This week in pro wrestling, the go home shows for WWE Backlash. Did we get the greatest promo before the greatest wrestling match? Things heat up between Asuka and Flair. FTR makes their debut in AEW! Will the Dark Order recruit their newest member? The Inner Circle breaking up? Adam Cole has a new worry. El Hijo del Fantasma is no more!
Leading up to The Greatest Wrestling Match Ever at Backlash, Raw tried to deliver a big show. Christian returned with The Peep Show! New WWE Tag Team Champions arrive on Raw! Will WWE Heavyweight Champion, Drew McIntyre survive the onslaught of The All Mighty Lashley? Have the Street Profits and Viking Raiders found their groove? Let’s dive and find out!
Celebration leads to fight.Will Rey Mysterio retire? Quick but great match. Christian trashes his best friend.
Askua/Charlotte Flair vs IIconics vs Alexa Bliss/Nikki Cross vs Sasha Banks/Bayley. Asuka wins via Asuka Lock submission.
The match was originally Flair vs Asuka, but just as Asuka’s music was about to play, Sasha Banks and Bayley came out. Followed by the IIconics, how have a match this Sunday. The ladies all traded barbs at each other and now this will be a triple threat tag team match. What is puzzling is that there was no mention of Flair losing the NXT title the night before. Is the NXT title not good enough to be mentioned?
The match basically was Asuka and Charlotte playing “whatever you can do, I can do better”. In which was a little funny at first, but it wore on. Especially at the cost of all the other ladies. Which that company included a roster of former and current champions. While the IIconics, Banks and Bayley get some offense in. The match was practically all about Flair and Asuka arguing with each other and self tagging themselves in.
Charlotte went to go for the Moonsault, but the Empress tags herself in and cinches the Asuka Lock on Billie Kay for the win. The Queen blindsides The Empress and yells out that Asuka never beat her. They will meet again tonight. This seemed like nothing but an over thought out plan to have a push for Backlash. On paper it sounds ok, but the reality of it proved different.
Rey Mysterio speaks.
Before the match, Rey Mysterio addresses talks of his retirement. The legend of the skies states he will not retire and has a 619 with Rollins name on it. That line made me chuckle a bit, because it was borderline awful. I mean, the 619 is not even his true finisher and it doesn’t have the same impact as like… a Tombstone or something like that. Rollins want to invite Rey and Dominick to Raw for a face to face. Rey is not buying it, as he is not cleared to fight yet. As soon as Mysterio is cleared, Rollins and the world will know it. Seth says he has it all wrong and was in mid sentence when Aliester Black kicks his head off. This whole promo was really good, despite the laughable Mysterio line and has me wondering what the outcome will be.
Aliester Black/Humberto Carrillo vs Austin Theory/Murphy. Black wins via Kick to head pin fall.
In a quick but excellent match, we are treated on what these four men can do. Carrillo is quickly taken down at first, but gets free to tag in Black. The Dutch Destroyer goes to town on Murphy with big strikes. The Disciple turns things around and goes for Murphy’s Law, but Black counters with a roll up for two. Aleister then sends Murphy out and Carrillo caps it off with a Tope Suicida. Austin and Black brawl for a bit and Murphy is tagged in. The Disciple mounts an offense and climbs to the top turnbuckle. Black then runs up the ropes and hits a big pick for a surprise pin fall. Intense and fast match, we need to see these four go at it again!
After the match Rey Mysterio’s music hits, but it’s Seth in a mask. Theory and Murphy then attack Black and set him up for a Curb Stomp by Rollins. Post match stuff can be hit or miss, this was a hit. Giving us something new (the match), furthering the Seth and Rey story without Rey, and Rollins looking like the crazed cult leader is just too good.
Does Edge have it?
Fan favorite, Christian aka Captain Charisma starts off The Peep Show! His guest is of course his best friend, and one time story line brother, Edge. Christian goes on to state that Edge is running on fumes. Continuing, Captain Charisma states that even in Edge’s prime, he doesn’t even think that he can pull of the greatest wrestling match. Christian tells that have been best friends for a long time and have to be brutally honest with each other. Due to the lofty expectations of delivering such match, has Christian questioning if Edge is buckling. Edge response with if Christian even knows what it is like to walk in his shoes from the past 9 years. The Rated R Superstar goes on to tell Christian that this is a different Edge, not the one that helped a doubting Christian before matches.
Capt Charisma then asked what happened to the fiery Edge and where is his belief. Christian then mentions that he knows a person that used to be there and believed in Edge, his late mother. Stating that she has been to every one of his big matches and will be there for this one. Adam is asked to go home if Edge is not going to step throught the rope at Backlash. Edge gives a determined death stare to Christian and that is what he was looking for.
Randy Orton interrupts.
Orton is on the big screen, asks them to stop all of this, as it makes him sick to his stomach. The Viper goes on that all he hears is “we think.. and not what we know”. Orton states that the fact that Randy heard Edge is going to try is pathetic. Randy then tells the Rated R Superstar, that he is going to humiliate, brake him, and send him back to his wife and daughters. Finally, The Viper makes a prediction.. the redemption of Edge will end on Sunday. Edge stares in to the screen and say three words.. “No.. it’s.. not.”
Hot damn, reading about it really does not do this promo justice. I was quickly surprised by Christians hash words for Edge. Then I was locked in from there.. the emotional expressions that Edge conveyed was great. Add in the evil promo from Orton (as he can do so well) and then the short but bad ass retort from Edge, had this promo earn an A+++++, if I had a grading system. Billing this match as The Greatest Wrestling Match is such a high bar and WILL disappoint people. However, the build for this has been amazing.
Raw Decathlon. Triple Threat match. VIP tag match.
Again we get the Street Profits vs Viking Raiders in a comedy bit, this time it’s a multi event. The events were, 1600 meter race, archery, flip cup, sword fighting, shot put, turkey leg eating, pole vault, hurdles, stick fighting, a dance off. Ford dances to Shawn Michaels Sexy Boy and Ivar chooses Fandango’s song. All this to end in a tie. Honestly, I and I’m sure not many were fans of these segments. However, I did chuckle at this one. It seems that the four men finally found their stride, sadly it’s at the end of their feud for Backlash.
Andrade vs Kevin Owens vs Angel Garza, winner is the #1 contender for the U.S Championship. Andrade wins via K.O Stunner pin fall.
This was action packed from start to finish and felt like it could’ve main evented the show. There was added story line to the match itself. While the action was going on, Andrade and Garza started fighting each other and accidentally knock out Zelina Vega! With that happening, the two on one beating Owens was taking ended. Kevin clawed his way back into the fight and almost won it all.
Owens hit the K.O Stunner on Garza and was about to pin him. However, Andrade saw an opportunity and kicked Owens out the ring, then pinned his own stable partner! After the match, Andrade and Garza argue backstage. A now conscious Zelina Vega gives her boys a death stare and just simply points them in a direction. This will be interesting were this team will go on from here, the safe bet is that Zelina will go where a title goes.
The VIP Lounge leads to a match.
MVP invites Bobby Lashley, but the Scottish psychopathic enters. The crowd chants for Drew McIntyre and MVP tries to get some words in, but fails. The two trade banter about Lashley and hid wife Lana, and it leads to the Claymore Kick that MVP took last week. At the end, MVP eats a Glassgow Kiss, Street Profits, Viking Raiders enter the domain. Now a tag match starts. This was alright, it felt like a “let’s try this out” moment. However, it lead to a good match.
MVP/Bobby Lashley vs Viking Raiders. Bob wins via Full Nelson submission.
This match was really good, only because it proved that the Viking Raiders are a great team and MVP still has it in him. The Viking Raiders took control early on, but Bobby and MVP had other plans. During the match, the cameras cut backstage. In this break, Lana is talking to Charly Curuso and states that this is year of Lana. The former Bulgarian representative states that she can not stand MVP, but will do what is asked from her husband, Lashley.
The battle goes a bit long with the Viking Raiders looking strong. MVP is the sacrificial lamb in this matc, as Ivar and Erik take it to him. When Erik levels MVP, Bobby runs in and cinches in “The Lashley Lock”. This is not the true name for it, I’m just stating it, naming it, for trademark reasons. Yet the “Lashley Lock” is really just a beefed up version of the Full Nelson. This as enough for Bob and MVP to get a win.
Kickin’ post match.
Post match had Ivar get into it with Bob and MVP. Lashley applies the same “Lashley Lock” on to Ivar. This is another big guy that cannot escape from the hold. Drew runs in and Claymore Kick’s Bobby. Hpwever, The All Mighty lands on his feet and seemed not to be effected from it. Good match and good build. WWE is building Bobby into another big monster, while Drew gets his Claymore in. Hopefully at Backlash, this will be more thatn “Big meat wrestling” and we get to see these two turn it out. Here’s to hoping.
A clinic to main event.
Charlotte Flair vs Asuka, non title match. Flair wins via Big Boot pin fall.
Ok, let me stop the hater’s for a second. Yes, Flair won again, but yet it was not clean. I get the hate for the Raw Women’s champion losing right before a PPV. However again, it was a no title match and it wasn’t clean. With that being said.. these two ladies put on a clinic!! The battle was fierce as the two rivals made every hit count. there was a side story with the IIconics and the reigning Women’s tag team champions as well. This ended with the IIconics taking out both Sasha and Bayley before the commercial break.
After the break it was all Asuka and Flair, I couldn’t be more happier. While Charlotte seemed to be in control, The Empress of tomorrow had an offense just waiting to be unleashed. However, Flair seemed to have an answer to almost everything Asuka had. Every time Asuka mounted an offense, Charlotte found a way to counter it. In the closing minutes, the Empress was in control. Until her opponent at Backlash arrived, Nia Jax attempted to get involved. However, it was short lived. As Asuka takes her out with a Hip Shot, the distraction leads to Flair hitting a Big Boot for the pin fall.
Honestly, The Queen and Empress put on a damn clinic! The duo went after each other like their career’s was at stake. The weak ending was a sour patch, not the candy.. but a true sour patch. Why can not Charlotte lose clean? I get that Asuka didn’t either, but to have your newly crowned champ, that did everything WWE asked of and more so lose to Flair is puzzling. We get WWE has big thing for Flair, but there is just as talented ladies on the roster. WWE needs to give Flair a break from the spotlight. This will only enhance WWE’s roster of ladies and make the division grow stronger.-David G.
This week on Dynamite, the build to Fyter’s Fest is in full swing! Cody defend’s his TNT title against Marq Quen! FTR debuts in their first match against the Butcher and Blade! Allie, formerly known as the Bunny is QT’s new lady? Nyla and Penelope take on Statlander and Shida! The Inner Circle face off against Best Friends and Orange Cassidy! Puzzling outcome and recruitment. Let’s get started, because THIS IS DYNAMITE!
FTR is here. Turmoil in the Famliy. Penelope Ford keeps cruising. Segments include a pro skateboard legend.
FTR vs Butcher and Blade. FTR wins via Spiked Powerdriver pin fall.
The debut of FTR was a just what you wanted to be, a CLASSIC TAG TEAM match. During the bout you can hear JR ruthlessly tearing into AEW’s relax rules for tag match, which made me chuckle quite a bit. FTR in complete control on the beginning, isolating Blade. Eventually, The Butcher gets tagged in and he goes at with Wheeler. Cash then fakes an injury and attempts a quick roll up for two. After kicking out, Butcher tosses Cash like a rag doll in to the corner. Blade now back in, takes it to Wheeler, until a Powerslam by Cash changes momentum. Dax comes storming in with punches, Back Suplex, Swinging Neckbreaker, and a Brainbuster.
Butcher comes for a save, tossing out Harwood. Cash lands a Draped DDT on Blade and FTR hits a Superplex, Flying Elbow Drop combo for only two! Blade is able to tag Butcher in and they hit an assisted Blackhole Slam, again only for two. FTR regains composure and hits the GOOD NIGHT EXPRESS (formerly known as the Shatter Machine. I like this name better.)! This all leads to the Spiked Powerdriver for the win. Good classic, technical tag match. Even FTR change the Shatter Machine name, to give an old territory feel to it. With AEW open for the talent to do their own things. I’m sure FTR is just salivating in pitching match ideas.
Post match brawl.
The Young Bucks come out to sarcastically introduce themselves to FTR. The Bucks also thanked them for helping them out last week. However, Matt still states that they are the best tag team in AEW and extends a handshake. Immediately, the Butcher blindsides the group, Kip Sabian and Jimmie Havoc join in on the attack. Kenny Omega and Adam Page (with drink in hand) come out for the assist and break things up. The line between FTR being a face or heel is still blurry. I wager that AEW doesn’t know if they want FTR to be face or heel. However, I get this tweener feeling for them, like how Darby Allin can be. Interesting note, Kip and Jimmie now have their stable name on the card, Superbad Death Squad.
An intruder for the Nightmare Family?
Dustin, Brandi, and QT Marshall met backstage. QT is with Allie, formally known as The Bunny in AEW. Allie is now sporting a Nightmare Family jacket, given to her by QT. Brandi questions on why is she wearing it and Dustin states that he needs QT to be sharp. As they have a tag team title match next week. Honestly, I have no idea what is going on here. I don’t have time to watch AEW Dark. I wish that if there is something on that show that effects this show, that AEW will say something about it during the broadcast.
Penelope Ford/Nyla Rose vs Kris Statlander/Hikaru Shida. Ford wins via Northern Lights Suplex pin fall.
Good match by all, and this helps elevate Ford in the women’s division. A division lacking their star heel, Dr Britt Baker due to injury. Ford and Rose get the early jump and take it to Kris. Later on Statlander parries a Spear from Nyla and redirects it towards Penelope. Shida now in with running knees for Rose and Kris gets back in a top rope splash, nobody is home for that. This type of action was the theme of the match, quick strikes from Shida, big power moves from Rose and Kris. Ford.. well, let’s say had her moments.
At one point after the barrage of moves from Shida and Statlander, Rose drapes both ladies on the top rope and hits a top turnbuckle Knee Drop on the two! The closing moments had Ford attempting to get in the fight, but Kris yanks her out. Back in the ring, Penelope is hit with Shida’s Falcon’s Arrow, but Ford kicks out! Kip interferes which leads to Kris hitting a Tope Suicida on him and the ref is distracted. With all the chaos happening outside, Rose tosses the the title belt to Penelope. Ford crashes it on Hikaru’s head and hits the Northern Light’s Suplex for the pin fall.
This win was big for Penelope. Technically, it goes down as a clean pin on the current champion. Ford already snuck into the top 5 in the rankings. This win may have her challenge for the title very soon.
A legend helps with recovery and Britt’s recap.
Darby Allin is shown and said he is still not cleared to wrestle. So how does he pass the time? Allin goes skating at the Legendary Tony Hawk’s facility! Not much is show and it was quick, Darby attempts several times to drop in from atop of a ladder. After taking some hard crashes, he succeeds and hi-fives Tony Hawk.
Britt vignette is basically all of her rehabilitation segments rolled into one video. They still make me chuckle and it keeps Britt on tv. During the segment, Baker mentions Big Swole and does not know what her problem is. Britt goes on about her own struggles, like not studying for an unexpected microbiology exam. Don’t worry the Dr “Aced it”.
The Inner Circle set out to destroy. Veteran vs youngster, with recruitment. A new crazy duo?
Best Friends w/ Orange Cassidy vs The Inner Circle’s Santana/Ortiz/Jake Hager. Cassidy wins via Roll Up pin fall.
Another action packed and fun match, with post match repercussions. Inner Circle get the early jump and attack all three men. Trent gains some momentum, and tags Taylor in. Chuck and Trent go flying outside wiping out the Inner Circle. The Best Friends go for the big hug, but Jake breaks it up. Hager hits a Vader Bomb on Taylor, but for only two. Cassidy get the tag in and hits his light kicks on Hager. Jake then tosses Orange, now the Slacker is on fire. Dodging Jake’s attack, hitting a double Hurricanrana on Ortiz and Santana. Tope Suicida onto Hager, Orange then hits a top rope splash on Ortiz and a Tornado DDt on Santana. The Puerto Rican stars set Cassidy for a Street Sweeper, but Taylor pushes Santana off the rope. With the distraction, Cassidy rolls up Ortiz for the quick win.
Post match carnage.
A livid Jericho runs down from commentary and orchestrate a brutal beat down. Le Champion takes out all three of Best Friends with Floyd, the baseball bat. The Pain Maker then grabs a huge bag of blood oranges and smashes Cassidy’s head to the next county. Orange is bloodied from the Floyd hit and laying there motionless. Jericho taunts Cassidy and slams the sack of oranges on Cassidy again. My, oh, my.. Jericho really hates the lovable slacker. Here’s my thing, this was a bad beating, where was the locker room of faces to help them? They come out when a member of the Elite is getting beaten down. Why not for this well loved group of faces? Maybe MJF can shed some light on this.
MJF has a theory.
Tony Schiavone interviews the Gunn Club and MJF interrupts. Maxwell states that there is a problem in AEW, that problem is favoritism. MJF states that he is undefeated this year, ranked number, and still can not get a shot at the TNT title. Jacobs Friedman then tells Billy Gunn he is a shark among minnows. Gunn retort that he is a great white shark and asks MJF if he wants a shot. Things escalate from there and MJF hides behind Wardlow. To be fair, MJF has some really valid points, but we know why Cody has the title and is challenging who he is challenging. Still interesting angle though.
Sammy Guevara vs Colt Cabana. Sammy wins via GTH pin fall.
Earlier, Jim Ross stated that both men needs a win tonight, no matter what. I agree, so to pit these to against each other makes for an interesting watch. The match was good, what followed was even better. Colt starts the match off by grounding and having leverage over Sammy. The Spanish God then sends Colt outside and lands a big flip. The two man went at it with boots and elbows, Cabana hits the Flying Apple on Sammy. Colt follows it up with a big splash, only a two count. Cabana then takes to the top for a reverse Chicago Skyline, but slips. This was a nice balance of making look like a botch and a work. I had to rewind it to make sure it was a work. Sammy capitalize’s and lands the GTH, similar to CM Punks GTO, for the win.
The recruiting starts.
Afterwards, Evil Uno, Grayson make their return. For the 1st time since the pandemic, The Dark Order is together and Mr. Broodie Lee walks up to Colt and helps him up. The Exalted One then just turns around and leaves. What’s going in the head of Cabana!? Later on the show, Dasha tries to talk to Colt, as he followed through the same tunnel as the Dark Order did. Cabana doesn’t want to talk… well not to her. Colt walks up to a door with Broodie Lee’s name on it and enters. DUN-DUN-DUUUNN! Honestly, this was a fine story plot, I am really interested to see this going forward.
Sammy then gets on the mic to gloat, but is interrupted by an OG Matt Hardy. Matt praises the Spanish God, saying he reminds him like younger version of himself. The man of many faces then tells Sammy that he is the future of AEW and to reach his full potential, Guevara must leave Jericho. This is not what Sammy wants to hear, and Hardy comically has a “Matt Facts” bit. Cycling through all of his personalities and becoming more aggressive. The Broken one then bounces Sammy out and yells “DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!”. Another small seed planted, we all know AEW loves that slow build. I actually do not seeing this pay off from a year or two from now. But it will happen, especially when Jericho does not want to wrestle any more.
Joey Jenela is getting smashed at a bar. Recalling that he came to AEW to be a star. After his match with Jon Moxley, Joey has since “Faded into darkness”. Jenela thinks that his best days are behind him, a winking nod to his very bad injury that got him viral fame and almost ended his career. Joey stumbles out the ring and Sonny Kiss sees him. Kiss tells Janela to get in the car and they drive off. I’ve always been an fan of the two, they seemed that they got lost in the shuffle in AEW. Hopefully, this team up can build interest up for them.
Moxley wants to shut Taz’s mouth. Marq Quen has his biggest match ever in AEW!
Parking lot ambush.
Moxley heads to the arena and Alex Marvez talks to him. Jon states that he is sick and tired of Taz running his mouth. The Human Suplex Machine said Brian Cage is going to destroy Mox at Fyter’s Fest. Jon can’t wait to get there and pop off Cage’s head. Taz enter the scene and trash talks with Moxley, while Cage runs up and blindsides him. The two behemoths battle it out in the parking lot, with Jon barley missing Cage’s head with a pipe. Brian hits a Spinebuster on Mox onto the hood of the car. The Machine is about to Drill Claw Mox on the pavement, but Taz stops him. Instead, Cage Powerslams him into the windshield and walks off. This match is going to be brutal, and we are gonna love every second of it.
Cody vs Marq Quen, for the TNT Championship. Cody retain via Pressing Ankle Lock submission.
If this was a test to see if Marq can headline as a singles competitor, then he aced this test. AEW, has not seen any of Private Party wrestle in a singles match. The two shook hands and the biggest match in Quen’s AEW career has begun. Cody looks to ground the high flyer working on his arm and neck. Quen breaks free and fights back. The turning point and the affection of Cody’s attention, was when Marq twweeked his ankle injury. This had Cody smelling blood in the water and he focused on that ankle.
Another side note, Rhodes has been slowly turning more aggressive since his fight with Lance Archer. The American Nightmare displayed it last week with Jungle Boy and does it again this week. With the ref asks for a corner break, kicks Quen’s leg out and muscle poses. This is going to be a slow burn in Cody turning heel and when he does, the roster of AEW is going to be trouble.
Marq Quen to adapt and excite.
Quen will not give up because of an injury, although a few moves are voided due to it. Marq misses a springboard and Cody just walks up and kicks his head off. Quen adapts with a flurry of shots, but again the ankle slows him down. Allowing Rhodes to hit a top rope Reverse Suplex, Marq dodges an uppercut and hits a Sanding Moonsault, for two. Then Quen lands a spectacular Corkscrew DDT!
The commentators don’t know what to call or think of it, neither did I and just strung words together from what I saw. I have never seen anything like it. Quen then goes to the rope. Cody realizes and rolls onto the ramp, an undeterred Marq hits a clean 450 SPLASH ON RHODES ON THE RAMP! This kid is amazing… unfortunately Marq’s knees took a hard shot from it. The duo are back in the ring, as Marq goes for a Shooting Star Prees, but again, the ankle goes out. Allowing The American Nightmare cinching in an Ankle Lock.. it was not enough. Cody then twist harder and presses down with his leg to add more pressure, Marq taps.
What fine performance from the young Marq Quen. Some may have issues with the ankle injury angle, sayin oh, if he is hurt he can’t do this or that. Relax, it’s a story and the way this kid sold that injury was damn perfection. Marq Quen, you and Kassidy are a bright spot of the future. I can’t wait to see future instant classics from you two.
Post match madness, again.
After Cody and Quen hug it out and show respect to each other, Marq hobbles his way to the locker room. Just then, Jake Hager arrives to stare down Cody. Hager then goes to briefly choke Arn Anderson and attack Rhodes. The injured Quen, Kassidy, and Matt Hardy run (well not Marq) to the ring with steel chairs and take out Jake. The rest of The Inner Circle make their out and a brawl begins. Matt Hardy hits a Twist Of Fate on Sammy, funny spot considering this was suppose to be OG Matt. The Inner Circle end up retreating and Cody tell Jake he knows what he wants. A TNT title match… at Fyter’s Fest, Jake agrees and it is set.
This was a jam packed show! Not only it was full of action, it was full of story lines going forward. Whether it was the debut of FTR, a recruiting plot, planting small seeds for the future, or forming a new group, this show had a bit of everything. All that and it breezed through a brisk two hours. My only complaints were, that they seem to be shying away from PIP breaks, not acknowledging what happens on AEW Dark, and the same “We must save The Elite” theme. Other than that it was a very solid show.-David G.
The fallout from Takeover: In Your House airs on this week’s episode of NXT! Tonight, Adam Cole discusses his future plans, Keith Lee and Mia Yim continue their feud with Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae in mixed tag action, Drake Maverick issues another challenge to El Hijo del Fantasma, and Cole faces off with Dexter Lumis in the main event!
Undisputed. Candice takes one for the team. Live forever.
NXT Champion Adam Cole makes his way to the ring, flanked by Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong, who are still visibly shaken after being kidnapped by Dexter Lumis at Takeover. Cole puts over Velveteen Dream as a legit talent…but he’s no Adam Cole BAY-BAY. Now that Dream is in the rear view, what’s next for Adam Cole?
Cole says it doesn’t matter, because he has run roughshod over the entire brand as the most dominant champion in NXT history. He continues by saying that no one in NXT or WWE will beat him for the title. Now, Cole focuses on Dexter Lumis, degrading him by calling him a crazy, psychotic freak.
Lumis appears in the crowd, and Strong starts flipping out, saying he sees Lumis looking on in the crowd, but when the camera cuts back, there’s no one there. Cole says he has their back, and will protect them. As they leave, Lumis appears again, and Strong flips out again and stumbles to the back.
–Solid promo from Cole to kick off the show, while Lumis is clearly in the heads of Fish and Strong. Lumis and Cole face off in the main event tonight.
Backstage, Cole and Fish are trying to calm Strong down. NXT North American Champion Keith Lee, along with Mia Yim, walks up. Lee says people are wondering what’s next for him as well, but he has an idea, and locks his eyes on the NXT Championship. Cole shouts, “In your dreams!” Lee says, “Soon enough.”
–I would be very intrigued by the thought of a Champion vs. Champion match, but as we find out later, Lee isn’t the only one with his eyes on the big prize. Stay tuned…
Johnny Gargano & Candice LeRae vs. Keith Lee & Mia Yim – Gargano and LeRae win via roll-up
This match starts off fast, and really never lets up. Even before the opening bell, the women are standing off against the men from the opposing teams, and I can’t help but laugh at tiny little Candice LeRae looking up to Keith Lee and trash talking him. On the other side, Mia Yim and Johnny Gargano are in each other’s faces, and it’s clear that Mia thinks she can take Johnny.
Gargano shoves Yim aside and jumps Lee, while LeRae goes after Yim. Double hurricanrana attempt from the Garganos fails, as Yim and Lee hoist their opponents up and appear to go for the old AOP finish, The Super Collider. After bashing Gargano and LeRae into each other, though, they’re dropped to their feet and downed with clotheslines. Now the bell rings, and this match can officially get underway.
The action throughout the match shows that Mia is still fired up about Candice’s comments about her getting undeserved opportunities. Along with that, Lee is still nursing the left hand injury after last week’s show, which hindered him at Takeover as well. There’s a lot more intergender action in this match than I anticipated, with Gargano and LeRae using double-team maneuvers to take out Lee, and Mia standing up to Johnny and dishing out some hard shots.
The finish is one of the most unique that I’ve seen in a long time. Yim and LeRae are battling on the ring apron, when Lee takes Gargano out with the Pounce, which sends Johnny into LeRae and Yim. Lee leans through the ropes to check on Yim, and LeRae is out in the middle of the ring. Keith is greeted with a superkick from Johnny, followed by the One Final Beat, which plants Lee right on top of Candice!
A distraught Lee checks on Candice, picking up her lifeless body, allowing Gargano to sneak in with a roll-up pin. Lee tosses LeRae as he his rolled up, sending her outside while her husband secures the roll-up to pick up the win. Johnny holds up the unconscious body of Candice as he celebrates the victory.
–That was a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to see more of this feud. Some of the bumps that Candice LeRae took were hellacious, and added a lot to the story. Mia Yim is on her way to moving up to the top of the women’s division, as she continues to impress. Johnny’s selfish tactic to pick up the win lends itself to his heel side, doing things the “Gargano Way”, even though Candice wasn’t awake to see it.
Damian Priest is interviewed about his match against Finn Balor from Takeover. Priest says he knows he lost, and that Balor is really good. The result doesn’t matter, though. It was about Priest’s name on its way to Live Forever.
–I completely agree with Priest. Sunday’s match against Balor was the breakout for him, and I see big things coming for him in the future.
Cameron Grimes talks about his match tonight against Balor. Grimes says he’s full of confidence, and has no fear in his eyes. Priest approaches, and Grimes backpedals on what he was saying, talking about how good Priest did at Takeover. Priest lays Grimes out with a brutal elbow, then kneels down and says, “Please, continue,” and laughs as he walks away.
–More good stuff with Grimes being overconfident, and Priest putting him in his place with that stiff shot. Appears that a face turn is coming for Priest.
Tag Team squash. Grimes chickens out, and fails. Stone crumbles.
Indus Sher (Rinku & Saurav) vs. Mikey DelBrey & Mike Reed
Nothing more than a pure squash here. Saurav starts with a brutal boot to DelBrey, then knocks Reed off the apron. Saurav tags in Rinku, a pair of avalanches on DelBrey, then a sidewalk slam/flying elbow drop combo is enough to pick up the win for Indus Sher.
-Simple but effective. These guys are meant to be a dominant force, so keep it to a minimum by letting them crush a couple of no-names.
NXT referee Drake Wuertz is on video conference with NXT GM William Regal. Drake says that Cameron Grimes is claiming to have a broken jaw from the elbow shot from Damian Priest. Regal wants to speak to Grimes, so Drake goes looking for him.
Drake finds Grimes talking to a couple women, seemingly fine. Drake tries talking to Grimes, but Grimes brushes him off, until Drake says he has Regal on video chat. Grimes tries selling the injury, but Regal heard everything that Grimes was saying, and tells him that he will still face Finn Balor tonight.
–Poor Grimes. Can’t catch a break. Funny moment with Grimes trying to weasel his way out of the match, even after being so confident earlier in the night.
Video package featuring Breezango is shown, talking about how they entertain the crowds with their characters before and after the bells, but in between, it’s all business. Putting over Breezango as a threat to the NXT Tag Team titles against Imperium, and that match airs next week.
After being dominated by Karrion Kross at Takeover, Tommaso Ciampa is shown leaving Full Sail, but won’t talk to the interviewer.
Downfall of Robert Stone.
Rhea Ripley is asked about losing at Takeover. Ripley says that Io Shirai saw an opportunity and took it, so good on her. Robert Stone interrupts, trying to recruit Ripley for the brand. Stone says they have both been losers this year, but Rhea has been a big loser, which infuriates Ripley. Stone says they can be like a phoenix rising from the ashes. Ripley says the chances of her joining the Robert Stone Brand are one in a million, to which Stone says, “So you’re saying there’s a chance.” Ripley punches Stone in the gut, then slams him into a garbage can.
–The downfall of Robert Stone continues, as he still doesn’t have a client. He’s playing the desperate, disheveled agent role very well, and it’s entertaining to see. Ripley is ready to refocus on the NXT Women’s Championship, and she’ll do it without Stone.
Finn Balor vs. Cameron Grimes. Balor wins with the 1916.
Balor gets an opportunity at redemption after taking a loss at the hands of Cameron Grimes last month. This time, Balor doesn’t have to look over his shoulder, so his focus is 100% on Grimes from the get-go. Balor clearly has been on point since his return to NXT, and it especially shows in this matchup. It’s a hard-hitting affair, with Balor giving Grimes little to no space to gather himself.
Grimes tries to hold his own against the Prince, taking the hard shots from Balor and dishing them out in return. It’s not enough for the North Carolinian, though. Balor avoids a Cave In attempt from Grimes, then takes him down with a reverse 1916. Finn goes up top and nails Grimes with the Coup de Gras, then delivers a devastating 1916 for the win.
After the match, Balor looks into the camera and says he’s won a lot of titles, but not the North American Championship, calling out Keith Lee.
-Well that’s interesting. First, we heard earlier that Lee is eyeing the NXT Championship, and now Balor has his sights set on the North American Champion. Lots of webs being spun to set up rivalries and title matches. And it’s not over yet…
Dakota calls her shot. Why, Fantasma, why? Tick…tock…
Dakota Kai vs. Kacy Catanzaro. Kai wins with the Go To Kick
Relatively short match to show the spunk and fighting spirit of Kacy Catanzaro. But that’s not enough to beat Dakota Kai, who counters a clothesline attempt with a scorpion kick, followed up by the Go To Kick to pick up the win. After the match, Kai grabs the camera and says she’s coming after Io Shirai and the NXT Women’s Championship.
Kai and Raquel Gonzalez attack Catanzaro, then Kayden Carter comes out for the save. Carter fights off Gonzalez, who then gives chase. Carter sweeps the feet of Kai and continues to run, but is caught by Gonzalez and taken down with a one-armed powerbomb.
–Standard stuff to set up the next potential challenger for Io Shirai. I don’t think Io is done with Rhea Ripley yet, but introducing more challengers makes everything more interesting. Still love the work that Raquel Gonzalez has been putting in lately, making herself seem even more like a dominant force.
New heel in town.
New NXT Cruiserweight Champion El Hijo del Fantasma makes his way out to talk about his victory, but is quickly cut off by Drake Maverick. Drake puts over Fantasma as a phenomenal competitor, and thanks him for the amazing match. Maverick continues by saying everyone should have been talking about Fantasma’s journey, debuting in the Cruiserweight Tournament and winning the whole thing.
Maverick says he’s had a lot on his mind over the past couple of months, and wonders what would have happened if he had a clear head. Now that he has a full time NXT contract, Drake says he knows he can beat Fantasma, if he can get another opportunity. Fantasma agrees and extends a hand to Maverick.
The mystery masked men run down to the ring to confront Maverick and Fantasma. They stand back to back, ready to fight, but then Fantasma turns around and looks down on Maverick, headbutts him and proceeds to stomp him into the mat. The masked men get in the ring and join in the beatdown, until Fantasma puts his hands up. The men take off their masks and reveal themselves…as Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde!
Fantasma drops Maverick with the Phantom Driver, then takes off his own mask! He looks into the hard camera and says, “I am Santos Escobar, I am the NXT Cruiserweight Champion, and no one can touch me.” Wilde and Mendoza then both jump from the top rope and splash onto Maverick, and the trio poses over a fallen Maverick.
–I’m just gonna say this: CALLED IT! What I didn’t see coming was the unmasking of Fantasma himself, and renaming himself as Santos Escobar. Absolutely LOVED this segment. Only complaint I have – and it’s not even that big of a deal – is, who were the original masked men that abducted Wilde and Mendoza months ago? Could there be more additions to the stable? Either way, great segment.
Next week, Shotzi Blackheart & Tegan Nox will challenge for the Women’s Tag Team Championships, against the winner of the Backlash Triple Threat. Also, as confirmed earlier, Breezango take on Imperium for the NXT Tag Team titles.
Adam Cole vs. Dexter Lumis. Cole wins with the Last Shot.
Lots to break down after the match, but let’s talk about what happened between the bells. Lumis and Cole lock up early, and Cole seems to have the advantage, but Lumis turns it around quickly, downing him in the corner before dropping him with a back elbow. Cole rolls out of the ring, and Lumis stalks behind him, but Cole gets back in the ring and stomps down on him. Lumis with the slide out uppercut rocks Cole, but the champ recovers with a pump kick to send Lumis outside.
After the break, Cole has Lumis on his knees, trash talking and raining down punches. Lumis no-sells the shots and stares up at Cole, even breaking out a scary smile. Cole takes Lumis down with a swinging neckbreaker. Lumis dares Cole to hit him, absorbing every shot that Cole has to offer. Lumis then unleashes stiff punches, followed by a corner clothesline and a running bulldog. Slingshot suplex from Lumis takes down the champ again.
Cole tries to recover with a superkick, but Lumis blocks it and takes Cole down with a German Suplex. Adamkicks Lumis, then pulls down the knee pad to go for the Last Shot, but Lumis counters and goes for the Kata Gatame. The NXT champ fights out again and goes for the Last Shot a second time, but Lumis counters with a vicious spinebuster. Lumis pounds down on Cole, who crawls to the ropes and pulls Lumis outside.
Fish and Strong come around to run interference, but Lumis crawls under the ring and out the other side, standing behind Cole before downing him with another spinebuster. Lumis goes for a top rope Senton Bomb, but Cole gets the knees up, then goes for the Panama Sunrise. Lumis catches Cole on the way down and locks in the Kata Gatame, sending the champ sprawling around to break the hold. Fish distracts the referee, allowing Strong to run in and take Lumis down with a step up enzuigiri. Cole follows up with the Last Shot to get the win.
After the match, Cole stands over Lumis, talking more trash, so Lumis locks in the Kata Gatame once again. Fish and Strong run back in to fight Lumis off Cole. Velveteen Dream runs out to take Fish and Strong out, as Dream chases Fish off, and Lumis stalks after Strong. Adam Cole is left alone in the ring to celebrate, but then the lights go out…
The spotlight appears on the stage, and it’s Scarlett! She slowly makes her way to the ring, carrying something behind her back. She stares down Cole, before revealing an hourglass, setting it on the apron and flipping it over. The show ends with the sands falling through the hourglass while Adam Cole clutches onto his NXT Championship.
–Wow, what symbolism, and what a visual to close the show! Is time running out for Adam Cole as NXT Champion? Love the subtlety as the challenge is issued without Karrion Kross even being present.
This was a fantastic follow-up episode after Takeover this past Sunday. Lots of new rivalries bloom out of this episode. The crossover of challenges makes the title pictures very crowded, but in a good way. Let’s break this down: Keith Lee has his eyes on the NXT title, but isn’t done with Johnny Gargano. Finn Balor disposes of Cameron Grimes, then verbally issues the challenge to Keith Lee. Dexter Lumis, well, no one knows what he really wants, but he clearly has issues with Adam Cole and the rest of Undisputed Era. And then the ending, with Scarlett placing that hourglass on the apron to let Cole know his time is ticking.
And on the women’s side, Rhea Ripley is still focused on getting back the NXT Women’s title, but now Dakota Kai is throwing her hat in the ring. So many different ways to tell stories going into the next few weeks, which makes for intriguing television. Can’t wait to see how it all plays out! –Josh L.
Friday Night SmackDown:
The final show for WWE’s Backlash had urine jokes and a surprise victory over champions. A new Intercontinental Champion is crowned (was Brie Bella correct?)!! Is Otis losing focus and can Tucker refocus Otis? Let’s get this started, the final show before WWE Backlash!
The “Attitude Era” resurfaces. A big victory of the champs.
Sheamus and Jeff Hardy make their way out for the contract signing at Backlash, funny… I thought this was reserved for title matches. The Celtic Warrior is flanked by doctors and Jeff is alone. The White Lightning is concerned about Hardy being clean. So before Sheamus signs a contract, he wants Jeff to take a urine test. The Celtic Warrior does not to “step in the ring with a junkie”. Sheamus even pays for a rapid test, so The Enigmatic One goes to test, However, Jeff has trouble completing the test, and Sheamus mocks him. Hardy then throws the cup of urine on Sheamus. Did you miss the Attitude Era yet? Hardy then states “It’s better to be pissed off, then pissed on, oh the hilarity.
After the break, Sheamus’s confirms that Jeff is clean and this sends him into a rage. If you wanted childish homage to the Attitude Era ( in which looking at it now was mostly childish) then you would like/love this segment. I just found it trying too hard. I like fart jokes and many childish humor, but this was meh.
Shinsuke/Cesaro vs New Day, non-title match. Nak wins via Roll Up pin fall.
Umm, sure. Not to say that this was a bad match. However, it was a formulaic match leading into a WWE PPV. Formulaic because a team that loss as much as much as Shin/Cesaro, came up with a win over the champs. Kofi and Cesaro start things off. The Swiss Cyborg quickly over powers Kingston with a Tilt-A- Whirl Backbreaker. Shin is tagged in and Kofi takes a beating, like always. Big E gets the hot tag and takes it to Nak, while using Kofi as a weapon. Cesaro is ran over by Big E, but the heels come back.
After the break, Cesaro has Big E grounded. This goes on until Big E hits a Belly To Belly Suplex, with Kofi and Nak being tagged in. Kofi is control with big strikes, but Cesaro distracts the former WWE champion. To no avail, Kofi hits the SOS, but for only two. Big E runs in for a hard Clothesline, yet is tossed outside. Kofi is control and goes for a Body Splash, knees are up for shin . This lead to a Roll Up pin fall against the champs, heading into Backlash. Again, good match, but formulaic.
A match so good, it deserves it’s own section.
AJ Styles vs Daniel Bryan for the Intercontinental Championship. AJ Styles wins via Phenomenal Forearm pin fall.
This match alone made up for almost half of SmackDown and I could not even be mad about it. In fact, if this match was the ONLY match on SmackDown, again I would not be mad about it. Let’s get this fantastic match going! The match begins and both men take the slow approach, locking up and feeling each other out. With a volley of counters, AJ ends up outside and Bryan hits a Suicide Dive! This leads to the 1st commercial break.
After the break (in which, I wished WWE did PIP breaks), Daniel smashes his knees into AJ’s chest. Styles is working his way out of a submission, while planning his next move. The duo run the ropes and AJ hits a big Dropkick. Styles now in charge, hits big chops… welting Bryan’s chest. The American Dragon fights back and hits fierce uppercuts. While Bryan seemingly to be in control, Styles gains some control with an Armbar. The two trade blows and moves, all ending with a mid-air collision. Daniel and AJ are planted in the ring as we go to another commercial break.
The next act.
After this break, we get to see both men go at it. Styles attempts a quick roll up for two and Bryan attempts to cinch in the Yes Lock. AJ blocks the Yes Lock and sends Daniel in the air onto the floor below. Bryan now injured, somehow catches AJ in a mid-air dive, and smashes Styles into the ring post. An aggressive Bryan then stomps on AJ’s newly injured elbow and targets the arm. Bryan’s new focus has Styles grounded and the twisting of the joints are ugly. The Planet’s Champion gets a bit overzealous and attempts a Dropkick in a cornered Styles. AJ dodges and momentum changes.
The Phenomenal One keeps Daniel buried in the corner with big kicks. Styles goes to use the apron to assist in a leg lock, but has to break it by a 5 count. The leg work from Styles continue, until Daniel hits an Enziguri to stay alive! Styles attempts a Phenomenal Forearm, but is grounded by Bryan! The American Dragon unloads a flurry of Yes Kicks. Daniel follows this up with a big Hurricanrana and more Yes Kicks! Victory is in the sights of Daniel Bryan. More Yes Kicks to the head of AJ Styles, however The Phenomenal One retorts with a huge Clothesline. Cut to commercial.
After the last break, you can feel the desperate need to finish the match from both men. The action picks up and carelessness is the new norm for this match. Bryan’s knees buckles. allowing AJ to connect and get a near fall. As Styles scoops up Bryan, Daniel wiggles out and strikes with elbows. Not to be outdone, Styles counters with a Pele’ Kick. AJ goes for the Styles Clash, but Daniel Bryan counters it with a big Jack Knife! Again, Daniel blocks a Pele’ and cinches in an Ankle Lock. To no avail, AJ fights out of it and hits a German Suplex to answer Bryan’s German Suplex.
Things pick up, if that is possible. Daniel wraps in the Yes Lock on AJ, but Styles will not quit. The hold is broken as Bryan eyes another attempt. The crowd chant “YES! YES! YES!” and Daniel takes a predator stance. The American Dragon goes for a Flying Knee, but AJ catches him in mid-air and hits the Styles Clash! The Phenomenal One, beaten to a pulp slowly crawls towards Daniel, yet it is not enough. Styles then slowly crawls to the outside ropes and hit a Phenomenal Forearm for the win. Becoming the new Intercontinental Champion! I am out of breath!
Honestly, I really do not care after that match. Sasha and Bayley celebrate. Big Beef showdown.
The Women’s Tag Team titles find their spot.
Sasha and Bayley come out to celebrate. Ummm… I thought they did this on Monday, but ok. A poem by Bayley to Sasha was interrupted by Alexa Biss and Nikki Cross. Soon afterwards, the interruption is joined by the IIconics. This was all a lazy build to Backlash and had to follow the superb match of AJ vs Bryan. So, let’s guess what ol’ David G thinks? IT WAS A DAMN FILLER AND AJ VS BRYAN SHOULD HAVE MAIN EVENTED! SOrry, I am done venting… for now.
Heavy Machinery/Bruan Strowman vs Dolph Ziggler/The Miz/John Morrison. Otis wins via Caterpillar pin fall.
Subtle seeds have been planted in this match. Miz and Ziggler prance around Otis in the beginning, but the big guy tosses brings Miz in the ring and works him over. Tucker is tagged in, runs hot, until Morrison catches Tucker with a big kick. Not to be outdone, Tucker snatches John in mid-air and hits a big slam for two. A bunch of quick tags follow and a bunch of action. However, it gets very interesting right about now.
King Corbin has a camera crew with him and quietly approaches Mandy Rose. Otis sees this and storms out of the match, leaving his best pal and Braun alone in this match. After Corbin tries to flirt with Mandy, Otis levels the current king and commences a beat down. After the break, Tucker and Braun are getting worked over in the numbers game.
Otis eventually makes back to the fight, with Mandy Rose in tow. Now Otis gets the hot tag in, after Tuckie and Braun did everything to survive, the big man Otis wrecks shop taking all three of the heels outside. Otis calls for Strowman to start the Freight Train and The Monster obliges. After taking out all three men, Braun tosses Dolph in the ring when Otis hits the Caterpillar for the pin fall.
The IC match between AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan was more then enough to tune in. If you have not seen this match, I implore you to do so. If this a preview of what WWE is going to try to provide for the IC title, then the fans are blessed. Almost every angle on this show provided a growth in all the stories, in which is always a big plus. I almost did not like the main event, but saw the subtle seeds being planted. There is a big story being played out, just focus on the small things. *hint* I wouldn’t be surprised if Mandy Rose has a bigger plan to benefit her.-David G.
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