wrestling / Columns

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

April 26, 2021 | Posted by Tony Acero
Riddle Raw 4-19-21


To 4! 1! 1!

<2nd Intro>Another week in the wrestling world, and another week full of stuff for us to critique as if we have any credibility! Seriously, it’s not like I’ve been doing this for ten years or anything. Listen: all I’m saying is that if Nia Jax can keep a job while not deserving of it at all, so can I.

By Tony Acero

The Viking Raiders Defeated Shelton Benjamin and Cedric Alexander [**]
Matt Riddle Defeated Randy Orton [***1/2]
Lana and Naomi Defeated Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler [1/2*]
Elias Defeated Kofi Kingston [***]
Mace and T-Bar Defeated Drew McIntyre and Braun Strowman [NR]
Damien Priest Defeated The Miz [**]

Riddle Me This, Orton: I loved every second of Old Man Orton getting mad at that pesky kid scooting all over his sidewalk. From Orton acting as if he had no idea who Riddle was, to Riddle being his non-verbal Riddle (Because, let’s face it, everything verbal is idiotic and just bad writing). Then comes the match, where Riddle is just built different. That’s possibly the best thing he has going for him – that his matches just feel different, even with opponents who are very very familiar. Within the confines of the bell to bell, there was more than just hard-hitting action from each guy, there were also a lot of verbal jabs. Perhaps more surprising than the quality of the match was the fact that Riddle won, and he won by evading a move that is supposedly unstoppable in its tenacity and shock. If they make this a big deal, it will make Riddle more than any title ever could have. How often does someone not only evade an RKO, but turn it into a surprise pin?

It’s A Shameful Thing, Lobster Head: Keeping in line with Sheamus who loves to fight, but also keeping in line with a Sheamus who isn’t down to lose his title, Sheamus brings back the US Championship Open but without the title on the line. Sheamus cutting a promo saying he’s not John Cena, then going out there to squash an Humberto is just some good ol fashioned Irish fun. I’m looking forward to a few more beatdowns before the inevitable challenger comes to the forefront to attempt to take the title from him.

The Inconsistent Drifter: I considered this a puRgatory move since it’s a match that truly is just sitting there with nothing great before it, and likely nothing great after it, but I want to give credit where it’s due, and Elias and Kofi deserve some love. They killed it here. Kofi sold like hell for Elias, and Elias seemed motivated more than ever for this sprint of a match. Kofi’s ability to look like he’s being murdered complimented Elias’ physique and moveset, which usually looks incredibly clunky against other opponents. Tonight was a significant upturn for both guys in a storyline that will likely lead to more bad than good.

It Was Me! It Was Me All Along! Retribution BS

The Minnesota Viking Raiders of Las Vegas: Look, I’m all for the return of The Viking Raiders. They’re fun, even if their gimmick is relatively one-note and lacks substance. I’m even all for them getting a couple of wins on their way back to the top of the tag team food chain. What I’m not ok is how it’s all being done. I’m not saying Cedric and Shelton need to be unbeatable and unstoppable, but if this isn’t proof that they cant focus on more than one team per show at a time, then I don’t know what more you need. Cedric and Shelton never had a chance, and that’s not a good thing. The Viking Raiders still have no actual character, and are – instead – caricatures created at a time when they were besting The Street Profits in literally everything BUT wrestling. Why should we care?

Damian’s Arrow: I like Priest; I think he’s got a nice little mid-card future for himself. Now that Bad Bunny is off to do his tour, however, he’s gotta stand on his own laurels. Him defeating The Miz is a good start, but it’s about time for Priest to move on, and I don’t think that’s what’s going to happen here. The whole promo with Miz was laid out so they could have yet another match, and thankfully Priest won. I don’t know, really, what the point of having Maryse back is, although I know a majority of fans are ok with it. My issue stems from it really taking away from Priest and any push they are trying to give him, assuming that’s what they’re trying to do. I suppose time will tell.

Alexa’s Playhouse You really get the impression they are trying to allow Alexa to stand on her own while keeping the character she has helped create intact. The problem is that she suffers the same fate of The Fiend. Simply put, they aren’t well-rounded, and they aren’t consistent. These characters, as “wild” as they may appear, are actually pretty flat. There’s very little substance or backstory, or even any type of exposition. Take Alexa, for instance; we can deduce she suffered from some variation of Stockholm Syndrome, and this break in the psyche coerced her into hearing the voices of her captor to eventually break free and…? OK. Some may assume that to be enough to go on, but it’s really not. Add a sock puppet and a swing, and you get stuff that we lose a grapple on because there is nothing to hold onto.

Charlotte’s Flare Up: This iteration of Charlotte is the worst. First, she uses insider terms and addresses women in the back; mixing internet complaints with unreal complaints that simply don’t exist. Then, she stands tall spouting issues that no one, real or kayfabe even have, and of course, she does this with the cadence of a boat in a thunderstorm – which is to say, horribly haphazard and up and down to the point it’s nauseating to listen to. One would think they teach something as simple as meter in their promo classes, but I’m not surprised considering she sounds like The Bellas, like Dana, like Nia, and like a majority of the former Divas Division. Hell, even my beloved Sasha sometimes suffers from the unnecessary inflection of syllables. Anyway, Charlotte beating down a referee isn’t nearly as WOW as they assume it is, and the unnecessary switch to this holier than thou Charlotte is not new. This, compounded with her being “suspended indefinitely” just screams sloppy and lazy writing.

Mask Off, by Future: While I’m never one to fantasy book, I can’t help but think there were a myriad of ways to go about this other than what we got. First, no one believes these guys as threats considering the year we have had with them getting their asses handed to them, and the only real damage they’ve ever done is to a glass window and some random persons Camry. Second, are we not supposed to know who they are when we were told these were their former names and they denounced them for Ali. Just an all around lazy retcon that still saw them being bitched out by a Braun who suddenly cares about fairness and Drew McIntyre.

Nia’s Permanent Corner: I truly hope this doesn’t become just a gimmick, but suffice to say, I don’t see anything Nia does ever leaving this dark corner that is Ridiculous. Lucky for her, this week she isn’t alone. I know Dana and Mandy are relatively one-note characters, and the face/heel line can be blurred if done right, but we are to believe that these two women are faces, trying to be better wrestlers and get people to take them seriously. Why, then, would they ever interrupt a peer’s wrestling match? Do make Nia lose? To gain what? And to come out, mid-match, to show a replay of what we already saw, what we don’t need to see, and what Nia is well aware of just seems nonsensical. Not a single person in this storyline is likeable, and I can even include Lana and Naomi in this fold. Naomi is the lost bystander whose charisma is being sucked away by association.

By Harry Broadhurst

Returns Next Week!

By Michael Ornelas

<2nd Intro>It’s whatever day this column goes up, and you know what that means! Michael Ornelas is back to analyze this past week’s AEW Dynamite. It was a real hot show, so let’s get to it!

“Hangman” Adam Page def. “Absolute” Ricky Starks [***]
Penta El Zero Miedo def. Trent? [***]
AEW Women’s Champion Hikaru Shida def. Tay Conti [****]
QT Marshall def. Billy Gunn [**]
Christian Cage def. “Powerhouse” Hobbs [**¾]
TNT Champion Darby Allin def. Jungle Boy [***½]

Shitting on Cowboy Shit: Ricky Starks’ absolute mockery of a cowboy vest, paired with the finger guns he was throwing around during his entrance just reeked of cocky asshole. In the most wonderful of ways, this single action raised Starks’ stock in my book. Add on top of that a hot opener, the only weak spot of which was watching Starks fold his neck in half off a release German suplex, and you’ve got all the makings of a Right. I love the potential oneupsmanship for Brian Cage as he goes against Hangman next week.

Alex Abrahantes Says: Sue Sucks: Good match between Penta and Trent?, yes. But this was more the proper establishment of Alex Abrahantes as a manager for Penta, and you could tell he was having a blast. He was over-the-top corny during Penta’s entrance in a way that implies that he feels invincible next to Penta, as though he’s backing the right horse. That’s exactly how a manager should feel. He factored heavily into the ending of the match, distracting Trent? by telling him his mom sucks. I don’t condone this, but I appreciate the hell out of it as a storytelling beat, given Sue’s place in the pantheon of AEW peripheral characters.

The Pinnacle Reaches New Heights: The Pinnacle sits down for an interview with MJF, FTR, Wardlow, and Spears. It was mostly a vehicle for an MJF promo, but Wardlow was a shining part of this interview as well. “The moment the name Wardlow came out of your mouth, you knew you were doing something wrong,” was gold. But shortly after Wardlow stopped talking, MJF went on to cut one of the best promos of his AEW career. “I’m not great for twenty-five. That’s horseshit! I am GREAT, PERIOD!!” gave me chills. MJF is such a perfect character, and he’s a bona fide star. We all know this already but watching him get even better week in and week out is something we haven’t gotten to see in wrestling with a talent this special in a looooong time.

Tay Conti Almost Beata Shida: This match deserves better than that stupid wordplay. I think I’d call this the best sanctioned women’s match in Dynamite history. I knew Tay Conti had been improving, but I didn’t realize she was capable of this! My only criticism of the match is that I wish they had laid in their shots a little more, as many of the strikes looked a little soft/fake. They weren’t bad, but it would’ve bumped the match up one more notch for me. And it already scored highly. The backbreaker across the top turnbuckle was such an original spot, and it looked bruuuutal. Loved it. Match of the night, easily. And then to move the story along, Britt Baker had a quick celebratory reveal, as she has now risen to #1 in the contendership listing for the women’s division. This is the money match, as Baker has been on a tear recently, and this feels like a big deal.

Fear Miro: This video package is extra-Right because Miro referred to Sting as Darby’s “Facepaint Emo Daddy.” Miro’s intensity is great, and I love that they’re not just throwing him out there to pick a fight with Darby or Kenny. He’s waiting for the right moment and they’re building the moment as a fulfillment of destiny as he hypes it up. I suspect it’ll be Darby that he goes after, and I feel like it should be a one-sided slaughter to make the most of these promos (unless Kip Sabian gets involved and costs Miro said title match).

Ogogo’s Right is Right: QT Marshall has become an immediately perfect portrayal of a slimy heel, all while trying to lead his boys to the promised land. This match reinforced the strength of Ogogo’s right hand, made me dislike QT more (in a good way), set up a match between QT and Dustin Rhodes, AND it sold me on Nick Camarata’s skull as Dustin smashed a wooden chair across it, and it did nothing. Now I just want Aaron Solow to show us his mutant power so he doesn’t come across as the weak link of the group. The Factory is a solid midcard act this is hitting for me so far, and has a ton of potential as a platform to launch the careers of all its young members.

The Elite Eat Their Words: Not even 30 seconds after Matt Jackson uttered the words “Moxley and Kingston, you know where to find us!” calling out the two degenerates, they got what they asked for. Moxley rammed the trailer, and the Elite bailed. They picked a fight they had no intention of having, and it was a blast watching Mox and Eddie wreck the trailer up. Seven men fled from two because the conditions weren’t to their liking. I’m a big fan of wherever this is heading, and let’s all agree that Kingston and Moxley are a perfect pairing.

Powerhouse vs. Workhorse: If you break down Christian’s psychology in this match, it shows why he is such an asset for AEW. I think many young wrestlers are going to get better from having him around. First in line is Will Hobbs, who got the privilege of wrestling the veteran tonight in a fun match. I loved Christian baiting Hobbs to the outside, creating the opening to hit a diving dropkick through the ropes, only to eventually get mauled by a lariat to the back of the head, giving Hobbs control of the match and a solid heat segment. The fact that Hobbs’ stalling and cockiness is what gave Christian the opening to pull out the victory. Taz sold it like a million bucks on commentary. He really is the best manager in the game right now. And then we ended with a staredown between Starks and Christian, teasing a match I’d absolutely love to see. But Starks should focus on one Cage at a time, heh.

Cargill Knows Her Worth: If AEW is going to be the land of stables, then it absolutely makes sense for someone to shop around. That’s exactly what Jade Cargill is doing, as a quick and effective video package conveyed that several stables want to represent her, but she’s only going to do it if it’s worth it for her. Brilliant writing, and showed a self-awareness in what makes the AEW brand different from other wrestling companies currently.

Tomorrow’s Top Guys Main Event Today: I appreciate that the TNT Championship match got to main event. It was a fun match that showed the more aggressive side of Jungle Boy. My literal favorite thing in wrestling is when competitors wrestle with urgency, as if they are trying to win at all times, especially if the stakes are high like they were here. I don’t think anyone can dispute the appeal of Darby Allin or Jungle Boy. They’ve been presented like a million bucks since the start of All Elite Wrestling, and are both over with crowds/the internet. The post-match angle further positioned Ethan Page and Scorpio Sky as “doing something” which was sorely needed, and it seems like the Sting/Darby and Jake Roberts/Lance Archer duos are getting closer to merging, which I’d approve of, even if it’s only for an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” sort of partnership.

Inner Circle Announces the Parley: We set up next week’s segment to set the rules for Blood & Guts, which is good, but Jericho referring to the Pinnacle as the Pineapple, Jake Hager throwing around straws to support his punchline, Sammy Guevara not knowing how to say “straw” in Spanish, Jericho’s showtune…this fell flat for me with a lot of bad jokes that don’t belong in a bloody hate feud. That is, until Santana took the mic. I didn’t know this man could cut such a good promo, but hot damn. He was perfectly intense and sold me on Blood & Guts more than any other member of the Inner Circle this week. Santana saved this from wRong but all the others made me cringe. At least Jericho ended strong, but this wasn’t the feud for juvenile jokes.

Nothing of Note

Nothing of Note

By Robert Winfree

Cesaro and Daniel Bryan Defeated Seth Rollins and Jey Uso [***1/2]
Tamina Defeated Nia Jax [DUD]
Apollo Crews Defeated Big E [***]
Rey and Dominik Mysterio Defeated Alpha Academy [**1/2]

Roman Reigns: I need to talk about a few different segments here because spacing them out would be excessive. Roman Reigns might be the best thing in professional wrestling right now, and this episode gave us a few examples of why. He showed up in the opening revolving door promo bit and proceeded to give a glorious burn to Daniel Bryan about their Mania match while showing off his new merch, but he also gave us a bit of insight into why he’s ducking Cesaro. He called Bryan a loser but a loser because he’s stupid, whereas he called Cesaro a casino loser, a loser because of bad luck. That’s an acknowledgement that Cesaro has all the skill, but has had bad breaks and he doesn’t want to be the one on the wrong end of the Swiss Superman when that slot machine finally pays out. So he’s dismissing him, with some logic about Cesaro’s lack of accomplishments, because beating him wouldn’t feed Roman’s ego and provides too great a risk. Then the closing segment he again dismissed Cesaro, but did so by switching gears to deal with Daniel Bryan. Giving Bryan one more shot at the belt, but putting his Smackdown tenure on the line. I genuinely love that Roman can find a little wrinkle in his character to work with anyone, that kind of versatility and nuance in a character is great and opens up all kinds of options. Roman is the man right now.

Seth and Jey vs. Cesaro and Bryan: They gave these four men a bunch of time, and they delivered. Working Bryan’s neck as a reference to the con-chair-to he took at Mania, Cesaro playing the hot tag man and going nuts, Rollins straight up leaving Jey after being put in the Sharpshooter because he doesn’t need this, even the post match antics where Jey got swung around more while Bryan trash talked the absent Roman. This was really good stuff all the way around.

Kevin Owens vs. Apollo Crews: I went back and forth on this being here or puRgatory, but ultimately the quality of ring work pushed this up into this part. There was 0 build to this, and the ending was a little flat, but Crews and Owens can both go in the ring and were given time to do so. The post match stuff with Crews eating a Stunner to look a little chumpish while Commander Azeez got their mutual heat back with the Nigerian Nail. I suppose if you wanted to dovetail the backstage stuff with Big E jumping Crews into this I feel a little better about bumping this into the Right.

All around me are familiar faces: The Smackdown tag team scene is the pits. You’ve got 4 teams. That’s it. The endless jabbering between the Profits and Dawgs is just tiring, especially since they did this song and dance for quite a while after the Profits moved over to Smackdown. Meanwhile the only other teams pair off because. . . well because they’re the only other teams. This division needs help, pretty badly. The only thing keeping this here instead of lower was the quality of work between Los Mysterio’s and the Alpha Academy, which was solid if unspectacular.

Bayley and Belair: This one is a marginal call into puRgatory, but Belair kind of came off like a chump while Bayley did some quality work with insincerity then cackling when Belair mostly bought it. These two already have a more interesting dynamic than Banks and Belair did, but that wound up being a really low hurdle to clear. I’m still not sure how they botched that build that badly.

Shadow puppet time with Aleister Black: I don’t dislike Black or anything, and I actually dug the visuals of the story he told when they used them, but Black is not suited to this kind of longer form talking. If this gets him back on TV and in the ring I’m happy for him, but the overall presentation here didn’t work for me.

Just. . . why. I swear half of Kevin Dunn’s epilepsy inducing editing decisions are just habit of trying to cut away from either Jax or Tamina clearly screwing something up. For what feels like the umpteenth week in a row we got a version of this, only now Reginald is back because everyone’s been asking “Where’s Poochie” in his absence. This was bad to watch, feels directionless, and really didn’t need to be on the show at all.

article topics :

AEW Dynamite, RAW, Smackdown, WWE, Tony Acero