Welcome to the Mid-Week Wrestling Wrap-up.
Covering NXT, The CWC Finale, Lucha Underground and TNA.
Remember when I was concerned that it seemed like Shinsuke Nakamura was untouchable? You know, how as a babyface champion with no real competition, he would just be able to goof around and sleepwalk through most of his matches, only to hit the Kinshasa and pick up a paycheck? And how I thought that was a really stupid way to book your NXT title-holder? And how if Shinsuke was going to be a great champion, he needed a really, truly great challenger who provided a really, truly great threat?
Also, on a related note, remember when Shinsuke taunted Samoa Joe during the build to Back II Brooklyn, and "got his nose"?
Yeah. About that ...
Got his nose back.
Can't describe how much I loved this as a storyline choice.
I thought Joe should have won at Back II Brooklyn. Shinsuke wasn't taking Joe seriously, because he never takes anything seriously, and Joe was such a fury-stoked rage-monster, he literally looked like Red Hulk.
A loss to Joe would have forced Nakamura to cut back on the antics, at least a little bit, and proven, to us and to himself, that he wasn't invulnerable.
Instead, he (kayfabe) dislocated Joe's jaw with not one but two Kinshasa knees and became the new champ. His first challenger? Ol' Muttonchops Yaz himself, Steve Cutler who lasted about as long against Shinsuke as Honey-Boo-Boo would have against a pack of wild dogs.
And Samoa Joe watched it all from commentary, a broken shell of his former self.
Or so we thought.
Now though, now he's broken Nakamura. He screamed at the near-unconscious Nak, "I DID THIS TO YOU!"
No one else. No one else could have. No one else was even equipped to try.
And now Nakamura--Injured, damaged, no-longer-bulletproof, broken Nakamura--now he finally has a pressure to play against. A man who he knows has the ability to hurt him.
A true challenger. A true threat.
The build to Takeover Toronto is going to be great, and I am incapable of waiting.
aka Livving on a Prayer.
aka Livving on Borrowed Time.
aka Get Busy Livving, or Get Busy Dying.
So Liv Morgan has a match against Rachel "Fazio", who has already wrestled on TV as Rachel Ellering, because that's her actual name and I guess they wanted to play up the second-generation thing.
But then Rachel's father had to go and start managing a monster heel tag team.
So I guess they didn't want to associate her with Paul Ellering's Ethnic Pseudo-SHIELD (P.E.E.P.S.), so they changed her name to Fazio.
Whatever, that's not the big news. Nor is the match. Except for the fact that they evidently bailed on Liv's super ugly, guaranteed-to-botch-or-its-free, wonky spinning heel kick thing and gave her a Guillotine Choke as a finisher.
Fine. Liv sells the hell out of it, makes it look good, cranking back on the neck and screaming. Fine.
But that's not even the big news, either.
No, the big news is that Liv Morgan gets on the mic after the match, and issues a challenge to Asuka.
LIV MORGAN issued a challenge to ASUKA.
At you. We are all laughing at you, Liv Morgan.
Laughing at how stupid you are.
You are signing your own death warrant.
And we all find it HILARIOUS.
You're a cutie, Liv Morgan. But as the saying goes, Asuka's gonna kill you. If you're lucky, she'll make it quick and painless.
Liv Morgan better hope that the old James Bond movie title holds true "You Only Liv Twice."
Liv Morgan has about as good a chance against Asuka as she might against Braun Strowman, or a Great White Shark.
Itami, Myself & I
First of all, they should sign Drew Gulak and team him with Oney Lorcan. When they call up The Revival (which should be soon), Gulak and Lorcan can take over the "No Flips Just Fists" mantra. In Gulak's case, they might have to change it to "No Flips, Just Vicious Open-Hand Slaps."
Danilo Anfibio is low key the best ref in the company, by the way.
His reaction here is priceless.
Hideo is biding his time, waiting for A-Double Austin Aries to put down his banana and grow a pair of grapefruits, but if the interim is just him having good-to-great matches with dudes like Gulak, he can bide his time a little while longer. I'll allow it.
Of course, Hideo's just biding his time in this match, as well, and the finish is a foregone conclusion.
For serious, Gulak might be dead.
Looking forward to that Hideo-Aries feud when they finally get around to it.
Two Marshmallows vs PEEPS.
Paul Ellering's Ethnic Pseudo-SHIELD runs through two jobbers who are as soft as the contents of a jar of Marshmallow Fluff.
The squashes have to stop. We all understand they're big dudes who can beat you up. It's obvious just from looking at them, and even if it weren't obvious just from looking at them, we have lots of evidence to back up the claim.
Two weeks ago, they had a match with TM-61 where they actually had to work for it. It was actually compelling.
Show me more of that. Until then, I'm kind of bored with Tokka and Razar.
"God forbid, a 9."
Tye Dillinger does an interview from inside William Regal's office, and doesn't flub even a syllable; give this guy more mic time. He shows off his new babyface persona, which is just his heel persona with his ego taken down like a notch and a half.
Glad they're finally letting him play to the cheers rather than fighting against them. The next Takeover is in Toronto, near his billed hometown of Niagara Falls, Ontario. The pop he receives on that night will be MASSIVE.
I'm happy for him.
No Way Jose is still super-over with the crowd, even after losing to A-Double at Back II Brooklyn, while looking pretty great in defeat.
Meanwhile, Bobby Roode's entering on a Roomba now.
A good match between the too, but I'm not so hot on the result. In the past month-ish, No Way Jose has lost to A-Double, who immediately moved on to another feud, beat ol' Two Headbands Angelo Dawkins (which isn't saying much; pretty sure Liv Morgan could beat Angelo Dawkins at this point), and now he loses clean to Bobby Roode, who (Spoiler Alert) is going to immediately move on to another feud. If they're going to try to keep Jose hot, they should keep him looking strong. Not saying he should have beat Roode here, but maybe he didn't need to lose clean.
Still, if he's got to lose clean, I'm glad he didn't have to lose to Roode's old finisher, which was straight POOP.
The new one, while not setting the world on fire, is only a million times better than the old one.
Impaler DDT > Pumphandle Slam for Eternity.
Also, apologies for the inadvertent mouse cursor.
But even with the new finisher, I can't help but feel like Jose's momentum has been diverted entirely, and I'm not sure where they go from here. And even though that's not Bobby's fault, I feel like I have to say:
If you haven't already, you can hear my thoughts on the Finale of The Cruiserweight Championship on the Fightful Podcast from Wednesday night, which can be found HERE.
Anything I write here will be a rehash of all of that, so I'll just just give my review of the Cruiserweight Classic as a whole.
It's the best thing in wrestling that I have seen all year. Period. End of story.
You can quibble about certain matches (there were definitely some clunkers) or be upset that your bracket got busted, but really, the whole thing was FANTASTIC.
TJ Perkins won the tournament, and along the way he beat Johnny Gargano, Rich Swann, and KOTA FREAKING IBUSHI.
Gran Metalik took second, and all he did was beat Tajiri, Akira Tozawa, and ZACK FREAKING SABRE FREAKING JUNIOR.
The final match was perhaps one of the top five matches I've ever seen.
Yes, even better than Ibushi and Cedric Alexander, and yes, even better than Ibushi and TJ Perkins from earlier that same night. (Think about that for a second. That's INSANE.)
The reason why I rank the final as the best match of the tournament is because of the stakes. Not only was it to determine the winner of the CWC, not only did it decide who would take home that giant trophy that in-no-way looks like a penis, but it would also determine who would be the new Cruiserweight Champion on Raw.
Oh, Uncle Paul. You're too good to us.
The fact that we didn't know that it was going to be for the belt, or even that there was a belt at this point, made the match seem even more intense, more urgent.
It was truly spectacular, and after both the upsets of the tournament favorites earlier in the night, I got the feeling that no one really knew who was going to win.
Stakes + Uncertainty + Two Brilliant Competitors Trying To Kill Each Other For Fortune & Glory = One of the Best 5 Matches I have ever seen.
There's been some chatter of this being an annual thing.
Is it next July yet?
There were three matches and a ton of backstory scripted scenes on Wednesday's episode of LU.
First the matches, two of which can barely be called that.
Dr Wagner, Jr. vs Mascarita Sagrada
Famous B, a wanna-be wrestling manager who behaves like a shady sports agent, couldn't get anyone to sign with him last season, except for the legendary mini, Mascarita Sagrada.
Mascarita kept losing his matches (against giant dudes, mind you), and eventually Famous B snapped and attacked Mascarita, beating him with a shoe and proclaiming that he was going to find a client worth his time and effort.
He found Dr. Wagner, who is kind of like 50 year Gran Metalik, but with a fetish for sexy nurses.
Famous B's New Client beats Famous B's Old Client.
Metalik Dr. Wagner Driver.
Mil Muertes vs Argenis
Mil Muertes is basically Luchador Zombie Brock Lesnar.
And for all intents and purposes, Argenis is basically El Dandy from WCW Saturday Night but with a mask.
I mean, he's not, but he kind of is.
So this is just a squash match really.
At one point, Argenis hits a pretty nice moonsault,
but Mil kicks out at ONE.
Then, it's No More Mr. Nice Mil.
Followed by a Spear and a Flatliner for the victory.
But that's not why this match matters.
Why it matters is that afterward, Prince Puma shows up with a springboard elbow
and decides to renew an old rivalry from back in Season 1.
He lost his LU Championship to Mil Muertes, and since there's really no rematch clause in The Temple, Puma feels like there's some unfinished business. Or at least he does now, after getting a pep talk from everybody's favorite life coach who may or may not be a Teeth Gnashing Demon Pope, Vampiro.
This was the best feud in LU history, I think, and I can't wait to see these two go nuts on each other.
Weapons of Más Destruction.
So Killshot started out, mid-way through Season 1, as that lanky black guy in the Luchador Mask. He never won a match, but was always super impressive.
In Season 2, he got a backstory--He was a former Special Forces operative, who was held captive behind enemy lines and escaped. His buddies weren't so lucky. He wears their dog tags around his neck as a remembrance.
Or at least, he did, until Marty the Moth stole them. Marty The Moth is a crazy guy who apparently comes from an aristocratic family and also comes from a long line of mystical evil Lepidopterists. Look it up.
He doesn't really need a reason for the things he does, from kidnapping a luchadora just for shits and gigs, to stealing a guy's dog tags.
These dog tags.
This was maybe the seventh most important feud in Lucha Underground, Season 2, and this is the blow-off match.
Again, THIS is how Lucha blows off the SEVENTH most important feud.
With a Weapons of Mass Destruction match. What is a WMD match, you ask? Well, I'm glad you asked.
It's a TLC match, but also with an Army Surplus Store's worth of paraphernalia set up around the ring.
There's a machine gun nest, obviously, and Killshot brains Moth with a 30 caliber.
Then a running knee puts Moth's head halfway into the wall.
Fire the Chair Torpedo!
Killshot busts out the Molly-Go-Round from the bleachers to the floor.
Moth's first major offense is a Back Suplex on the Apron. Like one does.
Killshot throws one of those camo blinds over Moth's head, then hits a nasty running dropkick.
With a ladder set up across the gap from ring apron to the stands,
charging at your opponent might not be the most prudent tactic.
Unless you've got a really good dental plan.
The Miltary stuff gets put to good use in the ring as well.
Those hard plastic weapons crates can't be fun to take a spinebuster on.
Or a superplex, either. That would also suck.
Death Valley Driver onto a ladder. NBD.
Moth powerbombs Killshot out of the ring through two tables,
because only now is sh*t getting real.
I have no idea what Killshot calls this thing, but I'm pitching an idea:
Because, for real, how does this not kill a dude?
Okay, so. I should mention that Moth has a sister.
Her name is Mariposa, which is Spanish for "Butterfly."
It would be a more accurate name if Mariposa was Spanish for
"Hannibal Lecter Mask Wearing Nightmare Fuel."
Anyway, she tries to get involved on behalf of her brother,
and gets kicked off a ladder through a table.
Because you play with matches you get burned.
Then Killshot climbs to the top of the ladder and does this:
THAT IS INSANE.
Here's the entire match.
If you have a free half-hour, I highly recommend it.
Unless, of course, you don't like things that are AWESOME.
The StoryLine Stuff
So 1000 years ago, a dying Aztec Chief gives his young daughter an immortality amulet.
Before you get all like, "If it's an immortality amulet, then why is he dying?", it only works on females. I don't know why. The Chief doesn't seem to know either.
Apparently when his daughter becomes a woman, she will stop aging and live forever.
This really only creates more questions: According to this amulet, when does a girl reach womanhood? When she gets her first menstruation? When she loses her virginity? When she's old enough to vote? Purchase alcohol? Rent a car? When she finally pays off her student loans?
Anyway, flashforward to present day, and the Amulet is now broken perfectly in half like a BFF necklace, and in the possession of two different women.
One of these women is Catrina, Mil Muertes's manager/necromancer who has the power of teleportation and purports to be the embodiment of death.
The other woman is embattle Boyle Heights Police Captain Vasquez.
Look, we don't know which of these women was actually the little girl in the flashback, and we don't know how or when or why the amulet was broken perfectly in two, but here's what we do know.
Captain Vasquez is a terrible police captain. She literally lets Dario Cueto get away with literal murder, because there's "A War That Must Be Won" and even though Dario's a bad guy, or at least working for the bad guys (aka Councilman Lorenzo Llamas and Dark Lord Dr. Claw), he's actually the key to the whole thing or whatever and I don't even know anymore. But I'm totally on board. Pro Wrestling needs more "Ill-Defined Mystical Wars between the Forces of Good and Evil."
Also there's some down to earth intrigue in the episode, too.
Officer Joey Ryan rats himself out to Dario Cueto as an undercover cop, before ratting out his partner, Cortez Castro, as well. He offers to be Dario's eyes and ears in The Temple, feeding him information, but he's not going to do it for free.
He's got Child Support to pay.
Immediately following this, we see Vasquez send Cortez Castro back undercover into the Temple, only this time, DARIO KNOWS HE'S A COP.
I give it two episodes before Castro winds up in Matanza's food dish.
aka The Broken Matt Hardy Update
When we last left the Hardy Clan, Decay had been driven off the property, but there had been casualties.
Rebbeca and Maxel were left traumatized, Brother Nero took baseball bat full of nails to the gut, Vanguard 1 was MIA, and Senor Benjamin had been kidnapped.
The video above shows how Broken Matt was able to rally the troops.
Of particular note, Broken Matt Hardy doing the stereotypical "Don't You Die On Me!" speech to a remote control camera drone is one of the funniest things I have ever witnessed.
Also, that lake has some pretty hit or miss regenerative powers.
This is all building to a Great War between the Hardys and Decay, at Bound for Glory.
It promises to be ...