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The Wrap-Up: Who is the Baddest?

Updated: Jan 15, 2023

Reverse Hipster’s Highlights

10. (Rampage) Giving the Fans What They Want

I didn’t know that I needed to see an Orange Cassidy Lumberjack Match with QT Marshall. However, Orange Cassidy showed that the opponent doesn’t even matter anymore. He is just on another level. He had an awesome match with QT, where he seemingly took on half of AEW to keep his title. To QT’s credit, he showed he is not just good at being an annoying heel on the mic. He can actually back himself up with some cool athleticism in the ring.

The other champions on Rampage, The Acclaimed, are also on fire right now. But it gets even better because they announced the match that everyone has been waiting for against FTR. The crowd started chanting FTR before they could even get the words out. This is what it looks like when you give the fans what they want.

9. (NXT) The Plot Thickens

Grayson Waller and Duke Hudson had a match because of their disagreement from last week. Basically, Grayson Waller is Duke's no-good friend who doesn’t want to see Duke turn a corner.Waller would rather drag Duke to his level. In their match, Waller’s dirty fighting style coaxed out the dirty fighter in Duke Hudson until Chase U reminded him not to cheat. However, Duke's internal conflict between who he was and who he was trying to be cost him the match. It gets worse though. Duke didn’t just lose the match. When he almost kicked Thea Hail, he told her that he could control his kick and stop it any time he wanted, which prompted Chase to remember Hudson “accidentally” kicking him and costing him the tag titles. Grayson Waller’s job is done. Duke has some explaining to do.

Another great story/match was JD McDonagh vs. Julius Creed. These are two wrestlers who will be big stars for WWE in the coming years. So this was a really good match now, but later it could be a classic matchup. Both superstars are unrelenting in their own ways. I truly wasn’t sure who would win. The NXT crowd wasn’t satisfied with the finish, but I thought it was pretty clever. JD tried to use a chair on Julius, but Sanga pushed him out of the way and took the shot, and Sanga didn’t even wince. Julius won the match via DQ. I like that finish because it keeps both competitors strong and establishes Indus Sher and Sanga as a completely different breed of challenger.

8. (SmackDown) Bray Wyatt is Back in His Bag/Bloodline Bliss

Bray Wyatt’s storyline has been interesting so far, but the new Bray isn’t the old Bray. What makes the current storyline so interesting is seeing the layers of the Bray Wyatt onion unfold. Everyone is waiting to see what the next evolution looks like. However, for the first time, we got a taste of the old Bray Wyatt’s promo style. Wyatt cut a promo saying everybody has animal instincts they ignore. Also, he insinuated that LA Knight had tempted Wyatt’s animal instincts while also saying he heard how the crowd rooted for his savagery when they thought he attacked LA Knight. Bray promised that if he had attacked LA Knight, then there would be nothing left of him.

Now, either Bray didn’t attack him or he is trying to say he doesn’t even consider that an attack, and that LA Knight did that to himself. Either way, Bray knows exactly what he is doing and clearly delights in teasing the audience about what's to come.

Bray Wyatt wasn’t the only great SmackDown segment. The Bloodline finally trusts Sami Zayn, and it was just one big love fest. It was actually fun to watch because it felt earned. Sami is one of the hottest stars in the company, who is not only blowing the roof off the stadiums, but he's also in the hottest faction in WWE. They have finally accepted Sami. You love to see it.

7. (SmackDown and NXT) Faction Fare: LIVening Things Up/Too Toxic For You

Damage CTRL came to SmackDown and tried to talk trash about the whole division, but the Live Wire Liv Morgan wasn’t having it. Continuing her hardcore/crazy gimmick, she rushed in head first and took on Damage CTRL by herself. Liv was actually beating them all up at first, but the numbers caught up with her. Then, Tegan Nox made her shocking return and saved Liv, but when the numbers caught up to her too, Liv had to even the score with a kendo stick. I like Tegan returning because she has unfinished business with Dakota Kai. This feud could elevate both sides.

Nikkita Lyons and the Tag Team Champions Kayden Carter and Katana Chance stepped up to Toxic Attraction, but Nikkita was injured thanks to Zoey Stark. That turned out to be the difference between the two teams. People often wonder if it's better to be good or lucky. Well, when you are really good, things just fall into place. You are in a better position to take advantage of your lucky opportunities. That is Toxic Attraction. They got an opportunity from Zoey and they pounced. They isolated Nikkita and tore her apart. Toxic Atraction doesn’t miss the moment. That's why Toxic is on top, and Nikkita and Zoey aren't.

6. (Dynamite and Rampage) AEW Wonder Women

Jade Cargill is finally getting time to promo and execute a worthwhile story. She is starting a feud with her own Baddies. While starting that, she also has an interesting feud with Bow Wow. Whether it's rapping or acting, or wrestling, Bow Wow always shows out. He is the ultimate entertainer so it's no surprise that he has fit right in and is cutting interesting promos. What is a little surprising is that Jade was packing some heat on the mic. For most of her career, she has lived off her aura, but when given the chance, she showed she can promo. She cut a passionate promo about being the biggest star in AEW and she made a very compelling case.

Elsewhere in the AEW Women’s Division, Willow Nightingale and Anna Jay A.S. had a pretty good match this week. Anna has improved so much over the last year. She use to wrestle like she was lucky to pull off a move. Now, she wrestles with so much poise and confidence. When she is in the ring, she feels like a threat to anyone of any size. Anna never flinched at Willow despite giving up a huge size advantage and Anna was even able to slam Willow with relative ease. Willow, on the other hand, has always been impressive in the ring, but now she is actually getting to win and build momentum with the fans. She is such a natural babyface. The crowd loves Willow because how could you not? She is still a threat, though, and she reminded Anna of that when she powerbombed Anna to hell to get the victory. After the match, Ruby Soho returned and started beating down Tay Melo for injuring her in the first place. I’ve been rooting for Ruby since her Riott Squad days. I’m glad she got such a warm reception from the fans and that she returned with a purpose.

Another woman making an impact this week was Athena. She was in full control of not only her opponent, but the crowd. She beat down her opponent while responding to the "I love you, Athena" chants. What really makes this a highlight was how believable Athena’s new attitude was. She made us believe in her heel turn with her attitude and mannerisms, but then she made sure we knew when she crushed her opponent's head against the steal steps after the match to try and get Mercedes Martinez to come out.

5. (Impact) Hardcore Buzz

Mickie James is basically the uncrowned champion of Impact wrestling. She has something everyone wants. Everybody wants to be the one to retire her to prove how great they are. This week, Deonna Purrazzo stepped up to the place and gave Mickie her best challenge yet, nearly making Mickie James tap out to the Venus De Milo submission. However, the crafty veteran Mickie James used her legs to escape. In the end, she had to pull Deonna’s tights to escape the match with her career intact.

However, champion Jordynne Grace has noticed all the attention Mickie James is getting, and I don’t think she likes it. I think secretly Grace sees Mickie’s streak as taking away from her title reign and making people forget who the woman to beat around here is. So, Grace wants to squash Mickie’s streak and put an end to her challenge. Why else would a champion come out and challenge someone else for their own title?

4. (Dynamite) The Elite vs. Death Triangle Part 3

This match had so much action the camera could hardly keep up with everything that was happening. It's amazing to get to see six elite wrestlers go at it every week with stakes. The Elite got their first win of the series this week. All hope seemed lost when Pac went to the top to do his finishing move on Matt Jackson. Nick Jackson and Kenny Omega were being held back on the outside. However, Matt Jackson got his knees up and turned Pac’s aerial assault into a pinning predicament.

3. (SmackDown) Santos Escobar vs. Ricochet, Intercontinental Finals

Santos had such a good showing in the tournament. If this is how his main roster career is starting out, there are bright things in his future. Santos and Ricochet showed ridiculous athleticism. Santos threw Ricochet and Ricochet landed on the barricade. Then, Ricochet tightrope walked the barricade. Santos jumped up there, showing his agility, and he did a head scissors launching himself and Ricochet to the arena floor. Not to be outdone, Ricochet pulled off a Frankensteiner off the top rope, sending Santos flying into a backflip off the top rope and landing harshly on his stomach. Ricochet would go on to win the match. I’m so happy to see Ricochet treated like a winner again.

2. (Dynamite) Jon Moxley and "Hangman" Adam Page Reignite Their Feud

Moxley came out and the crowd erupted. He may not be the champion, but he is still the top guy. He cut another great promo and challenged anyone in the locker room, or in the state, to step to him. Just when you felt like there was nobody who could touch Moxley, out comes fan favorite "Hangman" Adam Page. Page came in and stepped right up to Moxley. However, Moxley isn’t one to back down so he made fun of Page for getting knocked out in their last match and then fists started flying. Moxley and Page had to be pulled apart. This is the hottest feud in AEW right now.

1. (Impact) Impactful Climaxes

For a while now, Impact wrestlers have been warning Josh Alexander about Bully Ray. Now, that storyline has come to head. Bully Ray showed his true colors with zero shame. After beating Josh and his wife, Bully Ray came out and claimed he did nothing wrong, and he blamed Josh for what happened. Bully Ray beat the hell out of Rich Swann with his chain after Rich Swann came to defend Josh. Bully Ray ripped up crowd signs and he made Scott D’Amore blow a gasket. Scott’s blowup really put this segment over the top. When the guy who brought you in now wants to physically fight you, because of what you have done, you know it's bad. Which makes this climatic reveal of Bully Ray’s character good.

Impact had more exciting stories to pay off. Violent by Design put out an incredible short video. Eric Young questioned Deaner on if he would do anything to eliminate the sickness, which he identified as failure. Then, he revealed that the sickness was in this room and asked Deaner if he would eliminate it. Once he said yes, they fought over the knife in the middle of the table and bludgeoned each other until Deaner was clearly in control. Next, Eric said that he was the failure and that Deaner needed to eliminate him. He said I may be the designer, but you are the design. Deaner then, begrudgingly, stabs Eric. Eric has now completely indoctrinated Deaner. Also, Impact has killed off Eric Young! Violent by Design is brilliant on the character side of things. Hopefully, Impact will realize what they have and translate that to the ring.

Rob’s Lowlights

4. Ricky Starks vs. Ari Daivari, AEW Dynamite

This short segment didn’t help anyone involved. Ricky Starks is doing his best work as the scrappy underdog overcoming the odds. A quick squash match just made Ari Daivari look bad. AEW continues to make factions like The Firm only to under-commit to building and developing them.

3. Darby Allin, AEW Rampage

Darby Allin is turning into a side attraction for AEW, opening Rampage in feuds that I don’t care about every week. As a pillar of AEW, he should be feuding with Orange Cassidy for the All-Atlantic Championship or teaming with Sting to try to bring him one more championship in the tag division. The way he has been portrayed and the feuds he has been in have felt meaningless. It’s a shame for one of the most interesting characters and unique workers in all of wrestling.

2. Jeff Jarrett and Jay Lethal, AEW Rampage

The other side of the most recent Darby Allin feud, Jeff Jarret, feels like he doesn’t belong at all in AEW. Jay Lethal should be giving us possible matches of the night, and he’s stuck in this too. Sticking them in the tag division and building a feud with the Acclaimed feels like a disrespect to AEW’s stacked tag division of pre-established teams. What was once AEW’s undisputed strength is looking like a weakness if FTR does not step up to the Acclaimed and Young Bucks/Lucha Bros remain engrossed in the trio's division.

1. Jade Cargill Kicks Off Her Next Feud With… Bow Wow, AEW Dynamite

Jade Cargill had a championship celebration for getting back her championship from Nyla Rose. Barring that the stealing the title storyline made no sense, I also didn’t love Cargill’s willingness to put down the Baddies. Their relationship hasn’t been built up enough, so it isn’t really meaningful for Cargill to give them the “mean girl” treatment. Most importantly, instead of focusing on building the depth of their women’s division, AEW is continuing to promote Cargill’s feud with Bow Wow. An awkward promo on the screen from Bow Wow implied a confrontation was coming soon. If I were a free agent in women’s wrestling, AEW is the last company I would go to.

Rob’s Winners of the Week

6. If there’s been a point to the last few AEW Rampages, I’m having a hard time finding it. AEW needs to find the identity for their second show. It’s only an hour, and if it doesn’t contribute something meaningful soon, it may as well go to ROH or a separate AEW developmental brand.

5. NXT was a solid show, but it doesn’t have the story going for it that I felt going into their last premium live event.

4. AEW Dynamite is starting to build the stories that we will likely see at their next PPV, but some lowlights keep them out of a higher spot.

3. Impact Wrestling actually put together a stacked show in-ring and storywise, making up for the lack of show last week.

2. WWE Raw put together a pretty strong show all around that made great use of their deep roster and three hours.

1. WWE SmackDown is putting together the best show week after week. The two hours fly by because of good character work in overarching stories and meaningful matches highlighting uber-talented wrestlers.

Reverse Hipster's Winners of the Week

6th Place Raw

Raw had no highlights. Not only does Raw not have a World or Tag Champion, but Raw failed to follow up on Becky Lynch's return and Austin Theory's title win in interesting ways.

5th Place Rampage

Rampage actually created three highlights this week. But in a packed week, the more predictable matches on the card held the show back.

4th Place NXT

NXT is killing it from a story perspective. They have so many full characters that it's hard to have a week where they don't have a fun highlight that progresses a story. The reason NXT is in fourth is it had tons of really good things, but not enough great things.

3rd Place SmackDown

It was a toss-up between number three and number two this week. SmackDown put on a great show with important developments, and good stories and matches, but its highest high just wasn't high enough.

2nd Place Dynamite

Dynamite had the second highest high of the week. Dynamite had great matches and incredible stories, but the thing that holds it back is MJF's promo. It didn't hit. In order to be the top show, your main event needs to hit.

1st Place Impact

Impact had the Bully Ray story and the excellent Mickie James match, but what really won the week for Impact was the Violent by Design segment. It was incredible, and so was Impact.

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