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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.

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Watch This Wrestling 13 (3/31 – 4/5)

Oh what a week. In short: WrestleMania Weekend isn’t just about WWE. When WrestleMania comes to town, it draws in more other promotions than any fan can manage to see. Which means so many promotions are active at the same damn time.

In a way, that means these weekends might be best viewed at home. I was able to stream more than enough (but not all, we’ll get to that) wrestling, thanks to FloSlam, the FITE app and the WWE network. As someone who attended WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans, I can say that seeing all of the shows in any city without public transit (such as New York) will require significant pre-trip mapping and plotting and familiarity with taxis and ubers. Or, getting a rental car.

So while I will have watched around 42 hours of wrestling for this edition, there was even more. So, if you find yourself looking for more than what I list, the HighSpots network has the stuff that even I missed. Let this be a warning to you, kiddos, if you go to WrestleMania in New Orleans next year, which I hope to, you might need to take a time management class first.

You might have noticed that I didn’t list WWNLive.com when I talked about streaming services, which is weird considering I did use it for Progress. Going forward, you ought to be wary of live events from there, as the promotion fell on its face trying to stream Progress: Orlando. It claimed that a denial of service attack was involved, but I’m suspicious that the company couldn’t handle the stress of Progress fans. Refunds for that event are due some time this week(!).

Lastly, a note. You might notice that the dates on this week are a little shorter than a full week. Looking at when exactly the graps take place, I’ve decided that future roundups will start on Thursday and end on Wednesday. Think it might help get this thing up faster.

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

What I Watched:

  • PROGRES: Orlando, 3/31
  • EVOLVE 81, 3/31
  • WWE Hall of Fame, 3/31
  • Kaiju Big Battel, 3/31
  • WCPW Pro Wrestling World Cup: Scottish Qualifier , 3/31
  • Ethan Page: I Hate WrestleMania Weekend, 3/31
  • WrestleCon Supershow, 3/31
  • Ring of Honor: Supercard of Honor XI, 4/1
  • NXT TakeOver: Orlando, 4/1
  • WWN Supershow, 4/1
  • Beyond Wrestling, 4/1
  • Full Impact Pro, 4/2
  • WrestleMania 33, 4/2
  • Monday Night Raw, 4/3
  • WWE Ride Along, 4/3
  • ROH Wrestling, 4/3
  • NJPW Road to SAKURA GENESIS 2017, 4/4
  • SmackDown Live, 4/4
  • 205 Live, 4/4
  • Talking Smack Live, 4/4
  • NXT, 4/5

Non-WWE Match of the Week:

Keith Lee vs Donovan Dijak

EVOLVE 81, 3/31

So, damn it was hard to pick just the non-WWE match of the week, so boy are there a ton of suggestions below. But yeah, this match is a delight.

A hoss fight, if you don’t know, is when you take two (or more) big boy wrestlers and have them settle their differences in the ring. Keith Lee and Donovan Dijak, though, was an ultra hoss fight. They were doing all kinds of moves you don’t expect from such huge dudes. Like Keith Lee’s monkey flip, or his corkscrew plancha off the apron.

The match was so intense that the crowd started an “OH! Bask in, his gloooorrrrry!” chant ala Zack Sabre Jr.’s “Seven Nation Army” chant. A much watch if you like big dudes, and still something you should check out to see what they can do when they’re not a bunch of Great Khalis.

EVOLVE 81 is available on the FloSlam network.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Fred Yehi vs Matt Riddle, EVOLVE 81, 3/31
  • Darby Allin vs Ethan Page, an Anything Goes Match, EVOLVE 81, 3/31
  • Travis Banks & TK Cooper (South Pacific Power Trip) vs Sami Callihan & Shane Strickland, PROGRESS in Orlando, 3/31
  • Tyler Bate © vs Mark Andrews for the WWE UK Championship, PROGRESS in Orlando, 3/31
  • Team Ricochet (Richocet, Jason Cade, Sami Callihan, AR Fox & Desmond Xavier) vs Team Ospreay (Osprey, Lio Rush, Drew Galloway, Ryan Smile, & Marty Scurll), WrestleCon Supershow, 3/31
  • Marty Scurll vs Adam Cole, ROH TV Title MatchRing of Honor: Supercard of Honor XI, 4/1
  • The Young Bucks vs Matt and Jeff Hardy, ROH Tag Team Ladder Match, Ring of Honor: Supercard of Honor XI, 4/1
  • Travis Banks & TK Cooper (South Pacific Power Trip) vs Catch Point, WWN Supershow, 4/1

Non-WWE Segment of the Week:

Ethan Page: I Hate WrestleMania Weekend

YouTube / Ethan Page, 3/31

One of two back-to-back award winners this week, Ethan Page’s YouTube channel continues to reward those who know about it. This week, that means we’re treated to a tirade about WrestleMania Weekend. Specifically, Page goes after the smart fans who constantly put themselves over in the stands and annoy him for not keeping kayfabe going at the merch booth.

Maybe some day he’ll be in the WWE and complain about how shitty it is that fans bring beach balls to the shows of WrestleMania week.

Honorable Mention:

WWE Match of the Week

DIY vs The Revival vs Authors of Pain ©

NXT TakeOver: Orlando, 4/1

As should be expected, the WWE tag team match featuring The Revival was the best damn match from the promotion, writ-large.

The story going into this match was that Akam and Rezar, The Authors of Pain, a pair of impossibly thick, big boys are just unbeatable. Not only are they good at fighting, but they’ve got the tag team wrestling genius, the former Road Warriors manager, Paul Ellering giving them orders.

That combination led to them beating fan favorites DIY (Johnny Gargano, Tommaso Ciampa) for the titles, and then getting in the targets of former champs The Revival (Scott Dawson, Dash Wilder). Also, The Revival and DIY are true rivals, so everyone comes into this with reason to hate the other teams.

So while this match begins as a triple-threat, the two smaller teams unite and turn it into a 4 on 2. From the differing combinations (Gargano & Dawson; Ciampa & Wilder) to the powerbomb spot, it’s all just glorious. Also, the moment with the air getting sucked out of the room is practically a tiny tribute to first eliminated team’s ability.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Asuka vs Ember Moon, NXT TakeOver: Orlando, 4/1
  • Shane McMahon vs AJ Styles, WrestleMania 33, 4/2
  • Kevin Owens vs Chris Jericho, WrestleMania 33, 4/2

WWE Segment of the Week

The Booing of Roman Reigns

Monday Night Raw, 4/3

Absent from the above list is Roman Reigns vs The Undertaker in a Battle for The Yard match. What may not have been obvious at the start, but feels like it now, is the fact that this was the most hamfisted retirement stip ever.

And so Monday Night Raw began with the most iconic moment in years. Following a replay of the retirement of the most beloved zombie ever, the crowd let loose with chants.

The following chants take place, in this order:

“Un-der-ta-ker!”
“Ro-man-Sucks!”
Roman Reigns’ music hits. Roman enters the arena, and then the ring.
A torrential downpour of boos hits.
“DELETE!”
“Fuck! You! Roman!”
Reigns mouths the words, “I’ve got you in the palm of my hand”
“YOU SUCK!” (not ironically, as with Kurt Angle)
Every time Reigns moves the mic to his mouth, the crowd boos harder and harder.
“ASS!HOLE!”
“RO! MAN! SUCKS!”, in the key of “New Day Rocks”
“SHUT! THE! FUCK! UP!” (to a man who hasn’t said a word yet)
Roman Reigns: “This is my yard now.”

End Scene. And with that, the WWE may have accepted Roman Reigns’ place as a heel. We’ll know better next week but this was a very good sign.

Honorable Mentions:

  • Kurt Angle meets Enzo and Big Cass, Monday Night Raw, 4/3
  • Welcome to NXT, Drew … McIntyre?, NXT TakeOver: Orlando, 4/1
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Don’t Miss This 5 (2/3 – 9)

WWE Match of the Week:

The 205 Live Fatal 5-Way Elimination Match

205 Live, 2/7

As should be the case more often, the best wrestling in the last week in the WWE happened on 205 Live. The show, designed to be a path to superstardom for performers from the Cruiserweight Classic, was struggling to find its sea legs until around the time that Neville returned from injury with an undercut hairstyle and complete badassery. This match took the five most-over other guys in the division: Cedric Alexander, Mustafa Ali, Noam Dar, Jack Gallagher, and T.J. Perkins, and let them shine.

From submission holds to high-flying moves, this match let each performer show off why they are on the WWE roster. While the surprise victory probably doesn’t mean anything (I doubt he’s beating Neville, this match gives hope for those who worried about the division. Shows all they need is time and stakes. Oh, and the dickishness of Noam Dar. That’s essential.

Non-WWE Match of the Week

Donovan Dijak vs. Chris Sabin vs. Alex Shelley vs. Lio Rush vs. Jay White vs. Jonathan Gresham

ROH Wrestling, 2/5, available on the FITE app for free.

So, it wasn’t a great week for televised (or even streamed) matches outside of WWE this week, but watch this match to enjoy a good spectacle of frenetic wrestling. Not only should you know Lio Rush’s name by now, but check out the big man Donovan Dijak, who is as big and agile enough for Vince to have signed him years ago.

Also, a fun fact about Dijak: he’s left ROH. Expect to see him in Evolve in March and probably in NXT by the year’s end.

WWE Segment of the Week:

Nikki, Natalya, and John Cena

The Natalya vs. Nikki Bella storyline taking place on SmackDown Live (which arguably started at Survivor Series) is one of the better but least buzzed about feuds in the WWE at this moment. It’s been driven by Natalya, who finally found that she can be compelling on the mic, though only as an utter savage.

So it’s great to see this scene, which ties everything together for Survivor Series. From Nikki talking about John letting her fight her own fights to Natalya’s BRU-TAL run-in to Cena almost convincingly act like he didn’t know what happened while he was off camera. It sets up the Elimination Chamber match as well as future stuff between Nikki and Cena.

Honorable mention: NXT, 2/8 Points to Bobby Roode for laughing his ass off after saying “no wait, of course I’m the kind of guy who loves to point out he was right.

Non-WWE Segment of the Week

The Broken Hardys Expedition Of Gold

Impact Wrestling, 2/9

So you’ve probably heard that Broken Matt Hardy has been threatening to take the tag titles from teams in other promotions, such as ROH’s Young Bucks. And while that’s actually booked for Mania weekend this April in Orlando, he’s also made less-likely challenges to WWE’s The Wyatt and New Day.

So while this all seems unlikely, the Hardys managed to surprise again on Impact, using a new and improved Vanguard 1 drone. Jeff got to play the role of the doubter this week, asking Matt to explain his plot to jump over to other promotions, which is based around using Vanguard 1, the sass-mouthed drone that can now teleport the Hardys. I’ll shut up now, so you can watch and find out their first stop.