By Gwen Lombard
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW
The show opened this week with Cody Rhodes addressing the crowd, and much like the last several weeks, the Judgment Day came down to interrupt him. This rather quickly led to a large brawl between Judgment Day, Cody, Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and Jey Uso. However, what was slightly different this time around was that Damien Priest didn’t want to brawl. He was convinced by JD McDonagh to do so, and afterward, backstage he confronted JD, blaming him for the fact that he’s beaten up now, yelling that he’s not in the Judgment Day and he needs to get out.
Next, there was a match between Tommaso Ciampa and Ludwig Kaiser of Imperium. This was a fun match, though rather quick. It ended when Giovanni Vinci accidentally distracted the referee while Kaiser was pinning Tommaso, and Tommaso took advantage, rallied, and pinned Kaiser for the win. Afterward, Gunther told Kaiser that Vinci was his problem to deal with, and he’d better deal with him.
Tegan Nox then beat Natalya in a match that was over far too quickly to get a chance to take on Becky Lynch for the NXT Women’s Championship. Tegan Nox has far more ability than she’s been given the chance to show, and I just hope her match against Becky delivers.
Seth Rollins then cut a promo declaring that this was Shinsuke’s last chance to accept a rematch for the World Heavyweight Championship and that if he didn’t take it, Rollins would be moving on to the next in the long line of people who wanted to fight. Shinsuke did accept, under the stipulation that it’s to be a Last Man Standing match. No pinfalls, no submissions, and the only way to win is to incapacitate your opponent until they can’t reach their feet by the referee’s count of 10.
Next was the NXT North American Championship match between Dominik Mysterio and Dragon Lee. Now, Dragon Lee is a name I’ve known for a while before he was hired by WWE several months ago. Dragon Lee has been a part of some amazing matches in the past, and this was WWE’s best view of him yet. He and Dom put on an incredible match, filled with high-flying maneuvers and spectacular sequences. Dominik was able to pull out the win however with an amazingly executed Frog Splash, and retain his title.
Next, we had an amazing segment where The Miz interviewed Drew McIntyre, but The New Day came down to the ring to interrupt. Xavier Woods called out the fact that Drew didn’t try to save Jey from Judgment Day’s attack, and it led to a match being made between Kofi and Drew. This was a great match, each man showing off their respective styles before the finish came in the shape of Ivar of the Viking Raiders running down to ringside to attack Xavier. This stole Kofi’s attention away from Drew for just long enough for Drew to hit him with a Claymore dropkick and win. While Ivar beat up Kofi in the ring, Drew once again simply walked away, letting it happen.
The main event saw Finn Bálor and Damien Priest take on Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens to defend the Tag Team Titles once again. Despite how repetitive this same match seems to be getting, this one managed to still feel fun and impressive. Dominik came down to interfere but was cut off by Jey, who was then bested by the numbers game when JD McDonagh made his presence felt. Cody Rhodes then made his way down, and while the referee was trying to eject them all from ringside, JD managed to hit Sami right in the face with the title belt, knocking him out and giving Priest the chance to roll over into the cover and retain the belts for Judgment Day.
The show this week opened with Re Fenix defending his newly won International Championship against Team TNA’s Jeff Jarrett. As with any Team TNA match, it was essentially a 5-on-1, with the other four members of Team TNA attempting to interfere where they could. In the end, though, Fenix managed to pull out a win. I was concerned as to what Fenix’s title reign would look like on such short notice, as the company assuredly had further plans for Moxley’s reign. However, this match started to dispel those concerns, as Fenix is an amazing wrestler and can put on good matches with a large variety of opponents, the 56-year-old Jeff Jarrett included.
Next was a fun vignette showing MJF and Adam Cole spending time together like the best friends they are, on a boat. Not everything was fun in the sun though, as MJF asked Adam what took him so long with Roderick Strong last week that made him late to his match against Samoa Joe. Adam explained that just because he and MJF are best friends, Brochachos even, that doesn’t mean that he can’t have more than one friend. And having more than one friend means you have to try your best to be there to support both of them. MJF has never had a real friend before, and Adam finally getting through to him and letting him finally feel true friendship has served to exemplify MJF’s jealousy. He got up and stormed away, pulling out his Dynamite Diamond Ring and looking like he was about to punch Adam when Adam’s fishing line caught something. Turns out that ‘something’ was just the Big Show taking a swim. They invited him onto the boat, and they all shared a beer. Wrestling is wonderful.
Next, Don Callis, Konosuke Takeshita, and Sammy Guevara came down to the ring to show off a video they filmed last week. They want a leg up against Kenny, Jericho, and Ibushi at WrestleDream so badly, they flew to Japan and attacked Ibushi at his home gym.
In the next match, something special took place. A triple threat match was held, where three singles wrestlers faced off to see which one would win and challenge Rey Fenix next week. Claudio Castagnoli took on Brian Cage and Nick Jackson. Nick is primarily only a tag team wrestler with his brother Matt in the Young Bucks, but once in a blue moon, he’ll take on a singles challenge like this. This was a fantastic match, with fast-paced fun moments and plenty of showcasing of the men’s skills. In the end, after a whirlwind ten minutes, Nick Jackson managed to sneak attack Claudio with a springboard hurricanrana (jumping off the top rope, grabbing Claudio’s head with his legs, and flipping him head first) to send him out of the ring, while landing on Brian Cage and pinning him for the win. An incredible finishing sequence and Nick Jackson is set to face off against Rey Fenix, a match that comes with plenty of history between these two in tag team action.
Next, MJF and Adam Cole came out to the ring to explain the future of the Ring Of Honor Tag Team Championships. Last week when Adam ran down to the ring during MJF’s match, he jumped off the ramp and landed awkwardly, and was seen limping afterwards. He announced here that he had injured his ankle, breaking it in three places, and now needs surgery. MJF refused to let this be the end of Better Than You BayBay and announced he would take on the Righteous alone in a handicapped match at their scheduled match at WrestleDream. Adam wished him luck but was called away by Roderick Strong. MJF was alone in the ring for about twenty seconds before Bullet Club Gold(The Bang Bang Gang)’s Jay White made his entrance. Now, personal bias is fully on display here, this is exactly what I was hoping for when Jay announced he was signing with AEW. He is godly at promos, and MJF is nearly unmatched in his skills. Put these two together and turn the microphones live, and you’ve for sure got yourself a segment everyone will want to watch. And that is exactly what happened here. Trading petty insults and jabs got personal quickly, MJF explaining in detail just how he’s leagues above Jay: he’s filet mignon, and Jay’s just tofu. The entire crowd was fully behind MJF, with unwavering support. Jay took these jabs and crowd reactions though, and turned it around by planting seeds of doubt in MJF’s head about the fans’ love for Adam compared to him. Jay recounted just how MJF’s little bromance is all because of him after he almost ended Adam’s career at Forbidden Door in 2022. He’s been watching MJF from afar for a long time and now he’s decided to strike, decided to start dismantling his creation for a chance at the AEW World Heavyweight Championship. Jay White declared that it is still his era, the Switchblade era, and MJF chased him out of the ring to end the segment. I am so incredibly over the moon excited for this match. Two of my absolute favorite wrestlers, and I can’t wait for this match, whenever it may happen. This is my recommendation for the night.
Julia Hart took on Willow Nightingale in a match that was supposed to take place on Collision last week. This was an amazing match, both women got an amazing showing here. Willow almost had the match won when she got Julia’s feet tied up in the top turnbuckle and forced her upside down to hang in a Tree Of Woe and went for a Cannonball roll into the corner, but Julia dodged at the last second and was able to hit a beautiful moonsault (a backflip ending in a splash onto the opponent) for the win. Julia has been crushing it lately, and I can’t wait to see her match against Kris Statlander at WrestleDream.
As the show ended, the camera feed cut to a hallway backstage, showing Jay White getting attacked by four people, dressed head to toe in black. A fifth person dressed all in black stepped into the frame just as the show ended, this one different though, as they were wearing the devil mask MJF wore when he made his return this time last year. Who’s behind this? Is it really MJF?
The Bloodline opened Smackdown this week by announcing that John Cena, while on his way, was not at the arena yet. And neither was AJ Styles since he won’t be cleared to wrestle for Fastlane, leaving Cena without an opponent. Karl Anderson, AJ’s teammate in the OC, then appeared to scare the Bloodline from the ring, leading to Jimmy Uso being told to handle it. The ensuing match was quick, but a nice breath of fresh air as far as opponents for the Bloodline. Not to mention Jimmy and Karl have faced each other before in tag team action years ago, and to see them share a ring was nice. Jimmy beat him rather decisively with a Frog Splash, though, and as he and the Bloodline were leaving the ring, Michin, another member of the OC, came down to help Karl Anderson, but not before slapping Jimmy Uso halfway into the next dimension.
We then had a Grayson Waller Effect segment where Waller interviewed Bobby Lashley, asking about the state the Hurt Business group was in after last week. Bobby said that he had to go back to the drawing board with the Street Profits, and they weren’t performing like he had hoped. This brought out the Street Profits to confront him, and Bobby said that if they wanted this, they had to prove it.
Austin Theory took on Cameron Grimes next, and this was a very boring match, all things considered. I’m not a Theory fan, and the only reason I mention it is because at least Grimes was on TV after not appearing for several weeks in a row. He used to be such an intriguing character who you wanted to tune into back when he was a part of the NXT roster. Now? He’s sorely underutilized and I hope he gets another chance to show what he can do. At least he was on TV though!
We next saw Santos Escobar challenge Rey Mysterio for the US Championship, and this was a wonderful match. These two know each other so well, and Santos had all of Rey’s offense scouted out, showing just how much he truly does look up to and idolize him. Despite all of Santos’ best efforts, Rey was able to roll him up in a classic Schoolboy pin for the win, and the best man did indeed win. They went to shake hands, but before they could they were blindsided by an attack from the Street Profits. Afterward, while Rey and Santos were getting cared for by the medical team, they challenged the Hurt Business to a trios match at Fastlane.
We got a quick vignette to hype up the arrival of Jade Cargill, who’s now signed with WWE. As much as I’m not a huge fan of hers, I can’t ignore that she is sure to have some killer matches with the women in WWE, and she versus Bianca Belair someday is going to be amazing.
Charlotte Flair took on Bayley next, taunting her before the bell rang by asking what happened to her. Bayley used to be one of the Four Horsewomen of WWE, and now she’s just a stepping stone for Iyo. And after she beats Bayley, she’ll take the Women’s Title from Iyo. Bayley attacked her to start the match, and this was a good TV match as Bayley and Charlotte have great in-ring chemistry together and always deliver, but Charlotte hit a Spear and won rather quickly. Afterward, Bayley refused to let Charlotte skip the line for Iyo’s title like that, but before Damage Control could attack her, Asuka ran down to the ring to scare them off while shouting in Japanese. Bayley understood that as she was asking for a triple threat match between her, Charlotte, and Iyo, and confirmed that it would happen.
Next, John Cena came down to the ring to say that the Bloodline might’ve left him knocked out laying the ring last week, they left him with the contract for Fastline. And since AJ Styles is no longer an option to tag with, he said that he’d either find a partner or he’d take on Jimmy and Solo in a handicapped match. So of course Jimmy and Solo ran down to beat down Cena until LA Knight ran down to make the save. The crowd went wild when LA Knight appeared, and even more so when he signed the contract to be Cena’s partner at Fastlane.
The show opened this week with an amazing match of The Acclaimed and Daddy Ass defending their Trios Titles against The Hardys and Brother Zay. Matt and Jeff Hardy, despite their age and their history of injuries respectively, are still powerhouses in the ring and can still go the mile. I’m incredibly happy that Isaiah Kassidy has taken up this Brother Zay character so he can stay on TV while his original tag team partner Marq Quen is still injured. Despite a great showing from this team, and a wonderful Swanton Bomb from Jeff Hardy onto Daddy Ass, Anthony Bowens managed to pin Brother Zay and retain the titles. This was my match of the night, probably because the Hardys were in it, but what can I say? I have my loyalties.
A quick match was next with Eddie Kingston defending his ROH World Title against Rocky Romero, retaining his title after Rocky tapped out to the Stretch Plum submission. Afterward, though, Katsuyori Shibata came out to show his respect to Eddie ahead of their match on Sunday. I’m increasingly excited about this match, and I cannot wait.
Next was an incredibly quick match between The Righteous and two local talents. Dutch obliterated the local talents instantly, and the only thing that got this match to be longer than a minute was Vincent sauntering his way over to pin the two. This is a great buildup to their handicapped match against MJF on Sunday and makes you wonder if MJF had what it takes to beat them both on his own.
Aussie Open cut a promo on FTR ahead of their match on Sunday, describing just how much they’ve changed over the past year, and just how far they’re willing to go to win the AEW Tag Team Championships. They’re on a quest to prove that they’re the best tag team in the world, and that path goes right through the Top Guys.
The main event saw Ruby Soho take on Hikaru Shida to win a chance at Saraya’s Women’s Championship at Dynamite Title Tuesday on the 10th. This was a wonderful match that was a lot of fun to watch. Ruby tried to subvert the rules by attempting to use a kendo stick and then a can of spray paint while the referee’s back was turned, but Shida was able to overcome, using the kendo stick against Ruby until she was able to land a devastating katana kick and win the match.
The show opened with The Bang Bang Gang’s ‘Rock Hard’ Juice Robinson taking on Andrade El Ídolo. This was a perfectly fine television match, both men are great at their jobs and Juice’s character work is one of the funniest things on Collision lately. After Colten and Austin Gunn kept repeatedly trying to interfere on Juice’s behalf, the referee ejected them from ringside, and Juice’s chances dwindled rapidly. Andrade sealed the deal by hitting a modified DDT for an empathic win.
We got a small backstage promo next, where we saw Don Callis talking with Prince Nana of the Mogul Embassy, and when interviewer Alex Marvez tried to ask why they were talking, Callis simply walked away, and Nana explained that when you look deep enough into the universe, you find something unique. And that they’d soon be rolling in money.
Next, we got a small vignette to hype up Julia Hart versus Kris Statlander on Sunday, and these House of Black promos only keep getting better and better. Kris is as her catchphrase says ‘more than a woman’ and she’s capable of a lot. But the more I watch these promos and these matches that Julia is having, the more I’m starting to think that Julia has a solid chance at winning the title. The match that followed saw Julia take on local talent VertVixen in yet another quick and decisive match. This match showed off less of Julia’s skill and focused on her brutality and her unwavering desire for violence. A quick win and another addition to Julia’s growing winning streak. After the match, she called out Kris Statlander, refusing to wait until Sunday and wanting the match right then. Kris, never one to back down, did answer the call and head down to the ring, not before grabbing her Best Friend faction mates to even the odds against Brody King. Once in the ring though, the men were dispatched and when Kris demanded that Julia hit her, she raised her hand and almost did, but dropped her hand and rolled out of the ring. The mind games are building, and I cannot wait for this match.
Next, we got a small vignette setting up a match between Claudio Castagnoli and Josh Barnett for the WrestleDream Zero Hour. Josh Barnett is someone who wrestles for the love of the form, just like Claudio, and this is a guaranteed showcase between two absolute masters of their craft. I cannot explain how excited I am for this match.
Next was the tag team of Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega taking on the Mogul Embassy’s The Gates of Agony. This match revolved around Kenny and Jericho’s lack of communication with each other pitted against the Gate of Agony, who’ve been a tag team for years. In the end, though, Bishop Khan was forced to tap out in the Walls of Jericho submission.
Another promo segment setup Darby Allin versus Christian Cage is a 2 out of 3 falls match for the TNT Title as our main event on Sunday. This has become such an emotionally intensive feud, that both men are unwilling to agree to anything other than to take part in this match. This will be an amazing main event, and 2 out of 3 fall matches are always a lot of fun to watch.
The main event saw Aussie Open teaming with Ricky Starks and Big Bill to take on FTR, Wheeler Yuta, and Bryan Danielson in an eight-man tag team match. This was a chaotic match with tons of great moments, bodies flying, punches, and kicks thrown everywhere. This chaos never slowed for a moment, even until the end. Big Bill and Ricky Starks double-teamed Dax Harwood, with Ricky pinning him for the three. Cash Wheeler tried to break up the pin, but the referee was on the wrong side and didn’t see the attempt, still granting the win to Ricky and his team. This was a great way to build up FTR versus Aussie Open, Ricky Starks versus Wheeler Yuta, and Zack Sabre Jr. was on commentary throughout to discuss his match against Bryan. Overall, this was just a fun match all around, and my recommendation from the night.
AEW WRESTLEDREAM PAY-PER-VIEW
MJF took on the Righteous in a two-on-one match, single-handedly attempting to defend the ROH Tag Team Titles. It was a fun match that focused on MJF showing off what he’s capable of when the odds are stacked against him, and he managed to pull out the win in the end. Because Adam is still very much injured and needs surgery, MJF is the singular ROH Tag Team Champion.
Eddie Kingston versus Katsuyori Shibata was the heavy-hitting match it promised to be, and it left both men’s chests red and bruised from the chops traded. Eddie managed to pull out the win in the end but paid his respect to Shibata and let his theme play instead as they each left the ring.
Julia Hart challenged Kris Statlander for her TBS Title next, and this was an amazing match. Julia pulled out all the stops, beautiful moonsaults, attempts to blind Kris with Black Mist, and several attempts to force Kris to submit in the Heartless submission. Kris relied on her strength throughout, powering her way out of each situation Julia tried to corner her with. In the end, Kris hit two consecutive Piledrivers, putting an empathic end to the match and retaining her title.
The fatal four-way tag team match between Orange Cassidy/Hook, The Lucha Bros, Young Bucks, and the Gunns was a fun, chaotic match. Rey Fenix seemed to have hurt his shoulder very early on and was removed from the match soon after. The Young Bucks capitalized on the chaos and pulled out the win with a BTE Trigger on Austin Gunn.
Hangman Page versus Swerve Strickland was a match full of elegant brutality. Not brutal in the way of blood and gore and broken bones, but brutal in the deliverance in strikes. At one point, Swerve seemed to dislocate Hangman’s shoulder, and instead of letting him receive medical attention, he landed a double stomp from the top rope onto that same shoulder. Swerve kept a firm grip on the match throughout, and it paid off as he was able to pin Hangman in the end and win.
Wheeler Yuta versus Ricky Starks was a fun breather match sandwiched between two hard-hitting matches. Not to say that either man held back on his punches in this match, quite the opposite. Ricky has proven time and time again lately in his matches against Bryan Danielson that he can take what the members of the Blackpool Combat Club can dish out. The story was no different here as he was able to outlast Wheeler’s initial onslaught of punishment and steal the win with a roll-up pin.
Bryan Danielson versus Zack Sabre Jr. was everything that it has been hyped up to be over the years. This was a dream match over a decade in the making, and both Bryan and Zack knew the stakes and knew how much the fans were looking forward to it. They knew, and went above and beyond, pulling out every single stop they had, and putting each other to their limits. An incredibly brutal match that tested the limits of the human body; each joint was manipulated and every bone was pressed and pulled on. Submissions pitted back and forth, trading ankle locks for knee bars, and arm bars for headlocks. Both men put their best technical work on full display here, and in the end, Bryan Danielson proved why the Wrestling Observer Newsletter named the Best Technical Wrestler Award after him. He managed to pin Zack, though I had been hoping for a submission win, I’m happy with this. This was everything I’d hoped it would be, and I think this would be my recommendation for the night if you want to see two masters of their craft battle each other for the right to truly call themselves the best in the world.
The trio’s match of Kenny Omega, Kota Ibushi, and Chris Jericho versus Konosuke Takeshita, Will Ospreay, and Sammy Guevara was next, and it was a fun match that let Ospreay, Kenny, and Ibushi show off and exemplify just why they’re seen as three of the best in the world. It left just enough room for Jericho to show that he’s still Chris Jericho and he can still go the mile. In the end though, off a train of distraction on top of distraction, Sammy managed to pin Jericho for the win.
FTR took on Aussie Open for the AEW Tag Team Championships next, and this was a great match. These two teams feed off each other wonderfully, and they never disappoint in a ring together. Despite the solid fight put up by Aussie Open, FTR showed why they’re still the Tag Team Champions and won empathically, a message sent to both Aussie Open and to The Young Bucks who’ve now earned a shot at the titles in the future.
The main event saw Darby Allin challenge Christian Cage for the TNT title in a 2 out of 3 falls match, where you have to pin your opponent two separate times to win the match. Darby won the first fall by pulling Christian’s turtleneck up over his head and pinning him. Christian picked up the second pinfall by dropping Darby onto the steel steps back first, his head and neck hitting the steel stairs, and could not stand to answer the referee’s count of ten. After Christian tore the canvas and thin padding from the wood panels that form the ring, and further decimated Darby, Nick Wayne ran down to seemingly make the save, but instead attacked Darby further while the referee was knocked down. Nick rolled out of the ring and Christian dragged the referee over to count the pin on a knocked-out Darby, and Christain retained his title. After the match was over Nick and Christian continued to beat down Darby, but Sting arrived to even the odds in his protege’s favor, but was then outnumbered by Luchasaurus arriving. After the three of them beat down Sting, the lights went out, and when they came up, Metalingus’ opening notes blared, and Adam Copeland appeared. He almost sided with Christian, who he used to be in a tag team with, but made his true intentions known when he threw a steel chair at Nick, scaring everyone out of the ring, ending the show by shaking hands with Darby to seal their new alliance. Adam Copeland used to work for WWE under his former alias The Rated R Superstar Edge. His appearance at the pay-per-view was the perfect execution of a surprise debut, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t scream a little bit when his theme began to play. This was an amazing way to both end the night and start October off right.