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Screen Grab Credit: WWE.com
Los Luchas (Zokre and Phoenix Star) vs. Ricky Mandell and Hector Canales on NWA Hollywood - This was an extremely fun tag match, featuring some really choice heel antics by Mandell and Canales as well as some really unique lucha offense by the face team. Early on in the match, Zokre busted out this really unique submission hold, basically bending Canales' knees, spreading his legs apart and sitting on them. You kinda have to see it to really appreciate what I'm describing here. Canales was really on point mocking Los Luchas as well. My only real gripe with this match was that the crowd didn't react to Zokre's hot tag to Phoenix Star, but that's more disappointment with the crowd rather than anything to do with the match. Highly recommended to seek this one out.
Joey Ryan vs. Brandon Parker, Qualifying Match for the "Be the Star" Television Championship Tournament, on NWA Hollywood - This was a classic David/Goliath match up, although Ryan as Goliath might seem hilarious to most. Then again, have you seen how small Parker is? Ryan played the bully well, and they really told the story of them having a former student/teacher relationship throughout the match with the counters and such. Parker had great fire. About the only thing that was mildly disappointing to me was that they teased the Moustache Ride. I love that move. I wanted to see it, dammit!
Natural Selection (Brien Cage and Shawn Ricker) (c) vs. The Tribe (Hawaiian Lion and Navajo Warrior), NWA Heritage Tag Team Championship Match, on NWA Hollywood - A very rare heel vs. heel match here. I kinda dug it. It was funny to see a tag match without any of the babyface tag team tropes in play. My favorite spot here was when Rickers was working over Navajo's arm, and then he went for a hammerlock body slam. He hit it, obviously, but then he pulled up with his back lame, playing up the size disadvantage. I liked the DQ finish, with both teams trying to cheat, but the Tribe being the ones caught. Very good fish out of water affair.
Zack Ryder vs. Primo on Superstars - This was an almost pitch-perfect match. It had a hot crowd. It had a pre-match promo. It had Primo heeling it up during the match and Ryder hitting some big babyface spots. Hell, it even had a story behind it, well, as much of a story as a Superstars curtain-jerker could have. Ryder played a surprisingly good babyface during this match. Maybe that's where his future lies, especially since he has fan support? Anyway, really cool, WWE-main event style match (weird because again, it jerked the curtain of the C-show) with a really good finish, going from the Backstabber attempt into the Ruff Ryder for the pin. Man, Zack Ryder really is over, isn't he? Shame he's wasting away off RAW because McMahon reputedly hates the Internet...
Drew McIntyre vs. Vladimir Kozlov on Superstars - A fun brawl. McIntyre spent a good portion of the match working over Kozlov's arm and then another portion just bumping his ass off for Kozlov's cyborg-style offense. Drew Mac did his best to make Kozlov look really good here.
Austin Aries vs. Kid Kash vs. Jimmy Rave, Destination X Tournament, on Impact - All three guys were good here, but the biggest star of this match was Aries. His test of strength antics at the start put the match on a good tone. His execution on his moves was crisp. He took the biggest bump, the STO on the apron from Rave. Basically, if this was a tryout to show his worth for something more than peanuts from Impact or a real live contract from WWE, then I'd say he passed with flying colors. Him getting a further tryout at the PPV is the right call.
Samoa Joe vs. Rob Van Dam, Bound for Glory Series, on Impact - Samoa Joe is a miracle worker. Seriously, there's only one guy in the whole world who consistently gets good matches out of RVD, and that person is Joe. I don't know whether Joe has a calming influence over him, but he's not sloppy. And even his contrived spots, like his step-through kick, look better when Joe takes them. This was a very fitting opener for the BfG Series, which is a cool idea. It's a tone-setter, and hopefully, it's not a tone that they'll screw up.
Christian vs. Sheamus, Spot in the Capitol Punishment Main Event on the Line, on Smackdown - Was it me, or did they just run a feeler for Sheamus as a babyface worker in this match? Well, up until the end, that is when they went into the finishing sequence. Anyway, this was a worthy main event, but you knew that was going to happen when it was announced. Two of the best workers alive right now going at it with a bunch of TV time to ply their trade. A well-worked size mismatch with a really cool finish. The sequence was great right from the start when Sheamus knocked Christian off his perch and then went to work with knee scrapes. That wasn't even the best part, with them jostling position into Christian giving Sheamus a modified stun gun by leaping from the top to the outside into the pin. Great improvised finish that really put a punctuation mark on the match.
NWA Hollywood - Very solid show this week. All four matches were enjoyable on their own level, and there was some good promo work. The sit-down with Adam Pearce was well done for the most part, although they should have maybe had more volume on Pearce's mic. The end of the show being similar to last week's (although not as crazy) was probably intentional. It seems like the start of an interesting story, where every tag team really hates each other and we start getting something like Tag Team Thunderdome going on. I can dig that. I also dug that Excalibur made mention at the start of the show that criminal charges would not be pressed against either the Cutlers or the RockNES Monsters. It's the little things like that that can turn a good show into a great one.
Superstars - Decent show with four okay-to-great matches on it. However, I did have a couple of issues with it. One, Ryder/Primo should have been the main event. I don't care if Kane was in one of the matches, Ryder's match had the hotter crowd and arguably the most over wrestler of the whole show on it. Two, I'm really over this whole manager-search angle for Tyson Kidd. I mean, what good is a manager when that manager is not going to get involved in any of his matches? It shows a fundamental lack of understanding as to what the role of a heel manager should be while the action's taking place in the ring. But then again, I guess that would require the failed TV writers to actually know something about wrestling, wouldn't it? Three, Matt Striker has become really bad lately. I know I've defended him on here, but there really is no defending him lately. Between his "dead air" problem seemingly getting worse and then this week, him saying "Revenge belongs to Kane" after he beat Kidd. Really, Matt? What revenge did Kane owe Kidd? Nothing. And if beating the top heel on the C-show is revenge for Alberto del Rio taking out Big Show, then man, I want to live in Striker's world, because I'd have so much easier times doling out retribution for my wrongs.
That being said, it still was an enjoyable show. Like I said at the top, the matches were mostly good. I liked that they gave promo time not only to Ryder but to McIntyre. This was his first WWE promo that I heard where he showed flashes of the charisma he had in that infamous ICW promo that I've linked on here a couple of times. I can dig him as "The Great American Nightmare". He finally has some character to catch up with his excellent ring work. The star of the show unquestionably was Zack Ryder though. Seriously, he owned the first part of the show, and he's showing everyone that it's not just a Youtube show and pedantic smark bitching that's part of his allure. He's actually an awesome performer.
Impact - Hit or miss show this week. A lot of people online have been raving about the Sting/Hogan segment, but again, it speaks to my problem of them bringing too much outside bullshit into it. Also, Sting was so fucking over the top, I couldn't tell if he was really pissed at Hogan or just trolling the shit out of him. I don't know. What I do know is that there were a few really good nuggets on this show, moreso than maybe the last month of Impacts combined. The two matches that were on the honor roll deserve to be there and then some. Then you had the Eric Young/Jason Hervey "match" segment. It was definitely funny, just how serious EY was treating it. To me though, Aries made the segment, just through his bewildered reactions to everything and his reluctant counting of the sham pinfall.
The Angle/Jarrett stuff though... I don't know how to feel about this. On one hand, ending on a pseudo-cliffhanger where Jarrett's intentions of leaving the country if he lost the brawl feels so fucking cheap to me. On the other, my guess is that he is gone, and I'm just happy to see Angle get closure to this feud finally and move on. This really hasn't been a feud that I felt should have continued for as long as it has, despite the fact that it's gone 8 months (8 months? That's insane, especially for Impact). I don't know, I'm ready for it to end and for Angle to get on with his title shot.
Speaking of which, I'm a huge fan of the Bound for Glory Series. While I really fucking hate that they play it up like nobody else thought of doing it when Chikara is doing a 12-man round robin tournament, I like the idea of them making this the lead-in to their biggest PPV's main event. It's part of building an identity. And if they can make this a vehicle to have good matches, like RVD/Joe or start stories like they're potentially doing with Scott Steiner and Bully Ray? Sign me up.
Smackdown - This was a really flat show. Nearly everything about it annoyed me, from Alberto del Rio pressing charges (my least favored of the storyline tropes) to making a big deal out of concussions (although in this case, them treating it more like a bad kayfabed injury rather than making it JUST LIKE the out-of-character debate over them made it more palatable to me) to Teddy Long being all over the show to the super-botched finish to the six-man tag match to bullshit parity booking with the Divas to Orton punting the shit out Sheamus (because I'm over the punt more than anything else).
I say nearly though because the main event match saved this show from being a total dud to me. Just a phenomenal match. Too bad there was really nothing else going for it. However, I will say this. The fact that that they pretty much destroyed Mark Henry and Sheamus during this show speaks volumes as to their faith in Christian to carry Smackdown as the top heel. That is encouraging to me.
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