wrestling / Columns

The 3 Rs: The Right, The wRong, and The Ridiculous of WWE NXT and WWE Smackdown

May 25, 2021 | Posted by Tony Acero
Aleister Black


To 4! 1! 1!

By Tony Acero

Returns next week!

By Harry Broadhurst

What’s up again, everyone? Harry here to bring you the 3R (maybe the 4Rs?) for NXT. Apologies for last week. Had some personal issues that took me out of balance and took some time away from everything, including wrestling. I have caught up now and am ready to begin the build to the next NXT Takeover: In Your House II.

Toni Storm pins Zoey Stark [***]
Jake Atlas pins Cameron Grimes [**½]
Killian Dain pins Alexander Wolfe, [N/R]
Joaquin Wilde/Raul Mendoza def. Timothy Thatcher/Tomasso Ciampa, [***½]
Sarray pins Aliyah [N/R]
AJ ‘Top Dolla’ Francis/Ashante Adonis def. Ariya Daivari/Tony Neese [N/R]
[b]North American Championship[/b]: Bronson Reed pins Johnny Gargano © [***½]

Toni’s Time: I still think there is star potential in Storm in NXT. She’s an attractive woman, she’s a good promo and she’s proven herself more than competent in the ring. Don’t get me wrong, Zoey Stark has a lot of upside, but for now…Toni winning here is the right call because she’s the more proven commodity. The ending bit with Franky (apologies for the misspell last time) Monet could go any of a number of different ways as well.

The Way Has a Spa Day: Indi and Dexter make for an adorable angle. Candice and Johnny as the overbearing parents make for excellent foils. Eventually when this breaks down in the mixed tag, everyone involved will be able to improve with the extra work being put into their characters. Can’t complain about that.

Everybody’s Still Got a Price: Jake Atlas looks like a goober here, sure. But think this is more about the personality being added to Cameron Grimes than it was about giving Jake Atlas anything from it. And I look forward to when Grimes finally gets the last laugh on DiBiase, because he has to for this to mean anything long term.

Crying Wolfe: Thank you for the years of service, Axe. And best wishes as you head back to the Indies. Also, I still love the little detail of Maverick expecting the hammer to drop and it not having happened yet. Maverick and Dain shouldn’t be champs or anything (IMO) but they are a solid mid-card tag act that fans can get behind. That’s a perfectly acceptable place for them to be.

Sowing the Seeds: I think Dakota turning on Raquel is coming sooner than later. But I like the tag work and the fact that Dakota still thinks she’s in control of the situation. It’s a nice way to play up how far she has come since she was basically Shayna’s bitch a couple years ago.

EverRise: Stealing the show, one segment at a time. Chase ‘Jagged’ Parker: “You kind of got sucker punched there, buddy.”

Incoming Tide: Match was good and probably the best on the card in terms of the overall story that was told during it. I wish nothing but the best for Bronson as the new champion but he has really big shoes to fill. I am of the opinion that Gargano is [i]the[/i] guy that makes NXT tick and he has done a fantastic job making the NA belt mean something. Where does Johnny go from here? They teased interaction with Kross, which I wouldn’t mind, but honestly…I’m not sure that there’s a real good answer to this question. Hopefully, they give him something to sink his teeth into and Johnny Takeover continues to help keep the black and yellow flying high.

Prime Target: I like the concept of these video packages, but I do think these would be better served on digital platforms. That said, it was a nice touch getting people like Heyman and McAfee involved for this.

One and Dunne?: I question the tone of the interview with Pete here as he came off kind of babyface and that hasn’t been his character in NXT. Dunne is a damn fine wrestler and has turned into a much better talker over the last couple years. But this was horribly inconsistent to the Pete Dunne we’ve seen up to this point recently on NXT. I’ll follow Pete where he goes but maybe not the worst idea to pick a lane and stick to it.

Meet the Contenders: While I liked the match, I didn’t care for the finish. I get that it protects Ciampa and Thatcher. But it also makes your new number one contenders look weaker by needing someone else’s help to get the job done. If you want Mendoza and Wilde to get the shot (which they clearly did), let them win the match before Ciampa and Thatcher get attacked by the GYV.

Something Fishy: Goes back to what I said above about Dunne. Fish is a defined babyface. Him calling out Lorcan (to a lesser extent) and specifically Dunne makes sense from his injury at WarGames. But it puts Dunne in character no-man’s land.

Too Much of a Good Thing: Just because they tout that the women’s division in NXT is the best in wrestling (it may well be), doesn’t mean you need to put people out there for the sake of putting them out there. Sarray could be the next big Japanese Women’s star for NXT (following Asuka, Sane and Shirai) but what purpose does a throw-away two minute match with Aliyah (a long time JTTS) serve? None.

Hit Row Opponents: The segment and match itself were fine. The choice of opponents was not. Why sacrifice two guys like Daivari and Neese when there are a bunch of dudes who aren’t on TV on a weekly basis they could have put in this spot instead. Hit Row does show some serious potential as a group, however.

Nothing of Note

By Robert Winfree

Bayley, Nia Jax, and Shayna Baszler defeated Bianca Belair, Tamina, and Natalya [**]
Shinsuke Nakamura defeated King Corbin – [**]
Dominik Mysterio defeated Robert Roode – [*1/2]
Apollo Crews defeated Big E, Kevin Owens, and Sami Zayn to retain the IC Title – [***]

Bloodline Drama:: This was what passed for a full on narrative for the event, but it came across well enough. Roman refusing to be part of a parade of title holders because there is only one champion, Paul Heyman’s wonderful ass kissery, Jimmy trying to get his tag team with Jey back up and running while Jey still isn’t sure what the future holds for them. All of it was pretty darn great from a writing and acting perspective.

Fata 4-Way: They gave four talented guys time to deliver a quality match. There wasn’t much of a story to the match, though that’s a common enough complaint of multi-man matches not to knock this one too much, Big E moves out of the title picture to feud with a returning Aleister Black, and while the IC title picture isn’t exactly thriving at the moment we might get something interesting to spin out of this.

Nakamura and Ric Boogs: I still think two wrestlers feuding of a very bad looking crown prop in 2021 is stupid, but the sudden debut of Ric Boogs and his guitar combined with a shocking amount of in ring chemistry between Nakamura and Corbin bumps this whole thing up a bit.

Cesaro and Rollins: This is slightly negative on my part, mostly because I’m projecting what I think will happen. Rollins delivered a beat down to Cesaro, then yell cried at him in the back about making him do this. The beat down was fine, the promo adequate though it could be meme’d easily. My problem here is what I think happens next, I’m terrified Rollins beats Cesaro in their next two matches to permanently shunt him back down the card. We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out but for now, this angle just exists.

This is the song that never ends: Well, Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax showed up because there’s not a heel team of women on Smackdown for Natalya and Tamina to play off of despite Baszler and Jax being Raw talent. The addition of Bayley and Belair helped freshen things up a bit here, but I can’t be the only one yawning my way through these two tag teams interactions week after week.

Dominik Mysterio’s quest for belonging: The narrative around Dominik right now is pretty simple, the veterans don’t think he should be here and he keeps one upping them to fuel their fire. Dominik getting more reps in the ring is a fine enough thing, but there’s a ton of rematch fatigue going on at the moment in the tag team scene because there’s a whopping 4 of them. We haven’t seen the Alpha Academy in a while, so maybe only 3 depending on what happens with the Uso’s reunion next episode. The whole tag team division on Smackdown needs an injection of life soon.

Nothing of Note

By Michael Ornelas

Will return next week!

Jon Moxley & Eddie Kingston defeated Kenny Omega & MT Nakazawa [**¼]
Cody Rhodes defeated QT Marshall [***¼]
Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. defeated Julia Hart [*]
SCU defeated Jurassic Express, The Acclaimed, and The Varsity Blonds [***]
Blood & Guts: The Pinnacle defeated The Inner Circle [****]

The Best Bait Machine: After throwing MT Nakazawa to the wolves last week, Kenny Omega seemed poised to no-show his tag team match against Moxley and Kingston as Callis said he would. What we got instead was a blindsided attack from Kenny before the match to neutralize Moxley for the start of the bout. Once Moxley recovered, we got a fun little brawl to get us off to an appropriate start for a show named after violence and hatred, only to end with Kenny’s cowardice showing itself. The post-match beatdown was expected, so I’m curious to see if Mox and Eddie get some reinforcements or are going to have to plow through The Elite themselves.

Let ‘em Fight!: Small thing here but I appreciate that, given the grudge-like nature of the QT Marshall and Cody Rhodes feud, Bryce Remsburg didn’t throw out the match when Arn Anderson got into it with QT, rather just throwing the former Horseman out of the ringside area. Shows both the respect that Anderson carries, as well as a willingness to let the men fight.

Ogogo Lays Out Cody: Cody has been booked very strongly in AEW, and I don’t think anyone is surprised by that. He left WWE to prove he was a main event talent, and he was a huge part of AEW’s first year. Since then, however, his appearances have been very start and stop, and he wins pretty much always. QT Marshall has been the perfect midcard heel as of late, but it never felt to me like he was the one they were building. The Factory, and specifically Anthony Ogogo, seem like the main ones getting a push. Cody beat QT in a solid match, which I’m sure a lot of people who aren’t fans of Cody weren’t happy about, but that post-match where Ogogo hit Cody with a beautifully-done right hand to the gut did more for him than anything up until this point. I hope he’s able to pick up a win against Cody when they inevitably face off, because this project hinges on building up the younger talents.

Darby’s Tumble: Scorpio Sky and Ethan Page finally cut a promo explaining their motives for targeting Darby and Sting specifically, and then Darby picked a fight with them. Page in particular had great delivery to his words, but it was the total beatdown on Darby that made me love this segment. Darby flew down those concrete steps like the self-hating bump-taker he is.

Britt Disheartens Hart: Britt Baker made quick work of a debuting Julia Hart, asserting her dominance as the #1 ranked woman in the division. Her character work has gotten so good, and I’m rooting for her against Shida, as I think Britt as champion is what the division needs right now.

Technique by Taz: As far as I remember, they’ve only done this once before on Dynamite, breaking down Omega’s strategy of the V-Trigger and the Snap Dragon Suplex to soften up the opponent for his finisher. This time Taz focused on the ring-work of Christian Cage, and I absolutely love this sort of analysis. This should have a permanent home on Dynamite, probably every 2-3 weeks. It does a lot to get over different styles of wrestling and I’m here for it.

SCUrgency: I’m glad the story of this match was SCU wrestling to keep themselves in the match as much as possible, as well as breaking up pins. They had the most on the line, and the match reflected that on their way to the win, pitting them against the champion Young Bucks next week. I wish it had been set for Double or Nothing, but let’s see how next week shakes out.

Moxley vs. Nagata Hype: Moxley is so damn good in every promo he cuts. This video package got me HYPED for his IWGP US Championship defense next week against Yuji Nagata.

The Alex Abrahantes “Right” Residency – Week 2: He wasn’t on the show this week, so technically he didn’t do anything wRong. Therefore…

Omega’s an Assidy to Cassidy: Omega is a glorious dickhole right now. I understand the disrespect to the AAA and Impact titles he’s carrying around to have them around the waist/shoulder of Michael Nakazawa, but as far as “in the vacuum of AEW” is concerned, it was magnificent. Omega cut down Orange Cassidy when it was announced that he’s one of two contenders who will be in a Championship Eliminator match next week (with the other being Pac). Orange came out and all but guaranteed that he will be the one facing off against Omega (unless they do a three-way match), and it sold me on wanting to see it.

Miro’s Destiny Fulfilled: Miro gets his championship match next week as he’ll go one-on-one with Darby Allin. I expect after tonight’s beatdown of Darby, Miro will be walking away with the gold. That’s the right call.

Blood & Guts Up Until…: This delivered big time. Every single competitor had their moments to shine, and the Inner Circle showed tremendous babyface fire. The Pinnacle had to win to establish themselves, so that was the right call. The crowd was hot – this was everything I want from my wrestling. Violent, bloody, personal, hate-filled for a big faction vs. faction showdown. Sammy Guevara is a madman (even if he should be absolutely sure he can pull off all of his stunts before doing them on TV).

Nothing of Note

…That Ending: The booking of the ending to Blood & Guts worked for me. The idea that the members of the Inner Circle care more about one another than winning is something that truly seems to ring true, not because they lose all the time or anything, but the duration of MJF’s tenure in the group before The Pinnacle’s formation proved that. It also means the finish didn’t see anyone get pinned or submit, leaving some tread on the tire, so to speak. Many were critical of booking a “feud-ending blowoff match” this early in the feud, but they effectively used the gimmick while maintaining that the feud isn’t finished. But then there was everything that came after. This wasn’t Revolution by any means, but while I’m all for protecting wrestlers, the falls onto obvious crashpads should only be done when the camera is below the point of impact. Capture it from the floor as Jericho drops onto the stage, then have his Inner Circle stablemates roll him to sell somewhere that isn’t a pad that looks comfier than a California King. There are alternate ways to present this as it could have had the brutality that I’m sure they intended it to have, but it missed the mark in that regard.

Blood & Cuts: The Blood & Guts match was always going to be a beast of a match to cover, cinematically speaking, and while I don’t want anything that resembles Kevin Dunn, I actually would’ve liked a few more cuts to make sure I’m informed of everything going on in all parts of the rings. This seemed noteworthy when Hager entered the match and went on a tear against Spears, Harwood, and Wheeler. Wardlow’s story was a parallel on the other side of the ring against Santana, Ortiz, and Guevara, yet we only ever got to see what Hager was doing until the two big men faced off. And then again, there was the camerawork for the post-match bump, which I’ve already talked about. The camera should be able to hide the staged moments/wrestler communication and enhance the desired effects. It wasn’t bad, but it needs more work.

Unprotected Headshots: From my understanding, AEW gimmicks their chairs for headshots, but it still makes me uncomfortable from an optical perspective. Knowing the effect CTE has had on the brains of older wrestlers and other impact-sport athletes makes me completely fine with never seeing another chairshot to the head, no matter how safely done it might be.

Nothing of Note

article topics :

NXT, Smackdown, Wrestling 3Rs, WWE, Tony Acero