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 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

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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:

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:

WTW 45

Watch This Wrestling 45 (11/12—18)

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

What I Watched

  • Monday Night Raw, 11/13
  • SmackDown LIVE, 11/14
  • 205 Live, 11/14
  • NXT, 11/15
  • RevPro Global Wars Nights 1 & 2, VOD 11/17
  • NJPW World Tag League Press Conference, 11/17
  • NXT: TakeOver WarGames, 11/18
  • NJPW World Tag League Night 1: 11/18

Upcoming Watch List

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

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Keith Lee vs Tomohiro Ishii

RevPro Global Wars Night 1

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

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

Honorable Mentions:

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

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Zack Gibson’s Promos

RevPro Global Wars

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

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

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

Aleister Black vs Velveteen Dream

NXT: TakeOver WarGames, 11/18

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

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

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

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

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

Honorable Mentions: 

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

WWE Segment of the Week:

“Enjoy infamy, Velveteen Dream.”

NXT: TakeOver WarGames, 11/18

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

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

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

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 44 (11/5—11)

Hello friends!

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

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

What I Watched

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

Upcoming Watch List

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

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

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

NJPW Power Struggle, 11/5

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

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

Honorable Mentions:

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

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

A New Challenger Appears for Kenny Omega

NJPW Power Struggle, 11/5

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

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

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

AJ Styles vs Jinder Mahal © for the WWE Championship

SmackDown LIVE, 11/7

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

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

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

Enzo Introduces the UK Division to the British WWE Fans

205 Live, 11/7

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

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

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 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 42 (10/22—28)

Hello friends!

Another thing that got in the way of me doing these in a timely manner was that I’ve spent more time than ever finding and watching new promotions. Sadly, not too much clicked with me…

What I Watched

  • 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
  • Beyond Wrestling: Denim Recruits, 10/28

Upcoming Watch List

  • Beyond Wrestling: Apocalypse Dudes, 10/29
  • Monday Night Raw, 10/30
  • SmackDown LIVE, 10/24
  • 205 Live, 10/25
  • NXT, 10/26
  • Fight Club Pro: Day of the Dead, 11/2 VOD date
  • Progress Chapter 56: La Danse Macabre, 11/2 VOD

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Keith Lee vs The Reapers

PCW Fright Night, 10/27

I loved a Keith Lee match, big surprise, right? Well, it was a … weird week for the stuff I watched outside of WWE. This match wins less for its pacing or any particular workrate, and more for The Friendly Fellow’s ad-libs.

Those include:

  • “Oh my god,” sung in a soul music fashion, in pain, after getting hit hard.
  • “I’m the only actual big lad here,” in response to the crowd’s chant of “big lads wrestling.”
  • Also, the reveal moment was solid.

This came from one of four non-WWE shows I saw that week, and it’s a shame I can’t even find one honorable mention to bring up.

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

“We’re obviously not here to talk about me”

Progress Wrestling/YouTube, 10/25

There’s no high degree of difficulty in making the Progress audience dislike Dennis after he turned on Mark Andrews at Ally Pally, but Eddie’s not resting on that moment. This video grounds his fury in reality, how he’s felt overshadowed and babied by his more prolific partner.

Can’t wait to see where they take it from here.

Honorable Mentions:

  • TKTV episode 1, Demand Progress, 10/25

WWE Match of The Week:

Finn Bálor vs AJ Styles

WWE TLC 2017, 10/22

And in a decision that nobody will argue, this meeting of SmackDown Live’s ace and the man who could have been running Raw had it not been for injury gets a W.

The make-shift ppv match (made after Bray Wyatt went down with an undisclosed, though rumored, sickness) turned out to be the highlight of a show that saw WWE back on its Peak Sports Entertainment Bullshit.

Hopefully, this got enough love backstage for Vince to realize that the show can’t just be Brand Loyalty and “wait did they murder a dude?” moments.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

Raw is … Under Siege

Monday Night Raw, 10/23

Don’t let the above confuse you, though: I am all in on Peak Dumbshit-mode in the WWE. Rusev standing on the table shouting. New Day leaving the charge. Rollins off the damn platform. Becky in a leadership position. CHAD. FUCKING. GABLE. putting hands on Jason Jordan.

It’s good. It’s damn good.

Honorable Mentions: