The Wrap Up: Notorious
Reverse Hipster's Highlights
4.(Dynamite) MJF, Sting & Darby
Darby is the best rival for MJF out of all of the pillars. They are all holding their own and having entertaining promos with MJF, and Darby is the only one who can match MJF's mega heel persona with a mega babyface persona. Darby held his own again. He pointed out that he has stayed true to himself in this business while MJF has lost himself. Darby established himself on an honorable moral high ground. Sting even came out and defended Darby, saying this is Darby's show and Sting is just cheering him on as Sting's mentors did for him. Sting also pointed out Cody Rhodes helped MJF. It was fun watching MJF interact with Sting. The pairing was rare yet electrifying.
However, MJF questioned Darby's morals. Is Darby Allin a noble, or is he just unwilling to do what it takes? MJF pointed out that he knows the pitfalls of his decisions but doesn't care because they got him what he wants. MJF was willing to sell his soul to the devil to achieve his goals and has made peace with the consequences. Can Darby make the sacrifices necessary to be champion? Does he have to? I don't know, but I do know MJF has justified his ideology by reaching the pinnacle of the sport. Can Darby do the same?
3. (NXT) Tiffany Stratton vs. Sol Ruca
Tiffany and Sol had a war of wills and gymnastics. Sol has never been in the ring with anyone who could match her athletically, and Tiffany has never been in the ring with someone who made her look small. Stratton and Sol are in similar spots in the card. Sol is a loveable loser. She goes out there, puts on a show, and loses more often than not. Stratton wins more often, but she is an NXT world champion-level talent stuck in that place where she is above the midcard but not quite in the title picture.
As you would expect, Tiffany came away with the victory after a dynamic face-off. However, I sincerely believe this match was an exhibition of the future of the WWE women's division. In the meantime, I'd love to see Tiffany and Sol become a tag team. They are both dynamic blonde wrestlers who have a similar style. Tiffany has a strong character, but Sol's is vague enough to be swayed to Tiffany's side. They would print money together.
2.(NXT) Kiana James & Fallon Henley vs. Isal Dawn & Alba Fire NXT Women's Tag Team Championship Match
First and foremost, this match was impressive in the ring match. Alba and Isla are working well together despite starting out hating each other. Kiana was her usual entertaining self, but Fallon came out of her shell and showed everyone that she had more weapons in her arsenal than we thought.
However, this match had more to offer than the thrill of a title match. After Fallon refused to use the purse, Jenson brought her Jenson turned heel. A distracted Fallon lost to Isla and Alba, but Jenson pushed his partner Briggs down and left the ring carrying Kiana. It appears Jenson has gone to the dark side with Kiana.
1.(Dynamite)Jeff Hardy Returns
Man, AEW pulled off a great run-in return. The Firm was in the process of beating down Matt Hardy and Isaiah Cassidy when Hook came out to save them, but he was overwhelmed as well. It looked like another heel beatdown when Hardy emerged from parts unknown and started wailing on the firm before hitting his patented Swanton Bomb. The crowd went wild, and I got goosebumps. Jeff Hardy is still a huge draw. However, if Hardy can return after his issues outside the ring, I don't see any good reason that Cm Punk can't.
2. New Women’s Tag Team Champions, WWE Raw
We all knew the team of Becky Lynch, and Lita wasn’t a long plan for WWE’s Women’s Tag Division. It’s still disappointing to have new champs so soon before Lynch and Lita could do anything with it besides the WrestleMania match. Now, the championships are on another team of thrown-together women who are talented and underutilized with nothing else to do. To this point, it’s hard to be optimistic that WWE will put in the effort to change the momentum of the division.
1. Mickie James, Impact Wrestling
Sometimes, some of the biggest lowlights in wrestling are inevitable and still absolutely the right thing to do for the health of the competitors. It was a bummer that Mickie James announced she was not cleared to compete and relinquished the title so close to Impact’s next PPV. Deonna Purazzo and Jordynne Grace will be able to have an excellent match, but the name and value James brings to Impact Wrestling are huge. Without much further information, I hope we will see James in the ring again soon.
Rob’s Winners of the Week
6. WWE Raw was par for the course, and I’m still not excited about the roster's direction post-WrestleMania.
5. AEW Rampage didn’t have anything to get excited about this week, but it did feature some different performers than usual, which at least set it apart.
4. Impact Wrestling was largely a promotional show and hold for their PPV, but it was still better than other shows this week.
3. NXT didn’t have anything that was explicitly a lowlight, but they had a lot that did not matter. The whole night was saved by a lot of the MVPs that have been making NXT one of the better shows in wrestling for the last year.
2. WWE SmackDown finally delivered on a lot of what we wanted to see after WrestleMania. The Shinsuke Nakamura return went over huge, it was great to see Riddle again, and it started to set up more feuds for Backlash.
1. AEW Dynamite continues to be my show of the week. They took some of their most underutilized stars and made meaningful matches with them.
Reverse Hipster's Winner of the Week
6th place SmackDown
With the Draft looming, SmackDown has become a filler show. Roman still needs a challenger, which undercuts the show because he is the main star. Rhea is the champion, and she is more of a Raw star. The women's tag team titles have struggled to matter anywhere and especially SmackDown. The IC Title is the most relevant but wasn't heavily featured in this episode. Sami and Kevin are still feuding with the Bloodline, so they don't even feel like champs. They feel like challengers. Nakamura was the biggest news of SmackDown, and he debuted against a directionless Madcapp Moss, and Moss lost to Nakamaura's five moves of doom. COME ONNNN!
5th Place Rampage
Rampage just never got out of the gate. The Jericho Appreciation Society dissed the Aclaimed in a rap, but then the Acclaimed decided not to drop a rap diss back, and that was supposed to be entertaining? The Jade v Taya story continues to lack flavor despite featuring two over women.
4th Place Impact
Impact was mostly just promoting their upcoming promo, but in between, they had these almost highlights. For example, Tasha Steelz beating Giselle was satisfying, and the unveiling of Bully's team and Rosemary and Jessicka's problem was exciting. Mickie's announcement felt too real to be a lowlight and too sad to be a highlight. Although I do wonder, is it better that Mickie exits stage left and let the next generation battle it out to fill her shoes?
3rd Place Raw
Raw had some good moments that were almost highlights. The Cody Rhodes promo would have been a highlight, but it was undercut by Brock not being in the building. The Liv and Raquel win was exciting but confusing. How can they be champs if they haven't beaten the champs, and is a title change like that smart? If Becky and Lita can't get a decent run, then who?
2nd Place NXT
NXT put on an exciting show. Now that Cora's back, the women's division seems back on track. Although I will say, it seems like Indi is being worked around rather than leading the division. However, the Women's tag team picture is taking off.
1st Place (Dynamite)
Dynamite has good matches that didn't make it, like Murphy vs. Cassidy. Plus, Darby and Sting's promos and the show had the return of Jeff Hardy, which was easily the best highlight of the week.