Watch This Wrestling 48 (12/3—12/9)

Hello friends!

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, 12/5
  • SmackDown LIVE, 12/5
  • 205 Live, 12/5
  • NXT, 12/6
  • Impact Wrestling, 12/7
  • Evolve 96, 12/9

Upcoming Watch List

  • Beyond Wrestling: Cold Brew, 12/10
  • Evolve 97, 12/10
  • Fight Club Pro: Infinite, 12/10
  • Monday Night Raw, 12/11
  • SmackDown LIVE, 12/12
  • 205 Live, 12/12
  • NXT, 12/13
  • Impact Wrestling, 12/14

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Walter vs Keith Lee

Evolve 96, 12/9

Nobody is surprised to see me post this match here, but this earned the spot thanks to improvement. Yes, this rematch from BOLA shows improvement from the Viennese powerhouse-slash-GAWD-himself WALTER, who’s even more nimble before. 

Also, Keith Lee’s somehow gotten even more charismatic and better with his ad libs than when they met in Reseda. Overall, this match benefits from a better pacing, as well.

Honorable Mentions:

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Park Park and Park: Your New Lawyers

Impact, 12/7

For the first time since Matt Hardy’s Broken Universe departed Impact, it felt as if someone got the chance to be creative in that company. Love the editing, and love Page as Chandler Park. But, had it not been for the Knockouts triple threat match I mention above, that episode of Impact would have been a complete waste of time.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

Kassius Ohno vs Johnny Gargano

NXT, 12/6

I often find myself silently asking “Why can’t Kassius Ohno just be Chris Hero and wreck shop at NXT?” I get it, that’s not the role they want for him down there, and sure, he really helped the Gargano Renewal Project get back up off the mat, but it was a shame that it came at Ohno’s expense. Fantastic match though.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

Woken Matt

Monday Night Raw, 12/4

There are two camps when it comes to the WWE’s handling of Woken Matt Hardy. I find myself on the side of those who is completely fine with the overly-repeitive WOKEN graphic with shattered glass. It’s a small way to clue the WWE audience (which in most capacities, didn’t watch the Broken Matt stuff from TNA) into the fact that shit’s about to get weird.

Also, I really dig this because it looks like Bray’s finally having fun within his character again.

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 40 (10/8—14)

Hello friends! This didn’t just go up late because there was a lot to watch, but because I did another one for Cageside Seats: Evolve 94 Live Report: A View From The Front Row.

Also, have you watched my video about BOLA yet?

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

What I Watched

  • WWE Hell In A Cell, 10/8
  • MLW One Shot, 10/8
  • PROGRESS: Revelations Of Divine Love, 10/8
  • Monday Night Raw, 10/9
  • NJPW King Of Pro Wrestling, 10/9
  • SmackDown LIVE, 10/10
  • 205 Live, 10/10
  • NXT, 10/11
  • Lucha Underground, 10/12
  • Evolve 94, 10/14

Upcoming Watch List

  • Evolve 95, 10/15
  • Monday Night Raw, 10/16
  • SmackDown LIVE, 10/17
  • 205 Live, 10/17
  • NXT, 10/18
  • Lucha Underground, 10/18

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Keith Lee vs Matt Riddle: WWN Championship Last Man Standing Match

Evolve 94, 10/14

In a week filled with 4-star matches, it’s hard to pick which one is the best. I’ve been nit-picking the finish of Lee vs Riddle for days, debating how much the Last Man Standing stipulation hurt the match.

Yes, a three-count could have made for a more raucous moment, but this match was still the biggest barn-burner of them all, even when you consider the ending relied on one man not standing up. And since I’ve heard some compelling arguments saying that an I Knocked You Out stip means more than a pinfall, yep this is the winner.

First of all, I loved the rolled-through suplexes to start the match off, placed them on a more-even playing field. The next thing I noticed (from the front row) that made me smile was how Keith Lee worked the match in a very natural way, turning his head to see if Riddle was rising up, and then immediately making an effort to do so at those moments.

I spent much of the hours before the show predicting that Lee would win, to the point where I felt confident. Maybe that’s why I felt the ending looked a little telegraphed, though Riddle spent a lot of time dominating the match, which always signals the comebacks.

On top of the solid build of Lee doing his signature moves, and then having to do them again from the top rope, the post-match moments really tied it all together. Look at how Keith Lee looks at the WWN Championship. We saw more raw emotion here than we ever got from Riddle over this belt, and more than we got from any of the below honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Ricochet vs Shane Strickland, MLW One Shot, 10/8
  • Jinny vs Milly McKenzie, PROGRESS: Revelations Of Divine Love, 10/8
  • Will Ospreay vs Kushida, NJPW King Of Pro Wrestling, 10/9
  • Tomohiro Ishii vs Tetsuya Naito, NJPW King Of Pro Wrestling, 10/9
  • Roppongi 3K vs Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi © for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles, NJPW King Of Pro Wrestling, 10/9
  • Pentagon Dark vs Son of Havoc, Lucha Underground, 10/12
  • Darby Allin vs Jarek 1:20, Evolve 94, 10/14
  • Fred Yehi vs Hot Sauce Tracy Williams, Evolve 94, 10/14
  • Jaka vs Zack Sabre Jr., Evolve 94, 10/14

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Ethan Page: This Generation Sucks, And So Does Shane Strickland

Ethan Page’s YouTube, 10/11

Surprise! I love an Ethan Page YouTube promo! Now that All Ego has left Evolve, his channel is my primary means of seeing the Body Guy talk his shit.

Here, he provides a solid takedown of Shane Strickland for making himself the leader of some loosely affiliated group of CZW talent. And Page makes some damn good points about how there are a lot of people just imitating others.

Now, I don’t see Strickland as a clone, he’s been proving his merit in a lot of places, from the Lucha Underground temple to the MLW One Shot event. But if you look around Strickland, in that video, yeah … Page has a point.

Page is also so far above most of the CZW roster — in terms of mic skills — that he can record this video in his kitchen and make it look easy.

Want another indicator of how this promo is great? It’s sold me on paying for the CZW The Wolf of Wrestling event when it eventually hits an online platform.

Why is that a big deal? Because I didn’t set up an array of mute filters, I have a pretty solid guess as to how the match finishes, as I didn’t see people on Twitter raving about a new champion being crowned. But I still want to see how this goes.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

The Usos vs The New Day for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships in a Hell In The Cell Match

Hell In A Cell, 10/8

Up to that moment it was the Best Hell In A Cell match that didn’t feature Mick Foley or The Undertaker. Which is saying something. Super insane spots, lots of inventive mayhem, and oh the trombones. Francesca lost a lot of family that night.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

Kevin and Sami Explain Themselves

SmackDown LIVE, 10/10

You know what’s amazing about this? Completely defied the established and hard-to-argue conventional wisdom that Sami Zayn should always be a babyface.

Sure, I’d like that heels be less right about their motivation, but I’m also impressed that this all ties together so well. Most WWE heel turns don’t make this much sense.

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 31 (8/6—12)

As promised, this is late af. What I didn’t expect when I said that last week, though, was that some germ that coated the decrepit Elmcor venue would knock me and many others down with a virus after the event.

Not that I should complain, though, as Progress: NYC saw TK Cooper dislocate his ankle after a bad landing from a corkscrew moonsault from the top turnbuckle to many wrestlers outside the ring. 

It happened right in front of me, and kind of broke me in a way. It’s not what made me sick, but watching one of your favorite artists injure themselves is a mindfuck I hope none of you ever get to see.

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

What I Watched

  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 15, 8/6
  • Monday Night Raw, 8/7
  • SmackDown LIVE, 8/8
  • 205 Live, 8/8
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 16, 8/8
  • NXT, 8/9
  • Lucha Underground, 8/9
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 17, 8/11
  • Evolve 90, 8/11
  • Battle Club Pro: The Bounty In Kings County, 8/11
  • Evolve 91, 8/12
  • Progress: NYC, 8/12
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 18, 8/12

Upcoming Watch List

  • NJPW: G1 Climax Finals, 8/13
  • Monday Night Raw, 8/14
  • SmackDown LIVE, 8/15
  • 205 Live, 8/15
  • NXT, 8/16
  • Lucha Underground, 8/16
  • House of Glory: High Intensity 6, 8/18
  • NXT: TakeOver Brooklyn III, 8/19

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Mark Haskins vs Austin Theory vs Mark Andrews vs Keith Lee

Progress: NYC, 8/12

It was a fantastic weekend for wrestling outside of the McMahon shadow (as long as you forget the “working relationships” that Evolve and Progress have with WWE).

And in a week with more excellent 4+ star matches, this unplanned match stands the fuck out. While it was originally slated to be Andrews vs Haskins vs Gibson (Zack Gibson had to bow out to be in a raucous show-opener against Jack Gallagher) those changes led to one of the most gob-smacking moments I’ve born live witness to.

I don’t know if it’s a triple suplex or a powerbomb-suplex, or a tower of suplex, or whatever, but watch this match – if for nothing else – than to see the witchcraft they conduct off of one of those turnbuckles. Haskins and Andrews both looked phenomenal, but the true story is the rising stocks of Keith Lee and newcomer Austin Theory.

Progress: NYC was a madhouse and will likely be made available on Demand Progress once the lads get the time to edit it together.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Kazuchika Okada vs. Minoru Suzuki, NJPW: G1, 8/8
  • Zack Sabre Jr vs Tomohiro Ishii, NJPW: G1, 8/11
  • Trent Seven and Tyler Bate (British Strong Style) vs Nick Iggy and Kerry Awful (The Carnies), Battle Club Pro: The Bounty in Kings County, 8/11
  • Pete Dunne vs Darius Carter, Battle Club Pro: The Bounty in Kings County, 8/11
  • Juice Robinson vs Michael Elgin, NJPW: G1, 8/12
  • Toru Yano vs Minoru Suzuki, NJPW: G1, 8/12
  • Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada 3, NJPW: G1, 8/12
  • ACH vs Ethan Page, Evolve 91, 8/12
  • Darby Allin vs Timothy Thatcher, Evolve 91, 8/12
  • Chris Dickinson & Jaka vs Travis Banks & TK Cooper, Evolve 91, 8/12
  • Matt Riddle vs Keith Lee vs Tracy Williams vs WALTER for the WWN Championship, Evolve 91, 8/12
  • Joey Janella vs Jimmy Havoc in a No Disqualifications match, Progress: NYC, 8/12
  • Jack Gallagher vs Zack Gibson, Progress: NYC, 8/12
  • Matt Riddle vs WALTER for the Progress Atlas Championship, Progress: NYC, 8/12

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Troll Boys by ACH & Ethan Page

Ethan Page’s YouTube, 8/12

This is the theme music for the newly minted troll comedy tag team of ACH and Ethan Page. Yes, the guys who faced each other in the funniest match of the year came back for another one.

As the video description reads:

We literally recorded this 20 minutes before the show. 

Enjoy.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

Last Man Standing Match: Braun Strowman vs Roman Reigns

Monday Night Raw, 8/7

Since Brock Lesnar is likely walking out of SummerSlam holding the Swedish Fish Championship (something I’ve been saying for weeks, check the podcast) it’s been great to watch the build to the PPV center around his opponents greatness.

Not only does this match have the chair spot of the year, but it has Solid Snake Samoa Joe, jumping up from out of nowhere to put Roman in a close-quarters-combat chokehold.

Honorable Mentions:

  • TJP vs Rich Swann, 205 Live, 8/8

WWE Segment of the Week:

Kevin Owens Uses his WWE Network subscription

SmackDown LIVE, 8/8

WWE often leans upon fans’ short term memory to tuck away the moments that don’t fit with current storylines. Since Kevin Owens loves this wonderfully weird thing called Pro Wrestling, I’d wager he had some involvement with this lovely segment.

I just wish the YouTube segment didn’t have the network bits edited out. A, it kills the tempo, and B) it’s easy marketing for the network!

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 30 (7/30–8/5)

So, a heads-up. WTW 31 is most-likely hitting the pages late. My excuse? Look down at my schedule for August 11 and 12, and realize I’m attending 3 of those 6 events, and needing to watch the other three after they occur. And then Sunday August 13 will feature the G1 Climax finals?

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

What I Watched

  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 10, 7/30
  • Monday Night Raw, 7/31
  • SmackDown LIVE, 8/1
  • 205 Live, 8/1
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 11, 8/1
  • NXT, 8/2
  • Lucha Underground, 8/2
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 12, 8/2
  • Progress Chapter 53: Fate Loves The Fearless, 8/3
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 13, 8/4
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 14, 8/5

Upcoming Watch List

  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 15, 8/6
  • Monday Night Raw, 8/7
  • SmackDown LIVE, 8/8
  • 205 Live, 8/8
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 16, 8/8
  • NXT, 8/9
  • Lucha Underground, 8/9
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 17, 8/11
  • Evolve 90, 8/11
  • Battle Club Pro: The Bounty In Kings County, 8/11
  • Evolve 91, 8/12
  • Progress: NYC, 8/12
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 1, 8/12

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

30 for 30: Stokely Hathaway!?

WWNLive via YouTube, 8/1

Stokely Hathaway is the crown-jewel of Evolve, and this video is further proof that the promotion is aware of it.

My favorite stuff in here is how some wrestlers just talk their talk about Stokely (Keith Lee in particular), while Dream Team affiliate Tim Thatcher simply avoids conversation.

Honorable Mentions:

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

EVIL vs Kazuchika Okada

NJPW: G1 Climax Day 14, 8/5

The second batch of G1 days didn’t offer the same brilliance as the first set, but god damn this match. In one match, they took Evil, who is the laser-light-loving love-child of Bray Wyatt and The Undertaker, and turned him into a star. If you want to know why Okada is so good, it’s due in part to him making his opponents look like a million bucks.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Dante Fox vs. Prince Puma, Lucha Underground, 8/2
  • Kenny Omega vs Juice Robinson, NJPW: G1 Climax Day 14, 8/5
  • Pete Dunne vs Jack Sexsmith, Progress Chapter 53: Fate Loves The Fearless, 8/3

WWE Match of The Week:

Aleister Black vs Kyle O’Reilly

NXT, 8/2

Leaving Ring of Honor might be the best thing to happen to Kyle O’Reilly’s career. First, he and Keith Lee kill it at Evolve 82 in April, and now this.

Sure, the ending isn’t what you might have wanted, but this match is a barn-burner.

  • John Cena vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, SmackDown LIVE, 8/1
  • AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens, SmackDown LIVE, 8/1

WWE Segment of the Week:

Fashion Peaks

SmackDown LIVE, 8/1

You don’t have to be a Twin Peaks fan to find Fashion Peaks hilarious. How do I know? I’ve tried and failed with the classic David Lynch TV show, but this segment still had me rolling in my chair.

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 29 (7/23–29)

Yep, this is late. Blame Atomic Blonde. Had I not gone to see that, I’d have kept to schedule and had time, and probably not fell asleep before I could do this on Sunday and then on Monday.

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

What I Watched

  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 5, 7/23
  • WWE Battleground, 7/23
  • Monday Night Raw, 7/24
  • SmackDown LIVE, 7/25
  • 205 Live, 7/25
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 6, 7/25
  • NXT, 7/26
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 7, 7/26
  • Lucha Underground, 7/26
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 8, 7/27
  • Progress Chapter 52: Vote Pies, 7/28 VOD
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 9, 7/29

Upcoming Watch List

  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 10, 7/30
  • Monday Night Raw, 7/31
  • SmackDown LIVE, 8/1
  • 205 Live, 8/1
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 11, 8/1
  • NXT, 8/2
  • Lucha Underground, 8/2
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 12, 8/2
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 13, 8/4
  • Progress Chapter 53: Fate Loves The Fearless, TBD VOD
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 14, 8/5

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

ACH: The Main Event Player

An Evolve Mini-Doc, 7/23

The story of ACH breaking bad in Evolve is a solid way to make use of him after his title opportunities didn’t go his way and he was out of the title picture. And to make matters better, this mini-doc hits the perfect tone with its handling of his comical match with Ethan Page.

While I think this video and push could bring the Super one back to the top of the mountain as a heel, but on August 12, in Queens, NY, he’ll be facing Ethan Page again, in an opening match. I look forward to seeing how Evolve makes them actually work.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Catrina confronts Penta, Lucha Underground, 7/26
  • Son of Havoc orders a drink, Lucha Underground, 7/26

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Michael Elgin vs Kenny Omega

NJPW: G1 Climax, 7/27

Possibly the most shocking match so far, Omega’s loss to Elgin is memorable because of how it hooked me. I believed Kenny wouldn’t lose in the tournament, possibly until Okada, but the G1 loves to surprise.

I was so glued to the screen once Omega couldn’t close, I don’t have any notes about this match other than a tweet that reads “holy hell Large Michael.”

Honorable Mentions:

  • Kota Ibushi vs Tomohiro Ishii, NJPW: G1 Climax, 7/23
  • Laura Di Matteo vs. Toni Storm © (Progress Women’s Championship), Progress Chapter 52: Vote Pies, 7/28
  • Matt Riddle vs. Travis Banks, Progress Chapter 52: Vote Pies, 7/28
  • Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA, NJPW: G1 Climax, 7/25
  • Michael Elgin vs Kenny Omega, NJPW: G1 Climax, 7/27
  • Tomohiro Ishii vs Tetsuya Naito, NJPW: G1 Climax, 7/29

WWE Match of The Week:

New Day vs The Usos

WWE Battleground, 7/23

Easily the match of the night, and proof that the best match that doesn’t feature The Great Khali should start the show off. With the Uces over, this match only needed to accomplish one thing (which it did) let Xavier Woods shine.

By having Big E sit out, Xavier got to be the hot tag for Kofi, who’s always done a good job of being the babyface in peril. The finish, though, emphatically shouts GAME OVER at Woods’ critics, if they exist.

WWE Segment of the Week:

The Fashion X-Files

WWE Battleground, 7/23

In a segment that is mysteriously not available on WWE’s YouTube channel – find it on the network – we laughed and we cried out in shock. Could not believe they pulled the stuffed horse head out, but I was pleasantly surprised that they used Mulder and Scully’s tension as a way to toy with those writing slash-fic for Breeze and Dango.

Maybe the kidnapping of Dept. Dango will go somewhere. We can only hope that The Truth Is H.

What Is EVOLVE?

EVOLVE (commonly-styled with all-caps, but here-to-fore as Evolve) is a Super-Indie pro wrestling promotion. While headquartered out of Philadelphia, PA, Evolve puts on a majority of its events in venues in other north-east cities (primarily Joppa, MD and Queens, NY).

image

Combining top-level independent talent (such as Zack Sabre Jr. and Matt Riddle) and a focus on the athleticism and technical wrestling, Evolve has seemingly taken Ring of Honor’s place in the world of pro wrestling.

In terms of format, Evolve has no tv shows, but instead airs two PPV events on back-to-back nights. They name these shows numerically, and August will see Evolve 90 and 91 happen on August 11 and 12.

Why do people like Evolve?

Simply put, Evolve puts on very good pro wrestling matches, and it manages to allow talent to develop characters while still going light on the sports entertainment theatrics. While the quality of booker Gabe Sapolsky is an on-again-off-again meme amongst fans, 2017 has been a banner year for the promotion.

Most of the year, including WrestleMania weekend, saw Evolve putting on top-to-bottom barn-burners. Unfortunately, the most recent shows have seen a dip in quality, as the promotion’s seen more talent move up to WWE, in a continuing trend.

Also, Evolve features the best talent who works a manager position in the industry right now –- and that includes Paul Heyman – in the phenomenal Stokely Hathaway. Why is Stokely so good? Not only can he jaw with the best of them, but his Twitter account is filled with excellent photoshops working Evolve talent into famous album art. Hathaway represents Timothy Thatcher, as well as the Catch Point faction, which is currently made up of “Hot Sauce” Tracey Williams, Chris Dickinson and Jaka.

So Evolve works with WWE?

I wouldn’t go so far as to call Evolve a farm-system for WWE, but Drew McIntryre, Johnny Gargano, Cedric Alexander and more all wrestled for Evolve before they made it to the houses that the McMahons are building.

Further, talents expected to join the team down in NXT — Donovan Dijak, Lio Rush, and Kyle O’Reilly — all appeared once or more recently in Evolve.

If you want to go back a little bit in time, WWE held Cruiserweight Championship Tournament spotlight matches at Evolve events. Eagle-eyed fans at Evolve 67 spotted Cesaro, Daniel Bryan and William Regal walking out of the show, which featured Chris Hero (nka Kassius Ohno) among many of the above names.

What are the divisions & championships in ROH, and who holds those belts currently?

Evolve features three championships, and one isn’t strictly its own. Its primary title is the (simply titled) Evolve Championship, which is currently held by Zack Sabre Jr.. He won the title from Timothy Thatcher at Evolve 79 on February 25, 2017, ending a 596-day reign.

As the LCD Soundsystem lyrics go, “I was there.” It was one of my favorite matches I’ve seen live.

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Its other title is the Evolve Tag Team Championship, which is currently held by The Workhorsemen, Anthony Henry and James Drake. The duo won the titles on July 8, 2017, in surprise fashion, as the two weren’t signed with the company at the time. They were working in a single-day contract (at the time) capacity, as local talent there to fight then-champs Chris Dickinson and Jaka.

The third title in Evolve is the WWN Championship, which made its debut on April 1, 2017. It was the prize of a six-way elimination match featuring Matt Riddle, Fred Yehi, Jon Davis, Parrow, Timothy Thatcher, and Tracy Williams. Riddle won the title, and is going to defend on August 12 in a match against “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams, Keith Lee, and WALTER.

Wait, what’s WWN?

The World Wrestling Network (WWN) is the parent promotion of Evolve, Shine, and lesser-known promotions including Full Impact Pro Wrestling (which isn’t watchable) and Styles Battle.

You don’t really need to know that WWN is a thing, unless you’re cursed with needing to access video-on-demand (VOD) content. That was the case when wwnlive.com was the only way to stream the Progress Orlando show.

What’s Evolve missing?

Evolve does not feature any women wrestlers. Sure, Priscilla Kelly shows up to be the American version of Paige and manage Austin Theory, but she’s the only woman outside of ring announcer Joanna Rose who appears in Evolve.

If you asked Evolve, they’d likely say that you can find it in WWN sister promotion Shine. Critics might combat them by saying that this doesn’t stop other indie promotions, such as the U.K.’s Progress.

What about the announcers?

Lenny Leonard does the thankless chores of all the play-by-play and the color commentary. He does it very well, and I don’t think he gets enough credit.

How do you watch Evolve?

So, if you can attend an Evolve show, do it. The tickets are affordable (general admission costs around $20), and it’s always a fun time.

If you can’t, here’s where I talk about the catch to all that goodness.

FloSlam is not a great streaming service, but it’s the only place to stream Evolve PPVs. The biggest flaw of FloSlam is that events take around a whole day — often longer — to hit video-on-demand. So if you’re not watching live, you’re waiting.

And while FloSlam started at $20 per month, new subscribers need to pay $30 per month. so, to explain that, it appears they flip-flopped on new subscription pricing. 

So, while that’s two-times the price of the WWE Network (whose low price is arguably a move to make it impossible for smaller promotions to compete), that’s still less than it costs to stream one ROH PPV, and it includes two Evolve PPVs per month.

Fortunately, Evolve isn’t the only wrestling you get on FloSlam, as Shine, wXw (Westside Xtreme Wrestling in Germany) and International Pro Wrestling: United Kingdom (IPW:UK) also stream there. It’s not hard to argue that Evolve is the best of those three.

Watch This Wrestling 27 (7/9–15)

Because of region-blocking, I’m one of the folks who didn’t get to watch the British J Cup on NJPW World, so while it has tons of stuff that sounds awesome (Riddle vs Ishii included), it won’t be in here.

My PROGRESS binge, if you were curious, is going swell. But with the G1 starting tomorrow, I’m not even sure if I’ll get the J Cup in before August.

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

What I Watched

  • Evolve 89, 7/9
  • Being The Elite Ep. 63, “Hot Topic”, 7/9
  • WWE Great Balls of Fire, 7/9
  • Monday Night Raw, 7/10
  • SmackDown LIVE, 7/11
  • 205 Live, 7/11
  • Talking Smack Live, 7/11
  • NXT, 7/12
  • Lucha Underground, 7/12
  • PROGRESS: Chapter 51: Screaming For PROGRESS, 7/15

Upcoming Watch List

  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 1, 7/17
  • Monday Night Raw, 7/17
  • SmackDown LIVE, 7/18
  • 205 Live, 7/18
  • A MOMENT OF SILENCE FOR TALKING SMACK, REST IN POWER
  • NXT, 7/19
  • Lucha Underground, 7/19
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 2, 7/20
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 3, 7/21
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 4, 7/22

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

ACH vs. “All Ego” Ethan Page

Evolve 89, 7/9

Sure, this is technically a match, as all comedy matches are. But since the concept of competition was absent, swapped out for flipping the birds to Evolve management, I’m not filing this under the match category.

Still, though, it’s an amazingly fun time. Both men spend the match ripping on tropes, and send Lenny Leonard (one of the best commentary guys in the game) into a fit.

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Walter vs Matt Riddle © for the Atlas Championship

PROGRESS: Chapter 51: Screaming For PROGRESS, 7/15

Sure, PROGRESS’s lack of a live stream creates that same terrible spoilers problem that PWG has, but this match is a banger even if you know who’s gonna end.

This, in part, makes up for a criticism of Riddle I’ve heard over the last week. Some think he has tendency to not sell moves enough, but I gotta say, when he finally does sell hard here, it sure helps Walter seem even bigger for this performance.

Available via Demand Progress.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Darby Allin vs. Timothy Thatcher, Evolve 89, 7/9
  • Fred Yehi vs. Zack Sabre Jr. © for the Evolve World Championship, Evolve 89, 7/9
  • Jordynne Grace vs La Rosa Negra (Shine Nova Championship Tournament First Round Match), Shine 43, 7/14
  • Holidead vs. Ivelisse (Shine Nova Championship Tournament First Round Match), Shine 43, 7/14

WWE Match of The Week:

Samoa Joe vs Brock Lesnar ©

WWE Great Balls of Fire, 7/9

Before the bell even rung, you knew this match was awesome. Clearly, Brock has bought into Joe in a way he refused to for Ambrose (which almost seems to be vindicated by time?), with the Samoan Submission Machine slamming the beast through an announce table EARLY.

So while the match wasn’t long, it had the strongest effect on me of any on the card. And since it’s not often that a WWE PPV has me screaming, I give this the W.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

Exit The Strowman

WWE Great Balls of Fire, 7/9

Did they turn him? No, they did better by allowing Braun to keep his mystique after Roman Reigns attempted vehicular manslaughter on his ass.

Oddly, no video here. Maybe because of the blood? Watch it (again) on the Network, I guess.

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 26 (7/2–8)

You’ll notice is that while ROH TV is in my watched list, but it isn’t in my to-watch-list. Why’s that? Their TV shows have been not-great for months and with a massive amount of Progress and NJPW to watch over the coming weeks, I’m trying to use my time more efficiently. Also, I’ve gotten tired of their PPVs and TV episodes not lining up because of their pre-tape schedule.

Also, a belated Best Non-WWE award to The Bachelorette for the Kenny King vs Lee The Racist feud. So while I love Kenny King now, and he won an ROH TV title #1 contender’s ranking this week on ROH TV, that’s still not enough for me to keep watching that show as it is these days. If ROH TV somehow improves its shows, then we’ll see if they can get the rose again.

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

What I Watched

  • New Japan G1 Special Night 2, 7/2
  • Monday Night Raw, 7/3
  • ROH Wrestling, 7/3
  • SmackDown LIVE, 7/4
  • 205 Live, 7/4
  • Talking Smack Live, 7/4
  • Progress: Chapter 50: I Give It Six Months, 7/4
  • NXT, 7/5
  • Lucha Underground, 7/5
  • Evolve 88, 7/8

Upcoming Watch List

  • Evolve 89, 7/9
  • Being The Elite Ep. 63, “Hot Topic”, 7/9
  • Monday Night Raw, 7/10
  • SmackDown LIVE, 7/11
  • 205 Live, 7/12
  • Talking Smack Live, 7/12
  • NXT, 7/13
  • Lucha Underground, 7/13

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Best of Bros: Keith Lee and Matt Riddle

WWNLive via YouTube, 7/7

This may go as no shock as I am a fan of ~both these guys~, but this is another solid mini-doc from Kenny Johnson. This is the first I’ve seen of a promotion focusing on Riddle’s Altered Bro moments, and the digital effects applied there are great.

Also, this shows off their Evolve 87 match as the must-see it was, as well as giving more spotlight to Keith Lee’s charisma, and attention to the issue of being friendly with someone who’s out to get you. Riddle didn’t show up to aide Lee at Evolve 88, and this could be shown as reason why, with The Bro not wanting his strongest competition at full-strength. Or he’s just a prick like John Cena who doesn’t do anything when his “friends” get attacked.

Honorable Mentions:

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Zack Sabre Jr. vs Tomohiro Ishii, IWGP US Championship Tournament match

New Japan G1 Special Night 2, 7/2

The inclusion of Tomohiro Ishii is one of the things about the G1 Special in the US events that makes me the most jealous, considering The Stone Pitbull didn’t show up at the ROH / NJPW War of The Worlds NYC PPV.

This event gave the LA audience everything I wanted, and then some. Of the matches they got, I preferred his match against ZSJ because you rarely see Ishii in submission matches, and this showed he’s great there too. Also, loved the insane move of ZSJ’s trying to go strike for strike with the walking, talking human version of Ben Grimm aka The Thing.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Kenny Omega vs Jay Lethal, New Japan G1 Special Night 2, 7/2
  • Tomohiro Ishii vs Kenny Omega, New Japan G1 Special Night 2, 7/2
  • Young Bucks vs ROPPONGI Vice, New Japan G1 Special Night 2, 7/2
  • Kay Lee Ray vs Toni Storm ©, Progress Chapter 50
  • CCK vs BSS, Progress Chapter 50
  • Ethan Page vs Keith Lee, Evolve 88, 7/8
  • Darby Allin vs “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams, Evolve 88, 7/8
  • ACH vs. Fred Yehi for the Evolve World Championship #1 Contender position, Evolve 88, 7/8

WWE Match of The Week:

AJ Styles vs Chad Gable

SmackDown LIVE, 7/4

I was split this week on the E’s best match, because both were great, but also predictable. But while I enjoyed Roode being despicable, I cared more about the continuation of Chad Gable’s solo sojourn.

As Gable said in a backstage interview afterwards, the tag division is a little packed at the moment. If they need solid solo matches to get the audiences to care more about American Alpha, so be it.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

The Rap Battle: The New Day vs The Usos

SmackDown LIVE, 7/4

The first great rap-related segment in WWE history, and it had bars for days. Haven’t seen it somehow? Find another version than the one below, as WWE left off the best bar.

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 25 (6/25–7/1)

With this post, I’ve hit the half-year mark of the Watch This Wrestling project! I don’t know if we’re going to hit 52 editions, because of scheduling changes I made, but after this post goes up, I’m considering these first 25 to be the first half of the year, which I’ll use for a roundup.

The other bit of preamble, anyone else wondering what inspired the WWE to book women’s main events in all three of their major shows this past week? Was it GLOW debuting, or how poorly they did in the previous week? Either way, I hope this emphasis continues, instead of fading away.

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

What I Watched

  • Evolve 87, 6/25
  • Monday Night Raw, 6/26
  • ROH Wrestling, 6/26
  • SmackDown LIVE, 6/27
  • 205 Live, 6/27
  • Talking Smack Live, 6/27
  • NXT, 6/28
  • Lucha Underground, 6/28
  • New Japan G1 Special Night 1, 7/1

Upcoming Watch List

  • New Japan G1 Special Night 2, 7/2
  • Monday Night Raw, 7/3
  • ROH Wrestling, 7/3
  • SmackDown LIVE, 7/4
  • 205 Live, 7/4
  • Talking Smack Live, 7/4
  • NXT, 7/5
  • Lucha Underground, 7/5
  • Evolve 88, 7/8

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Zack Sabre Jr. vs Jaka

Evolve 87, 6/25

I hope that the solid barn-burner that was Evolve 87 doesn’t get lost in the overshadowing nature of NJPW’s #G1USA event, because holy shit it was more consistent than either night of those Long Beach shows. but I loved this match so much.

Why? Because this match showed that Jaka can be a singles wrestler, and a very damn good one at that. The story was simple: don’t sleep on Jaka. Zack Sabre Jr. spent the match evolving from that state of slumber to one of being wide-the-fuck-awake at the guy’s ability.

And to have it end with Jaka, a heel, be sad that he couldn’t get it done, and have it come across as sincere and not ruin his heelishness? Excellent. Love that he was visually stuck inside the moment, which felt natural.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Keith Lee vs Matt Riddle, Evolve 87, 6/25
  • Fred Yehi vs Chris Dickinson. Evolve 87, 6/25
  • Bobby Fish vs Silas Young, ROH Wrestling, 6/26
  • Jay White vs Punishment Martinez, ROH Wrestling, 6/26
  • Zack Sabre Jr. vs Juice Robinson, New Japan G1 Special Night 1, 7/1
  • Michael Elgin vs Kenny Omega, New Japan G1 Special Night 1, 7/1
  • Kazuchika Okada vs Cody, New Japan G1 Special Night 1, 7/1

WWE Match of The Week:

Asuka vs. Nikki Cross: Last Woman Standing

NXT, 6/28

First off, the start of this match has a pacing to it that is missing from WWE matches. Sure, they may have just used three headlock tie-ups and a dodged kick, but those moments fit with them analyzing each other so well, that it immediately lent the match some urgency and big fight feel.

I wondered how the stipulation would fit into how the match played out, but since neither is a technical wrestler, it works as a brawl. That also made the finish, an impact move, make sense, even though it didn’t target the legs.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Raw Women’s division in a number one contender’s gauntlet match, Monday Night Raw, 6/26
  • Carmella vs Natalya vs Charlotte vs Becky Lynch vs Tamina in a Money In The Bank Ladder Match, SmackDown Live, 6/27

WWE Segment of the Week:

Enzo and Cass Make-up to Break-up

Monday Night Raw, 6/26

This feels weird, but it’s earned. Mostly because of how it succeeded by going completely against the grain. For Enzo to come out there, and humble himself, and own his bullshit, is not what a WWE face does. So often, as a Cageside Seats post pointed out, only the WWE heels make sense, as Cass did last week.

So for Cass to wreck Enzo after his former lil buddy made so much sense, and after falsely forgiving him? That makes Cass a true villain, and it shows they’re going all-in on this.

Honorable Mentions:

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Dario Cueto finds competition for Son of Havoc

Lucha Underground, 6/28

Not the strongest week for outside the ring content, but this segment had me howling. Why? The show introduced a new character who seems to be from Son of Havoc’s past, one who looks an awful lot like WWE superstar Luke Harper. Not the biggest deal, but it had me screaming.

Lucha Underground can be seen on El Rey and the iTunes TV Store.

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: