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The Good, Bad and Ugly: SmackDown (01/15/2019)

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Andrade Cien Almas

After a less than stellar Monday Night Raw, we are back to the boys in blue.  The better show, that seems to disappoint a lot less than the other guys.  Nothing is perfect, however SmackDown strives to be damn close. The question is when will SmackDown fall off?  Or Can they continue the Good old ways and keep on killing it?

THE GOOD

Opening Segment w/ Becky Lynch

Opening with “The Man” Herself, is a Great way to go!  She rolls in like a boss, has a powwow with Heavy Machinery and New Day before gracing the masses with her presence.  Becky of course wanted to discuss the current situation with her title, her division, her reputation.  She put it all out there, and she did it well.  The “Empress” wasn’t going to just lay down for “The Man.”  The Champ came out to defend her honor.  She is getting better on the mic, and held her own to a tough crowd.  Fortunately for everyone “The IIconics” gave us the pleasure of their company. 

Samoa Joe vs. Mustafa Ali

Ali has been injected into our lives full steam.  He is getting a lot of attention and using it well.  He is exciting.  Of course Samoa Joe is a nightmare and doesn’t seem to put up with such nonsense.  He really beat the hell out of Ali before the bell.  He just brutalized him.  It was insane.  Joe is crazy and he isn’t holding anything back.  If these guys actually get the chance to put in work, based on what we saw this week, we could have some Good times ahead. 

Andrade “Cien” Almas w/ Zelina Vega vs. Rey Mysterio

I don’t know what the wrestling world did to deserve this match, but it is spectacular.  This could be the best lucha feud seen in a long time.  Two absolutely pure talents with endless gifts in a highflying, edge of your seat battle.  This really is set up to be fantastic, as Almas has proven his worth time and time again.  We don’t even need to explain how Good Mysterio is.  This match simply over delivered in every way it possibly could.  We saw such unique exchanges, such energy, it was masterful.  These guys put it all on the line and gave the fans their money’s worth for the year.  Mysterio looked so Good out there, just a wise veteran doing what he knows best.  Mysterio hit a freakishly awesome “headscissors” sending Almas flying and landing hard on the outside.  The dropkicks, the spots, the energy, everything just clicked here as it should.  It went back and forth, Mysterio hitting with everything he had, including a sick version of a crucifix.  With a little help from Zelina Vega, Andrade hit a sick “Hammerlock DDT” for the victory. 

“Bestie Birthday Bash” w/ Miz and Shane McMahon

This type of thing is almost always a failure.  These segments are long, boring, and corny.  Maybe something different here?  Well yes we did, the back and forth banter was Good, short and sweet.  The video montage as always was “money.”  The crowd was involved and interested.  During a horrendous Happy Birthday Song, The Bar interrupted.  Talking trash as always, including even against the McMahon name, they brought a rare but Good promo here.  It was really Good considering that it was set up to be hideous.  Ultimately it set up a match between Shamus and The Miz.  Good job all around. 

Shamus vs. The Miz

This was quick as time was tight, but it looked Good.  Definitely a fun, quick buildup for a huge Tag Match at the Royal Rumble.  Miz really brought it here, looking sharp against the much larger Shamus.  This was physical and entertaining.  Cesaro went through the cake, imagine that, and Miz picked up the Win during all of the confusion.  McMahon capped it off with a “coast to coast” through the Birthday Cake, to close the show. 

THE BAD

Becky Lynch vs. Peyton Royce/Asuka vs. Billy Kay/AJ Styles (3 total)

  • Peyton Royce has some skills.  She is the better of the two IIconics and has shown she can go. Lynch is red hot and seemingly can mess up.  Well this match didn’t do so well.  We had some poor wrestling, botches, and awkwardness galore.  As a whole, even with everything working, it was a mess.  If this wasn’t Becky Lynch the crowd would have eaten this match alive.  This was just shockingly disappointing.  The booking was great, it just didn’t deliver.  Of course, Lynch traps Royce in the “Disarmer” for the Win. 
  • Predictably, Asuka not to be outdone went on a Japanese tyrade apparently challenging Royce’s homegirl, Billy Kay, and just destroyed her.  Although Kay almost reversed into a pin and escaped an Asuka “Disarmer,”  Asuka got her into a “Asuka Lock” for the quick, and painful Win. 
  • Just when we thought we were about to see Lynch and Asuka go at it, out pops AJ Styles who interrupted, circled the ring for no reason, and walked out into the crowd.  What the hell happened?  Your guess is as Good as mine.  This was followed up after the break with AJ Styles in the concessions area talking trash before a low key “fickle” Daniel Bryan viciously attacked Styles. 

THE UGLY

Mandy Rose/Jimmy Uso Vinette

This is total trash, and it’s burning hot.  Mandy Rose is all fine and Good, but this whole story, and everything involved is really pointless.  Naomi attacking Mandy was predictable but the whole thing was just such crap.  This may be one of the worst segments on SmackDown in recent memory.  It was quick, but not quick enough. 

Carmella vs. Sonya Deville

Why this was skipped, is beyond anyone!  This is just an ugly shame that we didn’t get this match.  Wasted time and unnecessary jokes filled the space where a decent match could have took place.  Really a huge disappointment.

FINAL

GOOD- 6

BAD- 3

UGLY- 2

OVERALL- This show was squeaked by in the Good column, but it was Good enough.  Subpar to the standards of a typical SmackDown.  Andrade Cien Almas and Rey Mysterio was a real treat and catapulted any tainted material prior to that match.  SmackDown really is a Good show, tonight it reigned supreme once again, but Perfect, it was not.  To skip the Deville/Carmella Match was a big mistake, and the Main Event was okay but disappointing!

So far WWE entertainment has been a bit off this week.  They had so much momentum but just couldn’t keep it going.  Fortunately we have NXT on a normal weekly broadcast that can most likely round out the week on a Good note.  AEW is still building talking to CM Punk among others building what looks like a real threat to the Kings.  WWE needs to continue at a high level, and it will be great to see if and how they keep the crown.  Also, please let me take this moment to honor a man that was loved by many in the New England Wrestling scene, RIP Joe Pavao.


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Opinion

NXT Minus 6: A Tale of Two Champions

Bradley Jay is here with the WWE NXT Minus 6, and we have new champions. Two very, very different new champions.

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Bradley Jay is here with the WWE NXT Minus 6, and we have new champions. Two very, very different new champions.

Our two new champions could not be more different…

Karrion Kross return vignette airs during NXT TakeOver: WarGames

6. Doomsday Saito comes to the ring and gives a painful, cliched promo. Any wrestler in the back could have said those exact words. Train harder and beat people up. He’s angry. We get it. The only thing Saito could do that would interest me is move to RawDown. On the other hand…

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Not gonna lie, that promo was wasn’t even hot garbage. It was cold garbage.]

Raquel Gonzalez & Rhea Ripley And Bianca Belair Celebrate | Franky Monet Debut | WWE NXT Highlights - YouTube

5. Raquel Gonzalez delivers a genuine, heartfelt promo that only she could give. Tears of joy. It told her story, and it’s exactly why she got the pop and the chant she deserved. The addition of Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair, complete with throwback pic, was icing on the cake. I’m excited for whatever Gonzalez does next. Speaking of…

WWE: Dakota Kai on what she misses about New Zealand and her quest to be NXT champion | Newshub

4. Fantasy booking alert!!! Two weeks ago, Raquel Gonzelez told the world I was the one who believed in her. I was the one who made her a champion. Then Rhea Ripley shows up, and Bianca Belair shows up, and I’m the one sent to the back. How quickly you forget who your real friends are. I was the one who took you to the top, and chicka, I am the one who is going to drag you to the bottom. I used you to get to the top and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I am Dakota Kai.

Santos Escobar loses the Cruise Championship to Kushida | Superfights

3. No more Santa Claus Ice Cream Bar. Santos Escobar has earned his name back. His match with KUSHIDA is everything great about NXT. Say it with me. Good things happen when you let wrestlers wrestle! Fast paced. Great action. Surprise ending. I’m going 4.5 stars. Give me a match that good every Tuesday and I’m a happy camper. 

WWE NXT results – 13/04/2021 (Raw and Smackdown Champions appear, Franky Monet debuts) » FirstSportz2. Right now, I don’t know if any two wrestlers have better chemistry than Swerve Scott and Leon Ruff. Every time they get together, it’s electric, and this week was no different. This is quickly climbing into Rivalry of the Year territory. I thought I was happy to see Swerve pick up the victory and move on. Then Ruff goes insane in the membrane and now I’m excited to watch them fight forever.

WWE News: Roderick Strong 'Resigns' From NXT, Video of Karrion Kross' NXT Promo | 411MANIA

1. This week’s That’s Why I Love Wrestling goes to…Roderick Strong. Kayfabe. Work. Shoot. I don’t care. Strong deserved a better goodbye than what he got. He is the Perfection of Performance (shout out to the Hitman). He and Kyle O’Reilly were the best version of the Undisputed Era tag team champions. I always got excited for a Strong match because I knew he’d deliver. Roderick Strong is exactly the kind of wrestler that makes me love wrestling. Until he returns, he will be sorely missed.


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Steve Cook’s Fave Five: April 2021

It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means…

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It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means.

It’s time to talk about my current five favorite wrestlers like I’m Booker T. Let’s break down the Fave Five!

5. Samoa Joe

I figure what happened between Samoa Joe & WWE was the following: WWE offered Joe an announcing contract since either they didn’t want to use him in the ring or their doctors wouldn’t clear him to wrestle. Joe looked at the contract, noticed the financial discrepancy, realized he could probably get NJPW to let him train young boys in California for that kind of money and said “thanks but no thanks”. Nothing else really makes sense to me.

Unfortunately, those who thought that WWE wouldn’t utilize Joe to their fullest potential were right. It wasn’t all WWE’s fault though. Joe had a lot of miles on his tires when he got there. Injuries are always more of a concern with larger wrestlers the older they get. And when Joe was healthy, he did get to do some good stuff and show people a glimpse of the Samoa Joe that people like me raved about back in the mid to late 2000s.

In any event, Joe got his WWE run. It was a thing that happened. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t wind up in AEW because he seems like the kind of guy Tony Khan would throw all the money at. Should be fun!

4. Kris Statlander

AEW does have a pretty insane number of factions right now. It risks the possibility of all of the groups blending together, with none of them really capturing the attention of fans. However, there are positive things about AEW’s faction warfare that shouldn’t be overlooked. It makes booking fresh matches to fill cards pretty easy. You can have groups facing off each week, but in different combinations that keep it fresh.

Another good thing: It can help us decide how we feel about characters that we might be on the fence about. Kris Statlander’s character was a topic of discussion from the moment she entered AEW. A lot of people weren’t sure how to take her. Wrestling aliens, or wrestlers who think they’re aliens, aren’t exactly common. Its the kind of thing that gets over in the indies, because those feds attract fans that are more willing to buy into unique concepts. Mainstream is a tougher sell.

Aligning Kris with the Best Friends makes sense to those in the know, since she came up working shows with them. It also helps people that don’t know about her figure out more. The Best Friends are a happy go lucky group that are the whitest of white meat babyfaces you’ll find in AEW, and that’s a good thing. They’re welcoming to people with unique personalities, as Orange Cassidy’s presence establishes. A friendly alien couldn’t ask for a better group to surround herself with, and from their appearances so far she seems like a perfect fit.

Add in the fact that the time on the shelf helped her get into better shape and refine her look & presence, and the sky’s the limit for Statlander. As long as she can stay in the ring, I’m expecting big things from her in 2021.

3. Tay Conti

Sometimes, all one needs is a change of scenery to approach their true potential. Tay spent a few years at the WWE Performance Center learning how to be a professional wrestler. During her time there, Tay never showed much in the way of potential. Even though she had a combat sports background and had the type of physical appearance that gets attention, Conti’s TV time was very limited and uneventful. She seemed like one of those wrestlers that was bound to stay in developmental until WWE gave up on them, then drop off the face of the earth without most wrestling fans noticing.

Tay’s story took a different route. She ended up being one of the cuts that AEW took an interest in, and was brought in for the Deadly Draw Women’s Tag Team Tournament. Her teaming with Anna Jay worked well on & off-camera, and she pretty much fit right in with the group immediately. She started training with Dustin Rhodes, and pretty much immediately started looking better in the ring & figuring out what worked for her. Now, she’s one of the people helping AEW’s women’s division go to a higher level.

This isn’t meant to denigrate WWE’s Performance Center or its methods. There just isn’t a wrestling training center out there that’s going to work for everybody. Tay had to find what worked for her. The people that recently got cut will have to do the same. Hopefully, the people that recently got signed by WWE will thrive in that environment.

2. Bianca Belair

We’ve recently seen three new Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella, all of whom are great in their own way. I’ve talked about Rhea Ripley before, she’s got unlimited potential and so far she’s done very well on the main roster. Raquel Gonzalez is doing very well on NXT and her push to the championship made perfect sense & got over. I do think the best of the title changes was Bianca’s defeat of Sasha Banks in the main event of WrestleMania Saturday. It was a special moment for Bianca, a very fun match to watch, and a great performance from both Bianca & Sasha Banks, who did everything she could to make Bianca in that match.

You see the video of the NXT segment up above, with the three current Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella celebrating together. Apparently there was a picture taken in 2019, and there were pictures taken after this week’s NXT, with Triple H making sure to get in there as he likes to do with all new champions. I’ve never really been a fan of that sort of thing, even the “Horsewomen” celebrations on previous NXT shows didn’t do much for me.

Besides the usual complaints people have about things like that, the thing that I didn’t like was how Rhea & Raquel came off. They were all smiling & happy like they were Big Daddy Cool Diesel after beating Mr. Bob Backlund in 1994. Completely against what Raquel has been up to this point, and what Rhea has been when she’s been at her best. Hopefully this is just a one-time thing for Rhea for the portion of the NXT audience that likes their lady wrestlers crying & happy after their performances, and hopefully it’s leading to Raquel getting dismembered by Dakota Kai, who can’t be happy about her heater winning the championship and then turning into Smilin’ Diesel.

Fortunately for Bianca, it does nothing to affect her character or our opinion of her. That’s why I think her title run will go best. I’m also putting her here because I’m pretty well convinced there isn’t a wrestling move or spot she can’t do well. Insanely talented, and the more experience she gets the better she’ll be.

1. Darby Allin

Sometimes you just want to watch something that’s stupid fun. Something that doesn’t need too much thought in order to enjoy it. Just people doing crazy things to entertain an audience. Darby Allin matches are just what you need when you’re looking for something like this. There isn’t anybody crazier in pro wrestling today than Darby, which is probably for the best. I’m convinced this kid has a death wish.

The one thing that kinda gets me about Darby sometimes is how he kicks out of everything. Poor Matt Hardy wasn’t going to beat that kid unless he shot him with a gun, and apparently there’s a metal detector at Daily’s Place. (Shoutout to Matt by the way, hell of an effort in that match.) But then I remember that Darby Allin is a daredevil and constantly posting videos online where he’s jumping off high places and doing crazy things. Obviously, it’s going to take a little more to beat a daredevil than your average pro wrestler.

What’s it going to take to beat Darby Allin? That’s a good reason to keep watching.


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