B/R Staff Roundtable: Unforgettable WWE and AEW Moments from First Half of 2021

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The first half of 2021 has gifted wrestling fans with unforgettable moments from both WWE and AEW in the form of championship triumphs, raucous audiences eager to support their favorites, the unexpected returns of icons to the squared circle and super-athletes finally realizing their potential.

    It has presented highs and lows and everything in between but has rarely been forgettable.

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    Join B/R Wrestling’s The Doctor Chris Mueller, Graham “GSM” Matthews, and Erik Beaston as they discuss their picks for the most unforgettable moments of the half-year and what made them so incredibly special.

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    Top 3 Moments:

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    1. Bianca Belair wins the SmackDown Women’s Championship in the main event of WrestleMania
    2. Bobby Lashley wins the WWE Championship
    3. KENTA debuts on AEW Dynamite

         

    Graham on Belair’s Historic WrestleMania Triumph

    Belair’s 2021 has been nothing short of spectacular. From winning the women’s Royal Rumble as an early entry to her recent reign as SmackDown Women’s champion, she has been a rare success story as far as NXT call-ups are concerned.

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    Her crowning moment, however, came at WrestleMania 37 Night 1 when she challenged Sasha Banks for the Raw Women’s Championship. The booking did them no favors going into the event, but once the weekend arrived, there was no doubt that they belonged in the main event of the Show of Shows.

    Banks is no stranger to the spotlight, having headlined her fair share of WWE pay-per-views before and always delivering whenever it matters most. Belair was more of a question mark due to being such a fresh face, but it was evident from the second the bell rang that she wasn’t out of place in the ring with The Boss and that she had the aura of an absolute star.

    As excellent of a match as this was, it was more of a moment than anything else. The electricity inside the stadium that night was electric and gave this bout a big-fight feel befitting of the WrestleMania main event.

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    After an exhilarating war, Belair ultimately emerged victorious to claim the SmackDown Women’s Championship–her first title not only as a member of the blue brand but in all of WWE. As beloved as Banks is, the audience in attendance roared in approval at the outcome as it was apparent a new era–the EST era–had arrived.

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    Top 3 Moments:

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    1. Bobby Lashley wins the WWE Championship on the March 1 episode of Raw
    2. Bianca Belair wins the Women’s Royal Rumble Match
    3. Britt Baker defeats Hikaru Shida for the AEW Women’s Championship at Double or Nothing

          

    Chris on Lashley’s Championship Victory

    When Bobby Lashley first left WWE in 2008, a lot of fans thought WWE missed a golden opportunity to build a new top star. He was the ideal WWE Superstar in almost every way. He had a few chances to win the WWE title but came up short each time.

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    His return to the company in 2018 felt like a chance to right a wrong. WWE not only had Lashley back, but he was better than ever. He gained confidence on the mic, kept his body in god-like shape and added plenty of new skills to make him a more well-rounded performer.

    It may have taken almost three years, but WWE finally booked The All Mighty to win the WWE title from The Miz on March 1 in a Lumberjack match.

    Despite being a heel, Lashley entered the ring as the overwhelming favorite that night. In just five minutes, he made The Miz tap out to win his first WWE Championship. After spending more than 15 years in the business, he had finally reached the pinnacle of success in pro wrestling.

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    The match itself won’t be remembered as a classic, but the moment when Lashley was declared the winner will stand the test of time. As he hoisted the title up in celebration, you could see how much this moment meant to him. He was dripping with sweat but you could still see tears of joy in his eyes. 

    MVP, Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin also looked emotional as they watched their friend achieve the highest honor in WWE. It was a moment that will definitely stand out as one of the important wins of the pandemic era.

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    Top 3 Moments:

    1. Roman Reigns smashes, stacks, and pins Edge and Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 37
    2. Sting returns to the ring for the first time in six years at Double or Nothing
    3. WWE and AEW perform in front of live audiences for WrestleMania, Double or Nothing 

        

    Erik on Reigns’ Unforgettable Dominance on WWE’s Grandest Stage

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    Going into WrestleMania, we knew Reigns was the best thing about WWE.

    From his layered storyline involving cousins The Usos to his transformation from nondescript babyface to Head of the Table, he had dominated the SmackDown brand and earned rave reviews while doing so. Still, the idea that he would roll into wrestling’s biggest night, and the first show in front of a live audience since the COVID-19 pandemic swept the globe, and defeat both Daniel Bryan and Edge to retain his Universal Championship did not seem plausible.

    Surely, WWE would want a babyface to leave the main event of its show with the top prize the blue brand had to offer. With Bryan’s underdog story 2.0 in full effect and Edge’s magical comeback story begging for a triumph on that stage, it just felt like an inevitability that Reigns would drop the title in Tampa.

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    Not only did that not happen, but he also beat his opponents in as emphatic a manner as we have ever, and likely will ever, see in a WrestleMania main event.

    Reigns didn’t just pin The Rated R Superstar or leader or the YES Movement, he humiliated. Reigns smashed them, literally stacked his opponents on top of each other, and pinned both to retain his title.

    The imagery of it, and the way both Reigns and WWE capitalized on it with a series of T-shirts and other merchandise in the wake of it, only enhanced the surreality of the finish. Not since Brock Lesnar systematically picked apart John Cena in the main event of SummerSlam in what was essentially a glorified squash match, had Hall of Fame talent been dispatched of so matter-of-factly.

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    The match itself was by no means a squash, though. It was a genuine Match of the Year candidate that had Reigns’ status as the top dog on Friday nights in limbo more than once. As he has so many times over the course of this run, though, he found a way to win and did in my pick for the most unforgettable moment of the first half of 2021. 

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