Does NXT return to the usual quality product it has been in the past? Bobby lets us know how good, bad or ugly it was.
NXT last week was ridiculous, only in the worst way possible. A horrendous use of 2 hours that could have been jam packed with the best action possible, was filled with a corny award show and it really sucked. This week we have potential to get back to normal, we hope.
Johnny Gargano Promo
Gargano was talking a lot of trash, and has some high hopes, but when he started jawing about Ricochet, the man himself with the belt in hand obliged. Johnny Wrestling, no, Johnny Takeover is talking about taking the North American Championship but Ricochet is having none of that. Apparently, the NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa also had something to say on the topic, as well as surprisingly Aleister Black. Aleister Black made the lights go out and then did his best to make Ciampa fade to black. While all of the chaos ensued, Gargano being the opportunist he is, superkicked the North American Champion Ricochet in the face. I hope WWE Main Roster took notes. This was a successful opening segment, and a Good way to open.
Nikki Cross vs. Bianca Belair
Nikki Cross is certifiably insane, and it will be interesting how she is used on the Main Roster, as she is super talented and unique. Bianca Belair is being pushed to the max, and seems unstoppable. A win over Cross could be huge. Belair destroyed cross, full of stiff shots and an impressive display of power. Very few have beaten up Cross as easy as Belair did this week. Of course Nikki Cross doesn’t lay down for anyone, she tried to fight back reversing an impressive “stall suplex.” Nikki tried but it was short lived, and she just couldn’t contain the powerful Bianca Belair. Nikki Cross hit her “fishermen neckbreaker” but Bianca smartly rolled out of the ring. Cross gave chase but got crushed on the ramp. After almost a double countout the two warriors duked it out in the ring. Cross got the upper hand briefly. Ultimately Belair hit the “KOD” for the impressive victory. All Good here, as usual, Belair is continuing to climb the ladder to the top.
EC3 vs. Adam Cole
EC3 is incredibly talented. He spent so much time in Impact/TNA and was essentially their “John Cena.” Once up in the Main Roster we can only hope for the dream match to happen. Adam Cole is straight gold! He simply is just awesome! This is a hell of a match even for NXT. Clean, entertaining match. EC3 chopped Cole harder and louder than I have ever heard, it just echoed. Of course the action went back and forth. Cole is so sharp and EC3 is almost unstoppable. This was just nonstop. Even when they rested it looked Good. EC3 had it in the bag but of course Undisputed couldn’t let their golden boy lose and interfered giving way to Adam Cole hitting a “Superkick” and “The Shot” for the victory. Undisputed then beat the hell out of EC3 until the War Raiders ran in for the save. The War Raiders demolished Undisputed. Pure dominance from the big guys.
Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel def. Stanley Watts & Hector Kunsman
A lot of names not known to the masses. That is what NXT is all about though, opportunity. This match was okay, nothing special. It looked like a typical “indie show” style match. Not NXT worthy however. Watts was a great highflyer, and with his size got thrown around all over the ring. Aichner and Barthel had a sick finisher, a last ride into a German suplex. Aichner and Barthel Win! This just wasn’t that Good.
THE UGLY: N/A
Overall: Of course back to regular action we had a Great show. NXT is a superior product and always a joy, well except last week. Great matches, great storytelling, and extremely great talent!
What a successful week for the WWE/NXT product. GOOD job all around. It was a pleasure to watch. If this is what having real competition (although it hasn’t even started yet) we are in for a real treat. Once things get kicked off with AEW it is no telling how big WWE will and can get. See you next week with more of your favorite articles, and of course The Good, Bad and Ugly!
Put Lex Luger in the Hall of Fame
Lex Luger is a legendary name in the world of professional wrestling, holding multiple world titles before his career ended. Rob wants to see “The Total Package” in the WWE Hall Of Fame!
It’s that time of year, the time when the WWE announces who is going to get inducted into their Hall of Fame this year. Now there are several people with vocal constituencies pushing for their induction – Chyna, Vader, and Christian come to mind – and it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if Jim ‘The Anvil’ Neidhart got in this year but there’s one guy I want to make a case for now, and that’s ‘The Total Package’ Lex Luger.
Luger was a two time WCW World Champion, 5 time US champion, 3 time NWA and WCW World Tag Team Champion, 2 time WCW TV champion, and a Royal Rumble co-winner in the WWE. He also main evented several pay per views for both companies. He was also in some of the biggest matches ever including the Rumble, the Wargames. He beat several of the all time greats like Hulk Hogan, Sting, Randy Savage, Ron Simmons, Ricky Steamboat, and Stan Hansen, and he had some all time great matches with Ric Flair. Considering some of the people who are already in there (Koko B. Ware, anyone?) he definitely passes the credentials test. He’s also one of the last NWA/WCW stalwarts who has yet to be inducted (The Midnight Express, Jim Cornette, and The Steiners are only others left by my count), and he was as big a deal there from the late 80s through the 90s as anyone.
So what gives? What’s the knock on Lex? I can think of two things off the top of my head. One, his WWF run was a disappointment. And the other thing was that he has a reputation for not being a good in ring worker. Let’s look at those one at a time. His WWF tenure was almost doomed from the start. He came over after SuperBrawl 2 in 1992 and started out as a co-host for Vince’s failed side project the WBF (World Bodybuilding Federation) while he bided his time to be able to wrestle again but was badly injured in a motorcycle accident and couldn’t debut in 1993. His first character, a heel persona called The Narcissist, was scrapped after a few months because Hulk Hogan skipped town and Vince wanted another All American muscleman to take his place. So we got All American Lex Luger touring the country on a charter bus, The Lex Express, to set his match at Summerslam 93 with Yokozuna for the World Title. That ended up not taking off as hoped so what was likely to be a title victory ended up getting called off. He’d get close again at WrestleMania X when he was part of the round robin World Title matches but would lose by DQ to Yokozuna. A little over a year later he was gone, back to WCW for the duration.
So yeah it didn’t go so good. But I don’t think you can really put that all on him. He got thrown into a situation where he was asked to be Hulk Hogan when that was never his bag. He didn’t wrestle like Hogan, talk like Hogan, or do anything else like Hogan. He was never an All American type, even when he worked as a face. He was an ultra confident, ultra competitive guy and was never a paragon of virtue like Sting or Ricky Steamboat. What made him a good guy was mainly that he was fighting bad guys, and he played by the rules as it suited him. Fitting that into a star spangled red, white, and blue packaging was always a square peg fitting into a round hole. And on top of that he came up in the more methodical southern NWA style of wrestling, with longer matches that had longer drawn out narratives and more nuance. The WWF style hadn’t changed yet and was still mostly matches under 10 minutes with more flourishes and more quicker finishes. It was a situation that would have been a much better fit for…..his buddy Sting.
The other thing, that Luger wasn’t a very good in ring worker, is nonsense. We all know about the matches with Ric Flair but go watch Luger vs Dan Spivey at Wrestle War 91, vs Sting and vs Great Muta from Starrcade 89, and with Sting vs Rick and Scott Steiner at SuperBrawl in 1991. Then go watch the Flair matches. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that Luger was a great wrestler; he was not. He needed the right opponent, particularly someone who could sell for him, but when he had one he always did his part and could help make a very good, even great match. He went over 30 minutes with Flair multiple times without looking like a dope or someone who needed to be carried. He was also a great tag team partner, perfect for hot tag situations. Again, go watch the matches. To lump him in with guys like Sid Vicious who crapped the bed in almost every big match they ever had or ‘body guys’ like the Warlord, Tyson Tomko, Luther Reigns, etc is totally unfair and shows a lack of attention to what he was actually doing in there. He also did have some personality that was only occasionally tapped (like when he was playing good guy in Sting’s face and being a heel behind his back) but when it was, came through pretty well.
Luger did have a reputation for being a selfish guy behind the scenes, but a lot of that has the same basis as guys like Bill Goldberg in that both came from the NFL world where you have agents who negotiate things for you and you learn to make demands and watch your back when dealing with management. The wrestling world of the 80s and 90s was not that kind of place – it was more like the ‘most of us got screwed but hey, we had some fun’ music business – so anyone who went against the grain was not looked at too fondly. But even then he wasn’t pulling the kind of shenanigans that guys like Hogan and Shawn Michaels were doing, none of the ‘not gonna work for me brother’ stuff. He wanted his money to be right and for you to give him what the contract said and to not screw him over. He did mail in the last few years in WCW when he was mostly an afterthought – you want to knock him for that, there isn’t much I can say to defend it. And then there is the matter of his relationship with Mrs. Elizabeth – he was suspected of being abusive and some people think he was responsible for her death – but unless you’re going to play detective and prove it happened I don’t see how you hold that up when Steve Austin is in the Hall of Fame already and gets major pops every time he comes out.
So that’s my take. The main has accomplishments, he was way better in the ring than people remember, and most of the bad stuff in his file is explainable. He had a better career than a lot of guys already in and his high points were as good as anyone’s. So put him in already, he’s earned it in my opinion.
Andrew’s WWE Raw & SmackDown Live 1/14 & 1/15/2019
Andrew gives us his thoughts on this week’s Raw and SmackDown Live! Does Raw finally outperform SmackDown Live this week?
Well if you read my Honor Reigns Supreme article, you’d know that left such a bad taste in my mouth, that I was excited for WWE this week.
So I guess it’s time to see if the initial anticipation paid off.
- Ronda Rousey & Sasha Banks vs Tamina & Nia Jax – Banks wins via Bank Statement – **
- The Revival vs Lucha House Party – Dawson wins via DDT – * 1/2
- Natalya, Bayley & Nikki Cross vs The Riott Squad – Bayley wins via Elbow Drop – ** 3/4
- Jinder Mahal vs Finn Balor – Balor wins via Coup de Grace – ***
- Intercontinental Championship Triple Threat: Dean Ambrose (c) vs Bobby Lashley vs Seth Rollins – Lashley wins via Spear – *** 1/2 – TITLE CHANGE!!!
- Fatal Four Way for Universal Championship Match at Royal Rumble: Finn Balor vs Drew McIntyre vs Baron Corbin vs John Cena – Balor wins via Coup de Grace – *** 1/4
- Braun kicks things off, oh god, he’s gonna talk. *spins the See-N-Say* Okay, Cow says Moo and Braun says something about getting hands, Beastie Boy, rawr rawr, Baron Corbin…whatever. The he finds Corbin in a limo, tears the door off, it was Vince’s so he admonishes the Monster and fines him $100,000 – and Braun mouths off. So Vince not being one to take kindly to that, pulls him out of the Universal Title match and kicks him out of the building after he flips the limo.
- After the Braun stupidity is over, now we get Sasha and Ronda. Sasha did most of the work, Nia somehow looks worse than Tamina, even the preview for Glass did better in the match, and they try really hard to force animosity between Sasha and Ronda by making Sasha be unable to understand body language and comprehend context in a sentence. Maybe she’s low key dyslexic and this brought back bad memories of reading pages out loud in school.
- A line forms outside of McMahons door…okay, time to see Jerry Lawler and a bunch of random characters…great.
- Revival get a real tag match against the Lucha House Party, so maybe the conspiracy is over…but they interrupt the match with interviewing people meandering around outside of Vince’s office. You’re only really legitimate tag team on Raw, that people like, and you’re trying to rebuild…and you kill the momentum of the match with pointless interviews. So what we did see was alright, and the DDT being a finish is nice, but the wrinkle of Wilder having to push Kalisto’s foot off the rope, doesn’t make a ton of sense. Is it karma? Is it doubling down on them being bad guys? Is it just stupid? Tune in next week on Dragon Ball – wait…no.
- Vince heads to the ring to announce a replacement and instead we get Cena. Cena who tries to say when Austin, Rock and Lesnar left, they had no passion coming back. He tries to recreate his debut Ruthless Aggression line, McIntyre comes out and schools Cena with lyrics to Word Life saying Cena’s Time is Up and Drew’s Time is Now. So it was cute. Corbin comes out cause he’s delusional. Then lastly Finn comes out to play the little engine that could. Vince says he’s small, Finn says he never believed in him, but he’ll prove he can beat Lesnar. Fatal Four Way match is created after McIntyre wins the initial squabble and Vince nearly orgasms seeing Drew and what he did.
- Jinder, makes up a story about tending to a broken Singh, so Vince tells him to pick one and winner gets the 4-way spot. Jinder picks Finn, cause you always pick the smaller guy, right?
- Bayley and Natty were trying to separate Ronda and Sasha earlier when the Riott Squad got mouthy and challenged the two that aren’t really friends to find a third and face them. Bayley has a great line as they fade to commercial since Natty accepted on behalf of them, she just looks at her and says something like ” Oh?! We’re good now?!” – which nicely points out the stupidity of some of these throw together matches.
- Now the Riott Squad do nothing for me, but Nikki Cross making her Raw debut added a new life to this match that I didn’t know it needed. Nikki made this match entertaining, and at this point, her shear joy just brightened up my enjoyment of the entire show. Decent match too, but Nikki, always let Nikki play.
- Jinder versus Finn wasn’t bad. Regardless of what some people think about Jinder, the match work was solid. If you just don’t like him, sure that’s fine, but this was Jinder’s best match in a long time and again, I thought it was pretty decent.
- Lio Rush speaks, and it’s calm, direct and Lashley is looming in the background like an ominous force instead of a posing imbecile. I don’t know how to feel…cause I liked this promo…but Lio Rush is annoying.
- The triple threat was… good. No real complaints aside from my usual gripes about Seth’s inability to sell, PLUS Lashley pinning Ambrose does allow for a rematch most likely at Rumble cause he can point out it wasn’t a 1 on 1 match and the odds were stacked against him, conspiracy stuff, so I can see it happening. Lashley with the IC title at least gives him something when he should’ve been a main event guy from day 1 on his return, at least this is a step in the right direction.
- Alexa Bliss…ugh I know I say she’s the best female character on Raw, cause she is. But walking in on her changing added nothing to anything, it was done purely for the “hot chick partially clothed” pop. And then her two episodes of Moment of Bliss have been…awful and trainwrecky. Otis randomly appearing and babbling makes him seems more moronic and not endearing like NXT made him seem like a hyper country bro. But yeah, he acted more like he needs a harness and a helmet. At least the Women’s Tag Titles look nice and aren’t the big ugly WWE logo design.
- This four way wasn’t bad, but the two commercials hurt the flow, it turned into more of just disjointed cool spots that eventually lead to something but you weren’t sure how we got there. Kinda like a drunk train ride and you end up somewhere dangerous, but sexy…yet the right person goes over. So…drunken miracles do happen folks.
Overall Score: 7/10
GO FIGURE! I really enjoyed this episode. As I mentioned on Raw Reaction the appearance of Nikki Cross and that little fire starter ball off energy actually just made me enjoy the show. There’s something about seeing someone run about the ring, be it because she’s manic, frantic or just having fun…but it’s nice. So from that point I got a little less nit picky, enjoyed nonsensical things like Dean and Seth cooperating because I got the fact they were going for “they did it out of muscle memory” not so much liking each other.
Plus seeing Finn get a semi-legitimate push for the Universal Championship is always refreshing. We’ve seen smaller guys give Brock believable matches, so maybe Finn or the Demon can tear the belt off the Beast.
SmackDown Live Ratings:
- Becky Lynch vs Peyton Royce – Lynch wins via Disarm-Her – **
- Asuka vs Billie Kay – Asuka wins via Asuka Lock –N/A
- Samoa Joe vs Mustafa Ali – NO CONTEST
- Andrade Almas vs Rey Mysterio – Almas wins via Draping Hammerlock DDT – ****
- The Miz w/ Shane McMahon vs Sheamus w/Cesaro – Miz wins via Rollup – ** 1/4
- Becky pulls in, cute but lacking personality interviewer tries to question her, she says she’ll say it in the ring. On her way in she sees Otis and Tucker with the New Day making a meat, eggs, powder, take a few panckes, generally assuming a protein shake of doom since their whole NXT shtick is ‘Steaks and Weights’. Otis tries some and likes it, New Day almost pukes, Otis offers it to Becky. Becky agrees, takes a decent mouthful (giggity) and says it’s good but weak and marches to the ring. Otis mumbles something that sounds like “she is the man”. This was actually the correct way to introduce Otis’ brand of buffoonery since he’s supposed to be simple but charmingly dumb…not Festus 2.0.
- Becky and Asuka argument turns into the IIconics teasing and saying they’ll win Rumble. Becky says why wait, get your ass in here now. So Peyton apparently offers herself as tribute.
- What was this match? Asuka was watching intently, Billie didn’t really get involved much, but Peyton held her own for what felt like at least 10 minutes. If this was supposed to help Peyton look like a competent threat, I think it hurt Becky more than helped Peyton. Advantage though, Asuka adorably screaming in Japanese basically getting across the point of “if you can do it so can I”. So she literally drags Billie into a match, the referee shrugs and doesn’t question an angry woman screaming in a language he doesn’t understand. Asuka went for a Fujiwara Armbar while looking at Becky to make a point, but took too long, Billie got a small opening but then Asuka chokes her out with the Asuka like in what felt like 40 seconds.
- AJ walks out while Becky and Asuka are still arguing, and apparently new music is the signal to leave. AJ walks down the ramp, around the ring, through the crowd, up to the concession stand. This is him taking Daniel Bryan’s promo from last week and turning it on it’s ear. He starts endorsing hot dogs and merchandise before Daniel Bryan jumps him. Daniel hates fun obviously…
- Jimmy gets a note from Mandy Rose with a hotel key enclosed. WHAT DOES THE UCE DO!?
- Joe jumps Mustafa mid pose, beats on him until the LED on his chest goes out. So if that’s like Iron Man, Mustafa is now dead. Someone else needs to assume the suit. TJ Perkins maybe?
- Sonya gets to the bottom of Mandy’s evil plan to break up a marriage cause she just hates Naomi. Catty…but it happens. Sonya seems a little disgusted though.
- In my article last week I think I claimed I wanted a best of 27 between these two. And I still want more. This was so damn good. Also, FINALLY, Zelina does what she should’ve been doing from the beginning. She got involved just enough to give Andrade the opening to beat Mysterio when Almas was on the brink. If this is the beginning of returning to their NXT dynamic, then I just need more Vega and Almas on my TV in general.
- Jimmy actually goes to the hotel, he pauses, heads in, Mandy takes off her robe to show a lacy black outfit and Jimmy says no. But as his rebuking her advances, a Paparazzi guy shows up out of nowhere snaps some pictures and runs away. Mandy puts the robe back on, said she never wanted him, just wanted to ruin the marriage and now Naomi will crumble. Jimmy laughs it off, walks out, and Naomi pops in and beats some ass. So Mandy’s plan didn’t work at all, I wonder if Sonya tipped them off and this could split those two into a feud or something.
- Miz and Shane are fantastic. Miz throws a celebration for Shane’s birthday, gets him a pair of Jordan’s where Shane’s reaction sounded close to legit. Then Miz runs a little reel of clips which is actually kinda nice with the story they’re telling. Shane buys into their team idea a little more by telling Miz that when he was a kid he had a dream to be tag team champs. His dream partner as a kid was Andre the Giant, but he’s still proud to call Miz his friend. There did seem to be a small hesitation during some of this where maybe there were some real comments that weren’t exactly scripted, but that just makes you buy into them more. The Bar interrupt the celebration and Shane does the talking now. Says Sheamus thinks he’s a big man for sucker punching Miz last week. Well they’ll have a match right now and it’s fair. Miz tries to say he’s not dressed and Shane retorts nicely with “I wasn’t in my gear when I stepped in for Best in the World” and Miz is like “is this what you want for your birthday?” and Shane is like ” This is my Birthday wish, yes”. The immaturity,yet, simplicity of the exchange is what made it perfect. Miz is trying to impress Shane so of course a good point and birthday wish is something that Miz won’t deny.
- The match was never supposed to be groundbreaking, but it was fun for what it was. Cesaro tries to interfere, Shane sends him through a cake on a table, distracting Sheamus long enough for Miz to get the Rollup. Sheamus tries to attack Miz afterwards, Shane helps out his partner, Miz hits Skull Crushing Finale, and then Shane positions for Coast to Coast. Miz gets the other cake and we get Coast to Cake…mostly, and Shane looked to have killed himself at the same time.
Overall Score: 6.25/10
SmackDown felt more like a story building episode this week and less geared towards the in-ring action. Nothing was bad, some things were done purposely to push storylines forward, so it felt about average if not a tick below for a SmackDown.
So for the first time in my doing these articles, and even recent memory…Raw was the better show this week. I mean…wow. Either ROH broke me or WWE just happened to push all the correct button for me. You know, like the song the Pussy Cat Dolls talked about, not the irritating buttons.