9. Dirty Dango and Santino Marella, Impact Wrestling
Wrestling is at its best when it's willing to be silly. Dirty Dango made himself the Detective of Authority as he tried to figure out who attacked Santino Marella. This fun backstage thread sets Impact apart from the other shows, and the willingness to make authority figures funny feels novel in 2023.
8. Axiom vs. Scrypts, NXT
In the battle of ridiculous gimmicks with guys who can wrestle circles around most of the NXT roster. I’ve always, first and foremost, been a Reggie stan, so Scrypts, despite every ridiculous part of the gimmick, is a winner in my book. Even though he didn’t pick up the win in this case, it was a good showing, and NXT could be a good place for him to grow. Axiom is the much better wrestler all around and is also stuck in a ridiculous gimmick that he is somehow making work.
7. The Lucha Bros and El Hijo de Vikingo, AEW Rampage
I’m unsure if this will be a regular team, but it sure is fun to watch both of them. The Lucha Bros, for me, is a highlight in any match they’re in, and El Hijo de Vikingo has impressed in all the matches I’ve seen him in so far. Vikingo pulled off some more insane stuff in this week’s match with Powerhouse Hobbs, QT Marshall, and Aaron Solo, and the team got that win.
6. The Firm Deletion, AEW Rampage
In an attempt to recreate the magic of the Ultimate Deletion, the Hardys were back at the compound to pay off their long-term undercard feud with the firm. It fell short of past cinematic matches from Matt Hardy, but it was still a lot of fun and showcased more of the stars around the feud. We got to see a lot of old friends from the Hardy compound, and the style of the match worked with new stars like Stokely Hathaway too. I think AEW would be smart to continue exploring this style and letting Matt Hardy do whatever he wants creatively.
5. Trinity Debuts, Impact Wrestling
Trinity was always an underutilized talent in WWE, and she joins what is probably the most slept-on division in wrestling- the Impact Women’s Division. In Impact, she has the division to actualize her potential and help the entire division around her. Already, she has been rocketed to the top of the division, and it seems like she will face the winner of Deonna Purazzo and Jordynne Grace for the championship. Either match would be an excellent new challenge for Trinity.
4. Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn vs. Katana Chance and Kayden Carter, NXT
Though they took a weird route there, Alba Fyre and Isla Dawn are a rare real team in the sea of thrown-together WWE Women’s Tag Teams. Likewise, I always thought Katana Chance and Kayden Carter were vastly underappreciated as champions because they don’t have as much of a character, but their ringwork is great. The result of both teams clashing was an intense and entertaining championship match that felt like it should have been on a premium live event.
3. JD McDonagh vs. Dragon Lee, NXT
PPV-level wrestling on weekly television is hard to beat. Continuing on the insane chemistry between NXT’s midcard as showcased in the North American Championship match at Stand and Deliver, JD McDonagh and Dragon Lee had a great match on NXT. I’m skeptical that McDonagh should have won as he’s going to the main roster, but it set up a greater story between Dragon Lee and Noam Dar.
2. The Elite and the Blackpool Combat Club, AEW Dynamite
Faction wars have been some of the best parts of AEW Dynamite. Last year’s brawl between Blackpool Combat Club and the Jericho Appreciation Society was my favorite match last year. The Blackpool Combat Club has a gritty street fighter aura that makes them easy to love or hate. The Elite is the type of flashy pro wrestler that AEW has been built around. In segments this week, the story has slowly simmered to a boiling point, and I predict next week will be where we see the story explode. Who will take what side, and what will the match at Double or Nothing be?
1. LWO, Bad Bunny, and the Puerto Rico crowd, WWE SmackDown
In the opening and closing of SmackDown, WWE and Puerto Rico made sure they told fans that Backlash wouldn’t be just another event. Who's World is this? The LWO,they had a cool drone shot that went through the whole stadium, and it felt cooler than any SmackDown opening we’ve seen in recent memory. The Puerto Rico crowd was loud all night, but especially rooting for Rey Mysterio and LWO. This made a regular multi-man match at the end of the night the highlight of the week. What made it even more legendary was the response when Bad Bunny came out to help LWO chase off Judgment Day. Wearing his old WWF logo jacket and playing into the crowd, it felt like a legendary go-home show moment and made me excited to see Backlash.
Reverse Hipster's Lowlights
3.(Raw) The Draft
Rob took shots at the draft last week, and he was completely right, but I try to give WWE a pass because WWE Drafts always seem illogical these days. However, Having multiple free agents, not just Brock Lesnar, isn't a great idea. What's the point of splitting up the brands if some wrestlers can just go back and forth easily
2.(Raw) Drafting Kayden Carter & Catana Chance NXT
NXT had this huge main event match planned for Tuesday. It was Isla Dawn and Alba Fyre Vs. Carter and Chance, and the big draw of this match is that the NXT Tag Team titles could either go to the main roster or stay on NXT because Isla and Alba are on SmackDown. However, the match was ruined by revealing that Carter and Chance would also be going to the main roster on the night before NXT. Who cares who wins the tag titles if they are both on the main roster? I swear WWE has something against the women's tag team titles. If this is a sign of how the women's NXT Tag titles will be booked on the main roster, then it's a very bad omen.]
1. (Rampage) Was Big Swole Right?
If you remember, Big Swole complained about the diversity in AEW, especially with Black people at the top. That was 2021, and now it's 2023, and has that changed? There is still yet to be a Black AEW World Champion, but more importantly, there aren't really any main event black wrestlers in AEW. Hobb's who supported Tony in 2021, hasn't been elevated on screen. He had the TNT Title for a hot second before losing it to the guy he won it from, and now he's in a literal jobber faction.
Jade is probably the most prominent black star in AEW. She is a champion, and she has won over 50 matches straight. Losing is a foreign concept to Jade. However, how many of her matches have actually mattered? Maybe a handful. Her match on Rampage was certainly skippable. She isn't Goldberg, and she isn't Asuka. She rarely ever gets to face the top dogs, and even when she does have a decent opponent, the story is basic as hell. If Jade's winning streak actually mattered, she would be fighting for the AEW Women's title because, statistically, nobody measures up to what Jade is doing, so who is more qualified to be champion than her? Remember, this is AEW, where wins and losses mean something. However, AEW doesn't treat Jade like she is the kind of superstar who could do that. Logically Jade should be AEW Champ already, but I'll settle for having a meaningful feud with a top name like Britt Baker.
Let me be completely clear. I have zero problems with Jade. She is beautiful, charismatic, and credible as hell. However, she needs to be given more to work with. The title and the record look nice on paper, but Jade needs real backing. She needs worthwhile stories on tv. Jade needs opponents worthy of her record, and she needs to stop having squash matches. When Jade wrestles, everyone should be on the edge of their seat, wondering if she will lose her record this time, instead of trying to get to the bathroom and back before the squash match ends.
Rob’s Winners of the Week
6. After a couple of hot weeks, WWE Raw took a huge step back. Maybe it was the result of the funky flow of the WWE Draft, but this felt like a repeat of what we have been seeing already.
5. AEW Dynamite has been a little cold lately. They still have int
4. WWE SmackDown had the highest highlight, largely thanks to the crowd reaction, but the show at face value was average.
3. Impact Wrestling had more highlights than a lot of other shows this week. If they keep accumulating roster pieces and booking the way they have, they will be competitive with WWE and AEW.
2. Listen, if AEW Rampage just becomes the show for El Hijo de Vikingo to do insane moves and Matt Hardy to do insane cinematic matches, I won’t complain.
1. NXT is an absolute master class on making the most of its roster, and it had two of the best matches this week on a regular show.
Reverse Hipster's Winner of the Week
6th Place Dynamite
Dynamite has been uncharacteristically bland lately. The four pillars storyline has not worked, and the rest of the show just isn't picking up the slack. The only two other things demanding my attention on AEW are Orange Cassidy and the Blackpool Combat Club/Elite
Rampage had some good matches in a vacuum, but overall just didn't help anyone booking-wise. You could skip Rampage, and it wouldn't interfere with your enjoyment of any of the feuds.
4th Place Raw
Raw was fun, but the show was clearly holding back a bit for Backlash. I don't blame Raw for it, but also there were shows that didn't do that and won this week
3rd Place SmackDown
SmackDown had an electric crowd, and they advanced their feuds more interestingly than Raw and did so without any lowlights.
NXT just had some of the best matches of the week. Top to bottom, NXT just put on such a great show. They might even have been number one if WWE hadn't ruined their main event.
1st Place Impact
Impact was kicking on all cylinders. They had good plot development through backstage sketches, plus there were great matches, and Trinity debuted on Impact. There was just so much good stuff happening