Watch This Wrestling 51 (12/24–30)

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, 12/25
  • Joey Janela’s Big Top Adventure, 12/25
  • Riptide: Black Water, 12/25
  • SmackDown LIVE, 12/26
  • 205 Live, 12/26
  • WWE LIVE at Madison Square Garden, 12/26
  • NXT, 12/27
  • NOVA Pro: Such Great Heights 12/28

Upcoming Watch List

  • Beyond Wrestling: Heavy Lies The Crown, 12/31
  • Monday Night Raw, 1/1
  • SmackDown LIVE, ½
  • 205 Live, ½
  • Progress Chapter 60: Unboxing 2 ¼
  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom, ¼

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

CCK (Chris Brookes & Travis Banks) & Jinny vs Mike Bird, Wild Boar and Jimmy Havoc

Riptide: Black Water, 12/25

For the first time here (since I watched the previous matches after the fact), I’m giving a win to a match from Brighton, England’s Riptide. This match gives you everything that the promotion does well: highlighting talents that may not have gotten a lot of attention prior (Bird, Boar), excellent pairings (CCK & Jinny), fantastic camera angles and moody atmospherics.

Oh, and the crowd at Riptide elevated this match, as it tends to. I didn’t expect that YAS QUEEN could work as a pro wrestling chant, but well done, Brits.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Jonathan Gresham vs Sonjay Dutt ©, NOVA Pro: Such Great Heights 12/28
  • The Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude & Rob Killjoy) vs Arik Royal & David Starr, NOVA Pro: Such Great Heights 12/28
  • Sage Phillips vs Logan Easton LaRoux, NOVA Pro: Such Great Heights 12/28

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Sage Phillips vs Logan Easton LaRoux Hype Package

NOVA Pro: Such Great Heights 12/28

A lot of indie promotions think they can cut corners, and not make hype packages. Virginia’s NOVA Pro didn’t do that, though, at its end-of-year event, using footage and voice-over narration to elevate this rivalry.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

Johnny Gargano vs. Aleister Black vs. Killian Dain vs. Lars Sullivan for the number 1 contendership to the NXT Men’s Championship

NXT, 12/27

The excellence of this match, considering the skills of the men at hand, is almost an afterthought. So, let’s focus on the finish of this. So, watch it beforehand, and come back.

I gotta give NXT credit here. To use the streak of the talented man from Amsterdam (thanks, Nigel) to develop a new feud is great, but what’s excellent is that the Undisputed Era vs Aleister Black is a long-term developed feud, as the man formerly known as Tommy End ruined the debuts of both Fish and O’Reilly, and knocked Cole out of this tournament.

Also, this finish sets up Gargano to face Cien at the Philly TakeOver, and we know those two can go. And that should be an excellent place to bring Ciampa back.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

Shayna Baszler chokes out Kairi Sane

NXT, 12/27

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 50 (12/17—12/23)

Hello friends! 

So, about the future of this column. Feels like next year it should be moving to a monthly project. That will allow for separate pieces about stand-out events to take place in between posts, and for me to feel less rushed. I expect things will stay at the WithAPassion.com domain, but could easily see me leaving Tumblr.

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

What I Watched

  • 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

Upcoming Watch List

  • Monday Night Raw, 12/25
  • Riptide: Black Water, 12/25
  • SmackDown LIVE, 12/26
  • 205 Live, 12/26
  • NXT, 12/27
  • NOVA Pro: Such Great Heights 12/28

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Chris Ridgeway vs Damon Moser vs Pastor William Eaver vs Spike Trivet

Progress: Live at the Dome (12/13), 12/22

So, because I’ve been watching Riptide Wrestling well-after it went up on VOD, I haven’t had a chance to gush about it, nor its lothario Spike Trivet, here until now. If you haven’t seen him work yet, just load up Riptide Returns (a $6 rental) or non-Chapter show from Progress, if you already subscribe to Demand Progress and you don’t have the cash for more VOD Graps. Not only does this match have a ton of excellent spots from the other three stars in the match, but Trivet is just one of the best new baddies in a while.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Sugar Rush (Candyfloss & Zoë Quinn Lucas) vs Laura Di Matteo & Bea Priestley, Progress: Live at the Dome (12/13), 12/22
  • Mike Bird vs Danny Jones, Progress: Live at the Dome (12/13), 12/22
  • Chris Brookes vs David Starr, Progress: Live at the Dome (12/13), 12/22

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Glen Joseph Deals With Spike Trivet

Progress: Live at the Dome (12/13), 12/22

And he’s such a baddie that I’m giving an award to this segment that had me screaming “WATCH OUT, GLEN!” at my TV.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

Tyler Bate vs. Pete Dunne – WWE United Kingdom Championship Match

NXT, 12/20

Sometimes, hot takes are tweeted with a sense of “I don’t believe this, but have fun yelling at me.” But when I posted the message “Dunne Bate is a better wrestling trilogy than Okada Omega.” I meant it with every inch of my mind and heart.

Why are these matches so good? Because these two have amazing chemistry, facial expressions and aesthetics that do all the storytelling that NXT isn’t doing for them, and their finishing sequences have gotten better and better over the span of 2017.

I’ll write more on this, and soon.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

“Woken” Matt Hardy moves his pieces into position

Monday Night Raw, 12/18

Even though this is arguably nothing new and rehashing what Hardy did in TNA, it still gets the win. Why? It’s Matt Hardy talking to a freaking goldfish that’s why. And it’s entertaining. This isn’t rocket science.

Honorable Mentions:

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:

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 43 (10/29—11/4)

This week was better than the one before it.

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

What I Watched

  • Beyond Wrestling: Apocalypse Dudes, 10/29
  • Monday Night Raw, 10/30
  • SmackDown LIVE, 10/31
  • 205 Live, 10/31
  • NXT, 11/1
  • Fight Club Pro: Day of the Dead, 11/2 VOD
  • Progress Chapter 56: La Danse Macabre, 11/2 VOD

Upcoming Watch List

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

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Aussie Open vs Moustache Mountain

Fight Club Pro: Day of the Dead, 11/2

This match almost didn’t make it here, but because Hon. Mention 1 has Stokely and Hon. Mention 2 has Goth Martina, but wow this is a showcase of greatness.

If you’re not familiar with Kyle Fletcher and Mark Davis, collectively known as Aussie Open, then take this match — you get Tyler Bate and Trent Seven, you can trust them — as your first taste. Fletcher’s god damn one arm … well, I’ll let you see that, and everything else, for yourself.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Jonathan Gresham with Stokely Hathaway vs Travis “Flip” Gordon, Beyond Wrestling: Apocalypse Dudes, 10/29
  • Session Goths vs No Fun Police, Fight Club Pro: Day of the Dead, 11/2

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Entropy

Progress Chapter 56: La Danse Macabre, 11/2

Sure, we gotta boo the heels, but holy heck I write this in praise of this segment. Because

  1. excellent payoff to what Progress was building.
  2. Vicky Haskins is a deity, or possibly a demon.

A closed system inevitably descends into disorder 

📷 @POA_wrestler pic.twitter.com/pvGqdQMkVD

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

Authors of Pain vs SAnitY featuring William Regal’s Takeover Announcement

NXT, 11/1

Not only was this a fun match in a week filled with fun WWE matches, but it has a little bonus at the end. Something that most got spoiled by in one way or another.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

“Everybody can get it, and everybody will” – Samoa Joe

Monday Night Raw, 10/30

Watch this promo and answer me this question:

How is Joe not the champion of the universe at this point?

Is it because being a little chubb and not being white are both things that Vince doesn’t think work, and combined, he just can’t put the rocket on you? God damn Joe is the best.

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 41 (10/15—21)

Hello friends!

Yep, I took a while off from doing this thing. Why? Mostly because it’s been a busy season outside of this little project. And maybe I’m starting to wonder if this should be a Monthly thing and not a weekly thing. Agree? Disagree? As always, @ me on twitter: henrytcasey to let me know what you think.

What I Watched

  • Evolve 95, 10/15
  • Monday Night Raw, 10/16
  • SmackDown LIVE, 10/17
  • 205 Live, 10/17
  • NXT, 10/18
  • Lucha Underground, 10/18
  • CZW: The Wolf of Wrestling, VOD 10/18

Upcoming Watch List

  • WWE TLC, 10/22
  • Nova Pro Wrestling: Nova Project 3, 10/22
  • Powerbomb TV: Futures, 10/22
  • Monday Night Raw, 10/23
  • SmackDown LIVE, 10/24
  • 205 Live, 10/25
  • NXT, 10/26
  • PCW: Fright Night, 10/27

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

“Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams vs Zack Sabre Jr.

Evolve 95, 10/15

I kinda wanted to give this to one of the Lucha Underground Season 3 finale matches, but couldn’t. Even though I’m writing this almost a month after it happened, Williams vs Sabre Jr. still sticks out in my memory.

A technical master-class, I loved this bout because it continued to push forward the slow-burn story of ZSJ’s weakness. Yes, he won, but Hot Sauce looked amazing here, just like Jaka did the previous night in his non-title victory over Sabre.

Available on WWNlive.com because WWN and FloSlam fell apart faster than a birthday cake in a pro wrestling setting.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Matt Riddle vs Fred Yehi, Evolve 95, 10/15
  • Mil Muertes vs Cage vs Jeremiah Crane, Lucha Underground, 10/18
  • Lucha Underground Career vs. Title Match: Prince Puma vs Champion Johnny Mundo, Lucha Underground, 10/18

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Lucha Underground Finale Montage

Lucha Underground, 10/18

In a surprise to no one, the finale scenes of Lucha Underground’s third season brought all of the thunder. Both of the show’s prior season cappers included shocking moments, but this time it bore an even greater responsibility, as this could have been the series finale, and many fans were aware that Puma’s departure was for real, as the wrestler who portrays him (Ricochet) has been teasing a departure for months and months.

And then, it delivered — and it did so in spades. While we can spend posts debating what Dario Cueto said into a phone as he bled out (he better not be dead, damnit) — and Brandon Stroud already put work into that, we can’t just stall out there. From King Cuerno’s epic trophy room to the surprise appearance in the Lizard Temple to the Spider-Man No More-esque goodbye from Puma, this sequence was exquisite.

And fortunately for me, I took so long to write this that we know this won’t be Lucha’s final season:

pic.twitter.com/eczgLhReET

Also, a little note to Evolve. That crazy clusterfuck ending to Evolve 95 wasn’t how you do a brawl to close out. Sure, you had the epic DARBY OFF THE BACKBOARD spot I desperately wanted to see in Corona, NY (at the death house called The Elmcor), but that was a little too early for The End to be met with a significant challenge.

Available via El Rey, iTunes and other services

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

Aleister Black vs Raul Mendoza

NXT, 10/18

It’s funny, I didn’t remember this match when I was skimming through the NXT archives, but fast-forwarding to the middle of it, I realized this was the easy pick of the WWE week. Yes, that’s owed in part to it being a weak week for matches in the E, but this had a memorable moment despite Mendoza being utterly forgettable in it.

Yes, this is one of the excellent matches that stoked the fire of the feud between Black and Velveteen Dream. Dream’s finally finding that character, and Black’s utter fury — taken out on Mendoza — is perfect.

WWE Segment of the Week:

Kevin and Sami Explain Themselves, Again

SmackDown LIVE, 10/10

We don’t know what exactly is going on backstage with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn — reportedly kicked off the last leg of a recent European tour — but on camera they are gold.

This segment, where they harass Daniel Bryan, and go in on him for becoming a corporate lackey, is another example of why Kevin Owens is doing better than most of the company when it comes to promos. He has a memory that outlasts the most recent three months. Bringing up how Bryan used to be anti-authority, and now cares about what’s best for business? Ties the room together, man.

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 37 (9/17—23)

Hello friends! This is a re-post because things have gotten so busy around these parts that I botched the initial version.

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

What I Watched

  • Monday Night Raw, 9/18
  • SmackDown LIVE, 9/19
  • 205 Live, 9/19
  • NXT, 9/20
  • Lucha Underground, 9/20
  • ROH Death Before Dishonor PPV, 9/22
  • Evolve 92, 9/22
  • Evolve 93, 9/23

Upcoming Watch List

  • NJPW Destruction in Kobe, 9/24
  • WWE No Mercy, 9/24
  • Monday Night Raw, 9/25
  • SmackDown LIVE, 9/25
  • 205 Live, 9/25
  • NXT, 9/25
  • Lucha Underground, 9/25

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Troll Boyz (ACH & “All Ego” Ethan Page) vs The WorkHorsemen (Anthony Henry & James Drake) © for the Evolve Tag Team Championship

Evolve 92, 9/22

In spite of the incompetence of its own booker, the most successful incompetent carny (who doesn’t even deserve to be named), Evolve puts on damn good wrestling.

This match in particular serves as an excellent example of the above. Ethan Page’s second to last match in Evolve, which allowed him to win gold on his way out, demonstrated that he has range in spite of a promotion that clearly didn’t have enough to keep him signed.

Page and his Troll Boyz partner ACH pulled a great match out of the slightly sloppy WorkHorsemen, who got handed the belt for reasons we still can’t understand. While Page and ACH started as a comedy team, they made the audience love their quest for the win by the end. How? Emotiveness, sheer inventiveness, and sheer h-u-s-t-l-e.

How good is the talent in Evolve? Good enough to make us support that promotion in spite of the fuckheads (yes, plural) at the helm. It truly is a mini-WWE.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Paul London vs Saltador vs Mala Suerte vs Drago vs Cortez Castro vs Pentagon vs Son of Havoc in a Gift of The Gods Title Match, Lucha Underground, 9/20
  • Jason Kincaid vs Zack Sabre, Jr., Evolve 92, 9/22
  • Doom Patrol (Chris Dickinson & Jaka) vs Keith Lee & Matt Riddle, Evolve 92, 9/22
  • Jay White vs Punishment Martinez in a Las Vegas Street Fight, ROH Death Before Dishonor PPV, 9/22
  • Kenny King vs Kushida © for the ROH TV Championship, ROH Death Before Dishonor PPV, 9/22
  • Keith Lee vs Zack Sabre, Jr. © for the Evolve World Championship, Evolve 93, 9/23
  • “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams vs Matt Riddle © for the WWN Championship in an Anything Goes Match, Evolve 93, 9/23

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Matt Riddle Plays The Role of Locker-room Leader

Evolve 93, 9/23

In a moment that feels custom-made for me, Keith Lee stood up to Matt Riddle’s lovable nonsense with some truth. Riddle’s been a child, and hopefully Lee is the last man standing in La Boom.

WWE Match of The Week:

Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly vs Trent Seven and Tyler Bate

NXT, 9/20

How on earth did this become a throwaway match on an NXT TV episode? Fun little match, and an excellent kicker segment with more of NXT’s excellent roster.

WWE Segment of the Week:

Enzo vs Neville On The Mic

205 Live, 9/19

Probably the most important thing of the week was Enzo and Neville continuing to build this promo. With the double turn we saw in the following episodes, I look forward to going back and rewatching this segment.

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 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.