NXT Review (10/2/2019)

Venue: Full Sail Live (Winter Park, FL)

We open with Slipknot lead singer Corey Taylor doing a voice over a video highlight package.

Now is the time. The future has arrived.
If you’re asking, “Who is NXT?”
I’ll tell you who we are.
We are hellacious.
We are a ruthless dream.
We are the kings and queens of kicking wholesale ass.
And we are undisputed.

Let us not forget where we came from.
But make no mistake, there is no going back.
From now on, we are the most exclusive brand of combat in the world.
If you’ve been looking for something more, welcome home. 

We are NXT.

*Fade into NXT chants from the live crowd at Full Sail* 

WWE may have its faults but that crew knows how to deliver a spirited, professional-looking, chill-inducing video package.

Adam Cole defeats Matt Riddle to retain the NXT Title

-Matt Riddle’s Bro echoes over the speakers as his theme music hits and the crowd immediately realizes that this show is in go big or go home mode right from the get go.  

-Starting off with Riddle dominating early before getting caught with a kick.

-Cole’s striking ability on display.

-Great counter with a Backstabber by Cole.

-My brain had to process that Shoulder Kick by Riddle into a Superkick by Cole into a Running Knee by Riddle into an Enziguri by Cole into a German Release Suplex by Riddle into an Ushigoroshi by Cole combination of maneuvers so I rewound it in slow motion and then watched it back in slow motion, and…wow, the sheer physics of that, just an unbelievable back and forth chain of events.

-Not even 10 minutes in, and the “This Is Awesome!” and “Holy Shit!” chants are in full effect. 

-Cole had to sneak over a bit from the middle of the ring in order to get into position for the Floating Bro.

-Teasing a tap spot with the Bromission and a Fujiwara Armbar had the crowd going nuts.

 -Great use of Cole’s cast for that strike into the final Last Shot to seal the win for the retaining NXT champion. No help needed for Cole here. Just a fantastic fight with an electric crowd. Few people in the business are as naturally fluid as Riddle is in the ring.

Just when it seemed like the crowd couldn’t pop any harder, Finn Balor’s music hits!

Face to face in the ring with Adam Cole, with the crowd furiously chanting “Welcome Back,” Balor announces “As of now, Finn Balor is NXT.” An infusion of some proven star power to the NXT roster can only help. Interesting is the list of former NXT champions with no current path on the main roster who might also be potential return candidates.

Velveteen Dream Promo

“The Dream has never complained about being able to take on more than one man at a time.”

Dream wants his North American Title back and he’s ready to go through the entire Undisputed Era to get it.

Drew Gulak/Lio Rush Video Package

-What a transformation for Lio Rush during his absence. He left as an obnoxious, overconfident hype man heel manager who was rumored to be rubbing everyone backstage the wrong way. Now, he’s returned, looking refreshed, transforming himself into a scrappy undersized title contender who is capable of wowing a crowd with his quickness and athleticism. He proved he can get the fans behind him in his match with Oney Lorcan on NXT’s first USA show. His bout with Gulak should be even better.

Io Shirai defeats Mia Yim

-Somewhat of a “crowd needs to take a breath” match spot here following that insane opener. But both women are working hard regardless. 

-Diving Topé spot by Yim onto Shirai didn’t look great. Both ladies seem a little winded. 

-Io’s Moonsault is always a thing of beauty. 

-Good hard-fought win by Shirai to keep her in the NXT Women’s Title picture.

Kevin Nash & Scott Hall Shown In the Crowd

-Figured they’d do a spot putting a couple of well-known legends on screen. Not a surprise it was HHH and HBK’s buddies.

Tegan Knox Video Package

-Good potential overcoming injuries story brewing there. Smart to run with it and see if it works out.

Johnny Gargano defeats Shane Thorne

-Good chemistry between these two. Nice way to reestablish Gargano while also giving Thorne a little bit of shine. 

Shayna Baszler defeats Candice LeRae to retain the NXT Women’s Title

-LeRae is the total package: Beautiful, athletic, tough, and has a natural feel in the ring. She needs these type of big match opportunities to show it.

-Slam on the apron by LeRae gets the crowd really into it. Dives onto Baszler on the outside take it up another notch.

-Awkward slip off the rope by Baszler.

-Shayna with the expected win by tap out. Nevertheless, it was an impressive and needed showing by LeRae. Hopefully, this loss forces Candice to break out a more savage streak.

Walter-Kushida Video Package

-That boot by Walter onto an unsuspecting Kushida looks even more brutal on second viewing.

Pete Dunne defeats Danny Burch

-Good hard-hitting British Strong Style brawl. Nothing spectacular. Just a good old fight.

-Burch is going to wake up with gnarly shiner under that right eye tomorrow.

-Damian Priest ends the segment with a sneak attack on Dunne. At this point, for Dunne, it feels like Priest is a step down from Burch. That gimmick does nothing for me.

Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly defeat The Street Profits to retain the NXT Tag Team Titles

-Quite a visual of a red cup waving crowd backdrop for the Street Profits’ entrance.

-Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins may have the edge when it comes to on-screen charisma but this is the kind of situation that reveals a clear disparity when it comes to in-ring ability and awareness. Fish and O’Reilly are doing a complete carry job.

-“We Want the Smoke” chants from the crowd.

-That Montez Ford flip over the top rope was a highlight of the night and a crowd pleaser.  Dawkins was good for a couple of powerful spears. Other than that, this match was all Fish and O’Reilly.

-The Street Profits have a gimmick that works and connects with the fans but they still need to be carried to a good match. The Undisputed Era were up to the task tonight. 

Overall Thoughts

-The Tomasso Ciampa-Adam Cole stare down was an interesting end to the show.  Even if he isn’t ready to challenge for the title soon, it keeps him in the audience’s mind as a lurking threat. Do Cole-Balor in the interim.

-The Riddle-Cole match felt like a Takeover quality main event without the 8-10 minutes of extra fluff that would’ve been added on if it had actually main evented a Takeover.

-Baszler-LeRae met expectations but didn’t do much to exceed them.

-Everything else was decent. The Street Profits don’t feel like a show-closing act but considering the circumstances tonight presented, it’s not surprising that the brass wanted to put Riddle and Cole on first and start the show with a bang.

-Crowd at Full Sail tonight was awesome. Great energy, especially for the first match.

-Ultimately, I’d like to view and appreciate AEW and NXT as separate entities without buying into the whole “war” thing. But I will say that NXT definitely felt like the superior show tonight and nothing AEW did felt like it came close to matching Riddle-Cole.

All Elite Wrestling: Dynamite Review (10/2/19)

Venue: Capital One Arena (Washington DC)

Cody defeats Sammy Guevara

-Cody left his dog at home this time. Good call. Lesson Learned.

-AEW crowd fans truly adore Cody. Not sure anyone else in the company is as over as him. Maybe The Young Bucks but that’s up for debate. 

-Sammy looking sloppy early — Slipping on the flip. Nerves apparent. 

-A few WCW references early by Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross. It will be interesting to see how those two coexist on commentary. There have been rumors of some bad blood between them in the past. Hopefully, if there was, they’ve gotten over it.

-Great looking cutters by both Cody and Guevara back to back. 

-First “Oh!” moment of the show as Guevara pulls Brandi in front of a diving Cody. 

– Good opener. The Reverse Suplex off the top should’ve ended it. Didn’t need Sammy no-selling and popping back up and doing a Spanish Fly followed by a Shooting Star Press. 

-Like the post-match beat down by Jericho. Wise move getting him on the screen within the first half hour so new fans tuning in for the first time can see a familiar face.

MJF defeats Brandon Cutler

-MJF basically cuts the same “you fans are all losers” promo every time but his delivery is so good and authentic that he somehow always makes it work and gets the desired crowd heat.

-Brandon Cutler does not look like he belongs in the ring in a major wrestling promotion, especially on a show of this magnitude. 

-Waste of time match that killed a hot crowd. This was absolutely amateur hour stuff reminiscent of Alex Jebailey’s preshow match at Fyter Fest. 

Jack Evans and Angelico confront Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes

-Jason Mewes has seen some better days. Life just takes its toll, doesn’t it?

-Basic segment meant to get Smith and Mewes on camera and to introduce the Tag Team Title tournament. It got some camera time for Evans and Angelico, SCU and The Lucha Brothers. Served its purpose. 

Pac defeats Adam “Hangman” Page

-Similar early spots as Omega/Pac match with some outside work with the barricades.

-Bit of a slip by Pac on the 450 springboard. Didn’t look as crisp as his usual stuff. 

-Crowd was a bit up and down but Page’s fire up spots got them back into it a bit. 

-Announce team having no problem criticizing Page for a lackadaisical cover. 

-Pace of this one felt a little off. Besides the Moonsault onto the outside, there wasn’t really much that Hangman did that stood out. Another loss doesn’t do Page any favors.

-At least they’re trying to get Pac’s Brutalizer submission over as a devastating hold. 

Riho defeats Nyla Rose to become the inaugural AEW Women’s Champion

-Sloppy spill to the outside by Rose on that Riho knee but she made up for it by catching Riho’s jump off the top onto the outside. 

-Another match that’s resorting to outside barricade spots. Just saw that. Feels repetitive.

-Second “Oh!” moment of the night as Rose misses her flip off the apron onto a pile of chairs. Good door-opening moment for Riho to get the upper hand. 

-Given her slight size, it’s just tough to believe that Riho’s stomps on the back have much effect.

-Crowd was dead for most of this one but Riho’s near fall on the roll up woke them up.

-Bit of a clunky affair but the crowd got into the final few minutes and they were clearly into Riho winning the title.

-Britt Baker added absolutely nothing on commentary. Monotone. Barely spoke. When she did, there was nothing of substance said. Why care about her as a challenger?

-Rose double-clutching on that post-match power bomb attempt on Michael Nakazawa was not a good look. Nyla is really rough around the edges. Going with Riho as the first champion was the right call.  Crowd really digs her.

Chris Jericho and Santana & Ortiz defeat The Young Bucks and Kenny Omega 

-I’ve seen a few Omega and Moxley brawls through the crowd by this point so it feels a little redundant but I did like Kenny Omega’s Cleaner callback with the mop spot.  

-Moxley’s DDT through the glass table felt like it should have been the show-ending image. It won’t be easy for the guys in the ring to get the momentum back after the crowd saw that.

-Got to hand it to The Young Bucks, they managed to get the crowd back. Still, it was a bit of a flat ending to an alright match. Only real high point of the contest was Nick Jackson’s energetic flurry. Heels end this one with a thorough beat down of all the top faces. 

-Jake Hager never really did much for me when he was Jack Swagger, so his surprise appearance to cap the show off was kind of a meh ending. I’m willing to give him a chance and see if he’s reinvented himself, though. He’s got a menacing look, just give him a manager to do the talking for him like he had with Zeb Colter in WWE. 

Overall Thoughts

I went into the show with an open mind, hoping to like it. However, there just weren’t a lot of big-feeling moments for what was being billed as a “revolutionary” show. I’d be upset if I actually traveled a long distance to attend this one live and got what was given.

It’s the first show, though, so I won’t be too critical. There are a lot of kinks to work out, but there are also some good potential weekly stories that can be told. They’ve still got plenty of good performers on the roster that we didn’t get to see in the ring on this show.  

Time will tell. For now, it’s a work in progress. Overall, the debut of Dynamite felt like a letdown without much wow factor.

Monday Night Raw Review (9/30/19)

Venue: Talking Stick Resort Arena (Phoenix, AZ)

A new season of Raw brings about some major changes for the show: A new intro, new announce team, new stage, new graphics, new ring apron and the return of pyro. It all looks good.  Nice changes. 

I’m a fan of Vic Joseph from his last impromptu appearance on Raw. Not as familiar with Dio Maddin, but he seems like he’s got a unique personality. I have an old Pro Football Weekly 2013 NFL Draft Preview magazine that referred to him—then known as Brennan Williams, the offensive tackle prospect out of UNC—as a “quirky, artsy personality atypical of the trenches” so he seems like he should at the very least provide an interesting new feel to the commentary team.  They’ll need some time to gel but it helps to have a seasoned veteran like Jerry The King Lawler to help guide them early on.

Brock Lesnar Interrupts Rey Mysterio’s In-Ring Promo

It makes sense to start off the night with Rey Mysterio considering Phoenix has such a large Hispanic population. Unfortunately for Rey, Brock Lesnar didn’t feel like listening to what he had to say.

As if Lesnar’s multiple F-5s to Mysterio weren’t enough, the beast showed just how heartless he can be by bringing in Rey’s son Dominick into the fold and dishing out some uncalled for punishment on him as well. A credit goes to Dominick, who clearly has eyes on following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a wrestler himself one day, for showing he can take some pretty vicious bumps from WWE’s most intimidating force. 

Lesnar has already established himself as the scariest monster heel on the roster but this type of segment really helped to show how sadistic he can be. It was reminiscent of his beat downs on a helpless Zach Gowen back during the early part of his career. 

Sasha Banks defeats Alexa Bliss

Not much to this match, which is fine because Sasha needed to pick up a quick win instead of going back and forth in a long match like she did last week with Nikki Cross. 

Keeping the post-match tussle with Becky Lynch brief was the right call, as was having Sasha be the one to run away.  “You made it personal, I’m going to make it painful.” I like that line by Lynch. 

Their match at Clash of Champions was one of the few bright spots of an otherwise lackluster show. I’d expect their match in HIAC to be even more brutal. Banks took a beating when she faced Charlotte in the first ever women’s Cell match. That bout was flirting with being great until they unfortunately botched a table spot late in the match and failed to recover. Hopefully, Banks and Becky can match the quality of that affair. 

Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode defeat Heavy Machinery to retain the Raw Tag Titles

Ziggler and Roode don’t really do much for me but this was a well laid out match: Some fun tandem moves early by Heavy Machinery followed by Ziggler and Roode getting the heat on Tucker which built to a hot tag by Otis. Crowd loved Otis and it’s easy to see why. He’s got such a different kind of look and energy.  He’s a perfect hot tag guy.

I’d love to see Heavy Machinery and The Viking Raiders have a title feud at some point.

Miz TV Featuring Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan

Big pops and a sea of camera phones for both Flair and Hogan. 

Ric throwing Undertaker’s name in with Hogan and Austin as the top draws in WWE history is a bit of an interesting choice. The Rock may have something to say about that. 

Ugh, I forgot it’s almost Crown Jewel time again. A five-on-five tag match with Hogan and Flair as coaches and Seth Rollins and Randy Orton as captains probably isn’t going to be enough to get me to watch that show. Admittedly, anything short of Austin coming out of retirement wouldn’t be able to get me to to tune in for that one. 

Great hearing those “Rusev Day” chants for Rusev’s appearance instead of the crickets treatment and the “We Want Lana” chants he’s received the last two weeks. 

Overall, this was a nice nostalgia segment which the crowd ate up. Unfortunately, it was promoting the Saudi Arabia show which I’m not particularly a fan of.

AOP Video Segment

“We grew up thousands of miles apart but on the same street corner of dystopia and atrocity where we both learned at the same time, he who lives by the sword, dies by the sword. But the sword is just a metaphor for violence. He who lives for the violence, learns to love the violence. He who loves the violence, learns to crave the violence. He who craves the violence, learns to lust for the violence. He who lusts for the violence, learns to bring forth the violence. He who brings forth the violence, learns to be the violence. He who is the violence becomes the Author of Pain.”

Sounds cool enough, especially with those two saying it. It seems they really dig violence. 

Viking Raiders defeat Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson

Tough spot for these two teams following two of the biggest legends of all time. Crowd was noticeably dead at the beginning, which was to be expected. 

A physical strike by Ivar on Anderson got the crowd into the action, and his suicide dive and splash got a good reaction as well. I thought their match last week had a few more high points but overall this one was decent, especially when you consider the uphill climb they had following Hogan and Flair. 

A Cesaro and Ricochet backstage Confrontation

Love seeing what these guys do in the ring but I definitely don’t love either of their mic work. Ricochet’s cadence in promos is Natalya-level bad. 

Ricochet defeats Cesaro

Would have liked to see what these two could have done with more time and the chance to really build a match. Only memorable spots were Cesaro’s knee and Ricochet’s hurricanrana finisher, which looked spectacular. Hopefully, this leads to a rematch where they get some more time. 

Not sure how I feel about Cesaro’s new cropped pants attire. It’s different, I’ll give him that.

Firefly FunHouse Segment

Oh no, Ramblin Rabbit bites the dust…again. RIP

AJ Styles defeats Cedric Alexander to retain the US Title

Some early near falls really got the crowd excited for a possible title change, especially after Cedric’s Michonoku Driver. Wouldn’t say this was great but it’s probably the best match they’ve had in this feud. Crowd was into it. Not sure were Alexander goes from here, as he’s taken a bunch of clean losses in this feud.  

Street Profits Backstage Segment

What happened to the We Want the Smoke t-shirts? Those were awesome.

Lacey Evans defeats Natalya

“Lacey Evans may be putting a final stamp on this rivalry with Natalya.” – Vic Joseph

Let’s hope so.

Backstage Segment With Paul Heyman

“My client’s actions were wanton and reckless.”

Nice use of wanton. Don’t hear that one often. Passionate promo by Paul. I didn’t need to be sold on that Kingston-Lesnar WWE Title match but he sold me on it anyway. Hopefully this one’s a little better than their meeting at Beast in the East in 2016.

Seth Rollins vs. Rusev

The Fiend “Let Me In” quick inter cut before the commercial break was a nice touch. 

Besides that, there was a lot to process and unpack with this ending segment. 

There was the presence of Randy Orton and Baron Corbin standing around, kicking off the promotion for the Crown Jewel 5-on-5. There was the return of Bobby Lashley, who apparently is now having an affair with Lana. Oh joy, another Rusev-Lana love triangle. Those storylines always worked so well in the past. /s Well, OK, the fish gif was good. Other than that, that whole stuff with Lana, Dolph and Enzo did not work for me at all.

And we finish it off with another Fiend attack on Rollins which luckily didn’t end with Seth screaming and crying this time. 

Overall Thoughts

Hot crowd. Lesnar’s assault on Rey and Dominick felt like the highlight of the night. It was a bit of a weird show that seemed like it was trying to overreach by promoting both Hell In a Cell and Crown Jewel. Speaking of Hell In a Cell, we’re less than a week away and there have only been three matches announced for the card. It seems like they’re saving a lot for Friday’s Smackdown Live debut on Fox, which makes sense. Still, that lineup is abnormally light on matches with so little time left before the show. 

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (9/23/19)

Venue: Chase Center (San Francisco, California)

Braun Strowman interrupts Seth Rollins’ In-Ring Promo

Some concerning audible boos for Seth Rollins during this promo. Putting him in a feud with a hot act and a fan favorite like Bray Wyatt isn’t helping his diminishing heat as a babyface champion. It’ll be fascinating to see who the crowd in Sacramento ultimately sides with when those two meet in the Cell. 

Viking Raiders defeat The O.C.

Nice power moves and blows by the Viking Raiders. Erik’s body slam of Ivar onto Karl Anderson got a good pop from the crowd. Ivar’s agility and athleticism for a man his size is certainly impressive and his willingness to put his body on the line in big spots is admirable.

Wise strategy by AEW sneaking in commercials for Dynamite during WWE broadcasts. First it was on the premiere of NXT last Wednesday, then tonight it was during the first match on Raw.

Michael Cole Interviews Becky Lynch

Becky’s delivery is fine as always but there was nothing here we haven’t heard before. I did like Lynch talking about Sasha being a coward and running away. 

Rusev defeats EC3

Quick squash match. Lack of crowd reaction for Rusev is reminiscent of his return to the ring in Knoxville last week. The “We Want Lana!” chants also aren’t a good sign. Odd that there was no mention of the Maria Kanellis baby daddy drama from last week’s episode. 

Sasha Banks defeats Nikki Cross

Sasha’s blue gear looks terrific. Not a lot to the match early but things picked up when Banks slammed Nikki back first on the outside. No real evident ring rust for Sasha. All her moves look crisp and it’s evident that she works best as a vicious heel with attitude. Thought it was a bit odd that Nikki got so much offense in since they’re trying to build up Sasha for a big title match with Becky Lynch at Hell In a Cell. Crowd seemed to die in the middle of the match during the leg work portion but Nikki’s cross body onto Sasha on the outside helped reel them back in. 

Good match. Sasha’s looked great since returning. I’d have her beat Lynch at Hell In a Cell and move Becky over to Smackdown Live for the Fox debut. Banks clearly has what it takes to carry the Raw Women’s Division for a while.

Love the new Street Profits shirt — Has a late 90’s Cash Money Millionaires feel to it. 

Miz’s mention of Hulk Hogan’s name getting some boos. Mention of Ric Flair’s name getting some woos. 

Lacey Evans defeats Ember Moon

Lacey Evans is improving. Her push was too much too quick but she obviously has potential to work with. 

Ember’s modified Eclipse on the outside got a great pop from the crowd. Lacey’s sharpshooter looked almost as bad as Natalya’s post match promo sounded. 

This week’s Firefly Funhouse was alright. Nice touch putting the eye of providence on Kane’s forehead. 

Carmella defeats R-Truth for the 24/7 Championship

Interesting direction to go with the title which will hopefully help get some of the forgotten about lower card women on the roster such as Sarah Logan and Dana Brooke some TV time. 

Chad Gable defeats Baron Corbin via DQ

These two really work the big heel vs. the undersized underdog face dynamic so well. Gable’s deep arm drag was a thing of beauty. Corbin throwing Chad over the barricade into the two security guards in the crowd was an “Oh Wow” spot. I don’t love Gable’s flip kicks. They just don’t look that impactful. But everything else in his move set looks spot on, especially his German Suplex and Moonsault. He had the crowd on their feet and chanting his name by the end of the match. That’s quite a feat. Gable’s got some momentum going right now. Hopefully, they can figure out how to capitalize on it, because he’s been one of the most underutilized guys on the main roster since him and Jason Jordan broke up as a tag team. 

Not so sure about the AOP promo. Punching Heath Slater and No Way Jose a couple times doesn’t prove much. I do like that they let the guys talk in their native languages. It sounds very menacing. 

AJ Styles vs. Ricochet vs. Robert Roode vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for a Universal Championship opportunity next week

Shinsuke Nakamura eliminates Ricochet

Eliminating Ricochet first is crazy. He would have been my choice to win and face Seth. He was the standout performer of the first part of the match and he’s been treading water lately since the end of his US Title feud with AJ Styles. 

AJ Styles eliminates Shinsuke Nakamura

The Styles/Mysterio suplex spot on the apron was intense. Credit to Rey for taking a move like that at this point in his career. 

Robert Roode eliminates AJ Styles, Rey Mysterio eliminates Robert Roode

On paper, Rey vs. Rollins should be a fun match. I could see that one ending with some type of interference spot either by The Fiend interfering on Rollins or someone costing Mysterio the match to set up a program for him at Hell In a Cell. Mysterio looked very impressive tonight. Not many 44-year-old athletes can move the way he does and do the things he can. He’s a freak of nature. 

Seth Rollins vs. Braun Strowman Ends in No Contest

Crowd seemed a little drained following Gable-Corbin and the 5-way, so it was a tough spot for these two. Match was what you’d expect a Rollins-Strowman bout to be: some dives, some shoulder tackles, nothing mind-blowing. 

The Fiend interference spot, while predictable, did get a good reaction from the crowd. Bray/Braun interactions have been rare since the Wyatt Family disbanded and Strowman went out on his own. Still, I doubt they’ll acknowledge their past history when recapping tonight’s events on next week’s show. 

Final Thoughts

Hot crowd, good job San Francisco. Chad Gable vs. Baron Corbin was great and the Match of the Night. Five-way was pretty entertaining as well. Everything else was decent. A lot of people did some good stuff but a lot of those people also lack a clear direction or a real program and angle right now. Surprised we didn’t get a follow up to the Maria Kanellis baby storyline but I guess there’s plenty of time to flesh that one out. 

It’s a bit odd that Hell In a Cell is less than two weeks away and there have only been two matches announced so far: Seth Rollins vs. The Fiend and Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks. I’m assuming we’ll get Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan vs. Luke Harper and Rowan and maybe Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens added to the card on Smackdown Live tomorrow night. A Gable-Corbin blowoff match and Natalya vs. Lacey Evans also seem like possibilities as well.

Good show. 

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (9/16/19)

Venue: Thompson-Boling Arena (Knoxville, TN)

-Bray Wyatt’s Firefly Fun House Interrupts Seth Rollins In-Ring Promo

With the exception of Becky Lynch, there isn’t a hotter act in WWE right now than Bray Wyatt/The Fiend. It’s a tough spot for Rollins, who endured a smattering of boos last night at Clash of Champions. Seth, whose promos as a face character have never been much to write home about, has to step up his game on the mic if he wants to go toe-to-toe verbally with a guy like Wyatt during this build. 

-Braun Strowman Interrupts the Tag Team Summit 

It makes sense that they would give Strowman the chance to get some of his heat back after yet another disappointing loss in a big title match. Treating both of the new tag champions as basically nothing more than Braun’s tackling dummies doesn’t do The Revival or Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler any favors, though. 

-The OC Defeats Cedric Alexander and The Viking Raiders 

It was good to see the Viking Raiders in action against worthy competitors for the second week in a row instead of just beating up on local jobbers. Viking gimmicks aren’t really my cup of tea but these two have potential and a unique dynamic. Crowds just need to see them in matches that aren’t quick squashes. Some of their tandem moves are really impressive, as is Ivar’s athleticism and willingness to go for broke from the top rope. 

Styles getting another pinfall victory on Alexander is a bit surprising. I feel those two have it in them to put on a great singles match, but obviously they did not get the time to show it on last week’s Raw or at Clash of Champions. 

-King of the Ring Final: Baron Corbin Defeats Chad Gable

This one was structured as expected — Corbin getting the edge early and beating down on Gable (that body drop onto the chair in the timekeeper’s area was intense) before the 5’8’’ underdog recovered and got his babyface fire spot. It was encouraging to see the crowd get behind Gable in the manner that they did. For a minute there, when the ankle lock was applied, everyone was craving a tap-out win. It was not to be, though.

Judging by his postmatch promos after his early round matches, Corbin should be able to play the cocky heel King gimmick well. Hopefully, this results in a push for Gable as well, as he showed he has what it takes to get a crowd behind him. 

-The Gender Reveal Party of Maria Kanellis

It’s good to see The Street Profits getting a backstage segment that is a little more intricate than their usual promos of them both giving a well delivered yet somewhat redundant rundown of matchups that we’ve already seen the match graphics for. 

-Ricochet Defeats Mike Kanellis

At first, it was concerning seeing Ricochet being lumped in with the expendable lowcard crowd of guys like Titus O’Neil, Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins at the party. But it makes sense that they’d want to put him in a situation where he can pick up a quick easy win after last week’s King of the Ring defeat. Not sure if pinning Kanellis in easy fashion does a much for his momentum, though. 

-Rusev Defeats Mike Kanellis

The lack of crowd reaction for Rusev’s return was disheartening but it was admittedly an odd situation to thrust him into. He looks to be in great shape. Maybe he gets a bit of a character tweak from the Rusev Day stuff back to his original more serious scary heel persona. The baby daddy soap opera stuff might be good if done right. It’s worth giving a chance. Maria and Mike have done well with what they’ve been given so far. We’ll see how far they want to go with it. 

-Glenn Jacobs Defeats R-Truth to win the 24/7 Championship

Predictable but fine couple of segments. No qualms with letting Jacobs have a fun little spotlight moment while also getting a chance to do some Knoxville tourism promotion. 

-Rey Mysterio Defeats Cesaro

These two always seem to mesh well in singles competition and tonight was no exception. Unfortunately, the crowd was pretty dead for most of it. But they did get into it in the final ending sequence and popped when Mysterio got the victory.

-AOP Video Package

Simple and to the point — two big threatening guys saying scary sounding stuff. The tag divisions on both shows can use a boost right now, so hopefully they can provide a nice shot in the arm to whichever show they end up on after the draft. There are some interesting potential feuds they could have against The Viking Raiders, Heavy Machinery and The New Day.

-Sasha Banks & Bayley Defeat Nikki Cross & Alexa Bliss 

Not a lot to this match. Nikki’s rough-looking Tornado DDT on Bayley was the only real standout negative. It accomplished what it needed it to — Sasha gets a pin, which helped set up a spot that allowed a confrontation with Becky Lynch. Plus, there was the added bonus of Charlotte getting her revenge on Bayley following that dirty loss at Clash of Champions last night.

-R-Truth Defeats Glenn Jacobs for the 24/7 Title

Conclusion of a predictable but fine little fun story line between those two.

-Lacey Evans Defeats Dane Brooke

Lacey’s double boot through the ropes looked cool. The fact that Evans won with an antagonistic sharpshooter on Brooke means that her feud with Natalya isn’t over. Eh.

-Seth Rollins Defeats Robert Roode Via Disqualification

Forgettable affair with very little action. But it did set up Kane’s return which woke up what was otherwise a rather dead crowd. Not sure why they needed to involve The OC. Kane beating up Roode and Ziggler probably would have been sufficient. The Fiend adds another victim to his wall of  legends with crossed-out eyes.

-Final Thoughts

The King of the Ring Final between Corbin and Gable was the highlight of the night. Unfortunately, it never really seemed like the crowd got fully back into the show after that. The 24/7 Title stuff with Glenn Jacobs was good for what it was. I liked the ending of the Fiend taking out Kane and then staring down Rollins before cutting to a distorted Firefly Fun House graphic. WWE has really got something with Wyatt right now.

It will be interesting to see how they build towards Rollins and The Fiend at Hell In the Cell over the next few weeks. No matter how it plays out, though, I have a hunch that replica Fiend Mask is going to be a hot seller this Halloween season.


WWE Monday Night Raw Review: Notes From MSG (9/9/19)

Venue: Madison Square Garden (New York, NY)

-Not a great idea to have an opening segment contract signing hosted by Stone Cold Steve Austin, the most over legend in WWE history, who personality and charisma wise completely dwarfs Seth Rollins and Braun Strowman, two performers who can run hot or lukewarm depending on the crowd. 

-Huge pop for Austin. Not so much for Strowman. Usual pop for Rollins. Say what you will about Rollins’ face character, fans love that “Burn It Down” part in his entrance 

-“Seth Rollins is a marked man. But the man aiming for him generally isn’t his tag-team championship partner.” – Corey Graves, forgetting all about that Ambrose heel turn.

-Not sure what exactly the contract signing accomplished. Did either of them even sign it? Austin outshined both Strowman and Rollins on the mic, and Styles looked a little goofy not knowing Austin’s standing right behind him waiting. It certainly didn’t get me more excited to see the match on Sunday. But at least everybody got to say their catchphrases and the crowd got excited for Austin’s entrance and the stunner on Styles. I’d wager a small bet that might be the loudest we hear them tonight unless there’s an unexpected Austin appearance later in the show. If it ends with Austin stunning either Vince or Shane it will be louder.

-Good work by Styles and Cedric Alexander in a match that felt much too quick. I like the continuity of Cedric’s left arm injury. Alexander could have done a better job of selling, though. He shouldn’t be throwing elbows with his hurt arm. Hopefully a DQ finish leads to those two facing off for the US Title at Clash of Champions in a match that’s twice as long as this one was.  

-Seem like the Viking Raiders just turned face with that Cedric-saving run-in beat down on The OC. I’m not even sure if they were ever actually heels, though. All they’ve really done is beat up jobbers on the main roster so far, so it’s been hard to tell. 

-Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. Charlotte and Becky Lynch coming up next. That ring canvas is about to be covered with self tanner stains. 

-“Charlotte with a chair in hand, looking to settle things down.” – Michael Cole

-Tag match was good but a bit of an oddly-paced clunky affair. Charlotte looked a little sloppy, especially on the big boot on Banks and  the moonsault onto Bayley. Not sure why they needed to have Sasha tap on the outside to the Disarm-Her. Charlotte pinning Bayley leads me to believe Bayley will retain at Clash of Champions. I could see Sasha/Becky going either way on Sunday. One will probably have an interference finish. Doing both as interference finishes would be overkill, though. 

-A lot of close up views from ringside cameras tonight. Not sure what MSG’s television setup is but there do seem to be less center hard cam shots tonight.

-Credit goes to Rey Mysterio and Gran Metalik for winning over the crowd with an impressive showing of the lucha style. The energy really picked up after the super kick on the outside, and there were plenty of exciting wow moments after that. Metalik needs to get away from the Lucha House Party and get a proper singles run on Raw. 

-It wouldn’t be an episode of Raw without a video package for the Smackdown Live feud of Roman Reigns vs. Daniel Bryan and Rowan.

-A “Baron Corbin/Corbin Sucks” chant from a split crowd. Don’t hear that one often.

-King of the Ring Semis triple-threat of Ricochet vs. Baron Corbin vs. Samoa Joe was about as good as expected. A bit surprised that Corbin got the win instead of Ricochet. Seeing how it played out, it makes sense to put Joe in there to eat the pin. Sadly, it’s basically all he’s used for at this point in his WWE tenure. I wonder what the storyline trajectory will be for Ricochet. Multiple losses to AJ Styles in their US Title feud and a come-up-short effort in the King of the Ring Tournament adorn his recent resume.

-Looks like a Corbin vs. Chad Gable, big bully vs. smaller underdog matchup for the King of the Ring Final. That one could be decent if they give it time. If we’re still judging the not oft-used Gable by his prime NXT days, he’s definitely a guy who is capable of carrying Corbin to a fun back-and-forth big strong heel vs. smaller quicker babyface match.

-They’re really ending Raw in Madison Square Garden with some type of 10-man tag house show BS? Imagine paying MSG prices for a show with this as the main event.

-A few minutes in, crowd is openly mocking this match with the wave. Not usually a big fan of crowds hijacking shows, but I can understand the frustration. Just ending the show with the Stone Cold contract signing would have been a better idea. Ending it with a longer, better Styles-Alexander match with a clean finish would have been optimal.

-Doesn’t seem to make much sense to have the go-home show for Clash of Champions started and ended by Stone Cold Steve Austin, a retired legend who I doubt is going to be in attendance on Sunday. Besides the Corbin win, this Raw was a glorified house show that did little to further the storylines heading into Sunday. 

-Whatever momentum there might have been for the Rollins/Strowman Universal Title match seems to have been squandered. The who’s a face and who’s a heel dynamic in the Bayley vs. Charlotte Smackdown Women’s Title match only became more confusing. Is there even a US Title bout? And why no appearance by the Women’s Tag Champs Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross?

For all the hype and promotion about this show being special because it’s at MSG, this one just did not have a special or important feel to it at all. It’s similar to having Raw 25 as the Raw right before the 2018 Royal Rumble. Mixing special shows featuring legend appearances with key go-home shows just doesn’t work well. 

There still promoting tickets for tomorrow night’s Smackdown Live in MSG on local television, so it will be interesting to see how they spin the crowd size for that one. I can’t wait for Undertaker’s 15-minute opening promo about how he knocked out Steve Austin at Summerslam right in the middle of MSG. Add in the video recap of the video recap of the Reigns/Rowan stuff and a Kofi-Orton match that’s sure to end in shenanigans and it’s not shaping up to be a blockbuster. But at least a big Chad Gable win could help matters.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review: Notes From Baltimore, MD (9/2/19)

Venue: Royal Farms Arena

-Crowd cheers and is clearly the hottest for AJ Styles. His interruption promo gets over big with the fans, so it figures they would do a match where he’s the only one of the five not in action. Even a 6 vs. 6 with any midcarder currently not doing anything where Styles actually got to wrestle would have been better. 

-Braun Strowman is worth two things in a big tag-team match, a big hot tag moment and some type of shoulder into the post spot.

– The heel fivesome of The OC and Dolph Ziggler and Bobby Roode is actually a pretty  good heel stable. Just a bunch of old veterans who are good at acting mean. Ditch Ziggler’s “It Should Have Been Me” promos and just let him kick already beaten up people in the face NWO-style for the next six months.

-Why did Ziggler and Roode need entrance music coming out of commercial if they were already in the ring?

-Another week, another Ziggler/Roode tag match gets the crickets treatment from the crowd. 

-I would say no one cares about Natalya or Lacey Evans but that twenty-or-so-person chant of “Nattie!” early on says otherwise.

-Lacey’s Moonsault and the Women’s Right were the only two moves that got even a slight crowd reaction in the awfully quiet Lacey/Natalya match. WWE needs to learn that Natalya in peril is not something crowds are going to give the desired reaction for. 

-Becky’s back to calling people weirdos again, ugh. I guess she’s saving plank for next week.

-More passion and energy in Sasha Banks’ promo this week as compared to last. Firm voice. Last week she just went through the motions without any real passion.

-Becky vs. Sasha is official for Clash of Champions. If it’s No DQ, it’ll be a Match of the Year contender.

-Baron Corbin and Cedric Alexander was like any other Corbin vs. a talented worker match, a lot of Corbin beating down early to bore the crowd and then some face fire late to wake them back up. Alexander winning over the crowd late in the match was encouraging to see. I’d say this is one of the better showings from Corbin in a while, but really it just seems like his matches depend on the quality of his opponent.

-Cedric completely whiffing on that kick from the top rope. ”Didn’t get all of it” i.e. didn’t get any of it.

-Ricochet is still my favorite to win the King of the Ring Tournament.

-Another Week, Another Roman Reigns Attack Recap Video. Why are Smackdown Live highlights on Raw?

-Steve Austin making an appearance at Raw in MSG? I guess ticket sales really have been that slow. 

-The Viking Raiders are the Dark Order of WWE. So few care about this gimmick or team right now.

-Hopefully, there will come a time when Ricochet can display more than one facial expression and more than one verbal level in one of his backstage promos.

-Ricochet/Samoa Joe went one commercial break too long but it was decent. Finish was hated by the crowd, which should have been expected. Another weak finish from Ricochet who already lost a bit of momentum due to a not ideal ending against Elias on Raw a few weeks ago.

-Cesaro left the UK to face Miz? They couldn’t find any heel on the roster for Miz to beat to heat him up for Nakamura? Cesaro should work out a stipulation where he can stay in the UK and just carry that brand with Walter. Flying in for NXT live TV shows on Wednesday would also add a lot to those shows as a special attraction.

-A heel turn or at the very least a tweener turn by Bayley was necessary given her  dwindling crowd reactions ever since her cash in championship victory at Money in the Bank. Her and Sasha as an Us vs. The Rest duo could be outstanding television if they build it right. With Heyman calling the shots, it’s at least a maybe, we’ll see.

It was a moment that saved tonight’s episode of Raw from being just another ho-hum run-of-the-mill affair like last week’s episode. Her chair shots to Becky as the go to black moment of the show drew closer looked like something she’s been waiting a while to do.

WWE Monday Night Raw (8/26/19): Notes

Venue: Smoothie King Center (New Orleans, LA)

-Opening Sasha Banks promo lacked energy and attitude – same monotone delivery as before. Fans wanted a Becky appearance and confrontation with Banks and they were noticeably disappointed it was Natalya who filled that role instead. 

-I’m not usually a big fan of apron bumps but Drew McIntyre’s slam from the top of the steps onto the apron was pretty innovative. 

-Crowds naturally want to get behind Ricochet for his comebacks. There’s consistent excitement for all his matches. How many other midcard faces on the Raw roster can you say that about right now?

-McIntyre has the combination of size, strength and physicality, but there’s just something missing in terms of having that top level guy feel. I see him in a similar mold as someone like Sheamus — lots to like, just not the complete package.

-Solid work by Ricochet and McIntyre. The match dragged a bit, as McIntyre spent most of the contest treating Ricochet like a rag doll but that was to be expected. Crowd was invested in the ending. Business really started to pick up following the Glasgow Kiss on the outside.

-Baron Corbin vs. The Miz wasn’t bad but putting it in the spot immediately after Ricochet and McIntyre didn’t do those two any favors. There was a noticeable drop off in skill level and fluidity.

-I certainly did not miss the pointless back-and-forth bickering between Renee Young and Corey Graves on commentary. Bring back Vic Joseph, please.

-Zero heat for the Bayley vs. Nikki Cross match. That’s a concern for Bayley considering she got basically the same treatment from a much hotter crowd in her Summerslam match against Ember Moon. 

-Well at least we’ll get to see The Viking Raiders wrestle a team that isn’t a couple of jobb…oops, nope it’s the B Team starting off the Tag Team Turmoil match.

-Karl Anderson and Eric both no-selling that Ivar suicide dive. 

-I understand not wanting to beat the Viking Raiders at this point in their build, but WWE still hasn’t learned that double DQs are absolute crowd-killers. Having two heel tag-teams follow that up definitely didn’t help matters much.

-Not really a shocker the crowd has no cares to give about the randomly thrown together heel duo of Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode, two guys who haven’t won any match of note in years. The Revival vs. Ziggler and Roode is in the debate with the Bayley/Cross match as the least cared about match of the night. 

-Add Ziggler and Roode vs. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder to that debate. 

-It’s a testament to how uniquely charismatic someone like Otis is that he’s been able to wake up and give life to such a dead crowd with his antics. 

-It figures that instead of giving an interesting young team like Otis and Tucker the spotlight, they go with the pairing of Roode and Ziggler, two guys that bored a crowd into silence for multiple matches. 

-Never need to see the Roman Reigns attacks recap video again. Every week, both shows, it’s enough. Had my fill.

-10 seconds into Sasha Banks’ in-ring return and she’s already taking crazy head and neck bumps.

-Love the post match beat down by Sasha Banks on Natalya. Sadistic Sasha worked so well in NXT. Hopefully she gets to show that full side of herself in the Becky feud.

-Thunderous uppercut by Cesaro on Cedric Alexander. I need a Cesaro and Walter trading uppercuts and slaps spot at some point in my wrestling viewing experience.

-Alexander and Cesaro deserved more from the crowd than they got for that impressive overall showing of athleticism. That standing Spanish Fly spot was one of the coolest things to happen on the show tonight.

-Like that “Eyes Wide Shut On” line by Angelo Dawkins. Montez Ford casts a wide shadow in the Street Profits backstage segments but Dawkins always seems to handle himself nicely. Both are naturals on camera. 

-It wouldn’t be a Braun Strowman match without him running into a post.

-An interesting “take down the tall guy at the knees” main event match by AJ Styles and Braun Strowman. A disappointing DQ ending hampered what was otherwise an interesting dynamic between Styles and Strowman. Braun no-selling his leg injury at the end and easily taking out all three members of the OC was also a bit much.

-Overall it was an average show without any glaring weak spots. The in-ring absences of Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch were noticeable. Braun does feel like a main event caliber guy again which is good. The Seth/Strowman dynamic, if handled correctly, has the potential to be fairly interesting. Next week, a bigger dose of Becky will be needed. Unfortunately, crowds simply aren’t responding with the kind of sympathy to Natalya that is needed to build Sasha up into the super heel she’s capable of becoming.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (8/19/19)

Venue: Xcel Energy Center (St. Paul, MN.)

-Dolph Ziggler’s been cutting basically the same  “It should have been me” promo since he returned to feud with Kofi Kingston. But the crowd still seems to be responding to it with the desired heel heat, so I guess if it ain’t broke…

-I like Ziggler starting off with some dirty pre-match tactics with that sneaky superkick. Ziggler’s coming off losses to Goldberg and The Miz. We need a reason to believe he can actually go toe-to-toe and trade-for-trade with someone the caliber of Roman Reigns. 

-The Spear into the Fameasser reminded me of the Seth Rollins’ spear into a pedigree spot from Money In the Bank 2016. Really great timing by those two.

-Say what you will about Dolph and his role at this point in his career, but at least Ziggler can really still sell a spear well. 

-“That’s why you’ve got to put your money on Drew McIntyre.” – Renee Young 

Nothing about McIntyre right now makes me think I need to put my money on this guy. He doesn’t even really still have Shane as a much-needed support system.

-Vic Joseph stealing those play-by-play duties from Michael Cole right from the get go.

-Baron Corbin gets a gear change. Good for him. Having to wear a dress shirt for any situation always feels at least slightly stuffy and uncomfortable. I couldn’t imagine wrestling a match in one. 

-Ricochet’s standing moonsault is a thing of beauty. Corbin’s Deep Six is as well.

-Judging from the loud “Corbin Sucks!” chants, the crowd did not miss Corbin during his post-Extreme Rules sabbatical. 

Braun Strowman and Seth Rollins both wore t-shirts that are a part of WWE Shop’s Limited Time $15 sale.

-AJ Styles has a renewed energy and a noticeable pep in his step since he turned heel and joined the OC.

-I wish more matches started with a face slap, especially in big guy/little guy dynamics like Strowman/Styles.

-Obvious DQ is obvious.

-Face Rollins vs. Face Strowman for the Universal Title could be a fun feud to play out between now and Survivor Series. There are no heels on Raw that seem like a better solution. Braun’s “built some momentum” as Vic Joseph would like to say, since that really impressive showing against Bobby Lashley at Extreme Rules.

-I wish more matches started with a flying uppercut, especially in the two big, strong, physically scary guys dynamics like Cesaro/Samoa Joe.

-Cesaro/Joe lost the crowd for a bit there after Cesaro’s failed suplex attempt. Joe’s uranage woke them back up.

-Rey Mysterio says “My body just doesn’t seem to respond to what I’m envisioning.” That was certainly clear on that botched Canadian Destroyer attempt on Andrade from their last Raw match.

-Kofi’s jump into the ring blew my mind. Those are the type of maneuvers ninety-something percent of the general population couldn’t fathom even attempting. 

-Standing room only crowd for that Randy Orton and Revival beat down of the New Day. Orton has been coasting a lot for the last few years but he can still get a crowd riled up with the right RKO in the right situation.

-One half of the Smackdown Tag Champions Xavier Woods’ knee seems to be destroyed. Let’s dim the lights and hurriedly move onto the next segment…

-Becky Lynch outshined Sasha Banks in their backstage promos tonight. Lynch had her fire slightly relit by the Natalya feud, but Sasha obviously feels like a whole different level of challenger than Natalya and Lacey Evans. No need for calling people planks in this feud. This one needs to be violent and intense at all times.

-Well-worked quick women’s tag match between the champs Alexa Bliss/ Nikki Cross and Mandy Rose/Sonya Deville. Deville showed some nice striking ability in a quick flurry . The quality and consistency of the women’s tag title matches has improved dramatically since The IIconics lost the belts.

-Cedric Alexander always impresses athletically but his singles matches rarely seem to get into that next gear. There wasn’t really a lot to his King of the Ring match with Sami Zayn. Good but basic.

-Seeing what kind of spots Ricochet is put in compared to Alexander is telling when it comes to how the company views each of their respective values right now. Both are pretty similar in terms of talent level but it’s clear the brass favor Ricochet.

-Vic Joseph is a breath of fresh air on the commentary team. He does love emphasizing those “Tag!” calls, which takes a bit of getting used to.

-Strowman bursting onto the screen to demolish AJ Styles on the outside kicked the tag title match into overdrive. Braun in short, quick bursts of power and energy is the perfect use of his unique abilities.

-Finishing Raw with the sight of universal hands raised in exuberance by a celebrating crowd following a title change is a refreshing sight — something almost surreal that’s worth savoring. Fans are excited, happy and interested in a heavyweight title storyline involving two of the most popular performers on the roster. That’s good, simple pro wrestling television storytelling. Keep it up.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (8/12/19)

-Heel AJ Styles outclasses face Seth Rollins in charisma and energy on the mic. The “We can go together!” line to the fans from Seth was a little cheesy. 

-No face turn for Samoa Joe tonight. That makes sense. If it’s going to happen it can come from Roman and him teaming up and Roman’s good guy attitude rubbing off on him. 

-Dolph Ziggler goes from over-dramatically overselling  to completely no-selling the effects of the Goldberg match. Miz with the win over Ziggler, but I am not even sure if beating Dolph at this point is worth much, or even if it’s worth anything at all.

-Award for tonight’s best out of context audio clip goes to…
“I got speared so many times yesterday.” – Dolph Ziggler
Runner Up: “Throw it up you motherlovers.” -AJ Styles

-Becky Lynch’s “Game On!” promo was intense. The problem is the women’s roster, especially on the Raw side is lacking worthy challengers not named Ronda Rousey. Someone from Lynch’s past like Sasha Banks who had a quality feud and solid matches in NXT with Becky makes sense, as does bringing back Sasha the night after Summerslam in front of a smarky crowd.

-Elias outclasses Ricochet as a promo and towers over him in the ring. Not sure this one-on-one encounter benefits either competitor.

-Ricochet botching hard, failing to wrap his feet around Elias’ neck. Elias not being prepared to catch a falling upside down Ricochet didn’t help matters.

-Not sure how much positive momentum Ricochet gains from a disputed pin fall victory, especially considering how little offense he had against Elias. The crowd never really got into the match to begin with, but whichever fans actually were invested all checked out after the botched spot.

-The Ricochet miss and back bump onto the outside and Mysterio’s hurricanrana on Andrade to the outside were two PPV-level caliber of bumps. Raw has had noticeably more physical, high-impact-sounding spots tonight. It’s a nice change of pace.

-The curly hair look works for Zelina Vega.

-Not sure whose fault the botch was on Mysterio’s Canadian Destroyer attempt on Andrade. Looks like Andrade’s head just didn’t get into proper position for whatever reason. It was almost too challenging of a spot for Rey to attempt deeper into the match, especially after the first outside spot may have left Andrade a little woozy. 

-Two straight pins and it’s a clean sweep for Andrade. So much for that thought of a potential Mask vs. Hair match.

-Steve Austin Skype audio volume coming in hot.

-If Cedric Alexander and Drew McIntyre will both be entrants in next week’s King of the Ring, why not just save tonight’s meeting for the tournament next week?

-Doing a Lumbar Check onto someone the size of McIntyre seems like it would do more harm than good, which is only intensified when you do it on the floor on the outside. 

-That knife edge chop seemed like it sucked for Cedric. That suplex onto the ramp probably sucked a little more.

-Great hard-hitting, athletic action in McIntyre vs. Alexander aided by some dramatic near falls at the end. Cedric made the Claymore Kick look like a million bucks.

-Roode vs. No Way Jose received the fast-forward treatment from my remote. The Viking Raiders squashing another local jobber team did as well. 

-Mild boring chants during Natalya’s message to her dead father. I can understand a crowd not being invested in a Natalya in-ring promo but the fans who chanted probably should have just given her silence instead of jeers during such a moment.

-The “Thank You Sasha!” chants during her beat down of Natalya were also a testament to how little fans in Toronto ever really cared about supporting a Calgary native.

-A brawl between face champion Becky Lynch and heel Sasha Banks was everything I ever wanted it to be. The use of repeated chair shots by Sasha definitely aided the effect of her return. That match should be tremendous. Do the first meeting at Clash of Champions and then have a rematch inside a cell at Hell In a Cell.

-No Fiend tonight. That’s disappointing. Hopefully, he makes his presence felt on Smackdown tomorrow night. A new feud against a prominent performer on the blue brand may be the way to go. Ali would make an interesting choice.

-The threat of a piledriver on the apron will always get a good crowd reaction.

-“Rollins with that independent, cavalier attitude.” – Michael Cole
It’s easy to picture Vince McMahon saying that line in Cole’s earpiece.

-It’s insane that the creative team heard the reaction Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton got after their double count out finish in the WWE Title match last night and could still think it’s a good idea to have a DQ finish to a Universal Title match on Raw the next night.

-Not sure Ricochet needed to come out only to get knocked out instead of just having Braun Strowman be the initial surprise to come out and clear house. It seems like we’re getting a six-way tag match with all involved parties as Raw’s main event next week.

-“This is going to be a blast!” Steve Austin says as he shoots a machine gun to kick off his new television show on the USA Network . It seems like some entertainment industry type pitched Austin a Comedian in Cars Getting Coffee type interview show, just with Austin’s kind of attitude instead of Jerry Seinfeld’s. Going with what looks to be a very firing-gun-heavy interview with Rob Riggle is an interesting way to go considering the heated debate about guns going on in the United States right now.

WWE Monday Night Raw Review (8/5/2019)

Venue:  PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh, PA

-Preview Tagline: Seth Rollins Contemplates His Next Move Before Summerslam.

-Odd pairing of Becky Lynch and Charlotte in the opening tag team bout. I would have figured we would have gotten the face team of Lynch and Trish Stratus going against the heel team of Natalya and Charlotte. The fact that Stratus didn’t receive a televised entrance and didn’t even tag into the match is somewhat surprising.

-Charlotte’s extended beat down spot on Natalya revealed how little crowd heat Natalya has at this point. It was clear the crowd wanted to see one person and one person only, Becky.

-Rey Mysterio’s flinging of Andrade into the barricade was an intense spot. Really woke the crowd up after the fans fell asleep during that tag match. 

– A big step up in entertainment quality in this meeting of Mysterio and Andrade compared to the punch and kick-heavy gauntlet match they had on Raw last week. It was reminiscent of their epic battles they had on Smackdown earlier this year. 

-Andrade can always be counted on to deliver at least a few spots that make a crowd go “Oh!” He’s one of the most unique match workers in WWE right now. 

-Tonight was further proof that quick, comedic backstage segments are the way to go for the 24/7 Title stuff, not the actual matches like we saw with Drake Maverick and R-Truth last week. It also showed that we don’t always need to see the conga line of low-carders chasing the title winner around after a victory.

-Props to Mike Kanellis for making the most of his role. He’s gone from having zero television presence a few months ago to an interesting facet of the show.

-Serious, pissed off Becky Lynch promos are way more my speed than cutesy, jokey Lynch promos. No kind of Natalya promos are my speed.

-One video recap of Brock Lesnars’s beatdown of Seth Rollins would have sufficed. Didn’t need two in one hour.

-Seth Rollins is here in Pittsburgh tonight! *Light golf clap* 

-This certainly hasn’t been the “Summer of Seth” — starting off his title reign in a dead end feud against Baron Corbin, playing second fiddle to Becky Lynch and now redoing a build to a feud that no one was clamoring for – that might be the final nail in the coffin for his face run. Not only has he not been getting the desired sympathy from the crowd after these massacres by Brock, he’s been getting largely yawns and a smattering of boos. He’s gone from beating Lesnar at Wrestlemania to now what can be argued is the low point of his singles run in just a matter of months. His character needs some kind of reboot and spark following Summerslam.

-Montez Ford motioned to take off his glasses after he already had just removed them.

-Let’s hope we get an exciting, fast-paced match to wake up the crowd after that dreadful Rollins segment, oh, nope, a quick generic Viking Raiders squash match. That didn’t do it.

-A nothing Cedric Alexander vs. Drew McIntyre match with a non-ending is not going to do it either.

-The Fiend’s run-ins have gotten diminishing returns since the crowd ate up that first one.  It’ll be interesting to see how well that match against Finn Balor at Summerslam gets received. The last time they feuded it certainly didn’t light the world on fire.

-Yikes, Ricochet landing right on his head on the apron following that clothesline from Luke Gallows. That was unsettling.

-Not much to the six-man tag match. It would have been nice to see Ricochet at least get a nice offensive flurry. Instead, it was mostly just a heel-dominated affair. For whatever reason, that seems to be the trend tonight.

-Crowd has been lost since Brock’s entrance. Having Samoa Joe literally sit in the ring and do nothing for a few minutes isn’t helping matters. 

-Setting the Over/Under for number of video recaps of Roman’s car accident on Smackdown Live tomorrow night at 2.5

-Interested to find out who Roman’s attacker is. A non top-tier guy could really benefit from that rub. It’s interesting that Buddy Murphy was seen in the background of the backstage attack. That could be a fun feud. Really anybody but Shane McMahon or Drew McIntyre could work if it’s built right.

-A four-way tag match with three heel teams and the Kabuki Warriors, a team that’s barely been given any TV time since their formation. This is going to be an uphill battle for these ladies.

-Smart move going with the surprise elimination of the champions first. That gave the crowd a desperately needed jolt.

-Right choice having Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross win the tag titles. They’ve been a prominent part of Raw since partnering up. Those belts have been largely treated as an afterthought ever since Sasha Banks and Bayley lost them at Wrestlemania

-I’m not surprised that Goldberg wants a chance at redemption following his train wreck of a match with the Undertaker in Saudi Arabia. If it’s going to be a short big moves and done squash match, Dolph Ziggler is probably the right guy to take that loss. At this point, it’s pretty clear that Ziggler’s not in line for any meaningful type of push. 

-Final thoughts of tonight’s show is that except for the Rey Mysterio and Andrade match and the final stretch of the Women’s Tag Title match there was just not a lot of great wrestling. That led to a noticeably bored and dead crowd throughout most of the night. It was a lot of heel-dominated offense in otherwise forgettable contests and segments. Raw seems to have squandered the momentum it had going following last week’s show, especially when you consider there was zero follow up to that chaotic brawl that had people buzzing.

WWE Raw (7/29/19): Notes and Analysis

Venue: Verizon Arena, North Little Rock, Arkansas

-The 24/7 title opening segment probably would have worked better as a backstage promo between Drake Maverick and R-Truth instead of an actual match. Not sure why it needed to be a mixed tag match even though the women never tagged in, or why there were lumberjacks out there, even though it wasn’t a lumberjack match. Ultimately, it did serve the purpose of furthering the Mike and Maria Kanellis storyline. 

-Really enjoyed the chemistry between Rey Mysterio and Cesaro. The ability of Cesaro to land on his feet after flipping over the ropes with Rey on top of him was impressive. 

-“How the hell is Mysterio still walking?” Michael Cole asks as Mysterio crawls on the mat writhing in pain.

-A bit of a botch on the quick pin fall attempt between Rey Mysterio and Sami Zayn. It seems that Mysterio may have slipped.

-Disappointed by the Mysterio-Andrade match given how great their matches on Smackdown were. A little too slap and kick heavy instead of the unique moves and sequences we saw in previous encounters.

-Glad to see how consistently over Ricochet is with live crowds.If I had one complaint about him at this point it’s his lack of selling late in matches. He got elbowed in the head by Andrade and popped right back up and did a reverse hurricanrana and finished it off with a 630 for the pin. 

-If it were up to me, I would’ve given the Usos the night off following Jey’s DUI arrest. Zakk Ryder and Curt Hawkins would have been fine in the face tag team role in the triple-threat.

-A few months ago, I was clamoring for a Revival-Usos feud. I’ve gotten my fill and then some. Though their matches have consistently been entertaining, I’ve seen too many of them in too short of a time. Hopefully, with Anderson and Gallows winning the tag titles, it should freshen up the Raw tag division a bit. 

-Not sure what Scott Dawson and Karl Anderson were going for with that suplex over the top rope but it sure looked dangerous. 

-The “no wrestling during commercial breaks” rule seems to have been lifted. I’m fine with that, as it led to some rather awkward time-blocking issues and forced two out of three falls matches.

-Through no fault of her own, Becky Lynch has been hurt by the lack of credible challengers during her title reign. Say what you will about Lacey Evans’ in-ring ability, but she at least had some type of personality and character. Natalya, on the other hand, wow, that backstage promo. For someone who has been in the WWE as long as she has to cut such a stilted promo with that kind of choreographed cadence is really troubling. 

-Viking battle training lol

-There’s something to say for measuring star power by how many fans whip out their phones when a performer comes out. Judging by that metric tonight, Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns felt like the biggest deals. Seth Rollins not so much.

-Taking an F5 into the post seems like it sucked for Seth. Taking three F5s onto the chair seemed liked it sucked a lot worse. Not a good sign for your babyface challenger when the crowd’s chanting “one more time!” to see him get continually punished. 

-I loved the chaotic energy of the ending to the show. It had a real attitude era feel of guys just running out and brawling all over and different feuds and stories overlapping. 

-Cedric Alexander, someone who could use a big push sooner than later, got a great rub from being alongside Roman and The Usos. It will be interesting to see if this leads to some type of multi-man tag match next week.