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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 19 (5/11—17)

This is the longest it’s taken for me to post a WTW and I’m guessing there might bemore delays going further. Not only has work gotten in the way of supposed free time, but I’m hitting moments where I don’t have enough hours to watch it all.

That’s the issue with the BOSJ tournament happening in tandem with spring, which brings social obligations and it becomes hard to find time to watch it all.

What I Watched

  • “Moving Forward” – Being The Elite Ep. 51, 5/11
  • From the Desk of Stokely Hathaway: It’s Personal, 5/11
  • Ring of Honor: War of the Worlds, 5/12
  • “Bullet Club Gets a Villain” – Being The Elite Ep. 52, 5/13
  • Monday Night Raw, 5/15
  • ROH Wrestling, 5/15
  • SmackDown Live, 5/16
  • 205 Live, 5/16
  • Talking Smack Live, 5/16
  • NXT, 5/17
  • EVOLVE Mini-Doc: Kyle O’Reilly Perfecting The Style, 5/17
  • NJPW Best of The Super Juniors 2017 Night 1, 5/17

Upcoming Watch List

  • NJPW Best of The Super Juniors, 5/18, 20, 21, 22, 23
  • Being The Elite Ep. 53, 54, 5/18, 23
  • EVOLVE 84, 5/20
  • EVOLVE 85, 5/21
  • WWE Backlash, 5/21
  • Monday Night Raw, 5/22
  • ROH Wrestling, 5/22
  • SmackDown LIVE, 5/23
  • 205 Live, 5/23
  • Talking Smack Live, 5/23
  • NXT, 5/24

Non-WWE Segment of The Week

“Bullet Club Gets a Villain” – Being The Elite Ep. 52

Ring of Honor: War of the Worlds, 5/12

I’m more than ready to admit some I-Was-There bias for this one, but it is a banger. So, before I chew on it, watch:

While YouTube has recently proven itself unfriendly to pro wrestling, The Young Bucks & Kenny Omega used this series to show the platform’s potential. Vignettes published to YouTube can provide the supplemental storytelling that promotions such as Ring of Honor and New Japan do not.

Despite what some might tell you, this new addition creates a match made in graps heaven. Some of the biggest Scurll fans shy away from the fact that he’s just as much of a Cool Heel as the Young Bucks, but as his first appearance in the Best of the Super Juniors tournament showed, everyone loves this villain.

And the crowd at the Hammerstein Ballroom, which I was a part of, sure loved to see the villain pop open his newest umbrella. Maybe some day the Bullets will add some actual heelishness, but until then, these cool kids belong together.

Non-WWE Match of The Week:

Will Ospreay vs. Jay White

ROH: War of The Worlds, 5/12

As much as I want to award either of the below Best of The Super Juniors matches, both of those met their expectations, while this match exceeded. Sure, Ospreay/White looks like a fun match on paper, but not a match of the year competitor.

Going into this I didn’t have much of a thought about Jay White, and by the time he left the ring, I had expectations for the kid’s future. It also felt like a major milestone for Ospreay too, that he can lead as well as this.

ROH even gets points for booking, words I’d never thought I’d say, with its use of after-match theatrics. Those watching live raved and claimed instant-five-star classic, and even Dave Meltzer gave it a 4.5 out of 5.

ROH: War of The Worlds is available via PPV VOD on the FITE app.

  • Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll, NJPW Best of The Super Juniors Night 1, 5/17
  • Dragon Lee vs Hiromu Takahashi, Best of The Super Juniors Night 1, 5/17

WWE Match of The Week:

Finn Bálor vs Roman Reigns

Monday Night Raw, 5/15

Just as with the above match, this won its spot by defying odds.

And no, I haven’t soured on Bálor or Reigns, just on Monday Night Raw. The fact that this got the time it did and they got to cook as much as they did, should have given the red show a blueprint for the future. One they’ll need with Braun Strowman on the injured list.

WWE Segment of the Week:

Day One Is H

SmackDown Live, 5/16

There isn’t much to say about The Fashion Files. This was its third edition, and still laugh-out-loud funny. If you haven’t seen this already, then enjoy. Also, if so, leave a comment, I’m curious as to who you are.

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The War of The Worlds is the ROH & NJPW crossover tour, so your friendly neighborhood mark had to meet a friendly ace, a tranquil ungovernable, a polite villain and a too sweet BAYBAY.

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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.