2017 may just be the peak-iest year of Peak TV; after a record 455 series aired episodes in 2016, 2017 stands poised to demolish that number, as everyone from NBC to TruTV have announced handfuls of new shows coming to air (not to mention Netflix airing roughly eleven new series a week) throughout the year. Since there’s literally no way any single TV critic could keep up with every single show airing this year, we brought our illustrious collection of editors and writers together to hash out a definitive, decidedly subjective list of the best shows we’ve seen in 2017. After many difficult cuts – shout out to Big Little Lies, Brockmire, Catastrophe, Downward Dog, Fargo, Fresh Off the Boat, The Keepers, Samurai Jack, Sense8, and Taboo – we’ve whittled our list down to the Official, Hot Take-laden Top Fifteen Shows of 2017 (So Far), presented in alphabetical order below. Enjoy!
This was no one’s favorite season of The Americans. In its fifth year, FX’s acclaimed spy/family drama got even more deliberate than usual, lowering the immediate stakes, lingering on needlessly cryptic plots, and placing its already-familiar characters under an even tighter scope to little appreciable effect. Yet, even in an “off” year, it’s still one of the tautest and most psychologically astute shows around, and the performances from Matthew Rhys, Keri Russell, Noah Emmerich, and Holly Taylor are (almost) endlessly renewable resources. Chalk it up to the penultimate season curse – too concerned with setting up the final season to provide enough compelling material all its own. (More or less the exact same issue cropped up with FX’s Justified in its next-to-last season as well.) Still, Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg have earned more than enough goodwill for us to assume the final season will be one for the ages. (Simon Howell)
What’s there not to like about American Gods, a series of wildly ambitious filmmaking that rewards viewers’ with extraordinary visuals, haunting music, and stellar performances by a star-studded cast that includes Deadwood’s Ian MacShane and Gillian Anderson appearing as the late David Bowie. Adapted from the 2001 bestseller by geek icon Neil Gaiman, the new Starz series is the latest act of aesthetic derring-do from Bryan Fuller, the genius behind Hannibal and Pushing Daisies. American Gods is violent, sexual, bloody, gruesome, grimy and bizarre. It’s also one of the most beautiful and invigorating new television series that takes every aspect of show-running Bryan Fuller is famous for and runs wild with it.
Working with screenwriter Michael Green and Hannibal helmer David Slade, Fuller takes more risks than anyone else on television, and at the very least, American Gods is wildly different, highly entertaining and downright jaw-dropping. The boundary-shattering sex scene between Muslim immigrants — Salim (Omid Abtahi) and the Jinn (Mousa Kraish) — is one of 2017’s essential TV moment as is the scene in which Yetide Badaki’s goddess character, Bilquis, devours her helpless partner in the midst of their first sexual encounter. Whether you’re a fan of Neil Gaiman’s novel or a curious newcomer, American Gods will make a believer out of you. (Ricky D)
Attack on Titan
After a smash hit first season that set it as one of the most popular animes of all time, Attack on Titan tortured fans with a staggering four year wait for its shorter second season.
So was it worth the wait? Well, in a word, yes. Though Attack on Titan’s second season might be a bit surprising due to its early focus on side-characters and world-building, by the end of this sophomore effort things have gotten crazier than even the most subjective of fans might have guessed.
With another killer theme song, a few brutal twists, and one of the greatest battles in anime history, Attack on Titan season 2 may not be what you expected but it absolutely wows all the same.
If you feel a bit stuffy about anime, trust me, this is the show to change your mind. Add to that the recent announcement that next year will see the third season coming much faster than expected, and fans can look forward to giving their heart once again very soon. (Mike Worby)
Better Call Saul
Though Better Call Saul has spent much of its existence sheltered in the limelight of its prestige television parent, Breaking Bad, its sense of tone and careful confidence have done a lot to set it apart from its beloved forebear.
With that in mind, season 3 has been a bit of a juxtaposition on both fronts. While the show has never been more audacious or ambitious than in its tragic-comic third season, it has also been using more and more Breaking Bad leverage than ever before. With Hector Salamanca front and center, the introduction of everyone’s favorite chicken-loving kingpin, Gus Fring (a chilling Giancarlo Esposito), and Jimmy inventing the alter ego of “Saul Goodman”, things are getting closer and closer to the world where we were first introduced to New Mexico’s underground drug trade.
Still, Better Call Saul soars in what might be its best season yet, driving a hard wedge between Jimmy (Bob Odenkirk) and his troubled brother Chuck (Michael McKean, doing his career-best work here) while setting up a world of possibilities with the newly realized partnership between Mike and Gus. Finally, Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn) is given the opportunity to shine as never before, with a particular twilight moment toward the end of the season giving her what might be her most interesting arc yet.
Either way, after a cliffhanger ending like that, one thing is for sure: we’re going to find ourselves looking at a very different Jimmy McGill come next season. (Mike Worby)
The Carmichael Show
There are a lot of shows vying to be the most #Woke show on television; many of them, however, wear their agendas on their sleeves, their crowd-sourced opinions so brazenly presented as to garnish #support from audiences and #thinkpieces from hip #millennials… it’s a growing problem in the age of Crowd Think TV (the post-Peak TV age we are beginning to enter, that David Lynch is extremely determined to break with his own show… more on that from Simon in this article, however). The Carmichael Show is the perfect antithesis to that, a show that isn’t looking to appease any liberal or conservative agendas when it discusses the social, emotional, and mental impacts of such topics like rape, transgender athletes, religion, marriage… basically any culturally relevant topic sitcoms won’t touch with a ten foot pole, The Carmichael Show dives into head first, without hesitation.
However, the bold approach to current events and debates is not one that comes without nuance; and that’s what makes The Carmichael Show one of the most impressive achievements in modern television. Using the traditional, multi-camera sitcom as a backdrop, Jerrod Carmichael, Nick Stoller, and his team of writers shape conversations around questions, rather than suggesting they know better by forming plot around what they think the most socially accepted answer would be – The Carmichael Show‘s conclusions are often layered, complex, and brutally honest, translating Carmichael’s stand-up into fertile comedic and dramatic territory with a surprising amount of confidence and accessibility.
It’s unfortunate the show was canceled this month, because its much-delayed third season has already tackled topics like mass shootings, rape, assisted suicide, and examinations of beauty…. there’s never been a laugh-track comedy like The Carmichael Show, a show that not only schools leagues of Prestige dramas trying to be #relevant on how to examine both sides of an issue, but still remembers to be a hilarious comedy about family and relationships at the same time. It’s a balancing act like TV’s never seen, and probably won’t again anytime soon. (Randy Dankievitch)
Dear White People
The characters in Dear White People, a group of ivy league students, populate the series’ intersectional narrative with heady ideas about the complexities of race, class, and oppression. The (mostly) black characters, while united by skin tone, represent a vast diversity of experience, and each jumps from the screen with unique perspective crafted by backstories that the series cleverly weaves around one flash point: a blackface fraternity event that devolves into a race riot when the school’s black students crash the party.
Sam, a biracial firebrand, weaponizes her college radio time slot, railing against the overwhelmingly white patriarchy of the institution and acting as the central figure in Dear White People. But as much as the show is addressed to a blissfully ignorant monoculture, especially in Sam’s oration, it’s her interplay with friends (and enemies) that gives the series’ broad cultural commentaries an undeniable sense of specificity.
Sam’s boyfriend Gabe is a well-meaning white liberal dude, who clumsily attempts to navigate Sam’s proudly black social landscape. Scenes of tension, and humor, in Gabe’s endeavor are never treated entirely as tribalism on behalf of Sam’s friends or ignorance on behalf of Gabe; the series eschews such easy constructs (and the easy solutions those constructs would beget), in favor of crafting a world that resembles nuanced reality, full of characters driven as much by their ideas as by their emotion.
The fiercely intellectual Reggie pines for Sam, adding a layer of personal scorn to his rebukes of Gabe. Coco, who has purposefully joined the school’s waspy white segment, clashes with Sam over who has the right to define “black”; Sam, is after all, biracial – Coco is not. The conversations in Dear White People are multitudinous, and hilarious, and heartbreaking, and frustrating. Sam and her friends have an infinite number of questions, but few answers, which is fine. With a wry sense of humor and a keen understanding of human emotion, Dear White People pointedly asks the questions anyway, and suggests you do the same. (Michael Haigis)
Whatever the weaknesses of Girls‘ sixth and final season, you can’t say it didn’t go out on its own terms. For all the hemming and hawing when it first premiered that super producer Judd Apatow would iron out Lena Dunham’s peculiarities in favor of a more mainstream sensibility, Dunham’s brand of hyper-neurotic comedy-of-discomfort hasn’t diluted over the years; if anything, it’s subtly pulled the rest of television a little closer to its orbit instead. The last season opened strong with a series of episodes intended as “one-offs” Dunham and company always wanted to try out but never found room for in the previous seasons; in the age of the arc, Girls always relished self-contained, high-concept episodes as a chance to shed new light on its characters and explore new tonal possibilities. While it stumbled later in the season as it attempted to cap things off in appropriately messy fashion, Girls has left its mark on the medium; no climactic missteps can change that, whether you like it or not. (Simon Howell)
Considering how incredibly popular professional wrestling is, it’s amazing that it took this long for someone to make a television show about it. With spot-on 1980s period detail, knockout writing, and a killer cast, Netflix’s wrestling drama GLOW is fast, funny, poignant, and absurd. It’s also chock-full of sharp commentary, great performances, and a smartly written plot, allowing the ensemble cast of women characters to emerge in an organic way. Indeed, the real strength of GLOW is in its exploration of their friendships. Wrestling may be fake, but the relationships these characters forge throughout the season, always ring true. Each episode runs around 30 minutes, which allows the show to delve into individual stories and spin a larger arc, without ever dragging on its heels. It isn’t quite a comedy and isn’t exactly a drama, but it is nevertheless, always a blast to watch. (Ricky D)
The Handmaid’s Tale
The Handmaid’s Tale is the breakout hit that could shape the future of Hulu. Based on Margaret Atwood’s seminal novel, about a dystopian American future where women are officially downgraded to second-class citizens, this ten episode series is perhaps, the most relevant, and important show of the year. Of course as with any adaptation of a work this beloved, the series could never ever fully please fans of the original source material – but that aside, The Handmaid’s Tale is still a smart, worthy endeavor, blessed with deeply committed performances by Samira Wiley, Ann Dowd, Yvonne Strahovski, Alexis Bledel and yes, Elisabeth Moss, who turned in a performance so good, she may finally — win her a best-actress Emmy. (Ricky D)
Damon Lindelof made his return to television five years after the end of LOST; that turned out to be not nearly enough time for many of the viewers who felt burned by its final season (and its finale in particular) to give him another chance. Bully for them: The Leftovers proves that Lindelof has learned from his past mistakes, and knows how to reliably lean on his strengths and those of his collaborators. Working again with co-producer Tom Perrotta and director/series fixer Mimi Leder, Lindelof crafted an excellent final act for one of the most consistently compelling series of the last decade. Holy lions, God himself (?) in human form, a Dr. Strangelove-esque nuclear showdown, and many more eccentricities get stuffed into the criminally short 8-episode run, and though it would have been nice for a few more series regulars to get a spotlight episode, The Leftovers’ final season proves that it’s possible to let viewers fill in the particulars for themselves as long as the groundwork is solid. (Simon Howell)
Who would have ever guessed that FX would strengthen its position as one of television’s best networks with the addition of a Marvel-inspired drama from Fargo creator Noah Hawley? The innovative cable newcomer Legion (about a less famous character from Marvel’s X-Men universe) is a bold, clever, psychedelic subversion of the superhero genre that puts viewers inside the troubled head of David Haller, a mental patient who discovers he’s a mutant with extraordinary superpowers.
Yes, we already have plenty of small screen superhero shows, but Legion is seriously a different breed. In fact, it bears very little resemblance to past Marvel adventures; visually, it goes big and aims for the surreal, packing in flashbacks, flash-forwards, visions, hallucinations, psychedelic trips, alternate realities, dream states, suppressed memories, experimental sound design, lush photography and disorienting camera shots as it depicts reality through the rickety mind of its protagonist. Vanity Fair called the show, “The TV version of dropping acid, all colorful and explosive and loose-limbed. Scenes do backflips on a nonlinear timeline, showing no concern for the shell-shocked viewer.”
Admittedly, it’s so scattershot that it is impossible to get much of a handle on it at first, but that’s also what makes Legion so great. And it’s clear throughout the first season that Legion is deliberately weaving its themes into its visual style. For a superhero series, there’s also something to be said about the pace; there’s enough time to slow down and explore the characters, but from scene to scene, it remains brisk and flashy. The first episode is inspiring. The third episode is simply dazzling. The seventh chapter is a small screen masterpiece as Legion pushes boundaries and becomes a full-blown, black and white, silent movie set to Ravel’s Bolero with dialogue printed as inter titles. And credit to Noah Hawley, who is confident and daring enough to employ such a weird stylistic curve in the season’s most pivotal scene. Legion is a tour de force: the writing, producing, directing, visual effects, music and sound are the highest quality of film making. Legion as it all – along with the best soundtrack of any television show this year which includes the likes of Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Syd Barrett, Radiohead, Talking Heads and so much more. (Ricky D)
Master of None
Master of None is a charming, breezy investigation of yuppie romance that doubles as a harsh rebuke to cultural commentators wondering which generational vestige millennials are killing now. Surely, Dev, the series’ protagonist, has enjoyed his share of avocado toast and drunken uber rides; but beneath the privileged urban façade ofMaster of None, there lies a melancholy suggestion that the trappings of modern life are making newly-minted adults miserable.
Dev’s search for love in an overstimulated, app-based, romantic landscape is the narrative thread of Master of None, but Dev is overwhelmed by every aspect of the character’s life; from the mundane (what to eat) to the existential (what to be). In its second season, the series provides a contrast to Dev’s privilege, with formally innovative episodes that explore the world Dev inhabits. “I love New York” is an episode that abandons Dev, instead gleefully investigating the lives of New York City doormen, Cab Drivers, and one deaf couple. “Thanksgiving” shifts the focus of the series from Dev to his friend Denise, using a series of holiday dinners to tell the poignant story of Denise grappling with her sexuality, and eventually admitting to her mother that she’s gay.
These diversions don’t obscure Dev’s story though, and he finally finds his romantic match. That she is engaged, and lives in Italy, only supports the series’ overarching thesis: past generations weren’t blessed with the unfathomable conveniences, and opportunities, of the modern world; but with so many choices, it’s become harder than ever to make the right one. (Michael Haigis)
NBC is the eternal home of the “Little Comedy that Could”, a legacy that began with Cheers, and has continued through the years with shows like Seinfeld, Parks and Recreation, Community, and now, Superstore. In an era where the workplace comedy has mostly been replaced with fish out of water/diverse family sitcoms, Superstore stands out like a beautiful unicorn in the single-camera comedy landscape. Featuring a cast of characters who may not be at the low point of their lives, but are certainly not at the high, Superstore draws its comedy and pathos from the exact same well of self-discovery and growth by committee, carrying the mantle of Community in a number of unexpected ways, beyond its masterful use of a single setting, and a cast of wonderfully three-dimensional characters.
Perhaps the strongest element of Superstore – and what, in my mind, cements its place in NBC’s legacy of great comedies – is how the show’s slowly started to inject subtle societal commentary into its small world of discount soaps and mandatory lunch breaks; from guns to the Olympics, Superstore‘s strong, confident voice really came to life in its sophomore season, never losing its quirky, goofy sense of humor while it explored everything from the harsh realities of benefit-free full-time jobs, to the strike-busting practices big-box stores like Wal-Mart and the like excercise on their employees to keep them in line. Never pretentious (or more importantly in 2017, artificially #Woke), consistently funny, and always heartfelt, Superstore is the guilt-free, feel-good comedy with more mind and soul than any of us could want – or honestly, deserve. (Randy Dankievitch)
A lot of column inches (and podcast hours!) have already been filled debating the merits of the new season of Twin Peaks. Is it a misbegotten experiment, a season-length troll of 90s TV audiences, or a worthwhile standalone statement? There are still nine episodes to go as of this writing, and what might be most impressive about the new season is that the jury is still out as to just what it actually is. Perhaps the highest compliment one can pay to the new season (series?) is that it feels as far removed from the current TV landscape as the original series was from its 1990 contemporaries. Just when it seems like you’re beginning to finally get your bearings, David Lynch and Mark Frost trot in a new set of characters, concerns, and images in to destabilize your perceptions once more. What’s more: the fact that it’s coming to us weekly via Showtime instead of being dumped in our laps for binge viewing adds to the mystique, creating perhaps one last communal viewing experience before the entire industry goes the way of Netflix. (Simon Howell)
The Young Pope
Though it’s already been largely forgotten by the American public, Paolo Sorrentino’s auteurist The Young Pope will be remembered as a definitive piece of 2017’s small-screen art. A show that rose to prominence on a wave of memes and a ham-filled Jude Law performance I don’t think anyone thought he had in him, The Young Pope is a perfect encapsulation of TV in 2017: too enamored with forgetful plots to offer a memorable narrative, so visually audacious it burns GIF’s of Pius’s dreams onto the retina of one’s third eye, and so brazenly performed and produced it would make Baz Luhrmann blush. But goddamn, if The Young Pope isn’t the most intoxicating show of the year, a gloriously grandiose melodrama about sex and power set in the most holy, shadow-y and corrupt place on the planet Earth. The only way this could’ve been more memorable (or meme-able, wink wink) would’ve been if Nicolas Cage was playing the Pope – which we can only hope is the premise for The New Pope, the confirmed next chapter in Sorrentino’s brazen, surrealist HBO experiment. (Randy Dankievitch)
Royal Rumble 2020: The Good, The Bad, and The Tolerable
Saying the Royal Rumble is the hottest of the big four pay-per-views in WWE is not a hot take. Sure, it the first stage of setting the card for WrestleMania. Fans love the actual Royal Rumble match because truly anything can happen in it.
Some of the biggest returns and debuts have happened in that match. Winning it has made wrestlers into superstars. Anyone could win the Royal Rumble and go on to headline WrestleMania. Usually, the person you expect to win does. Sometimes, it’s the person you least expect.
The 2020 edition of the Royal Rumble pay-per-view was the third one to feature two Royal Rumble matches; one for the women and one for the men. Both matches were solid with the right amount of surprises.
Royal Rumble Pre-Show
The two-hour Royal Rumble Pre-Show is filled with video packages and analysis that are somewhat tedious to watch. If it was half an hour, that would be okay. But two hours is a lot to sit through. Fortunately, they usually manage to sneak a couple of matches in.
The returning Sheamus took on Shorty G in an attempt to prove that the SmackDown locker room is weak and lazy. Picking on a guy half your size is always a great way to show people how tough you are. It was a surprisingly competitive and engaging match, with both men getting some good spots in.
Ultimately, Sheamus won but Shorty G still looked good.
The second match was Humberto Carrillo taking on Andrade for the United States Championship. Both men are incredible talents who play very well off each other in the ring. Andrade won but Carrillo is a future champion.
Falls Count Anywhere Match
The feud between King Corbin and Roman Reigns feels like it’s been going on for far too long. It jumped the shark when Corbin and friends broke out the dog food. Hopefully, their match at the Royal Rumble is the wrap-up and the Big Dog can move onto something else.
Reigns and Corbin took a trip around the arena, making use of the Astro’s home field. Naturally, Robert Roode and Dolph Ziggler showed up to interfere. The Usos had their cousin’s back, though.
It came down to Roman beating the King down and pinning him for the victory. The match definitely was solid but nothing special. The audience isn’t super into Corbin so the energy in the arena seemed a little low.
The biggest spot of the match came from one of the Usos, and not the actual competitors.
Women’s Royal Rumble Match
For the third year in a row, the Women’s Royal Rumble match did not disappoint.
NXT was well represented this year. Bianca Belair came in at number two and was a one-woman wrecking crew for a significant portion of the match. She ended up eliminating eight people, as did Shaya Baszler. Combined, they took out 16 of the 30 competitors.
Among the surprise entrants were “Mighty” Molly Holly, Kelly Kelly, Beth Phoenix, and Santina Marella. For those who were confused by that one, Santina Marella is the alter ego of former superstar Santino Marella. She eliminated herself, a funny moment that was lost on a lot of the audience.
That being said, it was a shame that one of the many great current competitors in the division didn’t get Santina’s spot.
It’s worth mentioning how good Molly Holly looked in the ring. She was underrated when she was an active member of the roster so it’s always nice to see her get some respect. There has to be a place for her in the modern era of wrestling.
One of the headlines was the return of Naomi, who has been away for some time. She looked like she didn’t have an ounce of ring rust on her. It remains to be seen if this was a one-night deal or if she’s back for good.
Ultimately, Charlotte Flair won and will go on to headline WrestleMania against one of the women’s champions, probably Becky. Charlotte is a great wrestler, but she was the safest bet for the WWE in the match. It would have been nice to see someone unexpected, but deserving get the shot.
Bayley vs Lacey Evans
The heat on this Royal Rumble bout has been building for weeks. Bayley’s heel turn has made her more relevant than ever. It’s also nice that she has been given a respectably long reign as the SmackDown Women’s Champion. On the other hand, Lacey Evans sudden face turn was a bit surprising, but she wears it well.
A year ago, Bayley would have been the face and Lacey would have been the heel in this match.
Overall, this was a solid women’s title match. Lacey looked good for the most part as did Bayley. The end came at a rather surprising moment with Bayley grabbing a handful of Lacey’s tights for the pinfall to retain the belt.
Daniel Bryan vs “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
Daniel Bryan’s return to the Yes Movement, plus his new, clean look, has put him back in the title picture. Unfortunately, that title picture features the current Universal Champion, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt.
After already losing to Wyatt and being repeatedly attacked by him, Bryan felt the smart move was to attach himself to “The Fiend” with a leather strap. Nope.
“The Fiend” made his traditional creepy entrance and proceeded to destroy Bryan. Eventually, Bryan came around and took it to “The Fiend.” The match was as brutal as expected with Wyatt coming out on top and Bryan left the Royal Rumble with some ugly wounds.
But the big story of the match is that it did not happen under only red lights, which was really nice. You could actually see what was happening. With any luck, this is how “The Fiend” will wrestle from now on. That red light thing made it difficult to enjoy his matches.
Becky Lynch vs Asuka
The rivalry between Becky Lynch and Asuka has taken a backseat to other storylines, but it has always been there. Lynch asked for the match so she could settle the score between them and finally move on.
This match was as good as you’d expect from two such accomplished and talented in-ring performers in the company. It was highly competitive with a lot of incredible spots for both competitors. When Lynch and Asuka get in a ring together, they make pure magic.
In the end, Lynch retained her championship, but it was a hard-fought victory. This was arguably the best singles match Asuka has wrestled in the past year. Even though she didn’t win, she looked like the Asuka of old, and on the verge of total domination again.
Men’s Royal Rumble Match
Fans were justifiably concerned when Paul Heyman announced that Brock Lesnar would enter at number one in the Royal Rumble this year. WWE has a bad habit of putting him over in spite of themselves. What does WrestleMania look like if the WWE Champion wins the Royal Rumble?
As luck would have it, no one has to know the answer thanks to Ricochet and Drew McIntyre.
Lesnar tore through the first 13 superstars who came out after him. Number 15 was Ricochet, who was dominated. McIntyre was the next competitor out. Ricochet hit Lesnar with the low blow, then McIntyre hit him with the Claymore Kick straight out of the ring.
Lesnar’s elimination was one of the biggest pops of the night. Drew stared holes through Lesnar until he left the arena. It was a clear indication of who he is going to challenge.
NXT was not as well represented in the Men’s match as it was the Women’s. Only Keith Lee and Matt Riddle made it into the Royal Rumble. Riddle was quickly eliminated, and apparently got into it backstage with Lesnar, but Lee continued his string of great showings.
Lesnar might have eliminated Lee but Lee stepped to him. Brock even looked a little impressed and that doesn’t happen often.
Men’s Royal Rumble Surprises
The Men’s match only had two surprise entrants, but they were great ones. MVP made his return after a long absence. He was quickly eliminated by Lesnar, but still looked great. The second surprise entrant caught everyone off guard when Edge’s music hit.
One of the best in the business was retired by injuries in 2011 and has not wrestled since. He looked amazing, entering at 21, eliminating three people, and making it to the final three. The pop he got when his music started rivaled the one The Hardy Boyz got at WrestleMania 33.
Unfortunately, an odd moment happened with AJ Styles. At one point, the ringside medical staff seemed to be attending to him near the ring apron. He was quickly eliminated by Edge and helped to the back. Hopefully, he is okay.
Excluding the return of MVP, the most valuable player of the evening was Beth Phoenix. She left the announcer’s desk behind to compete in the Royal Rumble again and went on one hell of a run. Beth entered at 21 and hung around until she was taken out by Baszler.
But at some point during the match, Phoenix got a bad laceration on the back of her head. Her hair was soaked in her own blood, yet she continued the match. The injury actually seemed to make her more aggressive. This was the best she has wrestled in years.
Apparently, the angrier Beth Phoenix gets, the stronger she gets.
Royal Rumble Snubs
There were a lot of current superstars who weren’t included from any roster. The only NXT UK star that appeared was Toni Storm, a surprise since Worlds Collide was the night before. Noticeable by her absence was Sasha Banks, whose presence has been minimal over the last few weeks.
Many people were also hoping for returns from the likes of Nia Jax and Ruby Riott. They also did not appear. People were also looking for CM Punk but that is still a long shot at best. It would have been cool if his music hit, though.
It’s also hard to imagine that John Morrison returned to WWE only to get sacrificed to Brock Lesnar in the Royal Rumble. His time in the ring was only a few seconds, a disappointment since he usually puts on a heck of a show.
Fans also might have been surprised to see that Braun Strowman didn’t face Shinsuke Nakamura for the Intercontinental Championship. That match was thought to be a lock but it didn’t even appear on the Pre-Show. Strowman cannot catch a break in his hunt for a singles title.
Star Trek: Picard: “Remembrance” Introduces a Different Picard
The question ‘which Star Trek captain is your favorite?’ is perhaps one of the easier questions to answer when discussing Star Trek. For all the charm of Captain Kirk and the intimidation that Captain Sisko imposes, none have been quite so complete has Captain Jean-Luc Picard; a role made much easier when the character is portrayed by one of the greatest living actors, Sir Patrick Stewart. So when Star Trek: Picard was announced, expectations were always going to be high, and when the first episode, “Remembrance” aired, expectations were delivered.
In Star Trek: Next Generation, there are some sublime performances by Sir Patrick Stewart that leave Captain Picard as one of the most emotionally distressing characters in the franchise as a whole. From his breakdown in Season 4, Episode 2, when he visits his brother after being detached from the Borg, to Season 6, Episodes 10 and 11, where Picard is interrogated by the Cardassians, resulting in his torture, there have been moments that have changed Picard resulting in the man we see in Star Trek: Picard.
Indeed, “Remembrance” was entirely emotional from start to finish. This isn’t a Star Trek of the past but a drama for the future. From the ongoing suspense to the incredible orchestra to help define each moment, this is a different Star Trek to other modern adaptions such as Star Trek: Discovery, with a cliff hanger so intense that I’m not sure whether it’s the Romulans or the Borg to be worrying about.
“Remembrance” starts with Picard dreaming about playing poker with Data, only for the planet Mars to ignite in a series of flames and Picard waking up in the panic. Later on, it is shown that synthetic lifeforms attacked Mars previously, which led to a ban on artificial lifeforms in the Federation. This hindered the rescue efforts to save refugees after the Romulan star went supernova, resulting in Picard resigning from Starfleet.
It’s a lot of detail in a relatively short period of time, and Sir Patrick Stewart does a wonderful job of ensuring the mood remains mellow. In fact, it’s a testament to the writers themselves, who have managed to show the viewers the background story in remarkable detail without it feeling too heavy or forced. This sets up perfectly for Picard to meet Dahj, a synthetic lifeform whose life is in danger.
Isa Briones does a fantastic job of portraying the emotional distress that Dahj is in, particularly when her boyfriend is murdered right in front of her eyes. Her strengths are shown in great detail, with numerous small fight scenes with Vulcan assassins, right until her premature death. The problem is sometimes these fight scenes seem like they’ve been taken out of a Marvel film. While it’s great Star Trek continues to adapt to a modern audience, not every feature on TV needs to emulate Marvel; the less of Marvel we have the better.
On that note, it will be interesting to see which direction the series decides to take. Is it going to be more of Picard leading the way in space, or will the series divulge into a Marvel-esque series of action-packed fight scenes? The box has been opened and there are a lot of toys to choose from, let’s hope the writers chose wisely! Or if not, at least we already know Picard can guide the starship, no matter what peril might await us.
Worlds Collide: NXT vs NXT UK— Another Truly Great PPV
Worlds Collide as a brand has been subtly growing within WWE over the past year. The first edition happened on Royal Rumble weekend in 2019. It featured a 15 man tournament with stars from NXT, NXT UK, and 205 Live. The next round happened in New York over the 2019 WrestleMania weekend with matches pitting stars from all WWE shows against each other.
What happened on Saturday was the first Worlds Collide branded pay-per-view event. If you missed it, you missed out. It was amazing.
Build up started at NXT UK TakeOver: BlackPool II, when the Undisputed Era appeared and attacked Imperium as the show went off the air. Since then, matches have been booked that pitted some of the best talents both brands have against each other.
Kay Lee Ray vs Mia Yim
This match went down on the Worlds Collide pre-show but it was at main event quality.
NXT UK Women’s Champion faced off in a singles match against Yim, an incredible start to the rookie pay-per-view. Kay Lee Ray has proven herself to be an excellent heel champ while Yim is over with the fans.
While Yim lost, she looked great doing it. Ray cemented herself as a main event player in this match, as she always does. Yim is ready for the main event so it’s time to put her in the mix.
Finn Bálor vs Ilja Dragunov
For a lot of fans in the arena, Worlds Collide was their first introduction to Ilja Dragunov and they weren’t sure how to feel about him. Unless you watch NXT UK a lot, you’re not going to know him. The crowd didn’t really respond when he came out.
They sure knew Finn Bálor, though.
Despite the fact that Bálor has gone full heel, fans have not given up cheering for him. They were firmly behind Bálor for the bulk of the match. But as it went on, they got a better look at Dragunov and starter showing him some love.
It was a solid opening match, but not a super memorable one. Dragunov was an odd choice to face Bálor given the depth of talent on NXT UK. Watching him face Joe Coffey would have been better. The crowd really only came alive when Bálor headed for the top rope and finished Dragunov off.
Fatal 4-Way For The NXT Cruiserweight Championship
Bringing the Cruiserweight Division closer to the overall NXT brand is a great decision. Showcasing this title match on Worlds Collide was an even better one. Jordan Devlin, Travis Banks, and Isaiah “Swerve” Scott were all chasing Angel Garza for the NXT Cruiserweight Championship.
This was an absolutely incredible match featuring talent from all over the world. While everyone looked great, Travis Banks, in particular, showed why he belongs in the main event picture. That’s regardless of the brand he’s performing on.
Similarly, Swerve continues to build his personal brand. A championship run is inevitably in his future as every match he has is better than the last.
Ultimately, Jordan Devlin picked up the surprise, but well deserved, win and became the new champion. It was a surprise simply because Garza won the belt less than two months ago. Plus, no one expected the belt to go to the UK on Worlds Collide.
Still, Devlin will make a great champion. It will be interesting to see how that belt moving across an ocean will play out in the long term.
#DIY vs Moustache Mountain
There was no championship on the line. There was no bad blood between them. This was just two truly great tag teams going at it in a match that stole the show on Worlds Collide.
Moustache Mountain’s Trent Seven and Tyler Bate are mainstays of the NXT UK. On NXT, the reunited members of #DIY, Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, are core to the brand. Having these two teams face off was an incredibly meaningful moment.
The match was lighthearted at times, filled with moments that were genuinely funny. Once the match got rolling, each of the four superstars got to show why they are as respected as they are in the industry. They are truly four of the best in the business, in any company.
#DIY won but that almost didn’t matter. To borrow an apt cliche, those who watched were the true winners. After the match, the two teams shared an honest moment of sportsmanship, something fans rarely get to see in a wrestling ring.
Rhea Ripley vs Toni Storm
Worlds Collide was the first challenge for the new NXT Champion, Rhea Ripley. She was the inaugural NXT UK Women’s Champion but lost the title to Toni Storm. Ripley never had a rematch before moving to NXT.
During her NXT UK tenure, Ripley only lost two singles matches, one of which cost her a championship. Unsurprisingly, she wanted to redeem that by successfully defending her new championship from Storm, which she did.
The match was well executed but not particularly engaging. Storm got the title shot by asking for it, and without having to earn it through competition. There wasn’t really enough build-up to it to hook the audience in fully.
Fortunately, both wrestlers are great enough at what they do to sell anything in the ring.
Undisputed Era vs Imperium
NXT and NXT UK both have dominant four-man factions who have devastated the competition. It only makes sense to have them face off on Worlds Collide.
While the Walter-led Imperium is always looking to rule the ring, Undisputed Era was hungrier for the win. Keith Lee broke the UE prophecy when he took Roderick Strong’s North American Championship in an epic match the Wednesday before the pay-per-view.
But early in the match, Imperium found themselves a man down when Alexander Wolfe was legit knocked out. He took a rough shot from Bobby Fish and Roderick Strong. The ref stopped the match and the doctors took him to the back. Wolfe never returned to the match.
This left Imperium with a four to three disadvantage, which made their win even more impressive. Everyone looked great, but Walter stole the match as always. He brutalized everyone he was in the ring with and fans were firmly behind him. WWE would be well advised to make good use of him going forward. The man is a star!
After the pay-per-view was over, Triple H confirmed Wolfe’s injury but not the severity of it. Wolfe tweeted that he was fine, thanking the ref and medical staff for taking care of him. Hopefully, it’s nothing that will keep him down for long.
‘Kingdom Hearts III: Re:Mind’: An Utterly Shameless Cash Grab
Royal Rumble 2020: The Good, The Bad, and The Tolerable
Sordid Cinema Podcast: Does John Carpenter’s ‘In the Mouth of Madness’ Stand the Test of Time?
‘The Gentlemen’ is Familiar, Grungy Territory for Guy Ritchie
Star Trek: Picard: “Remembrance” Introduces a Different Picard
Sundance 2020: ‘Vitalina Varela’ Is a Love Letter to Faces
Sundance 2020: ‘Shirley’ Is Another Triumph for Josephine Decker
‘Color Out of Space’ is Pure Cosmic Horror
My Love/Hate Affair With ‘Star Trek’
Let’s Remember Why ‘Tremors’ is a Beloved Cult Hit
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories – The Best (and Only) Card-Based Action RPG on the GBA
Greatest Royal Rumble Matches: Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit
How Rimuru Tempest Changed the Game for Isekai Protagonists
PAX South Hands On: ‘Boyfriend Dungeon’ Wields Weapons of Love
- Games2 weeks ago
Bitores Mendez Teaches You the Politics of Pain in ‘Resident Evil 4’
- Games4 weeks ago
The Best Games of the 2010s
- Fantasia Film Festival2 weeks ago
‘Harpoon’ — A Nasty Thriller that Mostly Hits the Target
- Anime4 weeks ago
The Best Anime of the Decade (Ranks 25-1)
- Sordid Cinema3 weeks ago
The History of The Grudge: The Beginning of the Curse
- Festival du Nouveau Cinema4 days ago
‘Color Out of Space’ is Pure Cosmic Horror
- TV3 weeks ago
20 Years Later and How ‘Malcolm in the Middle’ Revolutionized the Sitcom
- Anime4 weeks ago
The Best Anime of the Decade (Ranks 50-26)