WWE Raw, WWE NXT 2.0, and AEW Dynamite Wrestling Rundown: Moving On Up
Updated: May 10, 2022
Reverse Hipster's What Mattered
9. (WWE, Raw) Women's Tag Team Championship
Liv Morgan and Rhea Ripley, and Naomi and Sasha Banks definitely delivered in the ring. The match had an urgent pace and good sequences. In the end, Sasha Banks and Naomi retained with a new variation of their finisher. Now, Sasha hits the knees, and then Naomi hits a Bubba Bomb, and it's a clear improvement. Also, they managed to tell a good match story where Liv and Rhea seemed to be a little out of sync, and Liv couldn't quite support Rhea enough to get the victory.
8. (WWE, Raw) Theory Wins The United States Title
Theory beat Finn Balor clean for the United States Championship. It sucks for Finn, who was clearly a transitional champion and is not viewed as a star by Vince McMahon, for some reason or another. However, I'm not too upset because it's not like it killed his momentum, and it was more about Theory. This was the right move for Theory's development. Also, hopefully, this means the mid-card title can be important again now that a star the company is prioritizing has it.
7. (WWE, Raw) TWO Broken Marriages and a Title Change
Reggie and Dana Brooke got married, and so did Tamina & Akira Tozawa. I love the way Tamina and Akira balance out the Reggie and Dana story by being comedic. R-Truth served as a good source of comedy as the priest, but Dana and Reggie exchanged loving vows, and then Tamina and Akira just said what they said.
However, in a surprising twist, after the marriage and Dana talking about overcoming trust issues in her vows, Reggie betrayed her and beat her for the title. Tamina took advantage of the confusion and won the belt from Reggie, and then Akira won it from Tamina, and then Dana got it back from Akira and ran away with R-Truth. I enjoyed the segment, and I'm glad Tamina got to have a second WWE title reign, but I wish Reggie would have escaped with the title in the end. The betrayal would have been more significant if that had happened. Dana keeping the title took away from all the title changes.
6. (WWE, NXT 2.0) Xyon Quinn vs. Wes Lee
Xyon Quinn got the win and showed off he could really be something one day. He is a believable tough guy badass, and I'm beginning to enjoy his matches more. However, it was Wes Lee who stole the show. If this match was any inclination, he will be just fine as a solo star. He is very physical and captivating in the ring. He has an awesome acrobatic aerial offense, and I can't wait to see more.
5. (WWE, NXT 2.0) Women's Division
All these underutilized main event stars coming down to NXT 2.0 have been fantastic for the young talent they work with. Natalya is like an uncrowned champion in NXT 2.0. Every woman wants a piece of her. Cora Jade cut an excellent promo about not meeting your heroes, and I can't wait to see that match. Nikkita Lyons has stepped to Natalya, and now they have a match planned as well. Natalya also beat Tatum Paxley this week and established her dominance.
Toxic Attraction also gave back as they had a match with a debuting Roxanne Perez. Jacy Jayne wrestled this match, and I have to say, she may be the most skilled member of Toxic Attraction as a wrestler. Roxanne was able to hang with Jacy, though, and she even picked up the victory after a Wendy Choo distraction.
Perez wasn't the only 2.0 girl having a great night. Tiffany Stratton beat Sarray clean. It was a very physical match, and Sarray viciously beat down Tiffany, but Tiffany overcame and picked up the win.
4. (WWE, NXT 2.0) Santos Escobar vs. Carmelo Hayes
I liked that this match was the former champion and the MVP of the Stand & Deliver PPV. They had a really good match, but also moved forward Santos' story. Towards the end of the match, Tony D'Angelo's thugs jumped Santos and cost him the match. Melo got a nice heel victory, and Santos' war with D'Angelo is officially on.
3. (AEW, Dynamite) Coffin Match
This is definitely the best match between Andrade El Idolo and Darby Allin. Sting even got involved and performed another dive off the crowd platform. Andrade picked up Darby and walked with him before suplexing him. That was crazy. Darby finished Andrade with a suicide dive into the coffin before closing him in. This match was good, but it does feel similar to the things they have been doing for the last few weeks. I'm ready to see Darby in a more high-profile feud. He's super over, but hasn't been in as big of stories as the other pillars.
2. (AEW, Dynamite) Blackpool Combat Club
I loved the Blackpool Combat Club's match this week against Lee Moriarty, Brock Anderson, and Dante Martin. First off, these young superstars presented an actual threat and made the match interesting, especially Lee. However, in the end, the BCC was just tougher. The match ended with all three members beating down a member of the other team, and it was awesome.
1. (WWE, NXT 2.0) Tag Teams
Legado del Fantasma fought James Drake and Zack Gibson, and I was taken back by the passion. They both felt they deserved a tag team opportunity, and they were pissed they hadn't got one. The match started with a brawl, and they maintained that energy throughout the match. Both teams were going a million miles an hour, and they were intense without sacrificing the smoothness of their offenses. You could see their moves were second nature, muscle memory. They weren't thinking, they were just doing. It was incredibly entertaining. Legado won, but they both came out looking better for it.
This week, another great tag team match was Duke Hudson and Dexter Lumis vs. Pretty Deadly for the titles. This was really interesting from a story perspective. As I said last week, I was looking forward to this team-up. However, I also have to give Pretty Deadly props because they established themselves as hatable heels very quickly by posing with Indi Hartwell and Persia Pirotta. That helped unite Dexter and Duke as significant others to beat up those pretty boys. Watching at home, I wanted to see Dexter and Duke win. They were terrific in the ring together, and I was surprised by their chemistry. Pretty Deadly won, but both teams came out looking better than before the match again.
Rob’s What Mattered
9. Tiffany Stratton vs. Sarray, NXT 2.0
I’ve been a big fan of the feud these two have put together. In the ring, I think they put together the best match for both of them on NXT 2.0. Tiffany Stratton looks like she is athletic and improving her in-ring skills. The feud made Sarray’s offense more meaningful in this context.
8. HOOK and Danhausen, AEW Dynamite
This has been a well-built and entertaining feud that proves a super-serious killer can beef with a silly character in a way that benefits everyone. This will be the first real-built feud for both HOOK and Danhausen, so it’s an entertaining premise for fans.
7. Brittsburgh, AEW Dynamite
I love that wrestlers in AEW are always cheered in their hometown, no matter how heelish. I know I’m biased, but Britt Baker in Pittsburgh rivals CM Punk in Chicago. I’m so glad Baker is back because she genuinely feels like the biggest star of AEW’s women’s division, arguably their entire roster.
6. Tony Khan’s Big Announcement, AEW Dynamite
This is the big announcement I have been waiting for: no more trickling in through the forbidden door but a full-on invasion of NJPW vs. AEW. The only reason this isn’t higher on my list is that the slow reveal and rumors sort of gave it away. The forbidden door show has the potential to be the best night of wrestling in 2022, regardless.
5. Roxanne Perez Debut, NXT 2.0
Roxanne Perez had a nicely filmed promo for her debut, talking about how she dreamed about being in the ring playing WWE video games. It’s something that many fans can relate to, and I think it was the perfect way to get her over before debuting. If she wasn’t the clear enough babyface already, she debuted against Toxic Attraction and had a solid but brief showing in her debut.
4. Carmelo Hayes vs. Santos Escobar, NXT 2.0
It still holds true: Melo doesn’t miss. Even though he’s no longer the A champion, Carmelo Hayes is the most consistently solid performer on NXT 2.0’s roster. Santos Escobar is an underrated performer, and Legado del Fantasma offers something different than any other stable in all of WWE. After a win, Hayes is on to a proper 1-on-1 match with Cameron Grimes, and Escobar is on to an interesting feud with Tony D'Angelo.
3. Coffin Match, AEW Dynamite
This is a super-challenging gimmick to work, but this was a darn entertaining main event. I particularly loved the interference spots, highlighted by a Sting masked fan revealing to be the real Sting and another dive from the crowd by the living legend. Darby Allin’s suicide dive knocking Andrade El Idolo into the coffin was just the latest in Allin’s highlight reel of using his body as a weapon with no regard for safety. I love that AEW gives mid-card feuds like this a spotlight to shine.
2. Lie Detectors, WWE Raw
After carrying a WrestleMania feud with Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kevin Owens has been carrying this feud with Ezekiel. Owens is one of the best and funniest performers on the roster, making me laugh out loud multiple times. Pairing him with Chad Gable put it even more over the top. Ezekiel hardly has to do anything, and this is one of the most over angles on Raw right now.
1. Theory, WWE Raw
Theory has been a fast rise to the top, and I’ve loved his character work with Mr. McMahon. So far, he has shined in every opportunity he’s been given. Theory delivered a solid championship match with Finn Balor, and his win feels like piling on continued momentum for the rising star.
Reverse Hipster's What Didn't Matter
4. (WWE, NXT 2.0) Gacy
I am not a fan of Gacy. He seems like a pretty blatant Bray Wyatt ripoff from the music to cult leader gimmick to the way he talks and his disciple. I also don't love the way he has been booked the last two weeks. It doesn't make much sense. He takes Bron Breakker's father, but he just lets him go, so who cares. Then, he steals the Hall of Fame ring, but then he just gives it back. He wasn't allowed to follow through on anything. His one dastardly deed was pushing Bron off the pillar and capturing him, but it didn't make any sense.
Why would Bron agree to give Gacy a match in exchange for the ring? Bron was standing right in front of Gacy. Gacy had the ring, and Bron could have beat him up and taken it back. A guy in the audience yells take it, and he was right. Also, you have been hunting this guy down for capturing your father and stealing his Hall of Fame ring. Why wouldn't you beat him up? NXT should have had a mechanism that stopped Bron from attacking, whether that be distance or another hostage, but they didn't put that in and just had Bron act as if they did.
3. (WWE, Raw) Rhea Ripley Turns On Liv Morgan
Now, I want to preface this by saying the competitors did an excellent job with the turn and setting it up in the match. They didn't perform poorly. In fact, they knocked it out of the park. However, it's not that impactful because Liv and Rhea meant nothing as a team. How can I care about the breakup of Rhea and Liv when I was never given a reason to invest in Rhea and Liv in the first place? The turn was predictable because they were barely a team in the first place. At most, I'm hoping this leads to something exciting for both, who are very underutilized despite their immense talent.
2. (WWE, Raw) Non-Finishes
There were way too many non-finishes on Raw. Ezekiel had a good lie detector segment that led into his debut match, but then Otis interfered and caused a DQ spoiling the match. That was a sour way to end his debut when they could have easily just had Otis attack after the match. Chad Gable still lost because of the interference. It just wasn't as fun to watch.
Cody Rhodes and Kevin Owens had a great match in the main event, bolstered by an interesting premise of if Cody could overcome a surprise opponent as Seth Rollins had. However, K.O. walked out on the main event making it fall flat.
Also, Bianca Belair picked up Sonya Deville for a KOD, but put her down when Sonya threatened to fine and suspend her. It would have been far more interesting if she hit the KOD anyway. Instead, once again, the segment felt flat. Bianca was still fined, and even though it was small, WWE should have at least made her earn it to give the fans something to cheer for.
1. (WWE, Raw) Edge and Damian Priest
I appreciate that Edge and Damian attempted to explain themselves to fans who aren't feeling their gimmick, but I think they still missed the mark. Edge said that this makes sense because he did The Brood decades ago. However, the reason The Brood worked is because they had a defined gimmick. Edge was a vampire and he did vampire stuff, so we were able to understand him and what he wanted. Now, what is he, a guy in a suit with lighting effects? There is no mythos to that, no way for me to buy into that character. His mountain of omnipotence is word salad. What does it functionally mean?
Also, his opponent, AJ Styles, hasn't stood up to him at all. Edge just beat the crap out of him for weeks, that's not a feud. Everything about the new Edge feels manufactured and fake, spooky for the sake of it without substance. If WWE wants fans to buy in, Edge needs a character with a backstory. If he is spooky now, how did he become that and what is he? If he is just an evil son of a gun, then have him do way more evil stuff and have him have an actual philosophical difference with a superstar that would lead the audience to want to see a match to prove whose way is better.
Rob’s What Didn’t Matter
3. More Name Changes, WWE Raw & NXT 2.0
Rumors got out this week that WWE has internally decided to change the names of any superstar who is using a name they got over outside of WWE or any superstar utilizing an aspect of their real name. Theory is no longer Austin. Drake and Gibson of the Grizzled Young Veterans are no longer James and Zack, in addition to the many other name changes we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks. I expect that this isn’t even the end/worst of it. WWE’s weird insistence on these policies (and inconsistently enforcing them) really take you out of kayfabe as a hardcore fan of their universe.
2. Finn Balor, WWE Raw
Since returning to the main roster, Finn Balor hasn’t been up to much of anything. After winning the United States Championship, I was optimistic Balor would start to get put in meaningful feuds and a WrestleMania match. In a short reign, we got more of nothing, and losing this soon without much fanfare makes me very worried for the former face of NXT.
1. Double Double Wedding Trouble, WWE Raw
I’m glad that WWE is trying to do some things with the 24/7 Championship, but this segment was a huge swing and a miss. R-Truth is super over, and he still couldn’t hold the attention of the WWE Universe, who couldn’t care less about this angle. I suspect it’s because the relationships between the superstars didn’t make any sense. In the end, it was still unclear. Are the superstars legally married now? Was the whole thing a ruse to win the 24/7 championship? The fast title changes are fun but ultimately meaningless when the same superstars often regain the title, and the entering champion still ends up leaving with the title.
Stay tuned to find out the overall grades of the week.
Fantasy Booking Chapter 6 Royal Rumble
Find out who I would book to win the Royal Rumble. Also, have you ever wondered what would happen if Brock Lesnar won the IC Championship? Find out the answer to this question as well as how I would book the Bloodline and Women's Tag Titles at Royal Rumble on Patreon. Join the Patreon, support the blog, and get access to this long-term fantasy booking of The Bloodline that will conclude at WrestleMania.
Rob's Final Thoughts
None of the shows this week blew me away, so it’s honestly difficult to rate them evenly and fairly. In last place, I would put NXT 2.0. Even though nothing ended up in the “What didn’t matter” section, I didn’t love anything in the show. Both of the main champions are engaged in feuds that aren’t really holding my attention right now, which is a detriment to the otherwise strong character work. My second place is Monday Night Raw. It is very challenging to rate this show because it has the highest what mattered, but it also has the most what didn’t matter segments. It’s so hit and miss, which makes it the most entertaining show, but I can’t fairly rate it as the strongest. In first place is AEW Dynamite. This was a solid, entertaining all-around show. Even though it didn’t have anything that blew me away, they did a great job starting to set up the stories and big matches in the coming weeks like Adam Page/CM Punk, Sammy Guevara/Scorpio Sky, and the upcoming Owen Hart matches.
Reverse Hipster's Final Thoughts
None of the shows this week were amazing. They were all closer to average. With that being said, Raw is last. The non-finishes killed its chances of being ranked higher. Raw had a lot of interesting things, but it didn't have a main attraction that hit hard enough to compare to the other shows. Dynamite is second. It was a decent show, but I feel like this was a baseline of what a good AEW Dynamite show is. They didn't have any story paired with in-ring action to take them over the top, and the matches weren't so amazing that they didn't need more story. NXT 2.0 was number one. I was engaged the most throughout NXT. Almost everything they did moved my opinion of the show in a positive direction.