Charlie: Fans are back! We missed a few weeks! LOTS of things happened. Let’s try and get back with it and cover it all.
Vishal: I gotta say, nothing makes it clearer how bad it was without fans than the first show back with them. They could have booked a terrible card and it still would have felt electric.
Mikey: Yeah, it’s also totally different having full crowds on the weekly product. Wrestlemania and the like gave a taste, but nothing prepared me for what would happen when we saw these shows actually take that momentum from the crowds and use it to push them forward.
Charlie: Forrest is also going to join us this week. Please see their thoughts below c:
Monday: Monday Night Raw, Being the Elite
Charlie: Missed two weeks, but it feels like I didn’t miss much at Raw, but are we really surprised? I’m not. We are on the same hamster wheel we’ve been on for awhile with a few notable differences. Kofi and Lashley are actually in a program leading up to a match for the title at MITB that makes me think that MAYBE, just MAYBE they could put the title on Kofi. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but it could or at least feels like it could and that’s really what it’s all about.The second thing that caught my attention this week is that… Riddle even in the absence of Randy Orton, is funny even if I don’t want to enjoy him. Maybe Raw is just a slog, but Riddle’s stupid stoner humor is hitting for me in a 2010 kinda way and I hate that it makes me laugh so much. Everything else is the damn same. My opinions on Monday content basically revolve around BTE so if anyone else wants to talk about Raw, by my GUEST.
Mikey: I will definitely talk about BTE, because this week was A LOT. First off, the opening shots with “Warriors Cry” or its proper name, “Never Look Back,” with the Jackson brothers doing a travel vlog was everything I’ve wanted for so long. They played me like a damn fiddle here, showing us their cozy first class American Airlines cabin while flipping the double bird. I know I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but, well… I’m just going to let this amazing tweet speak for me here.
Charlie: BTE this week was a land of extremes and showcased The Elite AND Kenny Omega. The mustache gag from the weeks prior was present, but the humor in The Bucks shaving their mustaches and Kenny having kept his quickly melted as Kenny’s funny unhinged rant turned into something much different. He berated Matt and Nick for making choices without his input and then peppered it with overtures of loving them. It was… it was a lot. One day, The Bucks are gonna snap.
Mikey: Someone who may legitimately have snapped is Ryan Nemeth, who put together a twisted, surreal little bit that was legitimately compelling. As a Twin Peaks fan… well, let’s just say that cream might be the Hollywood Hunk’s creamed corn.
Charlie: Oh. I was so excited about this episode of NXT. I was excited about the main event. I was excited about Johnny and my expectations that he could really take the title again off of Kross who is a bore to watch on a good day and makes my stomach hurt on a bad one. But, well… screw this.
Vishal: I’m disappointed but definitely less mad than Charlie is – I don’t think it’s reasonable to be surprised that the title didn’t change hands on a random episode of NXT – if they really wanted to do it, they’d have put the match on the Great American Bash. This was a pretty good episode honestly, with some weird stuff in there too. Aliyah and Mandy Rose apparently switched brands, something I’m sure we’ll learn more about next week, Grimes being a very excited butler is a great gimmick, and the Breakout Tournament has kicked off.
Mikey: Grimes as a butler and also just existing to piss LA Knight off is really good. The
Taya Valkyrie Frankie Monet bit with her eyeing up Aliyah was good… I just wish it had been something they were able to use to set up an actual story in NXT, not a call-up. But alas… RAW needs women or something I guess.
Vishal: There were also some pretty solid matches throughout – Dakota and Ember put on a clinic to open the show, Sarray and Gigi Dolin had a very solid quick match, Santos Escobar and Dexter Lumis put on a fun one, and even the main event was pretty good. I’m disappointed that they’re still sticking with Kross, but I imagine he’s going to put over whoever beats him really strongly. I’ll live until then.
Mikey: I just wish they hadn’t essentially jobbed out Joe to make Kross look strong, is all. That was what frustrated me.
Charlie: I’m not sure why the conclusions of NXT’s lately have made me feel less than satisfied, but I’m sure I will work it out lol.
Wednesday: AEW Dynamite
Charlie: God…what an AEW Dynamite. I was so happy that AEW finally, finally got out of Florida. This one really felt like a return to form. The crowd was red-hot and basically there to eat up anything the company wanted to throw at them, but they didn’t just throw them anything. We got Karl Anderson and Mox in a very stiff and very fun IWGP US Title match. We got Malakai Black FINALLY, FINALLY lighting a fire under Cody’s ass and we got The Elite’s first real confrontation with Hangman. That last one was enough to leave me satisfied, but it wasn’t even the main event of the show.
Forrest: My TNT app login wasn’t working for Dynamite this week so instead I took the time to make a really nice dinner for my wife and I. Anyways, I think having some sort of playback/streaming partnership like WWE has with Hulu is really the last gap for casual fans that AEW needs to close.
Vishal: I tuned in for the opener and stayed on for the first half of the show, which is the most Dynamite I’ve watched live in at least a month. Singles Karl Anderson is great, Mox is great, and they put on a great match. Unfortunately for me, every time I see Cody on screen I’m annoyed. His Ogogo feud and promos around that broke something in me and I’m basically incapable of enjoying him as a wrestler. Which sucks, because I love Malakai Black, but I just wish he was feuding with anyone else.
Mikey: I totally get it, Vishal—I’m someone who used to be more hot on Cody than most, but the Ogogo feud was absolutely dreadful to the point where I started skipping shit, and I almost never skip shit in Dynamite. That being said, I’m here for Cody to get the absolute shit kicked out of him and be cleansed of all his many sins.
Like Charlie, I was absolutely feasting on the dramatic tension and emotional threads of the Elite marching in on Hangman’s interview. Great emotional stuff.
Vishal: I’m very happy for my friends who are really invested in this Elite/Hangman story. They’re doing a good job with it, and this recent confrontation they had was a great little setup for what will likely be a banger of an elimination match. I try to not legitimately dump on things my friends are excited for because I don’t see a purpose in it, but I do want to note that a big part of what’s keeping me from being All In with this storyline is that every single member involved in the story is white. There was specifically a point this week where I thought there was a brown member of the Dark Order, but it was just Evil Uno in a brown suit. I’m not accusing anyone of racism or anything like that, but it’s just… not the best experience for me to see this feud involving a dozen people at the top of the promotion with no racial diversity. All this being said, I’m excited for the elimination match – it’ll likely be a banger. And if Hangman loses to Kenny again at All Out, I’ll be annoyed because this story is ready to blow off.
Charlie: That’s super fair, Vishal. The Elite story is the only thing I’m heavily emotionally invested in, but I understand 100 percent where you’re coming from. I will say that it feels like AEW is getting the wind back in its sails since last year and now that we are finally unpaused, we can move forward. I doubt Kenny and Hangman are gonna play long term NJPW booking here. We shall see.
Mikey: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention TJPW’s own Yuka Sakazaki coming back to US television and putting on a great match with Penelope Ford, and Ethan Page and Darby Allin’s coffin match. Both absolute BANGERS of matches.
Oh, and don’t forget—Lance Archer challenged Mox for the IWGP US Title, in a Texas-based Texas Deathmatch as a redo of their first outing together. Very interested to see where we go from here… but I definitely do agree, AEW needs more stars in the Men’s Division who aren’t white. Scorpio is great, but he’s only one man. And the Women’s Division is much more diverse, but they’re never on TV so… I have faith they’ll get there eventually, but at the same time, no one should have to wait to see people like them in the ring.
Charlie: It was Impact’s go home show for Slammiversary. Some things happened! I didn’t watch it!
Charlie: So Smackdown was great. We actually all watched it together which was a really great experience. Whatever you think about WWE—and I think they do a lot of things that frustrate me and are downright horrible in regards to how they run a business—they know how to channel emotion. Just seeing Edge come out to the amazing pop made me tear up. Something about him being in front of fans gets me every time. It warms my damn heart. We had a surprise in Finn coming back to the main roster to fight Sami and THEY FINALLY PULLED THE TRIGGER ON SETH AND EDGE. An incident from 7 years ago being pulled on for story purposes? Incredible.
Vishal: I’m here because Finn’s back. While I wish I was able to see him in NXT more, I’m not against this because at the very least Smackdown is the better of the main roster brands at the moment. I’m not joking – this got me so excited I went and bought tickets for my local Smackdown showing… which it turns out is the Madison Square Garden show so that should be a good time.
Mikey: That sounds like a great time, honestly. The energy from the crowd here was electric—and as we said earlier, it does make everything feel more impactful. Case in point:
Charlie: That said, I can’t say I’m surprised there are no consequences for Jimmy Uso after his DIU, but I am disappointed. It’s tainting the product for me a bit. I don’t know if this is the case, but let’s hope that with fans back the rails are firmly back on WWE. Oh and go give Corbinfund.com a visit.
Charlie: Hey ya’ll. I couldn’t leave this out. Some THINGS occurred at Slammiversary. Things like Thunder Rosa showing up. Things like Mickie James showing up. THIS LIKE JAY WHITE FINALLY CONFRONTING KENNY OMEGA.
I understand this happened in the Impact ring so some people’s results may vary, but I kind of feel like this is the only place this could happen. Anything on AEW programming would take the focus off of Hangman’s story with Kenny and make it decidedly about the Bullet Club, not the faction of new guys they are trying to get over in the Dark Order. I will bide my time and wait, but I think this is the best way we can have our cake and eat it too. All of this to say that Kenny v Sami was also incredibly good and you should never doubt that the unhinged Cleaner side of Kenny actually thrives in Deathmatches.
Money in the Bank Predictions
WWE Championship — Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Kofi Kingston:
Charlie: The way they are building this story on Raw which is probably the ONLY story on Raw at the moment has me thinking that maybe, just maybe Kofi could pull it out. Maybe. I’m going with the dark horse on this one. They wanna give the MITB crowd something to pop for. Kofi Wins.
Forrest: I’m a little hesitant to say I want Kofi to win because I inevitably think that leads to him losing the title to Brock or Goldberg (shudder). Lashley is the safer, and more likely, bet for either of those matchups and it won’t emotionally scar me to see him go over Kofi. Win/win? Not exactly, but that’s just the kind of state Raw is in right now.
Vishal: Bobby Lashley wins this one because they’re building to Lashley vs Goldberg at Summerslam. Sorry, I look at reddit too much to not see what the dirt sheets are reporting. I would like Kofi to win because he’s still the best champion WWE’s had in the time I’ve been watching, but I know better than to get my hopes up.
Universal Championship — Roman Reigns (c) vs. Edge:
Charlie: LOL Roman wins. Sorry to sound dismissive, but this is the way it’s gonna be for a while because WWE hasn’t shown me or cared to show me anyone else is on Roman’s level.
Forrest: This one is complex! Edge can make a compelling champion at any time I think, but Roman’s reign is a little more predicated on consistency and control — something that’s easier to manufacture in the ThunderDome. I think it’s entirely dependent upon how the fans react to Roman live, and MITB will be the true test of that since everyone was feeling pretty understandably gracious at WrestleMania. Which is to say I think Roman will win, but if it doesn’t go over well (see the Wikipedia page dedicated to his perception) I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bonafide vet like Cena step in to reset things.
Vishal: Similarly, there’s been plenty of reports that Cena’s coming back to Smackdown for Summerslam. Which makes Roman vs Cena an inevitability. I do wonder if Roman wins this one because of Jimmy and Jey again, because that seems likely as well. I don’t agree with Charlie that WWE hasn’t bothered to show people on Roman’s level – I’d argue Edge is exactly that, and the entire story with Roman, Edge, and Bryan cemented that all three of them were on the same level, and it took outside interference to hand Roman the W. I’m sure it’ll be the same case here.
Raw Women’s Championship — Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair:
Charlie: I desperately hope they let Rhea have this one and she can move on, maybe even fight Becky at Summerslam! But…I have a feeling they are going to pivot back to Charlotte and Becky at Summerslam so… Charlotte wins here and maybe we can finally rest Rhea’s character.
Forrest: Putting Charlotte over Rhea in front of fans will certainly get…a reaction. Nevertheless, Charlotte is a more fleshed out character to hold the title while they make the messy transition back to fans, whereas Rhea needs a bit of work in that department and I don’t really want to see her struggle through that before live fans for her sake or mine.
Vishal: Rhea’s entire feud with Charlotte has been predicated on her not being able to actually beat Charlotte straight up, and I see no reason for them to shock everyone by changing that here. Charlotte wins, and Rhea gets the rub of “former Raw Women’s Champion” pretty much immediately after her debut AND will get some time to smooth some rough edges in her main roster transition.
Men’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match — Ricochet vs. John Morrison vs. Riddle vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Big E vs. Kevin Owens vs. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Seth Rollins:
Charlie: This has gotta be a fun one. Looking at all the names in the match, this should be nothing short of incredible. This may be going out on a limb, but I think Big E takes it. I think the only thing that could derail that is something stupid happening like…IDK Brock stealing it again. Please just let us have one nice thing. I think I’d be happy with just about anyone here taking it.
Forrest: Riddle. He’s one of the most consistently pushed, consistently well written characters on Raw, and the cash-in there is probably more necessary than on SmackDown. WWE ignoring his recent legal troubles is certainly on brand, too.
Vishal: I don’t necessarily disagree with Forrest, I think Riddle’s the likeliest to win this match – or at least, tied for the likeliest with my actual pick, Big E. They’re both in similar positions – dropped the midcard belt in what is ostensibly a move to free them up for a top card push, but I think Big E is more primed for that than Riddle is at the moment.
Women’s Money in the Bank Ladder Match — Asuka vs. Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss vs. Nikki A.S.H (Cross) vs. Liv Morgan vs. Zelina Vega vs. Natalya vs. Tamina:
Charlie: Over the course of the week this one went from one of the most exciting matches to one that isn’t going to have the surprise we were all waiting for. The TBA got announced and well…it’s Taminia. I bet they give this to Alexa.
Forrest: Nikki! As silly as her character is, it’s kind of perfect for cash-in antics. Alexa would make for a good villain/hero dichotomy with her, always threatening to step in and take it by any means — something they toyed with but kind of botched with the back-and-forth between the Miz and Otis this previous year.
Vishal: I would love for them to give it to Zelina, honestly. I wonder if her return to WWE came with any immediate assurances like that – I’m thinking this only because I know MSK’s signing came with an assurance that they’d be tag champs very quickly, and I wonder if Zelina pushed for any of that. Even otherwise though, she’s definitely my favorite to win this one.
Raw Tag Team Championship — AJ Styles & Omos (c) vs. The Viking Raiders:
Charlie: I think AJ should just do singles stuff now that crowds are coming back. I am tired of this tag team, but I think they are winning.
Forrest: The Viking Raiders just put out a shirt that says “raid and get paid” which means, given the weird track record the WWE merch department has with releasing shirts for talent that then leave the company or disappear from television, that they will neither raid nor get paid. Sorry to Derik and Ivan or whatever their names are.
Vishal: AJ and Omos are great, honestly – I love just how comically large Omos is and I really like that AJ is spending his time putting over newer talent instead of just keeping himself on top of the card. WWE’s tag divisions have never been taken seriously but they’re always a place to give a newcomer some gold to legitimize them, and I think it’s working for Omos. Sorry Viking Raiders, you’re not taking these.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship — Rey & Dominik Mysterio (c) vs. Jey & Jimmy Uso
Forrest: Kind of amazing and disgusting that WWE is going forward with this given the recent news about Jimmy Uso right? Either way, their win over the Mysterios all but guarantees some kind of actual momentum in Roman’s story. Maybe they really have been holding back some things for the fans.
Vishal: Honestly, I think that this being the plan is why WWE pretty much ignored Jimmy’s recent DUI. I think he should be taken off the show for a little bit, but they obviously don’t want to mess around with their big return to TV, so here we are. Jimmy and Jey are taking this one. On the bright side we get to hear the Usos theme some more!
Charlie: Ugh well at least this one is on the pre show. Jimmy having no consequences for his DUI makes my skin hurt. Usos Win. I uh…have another transmission from Justin here. Lets pull it up.
Into The Nitro-Verse #5
(July 8th, 1996)
Bash At the Beach fallout brings me to the Happy(ish) Place on Earth as we return to THE NITRO-VERSE!
As always I am your Pro Wrestling WAVErider and I bring you a shockingly competent follow up show to your sad dad’s favorite PPV of all-time.
Just in case Alta Vista dumped you here for the first time, a bit of Previously On. We (and by that I mainly mean I) are 24 hours removed from Bash At The Beach ‘96. The infamous reveal of “The Third Man” that threatened to unite The Outsiders, Hall & Nash, into some kinda SUICIDE SQUAD. Wait, no, New World Order. The Skwad is still a bit off and I think they are a AAA stable.
I digress. Basically Hulk Hogan finally revealed himself as the asshole we all will come to know him as and now for some reason that means we are filming in Orlando now. Right in the shadow of the Tower of Terror.
So after Not-Aerostar smuggled me into the audience in a crate of Genie plushes, I was pleasantly surprised at how The Dubya recovered after ending their last major show in a trash monsoon. While Big Gold is still tied up on the waist of “Totally The Legit Son of Andre” The Giant, all of the ancillary titles get some much needed love and focus.
The WCW US Title changed hands from Konnan to Ric Flair, providing him his billionth US run and getting him mixing it up with some midcarders in a few energetic spurts. This episode also displays a surprising focus on its win/loss records, following up on Rey Jr. getting a title shot at Cruiserweight Champ Dean “Mister Personality” Malenko in a thrilling opening match. You’ll obviously remember that Rey got said title shot after defeating Psicosis “last night” at the BaTB.
The Tag Title picture is also starting to heat up. Or at least get weird. After the Steiners and Harlem Heat fought to a disqualification, the title change is “disputed” and that leads to now basically every tag team currently on roster having to struggle through a new ad-Hoc tourney. All poised to face each other over the next few weeks to take on Harlem Heat for the belts later on. I can’t REALLY follow it that closely because I’ve been double-fisting Mickey pancakes for three days but it led to a truly nonsensical promo from the Steiners where they barked through telling the Nasty Boys that it wouldn’t be personal when they killed them. That’s fun. We have fun here.
I mean honestly it’s still just so cool seeing a wrestling show really start futzing with what it can be on the road. Like yeah, you get more from it if you’ve been following the storylines, but any old gramma that shuffled off a shuttle to a theme park could still enjoy this. And I am pretty sure I saw some doing so! The blue hairs loved screaming at Steven Regal and that’s always a win in my book.
I would talk more about Hulk Hogan but I don’t really feel like it right now. Not-Aerostar wants to go on Lights, Motors, Action! again. That sounds more fun. See y’all next when.
In Kenny Omega’s Mullet We Trust,