This week in pro wrestling, WWE has a crowd and AEW debuts former WWE superstars! Will crowds help WWE shows? Who will face Raw champion, Asuka? What will happen on Dynamite following Double or Nothing? Cody channels his inner John Cena. Inner Circle pep rally was crashed! First ever Pit Fight match on NXT, with Kurt Angle refereeing! Will the journey of Drake Maverick continue? An added stipulation for the NXT title match! The Intercontinental tournament finals are set! Let’s dive in and get started!
Monday Night Raw presented its weekly extravaganza from the WWE Performance Center on 5/25/20 yet again.
A volatile KO show
Kevin Owens begins the broadcast by presenting the Women’s Champion, Asuka, and after some entertainment from the champ, seemingly the norm these days, we are presented with NXT Women’s Champion, Charlotte Flair, Natalya and Nia Jax.
The latter three will compete in a triple threat match to determine the number one contender to Asuka’s title. Everyone expects Jax to win, but we do some great moments with Charlotte calling out the fact that Asuka has never beaten her, referencing Wrestlemania and the end of the undefeated streak.
The segment ends with Asuka delivering a vicious backfist to Jax before everything falls apart.
Apollo Crews is backstage and he cuts another fantastic promo and we find out that he and Andrade will do business for the US Title up next!
Apollo Crews defeats Andrade via pin fall with a standing moonsault to become the new US Champion.
It finally happened! After floating down the river of obscurity over the past few years, the recent resurgence of Apollo Crews sees him leaving Raw with gold in hand!
A sensational match took place between he and Andrade and Crews would actually beat Andrade clean with a standing moonsault. Zelina Vega, awesome as always, watched on from ringside and had their been a live crowd in attendance, they too would have been shocked as it happened without a dreaded rollup or shenanigans.
I think we all look forward to seeing what Crews can do with the title and hopefully this elevates Andrade to the main event scene. He’s been a Raw staple during the crisis. He had a major temper tantrum backstage after the loss. It’s what heels do, they heel.
WWE did take a page out of the AEW playbook, having NXT and developmental talent playing the roles of the live crowd. I recognized Shotzi Blackheart and Jessamyn Duke just to name a few.
“The Monday Night Messiah” enlightens us once again as to why Rey Mysterio was made to play the role of the sacrificial lamb. He talks at length about his collective now including Murphy and Austin Theory who flanked him and spoke briefly. They’ll do battle with Aleister Black and Humberto Carrillo later. Expect a win here, Carrillo is eating the pin fall, pretty sure everyone knows that.
The Iiconics are apologetic for the “slap” that took place between Billie Kay and Peyton Royce and hopefully the fed is smart enough not to split these two up. They call out the world’s champions in Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross who deliver fiery promos about holding the titles. Cross was especially good here. It leads to a scrum as this feud will surely culminate at Backlash with a title match.
The veteran great is with world champion, Drew McIntyre, for a promo segment about the upcoming title match between Drew and Bobby Lashley. MVP is sensational with Lashley and kudos to whomever set that pairing. It’s like a great scotch with a fine cigar. McIntyre doesn’t even let MVP reference Lashley winning the title before he erupts with a Claymore Kick.
Lashley is out and a staredown ensues as MVP is rescued and nurses what would appear to be a very sore face after the kick.
Angel Garza defeats Kevin Owens via pin fall with the Wing Clipper.
Kevin Owens is a threat to the world title at any given point and time, but where his value lies as well is putting over the next crop of rising talent. Garza is excellent. He continues to be excellent and a cheap shot to the knee of Owens before the match, gave way to a vliant effort by Owens, but it was cut short with continued attacks on the knee and the Wing Clipper for the finish.
Garza might be the man to challenge Apollo Crews, especially with Zelina Vega at his side. This could eventually lead to a Garza/Andrade feud down the line as well. This was smart. Garza has been turning heads ever since his call up and that was done to fill a void during the crisis. Excellent choices here all around. A loss doesn’t hurt Owens, especially with cheap tactics, but it truly helps Garza.
There’s a golf segment this week between the Street Profits and The Viking Raiders. It was what it was. This was nowhere near as funny as the axe throwing segment.
Austin Theory/Murphy defeat Aleister Black/Humberto Carrillo via pin fall after an ATL from Theory on Carrillo.
Pretty much just summed this one up right there. Black was protected, the disciples of Rollins were made to look good and Carrillo took the loss since he still has no character outside of being a smiling flippy-floppy babyface.
He’s a talented man, figure it out. This was the right decision and kudos to the heels for gathering needed momentum to bolster the tag team ranks.
An assault ensues after the bout with Rollins threatening to take Carrillo’s eye out like he did with Mysterio is Black doesn’t put down a steel chair. Black begrudgingly complies and they finally let Carrillo go. Rollins kept saying he “has to learn” throughout the segment.
Edge cuts a sensational promo about his forthcoming match with Randy Orton. He talks about legendary feuds and matches during his storied career and he hopes to have another with Orton. I can’t wait for that match.
Nia Jax defeats Charlotte Flair and Natalya via pin fall with a Samoan Drop on Natalya.
Not gonna beat this one into the crowd, but as expected Jax won. Charlotte was tossed from the ring and Natalya, albeit resilient, took the loss as expected. She didn’t destroy any sets this week thankfully.
Jax was not good here. She was sluggish and even hit one of the worst leg drops I’d ever seen. She needs to take a clean loss to Asuka and probably reevaluate where she’s at. It’s rumored that Kairi Sane was injured at a taping for the second time by Jax. This has to stop.
There are a ton of promos before the main event, including the legendary “Nature Boy” Ric Flair talking about Edge and Orton. Asuka is ready to face Nia Jax, Liv Morgan is still trying to find herself and 24/7 champion, Rob Gronkowski, will continue to hold the title.
The Street Profits defeat Bobby Lashley/MVP via DQ after Lashley refuses to release a full nelson.
The world tag team champions ended up in this main event after some backstage words earlier, and as expected, this was a quality outing by both teams.
The ending came when a sky high splash was hit and Ford went for the pin fall on MVP, but Lashley interceded and applied the full nelson, refusing the break the hold at the five count. The referee called for the bell and the show ended with Drew McIntyre making the save and then a huge all out brawl occurred.
It took the “fans” in attendance separating the two men and it built great intrigue for their title match. A solid show again this week for sure.
How will AEW Dynamite follow up after Double or Nothing? With a stacked show of course! Mike Tyson appears on Dynamite. Hikaru Shida battles after her stunning championship win. Big AEW debuts and Matt Hardy goes old school! Jon Moxley receives a challenge. Cody channels his inner John Cena and a big Battle Royal! Le Champion throws an Inner Circle pep rally! Let’s get going, because this is DYNAMITE!
Overflow of Inner Circle merchandise. Another big debut! The Swolverine crushes.
The merch that we all want.
The Inner Circle kicked off the show with a little segment. Le Champion is feeling sad that they lost the Stadium Stampede match at Double or Nothing. So Jericho wants to hold a Inner Circle pep rally to cheer the crew up. Also, The Pain Maker wants to find a way to get rid of the Inner Circle t-shirts he got made. In which, hilarious the shirts “Inner Circle, Stadium Stampede Champions”. Even though the Inner Circle lost the match, I would probably still buy it for laughs. Jericho is somewhat relief that there is a only few of them.
Until Santana informs the crew that he had a guy and got a great deal… of boxes and boxes of the t-shirt. Side note, Ortiz yelling throughout the segment was a funny touch, as he has hearing problems after getting his ears rung for the Stadium Stampede match. Again, despite being a very villainous group, the Inner Circle pull out the laughs and gets the audience behind them.
Matt Hardy/The Young Bucks vs Joey Janela/Private Party. Matt Jackson wins via More Bang For Your Buck pin fall.
Before the match the Elite get going, but again Adam Page just wants to leave and drink. Kenny Omega follows him and states that he has a gallon of milk to bring over. The Young Bucks ask if Matt would use a different version of himself. Hardy obliges and comes out as Team Xtreme Matt. However, Matt Jackson asks for an even older version. Again Matt honors the request and comes out as Surge, one of first gimmicks. Surge now asks if the Young Bucks are ready to be “Spot Monkeys” and they can’t wait. Yes, the match is full of spots and I actually would love for this stable to be called Spot Monkeyz.
If Matt Jackson is really dealing with a broken rib, he is man of high tolerance to pain. Even sitting up can hurt real bad, but he is running and flipping all around the ring. The action with Private Party and The Young Bucks is fast paced as you would expect. The ending broke down as Marq Quen and Kassidy attempt a Planche to the Young Bucks. Kassidy landed fine, but Quen twisted his knee. In which, now is to believed a worked injury. Everyone sold this storyline injury so well, many thought it was a real injury. However, with last week’s list of of injuries it was easy to see why. Kassidy took a Super Kick and More Bang For Your Buck from Matt. The elder Jackson wins the match.
After the match, Matt Hardy helped Quen to the locker room as the Young Bucks celebrated. Which I thought was a bit weird, until the Butcher and Blade attack the the Young Bucks. With the dynamic duo getting beaten down, the camera cuts to a old school black pick up truck. The occupants are none other then Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood, formerly known as The Revival! Now known as FTR, Cash and Dax run to the ring, but we not know who are they going to help out. Until, FTR makes the save and attack Butcher and Blade and sends them packing. Now, for almost two years, the Young Bucks and FTR have been bickering on social media.
Will this result in a feud? For now, FTR stare down the Bucks and walk out. Very intriguing situation and can we say AEW’s tag team division just became more stacked? Holy moly, was a division! From Young Bucks to Lucha Bros to Private Party to FTR and every other team in between. I can honestly say AEW may have the best division in the world.
Brian Cage vs Lee Johnson. Cage wins via Drill Claw pin fall.
Ok, we all knew this was going to be a squash match. However, let’s give Lee some credit. The man can take bumps and sells everything Brian did to him so well. Jon Moxley was present for the match on commentary and was giving praise to his future opponent. After Cage hits the Drill Claw and gets the win. Taz gets on the mic and cuts a promo very similar the way Paul Heyman would, just rougher around the edges. Honestly, I prefer Taz on rough side while cutting promos, it’s his style. But you can definitely see the Heyman influence here. Nice way to get the Swolverine going in AEW.
Role Model rules! Shida fight after Double or Nothing is not easy. Cody likes to fight.
Dr Britt Baker just keeps getting better.
Britt Baker DMD arrives not only with Rebel (Britt still calls her Reba), but in a decked out wheel chair with “Role Model” written in sparkly stones. Baker has a presentation and it’s about how everyone was in on her injury. From Statlander to Shida to Nyla Rose. Hilariously, there is one more conspirator. The central figure in the complicated web of it all, official Aubrey Edwards. This was so off the rails, I really chuckled through whole segment. Like I said in the past, I was one the early doubters of Bakers mic skills. I have apologized profusely and now enjoy on how every week she gets stronger on the mic.
It is a big loss for AEW to have her sidelined, but it looks like the DMD will still have a presence on the show. Which is great for the audience and lastly, she put everyone on notice. Britt announced that she will be back for All or Nothing. In which is scheduled for September, that news actually was far better then the original rumor. That on had the Doctor out for almost a year.
Hikaru Shida vs Christi Jaynes, non-titled match. Shida wins via Falcon’s Arrow pin fall.
Initially, I was thinking.. ok, another squash match. Nope, hit that buzzer sound, I was dead wrong. This was a very feisty match between the two, as Jayne had the champion on the ropes for a bit. I am going to be honest, I really do not know too much about Miss Jaynes. However, that may change seeing that see gave the champ a run for her money. Hikiru also fell for the newness of Chrsti as the Brazilian Brute tricked her into a dance off and kicked Shida’s knees out.
The champ is now on her game as Shida delivers many knee strikes to Jaynes. Yet, the necomer is not put away so easily and lands a Sunset Flip. Hikaru is back in control and hits her devastating Running Knee Strike, game over? Nope, Christi pops out after two, but falls to Shida’s Flacon’s Arrow. The match lasted about five minutes and I was surprised that Jaynes got the green light to kick out of Shida’s finisher. Good match from these two.
Cody has a message.
The inaugural TNT champion, Cody comes out for a promo. Cody talks about Tom Brady, on how either of them were picked first. Then the American Nightmare goes on how his brother Dustin received all of their father’s legendary talent. However, there was one person that opened Cody’s eyes, his mother. Michelle Runnels told Cody to work hard at everything he does, because hard work beats talents every time. As the camera pans to the faces in the crowd, we see Cody’s wife Brandi and good friend QT Marshall. However, QT is distracted… by The Bunny! What is going on here and what am I missing on AEW Dark?!
Anyways, Cody finishes up the promo with announcing that he will defend the TNT title every week to anyone. Yes, memories of what John Cena did for the WWE U.S championship immediately came to mind. The way Cena help re-established the honor of that title, may be the way Cody wants to build this one. It’s a great idea if you ask me. This could be an avenue to showcase talents that are not regularly being used. To find out the first opponent, there will be a Battle Royal for the spot later on.
New contenders for the tag titles. The Battle Royal. The Inner Circle pep rally!
Jimmie Havoc/Kip Sabian vs SCU (Scorpio Skye/Frankie Kazarian), winner earns a tag team title shot. Jimmie/Kip win via Dropkck/Michinoku Driver combo pin fall.
This was an interesting match. Both teams cut off the ring when they had the advantage. However, SCU did it within the rules and Kip/Havoc used heel tactics. The cutting the ring off plan is usually a tactic reserved for the heels, but it worked in this match. For me this was the match of the night, others may like the mayhem of the Battle Royal or the spot fest at the start. Yet, for what it is, this one seemed the most complete match. There was many two counts throughout the match.
In what could of been the ending Scorpio hits Kip with a Slingshot Cutter to Dragon Sleeper, until Havoc breaks it up. In closing moments, Havoc eats a Cutter and a pin attempt ensues. Sabian tries to break up the count with a Senton, but nails Jimmie! Frankie and Skye look for the SCU-Later, but Penelope Ford grabbs Kazarian’s legs. This was enough distraction for Frankie to get thrown out of the ring. Kip and Jimmie then nails a Dropkick/Michioku Driver combo for the win. With the win they will face the AEW tag champs, Kenny Omega and Adam Hangman Page.
Interesting booking, I was almost 80% sure SCU would’ve gotten a rematch with Omega and Page. However, it seems that AEW may be saving that for later down the road. This may be smart, as SCU and Page/Omega can put on clinics in the ring.
The Battle Royal. Winner earns a shot at the TNT championship. Jungle Boy wins via Hurricanrana throw out.
Wow, this match had a lot of story woven into it. Before it all, MJF cuts a promo abotu how Wardlow and himself are going to be a the last two. Then Wardlow will throw himself out, the massive bodyguard says “but!” and MJF lays into him. Mr Mayhem was not happy and the conniving MJF realizes thatand said he was just joking and “let’s go out there!”. The seeds may have just been planted right there. Anyways, let’s get the list of participants of the Battle Royal. I will not go into to all the ways everyone was eliminated, that would take longer then everyone’s attention span. Plus, that would be a lot of typing :).
- Sonny Kiss
- Jungle Boy
- Marko Stunt
- Colt Cabana
- Christopher Daniels
- Billy Gunn
- Brandon Cutler
- Peter Avalon
- Orange Cassidy
The mayhem begins.
Before all the brawlers begin to fight, during Orange Cassidy’s entrance, Santana and Ortiz attack Cassidy with a loaded sock. All because earlier Orange walked through the Inner Circle’s backstage segment. Whether it was because Orange is Orange or it was intentional, Le Champion wasn’t having it. Now it begins and this was really fun, yet confusing for me. There was my most wanted tease of Luchasaurus and Wardlow trading blows. Then there was Marko attempting to toss out Luchasaurus. Hey Stunt.. HE IS ON YOUR TEAM! Luther and Sonny are the first to go and MJF attacks Kiss outside, because.. MJF.
Another very interesting part of the match was, when Colt Cabana is eliminated by Billy Gunn. After being thrown out, a member of the Dark Order hands Colt a pamphlet. Cabana didn’t throw it away or tear it up, he stares at it and then keeps it! Oh, wowie.. that can have many implications in building up another viable and strong stable. Cutler and Avalon eliminate themselves. Luchasaurus and Gunn is thrown out by Wardlow.
With that, it leaves MJF, Wardlow, Jungle Boy, and Orange Cassidy who is rolling in the ring. Freshly Squeezed goes on with his slacker moves on Friedman. However, Wardlow grabs Cassidy and Maxwell pulls out his Diamond ring for a punch. Jacobs nails Wardlow as Cassidy dodges, an enrage MJF runs after Orange, but the lovable slacker side steps and Jungle Boy tosses him out. Next Cassidy and Jungle Boy toss out a dazed Wardlow, leaving them only two left.
I want this future booking!
What followed was a quick but for me, memorable exchange between Cassidy and Jack Perry. These two seemed very fluid with each other and I was fan booking like no other while watching it. Orange was almost tossed out, but lazily pulled himself back up with one arm. I am not sure if that was the full plan, because he almost really slipped. The duo go at it again with quick, crisp moves. Then Jungle Boy nails a spinning type Hurricanrana, tosses out Cassidy, and holds on to the ropes. Earning his way tot the TNT championship match against Cody.
I really did not expect this booking, but really enjoy it. I knew Jack Perry was high on the list on young talent being pushed. A match with Cody could elevate him to Darby Allin status, and then we will a have a trio of young wrestlers for AEW’s future. The trio in my eyes are Darby Allin, MJF, and Jungle Boy, Jungle Boy may have to change his name though.
The Inner Circle pep rally is crashed.
The Inner Circle’s pep rally begun and was kind of cringey. Let’s start off with Vickie Guerrero announcing the Inner circle. Not bad, but they could’ve done better with her. Then the group had presents for each other, in an attempt to cheer everyone up. The villainous stable start off by throwing the t-shirts they bought to the crowd, but the crowd threw them back. Ahem.. I WANT ONE! Then the gifts are presented, Sammy starts off with participation trophies, that read “King of dad jokes”. Ortiz gives out “New Rican” presents, in which was some bootleg Timberland boots to Jake Hager and a Marc Anthony picture to Jericho. Le Champion gifts Sammy a new scooter and Santana noise canceling ear muff. The ear muffs miraculously cures Santana from his ear ringing!
Sammy asks what does Chris Jericho really want and Le Champion responds with “MIKE TYSON’S HEAD ON A PLATTER!”. Ok, I see where this is going, but am I prepared? Mike Tyson and his entourage walk out, they consist of MMA greats. Such as Vitor Belfor, Henry Cedjudo, and Rashad Evans. Also for some reason, actor Mikey Gooch Jr was in the posse. Jericho explains why he called out Tyson. It was for the WWE incident that happen ten years ago, when Tyson knocked out Jericho.
Y2J tries to explain the whole dynamics of the story, but Iron Mike interrupts in the mos awkward ways. Mike being a long time fan and contributor to pro wrestling should now the ebbs and flow of pro wrestling by now, but he doesn’t. Please don’t tell Mr Iron Mike Tyson I said that, I like my face the way it is. After an awkward promo and Jericho’s disappointment, Le Champion shoves Tyson.
Iron Mike shoves back and a brawl ensues. If AEW was going for the Stone Cold/Tyson magic, they failed. This was really hard to watch after Tyson arrived. Again, please do not tell Mr Mike Tyson. Even Mikey Gooch (which most people do not know) got a bit overzealous, and was met what looks to be a stiff shot by Jericho. I am not sure what is going to follow this, but a re-write or dumping it is in order.
This was a strong showing from AEW after Double or Nothing. A lot of stories were progressed, but the ending fell a big flat. This fit the “WCW formula” in trying to over throw WWE. We all know the outcome of that formula. AEW needs to do what made them a true competitor to WWE and focus on the long story, with great action. The “celebrity” spots are not needed, nor the nostalgia spots for the Monday Night Wars. AEW can do well, if they just stick to the “Anti-WWE”. While having mainstream and smark viewership. Even WWE is catching up with the “crowd” during shows. You know what happens when WWE catches up… it becomes a bigger war.-David G.
This week on NXT, we find out the other half of the finals of the Interim NXT Cruiserweight Championship Tournament, Mia Yim and Keith Lee mocking the Garganos, Rhea Ripley and Io Shirai team up against Charlotte Flair and a mystery partner, Adam Cole and William Regal bargaining, and a Main Event Cage Fight!
The Underdog Survives. Dinner with…Yimitless? Bad Bump for Shotzi.
Triple Threat Match – Drake Maverick vs. Kushida vs. Jake Atlas. Maverick wins with a sneaky pinfall.
The story of Drake Maverick’s redemption continues in a fantastic triple threat match. The chemistry between the three combatants was off the charts in this one, with each guy getting in plenty of offense and high spots. So many near falls and counters! But the finish was so very unique, even though it didn’t make much sense.
Kushida has Atlas on the top rope, and takes him down with the rolling Fujiwara Armbar. Atlas still has his hands locked as Kushida fights to break the grip to fully lock in the armbar. Just as Atlas’ grip breaks, and Kushida cinches in the armbar, Maverick crawls over and puts his arm on Atlas’ chest, and with both shoulders down, the referee counts the 1-2-3. Kushida thinks he won the match by tapout, but Drake Maverick is announced as the winner.
Now, here’s the problem I have with that outcome. One, Atlas tapped out before the referee counted the 3 (which is shown as part of the story during replays after the match). Two, if the referee is counting for a pinfall, shouldn’t Kushida be included in that, as his legs were across Atlas’ chest first? Either way, it was a highly unique spot to conclude a terrific opener for NXT, and to secure Maverick’s spot in the finals, where he will face El Hijo del Fantasma.
Johnny Gargano vs. Adrian Alanis. Gargano wins with the Gargano Escape
You have to love the commitment that Johnny Gargano is showing in his heel turn, as he continues to berate the NXT roster by calling them “good hands”, and claiming to be the guy that’s going to give the rest of the locker room the opportunities they deserve. Because of this, he announces that tonight is the first “Johnny Gargano Invitational” and will give a young superstar the chance to set foot in the ring with the “Heart and Soul of NXT”.
Candice LeRae hands him a sheet of paper with the superstar’s name on it, and it’s… Adrian Alanis? Gargano makes quick work of the newbie, downing him with a superkick followed by the Gargano Escape, then dumps Alanis out of the ring. As Johnny and Candice celebrate the win, Mia Yim and Keith Lee appear on the big screen, in the same setting as we have seen from the Dinner With the Garganos segments. Yim and Lee make a mockery of the vignettes, before issuing challenges to Gargano and LeRae. Funny stuff here from both Yim and Lee.
Backstage, Drake Maverick is interviewed about his “controversial” victory, before he is confronted by Kushida. The Time Splitter stares down Maverick, then tells him, “You won match, you go win title. You fight, just go win.” Maverick tells Kushida that he has the utmost respect for him, and that when Maverick wins the Cruiserweight Championship, he wants Kushida to have the first title shot.
Raquel Gonzalez vs. Shotzi Blackheart. Gonzalez wins with a Chokeslam
I must say, after getting off to a rocky start, Raquel Gonzalez has shown great improvement both with her ring psychology and her movesets. While she’s not been booked to be an unbeatable monster heel, she has moments where she portrays that role, and is doing a great job at it. Her in-ring work has grown tremendously as well, being able to make moves look more devastating and believable.
Shotzi Blackheart is a great opponent for Gonzalez, as she has the veteran experience to sell Gonzalez’s strength and take the hard bumps. And boy, did Shotzi take a hard bump in this one! After fighting off Gonzalez and sending her running to the outside, Shotzi climbs to the apron and springs from the second rope, attempting a Coffin Drop onto Kai and Gonzalez. Blackheart connects with the two, but she over-rotated and landed hard on the back of her neck! Thankfully she was OK and was able to finish the match.
So many stories tied in together in this match. Shotzi has had her problems with Gonzalez and Dakota Kai for weeks, helping her friend Tegan Nox fight off the numbers advantage. Tonight, while Kai was trying to commandeer Shotzi’s tank at ringside, Nox showed up to attack her former best friend, evening the numbers. Later in the match, Candice LeRae showed up to confront Nox, who had made an appearance in the Yim/Lee vignette. Lots of crossovers in stories here, but amidst all the distractions, Gonzalez is able to chokeslam Blackheart and pick up the win.
The Queen Finds a Partner. One More Dream. Tick Tock. The Fight Pit.
Charlotte Flair & Chelsea Green vs. Rhea Ripley & Io Shirai. Flair & Green win with a roll up pin from Flair.
Charlotte Flair has been making enemies across all three WWE brands, but manages to find herself a partner in the form of Chelsea Green. What works with this combination is that it gives Chelsea Green an opportunity to work with the best in the business, and makes her look that much better. As critical as I’ve been with Green, she needed this to help her stock in the women’s division and give herself the confidence to know she can work with anyone.
The offense in this match never slows down from the get-go, with Rhea and Io both targeting Charlotte prior to the triple threat match at Takeover. Chelsea Green worked very well with the Queen, helping Flair with the shady tactics that we’ve come to expect from our NXT Women’s Champion. Green even sacrificed herself by pushing Flair out of the way and taking a missile dropkick from Shirai.
As pandemonium breaks out towards the end of the match, Shirai hits her double knees on Flair in the corner, then goes for a running strike on the champ, but Flair dodges and Shirai takes out Ripley. This allows Flair to roll up Shirai and use the middle ropes for added leverage to pick up the win for Flair and Green.
Negotiations Between NXT GM William Regal and NXT Champion Adam Cole
Cole and Regal shown on split screen, video chatting about recent events involving Velveteen Dream. Cole is upset that Dream interrupted his celebration as longest running NXT Champion. Regal tells Cole to stop whining, and asks what Cole wants. Cole says he wants the Undisputed Era to have a fair shot at the NXT Tag Team Championships, and for Velveteen Dream to never set foot in the ring with him.
Regal rebuts and says he wants Dream to have another title opportunity, and it will happen at Takeover. Cole and Regal argue, but Cole coalesces and says he will give Dream one more match, but it will be his final shot at the title. Regal agrees, and says they will have a match at a location suitable for the egos of both champion and challenger. Sounds like this will be filmed in the same fashion as the “One Final Beat” match between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. And speaking of Ciampa…
Tommaso Ciampa vs. Leon Ruff. Ciampa wins with the Fairytale Ending
In a psyche-out move, Scarlett follows Ciampa to the ring, and stands and observes his match against Ruff. Ciampa rushes after Ruff, who evades the Sicilian Psychopath momentarily, but then eats a knee to the face. Ciampa proceeds to beat down Ruff, then, as he locks in the Fairytale Ending, Ciampa blows a kiss to Scarlett, then plants Ruff to pick up the win.
The eyes of Karrion Kross appear on the big screen. Kross says he agrees with Ciampa’s assessment that their match at Takeover will be special, and on June 7th, “I’m going to make you feel something you have never felt in your life. Tick…tock…” More hype for what’s sure to be a show stealing match, and I, for one, cannot wait!
The Fight Pit: Timothy Thatcher vs. Matt Riddle, w/Guest Referee Kurt Angle. Thatcher wins with the Rear Naked Choke
In a first for NXT, the Fight Pit is set up, with no ring ropes, no turnbuckles. Just the mat and the cage, with platforms around the top. This match is knockout or submission only, no pinfalls. Riddle and Thatcher proceed to brutalize each other from the opening bell, in what started as an awkward fight, with no clean transitions from move to move. It very much seemed like more of a MMA fight than a wrestling match.
As the match goes on, however, we start to see more fluid moves between the fighters. Things get pretty brutal from there, including a sick spot where Riddle delivers a Penalty Kick straight to Thatcher’s face. Thatcher makes it back to his feet before Angle gets to 10, but his mouth is bleeding profusely. Thatcher scrambles to find his lost teeth, then hands them to Angle as the ringside trainer checks on the damage. Thatcher says he can still fight, so Angle lets the match continue.
From there, it’s constant submissions and hard strikes. Things pick up as both fighters make their way to the top platform on the cage (of course, who thought that platform wouldn’t come into play?). Riddle kicks away at a downed Thatcher, who finally counters a kick and locks in an Ankle Lock as Riddle is draped over the side of the cage! Riddle breaks free and goes for a Senton, but Thatcher rolls away and Riddle lands hard on the platform.
Thatcher goes for a Butterfly Suplex, but Riddle fights out and hits a Ripcord Knee to send Thatcher back down to the mat. Riddle looks down, then lands the Floating Bro from the top of the cage! Riddle makes it to his feet, and charges in at Thatcher, who dodges and throws Riddle into the steel. Thatcher locks in the rear naked choke, and although Riddle fights valiantly to break the hold, he ultimately passes out, causing Angle to call for the bell. Thatcher celebrates the hard fought victory while Riddle sits distraught in the middle of the ring as NXT goes off the air.
This was a great week of in-ring competition, from the opening Triple Threat match, to Gonzalez vs. Blackheart, Flair & Green overcoming Ripley & Shirai, and the brutal Pit Fight. The story of Drake Maverick adds another chapter with his victory, overcoming the odds to make it to the finals of the Cruiserweight Championship Tournament. Thatcher and Riddle left it all in the ring in their brawl, which is rumored to be Riddle’s last match in NXT. Lots of good things coming out of this week, as we head into the go-home show next week before Takeover: In Your House. -Josh L.
Friday Night SmackDown:
This week on SmackDown, the crowds are the new norm. The IC tournament finals are set. WWE is set to exploit Jeff Hardy’s demons. A 10-man Battle Royal and Bliss takes on Banks! Sonya Deville and Lacey Evans get a feud. Huge announcement of a NXT call up! Let’s dive in, right now!
WWE cashing in for heat. 10-man Battle Royal. A new intriguing feud.
Jeff Hardy arrested.
The show opens up with Renee Young reporting on a car accident. Leaving Elias being tended by the paramedics, Renee states that the car rental is register by Jeff Hardy. Later on, Kayla Braxton interviews eye witness, Braun Strowman. The Monster is distraught and states that a man in a black hoodie ran away from the car. Moments later, the cops fins an incoherent Jeff in the bushes and reeking of alcohol. Jeff not knowing where he is at and what has transpired is arrested and taken away. There was empty bottles of alcohol left in the rental car as well. Look, I am all about using real life incidents to help a story line, but this felt really distasteful and cheap heat. It wasn’t on an average presentation. Low grade from me on this.
Next one up.
WWE producer, Adam Pearce tells the locker room that Elias and Jeff Hardy are now out of the IC tournament. AJ Styles attempts to get a bye, while Daniel Bryan tries to conduct a match offering. Sheamus calls Hardy a junkie and King Corbin tries to inject himself into the tournament again. Adam Pearce is not having it and announces a 10-man Battle Royal to determine the final spot. The following is the list of participants:
- King Corbin
- Shorty G
- Drew Gulak
- Jey Uso
- Dolph Ziggler
- Shinsuke Nakamura
- Lince Dorado
- Gran Metalik
The Battle Royal. Winner faces Daniel Bryan for the final IC tournament spot. Sheamus wins via Brogue Kick to Jey Uso on ring apron.
I will not be going into all what happened in the match, it was kind of short, compared to what was at stake. The match starts off with the usual lock ups and team up. Lucha House Party go at it with King Corbin, Sheamus drops Jey and Shorty G. Gulak is the first to be eliminated by Sheamus and Corbin eliminates Metalik. The short teamup of Ziggler and Corbin ends with King Baron eliminating Dolph. Baron Corbin is rewarded with a Super Kick from Jey Uso and is now out of the match.
After the commercial, Shorty G goes on a tear. The Olympian takes out both Cesaro and Nakamura. However, Shinsuke distracts ALL of the referees and an eliminated Cesaro runs and tosses out Shorty G behind all the refs backs. This was actually pretty genius, I haven’t seen it done too often in WWE. Now down to Jey Uso and Sheamus the two quickly brawl, which led to a ring apron battle. Sheamus rams Jey into the ring post and hits a Brogue Kick to win the Battle Royal and advance to fight Daniel Bryan. This all fits into the opening of the show, in which was still not good.
Sonya Deville vs Lacey Evans. Double Count Out.
In a feud I thought I never knew I wanted, these two ladies have something. There was a spark between the duo in similar stature and the way they just gelled. Evans challenged Sonya to a bit of amateur wrestling and came out of her disadvantage. As the women locked up, you felt the anger between them and with barley a backstory. The fight ended up outside as Lacey smothered Sonya with the apron and pummeled her. The ref kept counting away, reached the ten second time limit and called off the match. The Southern Belle invited Sonya back into the ring to fight again. However, Deville states that she will fight Evans on her own terms. Wow, this was better than expected and I can’t wait to see Sonya and Lacey duke it out again.
Tag Team summit leads to match. Bro’, big announcement. Final spot for the Intercontinental tournament is set.
Moment of Bliss, makes a match.
Nikki Cross, Alexa Bliss and the New Day are all on A Moment of Bliss. The comedy was bad, if it were not for the talent that preformed it. Cross gifted Celtic Pancakes to New Day and Big returned the gifting with a mug of coffee beans and water. Rich stuff there, it wasn’t long Bayley and Sasha Banks interrupt. The two teams traded barbs and Alexa challenges Banks to a match, since she is the only one without a championship there. Banks tries to sneak out of it, but to no avail a match will start. Meh, kind of a waste of time. Although short, it felt like it went on too long.
Sasha Banks vs Alexa Bliss. Banks wins via O’Connor Roll pin fall.
The match itself wasn’t much better. Bayley runs to the ring to provide Banks with some shoe, so she didn’t have to fight in heels. Bliss and Banks mostly compromised of almost every pinning combo they knew. As the fight wore on, Bayley and Nikki got into it on the ring apron. Distracting Bliss and allowing Banks to hit the O’Connor Roll Up for the win. Meh, again. If this was fodder to keep the eventual split of Banks and Bayley, it was just filler.
Kurt Angle introduces…
The man who won a Gold Medal, with a broken freaking neck has a video package for the audience. The video announces that someone is coming to SmackDown. It is none other than THE KING OF BROS, MATT RIDDLE!! The package was a good mix of what Matt has been doing in NXT and his laid back, yet intense in ring style. I really hope the main roster creative for WWE do not destroy Riddle. Aw, who am I kidding, they probably will.. such a shame.
Daniel Bryan vs Sheamus. Winner will face AJ Styles for the Intercontinental Championship. Bryan wins via Running Knee pin fall.
Honestly, this was a great match until the finish. The duo has big history together and great in ring chemistry. Sheamus help give birth to the “Yes Movement” and Bryan became the lovable underdog champion. This as a hard hitting match with a few near falls. Sheamus taunted Daniel about how HE created the “Yes Movement”, not too wrong on his part. This was all due the 16- second win Sheamus got over Bryan at WrestleMania 28. What followed was the physically stronger Sheamus attempting White Noise on Daniel, put the American Dragon slips away and starts to deliver elbows.
The Celtic Warrior regains control and seems to have the final sy in the match. Until… Jeff Hardy returns! Now the distracted Sheamus (we all know he set up Jeff) is hit by Bryan with a fierce Running Knee shot. This leads to Sheamus eating the pin. Daniel Bryan will now face AJ Styles for the Intercontinental Championship! I am sorry if some of my drool made it into the recap. After the match Jeff comes storming down to the ring and attacks Sheamus. The encounter lead to a street beating to Sheamus, as the show went off air.
This was a good showing from SmackDown. I only say that from the in ring action that was provided. Now the whole Jeff Hardy story, which seemed to be the main theme, was distasteful. As a pro wrestling fan for over 30 years, I get and understand the want to use real life incidents and make a story. However, this was just bad. This says a lot, since WWE is giving Jeff Hardy a “redemption” story angle. Could have WWE just have Jeff tempted to drink again or have his “enigmatic” personality confuse people to think he was drinking or on narcotics again? Nope. WWE went to full on monthly homicide attempts on Elias. This month, it is Sheamus.. posing as Jeff Hardy. Good show, marred by questionable main theme.-David G.
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