Reverse Hipster's What Mattered
5. (WWE, NXT 2.0) Cora Jade
I was really intrigued in Cora Jade's story of trying to prove herself to Raquel Gonzalez. Jade wants to be Raquel's partner for the Women's Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, but Raquel shot Cora Jade down, saying she had one moment in one match and that wouldn't be enough to win match after match in the Dusty Classic. I saw the fire in Cora's eyes, and I'd love to tune in next week to see what Jade is willing to do to prove she is not just a one-moment wonder.
4. (WWE, NXT 2.0) Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Chase U
I like both of these teams because they have great gimmicks. I think the vets cheating people is hilarious, and I love watching them in the ring. I also love Chase U, and the idea that Andre Chase's tag team partner, Bodhi Hayward, is a student from his university with a full scholarship and also a former football player. Hayward really shined in this match. He has a bright future from his athleticism to his charisma and energy. This was the best Dusty Classic match so far. After the match, Von Wagner returned to beat up Chase U competitors and revealed he has been reinstated thanks to his new manager, Robert Stone.
3. (AEW, Dynamite) MJF vs. CM Punk
I think this promo segment between MJF and CM Punk might be one of their best so far. It's definitely one of my favorites because MJF had the crowd eating out of his hand. It felt like he could make them cheer or boo for anything. He really is at the top of his game right now. Also, I have to admit that when the microphone is in MJF's hand, he puts CM in the corner and does damage. What happens if CM Punk loses to MJF after all this? Will his character change? Could he transition to a more edgy Punk? I feel like good promos make you think, and MJF makes you think.
CM Punk took this segment over the top, though, because when he got the mic, he fired back. It felt like he was not only answering to what MJF said, but he was also firing back at what a lot of his critics said over the years. Sorry kids, your favorite wrestler is a human being. Punk was raw, real and inspirational, Just the guy we became fans of in the first place. So, of course, MJF and his goons jumped him. I can't wait to see MJF and CM Punk square off next week in Chicago.
2. (AEW, Dynamite) Orange Cassidy vs. Adam Cole
Great match! I loved seeing Orange Cassidy get serious while staying true to himself. The highlight of the match was the debut from under the ring when Danhausen was pulled out from under the ring with a chair. It seemed like nobody saw that coming, and genuine wrestling surprises are so rare these days. Also, I loved the special cup Orange Cassidy wore. So often in wrestling, people allow wrestlers to do the same thing repeatedly. I'm glad Orange Cassidy did something about it instead of continuing to fall victim to the same thing. Also, Orange Cassidy had so much heart in this match. He was already bleeding in his hand, but delivered his finishing punch anyway. It hurt so bad, he couldn't even get a pin. Then, the finish was perfect. Orange Cassidy grabbed hold of Adam, jumped off the tunnel, fell into the ramp area, and won the match.
1. (AEW, Dynamite) Sammy vs. Cody, TNT Title Unifying Match
I feel I learned more about Cody in this match-up. So much about the situation surrounding him didn't make sense to me. Why do people hate him? What's been going on with the two champs? It's clearly been leading to this match of the year candidate. Also, it reminds me of what Cody said last week, there are no secondary titles in AEW. It also made sense that Cody hasn't gone for the world title, and hasn't needed to. Watching this match, I didn't feel like the TNT title was a secondary title, and I didn't feel like the TNT talent that pulled off amazing feats were any less capable than the guys in the world title picture.
Rob's What Mattered
9. Cowboy Shit, WWE Raw
Raw opened with a weigh-in segment between Brock Lesnar and Bobby Lashley. Illustrating the core of the feud, Lesnar came out in a cowboy hat and continued to tell jokes while Lashley took jabs at Lesnar. The story of Lesnar not taking Lashley seriously enough is intriguing, foreshadowing that the beast may fall at the Royal Rumble.
8. R-K-O, WWE Raw
The spelling bee segment walked the narrow wrestling tight rope of being just cheesy enough to work. Everyone involved put in heavy lifting to make the characters work in this scenario. If that didn't sell you, Randy Orton and Chad Gable had a great multiple-segment match.
7. Women's Tag Teams, NXT 2.0
I loved the backstage segment with Cora Jade and Raquel Gonzalez. Jade tried to convince Gonzalez to be on her team in the Women's Dusty Classic, and it was a perfect show of both characters. The Women's trios match continued to highlight Toxic Attraction and showed off the other women involved too. I'm surprised but happy that NXT 2.0 puts more effort into booking the women's tag division than WWE does. Tag Team wrestling at its best is a perfect vehicle to tell stories between multiple talents.
6. Solo Sikoa vs. Boa, NXT 2.0
These two went to war on NXT 2.0. This was a brutal and creative falls count anywhere match, and both guys benefitted, looking like they could be stars in the future. My biggest complaint is that these two have been engaged in this feud so long that they feel isolated from the rest of the roster. Now, I'm excited to see what Solo Sikoa and Boa can do moving forward.
5. Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic, NXT 2.0
MSK and Jacket Time had the best in-ring match of the Dusty Rhodes Classic so far. They are on to the next round to see if they can stop Malik Blade and Edris Enofe's unlikely run of wins. The Grizzled Young Veterans had a fun match with Chase U and pulled off the win, showing that experience wins out over-enthusiasm.
4. The Mysterios, WWE Raw
Dominick Mysterio called his shot, saying that he's going to win the Royal Rumble. Rey laughed and tried to get Dominick to assure him he wouldn't throw his dad out. It was just a joke, right? After their tag match, Dominick tried to throw Rey out, but Rey reversed it. The typical Rumble bit is kind of overdone, but I loved it here. I want to see Rey come out first and Dominick come out second. What would they do then? Great bit of storytelling from the Mysterios here.
3. Beach Break Promos, AEW Dynamite
AEW is continuing to succeed with these special shows in their regular weekly slot. The matches booked were a big enough draw, but I was pleasantly surprised by the promo segments. CM Punk and MJF delivered again in their battle of words, and then finish with MJF's crew ganging up on Punk got me genuinely heated. If their match is truly next week, I'm excited. Britt Baker reminded me that she is maybe the best female promo in the business. Maybe I'm biased, but her completely unabashed confidence, creativity with the way she gets cheap heat, and the fact that she backs it up in the ring makes her my number one promo in women's wrestling right now.
2. Unexpected In-Ring Quality, WWE Raw
In addition to the Randy Orton/Chad Gable match I already mentioned, Raw had multiple in-ring performances that seemed like it was spoiling fans who watch every week. Aside from the inconclusive finish, Damian Priest and Kevin Owens could have been a match at the Royal Rumble. Bianca Belair and Queen Zelina didn't hold anything back in their match promoting the Women's Rumble. AJ Styles and Austin Theory had my favorite match of the night to prove that Styles is still too big of a star for Theory to overcome. The Street Profits and the Mysterios had a chaotic tag match taking advantage of their chemistry from past SmackDown matches.
1. Sammy Guevara vs. Cody Rhodes, AEW Dynamite
This is the first match of the year to make it on my shortlist for match of the Year candidates. These guys found ways to do new things in a ladder match without the crutch of having multiple competitors. The pacing and one-on-one nature reminded me of the first ladder match ever between Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramone. The most insane spot of the match came when Sammy Guevara jumped off a ladder-like it was a springboard maneuver to hit a perfect cutter on Cody Rhodes, who was on top of a ladder in the middle of the ring. When Guevara hit a Swanton on Cody through the ladder, the ladder didn't break, but it made the spot look even more brutal. My only criticism is that the two guys on top of the ladder and Guevara hitting Rhodes with the belt finish felt recycled from past ladder matches and weak compared to the other spots in the match. Guevara winning felt like his true crowning moment as a pillar of AEW, and the poster board promo (I love that gimmick) he gave during the break later in the night put his journey into emotional perspective.
Rob's What Didn't Matter
2. Ollie Jayy, NXT 2.0
I'm all for musical guests and appearances that benefit an in-ring story, but this didn't feel like it fit at all here. Carmelo Hayes and Trick Williams did nothing to introduce why Ollie Jayy was here, and she's not a big enough name to merit taking time on NXT 2.0 on her own. The performance placement right before the main event made it even more awkward. You could tell the crowd didn't know how to respond, and WWE piped in crowd noise to try to make it feel less awkward.
1. It Couple/Grit Couple, WWE Raw
I was more excited about this feud a couple of weeks ago. This wasn't an awful segment, but it was a rerun of the last few weeks told slightly differently. This promo segment absolutely didn't deserve to be the main event of Raw. Hopefully, the match will be what we remember from this story.
Reverse Hipster's What Didn't Matter
2. (AEW, Dynamite) Britt Baker
It seemed like Britt came out to boast about all the awards she got, which is a natural move for a heel character. However, she actually ended up floundering and insulting Baker Mayfield of the Browns because they were in Cleveland. I'm not the biggest fan of Britt Baker. I think she is skilled, but overrated. However, I'll shoot her some bail. The promo itself seemed set up to go nowhere.
1. (WWE, Raw) Damian Priest
Damian Priest had a United States Championship match with KO, and Damian was in control of the match, but not his emotions. I was disappointed that he lashed out when he knows the rules and could have picked up a big win against KO. However, I am intrigued because there is a story based on the backstage segment with Sonya. However, I have to grade things where they are until I see more.