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Watch This Wrestling 26 (7/2–8)

You’ll notice is that while ROH TV is in my watched list, but it isn’t in my to-watch-list. Why’s that? Their TV shows have been not-great for months and with a massive amount of Progress and NJPW to watch over the coming weeks, I’m trying to use my time more efficiently. Also, I’ve gotten tired of their PPVs and TV episodes not lining up because of their pre-tape schedule.

Also, a belated Best Non-WWE award to The Bachelorette for the Kenny King vs Lee The Racist feud. So while I love Kenny King now, and he won an ROH TV title #1 contender’s ranking this week on ROH TV, that’s still not enough for me to keep watching that show as it is these days. If ROH TV somehow improves its shows, then we’ll see if they can get the rose again.

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

What I Watched

  • New Japan G1 Special Night 2, 7/2
  • Monday Night Raw, 7/3
  • ROH Wrestling, 7/3
  • SmackDown LIVE, 7/4
  • 205 Live, 7/4
  • Talking Smack Live, 7/4
  • Progress: Chapter 50: I Give It Six Months, 7/4
  • NXT, 7/5
  • Lucha Underground, 7/5
  • Evolve 88, 7/8

Upcoming Watch List

  • Evolve 89, 7/9
  • Being The Elite Ep. 63, “Hot Topic”, 7/9
  • Monday Night Raw, 7/10
  • SmackDown LIVE, 7/11
  • 205 Live, 7/12
  • Talking Smack Live, 7/12
  • NXT, 7/13
  • Lucha Underground, 7/13

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Best of Bros: Keith Lee and Matt Riddle

WWNLive via YouTube, 7/7

This may go as no shock as I am a fan of ~both these guys~, but this is another solid mini-doc from Kenny Johnson. This is the first I’ve seen of a promotion focusing on Riddle’s Altered Bro moments, and the digital effects applied there are great.

Also, this shows off their Evolve 87 match as the must-see it was, as well as giving more spotlight to Keith Lee’s charisma, and attention to the issue of being friendly with someone who’s out to get you. Riddle didn’t show up to aide Lee at Evolve 88, and this could be shown as reason why, with The Bro not wanting his strongest competition at full-strength. Or he’s just a prick like John Cena who doesn’t do anything when his “friends” get attacked.

Honorable Mentions:

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Zack Sabre Jr. vs Tomohiro Ishii, IWGP US Championship Tournament match

New Japan G1 Special Night 2, 7/2

The inclusion of Tomohiro Ishii is one of the things about the G1 Special in the US events that makes me the most jealous, considering The Stone Pitbull didn’t show up at the ROH / NJPW War of The Worlds NYC PPV.

This event gave the LA audience everything I wanted, and then some. Of the matches they got, I preferred his match against ZSJ because you rarely see Ishii in submission matches, and this showed he’s great there too. Also, loved the insane move of ZSJ’s trying to go strike for strike with the walking, talking human version of Ben Grimm aka The Thing.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Kenny Omega vs Jay Lethal, New Japan G1 Special Night 2, 7/2
  • Tomohiro Ishii vs Kenny Omega, New Japan G1 Special Night 2, 7/2
  • Young Bucks vs ROPPONGI Vice, New Japan G1 Special Night 2, 7/2
  • Kay Lee Ray vs Toni Storm ©, Progress Chapter 50
  • CCK vs BSS, Progress Chapter 50
  • Ethan Page vs Keith Lee, Evolve 88, 7/8
  • Darby Allin vs “Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams, Evolve 88, 7/8
  • ACH vs. Fred Yehi for the Evolve World Championship #1 Contender position, Evolve 88, 7/8

WWE Match of The Week:

AJ Styles vs Chad Gable

SmackDown LIVE, 7/4

I was split this week on the E’s best match, because both were great, but also predictable. But while I enjoyed Roode being despicable, I cared more about the continuation of Chad Gable’s solo sojourn.

As Gable said in a backstage interview afterwards, the tag division is a little packed at the moment. If they need solid solo matches to get the audiences to care more about American Alpha, so be it.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

The Rap Battle: The New Day vs The Usos

SmackDown LIVE, 7/4

The first great rap-related segment in WWE history, and it had bars for days. Haven’t seen it somehow? Find another version than the one below, as WWE left off the best bar.

Honorable Mentions:

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Watch This Wrestling 25 (6/25–7/1)

With this post, I’ve hit the half-year mark of the Watch This Wrestling project! I don’t know if we’re going to hit 52 editions, because of scheduling changes I made, but after this post goes up, I’m considering these first 25 to be the first half of the year, which I’ll use for a roundup.

The other bit of preamble, anyone else wondering what inspired the WWE to book women’s main events in all three of their major shows this past week? Was it GLOW debuting, or how poorly they did in the previous week? Either way, I hope this emphasis continues, instead of fading away.

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

What I Watched

  • Evolve 87, 6/25
  • Monday Night Raw, 6/26
  • ROH Wrestling, 6/26
  • SmackDown LIVE, 6/27
  • 205 Live, 6/27
  • Talking Smack Live, 6/27
  • NXT, 6/28
  • Lucha Underground, 6/28
  • New Japan G1 Special Night 1, 7/1

Upcoming Watch List

  • New Japan G1 Special Night 2, 7/2
  • Monday Night Raw, 7/3
  • ROH Wrestling, 7/3
  • SmackDown LIVE, 7/4
  • 205 Live, 7/4
  • Talking Smack Live, 7/4
  • NXT, 7/5
  • Lucha Underground, 7/5
  • Evolve 88, 7/8

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Zack Sabre Jr. vs Jaka

Evolve 87, 6/25

I hope that the solid barn-burner that was Evolve 87 doesn’t get lost in the overshadowing nature of NJPW’s #G1USA event, because holy shit it was more consistent than either night of those Long Beach shows. but I loved this match so much.

Why? Because this match showed that Jaka can be a singles wrestler, and a very damn good one at that. The story was simple: don’t sleep on Jaka. Zack Sabre Jr. spent the match evolving from that state of slumber to one of being wide-the-fuck-awake at the guy’s ability.

And to have it end with Jaka, a heel, be sad that he couldn’t get it done, and have it come across as sincere and not ruin his heelishness? Excellent. Love that he was visually stuck inside the moment, which felt natural.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Keith Lee vs Matt Riddle, Evolve 87, 6/25
  • Fred Yehi vs Chris Dickinson. Evolve 87, 6/25
  • Bobby Fish vs Silas Young, ROH Wrestling, 6/26
  • Jay White vs Punishment Martinez, ROH Wrestling, 6/26
  • Zack Sabre Jr. vs Juice Robinson, New Japan G1 Special Night 1, 7/1
  • Michael Elgin vs Kenny Omega, New Japan G1 Special Night 1, 7/1
  • Kazuchika Okada vs Cody, New Japan G1 Special Night 1, 7/1

WWE Match of The Week:

Asuka vs. Nikki Cross: Last Woman Standing

NXT, 6/28

First off, the start of this match has a pacing to it that is missing from WWE matches. Sure, they may have just used three headlock tie-ups and a dodged kick, but those moments fit with them analyzing each other so well, that it immediately lent the match some urgency and big fight feel.

I wondered how the stipulation would fit into how the match played out, but since neither is a technical wrestler, it works as a brawl. That also made the finish, an impact move, make sense, even though it didn’t target the legs.

Honorable Mentions:

  • The Raw Women’s division in a number one contender’s gauntlet match, Monday Night Raw, 6/26
  • Carmella vs Natalya vs Charlotte vs Becky Lynch vs Tamina in a Money In The Bank Ladder Match, SmackDown Live, 6/27

WWE Segment of the Week:

Enzo and Cass Make-up to Break-up

Monday Night Raw, 6/26

This feels weird, but it’s earned. Mostly because of how it succeeded by going completely against the grain. For Enzo to come out there, and humble himself, and own his bullshit, is not what a WWE face does. So often, as a Cageside Seats post pointed out, only the WWE heels make sense, as Cass did last week.

So for Cass to wreck Enzo after his former lil buddy made so much sense, and after falsely forgiving him? That makes Cass a true villain, and it shows they’re going all-in on this.

Honorable Mentions:

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Dario Cueto finds competition for Son of Havoc

Lucha Underground, 6/28

Not the strongest week for outside the ring content, but this segment had me howling. Why? The show introduced a new character who seems to be from Son of Havoc’s past, one who looks an awful lot like WWE superstar Luke Harper. Not the biggest deal, but it had me screaming.

Lucha Underground can be seen on El Rey and the iTunes TV Store.

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Watch This Wrestling 24 (6/18–24)

I don’t have much to say about the Women’s Money In The Bank Match, except for some short bullets:

  1. Hope the rematch on Tuesday is featured as the WWE Match of the Week here in next week’s edition.
  2. You can’t say that either of the primary reactions (the first of feeling betrayed and the second of seeing it as decent booking) is wrong. Both are valid.

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

What I Watched

  • Chikara: Johnny Kidd Invitational, 6/18
  • Money In The Bank, 6/18
  • Monday Night Raw, 6/19
  • ROH Wrestling, 6/19
  • SmackDown LIVE, 6/20
  • 205 Live, 6/20
  • Talking Smack Live, 6/20
  • NXT, 6/21
  • Lucha Underground, 6/21
  • GLOW, 6/23
  • Ring of Honor: Best In The World, 6/23
  • Beyond Wrestling: Go With The Flo, 6/24
  • Evolve 86, 6/24

Upcoming Watch List

  • Evolve 87, 6/25
  • Monday Night Raw, 6/26
  • ROH Wrestling, 6/26
  • SmackDown LIVE, 6/27
  • 205 Live, 6/27
  • Talking Smack Live, 6/27
  • NXT, 6/28
  • Lucha Underground, 6/28

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

GLOW

Netflix, 6/23

Yep, that’s how little the non-WWE world cared about outside-the-ring segments this week. I’m giving an award not to a wrestling promotion, but a TV show about one. Because when I looked at that last sentence, I realized that GLOW and Lucha Underground have a lot in common.

Both wrestling-related TV shows feature emotional narratives, both require a suspension of disbelief (Marc Maron even being given responsibility as a director of a promotion) and both quite frankly make me feel things. I won’t spoil anything more about the show, other than to say keep your eyes open for wrestlers you might be familiar with.

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Shayna Baszler vs Penelope Ford

Beyond Wrestling: Go With The Flow, 6/24

This was long overdue for me. Possibly due to how I don’t watch Shimmer (yet) and mostly see east coast wrestling promotions, I’d never seen a match featuring Shayna Baszler until this past weekend.

Baszler, whose name gets mentioned with reverence amongst those who have seen her, comes from (and still trains in) the world of MMA, where she produced a record of 15 wins in 26 matches, with 13 of those W’s coming from submissions. If you were as ignorant as I was, her decimation of Penelope Ford is an easy way to be in awe. If I had to compare her to other talents, I’d pick Zack Sabre Jr. and Matt Riddle. That’s how much of an anomaly she is for the American women’s wrestling scene.

Yes, it doesn’t have the wizardry or intensity of the ZSJ or Riddle matches listed below, but it had a greater impact on me, showing me a new kind of female wrestler. While the WWE audiences see Asuka as the paragon of the industry, Baszler’s the kind of talent that likely can’t appear in the Mae Young Classic, as she’d just run through the field too easily. Likely-signed talents such as Kairi Hojo and Io Shirai should dispatch the field of the MYC with similar ease if they do in fact appear.

Beyond Wrestling: Go With The Flow is available on FloSlam.

To hear more about Shayna, who is partially trained by Josh Barnett (who trained Shinsuke Nakamura) watch this excellent interview she did with Aubrey Sitterson, where they review a recent PWG show.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Zack Quack 2, Chikara: Johnny Kidd Invitational, 6/18
  • Matt Riddle vs Hallowicked, Chikara: Johnny Kidd Invitational, 6/18
  • Mariposa vs Fenix, Lucha Underground, 6/21
  • Frankie Kazarian vs Hangman Adam Page, Ring of Honor: Best In The World, 6/23
  • Jaka vs Fred Yehi, Evolve 68, 6/24
  • Zack Sabre Jr. vs Matt Riddle, Evolve 68, 6/24

WWE Match of The Week:

The Men’s Money In The Bank Ladder Match

Money In The Bank, 6/18

Many wanted this to be Shinsuke Nakamura’s match, and, despite his loss, it was. While Sami shined with that insane powerbomb, Owens took insane bumps, and Corbin actually won this thing, it was all about putting a spotlight on Nakamura.

By having Corbin wreck the show by taking the King of Strong Style out mid-entrance, it made the audience pop for Nakamura’s return later on all the greater, as well as their enthusiasm for each and every move he hit. Also, it’s impossible to ignore the intent-filled framing that the camera team gave the AJ/Shinsuke face-off.

Oh, and the match elevated Corbin to the main event. What more do you need?

Honorable Mentions:

  • Samoa Joe vs Roman Reigns, Monday Night Raw, 6/19
  • Dolph Ziggler vs Shinsuke Nakamura, SmackDown Live, 6/20
  • Kassius Ohno vs Aleister Black, NXT, 6/21

WWE Segment of the Week:

Corey Graves Solves The Mystery of Who Attacked Cass?

Monday Night Raw, 6/19

I don’t know about you all, but I love True Detective Season 3 with Corey Graves and Kurt Angle.

But that’s not the real story here. The truth of the matter is that Big Cass and Enzo proved the haters (myself included) wrong by showing some depth.

Bravo.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Roman’s Big Announcement, Monday Night Raw, 6/19
  • Carmella and James Ellsworth opening promo, SmackDown Live, 6/20
  • Kassius Ohno and Hideo Itami mend fences, NXT, 6/21
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Watch This Wrestling 23 (6/11–17)

A salad-days week for WWE was only emphasized by a banner show from NJPW. Nothing more needed to be said, really. Apologies for the lateness here, this was delayed by my attending the Johnny Kidd Invitational (more on that later) and the insanity that was Money In The Bank 2017.

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

What I Watched

  • 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

Upcoming Watch List

  • Chikara: Johnny Kidd Invitational, 6/18
  • Money In The Bank, 6/18
  • Monday Night Raw, 6/19
  • ROH Wrestling, 6/19
  • SmackDown LIVE, 6/20
  • 205 Live, 6/20
  • Talking Smack Live, 6/20
  • NXT, 6/21
  • Lucha Underground, 6/21

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

KUSHIDA vs Hiromu Takahashi AND Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada

NJPW: Dominion, 6/11

Here’s a first, we’ve got a draw. Yep, I can’t choose between IWGP Jr. Heavyweight and Heavyweight championship title matches, one of which … well …

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SPOILER ALERT!
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Yes, Omega/Okada 2 ending in a time-limit draw gave me the confidence to let this end in a draw. Both of these matches did one thing unquestionably better than the other, and that’s why I can’t pick. And I feel like I’ve earned a draw, having waited 23 weeks to do so.

Omega vs Okada 2 has the dramatic storytelling that made me scream. That included Omega finally hitting the One Winged Angel too near the rope, Cody being high-key in it for himself, Okada needing the terrible table and most importantly, Omega fainting as Okada tried to hit the Rainmaker lariat.

Unfortunately, it didn’t have the animus and the brevity of KUSHIDA vs Takahashi. That match felt like NJPW’s answer to the Owens vs Zayn feud, with brutal punches from the first bell. While I love Takahashi’s delirious, almost-drugged expressions, I still can’t care about KUSHIDA, because I can’t see much of his emotion.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Roppongi Vice vs Young Bucks, NJPW: Dominion, 6/11
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Naito, NJPW: Dominion, 6/11
  • Roppongi Vice and ? vs The Young Bucks and Adam Page, ROH, 6/12
  • The Mack vs Mala Suerte, Lucha Underground, 6/14
  • Pentagon Dark vs Argenis, Lucha Underground, 6/14

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Cody Interrupts Okada

NJPW: Dominion, 6/11

I have not been a fan of Indie Cody, but here we got a solid character out of him. Not some asshat waffling between heel and face, but a cocky dick’ead.

By crashing the post-match press conference, insulting the face champ Okada, and stealing dude’s beer, this is a firm persona. Further, he even insulted his own stablemate Kenny Omega, when he said Okada’s afraid of facing a true superstar.

WWE Match of The Week:

Nikki Cross vs Ruby Riot vs Asuka

NXT, 6/14

I’ve been doing some back-reads on this blog and I’ve been disappointed with how it doesn’t get to give kudos to women’s wrestling matches. And while Raw and SmackDown Live don’t seem to be scratching that itch at the moment, NXT sure as hell did.

This title match match main-evented NXT, and even though some feel slighted by the quirks of its finish, I’m good with it. Yes, it didn’t make sense for the match to get thrown out when it’s a triple threat, before you realize it’s an elimination match, and by that point it was down to two. The non-finish to this match is good, as it leads to a one-on-one bout that will further showcase Nikki Cross.

WWE Segment of the Week:

Samoa Joe Interview

Monday Night Raw, 6/12

Yes, another week, another round of applause from yours truly for Joseph of Samoa. This guy is fire on the mic, and this promo is nearly-equal in importance to the pull-apart brawl that had him looking strong earlier in the show.

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Watch This Wrestling 8 (2/24 — 3/2)

Greetings folks, before we get into the week that was in pro wrestling, I just wanted to explain what goes into an average WTW. Since I can’t give an award to something from every show, and not all of them deserve one, I thought a list of everything I watched this week would be worth writing out.

Wrestling I watched

  • Evolve 78, 2/24
  • Evolve 79, 2/25 (attended live)
  • NJPW/ROH: Honor Rising 2017 Night 1, 2/26
  • NJPW/ROH: Honor Rising 2017 Night 2, 2/27
  • ROH Wrestling, 2/27
  • WWE Monday Night Raw, 2/27
  • WWE SmackDown Live, 2/28
  • WWE NXT, 3/1
  • Impact Wrestling, 3/2

Also, there’s the whole matter of the changing tides in the world. With all of the nonsense going on in Impact (House Hardy, Drew Galloway, Jade, Maria Kanelis, and Mike Bennett all leaving while a handful of people showed up), I don’t know how long that show will stay in my watch list. But before I move onto the next week’s topics, here’s my watch list for next week. Let me know if I missed anything I can catch:

My Wrestling Watch List

  • Progress Wrestling Ch. 44: Old Man Yells At Sky, finally went on-demand on 3/3
  • Ring of Honor: Manhattan Mayhem VI, ¾ (attended live)
  • WWE Fast Lane, 3/5
  • NJPW 45 Anniversary Event, Night 1 3/6
  • ROH Wrestling, 3/6
  • WWE Monday Night Raw, 3/6
  • WWE SmackDown Live, 3/7
  • NJPW 45 Anniversary Event, Night 2 3/7
  • WWE NXT, 3/8
  • Impact Wrestling, 3/9
  • Chikara: Blink (if they upload it in time)

WWE Match of the Week:

Bayley & Sasha Banks vs Charlotte Flair & Nia Jax

WWE Monday Night Raw, 2/27

This wins for the sheer fact that Nia Jax got herself further up the ladder of the division by sheer domination. By using Sasha as a weapon, slamming her onto Bayley, and then winning with a damn leg drop, Ms. Not Like Most Girls got the elevation she deserves.

Also, points to Charlotte for being a terrible mentor to her protege Dana Brooke, by saying she’d rather tag with Nia.

Non-WWE Match of the Week:

Zack Sabre Jr. vs Timothy Thatcher (with Stokely Hathaway) for the Evolve Championship

Evolve 79, 2/25

As I explained here, the main event from Evolve 79 is a beauty. From the dueling chants to the pacing of strikes and submissions, I’m so glad I attended this match. Not much more I can say I haven’t said in that piece, and you should just watch it online.

Available on FloSlam.

WWE Segment of the Week:

We Now Cut Live from Bray Wyatt’s Sermon For…

WWE SmackDown Live, 2/28

Randy Orton befriended Bray Wyatt to inevitably turn on him because not only is that how Randall Keith Orton lives, it’s how wrestling works. Factions exist only to build talent up to one day go on their own or to start an amazing feud.

While I’m no fan of the weird raw meat and earthworms that WWE kept cutting the camera to, I loved everything about this. From Bray’s joyous cry of “RANDY!” upon seeing the man he sees as his friend to Orton revealing that Sister Abigail is buried under this compound building, it all works. It also reveals what Bray meant when he said Randy got the keys for surrendering his title shot.

Honorable Mentions: Miz TV featuring John Cena from the 2/28 SmackDown Live, most of the 2/27 Raw’s segments: Cesaro Knows Joe; Steph Almost Fires Mick Foley; Mick Knows Joe; Joe Is Here To Hurt People; Sami Attacks Joe; and yes, even Stop 1 on the Rollins Apology Tour

Non-WWE Segment of the Week:

Larry Dallas Stirs The Straw, Trouble in Catch Point

Evolve 79, 2/25

If you happened to notice me at any time during Evolve 79, it was during this segment where Satellite Radio Journalist Larry Dallas emerged. Dallas, who I love to hate, continued to stir the shit with Catch Point.

This segment is fantastic, though, because Fred Yehi’s finally had enough of Matt Riddle’s selfish bullshit. I wanted Yehi to win the title, but gaining a feud with Riddle (who’s as over as it gets in Evolve) works too.

Honorable Mention: Dissent in The Bullet Club from Honor Rising 2017 Night 1

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Watch This Wrestling 7 (2/17 – 23)

WWE Match of the Week:

The Big Show vs Braun Strowman

Monday Night Raw, 2/20

The last time the Twitter timeline blew up this much was … well, last week’s Festival of Friendship . But seriously, folks, if you didn’t think Strowman deserved his own Mania match, this is the moment that elevated Big McStronghuge past the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

Not only did Strowman deliver a good match with (or out of?) Big Show (who’s been less than relevant as of late) but he did so during his first 1-on-1 match in a main event. Oh, and that (assisted) kip-up! Maybe this is a case of lowered expectations, but damn, it was a fun time.

Honorable mentions go to SmackDown Live’s Nikki Bella vs Natalya (which would have been my pick it if not for the finish) and 205 Live’s Mustafa Ali vs Noam Dar

Non-WWE Match of the Week:

Christopher Daniels vs Jay Briscoe in the Finals of The Decade Of Excellence Tournament

Ring of Honor, 2/20

This match is the culmination of an 8-wrestler tournament to decide the next number one contender to Adam Cole Bay Bay for the ROH World Championship. In the build up to this match Daniels’ long-time tag partner Frankie Kazarian has done at least one, if not multiple, promos talking about this being his aging buddy’s last shot. This has been awkward, teasing some kind of turn.

The match on its own, is excellent, and it all begins at the commentary table. Adding Mark Briscoe and Kaz to the commentary table is the first time Kevin Kelly hasn’t been drowning since Nigel McGuinness left. Kazarian over-emphasize the story of Daniels’ last chance tempts fate about the split-up of The Addiction.

This episode of Ring of Honor is available for free on the FITE app. After watching the match, you can spoil the next four weeks of tapings by googling “ROH taping results.”

WWE Segment of the Week:

The SmackDown Live Women’s Title Picture, featuring Daniel Bryan and Naomi, and then Alexa Bliss

SmackDown Live, 2/21

I thought Naomi had cemented herself as a popular fan favorite with her new entrance and title win over Alexa Bliss, but this segment proved that the glow is more widely felt than I’d realized. Naomi’s heartfelt, teary-eyed promo was only enhanced by having the retired-by-injury Daniel Bryan be the person she had to return her title to, and for the fans in the arena to be so vocally on her side.

Making matters even better, Alexa Bliss (the latest ultimate opportunist?) coming out to demand the title be handed to her was icing on the segment.

Unfortunately, while I read this segment as a storyline, and not the result of a legitimate, shoot-injury, I was wrong. Rumors point to her injury being as bad as the one recently suffered by Rollins, leading to her liable to miss Wrestlemania.

For now, I’ll hope that even the injury rumors leaking out are all a part of the work. If it is, Naomi’s win at Mania 33 could be huge.

Honorable Mention: Kassius Ohno’s actual return, which could have gone higher, but it’s all a little too meta for me. I’m loving it, but I don’t know if the whole audience is too.

Non-WWE Segment of the Week:

Laurel & Braxton’s Wedding ft. Mike Bennett gives Braxton Sutter advice

While Lucha Underground is off, it’s up to Impact Wrestling to create televised non-match segments outside of the WWE that are worth noting. And for once, they did it without the Hardys.

Wrestling Weddings are a great way to get a ton of performers (Allie, Mike Bennett, Maria Kanelis Bennett, Aron Rex, Rockstar Spud, Sienna, Braxton Sutter … and a few more later on) into the ring at once to play off of each other and create some great (or at least lively) dramatic moments.

While I couldn’t stand Mike Bennet, Worst Bachelor Party Host Ever, his role as drunk best man fits this whole awkward rom-com thing a lot better. This whole story is based on manipulation and misinterpretation, so for him to push Sutter closer to breaking off the wedding, that works.

Also great were the fact that the wedding is entirely about Maria, but what I wish I understood was how Rex and Spud connected to the story. They’re heel, sure, but with no background in this, and only being used as “flower girls” because homophobia.

Flaws and all, though, the Impact Zone crowd ate this one up like they were stoned at the buffet. Tons of expected chants (“We object!”) and even the Delete! let this simmer to a boil and explode. Earlier, during a spot where the Broken Hardys fought in a dark high school gym, I wondered if Impact would be better in a tinier venue, but this showed that given the right prodding, the people passing through at Universal Studios Florida can make it work.