As the holiday season marches along, wrestling promotions continue to gift fans with plenty of great wrestling matches. Just last week, Impact Wrestling broadcasted an hour-long marathon masterpiece between world champion Josh Alexander and “Speedball” Mike Bailey, and Ring of Honor turned in a late Show of the Year contender with its Final Battle pay-per-view. We also saw some good stuff on WWE and All Elite Wrestling (AEW) television.
As has become the weekly standard, this week’s episodes of Raw, SmackDown, NXT, Dynamite, and Rampage provided fans with at least a few matches that are worth giving a second look.
Which matches, you ask? Well, you’ll have to scroll down to see, which three we will discuss today.
These three matches from WWE and AEW are worth a rewatch.
Mandy Rose (c) vs. Roxanne Perez- NXT Women’s Championship match (WWE NXT Dec. 13, 2022) (***)
WWE’s hypocritical decision to release Mandy Rose for having the gall to profit off of her appearance (you know, the exact thing WWE was doing) casts a long shadow over this match, but the latest example of the promotion wanting to have its cake and eat it, too, doesn’t wipe away the work Rose and Roxanne Perez put in on the Dec. 13 episode of NXT.
Even on her better days, no one will confuse Rose for a ring general, but she deserves credit for going out there and holding up her end of the match with some decent, albeit basic, heel work. Of course, when you have a babyface like Perez taking bumps and selling injuries to enhance your work, that tends to ease the load.
There are few wrestlers who play the “babyface-in-peril” role better than Perez does, and her ability to draw fans into her plight makes nearly all of her matches easy to emotionally invest in. This NXT Women’s Championship match was no different.
Maxwell Jacob Friedman (c) vs. Ricky Starks- AEW World Championship match (AEW: Dynamite Dec. 14, 2022) (****1/4)
After Ricky Starks cut an all-timer of a promo the week prior, the fan interest for his match against Maxwell Jacob Friedman for the AEW World Championship and the Dynamite Diamond Ring skyrocketed from “interesting television main event” to “highly anticipated match that could determine Starks’ long-term trajectory in the promotion”.
Anyone who hoped that Starks would win the title was likely disappointed when MJF kicked Starks low (the referee didn’t see this) and cradle-pinned him to retain his title and keep the diamond ring, but it’s hard to be disappointed with the quality of the match. The combination of a hot crowd that fully sided with Starks and the story of Starks fighting through an injured shoulder to nearly win before getting screwed in the end resonated with the audience.
GUNTHER (c) vs. Ricochet- Intercontinental Championship match (WWE SmackDown Dec. 16, 2022) (****1/2)
More than six months after GUNTHER took the Intercontinental Championship from Ricochet, the two renewed hostilities on the Dec. 16 episode of SmackDown, with Ricochet getting this match as a reward for winning the SmackDown World Cup.
These two got as close to a non-WWE version of this match as they could, as GUNTHER bludgeoned Ricochet with his brutal offense and the challenger countered with his usual flashy offense. The end result was a late contender for Match of the Year.