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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:

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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.

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Don’t Miss This 3 (1/20 — 26)

WWE Match of the Week:

Sami Zayn vs. Seth Rollins, for a spot in the Royal Rumble.

Monday Night Raw 1/23 

By now you know what happened with this one, but I still need to call it out anyways. Everything about it works, from the well-paced match to how it advanced something for everyone.

Sami’s into the Rumble where he can work out his aggression with Strowman. Rollins’ feud with Triple H gets the jumper cables (thankfully not from Kane). And the Foley/Steph distrust comes back.

WWE Segment of the Week:

AJ Styles Called Out John Cena

SmackDown Live, 1/24 

I give this point to John Cena who is still cold blooded when he needs to be. While I originally gave this spot to Mickie James (love her distaste for how Women’s Revolution erases her work), I had to pick Cena because this flipped my pick for the Rumble.

This felt like Cena flipped his switch back into serious mode and that he’s actually going for it tonight. That promo broke AJ apart so much that I can’t help but imagine the trajectory now sees Styles losing the belt at the Royal Rumble.

Also, note the shades of Cena’s The Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick when he yelled out I’m A Bad Bad Man.

Non-WWE Match of the Week:

Will Ospreay vs. Dragon Lee vs. KUSHIDA

ROH Wrestling, 1/23 

You might be familiar with the Ospreay from his match against Ricochet at Best of the Super Juniors last year. If you’d like some more wacky and wild flippy stuff (specifically, 50 percent more) this is for you.

https://dailymotion.com/video/x59vqkz

NJPW’s Kushida sometimes can’t keep up with Ospreay, but CMLL’s Dragon Lee gets time to shine here (which he didn’t at Final Battle in December). Still, though, Ospreay made the biggest impact on me here, especially with his standing shooting star press to break up a pinfall.

Non-WWE Segment of the Week:

New Impact Grand Champion Drew Galloway Promos

Impact Wrestling, 1/26 

The current I’m here to save you all heel gimmick that Drew Galloway is working is so good no matter where he is. I first saw it work in Evolve, but here in Impact, he’s still preaching that he’s the man to save the company. And as we all know, Impact needs all the help it can get.

Galloway is so boo-ably heelish in fact that this made me want to watch the TNA Grand Championship match it led to, so I could see him get his comeuppance. Unfortunately, the Impact Zone crowd still cheered him, and the Grand Championship matches stayed unwatchable.

No video of this, so you probably can’t find it without POP or a torrent of Impact. Not going to say it’s great enough for either of those though.