wrestling / Columns

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

May 11, 2021 | Posted by Tony Acero
AEW Dynamite


To 4! 1! 1!

Hello everyone! Welcome to a late edition of The Rs! My trusty colleagues did their part while I was partying it up in Vegas, so I owe it to them to post this! Enjoy!

By Tony Acero

Returns next week!

By Harry Broadhurst

Harry coming back at ya with week two here on the NXT R’s and I want to thank everyone for checking it out. Not that anyone cares, but I try to watch all the weekly shows I can and am looking forward to MLW coming back this summer with the return of one of the best out of the ring characters in modern wrestling history. There’s so much to enjoy in current wrestling. It’s just up to us as fans to find it.

Today’s review is dedicated to the memory of the “Infamous” Shawn Vexx. Rest in Power, Shawn. Thanks for the matches and the memories.

Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott defeated Leon Ruff in “Falls Count Anywhere” [***½]
Cameron Grimes defeated Asher Hale [NR]
Timothy Thatcher/Tomasso Ciampa defeat James Drake/Zack Gibson [***½]
Sarray defeated Zayda Ramier [**½]
LA Knight defeated Jake Atlas [**]
NXT Women’s Tag Titles: Candice LeRae/Indi Hartwell defeat Ember Moon/Shotzi Blackheart © [****]

Swerve Style: I really like Swerve and giving him a crew to move forward with seems like a wise decision. Swerve has been a star pretty much everywhere he’s been because he carries himself like a star. Speaking of, AJ Francis could stand out in NXT due to size alone. I do question bringing him in as a heel when he’s got the mainstream publicity through the ‘Treasures’ show on A&E but he works as a heavy for Swerve to help get his footing.

KC and the Tiny Dog: Kayden and Kacy would be good first in ring foils for the former Taya Valkyrie, now known as Frankie Monet. I don’t think there is any real damage in them losing singles matches to Monet but I would avoid a tag loss based on what happens in the main event later.

Ever-Rise: That’s it. That’s the sentence.

Die Matte Ist Heilig: WALTER is pissed. And pretty much everyone knows that pissed off WALTER usually makes for an entertaining ass-beating. I’m here for it.

The Pending Storm: This is more of what I want from Toni. Let that fire come through and give her more than just being a sacrificial lamb to Zoey Stark. I don’t dislike Zoey but I do think there is way more potential and marketability (if we’re being honest) in Toni.

Face to Face: These dual interviews can come off kind of cheesy at times, but I actually really liked this one. Mercedes was completely justified in how she felt with her paving the roads that Raquel (I keep wanting to type Reina) is walking. Raquel more than held her own here and while I don’t think the match result is in question, I do think that these two can give us something worth talking about regardless.

Main Event Worthy: All four ladies killed it in the main event. When you announce a ‘street fight’, there is a certain level of violence that has come to be expected in that type of match. I think all four ladies lived up to and exceeded that expectation. I was especially impressed by Ember Moon here as I’m sure she came into this match with a heavy heart, having just lost a good friend earlier in the week. I’ll also add, with a complete admission of bias, that it is long overdue that Candice LeRae is a champion in NXT. She has been secretly (or not so secretly) carrying this division since damn near her arrival in the company a couple years back. The fact that the match turned into the performance it did was just an added bonus.

Austin Theory Has a Deathwish : Would seem like an odd way to get to Gargano vs. Kross but I can’t say I would mind that. Theory is more of a whipping boy for Gargano whereas Candice and Indi come off closer to equals. If it helps Austin, I too was noticing her…nails.

To The Moon: I like Cameron Grimes. The skits with DiBiase (including the one on this show) have been a blast. But I question what’s next for him. He’s in literal booking purgatory because it seems like they want to do something with him but there’s no place to really do it on the current card. Side note; welcome to NXT, Asher Hale (the former Anthony Henry).

Shoes Off and Down Our Throats: The match with Thatcher/Ciampa vs. the GYV was really good and pretty much what you’d expect from those four. The problem is that it fell into the cliche WWE booking of “if something occurs naturally, run it into the ground”. Thatcher hit Gibson with a shoe. Wade’s shoe specifically. While I appreciate the dedication to hiding the shoe from the referee post-match…if there becomes a running theme of footwear attacks, it’s going to get old quickly. The match itself saves the booking from a wRong.

Believe the Hype?: Sarray has looked impressive enough for all the hype she got and the decision to give her what was basically an extended squash (that Zayda will recover from) was the right call here. One would have to think it’s only a matter of time before Sarray has either Raquel or Mercedes in her sight line. Are we going to care? I don’t know, personally. I don’t see the same personality that caught Kairi, Asuka and Io on with the NXT audience here yet. But it’s early and there’s plenty of time to correct that.

Let Me Talk to Ya: No complaints about the match. Exactly what it needed to be with all due respect to Mr. Atlas. But much the same way I find that Cameron Grimes is in booking purgatory, I feel the same for LA Knight. I think Knight has a better chance of escaping due to the hype he had coming in. As I said last week, what Knight may lack in terms of in-ring ability, he makes up for charisma. But in order for that to shine through, he needs something to sink his teeth into.

Time Stops for Santos?: I like the idea of KUSHIDA and Escobar running back their Cruiserweight title match. Two of the best pound for pound wrestlers in NXT feuding over a title is never a bad thing. But it seems kind of rushed to put it on next week’s show with a ‘2 of 3 falls’ stipulation. Goes back to what I said last edition about hot-shotting the stipulation matches.

What the Shit: The dog took a shit in the tank…creative took a shit on the storyline.

The Revolving Door: NXT is better than is. One of the oldest tropes in wrestling is the revolving door promo where one interruption after another eventually sets up a match down the road. I do like the end with Gargano and Theory standing tall over Kross and it does set the path to Gargano vs. Kross, potentially at Takeover: SummerSlam. But the way we got there with interruption after interruption completely took me out of the segment. Also, it feels like a waste to bring back Balor in this manner because he was just another guy in this segment.

By Robert Winfree

Cesaro defeated Seth Rollins [***]
Carmella defeated Ruby Riot [*1/2]
Dominik Mysterio defeated Dolph Ziggler [*]
Tamina defeated Reginald [NR]
Chad Gable, Otis, King Corbin, Apollo Crews, and Sami Zayn defeated Big E, Kevin Owens, Shinsuke Nakamura, and The Street Profits [**]

The Roman Empire Cracks: I could break this up into sub groups but that seems like a pointless exercise. Roman Reigns, Paul Heyman, and Jey Uso opened show with Heyman doing the most impressive dick move when he made the bell sounds for a 10 bell salute to Daniel Bryan’s career. The look on his face was great, and Roman struggling not to crack up was both genuine and a great character move. Jimmy Uso then returned and might be causing some fractures in the Empire. Jimmy would wind up costing Seth Rollins a match with Cesaro that got Cesaro a title shot at WrestleMania Backlash, stand up to Roman, and try to get Jey to see the light. They wove this narrative throughout the whole show, culminating in Jimmy’s presence giving Cesaro an opening to take out Jimmy, Jey, and Roman in the final segment. Now we all know that Roman isn’t losing the belt to Cesaro at Backlash, but the narrative here provides a hint that he might. Jimmy or Jey costing Roman the title would protect him, give him a brief side issue to sort out before returning to claim his belt while Cesaro got a reign of more than a month, and would make sense given all the participants. They wont do it, but rather than just lead Cesaro to slaughter we’ve got a story beat here that gives the audience enough reason to hope. The overall story telling going on here is great, there was even a subtle moment when Jimmy replayed highlights of the I Quit match between Roman and Jey and when we came back to live Jey was giving some serious stink eye to Roman. The story going on with Roman Reigns right now is pretty easily the best thing on WWE television, and Roman’s character might be the best thing in professional wrestling.

Cesaro stands tall: This is related to the above point but I think deserves it’s own point. Cesaro bested Seth Rollins in a pretty good TV match to earn his title shot, but the presence of Jimmy and Jey couldn’t be ignored. From there it almost felt like Cesaro was going to become an afterthought in his own title saga as Roman fixated on Jimmy and making him fall in line. Then the closing segment happened. Cesaro jumping Roman, beating down Jey, then Jimmy, and leaving the entire group of them laying to close the show was a great moment. A lot of us have spent years waiting on this chance for Cesaro and they made sure he didn’t get forgotten in the Empire drama.

Teddy Long: I’ve got a real soft spot for Teddy Long, I was a big watcher of Smackdown during the time he was general manager so seeing him back was a nice touch. The man also got some laughs out of me, something of a rarity for WWE to pull off these days so his appearance gets a spot here.

10 Man Schmoz: I can’t hate on this too much, there’s just no way to craft a compelling match with this many people in a tag format like this but everyone here did about as much as you could. It was utterly forgettable, and hopefully Otis didn’t get hurt on that last crazy dive from Montez Ford, but I can’t put it into a lower category.

Bayley and Belair: This interaction just didn’t work for me. Bayley looked like a casting reject from The Craft and Belair still desperately needs some kind of character point of view besides this weird mix of arrogance and inspirational stuff. Ultimately there’s enough good will from these two that I can’t quite wRong this one but this wasn’t a great step forward in their issue.

Los Mysterios and the Dirty Dawgs: For some reason they did a bait and switch, turning Ziggler vs. Rey into Ziggler vs. Dominik with Dominik getting a fluke roll up win. The Smackdown tag team scene is bad, there’s a whopping 4 teams and Rey and Dominik are only here because the Profits already lost recently so the only other face team gets a turn. I kind of hope the Uso’s reunite as a tag team just to inject some life into this forgotten division.

CGI Fist: This just made me sad.

Carmella and Morgan get less than 3 minutes: Not every match needs to be long, I get that. I don’t hate a good squash match every now and then, but this wasn’t a squash. It was a comically short match. It doesn’t help that it feels like they used Carmella’s return character just as a test run for the current minor variation on Charlotte Flair and now Carmella just kind of exists. If this was all the time they could spare for this match either make it a full on squash or find something else to fill air time with, because this was a waste.

Tamina vs. Reginald: Why? Just. . .why? They’ve been running this same stupid interaction for over a month now, and it’s never gotten over, never been interesting, and I don’t know why they dedicate air time to this. Perhaps the oddest thing about all this is that, bizarrely, Reginald and Nia have some decent interactions in a vacuum, and Baszler getting to play off of him has shown some slight quirks in her character that she kind of needed. But another week, another iteration of Natalya, Tamina, Jax, and Baszler where you just really want it to end. Please be done with this soon.

By Michael Ornelas

Hello from the road! Yours truly is taking a two-month road trip, but that’s not going to stop me from watching my weekly AEW, culminating in going to Jacksonville to attend Double or Nothing LIVE AND IN PERSON! Let’s jump in.

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