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 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 47 (11/27—12/2)

Hello friends! Yes, it’s been forever since I’ve put one of these out, more on that in WTW 50 (want it at the top of the posts).

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

What I Watched

  • Beyond Wrestling Pre-Show & Women’s Wrestling Revolution, 11/27
  • Monday Night Raw, 11/27
  • SmackDown LIVE, 11/28
  • 205 Live, 11/28
  • NXT, 11/29
  • Impact Wrestling, 11/30
  • Progress Chapter 58: Live Your Best Life, 12/1
  • Chikara: Kill the Moon, 12/2 VOD
  • Chikara: Closing Time, 12/2

Upcoming Watch List

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

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Dahlia Black vs. Jinny: PROGRESS Women’s Title #1 Contendership No Disqualification Match

Progress Chapter 58: Live Your Best Life

It’s a shame that Progress can only run one women’s storyline at a time (there’s no story in the Women’s championship picture). Fantastic fucking match, though. 

Honorable Mentions:

  • David Starr vs Nick Gage, Beyond Wrestling Pre-Show, 11/27
  • Dasher Hatfield vs Juan Francisco de Coronado, Chikara: Closing Time, 12/2

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Strangler Davis vs. Timothy Thatcher: PROGRESS Atlas Title #1 Contendership Match

Progress Chapter 58: Live Your Best Life

Yes, this is technically a match. But it’s less about the match than the incident inside of it. Excellent drama, only slightly dampened by the weird way it went down. Didn’t hate the technique, though.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

Elias w/ The Miztourage vs. Roman Reigns for the Intercontinental championship

Monday Night Raw, 11/27

And Roman Reigns’ Intercontential Championship Open Challenge began not with a bang, but with a surprising set of bedfellows. Pairing Elias with Dallas and Axel worked, though, as it helped the audience know to boo the drifter, as crowds have tended to ironically enjoy him.

But in defeat, Elias won big time. Nobody would have been able to say he could go before this match, but now we can. Maybe Roman Reigns is a good wrestler, WINK.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

Drew Gulak explains Team PowerPoint as DC Superheroes

205 Live, 11/28

In another instance of delayed blogging helping, a couple week’s wait allowed this segment to age beautifully.

First of all, wow: Team PowerPoint. It’s a great name, especially given Gulak’s sincerity. Also, why does Tony Nese blanch at the Aquaman comparison? Who the hell else does he think he is? Superman? Clark isn’t counting abs, and Nese isn’t writing at the Daily Planet. OR IS HE?

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 46 (11/19–25)

Hello friends! If you look at the below, you’ll see a couple of changes. This upcoming week marks both me watching Impact again (yes, this is all Ethan Page’s responsibility) and my renewed interest in Chikara.

For Chikara, I plan to watch the VOD of the penultimate episode Kill the Moon and possibly attend its season finale Closing Time, a decision which will depend on whether or nor Mike Quackenbush vs David Starr is announced for that show in Philly.

And at some point, I’m going to begin the grand project of watching the show from its 4th season, a long-overdue project. The decision to start there was helped by the excellent Courtney Rose (@ChicagosCRose on twitter).

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

What I Watched

  • 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

Upcoming Watch List

  • Beyond Wrestling/Women’s Wrestling Revolution, 11/27
  • Monday Night Raw, 11/27
  • SmackDown LIVE, 11/28
  • 205 Live, 11/28
  • NXT, 11/29
  • Impact Wrestling, 11/30
  • Chikara: Kill the Moon, ?? VOD
  • Chikara: Closing Time, 12/2 — possibly attending live

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Keith Lee vs. Flash Morgan Webster

Progress Chapter 57: Enter Smiling, 11/19

Nobody’s surprised to see me hand out a best to my two favorites from BOLA 2017, who wrestled a fantastic, epic match, that just happened to be booked the wrong way.

Anyone watching Progress during the last months has to be wondering what they’re doing with Flash. If all of these almost-wins will build to a major character point and a championship, then maybe they’ll be able to say it was worth it.

But Keith Lee loses nothing if Flash manages to eek a suprirse underdog victory out of the WWN Champion, not the least because the title wasn’t on the line. The crowd adored Keith Lee, though, to the point where nobody would even hazard the opinion that he needed to beat The King of the Mods.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Logan Easton LaRoux vs AJ Gray vs Anthony Greene vs Razerhawk, Powerbomb.tv: Wazzup, 11/25
  • Thick Boys (Jay Freddie & John Silver) vs Ugly Ducklings (Lance Lude & Rob Killjoy), Powerbomb.tv: Wazzup, 11/25
  • Ringkampf (Timothy Thatcher & WALTER) vs CCK (Chris Brookes & Kid Lykos) © vs for the PROGRESS Tag Team Championships, Progress Chapter 57: Enter Smiling, 11/19

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

“Revenge can only be found on the road to self-destruction”

Dahlia Black promo via YouTube

While I thought the four-way match that included Dahlia and Jinny was rushed and didn’t gel together as one whole match (instead reeking of two, smashed together), Ms. Black’s pre-match promo was excellent.

Until this moment, this feud existed in short moments where announcers rushed out words to one of the two, who typically had joined them on commentary. While it could have used one more story beat (at the start, showing their friendship pre-injury), it still was the most well-acted (bravo, Dahlia) and necessary story beat of the week.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The shit talking Trent Seven gave Zack Gibson, Progress Chapter 57: Enter Smiling, 11/19
  • All of the weirdness that was Powerbomb.tv: This Very Second with Bryce Remsburg, 11/25

WWE Match of The Week:

AJ Styles vs Brock Lesnar

Survivor Series 2017, 11/19

How could it be anything but this? AJ Styles elevated himself even higher in the lore of WWE by pulling an amazing 1 on 1 match out of the notoriously unreliable Brock Lesnar.

Honorable Mentions: 

WWE Segment of the Week:

Paige Returns, With Friends

Monday Night Raw, 11/20

Obviously, this segment will age well or poorly based on how WWE books Paige and the friends she picked up on her way back to the main roster, but for now, it’s a win.

Not only was it fun and shocking for a return to turn into an invading faction, but it’s quite clever. Rose and Deville provide solid cover and distraction from the controversy that took place during the time where while Paige’s injury (among ohter thing) kept her off camera.

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 36 (9/10—9/16)

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

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

What I Watched

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

Upcoming Watch List

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

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Jimmy Havoc vs Mark Haskins in a Deathmatch

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

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

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

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

Honorable Mentions:

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

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

That Gauntlet Brawl

Lucha Underground, 9/14

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

WWE Match of The Week:

Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane

WWE Mae Young Classic Finale, 9/12

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

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

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

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

“A McMahon”

SmackDown LIVE, 9/5

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

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

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

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 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 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 22 (6/4—10)

Thankfully, I say wearily, this was a week with a manageable amount of wrestling. Of course, that still included an NJPW event and a Progress event, on top of the weekly regulars.

What’s there to say about this week other than … well, someone better cash in that white briefcase immediately if Lana wins the world title. If her Talking Smack appearance was anything to go on, WWE is possibly going to take the ravishing Russian’s solo career seriously, rather than as a joke, as it did Eva Marie’s never-started one.

Also, make sure to check out the Honorable Mention for best non-WWE segment of the week. It’s a joy.

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

What I Watched

  • Progress Chapter 51: Super Strong Style 16, Day 3, 6/4 (VOD post-date)
  • WWE Extreme Rules, 6/4
  • Monday Night Raw, 6/5
  • ROH Wrestling, 6/5
  • SmackDown LIVE, 6/6
  • 205 Live, 6/6
  • Talking Smack Live, 6/6
  • NXT, 6/7
  • Lucha Underground, 6/7
  • NJPW: Road To Dominion, 6/9

Upcoming Watch List

  • 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

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Backstage Bad News for Johnny Mundo

Lucha Underground, 6/7

No video here, but we’ve got a photo still that should be enough to make those of you with El Rey willing to give this show a chance if you haven’t already.

John Hennigan is doing wonders with the himbo role of Mundo, and as-always, he’s getting by with a little help from his friends in the Worldwide Underground.

Honorable Mentions:

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Tyler Bate vs Travis Banks

Progress Chapter 51: Super Strong Style 16, Day 3, 6/4 (VOD post-date)

I’ve heard a lot about Travis Banks, from those who love him and believe what he’s selling. As someone who had originally seen him as great, but still the least engaging member of the South Pacific Power Trip, I was waiting for a match like this.

Not watching Progress? The three-day Super Strong Style 16 tournament is a great way to jump in. As you’ll see below, even it’s final day was filled with wonder.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Zack Sabre Jr. vs Travis Banks, Progress Chapter 51: Super Strong Style 16, Day 3, 6/4 (VOD post-date)
  • Matt Riddle vs Tyler Bate, Progress Chapter 51: Super Strong Style 16, Day 3, 6/4 (VOD post-date)
  • Kaylee Ray vs Katey Harvey, Progress Chapter 51: Super Strong Style 16, Day 3, 6/4 (VOD post-date)
  • Pete Dunne vs Jeff Cobb, Progress Chapter 51: Super Strong Style 16, Day 3, 6/4 (VOD post-date)
  • Mil Muertes vs Prince Puma, Lucha Underground, 6/7
  • Gedo and Tomohiro Ishii vs Yujiro Takahashi and Hangman Page, NJPW: Road To Dominion, 6/9
  • Roppongi Vice (Beretta, Rocky Romero) and Kazuchika Okada vs The Elite (Nick and Matt Jackson and Kenny Omega), NJPW: Road To Dominion, 6/9

WWE Match of The Week:

Samoa Joe vs Roman Reigns vs Finn Bálor vs Seth vs Bray Wyatt

WWE Extreme Rules, 6/4

First of all, I’d like to get some credit for calling the finish to this weeks before it happened, during The Ring Post 19.

Second of all, damn, what a fantastic showcase for the top talent of the WWE’s flagship brand. Many are despondent over the absence of Braun Strowman, but this match reminded us that the five top regularly-working male superstars can still go.

Lastly, isn’t the sight of Bray and Joe carrying those steps just the best?

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

Samoa Joe and Paul Heyman Get Intimate

Monday Night Raw, 6/5

This segment is the official kickoff of Samoan Joseph’s Big Chance Push. Those of us who’d seen him prior to his showing up in NXT to save Finn Bálor knew there was something fantastic in the guy, and this moment let the entire WWE audience find out.

Nobody can be as afraid as Paul Heyman, who did a masterful job here with Joe.

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 11 (3/17 — 23)

What a solid week for professional wrestling.

WWE segments fired on all cylinders in the lead up to WrestleMania, but it also released something for the superfans by unveiling newly-found footage of a promotion we’ve never heard of before. Outside of the E, we got a great PPV from PROGRESS, an OK New Japan tournament and even some neat videos from EVOLVE.

Here’s what I watched for this week’s edition and what I’m planning to watch from the 24th through the 30th. If I’m missing anything that can be accessed without too much trouble, @ me on twitter: henrytcasey.

What I Watched:

  • Southpaw Regional Wrestling, 3/17
  • New Japan Cup 3/17
  • wXw 16 Carat Gold (Night 1), 3/17 (tried night 2, it bored me)
  • WCPW: Matt Riddle vs Cody, 3/18
  • New Japan Cup 3/19
  • PROGRESS Ch. 45: Galvanize, 3/19 (via On Demand on 3/23) 
  • New Japan Cup 3/20
  • ROH Wrestling, 3/20
  • WWE Monday Night Raw, 3/20
  • WWE Ride Along, 3/20
  • New Japan Cup 3/20
  • EVOLVE Mini-Doc: Catch Point “Everything Is Under Control”, 3/20
  • WWE SmackDown Live, 3/21
  • WWE 205 Live, 3/21
  • WWE Talking Smack Live, 3/21
  • WWE NXT, 3/22
  • WWNLive’s YouTube: “Jason Kincaid – Overwhelming Gratitude” 3/23

My Upcoming Watch list:

  • ROH Wrestling, 3/27
  • WWE Monday Night Raw, 3/27
  • WWE SmackDown Live, 3/28
  • WWE 205 Live, 3/28
  • WWE Talking Smack Live, 3/28
  • WWE NXT, 3/29
  • EVOLVE 80, 3/30
  • GCW – Joey Janela’s Spring Break!, 3/30
  • WWE Bring it to the Table, 3/30

WWE Match of The Week:

The Usos vs American Alpha © for the tag team titles

SmackDown Live, 3/21

SmackDown’s tag division has been on life-support ever since the Alphas won. Sure, I love the former NXT champs and want to see them get their moment, but nothing ever interesting happened during their time as champs.

So thank god for The Usos, who’ve done wonders building themselves up as swaggering heels. Also, credit to WWE for putting this eventful barnburner on free TV. Much like Bayley winning before Mania, this division was dampened by its babyfaces holding the titles going into the biggest show of the year. Now, both teams have momentum to get a pre-show match on the Mania card, and I’m hoping it goes for two out of three falls.

And to be a bitter smark, I need to take an aside here. Yet again , SmackDown Live’s best match didn’t get the spotlight it deserved. Instead, the main event of this show went to a crap segment featuring Shane McMahon’s shitty punches and inability to actually connect on his flying elbow. Sure, it was impressive that he made it as far as he did, but reminded me of that spot between him and Roman Reigns at Instantly made a dead division matter. 2:3 falls at Mania?

Honorable mentions:

WWE Segment of The Week:

Tie: Southpaw Regional Wrestling & Total Bellas Bullsh**

YouTube.com/WWE, 3/17 & SmackDown Live, 3/21

Sure Southpaw Regional Wrestling got the whole wrestling internet talking and watch it if you haven’t (I bet you have), but the Total Bellas Bullsh** segments share top billing.

Not only did they succeed by making Cena’s unwillingness to propose to Nikki the elephant in the room, but they were hilarious. Maryse has been back for how long and we didn’t know she was this funny? Her timing is excellent and the line “I’m the one wearing the hat!” had me cackling. The first bit was so good it earned a sequel.

Things got better with Breezy Bella … who you need to see to believe. Two bonus clips, then:

Honorable mentions:

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Jinny vs Nixon Newell

PROGRESS Ch. 45: Galvanize, 3/19 — went up on demand on 3/23

This match was a semi-final in the PROGRESS Women’s Championship Natural PROGRESSion tournament, which will crown the promotion’s first women’s champion.

Because I’m just starting with PROGRESS, I kinda needed this match to show me where it is in regard to women’s wrestling. Sure, Ch. 44’s, Dahlia Black vs Session Moth Martina was entertaining, but it didn’t grab me as much, partially because it was a comedy match.

PROGRESS Ch. 45 is available via https://demandprogress.pivotshare.com/

Honorable mentions:

  • WCPW: Matt Riddle vs Cody, 3/18
  • Katsuyori Shibata vs Tomohiro Ishii, New Japan Cup 3/19
  • Jay White vs Jay Briscoe, ROH Wrestling, 3/20
  • British Strong Style (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) vs South Pacific Power Trip (TK Cooper & Travis Banks with Dahlia Black), PROGRESS Ch. 45, 3/19
  • Mark Andrews vs Will Ospreay, PROGRESS Ch. 45, 3/19
  • Jimmy Havoc vs Pete Dunne, PROGRESS Ch. 45, 3/19

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Jason Kincaid – Overwhelming Gratitude

WWNLive’s YouTube, 3/23

I don’t know about the rest of the EVOLVE audience, but I’ve been trying to figure out what to make of Jason Kincaid since I first saw him wrestle. He’s a meditating beardo with a style that confuses the shit out of his opponents, but always seems to impress.

So, I thank EVOLVE and its parent company WWN for finally committing to defining the gimmick. More importantly, credit to Kincaid for making it work so well.

Honorable mentions: