This week in pro wrestling NXT books a double championship match! Charlotte Flair out of action for almost a year! The road to Fyter Fest is now complete, as AEW have to pull an audible on Dynamite. Wrestlers across WWE and AEW are exposed to the COVID-19 virus. A tribute to the LEGENDARY Deadman, The Undertaker! Let’s begin this week in pro wrestling.
Talents are here to show the world what they can do on this week’s Raw.
The 6/22/20 edition of Monday Night Raw was brought to us from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, FL once again and we start off with a bang right away.
World champion Drew McIntyre begins this week by recapping the affairs of last week and teaming with R-Truth in a tag team match. He says it’s time to look towards the future.
Dolph Ziggler comes to the ring and announces that he and “Glorious” Robert Roode have been traded to Raw for AJ Styles and that he himself takes credit for Drew’s success, because it was he who brought Drew to Raw sometime back.
He recaps their tag team title run and states that he is responsible for Drew getting to the world title, now he wants to take it. Ziggler states that Drew needs an opponent for Extreme Rules and he wants it to be him.
McIntyre asks if Ziggler really wants this match and Dolph nods his head. We’ve got ourselves a title match.
Ziggler and Roode coming to Raw gives them a fresh opportunity to branch out. They weren’t doing much on Smackdown and Ziggler is incredibly talented and a gifted veteran. We’ll see what happens.
Nia Jax comes out to the ring and takes a seat, getting on her Soapbox about the fact that she was robbed in two title matches and that somehow, someway, Charlotte gets handed another title match here tonight.
R-Truth is out and questioned whether or not Nia Jax is actually one of Tozawa’s masked ninjas and it’s a fine comedic bit.
Charlotte finally comes out and debunks Jax’s theories and it leads to a scuffle that sees Charlotte coming away with a left arm injury before her title match.
The Street Profits and the Viking Raiders recap their interactions over the past few weeks and the time for talking and having fun is behind them as their title match opens the show. As both teams leave the segment, Zelina Vega appears. We get a little foreshadowing so to speak.
The Street Profits defeat the Viking Raiders via pin fall after a frogsplash from Ford onto Ivar to retain the world tag team titles.
What a fantastic match to open the show! These teams have amazing chemistry and even as some of the segments were corny, I really enjoyed the last few weeks, it’s entertaining television.
There was a great deal of back and forth with both teams hitting their signature spots and we saw Ford get absolutely amazing height on the frogsplash that led to the victory. Hopefully there is plenty more where this came from as it relates to tag team action with these two teams.
As both teams hug it out after the bout, Andrade and Angel Garza strike, attacking the Street Profits and declaring their intentions for a tag team title shot. The Viking Raiders run them off, but there you have it, your next challengers for the straps.
If Andrade and Garza lose, I fully expect them to separate and feud with one another.
Seth Rollins cuts a terrific promo on Rey Mysterio and Dominic as Rey returns later this evening.
Charlotte Flair is being taped up as she leaves the training area, her title match is up next.
Asuka defeats Charlotte Flair via submission with the Asuka Lock to retain the Women’s title.
Wow, Asuka finally got over the hump. Asuka had never defeated Charlotte in a title match and albeit skewed, she did so tonight, fantastic to see.
Not much of a surprise that these two put on a terrific match and the story was the left arm of Charlotte, which Asuka focused on throughout the contest.
There was some great back and forth after a Charlotte Flair, where Asuka countered with a rollup and then Charlotte hit a powerbomb before Asuka trapped her in the submission for the victory.
Flair is taking time off for elective surgery, so the injury angle was bound to happen here or later. Nia Jax was backstage and said that it would be a real shame if somebody kicked the Queen while she was down.
Rated R Return
Edge cuts a dazzling promo about how his recovery is going and he states that Orton killed off the “PG Superstar” and woke up the “Rated R Superstar” after what he did not only to him, but to his best friend Christian.
Edge cannot miss. Orton cannot miss. The promos that have come out of this feud should be studied by those coming up in the business, this was absolutely sensational and I totally think it’s worth going out of your way to watch. He had this ridiculously sadistic line about Randy’s father wishing he was shooting blanks on the night he was conceived, because that’s how bad this will be for Orton when he returns. Seriously, go watch this.
Charlotte Flair was being interviewed backstage when more foreshadowing came to fruition. Nia Jax attacked Charlotte from behind, slamming a crate on the injured left arm. She’ll be “out for a few months”. Interesting, because I’m sure everyone had her pegged for a title match at Summerslam against Asuka.
Jax was actually pretty solid tonight. I’m hard on her for her in-ring failures, but she was great tonight.
R-Truth and Akira Tozawa were scheduled to do business, but the match never got underway as MVP and Bobby Lashley showed up and Lashley slapped the Full Nelson on Truth, leaving him prone in the center of the ring.
The wily Tozawa would sneak in and pin R-Truth, allowing evil to prevail as Tozawa captures the 24/7 title for he and his diabolical ninjas. This is actually growing on me now. Tozawa seems to be having fun, that’s all that matters.
Natalya defeats Liv Morgan via submission with the Sharpshooter.
This went about as long as a cup of strong coffee. Natalya came to the ring with Lana at her side and this new pairing gets off to a good start as they come away with a win over Liv Morgan.
Morgan was coming along with needed momentum, but they’ve stalled her out in recent weeks. I’ll skip ahead and talk about a segment where she was down on her luck backstage and Ruby Riott came up to have a word with her. Morgan says she didn’t have time, but Riott was being sincere.
Yes, seriously, get them back together, bring back the Riott Squad and let them see some success, they are all talented and it’s a crime that Ruby Riott hasn’t worn singles or tag team gold yet.
Randy Orton and Ric Flair are out and there’s a whole segment with the “Nature Boy” about how Orton is the greatest wrestler of all time and it’s fantastic.
The promo went on and let to the Big Show coming out to get revenge for Edge and Christian. Orton and Flair take their leave, but it seems like Show’s head will be the next one punted as they’ll do business at Extreme Rules.
I’ve said this for weeks, but McIntyre vs. Orton at Summerslam is guaranteed money. Let’s hope it happens.
Bayley/Sasha Banks defeat The IIconics via submission after a Banks Statement on Royce to retain the Women’s tag team titles.
This actually didn’t go too long and Kay and Royce went for their tandem finish, but Banks escaped, catching Royce in the Banks Statement for the submission victory.
The real story unfolded after the bout where Banks had Bayley in the ring and explained that she was jealous of her holding two titles. She wants to challenge for the Women’s title at Extreme Rules.
This is why she’s challenging Asuka! It’s the ultimate swerve! Asuka runs down and tries to attack both talents, but Banks gets the upper hand, including her raising the Raw title in the air.
Will Banks beat Asuka? Doubtful. Will it be a great match between two of the best? Probably. Looking forward to that one at Extreme Rules for sure.
We had a fantastic MVP lounge with US Champ, Apollo Crews, up next and similar to the Edge promo from earlier, go watch this. MVP is on another level on the mic right now. We tease what everyone knew was coming next, but we’ve got singles action first.
Apollo Crews defeats Shelton Benjamin via pin fall with the powerbomb.
Crews made short work of the veteran, hitting his panted toss powerbomb to put this one away.
The champ would barely have a chance to celebrate before Bobby Lashley attacked him after the match, slapping the new champ in the dreaded full nelson. Crews was laid out and Lashley held the belt high before tossing it down on Crews.
I love the potential of this feud. Lashley and MVP is a terrific pairing and Crews is really coming into his own as a singles star, not only in the ring, but on the mic as well. I hope this feud goes the distance.
I’ll wrap up the final segment briefly, because there really was a lot to unpack.
Rey Mysterio says that he wants to get revenge for what Seth Rollins did to him, but this leads to Dominick stating that it’s time for family to stick together and that he’s ready to fight alongside his father.
The “Monday Night Messiah” comes to the ring, flanked by Theory and Murphy and they are ready to attack. They don’t make it very far as both Aleister Black and Humberto Carrillo even the odds, leading the heels into retreat.
How they can approach this next step of the feud is interesting, but I’d love to see a six man tag at Extreme Rules where it’s Rollins, Murphy and Theory against Black, Carrillo and Dominick. I think a lot of eyes would be on that and it has the potential to really set fire to a hot summer feud.
Not a bad Raw this week considering we’re past the Heyman era. We’ve got some great new feuds, we just need a stronger focus on in-ring competition even though we did have some amazing promos.
This week on Dynamite, AEW had to pull an audible for the go home show for Fyter Fest. Due to being exposed to the COVID-19 virus, Jon Moxley and QT Marshall ha to be replaced. Also, due to Sammy Guevara’s past comments about Sasha Banks, he was suspended indefinitely. Will these situations crumble AEW or will they come out swinging? Let’s dive in because this is DYNAMITE!
Insane big men! Needless match. Press conference for the TNT championship match.
Wardlow vs Luchasaurus in a Lumberjack match. Wardlow wins via F-10 pin fall.
I have been salivating for this match for a long time and now we get a glimpse what these two behemoths can do. This was booked as a Lumberjack match, however it was a traditional one so to speak. There was only one time that the heel side played heel and the same for the faces. With that out of the way, let’s talk about how Lucha and Wardlow may take over AWE in the future.
The duo stand around 6’5″ and both weigh around 270lbs, but move like lightweights and sometimes cruiserweights. If that sounds unbelievable, watch this match. Wardlow took control early on tossing he massive baby face all around the ring. I haven’t seen Luchasaurus handle like this in AEW ever. Lucha finally gets in offense with a Standing Moonsault, yeah a guy that size.. doing that. The Green Machine goes for a Chokeslam, but Wardlow powers out of Lucha’s grip! Wardlow hits a massive Superplex and then charges Lucha with a lariat. However, the Half-Man/Half-Dinosaur counters the lariat with a SPANISH FLY! Seriously, if the two can gel a bit more, the world may never recover from the ballet of destruction.
The lumberjacks outside breakdown and they start to brawl, while both men take the fight on to the stage. The biggest little guy, Marko Stunt goes to attack Wardlow. Stunt catches major air as Wardlow tosses him off stage, Lucha returns the favor and tosses him off stage. Now Luchasaurus eyes the group and hits a SHOOTING STAR PRESS! Again, insane the way these two men move.
Closing moments and booked match.
The action gets back in to the ring and MJF distracts official Rick Knox. This allows Wardlow to hit a low blow and the F-10 for the win. More chaos breaks down as everyone battles it out. Tony Schiavone announces that AEW owner, Tony Kahn has booked a tag team match for Fyter Fest. The match will be Jungle Boy/Luchasaurus vs MJF/Wardlow. Very intriguing stuff there, since this was not a clean win and there is no way for the fans to predict the outcome of the future match. I’m just happy to get to see these two guys battle it again!
Hakiru Shida vs Velvet Rose. Shida wins via Falcon’s Arrow.
This was just really not needed, Shida and Penelope Ford talk trash as the champion maid her way to the ring. That verbal exchange lasted longer then the match, as Hakiru hits a running knee and Falcon’s Aroow for the pin. After the match, Shida and Ford brawled outside, even taking out Kip Sabian and Ricky Stark. Hey, good to see you again Starks! I get the match was a squash and the true angle was to make Ford a legitimate contender for the title. However, AEW could’ve done better.
Ho-hum press conference.
Jake Hager was late to the press conference for the TNT title match. While waiting, longtime Pro Wrestling Illustrated writers Liz Hunter and Matt Brock discussed Cody’s desire to defend the TNT title. Arn and Cody express their feelings about it, but it never felt the same level of Cody’s past and brilliant promos. Jake arrives stoically with his wife, Catalina. The two men get the photo op out the way and Catalina throws a glass of water in Cody’s face. Yup, that’s it. Don’t worry though, this was the lowest point on tonight’s show, as Dynamite was hitting on all cylinders.
Tag team title match hype. Technique by Taz. Will Colt Cabana win with the Dark Order? Dr Britt Baker DMD, trashed.
Good ol JR starts the interview package between Kenny Omega/Adam Page and Best friends. This was well done and hilarious. Chuck T and Trent state that Omega and Page can not be the best, because the are not best friends. Omega and Page retort with no they are not best friends but they get along enough. The banter between the two team goes on, mentioning Adam’s drinking and Page calling Best Friends weirdos. Hangman ends the video saying they’re good, but we are going to whip their a$$. On paper, this seems boring. Watching it, a totally different experience. So do yourself a favor and go watch it.
AEW introduces Techniques by Taz, in which essentially is a hype package for Brain Cage. The technique in the spotlight is Cage’s Drill Claw, in which is really a cool move. This all leads to Taz calling out Jon Moxley missing tonight’s show a B.S excuse. In all reality, Jon is self quarantining because his wife, WWE’s Renee Young has contracted COVID-19. The AEW title match may be in jeopardy if Moxley does contract the virus from his wife. Kudos, to AEW actually bringing up the real world when it affects the story build in AEW. Unlike, some promotions that try to show a fairy tale environment.
Brodie Lee/Colt Cabana vvs Joey Janela/Sonny Kiss. Colt wins via Lee’s Discus Lariat pin fall.
We all know what was going to be the outcome in this match, however I did not expect the synergy between Kiss and Joey. The newly formed team took on Dark Order’s Alex Reynolds and John Silver on AEW Dark. In which, Dynamite did show some quick highlights from AEW Dark, more kudos AEW. But let’s get to the match.
Sonny and Joey took control early on, with great tandem moves. Colt was sluggish in the ring and had to be saved by Lee numerous time. Colt struggling with his losing streak barely got anything in, until Alex and John interfered. Now with an opening, Lee and Colt took advantage. Sonny misses Cabana with a Flying Crossbody and Joey is rammed into the barricades by The Exalted One. Back in the ring, Brodie levels Jenela with a Discus Lariat and hands the pin fall to Colt. The turning of Cabana is still interesting, as Lee tell Colt later on that they will fight SCU at Fyter Fest. Colt is not too happy fighting his friends, but is enjoying the wins again. We will see how this unflods.
Britt is trashed.
Dr Britt Baker DMD is back with her Role’s Royce, but it’s modified now. Britt is almost surrounded by protective plexiglass. Baker tells Tony on how much she likes Taz and Brian Cage and offers them free dental work. The good Dr even has the entire Inner Circle on a family plan. Britt is kicking back with a Appletini because her Margarita stand is not built yet. Big Swole arrives and the two trade banter, but Baker is not afraid as she is protected. However, she forgot one opening, the roof. Swole returns a full trash can and dumps it on Britt. There is really no stopping Dr Baker, she hams up every moment she is on TV. With all the grief Swole is giving Britt, don’t be surprised that Baker is going to win the first match.
Fantastic tag team action! Which Matt Hardy will appear? Orange Cassidy bloodied up.
FTR vs SCU (Frankie Kazarian/Christopher Daniels). FTR wins via Good Night Express pin fall
The Natural Nightmares had to be pulled from this match, due to QT Marshall being in contact with someone with COVID-19. So we got SCU and holy heck what a replacment. In fact, I think FTR benefited from the last second change. Don’t get me wrong, Dustin is still great in his late years and QT can move. However, it seems like Daniels never ages and Kaz in in top form. Now on to this match, in which there will be plenty more them.
At first, I was a little surprised that Scorpio Sky wasn’t here, but commentary stated he was on AEW Dark beforehand. Ok, cool. FTR takes the early lead as they work Kazarian in tandem moves. Chris gets tagged in and applies chops, knees, and a headbutt. This ends in a early draw of moves, as the two team meet in the middle and talk trash. After the break, Harwood is in control with a crisp Snap Suplex and Sling Shot Suplex. Now Wheeler and Frankie are in and they slug it out.
The tone of this match was outstanding, neither team felt like they had a true edge over each other. From Chris hitting the Angle Wings out of desperation, to FTR being on their heels for overlooking SCU. It was close to an instant classic. In the closing moments, SCU hits a Power Bomb,/Neckbreaker combo, but it’s broken up by Cash. Wheeler is then tagged in and FTR hits the Good Night Express (Shatter Machine) on Daniels for the win. I really hope these two teams fight many times in the future, this was instant ring chemistry.
Aftermath, a return, and a booked match.
After the win, FTR go on a promo in claiming to be the best tag team in AEW, The Butcher and Blade arrive in FTR’s classic truck. Cash and Dax go to get their truck back, but Blade threatens to smash it the truck if they do. Then all of the sudden the Lucha Bros appear! Pentagon Jr and Fenix stare down FTR before attacking, this all happens as Blade announces an eight-man tag team match. Lucha Bros/Blade and Butcher vs FTR/Young Bucks at Fyter Fest! I really can not contain my excitement for this match at Fyter Fest, it is absolutely going to be bonkers!
Broken Matt Hardy vs Santana w/ Ortiz. Hardy wins via Roll Up pin fall.
Sammy Guevara was replaced by his Inner Circle brother, not for COVID-19. But for the inexcusable and horrible comments he made on a podcast a few years ago about Sasha Banks. Sammy, now suspended and will have to go through sensitivity training, will be out for the foreseeable future. Now Matt and Santana, had fun with this match. As the two played equally off each other.
The Broken One jumped out ahead early on, with a big shot to Santana’s face and throw him in to the barricade. Hardy’s foot gets caught up in the rope, allowing Santana and Ortiz to work him over. The battle raged back and forth with elbows, missed Frog Splash, and Hardy hitting a Side Effect for two! While Ortiz distracts the ref, Santana hits a Death Valley Driver on Matt! The savvy Broken One reverses the pin and rolls up Santana for the win.
Afterwards, Santana and Prtoz take the loaded sock to Matt Hardy’s body. The Proud and Powerful duo end up hittin the Street Sweeper on Hardy. Private Party run in to stop the damage that was already done. Good match and I see this feud building up even more. Matt Hardy is in another resurgence in his career, just like how Chris Jericho always does.
The final message.
A bloodied Orange stands tall.
Chris Jericho confronts Orange Cassidy face to face before their battle. Le Champion repeats the “Why did the chicken crossed the road” joke many times. Jericho is making a point that even if something is funny, you do it too many times it becomes annoying. Chris is beyond annoyed with Cassidy, he is pissed off. The Pain Maker is embarrassed by Orange’s matches and if Cassidy does that “BullS— light kick stuff”, he is going to knock him out.
So how does Orange Cassidy retort? With light kicks of course! Le Champion takes and breaks Cassidy’s glasses and there was the final straw, as Orange tackles Jericho and land shots. They spill out on to the floor and brawl all over the set. At one point Jericho takes the jib camera (a camera on a swinging crane) and launches it to Cassidy’s head. When the angle refocuses on Orange’s head, you can see profuse bleeding from Cassidy’s ear. My son was watching the fight with me and asked me “Dad? Did he cut himself or is it blood capsules?. The little guy is pretty savvy when it comes to pro wrestling, but I didn’t have the answer right away.
Jericho looks to put Orange through a crate, but the Slacker wiggles away and hits a HUGE Superman Punch. That sent off the crate and crashing through a table! Cassidy now realizes how bad his ear is bleeding, pulls out another pair of shades, and gave the weak thumbs up to close the show. I finally had an answer for my son, his ear or somewhere in that area cut cut badly and Cassidy’s was developing an” cauliflower ear”. Yes, son.. Cassidy was really cut… and never gave up.
Even having to call a change in directions so quickly, Dynamite shined. Only a couple of low spots in the show, but the rest was firing on all cylinders. Great go home show for Fyter Fest and beyond, since AEW likes the slow build. The Dark Order story gets more intriguing every week and the mini feuds shine. I honestly can not wait for the main feud between Inner Circle and the Elite to finally get it’s rightful spot, when fans are allowed back… whenever that is.-David G.
This week on NXT, Johnny Gargano, Finn Balor, and Keith Lee face off in a Triple Threat title match for the NXT North American Championship, and a shot at Adam Cole in two weeks! Also, Robert Stone continues to pursue Rhea Ripley as a client, Bronson Reed calls out Karrion Kross, and another perspective challenger emerges for Io Shirai’s NXT Women’s Championship! Let’s get started!
Mauro Ranallo welcomes us to the WWE Performance Center, but we’re taken to a shot from earlier, showing Cameron Grimes walking away from a parked car, where Damian Priest is laid out, clutching his back. Grimes walks away nonchalantly, acting as if he had nothing to do with the attack, while referees and medics tend to Priest.
Grime Time. Atlas wants retribution. Kai sends a message.
Cameron Grimes vs. Damian Priest. Grimes wins with the Cave In.
After the attack from earlier, Grimes thinks he’s got a free pass and says he should win by forfeit. Priest comes out, refs trying to hold him back. Priest gets to the ring and demands the ref start the match. From there, the back injury clearly takes its toll on Priest, as he isn’t able to hit most of his power moves and clearly doesn’t have the range of motion that he normally has.
Grimes takes advantage of the weakened Priest, first taking him down with the Cave In stomp on the outside, then again in the middle of the ring. Grimes picks up the win and continues to gloat about being so great. Priest had a good showing, albeit the back injury clearly slowed him down. Grimes is finally getting some momentum going, with another big win in NXT.
Santos Escobar vs. Jake Atlas. Escobar wins with the Phantom Driver.
I stand behind my statement from weeks ago that the heel turn by the former El Hijo del Fantasma is going to be a big thing. The charisma that Escobar shows in the new role is superb, and Raul Mendoza and Joaquin Wilde fit into the Legado del Fantasma faction well, since they weren’t doing anything anyway. It helps to build new stars for the future of the Cruiserweight division.
Jake Atlas is looking to avenge his fallen friend, Drake Maverick, after Drake was taken out by Escobar last week. The match was OK, nothing mind-blowing. However, I will say that Atlas has finally found his groove as well, as he looks much more comfortable in the ring, especially against a seasoned veteran like Escobar. Atlas puts up a good fight, but utimately falls to Escobar by way of the Phantom Driver.
Dakota Kai & Raquel Gonzalez vs. Kacy Catanzaro & Kayden Carter. Kai & Gonzalez win with the modified Octopus Stretch submission.
It’s been said time and time again: nothing is new in pro wrestling. And the story being told so far with Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez is certainly familiar. Anyone remember Shawn Michaels and Diesel, circa 1993? That’s exactly what this is. The arrogant heel who thinks she’s better than anyone else, and the towering muscle she has in her corner. And that story continues this week, at the expense of Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro.
Gonzalez dominates most of the match, with Kai getting short spurts of offense in. But every time Carter or Catanzaro try to make a comeback, Kai tags in Gonzalez, who knocks the opposing team back down. Kayden and Kacy try to stand tall against Raquel, but the size advantage is way too much, and Gonzalez destroys the both of them. First, Catanzaro goes for a Thesz Press, but is caught by Gonzalez, who boots Carter to the mat, one-arm powerbombs Kacy, then tags in Kai to let her finish with the submission.
After the match, Dakota Kai looks into the camera and tells Io Shirai that she has her eyes on the top prize, and that she’s coming for the NXT Women’s Championship.
Kross dominates. Rhea shows Aliyah her “Brutality”. Roddy faces his fears…for a moment. Triple Threat Main Event
Karrion Kross vs. Bronson Reed. Kross wins with the Kross Jacket.
Talk about a fight! Bronson Reed and Karrion Kross went to war with each other in a stiff slugfest, with Reed having a great showing against Kross. Reed even manages to get in a decent flurry of offense in on Kross, but it seems that even after the hard shots and throws that Reed lands, Kross just keeps coming.
Reed gets Kross cornered and hits a pair of big splashes on him, but Kross takes them and gets angrier and angrier. Ultimately, Kross dodges a third attempt, hits a Northern Lights Suplex on Reed, then locks in the Kross Jacket to get Reed to tap out.
Rhea Ripley vs. Aliyah. Ripley wins with the Riptide.
Earlier in the show, we see Rhea Ripley being asked about what’s next for her after losing the Triple Threat match at Takeover. Robert Stone interrupts and gives Ripley another chance to join Aliyah in the Robert Stone Brand. Rhea slugs him in the gut again, and dumps him into a nearby dumpster. Aliyah shows up, gets in Ripley’s face, and slaps the Nightmare. Uh oh… Ripley laughs it off and tells Aliyah, “You just bought a ticket into my ring”.
I will say, I commend Aliyah for finally showing some more character in recent weeks, as she secured her spot in the Robert Stone Brand. I’m still not completely sold on her in-ring work, though. She still seems timid and hesitant to take bumps since returning from injury. This week was an improvement, however, as she faced off against Rhea Ripley.
But, stepping up to one of the top women in the division proves to be a mistake for Aliyah. Ripley toyed with Aliyah throughout the entire match, even looking bored as she takes Aliyah down with a gutwrench suplex. After that, it’s all Ripley, fighting off the diminutive diva’s attempts at a rally with takedown after takedown.
Give Robert Stone some credit for trying to save his client. As Ripley locks in the standing Cloverleaf submission, Stone gets to the apron and throws a shoe at Ripley. She gives chase to Stone, nearly catching him as he runs outside and back into the ring, but he evades her by shedding his sport jacket. Aliyah tries to capitalize on the distraction with a roll-up, but takes a kick to the gut from Ripley, followed by the Riptide to end it.
Dexter Lumis vs. Roderick Strong. Lumis wins via countout.
In a segment that aired earlier, Strong is back in “therapy”, ready to conquer his fears from the past weeks. Roddy finally realizes that it’s Kyle O’Reilly portraying the “therapist”, and Strong agrees to get into the trunk and let go of the fears. When he gets back out of the trunk, he finds out that he faces Dexter Lumis tonight, which turns Strong’s face pale white.
Lumis makes his entrance and waits for his opponent in the ring, but Strong doesn’t want to come out. Bobby Fish continuously coaches Strong to the ring, and finally gets Roddy out to ringside. Strong wants nothing to do with Lumis and won’t get into the ring. Fish finally convinces him to get in, and Strong stands in the corner, getting himself psyched up for the match. But when the bell rings, Roddy bounces out.
Strong walks around ringside, talking to himself, but then Lumis stalks him, causing Strong to panic and try to jump the barricade, forgetting that there’s a plexiglass barrier there. As Lumis closes in, Strong makes it to his feet and takes off up the ramp and to the back. Lumis climbs back in the ring, and Fish is left there speechless, and the referee calls for the countout.
Fish is next to the ring hollering at Strong to come back, but then gets wrapped up in the Kata Gatame from Lumis. Fish manages to break free and escape, while Lumis eerily stares into the distance. Even though the Undisputed Era boys have managed victories over Lumis, the enigmatic superstar is still in their heads, and it’s a great story to watch.
Next week on NXT:
The tradition of the Great American Bash comes to NXT, in a two week spectacular! This shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, as WWE is running these special episodes to counter the programming of AEW, which is airing Fyter Fest on the exact same nights.
Aliyah and Robert Stone are video chatting with NXT GM William Regal, begging for Aliyah to have another shot at Rhea Ripley, because they need it. Stone says that if Aliyah beats Ripley, then Ripley will have to join the Robert Stone Brand.
Regal agrees that “they” do need it, so it’ll be Rhea Ripley in a handicap match against both Aliyah and Robert Stone, if Ripley agrees. Rhea appears behind Stone and Aliyah, and says she has no problem with that. If Ripley loses, though, boy am I going to have some heated words about that…
Also next week, there will be a Fatal Four-Way Match to determine the next NXT Women’s Championship #1 Contender. It’ll be Mia Yim, Tegan Nox, Dakota Kai, and Candace LeRae battling for a shot at Io Shirai. Makes sense to me that Kai will have the advantage in this one, with Raquel Gonzalez in her corner, so that’s my pick to win.
Roderick Strong will have no choice but to face his worst fear, as he faces off against Dexter Lumis… in a Strap Match! Ain’t no running this time, Roddy!
NXT North American Championship Triple Threat Match – Keith Lee vs. Finn Balor vs. Johnny Gargano. Lee wins with the Big Bang Catastrophe on Balor
From the opening bell, this match seemed so much more like a handicap match than a triple threat. Johnny Gargano and Finn Balor both targeted Keith Lee, trying everything to take out the big man and make this a one-on-one contest. Both Gargano and Balor attempt sleeper holds to Lee to ground the champ. But the Limitless One wasn’t having any of it, as he went through both Gargano and Balor early on, dominating the opening moments of the match.
The turning point came a few minutes in, as Lee pursues both Gargano and Balor to the outside. Lee appears ready to pounce Gargano through the barricade once again, but is stopped in his tracks by a Slingblade from Balor on the unforgiving mat! Gargano follows up with a rolling senton from the apron. Balor tries to whip Lee into the steel steps, but the big man won’t budge, so Gargano comes from behind and gives Lee a shove, and the champ eats the steel.
Finally, we get Gargano and Balor battling one another, in a sequence that almost mirrors their match from Takeover: Portland earlier this year. Both guys got some high octane offense in, all while Keith Lee tries to make it back into the match. Both Balor and Gargano hit separate moves to keep Lee outside of the ring; first Gargano with a kick to the side of the face of Lee, then later Balor with a Tope con Hiro.
Return of the Champ
Balor takes out Gargano with a Slingblade, and as he is poised in the corner, ready to hit the shotgun dropkick, “The GIF that keeps on giving” Keith Lee arises from out of nowhere, and grabs Balor by the throat, slamming him into the turnbuckle. Gargano charges in with a forearm shot, then all three men slug it out until Lee takes out both Gargano and Balor with a slingshot crossbody from the ring apron.
Gargano and Balor again turn their attention to Lee, working on taking down the champ. Balor catches Lee with another sleeper hold, taking the champ to one knee, but Gargano comes in with a superkick that hits both Balor and Lee. Gargano jumps to the apron and hits the One Final Beat DDT on Balor, but Lee is there to break up the pinfall attempt.
Gargano manages to take out Lee with a Tornado DDT by using Balor as a stepping stone, dropping Lee while knocking Balor outside. Johnny then charges and hits a suicide dive on Lee, then goes for one on Balor on the opposite side, but Balor catches Gargano and tries to hit the 1916 on the outside. Lee makes it to his feet and charges in and pounces both Gargano and Balor while Balor has Gargano hoisted up. This is madness!
Back in the ring, Balor goes for the shotgun dropkick on Lee, but is cut off by Gargano’s superkick. Gargano turns and hits another on Lee, but is then met by the shotgun dropkick from Balor, who sends Gargano into Lee in the corner, and then Lee falls on top of Gargano! Balor goes up top looking for the Coup de Grace, but Lee grabs him by the throat. Gargano rushes in with a knee to Lee’s back, causing Balor to fall and straddle the top rope. Johnny goes for a roll up while using the ropes, but Lee kicks out at two.
Gargano rushes in again on Lee, but is caught by the champ, who hoists Gargano up and bombs him on Balor in the corner, then Lee hits the Big Bang Catastrophe on Gargano. As Lee goes for the pin, he sees Balor flying from the top rope, and Lee moves out of the way to let Gargano eat the Coup de Grace. Lee gets Balor up and hits him with the Big Bang Catastrophe to pick up the win and retain the North American Championship.
After the match, NXT Champion Adam Cole comes to the ring, and the show goes off the air with Lee and Cole each holding up their respective titles. In two weeks, it’ll be Cole vs. Lee in a Champion vs. Champion, Winner Takes All match!
Strong show from top to bottom this week. The main event was clearly the standout match, with a tremendous showing from all three competitors. I don’t see the Winner Take All match ending cleanly, and I don’t see either man walking out with both titles, and here’s why:
There’s one thing that both Adam Cole and Keith Lee have in common, other than they each have gold over their shoulder. That one thing is Karrion Kross. If you recall, two weeks ago the show ended with Scarlett delivering the ominous message to Cole by setting the hourglass on the ring apron as NXT went off the air, signaling that Kross is eyeing the top prize. Last week, in a backstage segment, Keith Lee shattered that very same hourglass while confronting Adam Cole, which later led to Karrion Kross surveying the damage.
It will be interesting to see how things play out and what outcome we get out of that massive, history-making match in two weeks. But first, we have to get through next week’s show, and the first week of The Great American Bash! See you guys then! -Josh L.
Friday Night SmackDown:
This episode of SmackDown featured a well deserved tribute to one the greatest pro wrestlers of ALL TIME! A number one contender for Bayley’s title is booked. Jeff Hardy finds some ground. The WWE Universal Champion, Braun Strowman declares his stipulation for the title match against Bray Wyatt. This was not the new regular for SmackDown that we have grown to. As many talents have caught the COVID-19 virus. Forcing WWE to pull an audible on their taping. Can WWE shine? Let’s find out!
There will be only one.
The Last Ride.
I decided to give this section to one that deserves it, The Phenom, The Deadman, The American Badass, the one and only Undertaker. This man has been a part of my pro wrestling fandom for decades and it is with much heartfelt that he has really seem to retire, on top no less. A tribute package is shown, as Corey Graves states twice that The Boneyard Match was Taker’s last match. There is tributes pouring in from John Cena, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Roman Reigns, and others. Oh, hey there Big Dog! I thought WWE banned you from TV until you made a return. This brought back goosebumps as the video package went on. Say what you will about WWE, but when the put in the effort for a video package, they nail it every time. This was no different, quick cuts from Taker’s most famous moments and even some that wasn’t, but it felt great to see none the less.
After all of that great tribute, we were treated to the Boneyard Match from WrestleMania 36. If some how you never saw this match, this was your time. The whole lay out of it, the production, the music, ALL of it was a damn masterpiece. Now there is no excuse in saying you never saw it. There is even a sample of it on the WWE Youtube channel. Again, no excuses. This ate up most of the TV time for SmackDown, as it has been published that there is a huge spike in COVID-19 case in the pro wrestling community. None the less, if Taker is really retired.. this was a nice beginning send off.
Number one contendership booked! Eight-Man tag team action. Back to the swamp.
Nikki Cross vs Alexa Bliss vs Lacey Evans vs Dana Brooks. Winner is the number one contender for the SamckDown Women’s title. Nikki Cross wins via Roll Up pin fall.
This was an entertaining match, but an almost predictable out come. I say almost, because I had Evans in the running. With Sasha Banks and champ Bayley on commentary, the match begins. Bliss and Cross worked together early on, but as soon as it was the two alone, Cross went for a cheeky Roll Up. This made Bliss understand that Cross is wanting a shot. As a very solid match went on, the closing moments happened. Evans pulled Alexa out the ring and introduced her face to the barricades. Brooke got a 2 count with a big Senton Bomb! Lacey took out Alexa with a Women’s Right, but the sneaky Nikki rolled up Evans for the win and a title shot at Extreme Rules.
Afterwards, Alexa is praising Nikki on her win. The Nikki knows”Kung Fu” line actually made me chuckle and makes me believe that their friendship has gotten stronger. However, the break up will happen.. I am assuming when crowds are allowed back. Lacey Evans cut more a heel like interview, stating that there is changes ahead. I guess her face run is over before it started.
New Day/Lucha House Party vs Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura, Miz, John Morrison. Grand Metalik wins via Elbow Drop pin fall.
This group of talent is just too much talent. Big E and the Miz start off the rumble, but quickly Cesaro and Lince Dorado go at it with a battle of power vs speed. The Swiss Cyborg is isolated by the Lucha House Party, until Morrison and Kofi are tagged in. After the break, Kofi is overtaken by the Miz, John and Miz work over Kofi. Kingston finally gets Metalik the hot tag and he clears house. In the closing moments, the bout breaks down with New Day fighting the Artist Collective up the ramp. Leading for the Miz to whip Dorado to the rope, and a Springboard Stunner from Lince! The high flyer Lince, now lands a top rope Frankensteiner on Morrision. Allowing the legal Grand Metalik to hit a walking the rope Gran Naniwa Elbow Drop for the win over the Miz!
This was a great way to push Lucha House Party without sacrificing the legitimacy of New Day and the Artist Collective. Also, it gave Miz and Morrison a new feud. In which, I think will be darn good. The interesting take was.. with all the outbreaks of the COVID-19 in WWE, they still decided to put on a group match. Well, if the outbreak in WWE continues, this match will be looked hard at.
The Monster will not back down.
WWE Universal champion, Braun Strowman puts on a darn good promo. The Monster recalls the first time he met Bray Wyatt. It was at that moment Braun felt fear for the first time, as Bray invited him to witness what a water moccasin can do. The moccasin slithered around Bray’s lantern and Wyatt stopped Strownman from killing it. Instead, Braun knelt at the coiled snake as it bit him over and over again. The Eater of Worlds stated that he never flinched, was poisoned, or bleed from his attack. That moment Strowman knew he was in the presence of the devil.
The Monster knew he was doing the Devil’s work from there on out and tried to lock away the pleasure of doing so. Braun then invites Bray to the swamp, where it all began for him. So ther we have it folks, another cinematic mathc, but in the Devil’s Swamp. There is two ways this ends, Braun succumbing to the evilness of Bray aor Wyatt being fed to the alligators and being reborn, again. Either way, I am invested in this match!
The Main Event.
Earlier on the show, King Corbin came out to bash the tributes of the Undertaker. Look, we ALL know what is the gimmick of Corbin. However, may I say this? Baron Corbin is a darn good life long heel. Not a great one…. yet, but a darn good one. King Corbin just talks down the importance of the Undertakers tribute. Even I wanted to slap the taste out his mouth, but I realized, how he easily made me hate him. That is good work there, even if it was an easy target. This lead for Jeff Hardy to interrupt, tell Baron that he has a degree from the Deaman University, and challenge Corbin, this is how we get our main event.
Jeff Hardy vs King Corbin. Jeff wins via Swanton Bomb pin fall.
The battle was more about Corbin mocking Hardy and the Undertaker. Hardy goes for an early Whisper in the Wind, but could not connect. This pleasured Corbin, as he was in the mocking mode. The current “King” even mocked the Undertaker’s pose. After the break the locker room of faces surrounded the ring and cheered Jeff Hardy on. The likes of Nkki Cross, Alexa Bliss, Matt Riddle (SURPRISE!), Jimmy Uso, Lacey Evans, Dana Brooke, Lucah House Part were all present.
Jeff rallied with a couple of Jawbreakers and his signature moves. Corbin snapped back with a big Deep Six, but for only two! Hardy eventually took control of the match, making Corbin his latest casualty and nailing the Swanton Bomb for the win. Was a spectacular match? Nope.. was it good for what WWE had to work with? I guess… it worked, but was an ok match.
This was a SmackDown that had to go in different directions, due to the COVID-19 outbreak. If you do not know, many counties in Florida are requiring face masks for ANY indoor gatherings. Add on the recent amount of talents that has contracted the virus, WWE had to pull an audible. The Taker tribute was well deserved and took up most the SmackDown time. The three matches that were given, was mostly good. Let’s see how WWE will reacts with the new rules in place and talent being gone. Other than that, a good show.-David G.
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