WAR RAIDERS VS. RICKY MARTINEZ & JUSTIN STORM
Understatement by Nigel when he says it’s gonna be a “tough night” for Martinez and Storm. Tag team squashes are even more uncomfortable because there’s double the pain and punishment, which a friend told me some guys will pay extra for. I love Rowe dragging Storm over to his own corner so Martinez could tag himself in. Their guillotine neckbreaker finisher looks like it could kill someone. I enjoy that even though they don’t really have a spot in the tag team division yet they still get featured each week, even in a squash. They challenge The Mighty/TM61/Whatever the Aussies call themselves now, and holy shit I thought they were gonna break Storm’s neck with that toss and spear/slam. Hopefully this is the start of their ascent to the top of the division.
Match Rating: Six Gold Medals
As I’m sure most people are, I’m pretty geeked for Ciampa and Gargano in Chicago.
EC3 VS. KASSIUS OHNO
HHH recently said they just didn’t have room for EC3 on the Chicago card and that there’s not a lot of space on any card right now. This is a really good match for him to have. Ohno will always be a fan favorite no matter how long it’s been since he’s won a meaningful match, so it’ll be a big win for EC3. Both guys are massively over so this is certainly a great match for the crowd. Ohno’s strikes always generate a big reaction. The match was going decently well until EC3 hit his finisher seemingly out of nowhere. I felt like that match should have been longer, but we know the future plans for Ohno vs. the future plans for EC3 are much different, so unless we see a heel turn from Ohno, expect more of the same going forward. I don’t think that would be the worst thing, a heel Ohno with a new attitude could be an NXT champion. The match got a lot of crowd excitement but I thought it could have been a lot better.
Match Rating: Four Gold Medals
BIANCA BELAIR VS. AALIYAH
If you’re a regular reader of my blog you know how high I am on Bianca Belair. She’s got star written all over her. Aaliah seems to have been an up-and-comer for years now. Bianca has the look, the attitude, the strenth, the skill, and the charisma needed to be a champion, a five-tool player. She is RIPPED. The crowd loves her. Her attitude says heel but she’s way over as a face. Obviously I’m not saying she’s Stone Cold Steve Austin, but she’s on that level of faces who can act like heels because of their presentation and get a wildly positive reaction. My only gripe with this match is that she didn’t do her patented hair whip. Also her awful theme song, but even with that, the music seems to fit her attitude and personality. Join my for more Bianca Belair chat in my windowless van outside of her house every night this week.
Match Rating: Seven Gold Medals
Promos for Shayna Baszler vs. Nikki Cross. Holy shit I’m pumped for this. Baszler isn’t the best talker but her skill and pedigree make her a superstar, and her limited mic skills are serviceable in getting the reaction she needs. Nikki is batshit insane, and I love it.
Just after I saw Bianca is a face, she mocks Dakota Kai. I was hoping they weren’t going to muddy the face-heel line with her, but alas, they are.
UK CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: KYLE O’REILLY VS. PETE DUNNE
Canadian middle-schooler Kyle O’Reilly sprouted his first facial hair last week and now gets a chance to face Pete Dunne, who left his bridge unattended to defend his championship. This one feels like a classic British or indie-style match, which obviously these two specialize in and this type of crowd loves. Dunne twists up O’Reilly’s mouth, legs, ear, fingers, and wrist, which probably reminds O’Reilly of the bullies beating him up and stuffing him in his locker yesterday. O’Reilly shows his submission skills as well, and they get each other in an ankle lock. Dunne looks like the weird chick from Hemlock Grove.
Lots of high-paced back-and-forth action and the crowd loves it. I really enjoyed the finishing sequence with O’Reilly removing Dunne’s mouthpiece and Dunne nearly removing O’Reilly’s fingers before hitting the Bitter End for the win. Undisputed Era attacks and Birch and Lorcan make the save. Chaos ensues with the faces standing tall ahead of their Tag Team Championship match on Saturday. Great match with a great ending.
Match Rating: Seven Gold Medals
IN-RING SEGMENT: ALEISTER BLACK & LARS SULLIVAN
Black seems to be attempting to convince the crowd and himself that Sullivan does not have his number, then Sullivan comes down and destroys him. It feels like it’s been a while since WWE has done the popular face champion being stalked by the unstoppable monster heel storyline. Sullivan has been built up very well, but I feel like the one thing missing is a Paul Heyman or Bobby Heenan-type manager. Sullivan screams PAUL HEYMAN GUY to me. That may happen on the main roster when all is said and done. I think Paul Ellering is more likely. Not a popular finish to the show but an effective one.
Segment Rating: Six This Is Your Lifes
Overall Show Rating: Six Gold Medals