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Spandex and Suplexes: A Wrestling Review Issue #44

Welcome everyone to the forty-fourth edition of Spandex and Suplexes: A Wrestling Review. I cover a week that saw the continued build to WWE SummerSlam and NXT TakeOver XXX, AEW’s Tag Team Appreciation Night, and Chris Jericho vs. Orange Cassidy II.

 

WWE Raw:

Randy Orton betrays Ric Flair
Credit: WWE

Results:
1. Seth Rollins defeated Humberto Carrillo
2. Angelo Dawkins defeated Andrade
3. Bianca Belair defeated Zelina Vega
4. Shelton Benjamin defeated Apollo Crews after interference by Bobby Lashley
5. The Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar), Ricochet, and Cedric Alexander defeated Akira Tozawa and his three Ninjas (one being R-Truth in disguise)
6. R-Truth defeated Akira Tozawa (c) on the ramp to become the new WWE 24/7 Champion
7. Peyton Royce defeated Liv Morgan after interference by Billie Kay
8. Asuka defeated Bayley by submission to earn a shot at the WWE Raw Women’s Championship at WWE SummerSlam
9. Randy Orton defeated Kevin Owens

Thoughts: While the Orton/Owens match on its own was great, it was the post-match promo exchange between Randy Orton and Ric Flair that really stole the show. Flair delivered probably his best promo in over a decade while Orton also delivered as Randy continues to showcase some of the best work of his career. The segment ended with The Viper turning on The Nature Boy by hitting him from behind with a low blow and then finishing him off with a punt kick, before fleeing the ring when Drew McIntyre showed up. However, I believe there was more to these set of actions than they appeared. The main issue was that it really didn’t make any sense for The Legend Killer to turn on his mentor this soon, especially since having The Dirtiest Player in the Game in his corner would certainly benefit him against McIntyre at SummerSlam.

With the tagline of this year’s SummerSlam being “You’ll Never See it Coming”, I believe they are setting up a swerve where the break up between Flair and Orton being relieved to be a ruse with Ric acting like he is going to help Drew, but instead turns on him and helps Orton win the WWE Championship. This would protect McIntyre as a strong champion as would show that it took such a deceptive act to get the title off him while also allowing WWE to set up The Scottish Psychopath to regain his title from The Apex Predator at a time when WWE is allowed to have an arena full of fans again (possibly at Royal Rumble or WrestleMania). This would give McIntyre the proper coronation that was denied to him at this past WrestleMania due to Covid-19 making it an empty arena show.

Overall, this was a great episode of Monday Night Raw with the highlights being the Seth Rollins/Dominik Mysterio contract signing, the post-match beatdown of Dominik with the Kendo Stick by Rollins, Asuka vs. Bayley, Orton vs. Owens, and the post-match promo and attack featuring Orton and Flair.

 

WWE NXT:

Finn Bálor confronts the returning Velveteen Dream
Credit: WWE

Results:
1. Karrion Kross defeated Danny Burch by submission
2. Killian Dain vs. Drake Maverick went to a No Contest after interference by The Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Bobby Fish, and Roderick Strong)
3. Santos Escobar defeated Tyler Breeze after interference by Legado del Fantasma (Joaquin Wilde and Raul Mendoza)
4. Mia Yim defeated Indi Hartwell by submission
5. Bronson Reed defeated Damian Priest
6. Mercedes Martinez and Aliyah defeated Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter
7. Cameron Grimes defeated Kushida and Velveteen Dream in a Triple Threat match to qualify for the NXT North American Championship Ladder match at NXT TakeOver XXX

Thoughts: The series of qualifying matches for the NXT North American Championship Ladder match at NXT TakeOver XXX continued this episode with the last triple threat qualifier seeing Cameron Grimes picking up the upset win over Kushida and the returning Velveteen Dream. Due to Kushida being the one to take the pin, Dream qualified to compete in one of the two second opportunity matches for the last two spots in the ladder match next week. Those two matches were made official by the end of the night with Johnny Gargano taking on Ridge Holland and Velveteen Dream taking on Finn Bálor. I predict that Gargano and Bálor will be the ones who move on to TakeOver.

Overall, this was a good episode of NXT with the highlights being Reed vs. Priest and the main event.

 

All Elite Wrestling:

The finished AEW TNT Championship
Credit: AEW

Results:
1. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) defeated The Dark Order (Evil Uno and Stu Grayson)
2. Cody Rhodes (c) defeated Scorpio Sky to retain the AEW TNT Championship
3. Kenny Omega and “Hangman” Adam Page (c) defeated Jurassic Express (Luchasaurus and Jungle Boy) to retain the AEW Tag Team Championships
4. Hikaru Shida defeated Heather Monroe by submission
5. Orange Cassidy defeated Chris Jericho

Thoughts: After Cody was able to successfully defend his AEW TNT Championship (whose final design was finally revealed earlier this week) against Scorpio Sky, Brodie Lee and The Dark Order appeared on the big screen to interrupt the celebration. Lee said that Cody would not get away with his transgressions against The Dark Order and that he would get his revenge by taking the AEW TNT Championship away from Cody on next week’s Dynamite (which will be on a Saturday instead of their usual Wednesday slot due to TNT’s coverage of the NBA). With the mounting wear and tear that Cody has piled upon his body due to his insistence of defending the AEW TNT Championship almost every week, Brodie could be considered a favorite to be the one to end The American Nightmare’s title reign.

Chris Jericho vs. Orange Cassidy II was a fantastic match and is my clear Match of the Week. The match lived up to their first encounter as both men played their parts well with the inclusion of legendary referee, Mike Chioda, being a great touch. I was incredibly happy to see Cassidy finally get his revenge on Jericho and The Inner Circle by overcoming all the odds and defeating Le Champion in what was the biggest win of his career thus far. Le Champion did an outstanding job at elevating Orange to an even higher level and I am looking forward to seeing what is next in both men’s careers.

Overall, this was an excellent episode of Dynamite with the highlights being The Young Bucks vs. The Dark Order, Cody vs. Sky, Omega/Page vs. Jurassic Express, FTR’s heel turn through their sneak attack on The Rock and Roll Express, and Jericho vs. Cassidy II.

Between NXT and AEW this week, I am going to have to give the clear win to AEW due to the overall match quality. This brings my personal 2020 WNW rankings to: NXT – 12 and AEW – 20.

 

WWE SmackDown:

Strowman throws away his friendship with Bliss in his obsessive crusade against The Fiend.
Credit: WWE

Results:
1. Asuka won a #1 Contender Battle Royal last eliminating Shayna Baszler to earn a shot at the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship at WWE SummerSlam
2. Sheamus defeated Chad Gable
3. Gran Metalik defeated Shinsuke Nakamura
4. Big E defeated John Morrison by submission

Thoughts: Retribution wasted no time making their presence known for the second week in the row when they interrupted the scheduled opening match between Big E and John Morrison by attacking both men and chasing away the announcers and cameramen before retreating. A group of SmackDown wrestlers tried to discuss how to handle these invaders. Big E tried to rally everyone together but was put down by Baron Corbin (who tried to argue he should be in charge) and Sheamus. The breakdown between the faces and heels resulted in the faces leaving after Big E declared that he would still face Morrison later in the night to show Retribution that they can’t keep him down.

Later in the night, Retribution caused the lights to flicker during Big E and Morrison’s match. This caused the SmackDown roster to all come out to ringside to confront them. This turned out to be a distraction as Retribution were actually backstage where they attacked referees and backstage personnel. By the time the roster members were made aware and got backstage, Retribution had already done their damage and retreated. The idea that the faces and heels will have to put their differences aside in order to overcome a shared enemy is an intriguing one. I am looking forward to seeing where this storyline goes from here.

Asuka winning the battle royal was a surprising result as it now means that she will be challenging for both the Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championship at WWE SummerSlam and could leave The Biggest Party of the Summer with both titles. Will it happen? With the PPV tagline being “You’ll Never See it Coming”, I guess we should expect the unexpected.

The final segment of the night involving Braun Strowman, The Fiend, and Alexa Bliss was an intense and interesting development in what has been a very well-done storyline thus far. After an emotional interview earlier in the night, Bliss came down to the ring to try and talk some sense into a crazed Strowman who was demanding that The Fiend come out and face him. Bliss’ pleas would end up falling on deaf ears as Braun denied that their friendship was ever real and that he now believes that Alexa was just using him and trying to turn him into something he is not. He then tried to warn her that anyone who faces The Fiend gets changed, including her, and told her to leave.

The Goddess then tried to literally slap sense into The Monster Among Men, but this would set Braun off as he hoisted Bliss into the air. He then acted like he was going to toss her to the floor until The Fiend’s eerie music began to play. The lights went out as the WWE Universal Champion tossed Bliss straight up into the air. When the lights came back on, Bliss was laying in the ring hurt as The Fiend appeared next to her with Braun nowhere to be found. Strowman then appeared on the big screen and started laughing maniacally. The Fiend then responded in kind as the show went off the air with a roar from Braun.

This was a great segment with everyone involved playing their parts well. The mental, emotional, and physical torture that The Fiend has put Strowman through over the past four months have finally taken their toll as Braun has now reverted back to the unstable monster that he was back when he was a member of The Wyatt Family. This great character development fits the pattern of everyone who has tried to oppose The Fiend having their natured changed to their “true” selves as Braun now joins the list of The Fiend’s victims that, so far, includes Finn Bálor, Seth Rollins, Daniel Bryan, The Miz, and John Cena.

A man losing himself in an obsessive search for vengeance is a tale as old as storytelling. This storytelling device has been around so long because it works, and the writers have done a great job of using it in this storyline. I cannot wait to see these two monsters clash at WWE SummerSlam in what should be the grand finale of this epic story.

In other news from the show, it was announced that Mandy Rose will take on Sonya Deville at WWE SummerSlam in a Hair vs. Hair match where the loser will be shaved bald. Also on the show, after their confrontation in the ring, it was announced that AJ Styles will defend his WWE Intercontinental Championship against Jeff Hardy next week.

Overall, this was a great episode of Friday Night SmackDown with the highlights being the continuation of the Retribution storyline, Mandy Rose’s promo, Alexa Bliss’ interview, and the final segment with Strowman, Bliss, and The Fiend.

 

That’s it for this week’s Spandex and Suplexes. I am looking forward to the continuation of the Retribution storyline on this Monday’s Raw and the continuation of the Strowman/Fiend storyline on this Friday’s SmackDown. 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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