Some minor spoilers ahead
When watching The Mandalorian “Chapter Four: Sanctuary”, I was reminded of a couple of things: firstly, Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones had Anakin and Padmé awkwardly falling in love whilst picnicking in the fields of Naboo (where the most interesting takes were cut from the film). Secondly, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Rebels did “outsiders train the local populus to protect themselves” storylines, replete with Seven Samurai homages, multiple times between them. Most of all, however, a pernicious thought crept in: is this the limit for The Mandalorian’s storytelling?
Don’t get me wrong, “Chapter Four: Sanctuary”—directed by Bryce Dallas Howard and, as always, written by Jon Favreau—is good Star Wars. It’s still flabbergasting that fully-fledged live action Star Wars is on television, even knowing the progression of technology and approach to creating high-quality prestige television as a norm. Furthermore, in a string of consistently great Star Wars episodes, this mostly keeps that tally going (though I am still more partial to the moody vistas in “Chapter Two: The Child”). The success is largely derived from the women in the two pairings that are the focal points of this episode: Julia Jones as Omera, a widow and potential love interest for our increasingly stalwart Mando, and Gina Carano as Cara Dune, an ex-Rebel Alliance “shocktrooper”.
At this stage, The Mandalorian is too good to not try being different instead of rehashing the rest of Star Wars. May this episode just be an anomaly; it would be disappointing that such a fertile premise would remain tepid and uninspired.
Julia Jones gives a deeply empathetic touch to her performance that sells dialogue which otherwise might be slightly too hammy (in a galaxy full of potentially hammy dialogue) or detestably on-the-nose in less capable hands. For example, “This nice man is going to help protect us from the bad ones” is a little much, but Jones says it reassuringly to her daughter, while her tone also conveys reassurance towards Mando that he can be his better self, not out of ignorance due to living in the backwater planet Sorgan, but rather a knowing acceptance of his life. Jones believably creates Omera as a possible romantic partner without being overly cloying, aided by a subtle pink colour palette and the exchanges between Omera and Mando being framed in very close proximity.
Jones’ performance is responsible for Omera being anything more than a symbol for the villagers’ plight or a life Mando inevitably cannot currently attain, because the script certainly isn’t multifaceted. Beyond her immediate mixture of appreciation, clear infatuation, and practical consideration of the two of them jointly raising their children (yes, Mando’s absolutely a dad now), the most interesting aspect of Omera as a person separate from Mando is her competence with weaponry. However, the story behind that particular capability is left to the audience’s imagination—maybe she too has escaped a military past, learnt for survival, or perhaps her dead partner taught her. It adds a layer of interiority to the character, and a reminder that one doesn’t need a physical helmet to mask one’s life and person.
There’s also something to be said for the idea that The Mandalorian is just a sequence of briefly intersecting independent lives, and that is certainly realistic, as well as keeping to the series’ Western heritage. It’s quite melancholic, however, and maybe even dissatisfying at this point, especially when fellow mercenary Cara Dune’s wise-cracking is a fun complement to Mando’s at-most deadpanning.
Gina Carano’s mixed martial artist background naturally lends some effortless brutality to her role as Cara Dune (Mando once again goes down in melee), but it’s really the evident and infectious enthusiasm beneath her character’s sassiness that makes Cara Dune something more notable than a generic badass talkative bounty hunter to Mando’s quiet one. Still, the two get a couple of tussles against each other and other enemies, so Carano’s physicality isn’t forgotten. This episode also really emphasises the tactical side of Mando’s approach to combat, and Cara Dune is an able partner.
So by comparison, it’s disappointing that the final battle against the orc-like Klatooinian raiders is memorable only because of the composition of wide shots: the AT-ST’s glowing red window panes emerging from the darkened forest is a plain image, but intimidating. The rest of the battle is also plain, but just conventional. Maybe one can’t blame The Mandalorian for using tried and true battle staging in a year when Game of Thrones managed to botch the impact of its notoriously dark, climatic “Long Night” battle by losing cohesiveness. Yet it’s still dull.
Take Asif Ali’s Caben and Eugene Cordero’s Stoke (hello The Good Place’s Pillboi!). Their existence perfunctorily grants Mando and Dune a vector by which to stay and fight the Klatooinians (transporting them shelter in the middle of nowhere). So while giving these characters a heroic moment at the end to round out their arcs is routine—as all battles tend to do these days for (barely) comedic relief characters—it’s insipid, because the audience was never meant to have much of a connection to them anyway. Conversely, while Omera does shoot a few raiders, she never really gets the same treatment in the battle. Her role in combat is forgettable, which feels much more egregious given how much more attention she has been given.
Most gratingly for the remotely cinematically-savvy viewer is the repetition of variations on the phrase “we just need [the AT-ST] to step forward” into the trenches and fishing pools to topple it. It’s very obvious that the AT-ST won’t fall over easily, and somebody (Cara Dune) will need to heroically put themselves in the line of fire. While in “Chapter One” it was clear that Mando wasn’t about to be riddled with torrents of plasma blasts, there was some uncertainty as to how things would be resolved. Here, there’s merely a veneer of tension.
Maybe that’s true for the entirety of “Chapter Four: Sanctuary”. While this is probably a necessary step for Mando’s development, it all feels a little rote and the dialogue occasionally pat. Even if one subscribes to Georges Polti’s analysis that there are only thirty-six dramatic situations anyway, Star Wars has done this particular situation before. Even The Mandalorian has already hit most of these story beats.
Generously, this episode repeating a narrative framework demonstrates the changes in Mando’s personality, and maybe that is the issue: Mando, as a character, is not static. Throughout these reviews, I have lauded the gradual shifts in his personality, and that is still true, but in the space of four episodes, he is no longer the icy, detached gunman first introduced. He’s significantly softened. The Mandalorian “Chapter Four: Sanctuary” has him take off his helmet while loitering alone in some really heavy-handed symbolism, and then never relenting to Omera’s attempts in doing the same in company—equally clumsy symbolism. It’s character growth, however, and maybe the only parts of the episode that utilises subtext.
Therefore, The Mandalorian keeping its story in a relative holding pattern and re-treading ideas is incongruous with its main character’s development and arguably antithetical to the spirit of Star Wars. For all their faults, the Prequel Era films are distinct from the more personal, adventurous Original Trilogy with their heavier socio-political angle. The Last Jedi is divisive partly because it defied certain expectations, for better or worse. Not to overly insert paratext, but Disney CEO Bob Iger reports that George Lucas criticised The Force Awakens for having “nothing new”.
It would be foolish to claim that Star Wars isn’t also a product of pre-existing influences (from the typical Campbell’s monomyth to Samurai films to Flash Gordon to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series), but it is responsible for pushing technological boundaries and instituting a grimy, technologically advanced though stagnant aesthetic that has profoundly affected science-fictional design and approach. The Mandalorian itself, within those recognisable Star Warsian trappings, has been toying with and successfully reinterpreting that set visual language up to now.
We’re now as close to the midpoint of The Mandalorian’s first season as we possibly can be, so it’s worth taking stock of where the series lies as an entity. In the first episode review, The Mandalorian was cast against the history of Star Wars up to now. Even then, its more contemplative approach set it apart from much of the more directly swashbuckling milieu. Star Wars has had complexity and meaningful themes that give it enduring appeal, but The Mandalorian primarily traded on elements like subtextual implications and atmosphere as ways to dissect the protagonist, which is rarer for Star Wars. So suffice to say, this show is largely an exceptional piece of Star Wars storytelling at a time when the idea of what makes Star Wars, well, Star Wars, is once again in flux.
However, in shifting its approach to being “Star Warsian” every episode, The Mandalorian is implicitly also trying to be more than just great for a Star Wars series. Therefore maybe, if it deserves to be considered simply one of the better series of 2019, it should be assessed on those terms as well. The artistic intent of series should be different, and The Mandalorian arbitrarily not meeting the expectation of having the same emotional nuance as, say, The Americans or Breaking Bad, doesn’t make it a bad or “worse” series. But these reviews maybe have been doing a disservice to the aspirations of The Mandalorian by only celebrating its greatness as Star Wars.
There is perhaps a level of implied condescension there, that Star Wars isn’t high artistic expression already, and that is not the intent, because Star Wars, regardless of its saturating brand, was in many ways revolutionary, Oscar Award-winning cinema in 1977. A series cannot resonate for forty years and be devoid of artistic merit. Personally, several of them are amongst my favourite films.
Yet the first few episodes of The Mandalorian have been trying to do more than be excellent Star Wars, and etching away at that boundary with confidence, so tempering expectations of how far the series can go is not necessarily beneficial.
This quandary is laid out, because, once again, The Mandalorian “Chapter Four: Sanctuary” is good, solid Star Wars. Not the best episode thus far, but it’s fine. On a technical level, Director Bryce Dallas Howard and returning Director of Photography Baz Idoine accentuate the differing colour palettes in each scene, so that they’re vibrant. Omera and Mando’s conversations supersede Padmé and Anakin’s in Attack of the Clones in sounding natural. Yet “Chapter Four: Sanctuary” lacks an ephemeral quality that would make it brilliant television outside of Star Wars.
It’s more disheartening because there are hints of the episode potentially continuing exploring the relationship between predator and prey from “Chapter Three: The Sin” in a more unique way: The Klatooinian Raiders against the villagers; the hissing Tooka Cat almost eating the Yodaling; the Yodaling deciding to not eat another frog. I was hopeful that keeping the camera on Omera’s face hiding underneath the water from the Klantoonian invasion in the opening sequence would lead to the entire episode giving an outsider’s perspective to Mando’s effects on the galaxy, and follow on from the simple, but clever, visual trick of repeatedly cutting to the Yodaling’s point of view.
Not to impose inflexible ideals upon The Mandalorian “Chapter Four: Sanctuary”, or claim that such a filming technique would be the most creative or inventive idea, but something like the aforementioned approach would probably alleviate my qualms with Omera’s more superficial characterisation. You could probably even follow this episode’s story beat for beat, and it would be more intriguing.
Most of all, at least it would be different. At this stage, The Mandalorian is too good to not try being different instead of rehashing the rest of Star Wars. May this episode just be an anomaly; it would be disappointing that such a fertile premise would remain tepid and uninspired.
The Yodaling’s still cute, but I feel it’s remained more of a prop than a lively baby since “Chapter Two: The Child”. I’m mildly nauseated by the repeated visual gag of the Yodaling popping up right behind Mando when he’s told him to stay or put him down. Don’t overplay a good joke, The Mandalorian!
I really hope that Kuiil and Cara Dune eventually join Mando permanently. They’re both interesting enough characters, and even Cowboy Bebop managed to keep its disparate, solitary characters, together by convenience, grouped for most of the series! You don’t have to be alone to be brooding Mando!
If there’s one thing that really should be appreciated about this series, it’s how naturally diverse it is. Pedro Pascal is Chilean-American; Carl Weathers is African-American; Julia Jones is mixed-race, including being of African American, Choctaw, and Chickasaw descent; Omid Abtahi is Iranian. It may just be a few examples so far, but the fact that these are pretty major or reoccurring characters in a Star Wars series is significant for redressing the imbalance in racial diversity. It sets a good example, and Lucasfilm should be commended. Now to work on furthering characterisation.
I’m a little miffed that “Chapter Four: Sanctuary” drops its definite article, but I suppose it’s defying convention in one way.
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.
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