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:

    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 34 (8/27—9/2)

    This isn’t my tardiest post, but as I had said to expect, it wasn’t going to be one of the timely Sunday posts. BOLA was amazing, but also draining.

    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, 8/28
    • WWE Mae Young Classic Ep 1-4, 8/28
    • SmackDown LIVE, 8/29
    • 205 Live, 8/29
    • NXT, 8/30
    • Lucha Underground, 8/30
    • Pro Wrestling Guerrilla 2017 Battle of Los Angeles – Stage One, 9/1
    • Pro Wrestling Guerrilla 2017 Battle of Los Angeles – Stage Two, 9/2

    Upcoming Watch List

    • Pro Wrestling Guerrilla 2017 Battle of Los Angeles – Final Stage, 9/3
    • Monday Night Raw, 9/4
    • WWE Mae Young Classic Ep 5-8, 9/4
    • SmackDown LIVE, 9/5
    • 205 Live, 9/5
    • NXT, 9/6
    • Lucha Underground, 9/6

    Non-WWE Segment of The Week

    An Unmasked Castro Meets With Dario Cueto

    Lucha Underground, 8/30

    A best in-name-only, as there wasn’t much to draw from this week. Being The Elite is getting stale and WWN seems to be in an off-week for YouTube content.

    I liked this interaction, between Cueto and the fomerly-undercover cop who was in hiding in his underground wrestling club. Not only was it a surprise, because you don’t expect Castro to walk right into Dario’s office, but it pushed the ball forward in the feud with Joey Ryan.

    Non-WWE Match of The Week:

    Flash Morgan Webster vs Marty Scurll

    Pro Wrestling Guerrilla 2017 Battle of Los Angeles – Stage One, 9/1

    As you’ll see in the honorable mentions, the first two nights of BOLA were (predictably) top-shelf. I could have gone with either of the Keith Lee matches from nights 1 or 2, or the insane The Elite vs The Lucha Trio (Penta El 0M, Fenix, Flamita). But I did not.

    That’s because this match feels more … special. I’d never been a card carrying member of the FMW hive before, and now I own two of his shirts.

    Why? He didn’t win the crowd over with perfect high spots or anything (one famous wrestling writer noted to me that’s where he needs work), but he showed everything else about how he is very damn good at this wrestling thing.

    Wrestling as a babyface to Marty Scurll’s lovable villain is tough, but Flash sold everything beautifully and his buildups for comebacks were a delight. Scurll, for his part, did take to the mic to chastise the audience and get some heat to get the match starting right. And once Scurll had given Webster that starting point, the mod from a town called Malice brought thunder to begin the match.

    All in all, it felt like the biggest match of Flash’s career so far.

    Curious? Order BOLA via Blu-Ray or DVD from ProWrestlingGuerilla.com or at a date TBD on HighSpotsNetwork.

    Honorable Mentions:

    • Brian Cage vs. Dezmond Xavier, BOLA – Stage One, 9/1
    • PENTA EL 0M vs. “Reborn” Matt Sydal, BOLA – Stage One, 9/1
    • The Chosen Bros (Jeff Cobb & Matthew Riddle) vs. The Monstars (Donovan Dijak & Keith Lee), BOLA – Stage One, 9/1
    • Jonah Rock vs. Zack Sabre, Jr., BOLA – Stage One, 9/1
    • Flamita vs. Ricochet, BOLA – Stage One, 9/1
    • Sammy Guevara vs. Joey Janela, BOLA – Stage Two, 9/2
    • Donovan Dijak vs. Trevor Lee, BOLA – Stage Two, 9/2
    • Michael Elgin vs. Matthew Riddle, BOLA – Stage Two, 9/2
    • Travis Banks vs. Mark Haskins, BOLA – Stage Two, 9/2
    • Keith Lee vs. WALTER, BOLA – Stage Two, 9/2
    • REY FENIX, Flamita, & PENTA EL 0M vs. The Elite (Matt & Nick Jackson, Kenny Omega), BOLA – Stage Two, 9/2

    WWE Match of The Week:

    Abbey Laith vs. Jazzy Gabert

    WWE Mae Young Classic Ep 1, 8/28

    Much like the Cruiserweight Classic, the Mae Young Classic’s early rounds aren’t all gems. Fortunately, it’s easy to find the best matches of this four episode (each is around 45 minutes) stretch, as they’re the main events. And of those four, this felt the most competitive.

    Not only are their animated reactions at the start of the match a solid way to give this brawl some importance, but Laith’s underdog work from beneath during the match properly established Gabert as a force to be reckoned with. Look forward to seeing her future matches.

    Honorable Mentions:

    WWE Segment of the Week:

    Cena Pipebombs Reigns

    Monday Night Raw, 8/28

    As my friend Luis put it in a gchat, you either die a Super Cena, or live long enough to become CM Punk. As David Shoemaker said, this felt like more than a promo, but an intervention.

    Nothing I can really add, but just need to give this segment praise, and hope that they can make this feud last all the way through the next half-year or further.

    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 14 (4/6–12)

    But first, about that elephant in the arena…

    I want to reaffirm some of the reason behind this weekly roundup. Every week, WWE provide more than enough hours of pro wrestling for most, but there’s more. From those wacky Brits in Progress to the insane bastards of New Japan, wrestling isn’t just WWE.

    This past week, there was as much reason to reiterate the above as ever before. No, not because of the phenomenal match between Kazuchika Okada and Katsuyori Shibata at Sakura Genesis. But because of the big outside-the-ring story of bullying in the WWE making the rounds in major publications such as Sports Illustrated and the New York Post.

    Vince’s love of fucking with people is no secret, but this has popped up because of speculation that SmackDown Live color commentary announcer, noted veteran, and all-around-cancerous-motherfucker JBL is the reason for the absence of SDL play-by-play announcer Mauro Ranallo. You know, JBL, the guy who thought it’d be OK to goose-step like a Nazi during a show in Germany.

    While we haven’t heard any stories about what JBL did to Mauro, who has been public about his bipolar diagnosis, and is off-air for what has been reported as stress, nothing would surprise anyone at this stage. It’s currently expected that Mauro and WWE will settle in private, and that WWE will address this in some way, as the story has been made too-public to ignore.

    If it were up to me, and Mauro were not available to the WWE anymore, the SDL announce team would be Corey Graves, Byron Saxton and Renee Young. Of related note this week was the shamelessly transparent “we’re trading the black commentators!” moment where Raw traded Saxton for the useless lump of humanity called David Otunga.

    Thankfully, we get a six-week window before Raw Is 3 Hours of Otunga goes into effect, thanks to his commitment to filming a movie where he’s playing a lawyer. In that time, Booker T will be filling in, because (again), “LOL BLACK COMMENTATORS, GOTTA HAVE ONE, AND NO MORE THAN ONE!” Assuming Book does well, I’d like to see a Raw team some day that’s him, Graves, and Tom Phillips.

    As always, a list of what I watched for this week’s edition and what I’m planning to watch next week. If I’m missing anything that can be accessed without too much trouble, @ me on twitter: henrytcasey.

    What I Watched:

    Upcoming Watch List:

    • PROGRESS Wrestling Presents: Freedom’s Road S01E07, 4/13
    • OTT: Scrappermania III, 4/15
    • Monday Night Raw, 4/17
    • ROH Wrestling, 4/17
    • SmackDown Live, 4/18
    • 205 Live, 4/18
    • Talking Smack Live, 4/18
    • NXT, 4/19

    Non-WWE Match of the Week:

    Kazuchika Okada © vs Katsuyori Shibata for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship

    NJPW: Genesis, 4/9

    Most matches don’t get 38 minutes between bells, but that’s because few have the conditioning and technical prowess of Okada and Shibata. The former is the crown jewel of New Japan and the latter, well, he would have been on the rise after one hell of a match. More on that in a moment.

    The story here is that Shibata enters the match guns ablazin and in a far more passionate state than Okada. The crowd is on board with this, vocally entirely behind Shibata. Okada is entering that mixed-reactions phase of his career most people associate with John Cena and Roman Reigns, and this match cemented it. Felt a bit like Punk/Cena MITB in that way. Except Okada starts taking shortcuts, playing to the boos.

    Without spoiling any spots, I’ll leave discussion of the good parts of the match at that.

    Part of me doesn’t want to give the win to the most-talked-about match of the week, but it was the best match outside of the week, despite its serious flaw. And that flaw is so bad that I won’t go back and rewatch this match, despite loving (the majority of) it.

    While I always suggest people go watch these matches, this one comes with a brutal asterisk. Near the end of this match, which was already going to win MOTW, Shibata leveled Okada with what is now believed to be a shoot-headbutt. As in the skull-to-skill headbutt that split Shibata open was legitimate, despite early reports of it being a work.

    As reported by many, including Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer, reports are coming out that Shibata is currently hospitalized, dealing with lingering right-side paralysis. Meltzer noted that Shibata has “some memories of the match” as if to infer that memory loss is involved. After all of this, it is expected that Shibata will never be cleared to wrestle again, ending his young career. Thankfully, it appears he will recover, but we shouldn’t have needed to hope for that.

    It brings up a question of what kind of stiff work is actively encouraged or at least tacitly endorsed by the New Japan management. Much like WWE with its bullying problem, NJPW needs to take this moment to consider how it does business.

    Sakura Genesis is available on NJPW World.

    Honorable Mentions:

    • Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) © vs The Hunter Brothers (Jim Hunter & Lee Hunter) for the PROGRESS Tag Team Titles, Progress Ch. 46: I Like To Chill Out Here And Shoot Some Dinosaurs, 4/7
    • Pete Dunne vs Mark Andrews for the PROGRESS World Title, Progress Ch. 46: I Like To Chill Out Here And Shoot Some Dinosaurs, 4/7
    • Hirooki Goto vs Zack Sabre Jr., for the NEVER Openweight championship, NJPW: Genesis, 4/9
    • Curt Stallion vs John Skyler in a 2017 Top Prospects Tournament semi-final match, ROH Wrestling, 4/10

    Non-WWE Segment of the Week:

    EVOVLE Mini-Doc: Zack Sabre Jr. Can’t Make a Mistake

    EVOLVE, WWN Live, 4/12

    Evolve’s mini-docs, which get attributed to Kenny Johnson, are typically great previews or recaps. This one, though, goes further. It tells twin stories of frustration, from the current EVOLVE champ Zack Sabre Jr. and recent signee ACH.

    As the title suggests, the focus of the feature is ZSJ hanging onto his title by a hair. What that means for Zack is that he’s getting closer to the “do whatever it takes” mentality that heels use, to cheat to keep his championship.

    This, if you’re following Sabre Jr. outside of this promotion, is intriguing. In Pro Wrestling Guerrilla (PWG) and New Japan, to name a couple of the other place he pops up, things are different.

    Everywhere but EVOLVE, he’s called “Zacky Three Belts” because he’s crossed over to the dark side, turning heel. So whether he’s joining Minoru Suzuki’s nefarious Suzuki-Gun faction or tag-teaming with The Villain Marty Scurll as The Leaders of The New School, he’s always drawing ire. It’s the role that many who see his lanky frame and know-it-all submission style believe he was born to play.

    And then we have ACH – who has worked as a friend of Zack’s in EVOLVE – who came here to win gold. ACH who should have been a world champion by now, but was passed over. ACH who couldn’t get the job done in Orlando, against Sabre Jr. at EVOVLE 80.

    ACH who says he doesn’t know what comes next. ACH who’s been a face all this time and maybe that’s not enough.

    Of course, this video doesn’t hammer home either potential turn all that hard. Gotta keep that surprise going. I love how the focus and zoom fall out of the scene where Michael Elgin cold-cocks Zack Sabre Jr. after basically demanding their match be for the title. And then the brief moments they bring from Elgin/ZSJ definitely paint Sabre Jr. as valorous and Elgin and the prick.

    And then the other challengers. Lio Rush, who challenges Sabre Jr. for the title at the next EVOLVE events, and has “no more time to waste.” Ethan Page, tired of getting looked over by the booking committee, and more than happy to remind you of his two wins against Zack.

    And finally, back to Sabre Jr., who speaks of the weight of the belt on his shoulder. If that doesn’t get you buying tickets or a FloSlam subscription, then I’m confused.

    Honorable Mentions:

    WWE Match of the Week:

    AJ Styles vs Sami Zayn vs Baron Corbin in a #1 Contender’s match for the United States Championship

    SmackDown Live, 4/11

    The Superstar Shakeup gave SmackDown Live the kind of roster that everyone wished it had on day 1. Sure, we thought Dean Ambrose and Bray Wyatt were amazing workers, but that just wasn’t happening.

    So this past week saw them add a flurry of talent, with Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens coming over as two marquee acquisitions. Oh, and they’re also adding Big E, Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston (give me New Day singles runs) and Rusev to a show that already had AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Baron Corbin, Tye Dillinger and Luke Harper? So hot, hot damn.

    And as if they felt the need to prove themselves, Zayn, Styles and Corbin put together a match worthy of their names. So while Styles is still working through being a good guy, Sami’s trying to prove himself against a bully he can hurt (Corbin is no Strowman), and Corbin is showing that he’s a fast learner.

    This was the closest call for WWE MOTW in a while. While this had to be the winner, I appreciated the work in the other two matches, also worth checking out. This one just had more time and better pacing. Find the full version on Hulu if you have to.

    Honorable Mentions:

    Note: Both Galloway and Gallagher hit headbutts, no reports have emerged of resultant injuries.

    WWE Segment of the Week:

    Braun Strowman Savagely Attacks Roman Reigns

    Monday Night Raw, 4/10

    I’m really confused about what WWE meant to do with this segment, but I loved it so much nonetheless. This isn’t the best WWE segment of the year (remember the Festival of Friendship?), but damn it’s a close second.

    Sure, he didn’t lift the ambulance (hello, it’s pro wrestling), but everything else about it was just so damn cool. Braun just rag-dolling Reigns around the backstage area elevates him to the most awesome thing on the Raw roster.

    I watched this Raw at a bar with other fans, and this segment became the most amazing moment when consumed with a dozen or so fans screaming their heads off. So I just can’t emphasize enough how huge this moment is. 

    WWE needs to handle this properly on Monday, and keep Roman off TV and let Braun continue to be the next wonder of the world, but not overdo it.

    Some notes:

    • Roman takes a moment to remove his clipped-on microphone, because he’s a good employee who treats company property with care.
    • The segment wins by demonstrating impossible awesomeness by way of camera tricks.
    • Someone (possibly the WWE) started a god damn online petition to fire Strowman. That, if done outside of the company, is today’s version of that time people thought the NWO actually invaded WCW and called the police.
    • How does this happen the same week as The United Incident?

    And about my confusion:

    So, this made Strowman cooler than ever for many. Was it supposed to make Roman pitiable? Likable? Is this just to get Roman cool as a vengeful motherfucker?

    After Roman Reigns had all the heat last week, are they trying to cool him down? What the hell?