Watch This Wrestling 41 (10/15—21)

Hello friends!

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

What I Watched

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

Upcoming Watch List

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

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

“Hot Sauce” Tracy Williams vs Zack Sabre Jr.

Evolve 95, 10/15

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

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

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

Honorable Mentions:

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

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Lucha Underground Finale Montage

Lucha Underground, 10/18

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

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

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

pic.twitter.com/eczgLhReET

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

Available via El Rey, iTunes and other services

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

Aleister Black vs Raul Mendoza

NXT, 10/18

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

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

WWE Segment of the Week:

Kevin and Sami Explain Themselves, Again

SmackDown LIVE, 10/10

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

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

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 40 (10/8—14)

Hello friends! This didn’t just go up late because there was a lot to watch, but because I did another one for Cageside Seats: Evolve 94 Live Report: A View From The Front Row.

Also, have you watched my video about BOLA yet?

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

What I Watched

  • WWE Hell In A Cell, 10/8
  • MLW One Shot, 10/8
  • PROGRESS: Revelations Of Divine Love, 10/8
  • Monday Night Raw, 10/9
  • NJPW King Of Pro Wrestling, 10/9
  • SmackDown LIVE, 10/10
  • 205 Live, 10/10
  • NXT, 10/11
  • Lucha Underground, 10/12
  • Evolve 94, 10/14

Upcoming Watch List

  • Evolve 95, 10/15
  • Monday Night Raw, 10/16
  • SmackDown LIVE, 10/17
  • 205 Live, 10/17
  • NXT, 10/18
  • Lucha Underground, 10/18

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Keith Lee vs Matt Riddle: WWN Championship Last Man Standing Match

Evolve 94, 10/14

In a week filled with 4-star matches, it’s hard to pick which one is the best. I’ve been nit-picking the finish of Lee vs Riddle for days, debating how much the Last Man Standing stipulation hurt the match.

Yes, a three-count could have made for a more raucous moment, but this match was still the biggest barn-burner of them all, even when you consider the ending relied on one man not standing up. And since I’ve heard some compelling arguments saying that an I Knocked You Out stip means more than a pinfall, yep this is the winner.

First of all, I loved the rolled-through suplexes to start the match off, placed them on a more-even playing field. The next thing I noticed (from the front row) that made me smile was how Keith Lee worked the match in a very natural way, turning his head to see if Riddle was rising up, and then immediately making an effort to do so at those moments.

I spent much of the hours before the show predicting that Lee would win, to the point where I felt confident. Maybe that’s why I felt the ending looked a little telegraphed, though Riddle spent a lot of time dominating the match, which always signals the comebacks.

On top of the solid build of Lee doing his signature moves, and then having to do them again from the top rope, the post-match moments really tied it all together. Look at how Keith Lee looks at the WWN Championship. We saw more raw emotion here than we ever got from Riddle over this belt, and more than we got from any of the below honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Ricochet vs Shane Strickland, MLW One Shot, 10/8
  • Jinny vs Milly McKenzie, PROGRESS: Revelations Of Divine Love, 10/8
  • Will Ospreay vs Kushida, NJPW King Of Pro Wrestling, 10/9
  • Tomohiro Ishii vs Tetsuya Naito, NJPW King Of Pro Wrestling, 10/9
  • Roppongi 3K vs Ricochet & Ryusuke Taguchi © for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles, NJPW King Of Pro Wrestling, 10/9
  • Pentagon Dark vs Son of Havoc, Lucha Underground, 10/12
  • Darby Allin vs Jarek 1:20, Evolve 94, 10/14
  • Fred Yehi vs Hot Sauce Tracy Williams, Evolve 94, 10/14
  • Jaka vs Zack Sabre Jr., Evolve 94, 10/14

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Ethan Page: This Generation Sucks, And So Does Shane Strickland

Ethan Page’s YouTube, 10/11

Surprise! I love an Ethan Page YouTube promo! Now that All Ego has left Evolve, his channel is my primary means of seeing the Body Guy talk his shit.

Here, he provides a solid takedown of Shane Strickland for making himself the leader of some loosely affiliated group of CZW talent. And Page makes some damn good points about how there are a lot of people just imitating others.

Now, I don’t see Strickland as a clone, he’s been proving his merit in a lot of places, from the Lucha Underground temple to the MLW One Shot event. But if you look around Strickland, in that video, yeah … Page has a point.

Page is also so far above most of the CZW roster — in terms of mic skills — that he can record this video in his kitchen and make it look easy.

Want another indicator of how this promo is great? It’s sold me on paying for the CZW The Wolf of Wrestling event when it eventually hits an online platform.

Why is that a big deal? Because I didn’t set up an array of mute filters, I have a pretty solid guess as to how the match finishes, as I didn’t see people on Twitter raving about a new champion being crowned. But I still want to see how this goes.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Match of The Week:

The Usos vs The New Day for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships in a Hell In The Cell Match

Hell In A Cell, 10/8

Up to that moment it was the Best Hell In A Cell match that didn’t feature Mick Foley or The Undertaker. Which is saying something. Super insane spots, lots of inventive mayhem, and oh the trombones. Francesca lost a lot of family that night.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

Kevin and Sami Explain Themselves

SmackDown LIVE, 10/10

You know what’s amazing about this? Completely defied the established and hard-to-argue conventional wisdom that Sami Zayn should always be a babyface.

Sure, I’d like that heels be less right about their motivation, but I’m also impressed that this all ties together so well. Most WWE heel turns don’t make this much sense.

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 37 (9/17—23)

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

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

What I Watched

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

Upcoming Watch List

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

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

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

Evolve 92, 9/22

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

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

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

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

Honorable Mentions:

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

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Matt Riddle Plays The Role of Locker-room Leader

Evolve 93, 9/23

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

WWE Match of The Week:

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

NXT, 9/20

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

WWE Segment of the Week:

Enzo vs Neville On The Mic

205 Live, 9/19

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

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 35 (9/3—9/9)

Hello friends! So, thanks to this rundown’s Sunday through Saturday format, this ranking is still hung up on BOLA. Why did I skip NJPW’s shows? Personal time limits met cards whose only matches I saw involved the ongoing thing between Ospreay and Takahashi.

And before you start this, realize minor BOLA spoilers follow. If you want a spoiler-free read, check out this piece I wrote for Cageside Seats about the experience.

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

What I Watched

  • Pro Wrestling Guerrilla 2017 Battle of Los Angeles – Final Stage, 9/3
  • Progress Ch. 54: Go To Your God Like A Soldier:, 9/3 [VOD date]
  • 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

Upcoming Watch List

  • 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, 9/15 [estimated VOD date]

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Keith Lee vs Donovan Dijak

Pro Wrestling Guerrilla 2017 Battle of Los Angeles – Final Stage, 9/3

This match is why, if you can only afford to buy or rent one of the BOLA events, you should pick the third, aka Final Stage, without a moment’s pause.

Yes, I’m far from the first to praise this match, with Dave Meltzer giving it a 5-stars rating (is that out of 5 or now out of 6.25?), but wow. It’s the best damn thing. And most of us, I’m guessing, didn’t see see coming. This is one of the great things about BOLA, as the brackets aren’t made public, and you don’t know third day matches until they happen.

The two had just as recently as Night 1 tagged as the Space Jam-inspired Monstars, but even their dynamic chemistry there didn’t make it obvious that Lee and Dijak would steal the show. Instead, it took mere moments into this bout, the third on the card (WHICH IS NOT WHERE YOU TYPICALLY PUT A BARN BURNER), for us in the audience to realize there was something special taking place in front of us. That we truly were going to bask in the glory of a maybe-once-in-a-lifetime feat to feast our eyes upon.

I won’t say any more, other than to say that if this doesn’t put Keith Lee on WWE’s shopping list – as they just picked up Dijak – I don’t know what Regal, The Brian Kendrick and X-Pac were looking at when they were at BOLA. These two redefined what big men can – and should – do, and I’d love to see it all take place again and again, on even grander stages. If you think Braun Strowman’s making 2017 the year of the hoss, just get ready for 2018: When Hosses Learn How To Fly.

Honorable Mentions:

  • All of BOLA Day 3. I thought about going into detail here, but seriously, that could spoil any of what went down. Most know about Lee vs Dijak by now, but let the rest of this night, drink it in maaaan, 9/3
  • Tyler Bate vs Kid Lykos, Progress Ch. 54: Go To Your God Like A Soldier:, 9/3
  • Jinny vs Dahlia Black, Progress Ch. 54: Go To Your God Like A Soldier:, 9/3
  • In a 5-0 Street Fight for an Aztec Medallion, Cortez Castro vs. Joey Ryan, Lucha Underground, 9/6

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

Post-BOLA

Pro Wrestling Guerrilla 2017 Battle of Los Angeles – Final Stage, 9/3

The rug that tied it all together, the segment that finished BOLA, happening after the Finals victory, explained it all. Again, not going to spoil anything, but just applaud the mic work of those involved. With its wrestling being as good as it is, PWG doesn’t need to oversaturate with storyline, and this felt great.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Flash Morgan Webster’s “Wrestling Friends,” with special guests Jimmy Havoc and Mark Haskins, Progress Ch. 54: Go To Your God Like A Soldier:, 9/3

WWE Match of The Week:

Toni Storm vs. Kairi Sane

WWE Mae Young Classic Episode 8, 8/28

It’s not a surprise to me that my two favorites in this tournament put on the best WWE match of the last week. While it was competitive, I like that it didn’t feel like Kairi only barely came away with the win, because that would have felt like she definitely had no chance next week. And I desperately want her to win.

But that’s not to say that Toni Storm didn’t make the most of this appearance. She’s one of a few wrestlers who I’d be surprised that WWE doesn’t make a major offer to sign at the end of this thing.

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Segment of the Week:

“You should have died in that crash.”

SmackDown LIVE, 9/5

First of all, thank you SmackDown Live, for doing the little thing, of crossing the wires. For Kevin Owens to interrupt Carmella, is a nice little moment that reminds us that wrestlers aren’t separated by division or locker room. Yes, I’m assuming Ellsworth changes before he gets to the venue and waits for Carmella to.

But, of course, this award goes to Kevin Owens for regaining his importance for the first time in a very long time. Sure, his stuff with Jericho was fun, but this is stronger, meaner and more manipulative.

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 30 (7/30–8/5)

So, a heads-up. WTW 31 is most-likely hitting the pages late. My excuse? Look down at my schedule for August 11 and 12, and realize I’m attending 3 of those 6 events, and needing to watch the other three after they occur. And then Sunday August 13 will feature the G1 Climax finals?

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

What I Watched

  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 10, 7/30
  • Monday Night Raw, 7/31
  • SmackDown LIVE, 8/1
  • 205 Live, 8/1
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 11, 8/1
  • NXT, 8/2
  • Lucha Underground, 8/2
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 12, 8/2
  • Progress Chapter 53: Fate Loves The Fearless, 8/3
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 13, 8/4
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 14, 8/5

Upcoming Watch List

  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 15, 8/6
  • Monday Night Raw, 8/7
  • SmackDown LIVE, 8/8
  • 205 Live, 8/8
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 16, 8/8
  • NXT, 8/9
  • Lucha Underground, 8/9
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 17, 8/11
  • Evolve 90, 8/11
  • Battle Club Pro: The Bounty In Kings County, 8/11
  • Evolve 91, 8/12
  • Progress: NYC, 8/12
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 1, 8/12

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

30 for 30: Stokely Hathaway!?

WWNLive via YouTube, 8/1

Stokely Hathaway is the crown-jewel of Evolve, and this video is further proof that the promotion is aware of it.

My favorite stuff in here is how some wrestlers just talk their talk about Stokely (Keith Lee in particular), while Dream Team affiliate Tim Thatcher simply avoids conversation.

Honorable Mentions:

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

EVIL vs Kazuchika Okada

NJPW: G1 Climax Day 14, 8/5

The second batch of G1 days didn’t offer the same brilliance as the first set, but god damn this match. In one match, they took Evil, who is the laser-light-loving love-child of Bray Wyatt and The Undertaker, and turned him into a star. If you want to know why Okada is so good, it’s due in part to him making his opponents look like a million bucks.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Dante Fox vs. Prince Puma, Lucha Underground, 8/2
  • Kenny Omega vs Juice Robinson, NJPW: G1 Climax Day 14, 8/5
  • Pete Dunne vs Jack Sexsmith, Progress Chapter 53: Fate Loves The Fearless, 8/3

WWE Match of The Week:

Aleister Black vs Kyle O’Reilly

NXT, 8/2

Leaving Ring of Honor might be the best thing to happen to Kyle O’Reilly’s career. First, he and Keith Lee kill it at Evolve 82 in April, and now this.

Sure, the ending isn’t what you might have wanted, but this match is a barn-burner.

  • John Cena vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, SmackDown LIVE, 8/1
  • AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens, SmackDown LIVE, 8/1

WWE Segment of the Week:

Fashion Peaks

SmackDown LIVE, 8/1

You don’t have to be a Twin Peaks fan to find Fashion Peaks hilarious. How do I know? I’ve tried and failed with the classic David Lynch TV show, but this segment still had me rolling in my chair.

Honorable Mentions:

Watch This Wrestling 28 (7/16–22)

So, so much wrestling. 

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 1, 7/17
  • Monday Night Raw, 7/17
  • AAW: Take No Prisoners Occurred 5/6, hit AAW VOD on 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

Upcoming Watch List

  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 5, 7/23
  • Monday Night Raw, 7/24
  • SmackDown LIVE, 7/25
  • 205 Live, 7/25
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 6, 7/25
  • NXT, 7/26
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 7, 7/26
  • Lucha Underground, 7/26
  • NJPW: G1 Climax Day 8, 7/27

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

RIP Daryl

NJPW: G1 Climax Day 4, 7/22

Hiromu Takahashi – along with the fans of New Japan Pro Wrestling – loved Daryl, the stuffed kitty cat that The Ticking Time Bomb carried to the ring. So, as you might expect, Daryl got shredded. The Bullet Club’s Underboss Bad Luck Fale did the dirty work, and it got the biggest heat reaction out of the NJPW crowd I’ve heard in months, maybe years. So, Fale made the most of this, by tweeting the following video.

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Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi

NJPW: G1 Climax Day 1, 7/17

Prior to its start, the big story of the G1 was the return of Kota Ibushi as Kota Ibushi in NJPW. What does that mean? 

  1. Ibushi isn’t still stuck doing Tiger Mask work.
  2. Ibushi isn’t fighting blowup dolls in Japan’s DDT Pro-Wrestling either.

Why was Ibushi doing all of that, rather than the brilliance we see legit-great stuff under his own name? Well, remember Ibushi’s time in the WWE Cruiserweight Classic? The way Kenny Omega – Ibushi’s long time rival – makes it sound in an interview, Ibushi’s decision negatively effected the chances they had of working more Japan. 

Now, though, Ibushi’s back in Japan and putting his life – specifically his neck – on the line in matches like this Week 1 stand-out with Naito.

Honorable Mentions:

Some notes about the below. If there’s a close-second place match, I’ll bold it, as I do below. And yes, Zack Sabre Jr. Elgin was available a while ago, but its price as a rental on AAW’s VOD service is much more affordable.

  • Zack Sabre Jr. vs Michael Elgin, AAW: Take No Prisoners 5/6, VOD on 7/17
  • Hirooki Goto vs Tomohiro Ishii, NJPW: G1 Climax Day 1, 7/17
  • Zack Sabre Jr vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, NJPW: G1 Climax Day 1, 7/17
  • Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi, NJPW: G1 Climax Day 1, 7/17
  • Prince Puma vs PJ Black, Lucha Underground, 7/19
  • Kota Ibushi vs Zack Sabre Jr, NJPW: G1 Climax Day 3, 7/21
  • Large Michael Elgin vs Kazuchika Okada, NJPW: G1 Climax Day 4, 7/22

WWE Match of The Week:

Mustafa Ali vs Drew Gulak, 2 out of 3 Falls

205 Live, 7/18

I don’t give 205 Live a ton of awards, but that’s possibly going to change. Now that the going will get the full 10 to 11pm Tuesday night hour (RIP Talking Smack), they’re clearly looking to give that extra time to matches, such as this barn-burner that went a while.

This match continues to tell the story of Gulak’s risk-averse style as a counterpoint to Ali’s high-flying tendencies. Fortunately, the big nasty bump in the match (Drew took a poison ‘rana on the top of his head) doesn’t break the structure of the match, as it could make you think Gulak has a point.

WWE Segment of the Week:

The Redemption of Seth Rollins

Monday Night Raw, 7/17

I have been waiting for this moment forever.

Not only did Seth give Dean get an apology, but also a free shot (which Dean didn’t take!). This is the kind of long-overdue character development that you want from WWE, but rarely expect or get.

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 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: