Greg DeMarco takes you inside a blockbuster edition of WWE NXT as we have the semifinals of the Dusty Classic and more!
We have quite the edition of WWE NXT here, with three major matches and almost no filler! NXT sometimes finds themselves in a rush to get to Takeover, but in this case I’ll take it.
Dusty Rhodes Classic Semifinal Match: The Forgotten Sons (Wesley Blake & Steve Cutler, with Jaxson Ryker) vs. Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) – ***1/4
- Moustache Mountain have to be two of the most likable wrestlers on any WWE brand. You can legitimately imagine hanging out with them at a bar (where they will drink you under the table).
- This tournament is tailor made for The Forgotten Sons, who could be huge with a win. Granted, the same can be said for The Street Profits and Marcel Barthel & Fabian Aichner–all who lost in the opening round.
- Ryker putting Blake’s foot on the rope to break up a pinfall is so old school–I love it.
- Still wonder why this can’t be Blake & Murphy on the main roster.
- Led by some heel shenanigans, The Forgotten Sons win and head to the finals.
#1 Contender’s Match: Io Shirai vs. Bianca Belair – ***
- Side note: Shayna Baszler on commentary is fantastic. “One’s a nobody from Japan, and the other I’ve already beaten.”
- Shirai and Belair, along with Kairi Sane and Mia Yim, are revitalizing and basically reloading the NXT Women’s Division.
- Belair is a great example of a “fighter,” a WWE character who isn’t a face nor a heel, and it works. Shirai, of course, is a mega-babyface. I don’t need to tell you Baszler is a heel…and one of the best in the business.
- Great match was going before Baszler got involved, bringing Kairi Sane out as well. It all made sense, and I am fine with it.
Side Note: I kinda love Dominik Dijakovic trying to fight Keith Lee in a Performance Center ring. When you want to fight someone–when it’s become personal–it doesn’t matter where. Nice touch.
Dusty Rhodes Classic Semifinal Match: Black Flash (Aleister Black & Ricochet) vs. #DIY (NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano) – ****
- DIY wearing matching tights, and having a new Titan Tron video is such a great touch.
- Ciampa clutching Goldie while looking at Gargano, who “knows what he’s doing” is a level if deep subtlety that you just don’t see anymore. That’s Ole Anderson level shit.
- I do need to point out that this is typical for WWE tag teams, meeting the requirements of Patrick O’Dowd’s Vicious Cycle Of WWE Tag Team Booking.
- It wasn’t that long ago in WWE where this would have been the obvious TV main event two weeks before Takeover Phoenix.
- Ricochet looking at Aleister Black as to make sure it’s okay that he’s sitting next to him in the ring? Another great touch.
- Tommaso Ciampa applies the best chinlock in WWE today. Yes, this is a real thing. Randy Orton would be proud.
- Actually, Ciampa has stolen a good bit of his act from Randy Orton. Don’t @ me.
- Gargano gets hurt, and Ciampa has to go it alone. This, of course, is a throwback to Takeover: Chicago, when Ciampa got hurt…and we all know what happened there! (Ciampa turned on Gargano.) It’s coming.
- It took two finishers after a 2-on-1 advantage to pin the NXT Champion. That’s how it should be.
- Black Flash wins, and they’ll face The Forgotten Sons in the finals. If you know anything about WWE booking, you know this ends up. #SaveTagTeamWrestling
- The post-match developments with Gargano and Ciampa were nothing short of brilliant. I am not mad that Ciampa ended up hurt, at least in terms of the storyline. I’d give the show ending segment five stars, easy. A small detail is Ciampa tossing the NXT Championship–something he’s obsessed with–aside for it, showing that he has one obsession bigger than Goldie. Gargano’s smile when he stopped Ciampa’s turn–brilliant.
- The whole thing–brilliant.
I know we don’t get Gargano vs. Ciampa at Takeover: New York, and I am okay with that. They can revisit this down the road on the main roster. For now, I see it as a satisfying ending.
Greg DeMarco’s Three Stars Of The Night: WWE Raw (3/18/19)
Who delivered the biggest performances of the night on Raw?
Greg DeMarco brings the Three Stars of The Night back with the March 18 episode of WWE Raw from Chicago!
Raw was live from Chicago, on the Road To WrestleMania, and it seemed like the perfect night to revive the Three Stars! I mean, it’s a mega city for the company and a very important Raw. I figured the entire roster would step up in a huge way. I was wrong…
But we did get a packed WWE Raw, including Kurt Angle’s opponent being revealed as Baron Corbin, Beth Phoenix officially returning to the ring, and the heat being turned to 11 on Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins. Now, it’s Three Stars time…shall we?
The Third Star: Leo Rush
I know people find Lio Rush annoying, and it means he’s doing his job. In reality, he delivers in a big way on a weekly basis, making Bobby Lashley more relevant and usually putting in a great in-ring performance. This week was no different, especially when he was selling for Braun Strowman. Bobby Lashley also let it happen to Lio Rush, which is another way Lio delivered–letting Lashley’s character develop even further. Hate on Lio Rush if you must, but he continues to enhance Bobby Lashley’s entire act on a weekly basis.
The Second Star: Elias
Few people have a better grasp on their character than Elias (Alexa Bliss being one of them), and he’s gotten it to a point where it’s effortless. To me, that means we may see a big push coming for him after WrestleMania. In this segment he delivered a strong promo, interacted brilliantly with Alexa, got the desired reactions out of the crowd, and perfectly foreshadowed a WrestleMania interruption that very well might be John Cena. Count me in as walking with Elias.
Honorable Mention: Paul Heyman, Alexa Bliss, Ronda Rousey, and Sasha Banks
And now… a distinction usually reserved
for the top performer of the night …the first star!
The First Star: Seth Rollins
If there was any question who has taken up the mantle of leading WWE Raw, it should be answered now. Seth Rollins delivered in a big way on Raw. Last year he carried things as Intercontinental Champion, and I think he’s more than ready to be the Universal Champion. I look forward to seeing his run, with opponents like Drew McIntyre waiting in the wings after WrestleMania.
But can I put in for a Rollins vs. Batista program post-WrestleMania? Please? Nothing would make me happier than seeing Big Dave put Seth over before heading back to Hollywood.
In hockey, a game’s “Three Stars Of The Night” represent the top three performers of the night. For more clarification, I defer to this Pittsburgh Gazette explanation:
“The tradition dates to the 1936-37 season, when Imperial Oil became the principal sponsor of Hockey Night in Canada radio broadcasts and was seeking a way to promote one of its products, Three Star gasoline. The idea of doing so by selecting the top three performers in a particular game purportedly came from a Canadian advertising agency.
Many clubs do recognize the player with the most three-star selections with an award or trophy, usually in conjunction with a corporate sponsorship, at the end of the season (or sometimes, each month). All six Canadian franchises, for example, have an affiliation with a well-known brewery.
The NHL keeps track of its own Three Stars Of The Night selections, but that is done on a league-wide basis. The league employs a system that awards 30 points to a first star, 20 to a second star and 10 to a third – a running total can be found on the league’s website – but it does not present an award based on them.”
In hockey tradition, the first star represents the best of the three, but all three are considered to be receiving a high honor.
Greg DeMarco’s WWE 205 Live Star Ratings & Review (3/12/19 edition)
WWE 205 Live delivers two more amazing matches this week!
Greg DeMarco takes a closer look at this week’s edition of WWE 205 Live, featuring the semifinals of the tournament to name Buddy Murphy’s #1 contender and WrestleMania opponent!
We kick things off on WWE 205 Live this week with comments from Drew Gulak, Tony Nese, Oney Lorcan, and Cedric Alexander. This is followed by comments by our commentary team, and Buddy Murphy’s Instagram promo…because social media. Finally, we head to the ring!
Cruiserweight Tournament Semifinal Match: Cedric Alexander vs. Oney Lorcan – ****
- During the entrances, it does appear that a good portion of the Dayton crowd is still around. That’s a smart crowd right there!
- Oney Lorcan does the little things so well–like snatching Cedric’s arm out from holding him up, rolling Alexander to his back in a headlock.
- I wonder if Cedric Alexander can be “the next Mustafa Ali,” moving to Raw or Smackdown and coming in with a huge fire behind him. He’s done all he can do on the purple and orange brand.
- Dayton bought all the way into Alexander’s nearfall with the Michinoku Driver! Love seeing a good crowd for the cruiserweights.
- Lorcan with the HUGE Half-And-Half from the top! Alexander somehow kicks out!
- Alexander would soon pick up the win with the Lumbar Check, as both men deliver another amazing match.
We get some storyline advancement for Mike (and Maria) Kanellis, and Ariya Daivari talks. I’m interested to see where they go with both.
Cruiserweight Tournament Semifinal Match: Tony Nese vs. Drew Gulak – ***3/4
- Drew Gulak low key has one of the best themes in WWE today.
- This is technically heel vs heel, for those who care about that sort of thing. I don’t, but I do credit both men for maintaining a heel attitude.
- Nese did a back flip off the top for no reason–Gulak was so far away that he had to run closer just to pull the hair!
- Thanks to Gulak, this match slowed down to a halt–and that’s not a bad thing. It’s great psychology from Drew, but you might have been better served to reverse the order of matches tonight.
- Like Cedric Alexander, Gulak is a guy who is probably maxed out on 205 Live. I could see him on Raw or Smackdown as part of a tag team (Gulak and Gable, anyone), aligned with The Revival (I mean, that’s obvious), or in NXT where he’s already kicked all kinds of ass with Matt Riddle.
- Macho Man Rope Snap from Nese!
- Tony Nese makes everything look so easy, he truly is the Premier Athlete.
- Nese steals a page out of the Bret Hart playbook reversing the GuLock into a pinning combination. Anytime a highly competitive match ends with a move other than a finisher, I am a happy man.
Two great matches tonight, and next week we get Tony Nese vs. Cedric Alexander for the right to challenge Buddy Murphy at WrestleMania. Now let’s see Drake Maverick make this a 2 Out Of 3 Falls match and give them the whole show!
Here’s your updated bracket: