MORDECAI JONES / THE WRESTLING AESTHETIC
WWE RAW 10.21.2019 FEATURED BOUTS OF THE WEEK:
Ricochet v. Drew McIntyre
Approx 15 mins shown – ****
Ric Flair gets the action going by cutting a promo on the Crown Jewel 2019 Team Hogan/Team Flair tag match, and it’s Drew McIntyre out to “offer” himself as the final member of Team Flair. Naitch is, of course, overjoyed. At this point, you can’t help but feel absolute terror when he starts dancing and sweating, riding the edge of heart failure and stroke, or maybe some kind of powerful new combination that will once again test Flair’s mortality. Nonetheless, he giddily agrees to watch the action as McInytre says “it’s about to get uncomfortable” when he takes on a member of Team Hogan.
Ricochet’s intro music now apparently has “pew pew” sound effects to open, and while that’s ultimately lame, it’s fitting of the match, because this guy is about to literally ricochet off every part of the ring and McIntyre himself. When you have talent like this in the ring, Pro Wrestling is not a difficult science. Dominant big man, plucky little man, tossed and spiced with incredible athleticism and awareness. And if all else fails, trust that these guys have watched Ricochet’s old sparring partner Wil Ospreay tangle with Lance Archer at the G1 Climax 2019. Ricochet has to battle back from the beatdown and tries to turn the tide at the 5 minute mark with precision dropkicks to the legs. He’s got a lot of extra spring in his heels, likely due to the excitement of getting this 15 minute+ showcase slot usually reserved for the likes of Dolph Ziggler. McIntyre refuses to relent and keeps control while Flair cuts a promo MID-MATCH, threatening Hulk Hogan, forgetting where he is (at one point, he just throws out “Kansas City”, a short 12 hour drive from their current location) basically giving us classic Naitch. “We’re about to send Ricochet into orbit!”
Shenanigans that are usually badly misplaced and distracting work perfectly here, as McIntyre continues the beatdown, slowing down only when his confidence gets the best of him and he climbs the top rope. Ricochet nails a perfect dropkick as McIntyre heads off the top, and finally gains a short-lived advantage. A powerful shoulderblock (!) lifts Ricochet back to the top and into a sensational sequence where McIntyre delivers a crucifix buckle bomb into a deadlift sit-out powerbomb. These guys are now in the workrate flow state at the 10 minute mark, and Ricochet again gains the upper hand nailing the Asai moonsault and the tightest Deathvalley Driver you’ll see in WWE, setting up the shooting star press. McIntyre kicks out at the last second, fends off whatever Ricochet has left in the tank, and delivers a huge Claymore Kick for the clean, no-nonsense finish.
Both guys looked like absolute stars and the crowd is left hyped and hungry (little do they realize the next segment involves Lana complaining about Rusev never taking her out while snuggling up to Lashley, on-location from some random restaurant in Cleveland). McIntyre makes good on his threat of making things “uncomfortable”, tossing Ricochet out of the ring, scooping him up, and unloading a slingshot over-the-shoulder flapjack onto the stairs! Devastating stuff. The entire segment is 5-star pro wrestling television – the type of thing that fills you up with the usual false hope for this failing product. Because don’t forget: this absolutely scintillating segment was just a set-up for a throwaway multi-man at a glorified Saudi Arabia house show. WWE being WWE 2019 in full force. This was a late-entry TV Match of the Year contender.
Andrade v. Sin Cara II
Approx 9 mins shown – **3/4
Andrade’s fantastic run in NXT introduced the WWE audience to the strongest contender for “Heir to the throne of Eddie Guerrero” yet seen. But things kicked into high gear only when Zelina Vega, master of the hairwhip hurricanrana, showed up as his business manager and mouthpiece. When Andrade and the Authors of Pain showed up on the main roster sans Vega and Paul Ellering, you couldn’t help but groan and expect the worst for all of the parties involved. Thankfully, Vega and Andrade were reunited and the AoP are going through some sort of strange repackaging (the Alistair Black, “say menacing things and scowl” treatment). Here, we harken back to July 2018 where Andrade (then Andrade Cien Almas before getting the WWE abbreviation special) took out Sin Cara because there was only so much room for Hispanic superstars on Smackdown, right? Conveniently, Sin Cara’s legit knee injury worked well for the kayfabe storyline of Andrade literally knocking Sin Cara off the roster.
Sin Cara is looking for a little bit of revenge, which is great, because Andrade is looking for a little bit of, you know, character direction. Vega hypes up her man with some of the best female mic work in the wrestling world, telling the crowd Sin Cara means “without a face” but he’s going to be leaving “without a victory” (BLAM!). Thankfully, Vega doesn’t then proceed into the explanation of just who this Sin Cara is, because you’d need one of Drew Gulak’s powerpoint presentations to get through that one. Thankfully, Sin Cara has reverted back to the “winged” mask from the Mistico-inspired mask that only served to up the confusion factor to “critical”. And as it relates to the recent terrible circumstances involving AAA’s La Parka, you’d need similar presentations to understand a lot of the most popular Lucha character’s backstories (here’s a hint: the Parka you grew up with on WCW Nitro is NOT the guy who wound up in the hospital – in fact, he’s a guy legitimately trying to put himself in similar circumstances in matches with guys like PCO over on MLW television). Sin Cara unleashes the high flying offense to start, including a top rope moonsault to the outside, but distractions from Vega turn the tide.
Crisp back-and-forth from both guys and Andrade hits the rolling Three Amigos suplexes, dancing like Eddie all the while (“disrespectful” when performed by a heel, “paying respect” from a face, of course). After climbing to the top, Andrade shakes his shoulders one-too-many times and Sin Cara pulls off the somersault flip powebomb, another nod to the master. Backstage, Humberto Carillo is all dimples and ridiculous outfit as he checks out the latest telenovella “Quien cambió mi Máscara con mi Ropa Interior?” Andrade recovers and catches Sin Cara with the running double knee smash into the corner as we’re reminded of just how intense and hard-hitting an arsenal Andrade is carrying. Sin Cara responds with his awesome slingshot hurricanrana to the outside, evoking peak Rey Misterio, but that’s a perfect opportunity for Vega to nail the hurricanrana off the apron and send Sin Cara back in for defeat via the hammerlock DDT.
The usual sprint from these two sees Andrade gain heelish victory while Sin Cara is able to hit all of his top shelf stuff. Given the fact that these guys never get the proper amount of time to build the classic they’re capable of, I went back to the 2018 Smackdown match, and lo and behold, it was even tighter and more action-packed. That match saw a clean finish and the inclusion of moves like Sin Cara’s swinging poison hurricanrana and Andrade’s spinning blind elbow that makes Chris Jericho’s Judas Effect look like the slow-motion imitation that it is. They managed to hit *** in less than 6 minutes in that one. Completely manufactured “history” aside, Andrade certainly brings out the best in Jorge Arias. Here’s hoping the promising young star Carillo can bring about the same in Andrade.