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Spandex and Suplexes: A Wrestling Review Issue #18

Welcome everyone to the eighteenth edition of Spandex and Suplexes: A Wresting Review. I cover a week that saw my live experience at Evolve 144, the final build for WWE Worlds Collide and WWE Royal Rumble, the NWA Hard Times PPV, and multiple championships on the line. Let’s get started.

 

Evolve 144:

Evolve 144 Credit: WWNLive

Results:
1. Joe Gacy defeated Denzel Dejournette
2. Brendan Vink defeated Stephen Wolf
3. Rik Bugez defeated Anthony Greene
4. Brandi Lauren defeated Avery Taylor
5. Jaoquin Wilde defeated Leon Ruff
6. The Skulk (Liam Gray and Adrian Alanis) defeated BESTies in the World (Mat Fitchett and Davey Vega)
7. Curt Stallion defeated Noah Clay, Donovan, Troy Hollywood, and Bobby Flaco in a Fatal Five Way Elimination match
8. Anthony Guiterrez defeated Eddie Kingston in a No Holds Barred match
9. Mansoor defeated AR Fox
10. Josh Briggs (c) defeated Dexter Lumis to retain the Evolve Championship

Mansoor at Evolve 144

I had an awesome time attending Evolve Wrestling’s Evolve 144 event live this past Saturday at Orlando Live Events in Fern Park, FL. It had been some time since Evolve had been in the Orlando area, so I made sure not to miss it. Every match on the card ranged from good to fantastic. Thanks to the relationship between Evolve and WWE, I was able to see a number of NXT talent that are not currently featured regularly on NXT television, but based on what I saw from them, I don’t think it will be too long before they start appearing more on the USA Network. A number of the NXT and Evolve guys particularly peeked my interest.

First was the giant Aussie, Brendan Vink. An eleven year plus veteran of the sport, Vink had mainly wrestled in his home country of Australia prior to signing with WWE. During his match with Stephen Wolf, Vink showed that he has the strength, size, agility, and charisma needed to craft a potential major star. He is definitely one to look out for over the next few years.

The next wrestler to catch my eye was Rik Bugez. Bugez was massively popular with the live crowd and I quickly discovered why as Rik just oozed charisma and intensity the entire time he was out there. It was like watching an amalgamation of The Rockers and The Ultimate Warrior. Bugez was a lot of fun to watch from beginning to end.

Dexter Lumis at Evolve 144

In the fifth match on the card, NXT’s Jaoquin Wilde defeated Leon Ruff in what was a great match. I was already familiar with Wide from his time as DJZ in Impact Wrestling, so I knew I was in for a good time. I was glad to see that Wilde has kept aspects of his previous DJ persona including the always fun air horn. Wilde is a great talent that any roster would be glad to have. His high flying style makes him a great addition to the Cruiserweight division.

The match of the night was easily NXT’s Mansoor vs. AR Fox. This was the match I was most looking forward to seeing and it did not disappoint. Both men were given the chance to showcase their abilities as the two talented high flyers tore the house down. I have been very impressed with Mansoor since his show stealing match against Cesaro at last year’s Crown Jewel event. I remember thinking that this guy was far too talented to only be featured on the twice a year Saudi Arabian shows so I am glad that he is has been getting more chances to show off his skills. Like Wilde, Mansoor is an excellent addition to the Cruiserweight division

Josh Briggs at Evolve 144

In the main event, Evolve Champion Josh Briggs defeated Dexter Lumis to retain his championship in what was a brilliant showcase of Lumis’ character work. I was first introduced to Lumis during his time in Impact Wrestling where he wrestled under his real name, Samuel Shaw. Back then he had introduced a Norman Bates/Patrick Bateman type character where he slowly stalked and manipulated Christy Hemme.

Years later, after arriving in NXT as Dexter Lumis, he has honed and improved this character with his mannerisms and that creepy slide he does across the ring on his hands and knees. Briggs also impressed and played off well against Lumis. Briggs has a lot of potential and I can’t wait to see where his career ends up going.

Overall, this was a fun show from beginning to end and showed how there is truly nothing like seeing an indie wrestling show live. If Evolve comes to your town, make sure to get a ticket as you will be in for a great night of wrestling action.

 

WWE Raw:

New WWE Raw Tag Team Champions, Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy, with AOP
Credit: WWE

Results:
1. Andrade (c) defeated Rey Mysterio in a Ladder match after interference by Zelina Vega to retain the WWE United States Championship
2. Aleister Black defeated a local competitor
3. Randy Orton vs. Drew McIntyre went to a no contest after interference by The O.C. (AJ Styles, Luke Gallows, and Karl Anderson)
4. Becky Lynch defeated Kairi Sane by submission
5. Seth Rollins and Buddy Murphy defeated The Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar) (c) to become the new WWE Raw Tag Team Championships
6. Erick Rowen defeated Matt Hardy
7. Bobby Lashley and Lana defeated Rusev and Liv Morgan

Thoughts: The show kicked off with The Monday Night Messiah, Seth Rollins, and his followers, Buddy Murphy and The AOP (Akam and Rezar), heading down to the ring. In the ring, Rollins praised his newest follower, Murphy, for his actions last week before being interrupted by Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe who were ready for a fight. Rollins, thinking he had the numbers advantage, accepted their challenge for a fight.

The Samoan Submission Machine then announced they were not alone as The Viking Raiders arrived to join them. Joe, Owens, and The Viking Raiders then ran to the ring. After a short brawl between the two teams, the good guys cleared the ring of Rollins and his crew. Later on backstage, Rollins issued a challenger to The Viking Raider to put their WWE Raw Tag Team Championships on the line against himself and Buddy Murphy which was accepted by the champions.

What was the point of the Lesnar/Ricochet segment? If it was to make Ricochet look like a chump then mission accomplished. The segment stated with Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar in the ring. Heyman went through his usual spiel about Brock was the best and that he was going to dominate and win the Royal Rumble. After asking if anyone was man enough to stand up to Lesnar, they were interrupted by, of all people, Ricochet.

The problem with this segment began with the fact that let Ricochet do a promo. When it comes to in ring ability, there are few who can top Ricochet. However, his mic skills are not quite at that level yet and the promo failed to get the crowd behind him. It didn’t help that the promo itself sounded very generic and made up with simple one liners that you would hear from an NPC in a video game.

Lesnar and Heyman never once took Ricochet seriously as they tried to leave the ring without acknowledging him, which is fine because they are supposed to be arrogant villains underestimating this supposed heroic underdog. However, when Ricochet called Brock a coward for not fighting him and got a kick in the balls quite easily by The Beast for his troubles, Ricochet came off more of a loser who couldn’t back up his talk rather than the sympathetic underdog who stood up to the monster like creative may have hoped. This story could still be saved if Ricochet ends up being the one to eliminate Lesnar from the Rumble and then go on to have a good showing against Brock in a match. I am not holding my breath for that happening, though.

In a surprising move, Rollins and Murphy managed to pick the win against The Viking Raiders and are now the new WWE Raw Tag Team Champions. On one hand this is great, because it continues to help elevate Murphy as a legitimate top guy. On the other hand, it is kind of strange that the non-tag team in the faction won the Tag Titles rather than the established team in AOP. We will have to see how this all plays out, but I am very happy that Murphy is getting this opportunity as he is a very talented wrestler that WWE can build the company around for years to come.

Unfortunately, this review for Raw has to end on a bit of a downer as I cannot think of one legitimately good reason that Lashley and Lana won their match against Rusev and Liv Morgan. This was a complete burial of both Rusev and Morgan. Rusev is one of the most popular wrestlers on Raw amongst the fans and yet he has been made to lose over and over to Lashley. Lashley losing this match would not have hurt him at all, but it would have helped Rusev tremendously. Then there is Liv Morgan who, after weeks of her return being hyped up, returns just to be humiliated and beaten by Lana of all people. This was their last chance to save what has mostly been an awful storyline. Possibly the worst storyline of them all when it comes to last year and now into the New Year.

Overall, that was mostly a great Raw that had a terrible ending with the highlights being the two championship matches.

 

National Wrestling Alliance:

Nick Aldis vs. Ricky Morton
Credit: NWA

Results:
1. Thunder Rosa defeated Tasha Steelz
2. Trevor Murdoch defeated Thomas Latimer in an NWA World Television Championship Tournament Qualifying match
3. Allysin Kay defeated Marti Belle in a No DQ match
4. Ken Anderson defeated C.W. Anderson, Caleb Konley, Josephus, Colt Cabana, Dave Dawson, Aron Stevens, and Sal Rinauro in a NWA World Television Championship Qualifying Gauntlet match last eliminating Colt Cabana
5. Nick Aldis (c) defeated Ricky Morton to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship

Thoughts: In a pre-taped promo, Nick Aldis said that he saw that Marty Scurll went over his head and got himself booked to show up at NWA Hard Times. Aldis then said that he decided to do the same thing and that he got himself booked to show up at Ring of Honor’s upcoming show, ROH Free Enterprise. NWA is slowing building up this Aldis vs. Scurll rematch. It makes you wonder when and where that match will take place and what will happen in Aldis’ current feud with Tim Storm. It is also interesting to see the NWA and ROH working together again after the NWA broke off ties with ROH last year prior to the launch of NWA Power.

In a segment between the NWA World Women’s Champion Allysin Kay and Melina, Melina said she would give Kay a match with her if she accomplishes two things: Defeat Mart Belle in a No DQ match that night and defend her NWA World Women’s Championship against Thunder Rosa at NWA Hard Times. Kay agreed to both and went on to defeat Belle. I am not sure what Melina’s plan is here. Having Kay go through both Belle and Rosa before getting to her makes sense as it will wear down Kay, but why would Melina have Kay’s match with Rosa be for the title? If Melina’s goal is to win the title herself, what will she do if Rosa ends up winning the championship instead? As seen below in my Hard Times review, that question may have to wait until next week’s NWA Power.

Due to Zane Dawson’s hand injury, his spot in the NWA World Television Championship Tournament was vacated. To fill this spot, a Gauntlet match was held featuring all the men who had previously lost their tournament qualifying matches. The final two came down to tag team partners, Ken Anderson and Colt Cabana. Anderson managed to pick up the win by pulling Cabana’s tights for the pin.

Though Cabana was initially a little upset that Anderson cheated to win, he calmed down and congratulated Ken on his win. In a twist, Anderson turned heel and attacked Cabana. Ken then hit Colt win the Mic Check and threw him into the ring post. Anderson’s heel turn had been heavily hinted at for the past few weeks. This action seem to indicate that Cabana would try to get his revenge against Anderson at Hard Times, but as you will later see below, that may have to wait.

After Nick Aldis’ victory over Ricky Morton, the feed was interrupted by Marty Scurll who said that he will be at Hard Times to back up Flip Gordon in his match against Aldis. In other news from the show, the final two spots for the NWA World Television Championship Tournament were announced as ROH’s Matt Cross and Dan Maff will fill out the remaining brackets.

Overall, this was a good go home episode of NWA Power going into NWA Hard Times with the highlight being Anderson’s heel turn.

 

WWE NXT:

My Match of the Week: Roderick Strong vs. Keith Lee for the NXT North American Championship
Credit: WWE

Results:
1. Grizzled Young Veterans (James and Zack Gibson) defeated The Undisputed Era (Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish) after interference by Imperium (Walter, Alexander Wolfe, Fabian Aichner, and Marcel Barthel) in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinal match
2. Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai went to a No Contest after interference by Bianca Belair
3. Finn Balor defeated Jaoquin Wilde
4. Shayna Baszler defeated Shotzi Blackheart by submission
5. The BroserWeights (Pete Dunne and Matt Riddle) defeated Imperium (Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel) in a Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic Semifinal match
6. Keith Lee defeated Roderick Strong (c) to become the new NXT North American Champion

Thoughts: With the two semifinals matches concluded, the finals of the 2020 Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic set for next week has been decided with the makeshift team of The BroserWeights (Pete Dunne and Matt Riddle) set to take on the former NXT UK Tag Team Champions, Grizzled Young Veterans (James and Zack Gibson). The outcome of the finals could go either way depending on which team creative has bigger plans for. I can see Dunne and Riddle winning and become the next challengers for O’Reilly and Fish’s NXT Tag Team Championships.

In the main event, despite the multiple attempts at interference by the rest of The Undisputed Era, Keith Lee defeated Roderick Strong to win his first championship in WWE. This was a great match and is my match of the week. With the NXT Championship scene currently busy with the feud between Adam Cole and Tommaso Ciampa, holding the NXT North American Championship is a great way for Lee to continue his momentum and have a dominate reign with this title until creative is ready to move him back into contention for the top title in NXT.

This was a great episode of NXT with the two Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic semifinals and the main event being the highlights. In other news from the show, it was announced that Tegan Nox will finally get her chance at getting revenge against Dakota Kai for Kai taking her out of action back at WarGames as the two former best friends will go one on one.

 

All Elite Wrestling:

Pac vs. Jon Moxley
Credit: AEW

Results:
1. The Elite (Kenny Omega and Hangman Page) defeated SCU (Scorpio Sky and Frankie Kazarian) (c) to become the new AEW World Tag Team Champions
2. Britt Baker defeated Priscilla Kelly
3. The Inner Circle (Chris Jericho, Santana, and Ortiz) defeated Jurassic Express (Luchasaurus, Jungle Boy, and Marko Stunt)
4. MJF defeated Joey Janela after interference by Kip Sabian and Penelope Ford
5. Jon Moxley defeated Pac in a #1 Contender match to earn a shot at the AEW World Championship

Thoughts: This week’s Dynamite emanated the deck of the Norwegian Pearl cruise ship as part of Chris Jericho’s Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Rager at Sea Part Deux: Second Wave. This gave the show a different look from the usual arena set up we see most weeks. The set up reminded me of when WCW would have different sets and layouts for special shows. That is one of the things I miss most about that company. I am glad to see AEW continuing that tradition.

The opening match of the night saw Omega and Page taking on SCU for the AEW World Tag Team Championship. It was a great match and was the overall match of the night. Omega and Page actually winning the titles in AEW’s first evet title change was an unexpected outcome. The recent tensions between Omega and Page, some of which we saw in this match as well, made me believe that this would be the night that Page would turn on Omega and go heel.

With this development, however, I see how this outcome makes more sense for three main reasons. First, Omega is still in a feud with Pac, so there is no reason to rush him into another feud just yet. Second, this gives creative more time to develop this story so that if and/or when Page does go heel, it will make more sense and keep fans wondering what night will be the night he does turn on Omega. Third, Page turning on Omega would be a perfect opportunity to have the Tag Titles dropped to a heel tag team with Santana and Ortiz or The Lucha Bros. being great candidates for this position.

After MJF’s victory over Janela, MJF mocked Cody Rhodes until Cody ran down the ring to confront him. MJF continued taunting Cody, knowing that The American Nightmare can’t touch him until AEW Revolution. As MJF walked up the ramp, The Young Bucks appeared and hit the heel with a double superkick before throwing him into the nearby pool. This was a great development in the Cody/MJF feud as it showed that Cody had found a loop hole for one of MJF conditions for their match to happen at Revolution. Though MJF’s condition said that Cody could not touch him until the PPV, it said nothing about any of Cody friend’s doing so for him.

In the main event, Jon Moxley defeated Pac to earn the right to face Chris Jericho for the AEW World Championship at Revolution on February 29th. Moxley vs. Jericho is a star studded match and a great main event for AEW’s next PPV. I believe Moxley will be the man to defeat Le Champion for his championship. Moxley would be a fun and credible champion with ready to go feuds for the title with the likes of Pac and Omega.

Overall, this was a fun episode of Dynamite with the opening championship match, the six man tag match, and the main event being the highlights.

 

WWE SmackDown:

The Fiend stands tall over Daniel Bryan
Credit: WWE

Results:
1. Roman Reigns and The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) defeated Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, and Robert Roode
2. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross vs. Fire and Desire (Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville) went to a No Contest after interference by Bailey and Lacey Evans
3. Braun Strowman and Elias defeated Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro
4. John Morrison defeated Kofi Kingston after interference by The Miz

Thoughts: In the final segment on the show, Daniel Bryan and “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt were set to sign a contract for their WWE Universal Championship Strap match at Royal Rumble. Bryan was in the ring when Bray Wyatt appeared on the screen from the Firefly Funhouse. Wyatt said it was a mistake by Bryan to ask for a match where he will be tied together to The Fiend by their wrists. After a back and forth between the two men, the lights went out and The Fiend appeared before Bryan.

The Fiend grabbed The Leader of the Yes Movement with the Mandible Claw until Bryan was mostly unconscious before he ripped Daniel’s shirt off and whipped his bare back with the leather strap multiple times. Wyatt then walked over the contract. He grabbed the pen and stabbed himself in the hand and proceeded to sign the document with his own blood. He then threw down the contract at Bryan and stood tall over him. The lights went out a second time with The Fiend gone when they came back up. Daniel then struggled to get to his feet as the show went off the air.

This a fantastic segment that showcased both men’s characters well. The Fiend signing the contact with his own blood worked really well as someone like The Fiend would not just sign some legal document like a normal person.

Overall, this was an okay SmackDown with a great ending with the highlights being the opening match, Morrison vs. Kingston, and the contract sighing.

 

NWA Hard Times:

NWA Hard Times
Credit: NWA

Results:
1. Trevor Murdoch defeated The Question Mark in a NWA World Television Championship Tournament First Round match
2. Dan Maff defeated Zicky Dice in a NWA World Television Championship Tournament First Round match
3. Ricky Starks defeated Matt Cross in a NWA World Television Championship Tournament First Round match
4. James Storm and Eli Drake defeated The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) (c) and The Wild Cards (Thomas Latimer and Royce Isaacs) in a Triple Threat Tag Team match to become the new NWA World Tag Team Champions
5. Thunder Rosa defeated Allysin Kay (c) to become the new NWA World Women’s Champion
6. Trevor Murdoch defeated Dan Maff in a NWA World Television Championship Tournament Semifinals match
7. Ricky Starks defeated Tim Storm in a NWA World Television Championship Tournament Semifinals match
8. Scott Steiner defeated Aron Stevens (c) by DQ after interference by The Question Mark in a NWA National Championship match (Stevens retains)
9. Nick Aldis (c) defeated Flip Gordon to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship
10. Ricky Starks defeated Trevor Murdoch in the NWA World Television Championship Tournament Finals to become the new NWA World Television Champion

Thoughts: Due to an injury, Anderson was not able to compete on this night, which allowed his NWA World Television Championship Tournament First Round opponent, Tim Storm, to receive a bye to the next round. It is unknown as of this writing how long Anderson will be out of action. It is a shame that this injury came just as Anderson was starting his heel run. Hopefully, he will recover soon and we can see him back in a NWA ring.

During the show, it was announced that the NWA’s next PPV will be the 2020 Crockett Cup in April. The Crockett Cup saw its revival last year after a 31 year hiatus so it is good to see that the tradition will be continuing this year. With the NWA and ROH now working together again, it will be interesting to see if this year’s Cup will see teams from both companies participating like last year which also saw teams from ROH’s partner companies, New Japan Pro Wrestling and CMLL.

Due to an agreement Marty Scurll and Nick Aldis made earlier in the night, Aldis’ victory over Gordon gives him the ability to dictate all terms between himself and Scurll and ROH. What this actually means was not very clear, but I’m sure it will be made so in the coming weeks.

Overall, this was a good PPV with an unexpected title change with Storm and Drake winning the Tag Titles and a welcome title change with Rosa finally becoming the Women’s Champion after weeks of chasing the title. Ricky Starks is a good choice to be the first modern day NWA World Television Champion, though I wonder how this will affect his current feud with the NWA National Champion, Aron Stevens.

 

That’s it for this week’s Spandex and Suplexes. I am looking forward to WWE Worlds Collide and WWE Royal Rumble for tonight and tomorrow respectively. 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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