WWE Highs And Lows- 24/11/2017
Hey guys, back with The Arena! Trying a new format out, hopefully it's a bit more streamlined. At the end of each week, either on a Friday or Saturday, I'm going to review the week of WWE, giving you my thoughts on the best and worst of pro wrestling. Let's get to it!
AJ Styles vs. Brock Lesnar. The match delivered every bit as much as I thought it would. I was almost looking through my fingers in terror early on as Brock absolutely decimated AJ for the first five minutes, before Styles used his speed, technique and heart to take Brock to the limit in a way that he hasn't been for a good four years. Loved it, loved it, loved it.
Shield vs. New Day- Not as chaotic as the old Shield matches were, but it was a still highly impressive effort, 4 stars if we're giving snowflakes. The usually comedic New Day looked like a threat, which they deserved to be after their Hell In A Cell effort, and some nice innovative double team moves as well. Fantastic opener.
The Men's Elimination Match- As hot as the show started, it ended as flat as a pancake. The match was filled with older stars, but I had the hope that it would be used to promote the younger, or at least newer stars involved such as Roode and Nakamura. Unfortunately, they were among the first to be eliminated. A big disappointment was seeing Kurt Angle in his first proper action in WWE, wearing his singlet and all. He took some bumps, but moved extremely slowly and looked every bit his age, to where a sequence with John Cena was genuinely uncomfortable to watch. And then to end things, Triple H was the focal point, which wouldn't have been so bad if his own NXT alumni got a little shine. I didn't like it, and it sounded like the crowd didn't appreciate it either. At least Braun Strowman stood tall in the end, but still, the other new guys didn't need to look so terrible. And it almost killed my interest in seeing Kurt Angle wrestling in a singles match at Wrestlemania.
Pro tip- do yourself a favour and after watching the two matches in the "Highs" section, switch off Survivor Series and go watch NXT Takeover: War Games instead. Great show top to bottom.
Monday Night Raw
- Roman Reigns vs. The Miz. As far as matches go, this was a damn good effort in a show that ultimately had a few good matches (Balor vs. Joe and Sheamus vs. Ambrose were decent for TV too), but this stands out because they actually gave Miz some in-ring credibility, which he deserves at this point. Many observers have warmed up to The Miz over the last year or two, especially for his series with Dolph Ziggler, but the moment I started seeing Miz as more credible was seeing him live at a house show in Sydney in 2013. He was a babyface (which didn't suit him) but he brought his working boots, and with Dean Ambrose he had a street fight that was by far the match of the night. Here on Raw, he did it again with another Shield member in Reigns. They went toe to toe and back and forth, and Raw gets a big title change as Roman Reigns wins, completing the grand slam and becoming the new Intercontinental Champion. Bonus points for Reigns acting like the title meant a lot to him- he was disappointingly aloof as the US Champion. Great action to cap off a pretty quality episode of Raw. Rumour has it that Miz is taking some time off to film a movie. He will be missed, he's been a tremendous asset to Raw. Looking forward to seeing how Reigns performs as IC champion too- it's long been considered the workrate title, meaning that Roman will need to put on some killer matches to live up to the belt.
-The return of Paige. Tremendous pop for Paige, who seemed truly elated to be back after all the shit she's gone through... suspensions, injuries, Del Rio, Woods, Maddox... honestly though, very happy to have her back, she's an exceptional talent. Seems like she'll be working heel, leading the newly debuting Sonya Deville and Mandy Rose. It's a bit of an odd pairing, with the only link between the three being that both Mandy and Sonya competed on Tough Enough where Paige was a judge- but in NXT, that Tough Enough background was never really mentioned.
-The Cruiserweights- nothing against their talents, but all about how the division is essentially Enzo and then all the other guys form a homogeneous blob.
-Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. The most brilliantly obnoxious act in WWE. I love how Sami Zayn has made the most minor tweaks to his act to become the most annoying person on the planet, rather then completely overhauling his personality. They both performed well in the main event tag with the New Day as well. It kind of seems like this angle is heading towards Owens and Zayn being traded to Raw, and I can only hope we get someone of near equal value in return
-Bludgeon Brothers. Not sold on the finisher, needs some more impact behind it, but basically every other move looked awesome. Harper and Rowan obviously have great chemistry after years of working as a team, and it's just really nice to see the talented Luke Harper back on TV. Contrary to what some commentators have said, I like the new attire they have. It's nice that Harper finally changed his singlet after 4 years.
Riot, Morgan and Logan- Smackdown literally copy and pasted the angle from Raw with Paige and her buddies. So, it's a miss alone for that, but also, they've taken 3 great natural faces and made them heels, and honestly, the SD women's roster is a little over-run with heels, they could have used another face or two.
-Bryan's big announcement. With Bryan playing coy about what he intended to do about the abrasive Owens and Zayn, it played as if they had something big in mind. A match with Randy Orton, while not a bad thing, doesn't have the gravitas that the show seemed to be building towards.
Highs- Drew Gulak. The man is a treasure. His deadpan comic ability and timing is incredible. The best personality in 205 Live. Who else could get Powerpoint Presentations so over?
Lows- See what I said about the cruisers on Raw.
Johnny Gargano vs. Pete Dunne. To the surprise of... probably no one, this UK Title match on NXT is the runaway pick for TV match of the week. Great athleticism by both, great vicious streak by Dunne and great selling by Gargano. They need to feature the UK division on NXT regularly, it's a damn shame that someone as talented as Pete Dunne has had maybe 6 televised matches since the UK Tournament.
Minor nitpick, I just don't like how NXT spends a week mostly recapping Takeover. A quick video package on the main match would do, I don't need recaps and post match interviews for every single thing that went down, I watched the show and so would most people going to the Network to watch the NXT weekly ep.
From The Vault- Pick of the Week
I've been watching 2003 WWE on the Network, so each week I'll give you a match or segment that I think is worth your while checking out. The first one:
Chris Benoit and Rhyno vs. Team Angle (Smackdown, March 6, 2003)
Yeah, I'm including wrestling's answer to Voldemort as a match to watch. Not so much for Benoit, but this was the week after Rhyno returned from neck surgery, so he's on fire trying to prove himself, and also Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin are about 2 months into their WWE careers at this stage, and it's really cool to see how Shelton especially rises to the occasion. A nice look at two stars who are in WWE as veterans- meaning Rhyno and Benjamin- in their young, hungry stage of their careers. Excellent athleticism and definitely worth a watch.
Until next time, take care,