Red's Pro-Wrestling Digest #82: Weekly TV Roundup, 2nd Week of January (AEW, NJPW, CMLL, IMPACT)

Match Ratings
  1. ROH World Title: Claudio(c) vs Woods ***1/4
  2. Athena vs Viva S***
  3. Bandido vs Daniels ***1/4
  4. Juice vs Williams S***
  5. Emi, Diamante vs Bird and the Bee ***
  6. Hardy, Page, Kassidy vs Wolfe, Icarus, Teninty S***
  7. ROH Women's Title: Athena(c) vs Shafir ***1/2
  8. AEW Trios Titles, Best of Seven #7-Escalera de la Muerte: Death▲(c) vs The Elite ****1/4
  9. Page vs Moxley ****
  10. Danielson vs Takeshita ****
  11. Jungle Hook vs The Firm ***
  12. Saraya, Storm vs Baker, Hayter ***1/4
  13. Edwards, Moose, Maclin vs Gresham, Swann, Hendry ***1/2
  14. IWGP US Heavyweight Title: Ospreay(c) vs Omega *****
  15. Best 2/3 Falls: Euforia vs Hechicero ***1/2
  16. Best 2/3 Falls: Averno, Mistico vs Volador, Romero ***3/4
  17. Romero vs Volador NR
  18. TNT Title: Darby(c) vs Juice ***
  19. Kingston, Ortiz vs Kings of the Black Throne ***
  20. Street Fight: Ruby, Willow vs TayJay AS ***3/4

Digest

Up first, three from Elevation!

What better a way to kick off the week of action than with Claudio defending the Ring of Honor World Championship?

Woods' last singles match in an AEW ring was failing to take the ROH TV belt from Joe back in September and the last singles victory in an AEW ring was back during July. He has had a handful of multi-man wins, though. I guess that's enough? Who knows with TK but he's fucking Oprah with these title shots.

Whatever, this was a good throwaway title defense with the champ looking good and Woods even got some shit in to make it even more enjoyable. I had fun.

Athena murdered another jobber. I love this shit. Shafir walked down with a purpose after as the champ attacked. 

Last, Bandido bested The Fallen Angel, Christopher Daniels. The latter had his old entrance back etc. and I loved to see it. The attitude was there, too. The result was a good match that I bet would've rocked harder if we had been able to get a slightly younger Daniels involved instead. Since that's simply not possible with current tech, I'll settle for this fun little singles clash and I consider a hopeful sign that Bandido is going to get a push soon in AEW. 

I watched a lot of Dark this week. It looked fun. We're in Oregon and we start with Rockhard Juice Robinson picking up a win. Basically a squash but Travis got some shit in.

A women's tag team match followed and I dug the intensity level here. I also must say, like a broken record, that the commentary work on Dark tends to be my favorite. Good shit.

Since I am still not finished with 2022 stuff and have no right even watching as much of this show as I am, I did skip the quick squashes. They looked fine while fast-forwarding, though.

Juice, backstage, put himself over and Dark Order came in trying to be pals. Friend request declined. Funny shit, though it is sad seeing Dark Order looking so sad these days.

Ethan Page came out with Kassidy and Matt Hardy. Excalibur explained the angle to us. I lied, because this was a squash, but it was fun shit so no apologies. Page had a mic in hand and he fucking used it here. A crowd pleaser six-man.

The main event, and I notice quickly that there's a nice bit of runtime left, saw Athena defending her strap and keeping her refound intensity intact. This was easily the best thing that I've seen from AEW's YouTube offerings in a very long time and it had a lot of meat, decent amounts of drama, and a good dynamic. I've been big on Athena again lately and it's for the first time in a while. I especially loved seeing her finally meet someone willing to bully back. The result was, as alluded to a moment ago, something that way overdelivered. Check this fight out if you have a moment.

Give us a lights out match on Dark as a follow up!?

I guess not caring about Raw, SD, NXT, or their special events opens up more time for Dark?

Moving along, I watched AEW Dynamite via their YouTube uploads. This one was supposed to be a big deal with returns, ppv level matches, and very important people in the crowd judging everything.

First, Tony Schiavone introduced the live crowd to the returning Adam Cole. That, and Cole's entrance, made up the entire first video.

The second saw Cole cutting a babyface promo talking about how bad shit was last year. He had bad news for the locker room...that he's back. The set up for that last bit was a bit overdone, with a retirement tease, but the entire thing really worked well. I'm very excited to see how he's booked.

Third, Kenny and the Bucks took back the belts they never actually lost. The entire series was exactly as awesome as expected and I absolutely loved the efforts on display throughout. Each encounter felt a bit different, had nice story blocks thrown in in bits and pieces, and the action remained top shelf. 

Next, Adam Page bested Moxley in a damn fight and they leaned heavy into the story through their shots and spots. The finish in particular was excellent. This angle has been delightful, folks.

Reports suggest Takeshita is finally about to get booked well. I admittedly appreciate the Danielson angle he has going right now with the American Dragon going on a battle ladder adventure in hopes of facing MJF in an iron man match.

But imagine putting Soup over here.

Oh well, this was another fantastic match proving that this edition of Dynamite was a PPV disguised as a TV episode.

Jericho's out so that the fans had a chance to sing loudly in front of some TV executives. Charisma and ego oozed and PWG got a shoutout.

The video split after some shit talking and the next one saw Starks and Action responding to that shit talking. Some chick in the crowd came hard to their arrival. They talked shit together and Ricky challenged Hager. Sadly, I preferred the first half but it was okay while feeling borderline edgelordy at times.

MJF is here in our next video and Takeshita is in the ring. This preceded the Danielson match.

I have to be honest, MJF's promo didn't land very well. A big part of his character is that he was a jewish kid that dealt with bullying so now he's a bully. This was a bit much, though. I've been behind MJF's rise but racism for heat is a big no go for me. Go away heat isn't good heat and we're getting there. 

The entire thing was very cheap in general and closer to some bullshit Bully Ray would give us, approved or not.

I'm sure some suit upstairs laughed their ass off and that matters most, right?

Speaking of drama, a lot of fans saw WWE dealing with a literal house fire right now and decided the sky was instead falling for AEW because Mercedes didn't appear. Should a "boss" statement have made the cut? No, but honestly she wasn't announced and, best I can tell, she's still supposed to arrive at some point. I'm wondering if New Japan has dibs on her post-WWE United States debut.

Oh, and Bryan would make MJF run off looking like a child at the end of that last segment.........

Danhausen and Orange would be with Renee and Walter Hauser next in a very WWE from 5 years ago kind of segment. The Best Friends would join in to solidify that view. The same video would then cut to The Acclaimed are getting a Hollywood Walk of Fame spot, and Juice wants the TNT Championship.

They just shoved a bunch of backstage stuff into one video. Fuck it, why not!? Some of it was okay.

Jungle Hook were fun together and it looks like they've decided that this random union is the best way to use them right now. Hook throwing Morrissey around was especially entertaining.

Saraya and Storm faced Baker and Hayter next. Shida would be involved in the finish that saw the heels take the W while looking surprised at the result.

Next week has Bandido versus Bryan. Battle Ladder!!!

Impact was heading into Hard to Kill with this edition, which I'll try to take a look at soon in parts, and I picked this six-man from last week's episode to check out. The main reason was that this was clearly their big go home contest that they were hoping would sell the show as well as a few of the programs.

Hendry and Moose, Gresham and Edwards, Swann and Maclin.

I only actually cared about the middle one, but this left me thinking the other two might produce a decent blowoff. That's smart booking.

Joe cut a promo to kick us off and I actually found myself missing that old NGW series from YouTube. After, we saw the six work a smart, storyline heavy building block with some decent action tacked on to ensure recommendations were likely.

I indeed recommend this one for anyone that missed Hard to Kill but were wondering if they should go back and give it a look.

Again, check in soon for a look at some thoughts on select matches from that event.

Oh, and real quick: Congrats to Gresham! I am eager to see his run to the top in IMPACT Wrestling.

New Japan on AXS 01/12/23 Review

New Japan on AXS this week kicked off the WrestleKingdom coverage with a look at Ospreay versus Omega. While a few moments clearly were botched, they actually added to the drama in a way. My mountain high expectations were rewarded regardless and to nitpick such a masterpiece seems tasteless.

Rewind a bit because yeah, this is indeed a pro-wrestling masterpiece.

The build to this was fire, the talent involved was Misawa/Kenta levels, and the result was a piece of violent art.

Simply put, this is one of the few matches I've been willing to give five stars and I strongly recommend that anyone reading this makes time to witness it, too. If you've already seen it, watch it again!

A perfect episode!

Overall episode rating: 100/100%

To Mexico, as we near the return of Fantastica Mania, we have three from last Friday. This was the second part of a two week event where they ran back some of their best matches from 2022. Kind of.

Euforia and Hechicero starts us off. How could you not want to see these two work? 

They started technical and continued adding wood to the fire after, putting out something that I'd call a decent representation of lucha libre to a newcomer. That's because this match was pretty good and featured a quality overall layout as performed by two top shelf performers.

I fucking love Hechicero!

Next, Mistico teamed up with Averno to take on Volador Jr. and New Japan's Rocky Romero.

Basically, this was a Black Warrior tribute match mixed with a Fantastica Mania tie-in and a title match builder all in one. It was honestly great stuff and I found myself having a blast watching along. After, Volador requested one more fall, this one against his partner following some friendly fire.

He got it, but lost quickly after a lightning paced sequence.

Quality television once again this week from CMLL.

Next week's episode will feature:

  • Blue Panther teaming with Valiente and Panterita del Ring to take on Euforia, Hechicero, and Mephisto
  • Nuevos Ingobernables brothers, Angel de Oro and Niebla Roja, teaming with Cavernario to take on Dragon Rojo Jr, Oraculo, and the amazing Templario. That one could be really fun and is technically an all rudo six-man
  • Volador Jr will defend the NWA World Historic Welterweight Championship against Rocky Romero

I'm pretty sure all three will make my pull list!

Next, I watched more Rampage than I should have.

The first match uploaded was a violent, rough as fuck street fight that really did remind me a lot of the old ECW days mixed with a modern fighting spirit. Blood, fucked up spots, near fall drama. Ruby was a mess and Willow tried her best to legit murder Jay. It's honestly a bit hard for me to even rate it as high as I did because admittedly some of the stuff here was basically a giant botch. The problem is the effort was there and honestly it just rocked so fucking hard regardless of all of that. Give it a look!

That was the only thing I actually enjoyed a lot from Rampage.

The shit with Jeff Jarrett, Danhausen, and Paul Walker Hausen wasn't my cup of tea.

The House of Black match tried for a lot but landed little, sadly. Good but it could've been great.

The segment with The Acclaimed was garbage, brain rot television as soon as the rap section ended.

Lastly, Darby and Juice felt a lot like I was watching a young kid playing Juice in a 2k game against the computer. I wanted this to be awesome, but it simply wasn't.

And with that, we complete this set. Thanks, as always, for reading!



Wrestling TV Series of the Week: NJPW on AXS

Wrestling TV Match of the Week: Omega versus Ospreay for the United States Heavyweight Championship

Best TV Storyline of the Week: Omega versus Ospreay