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Watch This Wrestling 23 (6/11–17)

A salad-days week for WWE was only emphasized by a banner show from NJPW. Nothing more needed to be said, really. Apologies for the lateness here, this was delayed by my attending the Johnny Kidd Invitational (more on that later) and the insanity that was Money In The Bank 2017.

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

What I Watched

  • NJPW: Dominion, 6/11
  • Monday Night Raw, 6/12
  • ROH Wrestling, 6/12
  • SmackDown LIVE, 6/13
  • 205 Live, 6/13
  • Talking Smack Live, 6/13
  • NXT, 6/14
  • Lucha Underground, 6/14

Upcoming Watch List

  • Chikara: Johnny Kidd Invitational, 6/18
  • Money In The Bank, 6/18
  • Monday Night Raw, 6/19
  • ROH Wrestling, 6/19
  • SmackDown LIVE, 6/20
  • 205 Live, 6/20
  • Talking Smack Live, 6/20
  • NXT, 6/21
  • Lucha Underground, 6/21

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

KUSHIDA vs Hiromu Takahashi AND Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada

NJPW: Dominion, 6/11

Here’s a first, we’ve got a draw. Yep, I can’t choose between IWGP Jr. Heavyweight and Heavyweight championship title matches, one of which … well …

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Yes, Omega/Okada 2 ending in a time-limit draw gave me the confidence to let this end in a draw. Both of these matches did one thing unquestionably better than the other, and that’s why I can’t pick. And I feel like I’ve earned a draw, having waited 23 weeks to do so.

Omega vs Okada 2 has the dramatic storytelling that made me scream. That included Omega finally hitting the One Winged Angel too near the rope, Cody being high-key in it for himself, Okada needing the terrible table and most importantly, Omega fainting as Okada tried to hit the Rainmaker lariat.

Unfortunately, it didn’t have the animus and the brevity of KUSHIDA vs Takahashi. That match felt like NJPW’s answer to the Owens vs Zayn feud, with brutal punches from the first bell. While I love Takahashi’s delirious, almost-drugged expressions, I still can’t care about KUSHIDA, because I can’t see much of his emotion.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Roppongi Vice vs Young Bucks, NJPW: Dominion, 6/11
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Naito, NJPW: Dominion, 6/11
  • Roppongi Vice and ? vs The Young Bucks and Adam Page, ROH, 6/12
  • The Mack vs Mala Suerte, Lucha Underground, 6/14
  • Pentagon Dark vs Argenis, Lucha Underground, 6/14

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Cody Interrupts Okada

NJPW: Dominion, 6/11

I have not been a fan of Indie Cody, but here we got a solid character out of him. Not some asshat waffling between heel and face, but a cocky dick’ead.

By crashing the post-match press conference, insulting the face champ Okada, and stealing dude’s beer, this is a firm persona. Further, he even insulted his own stablemate Kenny Omega, when he said Okada’s afraid of facing a true superstar.

WWE Match of The Week:

Nikki Cross vs Ruby Riot vs Asuka

NXT, 6/14

I’ve been doing some back-reads on this blog and I’ve been disappointed with how it doesn’t get to give kudos to women’s wrestling matches. And while Raw and SmackDown Live don’t seem to be scratching that itch at the moment, NXT sure as hell did.

This title match match main-evented NXT, and even though some feel slighted by the quirks of its finish, I’m good with it. Yes, it didn’t make sense for the match to get thrown out when it’s a triple threat, before you realize it’s an elimination match, and by that point it was down to two. The non-finish to this match is good, as it leads to a one-on-one bout that will further showcase Nikki Cross.

WWE Segment of the Week:

Samoa Joe Interview

Monday Night Raw, 6/12

Yes, another week, another round of applause from yours truly for Joseph of Samoa. This guy is fire on the mic, and this promo is nearly-equal in importance to the pull-apart brawl that had him looking strong earlier in the show.

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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:

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Don’t Miss This 3 (1/20 — 26)

WWE Match of the Week:

Sami Zayn vs. Seth Rollins, for a spot in the Royal Rumble.

Monday Night Raw 1/23 

By now you know what happened with this one, but I still need to call it out anyways. Everything about it works, from the well-paced match to how it advanced something for everyone.

Sami’s into the Rumble where he can work out his aggression with Strowman. Rollins’ feud with Triple H gets the jumper cables (thankfully not from Kane). And the Foley/Steph distrust comes back.

WWE Segment of the Week:

AJ Styles Called Out John Cena

SmackDown Live, 1/24 

I give this point to John Cena who is still cold blooded when he needs to be. While I originally gave this spot to Mickie James (love her distaste for how Women’s Revolution erases her work), I had to pick Cena because this flipped my pick for the Rumble.

This felt like Cena flipped his switch back into serious mode and that he’s actually going for it tonight. That promo broke AJ apart so much that I can’t help but imagine the trajectory now sees Styles losing the belt at the Royal Rumble.

Also, note the shades of Cena’s The Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick when he yelled out I’m A Bad Bad Man.

Non-WWE Match of the Week:

Will Ospreay vs. Dragon Lee vs. KUSHIDA

ROH Wrestling, 1/23 

You might be familiar with the Ospreay from his match against Ricochet at Best of the Super Juniors last year. If you’d like some more wacky and wild flippy stuff (specifically, 50 percent more) this is for you.

https://dailymotion.com/video/x59vqkz

NJPW’s Kushida sometimes can’t keep up with Ospreay, but CMLL’s Dragon Lee gets time to shine here (which he didn’t at Final Battle in December). Still, though, Ospreay made the biggest impact on me here, especially with his standing shooting star press to break up a pinfall.

Non-WWE Segment of the Week:

New Impact Grand Champion Drew Galloway Promos

Impact Wrestling, 1/26 

The current I’m here to save you all heel gimmick that Drew Galloway is working is so good no matter where he is. I first saw it work in Evolve, but here in Impact, he’s still preaching that he’s the man to save the company. And as we all know, Impact needs all the help it can get.

Galloway is so boo-ably heelish in fact that this made me want to watch the TNA Grand Championship match it led to, so I could see him get his comeuppance. Unfortunately, the Impact Zone crowd still cheered him, and the Grand Championship matches stayed unwatchable.

No video of this, so you probably can’t find it without POP or a torrent of Impact. Not going to say it’s great enough for either of those though.