The Wrap Up: Cultural Reset
Updated: Oct 2, 2022
Reverse Hipster's Highlights
10. (Rampage) Serena Deeb vs. Madison Rayne
Serena has been absent for a minute, but her presence was felt on Rampage. She is one of the most skilled women in AEW. Usually, she squashes some young female wrestler. However, having her overcome and submit Madison Rayne was entertaining and added credibility to her character.
9. (Rampage) Sammy Guevara vs. Darby Allin, Tournament of Champions
Sammy defeated Darby. As many fans probably were, I was rooting for Darby, but I can't be too upset because the match was handled well. Sammy is also a pillar of AEW, and the match was really good. Darby was protected because Sammy, Tay Melo, and Anna Jay A.S. cheated Darby out of the victory by slamming him on his skateboard wheels behind the ref's back. Darby keeps finding ways to take horribly painful looking back spots. The spot was awesome, and I'm happy for Sammy, but when will Darby get his turn?
8. (Rampage) Claudio Castagnoli vs. Dax Harwood
Claudio and Dax had a tremendous technical wrestling match. Dax may have lost, but he continues to prove that he only has banger singles matches. This was a tone-setter. These are the types of matches Claudio needs to be having to truly reach the potential that we have all seen in him.
7. (Dynamite) Daniel Garcia vs. Wheeler Yuta, ROH Pure Championship
This is precisely what AEW should be doing, making their young guys look like stars. Daniel Garcia came out in his hometown to a live performance by Westside Gunn. Daniel and Yuta had a great match, where Daniel forced Yuta to tap. Then, they shook hands, and Bryan Danielson presented Garcia with the title. Danielson presenting the ROH Pure Title and celebrating with Daniel Garcia shows that Garcia has chosen his side, pro wrestler, but more on that later.
6. (NXT) Roxanne Perez vs. Meiko Satomura
This was an excellent match for both superstars. Perez ended up losing, but she put up a fight that garnered respect from Meiko and the NXT crowd. Meiko also benefitted because fans who didn't know her saw her put on a great match with the former tag team champion and breakout winner, Roxanne Perez. After the match, Cora Jade hit Roxanne with a kendo stick, and Meiko came in and saved Perez. I love the idea of Meiko and Roxanne as a tag team, but I'd especially love to see Cora Jade team up with another heel like Tiffany Stratton. Although, Cora Jade will probably end up with Blair Davenport, who could be good too.
5. Ronda Rousey Earns SmackDown Title Rematch
Ronda Rousey went through Xia Li, Sonya Deville, Natalya, and Lacey Evans to earn a shot at the SmackDown Women's Title. It was awesome to watch Ronda mow through the women. She really is one of the best women wrestlers around, which is crazy considering how relatively new she is to WWE. Ronda had a mini faceoff at the end of the match with Sonya. Ronda won, of course, but even being positioned as a worthy rival for Ronda was a great rub for Sonya. Also, this win sets up an epic rematch for Liv Morgan and Ronda, a chance to do it all over again and solidify Liv the right way.
4. (Raw) Aliyah & Raquel Rodriguez vs. Doudrop & Nikki ASH and (SmackDown) Aliyah & Raquel vs. Toxic Attraction, Women's Tag Team Match Up
Aliyah and Raquel looked great in their second title defense. They had another competitive match that ended with a bang. Aliyah flew through the air like Darby Allin and took out Nikki ASH, and Raquel delivered a Chingona Bomb to Doudrop. It was a fantastic feat of strength. Raquel had Doudrop on her shoulder, and there was no going back. She would either deliver the move and be the hero or drop Doudrop, hurt herself and Doudrop, and look bad. However, somehow Raquel made the slam, and the champs retained.
The champs are on a roll that continued on SmackDown, where they beat Toxic Attraction. The match was good, and now there can be no doubt Aliyah and Raquel are the unquestioned champions. I love how active they are. The Women's Tag Championships are finally on the path to realizing their full potential.
3. (Dynamite) Death Triangle Wins the Trios Titles
The Trios Titles have been simply amazing in their short history. The Trios Title Match was the highlight of All Out, and so was the crowning of new champions after The Elite was stripped of the titles and suspended. The Best Friends and Death Triangle put on a sensational match on Dynamite. In the end, Death Triangle won. They are a great team to carry the titles, and I have zero doubt they can replicate this performance night in and out.
2. (Dynamite) Bryan Danielson vs. Adam Page, AEW Champions Tournament
Bryan finally beat Adam Page in a great match to advance in the tournament. Bryan and Page never have bad matches, and they continued that streak. I hope Danielson wins the whole tournament because he is deserving of the title, and is the kind of leader AEW needs right now on screen and in the locker room. Also, I love the level of story involved in this match. Bryan and Adam have a history battle, and Bryan got his first win over Page. Chris Jericho & Bryan will be fighting next week. Now, they have a huge issue because Daniel Garcia left Jericho for Bryan. Plus, at All Out, Bryan lost to Jericho.
1. (Dynamite) Jon Moxley and MJF
In a time when people are brawling in the locker room, AEW EVPs and Champions are being suspended for their conduct, and wrestlers are asking for release, I thought MJF and Moxley came up huge. MJF returned, and he played the babyface and said he was just kidding before because he knew people would cheer him. However, then MJF turned on everyone and punished the crowd for cheering him and said he would take the AEW title to WWE, a real company.
Moxley came out as the hero to stand up to MJF. However, MJF's heel promo was so hilarious that I think Moxley even wanted to laugh a little at one point. MJF called Triple H his hero and said he would do what was best for business. However, as great as MJF's promo was, it was Moxley's promo that stole the show. He cut a promo about what AEW meant to him, and it was the best promo he has cut in AEW. If AEW turns all this negative press and nastiness around, this promo will be entrenched in AEW's history as one of the most important promos in the company's history.
Rob’s Highlights 7. Steel Cage, WWE Raw
WWE booking is rediscovering the art of featuring a mid-card/TV champion on TV. Seeing a steel cage and the United States Championship on the line in the main event of Raw felt right. It felt like I was watching wrestling in the 2000’s again when there were stakes and matches that mattered. This steel cage match continued giving legs to the Miz/Tommaso Ciampa’s strange partnership. The win by Lashley continued Bobby Lashley’s dominant reign, and the match interference established Dexter Lumis’s strange stalker-Esque character to those unfamiliar with his work. Miz and Lumis’s feud should be a great feature on Raw and the next premium live event.
6. Daniel Garcia Wins the ROH Pure Championship, AEW Dynamite
This was the latest chapter in a long story of Daniel Garcia becoming a star on AEW and grappling between the Jericho Appreciation Society and Blackpool Combat Club. In front of his home crowd, you can tell the fans love Garcia. The ending hinted that there is more story to tell, and we still don’t know if Garcia will stay with JAS or be the latest to join the BCC.
5. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Dax Harwood, AEW Rampage
These are two of the underrated MVPs for AEW this year. If AEW decides to split off ROH completely, they would be two of the building blocks for the wrestling-centric brand. AEW gave them 20 minutes to work a more old-school match. At the end of the match, it was easy to see Claudio Castagnoli is the right guy to lead the resurgence of ROH.
4. Austin Theory vs. Kevin Owens, WWE Raw
Everyone played their role in this exchange perfectly. Austin Theory is admittedly one of the best heels WWE has, and Kevin Owens continued his return to form. Owens was hilarious, hurling meta insults at Theory about getting his first name back and calling out how any minute a referee would come to the ring. They worked one of the longer and better matches on Raw, and I think both guys came out looking better.
3. Meiko Satomura vs. Roxanne Perez, NXT 2.0
I’ll keep saying it- I think Meiko Satomura is such an asset to WWE’s Women’s division. Like Sheamus said about himself, I think Satomura delivers banger after banger after banger, and it helps a young but otherwise talented women’s division. This is the best match Perez has had on NXT, and it helped further her feud with Cora Jade while setting up Satomura for more matches on NXT.
2. Rewards for the Drama Free, AEW Dynamite
AEW desperately needed a step toward professionalism, and I think they got that this week. Tony Khan addressed the situation in the most drama-free way possible, not naming names but announcing that the AEW and Trios Championships were vacated and focusing on the path forward to name new champions. Jon Moxley has been the least drama-fueled guy in the company, and he got fans hot by chasing off MJF and giving a passionate promo about defending this promotion as a standard in professional wrestling.
For the Trios Championship, Death Triangle won the championships, and I feel like it was a reward for a trio that has done everything they were told and done nothing but turn in high-quality ring work for the promotion. For the AEW championship, Bryan Danielson beat Hangman Page in a great match and set up a rematch with Chris Jericho.
1. MJF, AEW Dynamite
MJF is back in all of his glory. I loved that he came back leaning into his recent positive reception by being a caricature of a wrestling babyface. He was such a dick that he couldn’t help but insult the crowd a few times, and he couldn’t even keep up the charade for ten minutes after being called out by Jon Moxley. He delivered so many zingers in his promo that I couldn’t deny it this spot, and I think he should be the next AEW Champion.
Reverse Hipster's Lowlights
1. (RAW) Braun Strowman's Return
I was happy to see Braun return, but I didn't like how it was done. Raw was having an amazing four-way contender match to determine a number one contender for the Undisputed Tag Team Titles. I was sure it was going to be my number one entry on the highlight list. WWE was showing how deep their tag division was and putting on a great match, but then Braun returned, and all that was thrown aside. Braun ripped apart the competitors that looked so dominant just a few seconds ago and undid all their hard work. Braun's return was shocking, but it would have been shocking at any time. It didn't have to happen in the middle of the tag match for a number one contender match.
Rob’s Lowlights 4. ROH on AEW, AEW Dynamite, and AEW Rampage
ROH Championship matches main evented both AEW Dynamite and AEW Rampage. I thought the wrestling was solid (though neither were my top match of the week), but I think it’s time for AEW to put ROH on its own show or otherwise dedicate Rampage entirely to ROH. AEW has an overcrowding problem with the number of belts, and having some ROH-exclusive talent will help everyone.
3. Gave It Away, WWE SmackDown
Following up on Clash at the Castle, Sheamus and Gunther had one of the highest praised matches in recent WWE memory. I was most excited to see the follow-up and how WWE would use both of their factions now that Giovanni Vinci is on the main roster with Imperium. WWE gave that clash away to open SmackDown, and even though the wrestling was great, I would have loved to see them build more story and have their first trios match be on a bigger show.
2. Eddie Edwards vs. Heath, Impact Wrestling
This didn’t really feel like a payoff to Heath’s weeks-long attacks on Honor No More. After the match, Eddie Edwards called out Josh Alexander and demanded he decides what side he was on. It didn’t really make any sense to pretend like Alexander would join Honor No More, considering the match was already announced.
1. Braun Strowman’s Return, WWE Raw and WWE SmackDown
I am so excited that Braun Strowman is back in the WWE. He is one of the last homegrown stars WWE has built, in my opinion, and he was never done justice in his last run. The reason I’m calling this a lowlight is because Strowman’s return took away credibility from the whole tag team division. Fans of tag team wrestling should be excited to see who the number one contender would be, and unless Nicholas is returning too, Strowman doesn’t have any business in the tag division. It didn’t do anything for Strowman, as we already knew his character has the capacity to mow over multiple men.
On SmackDown, they doubled down on this decision by having Strowman beat Alpha Academy 2-on-1. I feel bad for Alpha Academy, as I was rooting for them at the beginning of the number one contender match. They do some of the best work in the tag division in and out of the ring but get no reward.
Reverse Hipster's Winners of the Week
Impact is in last place. It wasn't a bad show, but the field was more competitive than normal, and Impact just didn't keep up. Fifth place goes to Raw, who put on a good, exciting, story-driven show, but it was the only show that made the lowlight list. Fourth place goes to NXT, who put on a decent performance, but only produced one surefire highlight. SmackDown comes in third because it produced two highlights and had a good story-driven episode without any mistakes. Rampage is in second place for producing its best episode ever. All this CM Punk/The Elite drama has clearly made AEW reexamine their approach to Rampage, and I couldn't be happier about it. First place goes to Dynamite, who rose like a phoenix out of the ashes of despair and righted many wrongs from All Out. The AEW that was delivered on this week's Dynamite and Rampage is about as close to an ideal AEW product as I've seen in my entire time critiquing AEW.
Rob’s Winners of the Week
6. Impact Wrestling: After an all-around good week last week, I think Impact followed it up with an all-around bad or at least mediocre show. 5. WWE SmackDown: After Clash at the Castle, SmackDown followed up on some of the surprises from the show, but it didn’t really give me anything to tune in for next week. 4. NXT 2.0: Off the heels of Worlds Collide, NXT 2.0 didn’t give me much to write about, but it did feature above-average in-ring work throughout the show. 3. AEW Rampage: AEW Rampage featured above-average wrestling this week too, but I’m putting it a step up because their matches had bigger stakes and championship implications. 2. WWE Raw: I love how Raw featured longer and more meaningful matches this week. There are a few storylines that I feel like I have to tune in to and see progress every week. 1. AEW Dynamite: I was worried about AEW after the incidents at All Out, but I think they rebounded near-perfectly with this show.