By Gwen Lombard
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW
The show opened with Shayna Baszler making her entrance, on her way to have a match against Nia Jax. However, Nia attacked her from behind before she could even make it to the ring. They brawled down to the ring, where Raquel Rodriguez and a returning Rhea Ripley joined in to set up a fatal four-way for the future. Security guards flooded down to the ring to try and pull the women off each other, and that only resulted in Rhea hitting her Riptide finisher on one of them, standing tall in the ring while the other three women were escorted to the back, still trying to fight each other the whole way. Rhea stayed in the ring to call out her Judgement Day faction mates, saying they needed to talk. Damien and Dominik made their entrances and were met with Rhea immediately blaming the tension within the group on Damien. She left for two weeks, leaving her game-planning responsibilities to him, and he let the group begin to break, tensions rose, Dominik lost his NXT North American Championship, and Finn and himself not being medically cleared to compete this week. Jey Uso came down to break up the infighting, and Dominik offered to ‘take care of him’ as Damien wasn’t medically cleared, which turned quickly into Jey beating Dom down. JD McDonagh ran down to better Judgment Days’ odds but was quickly outmatched when Cody Rhodes appeared. WWE Official Adam Pierce then made his way out to announce that Finn Bálor and Damien Priest would be facing off against Cody Rhodes and Jey Uso at Fastlane for the Tag Team Titles.
Imperium then took on Alpha Academy, and this was a fun TV match that saw Giovanni Vinci save the match for Imperium after saving Kaiser from taking an Avalanche Fall Away Slam from Otis, allowing them to take the win. This was a fun segment that put some breaks on the seemingly impending doom on Imperium these last few weeks.
Next, we had a contract signing between Gunther and Tommaso Ciampa for the Intercontinental Title in the main event. These were two wonderful promos from both men and hyped up a match that had little lead-in.
Xavier Woods then took on Ivar in a fun match, but one that didn’t live up to the expectations set by Ivar versus Kofi Kingston a few weeks ago. Still, a great match though, and Xavier picked up the win in the end. Xavier is very rarely the one to make the win in matches, as Kofi usually pins the opponents in their tag team matches, so this was a great little moment for Xavier.
We then got a video package to promote Seth Rollins taking on Shinsuke Nakamura in a Last Man Standing match at Fastlane. This preceded Seth coming out to the ring to be interviewed by commentator Michael Cole, only to be attacked from behind by Shinsuke. Shinsuke kept beating Seth down and counting to ten, but Seth continued to beat the count until one last chair shot kept him down for the ten count. This was a wonderful “go home” segment to lead us into their match at Fastlane and I enjoyed it.
Our main event match between Tommaso Ciampa and Gunther was great. Both of these men are very good at their jobs, and have had some of my favorite matches in the past (I still go back to watch Gunther vs Pete Dunne now and then, true chef’s kiss of a match). A twenty-minute match that sped through that time with near fall after near fall. It eventually ended when Gunther got Tommaso in a Sleeper Hold. As the other two members of Imperium were preparing to beat up Tommaso further, Johnny Gargano made his triumphant return to save him. This reunion of a tag team that used to be named DIY so many years ago has been years in the making, and it seems so sweet that it should be Johnny saving Tommaso after Tommaso broke them up in the first place back then. They prepared to hit their tag team finisher – both members standing on opposite sides would aim a knee strike for their opponent’s head, thus sandwiching their head – but the show went off the air before they could hit it. Terrible production work on that choice, may I just say.
This show was the fourth anniversary of Dynamite and therefore was hyped up to be a can’t-miss sort of event. It started accordingly (though slowly) when Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho were interviewed backstage by Renee Paquette to discuss their match later in the night against the Don Callis Family, but were interrupted by Adam Copeland so he could say hi to his old friend Jericho, and meet Omega for the first time. Kenny offered his services to Adam at any point in the future should he decide he needs him, and I absolutely cannot wait for the day we see Adam Copeland and Kenny Omega either on the same side or across the ring from each other. Either way, I don’t care which, I just want it to happen.
Our first match of the night saw Rey Fenix take on Nick Jackson to defend his Intercontinental Championship. This is a pairing that has seen a lot of each other, as The Young Bucks and the Lucha Bros have put on legendary matches against each other, and consider each other to be some of the best opponents of their respective careers. For these two high-flying younger brothers to meet in a singles match is a rare opportunity, and they didn’t disappoint. They know each other so well, and they fed into each other beautifully. This was an excellent match and in the end, Rey rolled Nick up for the win. It was then announced that Fenix would be defending his title next week against a returning Jon Moxley.
There was a quick vignette showing Adam Cole over at Roderick Strong’s house where Roderick forced the injured Adam to move furniture for him to ‘improve the Feng Shui’ of the space. Adam eventually wanted to leave, but Roderick insisted that he still needed him there.
Next, we saw the spectacular return of Wardlow, where he beat Griff Garrison in a very quick, decisive fashion. I’m glad to see Wardlow back after several months of not being on television, and despite him coming back in such fashion, he feels nowhere near as big a deal as he did last year, which is a little disappointing.
The Acclaimed then took on the team of Kip Sabian, The Butcher, and The Blade. This was a fun match, though short with a decent amount of it happening during a commercial break. Despite how short it was though, it was a fun match that saw Kip Sabian get some great moments in. Personal bias is on full display here as I am a massive fan of Kip. He’s been one of my favorites for several years now, and to see him finally start getting some TV time, I can’t say this match was anything less than fun. The Acclaimed retained their trio’s titles by pinning Kip for the win, but it’s all good in the end as Kip got some TV time, and the Acclaimed won. Win-win scenario, really.
We then got an in-ring promo segment from the Bang Bang Gang (I am aware that they’re technically Bullet Club Gold, but Bang Bang Gang is just the funnier of the two options, and this is my blog and I get to make the decisions here), saying that they don’t buy for a minute that MJF wasn’t the one behind the attack on Jay White last week. MJF then came down to challenge them to a match but was attacked from behind by Jay who stole the AEW World Championship belt and issued a challenge to MJF for the title at the Full Gear pay-per-view on November 18th, which MJF accepted. I am so incredibly excited for this match, I’m not sure there are words for it. I’m so excited.
Jericho and Kenny then took on Takeshita and Kyle Fletcher of Aussie Open as Sammy Guevara wasn’t able to compete. This was another rather quick match, but it saw Kenny pin Kyle for the win with his One-Winged Angel finisher. Don Callis then blamed Kyle for the loss, meaning he and Mark Davis weren’t joining the family, instead, Powerhouse Hobbs joined! This is a great spot for Hobbs, who’s been without meaningful direction in the company for months now. This sets up great potential matches for him, especially after he beats Omega down for several minutes, before setting him up for Callis can hit him in the head with a steel chair.
Toni Storm took on Skye Blue next, and this was yet again another quick match. Toni controlled this match the whole time, and her character work of this timeless old-school Hollywood darling gimmick is absolutely fantastic. Skye Blue’s makeup was also noticeably darker this week, and she was lacking her typical happy-go-lucky attitude. This coming after getting Black Mist in her face last week from Julia Hart seems to be building to something, and I’m excited to see what. Toni defeated Skye Blue in the end.
The main event segment saw Adam Copeland enter the ring to discuss his debut at WrestleDream. He explained that after his contract with WWE expired, he sat down with his family, and asked them what he should do. Should he retire, or should he stay with WWE? His daughter Lyric told him that he ‘should go have fun with Uncle Jay’. And so, he came to AEW to be with Christian Cage, whose real name is Jay Reso. He called Christian down the ring and explained that he came to this company to be with him, to spend the rest of his career with his best friend of 40 years. He attacked Nick Wayne and Luchasaurus at WrestleDream because he knows that those two don’t care for Christian, they just want to suck all the knowledge and advice from his head, and they’ll drop him like a hot potato as soon as they’ve taken all he has to give them. Adam attacked them because they don’t care for Christian, but he does. He does, and it’s time to show this new generation of fans why they are indisputably one of the best tag teams of all time. It’s time to have those dream matches against FTR, The Young Bucks. It’s time. Christian was silent this whole segment, and when Adam opened his arms they embraced. It looked like one of the most legendary tag teams to ever grace our screens was going to reunite and go on the run of their careers, dream match after dream match, until, while still hugging his best friend of 40 years, Christian brought the microphone up, and said three simple words. “Go fuck yourself.” This put an empathic end to both Adam’s and my hopes and dreams of these two being in the same company again, and it looks like before we get their reunion, they’ll face off against each other. Which I’m also not that mad at, all things considered. I’ll say that this is my recommendation for the night, though. This was a great segment that set up everything you need to know about Adam Copeland if you’ve never heard of him before. He sets up his and Christians’ history wonderfully and pulls you into his desperation and determination for the reunion of their tag team. And you feel it just as much when Christian announces his decision.
The show opened with LA Knight in the ring about to cut a promo but was interrupted by The Bloodline. Jimmy warned him that he wasn’t going to make it to Fastlane, but then John Cena ran down to even the odds before a brawl could ensue and a match between Jimmy and Knight was made for the main event.
Charlotte Flair teamed up with Asuka ahead of their triple threat match on Saturday to take on Bayley and Iyo Sky. This was a great television match, as all four women are at the top of the women’s division, and they can all put on great matches with just about anyone that you put in the ring with them. Miscommunications spelled the end when Charlotte accidentally hit Asuka with the Big Boot, and Bayley accidentally pushed Iyo off of the ring apron. This let Charlotte hit her Natural Selection finisher on Bayley and pin her for the win. Despite the miscommunication, this was one of my favorite things from the show, so this will have to be my recommendation for the night.
Rey Mysterio faced off against Bobby Lashley in a non-title match ahead of their trio’s tag match, and this was a fun match. Both of these men are fantastic in-ring workers and can do their jobs well. The Street Profits and the LWO eventually got involved, and Lashley picked up the win off a terrific Spear. After the match ended, the Street Profits further attacked Joaquin Wilde, which later was announced as having caused an injury and he will be unable to compete in the trios match at Fastlane. Rey told LWO not to worry though, even though they’re a man down, he’ll make a phone call.
Dragon Lee beat Austin Theory in a perfectly average match that saw Grayson Waller come down in an attempt to distract Lee so Theory could win, but Cameron Grimes came out to even the odds in Lee’s favor. Grimes and Lee seem like a very oddball sort of pairing, but I’m not mad at it.
The main event between Jimmy Uso and LA Knight went rather well for a few minutes until Solo Sikoa ran down to attack Knight and cause a disqualification on Jimmy’s behalf, handing the victory to Knight in the process. John Cena made the save, and that brought out Judgment Day to align themselves with The Bloodline, Rhea and Paul Heyman shaking hands to make it official. However, Cody Rhodes and Jey Uso then appeared to even the odds. Heyman pulled Solo away just as the two sides broke out into a brawl, which eventually saw the good guys standing in the ring and the Bloodline and Judgment Day running off backstage.
The Hardy Boys teamed with Chuck Taylor and Trent Barretta of the Best Friends to take on Daddy Magic, Angelo Parker, Daniel Garcia, and Jake Hager in an 8-man tag match to kick off the show. A fun match that highlighted how tough a time Angelo, Hager, Garcia, and Daddy Magic have been having after Jericho walked out on them. They never really had any moment of solid control in this match, and it was entirely in the Hardys’ and Best Friends’ favors. After a brief interlude of Garcia and Jeff Hardy ‘dancing’ at each other in place of offense, this match was over when Jeff landed the Swanton Bomb on Garcia and won.
There was a small video segment that played next that hyped up the return of Danhausen! Finally, I’ve been waiting for so long for Danhausen to come back to TV after his arm injury several months ago. Hopefully, this can spell a reunion of the highly acclaimed tag team HOOKhausen, but since Hook is also busy with Orange Cassidy at the moment, we’ll just have to wait and see.
Next, we had a fatal four-way match where the winner would have a shot at Eddie Kingston’s ROH World Championship which took place between Johnny TV, Lince Dorado, Kommander, and Penta El Zero Miedo. This was a great match, and with so many great luchadors in the ring, there wasn’t an option for it not to be. High flying and high impact everywhere you looked. In the end, though, Kommander managed to hit a 450º Splash onto Lince for the win.
The main event saw the team of Kris Statlander and Hikaru Shida take on the team of Marina Shafir and Nyla Rose. This was an amazing, heavy-hitting match, putting Marina’s great striking on display a few times, as well as Nyla’s incredibly hard offense. In the end, Shida can power her way to pin Marina with a Knight Cap for the win and send a message to Women’s Champion Saraya in the process, as the Knight Cap is Saraya’s finisher.
The show opened with FTR defending their Tag Team Championships against the team of Big Bill and Ricky Starks. Ricky quickly threw Cash Wheeler from the ring apron, rendering him obsolete from the first few moments of this match. Dax Harwood then took the brunt force of both of these men, unable to even get in a single piece of offense. Within five minutes of the opening bell ringing, Ricky Starks pinned Dax off a fantastic Spear and won. Ricky Starks and Big Bill are now the AEW World Tag Team Champions.
Next, Bryan Danielson took on Kyle Fletcher. This was a great match that gave Kyle a wonderful spotlight to prove that he can go the distance as a singles wrestler. He’s a spectacular striker when given the chance to shine, and paired against Danielson, another amazing striker, this was a wonderful opportunity for both men to show out. A series of near-falls and beautiful submission attempts led to what started as an Avalanche Suplex from Kyle to Danielson that then rolled through and applied a Dragon Sleeper submission, which Danielson managed to roll out of and catch Kyle with a pinfall to score the win. This was an amazing match and a great showing for both men. Shortly after the bell rang, The Gates of Agony ran down to blindside Danielson with an attack in advance of Danielson’s match against Swerve Strickland at Dynamite Title Tuesday this coming week. However, they were quickly met by Danielson’s BCC faction mates Claudio and Wheeler to even the odds. Despite the quick blindside fiasco tacked onto the end, this match is my recommendation of the night, a fantastic match.
A trio match was next between Juice Robinson, Austin, and Colten Gunn of the Bang Bang Gang (accompanied to the ring by Jay White of course) taking on Metalik, Gravity, and Angelico. This was a perfectly average television match, and it ended when the Gunns hit their finisher on Metalik, followed by Juice hitting his Swing Out DDT and pinning Metalik to win. Afterward, Jay White took to the ring to cut a promo, discussing why he’s a better champion than MJF because, though he might’ve stolen the title belt, he was there on Collision, accepting challenges from Hangman Adam Page, whereas MJF was nowhere to be seen. Jay did remind Hangman that their record between each other is 3-0 in Jay’s favor, so their match on Dynamite Title Tuesday will be a non-title match. Either way, I’m very excited to see Hangman take on Jay once again as I’ve enjoyed the last three times they’ve shared a ring.
The Iron Savages then took on The Acclaimed in a match for the Trios Championships, and this was just a match of some good fun. These two teams feed off each other exceptionally well, both with their in-ring abilities and through their character work. It’s a fun time all around, and Max Caster picked up the win for the Acclaimed with a beautiful Elbow Drop.
Next up was ‘Timeless’ Toni Storm taking on Kiera Hogan. This ‘Timeless’ character is one of my absolute favorites in AEW right now, it’s something so unique that Toni Storm has created that you can’t help but want to see what she does next. A faded black and white Hollywood darling that’s desperate to keep a grasp on the spotlight despite the technicolor shift. This match centered around Toni’s character work, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this wasn’t a great in-ring match. Kiera is a great wrestler in her own right, and these two women put on a great match together. Toni eventually won with her Storm Zero finisher.
Kommander then challenged Eddie Kingston for his ROH World Championship, and this was a great match that focused on the contrasting styles of the two. Eddie is a brawler, heavy-hitting and long-lasting as compared to Kommander who thrives in his high-flying, risking-taking style. In the end though, despite a solid match that gave each man control for decent lengths of time, Eddie capitalized with a Spinning Back Fist to put an emphatic end to the challenge.
The main event segment saw Adam Copeland come down to the ring to question Christian Cage’s actions back on Dynamite. He reflected on the past 40 years of friendship the two share before asking Christian to come down to the ring if only to answer a few questions. Christian didn’t, and instead appeared in a video feed played on the large screen above the entrance ramp. He refused to answer any questions, instead simply sending Luchasaurus and Nick Wayne down to the ring to attack Adam. Luchasaurus and Nick quickly got the upper hand, demolishing Adam until Darby Allin came down to save him. However, that monetary glance of hope was quickly snuffed out, as Nick Wayne targeted Darby’s injured arm with a steel chair. They stood tall over Adam and Darby to end the show.
WWE’S FASTLANE PAY-PER-VIEW
The show opened with Cody Rhodes teaming with Jey Uso to take on Finn Bálor and Damien Priest. This was a fun match to start the night off with some high-energy action. After some great work that centered around Jey trying to cohesively team with someone who isn’t his twin brother for the first time, the Judgment Day shenanigans began rather quickly. JD McDonagh’s involvement, however, after trying to prove himself to Damien for weeks now, spelled the beginning of the end. He tried to hit Cody with Damien’s Money In The Bank briefcase but missed and took out Damien’s bad knee instead. In the end, Cody pinned Finn to win the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships for himself and Jey Uso.
Bobby Lashley teamed up with The Street Profits to take on Rey Mysterio and Santos Escobar of the LWO. Rey called an unknown person on the preshow and promised Santos that whoever it was that he called would show up, but they didn’t make their entrance with the LWO. These two teams had a great match, showing off Montez Ford’s natural talent, and Angelo Dawkins’ dominance. However, their odds were thrown off when Carlito’s music suddenly hit, and he ran down to the ring as the LWO’s third member in this match. He quickly pinned Montez for the win.
Next, we had the WWE Women’s Championship triple threat match between Iyo Sky, Asuka, and Charlotte Flair. Triple threat matches are won only by pinfall or submission, and the champion doesn’t have to be involved to lose the championship. This was a great match full of fast-paced action, and nearly ended when Charlotte had Asuka locked in the Figure 8 submission, but Iyo Sky hit a Moonsault onto Charlotte, breaking the submission and pinning Charlotte to retain her championship.
Pat McAfee then came out to cut a quick in-ring promo in his hometown of Indianapolis, Indiana, hyping them up for the possibility of hosting a future WrestleMania in their city, then introduced John Cena and moved to commentary for the next match. John Cena teamed up with LA Knight to take on Solo Sikoa and Jimmy Uso of the Bloodline. The Bloodline immediately went after Cena, isolating and targeting the 16-time world champion. However, Cena finally tagged in LA Knight, and the deal was quickly sealed after that with a victory over the Bloodline.
The main event saw Shinsuke Nakamura challenge Seth Rollins for the World Heavyweight Championship in a Last Man Standing Match. No pinfalls, no submissions, no disqualifications, and no count-outs. You only have to incapacitate your opponent to the point that they can’t answer the referee’s count of 10. This was an incredibly brutal match. These two men brought out all the stops against each other, using their bodies and weapons alike to try to destroy each other. Tables, kendo sticks, steel chairs, and trash cans were all brought out in various attempts to hurt each other. Nakamura even brought out nunchucks at one point. After brawling out to the crowd, Seth sent Nakamura through a table by hitting a Flacon Arrow after hitting him with both a Pedigree and Curb Stomp. Seth just sneaked up to beat the count but Nakamura wasn’t able to make it. Seth retained against all odds and walked out at the end of the night as World Heavyweight Champion. This is most certainly my recommendation for the night.