Currently, WWE is most people’s main source of wrestling excitement. With the Royal Rumble at hand (or already in the books, depending on when this publishes), it might be easy to overlook what many of the alternative promotions are putting out right now.
I started gathering my thoughts for this weekly opinion piece around the intent of writing specifically not about WWE (or at least their main roster). I will be contributing to 411’s roundtable preview of the Rumble and it hasn’t happened at the time of my writing, so there’s really not much I can say about the product at the moment. As I viewed several of the other weeklies one thing stood out this week among them – the main events.
TNA, Ring of Honor, and NXT all put big names in each of their top billings. TNA put their top title on the line in a Last Man Standing match. Ring of Honor featured a Street Fight among three amazing tag teams that was absolutely bananas. Even WWE’s developmental brand paired up a couple of fantastic wrestlers in a I Never Thought I’d See Those Guys Wrestle In WWE Match. Okay, I made up that last stipulation, but it was still a bout I was very much anticipating.
Lets take a look at the final contests on each of these three shows. I’ll discuss what I liked and even offer a few .gifs for those that missed out. At then end, I’ll declare a winner in a week when three promotions really brought their A games.
Career vs. Title In TNA
Thanks to spoilers, I knew that the Matt Hardy TNA World Championship win and heel turn was coming. I wasn’t sure how on board I’d be with TNA also turning Ethan Carter babyface but after seeing it, I’m all in. The match itself was good, peppered with some appropriate dramatic spots throughout. Check out this Twist of Fate on EC3 with a sick chair assist…
Matt Hardy referred to Tyrus’ changing of allegiance as a “business decision.” The interference of Tyrus was necessary for Hardy’s win, which is good because Tyrus is great as a big mean monster. Even Matt’s wife Reby acted the heel and tried to get involved by offering her husband a hammer from a diaper bag during the match. She even spit in Ethan’s face post-match before her husband performed a one-man con-chair-to onto the former champ.
I’m ready for this new era of TNA in which EC3 is now a babyface. He was so good as a heel so I’ll give a try at being the proper face of that company. They executed all of these plot devices in a main event match that was highly entertaining.
Absolute Pandemonium In Ring Of Honor
The Kingdom, reDRagon, and The Young Bucks clashed in a Philly Street Fight this week and it was bananas. This is one you’ll want to go back and watch if you haven’t watched yet. Memorable moments included the Young Bucks Superkicking someone in a shopping cart, Adam Cole doing the Terry Funk ladder twirl, announcer Kevin Kelly getting taken out by a rogue Superkick, and a finishing sequence involving AJ Styles. It felt like non-stop chaos.
The Bucks won thanks to the outside help. I assume that this is the last time we’ll see AJ Styles on ROH TV. I might be wrong about that but I don’t think they record months in advance like TNA and Lucha Underground sometimes do. This was a fun match finish for him to be a part of.
I wish The Young Bucks were joining their Bullet Club buddies’ migration to WWE but they’re probably better off in Ring of Honor for the time being. The Bucks can be themselves in that promotion and would probably clash with whatever expectations WWE might impart on them. Perhaps the WWE landscape will change in the next few years and a Matt and Nick Jackson signing would make more sense. We’ll see how they handle their current Bullet Club (along with Nakamura) acquisitions first, I guess.
Not As Stiff As Ciampa
Okay, I’m being a little negative with the titling of the NXT main event so I’ll cut that out. Samoa Joe and Johnny Gargano fought during the closer of everyone’s favorite WWE Network-only promotion and they delivered. It might not’ve been a match of the year contender but they still went pretty hard. Here’s Johnny Gargano landing on his head to serve as proof…
Ciampa wasn’t just there simply to absorb Joe’s offense. He had a little bit of fire in him and even hit that cool DDT in which he dives from the ropes from on the apron to hit. It was a good showing for Ciampa but in the end, he tapped out to the Somoan Submission Machine. Next up for Joe is a big Triple Threat Match next week to decide the Number One Contender to Finn Balor’s NXT Championship.
My Final Verdict
NXT offered a fine matchup in their main event, but it didn’t feel like it was a four star (or more) match like from the other two promotions. Catch it if you missed it, but prioritize the other two higher in your need-to-watch queue. I appreciate what you did, Joe and Johnny, but you had stiff competition this week.
The real battle here was between TNA and ROH and I have to give the nod to that Philly Street Fight. It felt like non-stop action, the type that you occasionally have to force yourself to catch your breath for. I’m also still marking out a little over the Superkick to Kevin Kelly.
Maybe I’m a little too optimistic but I am hopeful for TNA’s main event over the next few weeks. I wasn’t sure how the double turn would come across on TV but after seeing it all unfold, I think they did it well. I want to tune in next week to see how EC3 plans on responding to his loss, so job well done.
Final Ramblings And Plugs
I should pop back in again soon here at 411 pretty soon to break down the Biggest Winners of The Royal Rumble, and before that to offer my picks for the staff roundtable piece. Even though the past couple of years have been downers for that event I still get excited about it. It’s still a very cool concept after all of these years.
Wrestling Date Night is mine and my wife’s podcast. We talk about the upcoming Rumble in our latest episode, so listen to our picks in glorious audio form. Search for us (and subscribe!) on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spreaker…or you can just click on the link below…