Like lens flares in a JJ Abrahams movie, wrestling fans have grown accustomed to seeing good matches every week, regardless of which promotions they watch. This proliferation of quality makes it easier to enjoy the sport, a fact that fans shouldn’t take for granted.
This week’s offering of matches includes a fun number-one contender’s match from Raw (and another reason to gush about Chad Gable), a British Rounds match, and a dream match for the All Elite Wrestling (AEW) World Trios Championship.
So, let’s not waste any more time.
These three wrestling matches are worth your time.
Chad Gable vs. Tommaso Ciampa vs. Ricochet vs. Matt Riddle (WWE Raw Aug. 7, 2023) (***1/4)
Admittedly, premising a top contender’s match around “Which of these four losers can get a win?” isn’t the best idea, but it helps when those four are tremendous wrestlers. Indeed, Tommaso Ciampa, Ricochet, Matt Riddle, and Chad Gable hoped to break out of their respective slumps on the Aug. 7 episode of Raw and earn a shot at Intercontinental Champion GUNTHER.
All four men brought distinct styles to this bout, and the intermingling of disciplines blended well. Sure, there were a few contrived moments — like when Ciampa and Riddle not-so-subtly rolled into position to take dives from Gable and Ricochet — but those were easily overshadowed by everything else we saw during the match’s 10-minute duration.
Ultimately, Gable won after hitting Ciampa with his Rolling Chaos Theory to pop the hometown crowd, accomplishing the feat after trying and failing to do the same to Riddle and Ricochet (it was a good finish). With the win, the talented Olympian gets another crack at “The Ring General”.
Noam Dar vs. Tyler Bate- British Rounds Match (WWE NXT Aug. 8, 2023) (***3/4)
The current storyline involving the NXTT Heritage Cup is typical WWE convoluted nonsense, but the British Rounds matches have provided the US NXT product with an interesting concept that interrupts a monotonous product. It also doesn’t hurt to have talents like Noam Dar and Tyler Bate to produce the best version of what these matches could look like.
Bate and Dar battled over Dar’s “Heritage Cup” on the Aug. 8 NXT (the Meta-Four gifted him a new one after Oro Mensah lost the original one to Nathan Frazer), and it was a fun chess match between the two gifted technicians.
The two traded holds throughout a first round that ended without a decision. However, the second was more decisive, as Bate scored the first fall in less than a minute after hitting the Tyler Driver 97. Eventually, Dar worked over Bate’s injured knee and forced him to tap to the kneebar.
Dar tried to score the deciding fall with the same hold in the next round, but Bate was ready for it. Dar, to his credit, was also ready for the Tyler Driver 97, turning it into a rollup, but Bate had one more counter prepared, reversing the cradle with one of his own to score the second fall and win the copy cup.
While a Bate win is certainly welcome, the decision does make you wonder why WWE bothered to give Dar another Heritage Cup if they would going to have him lose it almost immediately (especially if it liked those segments where Dar acted despondent over losing the cup). Also, WWE spent weeks building to Dar vs. Frazer, so why toss that aside to do the Spider-Man meme with Bate and Frazer?
There’s a lot to quibble with booking-wise, but there’s much less to critique on the wrestling end of things.
House of Black (Malachi Black, Buddy Matthews, and Brody King) (c) vs. CMFTR (CM Punk, Dax Harwood, and Cash Wheeler)- AEW World Trios Championship (AEW Collision Aug. 12, 2023) (****)
In terms of pacing, Collision is a far easier show to digest compared to Dynamite and Rampage. That doesn’t take away from what the latter shows do well, but it often feels like matches and angles on the Saturday broadcast get more room to breathe.
The main event of the most recent Collision exemplifies this phenomenon, as fans got to witness a dream match between the House of Black and CMFTR. The match lasted over 26 minutes, which gave all six participants plenty of time to get their stuff in while allowing the fans to take in the first-time pairings they were getting (including CM Punk dueling with Malachi Black).
Given how protected both teams are (and with FTR and Punk earmarked for big matches at All In), it was hard to pick a winner. Fortunately, Samoa Joe made that a lot easier, as he choked out Punk away from the referee’s view to essentially hand the House of Black the win.