Okay so I’m actually surprised with the results of last week. Since our Chairman Mr. DeMarco has opened up the Match of the Week Voting to you all, the lovely fans/readers…we had an upset. Tim Storm vs Jocephus NWA Empty Arena Match, won last week’s vote. You all make me so proud, give yourselves a round of applause.
But last week, is last week…and this week is insane. We have usual TV, Impact Genesis, 2 NJPW The New Beginning events, NXT Takeover and Royal Rumble. My head may explode, but this was definitely a fun overall week, and you will see a good number of Honorable Mentions for a change. So let’s get to this monster of a list.
5. 205 Live: Mustafa Ali vs Cedric Alexander
Yes everyone, last week there was an NWA match, and this week 205 Live finally cracks the Top 5. Enzo’s release looks like it inspired the whole roster to put that extra little bit in.
So two friends face off to see who deserves a shot at the vacant title. This match was reminiscent of the CWC matches that excited so much of the fan base. Finally allowing them take some of the kid gloves off and do high impact moves at a fast pace, appealed to everyone, even the live crowd.
A bunch of big innovative counters end up in Cedric catching Mustafa, and landing his Lumbar Check for a clean pinfall. Only real complaint is that Cedric’s facial expressions didn’t exude “determined no matter what”, it was more frustrated and willing to take whatever route necessary. But that nit pick aside, it actually made me watch 205 Live, so I’ll add that as the last positive for this match.
Rating: *** 1/2 (Gold II)
4. NJPW The New Beginning Sapporo: IWGP Jr Heavyweight Tag Team Match: The Young Bucks (c) vs Roppongi 3k
Now if you listen to any Podcasts I’ve been on, or seen some previous articles, I’m not a fan of The Bucks. But, I will always give props to any match regardless of my feelings about the participants.
This match was more methodical than their Wrestle Kingdom match, and I gained a new respect for Matt Jackson, because he sold like he was auditioning for an Oscar. Storytelling was great, the callbacks to the match a month ago worked well, and I don’t think I can gush more about this match. Roppongi showed the exuberance of youth and the Bucks were throwing a lot at them, but due to Matt’s back injury that reduced the overall effectiveness of their offense.
Roppongi 3k ends up winning when Yoh scores a nice roll up. So there’s still room to continue the feud, but both teams did a lot to cement themselves as the top of most tag divisions anywhere.
Rating: **** (Platinum V)
3. NJPW The New Beginning Sapporo: IWGP US Title Match: Kenny Omega (c) vs Jay White
Jay White joined Chaos purposely to help destroy The Bullet Club. He failed against Tanahashi, so can he prove himself against the IWC’s favorite child?
Omega treated this match similarly to the Juice Robinson match, where he “big brother’d” the younger wrestler for a while in the early goings. After a small flurry by White, Omega took control of the match. Big V-Trigger knee strikes, cross legged fisherman’s neck breaker, a Kotaro Crusher, but still White kicked out. Especially cool when White lifts only his shoulder to avoid a pinfall, I don’t think that’s ever been done before. Omega gets a little perturbed, but never looses confidence he’ll pull out the victory.
His confidence gets the best of him, cause even a visibly exhausted Jay White, slips out of the One Winged Angel and hits a Blade Runner in a very smooth transition.
So yes most know that Adam Page came down to challenge Jay White, Omega kinda ruined the moment, Cody took offense…and…may have kicked him out of Bullet Club. But to the world’s delight, Kota Ibushi slides in to save his former partner from the beat down, and after a tense moment, they embrace and imply that the Golden Lovers are back.
Rating: **** 1/2 (Platinum III)
Honorable Mention with explanation:
NXT Takeover Philly: Extreme Rules Match: Aleister Black vs Adam Cole
Now many may have had this rated higher, but my problem with it comes from a lot of spots were off and looked bad. A few being: Why would Black lean down into the chair when on the top rope? Why would Adam Cole land on his feet next to the announce table and then decide it was a good time to sit down and take a double foot stomp? Maybe the chemistry was off with these two, but this one barely missed Top 5, and on paper it was expected to be amazing.
As for the match, it starts off slow with a lot of points to get their personalities over and not a lot of action. Black refuses to use weapons early, Cole tries to take advantage of that, but gets punked out many times before catching Black on an errant Asai Moonsault. From there we finally get around to weapons being used, and it was mostly back and forth. The extended periods of time acquiescing to the crowd for tables and setting up the future spot didn’t do much for a match that started a little slow to begin with.
But hell, the pay offs of all the big spots got the crowd to pop, so I guess that’s something. Black wins when Cole decides to not cover him and try to go for a CHAIRSHOT, and gets caught by the Black Mass.
The match saw reDragon interfere and then SaNitY interfered to even the odds. So at least it extended the story between SaNitY and The Undisputed Era, but aside from that, it was kinda there.
Rating: *** 1/2 (Gold III)
2. NJPW New Beginning at Sapporo: IWGP Intercontinental Championship Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs Minoru Suzuki
First thing to notice is Suzuki’s hair started growing back, so he’s got the Devil Fruit design, just not long enough for that ponytail thing. After that, we’ve got the story of Tanahashi having mounting injuries and Suzuki being a sadistic submission specialist.
Before the match starts, Red Shoes tells Suzuki-Gun to leave and Minoru is again on his own. But the match begins as you’d expect, Suzuki focusing on the injured limbs and Tanahashi trying to fight through the pain and keep Suzuki away. This match was hard hitting, methodical and surprisingly only went out of the ring once. Cyrus enjoyed Suzuki’s use of CHAIRSHOTS on Tanahashi before bringing the match back in the ring.
Tanahashi showed amazing resilience in this match, coming as far as to sequence his Slingblade, into his first standing High Fly Flow, but not the finishing High Fly Flow. He hits his bad knee when he landed the first one, and that was the opening Minoru needed. Now, this wasn’t just normal taking advantage of an opening. Suzuki chained knee bars, heel hooks, figure four leg locks, everything and anything to keep tearing at that bad knee.
Suzuki even went as far as to hit his Gotch Piledriver…but refuse to pin the champion, in favor of tearing his knee apart more. The scene was hard to watch, some people use submissions as a rest hold, but Suzuki uses it like a professional torture artist. Tanahashi stayed every defiant and wouldn’t submit, but when Suzuki reapplies the kneebar in the middle of the ring and Tanhashi can’t make it to the ropes, red shoes makes the executive decision and stops the match.
So Minoru Suzuki is your NEW IWGP Intercontinental Champion, and Tanahashi finally has a good storyline reason to take a few month off. It also gives Tanahashi the easy return story of “I never lost the match, the ref stopped it”. I’m looking forward to how the Intercontinental scene looks with a new champion.
Rating: ***** (Diamond V)
NXT: Number 1 Contender Match: Johnny Gargano vs Velveteen Dream
Rating: *** 1/4 (Gold IV)
Raw 25: Intercontinental Championship Match: Roman Reigns (c) vs The Miz
Rating: *** 1/4 (Gold IV)
Royal Rumble: WWE Championship 2v1 Handicap Match: AJ Styles (c) vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Rating: *** 1/4 (Gold IV)
Impact Genesis: Knockouts Championship Match: Laurel Van Ness (c) vs Allie
Rating: *** (Gold V)
ROH: War Machine vs Coast 2 Coast
Rating: *** (Gold V)
1. NXT Takeover Philly: NXT Championship Match: Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas (c) vs Johnny Gargano
Underdog Gargano in the biggest underdog city not named Cleveland. This match was electric from the entrances, and the lead in was tremendous also.
No brief summation of this match could do it justice. What I will say, is both men kept the pace fairly quick even when they were supposed to be exhausted or dazed. This match structure was similar to that of Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada and delivered in a similar fashion.
As many guessed, Candace Larae got involved to neutralize Zelina Vega, eventually (which is why it comes in a shade under what Omega/Okada was in my book). But the way the match finished up was brutal. Almas kept focusing on Johnny’s head and the penultimate move, was a running double knee on the apron into the ring post, leaving Gargano looking like he forgot how to smell color. The champ retaining in a long, fast paced, hard fought match does a lot to help reaffirm that he’s no longer the uninspired enhancement talent he was, about eight months ago.
Yes yes yes, I kept watching and saw the Ciampa attack at the end. Which is very smart, because it puts some distance between the two (similar to how New Japan does it), instead of milking it dry. It should go without saying, but this is the best match I’ve ever seen under a WWE umbrella. Major kudos to Andrade Almas and Johnny Gargano for locking up Match of the Year before February.
Rating: ***** 3/4 (Diamond IV)
This was a crazy week, lots of quality in every show, but come on…I’m picking Almas vs Gargano as my match of the week. If you thought I was picking anything else, you’re drunk go home. I’ll call you an Uber – be safe friends.
To make your opinion heard in this vote, comment on Facebook, Twitter or e-mail Andrewbalaz@thechairshot.com.