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The Things That Help Me Sleep

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So now for something a little different. Whilst this week in wrestling was by no means perfect, I’ve slept soundly all week. Even had a smile appear on my face at random intervals. Maybe sleep deprivation has finally took it’s toll and I’m losing it. Or there was enough good points to keep me sane for one more week? Either way, let’s look at the happier side this week.

 

The Witch Became A Goddess

A lot has been made of Alexa Bliss this past week, and indeed the past few months. Everyone has seen her grow from something of a question mark in NXT to one of the most accomplished individuals on the mic the company has. Adding her ever improving performances in the ring, and WWE has a money maker coming along nicely as the new Raw Women’s champion.


5 (+2) feet of fury

One thing that I felt always held her back was the attached moniker they stuck on her over on the blue brand. The ‘Wicked Witch’ was a throwaway remark made around Halloween that kept cropping up from the commentary booth. Now the witch has cast her greatest spell and relabelled herself a Goddess, a more fitting and legitimate heel claim. This can only be a good thing, as was the snide remark about all the women who label themselves royalty. Looking at you Charlotte, Natalya, even Carmella. (Is it not time for a Queen of The Ring tournament, to settle the matter?)

 

Wins And Losses Matter

When Goldust and R-Truth approached GM Kurt Angle regarding the chance to challenge for the tag titles, I immediately wondered how he might tell them no. Straight away, I imagined a tough task for them that they would eventually come short in. And that has sort of happened, a tag team turmoil match for the number one contendership. Anything can happen, I suppose. My money would be on Cesaro and Sheamus though.

Love the T-shirt to be fair

What I did like was Angle pointing out that he couldn’t just give them a title shot. Which is standard but when he gave them a reason, it was a wonderful one. Your wins and losses record isn’t good enough. Has there ever been a more beautiful reason to not give someone a title shot? A regime where wins and losses matter, in WWE? Amazing stuff. More of a casual comment than a policy, but it was enough to make me smile.

 

Lunatic Roving Reporter

When Ambrose came to join the conversational party on Raw, I wondered what we’d be getting. I hold my hands up in admitting I’d love nothing more than for Ambrose to cut loose with Moxley-like heelism, as I sometimes find the Ambrose character a little too cute, instead of crafty. But Monday night he found the perfect middle ground and was entertaining throughout.

Best backstage interviewer in a while

His backstage interviews with Miz, Finn Balor and even The Drifter had me chuckling a little. My favourite was his discussion with Seth Rollins. Pointing out the absurdity of cameras being in the locker room for ‘candid’ moments, he proceeded to point out the history between them whilst sticking to his retro backstage interviewer persona he had adopted for the evening. Whilst Ambrose can sometimes be off the mark for me, his noticing of the little things is something that always endears me to him. Baron Corbin’s music being very similar, for example. Stating that Brock doesn’t turn up often being another. Whilst wrestling revels in the absurd, it’s nice to feel that it’s not just the audience who notices these things, and misses the days of backstage personalities having personality.

 

Triple Threat Made Three Feuds

Speaking of the backstage interviews, the three opponents for the main event put on a very good match, but one that achieved far more than just being entertaining. Whilst the feuds to come out of this match were not a surprise, WWE gave three feuds out of one match. Three! Has so much been accomplished from a main event before? Probably, but it’s been a while.

No one likes Miz, and I love him for it

The Miz heads back into his program with Ambrose officially as the number one contender having beaten Finn Balor and Seth Rollins, not an easy feat no matter how it was achieved. Samoa Joe came out to ruin Seth’s chances and continue their feud, Seth foolishly thinking it was over. And Bray Wyatt appeared to start what will most likely be his next unfortunate loss in a feud with Finn Balor. At first I’d wondered why, other than the obvious time constraints, Balor had returned without the Demon but watching Bray Wyatt coax it out should be fun.

Three feuds, all with a genuine reason to dislike someone, coming out of one main event. It’s about time the writers hit it out of the park like this. Long may it continue. To be honest, I’d settle for it occasionally rearing its head.

 

Second Tier Title Love

It’s been a long standing issue for myself, and many other grappling fans, that the secondary champions don’t get a lot of love from creative. Or even a sense of legitimacy. This week on Raw and Smackdown, the main events focused on the Intercontinental and US titles. The acknowledgement that whilst the heavyweight titles aren’t on the show as often was welcome, the push to make the secondary titles more relevant is a logical move. The Universal title in particular suffers from having a champion who only shows up every few months. I’m not sure how that helps make it more prestigious considering it’s barely a year old, with four champions to its name. But the space provided by its absence is something that the Intercontinental championship can happily fill.

 

Time to shine, like silver medals do

In the last ten or so years, there has been a lot of talk from Intercontinental champions about bringing the title back to its former prestige. Matches at the top of the card, rather than a lot of talk and non-defences in the mid card, will make this happen. The same goes for the US title, as we can happily ignore Randy Orton’s latest championship run hopefully.

Titles are only props, but a prop is only worth what you put into it. Making noticeably higher quality wrestlers compete to be the number one contenders for them is a great start. Making them look desirable, a title to have, will add far more prestige to them. Instead of just telling people they’re worth something, the audience will see they are. This can only be a good thing for the titles, the holders, the challengers and the shows in general. It just makes sense.

 

Spotlight!

Aiden English is something of a guilty pleasure of mine. I remember when he first debuted his gimmick in NXT and I couldn’t gather for the life of me why people were cheering him. I put it down to the peculiarities of the Full Sail crowd. But after a few weeks, I couldn’t help but be entertained by WWE’s Drama King. Again, when the Vaudevillians were formed I wasn’t a fan but they grew on me in NXT and by the end of their run, even Simon Gotch had stopped annoying me. Their title win at Takeover: Brooklyn (with the assist of Blue Pants) is still one of my favourite matches from NXT.

Sing it, my man

Now with Gotch gone, the spotlight is back to being firmly on English and whilst it has been a losing effort so far, I can’t help but be entertained by him. Considering he’s still under 30, despite looking double that at times, there is a lot of time and a lot of upside to him. A losing streak could be part of a greater plan, or broken next week, or his status as a jobber since Mahal has gone up the card. Either way, I look forward to hearing him belt out whatever takes his fancy before being interrupted. Long live the King (So many Kings.)

 

The End Of Jericho For Now

And so Jericho leaves us once more, once again wanting more. It’s amazing how he can come back constantly to be one of the best acts on the show. Something of a familiar pattern. Comes back, people are excited. It’s a bit underwhelming, because we expect so much. Then it turns to apathy. And then Y2J strikes, and gives us something we never knew we needed. And then he’s gone.

Drink it all in, it may be a while

This most recent run has carried Raw throughout the second half of last year and gave the world a festival of friendship, two US title runs, a sexy pinata and the beautifully redundant ‘stupid idiot’. Solid matches with Kevin Owens have been the highlight for me and although the feud fizzled out towards the end, it still did what Jericho does best, it entertained. I hope this isn’t the last time we see Jericho, but if it is, the friends of Jericho will remember this run fondly. In a career lasting nearly 27 years, it’s hard to judge where on The List of (Great) Jericho runs it would go. All we can hope for is one more chance to cheer him on….

 

Going To See Raw Live At Home

Finally seeing a hometown show!

Literally in a few hours, I’m going to watch a Raw Live show in the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England. I’ve never seen a WWE show in my hometown. Their first one to run here was the same day as my sisters eighteenth birthday and I remember the misery when I had to pick her party instead of the show. (Still a little resentful, just a bit.) It sounds strange, but I’ve always felt nothing when a heel runs a town down on TV. It made sense in the territory days but now, most of the people watching on TV would agree that (insert town here) is a horrible place to be. But this is different. This is a non-televised show in my hometown and I am dying to boo the insidious villain that would dare disparage my birthplace, despite me doing it on a daily basis. It’s the simple joys in life that make it worth living.

 

And finally…

Will she still be laughing come Takeover?

This week on NXT there was a 15 woman battle royal to determine the number one contender for Asuka’s title. I’m not really sure if Asuka had too much sugar before coming out, but it led to a four way being announced. I’ll take that, as it should be a decent match. But my main highlight was after the match. I stated last week that every time I see Nikki Cross she makes me smile more and more. The sight of her pointing and laughing at the fallen (thrown) Ember Moon had me in stitches laughing. More of the crazy, please.

 

Feel the desire to argue, agree, condemn or converse, feel free to comment below or at [email protected] or @HeneghanCiaran.

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AEW

Break It Down: Ranking Every Major Wrestling TV Show (Week #3)

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Break It Down

As we head towards one of the busiest periods of the calendar year for professional wrestling, the eyes have certainly been on the weekly shows and the quality that they are providing. The third week of the year certainly wasn’t a perfect one overall, but while some shows struggled, others really thrived.

There were some fantastic in-ring matches throughout the week, with a title bout and some good storyline development towards the major shows that are coming up in the future. But which show was the pick of the bunch? Join us as we Break It Down to find out!


6. WWE Raw

Photo Credit: YouTube.com/WWE

For the third week in a row, WWE Raw takes the bottom spot, with the red brand really struggling to build an entertaining three hours. The show has fleeting moments of quality, such as the match between Charlotte Flair and Peyton Royce, which was hard-hitting and back and forth, as did Ricochet and AJ Styles, which is no surprise.

However, the show is just far too inconsistent, with not enough quality throughout the evening to really grip people, even heading into the Royal Rumble. Mace and Xavier Woods had quite a sloppy match, while the six-man tag team match had far too much in-fighting for The Hurt Business for the bout to get going.

Alexa’s Playground didn’t really work with Asuka, and their main event angle didn’t click either. However, the worst segment of the night was the Dirt Sheet, which was mocking Drew McIntyre and Goldberg. Seeing Gillberg was fun, but this didn’t build any interest in the upcoming WWE Championship match and made them both look ridiculous.

5. AEW Dynamite

Photo Credit: YouTube.com/ AEW

It was an off night for AEW this week, with this particular episode of AEW Dynamite not quite delivering or feeling particularly ‘must-see.’ There were good elements to this show, with Tazz cutting a great promo and Jon Moxley having arguably the match of the night.

However, there was a lot that just didn’t work. The opening tag team match was chaotic and quite sloppy, and that was a trend throughout the night. AEW often likes to have six-man tags, but a lack of rule-following is something that makes the matches tough to get connected with.

The main event was fun, seeing the Inner Circle’s attempts to prove who is the best being enjoyable, but it wasn’t a blockbuster match. Meanwhile, Cody’s bout with Peter Avalon was just far too long. The Shaq storyline continues to be teased and hasn’t really proven to be interesting to this point, with this show just lacking the normal buzz overall.

4. WWE SmackDown

Roman Reigns

The blue brand was a much better show this week than last, with WWE SmackDown returning to its usual quality. Throughout the show, the work with Roman Reigns and Paul Heyman was tremendous, with the opening promo from the Universal Champion silencing any doubters about his microphone skills.

The women’s tag team match was very enjoyable, with The Riott Squad holding their own with the champions until Billie Kay accidentally cost them. Her work is continuing to be great, and hopefully, WWE can continue that, meanwhile the Obstacle course did actually prove to be entertaining.

This was the type of segment that could have been a disaster, but it did a really good job of putting over Bianca Belair, especially when she carried Otis. Plus, seeing Kevin Owens get the best of Roman Reigns for a change was fantastic to see, as that hasn’t really happened since the Tribal Chief returned to WWE.

3. WWE NXT U.K.

Photo Credit: YouTube.com/WWE

WWE NXT U.K. was very enjoyable this week, with WWE’s newest brand continuing to deliver in high-quality in-ring action. Right from the start that standard was set as Rampage Brown and Dave Mastiff had a very hard-hitting bout. There was nothing pretty or technical about it, but instead, it was just a physical brawl, which was tons of fun to watch.

The show developed other storylines nicely as well. Kenny Williams pushing Amir Jordan into a tough match sets up certain possibilities, meanwhile seeing Ilja Dragunov return and showcase a much more physical and aggressive side of himself was tremendous, as he can build on this now.

The main event was given plenty of time and it really benefitted from that. Kay Lee Ray put her NXT U.K. Women’s Championship on the line against Jinny and they had a fantastic match together, going back and forth with Joseph Conners causing issues on the outside, ultimately leading to the finish.

2. WWE NXT

Photo: WWE NXT/Twitter

The black and gold brand was very much focused on the in-ring product again this week, which is mainly because of the two tournaments taking place. Kushida and Leon Ruff had a solid match with The Way, while Lucha House Party and Imperium had a really exciting match as well.

Having Lucha House Party set up their match with Legado Del Fantasma was great work, continuing to push the main roster team. Plus, it was great to see the women’s tournament really get built up, and Kacy Catanzaro and Kayden Carter going through was a great surprise.

But it was the main event that really stole the show here, with the Fight Pit returning. This match type is one of the best that WWE has created in years, and Timothy Thatcher and Tommaso Ciampa certainly didn’t disappoint, with an incredibly physical clash.

1. IMPACT Wrestling

Photo: YouTube.com/IMPACT

When it comes to the best show of the week, there’s no doubt that IMPACT Wrestling takes the top prize. This show had everything from great in-ring work, surprises, and fantastic backstage segments to create a really entertaining evening of wrestling.

The big tag team segment was great, seeing James Storm return and then the surprise of Matt Hardy and Private Party, proving more doors are open between AEW and IMPACT. This played into the main event, which was a great bout, and with Tony Khan appearing as well, it was certainly noteworthy.

The way Taya Valkyrie finished up her run with IMPACT was fantastic, while the opening match between Eric Young and Rhino, plus the post-match beatdown was very well done as well. The show built the women’s tag team division and continued to push other mid-card talents too, which really provided an entertaining show.

Sixth place= 1 point
Fifth place= 2 points
Fourth place= 3 points
Third place= 4 points
Second place=5 points
First place= 6 points

2020 results (each week, the points tally will be added up below):

WWE Raw- 3
IMPACT Wrestling- 12
WWE NXT- 15
AEW Dynamite- 12
WWE NXT UK- 10
WWE SmackDown- 11

 

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AEW

Break It Down: Ranking Every Major Wrestling TV Show (Week #2)

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Break It Down

While it’s still early on in 2021, the wrestling world has set a high standard for in-ring quality so far from last week and all of the shows continued in that mindset here. The shows were all varied and while not everything worked for each show, there were a lot of positives to takeaway.

A week that featured huge title matches, fantastic promos, and even some fireballs being thrown in for good measure has been enough to keep everyone entertained. But, which show was the strongest of the bunch? Let’s Break It Down and find out!


6. WWE Raw

Randy Orton

Photo Credit YouTube.com/WWE

WWE Raw has been a struggle as of late, and sadly this show didn’t change that run of form for the red brand. It was clear the show had been hurt by COVID-19, with a lot of people missing and a lot pulling double duty on the night, so credit does deserve to be given for that. On that note, praise is deserved for Drew McIntyre too, for making his appearances via video, despite having a positive COVID test.

Sheamus and Keith Lee had a fun match as partners and as opponents on this show, but outside of that this show lacked a lot. Charlotte Flair facing Lacey Evans was nothing special, and using Ric frequently right now isn’t helping her character while having Riddle be beaten so easily feels like a mistake, even if it helps Bobby Lashley overall.

The whole show was built around Triple H returning for a one-off match with Randy Orton, which was all set up nicely. It was never going to be a full match, but it would’ve been nice to have given this a little longer. Obviously, the big talking point was the Alexa Bliss fire, some people loved it, others hated it. I personally, quite enjoy a little magic and ridiculousness when it’s done well, and this story is working so far, with this being a nice finish to the show.

5. WWE SmackDown

Photo Credit: YouTube.com/WWE

WWE SmackDown kickstarted 2021 with a bang last week, but sadly this episode was a slight drop in quality. It was still a good show though, with lots of positives to take, especially in terms of the in-ring product, with Daniel Bryan and Cesaro have a particularly great match on this show.

The work with Billie Kay was a lot of fun, with her ‘punk’ vibes being fantastic comedy, while the storyline with King Corbin and the Mysterio family continues to be put together well. Jey Uso had a really good match with Shinsuke Nakamura too, who appears to be gaining a big push as a babyface, which is great to see.

However, there were elements that didn’t work, with Bayley’s new talk show and segment being a little awkward, while all of the build with Roman Reigns and Adam Pearce was a little dragged out and too repetitive from last week.

4. WWE NXT UK

WWE NXT UK was another really fun show this week, with the brand continuing to put together some great work lately. Seeing the debut of Sha Samuels was great, as he is a real talent in the ring and on the microphone, and he had a nice hard-hitting encounter with Joe Coffey to kick off the show.

Jinny and Kay Lee Ray had a really nice promo segment to build to their title match, and it certainly built interest in their upcoming title match. Plus, Sam Gradwell and Tyler Bate had a really enjoyable match together, with WWE clearly looking to build Bate back up.

However, this show was really all about the main event. WALTER defending his NXT UK Championship didn’t disappoint. He and A-Kid had tremendous chemistry with this being a very hard-hitting encounter that didn’t let up from start to finish, with WALTER retaining, but A-Kid looking just as good in defeat.

3. IMPACT Wrestling

Photo: Impact/Twitter

It was a big week for IMPACT Wrestling with the Hard To Kill event taking place this weekend. While that PPV was a lot of fun, our focus is on the weekly edition of IMPACT, which on the whole was also a great show, building to the PPV in a really nice manner.

The opening women’s match got plenty of time and they didn’t disappoint, while the tag team match featuring Manik and Suicide was also a fast-paced and frantic bout. The storyline development between Eric Young’s group and Rhino and his men wasn’t really needed, with the match itself being incredibly average.

Moose’s squash victory was also dragged on a little too long, and he would’ve benefited from being a little quicker. However, the main event between Karl Anderson and Rich Swann was solid, and the post-match brawl built up the six-man tag team match for Hard To Kill perfectly, which is what was needed.

2. WWE NXT

Photo: WWE/Twitter

Yet again the black and gold brand was very enjoyable this week. The show featured a lot of brilliant in-ring work, with a large focus being placed on tag team wrestling, with the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic beginning, which brought plenty of fun bouts.

Grizzled Young Veterans showcased just how good they are, although, booking Ever-Rise as a babyface team here was odd, while MSK’s debut was very fun to see, with the former IMPACT stars seriously impressing. Candice LeRae and Shotzi Blackheart had a good bout as well, while Xia Li’s character development continues to be done brilliantly.

Johnny Gargano’s match with Dexter Lumis was the only real disappointment of the show, as this didn’t quite connect. However, the work with Pete Dunne throughout the show was excellent, building him and his group up as a real threat, with Dunne facing Finn Balor being something that everyone should be excited for.

1. AEW Dynamite

 

AEW Dynamite was incredibly exciting this week, with a lot of really good matches taking place. The show benefited from not having and big multi-man matches, with everything being crisp and to the point. PAC and Eddie Kingston had an excellent opening match which set the pace for the entire show, with this story being a lot of fun.

This show also saw the best piece of booking that Miro has had since he joined AEW. He was dominant and physical, and hopefully, this is how he’s used moving forwards. The Matt Hardy and Private Party backstage segment will likely be overlooked by most, but it was really good storytelling here as well.

Kenny Omega choosing The Good Brothers over the ‘Bucks is a nice twist, and FTR also had a fantastic tag team bout with Jungle Boy and Marko Stunt. The Waiting Room segment was fun and really shows Britt Baker at her best, meanwhile, Tay Conti and Serena Deeb had a fantastic match. The main event also delivered, like everything on this brilliant show, but the only nitpick I had was Sting’s appearance. Doing the same thing with him every week is already feeling stale, he is someone who should be used less frequently to make him feel more special, in my opinion.

Sixth place= 1 point
Fifth place= 2 points
Fourth place= 3 points
Third place= 4 points
Second place=5 points
First place= 6 points

2020 results (each week, the points tally will be added up below):

WWE Raw- 2
IMPACT Wrestling- 6
WWE NXT- 10
AEW Dynamite- 10
WWE NXT UK- 6
WWE SmackDown- 8

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We Ranked: 5 Ways WWE Should Utilize The Legends On WWE Raw

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hulk hogan

Tonight is WWE Raw Legends Night, and plenty of familiar faces will be coming back to the company, but how should WWE use them? It’s going to be a blockbuster episode of WWE Raw to kickstart 2021 in style, and there will be a real element of nostalgia about the show, with a lot of legends being confirmed for the event.

While not every legend is going to have a significant role to play on the show, some of the talents are going to have a very big part to play in things. WWE has heavily pushed the legends aspect of the show, so there’s no doubt going to be some involvement. But what are the best, and most logical ways the talents could be used?


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