wrestling / Columns

The 3 Rs: The Right, The wRong, and The Ridiculous of WWE RAW, NXT, and AEW Dynamite

May 3, 2021 | Posted by Tony Acero


To 4! 1! 1!

By Tony Acero

Another week, another RAW.

Braun Strowman Defeats Mace & T-Bar [NR]
Mace & T-Bar Defeats Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman [*]
The New Day and Damian Priest Defeats The Miz, Elias, and Jaxson Ryker [**]
Randy Orton and Matt Riddle Defeats Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin [**]
Nia Jax, Shayna Baszler, and Rhea Ripley Defeat Naomi, Lana, and Asuka [*1/2]
Charlotte Flair Defeats Mandy Rose [**]
Braun Strowman Defeats Drew McIntyre [***]

Riddle Me This, Orton: Last week, these two put on a banger of a match that, although not surprising, was very much welcomed. This week, we got the two teaming together to continue the old vet/new rookie dynamic. Commentary being shocked that Orton didn’t RKO Riddle to hell was kind of dumb, but on brand. I enjoyed their match with Cedric and Shelton, even if it only hammered in the nail on their coffin just a little more. I also had minor issues with the RKO, because although I love a good From Outta Nowhere, Cedric didn’t even pretend to do some sort of move, and rather just jumped off the corner as if the only thing he was going to do was take an RKO.

Bosom Buddies: So the Braun and Drew saga to get Braun into the main event at Backlash continues tonight, and although it wasn’t the worst we’ve seen, there was still a lot of eye-rolls. First, Braun, as a character, is so laughable and unbelievable. From his delivery, to the lines specifically, it is all just hyperbole and makes little sense. This is especially noticeable when lined up with Drew, who is typically a bit more well-rounded in how he cuts his promos and what his character believes. Which is to say; Braun just sucks. I’m not entirely sure what we are supposed to think about T-Bar and Mace, but I know for a fact that I don’t see them as a threat, and the “wins” they got last week and this certainly don’t change that. The Retribution stench is still so strong, and the are they/aren’t they teaming with MVP is just something I don’t care about. Thankfully (and surprisingly), this lead to a pretty solid main event that saw two behemoths go at it pretty strongly, and even with a marred finish, I was impressed. Not impressed enough for Right, though.

67% Fresh: Honestly, segments like this really just make me wish the “creative” team had any accountability. As a writer, one must assume some responsibility for the product being this childish. I could give some credit to them attempting to give Priest some personality, but throwing tomatoes is just so…yeah. Didn’t work for me. The match that followed also left something to be desired. For the second week in a row, Elias seemed more motivated and agile, while Ryker is just a block of nothingness that, in my opinion, has few redeemable qualities. Priest continues to shine as a bit more of a character, but the sooner we leave The Miz to go and break up with his buddy, the better.

Charlotte’s Web: In true WWE fashion, they ask themselves what they want, then find the most ass-backwards way of getting there. The match with Mandy was fine, nothing really all that bad, and Charlotte shows she can lead as per usual. Sonya being the person who made this match continues that little hatefest as well, so continuity showed up in rare form. Yet still, I can’t help but feel that they picked “indefinitely suspended” out of a hat and just threw some shit on TV.

Deal with the Deville: We haven’t seen an “evil GM” in quite some time, and yet it’s still not enough time yet, so forgive me if I have zero interest in Deville doing the dirty deeds necessary to pull some strings. There’s no sense to this, and it’s really just booking yourself into a corner, and finding the easiest way out. None of this made sense other than Charlotte’s attitude, which – although just not likeable even in a heelish way – is at least consistent. Being fined $100,000 and being reinstated, only to berate the ref who apologized and nearly beat his ass again in a match should make me hate her, but I just don’t care.

Humberto’s Revenge: On the one hand, it’s nice to see Humberto get some love and be allowed back on RAW, but on the other, this is a blatantly one-sided affair.

Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls: Another week, another Nia spot that just drips with bullshit and bad writing. Last week, I harped on the disrespect Mandy and Dana were showing by interrupting a wrestling match, as wrestlers, and not being aware of their peers. This week, we get more of the same. But just in case you forgot, Nia is suddenly clumsy as all hell outside of the ring just as much as she is inside of the ring, and we got to see her flail like an idiot. This could just go away and never come back, all of it. Asuka doesn’t belong in this match, and neither does Rhea.

By Harry Broadhurst

Greetings everyone. My name’s Harry. I’m the new guy to the 3Rs but I’m pretty familiar with 411mania, having been a user of the site going all the way back to high school (circa 2001ish). Tony brought me on as the NXT guy to give you all a fresh take on the show from a voice you hadn’t read before here. In addition to doing NXT here, Tony and I also do a weekly podcast called ‘The Reaction’ where we break down Smackdown and Raw almost every Monday night. I look forward to seeing what you guys think and talking NXT with you all going forward.

Mercedes Martinez Defeats Dakota Kai [**½]
Zayda Ramier Defeats Toni Storm [**]
Bronson Reed pins Austin Theory [**½]
Fabian Aichner/Marcel Barthel Defeat Drake Maverick/Killian Dain [***]
Aliyah/Jessi Kamea vs Ember Moon/Shotzi Blackheart goes to a No Contest [NR]
Joaquin Wilde/Raul Mendoza/Santos Escobar defeat KUSHIDA/Nash Carter/Wes Lee [***½]

My Shoes Stay On: I love the idea of a program with the GYV and the Grizzled Veterans in Thatcher and Ciampa. I do think GYV has more life as a team in NXT but the chance to work with two of the more established performers on the brand will do nothing but help their reputation as one of the best tag teams in NXT.

Dummies, Yeah: A: I’m glad they let LA Knight keep most of what made him work in both Impact and the NWA. The guy has IT and while he may not be great in the ring, he’s more than serviceable enough there that his charisma will be able to carry him. And that’s not just an opinion. That’s a fact of life!
B: Ever-Rise is awesome. That’s all.

This is the Way: While it was completely out of character for Raquel to get involved in Dakota’s match, it made perfect sense for Johnny Gargano to want to help Austin Theory in his match with Bronson Reed. The result was the obvious one but The Way remains entertaining on a week in-week out basis and continues to make the most of their screen time.

In-Dex: This gets its own Right. I really like the romance storyline between the two. Usually romance angle’s come off really campy, but this one is doing it intentionally and it’s working for me. Wrestling doesn’t always have to be serious business.

Everybody’s Got a Price: I really want this to lead to Ted Sr managing Cameron. Can we make that happen? The vignettes with Cameron remain among the most consistently entertaining things on a weekly basis for NXT

New Week, Same Asshole: Adam Cole sticking to who Adam Cole is makes sense to me. Win or lose, Cole changes for no one. And then showing a reflecting Kyle O’Reilly watching the interview is a lot better look than douchebag O’Reilly was last week coming out at the start from raiding the closet of Orange Cassidy.

Coming for the Crown(s): Loved most of the booking for the main event. Could have done without Wes Lee lasting as long as he did in a 3 on 1 situation, but otherwise it was a really well told story that saw the former Cruiserweight champion lay out the man who took his belt and Wilde/Mendoza lay their claim to a shot at the NXT Tag belts by pinning one of the champions in the dead center of the ring.

The Campeona is Here: I like the idea of Raquel Gonzalez as NXT Women’s champion. I like the idea of Dakota Kai pulling the strings for Raquel as kind of a puppet master. What I don’t care for is Raquel getting involved in matches because it’s not something that aligns with her recent history. The attack was well done but a post match brawl would have better served the point, IMO.

With Friends Like This: Maverick’s paranoia works for him, given all he’s been through in his WWE/NXT career. The team with Dain shouldn’t work but it does. The problem is when you put them in the ring with a serious act like Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel, it exposes the fact that they aren’t great in the ring as a team. It’s a midcard act that fans can get behind but that’s about the ceiling. The right team wins at least and I’ll look forward to the fallout of whether or not Drake can accept that Killian does have his back.

The Way to the Tag Titles: While I like the Robert Stone Brand for what it is, I do think it was the right call to use the advertised match to build up the tag title rematch. The reason it ends in puRgatory is that I’m not really sure what it does for Aliyah and Jessi Kamea. The over the top celebration was nice for character but they need to be established to people for that to mean anything.

On the Storm Path: Toni needed a rehabilitation after being used to help make Zoey Stark mean more on the Takeover pre-show. It seemed she was on her way to doing so before a Zoey distraction led to Zayda getting the win. I’ll be curious to see if they do anything with Zayda coming out of it. For now, the questionable usage of Toni Storm continues though…

Six of One: Seems counter-productive to announce both a Falls Count Anywhere match and a Street Fight for next week. Perhaps spreading the stipulations out over the course of a few weeks would be a better way to not burn through them.

Nothing of Note

By Michael Ornelas

Whassup Ridicumaniacs, it’s yaboi Michael O here to give you a fresh take on AEW and an even fresher take on socks with sandals: what they lack in style, they make up for in comfort. And comfort is my number one priority. Just ask my sweatpants collection. Okay this is already off the rails, so HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS ON DYNAMITE!

“The Machine” Brian Cage def. “Hangman” Adam Page [***]
The Young Bucks def. Matt & Mike Sydal [**¼]
“Freshly Squeezed” Orange Cassidy def. Penta El Zero Miedo [***¾]
Kris Statlander def. Penelope Ford [**¼]
The Nightmare Factory def. Dustin Rhodes, Billy Gunn, & Lee Johnson [**¾]
TNT Champion Darby Allin def. 10 [***¼]

The Machine Beats #1: A quick pre-match beatdown was enough to soften Adam Page up enough for Brian Cage to beat him in a match that was clean once the bell rang. This does a lot for Cage’s credibility in AEW, and I’m thrilled it happened. Brian Cage is a tremendous talent, and while Page will get his day in the sun eventually, it’s great to see Hangman lose in a way that will undoubtedly shake up the power rankings and further establish Cage as a force to be reckoned with on Dynamite.

PTS-E: The Elite and The Good Brothers cut a short promo putting themselves over from the back of a limousine, denying that they’re afraid of Kingston and Moxley…but when MT Nakazawa accidentally lays on the horn, flashbacks to last week’s trailer attack triggers them all and we saw true fear in their eyes. Quick, but brilliant way to put over Mox and Eddie in this rivalry.

Jade Hype: The undefeated Jade Cargill continues to know her worth, reinforcing that she’s only going to sign with a faction/manager that has something to offer her, as she knows her worth. Simple, effective storytelling.

Why Gimmicks Matter: Orange Cassidy and Penta El Zero Miedo put on a master class in mixing their gimmicks into a match. The work was solid, but what put this match over to the next level was how seamlessly their character work played off one another. This is the only combination of wrestlers in the world where there’s a spot that makes complete sense that has a wrestler trying desperately to put his hand in his pocket to prevent his arm from being broken. Cassidy avenged Trent?’s loss from last week in my favorite match of the week.

The Alex Abrahantes “Right” Residency – Week 1: I’ve decided that until he does something wRong, Alex Abrahantes has a permanent, separate entry in the Right section. He has all the confidence of a middle schooler who just touched his first boob (over the bra), and it has changed his life. He looks like the perfect dork, and his body language is perfect. It’s a unique vibe for a manager, different than any I’ve ever seen before. What an excellent hype man.

BBDMDN1C: Britt Baker reminded us that she is now the top contender in the women’s division, and put Shida on notice. It seems apparent that these two will clash at the next PPV, and I think it’s time to pull the trigger on Baker. She’s been built perfectly, and quite frankly has put in so much work to improve over the past year that she deserves it.

paRley: I wasn’t exactly sure what the rules of the parley were, or how it was determined that the Pinnacle “won” the parley. Sammy gave them the advantage, and that was enough. Okay, sure, I’ll take that. Let’s move past that and talk about these promos. Spears, Sammy, Cash, Dax, Santana, Jericho, AND MJF all delivered on their promos. And once again Santana was the one who stood out the most. The man has a magnetic quality about his delivery, where you can’t help but pay attention. I’m pumped for Blood & Guts. I think the Pinnacle absolutely needs to win, but if they don’t, I trust AEW to make sense of why. All I know is the match will be epic.

”He knew what he signed up for”: Kenny Omega is literally a cheesy 80s action villain. “We’re sending the goons after you.” This segment made Nakazawa look reaaaaally dumb. But let’s face it: Nakazawa has been a goof his entire AEW run, so he’s the perfect guy for the job. Kenny’s delivery on the mic during this segment where Eddie Kingston threatened to break Nak’s ankle was pitch-perfect. It’s over-the-top and cheesy, but it works. Kenny looks the part and acts the part. Ultimately, we got a tag match booked for next week where Kingston and Moxley will finally get their hands on Kenny.

The Return of Sammy’s PIP: Sammy Guevara did his cue card gimmick during Picture-in-Picture for the first time in ages, and he used it to send a message of violence to the Pinnacle, while also conveying that he will be the first man in for his team. A nice touch is that all the cards were decorated with a blood aesthetic.

Win or Learn: Christian murdered Taz with words, saying Taz wishes he could do what Christian has done by returning and proving his value. He called Taz out for trying to bask in the spotlight of younger prospects. All that is well and good, but when Christian said he doesn’t believe in “win or lose”, but rather “win or learn,” he literally redefined what it means to lose to a veteran in wrestling. I don’t think he realizes how important that sentence could be if he sticks with it. Chris Jericho always says wins and losses don’t matter in wrestling, and while that’s true if it’s backed up with solid storytelling, Christian added to that idea. He beat Will Hobbs last week because Hobbs made one mistake, and this promo didn’t undercut Hobbs in the slightest. It built him up and contextualized his loss as a learning experience. There is obviously a time and a place for younger talent to overcome the veterans, but with where “Powerhouse” is at this stage in his career, this is the Right call.

The Alien Has Stat-Landed: Kris Statlander and Penelope Ford had a fine match on this show. There wasn’t much noteworthy about it, but I do want to praise the simple and effective booking of AEW, where every match makes sense. These two had an inevitable match ahead of them after Statlander’s return. It didn’t need to be big, or part of a larger feud. It didn’t need to happen on pay-per-view, but it did need to happen. Story continuity is a big asset for AEW’s creative direction, and I appreciate matches like this.

10 Unmasked: Not literally, but the Dark Order’s “10” got a short promo to build tonight’s TNT Championship main event match. He tugs on the heartstrings by attributing his aspirations to Brodie Lee, which is legitimate. The Dark Order and Darby Allin have been loose allies in the past month due to the Hardy Family Office mini-feud, so this title shot feels like an informal “thank you” to the Dark Order from Allin, who planted the seed for this match via Twitter. I will say that 10 has a long way to go in the promo department as far as finding a delivery that sounds interesting, but I will praise how genuine he sounded here.

The Nightmare Factory Pick Up a Win: It was nice to see collective group cohesion as The Nightmare Factory picked up a trios win. QT is looking great, and the other prospects continue to show promise. I think Solow is the most natural while Camarata has such a unique presence.

Miro Closes the Door on Kip Sabian: The separation of Miro and Kip seems to be all but official, as Miro has his sights set on becoming a champion. Miro beat the ever-loving shit out of his former best friend, slammed his wrist in a door, and told him he forgives him. Miro is possessed by a singular mission, and I loved the symbolism of literally closing the door on that period of his career. This will supposedly keep Kip out of action for a bit so Miro can win gold (my guess is the TNT Championship) before Sabian stands up for himself and challenges for it. Even if the latter doesn’t happen, this was great.

10 Makes Me Believe: Just after a segment where Miro made me feel that he’s next in line for Darby’s title, the main event showed more from 10 than we have ever gotten to see so far, and I genuinely bit on the almost-finish before Darby got the flash pin. It wasn’t a classic by any means, but it was necessary in building 10 up a bit. The post-match with Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky was good, and I suspect Sting’s next match will be a tag with Darby against these two, which has got to be a dream come true for Sky and Page. I wish more of a formal alliance would be formed between Sting/Darby and Lance Archer already.

Bella Boys: A solid tag match, filled with wonderfully annoying heel flexing by the brothers Jackson was marred by (kayfabe) incompetent refereeing. Matt rolled Nick out of the ring and took his spot, only for an over-the-top reveal and Rick Knox did nothing about it. I don’t mind the spot while they remain face-down. They’re wearing the same thing and their hair is similar enough. But once Knox saw Matt’s face, he did next to nothing to correct the blatant disregard of the rules. I asked “Are they going with an angle where Knox has been paid off?” out loud to myself on my first viewing. And then nothing came of it. I know wrestling isn’t a real athletic contest, but the storytelling is within the confines of one, so the rules should be enforced. Outside of this, I enjoyed the match and thought Matt Sydal in particular tore it up, as he has been doing frequently as of late. After the match, Daniels & Kazarian laid out a challenge to the “entitled overdressed bitches” who hold the championship, setting up a great opportunity to add to the Young Bucks’ heat considering they’re definitely going to break SCU up as a result of the match.

The Return of Rhodes: Obviously with how he was taken out, Cody was going to enact some revenge. Makes total sense. The presentation of this segment felt a little silly to me. Seeing Cody through the door of the bus did more to make QT look like a goof than it did to make for a good return. And then the brawl that ensued was fine, but the sudden appearance of a rowdy audience around them felt even sillier. The climb on top of the bus wasn’t motivated by anything in the geography of the brawl other than the mere presence of a bus, and we didn’t even get to see the climb (or the look on QT’s face that would’ve sold us on the fact that he thought it was a good plan). This isn’t wRong because the story beat made total sense, and Cody has already been gone a lot from AEW since he initially dropped the TNT Championship to Brodie Lee, so it only helps to get him back on TV. But I wish this had been executed differently.

The Right of Ogogo is wRong: The past couple weeks, I’ve praised the gut punch of Anthony Ogogo. And from a kayfabe perspective, I still love it. But he needs to lay it in more. This wRong designation is 100% due to execution, not conception. It looked weak this week when he punch Billy Gunn in the gut.

Double or…Nothing?: We have the next PPV in less than a month, and no matches have been announced. Several are obviously being built to, while others are implied. Shida vs. Baker seems like a given. I have no clue who’s going to challenge for Omega’s title, as another Moxley match feels unnecessary at this moment in time. Christian vs. Ricky Starks would be a solid plan, but there’s not enough there for me to confidently say it’s going to happen. Some iteration of Pinnacle vs. Inner Circle match will likely happen. Cody vs. QT Marshall is happening next week, so it’s hard to say how that feud will be represented on the PPV. I’d selfishly very much like an announcement to happen as well as for tickets to go on sale because I’m planning on driving to Jacksonville for it from Los Angeles now that I’m vaccinated. I am assuming they want to build next week’s show as a huge deal and not overshadow it by also building to a pay-per-view, which I can respect. But with less than a month to go for a company that only runs quarterly PPVs, this is odd.

By Robert Winfree

Returns Next Week!