Date: March 7, 2017
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Corey Graves
The big cruiserweight story is Austin Aries signaling that he’s ready to get physical again, which is the best thing possible for a lot of people around here. Last night on Monday Night Raw, Aries forearmed Cruiserweight Champion Neville in the face, seemingly signaling that he’s ready to go after the title. Let’s get to it.
We actually open with the end of Smackdown and AJ Styles and Randy Orton leaving. That’s a bit odd.
Long recap of Neville retaining the title at Fastlane and Aries laying him out the next night on Raw.
The announcers chat about Aries.
Speaking of Aries, here he is for a chat….with himself. As in he asks himself a question and then switches sides to answer. Aries remembered a lesson he learned in grade school: if you want respect, you take it. That’s why he punched the toughest guy in the room in the mouth last night. Austin Aries: expert analyst is gone but Austin Aries: in-ring expert is here.
This brings out Neville to say Aries is in over his head. Aries says Neville is at the A level but he’s way below the A-Double Level. The champ says all that matters around here is the Neville Level. That earns the champ an invitation to the ring but Aries isn’t worthy of Neville’s presence. Instead, Neville thinks there’s a locker room full of talent ready to take Aries’ head off. That’s fine with Austin and it sounds like we have an open challenge for later tonight.
Rich Swann tries to teach Jack Gallagher to dance when Noam Dar comes in to brag about Alicia Fox. There seems to be some confusion about who sent her the flowers last week but Dar takes credit.
Noam Dar/Ariya Daivari vs. Rich Swann/Jack Gallagher
Daivari takes Swann down to start with the announcers suggesting that Swann isn’t at 100% after losing to Neville the previous night. Swann gets in a kick to the head but Dar grabs his foot to block a hurricanrana. The slow beating continues with Daivari driving knees into the back and grabbing a chinlock. Swann fights out without too much trouble and the hot tag brings in Gallagher. Everything breaks down and it’s the big headbutt to Daivari to set up Rich’s Phoenix splash on Dar for the pin at 6:14.
Rating: C-. Kind of slow here but that’s the norm for Daivari. I like Dar for the most part but he wasn’t in the ring all that much here. Swann and Gallagher get to win for some restored momentum after losing to Neville a few times. Not much of a match but the last minute or so was entertaining.
Post match a deliveryman brings out some chocolates for Fox. Dar is confused but takes credit for them anyway.
Brian Kendrick says Akira Tozawa can have a fight tonight if he really wants one.
Akira Tozawa vs. Brian Kendrick
Actually hang on a second. See, Kendrick agreed that Tozawa could fight Brian Kendrick but not THE Brian Kendrick.
Akira Tozawa vs. Bryan Kendrick
Bryan is played by indy regular Arik Cannon. Kendrick gets in a few forearms but has to duck a spinning kick, allowing Akira to snap the German suplex for the pin at 1:07.
Neville doesn’t want to hear about Austin Aries and says Tony Nese will be a nice challenge tonight. There will be a new #1 contender next week.
Austin Aries vs. Tony Nese
Feeling out process to start with Aries very happily grabbing a headlock. That’s enough for Aries to lay out on the top rope and then kiss the biceps for good measure. Nese knocks him outside and Aries might have tweaked his knee. Back in and Aries grabs the neckbreaker over the ropes to take over again but Nese crotches him on the top. The announcers point out that it might be due to ring rust, which is a nice touch that you don’t get enough of from commentary.
It’s off to a body vise with the legs but Aries is out almost immediately and being sent to the floor again. Nese screams at Aries to go back where he belongs (with a point at the announcers’ desk) and as you might expect, Aries pops right back up and starts cleaning house. The running corner dropkick sets up the roaring elbow for the pin at 9:37.
Rating: C+. Not a great match but I liked the idea that Aries was having ring rust and couldn’t go as hard as he would otherwise. It’s also nice to have him beat a bigger name before being slotted into the Wrestlemania title match. I mean, Aries being handed the match would have been fine but I can go for some authenticity for a change.
Overall Rating: C. This was more of a one concept show with the focus on Aries. The big idea was to reestablish Aries as a player on the roster and that was certainly accomplished. I barely remember the rest of the show at this point and that’s perfectly fine given how well they accomplished the Aries stuff. That being said, this show needs more than one big story going on and I don’t see Tozawa vs. Kendrick getting one minute as fulfilling that requirement.
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