Watch This Wrestling 20 (5/18—27)

So, yet again, this took me a little more time than usual to produce. What’s different about this week is that I’ve put more days of research (read: me watching as much wrestling as I can, with a notebook at my side) than usual. Here on out, the reports will start on Sundays and end on Saturdays.

As for when reports will come out? I’m hoping Sundays, but could see it happen on Mondays or Tuesdays at the latest. It all depends on how much wrestling there was. As you’ll see below, there’s a shitton of graps going on in New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Best of the Super Juniors. On top of that, I’m putting time into starting PROGRESS, which might lead to me putting notes from that into this.

In marvelous news, though, we get Lucha Underground back this week! Yay!

One final note, I skipped the ROH TV show this week, because it was all Honor Rising material I saw in February.

As always, if I’m missing anything that can be accessed without too much trouble, @ me on twitter: henrytcasey.

What I Watched

  • NJPW Best of The Super Juniors, Odds and ends of matches from 5/18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 25, 26, 27
  • Being The Elite Ep. 53, 54, 5/18, 23
  • EVOLVE 84, 5/20
  • EVOLVE 85, 5/21
  • PROGRESS Ch. 48: Bang The Drum, hit VOD 5/21
  • WWE Backlash, 5/21
  • Monday Night Raw, 5/22
  • SmackDown LIVE, 5/23
  • 205 Live, 5/23
  • Talking Smack Live, 5/23
  • NXT, 5/24
  • WCPW World Cup Canadian Qualifier, up on YouTube 5/26

Upcoming Watch List

  • NJPW Best of The Super Juniors, 5/28, 5/29, 5/31, 6/1, and 6/3
  • Monday Night Raw, 5/29
  • ROH Wrestling, 5/29
  • SmackDown LIVE, 5/30
  • 205 Live, 5/31
  • Talking Smack Live, 5/31
  • Lucha Underground Season 3.5 Premiere, 5/31

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Who Will Keith Lee Challenge?

EVOLVE 85, 5/21

EVOLVE doesn’t do as much theatrical storytelling in the style you see from WWE, so clashes like these mean something. Lee shows up with a decision to make, challenge WWN champ Matt Riddle, or take on EVOLVE champ Zack Sabre Jr. (note to fans: make a ZSJ to Zack Sabre Jr. text shortcut, it’s worth it). What happens next, is delightful.

EVOLVE 85 is available on FloSlam.

Honorable Mentions:

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Bushi vs Kushida

NJPW Best of The Super Juniors, 5/23

I had originally picked Dijak vs Lee for this, but hot damn did Bushi and more specifically Kushida change my mind. As of this moment, Kushida isn’t in the lead in the Best of the Super Juniors tour, but it’s bringing the fire back to his performances, after getting buried to set up that Ricochet/Takahashi match.

And yes there are a lot of matches in this below list, pick based on your favorites if your time is limited.

New Japan’s Best of The Super Juniors tournament is available on NJPW World.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Donovan Dijak vs Keith Lee, Evolve 84, 5/20
  • Ethan Page vs Zack Sabre Jr. ©, Evolve 84, 5/20
  • Kyle O’Reilly vs Matt Riddle ©, Evolve 84, 5/20
  • Will Ospreay vs Ricochet, NJPW Best of The Super Juniors, 5/18
  • Ricochet vs Hiromu Takahashi, NJPW Best of The Super Juniors, 5/21
  • Matt Riddle vs Tyler Bate PROGRESS Ch. 48: Bang The Drum, 5/21
  • Jinny vs Session Moth Martina, PROGRESS Ch. 48: Bang The Drum, 5/21
  • Marty Scull, Yujiro Takahashi, and The Gorillas of Destiny vs David Finlay Jr., Ricochet, and War Machine NJPW Best of The Super Juniors, 5/22
  • Ryusuke Taguchi vs El Desperado, NJPW Best of The Super Juniors, 5/22
  • Will Ospreay vs Jushin Thunder Liger, NJPW Best of The Super Juniors, 5/23
  • Taichi vs Hiromu Takahashi, NJPW Best of The Super Juniors, 5/23
  • El Desperado vs Volador Jr., NJPW Best of The Super Juniors, 5/25
  • Speedball Mike Bailey vs Brent Banks, WCPW World Cup Canadian Qualifier, up on YouTube 5/26
  • Taichi vs Marty Scurll, NJPW Best of The Super Juniors, 5/26
  • Taka Michinoku vs Hiromu Takahashi, NJPW Best of The Super Juniors, 5/26

WWE Match of The Week:

Pete Dunne vs Tyler Bate ©

NXT: TakeOver Chicago, 5/20

The WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament two-day event may have been big, but this one match did more for UK wrestling as a whole. Not only does it give Pete Dunne the shine he so greatly deserves on an NXT TakeOver special, but it stole the damn show away.

After this show, TakeOver Brooklyn III neeeds it some Pete Dunne. Hell, we all do. Sure, Pete was the biggest rising star outside of the WWE, but now it’s Network-official. 

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

TakeOver Chicago Ends

NXT: TakeOver Chicago, 5/20

Even if you saw it live, it’s time to watch this again:

Everything about this is great. It being a post-credits-bug moment, the first since Owens turned on Zayn. The crowd’s shock and boos and horror at it all. The fact that only those who knew about a mistaken and deleted tweet (regarding Gargano getting new solo music) saw it coming. The social media kayfabe thereafter.

This, is how you break up a tag team. Unless you want ironic THANK YOU GOLDDUST chants.

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 19 (5/11—17)

This is the longest it’s taken for me to post a WTW and I’m guessing there might bemore delays going further. Not only has work gotten in the way of supposed free time, but I’m hitting moments where I don’t have enough hours to watch it all.

That’s the issue with the BOSJ tournament happening in tandem with spring, which brings social obligations and it becomes hard to find time to watch it all.

What I Watched

  • “Moving Forward” – Being The Elite Ep. 51, 5/11
  • From the Desk of Stokely Hathaway: It’s Personal, 5/11
  • Ring of Honor: War of the Worlds, 5/12
  • “Bullet Club Gets a Villain” – Being The Elite Ep. 52, 5/13
  • Monday Night Raw, 5/15
  • ROH Wrestling, 5/15
  • SmackDown Live, 5/16
  • 205 Live, 5/16
  • Talking Smack Live, 5/16
  • NXT, 5/17
  • EVOLVE Mini-Doc: Kyle O’Reilly Perfecting The Style, 5/17
  • NJPW Best of The Super Juniors 2017 Night 1, 5/17

Upcoming Watch List

  • NJPW Best of The Super Juniors, 5/18, 20, 21, 22, 23
  • Being The Elite Ep. 53, 54, 5/18, 23
  • EVOLVE 84, 5/20
  • EVOLVE 85, 5/21
  • WWE Backlash, 5/21
  • Monday Night Raw, 5/22
  • ROH Wrestling, 5/22
  • SmackDown LIVE, 5/23
  • 205 Live, 5/23
  • Talking Smack Live, 5/23
  • NXT, 5/24

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

“Bullet Club Gets a Villain” – Being The Elite Ep. 52

Ring of Honor: War of the Worlds, 5/12

I’m more than ready to admit some I-Was-There bias for this one, but it is a banger. So, before I chew on it, watch:

While YouTube has recently proven itself unfriendly to pro wrestling, The Young Bucks & Kenny Omega used this series to show the platform’s potential. Vignettes published to YouTube can provide the supplemental storytelling that promotions such as Ring of Honor and New Japan do not.

Despite what some might tell you, this new addition creates a match made in graps heaven. Some of the biggest Scurll fans shy away from the fact that he’s just as much of a Cool Heel as the Young Bucks, but as his first appearance in the Best of the Super Juniors tournament showed, everyone loves this villain.

And the crowd at the Hammerstein Ballroom, which I was a part of, sure loved to see the villain pop open his newest umbrella. Maybe some day the Bullets will add some actual heelishness, but until then, these cool kids belong together.

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Will Ospreay vs. Jay White

ROH: War of The Worlds, 5/12

As much as I want to award either of the below Best of The Super Juniors matches, both of those met their expectations, while this match exceeded. Sure, Ospreay/White looks like a fun match on paper, but not a match of the year competitor.

Going into this I didn’t have much of a thought about Jay White, and by the time he left the ring, I had expectations for the kid’s future. It also felt like a major milestone for Ospreay too, that he can lead as well as this.

ROH even gets points for booking, words I’d never thought I’d say, with its use of after-match theatrics. Those watching live raved and claimed instant-five-star classic, and even Dave Meltzer gave it a 4.5 out of 5.

ROH: War of The Worlds is available via PPV VOD on the FITE app.

  • Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll, NJPW Best of The Super Juniors Night 1, 5/17
  • Dragon Lee vs Hiromu Takahashi, Best of The Super Juniors Night 1, 5/17

WWE Match of The Week:

Finn Bálor vs Roman Reigns

Monday Night Raw, 5/15

Just as with the above match, this won its spot by defying odds.

And no, I haven’t soured on Bálor or Reigns, just on Monday Night Raw. The fact that this got the time it did and they got to cook as much as they did, should have given the red show a blueprint for the future. One they’ll need with Braun Strowman on the injured list.

WWE Segment of the Week:

Day One Is H

SmackDown Live, 5/16

There isn’t much to say about The Fashion Files. This was its third edition, and still laugh-out-loud funny. If you haven’t seen this already, then enjoy. Also, if so, leave a comment, I’m curious as to who you are.

There are some levels to this photo that I am working through. No better time than tomorrow, a Monday, to start anew.

Watch This Wrestling 18 (5/4–10)

No preamble this week, minus the typical list of what I watched for this week’s edition and what I’m planning to watch next week. If I’m missing anything that can be accessed without too much trouble, @ me on twitter: henrytcasey.

What I Watched:

  • WCPW Pro Wrestling World Cup: Mexico Qualifier, 5/5
  • Fight Club Pro: Dream Tag Team Invitational Night One, originally took place on 4/11, available on VOD on 5/5
  • Battle Club Pro: May The Villain Reign, 5/6
  • Monday Night Raw, 5/8
  • ROH Wrestling, 5/8
  • “FIFTY” – Being the Elite Ep. 50, 5/8
  • SmackDown LIVE, 5/9
  • 205 Live, 5/9
  • Talking Smack Live, 5/9
  • NXT, 5/10

Upcoming Watch List

  • “Moving Forward” – Being The Elite Ep. 51, 5/11
  • Ring of Honor: War of the Worlds, 5/12
  • “Bullet Club Gets a Villain” – Being The Elite Ep. 52, 5/13
  • Monday Night Raw, 5/15
  • ROH Wrestling, 5/15
  • SmackDown LIVE, 5/16
  • 205 Live, 5/16
  • Talking Smack Live, 5/16
  • NXT, 5/17

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

British Strong Style vs The Elite

Fight Club Pro: Dream Tag Team Invitational Night One, originally took place on 4/11, available on VOD on 5/5

Few teams can go toe to toe with The Elite (Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks, Matt and Nick Jackson), but British Strong Style might have actually pulled it off. Of course, many might balk at the $20 VOD price of the DTTI Night One event, but this card is a fantastic roundup of the best of independent wrestling talent today.

Available for purchase on Vimeo.

Honorable Mentions:

  • EC3 vs Flip Gordon vs Darius Carter, Battle Club Pro: May The Villain Reign, 5/6
  • Young Bucks vs The Squad, ROH Wrestling, 5/8

Non-WWE Segment of the Week:

“FIFTY”

Being the Elite Ep. 50, 5/8

Matt & Nick Jackson’s Being The Elite YouTube series took a big turn with this episode, that I’ll explain further next week, but “FIFTY” offers everything. From storytelling and a cornball saccharine rendition of “Say Something” to on-the-road behind-the-scenes footage, this is proof of why the Young Bucks have been smart to cut their own path on the road.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

Hideo Itami vs. Roderick Strong – NXT Championship No. 1 Contender’s Match

NXT, 5/10

If you were wondering about how much rust Hideo Itami would bring to the ring, you can watch this match to bury those questions. Also, points to Roddy for finally being over with the Full Sail crowd.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

“12 Days”

SmackDown LIVE, 5/9

This was the second time we’ve seen this style of promo from Jimmy and Jey, The Usos, and I give them all the credit for having waited between renditions. Normally with WWE, once a promo style gets over, it gets run until stale (see: Amore, Enzo & Cass, Big).

Still, the UK crowd, which had been a little quiet overall throughout the week, bought in fully here.

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 17 (4/27—5/3)

Here’s the latest edition of my weekly roundup of what’s worth checking out from the week in wrestling. People I talked to loved the Raw main event more than I did, but my issue was that the winner was so clearly obvious.

If somehow you found this and you don’t know I do a podcast about wrestling, I do! It’s called The Ring Post, and we just published our latest episode “Paybacklash” which you can find here.

As always, a list of what I watched for this week’s edition and what I’m planning to watch next week. If I’m missing anything that can be accessed without too much trouble, @ me on twitter: henrytcasey.

What I Watched:

  • Progress Wrestling, Ch.47: Complicated Simplicity, hit VOD on 4/29
  • NJPW: Wrestling Toyo Province 2017, 4/29
  • WWE Payback, 4/30
  • Monday Night Raw, 5/1
  • ROH Wrestling, 5/1
  • SmackDown Live, 5/2
  • 205 Live, 5/2
  • Talking Smack Live, 5/2
  • NXT, 5/3
  • NJPW: Wrestling Dontaku, 5/3

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Kenny Omega vs Tomohoro Ishii

NJPW: Wrestling Dontaku, 5/3

As much as I loved the matches from Progress 47 (watch it) nothing stands up in comparison to this bit of business from The Cleaner (Omega) and the Stone Pitbull (Ishii).

I wanted there to be a little more heel/face dynamic when I was watching this match, but in the time since I’ve realized why. Omega may possibly be turning heel, and this match may have primed the crowd to handle it, as they’ve already been turning on Okada, his opponent at the upcoming Dominion show.

NJPW: Wrestling Dontaku is available on NJPW World.

Honorable Mentions:

  • South Pacific Power Trip vs. London Riots, Progress Wrestling, Ch.47: Complicated Simplicity, hit VOD on 4/29
  • PROGRESS World Title and Tag Team Titles on the line: British Strong Style vs Ringkampf, Progress Wrestling, Ch.47: Complicated Simplicity, hit VOD on 4/29
  • Hiromu Takahashi vs Ricochet, NJPW: Wrestling Toyo Province 2017, 4/29

Non-WWE Segment of the Week:

EVOLVE Mini-Doc: Page vs. Darby – The Final Chapter

WWN Live/YouTube, 5/1

I’ve had a hard time writing about the recent last man standing match between Ethan Page vs Darby Allin. This video, another gem of an Evolve Mini-Doc from Kenny Johnson, tells so much story that it needs to be screened at the start of the next Evolve event.

Excellent mix of match footage and backstage content, with caption overlays as necessary. Gives the suicidal Darby Allin all the credit he deserves. I hope he’s going to be well soon.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

Naomi & Charlotte Flair vs Natalya & Carmella

SmackDown Live, 5/2

While the Payback PPV had some good stuff, this is the match I found myself thinking about more. And that’s less about the match itself rather than what it did for its characters. Love everything that happens once Charlotte arrives, as well as Becky’s decisions.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

The Fashion Files

SmackDown Live, 5/2

Without a shadow of a doubt, the best non-wrestling segment of the WWE week. Please, let this be a recurring bit. As I noted on the latest episode of The Ring Post, I want this to be a plot device for summarizing the current state of SmackDown Live.

Purest of gold here:

Honorable Mentions: