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This Week In Wrestling: Everyone Enjoy [Redacted]

Pro wrestling is good right? We all like pro wrestling. Some of us like certain kinds or brands over the others, but at the end of the day we’re all marks (and if you don’t consider yourself a mark, why even watch?) and the same goes for the actual wrestlers. Why do you think they got into wrestling? They’re just big fans like you and me.

Still though it was very amusing to see WWE guys and gals tweet about that pro wrestling event taking place on Saturday night that they clearly wanted to be fans over, but ya know, couldn’t fan-boy and fan-girl too much lest they rise the ire of grandpapa Vince which made some of the tweets even better.

Holy [REDACTED] that’s funny stuff!

AEW: It’s Like How You Wish WWE Was

I still feel like it’s a bit early to call AEW a “game-changer” within the wrestling industry, or the company that will challenge Vince and the ten megaton beast that is WWE, but as we watched Double Or Nothing go down on Saturday night, it was hard not to feel like notice had been served that a change was indeed coming.

The card itself was good. Again, I hesitate to call it one of the best we as a wrestling fan base have ever seen, but it certainly will stand up as one of the best we’ll see this year or even perhaps this decade.

Cody and Dustin obviously stole the show as a compelling story told through a single wrestling match and should maybe serve as a statement that Cody deserves to at least be in the conversation as one of the best wrestlers in the world.

The pre-show battle royal was a bit different and actually not a bad concept that needs to be tuned and tightened up a bit. It was also a bit predictable with it’s winner since that person would be getting a shot at the beautiful new world title. I actually really enjoyed the tag match between Best Friends; Chuck Taylor and Trent Beretta against Angélico and Jack Evans and thought that was a great preview of AEW’s promise to make tag team wrestling matter again. The two women’s matches were also really well done as was the six man opener with SCU and Strong Hearts putting on a fine exhibition of not only tag team wrestling, but just how beneficial AEW’s partnership with Oriental Wrestling Entertainment will be in the future.

And of course there was Jon Moxley who got maybe the pop of the year, but I’ll get to more of him in a moment.

Not that the show was without its misses. We had a 30 second promo of two librarians “shushing” each other. Young Bucks versus Lucha Brothers, while a fun spot fest maybe got dragged out a little longer than needed. Jericho and Omega didn’t quite live up to the standard they had set in their first meeting at the Tokyo Dome. We also missed out on seeing Adam Page versus Pac although the match on YouTube is fine. The commentary was cringe-worthy at times but to their credit Jim Ross and Excalibur seemed to find a groove as the night went on. (Sorry Alex Marvez you got the passion, but maybe you’re better served working backstage segments)

This is all nitpicky stuff. Overall AEWDoN was a fun show which had wrestling fans buzzing and left wanting more. How they carry forward this momentum through this summer and into the fall with their new program remains to be seen, but it was a great first few steps taken.

RAW: It’s Like AEW, But Far Less Wrestling

You would have thought that WWE’s “response” to AEW debuting to wide acclaim would be to produce a blistering episode of RAW on Monday with a bunch of wrestling action and a couple of twists and turns to get fans talking. Instead what we got was about an hour or so of promos, commercial breaks, more promos, more commercials, a skirmish between Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, more commercials, the setup of a backstage skit, a promo, more commercials and then FINALLY an actual wrestling match and I am being oh so very generous in calling Shane McMahon versus Lance “I am Roman’s cousin, you can tell because I have Samoan tattoos and a Roman Reigns shirt” Anoa’i.

Sure there was a few moments of decent wrestling – Seth versus Sami was pretty good, the fatal four-way with Corbin, Miz, Lashley and Strowman was a paint-by-numbers match but not deeply insulting, Ricochet against Cesaro didn’t exactly match last week’s quality between them but it was ok and it did a decent job of pushing forward a narrative. The problem is that there is an ocean bullshit to have to swim through as a fan just to get the little islands of decent wrestling action that it becomes a chore that has to be endured for very little reward rather than a show that can be enjoyed.

There was a segment in which Sami was to sit in a mock-up of an electric chair and answer questions from the fans in attendance. Even if we ignore the optics of putting someone born to Syrian parents in a prop death device less than two weeks out from a show emanating from a country that wouldn’t think twice about putting someone of Sami’s nationality in a real electric chair, the questions were obviously heavily filtered and Sami name dropping AEW reeks of a company desperate to be ‘edgy’ and relevant.

The “ask me something about AEW” line or the Brock Lesnar jive-dancing while continuing to pretend his Money In The Bank briefcase is a boom-box – said briefcase now sporting actual speakers, but Brock holding them in the wrong direction … Things like this make WWE more cringe than fun. Vince is the “how do you kids?” meme right now. Any hint of anything that could over with fans – the Usos wackiness, the Iiconics mic work, Brock Lesnar tooling around showing a shred of personality for the first time in nine years, Braun yelling at things – Vince makes sure to lean all the way into it until it’s absolute overkill which in wrestling doesn’t take a whole lot.

The 24/7 Title: It’s Like A Title On The Line At All Times, Except Not All The Time

Did it feel like Smackdown had more wrestling action? Of course it did but that’s simple math. Turns out doing four matches in a two hour block makes for more action than four matches in a three hour block like Raw had the night before.

Smackdown continues to be a slightly better show, but it’s not by a large margin. The Kevin Owens / Kofi feud was put to rest with an absolute clean win by Kingston to start the show which is fine as Kofi has to turn his attention to Dolph Ziggler now for the next two weeks before Dolph hits the comedy club circuit again. I still feel a bit cheated out of a prolonged KO face run.

Bayley beats Lacey Evans and now it looks like she’s about to get into something with Charlotte and that is something to be genuinely excited about. Lacey is still a bit rough in the ring, but she’s getting better each week and having her in consecutive matches against three of the four horsewomen is a great way to get her up to speed. She can certainly hold her own on the mic and I’ve really liked how they’ve booked her in two losses against the champs. She’s been “close” but has fallen short, but you can easily play that off as someone who is still a relative rookie in WWE and hanging in there against the best.

Also I haven’t finished reading the 24/7 Championship rules and regulations book, but doesn’t Roman pinning Elias make him the champ? Did I miss something there? Is the title not on the line when the champ is in a tag match? That doesn’t make it the 24/7 championship then does it? Also, it’s been two weeks now, can we not get some random tweet on a Thursday afternoon that the 24/7 title changed hands? Maybe a video clip of R-Truth trying to get a Happy Meal at McDonalds, but Drake Maverick badly disguised as Ronald McDonald and attacking Truth and winning the title? How has WWE not take advantage of social media on this thing yet?

If you’re going to make a goofy ass title and have a goofy ass concept for it, then give me goofy ass videos already!

NXT: It’s Like AEW, But It’s A WWE Brand You Actually Enjoy

Just like every other brand in WWE, NXT is as predictable as the main brands, but in a slightly different way.

After each Takeover, rivalries and stories are reset and things are kinda ho-hum and the next couple of episodes are ok, but nothing to really write home about. Then they announce a new takeover event a good month or so in advance and the next three to four weeks after are a nice steady build, almost seemingly out of nowhere where you go from feeling blah about the show to remembering just how good NXT is, and then the go-home show before Takeover the reveal the final card and have one or two more good moments to help set up the big weekend show and suddenly you’re amped for what will no doubt be a great Takeover – and it is, and then the cycle begins anew.

This is your Takeover XXV (wrestling needs more roman numerals dammit) lineup:

Matt Riddle vs. Roderick Strong
North American Championship: Velveteen Dream (c) vs. Tyler Breeze
NXT Women’s Championship: Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Io Shirai
Ladder Match for Vacant NXT Tag Team Titles: Street Profits vs. Undisputed Era vs. Forgotten Sons vs. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch
NXT Championship: Johnny Gargano (c) vs. Adam Cole

Hot. Friggin. Damn.

Jon Moxley: It’s Like Dean Ambrose, With Less Vince Standing In The Way

Was anyone really surprised by what Jon Moxley had to say on the Talk Is Jericho Podcast? Of course not. We all knew he wasn’t happy, we all know there are multiple talents in WWE not happy. (#FreeTheRevival) It was still a bit alarming to hear how suffocating it has become creatively on the main rosters of WWE and how out of touch Vince has become with his audience.

If nothing else, even if you want to remain a die-hard loyal WWE fan, you should still be rooting for AEW’s success to prove that if you give talent control over their characters and let them run with it, great things can happen.

Somewhere along the way when WWE became publicly traded and then PG friendly, they got insanely scared that wrestling talent wouldn’t be able to help themselves and say or do the wrong things during live TV. It’s a valid concern of course, but Vince and company have gone too far the other way in terms of playing safe.

Re-watch Jon Moxley’s stuff since he left WWE. Re-watch the “break out” video he produced on Twitter. Watch his AEW debut again. Watch the video he produced announcing his upcoming NJPW debut.

Is any of that not PG? That’s been my biggest takeaway from anything Moxley has done and as he was doing his thing Saturday night in a brawl with the best wrestler in the world today to close out the show: “This is all stuff he could have easily done in WWE if they gave him a chance.” Maybe because the Moxley name carries a certain weight with it still, maybe because we can associate just how talented Dean Ambrose was in WWE with the legend of his deathmatch exploits and combine the two. It does make me wonder what could have been if we had Dean Ambrose in WWE but they allowed him to bring back a little bit of that Jon Moxley swagger and let him create his own promos. As Jon himself noted, he actually nixed a line that he knew could have been damaging to WWE sponsors, so these guys know the limits.

He wants what we all want: wrestling to be good and be successful. Because when you get right down to it, we’re all just a bunch of big fans of pro wrestling.