AEW Dynamite, WWE NXT 2.0, WWE Raw Wrestling Rundown: Recapturing The Spark
Updated: May 24, 2022
Reverse Hipster's What Mattered
10. (WWE, NXT 2.0) Women's Character Development
NXT is doing a great job developing the characters of both established women and new women. For example, Tiffany Stratton had a good backstage segment with Grayson Waller. They are just the perfect character couple. They seem like they walked off the set of a high school movie, where Tiffany would play the mean girl and Grayson would be the mean jock. Tiffany, especially, is really good at that mean girl character. Her expressions, mannerism, and voice are on point. Also, the NXT breakout tournament vignettes are getting me hyped for the tournament. Also, they are good examples of how it doesn't take that much background to get fans interested in a character.
9. (WWE, Raw) Character Development
Omos and Bobby Lashley had an arm-wrestling contest, which was very well executed. Bobby seems to have a knack for these strength segments, and I still remember watching him breaking the master lock as a kid on Raw. Bobby lived up to that legacy when he defeated Omos in the arm-wrestling contest. However, he made it look like it took every ounce of his strength to do so. Omos jumped Bobby after M.V.P. distracted Bobby, and Omos maintained his heat by savagely beating Bobby. So, both Omos and Bobby walked away from this segment looking good.
The 24/7 title match was also very entertaining. It started with a mixed match between Dana Brooke and Reggie versus Tamina and Akira Tozawa. I loved the ending of the match where Akira yelled, "I love you Tamina" before diving off the top rope and winning the match. Then, after the match, Dana was almost pinned. But then, R-Truth saved her only to try and pin her, and count it himself because he was the special guest ref of the mixed match. However, Dana kicked out and got away, but R-Truth almost got away with it. I'm interested to see what will happen now that Dana has no alliances left.
8. (WWE, Raw) Returns
Mustafa Ali returned. It was strange because the last time we saw him, he said he wanted to leave the company. However, WWE played it off well by having The Miz mock him by asking, "Do you still work here?" However, it led to a great comeback moment when Ali beat The Miz in his first match back.
ASUKA also returned to Raw. I was super hyped about that. She came out to confront Becky Lynch, which means they will be picking up right where they left off. My only criticism is I wish they would have said or done more. Asuka returned and had the fans at a ten, but the segment fell flat at the end when Becky just ran away and it just ended.
7. (AEW, Dynamite) Factions
Rey Fenix had an awesome return. Death Triangle pulled a trick on the House of Black. Rey Fenix dressed up as the manager of Death Triangle and attacked House of Black from behind. Hopefully, now that Rey is back, Death Triangle and House of Black can really get going.
Wardlow also made his return to the ring. He had a match with Lance Archer. Wardlow showed he could actually wrestle and could even make some aerial moves. Wardlow surprisingly ended up hitting four powerbombs on Archer before beating him. I was pretty sure Wardlow was going to win, but after seeing how competitive the match was, I didn't expect Wardlow to take over the way he did.
Also, I loved the Jericho Appreciation Society (JAS) segment. The AEW crowd hates the sports entertainers, but their sports entertaining antics are exactly what made that segment great. The fact that Eddie Kingston and his crew couldn't touch them only intensified the promos. Also, both crews are doing a great job perpetuating their different styles. Eddie Kingston's crew is street, and JAS are prissy jerks.
6. (AEW, Dynamite) Serena Deeb vs. Hikaru Shida, Street Fight
Deeb and Shida are two of the best women in AEW, in terms of wrestling ability. This was their fifth fight, and it would break their 2-2 tie. These two are so good that I don't think there could have been a loser in this match. They were both great in the match and elevated each other. In the end, Serena destroyed Shida's knee against a chair and then made her tap in the Cloverleaf submission. I can't wait to see what Serena does in the tournament.
5. (WWE, NXT 2.0) Legado Del Fantasma
Legado got another intense victory. It feels like they are being built to be championship contenders, and I'm here for it. Also, it would have been easy to rely on match quality between Elektra Lopez and Legado vs. Fallon Henley, Josh Briggs, and Brooks Jensen, but NXT didn't do that. They incorporated a story. Legado attacked Jensen before the match so it turned into a handicap match for Briggs and Henley, and they killed it. The match was intense and fast-paced, and everyone looked great. In the end, Legado's numbers were just too much. But what impressed me the most was how seamlessly the women were incorporated into the match. Sometimes mixed match action can be clunky because of the rules, but it wasn't in this match.
4. (WWE, NXT 2.0) Women's Matches
Nikkita Lyons and Lash Legend had an intense match. They came out of the gate brawling. The match showed off their athleticism and toughness, and ended with a thunderous kick from Nikkita. At that point, Natalya came out and revealed she was working with Lash Legend, and they jumped Nikkita. After that, Cora Jade came out to save Nikkita. Cora beat Lash, but then Natalya got the upper hand. Next, Nikkita kicked Natalya out of the ring, literally. This was an exciting build to a tag team match next week between the four.
Speaking of tag teams, Katana Chance and Kayden Carter had an underrated match versus Yulisa Leon & Valentina Feroz. Both of these teams are in the same niche, and they are small explosive talents. It was a treat to get to see them face off. Katana and Kayden won with their amazing finisher, and I'm glad the more established team got the win.
3. (WWE, Raw) RK-Bro, Ezekiel, and Cody Rhodes vs. The Usos, Seth Rollins, and Kevin Owens
Most weeks, this would be the unquestioned number one thing on my list. It had a star-studded cast of entertaining wrestlers, and the action was just fantastic. Randy Orton was on fire, RKOing everything in sight. RK-Bro, Ezekiel, and Cody ended with everyone hitting their move before getting the winning pin. The crowd was on fire, and they should have been. It was an excellent match.
2. (WWE, Raw) Bianca Belair vs. Sonya Deville
I was skeptical of Sonya as a competitor for Bianca, but they had a phenomenal match on Raw. Sonya got counted out and disqualified, but she kept changing the match type to keep the match going. Carmella and Zelina interfered, so then it was three on one. So, when Bianca overcame all of that in her hometown, she looked like a rockstar. Also, after the match, Sonya reneged on her promise to give Carmella and Zelina a tag title match. Sonya then slapped the crap out of both of them and reminded them that she still their boss. However, Sonya made a huge mistake. Benny the Butcher rule number 17, "If everybody ain't eatin', you're gon' get ate." I'm interested to see how Carmella and Zelina will get revenge.
1. (AEW, Dynamite) Sammy Guevara vs. Scorpio Sky, T.N.T. Ladder Match
Sammy and Sky tore it up in a match so big it couldn't be contained to just the two of them. Tay Conti and Paige VanZant got involved as well, fighting Sammy and Sky and each other. So, this match helped set up the women's match as well. The spots in this match were crazy. RKOs off the ladder, flips off the ladder by Sammy, and bumps onto a barbed wire ladder. It was the best match of the week, in a week of great matches.
Also, I have to applaud Tony Khan for seeing the criticism of Scorpio Sky and Sammy Guevara, and making changes. Tony Khan gave the title back to Sammy and then redid Sky's crowning moment in a way that was befitting of his achievement. Hopefully, Sky will have a better reign as well.
Rob’s What Mattered
9. Wardlow, AEW Dynamite
I’ve hesitated to say anything about this, but I’ll be darned because Wardlow looked incredible this week. The crowd chanted for him in place of his music, and he destroyed Lance Archer, who was a World Championship contender not too long ago. Wardlow looks absolutely lethal, and the moment he gets his hands on MJF should be memorable.
8. FTR, AEW Dynamite
The match between Dax Harwood and Cash Wheeler lived up to the hype. It was a unique match of partners tangling it up with a lot of technical influence and in-ring storytelling from their history. The rollup finish fit the story, but I think it made it feel like it fell just short of being more special.
7. Undisputed Elite, AEW Dynamite
It seems like everyone is on the same page for now. The team of Adam Cole, ReDragon, and the Young Bucks should be a highlight of AEW for the coming months. There is a lot of storytelling to do based on the history of the stars involved, and it seems like the Young Bucks aren’t entirely on board yet. The endgame is presumably the return of Kenny Omega and a trios match that could be the match of the year.
6. Rey Fenix, AEW Dynamite
Rey Fenix encountered a brutal injury, so this was a relatively fast comeback, and it was a great way to have him return. It put a lot of energy back into the feud between House of Black and Death Triangle. Watching him in the ring, Fenix is so smooth that he adds so much to AEW just by being present and involved in matches.
5. Sonya Deville, WWE Raw
I hate to give Sonya Deville this much credit, but I think she is the best heel in the women’s division and therefore was the best challenger for babyface champion Bianca Belair. Deville is genuinely frustrating for fans, using her power to her advantage and cheating at every corner. When she slapped Zelina Vega and Carmella after the match, I was practically fuming at home.
4. The Miz/Theory/Mustafa Ali/Ciampa, WWE Raw
Sometimes, WWE tries to do too much in a segment, and it falls flat on its face. In this case, it worked. In just a couple of short segments, WWE accomplished a solid Miz TV segment, starting to get over Theory’s US Title, teasing a feud between Miz/Theory, a triumphant Mustafa Ali return, and a heel turn by Ciampa. If this is heading toward a Fatal Four Way, they are off to a great start.
3. Becky Lynch and Asuka, WWE Raw
This put some fire into the show on Monday Night Raw. Becky Lynch returned, and she seems to be taking some inspiration from her husband, as her character seems to be shifting toward a delusional egocentric superstar. Lynch talked about hitting rock bottom and how that means her comeback story starts now before we got the real comeback of the segment from Asuka. The crowd gave a huge reaction, but I’m surprised it wasn’t bigger for Asuka. These two can have a great match, and it gives the women more time to shine apart from the Raw Championship and Women’s Tag Title scene.
2. 20 years of RKO, WWE Raw
WWE did a great job putting the package together for Randy Orton, and it was a reminder as a fan that we are watching a living legend. The show kicked off with appreciation for Randy Orton, but it also emphasized storylines like RKBro/Usos, Cody Rhodes/Seth Rollins, and Kevin Owens/Ezekiel, setting up a 4 vs. 4. It was a good way to keep all the feuds active, and it was a brilliant excuse for a symphony of RKO’s to end a night celebrating Orton.
1. Sammy Guevara vs. Scorpio Sky, AEW Dynamite
This wasn’t the same type of ladder match as Sammy Guevara’s match with Cody Rhodes, but it was awesome regardless. The involvement of alliances made for a hectic and unpredictable main event. The spots with the barbed wire ladder were brutal and memorable. The best spot was Scorpio Sky scouting out Guevara’s cutter from his match with Rhodes. The finish was surprising and exciting, but more on that later.
Reverse Hipster's What Didn't Matter
3. (WWE, NXT 2.0) Joe Gacy
Joe Gacy talked about how he would take over NXT and his druids surrounded him. I'm not buying into Joe Gacy. He just seems like someone else trying to do Bray Wyatt's cult leader gimmick. He is good at the false sincere tone, but he isn't very good at being menacing. Also, his star pupil Harland, who was the most interesting part of the duo has been future endeavored. Plus, I don't think Joe is the right opponent for Bron Breakker. Bron beat Dolph Ziggler on Raw and then beat Gunther in his first match on NXT. Bron had a lot of momentum, and it feels like he lost some of that momentum by fighting Gacy instead of someone who is more over. Everyone knows that Bron is going to win their match. Also, even if WWE swerved us and gave Joe the win, it would be a bad choice. Also, Joe isn't an excellent in-ring competitor, so it's not like we know Bron will win, but the match will be great.
2. (AEW, Dynamite) CM Punk
CM Punk got on the mic to promote his title match with Adam Page and just said a bunch of nothing. It was an unusually blah promo from CM Punk and represents a larger problem for Adam Page. Adam Page is an excellent wrestler, but his stories as a champion have been nonexistent. His best story was with Bryan Danielson, and that was mostly just that Bryan wanted to beat him and was being sort of a jerk about it. I would hope CM Punk could make the build-up to the match interesting.
1. (WWE, Raw) Finn Balor
Finn Balor had a match with Damian Priest and lost pretty stupidly. Balor was dominating the match, and while he was on the top rope, Edge sat up on his throne at the entranceway. Somehow, Balor saw that from the corner of his eye and got distracted. Damian beat up Balor from there and won the match. It was just so foolish. Balor could have made his move and pinned Damian before Edge even got down there. He shouldn't have been distracted by that. Raw had better thought out distractions that very same night.
Rob’s What Didn’t Matter
3. Arm wrestling, WWE Raw
I feel like we’ve seen too many segments like this in the last few years. It doesn’t have anything to do with wrestling, and it always ends the same way. The babyface wins fair and square before the heel throws a fit and turns the contest into a physical altercation. They could go so many avenues for the Bobby Lashley and Omos feud, so this felt creatively uninspired.
2. Hot Potato, AEW Dynamite
I said last week that I didn’t love Sammy Guevara winning back the title after losing it to Scorpio Sky. Now, we’re in an even worse situation where the title changed back and forth again. If AEW hasn’t had a plan for booking the TNT Championship, it is showing. If this is their plan, it’s an awful strategy that devalues the title and doesn’t get either guy over. Hopefully, if Sky is their guy, they can run with it now, and Guevara can move on to another feud.
1. NXT Spring Breakin’, NXT 2.0
I can’t think of one thing on NXT 2.0 that mattered comparably to the 9 things listed above, and that’s a bad thing. NXT spent their whole show building their big show next week, but the feuds feel comparably cold compared to the hot feuds going into Stand and Deliver. NXT 2.0 has to make some major changes to their weekly show if they want it to feel like the action matters.
Stay tuned to find out the overall grades of the week.
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Rob's Final Thoughts
NXT 2.0 was the worst show easily. Second was WWE Raw. WWE is much improved since WrestleMania, and it felt like this is one of the few three-hour Raws where they utilized almost all of their stars and built feuds. The best show was still AEW Dynamite. I love the way they have built their stars, and they had the match of the week with the ladder match main event.
Reverse Hipster's Final Thoughts
This was a difficult week to grade because I enjoyed all three shows I think they were all good, but I'll put WWE NXT 2.0 third because while it was a good show, it didn't have the firepower to compete with the highs of the other shows despite being solid throughout. AEW Dynamite is second. It was a terrific show and had the highest high of the week, but it was not as top-heavy as the number one. Raw wins the week for me because while it didn't have the highest high, it was a very good show and had the most highs.