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Watch This Wrestling 32 (8/13—19)

This one’s later than ever, but with good reasons (excuses).

First of all, I spent my post-SummerSlam energy writing this: The Five Wrestling Fans You Meet in Hell for Cageside Seats, which – judging by the amount of comments – was a good bit of business for them. In it, I unload a lot of long-standing gripes I’ve had with fans, and even chide myself.

And then, before I knew it, I needed to spend my weekend conserving my energy. BOLA is only 5 days away now, and I need to be as close to 💯 for it as possible. So, expect Vol. 33 to drop shortly after this one.

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 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

Upcoming Watch List

  • SummerSlam, 8/20
  • Monday Night Raw, 8/21
  • SmackDown LIVE, 8/22
  • 205 Live, 8/22
  • Ethan Page: Another Way To Get Paid with ACH, 8/22
  • NXT, 8/23
  • Lucha Underground, 8/23
  • WCPW World Cup – Round of 16, 8/23
  • WCPW World Cup – Quarter Finals, 8/24
  • EVOLVE Mini-Doc: Darby Allin vs. Timothy Thatcher, 8/25
  • WCPW World Cup – Finals, 8/26

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

“I am alive. That is all.”

NJPW: G1 Climax Finals, 8/13

With those words, fans started to breathe again. In a world where undead-men retire and retire and retire afain, these words can mean all the literal word when you worry the exact opposite was going to happen.

That’s because we heard these word uttered by Katsuyori Shibata in his first appearance since his likely-career-ending match with Okada.

I mention this here because I find it necessary to harp on New Japan’s safety issues. This moment’s calming nature is an unfortunate best-case scenario – that these performers haven’t died for their art – for moments that don’t seem to be disappearing from the promotion any time soon.

I’d hope that the terrible tables go away, and shoot-headbutts are banned, but these seem like features and not bugs.

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Kenny Omega vs Tetsuya Naito

NJPW: G1 Climax Finals, 8/13

This match was amazing because of – and in spite of its – accidental dangerous moments. Specifically everything involving or near the railing or the tables.

Both Naito and Omega managed to make those last second adjustments, ala AJ Styles and Ellsworth, so they didn’t kill each other.

WWE Match of The Week:

Ember Moon vs Asuka ©

NXT: TakeOver Brooklyn III, 8/19

Shades of what NJPW matches did well in the G1. A methodical build, focusing on a limb, false finishes, and a heel deservedly going over. Reminds me a lot of Juice lately, winning by losing.

As a final match for Asuka in NXT, which it appears to be, it’s solid. Unfortunately, I don’t see much of a defined persona for Ember yet. Think she needs at least one more feud down there before she can have a chance to not drown in the cacophony of noise on the main roster.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Akira Tozawa vs Neville, Monday Night Raw, 8/14
  • Johnny Gargano vs Andrade “Cien” Almas", NXT: TakeOver Brooklyn III, 8/19
  • Authors of Pain vs Sanity, NXT: TakeOver Brooklyn III, 8/19

WWE Segment of the Week:

ADAM COLE BAYBAY

NXT: TakeOver Brooklyn III, 8/19

When this was over, I believe, Myke asked me if I was happy with it. Yes, I’m sure I said, because this moment was what NXT needed. It’s the biggest story point – tying together multiple divisions and possibly bringing in the world of pro wrestling – that the NXT brand has ever seen.

And sure, invasion angles don’t have the best history, but it’s NXT’s first and we’ve got high hopes for the long-term execution, as the groundwork has certainly been laid.

First off, Nigel popping hard and yelling ADAM COLE BAYBAY before Cole or the Brooklyn audience could, helps establish that as canon. It also sets up a “what did McGuinness know, and when did he know it?” angle.

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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 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.