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The WWE TV YouTube Experiment (Week 3: RAW & SmackDown)

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The WWE TV YouTube Experiment
Week 3
Monday Night RAW/ July 1, 2019/ Dallas, Texas
SmackDown Live/ July 2, 2019/ San Antonio, Texas

As I said from the very beginning, I really didn’t have any clue where this was going, how it was going to work, or what the format would become. After reading the first two installments (and writing them… golly) I realized that for one, they’re just too damn long. Over 4,500 words is an excessive length for something like this, in my opinion. Secondly, it ended up being just another RAW review, only based on a very limited sample of the product. Plus, we already have a RAW report, a RAW review, and a RAW podcast. What I did the last two weeks was superfluous. I’m taking that element out of this experiment. I will provide some brief thoughts, but nothing as detailed as I have been doing. I can do that elsewhere if I feel the need. It also allows me to incorporate a short-form version for SmackDown. You’ll see that after the RAW section.

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Monday Night RAW 7/1/2019
Total Number of Clips: 17
Total Time: 42 minutes, 36 seconds

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Braun Strowman drives Bobby Lashley through the LED wall (2 minutes, 49 seconds)

Very strong start to RAW. It bugs me that the rest of the LED wall went back to working again for the rest of the show, but I don’t know how that stuff works. As many people online have mentioned, the commentators going silent was a great idea. The crowd reaction was amazing and the whole deal felt important. (1 for 1)

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Strowman and Lashley are taken to a medical facility (3 minutes, 38 seconds)

I don’t know why this wasn’t included in the first clip. Three and a half minutes to show two guys get rolled into ambulances while the commentary team used their best Owen Hart Voices? To me, it completely killed the chaotic feeling the first clip created and dragged everything to an irritating halt. Plus, they had them talk on camera for a whole minute after the guys were in the ambulances. Do the crazy shit, go to commercial, come back with both guys almost already in the stretchers, and move on. (1 for 2)

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Samoa Joe interrupts The New Day’s battle with The Viking Raiders (1 minute, 57 seconds)

This was more chaos. The minute of the match they showed was good, and Joe’s appearance was perfectly timed. I guess this also confirms that the Viking Raiders are heels, as they joined in on the beat down. I know people are complaining about WWE coming up with ways to avoid wrestling during commercials (even though they did it anyway this week) but this was at least a great way to do it. (2 for 3)

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The New Day vs. Samoa Joe & The Viking Raiders (2 minutes, 48 seconds)

The crowd was on fire for this and the match appeared to be pretty awesome based on what they showed. Joe choking out Kofi is great because it shows that Joe is a killer, and Kofi didn’t tap. He’s protected and continues to avoid being pinned or submitted while being champion, which is unheard of. I really want Kofi to hold onto that title for as long as possible. It’s going to be his only reign, so let him run with it for a while, please. (3 for 4)

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Drake Maverick must choose between the 24/7 Title and his wife (1 minute, 27 seconds)

Drave Maverick is tremendous. He has excelled at everything I’ve ever seen him do, from everything he did in TNA, to 205 GM, to this proper comedy character. Didn’t see the AOP manager stuff, but he put his heart into it and went all in, so he gets credit for that as well. (4 for 5)

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The Street Profits bring “swag” back to Raw (1 minute, 33 seconds)

I absolutely love these guys. As everyone says, Montez Ford is going to be a star. He’s got everything. I just hope they get to tag for a good while before going their separate ways. Angelo Dawkins is a guy who took a bit of time to find his groove, but now that he has it, he’s great. Feels like a classic tag guy, but that’s not a bad thing. No idea why they’re on RAW, but they’re entertaining so I have no reason to complain. (5 for 6)

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The Undertaker is Shane McMahon and Drew McIntyre’s “Reaper” (5 minutes)

I don’t know what the hell was going on here. I’m hoping all of this leads to Drew getting a decisive win over The Undertaker at SummerSlam, dropping Shane and becoming a proper challenger for Seth Rollins. This particular segment was long and dump. It reminded me of Undertaker’s infamous promo about leaving Big Show in the desert that happened on RAW in the summer of 1999. This wasn’t at all on that level, but the silly shit Undertaker was saying was ridiculous, and the whole time it felt like he was just trying to remember his lines. Not a fan. (5 for 7)

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Natalya vs. Lacey Evans (2 minutes, 32 seconds)

This was just a match. They only clipped about a minute of it out. What they showed was just fine, decent wrestling. Not much you can really do in a 3 and a half minute match. Lacey probably could have controlled more of the match, but that’s just picking a nit. The goal here was to give Lacey a win over an established wrestler and show her and Baron working as a team. That’s what they did, and it worked. (6 for 8)

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The Miz vs. Elias — 2-out-of-3 Falls Match (2 minutes, 48 seconds)

Just a match. Seemed good based on what they showed. It doesn’t seem like they’re going to any trouble to actually give a storyline reason as to why they’re doing these matches, but it is what it is. I kinda like the idea of doing rounds based matches. Regular matches get up to 3 rounds, title matches get up to 5 rounds. It’s one fall to a finish and there’s no scoring system (like the dumb Impact Grand Championship). If it goes the full 3 or 5 rounds, you have a draw. That caps all TV matches to 25 minutes at most unless stipulated otherwise. Just have Vince make the decree, and that’s the end of it. PPVs can stay the same. (7 for 9)

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Maria & Mike Kanellis interrupt Seth Rollins & Becky Lynch (3 minutes, 20 seconds)

Seth and Becky continue to have very little chemistry as an on-screen couple. I don’t watch 205 Live — has Mike been Maria’s “bitch” on that show for a while, or is that new? Nothing offensive and this set up a preview of sorts for Extreme Rules, as well as… something else. (8 for 10)

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Maria Kanellis claims she is pregnant during Mixed Tag Team Match (2 minutes, 59 seconds)

Well then. I wonder if the people chanting “Thank you Heyman!” after the exploding LED wall spot were cursing his name after seeing this. It’s an interesting direction to take, I guess, and I’m interested in seeing where this goes. It’s like an inverted version of Meat (remember when they had Shawn Stasiak do THAT?), where instead of being worn out because his valets spent the whole day… being with him… Maria just never gives Mike any at all. I thought the Meat gimmick was awesome. I’m not willing to shit on this yet. I have a lot of goodwill to throw around. (9 for 11)

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The Street Profits meet Paul Heyman (1 minute, 28 seconds)

This was pretty funny. I guess they’re just trying to put over the idea that they like to stir up shit. I like how they can put this on YouTube, but none of the Gallows and Anderson stuff gets there. Still, this was fine. (10 for 12)

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Carmella crashes “A Moment of Bliss” (2 minutes, 56 seconds)

Still not digging the Nikki/Alexa story but if it ends with Nikki going back to being a crazy babyface (like she was during the NXT feud with Asuka, for example) then it’s a means to an end. I just wish they would do something else with Alexa. She’s so good and so easy to hate, and I get that she preyed on Nia, who lacked confidence and she’s using Nikki, who is new and naive, but they’re sorta playing up and ignoring ner NXT gimmick at the same time. Why would none of the women in the locker room welcome her unless they saw her in NXT and think she was crazy? But if she’s crazy, why would she be shy and naive? Either way, I love Carmella and it’s nice to see her in this spot. She’s over. Use her! My pontificating aside, this was a good segment. (11 for 13)

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Carmella vs. Nikki Cross (2 minutes, 29 seconds)

Carmella beating Alexa in under 10 seconds in the previous clip was interesting — I’m not sure if it does anything for Carmella so much as it lends credence to Nikki being more deserving of a title shot. And that’s probably what they’re going for. I just hope Carmella gets some shine off of this. The match itself was 2 minutes and 40 seconds. The clip was 2 minutes and 29 seconds, and they showed 2 minutes and 14 seconds of the match. Why not just make the clip 26 seconds longer and show the whole match? They did the same thing last week for no reason. The match was fine and all three women are over, and that’s good. (12 for 14)

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Alexa Bliss has no comment on Nikki Cross’ success (33 seconds)

Got the point across. Completely on the nose, which is necessary sometimes. (13 for 15)

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Drake Maverick reclaims the 24/7 Championship (1 minute, 19 seconds)

We weren’t as heavy on the 24/7 shenanigans this week as last, but it was for a good reason. While the silliness of having a million goobers all over the place is fun, they’ve actually built a really good storyline between Truth and Drake. Who the hell would have seen that coming? It’s still hard to get behind Drake as a heel if that’s even what they’re going for at this point. I’m really a fan of this stuff. (14 for 16)

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Ricochet vs. AJ Styles — United States Championship Match (3 minutes, 1 second)

They showed the final 23 seconds of a 6-minute match. That obviously wasn’t the point. Honestly, I’ve been complaining about it, and even though it would have added to the moment, not showing any of the other interactions between AJ, Gallows, and Anderson before this doesn’t really hurt it. If you’re going just by YouTube, the commentary team did play it up during their matches the last two weeks on RAW, so viewers knew something was going on between them. The heel turn and overall beat down was very good, and it’s going to be nice to see The Club back together. And if they’re going to be a legit team, that adds yet another strong team to the growing roster of great tag teams on the main roster. (15 for 17)

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Final Analysis

Just like the first two weeks, I liked all but two of the clips. I found something to dislike a lot quicker this time, as it was the second of 17, and then I ended up also not liking clip number 7, which was around the time I disliked something the first 2 weeks. I enjoyed this show more than the previous two, and I wouldn’t attribute that to Heyman, because from what I saw, he was likely only deeply involved with a couple of things. The camera angles and how the commentary team reacted when Braun speared Lashley through the LED wall was all Heyman. The actual spot itself is something that WWE has done a trillion times, so you can’t really say that it was a Heyman thing. Even if it was his idea, it wasn’t groundbreaking. It was done well, at least, even if the explosions were overkill. The Maria and Mike stuff also felt like it was a Heyman deal, but it also could just be WWE pushing the envelope and seeing what sticks. Everything else was typical, but not bad.

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Straight numbers

Average Clip Length, Week 3: 2 minutes, 33 seconds
Week 1: 2 minutes, 32 seconds // Week 2: 2 minutes, 44 seconds

The average length of clips for RAW has stayed right in the same ballpark, with this week being almost identical to Week 1. My hypothesis for the shows being about 45 minutes long on YouTube has stayed true for 3 weeks now.

As far as views are concerned, just under 48 hours after the show, Braun and Lashley going through the LED set had 3.4 million views. That’s a big number, bigger than Undertaker’s appearance at 2.1 million. Drake Maverick winning the 24/7 Title was up to 1.2 million views, continuing a strong run for him and R-Truth. Maria announcing her pregnancy also performed well, getting 1.4 million. That’s all the stuff that everyone was talking about. AJ vs. Ricochet was at 968,000, which is good, as the return of The Club has some buzz. Joe attacking Woods only had 179,000 views in contrast, and the 6-man tag that happened due to the attack only garnered 338,000 views. Not so hot for your WWE Title feud.

The Undertaker’s return last week to save Roman from Shane and McIntyre is up to 12.1 million views, which is insane, as that means in one week’s time, it earned another 4.5 million views. The 48-hour (ish) total for Undertaker’s segment was 5.6 million less than what his return had in the same timeframe. Obviously, that was a big deal, though, compared to a promo that had substantially less buzz. But ‘Taker still draws the eyes nonetheless, at least online. The 24/7 Title match from last week actually did a little bit better in the same timeframe that ‘Taker’s segment did this week, getting 2.2 million views in 48 hours. That video definitely stalled out, though, only making it to just below 2.6 million in a week. The tug of war is up to 4.9 million, which is complete insanity. That means it got another 3.1 million views in the last week. Not quite Undertaker numbers, but I wonder why that caught on.

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SmackDown Live (July 2, 2019)

Total Number of Clips: 14
Total Time: 33 minutes, 52 seconds

As I hypothesized back in Week 1, SmackDown totaled just under 35 minutes worth of clips. The average length was 2 minutes, 25 seconds, just shorter than RAW’s average. Notably, they didn’t skip as much stuff that I would consider to be important. Oddly, they cut a backstage segment with Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss, something that they love over on that RAW YouTube playlist. The only other things missing were the comments from the teams involved in the SDL Tag Team scene. Heavy Machinery got to talk, but the reactions from New Day, Bryan & Rowan, and Ziggler & Owens were cut. And that’s fine, because they weren’t super important to the story. Heavy Machinery are much less established than the rest of the guys, so even though their promo pretty much said “we’re a team and we’re gonna win” and didn’t advance anything major, it was a minute and a half of extra exposure for a pair of guys who need it. I’ll check back next week to see if they leave anything important (or substantial, like the Gallows & Anderson stuff) out.

I enjoyed the show. I’ve always been mostly against the brand split. With the exception of the first 2 or so years of the original split (mid-2002 through mid-2004) and the first year of the new split (mid-2016 through mid-2017), I’ve pretty much just disliked the idea. Even though the dissolution of the original split led to SmackDown eventually becoming the RAW clip show, I’ve always preferred carrying some storylines through both shows, simply because WWE was unable to come up with things to do with their “limited rosters”. It led to insane levels of frustration, as I would read, all the time, “the rosters are just too thin” while they had no use for tag teams and both men and women would waste away on Main Event (or Superstars, or any of the equivalent shows).

I’m pontificating. Sorry. That whining is for another time.

Anyway, I enjoyed SmackDown last week (didn’t get a chance to write about it, but the YouTube stuff was fine) and this week as well. I honestly hope that watching the shows this way brings me back into watching the full shows every week. I hate that I don’t care about not seeing so many of my favorite wrestlers. But these last few weeks, while at its core still feels like the same show I finally gave up on almost a year ago, have been pretty good. I have hope.

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Some Viewership Numbers

While it didn’t perform well on RAW, the Joe/Kofi feud looks good on SmackDown. Likely thanks to the middle finger (which they didn’t actually show), it has reached 871,000 views in under 24 hours. Aleister Black and Ali haven’t caught much, at 101,000 and 71,000 respectively. Kevin Owens putting Dolph Ziggler in his place reached 475,000 in 24 hours. I’m interested to see how the Joe/Kofi and Owens/Ziggler stuff progresses after a week goes by.

Drake Maverick’s segment with R-Truth from the June 25 SmackDown is at 2.7 million views in a week and a day, further showing how strong the interest is in that title and his and Truth’s interactions. Nothing else even hit 500,000 views, with nothing even sniffing that many, with the exception of Shane McMahon’s minute-long opening promo about The Undertaker, which hit 404,000.

I’ll check in next week.

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Nick Marsico/ Writer (kinda)
The Chairshot Dot Com
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Greg DeMarco

Greg DeMarco’s ROH #469 Review: Pure Championship Tournament Kicks Off

Greg DeMarco starts playing catch-up on ROH with the Pure Championship tournament, featuring Jay Lethal vs. Dalton Castle and Jonathan Gresham vs. Wheeler Yuta!

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ROH Ring Of Honor Pure Tournament Pure Championship

Greg DeMarco starts playing catch-up on ROH as the company makes its return to TV with the Pure Championship tournament, featuring Jay Lethal vs. Dalton Castle and Jonathan Gresham vs. Wheeler Yuta!

If you know me, you know I am a huge ROH fan going back to the “old days” when the company featured stars like CM Punk, Samoa Joe, Christopher Daniels, AJ Styles, Tyler Black (Seth Rollins), Kevin Steen (Owens), El Generico (Sami Zayn) and many more. Recent years turned me off of the of the product, but with ROH making a return and focusing on the Pure Championship, I am ready to make my own return…to honor.

ROH episode #469

The company gives us a quick overview of the Pure Championship that was impactful for me–a guy who was already familiar with the product. For someone who isn’t? I think it’s lacking. Then we have Quinn McKay here to present the field to us, in a manner that was downright goofy with the majestic music and all. It doesn’t seem to fit the “pro wrestling” motif they are going for.

They also give us an overview of the rules, and I am left wondering if they simply forgot that the first closed fist earns you a warning, and the second costs you a rope-break if you have any left. If you’re going to bring this back, even using the old belt, let’s do it right!

Jay Lethal promo

We’re doing sit down interviews with each person, and it’s still just…odd. I don’t know if it’s the music, the way it’s lit, filmed, or what. It just seems like I am watching an old show, not something that was released within the past month. Jay Lethal does a good job selling the importance of the championship, but I question calling Brian Kendrick “Spanky.” Yes, that was his name when Lethal beat him, but today’s fan isn’t going to remember this as well. This is a problem similar to AEW. you’re trying to build new fans, not just appease old ones.

Dalton Castle promo

I am on record thinking that Dalton Castle was cheated in his ROH World Championship reign. but his promo didn’t sell me on ANYTHING. And I love Dalton Castle.

Pure Championship Tournament Block A First Round: Dalton Castle vs. Jay Lethal

I love, love, LOVE the stats on the wrestler cards on their way to the ring. Kinda reminds me of another company that was going to focus on stats….and hasn’t. The clock and rope break counter on the bottom of the screen is a nice touch. It’s strange to see if during a whole match, but it’s also something I will get used to.

Jay Lethal was manipulated into the ropes by Dalton Castle early, establishing the importance of the rope breaks. Later Castle used the rope for leverage, allowing Ian Riccaboni to explain to use that that wasn’t a rope break.

Castle went for a Bangarang at the 11-minute mark, seeing his leg give out at the end. Lethal had to use his second rope break to stop the pinfall. Jay Lethal connects with the Lethal Injection at 13 minutes to score the pinfall.

Winner and advancing to the Block A Semifinals – Jay Lethal
Rating – ***
Impression: Great match, cheated out of fan reaction, definitely one to watch.

I really liked his this match established the rules of the tournament, as Lethal used two rope breaks and Dalton Castle used none. Castle was highly effective with his legal closed fists, telling that story as well. This was a good match to kick off the tournament.

Wheeler Yuta promo

I was exposed to Wheeler as part of Dojo Pro on Amazon Prime, but this promo did a good job establishing who he is. Might be worth it to secure some footage of his matches, even if it’s from Dojo Pro. Pictures are great, but footage is better. Wheeler Yuta fits in with ROH, and this promo told me exactly that.

I also really liked Yuta describing his in-ring philosophy as a “decoder.” One who figures out his opponent through film study and the feeling out process of a match, and then “decodes” how to beat them. Break down their tendencies and exploit them. If you want to see wrestling presented as a modern-day sport–this is it.

Jonathan Gresham promo

Gresham’s rise to prominence in ROH came when I wasn’t really watching, so for me this was a great opportunity for me to gain an appreciation for what he means to the company now, and how he compares to those who historically came before him. He ended with a bit of a manifesto on pure wrestling, and it makes me wonder if we could see a pure wrestling vs. non pure wrestling feud of some kind. Not sure it would work.

Honestly my reaction to the Yuta and Gresham promos makes me think I was too hard on the Jay Lethal and Dalton Castle promos. The goofy music didn’t matter as much to me, because I was engaged in both talents. I am literally sold on both after these not-so-short promos.

Pure Championship Tournament Block A First Round: Jonathan Gresham vs. Wheeler Yuta

Love the storytelling of Jonathan Gresham coming to the ring without his World Tag Team Championship, when Lethal did. Gresham was the one campaigning for this title to return, and he is fully focused on it. I love Wheeler Yuta already, but dude we gotta talk about your footwear. You stopped wearing a shirt, and look more like a wrestler. Get some boots! I knew Gresham was shorter, but didn’t realize that was 5’4″. I am going to assume that’s not worked at all, even though many heights are.

I don’t love the amateur wrestler in the background, this is pro wrestling. You don’t want to associate this tournament with a regression in the product–because despite this being a return of a championship after being gone for 14 years, it’s not that.

Wheeler Yuta is 6 feet tall, the tallest of all four competitors featured on this episode. And at 23 years old, he’s already a fantastic storyteller. If he adds size, he can be a big time star–not only for ROH, but in the wrestling business in general.

If you think the first match of this show told a good story, then this one told a phenomenal in-ring story. I can’t even describe the finishing sequence of this match, a punch of rolling pinfall combinations that ended with Gresham pounding Yuta’s knee into the mat until he tapped.

Winner and advancing to the Block A Semifinals – Jonathan Gresham
Rating – ****
Impression: Match of the night, which sounds silly when we only had two matches. But if there were more, this would still likely be on top.

Wheeler Yuta belongs in ROH, and he proved that here. Jonathan Gresham is one of the best in-ring wrestlers in the world today. Hopefully he sticks around.

Overall Impression – 8/10

Ring Of Honor is still a little too “goofy” for my tastes outside the ring, but they more than make up for it in the ring. I am not 100% sure others will agree. It makes me wonder who is producing the non-in-ring elements of the program, and what we have to do to replace them. The in-ring action honestly holds up against any in the world, but the other elements remind me of a high school media project. The talent deserves better.

I do want to talk about the environment. It reminds me of WWE NXT at Full Sail or the Performance Center. Outside of the WWE Thunderdome, I think it’s one of the best environments anyone has created during this “COVID era” of wrestling. I wouldn’t be opposed to piping in some crowd reactions to go along with this action, as there were some great moments in both matches that didn’t land as well without the crowd noise.

Ian Riccaboni makes a great point about how the fans would “come alive” when Lethal and Castle were both down, and he was exactly right. Caprice Coleman, being a wrestler himself, is really underrated as a color commentator. He does a great job adding to the story by adding the wrestlers’ perspective, as well as explaining the technical elements. Riccaboni sounds like a fan who has learned from commentators (not his fault, he’s not a wrestler) when getting technical. Coleman sounds 100% credible and legit.

Putting aside the goofiness of some non-in-ring elements, the only thing I would change here is adding a middle match that is designed to give us a break from the Pure Rules, and introduce (or reintroduce) us to other ROH talent. My 8/10 rating is propped up by the in-ring action, which has to make up for the goofiness otherwise.


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Greg DeMarco

Greg DeMarco’s NXT Takeover XXX Real Time Review

Pat McAfee and Adam Cole shock the world, and NXT Takeover XXX delivers like Takeovers do. What does Greg think?

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WWE NXT Takeover XXX Adam Cole Pat McAfee Chairshot Edit

Pat McAfee and Adam Cole shock the world, and NXT Takeover XXX delivers like Takeovers do. What does Greg think?

Welp, another Takeover is upon us, and I am going to compile my thoughts in real time. Right now the Kickoff Preshow hasn’t started, but I am excited about this event. I am friends with someone works in production for NXT, and he said excitement is at a peak level in the building as of this morning. The set-up is rumored to be cool, and I think this event–which I look at as a rebuilding effort for NXT–could still steal the weekend.

Before we get going, I will give you some “pre-thoughts.” I’ll leave them here and we’ll see how dumb I look when this is over:

  • I am surprised by the lack of an Undisputed Era vs. Imperium match. Given the nature of the finish, I can see the justification of a rematch. At the same time, you can use that result as part of a future issue within Undisputed Era. So we’ll see. Sucks for Imperium to be NXT Tag Team Champions and not have a match at Takeover.
  • I am really excited for Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee. Cole has been at this for a decade, and I bet her never imagined wrestling a former NFL Pro Bowler at Full Sail. Yet here we are. If this match is great, that is a HUGE feather in the cap of Cole, who you know I regard as the best damn wrestler walking God’s green earth.
  • I would have added Rhea Ripley vs. Mercedes Martinez to this show, BUT we also need matches for the weekly TV show on the USA Network. That said, we are also getting Finn Balor vs. Timothy Thatcher, which could be the match of the night.
  • While I think Bronson Reed should win, I expect Damian Priest to become North American Champion tonight. He is a star on the rise.
  • Lastly, I have to admit I don’t have high hopes for Karrion Kross vs. Keith Lee. Kross has been dominant, and now we will see how he fares in an even match-up. I hope I am wrong in these hopes.

NXT Takeover XXX Kickoff

  • Pat McAfee is easily a better heel villain than 95% of the those playing that role on the WWE roster today.
  • I can’t shake the feeling that Karrion Kross is better suited for the “main roster” shows than NXT. But if the plan is to take NXT on the road for TV after this pandemic is over, then I can see him staying. Either way, I can’t see him winning tonight.
  • Correction — I can’t see Keith Lee losing tonight. I think Kross eats his first loss in WWE tonight.
  • Booker T sees a “pro” in Dakota Kai and that’s why he’s picking her. Does that mean he doesn’t see a pro in Io Shirai?
  • I love that Imperium is holding gold across multiple brands.
  • Digging the set with the XXX. Not loving Breezango in this match. It’s hard to take them seriously as a tag team contending for anything.
  • Still surprised we can’t get a NXT Cruiserweight Championship match at Takeover. Santos Escobar has made this championship important–treat it that way!
  • The white ropes with the longer XXX stage/set make this “look bigger.” It’s Full Sail with the fake fans, but it comes off like a bigger deal.
  • Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch might go down as one of the most underrated teams in wresting history.
  • Oh look, Breezango won. Hopefully the match will be good, but I hope they don’t unseat Imperium.

Kickoff Match: Breeango beat Legado del Fantasma and Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch when Tyler Breeze pinned Lorcan to earn an NXT Tag Team Championship match

  • Finn Balor vs. Timothy Thatcher is a hell of a match to start the show. Love that announcement.
  • I know William Regal said McAfee’s buddies (and we’re not focusing enough on them, they have name value) and the rest of Undisputed Era can’t get involved. I really hope they do. This match needs shenanigans.
  • If Adam Cole loses to Pat McAfee, there better be a rematch. Otherwise, what does that say about NXT, WWE, and the business in general? Especially when McAfee, in character, has buried it.

NXT Takeover XXX

  • No one does video packages better than WWE. No one.
  • We got some pyro in Full Sail!
  • Love seeing Corey Graves pair up with Vic Joseph and Beth Phoenix tonight. I am guessing Mauro had another gig.

Finn Balor vs. Timothy Thatcher

  • Finn Balor is a great example of what I’ve been saying about faces and heels not mattering anymore, and it instead being heroes and villains. Thatcher is the villain tonight, and Balor is the hero. But both are heels. And that’s okay.
  • Not gonna lie, I miss the NXT crowd. Even at Full Sail. But imagine this in Boston?
  • Timothy Thatcher might not be the only person in WWE who likes to utilize this style, but he damn sure is the best.
  • Thatcher works a style that could really work on the “main roster.” I know he’s already 37, but I could actually see him pulling off a huge WrestleMania match someday, even as a show closing talent.
  • Starting a single-leg crab, and Thatcher just lays kicks into Finn instead. Damn, dude is SO GOOD. I really hope more people take notice in this match.
  • On the flip said of the Thatcher-WM comments, you have Finn Balor who damn well better close a WrestleMania before he’s done. I hate to say he’s wasted in NXT, but I can’t think of a better word.
  • Balor going over and Thatcher doesn’t even kick out of a finisher–not that he would want to–seems like a missed opportunity. Is losing to Balor really a break-out opportunity like they want us to think?

Finn Balor pinned Timothy Thatcher following 1916

  • Love that Sasha Banks and Bayley are in the crowd, fangirlling, tonight.

North American Championship Ladder Match: Cameron Grimes vs. Bronson Reed vs. Damian Priest vs. Johnny Gargano vs. Velveteen Dream

  • Cameron Grimes strikes me as someone who should be residing in WrestleHouse. I don’t mean he shouldn’t be in NXT, but when he goes home, it should be to WrestleHouse.
  • Beth unintentionally making the comparison between Damian Priest and Razor Ramon is one I can’t disagree with. If he can have that type of WWE career, he will have done well.
  • Also makes sense since I picked Priest, and the North American Championship really is the modern day Intercontinental Championship.
  • “Johnny Gargano calls himself the hero that NXT deserves.” See, Gargano already knows–it’s Heroes vs. Villains!
  • I really wish they had kept Bronson Reed with Malcolm Bivens.
  • I want to love Priest mimicking Razor Ramon, Reed honoring Bam Bam Bigelow and Velveteen Dream channeling Scott Steiner, but let these characters stand on their own.
  • Damian Priest selling that DDT by….crawling out of the ring? Roll Damian. Roll.
  • I know I just criticized him, but Damian Priest could be the best striker in NXT, possibly in WWE.
  • That split spot for Cameron Grimes was creative. And it’s hard to do that in a Ladder Match in 2020.
  • Corey Graves on an NXT broadcast just feels right.
  • This might be the most blueish-purple in any NXT match in history.
  • Bronson Reed really adds an element that NXT has been missing.
  • That was a creative Tower Of Doom spot. And it’s hard to do that in 2020.
  • I really feel for these guys, doing this without a crowd–a crowd that would be on their feet going nuts for this.
  • THICCBOI gonna fly!
  • Cameron Grimes worked really hard to get a ladder into the ring…which already had a ladder in it.
  • A splash from Bronson Reed is bad enough. Throw 110 pounds of Candice LeRae on the back? Ouch.
  • Velveteen Dream is a dumb ass for not realizing the title was up there, and then going LOWER on the ladder before trying to grab it.
  • I feel bad for Damain Priest, having to sell Dream’s superkick that didn’t come within a foot of hitting him.
  • Honestly, Velveteen Dream is the least impressive person in this match.
  • I really wanted someone to stop Cameron Grimes, which means he’s done his job.
  • And despite the weird finish, the right guy wins.

Damian Priest retrieves the belt in a Ladder Match to become the new NXT North American Champion

  • That was one hell of a spot for Velveteen Dream, one you can’t do outside of this environment. I feel like it didn’t get sold long enough–that was a crazy spot!

Adam Cole vs. Pat McAfee

  • Why is the main event going on third?
  • This is when we see just how damn good Adam Cole is. (He’s really damn good, btw.)
  • Pat McAfee not entering vi the backdoor is a missed opportunity.
  • Pat McAfee didn’t have to read his promo. Take that Dominik Mysterio!
  • Matt PacAfee?
  • Having this match start as catch-as-catch-can wrestling kinda proves that Pat McAfee is playing wrestler, AMIRIGHT?
  • War Games 2020?
  • Not gonna lie, Pat McAfee ain’t bad at this.
  • Okay, LOVE Corey Graves pointing out that McAfee has friends to teach him some tricks. Considering one of those main friends is COREY GRAVES.
  • And now Corey Graves is calling out Beth Phoenix contradicting herself. Damn I miss Corey Graves on NXT.
  • PAT MCAFEE CAN PUNCH BETTER THAN MOST OF WWE!
  • Pat McAfee > Dominik Mysterio. Some things can’t be taught.
  • I love seeing Twitter do a complete 180 on Pat McAfee. Great job Adam Cole!
  • Pat McAfee is a goddamned pro wrestler.

Adam Cole pinned Pat McAfee following the Panama Sunrise

  • One thing to keep in perspective here: Corey Graves added SO MUCH to this match on commentary. He’s really grown into one of the best.
  • And you, Adam Cole? Still the greatest wrestler walking God’s green earth.

NXT Women’s Championship: Io Shirai (champion) vs. Dakota Kai (with Raquel Gonzalez)

  • Sucks for these talented women to have to follow that match.
  • I feel bad, I am watching this match (which is good) thinking about how much money Triple H and Vince McMahon need to throw at Pat McAfee.
  • Dakota Kai could be a star. Not sure what she needs to take this to another level, but she’s right on the cusp of stardom.
  • No, not STARDOM. Stardom.
  • Io Shirai might be the best women’s wrestler in the entire world. Might be the second best in the world overall (behind Adam Cole, BAY BAY.)
  • Maybe this match is bringing out what Dakota Kai needs to be a star. She’s killing it.
  • REF BUMP!
  • Could we see Bayley and Sasha here?
  • Nope, just Raquel.

Io Shirai pinned Dakota Kai following a moonsault to retain the NXT Women’s Championship

  • Damn good match that won me over–and that’s saying a lot considering I was still reeling from Cole-McAfee.
  • We gonna use Rhea Ripley to build Raquel Gonzalez now?
  • Tommaso Ciampa returns Wednesday? I guess he’s not seeking retribution after all…
  • Look at Damian Priest stealing Joey Janela’s girl!

NXT Championship: Keith Lee (champion) vs. Karrion Kross

  • Imagine a Karrion Kross entrance at WrestleMania.
  • Glad to see Scarlett finally has the timing of the words down.
  • Karrion Kross’ pyro went off before the match. Using the Kane Principle, that means he’s losing.
  • Can you see The White Rabbit as NXT Champion?
  • I really love how they use the guard rails in this new, Plexiglas environment.
  • This is very much a “main roster” match right here, and that’s appropriate since both men could do well there–if they don’t get lost in the shuffle.
  • Keith Lee has been really…..helpful in this match.
  • Keith Lee for “main roster?”

Karrion Kross pinned Keith Lee following a Doomsday Siato Suplex from the second rope to capture the NXT Championship

  • Don’t love taking the NXT Championship off of Keith Lee this fast, making him a transitional champion. But that might have been the plan all along. Sometimes the title win is someone’s peak, and that might have been it for Keith Lee.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this NXT Takeover. It was really a rebuilding show, but it will be remembered for the Pat McAfee appearance no one saw coming.

 


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