After watching a bad movie—Seventh Son, which I totally reviewed over at Blankmanin.com—I needed to cleanse my pallet with some wrestling. Unfortunately, I decided to start with TNA’s Impact Wrestling, and need to reconsider how I recover from watching bad things in the future.
The highlight for TNA this week was Bobby Roode versus Austin Ares; seeing two incredible performers in their prime, and there are reasons Roode keeps coming up under the positive things of these episodes for those keeping score. It is probably hard for the company to keep him out of the title hunt for a bit, but the feud with Eric Young does not feel stale yet. Coming in a close second place was TNA personality Jeremy Borash jumping off the top rope, but that led to an odd return for Mr. Ken Anderson…Anderson. Awesome Kong ran over Madison Rayne, but the best part of that was seeing this monster sidestep her opponent’s dropkick with ease. That type of maneuver was common place for a man now leaving TNA, Samoa Joe. I have followed Joe since his time in ROH, and was glad I saw him in TNA as a dominant champion, but I will be honest when I say that maybe it was time to move on. I certainly want to see what he does next. I hate to be cliché’ and say this is the end of an era, but it is hard to ignore that thought.
Smackdown began with a fun motivational type of backstage segment, oddly led by one of the teams participating in the tag team turmoil match. I liked the idea behind that match, but what was each of those teams fighting for exactly? I understand saying it was set up by The Authority, but I need just a little bit more than that. This just could have been bigger and better with some changes and a little more build to it. The match was given a good bit of time with talented performers, and I was honestly interested in how the different team’s personalities affected the encounters, especially when it came to Roman Reigns with Daniel Bryan and the Usos. In fact, the only thing I did not like about this whole bit was the unexplained turmoil between Big Show and Kane. This part felt out of nowhere and quite forced. I kind of hope creative does this again, but better. The only other notable thing about Smackdown was the match between Bray Wyatt and R-Truth, because it also got a decent bit of time, allowing Truth to get some offence in but keeping Wyatt fierce.
The opening of Raw set a trend of me trying to care for the rest of the show. John Cena and Rusev tussled, and I just keep hoping Rusev will win and do something with a monster push. If he does not though, Cena will be US champion for a bit and hopefully give it some prestige, or at least do something interesting with it. Okay… was I the only one who could not get Cena’s o-face from the red band trailer of Trainwreck out of my mind in that segment? Right? No…? It is okay if no one else wants to admit it.
Moving right along…
Dean Ambrose had me laughing with his news segment, and it was followed by a decent match against Luke Harper, but it was the later segment with Bad News Barrett that I thought was fun. I am now looking forward to their title match, but cannot help but wonder where Miz was while Barrett was all tied up. What do you mean the other heel did not uphold his end of the bargain…? At least this involved some good Mizdow moments as well. The Bellas taking Paige’s gear was great. It was a bit cheesy of course, but made this all feel like a real rivalry. Naomi and Natalya also did well in their match, and I kind of like where the feud for these teams are going. Someone needs to apologize to Cesaro for hacking his account, but not for spitting that truth while they had it. Finally, I was glad to see the return of the Prime Time Players, and hope these guys get the run they deserved last time.
“Making moves, making moves, making million dollar moves…”
Those were the points of the show that amused me, and I will admit to perhaps giving some of them too much credit, but I think that was because the segments I was looking forward to just felt underwhelming. This was a go-home episode for the Fast Lane PPV this Sunday, and I am now even less enthused. The ending with Reigns and Bryan felt directionless, other than teasing a Bryan heel turn, and I sadly think Reigns needs the victory more. I thought Triple H being in the ring with Ric Flair and discussing Sting would give me goosebumps, but it turned out to be a leg cramp.
Forget about Sunday for a moment though. I know others have broken down NXT Takeover: Rival pretty well already and it is about to be a week old, but I have to say a few things. It was certainly the best thing I saw this week, and there are still fools out there telling me they do not watch NXT. I need Carlito to pop up and spit apple in these people’s faces…
The show got straight to the action with Tyler Breeze getting attacked by a fan in a run-by hugging, and then fighting Hideo Itami in a good fun match with a lot of stiff kicks, concluding in a great way to open everything. Baron Corbin defeated Bull Dempsey again in an energetic match for two big guys that saw some rough action and a truly painful looking ramp suplex. The multiple loses is starting to make Bull look weak. A win could have really helped him there. Also, Barson, lose the t-shirt and go back to the vest. You looked like an extra from Twilight or Divergent. Blake and Murphy defended their titles against the Lucha Dragons, with something different for NXT—a botch! I want to congratulate Corey Graves though, who did a wonderful job with a quick recovery for the commentary there. This helped fans get back to some good action from Kalisto, who looks better every time I watch him, and the tag champs delivered an awesome double team move. The match ended with an awesome sequence that makes me hopeful for their reign.
Adrian Neville took on Finn Bálor for the number one contender spot, and though Finn technically won the match, it was the fans who received the prize. This was a high adrenaline match with two super athletic individuals who know each other very well. The bout contained more high spots than most episodes of Raw, and it was wrestling at its finest. The only weird part was this dark passenger reference from the commentators in reference to Bálor. Guys, this is not Dexter.
Fans got a nice establishing shot of Becky Lynch doing pushups on the steps, and saw Paige in a towel this week… nothing wrong with that.
The four way match for the women’s championship was one of my favorite moments of the night. This had some incredible opening action and began a series of sick bumps and awesome moves. That double knee to the two competitors in the corner from Banks, and her dive to the outside, or when Bayley dove through the side of the like Zayn does; it was all fantastic. This match had an excellent pacing and built tension perfectly, leading into a fun ending. The submission into a pin worked well for this, and although I do like Charlotte, I want to see what Banks can do with the belt; time to be the boss for real.
Kevin Owens looks like a dominant beast. Not sure I like the Lesnar comparisons, but they work I guess. Sami Zayn got to show his resilience—he never gave up, and sells so well. I was looking forward to counting more power bombs, but liked that we got a KO decision. It will be worth it when Zayn comes back and wins. These two have a history, one that they and the commentators brought to the forefront in the ring, and it all lured me in. Overall, Rival may not be my favorite NXT event so far, but one thing I want to point out is that these guys operate at a different level, making the standard much harder to keep up with. They are there impressing fans and trying to outdo themselves, which is not always possible. But this is still one of the best wrestling shows available right now, and I do not get why any fan would not be enjoying it.
Here is a link to that Seventh Son review, because why not: https://www.blankmaninc.com/seventh-son/
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