There’s a ton of wrestling content nowadays and unless you’re a hardcore pro-graps fan, you have to decide what to watch when and what to consider leaving out. That’s where we come in to help.
Every week, we are going to run down the big in-ring happenings for the easily accessible US wrestling. (“In-ring” meaning no Talking Smack nor Total Divas). This won’t cover your indie needs, but ReverendKain always has you covered in his weekly Sermon on the Mat for that. Ring of Honor won’t be making the weekly recap, but you can always find them on their website. Lucha Underground is on midseason break until the summer.
Bear in mind, matches could be added after this posts that would definitely change how worth a show is to watch.
Monday Night Raw (USA Network)
Now that the shake up is all said and done (results here), it’s time to find out what the new landscape of WWE looks like. Raw acquired some strong upper midcard talent (that could fit into the main event if necessary) in Bray Wyatt, Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose, and the Miz. They also bolstered their women’s division with Alexa Bliss and Mickie James.
We know what Bray has planned for the next two weeks going into the Payback pay-per-view and that’s a WWE championship match with SmackDown star Randy Orton. (This could see those two jump between brands to build this match.) However the rest of the new acquisitions don’t have anything planned yet so we should start to learn about their plans this week. Who is Dean Ambrose’s first Intercontinental feud? Who is Alexa Bliss going to battle first? These are questions we could get early answers to starting tonight.
There isn’t anything specific advertised, but the new look and fresh match ups are a reason to tune in.
Verdict: This will give us an idea how the new landscape of Raw will look. It’s worth checking out.
SmackDown Live (USA Network)
What was said for Raw applies just as much (if not more) to SmackDown as well. SmackDown gained Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and will eventually have the New Day and Rusev as well. (Those won’t be showing up yet as Kofi Kingston is out injured as is Rusev.) The women’s division acquired Charlotte Flair, which was a big get for the blue brand.
What may be more intriguing about these new characters on SD compared to Raw is the difference in style and opportunity SmackDown seems to offer. Last year, people like the Miz, Bray Wyatt, and almost all of the Women’s division got a chance to show off. That’s due to the longer form storytelling and the ability to flesh out their characters on Talking Smack. Because of that, it’ll be very interesting to see what guys like Kevin Owens or eventually Rusev can do on Tuesday nights.
Oh, and Shinsuke Nakamura is going to eventually knee Dolph Ziggler’s head off. That alone is worth a watch.
Verdict: Much like Raw, and perhaps even more so, this is worth checking out
205 Live (WWE Network)
While I rarely give 205 Live a must watch, I enjoy the hour. It’s by no means essential, especially with the cruiserweights getting time on Raw as well, but it’s a fun show. Last week, TJ Perkins and Jack Gallagher had a really fun much. It was the type of match you won’t see on Raw because Mondays don’t allot the same amount of time for the 205 division. It’s a fun show and gives you a better look at all the cruisers. But it isn’t essential viewing.
Verdict: If you like the cruisers, check it out.
NXT (WWE Network)
The first episode of the new era if NXT was a hit last week. While they didn’t delve into major plot points, we got an idea of what the landscape held. Drew McIntyre returned and had a great match with Oney Lorcan. Ember Moon is more focused on the women’s title than ever before. Ruby Riot and Nikki Cross are on a collision course. While NXT was never bad, it may be making a comeback.
This week, NXT will say good bye to long term member Tye Dillinger. The Perfect Ten will face SAnitY’s Eric Young in a Steel Cage match. It’ll be a good match, but more importantly, likely lead to a sweet on-air good bye to SmackDown’s Tye Dillinger.
Verdict: NXT has a new look and if you’ve dropped off, it may be worth tuning in to see what the yellow brand of WWE is cooking up.
TNA Impact (Pop TV)
It’s that live episode of Impact that I incorrectly promised you two weeks ago. This time it’s legit though.
Only one thing is advertised this week and that’s a title match between James Storm and Bobby Lashley. How did they get here? A fan poll that didn’t actually happen. (They announced the results of the fan post at the tapings six weeks ago despite running the poll last week on their website. Yeah.)
This is the first episode of the new set of tapings for the new regime. How was the last set? Bad. There was minimal consistent storytelling outside a feud between the announcers that actively ruined other matches. So while we could see change, I can’t recommend TNA to viewers until they show they can put on actual enjoyable episodes.
Verdict: If you’re curious about the train wreck or want to see if they change things, you can watch it. But you probably shouldn’t.
There’s a ton of other wrestling out there and we can’t cover it all on here. So if there’s something you’re particularly excited for this week, let your fellow wrestling fans know in the comments.
See ya next week!