Chris King checks in with his takes for this week’s edition of WWE NXT, as the black and gold brand kicks off the year with a bang!
We start the new year off with our new NXT Women’s Champion Rhea Ripley, and our main event is a colossal fatal-four-way number-one contender match for the North American Championship! So without further ado let’s jump right into the action!
Rhea Ripley, Toni Storm, Candice LeRae vs. Kay Lee Ray, Bianca Belair, Io Shirai
The six-man tag team match culminated after all five women interrupted Rhea Ripley’s speech after defeating Shayna Baszler on the final episode of last year wanting a piece of the gold. So, a brawl ensued that led to this match.
While it appears that NXT took a page out of the WWE playbook, this was a fun way to show just how important the women’s division and the title has become. The heels isolated LeRae the majority of the match until the end. A little miscommunication between Belair and Shirai allowed dissension and Ripley delivered Riptide to score the victory and establish dominance.
First Round Dusty Rhodes Classic: The Forgotten Sons vs. Imperium
Holy crap, this match was fast and furious between both amazing tag teams. Both teams laid their bodies on the line in a high-octane action-packed contest. I was pleasantly surprised by how much offense Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake were able to dish out to Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel.
Just when it appeared that The Forgotten Sons we’re ready to clinch victory and advance in the tournament, a well-placed distraction allowed Imperium to hit The European Bomb for the victory! A great win for Bartel and Aichner as they head into Blackpool II this Sunday!
Austin Theory vs Joaquin Wilde
Before I dive into the match, I need to say that Theory has “IT” he’s got a great look, a perfect theme song, and a ton of charisma. He’s going to be the breakout star of 2020 mark my words.
This match was extremely fun to watch as two of the newest faces on the black and gold brand battled it out. Both superstars delivered a stellar fast-paced high-octane action-packed contest. There were dozens of near-falls and incredible counters but in the end, Theory delivered his rendition of the TKO for the victory!
First Round Dusty Rhodes Classic: The Undisputed Era vs. Gallus
As much as I was looking forward to The Forgotten Sons vs Imperium I was more excited about the NXT Tag Team Champions vs. the NXT UK Tag Team Champions. Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish vs. Mark Coffey and Wolfgang have money written all over it.
This highly-anticipated tag team match didn’t disappoint as both Tag Team Champions brought everything to the table in a hard-hitting affair. At first, it was all Gallus until Adam Cole offered a distraction. O’Reilly and Fish targeted their opponents with heavy strikes keeping Coffey and Wolfgang grounded.
In the end, though, Cole hit a well-placed kick and High/Low was enough to earn the NXT Tag Team Champions the victory to advance in the tournament. It’s a shame that the win was tainted but the numbers game is how The Undisputed Era dominates.
Mia Yim vs. Kayden Carter
Carter has impressed me in the Mae Young Classic and the NXT Universe is behind her. Both women came out of the gate firing on all cylinders which led to a stalemate and a handshake.
This was a fun sprint of a match as the young up-and-comer was trying to prove herself against the veteran. Carter got some great offense in but unfortunately, Protect Ya Neck gave Yim the victory. After the match, Chelsea Green blasted both superstars. Her manager Robert Stone declared that she was the hottest free agent (he’s not wrong)!
Main Event: (Fatal-4-Way Number-One Contenders Match) Keith Lee vs. Dominic Dijokovac vs. Cameron Grimes vs. Damien Priest
This right here is why NXT is so awesome to watch, as all four competitors gave everything they had for a title shot for the North American Championship. These colossal fatal-four-way matches never ever disappoint because there are so many moving pieces including this one.
You’ve got Grimes and Priest making their ascension up the ladder in NXT after months of impressive victories and hard-fought battles. Then, there’s Dijokovac and Lee who have had some epic wars over the past year and who have an immense amount of respect for one another.
Lee is a FREAKIN beast and his leapfrogs are absolutely insane! It’s not even the execution of the maneuvers it’s how gracefully he does them without breaking a sweat. In this match, Lee deadlifted Priest into a superplex from the corner that blew my mind. Lee absolutely deserved to walk away as the number-one contender, and that’s exactly what he did!
Mitchell’s Wednesday Night War Review! The End!
The Wednesday Night War… is DONE!
Thank you, Wednesday Night War! It was fun while it lasted!
With NXT moving to Tuesdays, the wrestling war on Wednesday nights is no more! But let’s see where both sides stand now that the dust settles!
Let’s recap Year Two’s first phase.
Year Two, Phase One Final Scores: NXT – 9.13; AEW – 9.16
The margin was close as ever, but AEW inched out the win to continue their dominance from Year One! Don’t worry, NXT went past 12/9/20, it’s just that they and AEW tied those last three weeks. And you’ll notice that I left 12/30/20, the last Wednesday of the year, off because of the circumstances. Jon Huber, aka Brodie Lee aka Luke Harper, past away just days before that night, and AEW changed their plans to give us a “Celebration of Life” tribute episode. It did not feel right trying to give that show a score, because it wasn’t supposed to be about AEW but about Jon Huber. And to be fair to AEW’s score, I left off NXT’s episode for that night, even though NXT did have great action on their Year-End Award episode.
Now, for Year Two’s Phase Two, the WNW FINALE!
Year Two, Phase Two Final Scores: NXT – 9.44; AEW – 9.50
Year Two, Overall: NXT – 9.31; AEW – 9.36
Much stronger numbers from both sides this time, but these two companies started hard and kept going hard from New Year’s Evil VS New Year’s Smash all the way to TakeOver: Stand & Deliver and… Well, the AEW Dynamite put up against it. Just looking at it, that string in February for AEW made all the difference. They were just on fire right there, building towards AEW Revolution 2021, which itself was an awesome PPV (even with the pyro mishap at the end).
The margins were still close, but bigger than last phase’s, and even with TakeOver: Stand & Deliver Night One bringing NXT up to a high level, it was not enough! AEW wins again! They win two phases to zero, and are therefore the overall winner of the Wednesday Night War!
The Wednesday Night War may not have been as epic as the Monday Night War, or as long, but it was a lot of fun. NXT and AEW were giving us great wrestling every week, not just in-ring action but the promos and segments. The wrestlers on these shows are now stars because they got to be on cable network television, and literally kept me up late at night because I could not let either show wait until Thursday morning. But now, #NXTuesday is going to be how it is going forward, and we can all argue one way or another why the move happened but it doesn’t really matter, I’m still going to be watching both anyway.
Cook’s WrestleMania 37 Night One Gambling Picks
Who’s trying make money on guessing the predetermined scripts? If that’s you, Cook gots all the lines you need. This isn’t Breaking Bad; we only do betting lines!
This is one of those columns that needs no real intro or explanation. Its WrestleMania! What else do you need me to tell you? Today we’re talking Night One, tomorrow it’ll be Night Two. Easy peezy lemon breezy.
I know that some of you prefer a 12 hour WrestleMania event, but to me, two nights is definitely the way to go. Think of it this way: instead of one night to watch the biggest show of the year, you get two. What’s the downside?
Also, you can get two days to make money, if you’re into the kind of thing we’re talking about here. Though, I am contractually obligated to mention that my look at these matchups, with odds provided by BetOnline, is for entertainment purposes only.
Tag Team Turmoil
Lana & Naomi vs. Dana Brooke & Mandy Rose vs. The Riott Squad vs. Natalya & Tamina
— Nattie (@NatbyNature) April 7, 2021
We’ve got a match setting up a Night 2 match here, as Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler will face the winners for the Women’s Tag Team Championship. They’ve had some amount of issues with each team, so we can’t really use that as an indicator of who will win. We also can’t base it off of who will have the best match with Nia & Shayna, as that seems like a push.
We also don’t have odds on this match as I write this. If some do get posted, my guess would be that Natalya & Tamina will have long odds and could be a good pick as a team WWE might want to give a little reward for their service over the years.
Bad Bunny & Damian Priest (-950) vs. The Miz & John Morrison (+500)
— WWE (@WWE) April 6, 2021
We all know how this one is going, right? Bunny & Priest are the easiest pick on this two day extravaganza. I’m sure an outside celebrity lost a WrestleMania match at some point, but one isn’t immediately coming to mind. I assume some are still complaining about Bad Bunny getting a WM match, I choose to be good with it since it gets Damian Priest a match too. Hopefully this all works out well for him.
Braun Strowman (-500) vs. Shane McMahon (+300)
— Braun Strowman (@BraunStrowman) April 6, 2021
Braun is the natural pick here for obvious reasons (he’s actually a wrestler), but one can easily make an argument for Shane. The usage of a steel cage rarely keeps interested outside parties out of a match, and surely Shane will have a few allies looking to make an impact on WrestleMania. We’ll see Elias & Jaxson Ryker, and we’ll likely see somebody else. Any big stiffs in the Performance Center not otherwise occupied could be an option for Shane here.
The thing about gambling picks: we’re not always going to pick what we think will happen. I think Braun will destroy whoever gets put in his path here. But the object of this game is to make some money, and I think Shane McMahon at +300 is a good bet. Especially since I don’t think this feud will be ending at WrestleMania. Still some more heat to get on this issue.
Cesaro (-300) vs. Seth Rollins (+200)
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) April 7, 2021
Speaking of feuds that I think will extend beyond WrestleMania and will likely have the evildoer squeaking out a victory by nefarious means. I can easily talk myself into Cesaro getting a big win here, one which will lead to declarations that he’s a made man and finally on the level he deserves to be at. I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with that.
I think it’s far more likely that Seth Rollins gets the win, and the issue between these two continues. Cesaro’s big win is coming, but not at WrestleMania.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match
The New Day (+250) vs. AJ Styles & Omos (-400)
AJ Styles vs. Xavier Woods – straight out of 2008 TNA. A reminder WWE is a TNA nostalgia company. pic.twitter.com/VNU9VULZ7N
— Garrett Kidney (@garrettkidney) April 6, 2021
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been burnt by picking against Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston. They have a knack for overcoming all obstacles at these major events and coming out on top. Its a good idea to keep these men featured on television, as they’re positive role models for the community and I can only think of one time that one of them did something a bit embarrassing for the company.
I mean….that Jamaican accent. What were they thinking? Never mind, we got more accent stuff to talk about for Night 2, let’s move on.
It is tempting to pick AJ & Omos, as there’s an obvious story there hopefully leading to Omos’ breakout as a singles star. That can easily be drug out though, and we don’t pick against The New Day here. Their victory will be a good way to pop the crowd early in the evening.
SmackDown Women’s Championship Match
Sasha Banks (+250) vs. Bianca Belair (-400)
IMPOSSIBLE, THINGS ARE HAPPENING EVERY DAY. pic.twitter.com/7iXlEA4gAe
— Mercedes Varnado (@SashaBanksWWE) April 8, 2021
This is a huge moment for Bianca, and for the Women’s division in general, as the significance of two women of color fighting for a championship on the biggest show of the wrestling year can’t be overlooked. Its a big f’n deal, as politicians would say.
A win here would put Bianca Belair over the top as a star in this company, and I think that’s what happens here. Sasha doesn’t need the championship to retain her relevancy, and it’s not like any losses have hurt her standing with the people yet. She’ll do whatever she can on this evening to make Bianca a star.
WWE Championship Match
Bobby Lashley (+150) vs. Drew McIntyre (-200)
— WWE (@WWE) April 7, 2021
People seemed legit shook when it was mentioned on Raw that this would be the main event of Night 1. Like…that wasn’t obvious? As much as I like Sasha & Bianca & think they will have a fantastic match, the build of their match hasn’t exactly gotten me any more excited than I was the moment after the women’s Royal Rumble Match ended. Maybe y’all are more into TAG TEAM PARTNERS THAT SECRETLY HATE EACH OTHER than I am, but zero part of that whole thing seemed inspired to me. To be fair, it seemed even less inspired when Asuka & Rhea Ripley did it.
Meanwhile, this is the WWE Championship, dating back to the days of Bruno Sammartino & Buddy Rogers. Drew & Bobby’s issue has been building since the Royal Rumble, and now is the time for Drew McIntyre to get the WrestleMania coronation they wanted to give him last year. Will it work?
Well, the mystery is one of the reasons we’ll be paying attention.
Thanks for reading! Join me next time for Night Two!
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