By Gwen Lombard
WWE MONDAY NIGHT RAW
The show opened this week with Sami Zayn experiencing mixed emotions about his tag team partner and best friend Kevin Owens being traded to Smackdown. He’s happy that Kevin can go chase some singles action spotlight, but this also means they can’t challenge for the Tag Team Championships again. Judgment Day then interrupted him but was chased off when Jey Uso appeared, brandishing a steel chair. Later in the night, Sami caught up with Jey backstage, saying that while he appreciates the help, the help should be coming from Kevin. But Kevin is no longer around because of Jey.
We then got a wonderful match between Shinsuke Nakamura and Ricochet in a Falls Count Anywhere match. This was a lot of fun, with the action spilling out into the backstage area and the crowd rather quickly. This resulted in a great moment where Ricochet climbed up through the fans to stand atop one of the entranceways to the arena and jumped off, hitting Shinsuke and several security guards with a beautiful Moonsault. And this didn’t even end the match! They kept brawling through the crowd and back to the ringside area, where Shinsuke put Ricochet through a table and hit his Kinshasa finisher for the win. A great match, and so much fun to watch; my recommendation of the night for sure.
Piper Niven then had a match against Natalya that was a pretty good television match, but unfortunately, nothing much of note happened. Piper beat Natalya and proceeded to beat her up after the match with the help of Chelsea Green until Teagan Nox ran down to match the save. I’m glad the Women’s Tag Team Champions in Piper and Chelsea are getting some TV time, but I wish they were defending their titles instead of having these singles matches.
Seth Rollins called Drew McIntyre out to the ring next, asking why he saw Drew talking to Rhea backstage last week. He laid out his thoughts, that Drew is afraid of failure, and so afraid of it that he’s willing to talk to the wrong people to ensure he won’t fail. Drew countered by reminding Seth that he was the WWE World Champion during the height of the pandemic, carrying the company in front of nobody. And when he had the chance to win the Championship back and once again carry the company to the cheers he should’ve had in the first place, the Bloodline cost him that chance. And he’s simply making sure the same thing won’t happen again. Seth talked about how he clawed his way back up to being Champion by taking it on the chin and getting through it, and when he beats Drew at Crown Jewel, Drew will be left with no one to blame for his loss but himself. This was a great match, and if you weren’t getting hyped up for Crown Jewel, this segment will do it for you.
Ludwig Kaiser took on Johnny Gargano in a perfectly fine match. It was fun, but nothing overly noteworthy happened until the end when Giovanni Vinci gave the win to Kaiser by raking Johnny’s eyes and distracting him so Kaiser could capitalize. I was hoping their rivalry would start on stronger footing than this, but we’ll wait and see.
Rhea Ripley then took on Shayna Baszler in a fun match that gave both women a good showing, despite how short of a match it was. These are two of my favorite women wrestlers to date, and I can’t not enjoy a match between them, even when Nia Jax runs down to make an appearance. Nia was headed off by Raquel Rodriguez however, and Zooey Stark ran down to brawl with Rhea in the ring, causing the match to end in a disqualification. All five women brawled with each other, and a fatal five-way match for the Women’s World Championship was made official for Crown Jewel.
Our main event saw Jey Uso and Cody Rhodes defend their Tag Team Titles against Finn Bálor and Damien Priest in a match that was fast-paced from the very beginning. It was a lot of fun to watch, despite the initial feeling that it was getting a little repetitive after so many weeks. They managed to keep it interesting and still made it fun to sit and watch. As Cody reached out to tag in Jey, Jimmy Uso made a surprise appearance to superkick Jey off the ring apron. This sealed the deal and he watched on as Cody was pinned, and Judgment Day won the Tag Team Championships once more. Dripping in gold, each member is a champion once again.
Penta El Zero Miedo opened the show by facing off against Jay White. This was a wonderful match between two great wrestlers. Bang Bang Gang was ringside to support their fellow faction mate in his match, and Penta had his manager Alex Abrahantes, but one manager can’t equal out three wrestlers and a cardboard cutout of Jay himself (his name is Cardblade and they treat him like just another member of the group, I love it so much). Despite a fantastic exchange of Chops in the center of the ring, the numbers game overpowered Penta, and Juice was able to sneak in a Left Hand Of God punch with his ring from T.J. Maxx to knock him out and allow Jay to win.
Next, MJF was interviewed backstage by Renee Paquette where he mentioned he didn’t run down to fight the Bang Bang Gang because he’s not stupid, he knows he can’t win against that numbers game. He all but said that if he had the friends to back him up, he would’ve run down, but he doesn’t. When Renee asked how Adam Cole was doing, MJF didn’t start very promisingly but was very quickly interrupted by Max Caster and The Acclaimed, who once more offered their services to back him up against the Bang Bang Gang. When MJF simply stormed off again, Daddy Ass called him a scumbag and Caster echoed everybody’s thoughts as he responded “He’s my scumbag.”
Hikaru Shida took on Emi Sakura next, and this was a great match. Shida very seldom has even an okay match, and Emi puts 110% into every second when she’s in the ring, and it’s obvious when you watch her. Put these two together, and you’ll almost always have a wonderful match on your hands. This, in particular, was an incredibly fast-paced match, and it felt like you hit the fast-forward button the whole time. It was a lot of fun, and in the end, Shida stood tall with the win.
Adam Copeland was interviewed by Renee Paquette next and said that he still views Christian Cage as his best friend, despite everything. He’s not going to fight Christian, he doesn’t want the TNT Title. Once Luchasaurus and Nick Wayne desert him though, he’ll be there to pick him up.
Wardlow absolutely demolished Ryan Nemeth next in a match that didn’t even last a full 30 seconds. Afterward, however, Tony Schiavone wanted a brief interview with Wardlow, asking why he’s returned now. Wardlow simply held up his arm, showing his wrist tape that had MJF written on it. He then pushed Schiavone to the floor and walked away.
We then saw Kenny Omega backstage being interviewed by, you guessed it, Renee Paquette. He has a match against Kyle Fletcher, and after he beats him he might just set his sights back on being the World Champion once again. This is when MJF stepped in briefly, just wanting to thank Kenny for all he does and has done and to shake his hand. When they shook hands, however, MJF pulled him in close and whispered in his ear “13 days, bitch.” This is how many days are left until MJF surpasses Kenny’s previous World Championship reign for the longest reign in the company’s short history.
Kenny then had his match against Kyle Fletcher, and boy was this a show to see. Kenny’s forte and talent have always shone best when in a singles match with a generous time limit, against an opponent the caliber of Fletcher. In these few weeks since WrestleDream, unfortunately, set Mark Davis on the injured list, Fletcher has been really establishing himself in singles action. And there’s arguably no better way to establish yourself as a singles star than taking on Kenny Omega. This was a phenomenal match, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a massive Kenny fan. Okay maybe it’s partially because of that, but I genuinely do recommend this match. This is a spectacular example of Kenny’s ability, and was a great showing for Fletcher as well, despite Kenny pulling out the win in the end. This is certainly my match of the night if you’d like to see talent and skill put on a beautiful display.
Sting came down to the ring to address the crowd in an emotionally charged segment where he recalled all the wrestlers he used to look up to from his generation: Dusty Rhodes, Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, and others. He had the pleasure of wrestling against them, and to have continued wrestling all these years, stepping foot in the ring through four different decades after debuting in 1985. He thanked the fans and announced that his final match would take place at Revolution 2024. Nearly almost a 40-year career, and though I’m sad he’ll be retiring, I can only thank him for all that he’s given this business over the years, and enjoy these last few months.
The main event was the Dynamite Diamond Ring Battle Royal which included 12 different opponents. This was a fun, albeit rather chaotic main event, that saw several different stories emerge throughout. In the end, though, Juice Robinson was declared the winner and has a match against MJF for the ring next week. MJF came out, but he was attacked from behind by Jay White before he could even reach the ramp. The Bang Bang Gang celebrated in the ring to close out the show.
Paul Heyman came down to the ring to open the show, wanting to discuss LA Knight. In no time LA Knight showed up, coming down to the ring to get in Paul’s face, telling him that Roman hitting the spear last week was a bad move because if you come after LA Knight, you better make sure he stays down.
We then got a match between Santos Escobar and Montez Ford which was great. These two men are incredibly talented, and when they’re in the ring together it feels like you’re watching a Pay-Per-View match. Amazing stuff from both of them. In the end, Angelo Dawkins attacked the other members of the LWO that were ringside which prompted Santos to attack Dawkins, leading to Ford capitalizing and rolling Santos up for the win. After the bell rang, Dawkins and Ford continued to attack the LWO but were chased off by Carlito running down, steel chair in hand.
There was a quick vignette segment next that was simply Pretty Deadly enjoying a spa day, when the Brawling Brutes stormed in and beat the crap out of them. Great segment, A+, no notes.
John Cena then came down the ring to address the crowd. His last singles win on television was 2,008 days ago (back in 2018 against Triple H, fun little trivia for ya), and he wants to change that math. He challenged whoever came down to the ring next, no matter who, to a match right here and right now. Solo Sikoa answered the call, but before any match could begin, Jimmy Uso appeared and Superkicked Cena in the face. He was then in turn attacked by a hooded figure who revealed themselves to be none other than Jey Uso. The two twins brawl through the crowd as Cena hits an AA on Solo, and stands tall to the cheers of the crowd.
A backstage segment came next where Smackdown General Manager Nick Aldis fined Jey $10,000 for breaking into Smackdown and attacking Jimmy. Raw GM Adam Pierce objected, however, and Aldis responded by asking Security to escort him out alongside Jey.
I was then forced to watch Logan Paul on my screen for several minutes as he and Rey Mysterio agreed to face each other at Crowl Jewel for the United States Championship. I’m not mad at the fact I get to match a Rey Mysterio match, I’m just unhappy I have to therefore also watch a Logan Paul match. He’s great in the ring, do not get me wrong. I’m not trying to take anything away from his athleticism as he is skilled, however, I just don’t like him. Never have, and hopefully never will. Not a fan. Rey, you have so many better opponents, please just choose one of them.
Our main event saw Charlotte Flair challenge Iyo SKy for the Women’s Championship in a pretty great television match. With every match, Iyo proves herself a worthy champion more and more, against formidable opponents. The ending was messy but in a fun and chaotic way. Charlotte hit a Big Boot followed by a Spear, but Bayley pulled Iyo’s foot onto the rope to force a rope break. This caused Charlotte to throw Bayley over the announcer’s table into the announcers and gave time for Dakota Kai to jump up onto the apron and get in the referee’s face as Charlotte hit another Spear, but this time Iyo was holding the belt. Charlotte’s head crashed into the belt, knocking her out and allowing Iyo an easy win. After the match ended, Damage Control continued to beat down Charlotte until a returning Bianca Belair came down and ran everybody off, standing tall to end the show. This is my recommendation for the night.
The show opened with a fantastic Two Out Of Three Falls match between Mystico, a visitor from CMLL, and Rocky Romero. These two have had a lot of matches with each other in the past, and that’s evident when you see them in the ring together. Mystico is an amazing luchador, and Rocky isn’t consistently referred to as one of the best just because he looks good. This was a great match with some true athletic feats, and it finally ended with Mystico winning his second fall over Rocky when he locked him in a Fujiwara Armbar.
Kip Sabian took on Brother Zay and John Silver in a Triple Threat match to name the number one contender for the International Championship at Battle of the Belts VIII on Saturday. This was a really fun match that showed off the three men well in a rare moment of singles spotlight none of them have a chance to receive very often. It was a nice change of pace to see Silver on his own in the ring, along with Brother Zay as they usually only take part in tag or trios matches. It was a nice change of pace moment though, especially when Silver was able to get the win off a well-timed Punt Kick to Zay’s head. He’s now set to face Orange Cassidy for the International Championship at Battle of the Belts.
The BCC’s Claudio Castagnoli and Wheeler Yuta took on the team of Bryan Keith and Exodus Prime. Despite how short this match was, it was a lot of fun to see some really strong people be really strong. The end came within a matter of minutes when Claudio got Prime in the Giant Swing and Yuta took advantage to hit a dropkick to Keith and pin him for the win.
Hangman Page and the Young Bucks were backstage next to pose an open challenge for their ROH World Trios Championships next week on Dynamite, to which the Hardy Boys and Brother Zay accepted.
The main event saw Skye Blue take on Ruby Soho in a great match, one that reminded everybody just how good of a wrestler Ruby is. This was also another great character moment for Skye as, in the end, Ruby won due to some interference on Saraya’s part and Kris Statlander ran down to save her, but Skye rejected the help. There’s also just something so funny about someone dressed in Scooby-Doo-themed gear with gothic makeup getting angry. Something about the Scooby-Doo gear was just too funny. All in all, though, this was a fun match, and probably my recommendation from the night.
The show opened with another stop on Bryan Danielson’s track of dream matches he wants to have before he’s done, this time against Andrade El Idolo. This was a fantastic match that brought the best out of both of these men. Some great back-and-forth moments, trading strikes, submissions, and nearfalls. It was a lot of fun to watch unfold, and the end came when the two rolled back and forth, trading near fall for near fall, neither man wanting to let up first. Bryan was barely able to sneak the win out, but he did manage it. As his hand was raised in victory, the lights cut out and when they returned, Malakai Black was standing in the ring, proceeding to destroy Danielson with his Spinning Heel Kick (I think it’s called Black Mass? I do not remember and nothing is telling me if I’m right or not). BCC started to run down to the ring, but the lights went out again, and when they came back on Malakai was nowhere to be seen. I am so incredibly hyped for Malakai versus Danielson, I cannot explain it. This match will be immaculate. I am a Malakai Black fan through and through, and I cannot wait.
The Bang Bang Gang’s Gunns had a match next against a team called The Outrunners. This was a rather nothing match, with a few flashy moves from the Gunns and the pin shortly after. After the match however is when things became interesting as the lights went out and a video played showing someone dressed in all black and wearing the same devil mask that they wore several weeks ago when Jay White was attacked from behind.
We had a Memphis Street Fight next, between Jeff Jarret and Eddie Kingston with the stipulation added that if Jarret wins, he’ll receive an opportunity to challenge for the Ring of Honor World Championship. This was an absolutely brutal match that featured weapons of every kind: kendo sticks, trash cans, trash can lids, lead pipes, and even ketchup and mustard. Through it all, Eddie fired back against Jeff continuously. It was only when the rest of Team TNA used their numbers advantage against him that Eddie couldn’t get back up, and Jarret pinned him for the win.
FTR then took on the team of Bad Thad Brown and Darian Bengston in a match that went for about twenty seconds in total before the lights cut out. When they came back on, Brown and Bengston were gone and Malakai Black was standing in the ring. The lights went out once more, and when they turned on this time, Malakai was flanked by Brody King and Buddy Matthews, the House Of Black whole once more. They attacked FTR, laying them out in a decisive fashion. Once again, I’m so incredibly excited for this, the House of Black versus FTR is going to be lovely.
Our main event came next when Claudio Castagnoli and Wheeler Yuta challenged Big Bill and Ricky Starks for the Tag Team Championships. This was a great match, highlighting just how well these teams work together. Claudio and Yuta are entirely with each other, being on the same page is an understatement. Ricky and Bill are on such a run lately I’m not sure what could kick them off of it. This was a lot of fun, featuring amazing back-and-forth moments. However, just a few minutes into this match, the House of Black ran down to attack BCC, letting the tag champions stand to the side, ignored. Danielson ran down in an ill-fated attempt to save his friends but was attacked as soon as he entered the ring. FTR then attempted the same but were also attacked as the numbers game was just too strong against them. This spurred the sudden return of Jon Moxley, who came in and cleared the house within a matter of moments. This is wonderful. I’m so excited. Referencing again the House of Black is one of my favorite things about AEW, but Blackpool Combat Club is as well. So put these two teams together and you have my attention. This was amazing and the setup is spelling out something spectacular on the horizon.
AEW BATTLE OF THE BELTS VIII
As Battle of the Belts follows directly after Collision, Orange Cassidy made his entrance for his International Championship defense against John Silver as Moxley was exiting up the ramp. The two had to be pulled apart, Moxley being held abc as Orange continued down to the ring. His match against John Silver was fun, but in the end, Alex Reynolds couldn’t help but get involved, knocking Cassidy in the head with the title belt for Silver to capitalize on. However, Cassidy managed to kick out still and pull away long enough to gather himself and knock out Silver with an Orange Punch to retain his title.
Tony Nese then challenged Samoa Joe for the ROH World TV Championship. This was a great little match that was over fairly quickly, with Joe firmly in control the whole time. Joe finished the job with a great-looking Muscle Buster, pinning Nese for the win. Afterward, he addressed MJF, declaring himself the next AEW World Champion.
The TBS Title was on the line next when Kris Statlander took on Willow Nightgale. This was a hard-hitting match between two powerhouses of the women’s division, and it was as much of a blast as I had hoped. These are two of the best in the division right now, and they’re always amazing when put against each other. It took Kris digging into the depths of her repertoire, climbing to the top rope, and hitting a 450º Splash to put away Willow for good. Kris extended her hand to Willow to help her up, but Skye Blue appeared and told Willow to refuse. Willow accepted Kris’ help though, and they walked out together as Skye Blue watched on in disgust.
Lexy Nair interviewed Orange Cassidy backstage next, where he called out Moxley for getting in his face. He knows Moxley still isn’t medically cleared from his concussion to get in the ring, so he challenged Bryan and Claudio to take on himself and Kazuchika Okada on Dynamite. Danielson and Okada are in a ring together again, I can’t wait.
Our main event saw The Acclaimed put their Trios Titles on the line against Daddy Magic, Angelo Parker, and Daniel Garcia. This was an alright main event, with the team of Daddy Magic, Parker, and Garcia focusing on isolating Anthony Bowens from his teammates for as long as they could manage. However, the underlying tension between Daddy Magic and Garcia over Garcia’s affinity to dance was the Achilles heel of their plan of toppling the Acclaimed’s reign. Garcia got caught up in trying to hit his dance after each move he landed, and Daddy Ass was able to take advantage of that, sneaking up from behind and hitting his Fame Asser finisher. Bowens pinned him to retain their titles, and the Acclaimed celebrated as the show went off the air.