Five Must-See Wrestling Matches From October 2017
Now that we've finished all of our Halloween candy and managed to rewatch the newest Stranger Things twice, it's time to take a look back at some of the amazing wrestling that went down in the month of October.
The New Day vs The Usos (Hell In A Cell 10/08/2017)
"This...is about to get real", Xavier Woods warned us before the conclusion of the greatest tag team rivalry WWE has produced since DIY vs The Revival. It wouldn't take long for that to happen as both teams introduced weapons in the opening moments of the match. Xavier Woods' weapon of choice, a unicorn kendo stick, is definitely worth noting. Especially when minutes later The New Day would bring, what Corey Graves described as, "a strategically placed plethora of trombones", a cowbell, and a gong. The Usos would also incorporate props becoming of their characters when they managed to handcuff both Woods and Big E later in the match. In between these moments was a fast-paced match that set the bar (sorry Sheamus & Cesaro) high for any future tag teams that would dare step inside Hell In A Cell. With the amount of kendo sticks, superkicks, false finishes and amazing tag team chemistry in this match, it's difficult to describe it without spoiling things. Sometimes, less is more. Just know that if there's one match you watch from the Usos/New Day sage of Summer '17, make it this one.
Johnny Gargano vs Andrade 'Cien' Almas (NXT 10/11/2017)
Life after DIY hasn't been easy for Johnny Gargano. In an attempt to carve out his own path as a singles competitor, Gargano faced Almas in a losing effort at Takeover: Brooklyn III. His ultimate downfall in that match came when Almas' new manager, Zelina Vega, reminded Gargano of his past in the form of tossing a DIY t-shirt into the ring. In this October rematch, Johnny Gargano came in hungry for redemption and eager to further distance himself from his former partnership with Tommaso Ciampa.
That would be a tough task to complete against the newly-motivated Andrade Almas. Since his pairing with Zelina Vega, Almas has been more competitive and dangerous than we've ever seen him in NXT. Knowing this, Johnny Gargano's strategy going in to this match was learning from his mistakes and adapting to Andrade's offense. After being caught in a rope-assisted triangle arm-bar once by Almas, Gargano countered the second attempt with vicious kicks to the back of Andrade's skull. After a sequence of counters sparked by Andrade attempting to perform a top-rope hammerlock DDT, Gargano looked to put Almas in his past. Transitioning into the Garga-No-Escape from a beautiful rolling crucifix bomb, Johnny Gargano seemed destined for victory, but Zelina Vega stepped up to earn her check as Andrade Almas' manager. In a beautiful piece of heel work, Vega unzipped her jacket to reveal a DIY t-shirt, not distracting Gargano enough to break his hold and completely lose focus, but just enough for Almas to reach the bottom rope. After entering a shouting match with Vega, where he proclaimed, "That means nothing to me anymore", the downfall of Johnny Gargano was imminent. It would take two running double-knees to the back of the head and a brutal looking hammerlock DDT from Andrade 'Cien' Almas to finally put Gargano down.
This was an amazing and necessary chapter in Johnny Gargano's post-DIY career and a vital stepping stone for Andrade Almas in his journey to face the NXT Champion at Takeover: War Games. If their respective pushes continue, I predict the trilogy will be completed somewhere in 2018, and there's probably going to be a title involved.
Roman Reigns vs Braun Strowman (RAW 10/16/2017)
One month removed from Braun Strowman powerslamming The Big Show through a steel cage, The Monster Among Men stepped back into the structure with his favorite dance partner, Roman Reigns. This came to fruition after the recently reunited Sheild triple powerbombed Strowman during the previous episode of RAW. Say what you will about Roman Reigns, but when it comes to gimmick matches, he always delivers. As far as Strowman, it's impossible at this point to not love everything this monster does. Braun's offense is a joy to watch and his matches with Roman are always one notch above all others. We would be here all day if I had to explain the convoluted stipulations attached to this match but the important thing to note is that if Braun won, his team would add a 5th member to their TLC match against The Shield. This led to cameos from all other participants in the match, with The Miz on commentary and an interference from The Bar that was swiftly thwarted by Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose. This led to a jaw-dropping spot where Braun Strowman superplexed Roman Reigns from the top of the cage. Backstage, the brawling teams were locked in a garage by The Miz, seemingly to keep Rollins and Ambrose busy for the remainder of the match. Back in the ring, Roman Reigns managed to hit two Superman Punches on Strowman before signaling that a spear was coming to end things. Braun managed to counter the spear with sheer power as he tossed Roman into air, but Roman countered that with a third, mid-air, Superman Punch. After Braun kicked out of the pin that followed, Reigns went for a second attempt of his spear when Kane's "pyro" and music hit, distracting Reigns long enough for Strowman to briefly get the upper hand until Roman finally managed to land a spear on The Monster Among Men. With still no sign of Kane, Roman began to crawl his way towards a cover when The Big Red Machine climbed out of the ring to deliver 2 chokeslams and a tombstone piledriver to The Big Dog.
That was followed up by two running power-slams from Strowman to really make sure Roman Reigns wasn't getting up for the eventual pin. With shenanigans outside of the ring, amazing action within, a surprise return from a beloved veteran, and the amazing visual of Braun Strowman and Kane standing over Roman Reigns' battered body, this match is a must see.
Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens vs Randy Orton & Shinsuke Nakamura (Smackdown Live 10/17/2017)
At Hell In A Cell 2017 Shane McMahon attempted to end the career of Kevin Owens by jumping from a 20 foot cell to deliver a diving elbow to the prone Kevin Owens below. Luckily, that did not happen because on this particular night Kevin Owens had a guardian angel looking out for him. That guardian angel's name is Sami Zayn. Coupled with coming to the aide of his former/current best friend and the brilliant promo he cut on the October 10th edition of SDL, Sami Zayn had almost solidified one of the best heel turns of the modern era. I won't go into full detail about his promo (which you should definitely watch) but I will say one thing: he's absolutely right. Years of playing the good guy had gotten Sami nowhere in comparison to his bff Kevin Owens.
As punishment for their actions at HIAC, Daniel Bryan booked Zayn & Owens in a tag match against Randy Orton and Shinsuke Nakamura. The match itself isn't particular great or awful, however it's what the match represents that is the most important. The last time that Sami Zayn beat anyone of significance was on the April 10th edition of Raw when he pinned The Miz. In one hell of an upgrade and with the assistance of a low blow, Sami Zayn pinned 13-time world champion Randy Orton. This was the third and final piece of Sami's heel turn. The action and explanation were already there, but with this win over an established main-eventer, Sami Zayn's turn found it's validation. After months of being lost in the shuffle of the so-called "Land of Opportunity", Sami Zayn is finally where he should be, in the main event.
Mickie James vs Alexa Bliss (TLC 10/22/2017)
The build to this match was...not great. In a reboot of the horrific "Piggie James" angle, WWE decided to build this title match around the fact that Mickie was "old" and Alexa Bliss was not. That's it. Oh, and also they tried to get "biscuit butt" over. Despite the juvenile "comedy" of the angle, the match itself delivered. If Mickie James was meant to come across as old and out of step, that message clearly wasn't relayed to her. The feats of Mickie's athleticism came early with three consecutive kip-ups in response to Alexa Bliss' offense. Bliss spent most of the early goings of the match targeting Mickie Jame's left arm with a precision that evoked memories of Randy Orton back in his prime. A highlight of the match came after the two women traded dodging attacks until Mickie James finally landed a kick while Alexa Bliss simultaneously connected with a stiff elbow, sending both competitors to the floor. Bliss continued to impress throughout the match when she nailed Mickie James with a sunset flip powerbomb that she could easily use as a finisher in the future.There was a nice callback when Alexa knocked Mickie off the top rope, causing her to land on the left shoulder that Bliss had been working over earlier in the match. The shoulder would come into play once more when Alexa Bliss drove Mickie James shoulder first into the turnbuckle before hitting her signature DDT to retain the Raw Women's Championship. Mickie James then cut a post-match promo that reminded all of us that she is one the best pure babyfaces WWE has on the roster. Here's hoping the creative department takes notice and stops putting her in these awful angles.