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Spandex and Suplexes: A Wrestling Review Issue #66

Welcome to the 66th edition of Spandex and Suplexes: A Wrestling Review. I cover a week that saw Night Two of AEW New Year’s Smash, the start of NXT’s 2021 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, and the continued build to WWE Royal Rumble. Let’s get started.

 

WWE Raw:

Alexa Bliss launched a fireball at Randy Orton.
Credit: WWE

Results:
1. Lacey Evans defeated Charlotte Flair after interference by Ric Flair
2. Jaxson Ryker defeated Jeff Hardy after interference by Elias
3. Jeff Hardy defeated Elias
4. Sheamus and Keith Lee defeated The Miz and John Morrison
5. Keith Lee defeated Sheamus
6. T-Bar defeated Xavier Woods
7. Bobby Lashley (c) defeated Matt Riddle by submission to retain the WWE United States Championship
8. Matt Riddle defeated MVP by DQ after interference by Bobby Lashley
9. AJ Styles defeated Drew Gulak
10. Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax defeated Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose

Thoughts: Triple H made a special appearance this week to kick off the show, only to be interrupted by Randy Orton. While The Game praised The Viper for doing what he needed to do to get rid of The Fiend, HHH questioned Orton on why he felt the need to attack and humiliate legends like Big Show, Mark Henry, and Ric Flair. Randy then tried to goad HHH into accepting his challenge for a straight up fight in the ring later in the night, which The King of Kings would later accept backstage.

In the main event segment of the night, The Legend Killer and The Cerebral Assassin beat each other all around the ring. HHH then pulled out his trusty sledgehammer to finish off Orton, but before he could use it, the lights in the arena slowly went out as the eerie music of The Fiend played. The sledgehammer then caught fire as the lights when out. When the lights came back up, HHH was gone and Alexa Bliss was standing in the corner staring Randy down. When Orton approached her, Bliss suddenly launched a fireball into Randy’s fire, causing him the collapse to the floor in pain as the show went off the air.

This was a cool segment that had a lot of thing in it that worked for me including Alexa’s performance, the creepy atmosphere created by the distorted version of The Firefly Funhouse theme playing in the background, the look of the fireball, and Orton’s reaction to it. The Fiend himself may not make his full return until the Royal Rumble itself where I am sure he will try to cost Orton the match. While I get that this supernatural style storytelling is not everyone’s cup of tea, I for one love it and cannot wait to see what The Fiend and Bliss have in store next.

Overall, this was an okay episode of Monday Night Raw with the highlights being the opening segment with Orton/HHH, Lee vs. Sheamus, and the main event segment with Orton vs. HHH and Bliss’ fireball attack.

 

WWE NXT:

NXT announced the first annual Women’s Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic.
Credit: WWE

Results:
1. Candice LeRae defeated Shotzi Blackheart after interference by Indi Hartwell
2. The Grizzled Young Veterans (James Drake and Zack Gibson) defeated Ever-Rise (Chase Parker and Matt Martel) in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic first round match
3. Johnny Gargano defeated Dexter Lumis after interference by Austin Theory
4. MSK (Wes Lee and Nash Carter) defeated Jake Atlas and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic first round match
5. Xia Li defeated Valentina Feroz
6. The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole and Roderick Strong) defeated Breezango (Tyler Breeze and Fandango) in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic first round match

Thoughts: This week’s NXT saw the start of the 2021 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic as The Grizzled Young Veterans, the debuting MSG (FKA The Rascalz in Impact Wrestling), and The Undisputed Era advanced to the second round. Drake Maverick and Killian Dain and Legado del Fantasma (Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza) would also advance to the second round later in the week on 205 Live.

It was also recently announced that for the first time ever there will be a women’s edition of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic with both tournaments scheduled to occur simultaneously with four teams confirmed as of this writing: The Way (Candice LeRae and Indi Hartwell), Kayden Carter and Kacy Catanzaro, Shotzi Blackheart and Ember Moon, and Toni Storm and Mercedes Martinez. While I think having a women’s tag team tournament to compliment the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic is a great idea, I feel that they should have had it occur at a different point of the year so that both tournaments could be presented center stage rather than have the attention split between them.

As for who will win this year, I will need to wait to see all the teams that will be in the women’s side of the tournament, but for the men’s side, I feel it is time for The Grizzled Young Veterans to make their mark this year by winning the tournament and then ultimately capturing the NXT Tag Team Championships.

Overall, this was a great episode of NXT with the highlights being Blackheart vs. LeRae and The Undisputed Era vs. Breezango.

 

All Elite Wrestling:

My Match of the Week: Darby Allin vs. Brian Cage for the AEW TNT Championship.
Credit: All Elite Wrestling

Results:
1. Pac defeated Eddie Kingston
2. Miro defeated Chuck Taylor (As a result Taylor will be Miro’s butler until Sabian and Ford’s wedding at AEW Beach Break)
3. The Elite (Kenny Omega, Doc Gallows, and Karl Anderson) defeated Griff Garrison, Brian Pillman Jr., and Danny Limelight
4. FTR (Cash Wheeler and Dax Harwood) defeated Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt)
5. Serena Deeb (c) defeated Tay Conti to retain the NWA World Women’s Champion
6. Darby Allin (c) defeated Brian Cage to retain the AEW TNT Championship

Thoughts: This was Night Two of AEW New Year’s Smash. After hinting last week that The Young Bucks had possibly aligned themselves with fellow Elite member, Kenny Omega, and former Bullet Club teammates, The Good Brothers, we got to see the building dissention within The Elite on this week’s edition of Dynamite. Omega seems to be planning to dump The Bucks, who showed confliction in defending Omega from Moxley, in favor of The Good Brothers and Don Callis. The trio of The Cleaner and the Jackson brothers have been together as a team since 2016, so a change in their on-screen relationship could provide some interesting storylines going forward. I am interested in seeing where this goes and when the turn by Kenny on his best friends will occur.

Overall, this was a great episode of Dynamite with the highlights being Pac vs Kingston, the dissention within The Elite, and the main event TNT Championship match (which is My Match of the Week).

Between NXT and AEW this week, I am going to have to give the win to AEW as it had the overall better match quality. This brings my personal 2021 WNW rankings to: NXT – 1 and AEW – 1.

 

WWE SmackDown:

Kevin Owens and Adam Pearce outsmarted Roman Reigns.
Credit: WWE

Results:
1. Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Jey Uso
2. Natalya defeated Liv Morgan after interference by Billie Kay
3. King Corbin defeated Rey Mysterio
4. Cesaro defeated Daniel Bryan
5. Apollo Crews defeated Sami Zayn

Thoughts: After months of manipulation by Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman over the SmackDown locker room, Reigns would finally be out smarted with Adam Pearce getting one over The Trible Chief. Throughout the show, Heyman would taunt Pearce over having the sign the contract to face Roman at the Royal Rumble. After first trying to make the match a No DQ match, Heyman and Reigns would then change it to a Last Man Standing match, mocking Adam over his chances.

In the main event segment, the self-proclaimed Head of the Table officially signed the contract. As soon as he finished, Pearce said, “I’ve waited all night for you to do that,” before exiting the ring and walking up the ramp. He then feigned a knee injury, claimed he would not be cleared in time for the Rumble, and then said that the contract gave him the right to name a replacement with it being revealed to be Kevin Owens. Kevin then signed the contract to face Roman at the Rumble.

It was really satisfying to see someone finally out manipulate The Big Dog and his advisor. Owens vs. Reigns in a Last Man Standing match for the WWE Universal Championship should be a good match, though Pearce needs to ensure that Jey Uso does not interfere as he did in the last two title matches between KO and Reigns. On a separate note, I am glad to see Shinsuke Nakamura has turned face with his original entrance music back. I hope that Nakamura is given far better opportunities to shine this year than he has in recent years.

Overall, this was a great episode of Friday Night SmackDown with the highlights being Nakamura vs. Uso, Bryan vs. Cesaro, Crews vs. Zayn, and the main event segment.

 

That’s it for this week’s Spandex and Suplexes. I am looking forward to the continuation of the 2021 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic this Wednesday. While you are here on Florida Geek Scene, be sure to check out the second episode of my spin off series, Spandex and Suplexes: The Interview Series, where I interviewed veteran pro wrestler, Randy Hogan. Until next time, I’ll see you at ringside!

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Nicholas grew up reading J.R.R. Tolkien's books, watching Disney and Studio Ghibli films, and reading Marvel comics and Japanese manga. The superb storylines and characters ignited his passion for writing. He graduated from Full Sail University in 2015 with a BFA in Creative Writing for Entertainment. During his writing career thus far, Nicholas has had numerous short stories and articles published in an array of literary magazines and websites.

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