Kyle O'Reilly in AEW, WWE Raw vs. SmackDown, Hook's Debut and More Quick Takes

Graham GSM Matthews@@WrestleRantFeatured ColumnistDecember 13, 2021

Kyle O'Reilly in AEW, WWE Raw vs. SmackDown, Hook's Debut and More Quick Takes

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    Now officially a free agent, the most likely landing spot for Kyle O'Reilly could wind up being AEW.
    Now officially a free agent, the most likely landing spot for Kyle O'Reilly could wind up being AEW.Credit:

    As WWE contracts continue to come due, the wrestling landscape becomes even more exciting, with fans not knowing where anyone could pop up next.

    The latest notable names to leave WWE were Kyle O'Reilly and Johnny Gargano. The two bid their final farewells to NXT on Tuesday night, and although the latter could end up re-signing with the company at some point, all signs point to the former jumping ship and All Elite Wrestling being the likely destination.

    It would, arguably, be a better alternative than joining the main roster, as the quality of Raw and SmackDown hasn't been consistent in some time. With that said, the flagship has been a far more compelling show than SmackDown on the whole in recent weeks despite Brock Lesnar being reinstated to the blue brand.

    That was evident on Friday night when not much of note happened on the show outside of Lesnar's latest interaction with Sami Zayn and Xia Li saving Naomi. In fact, Hook's in-ring debut on AEW Rampage immediately following SmackDown was the most talked-about thing on wrestling Twitter all evening.

    This installment of Quick Takes will tackle what was so impressive about Hook's first match with AEW, why MJF should be a three-time winner of the Dynamite diamond ring, why the finish to Becky Lynch vs. Liv Morgan from Raw wasn't all that bad, and more.

Kyle O'Reilly Has Ready-Made Spot in AEW

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    As exciting as it can be to see some stars depart WWE so they can ply their trade elsewhere, it's gotten to a point where there are only so many places left on any given roster right now.

    AEW is stockpiled with wrestlers following the many releases WWE has made over the last two years, in addition to other talent it has picked up from various promotions. That means there is no guarantee that the likes of Keith Lee, Bray Wyatt or even someone such as Johnny Gargano could go there and thrive.

    However, Kyle O'Reilly may be the one name that is tailor-made for AEW and is a sure-fire pick to be "all elite" sooner rather than later.

    That's entirely due to the preexisting relationships he has with people currently in the company, specifically Adam Cole and Bobby Fish. Reforming Undisputed Era (sans Roderick Strong) would make the most sense, especially if the idea is to break Cole away from The Elite at some point.

    Undisputed Era vs. Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks has "dream match" written all over it. AEW's tag team division is the perfect place for a tandem the caliber of O'Reilly and Fish, best known for their time as reDRagon pre-WWE.

MJF Should Again Retain Dynamite Diamond Ring

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    The AEW Dynamite diamond ring, which has been an annual tradition every December since 2019, has been synonymous with MJF since its inception. It will be defended once again this Wednesday at the Winter Is Coming edition of Dynamite when the heel takes on Dante Martin.

    It's rare someone in wrestling will win any accolade more than two years in a row, but MJF should be the exception. There are a few people on the AEW roster who would be a fine fit for the diamond ring, but between MJF and Martin, The Salt of the Earth makes more sense to be holding it.

    Martin is a star on the rise and has had a standout 2021, but he has yet to capture a championship. Winning the diamond ring from MJF would be his first real accolade, but beyond the possible surprise factor, he doesn't gain much from it as a babyface.

    CM Punk costing MJF the diamond ring would be logical, but so would Team Taz interfering to prevent Martin from winning after he double-crossed them last week. MJF should be the owner of the ring for at least another year or two so it means that much more when he eventually loses it.

How Raw Has Eclipsed SmackDown in Quality

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    Perhaps one of the most shocking developments recently in WWE has been how Raw has managed to be better than SmackDown from a sheer quality standpoint by producing shows that are simply more entertaining and compelling.

    That isn't to say the red brand has been hitting home runs by any means or that the show is the best it's been in years, but the last few weeks have most definitely been an improvement over what we had been getting prior to that point.

    That's largely due to how Raw has made the most of its three-hour format by focusing more on the matches and developing interesting feuds: Big E vs. Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens, Becky Lynch vs. Liv Morgan, Edge vs. The Miz, and so on.

    SmackDown, on the other hand, has mostly had Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar going for it as of late. The Universal Championship picture is almost always must-see, but the midcard is nearly nonexistent, Toni Storm vs. Charlotte Flair has fallen flat, and the tag team division only seems to consist of The Usos and The New Day.

    Sonya Deville vs. Naomi has been worth watching for on Friday nights, but otherwise SmackDown has largely felt like filler since the draft. The blue brand could learn a thing or two from Raw when it comes to being the superior show in WWE.

Defending the Finish to Becky Lynch vs. Liv Morgan

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    Liv Morgan received so much support from the WWE Universe ahead of her Raw Women's Championship clash with Becky Lynch last week that it sure seemed like a title change could have been in the cards, especially after that video package aired highlighting the challenger's emotional journey with the company.

    Instead, WWE went the expected route of Big Time Becks retaining via underhanded tactics, which was designed to protect the former Riott Squad member in defeat.

    Morgan becoming champion would have made for an amazing moment, and few fans likely would have complained because of how beloved she is, but there's nothing wrong with her being kept in chase mode for a little longer. She can continue to prove herself in the coming weeks and months and win the title when it will mean even more, ideally on a bigger stage.

    The main issue fans had with the outcome to Lynch vs. Morgan was that WWE's long-term storytelling can be questionable at times. Certain things are done that are never revisited or explained. This could be one of them, but Lynch holding onto the gold was what should have happened.

    Morgan is popular enough that she should be fine coming out of that contest, but the aftermath is everything. WWE should be building to a rematch between at the Day 1 pay-per-view or allowing a longer story to play out with the challenger.

    If nothing else, though, it was crucial she looked credible in defeat against Lynch, and that was accomplished.

Hook Lives Up to Lofty Hype in Impressive In-Ring Debut

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    AEW has recruited many stars to its roster in 2021, but aside from CM Punk and Bryan Danielson, none of them have had as anticipated of an in-ring debut as Hook.

    The silent-but-deadly member of Team Taz has had a presence on AEW TV for the last year. Although he was at ringside more often than not, he'd only get physically involved when it was absolutely necessary.

    As a result, it was impossible to tell what he was capable of as a wrestler. Hook became an internet darling through his facial expressions alone and had fans hyped for his in-ring debut on Friday's Rampage, where he exceeded all expectations by decimating Fuego Del Sol.

    Between his seamless suplexes to adopting the Tazmission as his own, the 22-year-old did well for someone who hasn't had a ton of experience on a major stage. Then again, considering his father is Taz, maybe his strong showing shouldn't have come as much of a surprise.

    As the newest member of the AEW roster, it will be interesting to see what his ceiling will be and who he'll square off with next. He can be kept special for now and continue to hone his craft, but he's already shown signs of real potential with the short work he made of Fuego on Friday night.


    Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, has specialized in sports and entertainment writing since 2010. Visit his website, WrestleRant, and subscribe to his YouTube channel for more wrestling-related content.