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The Wrap Up: First Impressions

Updated: Jan 10, 2023

Rob’s Highlights

6. Women Set Up a Battle Royal, NXT

Almost all of the women of NXT made their claim to the title through short promos while walking through the crowd at the WWE Performance Center. They announced the next number one contender would be decided by a battle royal next week. I love that this segment made the NXT roster feel like an extended universe of characters where anyone can interact with anyone. There are a lot of possible stories to tell in this battle royal, and no clear front runner for who will be the first to challenge Roxanne Perez.

5. Apollo Crews, Carmelo Hayes, and Axiom, NXT

NXT came out hot with their first match of the year, Apollo Crews vs. Carmelo Hayes. Trick Williams helped Hayes get the win, and it set up a longer feud if NXT wants to. Then, Williams lost to Axiom, setting up a possible future feud between all three of the superstars. Smart use of NXT’s workhorses could be exactly what they need to be a better show overall.

4. Austin Theory vs. Seth Rollins, WWE Raw

Raw’s main event saw Austin Theory successfully defend the U.S. Championship against Seth Rollins. It was a slow-burn match, but the crowd was completely bought into the match when they got to the final sequence. Rollins continues his roll of doing arguably the best work of his career, and this rivalry has made a star out of Theory. I’d love to see them work an uninterrupted match on a big event with more story for their feud.

3. Bron Breakker and Grayson Waller, NXT

The final segment of NXT saw Bron Breakker come on Grayson Waller’s talk show. After last week, Waller was confident that he had the mental edge on Breakker, and Breakker seemingly conceded this point to Waller. In the end, it felt like Breakker was playing a bigger mental game because he was in Waller’s head and ended up winning the physical exchange to end the night. Either guy could be champion at the end of New Year’s Evil.

2. Building Stars, AEW Dynamite

Dynamite had solid in-ring action throughout the night, book-ended by huge wins for two rising stars in AEW. Ricky Starks opened the night, and he looked like a star defeating a living legend in Chris Jericho. At the end of the night, Darby Allin finally had what felt like his moment defeating Samoa Joe. The match was a worthy payoff to the first match between Joe and Allin. In a true David vs. Goliath style matchup, AEW finally went with an AEW original that can keep the TNT championship interesting moving forward.

1. The Bloodline Saga Continues, WWE SmackDown

WWE’s weekly episodic show is starting to feel like a feature-length franchise. The Bloodline’s dominance, in tandem with the back-and-forth turns of their story with Sami Zayn, has led us to this point. Roman Reigns seemed genuinely shaken from the loss. Winning is part of Reigns’s identity, and Zayn is making Roman question himself. At the end of the night, the Usos had their best tag team match in recent memory by defeating Drew McIntyre and Sheamus. It’s unclear who will take the Bloodline down, but I’m along for the ride going into WrestleMania.

Reverse Hipster’s Lowlights

5.(Raw) Alexa vs. Bianca Raw Women’s Title

This is a light low light, but I just didn’t like the execution in the finish of this match. I think it was smart to have a disqualification because why wouldn’t this match happen at Royal Rumble? However, having all the guys in the crowd with the mask and the screen flickering was corny. It would have been better if they had cut out the moving parts and had one big spot that cost Alexa the match. The more and more Alexa got distracted, the more Bianca looked weak for not taking advantage. Also, the fit of rage spot makes sense, but it needs more creativity to hit home for fans. The crowd didn’t really give Alexa much when she beat down Bianca. I wish WWE had gone all out and had Bray do to Alexa what she did to him at WrestleMania.

4.(Impact Wrestling) Masha Slamovich

I know that Masha isn’t undefeated anymore, and I know that she isn’t going to win every match. However, that doesn’t mean she has to feel less special. Masha got rolled up by Taylor Wilde this week in a quick shock victory, but why? Up to that point, she had only lost to the Impact Women’s Champion. Why not save her losses for big matches or moments? This was just a tv match that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of Impact wrestling.

3.(NXT) Javier Brenal

Javier had backstage interviews to get himself over like he was Chris Jericho. However, as soon as he got in the ring, NXT dropped the ball on him. He has been on a losing streak, and he hasn’t been talking, and his Big Body Javi persona has been dropped. Big Body Javi was an entertaining character that was easy to understand. He was a big talker who had to cheat to live up to his over-the-top persona. Taking the mic out of his and having him lose to guys like Oro Mensah, who don’t have a character, is counterproductive.

2.(SmackDown) Lacey Evans

Lacey Evans already had a good character when she got to the main roster. Her character was never used to its full potential, then WWE decided to change her character, and she has never been the same since. All of Lacey Evan’s vignettes boil down to the fact that she is/was a soldier. However, none of it matters because WWE hasn’t given us a backstory. Think of Wolverine or the Marine. Both of them had an origin story or a mission. Lacey doesn’t have an origin story or a mission.

1.(Dynamite) Jade Cargill

I debated whether or not Jade should be put in the lowlights because I like her individually, and I don’t want it to seem like she's doing a terrible job. However, the direction of her character just isn’t good enough. She was having an interesting feud with Bow Wow, which just faded with no explanation. Now she is feuding with the baddies, but it's not working. Kiera Hogan is the main defector, but it's hard to take her seriously when Jade gets the upper hand every time they face off. Red Velvet is now starting to defect from the Baddies as well. Velvet abandoned Jade in a tag match, but it was hard to take that seriously when Jade turned around and won anyway.

Rob’s Winners of the Week

6. In contrast to AEW Dynamite, AEW Rampage with Battle of the Belts was underbuilt and uneventful.

5. WWE Raw put forth a pretty average showing with some intriguing matchups and stories going forward.

4. WWE SmackDown had highlights with the Bloodline but not much else throughout their show despite the talented roster.

3. Impact Wrestling didn’t have any explicit highlights this week, but they built and promoted a great card for Hard to Kill.

2. AEW Dynamite had some of the highest highs, but it had some matches mixed in that I wasn’t interested in watching. Their new branding and booking decisions made it feel like a new era for AEW, and I’m excited to see what’s next.

1. NXT was a consistently entertaining show that made great use of its roster and gave me a reason to care about every match and their matches next week.

Reverse Hipster’s Winner of the Week

6th place Impact

This may seem surprising because Impact had the big moment with Scott D’amore, but while entertaining, it wasn’t enough to carry the show past this point. Impact is last this week, but it's one of the strongest last-place finishes on the Wrap-Up. Impact was far from a bad show. The other shows were just better this week.

5th place NXT

NXT could have easily taken third. The show had a lot of really good small moments. However, if you want to be one of the week's top shows, you need some home runs. You need to have big moments; NXT didn’t have any big ones this week.

4th SmackDown

SmackDown was surprisingly bland. No Bray Wyatt. No, Liv Morgan. No, Ronda Roussey. No Raquel. The only reason this is in the four spot is that most of the show was nonoffensive, and Undisputed Tag Team Title match carried the show.

3rd Place Rampage

Rampage fed off the energy from Dynamite and put on some high-octane matches. Darby Allin’s first title defense was a smash hit. Top Flight and the Combat club arguably had the week's best match. It was a great show.

2nd Place Dynamite

Dynamite had a rocking show. The stadium was electric for the tag and TNT title matches. Plus, the MJF and Bryan segment got the AEW title back on track. There are a lot of good storylines on Dynamite.

1sr Place Raw

Raw is starting the year off right. This was Raw’s best show in a long time. Raw had good women’s segments and an invasion angle, and a celebrity cameo. The Prison Dom video was hilarious and engaging. Raw looks like it will be a lot more interesting this year.

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