This week in pro wrestling, Fyter Fest and the Great American Bash! This week will be night one in a two night show for both PPV like events. Who came out on top? Will Sasha Banks become the next WWE double champion? Did Kenny Omega/Adam Page retain their AEW tag team titles against Best Friends? Rhea Ripley puts her future on the line! A “toast” to Jeff Hardy. Let’s dive in to this action packed week of pro wrestling!
The showoff gets to pick the stipulation at Extreme Rules: Horror Show
The 6/29/20 edition of Monday Night Raw came to us once again from the Performance Center in Orlando, FL.
The world tag team champions, Sasha Banks and Bayley, don’t let their contract singing with Asuka get underway, as the show was supposed to have a dual contract signing to start the show.
Banks and Bayley jump Asuka and it takes a swarm of officials to separate the situation.
World champion Drew McIntyre and the number one contender for the title, Dolph Ziggler, continue the broadcast with a healthy back and forth. McIntyre rails on Ziggler about always being the bridesmaid and never the bride as it relates to long term success with the world title.
McIntyre believes so strongly in himself, that he’s going to let Ziggler pick their match stipulation at Extreme Rules: Horror Show.
Ziggler says that when he beats McIntyre, the nineteen year redemption story will come to an end, because it was he who creates McIntyre similar to how Bray Wyatt created the Wyatt Family and Braun Strowman.
Samoa Joe oversees this contract signing and Ziggler is set to continue, but Asuka interrupts, going on a tirade in a hilarious segment and ultimately, this leads to a main event booking of a mixed tag match where Ziggler and Sasha Banks will team up against Drew McIntyre and Asuka. That should be fantastic.
Andrade and Angel Garza are backstage with Zelina Vega and Charly Caruso and are cutting a promo when they are interrupted by the veteran Big Show. Garza and Andrade are staking their claim for a tag team title shot, but Show says he is “pulling rank” and he’s headed to the ring to call out Randy Orton.
Show does that and the ring is ultimately surrounded by Andrade and Garza before Ric Flair comes out and has a back and forth with Show, seemingly aligning himself with Zelina Vega. They tell show that he can join Edge and Christian in the retirement home after he gets the wrath of Randy Orton. Garza and Andrade are about to pounce when the Viking Raiders head out to back up Show.
Show has left after a commercial and we’ve got a tag team match.
Andrade/Angel Garza defeat the Viking Raiders via pin fall after a Wing Clipper from Garza on Erik.
There was a lot to unpack here. This was a quality interaction between the two teams, but they are heavily teasing the dissension and ultimate separation of Garza and Andrade.
The Viking Raiders were fantastic, hitting all their signature spots, but Garza and Andrade both looked in tip-top shape themselves. There were heated tags and the Raiders almost had it won when they hit a tandem maneuver on Andrade, but Garza had tagged himself back in, hitting the Wing Clipper for the win.
Andrade and Garza should compete against the Street Profits at Extreme Rules and that should be a fantastic bout.
Ruby Riott has a run-in backstage with the Iiconics and they trash each other with Riott referencing them losing their title match last week. She mocks their catch phrase and it appears we’ll have a match with Riott and one of the Iiconics later in the evening.
Angel Garza and Andrade are still arguing backstage with Vega trying to calm them when “Nature Boy” Ric Flair comes up and congratulates them on a hard fought victory. He then says he’s got an idea for Zelina Vega and they have a quiet discussion outside of camera range.
R-Truth defeats Akira Tozawa via pin fall with a rollup to regain the 24/7 title.
It is what it is. R-Truth fakes an injury and pulls a fast one on the “dastardly” Tozawa, scoring the victory and recapturing his beloved title. The ninjas try to attack Truth after the match, but he makes his escape.
Bobby Lashley and MVP have a discussion backstage about the latter’s attempts to recruit the US Champion, Apollo Crews. MVP says that’s all done and they’ll have a match tonight instead.
We find out that Big Show will be taking on Garza and Andrade in a handicap match later this evening, apparently that was the subject of the Flair/Vega discussion.
The “Monday Night Messiah” Seth Rollins and Murphy make their way out and this leads to a solid back and forth with Rollins talking about the sacrifice that Rey Mysterio made for the greater good.
Mysterio and his son, Dominic, appear on the video wall and they have some words of their own. Mysterio asks for forgiveness too, but not from Rollins, but from his son, for what he himself has to do now.
Murphy and Rollins look on, and we get the music of Aleister Black, which brings he and Humberto Carrillo out for a tag match. Austin Theory was not with the heels, which I found strange. I don’t know if it’s related to CO-VID 19, or other issues, but we’ll keep an eye on that.
Seth Rollins/Murphy defeat Aleister Black/Humberto Carrillo via pin fall with a Blackout Stomp by Rollins on Carrillo.
Look, I’m not telling any tales out of school, but you knew that Carrillo was eating the pin fall here. They are protecting Black, hopefully for a larger role in the story, as he’s headed to the top, no doubt about that.
Rollins and Murphy have to look strong heading to the finale of the Mysterio/Rollins bout, so Carrillo was the sacrificial lamb here after a solid match.
All four hands are very capable and they gave those watching at home an enjoyable interaction. Murphy has went up to the top rope, and Black pulled him off, taking the two men out of the ring. Carrillo attempted a rollup on Rollins, but he escaped and hit the stomp, getting a three count.
The beating continued after the match, and Rollins put Rey Mysterio’s mask on Carrillo, while he and Murphy try to injure his eye with the ring steps. Black intercedes, taking Murphy out of the equation, but this allows Rollins to it another stomp on Carrillo on the ring steps before the heels make their exit.
Asuka and Drew McIntyre are backstage hyping up their match and it’s terrific. We don’t deserve these two.
Ruby Riott is backstage once again when Lana approaches her and goes on about the accomplishments of her latest client, Natalya. Riott asks if she’s going to ruin that career too. She heads to the ring for singles action.
We find out before Peyton Royce and Riott do business that Charlotte is going to be out of action for a while with a collarbone injury. It’s apparently an elective surgery, but that works for the story. Hopefully she’s back very soon.
Peyton Royce defeats Ruby Riott via pin fall after a distraction from Billie Kay.
The Iiconics get back on the winning track after Royce takes advantage of a well-timed distraction from her partner, Billie Kay, after she and Riott gave us a few solid minutes of in-ring action.
Royce struck Riott from behind, securing the three count and the victory. This shoudl lead to a tag match with Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan getting back together. Let’s hope so at least. Speaking of the women’s division, where in the blue hell are Bianca Belair and Shayna Bazsler? Seriously.
The Big Show defeats Andrade/Angel Garza via pin fall after a KO punch on Andrade.
The teased dissension continues as Show holds his own against both men, but Andrade would force tag himself into the ring while Garza was on offense, declaring this to be his “moment”.
Garza takes his leave with Zelina Vega in hot pursuit as Garza says it’s indeed that. Andrade turns right into a solid right hand from Show, leveling the former US champ with his dreaded KO punch. Three count and a victory.
He pulls Andrade up after the end result and nails him again for good measure and perhaps as a warning for Randy Orton.
There’s a whole backstage segment with US Champ, Apollo Crews, talking to Cedric Alexander and Ricochet, who are finally back on tv thankfully. R-Truth enters the scene and it’s a whole to do, but funny. Crews heads to the ring for singles action in a non-title match.
MVP defeats Apollo Crews via pin fall after a bridged fisherman’s suplex and a Lashley distraction.
MVP can still go, let’s just get that out of the way. He’s been terrific on the mic and solid in the ring.
Crews was controlling the match, but obviously, he and Lashley will compete for the title sooner, rather than later, and this was the theme of the match. A well-timed distraction allowed MVP to catch the champ with his bridging fisherman’s suplex and a three count.
One has to believe that we’ll have a title match next week and Crews will retain.
Lashley enters the ring, applying his devastating full nelson to Crews, which brings out Ricochet and Alexander. We’ve got Lashley and Ricochet after the break.
Bobby Lashley defeats Ricochet via submission with the full nelson.
This wasn’t your run of the mill squash match thank goodness. Ricochet was made to look very good in the ring, teasing several near falls on Lashley.
Ricochet made one key mistake, after hitting an inzaguri kick, he went for a standing side kick, which Lashley caught before hoisting him up and driving him down with a massive spinebuster. That looked great. Lashley then applied the full nelson and this was over.
Cedric Alexander entered the ring to check on his friend and partner and he suffered the same fate as Lashley applied the hold to him too.
The heels came out of this looking very strong.
Dolph Ziggler is backstage with Sasha Banks and Smackdown Women’s Champion, Bayley, and he says he’s gonna run the show tonight. Banks puts him in his place and it’s fantastic. The main event is up next.
Sasha Banks/Dolph Ziggler defeat Asuka/Drew McIntyre via pin fall after a rollup on Banks.
This was an absolutely fantastic match and I don’t simple words will do it justice. We need more mixed tags if they can deliver like this.
Ziggler and McIntyre had some great interactions and they showed us what a quality bout they will have at the PPV.
Having said that, I am beyond excited for Asuka and Banks if this is a sign of things to come. These two stole the show and had such great chemistry with one another.
The end of the match came after a back and forth which eventually saw Asuka applying the Asuka Lock, or at least attempting too, when banks escaped and modified a rollup utilizing a leg trap for the pin fall victory.
Asuka had a shocked look on her face, but you can tell she was impressed, and looking forward to their match. The heels celebrate as the show goes off the air on a very strong broadcast for Raw fans this week. This was a job well done.
It is time for Fyter Fest!! What was once a parody of the doomed Fyre Festival, has become an annual event for AEW. In typical fashion, AEW is offering up a PPV level show for free. Will this live up to last year’s show or be a let down? Penelope Ford gets her first title match! Jurassic Express face off against MJF and Wardlow! Can Private Party survive Santana and Ortiz? A showdown between Cody and Jake Hager! Will Best Friends obtain the AEW tag team titles from Kenny Omega and Adam Page? Let’s get started, because THIS IS DYNAMITE! Um, I mean FYTER FEST.. part one.
Small guys dominate. The ladies grab the brass ring. Can Cody survive?
Jurassic Express vs MJF/Wardlow. Luchasaurus win via Standing Moonsault pin fall.
This was a fun match to start the night off with. On one side we have the ever growing feud between MJF and Jungle Boy. The other side we have the ever blossoming feud we all want to see, Luchasaurus and Wardlow. Despite this being a somewhat sloppy match (this night had a theme), it was very entertaining. Also, this was a hybrid of old school heel work, with the new faster pace match. Jungle Boy took the brunt of the beating at first, enduring the classic heel tactics from MJF and Wardlow.
Eventually Jack Perry gets the hot tag to Lucha, and the dinosaur takes everyone out! The big men of Wardlow and Lucha face each other, this time the Dino had some plans, giving the big guy some educated feet to the face. After a triple outside dives from JB to MJF, The two big men go at it and Luchasaurus hits Step-Up Senton! Things fast pace from here on out. Wardlow goes for the F-10, but Jungle Boy counters with a Poisonrana! Let me say this, it take two to this move and the fact Wardlow flipped his body to hit this move is amazing.
All four men are down, with MJF and Jungle Boy kipping up first. Eyeing each other down, the two massive men kip up, then take each other out with a lariats! Perry then uses the bodies as a bridge and hits a Canadian Destroyer on MJF! More breaking down of the match ensues and MJF slips on his TNT Diamond ring. Maxwell goes to punch a subdued Luchasaurus, but the Dino slips out. Friedman yells at Wardlow and said “CAN’T YOU DO ANYTHING RIGHT?!”. This lead for Lucha to push MJF and hitting Wardlow, then hitting a ChokeSlam and Standing Moonsault for the win. Sloppy match, but VERY entertaining. The seeds of Wardlow leaving MJF keeps growing and when that man leaves, AEW has a monster on their hands.
Hikaru Shida vs Penelope Ford for the AEW Women’s title. Shida retains via Falcon’s Arrow.
WOW! If there was a match that made Ford one of the best women in the AEW’s division, this was it. Yes, she lost her first title match, but it was her first one for AEW. I was talking to one of my Smark buddies and former Lead writer for Scrum Sports, Gene… we both agree if Ford was in WWE, she would’ve had the strap already. Penelope Ford is talented, has the classic “Vince/Dunn” look and is making big strides. Is she as good as the 4-Horsewomen or Asuka/Kari/Io/Rhea/Bianca/Bliss/Cross? Maybe not, but better then the ones I didn’t mentioned, now let’s get to the match!
Official quickly kicks out Ford’s fiancee, Kip Sabian to ensure a fair match. The match between Ford and Shida went back and forth. The most notable thing was Penelope’s stamina, as she kicked out of many match ending moves from Hikaru! Whether it was Running Knee strikes or Falcon’s Arrows, Ford had the stamina to keep up. Kip did come back to interfere with a kendo stick, but Shida dodged it and crushed him with the weapon. One the best moves was Ford pulling a “Matrix” to dodge Hikaru’s Missile Drop Kick and hit a Stunner!
However, it was for only two. As the pace picked up, we see Penelope go for a Moonsault, yet miss. Shida hits a Falcon’s Arrow, but Ford counters the move and almost gets a win! After Hikaru kicks out, she hits a Running Knee and Falcon’s Arrow, FORD KICKS OUT! A distraught Shida again hits another Knee as Ford is out sitting, but out. This last knee is the final move as Shida retains her title. There was no losers in this match, Ford looked like a beast in this match and Shida came away with the win in a hard fought match. This is how you book the losers with big potential.
Cody vs Jake Hager for the TNT Championship. Cody retains via Roll Up “4 count?” pin fall.
Yes, you saw that right. This really good match was marred by a funky finish. My smark friends would use a different word, but it is a family friendly website we run here. Jake has his wife Catalina in his corner for the match and Cody has Arn Anderson. The match started as a classic size advantage vs speed bout. Hager quickly gained control with his strength over Cody. The American Nightmare then had to pull out his bag of tricks, reversing an Ankle Lock on Jake. There was little interference from Catalina and Arn, but Anderson’s involvement may have been the reason Cody won.
When the fight spilled outside and Jake was about to ram Cody into the ring post, Arn stood in the way. This allowed Rhodes to send Hager into the post. Back in the ring The American Nightmare hits a Springboard Cutter from the top rope! The closing moments had Jake hit a Vader Bomb for two, Catalina slapping Cody’s face behind the ref. Then Dustin Rhodes comes out to clock Jake, what is going on here? Hager manages to lock in the Standing Arm Triangle, but Cody rolls (falls) over and the ref seemingly counts to four before declaring Cody the winner. Really awful series of events at the end.
Afterwards, Jake Hager thought he won. I don’t know why as Jake could see his shoulders were down. This angered the big brute and he punches the ref. A bunch of officials storm out to check on the ref, as Jake stares off to the distance and walks backstage. Horrible ending.
The youngsters take on the vets. AEW Championship match delayed! Can Best Friends win the tag titles?
Private Party vs Santana/Ortiz. Private Party wins via Gin and Juice pin fall.
This was great match, a bout that was a hybrid of the high flying and classic staples. Private Party was accompanied to the ring with Matt Hardy. The V.1 Hardy and his guidance seems to impact Private Party immediately as the duo hit their version of Poetry in Motion on the Boricuas. Back in the ring Quen hits a standing Moonsault for a quick one count, then immediately springs another one from the second rope for two. Proud and Powerful isolates Kassidy with a German Suplex and Ortiz is dominating Isiah as they go to break.
Back from break, PNP is still in charge over the Party, hitting a Gory Special on Marq. Eventually Isiah gets the hot tag and goes to town with forearm smashes on Santana. Isiah attempts the Quebrada, but no one is home, so he hits the Tornillo on both heels instead! The sprint to the finish had Hardy taking the loaded sock away from Ortiz and Santana. This allowed Quen to get the School Boy for two. Santana and Ortiz set up the Street Sweeper, but Marq counters it. Setting up Private Party’s Gin and Juice for the win! Did I ever tell you all how much I love the Gin and Juice move? It’s just so pretty, too bad the choice for the camera angle was the wrong one. Fun match between the two teams.
Taz shoots on WWE.
The challenger for Jon Moxley’s title, Brian Cage along with his manager Taz enter. This was the usual “Mox is scared of Cage” promo. However, two things to take away from this. 1) The title match has been delayed until Fight For the Fallen show. 2) Taz goes on how Jon has tested negative twice for the COVID-19 virus. If Moxley came to work next week, he will be tested again. “Because AEW doesn’t run a sloppy shop”-Taz, whoa.. talk about shots fired at WWE! It has been known that there have been several outbreaks at camp WWE, with questionable strategy from Vince and company. Looks like AEW couldn’t resist talking about it.. and that is what Taz just did.
Kenny Omega/Adam Page vs Best Friends for the AEW Tag Team titles. Hangman Page retain the titles via Buckshot Lariat.
Before the match Orange Cassidy makes his way out to the commentator’s table, were Le Champion is calling shots. This irritates Jericho and he can not concentrate on the title match. Best Friends arrive from a ride from Trent’s mom, hilarious. The match begins with Chucky T and Omega, the two wrestle to a draw and both tag in their partners. Now Page and Trent go at it, as Jim Ross can not stop praising Trent. Beretta hits Adam with a snappy Saito Suplex! Best Friends are in control following a Double Shoulder Block. Page manages to tag in Omega and the Cleaner works over Trent with a Kotaro Krusher and a Shooting Star Press, for two! We head to break as the champs are in control.
Back from commercial, FTR are drinking beers and hanging out. Hangman whips Trent with a Flair Flip, but Beretta explodes out the corner with a lariat! Taylor now in as Adam is dumped to the floor and hit with a Tope Con Giro. Page is pummeled against a barricade , as Kenny hits a Pump Kick for the save. Trent then slams Kenny head first into a barricade. Chuck grabs Adam and heads to the ring. Best Friends attempt the Soul Food, but Hangman slips out and hits a Fallaway Slam on Trent. The action is furious as the match goes on.
In the closing moments to the finish, Trent is hit with a V-Trigger/Powerbomb combo, only a two count! Beretta then dodges the Buckshot Lariat and hits the Strong Zero, Omega dives in for the save! Chuck is about to get hit with a V-Trigger/Electric Chair combo, but wiggles out and lands the Awful Waffle! Best Friends get the Okada snap zoom hug, as Page breaks it up with a big boot. Hangman hits the Deadeye on Trent, but it is not enough. Making Page pull out the Buckshot Lariat to retain the titles. Fantastic match!
Post match disagreement?
FTR comes to the ring and offer beers to the champs. Of course Adam Page will not turn down a free beer and quickly snaps it up. Kenny, on the other hand does not drink. Omega reluctantly took the beer, but as the men toasted, Kenny poured the beer out. Enraging FTR, they get into Kenny’s face. The Young Bucks run out to diffuse the situation and the show closes. I mean, c’mon FTR.. this is Kenny Omega, you should’ve had a quart of the finest Hokkaido milk for the Cleaner. I guess, this will lead to a showdown of epic proportions later down the road.
Night one of Fyter Fest afterthoughts.
The first night is in the books, so how did it go? I was entertained, but considering the past AEW events during new world of COVID-19, I felt a tad let down. There were great matches, but for some reason it didn’t gel for me. I can’t really put my finger on it. Maybe it was a couple of botched moves, the really weird Cody finish, or the way FTR doesn’t know Omega does not drink alcohol. This was still a solid show, let’s hope night two improves on the Fest.-David G.
The Great American Bash kicks off this week, with a Women’s Fatal Four Way to determine the next challenger for Io Shirai’s NXT Women’s Championship, Timothy Thatcher and Oney Lorcan in an old-school brawl, Dexter Lumis vs. Roderick Strong in a Strap Match, and Shirai facing off against NXT Legend Sasha Banks in the Main Event!
Rivalries renewed, and a new #1 Contender. “Thatch-as-Thatch-Can”. Double Tap.
#1 Contender’s Fatal Four Way Elimination Match – Tegan Nox vs. Dakota Kai vs. Mia Yim vs. Candice LeRae. Nox wins with the Shiniest Wizard on Kai
Fatal Four Way matches always have the opportunity of being highly entertaining and unpredictable, and that’s exactly what this one turns out to be. The added stipulation of being an elimination match adds to that, since it’s not just a mad scramble to get the first pinfall.
That being said, I would have liked to have seen more from Mia Yim and Candice LeRae. I know their feud doesn’t have the longevity that Kai and Nox have, but Yim and LeRae have had some great battles in recent history. But that doesn’t end up being the case in this one, as LeRae is eliminated fairly early, with Yim soon to follow.
It comes down to Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai, who have a tremendous battle for the rest of the match. I said last week that my pick was Kai, as it makes more sense for her to go after Io Shirai’s title at this time, having Raquel Gonzalez in her corner. But that doesn’t prove to be the case, as Nox fights valiantly with Kai, surviving a hellacious looking Kai-ropractor neckbreaker and fighting out of the Octopus Stretch. Nox takes out Kai with the Molly-Go-Round followed by the Shiniest Wizard to pick up the pinfall.
Timothy Thatcher vs. Oney Lorcan. Thatcher wins with the Fujiwara Armbar
Seeing this match on the card made me salivate at the prospect of what we could get. And it certainly disappoint. Thatcher and Lorcan, two throwback brawlers, took it to each other in a ground-based classic. Hard-hitting chain wrestling at its finest. Back and forth with the strikes, chops, and submission attempts, culminating in Thatcher weakening the right arm of Lorcan to lock in the Fujiwara Armbar to get the tapout victory.
Thatcher’s character evolution has been stellar. When he first teamed with Matt Riddle, I wasn’t sold on him being a legit star. But now, with the recent vignettes of his training, along with his performance in this match, I’m all in on Timothy Thatcher.
Handicap Match – Rhea Ripley vs. Aliyah & Robert Stone. Ripley wins with the Prism Trap
I worried about the outcome of this match from the moment that it was announced last week. If Rhea Ripley were to lose, she would have to join the Robert Stone Brand. And my initial thought was, “Oh great, now they’re going to bury Rhea.” Thankfully, that doesn’t end up being the case, and the match turned out to be pretty entertaining.
Robert Stone continues to entertain with his funny antics, coming to the ring dressed like Rocky Balboa, ready to fight. Unfortunately for him, he is in way over his head, even with Aliyah at his side. Ripley dominates the pair, finishing them off by locking them both into the Prism Trap simultaneously to get the double tapout. This should put an end to this rivalry, and allow Ripley to move on to bigger things.
Strap in. No quit in Maverick. Banks gets misty-eyed.
Strap Match – Dexter Lumis vs. Roderick Strong. Lumis wins with the Silence
I have been entertained by Roderick Strong’s attempts to overcome his fears, going through “therapy” with the Undisputed Era, and forcing himself to face his nightmares. And those fears culminate in a match where he can’t run from his biggest fear: Dexter Lumis.
I wanted this match to be good, I really did. Sadly, though, it turned out to be a bit disappointing. Everything seemed to fall flat, and it didn’t help that the “crowd” was almost completely silent throughout the contest. I thought it would turn out to be OK, with the start of the match seeing Strong refuse to fasten the strap and blindside attacking Lumis.
From there, it’s a pretty basic Strap Match. One guy tries to get away, the other uses the strap to their advantage, and back and forth. Even the ending is something pretty bland. After interference from Bobby Fish, Lumis powers back, taking out Fish, then locking in the Silence (Kata Gatame choke) on Strong, to get the submission victory. Hopefully both guys can move on from this on separate paths.
Let’s hear from El Legado del Fantasma
Santos Escobar comes to the ring, flanked by Raul Mendoz and Joaquin Wilde. Escobar talks about the history of Lucha Libre culture, and how it used to transcend wrestling. Now, everything’s a sideshow. Escobar goes on to say that Legado del Fantasma will restore the honor of Lucha Libre, and build an empire.
Drake Maverick comes out, wearing the neck brace he earned from the attack a couple of weeks ago. He strips the brace off, and runs to the ring. Mavericks is all heart, and wants a piece of Escobar, but once again, the numbers prove too much. Thankfully for Drake, he has backup this time, in the form of Tyler Breeze and Fandango. The trio fight off Escobar, Mendoza, and Wilde. Fandango issues a challenge for a six-man tag next week on night two of the Great American Bash.
I know they’re trying to show how much passion Drake Maverick has, and how he won’t back down from anything, but having him come out multiple times to try and get at Santos Escobar is a bit much. Am I supposed to believe that Maverick can take down all three of these guys on his own? I don’t buy it. But having Breezango come out to make the save helped out quite a bit here, and I’m excited for the six-man tag next week, which was made official moments later.
We get a quick rundown of the rest of the matches on tap for next week’s show: Mia Yim vs. Candice LeRae in a Street Fight is booked after a backstage brawl that occured earlier in the show. Also, NXT Champion Adam Cole vs. NXT North American Champion Keith Lee face off in a Champion vs. Champion, Winner Takes All match.
NXT Women’s Champion Io Shirai vs. Sasha Banks. Shirai wins with the Moonsault
To say that Io Shirai has never looked better than her current run is a HUGE understatement. There were rumblings prior to Wrestlemania that she was unhappy, unenthused, and contemplating leaving the company. Thankfully, she stuck around, and is now on the ride of her life, being pushed as the NXT Women’s Champion and booked into a Dream Match versus Sasha Banks.
Not to take anything away from Banks, either. Her and Bayley have easily been the most entertaining stars on Raw and Smackdown as the Women’s Tag Team Champions. And with Bayley being the Smackdown Women’s Champion, Banks is looking to dethrone Asuka on Raw to take the Raw Women’s Championship. With Bayley in her corner as the “hype man”, Banks comes in highly confident, ready to show Io Shirai that this is still her home.
Banks and Shirai go out and have an instant classic. This match was so fun to watch, as both women were sharp, on point, and full octane. Banks has had a tendency to be somewhat hit or miss lately, but tonight, she was 100% on. The story told in the ring was absolutely fantastic, and everything comes full circle with the finish.
Shirai has Banks locked in the Crossface submission, as Banks tries to crawl to the ropes. Bayley distracts the referee by throwing in the Women’s Tag Team title. As the ref removes the belt from the ring, Bayley takes advantage of the distraction by punching Shirai, forcing the submission break. While the referee admonishes Bayley, Sasha goes to grab the other title off the apron, but is met by Asuka, who sprays the dreaded green mist in her face!
With Banks blinded by the mist, Shirai capitalized by taking down Sasha and following up with the Moonsault from the top rope to secure the victory. Afterwards, Shirai and Asuka celebrate in the ring.
Not a bad start to the resurrected Great American Bash. There were some letdowns, including the Strap Match and the opening moments of the Fatal Four Way, but overall, I was pretty entertained. Next week, though…boy, it’s going to be a good one. Can’t wait! -Josh L.
Friday Night SmackDown:
This week on SmackDown, a “toast” to Jeff Hardy. AJ Styles puts his title on the line against Drew Gulak. Alexa Bliss sizes up the role model. Matt Riddle goes against the Shaman of Sexy! The Artist takes on the heart of New Day! Let’s get going to diving in, this is SmackDown!
Bro vs Shaman. Phenom takes on a true student. Can the role model take on a Goddess?
Opening and Matt Riddle vs John Morrison. Riddle wins via Roll Up pin fall.
The night opens up with Michael Cole interviewing the King of Bros. Cole asks why Matt competes barefooted, Matt answers with some with a frostbite story. As a kid, Matt got frostbite from playing in the snow barefooted and lost all feeling in his feet. Whether this story has truth to it, it seemed forced. King Corbin makes his way out and does his usual heel run, and Matt doesn’t back down. However, the King has an opponent already planned, John Morrison.
The bout was REALLY great! Matt Riddle on the cusp of his pro wrestling prime and John Morrison at the lower end of his prime. You mix that together and you have pro wrestling magic! The match began with a stalwart, as the two negate any momentum. John is first to push forward with a big forearm to the face! As Morrison attempts to ground Riddle (bad idea), Matt hits a series of Gut-Wrenched Suplexes and is in front. John goes for one his devastating kicks, but Matt counters! The two go back and forth, with Springboard Kicks, Neckbreakers, and more kicks. On to commercial break.
Back from break, Riddle is control. With a series of Broton and Bro To Sleep, but John still stands. Riddle goes for the Floating Bro, but is met with knees. Morrison comes back with a flurry of moves and a SpineBuster, but Matt kicks out! In the closing moments, a frustrated John is trading blows with Riddle, with Corbin and Miz interfering. Morrison goes for a Roll up, but Mat counters with his own and wins the match. I can’t say how much I enjoyed this match. It was a platform to put Riddle in the forefront of a title, while having Morrison keep his status. Great start!
AJ Styles vs Drew Gulak, for the Intercontinental title. Styles retains via Phenomenal Forearm pin fall.
Ok, two back to back great matches? This isn’t a PPV, right?! Honestly, with this match and the Riddle vs Morrison bout. The two could have bee a WWE PPV match, but it’s here for free on SmackDown, lucky us! The match begins immediately with the AJ gaining quick control. Styles seems to be in a face bashing mood as he slams Drew’s face in every square inch if the Performance Center. Drew eventually fights back and delivers with hard strikes and a Baseball Slide. The match goes to break after that.
After the commercials, Gulak is in complete control with a battered AJ in the corner. Styles fights out and Daniel Bryan cheers on Drew via Zoom, ok.. product placement time. The two put on a masterful match, while Bryan checks in on Zoom. The closing moments had AJ hitting the Styles Clash! But Styles will not have the win this way! AJ props up Drew on to the ropes and hits a Phenomenal Forearm. A win that AJ wants and an ending to a great match. I could do without the Zoom, but I understand it. In this pandemic world, Bryan should be safe. Did it add to the match? Only slightly and because the darn match was fantast!
Bayley vs Alexa Bliss in a non-title match. Bayley wins via disqualification.
UGH! To start off the show in riveting fashion, we start to get this. Do not get me wrong, the talent is ALL here. It was just the booking, the ladies did their best from what they got from booking. With Nikki Cross and Sasha Banks at ring side, which one of them leads to a DQ finish, yay friends!
The match itself was pretty good, the two ladies finding a way to gel in the match. Bliss is in control in the beginning, with hard strikes and a Moonsault, but can only get a two count. the champ catches Bliss and hangs her up on the rope, while the Role Model drops her om the top turnbuckle. The Goddess resorts with kicks, but Bayley is able to work over Alexa’s arm. In the closing moments, the two duke it out. An over excited Cross bangs on the apron and the ref warns her, while Banks takes advantage and plows Bliss. Cross goes on to BFF Mode and takes out Sasha. This was all Bayley needed as she taunted Nikki, and Cross decks Bayley. Thus ending the match in a DQ. Promising, but a letdown finish.
The Artist vs the Heart. Sheamus brings the party to Jeff.
Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kofi Kingston. Nakamura wins via sliding Kinsahasa pin fall.
This bout brought back the awesomeness of the first hour. Kofi had Big E in his corner and Shin had Cesaro in his. Kofi starts the match with a big dropkick and unloads on Shin. Hwever, Nak regains control with his King of Strong Style strikes. Kofi fights on, but the Artist is keen on his moves and counters with a series of hard knees and strikes. Withe the fight spilling outside, Cesaro gets involved and blindsides Kingston. Big E is irritate, but he ref holds the muscle of New Day back. As Cesaro has his way with Kofi, the ref has had enough and kicks both Big E and Cesaro out of the match. Cut to commercial.
After the break, Nak is in charge. Kofi fights back, but Shin hit him with the double knees. More back and forth between the two, while Nakamura drops Kingston on his neck! Kofi places his feet under the ropes and breaks the count. The two battle it out like a live action Street Fighter match. High knees by Shin, elbows by Kofi.. where will this end? The sprint to the finish had, Kofi go for the Trouble in Paradise for the second time. Alas, Shin had a counter, a sleeper and if that didn’t work a modified sliding Kinsasha for the win.
Honestly, despite match building.. this was an AWESOME match! I can only hope that there will be more these two battling it out! Give them time and a story they can build on. Put those together and you will have a NJPW 6* classic. @ me…..
Hostess with the mostess.
Our favorite Celtic Warrior provides a toast to Jeff Hardy, complete wit a bar and bartender. Sheamus goes on about the demons (substance abuse) that Jeff went through. Along how Sheamus beat Hardy at Backlash and calling Jeff pathetic. The Celtic Warrior raises a glass of champagne to toast the high flyer, but the Enigmatic One enters. Jeff goes on about how Sheamus thinks it’s funny to play ones demons. The brash Sheamus encourages Jeff to drink, but the crowd yells “NO!”. Hardy dumps the glass of bubbly, grabs a bottle, and smashes it over Sheamus’s head. The show ends with Jeff clapping and with his music.
This was a REALLY good SD! What hampered the entire show was a few choices. Like the ending and the Bliss vs Bayley match. Bliss and Bayley are fantastic workers, I am blaming the booking, same goes for Kofi and Shin. Great matches throughout the night, met with poor booking. Now it is announced that we have to sit through the Mania match between Bray and Braun. I guess, WWE is finally rethinking their COVID plans.-David G.
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