Watch This Wrestling 36 (9/10—9/16)

Good graps this week. But a note about spoilers: they suck. That is all.

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

What I Watched

  • Monday Night Raw, 9/11
  • SmackDown LIVE, 9/12
  • WWE Mae Young Classic Finale, 9/12
  • 205 Live, 9/5
  • NXT, 9/13
  • Lucha Underground, 9/14
  • Progress Ch. 55: Chase The Sun, 9/10, then 9/16 VOD
  • NJPW: Destruction In Hiroshima, 9/16

Upcoming Watch List

  • Monday Night Raw, 9/18
  • SmackDown LIVE, 9/19
  • 205 Live, 9/19
  • NXT, 9/20
  • Lucha Underground, 9/20
  • NJPW Destruction in Kobe, 9/22

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Jimmy Havoc vs Mark Haskins in a Deathmatch

Progress Ch. 55: Chase The Sun, 9/10

Progress’s stacked Chapter 55 card produced multiple match of the week candidates, but I’ll give this one to the deathmatch because it kept me guessing, from the edge of my seat. Gotta give it up to Jimmy Havoc for his continued brilliance in this format.

One excellent and interesting detail here was the use of Vicky Haskins in the match, for how the character development progressed.

But if you don’t like deathmatches — and this one has some brutal fucking craziness — you might be better off with any of the title matches, which I list below.

Honorable Mentions:

  • CCK vs British Strong Style for the Progress Tag Team championship in a ladder match, Progress Ch. 55: Chase The Sun, 9/10
  • Toni Storm vs Dhalia Black for the Progress Women’s championship, Progress Ch. 55: Chase The Sun, 9/10
  • WALTER vs Timothy Thatcher vs Matt Riddle © for the Atlas championship, Progress Ch. 55: Chase The Sun, 9/10
  • Travis Banks vs Pete Dunne for the Progress World championship, Progress Ch. 55: Chase The Sun, 9/10
  • Zack Sabre Jr. vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, NJPW: Destruction In Hiroshima, 9/16
  • Jordynne Grace vs Priscilla Kelly, Shine 45, 9/16

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

That Gauntlet Brawl

Lucha Underground, 9/14

When Lucha Underground wants to go wild, it doesn’t just pull out all the stops, but it just lets everyone into a room at the same time. An excellent game of hot potato.

WWE Match of The Week:

Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane

WWE Mae Young Classic Finale, 9/12

I hope that Vince McMahon’s appearance at the tail end of SmackDown Live helped bump the ratings over on the WWE Network for this match, the finale of the Mae Young Classic. Because Baszler and Sane put on one fucking great match.

While I wasn’t completely engaged during the first watch (still reeling from Vince, to be honest) this match only grew on me when I got a chance to watch it closely. I didn’t fully notice the moment where Shayna begins to sell the injured ribs.

I’m also going to give some blame to the commentary team, as Lita and JR weren’t as terrible as I worried, but still didn’t add anything. I hope this is the last we see of them outside of JR returning for main roster marquee matches.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

“A McMahon”

SmackDown LIVE, 9/5

For the second week in a row, Kevin Owens was at the center of the best non-match moment in WWE TV, and this time he had Vince McMahon on the other side of the ring.

Last week I said KO regained his importance, and this week, I’ll say that his mic work made him a Top Guy. Of course, that will rely on WWE making good on this going forward.

The one thing I want to posit, though, is what if Owens didn’t know the heat butt would happen? Something about him tells me he wouldn’t have been so ready to do this, given everything we know about concussions and CTE. What if Vince popped the ask on him in-ring, off-mic?

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 35 (9/3—9/9)

Hello friends! So, thanks to this rundown’s Sunday through Saturday format, this ranking is still hung up on BOLA. Why did I skip NJPW’s shows? Personal time limits met cards whose only matches I saw involved the ongoing thing between Ospreay and Takahashi.

And before you start this, realize minor BOLA spoilers follow. If you want a spoiler-free read, check out this piece I wrote for Cageside Seats about the experience.

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

What I Watched

  • Pro Wrestling Guerrilla 2017 Battle of Los Angeles – Final Stage, 9/3
  • Progress Ch. 54: Go To Your God Like A Soldier:, 9/3 [VOD date]
  • Monday Night Raw, 9/4
  • WWE Mae Young Classic Ep 5-8, 9/4
  • SmackDown LIVE, 9/5
  • 205 Live, 9/5
  • NXT, 9/6
  • Lucha Underground, 9/6

Upcoming Watch List

  • Monday Night Raw, 9/11
  • SmackDown LIVE, 9/12
  • WWE Mae Young Classic Finale, 9/12
  • 205 Live, 9/5
  • NXT, 9/13
  • Lucha Underground, 9/14
  • Progress Ch. 55: Chase The Sun, 9/15 [estimated VOD date]

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Keith Lee vs Donovan Dijak

Pro Wrestling Guerrilla 2017 Battle of Los Angeles – Final Stage, 9/3

This match is why, if you can only afford to buy or rent one of the BOLA events, you should pick the third, aka Final Stage, without a moment’s pause.

Yes, I’m far from the first to praise this match, with Dave Meltzer giving it a 5-stars rating (is that out of 5 or now out of 6.25?), but wow. It’s the best damn thing. And most of us, I’m guessing, didn’t see see coming. This is one of the great things about BOLA, as the brackets aren’t made public, and you don’t know third day matches until they happen.

The two had just as recently as Night 1 tagged as the Space Jam-inspired Monstars, but even their dynamic chemistry there didn’t make it obvious that Lee and Dijak would steal the show. Instead, it took mere moments into this bout, the third on the card (WHICH IS NOT WHERE YOU TYPICALLY PUT A BARN BURNER), for us in the audience to realize there was something special taking place in front of us. That we truly were going to bask in the glory of a maybe-once-in-a-lifetime feat to feast our eyes upon.

I won’t say any more, other than to say that if this doesn’t put Keith Lee on WWE’s shopping list – as they just picked up Dijak – I don’t know what Regal, The Brian Kendrick and X-Pac were looking at when they were at BOLA. These two redefined what big men can – and should – do, and I’d love to see it all take place again and again, on even grander stages. If you think Braun Strowman’s making 2017 the year of the hoss, just get ready for 2018: When Hosses Learn How To Fly.

Honorable Mentions:

  • All of BOLA Day 3. I thought about going into detail here, but seriously, that could spoil any of what went down. Most know about Lee vs Dijak by now, but let the rest of this night, drink it in maaaan, 9/3
  • Tyler Bate vs Kid Lykos, Progress Ch. 54: Go To Your God Like A Soldier:, 9/3
  • Jinny vs Dahlia Black, Progress Ch. 54: Go To Your God Like A Soldier:, 9/3
  • In a 5-0 Street Fight for an Aztec Medallion, Cortez Castro vs. Joey Ryan, Lucha Underground, 9/6

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Post-BOLA

Pro Wrestling Guerrilla 2017 Battle of Los Angeles – Final Stage, 9/3

The rug that tied it all together, the segment that finished BOLA, happening after the Finals victory, explained it all. Again, not going to spoil anything, but just applaud the mic work of those involved. With its wrestling being as good as it is, PWG doesn’t need to oversaturate with storyline, and this felt great.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Flash Morgan Webster’s “Wrestling Friends,” with special guests Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins, Progress Ch. 54: Go To Your God Like A Soldier:, 9/3

WWE Match of The Week:

Toni Storm vs. Kairi Sane

WWE Mae Young Classic Episode 8, 8/28

It’s not a surprise to me that my two favorites in this tournament put on the best WWE match of the last week. While it was competitive, I like that it didn’t feel like Kairi only barely came away with the win, because that would have felt like she definitely had no chance next week. And I desperately want her to win.

But that’s not to say that Toni Storm didn’t make the most of this appearance. She’s one of a few wrestlers who I’d be surprised that WWE doesn’t make a major offer to sign at the end of this thing.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

“You should have died in that crash.”

SmackDown LIVE, 9/5

First of all, thank you SmackDown Live, for doing the little thing, of crossing the wires. For Kevin Owens to interrupt Carmella, is a nice little moment that reminds us that wrestlers aren’t separated by division or locker room. Yes, I’m assuming Ellsworth changes before he gets to the venue and waits for Carmella to.

But, of course, this award goes to Kevin Owens for regaining his importance for the first time in a very long time. Sure, his stuff with Jericho was fun, but this is stronger, meaner and more manipulative.

Watch This Wrestling 34 (8/27—9/2)

This isn’t my tardiest post, but as I had said to expect, it wasn’t going to be one of the timely Sunday posts. BOLA was amazing, but also draining.

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

What I Watched

  • Monday Night Raw, 8/28
  • WWE Mae Young Classic Ep 1-4, 8/28
  • SmackDown LIVE, 8/29
  • 205 Live, 8/29
  • NXT, 8/30
  • Lucha Underground, 8/30
  • Pro Wrestling Guerrilla 2017 Battle of Los Angeles – Stage One, 9/1
  • Pro Wrestling Guerrilla 2017 Battle of Los Angeles – Stage Two, 9/2

Upcoming Watch List

  • Pro Wrestling Guerrilla 2017 Battle of Los Angeles – Final Stage, 9/3
  • Monday Night Raw, 9/4
  • WWE Mae Young Classic Ep 5-8, 9/4
  • SmackDown LIVE, 9/5
  • 205 Live, 9/5
  • NXT, 9/6
  • Lucha Underground, 9/6

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

An Unmasked Castro Meets With Dario Cueto

Lucha Underground, 8/30

A best in-name-only, as there wasn’t much to draw from this week. Being The Elite is getting stale and WWN seems to be in an off-week for YouTube content.

I liked this interaction, between Cueto and the fomerly-undercover cop who was in hiding in his underground wrestling club. Not only was it a surprise, because you don’t expect Castro to walk right into Dario’s office, but it pushed the ball forward in the feud with Joey Ryan.

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Flash Morgan Webster vs Marty Scurll

Pro Wrestling Guerrilla 2017 Battle of Los Angeles – Stage One, 9/1

As you’ll see in the honorable mentions, the first two nights of BOLA were (predictably) top-shelf. I could have gone with either of the Keith Lee matches from nights 1 or 2, or the insane The Elite vs The Lucha Trio (Penta El 0M, Fenix, Flamita). But I did not.

That’s because this match feels more … special. I’d never been a card carrying member of the FMW hive before, and now I own two of his shirts.

Why? He didn’t win the crowd over with perfect high spots or anything (one famous wrestling writer noted to me that’s where he needs work), but he showed everything else about how he is very damn good at this wrestling thing.

Wrestling as a babyface to Marty Scurll’s lovable villain is tough, but Flash sold everything beautifully and his buildups for comebacks were a delight. Scurll, for his part, did take to the mic to chastise the audience and get some heat to get the match starting right. And once Scurll had given Webster that starting point, the mod from a town called Malice brought thunder to begin the match.

All in all, it felt like the biggest match of Flash’s career so far.

Curious? Order BOLA via Blu-Ray or DVD from ProWrestlingGuerilla.com or at a date TBD on HighSpotsNetwork.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Brian Cage vs. Dezmond Xavier, BOLA – Stage One, 9/1
  • PENTA EL 0M vs. “Reborn” Matt Sydal, BOLA – Stage One, 9/1
  • The Chosen Bros (Jeff Cobb & Matthew Riddle) vs. The Monstars (Donovan Dijak & Keith Lee), BOLA – Stage One, 9/1
  • Jonah Rock vs. Zack Sabre, Jr., BOLA – Stage One, 9/1
  • Flamita vs. Ricochet, BOLA – Stage One, 9/1
  • Sammy Guevara vs. Joey Janela, BOLA – Stage Two, 9/2
  • Donovan Dijak vs. Trevor Lee, BOLA – Stage Two, 9/2
  • Michael Elgin vs. Matthew Riddle, BOLA – Stage Two, 9/2
  • Travis Banks vs. Mark Haskins, BOLA – Stage Two, 9/2
  • Keith Lee vs. WALTER, BOLA – Stage Two, 9/2
  • REY FENIX, Flamita, & PENTA EL 0M vs. The Elite (Matt & Nick Jackson, Kenny Omega), BOLA – Stage Two, 9/2

WWE Match of The Week:

Abbey Laith vs. Jazzy Gabert

WWE Mae Young Classic Ep 1, 8/28

Much like the Cruiserweight Classic, the Mae Young Classic’s early rounds aren’t all gems. Fortunately, it’s easy to find the best matches of this four episode (each is around 45 minutes) stretch, as they’re the main events. And of those four, this felt the most competitive.

Not only are their animated reactions at the start of the match a solid way to give this brawl some importance, but Laith’s underdog work from beneath during the match properly established Gabert as a force to be reckoned with. Look forward to seeing her future matches.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

Cena Pipebombs Reigns

Monday Night Raw, 8/28

As my friend Luis put it in a gchat, you either die a Super Cena, or live long enough to become CM Punk. As David Shoemaker said, this felt like more than a promo, but an intervention.

Nothing I can really add, but just need to give this segment praise, and hope that they can make this feud last all the way through the next half-year or further.