This week in pro wrestling, we are nearing the end. Both WWE and AEW are closing in to their respective tournaments. Who will move on? Drew McIntyre and Seth Rollins sign their contract for Money in the Bank. A former WWE champion returns to Raw! AEW final round for the TNT title is set! New star studded Bubbly Bunch!
The Drake Maverick journey continues. Keith Lee defends his title against Damian Priest! New way to start for MITB match, again! SmackDown futures the final participants for MITB. Let’s get started!
The WWE Performance Center once again houses this week’s edition of Monday Night Raw, taking place in Orlando, FL on 4/27/20.
This will be a very quick recap this week as I was incredibly busy with work, so I’ll try to sum everything up and keep it short and sweet!
We had an edition of the MVP lounge to begin the broadcast with Rey Mysterio, Apollo Crews and Aleister Black.
This was spoiled by Zelina Vega leading her trio of Austin Theory, Angel Garza and US Champ, Andrade, coming up to ruin the moment and we got a six man tag match.
Apollo Crews, Rey Mysterio and Aleister Black defeated Team Vega via pin fall after a Sitout Tigerbomb from Crews on Andrade.
The action was fast and furious and the shocking end came when Andrade, who’s been on a bit of a roll lately, went for his signature Hammerlock DDT and Crews countered and hit him with the Tigerbomb. Crews was riding high and there’s more on this later.
Throughout the night, we had a number of highlights from the storied career of Triple H, in honor of his continued 25th anniversary celebration.
Crews and Andrade had a run-in backstage which led to Crews slapping the holy hell out of Andrade and they’ll have a US Title match later in the evening.
Triple threat match? Liv Morgan vs Ruby Riott.
We were supposed to have a triple threat match between Shayna Baszler, Asuka and Nia Jax, but it seems they wanted to protect all three women heading into MITB, so it broke down into a brawl where Nia Jax was left standing in the ring. Whether we are to believe she’s the favorite in the match or not is anyone’s guess, but a program with her and Lynch would draw money based on what happened last year before the injury to Jax.
Bobby Lashley and Lana are back on the same page and we very quickly wrapped up a match with Lashley and Denzel Dejournette after Lashley nailed him with his patented spear for the three count.
Lashley needs a major program to revitalize his momentum. He’s a major talent and he’s due for a title run.
Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan continued their story, if you can call it that, again this week, as Morgan once again came away with a victory after hitting Riott with the middle rope STO.
Riott has to snatch a victory or this is a complete waste of time. The craziest part about this whole debacle is that if Riott is booked properly, she can become a major threat to the women’s title because she’s not only a great hand, she’s got a great look, she’s a solid promo and she could threaten Becky Lynch as they develop new contenders for the belt.
Morgan did talk about trying to find her identity and building her confidence up after the match.
Former WWE Champion returns.
The Viking Raiders laid out a challenge to the Street Profits, telling them they want the smoke. A title match between these two teams is imminent.
Jinder Mahal returned to action and he bested Akira Tozawa after putting him down with his patented Khalas finish. Mahal was always a great foil as a heel and although his title reign was forgettable, he’s always a great heel to have on your roster and I’m sure Raw is glad to have him back. It’s good to see him healthy and back in the fold.
Angel Garza flirted with Charly Caruso before the US title match, giving her a flower to play into his Lothario persona.
Andrade defeated Apollo Crews via referee stoppage to retain the US Title.
I have mixed feelings about this match. This was a hell of a contest and you had two rising stars on the Raw roster giving it their all. They had Andrade working the knee of Crews throughout the match as Zelina Vega noticed it was hurt and told Andrade to keep working it.
Crews made the comeback and looked to be in a prime position to secure the victory and the US Title, but after coming off the top rope with a splash attempt, Crews was favoring the knee and the ref called for the bell.
Crews was disappointed in himself and he definitely put Andrade on notice that he was that close. This definitely sets the table on a Crews/Andrade title feud which might see Crews coming away with a singles run, but we’d find out later that he would be removed from MITB and a “Last Chance” match would happen next week.
Crews would really have a chance to put on a clinic in that match and removing him really hurts having him in front of the fans. Now if Andrade wins that match and gets into the MITB, have Crews interfere and continue that story. We’ll see what they do.
Ricochet and Cedric Alexander defeated EverRise via pin fall with a double stomp variant.
Great to see Parker and Martel on Raw, this is another young team that had a cup of coffee on a deep NXT roster, but are great young hands.
Speaking of such, Ricochet and Alexander looked wonderful again this week, securing the victory with a great double team stomp variation, putting another win in their column. They seem to be building the tag division again, and I’m completely fine with that!
As Ricochet and Alexander celebrated backstage, MVP re-introduced us to Brendan Vick and Shane Thorne, telling us that a rematch seems to be in order. Having MVP manage that team is smart and continued to add depth to the division. Sign me up.
The contract signing.
We end the show with a contract signing between Seth Rollins and Drew McIntyre.
This was fantastic. Rollins continued his his “martyr” commentary and McIntyre used some choice words to tell him he was full of garbage. He tells Rollins that he better pull out all the stops, because he’ll be going for the throat.
We end up with a skirmish and McIntyre flips the table over and sets up for his dreaded finish, but the disciple, Murphy, intercedes and halts Drew’s momentum. Rollins had stated that everything would be made clear at MITB and as Murphy and Rollins embrace, McIntyre surges forward with a Claymore Kick and Murphy pushes Rollins out of the way, eating the kick himself.
Rollins makes a quick exit as he and the champ lock eyes before the broadcast goes off the air. A solid edition of Raw again this way as stories continue to be built heading into MITB.-Joel R.
This week on Dynamite, the final stage for the TNT championship has been set. Video packages and squashes aplenty. The Bubbly Bunch star studded segment! A hard core tag team match! Let’s dive in, because this is DYNAMITE!
Two sides of the story. Scorpio Sky and MJF story time, Wardlow SMASH! A Manitoba Melee!
Cody vs Darby Allin, TNT Championship tournament semi-finals. Cody wins via Roll Over pin fall.
Before the match began, a video package of the two men aired. Both had different reasons on why this match and title means to them. For Cody it was that he and Darby fought to a draw, in which Rhodes takes it as a loss. For Allin, he goes on to say how he is the opposite of the “corporate sheep” that is Cody. Nice contrasting views from each other, one being at the top of AEW and the other being the future. But how was the match?
The match was as crisp as you would expect from the duo. A slow start with shoulder bumps and locks, let’s you know that this match was going long. At one point Darby goes for a pin, but Rhodes attempts to bridge out of it. The attempt twerked Cody’s knee and just like that, Allin like a goth shark, attacks it. Like Allin’s match with Sammy, we see another very aggressive Darby. Targeting The American Nightmare’s knee throughout the match. The fight spills outside and Allin accidentally shoulder tackles Cody’s wife Brandi into the barricade.
Back in the ring and after two commercial breaks, the match really picks up. The single legged Cody falls victim to his own finisher. Allin hits the Cross Rhodes on Cody, but only for a two count. Darby then locks in a Figure Four, but Cody refuses to give up, why? Because Brandi makes it back to the ring and through the power of love and a water bottle, Cody fights on. Chris Jericho was hilarious in this spot, asking what was in the water bottle. Ranging from poison, acid, to miracle potions. To be fair, Cody’s strength returned after he drank from the bottle.
A great match, until the puzzling end. That ending was Cody now in control attempts Darby’s finisher, The Coffin Drop on Allin. However the goth wrestler got his knees up, flipping the spot from their Fyter Fest match. Darby runs up the turnbuckle and hits a clean Coffin Drop. However, somehow Cody had enough strength to slide Allin on his shoulders and grab the win. Head-scratching as the move seem very lazy in execution. I am all for different looks in to the normal finishes, but sometimes they’re great and other times it kid of falls flat. This was the latter.
Double story time and that monster Wardlow.
First up was Scropio Sky’s next chapter into his story, it was rather short. Here is what it covered. After joining Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels to form SCU, Sky didn’t want to be “the third guy”. Then the “worst town” bit came about and they helped him grow as a performer. Scorpio ended it with “I don’t want to be good or great… I want to be a F—ing legend”. Short and sweet, this will get the fans behind him.
MJF on the other hand works his deluded heel magic again. Maxwell’s doctors told him that vicious hang nail has “over healed” and is the strongest nail in the world. Unfortunately, MJF has endured another tragic injury. Maxwell nicked his neck while shaving and is wearing a neck brace. This is one the reason’s why MJF will be a fantastic career heel, he just gets it. I can’t wait for him to return and insult everyone… and I mean everyone.
Now after all that, it’s time for WARDLOW SMASH! This week’s victim.. I mean competitor is Musa. To be fair, Musa was surprisingly competitive.. for about 90 seconds. Then Wardlow just flips out, like a viking in a beserker rage. Wardlow at one point had Musa dangling on the top turnbuckle, picked up his head and hit buckle assisted GTS with his knee. Scary stuff, the hulking beast then lands his spinning, twisting F-5 like slam.. F-10? Whatever it is going to be called, it looks terrifying.
Don’t you ever stop Bubbly Bunch.
Ok, now on to what is quickly becoming my favorite segments of Dynamite.. THE BUBBLY BUNCH! Le Champion is still in disbelief that he lost to Sammy in the FlimFlam competition. So Jericho devises a Manitoba Melee, it’s a pseudo fight club were strikes are delivered through social media and passed on to the next one. Not onlt the Inner Circle got in it, but some the AEW roster, and then celebrities. It was classic Le Champion and Inner Circle. At the end, Jericho yells for it to stop, not because it got out of control, but it was the best Manitoba Melee ever! The following were involved in the great segment:
- Jungle Boy
- Sonny Kiss
- Dr Luther
- Peter Avalon (The Librarian)
- Duff McKagan from Guns N Roses
- Corey Taylor from SlipKnot
- Jay and Silent Bob
- Comedian Gabriel Iglesias AKA Fluffy
- Ryan Niemiller from America’s Got Talent and comedian
- Comedian Brad Williams
- Chris Jericho’s famous hockey father, Ted Irvine
- Tiger King’s James Garretson AKA Jet ski guy
- OG Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno with a stun baton!
- Soul Train Jones AKA WWE’s Virgil
- lastly wife of the late great Eddie Guerrero, Vickie Guerrero!
What a list, was it over the top zany stuff, yes. However, remember that I always welcome the distraction if done right. Right now in this COVID-19 world that takes the fans away from the shows, Chris Jericho is winning.
Straight up brawl. Dr Britt Baker, role model. The Chairman’s Canadian roots and Brodie destroys. The final spot for the TNT championship match.
Best Friends w/ Orange Cassidy vs Jimmie Havoc/Kip Sabian w/ Penelope Ford in a No DQ match. Best Friends win via Awful Waffle on steel chairs pin fall.
With another detour to the standard AEW matches, we are bestowed with this really good match. The heels quickly take to weapons to take out Best Friends. Jimmie is a madman with the steel chairs and throws it into Cassidy, taking him out. Best Friends come back as Taylor hits a high knee. As you would expect this was not a technical wrestling match, it was a straight up brawl. Ladders made there way in and there was a nasty spot were Trent form Best Friends gets viciously slammed on a propped ladder. That look very painful to say the least.
In the closing moments, of course Penelope gets involved. Yet it was nice to see that it wasn’t immediately in the match. Cassidy returns to help out and hits a hilarious half serious Trust Fall on Kip and Ford. This gives Taylor to hit the AWful Waffle on Jimmie on top a stack of chairs for the win. This was a nice fun match, something like out of Impact wrestling or ECW… the good parts.
Britt has advice.
Dr Britt Baker now appears and cuts a segment that there certain things you can’t be if you’re a role model. There was a nice surprise cameo of Rebel Tanea from TNA/Impact fame. Britt hilariously calls her “Reba” and Rebel is in a cut scene stating her real name. Baker then coaches her into building her up. Dr Britt Baker states the rules for a role model. They are no glasses, no fat people, and lastly no snaggle teeth. All the pictures shown were one Tony Schiavone. Britt continues to shine as of late, and to finally seem to find her footing. Baker is possibly one the best things during this quarantine Dynamite.
Call backs and squashes.
Shawn Spears, The Chairman faces off against local talent Baron Black. Baron actually had a match on AEW Dark, but lost. Can he get a win tonight, umm… no. Spears just destroys him and even has an homage to Jericho with a flexing pin. However, that is not the only shout out to his Canadian roots. Shawn hits a big boot, then the C4 and ends it with the Sharpshooter! It is not known if Bret The Hitman Hart gave him his blessings or not. Yet it is traditional for wrestlers to reach out to a legend and ask for permission, out of respect. If this did happen, it is going to be interesting for The Chairman from here on out.
Brodie Lee faces off against Marko Stunt. For some reason AEW was building up to this, I have no idea why. Maybe Stunt was supposed to be a sacrifice, again.. like he was for Lance Archer. Marko did his thing, becoming a live specimen for a beat-down. Brodie wasted no time in dominating Stunt, even with Marko attempting a dive, Lee just plucked him out of the air. The mauling mercifully ended when Lee lands a Sitdown Powerbomb for the win.
Can The Natural survive The Murder Hawk?
Lance Archer vs Dustin Rhodes, in the TNT semi-finals tournament. Lance wins via head slams fin fall.
This was my most favorite match tonight, and probably for a few weeks on Dynamite. Though not as crisp as the Allin vs Cody match, this won had heartfelt storytelling. Dustin on match away from a title that he sorely wants and the new monster that destroys everything in his path. Within 2 minutes Dustin is busted open from a big boot while he was holding a steel chair. From then on, it was just like a hawk picking away at it’s prey. However, this is no normal wrestler, this is a Rhodes he is fighting. No matter what age a Rhodes is, you can count on this.. they will never back down.
That is what Dustin did, The Natural found openings through his blood soaked eyes and took his shots. Archer will stop any momentum that Rhodes attempts to build. However, The Murder Hawk just can’t seem to put away this legend. Lance then goes on the attack, but Dustin hits a Cross Rhodes, his brother’s finisher! Archer no sells it and kicks right after a one count, that is some foreshadowing there. Rhodes in disbelief, leaps onto Archer, but the Murder Hawk catches him in midair for a Chokeslam and again, only a two count.
Frustration is building for this dominate force and Lance does a move I haven’t see a guy his size do. The Murder Hawk is not only 43 years old (looks great by the way), but is also 6’8″ and 276 pounds! So Lance with Dustin arm in tow, starts to walk the ropes ala’ Undertaker, but instead of a hammer fist Lance hits a beautiful MOONSAULT! My jaw dropped and I went full on Ron Simmons “DAMN!”. Dustin was just out on his feet, and Archer is infuriated that Rhodes is still standing.
Dustin will not give up.
Lance then rips of a turnbuckle padding and smashes Dustin’s head into it multiple times. With The Natural’s lights out, QT Marshall runs to the ring with a towel. About to throw it in, Cody Rhodes stops him. The American Nightmare quickly questions his action and is about to throw it in himself. Then in one last action, Dustin comes to, grabs the towel and throws it out the ring. The man will not give up, but he should have. As Lance grabs Dustin’s head and rams it into the mats viciously and several times, then pins The Natural.
Wow.. what a emotional match. If this was Dustin’s final match it had everything and made the fans emotionally invested. However, I do not think this will be The Natural’s final match. Is a a path to his final one, oh yeah it is. However, I can not see Dustin going out on his back without a crowd that loves him, followed his career, want to show him respect for what he sacrificed. Dustin Rhodes, grandson of a plumber, always golden, and a natural.. will have his much deserved curtain call. It just won’t be this one.-David G.
This week on NXT, The Queen returns to the ring to take on her hand-picked opponent, Mia Yim, Keith Lee gets his opportunity for retribution as he defends the NXT North American Championship against Damian Priest, The Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament rolls on, and we preview an absolutely STACKED show for next week!
Tom Phillips welcomes Mauro Ranallo and Beth Phoenix back to the commentary team, as they call the shots tonight in a simulated three-person booth. Mauro and Beth are doing commentary from their homes, while Tom is live in the Performance Center. This is what should have been happening all along, and the cohesiveness between the three is spot on.
Tom fills us in on the card for tonight, and we jump right in to our first match of the evening.
Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. El Hijo de Fantasma
Swerve and Fantasma lock up to start the match, and go move for move until El Hijo goes for a couple of quick roll up attempts to frustrate Isaiah. Scott drops Fantasma with a dropkick, sending the masked man to the outside. Swerve attempts a PK, but Fantasma dodges and hits Swerve with an enzuigiri.
Back in the ring, Fantasma chops away at Scott, then charges at him. Scott counters and crotches Fantasma on the top rope, and follows it up with a Frankensteiner to garner a two count. Swerve mounts Fantasma, raining down a series of punches to the face and gut. Fantasma hits a hurricanrana to send Scott to the apron, who counters an attack and delivers the PK to Fantasma as we go to commercial.
Back from the break, Scott has Fantasma in a head scissor, but El Hijo breaks free, then tosses Scott over the top rope and to the ring apron. Scott goes for a sunset flip, but Fantasma rolls through and dropkicks Swerve. El Hijo drops Scott with a Frankensteiner of his own, then lands a frog splash from the top. Scott regains control, dropping Fantasma with a high angle German suplex. Fantasma rolls out of the ring, allowing Swerve to attempt a Fosbury Flop. Fantasma dodges, sliding back into the ring and then takes out Scott with a tope suicida.
Back in the ring, Fantasma goes for the Phantom Driver, but Scott counters into a crucifix pin to get the three count, earning his first win in the tournament.
Winner – Isaiah “Swerve” Scott
Much better showing from El Hijo de Fantasma this week, as opposed to his match last week. He looked a lot more comfortable in the ring this time around, and his timing was a lot better. A lot of people would call this an upset, as Fantasma has been built to be one of the new faces of the division, but I disagree. They’ve had something special with Swerve ever since they signed him, so seeing him pick up the win here can be a way to give him back some momentum, after he has stalled for so long.
After the commercial break, Fantasma is being interviewed at ringside, and the mystery masked men attempt to jump him again, only for him to fight them off. We still don’t have any clue where this is headed, but it’s clear that they want Fantasma, and they want him bad!
Candice LeRae vs. Kacy Catanzaro
Mrs. Wrestling debuts her new look, new entrance theme, and new nickname, “Poison Pixie”, as she takes on the former American Ninja Warrior, Kacy Catanzaro. Johnny Gargano accompanies LeRae to the ring, playing “hype man” and being the smarmy heel.
Candice challenges Kacy to a test of strength, as she is clearly the stronger competitor. Catanzaro breaks out of the hold and downs LeRae with a hurricanrana. Kacy hits a senton on Candice to get a near fall, then goes for a standing splash, but LeRae gets her knees up.
LeRae sinks in a chinlock on Catanzaro, but Kacy gets back to her feet, only to be dropped by Candice with a wheelbarrow slam. Candice looks back at Johnny with a sinister smile, then attempts the Gargano Escape, but Kacy reverses it and rolls up Candice for another two count.
Candice is furious as she unleashes heavy strikes and kicks on Kacy. With Catanzaro face down on the mat, LeRae grabs both wrists and pulls her up, then stomps her back down to the mat with a boot to the back of the head, coining her new finisher the Wicked Stepsister.
Winner – Candice LeRae
After the match, Candice and Johnny are making their way up the ramp, but Candice isn’t finished with Kacy. She slides back in the ring and locks in the Gargano Escape on her fallen opponent, while Johnny looks on like a teenage girl, smitten with what his wife has become.
Basic match to show the new side of Candice LeRae. I love the whole package that Candice has brought out: the new look, the new theme, and the Wicked Stepsister finisher is very befitting of the character. Johnny playing the infatuated bystander was hilarious, but so well done. As I said before, a welcome change to the characters of Candice LeRae and Johnny Gargano, allowing them to have more depth and personality.
The Newly-Bros Show!
Matt Riddle and Timothy Thatcher are introduced as the NXT Tag Team Champions, even though Matt is holding both belts. Riddle says that he and Thatcher are just as much of a team as he and Pete Dunne are, and that they are going to prove how much they know about each other in the premiere episode of “The Newly-Bros Show”, hosted by Byron Saxton.
Saxton plays the over-the-top game show host role, and explains the rules of the show. He will ask Thatcher and Riddle a series of questions, Riddle will write down his answers on a whiteboard while Thatcher will answer verbally. The show starts with the first question: “What did Matt Riddle have for breakfast?” Thatcher says he has no idea what Riddle had, and Matt reveals his board to say “I have no idea.”
Moving on to the second question: Byron asks Timothy, “What is your favorite television show?” Thatcher says he doesn’t even own a TV. Saxton asks if he would ever consider buying one, to which Thatcher says, “Yeah, if the price is right.” Riddle reveals his answer, “The Price is Right.” Next question for Thatcher, and this is a steamy one: “What is the craziest place you have ever ‘done it’?” Thatcher says it was in the ring, but once he had a triple threat in a laundromat. Riddle shows his answer: “3sum in a washer.”
Saxton says it’s time for the Speed Round, but before they can get started, Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel of Imperium attack Riddle and Thatcher. They take out Riddle, leaving Thatcher to fend for himself. Thatcher puts up a good fight, but the numbers prove too much, as Aichner and Barthel take him out with the European Bomb, and then pose with the NXT Tag Team Championships.
Absolute hilarity from Matt Riddle, as always. The man is a charisma machine, and his quips and double entendre’s are gold. Thatcher standing in for Pete Dunne has worked so far, as the two of them have a similar persona. The attack from Imperium sets up for the next challengers for the tag titles, and I welcome the change. At least we don’t have to watch Undisputed Era getting another shot.
NXT Champion Adam Cole cuts a backstage promo, still adamant that Velveteen Dream doesn’t deserve a shot at the title. But next week, Cole says he will walk in as champ and walk out still champ, as the match is official: Adam Cole vs. Velveteen Dream for the NXT Championship.
Charlotte Flair vs. Mia Yim (Non-title Match)
Charlotte and Mia eye each other across the ring, then lock up. Flair powers Yim into the corner with a headlock. Charlotte goes for a big boot, but Mia dodges and takes down the Queen with a series of kicks. Yim follows it up with a cannonball and a tornado DDT to get a two count. Charlotte elbows Mia, sending her outside. Flair gives chase, then Yim slides into the ring and attempts a suicide dive, but Charlotte counters with an elbow strike.
As the pace slows, Charlotte stomps away at Mia, then tosses her into the corner and shoves her boot into Mia’s throat. Yim counters with a Tarantula Lock and tries to take the advantage, but Charlotte grabs a handful of hair and takes down the HBIC. Flair trash talks Yim, but as she starts to pick her up, Mia lands the Sole Food.
Mia charges at Charlotte, but Flair dodges and sends Yim face first into the corner. Charlotte attempts a moonsault, but Mia counters and hits the Code Blue for a two count. Charlotte catches Mia coming off the ropes and sinks in a high angle Boston Crab. Mia breaks free and goes for a roll up attempt, but Charlotte kicks out and downs Mia with the big boot.
Charlotte is setting up for the Figure Four, but Mia reverses it and rolls up the Queen for two. Yim tries for the Protect Ya Neck, but Flair counters and locks in the Figure Eight to get Yim to tap out.
Winner – Charlotte Flair
As Charlotte goes to leave the ringside area, Io Shirai confronts her and is screaming at the champ in Japanese. Finally, Io looks dead at Charlotte and says, “Next week, you are mine”, to confirm our second title match for next week’s show.
Solid showing by Mia Yim, being able to stand her ground with the Queen and looking good in defeat. Charlotte continues to help build more stars by putting on good matches against opponents that aren’t afforded the opportunities to showcase their talents. Now, with Io Shirai laying out the challenge, next week’s show is going to be STACKED!
Also coming next week, Karrion Kross and Scarlett debut, plus Finn Balor will be live on NXT to address the attack from last week.
Dexter Lumis vs. Shane Thorne
Thorne looks perplexed at Lumis, trying to figure out what’s going on inside the head of the enigmatic combatant. Shane attempts to get the upper hand with a series of strikes, but Lumis counters with a Lou Thesz Press. Lumis pins Thorne in the corner, but the referee separates the two, allowing Thorne to take the advantage. Thorne goes for a tornado DDT, but Lumis counters by tossing Thorne across the ring.
Shane Thorne slows down Dexter Lumis with an eye rake and a series of uppercuts and dropkicks. Thorne charges at Lumis, but is caught and slammed to the ring with a spinebuster from Lumis. Dexter hoists Shane up by the ears, plants him with the Ura Nage and locks in the Kata Gatame choke to get Thorne to pass out, claiming the victory. After the bell, Lumis falls back into the blank stare, cradling Thorne’s head and caressing him as Thorne lays there unconscious.
Winner – Dexter Lumis
Lumis continues to impress by progressively taking on more worthy opponents. And it’s more of the same feel for his matches: imposing, mysterious, chilling, and impressive. Still haven’t seen him blink, either…
Drake Maverick vs. Tony Nese
The match starts with Drake, being all heart, going right after Nese, but the Premiere Athlete clearly has the power advantage over the smaller Maverick. Nese nails Maverick with a shot to the jaw, and strikes a pose, telling Maverick, “You’re going to have to do better than that!” Nese continues to dominate the match, but Maverick won’t back down.
Every time Maverick attempts to make a comeback, Nese is there to knock him back down. Nese trash talks Maverick throughout the contest, until Drake finally gets an advantage. After Nese grabs a handful of Maverick’s hair and slaps him, Drake snaps. Maverick corners Nese and unleashes a series of kicks and strikes, rocking the larger competitor.
Maverick attempts a corner cutter, but Nese counters with a German suplex, sending Maverick back first into the corner. Nese goes for the running knee, but Maverick counters and downs Nese with the corner cutter. Maverick goes up top to try an elbow drop, but Nese rolls out of the way, then goes up top himself. Drake crotches Nese on the top rope, then takes him down with a wheelbarrow bulldog to pick up the win.
Winner – Drake Maverick
After the match, Maverick cuts a promo, saying he told everyone that he could do it, and that he did it. Drake calls himself the “Wolf of NXT” (an alliteration to the Wolf of Wall Street), and that he isn’t leaving without the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
Great storytelling with Maverick having to overcome the daunting task of taking down the seasoned veteran in Tony Nese. Loved the constant trash talking from Nese, and the abundance of confidence he showed while overpowering Maverick. Drake’s heart is bigger than almost anyone’s in the tournament, but I’m still conflicted on how this story is playing out. This week, they claimed that Drake’s contract is “expiring”, which is a blatant lie, as we all know that he was actually released a couple of weeks ago. So what’s the plan here? Are they giving Maverick one last chance to prove himself? Remains to be seen. One thing to keep an eye on, Maverick was clearly selling an arm injury after the match, and guess who his next opponent is? Kushida.
NXT North American Championship – Keith Lee vs. Damian Priest
The combatants start by staring each other down, then Priest nails Lee with a series of kicks which don’t faze the Limitless One. Priest stuns Lee with an elbow, but Lee comes right back and takes Priest out of the ring with a clothesline. Priest tries to escape from Lee by going over the barricade, but Lee catches up with him, hoists him over his head, and military presses the Archer of Infamy from the other side of the barricade ALL THE WAY to the ring apron!
Lee gives chase to continue the barrage, but Priest counters and tries to smash Lee’s face into the steps. Lee fights off the attempt, then charges at Priest, who moves, sending Lee into the barricade as we go to commercial break.
Back from the break and the competitors are in the ring, with Priest striking at Lee’s back. Damian attempts a suplex on Keith, but can’t get the big man up. Lee counters and deadlift suplexes Priest over, but Priest lands on his feet and drops Lee with a hangman’s neckbreaker. Priest again attempts a suplex, but Lee fights him off, pouncing him hard into the corner turnbuckle. Lee takes Priest down with punches, then drops him with a one-handed powerbomb.
Priest rolls out of the ring, but Lee flies over the top rope with a Pescado, taking down Damian. Lee tosses Priest back into the ring, then downs him with a hard lariat. Lee hoists Priest up for the Spirit Bomb, but Priest gets away and back to his feet. Priest goes for the chokeslam, Lee counters with a chokeslam attempt of his own, and Priest counters with a series of kicks. Priest goes for the suplex attempt again, this time taking the big man down with the Broken Arrow.
Lee rolls out of the ring, and Priest gives chase with a tope con hiro, taking down Lee. Priest rolls Lee back into the ring, then goes up top and drops the champ with a spinning heel kick. Damien goes for the chokeslam once again, but Lee counters with a headbutt, sending Priest to the ring apron. The Archer hits Lee with a step-up enzuigiri, rocking the big man, then tries to go back up to the top rope. Lee knocks him off the corner and back down to the apron, allowing Lee to step up to the middle turnbuckle and deadlift suplex Priest from the outside of the ring back in.
Both men are clearly showing the wear and tear of the contest, as Priest gets back to his feet and finally takes down Lee with a chokeslam. Priest rolls out of the ring and grabs the title and his nightstick. The referee stops Priest as he’s getting back into the ring, so Priest relinquishes the title, but goes back in the ring to nail Lee with the nightstick. Lee catches Priest’s hand as the strike attempt happens, garnering an “Impossible!” statement from Priest. Lee responds, “No, I. Am. Limitless.”, then takes Priest down with the Grizzly Magnum chop, followed by a pair of Spirit Bombs to pick up the win, retaining his championship.
Winner and STILL NXT North American Champion – Keith Lee
What a fun match! This had the same feeling as the series of matches between Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic from last year. Both men in this match have an abundance of agility for their size, but the difference here is that there is a much more personal feel, with the attacks from Priest onto Lee provoking the champ to come at Priest full force.
Solid show from top to bottom. Nothing on this show happened without meaning or purpose. The debut of the “new” Candice LeRae, the Cruiserweight Tournament matches, Flair vs. Yim, all of it was great to stellar. And the momentum won’t stop there, as next week’s show is absolutely STACKED! Here’s what we have to look forward to for next week:
- NXT Championship – Adam Cole vs. Velveteen Dream
- NXT Women’s Championship – Charlotte Flair vs. Io Shirai
- Johnny Gargano vs. Dominik Dijakovic
- The NXT debut of Karrion Kross & Scarlett
- Finn Balor returns to address his attacker
Talk about a loaded card! It’s gonna be a good one, and I for one am stoked to see what happens next week, on NXT! -Josh L.
Friday Night SmackDown:
This weeks SmackDown has the final participants locked in for MITB. Firefly Fun House eggs on Braun Strowman. The MITB match has upped the ante! Will there be a Mr and Mrs MITB winning couple? Sheamus has a date saved, Forgotten Sons cement their place in the tag team division. Let’s dive in right now.
Big vs small opening. Story time at the Fun House. A SmackDown match with Sheamus, aka squash match.
Daniel Bryan vs King Corbin. Bryan wins via DQ decision.
The Planet’s Champion starts off with a promo about the opportunities that the MITB briefcase will bring. King Corbin cuts into his promo and the two go back and forth. Daniel highlights that Corbin is one the few that couldn’t cash in his case and Corbin states that he is different now. Not the greatest promo, but the two do know how to work of each other.
The match started as the classic “big guy vs small guy” route. King Corbin isolates Bryan in the corner and starts wailing on on him. Bryan utilizes his speed and technique to escape and aggressively targets Corbin’s knee. This was the main theme of the match, but the chemistry between the duo was quite fantastic. There was an awesome spot where Daniel goes for his Flying Knees, Corbin snatches him in mid-air, and hits the Deep Six! The fight spills outside and Corbin just has had enough and strikes Daniel with a ladder, ending the match in a DQ.
King Corbin then attempts to hit the End Of Days on Bryan onto a ladder. However, Daniel reverses the move and applies the Yes Lock. With Corbin squirming, Shinsuke and Cesaro now jump in to crush Daniel Bryan. King Corbins newly acquired Court allows him to vault Bryan from the ramp into a pile of ladders. Standard stuff, but like I said these two work well off each other and was a good opening.
The story of the black sheep.
Braun walks in the ring and quickly Bray Wyatt interupts. Wyatt then reads a story of the black sheep that was taken in by a Shepard and was given a home. The black left the Shepard and as did the rest of his friends. Of course the black sheep is Strowman, it was the mask he wore in the Wyatt Family and the rest of the Wyatt Family are gone now as well. Wyatt now wants to create a new ending for the book. An ending where the Shepard takes everything the black sheep loves. The Monster tells Wyatt to come down to the ring and fight, but Bray just smiles and wave.
This is polarizing for me, I see some that felt like it fell flat and others praise its simplicity. For me, simple can be good, but I do see that some can be disappointed. Especially when Bray has fired off some many great promos. This may just be a way to cover up Braun’s lack of skill on the mic. In which is weird as well, because the Monster can work a mic, if he is being himself. Either way, this was short and left up for debate.
The Celtic smash.
Another Sheamus match on SmackDown equals a squash. This week’s lucky participant is Leon Ruff and boy was it rough (sorry, couldn’t resist the pun). Here is the move set for the match, Backbreaker, Beat The Drums, Brogue Kick for the pin fall. Yup, Ruff was done. Afterwards, it seemed that Sheamus remember that he had to hound Michael Cole about the Jeff Hardy video package. Cole says to Sheamus, sorry but I have to do it. The video package ends with Sheamus still there, but also announcing that Jeff Hardy will be on SmackDown next week. The Celtic Warrior is now happy that he finally gets to welcome Jeff back.
Yeah, squashes can be good, but every week is becoming a running joke. The feud between Sheamus can be interesting. With WWE going for this whole redemption angle for Hardy and I can see Sheamus becoming angry. Not so long ago, Sheamus almost could not return to the ring due to a spinal stenosis condition. The same back issue that had Edge retire, then finally return but with restrictions. If a smark was looking at the angle of “well, no one in WWE made this grand story for me. But they’re doing for Jeff?”, it make more a grey area for fans. Intriguing, but I really just see WWE just sweeping this under the rug after MITB.
Final spots for MITB. The Forgotten Sons pave a path.
Carmella vs Mandy Rose MITB qualifying match. Carmella wins via Super Kick pin fall.
There went the chances of Otis and Mandy becoming Mr and Mrs Money in the Bank. However, it wasn’t by all of Mella’s work. Durin g the match in which Mandy was in control of, Sonya Deville stepped out. Deville went a trash talking tirade and is was really good stuff. Sonya asks if Mandy remembers that Sonya practically gave her the briefcase and Rose still couldn’t win it. The trash talking finally got to Mandy and she turn to face Sonya, however Mella takes advantage and Super Kicks Rose for the win. Afterwards, Deville comes down to the ring and totally dismantles Mandy and tosses her in to the steel steps. The officials final stop the beating and Rose is laying in pain. Sonya has really taken the ball and is running with it. With the weeks after Mania, Deville has especially shined in the angle.
Forgotten Sons vs New Day. Forgotten Sons win via Memory Remains pin fall.
New Day has the uncanny ability to put on energetic and great matches with just about anyone. The Forgotten Sons are the latest beneficiaries and it was the best Forgotten Sons has looked in awhile. Miz and Morrison provided comical commentary, in which helped bolster this match. While a great match from the four men, the troupes of New Day was on display. Big E the powerhouse, Kofi takes the beating and then gets the hot tag to explode. Tried and true techniques, yet the Forgotten Sons made the best out of it.
Even showing a new tag move, a Buckle Bomb in to a set of double knees. That was the set up for The Memory Remains of Kofi for the win. A shocked look from Miz and Morrison, with Morrison chanting “You deserve it!” had me chuckling. If WWE wants to push the Forgotten Sons, they may have to scale back Miz and Morrison, because they almost stole the spotlight from their big win. All without even throwing a punch.
Otis vs Dolph Ziggler MITB qualifying match. Otis wins via The Caterpillar pin fall.
I guess this is a make up for Mandy losing earlier tonight. After this recap, I will explain why a couple in the MITB matches would have been amazing with Otis and Rose. An extremely motivated Otis quickly pummels Zigger in a one sided start. Dolph finally gets a breather after Otis slams his shoulder into the ring post. Zigs then rams Otis into the barricades and hits multiple dropkicks in the ring. After attempting a headlock grounder, Otis fights back.
The big guy sees an opening for the Caterpillar, but the Showoff escapes and attempts a Fameasser. Otis catches Dolph in mid-air, but the Showoff wiggles free to hit a ZigZag. Dolph then tunes up the machine and is looking for the Sweet Chin Music. Otis catches the kick and lands a fall away slam. Now, for the second time, Otis goes for the Caterpiller and hits it. Otis will be in the MITB match. Good match, but was overshadowed by the match before it.
The MITB newest stipulation and afterthoughts.
During tonight’s show, Michael Cole stated that there is more for the MITB match. Not only that this years match will take place at the WWE headquarters in Connecticut. The men’s and women’s MITB match will take place AT THE SAME TIME!! Meaning there will be swarm of WWE superstars all fighting at once, from the bottom floor to the roof of the building! Now, back to my Otis/Mandy hopes after hearing that. Imagine the couple systematically taking everyone out on their way to the top floor. Then the remaining participants attack Otis/Mandy on the roof! That would’ve made for some interesting viewing, at least for me. Tonight’s show was on par for setting the final week up. Pieces are set and now we are locked in for last second swerves and announcements. Good show SmackDown.-David G.
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