By: Frank Hyden
This was the go-home show before TakeOver 31 so they had plenty they wanted to accomplish. Let’s get to the rundown.
GOOD- Shotzi Blackheart beats Dakota Kai
I really liked this match. Well, except for one spot that was hard to watch. They went back and forth and had a really good match. The rough-looking spot was when Blackheart went for Sliced Bead #2 on the apron and landed on her head. Here’s a tweet about it with a gif. Where’s the “Holy shit!” chant when you need it? She finished the match and didn’t suffer an injury so that’s good. Blackheart won and continues her momentum. I’m a big fan of Shotzi, she might be my new favorite, though Asuka is tough to dethrone there. I just love Shotzi’s attitude and the way she carries herself. She’s so different. I always like things that are unique and she’s definitely unique. She’s just a badass.
GOOD- Ridge Holland squashes Cameron Grimes
Grimes announced he was having an Invitational and he brought out some guy he beat quickly. He was going to bring another guy out to beat when Ridge Holland came out instead and beat up Grimes and wouldn’t stop so he got disqualified. This was okay. It wasn’t anything bad but it wasn’t all that good. Holland was wearing his long jacket over his ring shorts, which are short shorts, so he looked like he was about to flash somebody. He’s got good size but I’d advise him to drop the jacket unless he’s going to start wearing pants.
GOOD- Kushida beats Tony Nese
They did a promo package on Kushida before this match, building up his new attitude. This match was short but good. Both guys were able to get most of their stuff in but everyone knew Kushida was winning. He locked on the Hoverboard Lock to get the win.
GOOD/BAD- Adam Cole beats Austin Theory
This was a good and fairly long (for TV) match. But Cole dominated most of the match so Theory looked like a chump again. I get it, Cole is a former NXT Champion and a big deal but Theory must have bigtime heat backstage or something because every week he’s out here getting squashed and trash-talked. What’s the plan here? If they have any plans for him, they need to actually have him win some of these matches or at least look good. He gets in a few hope spots per match but that’s about it. Meanwhile, the announcers keep talking about his potential but also give him continual backhanded compliments. Like I said earlier, they make him look like a chump because he runs his mouth about how good he is then gets his ass handed to him for most of the match. They already do that with Cameron Grimes, who’s a better talker and actually wins matches sometimes. Yeah, in that chickenshit heel way but at least he wins sometimes. Theory is booked like a chickenshit heel who never wins. Therefore, you’re going to give him Go Away, Heat. Where the crowd doesn’t even care to see him get his ass kicked, they just want him off their TV. If Theory is going to be the cocky, arrogant heel, he has to win at least sometimes.
GOOD- Kayden Carter beats Xia Li
Carter has a good look, with the bright green contacts and the long hair and all that, so it’s nice to see her actually getting some TV time. It’s also nice to see Li get a storyline. I like when the underneath people get storylines and stuff. It doesn’t have to be anything super complicated or in-depth, but a little story at least gives them something to do and lean in to. Li has been growing increasingly frustrated by her losses and has refused to shake Carter’s hand and this time she pushed Carter down after losing. Hey, like I said, it doesn’t have to be anything too deep, at least it’s something.
GOOD- Kyle O’Reilly and Finn Balor promo
They did a really good job during this segment. Both men talked about why they’ll win in their match Sunday. O’Reilly even brought up that this is Balor’s first title defense and no one ever loses their first title defense, which is actually one of the bad things WWE does because when someone wins a title, they’ll likely have it for at least a few months. This is especially true of the main titles. The only titles that might change hands quicker is the U.S. Championship and the Intercontinental Title, and possibly the North American Title. All the other belts are held for at least a few months, and usually much longer. It takes a lot of the drama out of early title defenses. Back to this segment, they both did a good job of talking like real people, there was no exaggerated shouting and brawling, they made it seem more real this way. It’s also good to do sit-downs like this sometimes because you don’t want the brawling ones to be so predictable. This built hype for the match and makes me want to see it even more than I would have before.
GOOD- Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae beats Damian Priest and Io Shirai
This was a pretty good mixed tag match. No surprise, given the people involved, but mixed tag matches by their very nature can’t be as free-flowing as normal tag matches can. For instance, you can’t have double team moves much, if at all. They skirted that a bit in this match as there was a handful of times where Shirai attacked Gargano, usually along with LeRae. There were a few times, though, where Shirai hit just Gargano with a move and he sold it like normal. For one, the announcers should call out that that’s not fair, since Gargano can’t retaliate. For two, it makes Gargano look weak. He is a chickenshit heel so he can play it off but Shirai is one of the smallest women on the roster. Gargano is one of the smallest men on the roster but it just looks weird to have Gargano sell for Shirai then turn around and get offense in against Priest. I might be overthinking, though. Anyway, LeRae hit Priest with a lowblow and Gargano hit him with his flying DDT to get the win.
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