The Wrap Up: A House Divided
Updated: Jun 16, 2022
Reverse Hipster's Highlights
10. (WWE, NXT 2.0) Character Development
Wes Lee has been very impressive despite losing most of his matches. He lost to Sanga. This was disappointing, but predictable. WWE is the land of the giants, and this was a match about if size mattered. However, Wes Lee inspired fans to root for him with his gutsy moveset. Also, Wes made Sanga look like a million bucks in the ring. Sanga looked dangerous and powerful when he easily snuffed out Wes, and won the match.
This is the first week I have enjoyed the Joe Gacy and Bron Breakker feud. Finally, Gacy has done something significant. He brought up sad memories from Bron's childhood throughout the night. Also, during Bron's match with Duke Hudson, Gacy frustrated Bron to the point of Bron hitting Duke with a chair and losing via disqualification. Gacy showed there is a genuine possibility he could win the title via DQ in his match against Bron at the PPV, In Your House, if he can get Bron to lose his temper.
The war between Legado Del Fantasma and Tony D'Angelo's family is ramping up. They have been playing around trying to one-up each other up to this point. However, it seems Santos Escobar has hurt Tony D's pride by beating him. So, there was no beating around the bush. The two factions just brawled. I love this feud and I'm glad NXT has progressed the tension.
9. (AEW, Rampage) The Young Bucks Version 2
The Young Bucks hilariously imitated the Hardy Boyz by wearing their gear and coming out to their entrance with their old partner, Gangrel. The Young Bucks even had a Matt Fact come up about The Young Bucks teaching Jeff Hardy to Swanton in a pool in 1993. Their match was against enhancement talent, but it was a very entertaining match. After The Young Bucks won, they turned on Gangrel. Then, the real Hardy Boyz came to beat them up. However, The Young Bucks got away thanks to their manager, Brandon Cutler, who hilariously did a thong tribute to Lita. Cutler took everyone's finisher and it was a great way to end the segment.
8. (WWE, SmackDown) Women's Division
Raquel Rodriguez got another match with Ronda Rousey, which would have been stupid if it hadn't been a ploy. Shotzi Blackheart, Natalya, and Shayna Baszler went to go stop the match, welcoming committee style, but Aliyah locked Shotzi in the locker room, setting up a feud between them. Natalya and Shayna broke up the match, and it got turned into a tag match. But before they did that, Raquel was winning, further cementing her as a star. Ronda and Shayna bumped into each other during the tag match and had a stare-down, and it was magic. The crowd went wild. Proof that Sasha Banks didn't need to sacrifice the tag titles to promote the Women's World Title. They have Shayna and Raquel right there. Raquel continued her ascent when she got the win with Ronda in the tag match.
7. (Impact) Turns Back the Clock
It's great to see Chris Sabin and Frankie Kazarian fight all these years later, and it's crazy how good they still are. Kazarian and Chris Sabin had an objectively good match and Honor No More ruined it, which led to Honor No More getting heat with Heath and Rhyno. The match had excellent in-ring work and led to a story development, and that's all you can ask for.
Trey Miguel had a great match with Alex Shelley for a chance to be in the Ultimate X Match at Slammiversary. Shockingly, Trey actually went over. It's nice to see Impact legends putting over the next generation.
6. (AEW, Rampage) Ruby Soho vs. Kris Statlander, Owen Cup Final
Ruby and Statlander main evented Rampage, and they deserved it. They had an excellent semifinal match. Ruby worked Statlander's arm, limiting her power advantage. Statlander bravely fought through the pain, but she eventually ran out of answers to Ruby Soho's onslaught. After the match, the crowd turned on Ruby because they wanted Statlander to win. I'm so happy for Ruby. She deserves this win. She has worked so hard, and I think she was the better choice. Besides, if Ruby had lost, it would be her second high-profile loss, and it would look like there was a ceiling for WWE talents coming to AEW.
5. (Impact) Women's Division
I really enjoy Masha Slamovich. I like her intensity and her look. Masha went up against Jessicka Havok, and everyone thought it would be a tough match because Havok is strong and accomplished. Havok started woman-handling Masha, but then Masha rose to the occasion and ran through Havok quickly. Masha hit her with her signature slam, and it was lights out for Havok. I love how strong Impact has booked Masha. I can't wait to see her mash even more high-level opponents.
Jordynne Grace and Chelsea Green did a great job previewing Queen of the Mountain. They probably had the best knockouts match on Impact this year. Grace was impressive as always and won the match. However, Chelsea really surprised me. She went toe to toe with Grace. Despite the size difference, Green didn't back down. In fact, she threw Jordynne Grace around a bit. The same Jordynne Grace who threw around her husband, Matt Cardona. I think both Chelsea and Grace came out looking good after this match.
4. (AEW, Rampage) Matt Sydal vs. Bryan Danielson
Matt Sydal really brought it to Bryan. There were several moments when it felt like Matt was going to win. Bryan and Matt had excellent sequences and things I've never seen before. Matt had a top rope powerbomb reversal that you needed to see to believe, and Danielson reversed a meteora into a Boston crab. This match did exactly what great wrestling matches are supposed to do, and that is to take the fans on an emotional rollercoaster. Danielson won with a knee, followed by a round of elbows and then a choke out.
3. (AEW, Dynamite) Double Or Nothing Previews
In my opinion, Kyle O'Reilly made his match with Samoa Joe. Joe was the favorite, the ROH Champion. But the fight that Kyle displayed was tremendous. He worked Joe's arm and gave it his all. At times, it seemed like Kyle might beat Joe. In the end, Joe choked Kyle out, but Kyle clearly pushed Joe to have one of the best matches he has had in a while.
The tag team triple threat at Double or Nothing doesn't have a ton of story attached to it, but it does have the promise of a great match. AEW keyed into that with a phenomenal preview single triple threat between Swerve Strickland, Jungle Boy, and Ricky Starks. The sequences were remarkable and it genuinely felt like anyone could have won. Swerve got the victory over Starks, and I think it was his most impressive win in AEW to date. After the match, Powerhouse Hobbs, Luchasaurus, and Keith Lee fought. Lee cleared the ring. Keith Lee went over the top rope and it just looked violent on the way down. This tag title triple threat at Double or Nothing should be great.
2. (AEW, Dynamite) Wardlow
Wardlow looked like an absolute beast in his cage match with Shawn Spears. MJF was the special guest ref in Wardlow's match with Spears, and he screwed Wardlow left and right. Wardlow couldn't touch MJF because he was the ref, but Wardlow ducked a chair shot from Spears that hit MJF. This was a pivotal moment in the match, although I'll admit it was strange to see a chair to the head in 2022. Regardless, Wardlow gave Spears one of his best powerbomb symphonies ever. A new ref ran down and Wardlow won the match. After the match, Wardlow took out an entire security team and climbed the cage triumphant to stare down MJF, who ran away. Wardlow has been undeniable. This is how you build a star.
1. (AEW, Dynamite) CM Punk's Face-to-Face With Adam Page
Normally, I would criticize AEW for not revealing why Adam Page doesn't like CM Punk. However, this doesn't feel like a mistake or poor planning. It's clearly done on purpose to create intrigue, and it's working. The face-to-face was electric. I'm still Team Punk, but I can't wait to see what Adam Page's problem with Punk really is. Also, CM Punk played his role perfectly. He still acted in a way that wouldn't cause fans to question him while irritating Page. Page said he would be protecting AEW from Punk at Double or Nothing. He got a massive cheer from the crowd, who didn't understand his point, but admired his passion. Page vs. Punk has quickly become the most anticipated match at Double or Nothing.
10. Von Wagner, NXT 2.0
I like that they acknowledged that Von Wagner had made too many enemies in a short run on NXT 2.0. Now, the dominant big man gimmick is interesting because he has to watch his back now that a lot of wrestlers want revenge on him.
9. The (Ehrm) Hardy Boyz, AEW Rampage
The Hardys vs. The Young Bucks is one of the many matches that came out of nowhere for Double or Nothing. The match kind of writes itself, but they did a good job of adding some story here regardless. The Hardys called the Young Bucks Hardy Cosplayers, so they did exactly that. They did it quite well, getting the crowd to pop. Gangrel in the entrance was a pleasant surprise and attacking him after the match drove home the point that this was personal between the two tag teams.
8. Judgment Day vs. AJ Styles and Liv Morgan, WWE Raw
WWE is slowly nailing down the formula for mixed tag matches. I like the way these overarching feuds are slowly becoming a faction feud. The action in the ring was smooth, and I liked the spots with men and women in the ring.
7. NXT Women's Breakout Semifinals, NXT 2.0
This week, the NXT Women's Breakout Tournament won me over. Tiffany Stratton inserted herself in Nikkita Lyon's spot and won to get to the finals. I'm a massive fan of Stratton, so I was biasedly pleased here. Roxanne Perez beat Lash Legend to earn her way to the finals, and I think Perez is quickly becoming one of my favorite wrestlers on NXT. The finals they set up is one that I fully endorse, even if it doesn't fully meet my expectations of what it means to be a breakout star.
6. Chris Jericho, AEW Dynamite
I know this won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I think Chris Jericho's new gimmick is so smart. He has such a keen eye for what the fans hate, and it's all sort of a tongue in cheek jab at WWE: sports entertainment, AEW Galaxy, "mystical" wizardry, prematurely cutting off his entrance music, and attaching a gimmick to himself "the wizard" with no explanation or basis. It's making an otherwise random feud with Blackpool Combat Club a ton of fun.
5. The Usos Open the Show, WWE SmackDown
The Usos cut a great promo to open SmackDown. They recounted their whole career and put forth a genuine promo to thank the fans before turning it into a swerve and saying they didn't need anyone. It was a testament to how long they've been in the business, and it was a nice moment to let them play out the genuine thank you but still remain heels in line with their characters right now in the Bloodline.
4. KO Show features The Bloodline, WWE SmackDown
I don't have enough good things to say about Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Coming in as indy standouts, I think we all expected the pro wrestling, but we didn't expect them to have the most entertaining characters and promo segments on WWE. They are given the same mediocre mid-card booking as a lot of superstars, but they turn it into absolute magic. Their chemistry reminded me of Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly in Stepbrothers. They were hilarious, recounted a lot of their history together, and made an interesting segment later in the night with Zayn and the Bloodline.
3. Jungle Boy vs. Swerve Strickland vs. Ricky Starks, AEW Dynamite
Even though this is a tired trope to promote tag matches, this was such a good match I can't be upset. If this is anything like what the tag match will be, they have the potential to steal the show. I also like that this set up an easy comparison between the teams. We saw all three of the more agile/technical guys in the ring, and the post-match set up an explosion between the bigger, more powerful men in the tag teams. I expect AEW to play with this more at Double or Nothing.
2. Matt Sydal vs. Bryan Danielson, AEW Rampage
This match came out of nowhere, but it was excellent. For this reason, Bryan Danielson is in the rotation of favorites to open AEW shows. Matt Sydal is a well-known pro wrestling veteran, yet somehow still super underrated. The technical work in this match was so good that it got me to stand up out of my seat at home. It's not even my favorite wrestling style, but Danielson does it so well you can't help but cheer, and Sydal was a great dancing partner to open Rampage.
1. Steel Cage, AEW Dynamite
This was a smart way to kick off Dynamite. We all knew what the result would be but didn't know-how. It was well-executed by Shawn Spears, MJF, and Wardlow, and the crowd ate it up because of the good work of everyone involved. Ending the match on top of the cage, the rise to the top for Wardlow has felt like a novel combination of similar stories from Batista, Daniel Bryan, and more.
Reverse Hipster's Lowlights
5. (WWE, SmackDown) Drew McIntyre and New Day vs. Butch, Sheamus, and Ridge Holland
This match was really good from a ringwork standpoint. It would be a great house show or dark match. However, from a booking standpoint, it still didn't mean anything. New Day and Drew won, but they will probably be fighting again next week, so who cares. If the matches don't mean anything, I can't care about them.
4. (WWE, NXT 2.0) Tiffany Stratton vs. Fallon Henley
I'm a fan of both of these women, but I didn't like how WWE booked Fallon. Fallon had a bye into the finals, and she was goad into a match by Tiffany and lost. First off, I think that makes her look objectively stupid and backs Tiffany's claim she didn't deserve to be in the finals. Second, I think WWE is underestimating Fallon. She is a good superstar, and she deserved a chance to fight in the finals. After all, isn't that exactly what the tournament is about, a star like Fallon coming out of nowhere. Lastly, having Tiffany beat Fallon on a phantom leg injury didn't favor anyone. I know Tiffany will do well in her match next week, but I still don't love the choices made to get there.
3. (AEW, Rampage) TNT Title Feud
I think it's pretty stupid to do a trios match instead of a TNT title match at Double or Nothing. The most exciting thing about that match is Paige VanZant, and she wasn't even there to promote. Also, Sammy Guevara, Tay Conti, and Frankie Kazarian stole more titles and videotaped themselves breaking and entering, which was stupid. I'll be happy when Scorpio Sky gets to move on and become a real TNT champion.
2. (AEW, Dynamite) Thunder Rosa
Thunder Rosa clearly needs help with her promos. She is a good wrestler and a likable character, but as a champion, her promo game needs work. Serena Deeb stepped up last week, but Thunder delivered an awful promo about their upcoming match this week. As a fan, it seems like Thunder Rosa may need more direction because she seemed to be grasping at straws. It felt like she was saying half-hearted insults she didn't believe in.
Raw wasn't trash segment and match after trash segment and match. However, I didn't have a single highlight from the show because each segment and match missed in some way.
Alexa Bliss continues to be poorly used. She had a match with Nikki A.S.H, and Corey Graves tried to tell the story of Nikki getting an edge because she turned evil. He also criticized Bliss for being in cruise control. But Alexa just easily won, deflating that story. Judgment Day beat up Liv Morgan and AJ Styles, but they only had the upper hand because Finn Balor never showed up to help his team. Riddle cut a passionate promo about Randy Orton, and then he participated in an exciting six-man to avenge Randy. But, The Usos walked out on Sami Zayn, ruining the match result and killing momentum. Sami could have taken the pin without that, and it would have been fine.
The rest of the show was just retreads. Omos and Bobby Lashley again, Ezekiel and Chad Gable again, and Cody Rhodes got jumped by Seth Rollins again. The worst retread was the main event, Becky Lynch and Asuka again. What was the point of Asuka beating Becky if Becky would just get another chance? Rob said he was hoping WWE would show they could book a non-title women's feud. So far, WWE has failed by having the Raw title absorb the Asuka vs. Becky feud. Also, WWE hasn't had anything for the Raw Women's Champion since Sonya Deville, a non-PPV feud, and it's pathetic.
8. Private Party, AEW Dynamite
This is a random observation, but during their match with Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston, I couldn't help but think about how far Private Party has fallen. In the early days of AEW, they were fun babyfaces, loved by the crowd. In my head, they were sure future tag team champions with some of the most exciting offenses in a loaded division. Since joining the Hardy Family Business (now owned by Andrade), they have been nothing but jobbers, and AEW should seriously consider how to get them back on the right track.
7. No Finish, Impact Wrestling
Admittedly, the older stars of Impact Wrestling are often my favorites. Chris Sabin vs. Frankie Kazarian was a cool matchup of these older indy stars, and they were killing it up until Honor No More interrupted the end of the match. I know an interference finish is the whole point- you don't have to decide a winner, and the heels get more heat, but I think, in this case, it was sort of poorly executed and really unsatisfying.
6. Some Last-Second Additions, AEW Rampage
AEW's roster is getting seriously crowded. It didn't even dawn on me until Darby Allin challenged Kyle O'Reilly to a match at Double or Nothing that Allin wasn't yet on the card. They did the same, rushing a trios match for America's Top Team and Sammy Guevara, Tay Conti, and Frankie Kazarian. It was all a little disrespectful and disruptive to book these at the last second with little to no story. The Double or Nothing show will be grossly long, which was one of my gripes of AEW's last PPV.
5. Ruby Soho vs. Kris Statlander, AEW Rampage
Speaking of AEW booking mistakes, this is the first time we have seen their booking backfire, so obviously. Kris Statlander cut an excellent promo to kick off the main event, and it was clear the fans were behind her. Statlander is an AEW original who has been passed over more than a few times and always come up short in the big match. It's a made story, but AEW still went with Ruby Soho, and the fans made it known they didn't love that choice. It's a tough spot for Soho, who tried to get on the fan's good side on the mic but couldn't succeed. It's also admittedly a tough choice for AEW: who do you book better- your day one wrestlers or the WWE defects who you presumably promised they would be booked better on your roster than theirs? I think it's a fair criticism of AEW that they have more often than not gone with the latter, and their crowded roster means someone simply has to be left behind until something changes.
4. Slow Starts, WWE Raw
This week's Raw was a slower start than usual. The segment featuring Riddle's promo, entrances, and the opening match was divided into 2 or 3 commercials. It took me out of the excitement of a wrestling show to start with a thrown-together tag match and not even let them get into the action before commercials.
3. Brand Lines Blur, WWE SmackDown
SmackDown this week featured Riddle and Kevin Owens without much talk of why. It reminds me of the messy days of the wildcard rule. With unified champions, the brand lines are blurring, and even though it created some good segments this week, I think it will be an overall detriment to WWE TV.
2. Unclear Expectations, WWE Raw
One of the worst parts about gimmick premium live events like Hell in a Cell is that I'm never sure which matches are IN Hell in a Cell and which matches are just at the show. Maybe it's just me, but Bobby Lashley, MVP, and Omos never answered that question, and the commentators were inconsistent about how they referred to it. Corey Graves promoted it by saying maybe the Hell in the Cell could keep MVP from interfering. The match was supposed to be for the right to pick the stipulation, but MVP won, and we didn't get an answer. There would be literally no reason for MVP to pick Hell in a Cell, so I think this was just poorly booked and communicated to the talent and commentators.
1. More Rematches and Variations, WWE Raw
When WWE Raw is floundering, you know because you see a lot of the same exact matches from last week: Riddle/Street Profits vs. Sami Zayn/Usos, Judgment Day vs. WWE Bullet Club/Liv Morgan, Veer/the Mysterios, the Miz vs. Cody Rhodes, Chad Gable vs. Ezekiel, MVP vs. Bobby Lashley, Asuka vs. Becky Lynch. Nothing on this Raw was novel, and everything was just a placeholder to carry the same feuds to the next week. Matches like Asuka vs. Becky Lynch just undid the results from last week. If I'm WWE creative, that's a huge problem.
Reverse Hipster's Winner of the Week
The last place show is easily WWE Raw. The show was killed by lazy and redundant booking. WWE NXT 2.0 is surprisingly second to last. NXT was an enjoyable watch, but it didn't have the heavy-hitting segments to compete with the competition this week. WWE SmackDown comes in fourth place. SmackDown had good moments and it was a solid show, but it definitely has room for improvement. Impact is the third-place show. Impact wrestling was close to being second place, but its highest high was slightly lower than the second place. Impact put on one of their best episodes in a while. Second place goes to AEW Rampage. Rampage was stacked with great matches and story development. This is the Rampage I want. I hope it stays this way after Double or Nothing. AEW Dynamite takes the number one spot. Dynamite understood the assignment this week and had an excellent go-home show for Double or Nothing.
Rob's Winner Of The Week
6. WWE Raw
WWE Raw was distinctly the worst show this week. It had too many rematches and variations, landing most of its segments in the what didn't matter section. WWE has fallen a lot since their excellent WrestleMania, and they have to do something fast.
5. Impact Wrestling
Impact Wrestling isn't overtly bad, but it doesn't have anywhere near the roster depth as these other shows. I find it hard to care when I see the same wrestlers every week, and very few are standing above the rest for me. Impact should seriously consider making more signings to solve this problem.
4. AEW Rampage
Starting with Bryan Danielson vs. Matt Sydal, I was pretty ready to put Rampage high on the list this week. The Young Bucks/Hardys segment was solid too. But the rest of Rampage revealed many AEW's problems with their overcrowded roster, booking PPV matches at the last second, and getting one of their babyface women almost booed out of the arena.
3. NXT 2.0
NXT 2.0 was solid as usual, and it's slowly building more momentum story-wise as they build the matches for their In Your House premium live event.
2. WWE SmackDown
WWE SmackDown ends up slightly above NXT 2.0 because I thought their good segments were better than NXT 2.0. They are guilty of many of the same booking problems as Raw, but the storytelling from the Usos and Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn made them a really fun show this week.
1. AEW Dynamite
AEW Dynamite was great, but it probably should have been better as the go-home show to Double or Nothing. The two finals matches for the Owen Hart tournaments were honestly a little lackluster compared to the rest of the tournament, and I don't love the finals matchups we are getting. The two championship storylines have also been sort of mediocre for AEW, but the brand has such good trust built up with the fans; I know they will make a great video package for it, and the matches can still salvage everything. We still got good matches and stories out of Dynamite in the form of the triple threat and cage match.