Imp’s Wrestling Adventure
After one hell of a weekend of wrestling, our bellies full from the tasty treats of AEW, NXT UK and NJPW all in one night, we now embark upon the Monday night roast dinner of RAW. A massive meal, with many different foods making up the dish, leaving you absolutely knackered after you’ve scoffed it all down.
However this week there’s an extra twist. Given this series is still in its infancy, I thought I’d try something out. With AEW on the horizon, I thought I’d shift this column to later in the week and instead of just covering one show… cover ALL THE SHOWS. I’ve only been doing this RAW thing two weeks, it’s already driven me mad and I’d like broaden my horizons please, Dad.
Same Imp format, same Imp jokes, just now talking every show instead of just the one. RAW, SmackDown Live & NXT all in one delightful little package. And yes, this may have something to do with figuring out a way to not have to watch and talk RAW in full detail every week. I’m a grown ass man, life’s too fragile for that.
These first few sans AEW columns are going to come across a tad like ‘This Week in WWE’, but once the upstart promotion debuts things will become a proper US wrestling telly adventure for Imp!
Monday Night RAW | SmackDown Live
September 2nd– 3rd 2019
A Little Bit of the Bayley
Go hug yourself!
This interweaving story between WWE’s Four Horsewomen has been building bloody brilliantly so far. With Becky Lynch facing Sasha Banks and Bayley defending against Charlotte at Clash of Champions, they’ve made both title matches intriguing as hell as we finally start to see some ripple effects from the main event of WrestleMania.
WWE’s in this weird period where the world and cannon was so all over the place during the summer, that it feels like we’re only just starting our arcs, reigns and storylines for the rest of the year. Kofi Kingston’s a great example, he’s been champion for reaching 6 months, but is only now getting into his first proper feud. That’s why I’m nowhere near ready for his reign to end, it’s like the thing’s only just begun.
With the Women’s division, Sasha Banks’ and Bayley’s heel turns have had a somewhat similar effect after the summer challengers of: the trying to get established Lacey Evans, veteran without much steam Natalya and the hardly featured since debuting last year Ember Moon. Bayley cashing in Money In The Bank and becoming champion was a moment, but I’d be lying if I said she’d had much to do after that. So just like with Kofi, it finally feels like her championship reign is going somewhere with an actual storyline purpose.
The heel turn to end RAW really caught me off guard, Bayley was one of those characters I just assumed they’d never turn heel. However, as soon as it happened I realised how they really had foreshadowed this earlier in the show, with all the words from her and Sasha now making all the sense in the world. Bayley refusing to comment on her former tag partner, then stating she will not be overshadowed by Becky Lynch. Sasha as well gave very similar responses, the closest she ever came to mentioning Bayley was when she verbally shat on the Women’s Tag Titles.
So I loved the turn, enjoyed the follow up promo from Bayley on SmackDown too. Her and Sasha turning on Becky & Charlotte really does make sense, of course they’d be jealous of their fellow horsewomen main eventing when they themselves were stuck in the mid-card ‘meh’. This also sets an intresting stage for WWE, where they’ve essentially got a heel vs heel match up at Clash of Champions, but one where it arguably doesn’t matter given the characters driving it.
I’ll also end this bit by saying that yes I popped for ‘a thing happening’, but the follow up is just as important and that’s where WWE have dropped the ball all summer. They’ve been allergic to continuity. I’m enjoying this, I’m intrigued and becoming invested in these characters clashing. This is 3 weeks now of interesting build and you can see it working with people predicting where the arc’s ultimately heading months down the road.
People aren’t doing that with the Roman storyline, that arc reeks of folk making it up week-to-week. This however, it feels planned and of purpose, with a direction for all the story to head towards. It’s been great, but these next couple of weeks and the fallout from COC are just as important.
2019 King of the Ring
I… I think I actually want this man to win? All hail King Corbin!
Cedric Alexander vs Baron Corbin
I hope you like the sound of Cedric Alexander screaming, because you’ll be hearing it a lot when you check out this 3rd round match. The pain of a cruiserweight the soundtrack of this dance, as Baron Corbin was able to seemingly work through his entire arsenal without much in the way of opposition to stop him. With The O. C. attacking him earlier during an interview, Cedric was always fighting upwards at a huge disadvantage.
AKA you’re losing here, Ced buddy, but don’t be silly superstars can’t lose clean so here’s your no claims bonus. No fear, we’ll reimburse your momentum with a ‘but he only won because you got hurt’ clause right away.
Some amazing counters from Corbin as Alexander tried to fight his way back into the match, the big man was rather damn good this week!
Ricochet vs Samoa Joe
There’s one really easy fix for all the complications figuring out the next round after this match: just don’t book it. It’s a question that gets raised before every G1 Climax tournament, fans asking what if there’s a tie ahead of the final round. Well there’s a pretty easy workaround to avoid a confusing situation… just don’t book it. It’s the glory of a predetermined piece of entertainment: whoever’s writing it can just, you know, not write the confusing bit.
A fantastic example of modern day WWE, with the amazing bell to bell action mixed in with bollocks booking and confusing world building. Why would the heels even try if they can proceed with a draw? And yes, I know they pinned each other, but are we really building a tournament where different kinds of draws have completely different results? Unnecessarily complicated confusion for the sake of drama and surprise, just pick a winner and put ‘em over, Dave.
Again, the match was bloody great though.
Ali vs Elias
Ali going after the arm, Elias the knee. Upping the extremes both were willing to go to inflict that damage, peaking with the music man shoving his opponent off the top rung to the ground below. With Ali landing on his feet the momentum switch didn’t work, but the damage was indeed inflicted. As soon as the former first name haver went for his 450 Splash he was done for, he simply hurt himself way more than he would have his opponent.
This may have been a relatively short entry, but I loved it. The match had a great flow, all building to the top rope spot that directly led to the ending. Short n’ sweet with no faffing about or padding. In a way the perfect TV match in which to advance someone like Elias. He’s not going to pull off a Ricochet vs Cesaro 15 – 20 minute mat classic, I think it’s fair to say WWE learnt their lesson on that.
Andrade vs Chad Gable
Man, Chad Gable is so damn great in this underdog role. Such a telling moment was after nailing the Moonsault and subsequent near fall, the crowd were loudly chanting, “Let’s go Gable!” Not cheering for the match or experience like with, “This is awesome!” but they were cheering his name, jumping up and down in his victory. This tournament build for him has worked to perfection, I honestly believe I’d be disappointed if next week plays out with Elias winning and the face coming from the RAW side of the table.
This match absolutely had me at Gable’s ‘Wrist Clutch Chicken Wing Suplex’, that suplex pin was absolutely gorgeous. These two had a stellar match, with Gable impressing and Andrade retaliating with force. I loved the way it built with El Idolo striking back with increasing force as his opponent constantly countered or kicked out of his offence. Arguably that was his downfall, he didn’t take I Am The Gable seriously and become frustrated with his inability to put him away.
Yet another brilliant King of the Ring offering, quite possibly my Match of the Week.
Side note: if you’ve not seen Gable and Corbin’s chemistry and reversals together, boy are you in for a treat if that’s our final come Clash of Champions.
This King of the Ring has been nothing but a success so far, just a bit of a wobbly this week with RAW seemingly unable let anyone loose clean. The match was great, but did Cedric really need an out?
Also, I know WWE don’t see AEW as competition and all that, but did we just see them book a more sports like idea with the ref headset bit? To be fair WWE does book random referee abilities for screwy finishes all the time. Don’t worry, next week it’ll be like this headset skill point was never invested.
Roman Reigns Storyline
I love how WWE is taking this storyline so seriously, it’s so shit. The fact they’re treating it with such seriousness just brings it right back around into being funny, it’s so bollocks I’m entertained by its increasing shiteness.
In terms of WWE standards, it’s great to see them actually taking their time and not blowing their narrative load right out the gates. Roman Reigns vs Daniel Bryan feels still relatively far away in spite of its obvious destination, that’s such a positive move after the state of this summer. Yes that time is being dedicated to utter bollocks, but at least there’s actually a narrative to follow. An actual effort to build something to get invested in, something being built to rather than passing ships in the night.
Plus there does seem to be one major positive in the Daniel Bryan/Rowan build evolving in an unpredictable manner. Kind of akin to the God awful Claire Lynch storyline from TNA, an utterly bollocks piece of television, but it did give us the birth of Christopher Daniels & Kazarian as an act together. I could not care less about Roman Reigns in this angle, the story is happening at him, but Daniel Bryan is proving once again he really can turn anything into gold. His character is so good in this, so much in fact that it’s rubbing off on Rowan.
Because I have to say, I’m… I’m entertain by Rowan? He was great in the closing segment of SmackDown, I’m just, you know, not going to pretend this story arc is actually good. It’s not, just nice to have an actual arc.
Feel free to use this image as the perfect metaphor if NXT isn’t that good on USA
This first section talking the Wednesday brand will become more elaborated after the move to 2 hours, for now though you’ll be treated to a quick paragraph blasting through all the stuff that wasn’t the top notch main event (after a tad of a ramble).
Once October hits this is when I’m going to be talking about AEW as well, I could not be more excited! Only a few weeks away from the start of the NXT vs AEW wars!! As someone who’s only been watching during what’s essentially been the WWE monopoly, these next 2 months feel absolutely massive to me.
With that, tonight we had the penultimate 1 hour Network episode of NXT! I’m going to miss this format, even on weeks where not a lot happens the show never outstays its welcome. The whole show flows so well, with less time there simply isn’t the option to faff about so every minute has to have a purpose for being there.
I’ve honestly got no idea what I’m going to do come October, I’m pretty sure per week I have no chance of watching 7 hours from WWE, 2 of AEW plus their post-show interviews, then also another 4 hours on top of all that for Pay-Per-Views. I’m going to have to drop something, I just don’t know what.
Anyway, on this week’s NXT:
– Breezang-2.0 continue to be fun, a little odd to say they’re the experienced veterans of the NXT tag division.
– Io Sharai attacked Candice LeRae with a kendo stick, that parking lot is dangerous.
– Kona Reeve’s theme is an absolute banger, but OH NO Roderick Strong set Velveteen Dream’s couch on fire what he made an entrance on once. Sad face for the North American Champion as he now… has nowhere to sit?
– And finally Taynara Conti and Bianca Belair had a bloody great match, the former has improved a hell of a lot in such a short period of time as of late. The latter may not have a lot to do arc wise right now, but she’s always around that title contention scene when we realise Baszler needs a challenger.
Adam Cole vs Jordan Myles
I’m sorry ACH, that face was just too funny not to cap
It’s not really a surprise when an NXT Championship main event turns out to be Match of the Week anymore is it? Nowadays these affairs are also elevated by Mauro Ranallo and Nigel McGuinness losing their minds at the cool wrestling they’re seeing, I really rate those two as a commentary duo. Quite possibly the best pairing NXT has had?
The NXT Champion struggled with the challenger’s speed and deceptive strength, but once again showed how damn smart a wrestler he is. Damaging the leg to slow down Myles, which then created that small opening at the end to deliver kick after kick and keep the plucky challenger down. The former ACH really impressed and showed how much variety he has to his offence, but doing that arguably damaged his knee a little bit more each time.
A great example of the kind of NXT main event we’ve been singing NXT’s praises for, even on a somewhat lesser show such as this we get a top notch bit of wrestling to close out the week. Such a treat to look forward to every Wednesday!
Imp’s RAW Grade – I only tuned out of one match, that’s pretty good
Imp’s SD Live Grade – We’ll remember this time for years to come, I’m not entirely sure it’ll be in a good way
Imp’s NXT Grade – A treat of an hour that flew by
But now to hear from you, what did you think? What did you make of this week’s RAW/SmackDown/NXT? Is the King of the Ring chugging along nicely? What about Sasha Banks and Bayley’s heel run? Did things move along nicely in the rivalries of the Four Horsewomen of WWE?
Comment below, rate and click an emoji too if you’re that way inclined. I’ll be here to reply and chat this weird wrestling world.
Oo, a little bit of the bubbly.
Imp’s most recent columns:
Imp’s RAW Adventure – Baddie Blue Banks Bashes Becky | Aug 26th 2019
Imp’s RAW Adventure – Seth Rollins & The Brown Straw Man | Aug 19th 2019
NJPW G1 Climax Finals Review – Top 5 Matches & MVP feat. Imp & Sam
Imp’s NJPW Adventure – The Story of Hiroshi Tanahashi Part 1: Becoming The Ace