WWE have dropped a pre-recorded tournament on our laps again and you know what that means, folks— time to bust out the match recommendation scale! (For Night One’s recommendations, you can click here.)
As always, it’s a very simple five point scale laid out where a 1 is total skip, 2 you can probably skip unless you love one of the folks in it, 3 is a match that’s worth watching but not necessarily worth making time for, a 4 is a solid recommendation to make time for if you can, and a 5 is a must-watch.
Mind you, these are not star ratings. They’re not meant to be absolute ratings in any sense, but rather a simple (and hopefully sensible) way to determine if a match is worth your time. A one is not necessarily a bad match, but rather just one I feel like you’re best off skipping. I have my biases, of course, but hopefully I can make it easy for you to adjust for them.
Moustache Mountain (Trent Seven & Tyler Bate) vs Undisputed ERA (Kyle O’Reilly & Roderick Strong) (c) (NXT Tag Team Championship) (5): Back and forth early, both teams trying to isolate a member of the other but not proving able to really take anybody out until Strong lures Seven to the floor and Undisputed begin to work him over. At long last, a DDT gets Bate in and he’s fired up! Great feats of strength, but Roddy’s able to cut them off as they move towards double-teams and we’re into nearfall territory.
Malfunction at the junction when Trent simply isn’t there for Undisputed’s finish, Dragon suplex / rebound lariat combo but Strong makes the save and the match enters its final, hottest stretch.
A modern take on a classic tag formula, welding present-day indie highspots and finishing stretch escalations onto the classic Ricky & Robert tag team isolation > hot tag sequence, this is very good and definitely worth your time. Also the finish is one of those absurd “are we sure this is allowed in WWE?” type maneuvers, which is always good.
Charlie Morgan vs. Killer Kelly (2): Light mat grappling in the feeling out, moving on to a bit of lucha libre and they stalemate. Trying for striking, Morgan wins the exchange with a crossbody, but Kelly’s able to get her hung up in the ropes and string some offense together. nearly pulling the win out with a Romero Special Dragon sleeper only for Charlie’s grappling skills to get her out of it.
This sets the tone for the rest of the match, with Killer dominant and Morgan cracking openings out wherever she can. This isn’t bad, but neither is it particularly something worth going out of your way to watch, lacking a sensation of escalation and coming off more like a perfectly serviceable TV match than anything.
Mark Andrews vs. “Flash” Morgan Webster vs. Noam Dar vs. Travis Banks (WWE United Kingdom Championship #1 Contender’s Match) (3): Brawling in pairs to start, Banks pulls ahead as the clear leader initially but Dar takes advantage of his bum shoulder and gets into it with Flash. Noam back at it without missing a step, Travis back in, the action spills to the floor and Webster and Andrews both hit some cool highspots. Back inside, a good long sequence with all four men weaving in and out of the action and when the dust clears we get an extended section of Dar pairing off with first Flash and then Mark before Banks comes in and runs him off to send us into our finishing stretch.
This is good, high-octane action. Not super compelling, not something you’re likely going to want to revisit in a year’s time, but a good match worth watching if you’ve got the time.
Adam Cole (c) vs. Wolfgang (NXT North American Championship) (4): Wolfgang hot out the gates, and he puts together a strong run early, and even a trip outside and back in sees a rally from Cole fail thanks to a sweet gutbuster counter on a dive. The match carries on in this fashion, Adam gradually getting more and more offense in and Wolfgang is forced to take more and more risks, and the finish is a question of who gives first.
This is a good take on a classic David-and-Goliath format. Not quite a great match, and not a mandatory one, but very good and quite worth your time.
Aleister Black & Ricochet vs. EC3 & Velveteen Dream (2): Dream chucking t-shirts at each of his opponents to start, playing mindgames and tagging out. He and EC3 soon have Black isolated but the champ is able to slip away and Ricochet comes in hot only to serve his turn in isolation soon enough. Dream taunts the crowd, makes like he’s going to bring a chair in, and generally puts on a show before Ricochet makes a comeback. Aleister comes in hot, VD comes up lame, and the match moves into its final phase.
This is a character piece, a solid TV tag match that’s pleasant enough and serves a purpose but doesn’t really stand out on its own and is frankly a bit on the long side for the story being told. Watch accordingly.
Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Toni Storm (NXT Women’s Championship) (5): Grappling early, both women quite accomplished and able to keep the other from gaining a significant advantage and so eventually Storm knocks Baszler to the floor with a kick and follows it with a dive to turn the heat up! Shayna cuts her off, and back inside the champion continues to target the knee until Toni gets a German suplex off.
And so it goes, Storm fighting through the pain, her leg giving out at inopportune moments, the question being if she can land a shot to put Baszler away before the champion inevitably grinds her down. An excellent match, Toni’s selling is particularly on point here, it’s got a great finish, go watch it!
Pete Dunne (c) vs. Zack Gibson (WWE United Kingdom Championship) (5): Intense grappling from the jump, Dunne going right after Gibson’s hand. Heating up, the assault continues on the apron but on the floor Zack manages to return the favor into the barricade and takes control back in the ring. A wild headbutt gets Pete back into things. Desperate, clutching his arm, Dunne makes every shot count, and the match carries on back and forth from there, each man trying to damage the other’s arm enough to pull out a victory, increasingly peppered with highspots as things go on.
Excellent escalation, a headbutt exchange that surely gave Nigel McGuinness some flashbacks, this is awesome and a worthy heir to the best matches in the UK Championship’s short history. Watch it!
There you have it, folks
Agree? Disagree? Feel free to toss in your two cents below, Cagesiders.