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Spandex and Suplexes: A Wrestling Review Issue #26

Welcome everyone to the twenty-sixth edition of Spandex and Suplexes: A Wrestling Review. I cover a week that saw WrestleMania 36, the final battle between Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, and the start of the AEW TNT Championship Tournament. Let’s get started.

 

WWE WrestleMania 36:
Part 1:

My Match of the Week: The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles in a Boneyard Match Credit: WWE

Results:
1. Cesaro defeated Drew Gulak
2. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross defeated The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane) (c) to become the new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions
3. Elias defeated Baron Corbin
4. Becky Lynch (c) defeated Shayna Baszler to retain the WWE Raw Women’s Championship
5. Sami Zayn (c) defeated Daniel Bryan after interference by Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship
6. John Morrison (c) defeated Jimmy Uso and Kofi Kingston in a Triple Threat Ladder match to retain the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championships
7. Kevin Owens defeated Seth Rollins in a No DQ match
8. Braun Strowman defeated Goldberg (c) to become the new WWE Universal Champion
9. The Undertaker defeated AJ Styles in a Boneyard match

Thoughts: This was a great first night of WWE’s biggest show of the year. Becky Lynch retaining her championship was a bit unexpected, but welcome from my point of view as I am a much bigger fan of Becky than I am of Shayna. This decision was probably made due to WWE wanting to wait for when they can perform in front of big crowds again before having Baszler win the championship.

The triple threat ladder match was had some fantastic, high flying action. Kingston and Morrison are two of the best ladder match competitors in WWE history and with the also talented Jimmy Uso, they put on a hell of a match.

Owens vs. Rollins was everything that the match should have been with Owens finally getting his revenge against The Monday Night Messiah. The spot where Owens flew off the WrestleMania sign onto Rollins below was one of the best spots from both nights. Hopefully, this is truly the end of this feud and these two superstars will now go their separate ways to face new foes.

I was very happy to see Braun finally win his first word championship by defeating Goldberg. The match’s short length fit very well for the match’s structure considering the wrestlers involved with both men hitting each other with their most powerful moves right out of the gate. It is unknown how long Strowman’s reign will last due to the fact that he was a last minute replacement for Roman Reigns, but I do hope he gets a good run with the title that he has been chasing for so long.

The Boneyard match was simply phenomenal (pun fully intended) and is my Match of the Week. The cinematic style of this match worked really well with both The Undertaker and AJ Styles going above and beyond to put on a highly entertaining encounter. While this was not the first cinematic style match that WWE has done, it was, in my option, the best one they have put on to date.

Part 2:

New WWE Champion, Drew McIntyre! Credit: WWE

Results:
1. Liv Morgan defeated Natalya
2. Charlotte Flair defeated Rhea Ripley (c) by submission to become the new NXT Women’s Champion
3. Aleister Black defeated Bobby Lashley
4. Otis defeated Dolph Ziggler
5. Edge defeated Randy Orton in a Last Man Standing match
6. The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) (c) defeated Angel Garza and Austin Theory to retain the WWE Raw Tag Team Championships
7. Bayley (c) defeated Lacey Evans, Naomi, Sasha Banks, and Tamina in a Fatal 5-Way Elimination match to retain the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
8. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt defeated John Cena in a Firefly Funhouse match
9. Drew McIntyre defeated Brock Lesnar (c) to become the new WWE Champion

Thoughts: The second night of the Show of Shows also delivered as an overall entertaining show. Charlotte winning the NXT Women’s Championship was highly unexpected as I was sure that WWE would put the rising superstar in Ripley over the already established Charlotte. While I am not sure exactly why WWE decided to go in this direction, I can think of three possible reasons: 1. WWE wants to wait to put Rhea over Charlotte in front a big crowd to make her win mean more. 2. WWE wants Charlotte on NXT to help in their ratings battle with AEW. 3. WWE wants to boost Charlotte’s title count past 16 as soon as possible so they can say that she has passed her father, Ric Flair’s, record. We will have to see where this goes with Charlotte now returning to the brand where she originally began her WWE career.

The Otis/Mandy love story has been one of the best storylines that WWE has done in some time and they gave it the outcome it deserved with Otis finally overcoming the dastardly Ziggler and winning the heart of Mandy Rose. I only wish this could have happened in front of a large audience to help make it feel like a bigger moment. However, I am happy that Otis got his happy ending after facing months of struggle. This was basic storytelling at its finest.

Edge and Randy Orton had probably the best build up out of any other match at the Showcase of the Immortals. While this match had its great moments, I feel that it went too long and could have been structured better. The ending of the match was well done as it was full of emotion and was a fitting end to this blood feud between these former friends.

The Firefly Funhouse match was an amazing experience. While it wasn’t really a match in the traditional sense, the storytelling was absolutely stunning. Filmed in a cinematic style, this match saw Bray Wyatt slowly break down John Cena both physically and psychologically by forcing The Champ to face the sins and triumphs of his past. Unlike their last encounter at WrestleMania, Wyatt succeeded in making Cena embrace his dark side which ultimately led to John undoing and The Fiend’s victory. With this win, Bray finally gained his revenge over the 16 time world champion.

In the main event, McIntyre fulfilled Vince McMahon’s prophecy from 2009 by slaying “The Beast” Brock Lesnar to capture his first WWE Championship. It was a hard hitting affair as expected from these two warriors with McIntyre getting the win after kicking out of three F5s and hitting Brock with four Claymore Kicks. I have been a massive fan of Drew since he debuted in WWE so I was very happy to see him finally get his due in the main event of WrestleMania.

Overall, WrestleMania exceeded my expectations with WWE making the most of their current filming situation due to the ongoing Coronavirus outbreak by putting on the most unusual WrestleMania of all time. The Boneyard and Firefly Funhouse matches were both very unique, creative, and highly entertaining. Having Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman walk out with as world champions was also great to see.

 

WWE Raw:

Drew McIntyre vs. Big Show for the WWE Championship Credit: WWE

Results:
1. Asuka defeated Liv Morgan
2. The Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins) (c) defeated Angel Garza and Austin Theory by disqualification after interference by Zelina Vega to retain the WWE Raw Tag Team Championships
3. Bianca Belair vs. Zelina Vega went to a No Contest
4. The Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins) and Bianca Belair defeated Angel Garza, Austin Theory, and Zelina Vega
5. Aleister Black defeated Apollo Crews
6. Ricochet and Cedric Alexander defeated Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
7. Seth Rollins defeated Denzel Dejournette
8. Nia Jax defeated Deonna Purrazzo
9. Humberto Carrillo defeated Brendan Vink
10. Drew McIntyre (c) defeated Big Show to retain the WWE Championship

Thoughts: Overall, this was an okay episode, but it was honestly the least interesting Raw after WrestleMania that I can remember. The biggest flaw of the show was the amount of meaningless squash matches with there being four in a row at one point in the show. I would have rather WWE put on fewer, longer matches with higher lever talent than put out squash after squash after squash as it just dragged down a large portion of the show.

It was very odd to see that McIntyre had a “secret” WWE Championship defense shorty after Mania went off the air with Big Show randomly coming out and goading him into an impromptu title match. The match itself was fine and did its job of making Drew look strong by defeating Big Show after just defeating Lesnar 20 minutes earlier, but I feel like it would have been just fine to have the match take place on Raw itself rather than having it as a dark match from the night before.

 

WWE NXT:

Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa Credit: WWE

Results:
1. Io Shirai defeated Candice LeRae, Tegan Nox, Mia Yim, Dakota Kai, and Chelsea Green in a #1 Contender Ladder match to earn a shot at the NXT Women’s Championship
2. Indus Sher (Rinku and Saurav) defeated Ever-Rise (Scott Parker and Shane Matthews)
3. Johnny Gargano defeated Tommaso Ciampa after interference by Candice LeRae

Thoughts: Overall, this was a great episode of NXT. The ladder match was excellent with the right person winning. Io Shirai vs. Charlotte Flair for the NXT Women’s Championship should be a show stealing match.

The final confrontation between Gargano and Ciampa was certainly interesting. Filmed quasi-cinematically, the match was full of hardcore action with both Gargano and Ciampa showing a lot of emotion as they beat each other down all around the building. The twist at the end, which saw Candice turning heel by faking out Ciampa and hitting him with a low blow to help her husband, Johnny, win, was a bit unexpected. The ending made it seem like that the two former friends would reconcile, but instead Mr. and Mrs. Johnny Wrestling would outsmart The Black Heart and allow Gargano to get the final victory in this nearly three year war between these two former NXT Champions.

While I felt that the action and drama was great, I do feel it went a little long and could have been cut down on time. The multiple commercial breaks didn’t help with the match’s flow either. I am also personally not a fan of keeping Gargano heel nor of making Candice heel as both just feel unnatural in the role. Where will these former tag team partners go from here? We will have to wait and see.

 

All Elite Wrestling:

Cody Rhodes vs. Shawn Spears Credit: AEW

Results:
1. Lance Archer defeated Alan Angels
2. Hikaru Shida defeated Britt Baker
3. Best Friends (Trent Beretta and Chuck Taylor) defeated Kenny Omega and Michael Nakazawa
4. Brodie Lee defeated Lee Johnson
5. Cody Rhodes defeated Shawn Spears in an AEW TNT Championship Tournament Quarterfinals match

Thoughts: Overall, this was a great episode of Dynamite. The Best Friends vs. Omega/Nakazawa match was hilarious with many great comedic spots. Both Britt Baker vs. Hikaru Shida and Cody Rhodes vs. Shawn Spears where also both excellent matches. Hikaru Shida is one of the very best in the AEW women’s division and should be, in my option, the one to take the AEW Women’s World Championship from Nyla Rose.

Cody and Spears kicked off the AEW TNT Championship Tournament with a great back and forth contest. Based on the tournament brackets, I predict the finals will come down to Rhodes and Lance Archer. Due to the fact that I don’t see Archer losing his first match in AEW so soon, I believe it will be The Murderhawk Monster who will walk out of the tournament finals as the first AEW TNT Champion.

Between NXT and AEW this week, I am going to have to give the win to NXT based on the strength of the #1 Contender Ladder match and Gargano vs. Ciampa. This brings my personal 2020 WNW rankings to: NXT – 6 and AEW – 8.

 

WWE SmackDown:

Braun Strowman vs. Shinsuke Nakamura Credit: WWE

Results:
1. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross (c) defeated The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane) retain the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships
2. Dolph Ziggler defeated Tucker
3. The Forgotten Sons (Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake) defeated Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado)
4. Sheamus defeated Cal Bloom
5. Braun Strowman defeated Shinsuke Nakamura

Thoughts: After Strowman picked up the win over Nakamura, Bray Wyatt interrupted from the Firefly Funhouse. Wyatt brought up his shared history with Braun including how Bray brought Strowman into the WWE as a member of The Wyatt Family. The former Eater of Worlds claimed that The Monster Among Men had betrayed his “family” and challenged Braun for his WWE Universal Championship.

I had mixed feelings with this segment. It makes perfect sense that Bray would target Braun as the big man fits the profile of The Fiend’s previous targets by having a past with Wyatt while also being the man who currently has the belt that Bray recently lost to Goldberg. However, I feel this feud is happening too soon due to creating problems for both wrestlers. The Fiend should not be losing another match anytime soon. The Fiend losing a match should be a rare occurrence in order to keep the character’s mystique alive which makes me think that he will be beating Strowman for the title when they finally face off, presumably at the Money in the Bank PPV.

The problem is Braun just got the title and should have a dominate run with it before losing it to anyone. The situation WWE has now put themselves in a situation where now either Strowman beats The Fiend to continue his championship reign, hurting The Fiend character, or The Fiend recaptures the title, halting Baun’s momentum. This could have been prevented by holding off on this feud until a later date, possibly at SummerSlam. This would have allowed Braun to have a lengthy title reign while preserving The Fiend’s winning ways at the same time. The Fiend vs. The Monster is a great match up, but WWE’s timing of it could end up causing it to potentially do more harm than good.

On another note, I am also not a fan of Shinsuke Nakamura being used as a glorified jobber to anyone like he was in his match with Strowman. The man is too talented to be wasted like that. Overall, this was an okay episode of SmackDown.

 

That’s it for this week’s Spandex and Suplexes. I am looking forward to the continuation of the AEW TNT Championship Tournament this Wednesday on Dynamite. 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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