Watch This Wrestling 52 (12/31—1/6)

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”

A year ago, I resolved to do a post a week compiling the best wrestling of the week, both inside and outside of the WWE.

That original post, which covered stuff from January 6th through the 12th, was called “Don’t Miss This,” because I didn’t think to put Wrestling in the title. I think since then I’ve grown to own my fandom more and more, and today, I publish the last weekly version of this thing (at least for a while).

Why the change? This year, my creative resolution is to produce with a greater variety. Also, this means I won’t have to write when a week doesn’t merit it. Since that original post, I’ve also written six posts (of varying lengths) for CagesideSeats, and even made a video about the 2017 PWG Battle of Los Angeles. With this change, I hope to continue to have more time to do more things.

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

What I Watched

  • Beyond Wrestling: Heavy Lies The Crown, 12/31
  • Monday Night Raw, 1/1
  • SmackDown LIVE, ½
  • 205 Live, ½
  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12, ¼
  • Progress Chapter 60: Unboxing 2, Unbox Harder VOD: 1/5
  • NJPW New Year’s Dash, 1/5

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Chris Jericho vs Kenny Omega

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12, ¼

And what a high-note to end this on. Pretty much everyone who enjoys wrestling kind of owes it to themselves to see this one. Not only is it a side of Jericho we haven’t seen in ages, but to see how Kenny Omega is an incredibly strong worker and sells better than Dog Ziggler ever will.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) vs. EYFBO (Mike Draztik & Angel Ortiz), Beyond Wrestling: Heavy Lies The Crown, 12/31
  • Keith Lee vs Josh Briggs, Beyond Wrestling: Heavy Lies The Crown, 12/31
  • Joey Janela vs David Starr, Beyond Wrestling: Heavy Lies The Crown, 12/31
  • Will Ospreay vs KUSHIDA vs Hiromu Takahashi vs Marty Scurll (champion), IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title match, NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12, ¼
  • Hirooki Goto vs Minoru Suzuki (champion), Hair vs. Hair NEVER Openweight Title Match, NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12, ¼
  • Cody vs Kota Ibushi, NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12, ¼
  • Tetsuya Naito vs Kazuchika Okada (champion), IWGP Heavyweight Title match, NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 12, ¼
  • Travis Banks’ Title Defense, Progress Chapter 60: Unboxing 2, Unbox Harder 1/5
  • Opening Match, Progress Chapter 60: Unboxing 2, Unbox Harder 1/5

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Travis Banks’ next challenger, revealed.

Progress Chapter 60: Unboxing 2, Unbox Harder ¼

I wanted to originally award this to Jericho attacking Naito at New Year’s Dash, but that would be a bald-faced lie. Instead, I’m giving my final Non-WWE Segment of The Week to the aftermath of Travis Banks’ title defense. There, he declared that he’s ready to take on everyone and anyone. And then, this song hit. If for some reason, you haven’t seen it, I won’t say whose music that was, or force you to click on it.

What I will say, though, is that everything felt real and natural. Nothing felt forced, everyone stayed true to their character. And I loved it.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

The Usos vs. Gable & Benjamin – SmackDown Tag Team Title Match

SmackDown LIVE, ½

Sure, you could be a grouch and say how can refs act like this once, shouldn’t they always? Well, the product is always in service of the story, and to give Gable and Benjamin something to gripe about was a fantastic idea.

Because the truth is, the ref did make the wrong call at first, and it was right to be reversed. Also, just a damn good match.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

The New Day ring in the new year with a surprise for Xavier Woods

SmackDown LIVE, ½

Xavier Woods, Pastry Detective, is a show I’d pay to watch. Especially if Rusev and English are the Moriarties to his Holmes.

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 49 (12/10—12/16)

Hello friends!

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

What I Watched

  • 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
  • Death Match 7, 12/13
  • MLW: Never Say Never, 12/13
  • Impact Wrestling, 12/14
  • Progress Chapter 59: Whatever People Say We Are, That’s What We’re Not, 12/15
  • House of Glory: Se7en, 12/16

Upcoming Watch List

  • WWE Clash of Champions 2017, 12/17
  • Monday Night Raw, 12/18
  • SmackDown LIVE, 12/19
  • 205 Live, 12/19
  • NXT, 12/20
  • Progress: Live at the Dome (12/13), 12/22

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Mark Davis vs. Jordan Devlin vs. MK McKinnan vs. Omari (Infinity 2017 – Final)

Fight Club: PRO: Infinity 2017

Fight Club Pro — one of my favorite new promotions to watch this year — came to a raucous crescendo with its Infinity 2017 tournament. And so while I wanted to give the point to one of the many other good matches from that week (wow, see below), this elimination based-fourway was so solid. Not only does it offer a chaotic scramble style, but you practically got a whole other great match when it was down to the final two. 

Honorable Mentions:

  • Walter vs David Starr, Beyond Wrestling: Cold Brew, 12/10
  • Darby Allin vs. Keith Lee vs. “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams, Evolve 97, 12/10
  • Jaka vs. Zack Sabre, Jr. © (Evolve World Championship), Evolve 97, 12/10
  • Matt Riddle vs. WALTER (No Rope Breaks Match), Evolve 97, 12/10
  • Omari vs. Millie McKenzie (Infinity 2017 – First Round), Fight Club: PRO: Infinity 2017, 12/10 VOD
  • Kay Lee Ray vs. Mark Davis (Infinity 2017 – First Round), Fight Club: PRO: Infinity 2017, 12/10 VOD
  • Ospreay/Okada vs Naito/Takahashi, NJPW World Tag League Final, 12/11
  • Zack Sabre Jr. vs Chuck Taylor in a Falls Count Anywhere No Ring Match, Death Match 7, 12/13
  • MJF vs Joey Ryan, MLW: Never Say Never, 12/13 
  • Shane Strickland & John Hennigan vs Jimmy Havoc & Darby Allin, MLW: Never Say Never, 12/13
  • Grizzled Young Vets (Zack Gibson & James Drake) vs Aussie Open (Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis), Progress Chapter 59: Whatever People Say We Are, That’s What We’re Not, 12/15
  • EYFBO (Angel Ortiz & Mike Draztik) vs Private Party vs House Of Gangone vs Brian Burgundy & TJ Marconi, House of Glory: Se7en, 12/16
  • Zack Sabre Jr. vs Amazing Red, House of Glory: Se7en, 12/16

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

A Wild Chris Jericho Appears… And Then

NJPW World Tag League Final, 12/11

What started as a fantastic surprise now has some teeth to it, thanks to these two segments. Just, bravo. 

Also, gotta love the subtle trolling from Jericho, in the lines saying this match will end Omega, he specifically suggests it’s the end of Omega’s run in New Japan. 

    WWE Match of The Week:

    Roman Reigns vs. Cesaro – Intercontinental Championship Match

    Monday Night Raw, 12/11

    Ah Cesaro. Remember what I said about his former fellow King of Wrestling in WTW 48? Same goes here. 

    And this match allowed him to show management that he’s ready as hell for a singles push if and when Sheamus retires.

    Honorable Mentions:

    WWE Segment of the Week:

    “Don’t talk to Drew like that.” – Tony Nese / Tony Nese vs Enzo Amore

    205 Live, 12/12

    It pissed off many that Enzo Amore got the cruiserweight championship, but wow has this situation helped Drew Gulak. While the below segment focuses on the match between Nese and Amore, I’m only bringing it in as contextual info to a clip WWE’s YouTube doesn’t have, a backstage segment where Gulak’s Team PowerPoint buddy Tony Nese — maybe Drew’s one true friend — stuck up for Drew. 

    The sadness of the betrayal, though. Not since Festival of Friendship has WWE hit this note so well.

    Honorable Mentions:

    WTW 45

    Watch This Wrestling 45 (11/12—18)

    Okay, I’m almost caught up on this project. 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, 11/13
    • SmackDown LIVE, 11/14
    • 205 Live, 11/14
    • NXT, 11/15
    • RevPro Global Wars Nights 1 & 2, VOD 11/17
    • NJPW World Tag League Press Conference, 11/17
    • NXT: TakeOver WarGames, 11/18
    • NJPW World Tag League Night 1: 11/18

    Upcoming Watch List

    • Various other NJPW World Tag League events
    • Survivor Series 2017, 11/19
    • Progress Chapter 57: Enter Smiling, 11/19
    • Monday Night Raw, 11/20
    • SmackDown LIVE, 11/21
    • 205 Live, 11/21
    • NXT, 11/22
    • Powerbomb.tv: Wazzup, 11/25
    • Powerbomb.tv: This Very Second with Bryce Remsburg, 11/25

    Non-WWE Match of The Week:

    Keith Lee vs Tomohiro Ishii

    RevPro Global Wars Night 1

    I’m thankful that the two-night RevPro & NJPW collaboration was made available on NJPW World, because it features this excellent faceoff of two of my favorite big men. Sure, Lee‘s size almost dwarfs Ishii’s, but find me a man who says that Ishii isn’t thicc, and I’ll tell him to get new glasses.

    This match has tons of fun moments inlcuding that spine-buster that looked like a choke-slam, and some mind-blowing German suplexes, but there’s one fantastic sequence: Powerbomb -> Guillotine -> Suplex -> DDT that left me scrambling to rewind.

    Honorable Mentions:

    • Lord Gideon Grey and Damian “No Fun” Dunne vs Toru Yano and Gedo, RevPro Global Wars Night 1
    • Tetsuya Naito vs Marty Scurll, RevPro Global Wars Night 1
    • CCK (Chris Brookes and Travis Banks) vs Rocky Romero and Yoshi-Hashi, RevPro Global Wars Night 1
    • Zack Sabre Jr. vs Will Ospreay, RevPro Global Wars Night 2
    • Michael Elgin, Jeff Cobb, David Finlay & Katsuya Kitamura vs. Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Trent & Chuckie T, NJPW World Tag League Night 1, 11/18

    Non-WWE Segment of The Week

    Zack Gibson’s Promos

    RevPro Global Wars

    If you’ve never seen Zack Gibson — the self-anointed future Number 1 of Liverpool — own a microphone while giving a promo, you need to fix that, and do so soon.

    I won’t spoil any of the punchlines in this, but it’s safe to let you know that rather than verbally attack his opponent, The King of Scouse Style harangues the fans in the audience, and questions their actual fandom. And it’s excellent.

    Honorable Mentions:

    WWE Match of The Week:

    Aleister Black vs Velveteen Dream

    NXT: TakeOver WarGames, 11/18

    The hottest take of the week seems to be the opinion that this wasn’t the match of the week. And while the WarGames match had a lot much to love, I’ll take this concise storytelling over that excess any day of the week.

    Let’s first start in praise of a good feud based on differences in characters. All too often, bouts are just about championships or betrayal, but this story of Dream wanting Black to pay him attention, and Black refusing to give it to him, is a perfect first chapter in what I hope will be a storied rivalry and possibly tag-team (in the 2018 Dusty Classic, call them Black Velvet).

    Then, a bravo to the match for starting off with the excellent simmer of ground-based offense and technical expertise. That out-of-nowhere Octopus Lock from Black looked even slicker than when ZSJ accomplishes his take on it.

    And then when the fireworks went off, it was blazing like the fourth of July. Dream’s Superkicks looked epic and almost cartoonish with their contortion, his rolling Death Valley Driver was magnificent and that inside-out modified DDT was more proof that young Patrick Clark is a superstar in the making.

    For more contemplation about this match, check out this episode of Jim Smallman’s Tuesday Night Jaw podcast, to hear Progress co-owner Jon Briley unfurl a mountain of thoughts.

    Honorable Mentions: 

    • Andrade “Cien” Almas w. Zelina Vega vs Drew McIntyre, NXT: TakeOver WarGames, 11/18
    • The Undisputed Era vs SaNitY vs The Authors of Pain in a triple-threat WarGames match, NXT: TakeOver WarGames, 11/18

    WWE Segment of the Week:

    “Enjoy infamy, Velveteen Dream.”

    NXT: TakeOver WarGames, 11/18

    I debated including this in the above, but since that blurb got away from me, I have to bring it here.

    The most important part of this, aside from delivering the sentiment that both Black and the Houston audience demanded, is its brevity and indirect language. To only say “Enjoy infamy, Velveteen Dream,” is so honest to the Aleister Black character (curt, mysterious and abstract) that even if you saw it coming, you had to applaud it.

    Watch the whole match, and see this as its capper. And then, if you hadn’t seen it yet, check out this post-show interview where Velveteen Dream expresses his relief that Aleister Black said his name:

    Honorable Mentions:

    Watch This Wrestling 44 (11/5—11)

    Hello friends!

    And here we have the second week WWE having awakened from slumber. Also, just one non-WWE thing. As I’ve said, I’m trying to change that. NJPW Tag League is coming up to help out, and I may be giving TNA another shot now that it’s employing The Hottest Free Agent in Pro Wrestling: Ethan Page.

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

    What I Watched

    • NJPW Power Struggle, 11/5
    • Monday Night Raw, 11/6
    • SmackDown LIVE, 11/7
    • 205 Live, 11/7
    • NXT, 11/8

    Upcoming Watch List

    • Monday Night Raw, 11/13
    • SmackDown LIVE, 11/14
    • 205 Live, 11/14
    • NXT, 11/15

    Non-WWE Match of The Week:

    Marty Scurll vs Will Ospreay © for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship

    NJPW Power Struggle, 11/5

    This is a fun match, and I think it’s the best either have had during their runs in New Japan. Sure, Ospreay match’s against Ricochet is iconic, but it at times felt too much like a routine and not like a fight.

    And even if Scurll and Ospreay have wrestled a ton of times before, this match didn’t smell at all of two guys going through the motions. Scurll actually fought despicably and Ospreay had to deal with him in mostly non-flippy ways. Good times.

    Honorable Mentions:

    • Kenny Omega vs Trent Beretta, NJPW Power Struggle, 11/5
    • Kota Ibushi vs Hiroshi Tanahashi © for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, NJPW Power Struggle, 11/5
    • David Starr vs Anthony Gangone © for the FBW Championship, Five Borough Wrestling, A Savior Among Us, 11/10

    Non-WWE Segment of The Week

    A New Challenger Appears for Kenny Omega

    NJPW Power Struggle, 11/5

    Yep: Jericho vs Omega will happen at WrestleKingdom 12 this year. And if the match alone (and the social media dick measuring contest) didn’t seal the deal on your excitement, check out this promo:

    Also, gotta love that Jericho uses a countdown clock for this debut moment, just like he did when he came to WWE. Another smart touch? Jericho is silent for the first few moments of the promo, so the crowd and announcers can lose their collective shit.

    Honorable Mentions:

    WWE Match of The Week:

    AJ Styles vs Jinder Mahal © for the WWE Championship

    SmackDown LIVE, 11/7

    I haven’t hated Jinder’s run as champ. First: it irked fans enough to make this match matter a lot, and second: this match didn’t illogically tweak the role of the Singh brothers, Mahal’s not at all-secret weapon, so that AJ could win.

    Not only did Styles systematically take down the flopping boys, but his subsequent return into the ring used reversals and ring-awareness so he wouldn’t go down like all the rest.

    Honorable Mentions:

    WWE Segment of the Week:

    Enzo Introduces the UK Division to the British WWE Fans

    205 Live, 11/7

    This gets a best for giving Tyler Bate on the mic, and for continuing to validate the Enzo Experiment. Sometimes you need to get guys over by pairing them with others who already matter.

    This segment also won be over by putting Mark Andrews and James Drake on screen. It also showed that WWE is smart enough to not give Joseph Conners a microphone.

    Honorable Mentions:

    Watch This Wrestling 32 (8/13—19)

    This one’s later than ever, but with good reasons (excuses).

    First of all, I spent my post-SummerSlam energy writing this: The Five Wrestling Fans You Meet in Hell for Cageside Seats, which – judging by the amount of comments – was a good bit of business for them. In it, I unload a lot of long-standing gripes I’ve had with fans, and even chide myself.

    And then, before I knew it, I needed to spend my weekend conserving my energy. BOLA is only 5 days away now, and I need to be as close to 💯 for it as possible. So, expect Vol. 33 to drop shortly after this one.

    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 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

    Upcoming Watch List

    • SummerSlam, 8/20
    • Monday Night Raw, 8/21
    • SmackDown LIVE, 8/22
    • 205 Live, 8/22
    • Ethan Page: Another Way To Get Paid with ACH, 8/22
    • NXT, 8/23
    • Lucha Underground, 8/23
    • WCPW World Cup – Round of 16, 8/23
    • WCPW World Cup – Quarter Finals, 8/24
    • EVOLVE Mini-Doc: Darby Allin vs. Timothy Thatcher, 8/25
    • WCPW World Cup – Finals, 8/26

    Non-WWE Segment of The Week

    “I am alive. That is all.”

    NJPW: G1 Climax Finals, 8/13

    With those words, fans started to breathe again. In a world where undead-men retire and retire and retire afain, these words can mean all the literal word when you worry the exact opposite was going to happen.

    That’s because we heard these word uttered by Katsuyori Shibata in his first appearance since his likely-career-ending match with Okada.

    I mention this here because I find it necessary to harp on New Japan’s safety issues. This moment’s calming nature is an unfortunate best-case scenario – that these performers haven’t died for their art – for moments that don’t seem to be disappearing from the promotion any time soon.

    I’d hope that the terrible tables go away, and shoot-headbutts are banned, but these seem like features and not bugs.

    Non-WWE Match of The Week:

    Kenny Omega vs Tetsuya Naito

    NJPW: G1 Climax Finals, 8/13

    This match was amazing because of – and in spite of its – accidental dangerous moments. Specifically everything involving or near the railing or the tables.

    Both Naito and Omega managed to make those last second adjustments, ala AJ Styles and Ellsworth, so they didn’t kill each other.

    WWE Match of The Week:

    Ember Moon vs Asuka ©

    NXT: TakeOver Brooklyn III, 8/19

    Shades of what NJPW matches did well in the G1. A methodical build, focusing on a limb, false finishes, and a heel deservedly going over. Reminds me a lot of Juice lately, winning by losing.

    As a final match for Asuka in NXT, which it appears to be, it’s solid. Unfortunately, I don’t see much of a defined persona for Ember yet. Think she needs at least one more feud down there before she can have a chance to not drown in the cacophony of noise on the main roster.

    Honorable Mentions:

    • Akira Tozawa vs Neville, Monday Night Raw, 8/14
    • Johnny Gargano vs Andrade “Cien” Almas", NXT: TakeOver Brooklyn III, 8/19
    • Authors of Pain vs Sanity, NXT: TakeOver Brooklyn III, 8/19

    WWE Segment of the Week:

    ADAM COLE BAYBAY

    NXT: TakeOver Brooklyn III, 8/19

    When this was over, I believe, Myke asked me if I was happy with it. Yes, I’m sure I said, because this moment was what NXT needed. It’s the biggest story point – tying together multiple divisions and possibly bringing in the world of pro wrestling – that the NXT brand has ever seen.

    And sure, invasion angles don’t have the best history, but it’s NXT’s first and we’ve got high hopes for the long-term execution, as the groundwork has certainly been laid.

    First off, Nigel popping hard and yelling ADAM COLE BAYBAY before Cole or the Brooklyn audience could, helps establish that as canon. It also sets up a “what did McGuinness know, and when did he know it?” angle.

    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.

    Watch This Wrestling 28 (7/16–22)

    So, so much wrestling. 

    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 1, 7/17
    • Monday Night Raw, 7/17
    • AAW: Take No Prisoners Occurred 5/6, hit AAW VOD on 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

    Upcoming Watch List

    • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 5, 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

    Non-WWE Segment of The Week

    RIP Daryl

    NJPW: G1 Climax Day 4, 7/22

    Hiromu Takahashi – along with the fans of New Japan Pro Wrestling – loved Daryl, the stuffed kitty cat that The Ticking Time Bomb carried to the ring. So, as you might expect, Daryl got shredded. The Bullet Club’s Underboss Bad Luck Fale did the dirty work, and it got the biggest heat reaction out of the NJPW crowd I’ve heard in months, maybe years. So, Fale made the most of this, by tweeting the following video.

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

    Non-WWE Match of The Week:

    Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi

    NJPW: G1 Climax Day 1, 7/17

    Prior to its start, the big story of the G1 was the return of Kota Ibushi as Kota Ibushi in NJPW. What does that mean? 

    1. Ibushi isn’t still stuck doing Tiger Mask work.
    2. Ibushi isn’t fighting blowup dolls in Japan’s DDT Pro-Wrestling either.

    Why was Ibushi doing all of that, rather than the brilliance we see legit-great stuff under his own name? Well, remember Ibushi’s time in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic? The way Kenny Omega – Ibushi’s long time rival – makes it sound in an interview, Ibushi’s decision negatively effected the chances they had of working more Japan. 

    Now, though, Ibushi’s back in Japan and putting his life – specifically his neck – on the line in matches like this Week 1 stand-out with Naito.

    Honorable Mentions:

    Some notes about the below. If there’s a close-second place match, I’ll bold it, as I do below. And yes, Zack Sabre Jr. Elgin was available a while ago, but its price as a rental on AAW’s VOD service is much more affordable.

    • Zack Sabre Jr. vs Michael Elgin, AAW: Take No Prisoners 5/6, VOD on 7/17
    • Hirooki Goto vs Tomohiro Ishii, NJPW: G1 Climax Day 1, 7/17
    • Zack Sabre Jr vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, NJPW: G1 Climax Day 1, 7/17
    • Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi, NJPW: G1 Climax Day 1, 7/17
    • Prince Puma vs PJ Black, Lucha Underground, 7/19
    • Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr, NJPW: G1 Climax Day 3, 7/21
    • Large Michael Elgin vs Kazuchika Okada, NJPW: G1 Climax Day 4, 7/22

    WWE Match of The Week:

    Mustafa Ali vs Drew Gulak, 2 out of 3 Falls

    205 Live, 7/18

    I don’t give 205 Live a ton of awards, but that’s possibly going to change. Now that the going will get the full 10 to 11pm Tuesday night hour (RIP Talking Smack), they’re clearly looking to give that extra time to matches, such as this barn-burner that went a while.

    This match continues to tell the story of Gulak’s risk-averse style as a counterpoint to Ali’s high-flying tendencies. Fortunately, the big nasty bump in the match (Drew took a poison ‘rana on the top of his head) doesn’t break the structure of the match, as it could make you think Gulak has a point.

    WWE Segment of the Week:

    The Redemption of Seth Rollins

    Monday Night Raw, 7/17

    I have been waiting for this moment forever.

    Not only did Seth give Dean get an apology, but also a free shot (which Dean didn’t take!). This is the kind of long-overdue character development that you want from WWE, but rarely expect or get.

    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.