Greg DeMarco checks in with his Star Ratings and match reviews for the WWE line of products on the WWE Network. How did 205 Live, WWE NXT UK, and NXT fare?
In case you forgot, I hate star ratings. Or at least…I did. They’re usually used to measure the technical accuracy of a wrestling match, which is flawed in nature. Technical expertise doesn’t draw. There is a base minimum of in-ring ability you need to perform, but once you hit that level, it’s all storytelling. Ricochet is one of the best in-ring performers in the world, but that’s because he uses his abilities to tell a story. Otherwise, he’s just a gymnast. Brock Lesnar is equally good, he just does it in a different way.
So when you see my star ratings, you are seeing how I feel about a match from an entertainment perspective. Moves are great, but only when they mean something. If it means something, the crowd is entertained.
With that said, let’s get to the ratings!
WWE 205 Live
Mike Kanellis vs. Kalisto – ***
A good match for both parties, even if the focus was on Maria Kanellis on commentary. I can’t shake the feeling that Mike is out of place in WWE, better served in IMPACT Wrestling or Ring Of Honor. The story of the match itself was Kanellis waiting too long to go for a pin, although it wasn’t as big of a deal as commentary made it seem.
Akira Tozawa vs. Hideo Itami – ***
We’d later learn that this is Itami’s last WWE match, as he requested and was granted his release. Why did he get his release when others asked for it? Maybe he’s the only one who asked? Maybe they don’t want to go home to Japan? Who knows! These two had good chemistry, and I for one will miss Itami. Using his departure to put Ariya Daivari over was the right move, too.
WWE NXT UK
Dave Mastiff vs. Jay Melrose – **
Squash city here, but it made sense to keep momentum going for Mastiff after NXT UK Takeover: Blackpool. Not much to write home about, but it did its job.
WALTER vs. Jack Starz – **1/2
Not a huge difference between this squash match and the one listed above, save for the fact that it’s WALTER. That doesn’t carry as much weight with me as some others, but WALTER is a new face to the brand, so the squash is warranted. Why is this squash rated higher than the one before it? Because it’s a new star, getting established on the brand.
Jinny vs. Kasey Owens – **
Barely over a squash, but I gotta be honest—I don’t see it with Jinny. Give me Nina Samuels any day.
Moustache Mountain vs. Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel – ****
This match, your TV main event, deserved more attention and promotion. This was a Takeover quality tag team match that could do a lot to #SaveTagTeamWrestling. Barthel and Aichner were treated as afterthoughts by WALTER, and that didn’t help their cause since they lost here. To me the wrong team won, as Marcel Barthel and Fabian Aichner are on the cusp of being a major threat as a tag team. Moustache Mountain didn’t gain anything, and the union between Italy and Germany could have benefited more by emerging victorious, or at least staging a post-match attack.
Kairi Sane & Io Shirai vs. Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir – **
Duke and Shafir work like someone told them “just do what you see on TV!” Seeing them in this spot makes me hurt for the hard working Performance Center talents not getting TV time, like Candice LaRae and Kacy Catanzaro. This got a squash match rating, but wasn’t a squash match. The only reason the rating isn’t lower is because of the hard work of Sane & Shirai.
The Street Profits vs. The Forgotten Sons – ***3/4
Yet another great tag team match on a WWE program that isn’t considered a big deal. Between this and the match on NXT UK, there is no reason to go a week without seeing great tag team wrestling. This match did a lot to progress the feud, and unlike the NXT UK tag match, the team that needed the win (The Sons) got the win. Go out of your way to see this match.
If you’re a fan of tag team wrestling, you had two great matches to see on Wednesday. That’s how you #SaveTagTeamWrestling right there! Overall, this week was about establishing talent through squash matches, and delivering in the main event. It was a good week for the WWE Network in-ring shows.