Imp’s Wrestling Adventure
Saturday rolls around once again and with it comes the realisation I’ve not scheduled in any time for sleep. Oops.
So much wrestling going on in the world today! And so much of it at such a high standard that I’m doing my best to cast a wide net, but there’s only so many hours in the day.
My alarm goes off at 8am so I can get up early enough to post this column at a relatively decent time, which is perfectly fine most weeks. However after this I’m set to cover AEW Full Gear for LOP Radio, so my British ass isn’t going to bed till around 7am.
Yeah, it’s fair to say I didn’t think this one through. A very high chance of a rather sleepy Imp on LOPR Aftershock tonight, but I’m betting on Full Gear to totally lift me out and into a damn excited mood. Been such a solid build that the final note is really all that’s left to play, the last piece to cement a solid first month.
Survivor Series is also looking pretty damn exciting and the same with NXT TakeOver: War Games. I’m also not forgetting that tonight is Jushin Thunder Liger’s final ever match in the US, with NJPW Showdown event in San Jose airing alongside AEW’s final PPV of 2019.
See what I mean about the insane amount of wrestling? Even in my horse tranquiliser state tomorrow I’m planning on catching up on NJPW. No rest for the Imp!
But how was this past week of American wrestling on the telly? And given the event taking place tonight, let’s mix things up and start with AEW! Aka the show I’m easily enjoying the most consistently and this week’s foray sent us home hyped as hell for the weekend.
AEW’s TNT | NXT on USA
November 6th 2019
“Because He’s In The Elite.”
The Go Home For Full Gear
Fly, Jackson, fly!
Bloomin’ ‘eck, what an amazing ending to lead us into Saturday’s PPV. Competitors from four of Full Gear’s matches all interfering in inter-feuds in one massive inter-brawl.
PAC low blowing Hangman which lead to Jericho’s victory, Cody saving the post-match beat down, Moxley going after Omega, Inner Circle after everyone, Young Bucks making the save, MJF making the save, Santana & Ortiz attempting to destroy the Bucks, Omega returning to save them, Moxley joins in too, before the two went right back to laying into each other and brawl to the back. Which gave time for Nick Jackson to make the climb and launch himself from on top of the tunnel, a massive pop for the crowd that then just lead to the remaining Inner Circle and Elite members brawling all over the shop.
So much going on, with such an incredible amount of energy that just built and built the longer it went. PAC vs Hangman, Young Bucks vs Santana & Ortiz, Moxley vs Omega and Jericho vs Cody; all built and intertwining throughout that one adrenaline fuelled brawl. What an amazing way to get the audience pumped for the PPV on Saturday. Abso-bloody-lutely nailed it.
And I’ve got to mention the promo from Cody, the hometown Carolina boy. Such a concise speech from the man, building that emotion with the crowd reacting to every beat fantastically and showing their investment. Drawing everything right back to Chris Jericho, responding to the man’s comments and directly calling him a ‘stupid dick’.
I loved the way the Inner Circle got painted by this promo, “You need this generation more than it needs you.” Calling out Jericho for surrounding himself with some young, impressionable people to keep himself relevant.
All this before the kicker of an announcement, upping the stakes for Full Gear in one mighty fashion. A reaction to being both a wrestler and management, a response to all the criticism saying he’s only getting the championship match because he’s in The Elite. If Cody loses Sunday, he will never challenge for the AEW Championship again.
And you know what? I reckon he’s losing. AEW’s rhythm so far has been the struggle of The Elite, completely breaking down our heroes before building them back up.
I can’t get across my tone in words, but Cody literally is in the match because he’s in The Elite. They’re the most popular act on the show, the biggest draws, so reason the show even exists in the first place. Who else would you have challenge for the championship that also has that level of fan investment? One of the former WWE wrestlers? And you truly believe that wouldn’t be criticised with the exact same argument, just swap out ‘just because he’s an Elite guy’ with ‘just because he’s a former WWE guy’.
Why would you not feature one of your most over acts in a championship match? That makes no sense to me. I do see ‘it’d make more sense to feature one of the new guys’, but in what world – with AEW openly building these guys nice and slowly – would any of the new wrestlers make sense as a top Pay Per View Championship contender with the fan investment to help draw a crowd?
We have to care about these wrestlers first, have a reason to be invested in their journey. That takes time, you can’t do that in one single month whilst you’re also establishing your show in that same period. But do you know who does have that investment? The Elite. A stable so popular they kick started this whole bloody revolution in the first place, leading to them launching their own weekly network television show in direct competition with WWE.
‘… because he’s in The Elite.’ That’s EXACTLY why Cody’s in that match.
And I for one couldn’t be more excited for Full Gear. A phenomenal promo. An adrenaline fuelled brawl. Count me the hell in.
NXT on USA
November 6th 2019
Survivor Series & War Games on the Horizon
Full Sail Gets Phenomenal
They’re coming for you. Do you want none?
A show with a very strong RAW/SmackDown format style: opening with a promo segment that sets up the main event for the night and most everything else in between is perfectly fine yet also relatively forgettable in the grand scheme of things.
This week’s NXT will be remembered as the night The O. C. showed up in Full Sail for the first time, being three of the only men to completely circumvent developmental and be signed straight to the main brand. So in spite of joining the promotion in 2016, this genuinely was the group’s debut appearance on NXT television. A unique sight to behold for sure!
Tomasso Ciampa is very quickly becoming the most over man on the black n’ yellow roster, now reaching ‘crowd sings to his song’ levels of over only truly reserved for the most respected prospects like: Bobby Roode, Shinsuke Nakakaura, the Sami Zayn Taylor Swift mash up, etc. You know, the best of the best.
The other two men to step up to the invaders, in Matt Riddle and Keith Lee, are easily two of the guys who have benefitted the most from the move to two hours. Especially Lee, who was only featured every now and then, but now has become a key player in the new network TV generation. And now the big man will go down as part of one the best ref bumps in WWE history, take the hell out of that cheque for that bump, Younger!
Although honestly for me, Mia Yim beating the living crap out of everyone with a kendo stick was the single moment that stood out across the entire show. I found it such an awesome moment with her hitting anything that moved ala Shirai herself yet somehow even more unleashed. The Joshi heel may very well be regretting introducing that weapon a few months back.
Mia Yim came across as such a badass, yanking that ‘… ain’t nothin’ to mess with’ moniker right out of Tessa B’s ownership. Sorry, Impact, NXT’s got the true weapon wielding badass now. You be busy… making Tessa into a true legitimate face of the company… okay, yeah you’ve evolved Tessa Blanchard pretty damn well, Impact.
But that’s left the title of Wrestling’s Badass to be up for grabs and Jesus did Mia Yim swing like they owed her money, “YO, IO! WHERE’S MY MONEY, IO? I’M HERE TO CASH MY GODDAMN CHEQUE, IO!”
Awesome moment, fair to say I was a fan of Rhea Ripley’s final pick for her team at War Games!
As for the show as a whole it’s an odd one, because I don’t know how to feel about rating this show in terms of building to Survivor Series. NXT has their own bleedin’ show to build to, they’ve got the first Women’s War Games, whatever Finn Balor’s doing and Undisputed Era are going to war with Daddy Ciampa.
Long story short, they’ve got their own shit to deal with. So even with AJ ‘God damn’ Styles showing up, it was actually the stuff building to War Games that excited me the most. I cared a hell of a lot more about what Finn Balor was doing than I did AJ Styles, which I argue is the benefit of a world that handles its stories and characters with so much more care.
AJ Styles is one of the best wrestlers on the planet, but his character doesn’t have any arc or direction. Which to me makes him so much less interesting when directly up against all those characters that do in Tomasso Ciampa, Finn Balor, Adam Cole, Velveteen Dream, Shaner Baszler, so on and so forth.
The Phenomenal One is absolutely in my book the best wrestler out of all those names, but I could immediately sense the main roster stink of ‘you have no story or arc’.
After Survivor Series AJ Styles goes back and defends his United States Championship against his next challenger of the month, Adam Cole on the other hand? It’s already been set up, the next story is already in the player just waiting for the button to be pressed. I can’t even begin on how much better that is in getting invested in a product.
I’m still excited for Survivor Series, still loving the crossovers, but this really was the first time the NXT/main roster comparing really hit home. NXT is what WWE could be with just a little bit of focus and patience. For some reason, AJ Styles showing up and taking part in a fun as hell match was the thing that made me realise it.
So yeah, a fun NXT that did more to get me excited for War Games than it did Survivor Series. No worries though, that’s kind of what RAW & SmackDown are for.
SmackDown on FOX
November 8th 2019
And Survivor Series Starts To Form
SmackDown In the UK
What The Roman Did For Us
Quick production rant: man have I not missed edited in crowd reactions, 100% the most dated part of WWE’s weekly TV production. Something I was damn glad to see the back of when both shows went LIVE over three years ago, no longer having to try and tune out the crowd so I can concentrate on what’s actually happening in the ring. Seriously, the biggest issue with these edits isn’t that they’re doing them, it’s that they’re implemented bloody awfully and in such a blatant way.
But nope, here we are with the epic return right at the end of Corbin’s show opening monologue. If you’re going to do it, at least edit them in well or don’t do it at all. Pulls me right out of the programme, it just reminds me that what was presented wasn’t good enough to actually get that reaction in the first place.
So yaay, looking forward to RAW after they’ve had days to edit and fret over the thing.
As for the actual show, yeah it was a perfectly fine show abroad. The recorded broadcasts from Britain always feel like a mini week of side fun if not one that’s hugely significant in terms of things happening or moving forward. We did get some nice character beats though, Corbin declaring Roman’s not the locker room leader he proclaims himself to be anymore and follows that through with his actions in the main event.
Seriously, I was genuinely surprised at how well WWE followed through with their actions after their words. Often times a promo like Corbin’s is literally just used to set up the main event, build a bit of heat but the actual words don’t mean anything as the end point is to get his ass beat to close things out all happy. But nope, the man actually got to deliver his message with Dolph Ziggler & Bobby Roode interfering by his side.
A nice little nod to Reigns no longer having his Shield brothers to help him by his side, as he was now the one up against the odds of three. I say a nod, it wasn’t once mentioned on commentary so I question how much that’s me reading into it and how intentional the parallels were. When the commentators are there to tell the story, not call a sport, what they say is a hell of a lot more important to distinguishing what is canon or not.
If the commentators don’t mention a thing once, then the likelihood is that’s me reading in to my own story that isn’t actually there. Because as much as I myself saw parallels, it’s just as likely a coincidence as they build to forming Survivor Series teams. Graves & Cole didn’t compare the pack attack tactics of Roode & Ziggler to The Shield once, even though the mirror was so apparent to me.
It’s just a difference in production to the other wrestling I’m used to in NJPW/AEW, where commentators are mostly there to call the action. When they’re more focused on calling the sport, what the commentators say isn’t as strong of a canon indicator. In WWE they are the storytellers, what they say is a hell of a lot more important to us following the narrative.
You can probably tell I don’t have much to say on this week’s SmackDown, given two paragraphs on editing in audio and a couple more on commentator canon. But really this was a perfectly fine continued build to Survivor Series paired with the normal lower key fun of a UK European tour show.
Something even mirrored by the much lower key presence of NXT, with Imperium abruptly ending one match and Shaner Baszler cutting down Bayley again. Aside from that there wasn’t really anything though, the intensity at a much lower level.
One final note, as Fire & Desire vs Dana Brooke & Carmella was getting underway Michael Cole stated that the winners would be going to Survivor Series as part of Team Sasha. Quick question… when the bloody hell was Team Sasha a thing? Have I missed something? Who in the world are they facing? This is literally the first I’m hearing of anything, surely I’ve missed something and WWE actually did announce the thing before this quick line.
Seriously, Team Sasha for what? Obviously Survivor Series, but what even is the match?
Monday Night RAW
November 4th 2019
Survivor Series Wars Episode 2: Attack Of The Developmental
NXT’s Era Is Now
Well Survivor Series sure looks interesting!
Hardcore fans: Oh my God this is awesome! Woo, NXT!
Everyone else: Who are these numpties again?
With Triple H at the helm, the true era with NXT on national television has begun. No longer just developmental, now being treated like a living, breathing third brand. Filled with talent strong enough to go toe to toe with the best RAW & SmackDown have to offer. Arguably the benefit of a time for wrestling that’s not so hot, it won’t take long for these lesser known talents to feel on par.
Especially if having Adam Cole stays presented as strongly as he has been, truly holding his own against two of the main roster’s best in both Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins. As things stand it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if AJ Styles is next on that list, with Undisputed Era versus The O. C. feeling like a damn logical next step in this NXT vs the WWE World Survivor Series build.
Especially as Brock Lesnar will be defending his championship and Bray Wyatt set ‘something’ up with Daniel Bryan last night. Why not have Adam Cole go up against the United States Champion? If not at Survivor Series then I can’t see the harm in such a big match main eventing a RAW along the way, a massive colliding of factions to get over the dominance of them both in their respective worlds.
RAW on a whole was just a nice continuation of the NXT invasion, with somewhat of a re-treading of the ground marched across last Friday. A mass brawl, a mid-show NXT match interference and Adam Cole main eventing against one of the show’s most respected in-ring workhorses. It’d be nice if the NXT folk got time to get across some character other than part of the mob, but the initial creating of chaos/drawing battle lines has damn well created an exciting atmosphere.
On that character front, arguably the one NXT star that benefitted the most this week was Shaner Baszler. With the NXT Women’s Champion popping in for a quick chat with The Man, getting across her intentions nice n’ clear alongside letting the TV audience know exactly who she is.
Because if there’s one thing WWE haven’t 100% nailed, it’s telling your average WWE TV viewer why you should care about these NXT characters. What percentage of that 2-3 million FOX viewership actually knows what NXT is? Nevermind why they should care about the wrestlers on the thing? This angle’s been great for us hardcore fans, but for the average fan?
There were people who went to SmackDown last week saying that yes, even though they bloody loved the show, there were indeed quite a few people asking, “Wait, these are the actual broadcast matches?” Because they had absolutely no idea who these people were, not an inkling as to why they should care.
Going forward I’d say that’s my one criticism I’d like to see addressed, tell me on RAW and SmackDown why I should care about these invading characters. Baszler calling a halt to Becky Lynch’s interview was exactly that perfect kind of thing, got her character across so the next time she jumped someone the crowd had a reason to care past ‘hey look NXT person!’.
Adam Cole’s said, what, one short sentence? Yes he’s had strong in-ring performances, but this is WWE and he’s so far had no opportunity to have a character past ‘that NXT Champion fella’.
Early days so not super complaining, really the fact I’m talking about those sorts of things is more of a nit-pick as I’m genuinely enjoying the thing. You can both enjoy something and critique it, nothing’s literal perfection.
Given how SmackDown went… well, down, I’m a tad worried for RAW next week. Having not seen any spoilers all I can say is I’m getting a vibe that there’s a chance the feeling of building tension might take a hit, a couple of low key fun European tour shows are exactly that.
Imp’s RAW Grade – Continued state of awesome fun if you watch NXT.
Imp’s AEW Grade – Absolutely fantastic atmosphere created for their first Go Home show.
Imp’s NXT Grade – Great builds for War Games, a fun match for the main roster build.
Imp’s SD Live Grade – Low key fun in the UK, expect more of the same on Monday.
But now to hear from you!
Did you enjoy this week’s RAW/SmackDown/NXT/AEW?
Will you be watching AEW Full Gear tonight?
Are you still excited for Survivor Series ?
Comment below, rate and click an emoji too. I’ll be here to reply and chat n’ whatnot.
email – [email protected]
Imp’s LOP Radio Adventure is LIVE every Thursday on both YouTube & Spreaker, this week Imp previewed and predicted AEW Full Gear!
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