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Official Chairshot Ratings & Review: NJPW The New Beginning in Osaka

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Welcome to the faction wars edition of The New Beginning! Osaka has had a nice lead in, with Chaos and LIJ establishing themselves as the top factions, but also fighting over who is number one. Neither of these two groups like each other, except Hiromu and Ospreay, they are the most cordial and adorable enemies outside of an anime. This event is headlined with Okada vs. Sanada, and there is no Bullet Club in sight.

The Osaka crowd tends to lean heavily towards LIJ, so has the booking gone towards making the fans happy? Will we see a split decision with the IWGP Heavyweight Title as the tie breaker, ala, WWE? Can Sanada beat Okada? It’s questions like these, that make this show an important watch. So with all that said, it’s time to see how it all shook out.

Yuji Nagata vs Katsuya Kitamura

Kitamura’s sixth match, of his best of seven series. Even though he’s 0-5 so far, the point isn’t to win, the point is to prove where he’s at in his ability before an excursion or staying on main roster.

The match itself contained a lot of stiff strikes and saw Kitamura being a little more reserved, and slowly started to strategize more and build confidence as the match went on. Sadly for Katsuya, he falls again and can’t seem to overcome any of the legends or mid carders he’s been faced up against.

Good opening match, and definitely showed a progression in Kitamura’s approach after only a few matches.

Rating: ** 3/4 (Silver I)

 

Roppongi 3k vs El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru

Well this was a great match to set up a future title shot. Roppongi 3k has put on some athletically impressive matches with the Young Bucks, but Suzuki-Gun doesn’t care about impressive moves.

Kanemaru and Desperado take numerous short cuts, and the fact that they softened up Sho’s back, so he wasn’t 100% played into the match. We saw the ending come with Kanemaru putting Sho in a Boston Crab and Desperado going crazy with CHAIRSHOTS since the ref wasn’t watching him. If you’re not cheating, you’re not trying and Kanemaru and Desperado more than likely just got themselves a shot at the Junior Tag belts.

Decent enough match, but more of a story telling match. A few spots seemed mistimed, but nothing glaringly terrible, just kinda there.

Rating: ** 1/2 (Silver II)

 

Ryusuke Taguchi, Kushida, Michael Elgin & Togi Makabe vs TAKA, Taichi, Iizuka & Minoru Suzuki

Well as is the usual with Suzuki-Gun and most 8+ man matches, it begins with a big mess of a fight. Most of these men have stories with each other and they pair off as is expected.

Numerous weapons and heel tactics ensue, but eventually Makabe and Suzuki meet back up in the ring and we get some actual wrestling. The Intercontinental match that they’re going to have will definitely be something to watch. You can see both men dislike each other and it shows in the strong style moments and body language.

Makabe gets the pinfall victory for his team on TAKA while staring down Suzuki to send a message. There was a small promo directly after the match, but you’re going to have to find a translation since my Japanese isn’t that good. The match progressed storylines decently, but as a match itself it was…passable?

Rating: ** 1/4 (Silver IV)

 

Henare, David Finlay & Juice Robinson vs Toru Yano, Tomohiro Ishii & Jay White

A few story threads in this one, mainly with Finlay / White and Henare trying to cut his teeth on Ishii. But this was another one of the usual decent multi-man tags, but nothing to write home about.

Finlay showed a little more aggression than usual, Jay took some punishment for a while, but it all ended up in a way to make a point. Jay hits the Blade Runner, cuts Henare open and then instead of pinning him, crucifixes the arms and lays in elbows until the referee stops the match.

*Biggest news so far after the match* Rey Mysterio shows up via video package and challenges Jushin Thunder Liger for Long Beach.

Rating: ** 1/2 (Silver II)

 

Gedo vs Bushi

So the story of the match was simply a grudge match where Gedo has taken every opportunity to unmask Bushi in the last two shows leading up to this. Bushi brought out hedge clippers as a way to say “You keep taking my masks, I’ll take your beard”.

But it was due to the set up, that the match was just weird. The wrestling was just a lead in to trying to get to a spot for Gedo to untie the mask. The most note worthy spot was Gedo took the loose strings of the mask and tied Bushi to the ropes so he couldn’t get a hold of Gedo until a Young Lion brought the hedge clippers to cut him out (the spot took too damn long to set up though, Gedo needs to learn how to tie shoes better).

Since Bushi was playing the face in the match, it made sense for him to finally get vengeance. Bushi connects with the MX and wins via pinfall.

Rating: ** 1/2 (Silver II)

 

Yoshi-Hashi vs Tetsuya Naito

Yoshi-Hashi came out like a house on fire and attacked Naito during his ring entrance and stayed aggressive the entire match.

Even though the disparity in their resumes was even being mentioned by the English Commentary team, Yoshi made the match very close. There were numerous times when he had a believable chance to win the match, especially when Naito was stuck in the Butterfly Lock for over a minute. The match really was better than I think anyone anticipated.

However, logic paid off and Naito wins after back to back Destinos. The talking point comes from the fact that Taichi attacked Naito as he was exiting up the ramp and literally just dragged him away. I figure the Chris Jericho confrontation was coming soon, but Taichi is an unexpected wrinkle. Maybe they face each other at the Anniversary show March 6th?

Rating: *** 3/4 (Gold I)

 

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Title Match: Will Ospreay vs Hiromu Takahashi

The opening video package…holy hell, watch it, it’s hilarious. It has a cat narrate that Hiromu has the mind of a cat but Ospreay has the agility of a cat.

As for the match, I mean, Hiromu is amazing and Ospreay adds a lot of sizzle to his matches. Neither wrestler kept an edge for very long and Hiromu tried to focus on Ospreay’s neck. A bunch of big and flashy moves, though the match wasn’t without a few odd spots and a little repetition towards the end. Hiromu countering Ospreay’s move into a Canadian Destroyer was an impressive highlight.

Still though, not a fan of that Beheading move, looks really corny. Damn good match, and easily the best of the night thus far, but not quite a classic.

Rating: **** 1/2 (Platinum III)

 

NEVER Openweight Title Match: Hirooki Goto vs EVIL

The beginning of this match was a little odd. EVIL wraps a chair around Goto’s head and drives him into the ring post, and Red Shoes refuses to count (Japanese refs are instructed to avoid DQs and use their discretion). So there was about 30 seconds of Goto laid out on the floor, and the energy of the match came down to a halt.

With that said, both of these men are fantastic wrestlers, so a few stiff strikes and trading lariats back and forth woke everyone back up. We saw a lot of big moves, EVIL trying to use chairs repeatedly, but Goto stayed resilient. It was thanks to his resilience that we got to our ending sequence.

Both men reversed the other’s finishing move 2 or 3 times, before Goto finally hits the GTR on EVIL for the pinfall victory. Good match, what you basically expect from a Goto match though. This match ties Chaos and LIJ at 2 wins a piece. So it all comes down to the final match, on which faction wins the battle and has the Heavyweight champion.

Rating: *** 3/4

 

IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match: Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA

The final faction match and also the final heavyweight standing between Okada and a clean sweep on LIJ.

Sanada maintained his usual persona for the early goings of the match, cold, seemingly disinterested and his usual too cool for school body language. It was as soon as Okada started kicking Sanada in the head mockingly, the crowd booed him loudly. The crowd was pro LIJ all night, but at that point Okada had the crowd hating him, and Sanada capitalized with a nice sequence ending in a dive to the outside that made the whole building erupt in cheers.

The expressions on Cold Skull were starting to show surprise and desperation when he found 2 innovative ways to apply the Skull End. First out of an Asai Moonsault from the corner, and then he basically did a Destino, but instead of a DDT, stopped at the end for the Dragon Sleeper and dropped down into Skull End. Even with how impressive Sanada looked, he was doomed as soon as the desperation took him over.

He cut the Skull End short and went for a Moonsault, in which he jammed his knee and got a 2 count. With no other idea what to do, he tried another moonsault, which Okada countered. This lead to the ending sequence where Sanada countered at least 3 Rainmaker attempts before he got caught by the Jumping Tombstone and then a Rainmaker finally connects for the pinfall victory. Also gives Chaos the 3-2 victory in the faction war.

Tremendous match, anyone who was unaware of Sanada’s potential…this was his coming out party.

Rating: ***** (Diamond V)

 

Well this show was what most people expect from a Japanese show. A decent undercard, with title matches that deliver in bringing home a strong ending. There are two more pieces of news after Okada’s match. Firstly, he challenged Will Ospreay for the March 6th Anniversary show. Second piece of business was he expressed an interest in participating in the New Japan Cup.

In the following press conference, Ospreay accepted the challenge; it will most likely be a “special” match where neither belt is on the line since there’s a history of New Japan doing that for the Anniversary show. So has Okada finally transcended booking so far that he’s going to find every opportunity to locate new opponents?

10 championship defenses, 600 days and counting, who in the bloody hell is going to beat Okada?


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Opinion

WWE Has Too Much Talent

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WWE in the past four years has been signing talents from all over the world and from every promotion that has amazing talent in an effort to steal those talents and to prevent this promotions to make any good quality wrestling. NJPW and ROH have been the biggest targets on talent that WWE takes from, names like Finn Balor, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Adam Cole, and just name a few have been signed to the WWE machine but the biggest problem WWE has is that what to do with all that talent.

Starting in NXT has been proven to be the best way to start your journey in WWE and the biggest example of this was Mike Kanellis, who started on the main roster instead of NXT and after just a few months of his debut he was relegated to low card position in WWE.But starting in NXT does not guarantee success in WWE, because like I mention before WWE and all it’s brands currently have to much talent and wrestlers like Balor,Roode, and others are lost in the shuffle and not to mention that Balor and Roode had very good runs in NXT.

Despite WWE having a full roster, they are looking to sign ore talent and their biggest targets are Kenny Omega, Cody and The Young Bucks In a desperate way to stop NJPW’s plans to expand into the american market and stop the rise of the independent scene it currently has by the success this men have right now. Also, another factor WWE would like to try to sign this amazing wrestler in the case of The Young Bucks is to boost the profile of the WWE tag division that in it’s current state is really bad.

Despite all this good wresters WWE has in its roster right now, the booking has become dreadful and some of the worst wrestling right now and maybe wrestlers like Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode and others should consider jumping ship to another promotion that could book there talent in a better way.


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Levin’s SmackDown Live Review

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You figured the aftermath of the Extreme Rules pay-per-view would be “must-see” television on SmackDown Live. With Jeff Hardy demanding a rematch for the United States Title with Shinsuke Nakamura and a potential confrontation with Randy Orton, the show was very much something I was looking forward to.

Let’s not forget WWE still had to wade through the waters of A.J. Styles’ win over Rusev. Would the company continue to book this feud moving forward? There was Carmella and her stooge James Ellsworth and the Asuka “situation.” Would the Empress of Tomorrow exact her revenge?

And if that wasn’t enough, Daniel Bryan has officially signed his new deal with WWE, which means he could be booked as a contender for Styles’ WWE Title. Where did The Miz fit in all of this, while he was busy playing softball during the MLB All-Star festivities and missed the show on Sunday night?

I waited anxiously for answers. Was I satisfied with the results? No exactly. Here are a few thoughts about SmackDown Live.

A.J. Styles vs. Cien Almas

The two superstars meet for the first time in WWE and does well for himself. The two crossed paths in Japan, renewing an old rivalry. The former NXT star has shown in recent weeks he could be part of the blue brand’s title picture. Almas was able to answer the WWE champion’s arsenal.

If WWE is going to push Almas toward the main event picture, this was the showcase he needed. Almas may have submitted to the calf crusher, but this is a feud I would love to see moving forward.

It also remains to be seen when WWE may book Styles to finally drop the company title.

The Demise of Rusev Day?

More like the beginning of the end of the relationship between Rusev and Aiden English. After watching the exchange between English and Lana, discussing how bad Rusev’s sidekick felt about costing him the WWE Title at Extreme Rules, I hope this does not lead to a confrontation between both performers.

This would be a huge blow to Rusev’s chance to remain in the main event picture. It may also put an end to the “Rusev Day” phenomenon.

Becky Lynch vs. Mandy Rose

While I am huge fan of Lynch, maybe even a slight crush on the Irish lass, the continual weekly bouts with Lynch and Sonya Deville have to stop. There is no movement in the women’s division. If anything, moving Sasha Banks to Tuesday nights might be the best thing for this division while Charlotte Flair is still out of action.

I will say this, the match between the two women may have been the best we have seen, with Rose showing she can hold her own with a former women’s champion. But still, “Make this stop!”

Now, Lynch sets her sights on Carmella and the SmackDown Women’s Title.

Paige and Carmella

I love Paige. Leave it to the SmackDown Live general manager to stir the pot. Lynch gets her shot at Carmella in a non-title match. If she beats the champion, she gets another match at SummerSlam. It makes you wonder what the heck the company is doing with Asuka.

Samoa Joe vs. Tye Dillinger

Seriously! Dillinger is a classic example of moving to the main roster too soon. Joe should be part of the main event picture. You have to wonder when that might happen as WWE has yet to fully push the wild Samoan.

If Joe is not used effectively, where he deserves a chance to face Styles (see a theme here?) but his health and a crowded title picture may screw him out of a match.

The Miz Eulogizes Team Hell No!

The best part of Tuesday nights is the appearance of the “A-Lister.” Offering a eulogy for the demise of Daniel Bryan and Kane, who suffered a broken ankle in the loss to the Bludgeon Brothers was class Miz.

Oh, and congratulations on winning the MVP of the celebrity softball game on Monday night. Sorry, back to the moment at hand. We even got an N’Sync reference which was classic.

The Miz remains the class of Tuesday nights.

After proclaiming Bryan’s career is dead, you know what happens next. The setup for SummerSlam has begun.

Yes! Yes! Yes!

Kofi Kingston vs. Eric Young

There was a time when Eric Young was one of the best in the business and one of the more underrated wrestlers. Now, he is the leader of Sanity. I’m not sure if I like this faction, but they are growing on me.

Kofi Kingston could be part of the main event picture, but he is mired in the current situation with The New Day. I’m still waiting for WWE to dissolve this trio and give Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods their own angles. The match between Kingston and Young could be a solid mid card feud, but that won’t happen.

A wheel barrow neck breaker gives Young the win.

Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (for the United States Title)

In the opening segment, Hardy said he was BROKEN because he did not have the United States Title around his waist and invoked his return title match clause. It was a good match, but not great.

Hardy takes the fight to the champion immediately. But this match slows down as expected. Nakamura continues to play the role of villain well, getting heat from the fans in attendance (who were mostly quiet until the Bryan-Miz segment). I’m curious what this match would be like if Hardy was healthy.

He admitted he has been banged up for some time prior to the Extreme Rules pay-per-view.

Insert Randy Orton. The Viper beats the hell out Hardy until he defends himself. Ultimately, Orton stakes his claim as the top heel on Tuesday nights.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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WWE Possibly Doing an All Women PPV? Yes, Please!

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So, rumor’s been going around that WWE’s planning to do a PPV strictly for the Women’s Divisions of RAW and SmackDown and all I can say is: FINALLY! WHERE DO I SIGN UP FOR TICKETS?!

Ever since the start of the Women’s Revolution, it’s become more and more obvious that the women need a show of their own because as the Women’s Divisions grow on the Main Roster, there’s less and less room for them on the PPVs and TV and it’s a problem that’s not going to get better with time.

A major promotion doing an all women PPV isn’t new. TNA has done them before for their Women’s Division, however, WWE has never before invested the time in exploring such a thing, or had a big enough Women’s Roster to do it with, now they have both.

Why? Well, the RAW and SmackDown Women’s Divisions have a lot of talent, but are still seriously outnumbered by the men’s roster and so don’t get as much TV time as they should and when they do get TV time, if they aren’t involved in the title situation, they’re usually in a multi-person tag match.

So, what are WWE’s options here?

1. A Regular PPV. They could just take an already existing PPV like Unforgiven or No Mercy and just have an all-female card. Problem is making it feel special instead of WWE just copping out.

2. A Brand New PPV. This is the one I like the best, instead of resurrecting an old PPV: Give the women a PPV of their own that is named for them. The name I’ve been kicking around today is ‘WWE: Revolution’ and having the poster be of the two Women’s Division rosters.

3. A Network Special. This is the one I can honestly see WWE doing in the spirit of the UK Tournament or the Greatest Royal Rumble. One idea that a lot of fans seem to like is ‘Queen of the Ring’, which would, of course be an all women’s version of King of the Ring.

One issue I can see arising from doing an all women PPV is having enough matches to fill a three hour PPV/Special slot plus the Kickoff Show. There’s about twenty women between RAW and Smackdown, now that sounds like a lot, but WWE had a card of about 35 people divided up into twelve matches, including the Kickoff Show, and there was still a lot of talking to make the time stretch and that was with seven title matches. So how would they fill in the gaps for the Women’s Division when each division only has one title belt to compete for?

1. Include NXT. The NXT Women’s Division is looking really good right now and a good case could be made to include the NXT Women in an all women WWE PPV/Special.

2. Include some legends. If WWE were to do something like they did with the Women’s Royal Rumble and bring back some past Women’s Division stars and Legends and set up some dream matches it would not only generate a lot of interest in the show but definitely fill the roster up.

3. Have Title Tournaments. This would really only work if WWE was planning on introducing secondary and tag titles to the Women’s Divisions. The finals for those matches would be great additions to a Women’s PPV.

4. Include the Mae Young Classic. I doubt very seriously that this will happen, but it would be a great addition if this PPV goes off to maybe have the Mae Young Classic final match on the card.

Again, it’s only rumored that WWE’s considering a Women’s Division PPV, but I think it’s an idea whose time has come and is long overdue. Since 2015, the revamped Women’s Division has shown that they are more than capable of carrying a card, never mind a PPV on their own and it’s time they were given the chance to prove it.


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