The Wrap Up: RETURNING The Favor
Reverse Hipster's Highlights
10. (Rampage) Profile Raising
Rampage had some really entertaining segments. The Jericho Society put the Impractical Jokers through a table. It's cool to see wrestlers interacting with celebs and getting publicity.
Orange Cassidy did what he does and had another banger for the All-Alantic Title. This time he beat Lee Moriarty. Lee put Orange to the test by going after his arm, but in, the end, Orange's will to win was just too strong.
Ruby Soho is on a hot streak, and she continued that on Rampage when she mowed down Marina Shafir. After the match, there was a brawl between Saraya & Toni and Britt & Hayter. We aren't sure which side Ruby will take. On the one hand, it would be foolish to turn Soho heel. On the other hand, are Hayter and Baker really babyfaces?
9. (Impact) James Mitchel Returns!/ PCO Returns to In-Ring Action
After the Death Dollz defeated Killer Kelly and Taylor Wilde, James Mitchel returned. He threatened Rosemary with the wrath of her father, and then he hexed her. Then his tag team Hex showed up and beat up the Death Dollz. The women's division is heating up.
PCO returned to in-ring action and looked great. He earned his way into the Impact number contender match with a moonsault. PCO continues to be a bright spot on Impact.
8. (NXT) Dragonuv Returns/Red Hot Women's Division
Carmello Hayes and JD were going at it when Dragonuv returned for revenge on JD for taking him out. The distraction gave Carmello a huge win, but the bigger news is that Dragonuv is back, and he wants his pound of flesh. I can't wait to see these psychos go at it.
The NXT women's division has hit a hot spring, and they are serving up hot singles matches too. Valentina Feroz had a great match with Lyra Valkyria, who is starting to become undeniable. Lyra has been treated like a hotshot since day one, and I see why. She is incredibly skilled. She turned a guillotine submission into a northern lights suplex. But it's not just power, she also has an array of kicking attacks at her disposal. Valentina is getting better and better in the ring. She has the chops to be the next Wes Lee of the woman's division, but Electra Lopez is molding Valentina in her own image. She handed Valentina brass knuckles, and this time Valentina took them, but the hesitation cost her the match.
On Twitter, a WWE page asked if Zoey had the best finisher but everyone, including myself, pointed out that Sol Ruca took that crown. Well, Zoey must not have liked that cause they had a match, and Zoey ended up hitting her finisher for the win after an impressive match. However, Zoey kept beating on Sol, and finally, Sol hit the Soul Snatcher out of nowhere and got the moral victory. Zoey won the match with her finisher, and Sol laid Zoey out with hers. Who's finisher is better?
7. (Dynamite) Bryan Danielson vs. Rush, Contender Match
Bryan Danielson has been plowing through competitors, and he just needed to beat one more to earn an AEW Title match with MJF. Rush was the perfect last opponent. He can go hold for hold with you or crush you with his power. This match ended up being less of a wrestling match and more like a street fight in a fight club. These men battered each other til they were exhausted, and then they went at each other some more. Bryan was bloodied, and red from chops, and Rush was eating shots, refusing to go down in one shot. It wasn't about skill or witts in this match. It was about who had that dog in them. In the end, the American Dragon's fighting spirit won out. Still, Rush deserves more opportunities like this because he has delivered since night one.
6. (Raw) Angelo Dawkins vs. Damien Priest Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match/(Raw) Michin vs. Piper vs. Carmella vs. Leray Elimination Chamber Qualifying Match
This was an excellent match-up because Dawkins and Priest are both underrated wrestlers who don't get highlighted individually. Also, both these guys are huge, which meant they could match each other in power. Dawkins proved he could be a singles star if he needed to. He's charismatic enough to win over the crowd, and he has a surprisingly exciting and versatile moveset. Damien Priest won the match and reminded people that he is one of the best newer stars in the WWE. Damian wouldn't be a bad pick to win the Elimination Chamber. Either way, I hope Damian gets more opportunities. He's great when he has creative direction.
The fatal fourway was another great qualifying match, and a great way to showcase the more underutilized side of the Raw women's roster. I think every woman was elevated by this exciting match. Each woman got a chance to shine. The most memorable spot was probably Piper's splash on all three other competitors. Carmella won by pinning Candice, and it was kind of an odd choice to have Carmella win, but she is a former woman's champion, so maybe this will be her getting back to that level.
5. (Raw) Hurt Bussiness vs. Alpha Academy
I was not prepared to care about this match. However, it was so good that it had to make the list. Gable and Cedric finally being able to fight someone of their own size really paid off well. Both wrestlers pulled off incredible feats. Otis is always entertaining, but Shelton stole the show with aggression, and a samoan drop on Otis before Cedric hit Gable with the neutralizer and won the match. The entire tag division should be on notice.
4. (NXT) Ding Dong Betrayal/NXT NEXUS
Bayley's show Ding Dong Hello returned for a very special episode about friendship. Bayley actually seemed to have reunited the team when Jacy brutally attacked Gigi, throwing her into a door and stomping Gigi's head against it. I love this for them. They have just had their version of the Rockers breakup under the watchful eye of HBK himself. What an honor that must have been. Plus, now that Toxic is breaking up, not only will they get to do something they haven't done in WWE yet, but they also preserve the legacy of Toxic Attraction. It will always be remembered as the three of them.
NXT had tons of good segments. Brooks and Jenson threw a celebratory party for Kiana Jade and Fallon. It was the best backstage party segment in years. Normally these segments are stiff and boring, but this felt real and entertaining because NXT has real characters and storyline. They had the main storyline between Kianna and Fallon, where Fallon suspects Kianna is cheating, but she ends up not saying anything because Jensen is so happy. Pretty Deadly was in disarray, and they had a confrontation with Chase U at the party that lead to an awesome match that Chase U lost because Thea's escape from Schism caused a distraction. Thea Hail got kidnapped by Schism after telling Tiffany to suck it for dissing Chase U. Lots of great things brewing in the NXTverse.
3. (SmackDown) JEY USO RETURNS!
Jimmy went to the ring alone. He hadn't been able to get in contact with his brother ahead of their title match against Braun and Ricochet. Then at the last moment, Jey showed up and entered the ring threw the crowd like Roman. The tag title match was excellent. Braun and Ricochet are actually a really good team, and they almost beat the Usos, but the Usos are too savvy and too good. Jey saved Jimmy multiple times and won the match with a splash after a blind tag. The Usos are clearly still just as good as ever, but Jey remains unwilling to commit to the Bloodline.
2. (Dynamite) AR Fox & Top Flight vs. The Elite, Trios Title Match/The Gunns Shock the World
This match was phenomenal. If you missed it, then you must go back and watch it. So many amazing moves that it would take me all day to recount them to you. The best way I can describe this match is to say that they would execute an amazing move that would then lead to a sequence of like 5 more incredible moves. It was nonstop action. AR Fox had his coming out party. He wrestled better than I have ever seen him wrestle. He took out the Elite singlehandedly and nearly won the match several times. The only reason this isn't number one was that there was a botch where the ref counted three, and Fox and friends should have won. Plus, they performed so well that they should have won anyway. I mean, if that wasn't enough to win the Trios titles, what would be?
In the main event AEW Tag Title match, The Gunns hit the Acclaimed with the belts behind the ref's back and then got the roll-up win. The crowd was shocked they hated it. However, I don't because the Gunn Club were getting hot as heels, and if AEW didn't do something, the Gunn Club would have lost momentum. They just showed the entire world the Gunn Club has teeth. This could be a very successful tag run by more homegrown AEW talent.
1. (Raw) LITA RETURNS!
Becky and Bayley were having an incredible cage match where they were putting each other through hell. Bayley hit Becky with a Bayley to Belly slam off the third rope. Becky put Bayley in the Disarmher on top of the cage. Damage Control made sure Becky couldn't escape forcing her to finish it in the ring like a gladiator. However, then Lita came out and saved Becky by beating up Damage Control and hitting Bayley with the cage so that Becky could hit the Manhandle slam and win the match.
Last year Lita returned to try and take Becky's title at the Elimination Chamber. This year Lita has returned to help Becky at the Elimination Chamber. What a full-circle moment. This match had everything hard-hitting action that had the crowd out of their seat, and just when you thought it couldn't get any better, the match had a legendary run-in. This style of booking reminds me of the Ruthless Aggression era I watched as a kid.
4. AEW Women’s Division, AEW Dynamite
On an overall great Dynamite, the Women’s Division was barely highlighted. Jamie Hayter had a way too quick match with the Bunny, and they continued to push Saraya and Toni Storm as heels without much storyline development.
3. Baron Corbin, WWE Raw
Rumor has it that Triple H and WWE have given up on Baron Corbin, and it shows. His pairing with JBL has led to nothing, and all signs point to their alliance ending. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Corbin, but even I have to admit that when used right, the guy is a great asset to a wrestling brand. He’s a natural heel who builds intrigue for any match because you want to see him lose. He has good speed and an impressive move set for his size. If WWE gives up on Corbin, they are giving up on the idea of the modern big man heel.
2. NXT stars with no momentum, NXT
NXT has almost a whole roster of wrestlers that are clearly superstars with no momentum. Alba Fyre is a former women’s champion with a record-long reign, and she is playing out a mediocre storyline with Isla Dawn. JD McDonough has a case for being the best in-ring wrestler on NXT’s roster, and he got another loss against Carmelo Hayes. Even though he is presented like a main eventer, McDonough doesn’t have a big win on his resume in NXT, and it makes him sort of look like all talk. Odyssey Jones was being built up as a future star, but he lost without much fanfare to Stacks Lorenzo. NXT has to find a way to build their roster without sacrificing some of its more talented wrestlers.
1. The Acclaimed lose the tag team championships, AEW Dynamite
This is a rare miss from AEW booking. I was tempted to say this until I remembered the recent loss by Darby Allin, the booking of the women’s division, and the failure to pull the trigger on the Acclaimed when they were hot the first time. Even though I think the Gunns do deserve this moment, the Acclaimed is maybe the hottest act in AEW right now. They ended the night with this match when there were three better matches to the main event, in my opinion, and it will seem rushed if this is all just a build for the Acclaimed to win it back at Revolution.
Rob’s Winners of the Week
6. AEW Rampage is still struggling to deliver a compelling reason to watch their program. With so many highlights on Dynamite, AEW would be smart to move some things over to Rampage.
5. With no explicit lowlights, Impact Wrestling didn’t produce any highlights for me either. They will have to put their foot on the gas to get me excited about their upcoming PPV.
4. NXT had good matches and a major highlight in the break up of Toxic Attraction. However, it’s hard to put them higher on the list when so many of their stars are being hurt by booking.
3. It’s hard to rate WWE SmackDown when they have the hottest angle of the last five years, but they also have a lot of segments that I felt neutral about.
2. AEW Dynamite had such a great show, but the inclusion of two distinct lowlights limits them to this spot, especially ending the night in such a disappointing fashion after a number of great matches.
1. Again, WWE Raw leaned into qualifying matches for the Elimination Chamber, and I think it gave their typically scrambled midcard and women’s division more meaning. The Women’s Main Event was the highlight I expected to see at Raw XXX.
Reverse Hipster's Winner of the Week
6th place SmackDown
this was a crazy week, and despite SmackDown having a top-three highlight, its lack of other highlights lands it here. SmackDown was fine, but they should Bray back soon. When the week is this good, you need more star power to compete.
5th place Impact
Impact had two highlights this week which is solid but not enough to get it done. Joe Hendry and Cardona were almost a highlight, but it was a little hokey. Steph Delander's debut would have been a highlight, but they immediately fed her to Jordynne Grace and made her look like a chump.
4th Place Rampage
Orange Cassidy, as a cornerstone of Rampage, is a winning formula. Having him or the tag champs wrestle will, more often than not, produce a highlight. The same goes for highlighting the woman's division. Ruby got time and produced a highlight. Also, I'm loving AEW using celebs which is why the Impractical Jokers made the highlight reel.
3rd Place Dynamite
Dynamite had the same amount of highlights as Rampage, but they were significantly higher on the list. Dynamite had a world-class contenders match, a shocking title change, and an astounding Trios match.
2nd Place NXT
NXT had it all this week. Fallon and Kianna provided the story, and the men and women came through with the matches. This was a stacked show that didn't even use most of their champions.
1st Place Raw
Raw's main event was the number one highlight of the week. Plus, Raw just had so many great matches throughout the night. Some of them were random, and some of them were qualifiers. The Road to WrestleMania is heating up.