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The Wrap Up: Race to the Finish

Reverse Hipster’s Highlights

7.(Rampage & Dynamite) Promos and Rap Battles

Darby Allen cut a promo talking about how nobody believed in him. Then he asked Sting if Sting believed he could recapture the TNT title and Sting cut a rousing promo about the fact that it didn’t matter what Sting or anyone else thought. He told Darby he needed to believe in himself, prove he could do it, and stop caring what everyone else thought. This was the best nonmatch moment between Sting and Darby.

On Dynamite, the Acclaimed ripped Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal. This was genuinely savage. Max said Jeff Jarret couldn’t draw in this day and age, and he took more shots at Jeff’s career and even his marriage with Karen. Jay Lethal seemed like a secondary target in this song, but every single bar said about him was killer. One line that disrespected Lethal's entire life and career was when Caster said Jay Lethal got over by imitating other people. Still, nobody imitated him in the twenty years of his wrestling career.

6.(Rampage) Peneope Ford’s Orange

Orange Cassidy and Trent Baretta were in the middle of a great match between friends when Penelope Ford showed up. Ford distracted Trent, and then Orange Cassidy took advantage. After the match, it became clear why Ford had helped Orange. For the same reason, Eros gifted the golden apple in greek mythology. Chaos. Ford was sent to drive a rift between Orange and Trent, and she may have succeeded. Orange showed he had no friends when it came to his All-Alantic Title. Trent has noted that, and their next interaction may not be so friendly.

5.(SmackDown) Bray Wyatt and Uncle Howdy Fire Back

LA Knight called out Bray Wyatt, and Bray hilariously put LA in his place before accepting. Bray Wyatt seems to be fed up with LA Knight and is ready to stop playing around. Last week Bray attacked a cameraman, and he seems ready to stop playing Mr nice guy. However, Uncle Howdy came out and attacked Bray. Nobody knows what to make of this storyline right now, and we just have to keep watching and theorize. My theory is that Uncle Howdy wants Bray to embrace the darkness. He has been setting Bray up to get increasingly agitated to tempt him to darkness, and it's working. However, I think the Sister Abagail from Uncle Howdy was his way of saying you may talk the talk, Bray, but you still aren’t there yet, and I’m going to keep pushing til you come back.

4. (Dynamite) Wardlow vs. Samoa Joe TNT TITLE

Wardlow brought the war to Joe’s doorstep. He kept coming at Joe again and again. He took licks and then powerbombed Joe. Wardlow took some of Joe's best shots and still kept coming. Wardlow's knees gave out, and he still kept coming. However, Joe was ready; he had an answer for everything, and the match ended with Joe choking Wardlow out. Then aftward, Joe beatdown Wardlow until Darby emerged, hit him with a skateboard, and revealed his intentions for the TNT title.

3. (NXT) Julius Creed vs. JD McDonagh

Julius Creed is one of the brightest young stars in NXT. He has a credible build and background, and he is a highlight reel in the ring, plus he has it factor. However, he's had most of his success in the tag division. So when he went toe to toe with JD and beat him in an incredible match, it was a huge deal. JD is one of the hottest stars in NXT. He has put on banger after banger and has beaten pretty much everyone he has faced one-on-one. This was an incredible match and career highlight for Julius Creed.

2.(SmackDown) John Cena & Kevin Owens Sami Zayn & Roman Reigns

This match went exactly how you would expect. The Bloodline dominated most of the match, setting up an epic hot tag to Cena where Kevin Owens and Cena climbed back and won the match. However, predictable isn’t always bad. Sometimes things are predictable because it's the best way to do things. John Cena hitting some of his greatest hits in the ring was a treat. Watching Kevin Owens and John Cena kicking the Bloodline's ass was objectively awesome. Plus, Sami took the pin which protected Roman and gave the Bloodline something to talk about next week. Roman certainly isn’t going to take accountability for the loss, so who does that leave?

1. (Dynamite) Death Triangle vs. The Elite Trios Title Match 6 Falls Count Anywhere

Somehow, these Trio title matches keep topping themselves. There wasn’t a weak link in this match everyone was going crazy all at the same time all over the arena. These teams went through hell and kicked out of moves that would have finished most other people. Plus, the finish was incredible and did justice to the match. Pac made Matt Jackson tap out, but it was right after Rey Fenix was pinned from Kenny’s One Winged Angle slam off the edge of the crowd railing into a bed of chairs. Match six showed that the teams are pretty much even and that whoever wins will be determined by will, not skill.

Rob’s Lowlights

2. Questionable booking decisions, NXT

To open NXT, Julius Creed faced off with JD McDonough. Even though it was a good match, I immediately thought it was a lose-lose. Neither guy could afford a loss, and the Creed Brothers are better off as a tag team than as singles stars. It made the Creeds look good, but McDonough took another loss despite being one of the workhorses of NXT. Later, Wendy Choo beats Cora Jade, and even though Choo likewise needed a win, Jade is ice cold since turning heel and losing to Roxanne Perez. Like McDonough, Jade is one of the true stars of NXT who just can’t seem to pick up a meaningful win.

1. Charlotte Flair Returns and Immediately Wins the SmackDown Women’s Championship, WWE

Speaking of questionable booking decisions, Charlotte Flair returned on the last SmackDown of the year (yay exciting), beat Ronda Rousey (yay? I suppose we don’t like Rousey much these days), and won the SmackDown Women’s Championship again (boo uninspired booking). This was a direct rematch of the WrestleMania and WrestleMania Backlash feud from earlier in this year. Since then, Flair has been absent from WWE, which I think can be a good thing to give the audience time off from an overexposed superstar. In one night, they undid all of that good by launching her straight to the top again with no story or fanfare. The 14-time champion gimmick is one of the most blatantly ignorant and insulting gimmicks in WWE. To be the 14-time champion, Flair had to lose it 14 times too, and smart fans know that many of those reigns were short and unimpressive. To end the year and go toward the road to WrestleMania with a Flair and Rousey feud is uninspired. WWE has the deepest and most talented women’s roster in all of wrestling, and they continue to let it flounder, pushing down talented stars like Liv Morgan in favor of “rerunning” the top feuds of the last decade.

Reverse Hipster’s Winner of The Week

This is a very important winner of the week because it will be the last one of 2022, which will provide the final edge to the final power ranking of 2022 and eligibility for the year-end award. So let's get to it.

6th Place Raw

Raw just did a highlight show, and while I think it's cool that the wrestlers got off for Christmas, I also can’t rank it any higher than this. Also, I didn’t like the Cody Rhodes interview. It was a great interview, but it kind of ruined his return. Now it won’t be out of nowhere, and some of the magic has been sucked out of the air.

Impact is in 5th place.

Impact also did a highlight show which is why it's at the back end of the list. However, Impact ranks higher than Raw because they had year-end awards, which gave people a reason to watch and see what happened.

Fourth Place NXT

NXT had a decent show and one of the week's top highlights. However, that top highlight didn’t have enough support from the rest of the show. One problem in particular with NXT right now is its lack of upward mobility. There are tons of popular stars who have become stagnant. Also, where was Roxanne Perez?

Third Place SmackDown

SmackDown had two top highlights and a generally good show. However, SmackDown was dragged down by the worst lowlight of the year. In one stroke, Charlotte ruined her whole return and the woman’s title scene. Charlotte is a horrible character because she just wins titles like they don’t mean anything, and she never has a struggle or meaningful story. Her return encapsulated all that the night she came back. It felt like Vince came back at that moment.

Second Place Rampage

Rampage brought it this week with two top highlights that were centered on story and built anticipation for next week.

1st Place Dynamite

Dynamite had more highlights than every other show and didn’t produce any lowlights. Dynamite washed the other shows by having the more important matches in storylines.

Rob’s Winners of the Week

6. WWE Raw was a rare instance of WWE putting together a highlights show instead of a live event. It’s the first time I can remember this happening since the blizzard episode in 2015. It was a good show, including exclusive interviews from Cody Rhodes, Bianca Belair, and more, but I can’t rank it above anything else.

5. Impact Wrestling likewise turned their show into a year-end gimmick, but it was better because we got to see Impact PPV matches that are valued much higher than WWE’s (you would only have to spend $5 on Peacock to binge every WWE premium live event this year compared to the $10-$40 per each Impact PPV). Impact also bundled their show with year-end awards, which was a much better structure in my opinion.

4. NXT was the worst of the new programs this week. They had good matches, but questionable booking decisions plague NXT’s already thinner roster.

3. AEW Rampage put together surprisingly good matches on their shorter card.

2. WWE SmackDown put together an excellent and fun last WWE show of the year. Aside from the top lowlight, this was a card of slobberknocker matches.

1. AEW Dynamite silently put together an excellent card of matches for New Year’s Bash and executed the show better than any other company this week.

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