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. This won’t cover your indie needs, but ReverendKain always has you covered in his weekly Sermon on the Mat for that.
Bear in mind, matches could be added after this posts that would definitely change how worth a show is to watch.
New Beginning in Sapporo (NJPW World)
To be honest, I should have put this on last week’s viewing guide since by the time this posts, this has already happened. Doesn’t mean you can’t watch it on demand though. There was also a first night of New Beginning that aired early Saturday morning as well.
These two shows are the format where almost the entire show but the main event are tag matches. The main event is a single’s title match. Saturday’s show was Minoru Suzuki challenging Hiroshi Tanahashi for the Intercontinental championship and Sunday’s is Switchblade Jay White challenging Kenny Omega for the United States championship.
Both were set up by beat downs at New Years Dash!!.
Verdict: Everyone consumes their NJPW differently. I know for me, if I’m going to watch these, it will be on demand and only the final match. Not that they don’t use the tag format to set up matches/feuds. But especially a busy weekend like this with the Rumble, I know if I watch them, I’m just going to watch the main event title bouts.
The Royal Rumble (WWE Network)
It’s the Rumble, baybeeeeeee.
This year, there are TWO Rumbles, one for the men and one for the women. Right now, there’s no obvious winner of either, which is great.
The rest of the card is honestly a bit underwhelming. The two title matches lack excitement because of things like poor stories or including Kane in 2018.
Brock Lesnar will defend his Universal title against Kane and Braun Strowman. AJ Styles will defend his WWE title in a handicap match against Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. The friends claim if they win, they’ll be co-WWE champions.
There are two tag title matches as well. The Usos will defend against Shelton Benjamin and Chad Gable in a 2 out 3 falls match. (Very possibly the best non-Rumble match on the card.) Jason Jordan and Seth Rollins will defend the Raw titles against the Bar.
There are three matches on the Kickoff, but only the Bobby Roode US title open challenge is really worth paying attention to.
Verdict: It’s the friggin’ Rumble. Watch it. I’d say that for just one Rumble but this year there are two! A women’s and a men’s! The women’s is bound to have a ton of surprises and great moments and it’s a first time ever event that deserves its spotlight.
This show is always a Must Watch.
Raw (USA Network)
It’s time for both brands to start their official road to WrestleMania and that will begin with the Rumble and lead here.
There’s nothing advertised because it’ll all depend on the Rumble, but both Raw and SmackDown are going to be must watch this week with Rumble fallout.
Verdict: It’s the Rumble fallout and the beginning of the build to WrestleMania. It’s a Raw that will likely be very eventful.
SmackDown Live (USA Network)
What was written for Raw applies for the blue brand as well.
Verdict: Even though SmackDown has been slumping big time, this fallout show will probably be eventful.
Mixed Match Challenge (Facebook Live)
The third week of the MMC will feature Braun Strowman & Alexa Bliss vs. Sami Zayn and Becky Lynch.
The last two weeks have showed the strength is on the characters and their interactions and less on the limited mixed tag bout style.
Verdict: It’s worth checking out if you’re not doing anything at 10 pm and you have a Facebook account. Not anything must watch though.
205 Live (WWE Network)
The release of Enzo Amore means a new direction for the brand. This week, they will announce a new GM and that GM will be charged with deciding how to crown a new Cruiserweight champion
Verdict: This is probably one of the more noteworthy episodes of the show.
NXT (WWE Network)
This will be taped prior to TakeOver: Philadelphia. That means it won’t have any in ring fallout from the special, though will probably have fallout videos that they also load to YouTube.
The matches advertised are Lacey Evans vs. Nikki Cross, TM61s in ring return, and Roderick Strong vs. Tyler Bate in a #1 contenders match for the UK title.
Verdict: I usually skip these episodes for a wrestling breather, especially on a busy week like this one. But the matches look good, especially the Bate/Strong match.
Impact Wrestling (Pop TV)
This is the first episode of the Don Callis/Scott D’Amore era. While they’ve spoiled some of what’s happening when it happened, they haven’t announced much. The one match announced is a tag match featuring EC3 & Alberto El Patron against Moose and Johnny Impact. It’s a quite random tag as these teams haven’t been working together.
Verdict: This is worth watching to not only see the spoiler take place but to get a glimpse of the overall vision of the newest showrunners.
If I could only watch one thing this week, it’d be:
The Royal Rumble
Always. The Royal Rumble is my legit favorite show of the year. The match sets up a big title match at WrestleMania and could be loaded with surprises. They’re not all winners, but the concept is great so I’m going to get pumped for it anyway.
This year, with a Women’s Rumble as well, that means we have two Rumbles. So even if the men’s is a dud, we have the women to pick up the slack.
Even though the rest of the card outside the SD tag title match is underwhelming, the two Rumble matches are more than enough to have me watching this with bated breath.
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!