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Figure Four Weekly 7/24/2017: Battleground brings Smackdown to lowest point since brand split

Battleground brings SmackDown to lowest point since brand split

by Joseph Currier (@josephcurrier)

Only days after the one-year anniversary of WWE's most recent attempt at a brand split, SmackDown hit its lowest point since last summer with Battleground.

It wouldn't be much of an issue if this were an outlier. Bad pay-per-views are bound to happen and there will always be excuses for them. Stipulations marred things at Battleground, dragging down both John Cena vs. Rusev and the main event. And Kevin Owens vs. AJ Styles, the match that seemed destined to be the best of the night, had a finish that couldn't possibly have gone as planned.

But Battleground, along with the cancellation of Talking Smack as a weekly series, encapsulated what has been a bad run for SmackDown. The show has consistently decreased in quality over the last several months.

SmackDown has clearly been getting worse since at least WrestleMania, with the superstar shakeup upsetting a mix at the top of the card. But things have been slowly going downhill for most of the year even before that. After flourishing with AJ Styles as champion, the show hasn't been the same since he lost the title.

Given what happened the last time WWE tried to do a brand split, it was feared that SmackDown would eventually decrease in quality and importance. While Raw will always be WWE's first priority, it would be hard to say that has happened. Figuring out what has plagued SmackDown isn't that easy.

The continued presence of Cena proves that it hasn't been overly marginalized (though his "free agency" status may change that quickly), with SmackDown also being the brand to get Shinsuke Nakamura when he was called up to the main roster. There's no excuse for a show with Cena, Nakamura, Styles, Owens, The New Day, The Usos, Randy Orton, Sami Zayn, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Naomi, and Rusev on its roster to be as poor as SmackDown has been lately.

Blaming Jinder Mahal for the struggles would seem like another obvious choice, and a better champion could help, but he alone can't explain SmackDown's issues. If anything, he's continued a run of lackluster title reigns that began when Bray Wyatt won at Elimination Chamber.

SmackDown succeeded last year by maximizing all of its parts. With Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan as on-screen authority figures and episodes only being two hours long, it was bound to be the babyface brand. And Talking Smack helped the show get the most out of its roster, giving TV time to some who wouldn't get it and allowing others to develop their characters in a looser environment.

For much of this year, SmackDown has been less than the sum of its parts. The roster shakeup was probably needed to freshen things up, but they've struggled to make it work with the new pieces.

Despite its problems, Raw has found a groove while SmackDown has struggled. Brock Lesnar being around more often usually helps, and he's been interacting with wrestlers who compliment him well. Lesnar, Samoa Joe, Roman Reigns, and Braun Strowman being in the title picture is miles better than the stale top of the card that dragged Raw down throughout the latter half of 2016.

The brand split isn't going to end any time soon. SmackDown ratings increasing year-over-year over what it was doing as a taped show has been the one consistent highlight of WWE's post-brand split ratings pattern.

But Battleground is just the most obvious example of SmackDown struggling to live up to 2016's standards. WWE will need to figure out how to again maximize its roster for the show to return to that level -- and adding The Great Khali probably isn't the answer to their problems.

Mexico Notes

by Dr. Lucha Steve Sims (@DrLuchaJr)

CMLL: No one has ever accused Paco Alonso of being the most modern, up-to-date promoter, and rarely if ever does CMLL fit that description. Faced with the prospect of AAA's running a show with (a) more interest among wrestling fans and (b) a possibility of a larger attendance and gate than his pride and joy, his CMLL anniversary show, Paco has reverted to one of the oldest tactic in the book. He's trying to burn out the territory. CMLL ran its Universal Tournament already, with Volador Jr. being given the win and the Copa Bobby Bonales, since he's likely not in the mix for the big matches the next two months; ran a big show July 14 (details shortly), is running another 8/4, is running another 9/1, and is running the anniversary 9/16 (a Saturday, Independence Day, for reasons I'll get to below) – and there's still room for another tournament, like a Leyenda de Plata, in that scenario. The July 14th show saw Princesa Sugehit win the women's cibernetico clean over Zeuxis, and the two did post-match challenges in the backstage press area – something you'd see if they were going to do this match, but later in the year, after a lot of other matches they need to run and therefore push harder first. Also on that show, Blue Panther and Sam Adonis heated up their hair match for CMLL's Mexico Contra EUA on August 4th (officially announced now). Later, Rush and Caristico got into quite the war at the end of their match – that would be a match to try and take away casual-fan interest from AAA's mask match. Finally, Gran Guerrero and Niebla Roja got closer and closer to mask match challenges. If it does turn out that either Rush versus Caristico or Ultimo Guerrero versus Matt Taven is on the CMLL anniversary show card, they have backups of the Gran Guerrero/Niebla Roja mask match as an underneath, or the Zeuxis/Princesa Sugehit match too. This is an unusually heavy and newsy set of things form CMLL, and fits in really well if you are trying to drain the swamp against the competition.

THE CRASH: They keep plugging along, with no TV even though matches are taped for internet distribution. They number of foreigners thy bring in for each show has declined precipitously as the year has gone by – I suspect they have found that they can sell out the venues they are running, at the prices they need, with very little foreign talent. Or, maybe looking at it from the other side, the foreigners aren't needed because they're already selling out and, without solid TV, can't grow enough to reasonably run bigger arenas and better cities that have higher gate potential (PS they generally run the northern parts of Mexico and 2017 has been a horrid year for drug trafficking- and gang-related crime, and it may shape up to be the worst year in that regard this century, also limiting the promotion's options).

LU: Last week, Johnny Mundo (details in AAA below) acted as if he is still of the belief that Lucha:Underground is an ongoing concern and a Season 4 is viable enough for him to prioritize staying there as one of his goals. On the other hand, Brian Cage on his social media last week essentially said that he has had zero one way of another for a fourth season of taping. Season 3 is still airing, though it's not easy to be pleased with what appears to be a rating slide; shortly (maybe even very shortly) the final decision will be made whether to come up with the money for another season's taping, and I wish the outward sign of less fan interest weren't happening right now. Hollywood really operates as much on the perception of reality than reality. And the perception is a cooling product and, in some cases, loudly unhappy talent.

AAA: The go-home show for Triplemania tapes Thursday, July 27. Then it's off for 30 days. Then it's Triplemania. The presence of Alberto, the presence of an AAA Triple Crown Title match, the return of The Sexy Star, i.e., everything but the main event, nothing will really move too many tickets here. Rey Mysterio Jr/ would sell tickets, if announced, and a big CMLL steal would too if announced, but neither is happening. This show, and AAA's future, rests on the main event. It must happen as advertised and there must be a decisive finish – it doesn't have to be clean (though right now that's the only can't-hurt finish), they can do an angle to set up next year's Triplemania – but it must have a clear loser who unmasks cleanly. The drama with Mundo and Taya will hurt AAA. Your top women's and men's title changing hands via office intrigue rather than in the ring does nothing but damage to the promotion, and AAA's world is so precarious now that they will risk it. They need the maximum possible gate on August 26th, and The Sexy Star (female) and Alberto del Rio (male, who due to recent events they may yet decide not to bring in after all) are, in their minds, the biggest names they can get to add to the poster/card to sell the final % of tickets.

¡Más adelante!

Europe Notes

by Oliver Court (@AnotherOli)

XWA ran their second Exclusive Series show on Sunday, headlined by the true dream match of Daisuke Sekimoto vs Keith Lee. I was in attendance and had a tremendous time, with not just an excellent showing from Sekimoto and Lee but also a well-balanced undercard that was sometimes hit-and-miss but generally very enjoyable through its eclectic weirdness. The first half of the show had live commentary during the matches, the gimmick of London Lucha League shows who co-promoted the first two matches, which became really grating when it continued after the LLL showcases. One of those first half matches featured only the second indie match for Simon Grimm, formerly Gotch, who had received a rather negative response online after getting announced, but really showed up here against Matt Riddle and looks motivated to do well on the indies. In the second half, the commentary thankfully stopped, and a tag match between a Mark Haskins/Lion Kid team and Cara Noir/his 'pet' whose name I didn't quite make out ended up being really good.

The show was all about Sekimoto/Lee though and that match totally delivered on its hype. The size and physicality of the two men was so exciting to see up close, and each man's unique charisma radiated throughout the venue with every chop, slap and slam. Sekimoto was 100% motivated and it showed, putting on a performance equal to anything from one of his BJW main events, and Lee was a perfect match for him, showing that he too has superstar potential. The finish will be etched in my memory for a long time, as Sekimoto landed a Burning Hammer for just the second time in his career to finish Lee off. Wonderful stuff.

The show ended with a 'Tea Party' featuring Jimmy Havoc, Lord Gideon Grey (who entered to 'Don't You Want Me' by The Human League remixed so that every line was 'Working as a Waitress in a Cocktail Bar', it was glorious), Bull James and Session Moth Martina. Bull made his tea milk-first, causing Havoc to flip the table and begin something resembling a wrestling match. This was a madcap affair, completely trashing the ring (hence why it was the main event) and providing something you won't see anywhere else. XWA provided much more than a one-match show, ending up with an entertaining fever dream of a show with one very special match to see it through.

Japan Notes

by Alan Counihan (@Alan4L)

When previewing Kobe World a few weeks back, I discussed how Dragon Gate's biggest show of the year had more question marks than usual surrounding it. In that kind of case it's very unlikely that all the questions turn up positive answers, and just as unlikely that the results wind up negative. By law of averages, mixed results are the most likely outcome and that is exactly what we got.

The most impactful question was that being asked of the main eventers clashing for the Open The Dream Gate Championship – YAMATO and his challenger T-Hawk. It was a hugely important match for both men, and unfortunately they didn't deliver the classic bout that they both needed for different reasons. It was the typical, long, methodical Dream Gate contest and had some good solid work right the way through. However neither man really connected with the crowd and they were unable to produce a memorable exciting finishing stretch which is so important in these types of matches.

Now with his reign lasting over a year, YAMATO has to be called somewhat of a bust as champion. He has disappointed far more times than he has delivered, and he doesn't seem to have a great connection with the crowd. T-Hawk meanwhile did nothing to shut down his naysayers and right now feels like a guy who will never get over as a top singles star.

Conversely, the question marks about the Twin Gate and Triangle Gate matchups on the show were giving resounding feel good answers. The unique show long tournament format to crown challengers for the Triangle was a huge hit. The 2 count rules made for three super exciting bouts before intermission, with The Jimmys prevailing over Young MaxiMuM in the final. After the break, Shingo Takagi's Verserk team came out to pick the bones and it was fantastic. The veteran Jimmys trio of Susumu, Horiguchi and Saito tried everything in their might to stay alive and make the most of the opportunity that they had earned themselves. But Takagi and co showed no mercy. The finish with Shingo taunting Susumu as the latter tried to claw his way to his feet was gripping. The decisiveness of the match ended Last Falconry was beautiful in its harshness.

Similar to YAMATO's title reign, the Twin Gate reign of veterans CIMA and Dragon Kid has been met with some criticism this year. Any worry that they wouldn't deliver on the big stage was blown away with an incredible defence against the reunited Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino. This was the match of the night and the best tag team match of the year in Japan so far. The four Dragon Gate legends pulled off all their classic spots as if it was 2005 all over again, and the even mixed things up with some cross-ups that the most ardent fan wouldn't have seen coming. Kid busting out the Dragonrana for the first time in years gave the match a memorable closing moment that took it to the next level.

Where Dragon Gate goes from here is interesting. They have a roster loaded with talent, a passionate and loyal fanbase that shows no signs of dwindling any time soon and a company structure that's comfortable and proven to work. However there are elements of how they do things that could do with freshening up. If they are intent on running with YAMATO as the ace into 2018, then something needs to be done to jolt his title reign. They young guys need to be given more characters that set them apart (a big part of the charm of the original Toryumon & T2P) and they need to make time for more focused feuds like The Jimmys vs. MaxiMuM which was a breath of fresh air this summer. President Okamura talked on this show about expanding internationally for the first time since they reeled in the DGUSA and DGUK off-shoots. With the Western marketplace so saturated right now, it will be interesting to see how they go about that. Piggybacking off ROH and PWG as the hot promotions in 2006 got them a lot of Western eyeballs. Going it alone without that platform may be difficult. Having two or three members of the roster in BOLA could have done wonders.

TV Reviews

by Bryan's Friend Vince (@FO_VVerhei)

WWE Retro Raw 269 (7/20/98)

We got several notices that this episode was TV-MA, and a stern verbal warning that there would be all sorts of adult themes ahead. They practically threatened to call my mom if I didn't turn the show off right now.

Vince McMahon came out for a promo, to hearty, hearty boos. He showed the footage of Undertaker dressing as Kane to win the No. 1 contender spot two weeks ago, then asked where Kane had been that night. "Did Undertaker go to the Sears men's store and say, 'I'll take a Kane suit please?'" That is a fine question. Then he showed himself confronting Taker about this last week and not getting an answer. Then they did the tag match with Austin and Kane as dueling special refs and Taker apparently trying to help Kane win. Finally Vince called Taker out. We are nine minutes into this show and nothing has happened yet. When does the adult content start? Vince said Taker had hurt his feelings. I am not making this up. This crap just went on and on and Vince asked again if Taker and Kane were IN CAHOOTS. Taker refused to answer. Finally Vince booked Taker in a handicap match against Mankind & Kane, and told him to leave. Then he told Taker to go to hell, so Taker chokeslammed him. Vince's selling of this was awesome. Brisco and Patterson and Slaughter ran out and all got laid out too. Then they all tripped over each other trying to leave like fools.

Triple H vs. a mystery opponent. The gimmick was that the Nation would get to pick someone to challenge Hunter for the European title, then later DX would pick someone to challenge Rock for the Intercontinental title. This turned out to be D-Lo Brown. D-Lo got thrown outside and had a staredown with Chyna. He threw a punch, but Chyna ducked it and dropped him with a shot of her own. Then Rock tripped Hunter, but Chyna threw him into the post. Mark Henry came down, but Chyna grabbed a chair to confront him. This distracted the ref, and Rock hit a rock bottom on Hunter, and D-Lo covered him to win the match and the title. Nation threw a giant party backstage to celebrate this big win. This seriously was one of the great moments in European title history.

After the break, DX, cut an angry promo on Rock. I believe it was said that X-Pac would be challenging him..

Brawl for All: Quebecer Pierre vs. Steve Williams. Um. Quebecer Pierre is legitimately missing an eye and they're putting him in a fight with STEVE WILLIAMS? Clearly there were no athletic commissions regulating this in any way. Ross told us that we didn't know he was missing an eye and the eyepatch could be camoflage. Wikipedia says he does have two eyes, but is 90 percent blind on the one side. Doc scored two takedowns in the first round, though a third one was actually reversed and turned into a takedown for Pierre. Doc got a takedown early in Round 2, and then Pierre just ran out of gas by the end of the round. He kept trying to turn and run and Williams would just punch him in the back of the head. They showed an unofficial scoreboard of 35-5, Wiliams. Both guys charged forward in Round 3, and Williams was just peppering him right in the head repeatedly. Finally he turned has back and the ref waved off the fight. This was hard to watch, man.

They replayed the video of Val Venis banging Mrs. Yamaguchi-San from last week. Then Kaientai appeared at ringside, and Yamaguchi-san was berating his wife. Why is she out there with him? Why does she look sad? Why is his tie wrapped around his head? Yamaguchi-san said it was time for her punishment. He demanded she get on her hands and knees and crawl beneath his legs so he could spank her with a paddle. Val ran out and grabbed the paddle and cleaned house. He carried Mrs. Yamaguchi-san to the back and she had a big old smile on her face now.

Skull vs. Animal. Animal came out alone and kept looking back for Hawk, but Hawk didn't show. So DOA jumped him and beat him up around ringside. They were going to run him over with the motorcycle but Hawk finally arrived to make the save. It backfired and he got laid out too.

Jeff Jarrett vs. Steve Blackman. Blackman came out, then left, then came back out backed up by Dan Severn and Ken Shamrock. I love that Severn is still walking around in his suit. They did some stuff, and Blackman won quickly with a bicycle kick. Apparently while this was going on Owen Hart jumped Shamrock and laid him out. Blackman tended to Shamrock while Severn just walked out. What a total mess this was.

Michael Cole tried to interview Undertaker, but Taker ignored him and walked out of the building.

Jim Ross brought Austin out for an interview in the ring. Austin was still concerned that the tag match on Sunday would end up with him going 3-on-1 against Taker, Kane, and Mankind. Regardless, he was going to beat somebody's ass. Maybe Taker left tonight to avoid fighting Kane, or maybe he left to screw Vince, and Vince definitely deserved to be screwed. Vince and his crew came out to protest this. He booked Austin to face Kane & Mankind in Taker's place tonight. Austin—get this—just said no, I've already beaten those guys, I'll just leave too. So Vince threatened to strip him of the title and give it to Taker. So Austin said OK, I'll beat those two guys, and then I'll come back there and beat your ass too. And you wonder why Austin got over. I mean, besides that he was Steve Austin.

Owen Hart vs. Faarooq. Owen grabbed a mic during the match to tell fans he was not a nugget. This achieved his desired goal, and the more they cheered, the more pissed he got. Faarooq missed a legdrop, and Owen hooked the sharpshooter for the win. Shamrock immediately came running down and chased Owen out through the crowd.

Paul Bearer did a promo saying that Taker was a coward for leaving. Mankind said he enjoyed kicking Austin's teeth in. Kane had nothing to say.

Marc Mero and Jacqueline came out for a promo. Jacqueline said Sable couldn't compete with her in a bikini contest and needed liposuction. She offered to let Sable come out and raise her hand right now and not bother with the bikini contest on Sunday. Sable came out on stage in a very matronly dress. She called Jacqueline a tramp and made her way to the ring as her music played. Jacqueline called her a big fat cow in a tent that would sleep a family of four. Sable said her body kept them up all night long. A whole family? Creepy. So Jacqueline called her a ho and tore the dress off. Sable, in her underwear, laid Jacqueline out and started strutting around the ring. Then the camera was focused on her ass going up the ramp, and when they cut back to the ring Mero was down and Edge was standing over him. Way to go, 1998 WWF.

After the break, they tried another camera angle to show Edge, and that one missed him too.

Shawn Michaels came out to I guess do commentary or something. They showed clips of Scorpio vs. 8-Ball in a Brawl for All from earlier. Imagine getting your Brawl for All fight bumped to the preshow. Scorpio won.

Nation were still celebrating D-Lo's title win. Rock promised to leave his match against X-Pac still Intercontinental champion.

Rock vs. X-Pac. DX and Nation immediately all started brawling with each other and they went to break. When they cam back it was down to Rock and X-Pac, with everyone else ejected. In the middle of the heat, X-Pac hit an X-factor for a nearfall. Shawn referred to this move as a "carpet-muncher." X-Pac threw Rock outside and feigned a knee injury. This distracted the ref so Chyna could hit Rock with the belt. This took about an hour for some reason. Rock kicked out of the eventual count. Ref got bumped. D-Lo ran out to interfere, but Hunter was there to cut him off and drop Rock with a pedigree. The ref counted two, but another ref ran out and stopped it, saying Hunter had interfered. "NARC!" Shawn screamed. "STOOGE!" And that was the finish, Rock won via DQ. Well why don't they do this in all the other matches with interference? Turned into another DX-Nation brawl. Road Dogg was not at this show for some reason, and X-Pac was in condition to fight, and Chyna was tending to him. Yet somehow, Hunter and Billy Gunn were going toe-to-toe with all five Nation dudes on their own, and eventually cleared the ring. Funny how that works. DX was celebrating afterwards and they showed a hot blonde with a sign reading "DX SUCK THESE." Hunter convinced her to show her boobs. Shawn was SO HAPPY. Even happier than Lawler.

Kane & Mankind vs. Steve Austin. It was tornado rules, with both heels in the ring at the same time. They showed Vince laughing his ass off backstage watching Austin get destroyed. Have they explained why Mankind is wrestling in a shirt and tie since he came back? Is he supposed to be sucking up to Vince? Austin put up a fight but eventually they wore him down and double-teamed him, when Taker appeared in the aisle with a chair. He stepped in the corner, and suddenly this turned into a tag match, and Kane and Mankind were politely waiting their turn to enter the ring. Austin scored a stunner on Mankind, then turned his attention to Kane. He went for a stunner on Kane, but Taker swung a chair. Austin ducked and Kane ate it. It wasn't clear who he was aiming for. Austin grabbed the chair and laid out Mankind, then turned and wiped out Taker for good measure. This was the go-home show, by the way.

WCW Monday Nitro 149 (7/20/98)

Scott Hall came out for a promo comparing himself to Gilligan and Kevin Nash to the Skipper. I swear that's where he went with this. He said Nash was a whiner and cryer and not half the man Hulk Hogan was, and the black-and-white was too sweet.

Announcers flapped their gums a while.

They showed a bunch of clips from last week.

This show is 11 minutes old.

Stevie Ray vs. A Small Man with No Body. Stevie came out and said into the camera that he had left the belt with his little brother. Then he got in the ring to wrestle a guy a foot shorter than him, who had never lifted a weight in his life. Johnny Boone was the man's name. Stevie beat him up for a while, then Chavo Guerrero appeared in a cheap Zorro mask with a hobby horse and the TV championship belt. Stevie was confused and quickly hit a pedigree for the win. Chavo ran to the back. Stevie tried to hide the belt behind his back. Every single moment of this was the stupidest thing ever.

Rick Steiner came out for a promo. He said he was the one who got Scott into wrestling in high school, in college, and in WCW, but now Scott thought he could do things on his own. He wasn't 100 percent yet, but he wanted to face Scott at Road Wild. They spent way too long talking about being brothers and Rick's shoulder. OH MY GOD HOW LONG IS THIS GOING? Eventually Buff Bagwell got wheeled out. Somebody had to have missed a cue here. Rick said that what had happened to Buff last week was a tragedy. Rick said in their match, wherever it had been, he had been trying to win, not paralyze Buff, and he felt like it was his fault. Well, it was. Buff said all the thousands of pieces of fan mail he had received asked if he would forgive Rick. He said whatever was going on between Rick and Scott wasn't his business. But since his injury, he was seeing the world differently. He loved all the fans, and he forgave Rick, and he stood for the first time on TV and gave Rick a hug. Scott came running out and waffled Rick in the back with a chair. Buff stepped up to defend Rick, then grabbed the chair and hit Rick with it himself. He yanked off the neckbrace and pulled off his shirt to reveal an nWo t-shirt. Yes, the guy with the most obvious babyface comeback story in the world was instead shunted into a midcard heel role to ensure he would not get too over. I can't believe they didn't give Buff a babyface run here. I mean, I can, but I can't.

Chris Jericho came out for a promo to rant about Dean Malenko for a while. He challenged Malenko to a title match, and if Dean lost, he would never get a title shot again.

Hall interrupted the announcers to talk more. He said don't show video of Kevin Nash crying, and Nash should treat his infection with Monistat. Yeah.

They showed a wrecked car that had driven into a wall. "More bizarre as the minutes go by," Schiavonie noted.

Sick Boy vs. Mongo. Announcers speculated this car thing was a shot at Jay Leno. Zbyszko didn't get the joke and they tried to explain it, then gave up. Match was bad but at least short. Mongo won with a tombstone.

They showed Dean Malenko talking to Arn Anderson on Thunder, saying he was friends with Chris Benoit, and Benoit had been trying to reach out to Arn to say he believed in him. Basically he pitched that Arn should be their manager. Arn scolded him, saying he hadn't earned the right to call himself a Horseman. He said nobody understood this fact, and showed the scar running down his neck. He said his fire still burned to get in the ring, but his body wouldn't let him any more. And if they had any humanity, they'd just let him be. God Arn was great.

Eric Bischoff did a talk show segment. Oh no. He did the worst stand-up bit you ever saw. Like, intentionally, but it was still awful. I couldn't believe how awful this material was. Then Schiavonie let us know these jokes were actually stolen from Jay Leno on the Tonight Show. Well, there you go. HOW FUCKING LONG IS THIS GOING TO GO? All the fans booed and were drowned out by a terrible laugh track. At last he threw it to commercial. This only went about 5 or 6 minutes but it felt like 50.

We saw Nash's interview from the locker room on Thunder. He said Hall was going through a lot of personal problems, and he was not at liberty to discuss them. And then halfway through they had technical difficulties and Schiavonie apologized. Then we saw Hall coming out of the TV truck with a tape. Nash was there and asked if he had a minute. Hall blatantly said "fuck" and threw a tape at Nash, then picked a fight. Nash was beating his ass, but all the black-and-white dudes jumped out of a trailer and jumped him. The Wolfpac joined in for a brawl. Nash threw Hall into a door. Hall took about five steps, stopped, then jumped as high as he could into the door. I laughed my ass off. At this point Bret Hart joined the announcers said he wanted DDP's BUTT in the ring so he could win the US title right now. Then they cut backstage where Page was laid out and Konnan was screaming "COACH!" Hart said Page was fine and he should go to the ring. So Bret went to the ring. Then JJ Dillon went to the ring. This is all one segment. They bickered for a while and went to commercial. This is one of the worst wrestling TV shows I've ever seen.

Yuji Nagata vs. Saturn. I enjoyed watching these men suplex each other repeatedly. Sonny Onoo took the ref and Raven ran out and DDT'd Saturn. Nagata hooked the Nagata lock. Saturn was out cold, so the ref counted the pin. The Flock ran out to kill Saturn more. Nagata and Onoo just left. Kanyon hit the ring and ran wild with MOOVEZ. This included, seriously, a piledriver off the middle rope on Kidman. Now you know where Ibushi and Naito stole their spot. He went to help Saturn up, but Saturn dropped him with a DVD. He cut a promo into the camera warning Kanyon to stay out of his business.

They showed Bret Hart ending Rick Martel's career with a chairshot on Nitro last week. Then on Thunder Bret ran down all the other old men in the company and said they were all afraid of him. He promised nobody was safe. Then later in the show he attacked Rey Mysterio Jr. and Juventud Guerrera with a chair.

Sting & Kevin Nash vs. Giant & Scott Hall for the tag team titles. First the Wolfpac did a promo saying they were in the house. Crowd LOVED watching the giants fight. I mean, it's always cool, but they were giving it their all out there. Wolfpac ran wild forever until finally Sting tried a Stinger splash but Giant caught him with a boot to the ribs to cut him off. To show how fast things changed in WCW, Hall was out there in Wolfpac trunks, wrestling against the Wolfpac. They claimed he was playing mind games. Yeah, good one. Nash got a hot tag and ran wild against Giant. Giant tagged Hall in, so Nash killed him too. Broke down into a four-way, then Sting got a hot tag and ran wild. Bret ran out and distracted Sting, which let Hall hit the razor's edge to win the match and the titles. Very, VERY good TV tag match, an intense brawl from start to finish. One of Nash's best matches ever.

Announcers recapped all the chaos that had happened in the first half of the show.

Dancing Fools vs. "Masa Hiro Chono" & Great Muta. Announcers randomly threw out that Hart-DDP was going to be a two-man tournament for the US title, which was being taken away from Goldberg since he had won the world title. SCHIAVONIE CALLED THEM DANCING DILDOES AGAIN. Some have said he is saying "Dancing Dodos." No way. I listened to it over and over again. He said Dildoes. They're fake dicks. Not much to it, but it was fun while it lasted. Muta particularly looked great. He took down Disco with a dragon screw and won with a heel hook out of nowhere. Then Scott Norton came out and powerbombed the Dildoes for good measure.

The Nitro Girls were dancing, but in the middle of the act a trainer came out on stage and pulled Kimberly to the back.

Tokyo Magnum vs. Ultimo Dragon. So Tokyo Magnum has a fancy boy dancing gimmick, but they said hey, a Japanese dude, just give him some stereotypical koto music and call it good. So he's out there trying to dance to this slow-ass music. Poor guy. They were doing a bunch of spots, and Dragon was whipping his ass and Magnum was bumping all over the place, and then Dragon took him to the corner and stomped him in the face and from that point the beating was ON. Tokyo made a comeback and hit a top-rope rana, but Dragon cut him off with a brainbuster and finished him off with the dragon sleeper.

Jim Powers vs. Scott Norton. Powers looked 50 pounds smaller than the last time we saw him. Norton squashed him and won with a powerbomb. So earlier the said Bret and Sting were going to feud over the scorpion/sharpshooter, and now they said Nash and Norton would feud over the powerbomb. They had one idea and just gave it to everyone.

Hulk Hogan and the nWo came out for a promo. Chono and Muta were out there with the crew just walking around like, what are we doing here? They congratulated the new tag champs on their win. He congratulated Bagwell and Scott Steiner for the way they worshipped him, and thanked Muta and Chono for flying around the world to join them. He promised Eric Bischoff would take over for Jay Leno, and promised that Bret Hart would be the new US champion soon. Gotta say, as of right now, the talent pool in the black-and-white is pretty damn deep. He vowed to prove Goldberg was a fluke, and that was that.

They showed clips from Thunder of Hall & Hennig (former AWA tag champs!) beating Konnan & Page.

Eddie Guerrero vs. Konnan. Konnan came out with Antoine Carr, an NBA player for Utah, which is where this show was. Carr was actually awesome staring Eddie down and sizing him up. Konnan gave him the mic and he put the Jazz over. Heenan called him Isaac Hayes and Schiavonie got mad at him. Dude, calling somebody Isaac Hayes is not an insult. Eddie was AWESOME here, going up like a feather, bumping all over the place, making Konnan and Carr look like the scariest men in the world. He took such a hellacious beating it was getting to be obvious he was winning. Then Chavo came out doing a Konnan impression. Konnan actually blew himself up whipping Eddie's ass. Then he got distracted by Chavo and Eddie cut him off with a brainbuster. The hobby horse ended up in the ring and the ref disqualified Eddie. Eddie wrapped things up by taking a MONSTER backdrop out of the ring. Jesus dude.

Lex Luger vs. Curt Hennig. No doubt this is revenge for when Hennig as a special ref screwed Luger at WrestleMania against Yokozuna. They did about nothing but the crowd loved it. Ref got bumped and Rick Rude hit the ring, but Lex put him in the rack. Curt hit the fisherman's suplex and Rude hooked Luger's leg and the ref counted three.

Bret Hart vs. Dallas Page for the US title. Throughout the show, they had been teasing that Page would be unable to wrestle due to the earlier attack. So Bret came out, then a bunch of officials came out, then everyone turned and looked to the back. Page finally limped out, his ribs and knee all taped up. So Bret, not being dumb, immediately started punching and kicking him in the ribs. It only took him a minute or two to hook the sharpshooter, but Page got the ropes. So Bret just put it on again in the middle of the ring. Page fought and fought as Bret smiled, and eventually Page submitted. They brought a stretcher out for Page as Hart celebrated. The rest of the black-and-white came out to celebrate with him. They showed Page being put into an ambulance, and the nWo partied, and that was that.

WWE NXT (7/19/17)

Ember Moon vs. Ruby Riot. They re-aired the goofy angle with Ruby interrupting Ember's press conference to say she deserved a title shot. Ruby either got a haircut or had it tied up. Either way it was an improvement. They traded a million rollups early. Nigel said that Ruby "perhaps" had a height advantage. Perhaps? That's not really up for debate. She's either taller or she isn't, and in this case she clearly is. They got a lot of time and even went through a break. When they came back they were trading big moves and the crowd was totally into it and dueling chants. Ember looked especially awesome. She finally dropped Ember with a suplex, let out a wolf howl, then hit a rolling corner lariat and the eclipse for the win. Very good match. Basically the same match they did at the house show in Seattle with the boring middle portion removed.

Kassius Ohno was doing a press conference about his return to NXT when Hideo Itami interrupted, asking if Kassius had asked for this match. Kassius said he had. Itami cursed him out in Japanese and kicked a garbage can. I like how NXT only does press conferences when they need someone to be interrupted.

The UFC-style video package for the upcoming Lorcan-Burch match was so simple but so awesome.

We got a hype video for a new team called the Street Profits, shot on their own phones, goofing around the parking lot and going clubbing.

Oney Lorcan vs. Danny Burch. They said Oney Lorcan's idol was Rick Rude, but before I could even make a joke confirmed that Lorcan and Rude had almost nothing in common. This was two bald white guys in black trunks and boots hitting each other really hard. Crowd tried to get into it but really couldn't. Well, it was two guys who looked exactly the same, and there was no heat or comeback, just taking turns wailing on each other. Burch hit Nigel's Tower of London, and Nigel was very happy to call it as such. Suddenly they were slapping each other as hard as they could and powerbombing each other as hard as they could and there was blood everywhere. And then Oney hooked the rolling half-crab for the submission win. Wonder where he got that? For two completely forgettable men, they had a hell of a match. They shook hands afterwards, but then Burch demanded a rematch. Lorcan agreed. The best possible thing here might be that they earn each other's respect and become a tag team.

No Way Jose vs. Cezar Bononi. They showed Bononi's upset win over Andrade Almas two months ago. Short and basic. Bononi got some offense, including a swank dropkick, but Jose cut him off and won with the knockout punch. He left, then Almas and his mystery woman appeared out of the crowd. Almas whipped Bononi's ass as the woman nodded approvingly. He smiled and called Jose back to the ring, but then ran when Jose returned. Almas and the woman left.

Drew McIntyre vs. Killian Dane. Dane came out to new music, a warped version of the Sanity song with some Irish instruments thrown in. So we have now had an Englishman, a Scot, and a Northern Irishman on the show tonight. Are there any Welshmen on the NXT roster? They did some wacky crossbody spot that looked crappy and had Dane come up bleeding. Not sure what they had in mind, but I bet it wasn't that. Nigel said Dane had the presence of Giant Haystacks but moved like Terry Gordy. Well thank god it's not the other way around. Dane worked him over in a boring manner for a while. Then he did a neck vice. OK, I like Killian, he's very talented, but this match made it clear that he has a LONG way to go. I will say they got about as much out of this neck vice as I've ever seen. He was doing mounted punches in the corner and Drew brought him down with a powerbomb and finally made his comeback. He tried, but this match was a lost cause. Dane hit a cool wasteland-senton-Vader bomb combo for a nearfall. They took turns teasing finishers a bit as the match just refused to end. Dane hit an avalanche fisherman's suplex. God bless Mauro Ranallo, who still had all his enthusiasm for this crappy match. Drew hit his old future shock DDT, but Dane kicked out at 1. Drew was confused, but followed up with the claymore, the running kick out of the corner, but Dane didn't even stay down long enough for a cover. So Drew hit a second one and finally got the win, Dane's first loss in NXT. So Drew gets the title shot against Bobby Roode at TakeOver. I suspect that will be better than this was.

WWE Battleground (7/23/17)

Usos vs. New Day for the tag titles. No promo from New Day, just entrances, a video package, and a match. New Day had wacky patriotic gear. JBL dropped a line about the Uso's dad taking the tag titles from the Von Erichs in Texas. That can't be true. My god they did. The SST beat Kerry and Kevin for the World Class tag titles in 1988. That dude wrestled forever. Kofi got a hot tag and did his wacky "trust fall" dive, which is a quite accurate name, since you're trusting the guys to catch you so you won't die. Unfortunately for him, the Usos caught him and powerbombed him on the floor. He might have been better off if they had just dropped him. That left Woods isolated, and he gave it a go for a bit, but they hit an assisted Samoan drop for a nearfall. He came back and tried a top rope elbowsmash, but Uso A dodged while Uso B superkicked him. The timing here was ridiculous and it looked great. Usos then hooked a tequila sunrise, which soon turned into a half-crab. Woods got the ropes after a mighty struggle. Kofi returned and hit a Demolition-style footstomp that is apparently called the Midnight Hour. They got a nearfall off it, and everyone acted like they had missed their last shot. Usos hit a superkick and splash for what sure felt like the finish, but Kofi kicked out. Both Usos went up top, but Woods shoved one off. The other was distracted and delayed, and so he missed his splash. Kofi hit the spinning kick, and Woods followed with an INSANE top rope elbow (a callback to that earlier great spot) to win the match and the titles. This, for a long time, was just every tag match you every saw. Then they did the powerbomb spot on Kofi, and from then on it was GREAT. Even the aftermatch, with New Day celebrating in the ring and Usos sulking on the floor, was pitch-perfect. (***1/2).

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin. I forgot that Corbin has the Money in the Bank briefcase. That's still so weird. They had a staredown and Corbin tried talking shit to him and Shin just did the most awesome eyeroll you ever saw. I need of GIF of that right now. They had a hot start and the action just stopped for a minute or two. Nakamura dared Corbin to get back in the ring. Corbin dared Nakamura to get back in the ring. Eventually Corbin started punchin' and squeezin' him. Nakamura turned the bearhug into a sloppy triangle. This match is quickly failing. Crowd told Corbin he sucked and he told them he was doing pretty good and called them dummies. BACK TO THE BEARHUG! MORE SQUEEZIN'! Even the announcers were like, back to the bearhug! Crowd was mildly into Nakamura's comeback. Then Baron hit one lariat and the announcers were all LOOK! A LARIAT! SOMETHING COOL HAPPENED! Shin tried the kinshasa and Baron hit the deep six. Crowd was counting along for the pinfall. They believed Baron Corbin was going to pin Shinsuke Nakamura with one of his secondary moves. I honestly don't know if that's a good or bad thing. They did a long striking sequence with some hits, some misses, and some blocks. Shin hit a few minutes of offense and set up for the kinshasa, but Corbin couldn't get to his feet. Announcers were like, what does Nakamura do now? PIN HIM! IF YOU'RE OPPONENT CAN'T STAND, YOU PIN HIM! IT'S A GOOD THING IF YOUR OPPONENT CAN'T STAND! And then Nakamura tried to pick him up and Corbin hit a low blow for the DQ. Oh FUCK OFF AND GET FUCKED AND FUCK YOU. Fifteen minutes of the most boring WWE match all year and then THAT FINISH. I'm so pissed off right now. I want to leave so bad. Corbin hit the end of days afterwards, which looked SO AWESOME. Well that made me feel a little better. Still, this was the worst match of his career. Both of them. (-*).

Five-way top contender's match: Becky Lynch vs. Tamina vs. Natalya vs. Lana vs. Charlotte Flair. Naomi came out doing her full entrance, then joined the commentary desk. My god almighty she's hot. She's hotter than ever. Just chaos early, then Lana and Tamina teamed up and started working over Charlotte. Crowd was asleep. Then Lana and Tamina wrestled like, well, Lana and Tamina, and everyone booed. It was bad. Finally Becky and Charlotte cleared the ring so they could do stuff together and save the match. Seriously, that's what it felt like in storyline. Let me try to describe what Lana did when she returned to the ring. Stand in the corner of your room, much like Lana was standing in the corner of the ring. Place your arms in front of you, with your fists together under your chin, and your elbows together at about your navel. Now run and someone and collide with them, in that position. Jesus Christ. This is an elimination match, so when Lana broke up a submission, the announcers were asking, why did she do that? Becky kept having Lana in submissions, and Tamina kept making the save. So Becky tapped out Tamina with the disarmer. Now Lana was alone, and Becky immediately tapped her out too. Then Natalya schoolgirled Becky and pinned her. That's three eliminations in about 30 seconds. They teased a fourth after Charlotte hit a big boot, then Charlotte and Nattie traded submissions for a while. They did some MMA, including the Rampage Jackson powerbomb spot. Crowd loved that. Charlotte tried a moonsault, but Nattie got the knees up. Nattie then hit a schoolgirl into the corner and made the cover for the win. So she gets a title shot at SummerSlam. Naomi met her in the ring and offered a handshake, but Nattie stared her down and walked away. The two minutes here without Lana were very good, but, well, you know. (*1/2).

AJ Styles vs. Kevin Owens. AJ missed a charge outside and hit the barricade, then Owens crotched him into the post for the heat. Owens hooked a chinlock and threatened to do this all night. He then delivered on this threat. AJ made a comeback and they went back and forth for a while. Owens got the knees up on a springboard 450 for a nearfall. AJ came back and pulled Owens off the rope to hit a torture rack backbreaker. Aside from the very cool spots, there really wasn't much to this. Ref got bumped. AJ hooked the calf crusher, no ref. Owens cleanly transitioned into a crossface, no ref. AJ hit a crossface, no ref. If nobody's tapping, why bother with the ref bump. Then KO pinned him. Look, I don't know what happened or why it happened or what it meant or what the point of anything was. AJ had him in a hold and the ref was asleep, then Owens rolled him over and was still in the hold and the ref was awake and counting three. I do not know or understand what happened here. I can't comprehend it. I can barely describe it. I certainly didn't like it and don't recommend it. (*3/4).

Bollywood Boyz met with Jinder Mahal and told him they would be unable to aid him inside the Punjabi Prison and would be watching from the back. Jinder told them not to worry, he would deal with Orton on his own, with the 1.3 billion people of India behind him. They talked him up in Punjab for a while.

John Cena vs. Rusev in a flag match. They had dueling podiums (podia? podii?) near the entranceway. So the winner was the first to get his own country's flag and plant it in the proper pedestal. There were like 15 minutes from the end of the last match and the start of this one. First thing they did: Rusev ran for his flag, but Cena grabbed him and put him in a headlock. What a spot. Then they did the exact same thing again. These flags were high on the pole and hanging out away from the ring. How the hell are you supposed to get that? Cena did a facebuster and like three people chanted "YOU STILL GOT IT!" I laughed. They kept going for flags and pulling each other down. It was very dull, and at one point you could hear Cena telling Rusev "let's bring it up" right before his comeback. Cena tried something off the top, but Rusev caught him in a powerbomb, then climbed the ropes and pulled his flag down. It took him like 30 seconds to climb down and then Cena hit him with an ugly dropkick. I hope this ends with each guy carrying his flag and sprinting up the aisle like Usain Bolt. Well, not at all like Usain Bolt, but you know what I mean. Cena hooked the STF and Rusev tapped, but, you know, flag match. Cena got his flag, but Rusev superkicked him. This led to Cena having his flag and standing on the floor, and Rusev was lying on the floor, but Cena had to pretend he COULDN'T WALK. This is so fucking, FUCKING stupid. I have seen guys pretend they can't climb cages. I have seen guys pretend they can't climb ladders. I have seen guys pretend they can't climb into the ring, but I have never seen a match that required guys to pretend they couldn't walk. So they left the flags down by the ring and brawled on the stage. Rusev prepped some tables. There were ECW chants. Well, it is Philadelphia, I'll allow it. They were doing spots while standing above the flagpole gimmick where you stick the flag. Um, falling on that would be bad news. Cena, with his hand on the very bottom of the flagpole, was crawling up the stairs, but Rusev just pulled the stand away and wacked him with it. They kept doing stuff, and finally Cena picked Rusev up on his shoulders, walked up the stairs, and put Rusev through the tables with an AA. He is a big strong beast, that's for sure. Tables broke right away and did little to break Rusev's fall. Cena then planted his flag and won. Stupid match rules aside, the action here was pretty good. (**1/2).

Shoutout to the dude in the Sonics jersey behind the announcers.

Fashion Police recap video. Actually, this was the Fashion X Files, as they used supernatural methods to determine who had trashed their office. Then the Ascension walked and said, it was us, we trashed your office, and we did it because we wanted to. They all got sick over the gore of a decapitated toy horse. Fandango refused to believe it was the Ascension. The lights went out. Fandango grabbed a flashlight. Breeze was apparently dead. Then somebody jumped Fandango from behind. The camera was now on the floor, and Fandango's body was dragged away. We were told this would be continued. Best thing on the show since the opener.

Sami Zayn vs. Mike Kanellis. BEST SONG EVER!!!! Both of them, actually. There were not two shits about this match to be found in the entire building. Certainly not the announcers. Story is now that Maria found Mike working at a Hallmark and turned him into a wrestler. Seriously. They had every Smackdown match you ever saw. Sami hit his dive and people golf clapped. On replay, his head bounced off the ground hard. This crowd was DEAD. Sami made his comeback and was about to hit the exploder into the corner but Maria got in the ring to block it. They kicked her out and Sami hit the exploder anyway, then the mafia kick for the win. Good luck at the Hallmark store dude. (*).

They played SCARY MUSIC as the Punjabi Prison was lowered. They did a video package going over the convoluted rules, about structures and doors and 60 seconds and escapes and whatever. You couldn't see a GOD DAMN THING through all the bamboo. Mahal called for a door to be opened just a few seconds in, but of course neither guy was able to get out in the one minute it was open. Jinder started working Randy's climbin' arm. Lots of armbars, then a door got opened, and nobody got out. They tried to climb out, then did some spots on the apron. Crowd was bored and chanted for their local sportsball team, then for Matt Hardy, then for Big Show. Seriously. Orton called for a door to be opened. Crowd did not do the countdown, choosing intead to chant for CM Punk. Now there was one door left. They dramatically looked at each other, then the door, then each other. Orton was getting booed as he called for the last door to be opened. He tried an RKO rather than go out, and Jinder cut him off. Jinder tried the cobra clutch slam, but Randy turned it into the RKO. The Singh Brothers appeared and dragged Jinder out of the door, and then it closed before Randy could get out. So Jinder had to climb one cage, but Randy had to climb two. Both guys climbed as fast as they could. And then Orton just climbed from the inside cage to the outside cage. In one step. All that fighting to get out doors, and it's actually EASIER to climb up the inner cage first. So they brawled about eight feet up on the inside. Mahal fell to the floor, but the Singhs grabbed Orton and pulled him down. It turned into a 3-on-1 fight and Randy was still winning. You know, the Singhs will fit through the big holes in the cage. Just saying. Kendo sticks got involved. Randy's shoulder was all cut up by it, and he was at least smart enough to turn his back to the camera to maximize the shot. We were past the top of the hour now, by the way. A Singh did in fact slip through the cage to climb and attack Randy from the outside. They teased the fall, teased it twice, and then the guy plummeted through the announce desk. Orton and Jinder brawled on the floor as this had gone way longer than it needed to. Jinder had to set his feet up in the cage to take the draping DDT. A chair got used. Finally Orton tried to climb, doing a great job of selling the bad arm. The other Singh tried to stop him, but got knocked down and bumped flat to the floor. Jesus, that was worst than the giant table bump. Randy tried to climb one more time, but THE GREAT KHALI made his return and strided down to ringside. Orton climbed to the top and Khali started shaking the cage, and Orton started flipping all over the bars. That was horrifying. Then Khali climbed a couple of rungs, which astounded me, and reached through the cage to choke Orton. Then Mahal just climbed out and won. Mahal and Khali celebrated, with Khali grabbing the belt into his own hands. Oh dear god, they're not actually going to build to Khali vs. Mahal, are they? A bad PPV main event, but not the worst match I ever saw or anything.

Lucha Underground Season 3: Fade to Black

Prince Puma was on the roof of the building, having flashbacks about Konnan, Vampiro, and Mil Muertes. Vamp came out to talk to him and said the only way to quiet the voices in his head was to win the championship. Otherwise, the visions would consume him and there would be nothing left. Puma looked down and spotted the Worldwide Underground walking into the building. PJ Black spotted him and flipped him off, then just went inside. OK, that was awesome. Puma vowed he would not lose, "my master.".

Cueto Cup match: Pindar vs. Cage. Cage refused to take the magic gauntlet off. The ref tried to grab it, so Cage laid him out. Ref immediately called for the DQ, so Pindar advances. Cage grabbed the ref and killed him with a falcon arrow-style brainbuster. Jesus.

Cueto Cup match: Dante Fox vs. Son of Havoc. Havoc was coming down the stairs when Son of Madness jumped him from behind and they brawled in the crowd. Madness eventually knocked him out with a chain and left. Dario Cueto emerged from his office. He said the Cueto Cup must continue, and he would not delay the match, so Havoc had to forfeit or get ready to fight. Fox was laughing about this, but Havoc made his way to the ring, and they went to break.

Early on, Fox hit a massive running flip dive over the post. He almost overshot Havoc on that one, which is insane. Havoc kept trying to come back but could never get any traction. They kept going for a while. Fox hit a massive senton. Havoc hit a lethal injection for a nearfall and then finally made his real comeback. They brawled on the apron for a while, then Havoc picked him up and hit an AA from the apron to the floor. Yes. Legit an 8-foot drop or more to a flat-back bump on the pretty black mats. Insanely stupid. Havoc missed a massive shooting star press, and Fox followed with his convoluted brainbuster for the win. I couldn't get into this and I'm not sure why. Probably would have been better without the attack and if they just had a straight match.

Worldwide Underground had a meeting, and Johnny Mundo introduced Benjamin Cook to the group. He was "representation." He put them over to a FABULOUS degree, with happy music as he talked about how heaven would be a disappointment after he had laid eyes on Johnny Mundo. PJ was skeptical, but Cook promised that he could help them rule Lucha Underground. This was amazing. Just amazing.

PJ Black vs. Prince Puma. A couple of the super-athletic highspots you'd expect, but mostly brawling, especially with the new vicious Puma taking over and just clubbing him repeatedly. Black did an awesome rolling reverse suplex into a dragon sleeper. Seriously, that ruled. That was much cooler than the stupid AA off the apron. Black used a lot of submission moves, then Puma made a comeback and hit about the greatest springboard elbow I've ever seen. It was very simple, but the dude just jumped so fucking high I was half expecting that he would never come down. They traded moves and Puma suplexed him onto his head for a nearfall. Striker took the time to explain why you would want to attack an opponent's neck. What? This is a question? He explained, you see, that if your neck was damaged, and your weight was stacked up on top of it, it would be hard to kick out. How about IF YOUR NECK IS DAMAGED IT COULD BE FUCKING BROKEN AND YOU COULD FUCKING DIE. This was seriously the stupidest thing I've ever heard a wrestling announcer say, and think of all the stupid shit Striker has said. Black hit an awesome cutter out of a powerslam, then hit something that Striker called—I am not making this up—the "wellness policy." They kept going at an exhausting pace but were barely even sweating. Puma hit a terrifying reverse top-rope rana, then a regular top-rope rana. Black kicked out of both. Puma threw a tantrum, but then hit a super dropkick and the 630 senton for the win. This was an insanely great pro wrestling match. I love Lucha Underground again.

Dario took a phone call in his office, but then hung up when Black walked in. Dario said Cook had called him 17 times so far demanding Black get another shot. Black said the match had only been over for five minutes. Cueto said he could not put Black in the tournament, but he could grant him a match against the top contender to the LU title, Rey Mysterio Jr. PJ was very happy to hear that. Then Cook called Cueto's cell phone. Well, much better this week, but you knew it would be.