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Spandex and Suplexes: A Wrestling Review Issue #4

 

 

Welcome everyone to the fourth edition of Spandex and Suplexes! This week saw the conclusion of the WWE Draft, the continuation of the rebirth of the NWA, and the ongoing rivalry between NXT and AEW that makes Wednesday Nights the best night to watch high quality wrestling. Let’s get started.

WWE Raw:

#1 Draft Picks. Photo copyright owned by WWE.

This week’s Raw featured the second half of this year’s draft. Who ended up being drafted to the Red and Blue brands? Let’s take a look.

In the time between this past Friday’s Smackdown and this Monday’s Raw, a few names that went undrafted on night one of the draft had their brand designations revealed:

Raw got: EC3, Eric Young, and Sin Cara.

Smackdown got: Apollo Crews, The B-Team (Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel), Drew Gulak, Heath Slater, and Tamina.

Hopefully, Drew Gulak gets the opportunity to show his talent over on Fox soon (this past week’s episode was not a good indication that is going to happen). With the number of major names being moved from 205 Live in this draft and the WWE Cruiserweight Championship being renamed the NXT Cruiserweight Championship, WWE seems to be in the process of slowly dissolving the high flying brand.

Raw officially kicked off with a match between two longtime rivals as Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch (representing Raw) took on Charlotte Flair (representing Smackdown) to determine which brand would get the first draft pick of the night. This was a good match between two women who have excellent chemistry in the ring by this point. After Becky kicked out of a spear by Flair, Charlotte showed frustration which distracted her enough for Becky to get the roll up and the win, giving Raw the first pick.

Stephanie McMahon came out to reprise her role from Smackdown of reading off the draft results from an envelope (which is probably the most anticlimactic way they could have made these reveals). The first round of the draft results were as followed:

Raw gets: Universal Champion Seth Rollins, Charlotte Flair, and Andrade with Zelina Vega.

Smackdown gets: WWE Champion Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman and The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods).

Andrade moving to Raw is an interesting choice as I had seen reports for months that Fox wanted him to help appeal to the Latino market, though I have also heard that he is a favorite of Raw Executive Director, Paul Heyman. Andre then came out and defeated Ali with help by an interfering Vega.

Later in the night, it was announced that Seth Rollins will defend his Universal Championship against “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt in a Falls Count Anywhere Match at Crown Jewel while also removing Rollins from being the Team Captain of Team Hogan. How this will work with Bray being a member of the Smackdown brand remains to be seen. In a backstage segment Rollins said that he was going “Fiend hunting”.

Next up was the second round of the draft results:

Raw gets: Women’s Tag Team Champions The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane), Rusev, and Aleister Black.

Smackdown gets: Daniel Bryan and Smackdown Women’s Champion Bailey.

This was followed by the Raw Tag Team Champions, Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler, defending their titles against The Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar). Though the champions managed to injure and isolate Erik throughout much of the match, Erik managed to survive and make the hot tag to Ivar. The Vikings were then able to hit The Viking Experience onto Ziggler to win the match and become the new Raw Tag Team Champions.

Round three of the draft was up next:

Raw gets: Cedric Alexander, Humbert Carrillo, and Erick Rowan.

Smackdown gets: Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura with Sami Zayn and Ali.

Rowan being moved to Raw signals the end of the Roman Reigns attacker storyline. It is interesting to see Rowan drafted alone without Luke Harper. Aleister Black then squashed Eric Young in a quick match, winning by submission with the Dark Ritual.

We then had round four of the draft results:

Raw gets: Buddy Murphy, Jinder Mahal, and 24/7 Champion R-Truth.

Smackdown gets: Dolph Ziggler, Robert Roode, and Carmella.

Yes, you read that right, Jinder Mahal really was drafted that high over the likes of Samoa Joe, Rey Mysterio, The Miz, and Cesaro. ‘Nuff said. Also, WWE split the pairing of Truth and Carmella, which is a shame. How will Truth hold on to his title without his trusty backup? Following this was an excellent showcase match between two very talented wrestlers in Ricochet and Shelton Benjamin. The match ended with Ricochet hitting Benjamin with the Recoil for the win.

Jerry Lawler then hosted the contract signing between Braun Strowman and Tyson Fury for their upcoming match at Crown Jewel. As expected, they both threatened to knock each other out during their match in Saudi Arabia. The signing ended with Strowman breaking the table in half with one hit while Fury humorously pretended to have trouble snapping a pen in two before leaving. Curiously, WWE has decided to present this as a WWE vs. Boxing rivalry. With it being highly unlikely that Strowman is going to win this match, it makes little sense in the long run for WWE to risk making themselves and Strowman look bad in losing to a “real fighter”.

Round six of the draft results was presented next:

Raw gets: Samoa Joe, Akira Tozawa, and Shelton Benjamin.

Smackdown gets: The Miz and Baron Corbin.

It’s really sad to see Joe presented so far down this draft. The guy is a main event level talent, yet WWE keeps hesitating to pull the trigger on presenting him as such. The round was followed by a stellar match between Buddy Murphy and Cedric Alexander. Murphy managed to pick up to win with a power bomb followed by Murphy’s Law, which is a really cool move by the way. These are two athletes that should be featured on Raw going forward and hopefully Murphy winning this match means that he will finally get the push he deserves. Backstage, The O.C. confronted and jumped the Street Profits. It’s nice to see the Street Profits finally get a feud on Raw.

The seventh and final round of the draft results was next:

Raw gets: Rey Mysterio, Titus O’Neil, and Liv Morgan.

Smackdown gets: Chad Gable and Elias.

So now Mysterio has been taken out of the Lesnar/Velasquez storyline despite being the reason for the entire feud. Okay. Hopefully Cain can speak on the microphone on his own without his now former mouthpiece, Mysterio. Also, with Gable and Corbin both going to Smackdown, it could be an indication that their feud is not over with Gable being made a member of Team Hogan at Crown Jewel on this week’s Smackdown and Corbin of course being a member of Team Flair.

The main event match saw The Kabuki Warrior taking on Natalya and a mystery partner, who was revealed to be her recent rival, Lacey Evans. This was very solid tag match with Natalya doing much of the heavy lifting for her team. At the end of the match, Lacey knocked out Sane with the Women’s Right, but was unaware that Asuka had made a blind tag which lead to Asuka rolling up Evans for the win.

Bray Wyatt came on the screen for a new episode of The Firefly Funhouse. Rollins somehow found The Funhouse and attacked the non-Fiend Wyatt who acted genuinely confused why Rollins was attacking him. Rollins then took a match, looked into the camera, and said his catchphrase “Burn it down”. He then literally set The Funhouse set on fire and burned it down as he was drowned in boos from the fans with Wyatt’s evil laughter in the background as Raw went off the air.

Congratulations, WWE, you have turned Rollins heel by having him burn down the most popular segment on your show. I don’t care how they do it, Wyatt needs to win the title at Crown Jewel and be moved back to Raw. Just do it, WWE.

Though this was the end of the draft on TV, it would not be the last draft picks made this week as more draft picks were made in the following days:

Raw gets: Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder, The IIconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce), Mojo Rawley, No Way Jose, Sarah Logan, and AOP (Akam and Rezar).

Smackdown gets: Cesaro, Dana Brooke, Drake Maverick, Fire and Desire (Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville), and Luke Harper.

An interesting post draft decision was made on WWE Backstage where it was announced that Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross have been traded to Smackdown for a future draft consideration. Hopefully, this leads to Wyatt winning at Crown Jewel and being the pick to be traded back to Raw.

Wrestlers left undrafted as of this writing include: The Ascension (Konnor and Viktor), The Colóns (Epico and Primo), Ember Moon, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, Lana, Lars Sullivan, Maria Kanellis, Maryse, Mickie James, Naomi, Nia Jax, Paige, Ruby Riott, Sheamus, and The Usos (Jimmy and Jey).

Overall, this Raw had some good matches, but this draft was a total mess and could have been done so much better. Hopefully WWE corrects course in the coming weeks.

 

National Wrestling Alliance:

The main event of the evening. Photo copyright owned by the NWA.

This was yet another good episode of NWA Power. The first segment of the show saw Aron Stevens (FKA Damien Sandow) introduced for an interview. Stevens caught the fans up on what he had been up to during his two year hiatus from wrestling, including having success in films and television. He then quickly turned the fans against him by telling the interviewer to not make eye contact with him, requesting silence from the audience, and saying that he was a real thespian. This was a great interview that made Stevens look like a real star. Stevens never really got a fair shot in WWE and had some success in TNA before slowly fading out. Hopefully, he gets a real good run in the NWA as he is a very talented wrestler.

The first match of the show saw Ricky Starks taking on former WWE Tag Champion, Trevor Murdoch. This was interesting clash of styles with the quick high flyer, Starks, clashing against the powerhouse brawler, Murdoch. The matched ended with Starks getting a crucifix pin on Murdoch for the win. After the match Murdoch shook Starks’ hand. Starks then delivered an excellent interview where he showed a lot of charisma. This match and interview made it clear to me why the NWA chose to sign this guy and he has a lot of potential to be a big star for the promotion.

Colt Cabana then came out for an interview and stated that he was interesting in winning the NWA Tag Team Championships and revealed that his mystery tag team partner for the next match was… Mr. Anderson! Cabana and Anderson then defeated Sal Rinauro and Jordan Kingsley when Anderson hit the Mic Check on Rinauro. Cabana and Anderson could be a really fun tag team as the NWA continues to add great talent to their roster.

Old school wrestler, Tony Falk, then did a parody of cheesy local TV ads with “Tony Falk’s Waffles and Tire Irons”. It was pretty funny and I recommend checking it out here. NWA Women’s World Champion Allysin Kay then defeated Ashley Vox in a non-title match. Kay put Vox over after the match.

NWA National Champion James Storm then came out for an interview segment where he said the National Title was just a prop to help him get the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Eli Drake then came out and said that the National Title was important as it made Storm the number one contender to Nick Aldis’ World Title. Drake encouraged Storm to take his shot at Aldis and that if Storm wins, Drake wants the first shot at the title.

The main event match saw the NWA World Tag Team Champions, The Wild Cards (Thomas Latimer and Royce Isaacs), defend their titles against Outlaw Inc. (Eddie Kingston and Homicide). This was good hard hitting match that was spoiled at the end as The Dawsons interfered in the match and attacked Outlaw Inc., causing the referee to throw the match out.

The show ended with an interview with NWA World Champion, Nick Aldis. Aldis put over his opponent from last week, Tim Storm. The interviewer, Joe Galli, then asked Aldis why he needed his valet, Kamille, as insurance in his matches. Aldis explained that when he lost his title to Cody Rhodes at All In last year due to interference by Cody’s wife, Brandi, he had no insurance. He continued that when he got his rematch with Cody at the NWA 70th Anniversary Show, he brought in Kamille to prevent Brandi from getting involved and he was able to regain his title.

Aldis then asked Galli if Kamille had ever actually interfered in any of his matches, which Galli had to answer “No”. Galli then asked Kamille why she has decided to help Aldis, but she refused to answer. Aldis then leaned in and said: “I don’t want to hear another word about not letting her speak”. The show then went to credits. This was an excellent promo by Aldis.

Overall, this was great second episode. I have been enjoying the old school format of this show as it makes it stand out from the other wrestling shows out there. Also announced on this show was that the NWA’s next PPV will be called Into the Fire and will take place December 14th. It was announced three days later that the event had sold out.

 

WWE NXT:

NXT opened up with Tommaso Ciampa’s big return match against Angel Garza. This was a great match that showcased Garza’s athleticism and Ciampa’s brutality. Ciampa picked up the win after hitting Garza with the Willow’s Bell. The Undisputed Era then came out and circled the ring. Kyle O’Reilly then gave a USB drive to Mauro Ranallo to be given over to the production truck. The footage on the USB revealed that the UE had attacked Velveteen Dream and laid him out. Adam Cole then said that this was a message to Ciampa, Finn Balor, or anyone else who tries to get in their way.

When we returned from the break, NXT General Manager, William Regal, stated that due to the UE’s attack on Dream, Dream would be unable to compete next week in his scheduled NXT North American Championship match against UE’s Roderick Strong. As a result, the scheduled match between Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic later tonight would now be a #1 contender match to determine who will face Strong for his title next week. This was an unexpected development that could lead to some interesting championship repercussions for Strong’s championship. Imperium’s Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel then defeated Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch in a well done tag team match.

Io Shirai then defeated Kayden Carter in a good match. Afterwards, Io declared that she was the true #1 contender for the NXT Women’s Championship and not Bianca Belair or Rhea Ripley. Ripley took offense and marched to the ring. Ripley warned Shirai not to get her way, especially after Rhea defeats Belair next week. Shirai smiled and walked away for now. That’s three women targeting Baszler now.

Me with Keith Lee at Evolve 81 3/31/17

Next up was the NXT North American #1 Contenders match between Keith Lee and Dominik Dijakovic. Lee and Dijakovic have a hell of a series of matches with their feud’s record before this match being one win for Lee, one win for Dijakovic, and one draw. These two behemoths tore the house down with yet another action packed match that was unfortunately ruined when Roderick Strong ran down to the ring and attacked both men to cause a no contest.

Strong was proud of himself before a wild eyed Regal came out and said that because of Strong’s actions, he will now defend his title next week against both Lee and Dijakovic in a triple threat match. While the triple threat match will certainly be great, it is a little disappointing that a match that NXT was promoting as the deciding encounter between the two superstars did not have a clear victor. Hopefully, they will be able to have one more match up to settle their rivalry.

The next match up saw Matt Riddle face Bronson Reed. After the tough Australian refused to stay down, Riddle managed two win with a combination of the Bro 2 Sleep, a power bomb, and the Final Flash. Tegan Nox then defeated Taynara Conti with the Shiniest Wizard in her first NXT match since returning from her injury. Her friend, Dakota Kai came out to celebrate with her before they were interrupted by Shayna Baszler. Baszler mocked Nox’s recent injuries and for Nox now being the latest to challenge her for her championship. With four talented female superstars targeting the Women’s championship, it will be interesting to see how they determine who Baszler’s next challenger will be.

Killian Dain then squashed Boa, finishing him off with a modified camel clutch for the tap out. After the match Dain tried to confront Pete Dunne as he came out for his main event match with Damien Priest. Dunne grabbed Dain’s fingers and snapped them as the referees dragged Dain away. The match between Dunne and Priest was a brutal affair that ended in controversy as Priest delivered a low blow to Dunne outside of the referee’s vision before hitting the Bruiserweight with the Reckoning for the win.

Overall, while I didn’t think this week’s episode was as good as the past two weeks, it was still a good show from the black and yellow brand that set up what should be a fantastic triple threat match for the NA title next week. They also did a great job in showcasing their stacked women’s division.

 

All Elite Wrestling:

Pentagon Jr. at MLW: The World Championship Finals 4/12/18

AEW Dynamite opened up with a first round match in the AEW World Tag Team Championship Tournament as SCU (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) were set to take on the Best Friends (Trent Beretta and Chuck Taylor). As SCU was making their way to the ring, the Lucha Bros. (Pentagon Jr. and Fenix) attacked SCU and injured Daniels to the point where he had to be taken out on a stretcher. SCU’s third member, Scorpio Sky, then ran out and replaced Daniels in the match.

After a great opening contest between these two longtime tag teams, SCU managed to pick up the win after double teaming Trent with Sky making the pin. The pre-match attack continued the feud set up a couple of weeks ago when the Lucha Bros. interrupted SCU’s promo and started a brawl. Based on the actions by the two luchadores, my prediction is that the finals will come down to SCU and the Lucha Brothers.

Next up, The Inner Circle’s Ortiz and Santana made short work of the team of Alex Reynolds and Johnny Silver in dominating fashion. This was followed up with the second first round AEW World Tag Team Championship Tournament match of the night as the Lucha Bros. took on Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt). Earlier in the day it was announced that Jungle Boy’s originally scheduled tag partner, Luchasaurus, had suffered an injury and would be unable to compete that night forcing fellow JE member, Marko Stunt, to take his place. This was a highly entertaining high flying match up that really showcased Stunt’s athleticism despite his small stature. The size difference would catch up to Stunt as the match ended with Pentagon swinging Stunt by the hair and putting him away for the victory.

The next match was for the AEW Women’s World Championship as the champion, Riho, made her first title defense against Britt Baker. This was an excellent match and is, I believe, the best match Britt Baker has competed in during her time in AEW so far. Riho is beloved by the AEW fan base as even fellow babyface Baker revived boos whenever she was on offense against the champ.

The match ended when Baker attempted to apply her crossface/mandible claw combination submission on Riho, only to have Riho reverse it into a cradle for the three count. After the match, the two women shacked hands in a sign of respect. I enjoyed this women’s championship match far more than the one two weeks prior with Riho and Nyla Rose as I feel Baker made for a better opponent for the Japanese sensation. Riho is quickly proving herself to be the right person to carry this young division.

Up next was the star studded tag team match of Kenny Omega and Hangman Page taking on Jon Moxley and Pac. This was one hell of a match and honestly one of the best matches on AEW Dynamite so far. Near the end of the match, Omega and Moxley pulled out the same weapons that Omega introduced last week (a barbed wire covered broom and a barbed wire baseball bat respectively). Moxley planned to use the bat, but Pac took it away from him and threw it out of the ring as he didn’t want to be DQed. Moxley took exception to this and hit his own partner with a Double-Arm DDT and bailed on the match.

Left alone, Pac was left at the mercy of Page and Omega. Page delivered a Buckshot Lariat on Pac and Omega followed it up with the V-Trigger. Page then pinned Pac for the victory, giving Pac his first loss in AEW. The match did a good job at building up the upcoming match between Omega and Moxley at Full Gear while also setting up a possible rematch between Page and Pac at Full Gear with both men now having a victory over the other.

The main event was next as AEW World Champion, Chris Jericho, defended his championship against Darby Allin in a street fight. This was a brutal match up that lived up to its hardcore stipulation. Jericho used kendo sticks, chairs, and Allin’s own skate board, but couldn’t keep Darby down. Jericho became deprecate and duct taped Allin’s arms behind his back. This didn’t stop Darby from hitting some high flying moves on Jericho for a couple of near falls.

At the end of the match, it looked like Allin would pull off the upset as he went for the Coffin Drop from the top rope, but Jack Hager made sure that didn’t happen as he pushed Darby off the top rope to the ring. This allowed Jericho to lock in the Walls of Jericho to get the win by submission and retain his championship. The rest of the Inner Circle joined Jericho in the ring to celebrate as the show went off the air.

Overall, this was a really great episode of Dynamite that featured entertaining matches and advanced storylines heading into Full Gear. Matches announced for next week included the two semi-final matches in the AEW World Tag Team Championship Tournament as SCU take on The Dark Order and the Lucha Bros. take on Private Party. Also announced for next week was Jon Moxley vs. Pac in what should be an excellent match up. While NXT and AEW both put on great shows this week, I feel AEW won the night in terms of overall match quality and storytelling. This makes my personal score for the WNW to be NXT – 2 and AEW – 1. Both shows continue to deliver every week.

 

WWE Smackdown:

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Roman Reigns. Photo Copyright owned by WWE

Smackdown started off huge this week with an Intercontinental Championship match between defending champion, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Roman Reigns. This was an excellent opening match between two major stars. The two traded blows back and forth with Nakamura’s associate, Sami Zayn, inferring multiple times to slow The Big Dog down. This great match was spoiled though as Baron Corbin decided to interfere and strike Reigns with his scepter, causing the DQ. The commentators explained that Corbin was taking out his frustration on Reigns due to Corbin being embarrassed by Roman’s cousin, The Rock, a couple of weeks ago.

Corbin and Nakamura started beating down Reigns before Daniel Bryan ran down to make the save. Bryan was clearing house until Zayn grabbed his legs which allowed Nakamura to take out Bryan with the Kinshasa. Corbin, Nakamura, and Zayn walked to the back with grins on their faces as Reigns and Bryan struggled in the ring. Hogan later appeared on screen and said that he was adding Chad Gable and Ali to his team for Crown Jewel and that he would name the new team captain of his team to replace Seth Rollins.

Chad Gable then defeated Curtis Axel in a quick match. The post-match interview featured the absolute worst thing I have seen in wrestling this week as “Shorty Gable” made the mind numbing decision to rename himself “Shorty G”. Shorty G…. Shorty F***king G?! That’s it. Any chance Gable had of being moved up the card is now dead, buried, and covered in concrete. Gable was getting over with the fans during the King of the Ring Tournament, but the geniuses in creative thought it was great idea to feed him to Baron Corbin and then saddle him with a stupid ring name. They have now decided to take that dumpster of a name and set it on fire for good measure. Chad, you deserve so much better than this.

Heavy Machinery (Tucker and Otis) then teamed with The New Day (Xavier Woods and Big E) to defeat The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder), Dolph Ziggler, and Robert Roode in an Eight-Man Tag Team match to promote the upcoming Tag Team Turmoil Match for the World Cup at Crown Jewel to crown “The Best Tag Team in the World”.

Bailey then joined Miz TV with Sasha Banks to explain her full heel turn. She stated that the fans where never there for her when she was at her lowest and that the women’s division was lazy and lacked passion and desire. She was interrupted by Nikki Cross who said the time for talking was over and that she would become the #1 Contender to Bailey’s title in the next match. Cross then defeated Mandy Rose, Sonya Deville, Dana Brooke, Carmella, and Lacey Evans in a six pack challenge by delivering a twisting neckbreaker on Rose to score the pin and thus becoming the next challenger for Bailey. Cross vs. Bailey has potential to be a great match and possibly even a long term rivalry.

Next up was Braun Strowman vs. Drew Gulak. Gulak tried to help prepare Strowman for his upcoming match with Tyson Fury at Crown Jewel by bringing back his humorous PowerPoint presentation gimmick, but Strowman was having none of it and defeated Gulak in short order. It is really disappointing to see Gulak go from a dominate Cruiserweight Champion to being a comedic jobber to bigger stars in the span of a couple of weeks. Gulak is too good for this current role.

The main event was next with Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan taking on Baron Corbin and Shinsuke Nakamura. It was announced during Reigns entrance that he is the new Team Captain of Team Hogan for Crown Jewel. This was a fun, though rushed, tag team match. Near the end of the match Reigns speared Corbin through the barricade to take him out. Nakamura then when for the Kinshasa on Bryan, but Bryan dodged it and hit the running knee to Nakamura for the win. Reigns and Bryan celebrated their victory as Smackdown went off the air. Bryan pinning Nakamura could mean we are in for a feud with these two amazing wrestler over the Intercontinental Championship and that is a match up I can’t wait to see.

Overall, this was a decent episode of Smackdown with the highlights being Bailey’s promo and the great wrestling action by Daniel Bryan, Roman Reigns, and Shinsuke Nakamura. The Shorty G name is abysmal as is Gulak being treated as just another enchantment talent. Both men are too talented for what they are being given and deserve better.

 

Impact Wrestling Bound For Glory 2019, Photo copyright owned by Impact Wrestling

That’s it for this week folks. I am looking forward to what the NWA has for us on the next episode of NWA Power as well as the triple threat match for the NXT North American Championship on NXT and Jon Moxley vs. Pac on AEW this Wednesday. A quick reminder that Impact Wrestling’s biggest show of the year, Bound for Glory, is tomorrow night. It has a stacked card and I highly recommend checking it out. 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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