. Adam “Hangman” Page

(9:14:02 – 9:26:09)

Pac hit some kicks early before bringing the action to the outside with a Page-esque moonsault off the top rope down to the outside. After moving out of the way of a Black Arrow attempt, Hangman responded with a topé suicida and a powerbomb as the crowd chanted “Cowboy Shit!”

Schiavone praised Pac’s leg strength while JR compared him to Dynamite Kid.

The two eventually ended up back on the outside, where Page hit a moonsault of his own.

Commercial Break No. 6

Pac hit Page with a German Suplex, and then hit another but Hangman landed on his feet and nailed him with a spinning lariat clothesline.

Pac got a two-count following a spinning heel kick but Page responded with a superkick to knock him to the outside. The fans showed their appreciation of the action, chanting “This is Awesome!”

Hangman hit Pac with a brainbuster on the outside and followed it up with a buckshot lariat back in the ring but it wasn’t enough to put Pac away.

After two kicks to the head sent Page to the mat, Pac proceeded to stomp on a motionless Page’s head before going up top, hitting a Black Arrow and then putting him in the Brutalizer. The referee was forced to call for the bell when Page failed to respond.

Result: Pac won by submission with the Brutalizer (12:07)

It was a bit of an odd ending to a decent match. This was basically a shorter, more TV friendly version of the bout these two had at Full Gear last Saturday, only this time Pac was the one who came away victorious.

While the announcers advertised the upcoming tag team title match featuring the champions SCU against Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara (JR referred to Guevara as Sammy G for some reason), the camera cut to the backstage area where officials tried to break up a scuffle between The Young Bucks and Santana & Ortiz.

Matt Jackson slammed Ortiz through a table while Santana jumped off a forklift onto the Bucks and some security guards. JR somehow managed to confuse Ortiz for Santana as well as Matt for Nick in the span of a few seconds only to be corrected by his broadcast colleagues. Santana then kicked Nick through a door into a bathroom where Orange Cassidy was seemingly just standing around and hanging out—a quick appearance which got a huge pop from the crowd. Then Matt hit Santana with a kick of his own as the brawl raged on throughout the picture in picture commercial break.

Commercial Break No. 7 (PIP)

The two teams brawled from backstage through the arena and out into the ringside area. Ortiz used the loaded sock as an equalizer and took out both Jackson brothers, ending the brawl by slamming Matt through the same spot on the stage that they sent Ricky Morton through.

Private Party then came running out to confront them as Matt climbed out from his hole and Nick limped to the backstage area.

Fittingly enough, a graphic popped up on the screen, advertising a tag match pitting Santana & Ortiz against Private Party on next week’s episode. Darby Allin vs. Jon Moxley was also advertised.

Commercial Break No. 8

SCU vs. Chris Jericho and Sammy Guevara

(9:48:25 – 9:59:09)

Guevara and Jericho came out separately.

At a combined age of 91, Chris Jericho and Frankie Kazarian started off the action. Kazarian hit a few arm drags and a drop kick early. An overwhelmed Jericho stumbled to his corner to escape by tagging in Guevara. Kazarian dumped Guevara on his head with a German Suplex.

Commercial Break No. 9 (PIP)

Guevara taunted and posed while working over Kazarian. The fans made it known who they wanted to see, chanting “We Want Jericho!”

Guevara missed on a Shooting Star Press, which gave Frankie the chance to tag in Scorpio Sky. Jericho interfered and broke up a Dragon Sleeper to save Guevara. On the outside, Jake Hager took out Kazarian. Christopher Daniels then came looking to help out by running across the ring and diving through the ropes but Hager caught him and threw him into the barricade. Jericho then tagged in but Sky was able to hold onto the advantage before Chris caught him in midair with a Codebreaker. Somehow Sky managed to kick out and then roll up Jericho to retain the tag titles.

Result: Sky pinned Jericho with a roll up (9:44)

After the match, Jericho showed his frustration by tearing up the ringside area and tossing around chairs as the show faded to black.

This was a bit of a sloppy match that lacked heat and had an unsatisfying roll up finish. It was actually quite reminiscent of the opening women’s tag team championship match on this past Raw, in which the champion Kabuki Warriors retained over Becky Lynch and Charlotte. As in that match, there was only one performer (in that one it was Becky; in this one it was Jericho) the fans seemed to care about seeing. Unfortunately, Becky and Jericho spent most of the time on the apron before each entered and ate a roll up pin. SCU tried to work babyface here but the fans just didn’t seem to care about them, which is the general reaction they have been getting since winning the belts.

Final Thoughts

As far as in-ring action is concerned, this felt like the weakest Dynamite episode thus far. There were two one-minute squash matches, a quick triple-threat match, a forgettable tag match between Dark Order and Jurassic Express, a Pac/Page bout that was good but not on the same intensity level as their match at Full Gear and a main event tag title match that lacked heat and had a disappointing flat finish.

Thankfully, there were some highlights outside of the ring, though. Luchasaurus returned and got a huge welcome back response. The Jericho/MJF promo got the desired heel heat from the crowd and it ended by debuting Wardlow, a character AEW’s been hyping up for a while. The brawl between The Young Bucks and Santana & Ortiz was well done and it helped shift the focus from the Bucks to Private Party. Awesome Kong and Brandi Rhodes are at least trying to do something. Plus, next week’s Darby vs. Moxley match is an intriguing pairing that can hopefully be built up for a week with some internet banter and vignettes.

Usually the first TV show coming off a big PPV is less focused on good matches and more shaped around building up future feuds and storylines going forward, so in that sense, this show did accomplish its goal. Still, the lack of in-ring action left tonight’s episode having a bit of a hollow feeling overall.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (11/11/19)

Venue: Manchester Arena (Manchester, UK)

Becky Lynch began the show with an in-ring promo.

“The Man is back in Manchester.”

The Irish Lass Kicker talked about training in the UK as a teenager. She then turned her focus back to the present and delivered a message to her growing list of challengers:  “Bring them on!”

Charlotte then came down to the ring to join her for a tag team title match against the Kabuki Warriors.

Commercial Break No. 1

Becky Lynch and Charlotte vs. Kabuki Warriors

(8:13:31 – 8:31:18)

Becky and Asuka started things off with some taunting and trash talking. Asuka picked up the advantage early before tagging out to Kairi Sane. Upon entering, Sane used the unique offensive maneuver of slamming Lynch’s head into Asuka’s butt.

Lynch eventually gained control on Kairi before tagging out to Charlotte. Flair used her size advantage to slap and toss around the smaller Sane. After seemingly getting bored by beating on her, Charlotte allowed her to tag out to Asuka.

NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler emerged from the crowd, apparently wanting to get a close look at one of her Survivor Series opponents.

Commercial Break No. 2

Back from commercial, Asuka had the advantage on Charlotte and she managed to keep it with the help of an interfering Sane.

The fans made it known who they wanted to see in action with chants of “Becky!”

After a failed suplex attempt, Asuka applied the Octopus Lock in the middle of the ring but Charlotte managed to power out of it. Asuka then applied an Arm Bar but Charlotte again managed to power out of it, picking up and slamming Asuka down to the mat. Sane then tagged in to save her partner.

Fortunately for Charlotte, she managed to dodge Sane and knock her loopy by slamming her head into the turnbuckle, giving her enough time to make the hot tag to Becky.

Asuka tagged in as well and Becky began firing up before eventually hitting a double dropkick onto both Warriors. Seizing a moment of disruption, Baszler climbed up onto the apron to distract Lynch but Bayley came out from the crowd and ripped her down.

Seeing the altercation unfolding on the outside between her two future foes, Lynch took her eyes off of Asuka who got a sneaky roll up pin to retain the belts.

Result: Asuka pinned Lynch with a roll up (17:47)

After the match, Becky rolled outside to confront Baszler but Bayley attacked her from behind and laid her out as Shayna walked away through the crowd.

Replacing Natalya with Becky for this week’s women’s tag action was obviously a huge upgrade. Still, the crowd seemed pretty dead for this one, especially since the heat on Charlotte spot went a few minutes longer than it needed to. The crowd clearly wanted to see Becky in the ring but instead they mostly just watched as she stood on the apron before entering the ring for a minute, eating a pin and then getting attacked by Bayley on the outside.

Back in the locker room, Ricochet was seen conversing with Randy Orton before he turned his attention to a conversation between The O.C. and Humberto Carrillo. AJ Styles and his boys challenged Ricochet and Carrillo to find another partner for a six-man tag match tonight. They didn’t have to look far. Still within earshot, Orton waltzed back into frame and let The O.C. know that he’d be happy to fill the role as the third man.

Back out in the arena, Drew McIntyre’s music hit and he walked down to the ring.

Commercial Break No. 3

Drew McIntyre vs. Sin Cara

(8:39:40 –  8:43:37)

Drew came out swinging, looking to assert his dominance. Sin Cara didn’t back down, though, as he hit McIntyre with a suicide dive through the ropes before heading up to the top rope and hitting him with a Moonsault onto the floor below.

Sin Cara wasn’t as lucky back in the ring. He got nailed with a Headbutt and a Clothesline before being powerbombed down onto the floor on the outside.

Drew finished up the quick mostly one-sided affair with a Claymore Kick for the win.

Result: McIntyre pinned Sin Cara following a Claymore Kick (3:57)

This was mostly a nothing match that the crowd didn’t make a sound for with the exception of a slight “Oh!” for the Headbutt.

Backstage, Erick Rowan talked to an unseen animal in a cage.

R-Truth came down to the ring doing his usual “What’s Up!” routine.

Commercial Break No. 4

R-Truth vs. The Singh Brothers

(8:50:45 – ?)

Samir and Sunil used their two-on-one advantage early before Truth was able to fend each of them off. Instead of staying to fight, the two decided to run around the ring for a bit before fleeing to the back with Truth chasing behind.

After trying and failing to hide in the women’s locker room, the brothers made the mistake of entering Erick Rowan’s dressing room. Rowan threw them around the room before slamming a couch into them. Truth then entered to find Rowan standing over the duo and told them they needed some privacy before turning off the lights and exiting.

Result: No Contest?

This was an even bigger waste of time than the normal 24/7 Championship segment stuff.

Commercial Break No. 5

Seth Rollins made his way down to the ring as a video recap was shown of the NXT roster’s takeover of both SmackDown and Raw

Upon entering the ring, Rollins was met with a smattering of boos.

Rollins recapped last week’s conversation with HHH as the crowd reacted with complete indifference. He proclaimed that Raw is his show and this is Monday Night Rollins as a pretaped shot of fans cheering was edited in.

“It’s no secret I think I am the best wrestler on the planet.”

He then issued an open challenge. NXT UK Champion Walter and the rest of Imperium answered.

“Just because you’re not in the United States doesn’t mean you’re safe from an NXT Takeover.” – Walter

Commercial Break No. 6

Seth Rollins vs. Walter

(9:13:00 – 9:17:42)

Walter started off by tossing Rollins around the ring. Following a thunderous German Suplex, The Ring General took time to pose for a second before returning to the attack.

After working over Seth’s left leg and hitting him with a few slaps, the big Austrian went for another German Suplex but this time Rollins was able to land on his feet.

Sensing a comeback attempt, the rest of the members of Walter’s gang decided to take out Seth, attacking him for the disqualification.

Result: Rollins won via DQ following Imperium’s attack (4:42)

Their four-on-one numbers advantage didn’t last long. Soon enough, The Street Profits and Kevin Owens ran down to the ring to even the odds.

Commercial Break No. 7

Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens and The Street Profits vs. Imperium

(9:21:53 – 9:28:34)

Walter, Alexander Wolfe, Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner all took turns beating on Rollins. It was the leader who really stood out, however, as he nailed Seth with a leaping dropkick into the corner before scooping him up and slamming him down with a Powerbomb.

Walter headed up to the top rope to hit a splash but Rollins met him up there and reversed it into a Superplex.

Kevin Owens then got the hot tag and picked up the energy level by running wild and taking out all four members of Imperium. The Street Profits joined the fray as well. Montez Ford flipped over the top rope and took out Walter and almost took out himself, as his legs crashed into the announce table.

Back in the ring, Owens hit a stunner on Barthel and Rollins followed that up with a Stomp onto Wolfe to pick up a victory for the Raw representatives.

Result: Rollins pinned Wolfe following a Stomp (6:41)

Walter was the standout performer in this one but the clear fan favorite was Owens. Rollins was overshadowed by both of them. KO looks like he’s primed to take Raw’s top babyface spot from Seth sooner rather than later.

Commercial Break No. 8

Cedric Alexander vs. Andrade

(9:36:45 – 9:40:29)

Andrade and Alexander showed off their athleticism and acrobatic ability early on before Andrade picked up the advantage catching a flipping Cedric with a drop kick in midair.

Cedric knocked Andrade out of the ring with an elbow to the head and followed it up with a dive through the ropes. Returning to the ring, Alexander then hit a Flatliner that was able to garner a two count on a pin attempt. Aided by Zelina’s interference, Andrade hit an elbow of his own and then nailed Alexander with a Hammerlock DDT to pick up the win.

Result: Andrade pinned Alexander following a Hammerlock DDT (3:44)

This one felt like it could have been pretty good if they gave these two at least five more minutes to actually build a match. Instead it turned out to be a quick and rather forgettable affair.

Aleister Black was shown giving his usual “Knock on my door and pick a fight” spiel.

Commercial Break No. 9

A video package was shown honoring America’s veterans before cutting back to a live shot of Lana and Bobby Lashley having a disagreement backstage.

Commercial Break No. 10

Lana came down to the ring and awkwardly raced through a promo talking about how Rusev cheated on her and she cheated on him. She was met with loud boos and boring chants. She then revealed that she is pregnant with Rusev’s child.

Rusev then came down to the ring. Lana slapped him and put him a headlock as Bobby Lashley came running down to beat on him and stand tall with his lady in tow.

Somehow they find a way to keep lowering the bar for this trainwreck of a love triangle storyline.

Erick Rowan was shown walking backstage.

Commercial Break No. 11

Erick Rowan vs. Soner Dursun

(10:10:10 – 10:11:48)

Rowan threw around Dursun for a minute before hitting a Claw Chokeslam for the win.

Result: Rowan pinned following a Claw Chokeslam (1:38)

A quick squash match that was mainly used to set up intrigue for what’s inside a covered up pet cage that Rowan carried down to the ring.

A highlight package was shown of former NXT UK tag team champions Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster. The Viking Raiders were shown preparing for a raid backstage.

Commercial Break No. 12

The Viking Raiders vs. Mark Andrews and Flash Morgan Webster

(10:20:37 – 10:23:47)

Andrews and Morgan Webster surprised the Raw Tag Team Champions early hitting a double flip over the top rope on Erik and Ivar.

Their momentum proved to be short lived. Erik took out both of them by himself before Ivar followed suit and did the same, hitting a dive through the ropes onto both of them.

Andrews had a quick glimmer of hope spot before that was dashed by a tandem Viking Experience slam by the Raiders who stood tall over their vanquished challengers.

Result: Ivar pinned Andrews following a Viking Experience (3:10)

This was a step up from the past couple of Viking Raiders matches which featured the Raiders destroying local jobbers with comedic gimmicks. This served its purpose and got the NXT UK performers a quick few minutes of television time.

Commercial Break No. 13

Backstage, Ricochet told Randy Orton that he’s not stupid and he expects that Orton will try to surprise him with an RKO at some point during their match. The Viper told Ricochet that the last thing he should do right now is let Orton get into his head.

A Brock Lesnar-Rey Mysterio video package was shown.

Commercial Break No. 14

Ricochet, Randy Orton and Humberto Carrillo vs. The O.C. 

(10:42:25 – 10:58:06)

Ricochet and Karl Anderson started things off but Randy Orton quickly tagged himself in and played some mind games with Ricochet, extending his hand toward Ricochet before tagging in Humberto.

Carrillo hit an impressive high-flying move before hitting an Arm Drag on Styles. Orton got upset with Ricochet while Humberto tried to play peacekeeper.

Commercial Break No. 15

Vic Joseph called Ricochet a “ball of energy” and a “human highlight reel” as he ran around the ring and took out every member of The O.C. by himself. A Spinebuster by Anderson slowed his pace down from a sprint to a crawl. Luke Gallows then entered the ring to inflict his own brand of punishment.

After getting beaten on for a while, Ricochet managed to hit a Standing Enziguri on Gallows and a Spinning Heel Kick on Styles to buy enough time to get over and tag in Carrillo.

Humberto went for broke with a Moonsault but didn’t connect. Orton then tagged in and hit his vintage Powerslam and DDT combo before getting into position for an RKO. Anderson saved Styles but soon enough Ricochet and Carrillo joined in to help out Randy and take out Gallows and Anderson. Carrillo proved successful on his second Moonsault attempt, nailing Gallows and Anderson on the outside.

Orton then teased an RKO on a dazed Ricochet before hitting Styles with it instead. Carrillo then tagged in and hit Styles with a Moonsault to pick up the victory.

Result: Carrillo pinned Styles following an RKO and a Moonsault (15:31)

It’s good to see Humberto finally getting a victory on Raw, even if was aided by Randy’s RKO. The tension between Orton and Ricochet should provide an interesting dynamic to the Raw team at Survivor Series.

Final Thoughts

Another week, another quiet crowd. The only things the fans in attendance seemed to react to positively tonight were Becky Lynch and Kevin Owens and to a lesser extent the drama between Ricochet and Orton. Seth Rollins got an ice cold reaction. Lana got go away heat and pretty much everything else received the cricket treatment.

The first hour felt incredibly dull with too much filler, especially the 24/7 Championship match, if you can even call it a match. Things picked up a bit when Walter and Imperium appeared. Walter looked really impressive against Rollins. It would have been nice to see those two get a little more time. The same can be said for Andrade and Cedric Alexander.

As usual, the Lana/Rusev/Lashley stuff was a disaster and is dragging down all three members involved.

Even if you overlook the fact this was a pretaped show instead of live, this just wasn’t a show that featured a lot of exciting moments. Last week’s Raw made the following NXT show feel like must-watch TV. This week’s Raw didn’t have nearly the same effect. The one saving grace was that there was at least some decent Survivor Series storyline progression for Becky, Shayna and Bayley as well as Ricochet and Randy Orton. The other stuff was just there to fill time.

WWE NXT Review (11/6/19)

Venue: Full Sail Live (Winter Park, FL)

The show began with Mauro Ranallo breaking the news that The O.C. had invaded NXT and gotten retribution for the NXT’s takeover of Raw by beating down Undisputed Era outside of Full Sail.

AJ Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows then made their way to the ring.

“All your champions are out of commission, so The O.C. is taking over NXT. That’s just not phenomenal. That is undisputed.”

Tommaso Ciampa’s music hit and he made his way to the top of the ramp as the crowd chanted “Daddy’s Home!”

“For years now, I used to be asked the same damn question: When are you going to go up to the main roster? Well AJ Styles, Karl Anderson, Luke Gallows, allow me to be the first to welcome you to the main roster. NXT is now and always has been the show. And more importantly, NXT just happens to be daddy’s home.”

Styles and his crew praised Ciampa for having the balls to come out and say something to them. They also reminded him of the three-on-one disadvantage he faced.

Keith Lee and Matt Riddle then entered stage right and left to even up the odds as the crowd chanted “Oh, Bask In His Glory!”

Ciampa then told the three Raw representatives, “At War Games, Bro, Limitless, Blackheart, we’re prepared for The Undisputed Era, but boys, tonight, y’all might as well put your gear on and we go to war with you.”

Styles took a second to think about it before responding, “You’re on!”

Pete Dunne vs. Damian Preist (8:10:16 – 8:25:28)

After closing the show in the main event a few weeks ago, the two opened up the action tonight with Dunne looking to avenge his loss. After Dunne did a leapfrog over a charging Preist, Damian responded with The Reckoning but the Bruiserweight was able to escape and evade a few kick strike attempts.

Commercial Break No. 1 (PIP)

Returning from commercial, a ‘Breaking News’ scroll let the audience know that The O.C. vs. Ciampa, Riddle and Lee had been made official for tonight’s main event.

After getting beaten on by The Archer of Infamy, Dunne was able to hit an X Plex to buy some time to recover. He eventually fired up with a spurt of slaps. He then hit a Step Up Enziguri and followed it up with a Missile Dropkick off the turnbuckle to take Priest’s legs out from under him.

Pete was able to land on his feet after a German Suplex and nail Priest with a kick to the head sending him to the outside. He then went for a risky Moonsault off the second rope and nailed it. Unfortunately, Priest didn’t seem to feel the effects for long, as he quickly got up and chokeslammed Dunne onto the apron.

Back in the ring, Dunne regained the advantage and nearly picked up the victory with a Sit Out Powerbomb but Damian kicked out.

Priest then got an “Oh!” reaction from the crowd and a “Mamma Mia!” reaction from Mauro with a graceful flip over the top rope onto Dunne.

Commercial Break No. 2

The two traded clubbing blows and kicks to the head before they both collapsed in the middle of the ring from exhaustion. Priest was back to his feet first but it was Dunne who managed to rock him with a headbutt before Priest answered back with a Clothesline that turned him inside out.

Dunne climbed the ropes but Damian grabbed him on his way up and hit a Crucifix Bomb, which nearly garnered a three count before Pete kicked out at the last second. Priest made the mistake of standing up to do his archer taunt but Dunne made him pay, grabbing his left hand and trying to snap his fingers.

After retreating into the corner, Damian attempted the same low blow that helped him win their last contest. This time, though, Dunne was ready, and turned the tables hitting Priest with a low blow of his own before rolling over into position for an Armbreaker, breaking apart Damian’s fingers and then yanking on his left arm for a tap out victory.

Result: Dunne submitted Priest with an Armbreaker  (15:12)

As Pete was celebrating in the middle of the ring after the match, Killian Dain nailed him from behind. Priest, seeking his own revenge, pulled Dain off of Dunne but that just earned him a headbutt. Killian then squashed Pete in the corner before nailing him with a Vader Bomb.

“This great Dain is on the hunt.” – Mauro Ranallo

Priest awakened to confront the attacker but he paid the price yet again. Dain slammed his head into the steel steps and then squashed him with a Running Cannonball.

Overall, this was a good physical, hard-hitting, tone-setting opener. Priest has been impressive in his two bouts with Dunne, displaying a unique skill-set and kick-striking ability for a taller, lankier wrestler. The interference from Dain on Dunne was expected, but Damian’s involvement and subsequent beating at the hands of Killian is interesting. It opens up the possibility of a triple-threat match on a coming episode.

Cathy Kelley interviewed Dakota Kai, asking her what she hoped to prove in her match with Shayna Baszler later tonight.

Kai said that since she’s returned from injury, she has more aggression and more fire.

“I’m going to prove to Rhea Ripley why I deserve to be on her team; Why I deserve to be in that double cage at Takeover War Games. If Shayna wants to say that I’m a waste of a pick, we’ll see what she says after I kick her face off tonight.”

Taynara Conti vs. Santana Garrett (8:36:36 – 8:40:45)

The two locked up to begin the match with Conti going for an Arm Bar early.

Garrett hit a series of Arm Drags and a Russian Leg Sweep before Taynara turned the advantage in her favor with a knee strike into the ropes. She kept up the aggression, striking her with some more knees, kicks and judo throws.

Conti then applied an Omoplata but failed to get the submission. Eventually, Santana found her way to her feet and attempted a Handspring Moonsault off the the ropes but Taynara managed to avoid it and hit her with a kick to the head to get the pinfall victory.

Result: Conti pinned Garrett following a kick (4:11)

Eh, this one didn’t flow very well but Taynara did at least show some improvement from past outings. Garrett seemed a little nervous but she has some decent skills to work with and an interesting background story given that her recently deceased father was a former wrestler and her mentor.

Commercial Break No. 4

A quick Angel Garza video package was shown to promote his match with Tony Nese.

Dakota Kai vs. Shayna Baszler vs.  (8:49:06 – 9:00:20)

The crowd chanted “Shayna’s Gonna Kill You!” before the two locked up to start things off. Kai showed no fear early on, slapping Shayna before striking her with a few kicks and a knee.

Baszler, feeling a little overwhelmed, headed to the outside to compose herself. Kai didn’t seem ready to settle things down, though, as she attempted to knee Shayna from the apron. It didn’t go as planned. The NXT Women’s Champion grabbed her by the leg and threw her face first into the ring post.

Back inside the ring, Shayna showed no mercy, targeting Dakota’s braced right knee with a series of stomps and twists.

Commercial Break No. 5

Back from commercial, a limping Kai was able to fire up and hit a few kicks with her wounded right leg. After Dakota made her way to the top rope, Shayna met her and delivered a Gutwrench Superplex. Kai showed her toughness, though, kicking out at the last second.

The two traded blows in the middle of the ring for an extended period of time before they both hit kicks to each other’s heads before collapsing to the mat.

A Step Up Knee from Shayna looked as if it was going to wrap things up but Dakota refused to stay down. Unfortunately, her fortitude could only serve her so long. Baszler eventually wrapped her in the Kirifuda Clutch and tapped her out.

Result: Baszler submitted Kai with the Kirifuda Clutch (11:14)

Judging from Kai’s promo earlier on, this match was used to show a new level of toughness and attitude from Dakota, and it achieved that goal.

After the match, Baszler, Marina Shaffir and Jessamyn Duke assaulted Dakota. Rhea Ripley, Tegan Nox and Candice Lerae all came down to make the save. Io Shirai, Bianca Belair and a kendo stick-wielding Mia Yim also entered the fray. The brawl ended with Yim clearing house and an impressed Ripley nodding in approval.

A highlight package of the NXT roster’s consecutive takeovers of SmackDown and Raw was shown before the show cut to the backstage area where Cathy Kelley was standing by with Tommaso Ciampa, Matt Riddle and Keith Lee.

When asked about who he planned to have as his fourth team member at War Games, Ciampa told Cathy, “One war at a time” before taunting the house crashing trio of Styles, Gallows and Anderson, telling them “we left the door open, come on in.”

Commercial Break No. 6

A quick highlight package was shown of Isaiah “Swerve” Scott.

Tony Nese vs. Angel Garza (9:13:28 – 9:25:48)

The two locked up and battled for strength to start things off. They then took the action down to the mat with a series of reversals and escapes.

Nese got the first upper hand of the match by working over Garza’s left arm but Angel was able to escape.

“There is a lot of ego in that ring, almost as much ego as there is abs.” – Beth Phoenix

After delivering a Flying Head Scissors, Garza attempted to do his ripping off his pants spot but Nese interrupted him with a slap to the chest. Angel returned the favor with a slap of his own.

The two eventually found themselves in the corner. Nese attempted a Sunset Bomb but instead ended up slamming Garza’s tearaway pants to the canvas.

Commercial Break No. 7 

Back from commercial, Garza hit multiple dropkicks before sending Nese to the outside. Then, Angel took a page out of Pete Dunne’s playbook and hit a Moonsault from the second turnbuckle onto the outside.

After delivering a Lungblower to Nese, Garza looked to hit a move off the top rope but Tony countered it and sent him bouncing down to the outside. Out on the floor, Nese delivered a DDT onto the padding before throwing his opponent back in the ring and hitting a 450 Splash. Finding himself on the wrong side of a pin attempt, a last second foot on the rope saved Garza’s hopes.

Garza regained control of the match with a Sit Out Power Bomb before eventually hitting a Wing Clipper to gain the victory and earn an opportunity to face Lio Rush for the Cruiserweight Championship.

Result: Garza pinned Nese following a Wing Clipper (12:20)

A ton of athleticism was shown by both men in this one. Garza is really beginning to win over the NXT audience. He’s got the personality and charisma needed for stardom.

After the match, Rush came out to offer up a show of sportsmanship handshake only to be rebuked and slapped by Garza. Their title bout next week has the ingredients needed to be an exciting action-packed affair.

Backstage, Cathy interviewed Rhea Ripley, who was surrounded by Candice, Tegan, Dakota and Mia, asking her if she made a decision regarding who the fourth member of her team will be.

“Did you see what happened out there? That was absolute brutality. Exactly how I like it. If Shayna wants a fight. She’s going to get a fight. And after what I just witnessed, my fourth member for War Games is Mia Yim. Dakota, I’m sorry, you just didn’t make the cut.”

A disappointed Dakota hung her head and walked out of the shot.

Commercial Break No. 8

Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Dominik Dijakovic (9:35:48 – 9:43:06)

The bigger, stronger Dijakovic manhandled the quicker Scott early on, pounding on him and throwing him around the ring.

Swerve was able to hit a Flatliner followed by a German Suplex to stun his big foe. In the corner, Scott hit a Superkick and a DDT before getting a two count on a pin attempt. Dijakovic didn’t stay down for long. He eventually crotched Scott on the top turnbuckle before lifting him into a torture rack/knee combination. Scott somehow managed to avoid the knee and roll up Dominik for a near fall.

Dijakovic responded to the sneaky Scott with a big boot and a Choke Bomb for a near fall of his own. He then lifted Swerve up and the two had a face to face maniacal smile off in the middle of the ring before Dominic attempted another Choke Bomb that Isaiah managed to reverse into a Poison Rana. Scott then headed to the top rope and hit him with a Double Stomp.

After another near fall, the crowd started a “Whose House? Swerve’s House!” chant.

A vicious Clothesline somehow didn’t seem to phase Scott but the Torture Rack into a Knee maneuver did prove to ultimately be just too much for the feisty competitor.

Result: Dijakovic pinned Scott following a knee (7:18)

Though Scott didn’t pull an upset, he had yet another performance that won over the NXT faithful. He got a surprising amount of offense and near fall spots in this one and got the chance to show that he can go toe-to-toe and won’t back down against one of the more intimidating members of the NXT roster. That’s how you build guys up organically. Scott’s stock trajectory is pointing way up right now.

Commercial Break No. 9

The O.C. vs. Tommaso Ciampa, Matt Riddle and Keith (9:53:36 – 10:07:24)

The two trios didn’t wait for the bell to start the fight. They brawled on the outside for a minute and brought the crowd to its feet.

Back in the ring, “NXT” chants echoed throughout the arena as the bell rang and Ciampa and Styles faced off. A powerful dropkick by AJ sent Tommaso crashing to the outside. Styles then went for a Phenomenal Forearm over the top rope but Ciampa moved out of the way and The O.C. leader hit Riddle instead.

Trying to climb back through the ropes, Styles was greeted with a Willow’s Bell by Ciampa, which earned the first near fall of the match.

Soon enough, the two big hosses, Keith Lee and Luke Gallows, tagged in and squared off. With the NXT fans firmly behind him, chanting “Oh, Bask In his Glory!” Lee was able to get the better of Gallows, who tagged out to Karl Anderson.

Commercial Break No. 10

Ciampa found himself stuck in The O.C. corner, struggling to make it back to the friendly side of the ring. Styles, Gallows and Anderson each took turns slamming him around and whaling on him.

After a leap off the top rope, Anderson was greeted with a knee to the face, which gave Tommaso the time he needed to make the hot tag to a fired up Riddle, which sent the fans into a frenzy, yelling “Bro!” with every single impact maneuver he hit.

An Everest German Suplex looked to have Styles down for the count, but Gallows was able to break up the pin just in time. Anderson and Gallows then attempted a Magic Killer on Keith Lee but Ciampa came running in to break that up. Lee then picked up Gallows and slammed him to the mat before AJ came running in to knock him out with a DDT.

The focus then returned to Riddle and Styles. After Riddle ducked a Phenomenal Forearm attempt, Lee came charging in to hit Styles with a Pounce but unfortunately, it sent him colliding into referee Drake Younger.

Lee then clotheslined Anderson to the outside and Riddle soon followed doing a Fosbury Flop over the top rope to knock out both Anderson and Gallows.

Back in the ring, Ciampa looked to finish off AJ but he was distracted by Finn Balor’s appearance at the top of the ramp. Styles seized the opportunity, hitting Tommaso with a Pelé Kick. Balor then spiked Riddle with a 1916 on the outside before trading too sweet/bullet club hand gestures with Styles.

AJ looked to hit Ciampa with a Styles Clash but Adam Cole flew into the ring to take out AJ with a Superkick and then Tommaso with a Last Shot.

The show then ended with Cole and Balor staring at each other, smiling in mutual appreciation.

Result: Um, No Contest? (13:48)

That was a bit of a confusing and convoluted ending to what was an entertaining main event. Just seeing a wrestler the caliber of AJ Styles in an atmosphere like NXT was a sight to behold.

Overall, this show checked all the boxes it needed to. It had stars from the main roster invade NXT to get retribution. It continued to build the War Games storylines and teams while still leaving a few spots open to be decided in the coming weeks. It set up an intriguing title match (Rush vs. Garza) to promote for next week’s episode. Plus, there was some good character work and development with Dakota Kai.

It’s been quite a past few days for the NXT brand. With War Games and Survivor Series on the horizon, things are only going to continue to heat up.