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Top 5: Matches Of The Week Ending 2/11/2018

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Alrighty, whenever there’s a New Japan event, it’s hard to anticipate much better wrestling going on. With that, there were 3 NJPW events this week, so it’s expected to see some of them crack the Top 5 Matches Of The Week.

Before we move forward, we need to touch on the January match of the month and last week’s winner. For January, it was a two horse race, but Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas vs Johnny Gargano @ NXT Takeover, is the first match to make it into the Match of the Year pool. Now with last week, it was very close between two matches also, and it went in a way I didn’t expect. Winning by literally 1 vote, Sasha Banks vs Asuka @ Raw, edged out Roderick Strong and Tyler Bate.

So let’s get to a Japanese wrestler dominated Top 5, and I don’t mean all New Japan either…see…foreshadowing:

 

5. Raw: Asuka vs Bayley

Going from confusingly competitive matches with Emma, to jobber squashing, now to two of the best women’s matches in a long time. Asuka doubters won’t have much else to complain about, aside from her being undefeated and not fluent in English.

Now this match wasn’t quite as good as her match last week, but it did a multitude of things. It showcases that the main event women aren’t too far behind Asuka’s level. It reminded us that Bayley, though a terrible character, is still a more than half decent wrestler.

However, I think part of what made this match worse than Sasha’s is just because it involved Bayley. She doesn’t really have an aggressive streak, she’s not as believable at doing whatever it takes to win, and the fact she’s not over, hurts viewer involvement when the crowd doesn’t care either.

Still not a bad match at all, and proves the Raw women’s division is in good shape.

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

 

4. Pro Wrestling NOAH Navigation for the Future: Noamichi Marufuji vs Kaito Kiyomiya

The classic story of Senpai vs Kohai…erhm…master vs student for non Japanese enthusiasts.

After Kiyomiya unsuccessfully challenged Kenoh for the GHC Heavyweight Title upon his return from excursion, he wanted to prove himself. Marufuji is a living legend in Japan, and one of the wrestlers Kiyomiya looked up to when he was a young wrestler in NOAH. So it made sense for Kiyomiya to try his hand at Marufuji to see how he stacked up.

Kaito showed a lot of determination during the match, but you could tell Naomichi was teaching him a lesson as the match played out. The young returning wrestler got in a few good licks and the match lasted over 15 minutes, but Marufuji proves why his name carries so much weight in Japan. He puts the kid away with the Shiranui (Sliced Bread) and the subsequent pinfall.

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

 

3. 205 Live: Hideo Itami vs Roderick Strong

Aside from not liking who went over, this match was impressive for both guys.

Throughout the match, the announce team put them both over as favorites in this tournament and referenced their history with one another. Also funny point, Strong would’ve gained the ire of Mr. Demarco by referring to Hideo as Kenta during his trash talk in the match. But that aside, this match was an NXT match on 205 Live.

Stiff strikes from both men, backbreakers from different angles, and Itami pulled out a few more tricks from his bag. Whenever a match wakes up the tired crowd, you know there’s something about it. Strong also managed to crawl his way out of the Rings of Saturn, nailing an End of Heartache, to signify the end of the match.

So Strong moves on for the Cruiserweight Championships, as well as, being the number 1 contender for the UK Championship. Are they looking to maybe unify these belts through Strong? Who knows, that was purely random speculation since that’s the first thing I thought.

Rating: **** (Platinum V)

 

Honorable Mentions:

NJPW: Tetsuya Naito vs Yoshi-Hashi
Rating: *** 3/4 (Gold I)

NJPW: Kazuchika Okada & Hirooki Goto vs Sanada & Evil
Rating: *** 1/2 (Gold II)

NJPW: Hirooki Goto vs EVIL
Rating: *** 1/2 (Gold III)

Raw: Roman Reigns vs Bray Wyatt
Rating: *** (Gold V)

ROH: Mandy Leon vs Madison Rayne
Rating: ** 1/2 (Silver III)

 

2. 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 (hence the cat picture lead in).

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. Still though, not a fan of that Beheading move, looks really corny.

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

 

1. IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match: Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA

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 turned the crowd, 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)

So, you see what I mean about Japanese wrestlers? There was at least one in all of the Top 5, so, there we go. When it comes down to that whole decision making aspect of the end of the article, it should be obvious. Kazuchika Okada vs Sanada had some of the best in ring work of anything so far this year. That match it a MOTY contender in my heart even if it doesn’t make the cut this week.

Post up your opinions on Twitter or Facebook, or just email me with votes or general criticism at AndrewBalaz@thechairshot.com.


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Opinion

Building The NWO In 2018

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NWO Logo

On May 27, 1996, Scott Hall shocked the wrestling world when he waltzed into a WCW ring (during a match) and cut the promo that would change everything. Initially pitched as an “invasion” angle, Hall would later be joined by Kevin Nash as The Outsiders. When the “third man” was revealed, it was much bigger than Mabel, it was none other than the biggest star in the history of the business, Hulk Hogan. The NWO was born and wrestling was never the same again.

Eric Bischoff turned a fan question around to his Twitter following, asking who could be used to build a new NWO in 2018. Sounds like a great time to me!

In order to build a proper NWO, certain elements are needed, and in a certain order. So let’s start with the Scott Hall role.


The Initial Invader: Cody Rhodes

Scott Hall kicked off the angle, entering from the crowd and getting an immediate reaction. The Initial Invader needs to have a chip on his shoulder regarding WWE, and needs to be able to cut a scathing promo to get this over in 2018. The man for the job is none other than Cody Rhodes.

Cody Rhodes requested his release from WWE while working the Stardust gimmick. After a promising initial run, he realized he needed to leave and reinvent himself. Scott Hall initially left WCW under his Diamond Studd gimmick, gaining (then) WWF fame as Razor Ramon.

The first man needs to get the people talking, and no one is better for that than Cody Rhodes. Cody is hot, and he can set the world in fire as the Initial Invader.

Others considered: NONE.


The Back-Up/Muscle: Pentagon Jr

Kevin Nash made his WCW debut (as Kevin Nash, anyways) walking up to the commentary booth. He would go on to, at times, take the lead for the NWO. And he has absolutely zero similarities to Pentagon Jr. He, of course, gained his initial WWF fame as Diesel, former bodyguard to Shawn Michaels and eventual WWF Champion.

This is about building a 2018 NWO, and Pentagon Jr is perfect for this role. He’s an ass kicker, can be any type of enforcer needed, and he’s intimidating. He speaks better English than anyone ever gives him credit for, and we all know what he’s capable of in the ring.

Even in 1996, we had enough access online to easily make the connection from Scott Hall’s debut to Kevin Nash’s. Pentagon Jr would be more of a surprise, which is needed in 2018. He’s not a “former WWE talent” in the mold of Hall and Nash (or Rhodes), but he doesn’t need to be. In fact, it’s better that he’s not.

There’s one more reason to include Pentagon as the second guy: he’s OVER. Like crazy over. Like one of the Top 5 most over wrestlers in the entire world.

Others considered: Kenny Omega (too obvious), John Morrison, and Brian Cage.


The Third Man: John Cena

You can’t have the NWO without the third man, can you? Listening to 83 Weeks with Eric Bischoff, you’ll learn that Sting and Hulk Hogan were under consideration to be the third man in the NWO. The modern day equivalent is basically Randy Orton and John Cena. In that time, Hogan was the obvious choice, and Cena is that here.

Randy Orton would be totally fine as the third man, but he’s just like Sting in the fact that if he’s the big reveal, it’s not being talked about 20 years later.

John Cena is the Modern Day Hulk Hogan. He would have to deal with the same issues as Hogan in turning heel: the kids, the families, Make-A-Wish, merchandise sales, etc. It’s not an easy call to completely turn your back on who made you.

But if this were to actually happen (and I don’t see it ever happening), it has to be Cena. There is no other performer that can turn and make such an impact as John Cena.

Others considered: Randy Orton, Kevin Owens, and Sasha Banks.


Expanding the Crew

The NWO didn’t stay at three members all that long. In total you had 45 members in WCW. You had tribes such as the Elite, the B-Team, Hollywood, Wolfpac, and 2000.

I’m not going THAT far, but we do have the chance to add some members that are of interest…

  • Kevin Owens  – the second turncoat (The Giant)
  • Shane McMahon – the office (Eric Bischoff)
  • The Young Bucks – the pest(s) (Syxx/X-Pac)
  • Andrade Almas – the mid-card guy (Buff Bagwell)
  • Zelina Vega – the manager (Elizabeth)
  • Dolph Ziggler & Drew McIntyre (the later additions)
  • Roman Reigns & Seth Rollins (the “now this is too much” guys like when Sting and Lex Luger joined)

What do you think? Tweet @ChairshotGreg and @theCHAIRSHOTcom using the hashtag #UseYourHead to share your three founding members of what would be the 2018 NWO!


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Is Shinsuke Nakamura Right Where He Belongs In WWE?

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Shinsuke Nakamura is one of the top stars working in the pro wrestling business today. That’s due in large part of course to his proven track record in New Japan Pro Wrestling. But it’s also due to his time in WWE. But some fans are wondering where he stands today.

Nakamura is a born entertainer, there is no denying that. He has the ability to turn on his charisma at the push of a button and it may very well be that he never turns it off. Shinsuke looks and acts like a star because he is one. He has a full understanding of how to play the game and very few play it better than he does. So is he right where he belongs?

Many would argue he’s not and that’s understandable. He was so hot in New Japan that imagining him as anything any less was impossible when he left the company. He was the rockstar of New Japan and he embraced that role like no one before him ever had. It was logical to assume that his success would directly translate to WWE’s main stage.

Of course that assumption was perhaps not rooted in reality. WWE didn’t exactly have the best track record when it came to promoting Japanese Superstars. Then there was the fact that many independent talents were often encouraged to change their gimmicks upon arriving in Vince McMahon’s company. But there was reason to hope for the best.

This is not the same WWE that so many indie stars encountered in the past. This WWE embraced the independent scene and used that fact to its advantage. WWE does not force a guy to change who he is, merely for the sake of trying something new. In fact many Superstars are now extensions of their former selves. WWE allows them to bring what they have to the table so they can expand upon it.

It’s true that WWE’s treatment of Japanese talents has been less than stellar but Shinsuke Nakamura is an exceptionally gifted athlete. There was just no way that WWE, or any other company, could ever look at him and not see him for the star that he is. So if he’s allowed to be himself and if he’s given an opportunity to impress on the main event level, then what would stop him from excelling in WWE?

Shinsuke Nakamura came in like a star and that’s exactly how he was booked. WWE did right by him and much to everyone’s surprise, Shinsuke did get the red carpet treatment. He conquered NXT, just as many knew he would. But he also received an impressive amount of spotlight when he came to the main roster. 

Nakamura was presented as a respected athlete known around the world because that’s exactly what he is. The company knew what it had with him and any doubt as to WWE’s ability to properly book him was gone. This was the Shinsuke Nakamura that everyone wanted. He was the real deal.

But somewhere along the way, things began to go a bit south. Nakamura’s heel turn at WrestleMania 34 was shocking and while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, it was completely out of character for him. Yes, Nakamura had been a vicious heel in New Japan. He was fully capable of turning on anyone at any time and he would do it with a smile on his face. However, that was The King of Strong Style. 

This Nakamura is The Artist. His canvass is the WWE ring and his artwork is beyond compare. Shinsuke was popular because he was different. He was over because he was unique. His flair for the dramatic set him apart from everyone else and it made him a must-see WWE Superstar. He was indeed an attraction.

But the moment he turned on AJ Styles was the moment he put the WWE Championship above his art. Nakamura was no longer an exceptional character capable of wowing an audience of millions. Now he was just another heel with an agenda. What made him special was overshadowed by what made him typical. Shinsuke was just like everyone else. But is that really the case?

Nakamura has thrived in many respects since WrestleMania 34. He was able to use a different side of his personality and he learned to get over in different ways. Instead of using his crowd-pleasing character to make the fans smile, he now uses it to make them recoil in confusion. What’s wrong with him? Why does he act like this? What happened to the lovable guy we once knew?

Now his character is more enigmatic than ever before. Was The Artist persona merely just a mask he wore to fool everyone and now he’s finally showing the world his true self? Is he now Batman when he previously had everyone believing he was Bruce Wayne? Shinsuke Nakamura is fully immersing himself in this twisted version that WWE fans didn’t even know existed. But most importantly, he’s loving every minute of it.

There’s a reason why Shinsuke Nakamura is the United States champion. That belt could have landed on any number of SmackDown Live Superstars but it currently sits on Nakamura’s waist. Why? Because he can wear it like no one else can and because he’s a Japanese Superstar that came to WWE with dreams of doing great work on the worldwide stage. That’s exactly what he’s doing and he doesn’t need the main event in order to do it. 

Would fans love to see him as WWE champion? Yes. Could he wear that title and add value to it? Absolutely. Does he need it in order for fans to consider him successful? Absolutely not. Shinsuke Nakamura may not be the top guy and he may not be the face of WWE but he is an important piece of the presentation. But is that enough?

The fact is that Nakamura will probably leave WWE one day. He will likely return to New Japan and reclaim his throne as The King of Strong Style. But until then, fans have a chance to enjoy one of the most colorful and capable characters that WWE offers today. He may get a run at the top eventually. If he does, then everything that came before will merely be just another chapter in his story. With any luck, that story is far from over.


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Opinion

Who Is The Villain? Charlotte or Becky?

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Becky Lynch

One of the biggest stories coming out of SummerSlam was the complete disintegration of the friendship between Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch after Flair seemingly stole the SmackDown Women’s Championship from Lynch when Lynch seemingly had the match won, but hitting Lynch with Natural Selection for the three count. A furious Lynch knocked out her former friend and left her in a heap. Now, the surface narrative has been Becky turning heel, but the WWE Universe hasn’t been cooperating with that narrative, preferring to cheer Becky as the hero of this tale and boo Charlotte as the villain. Are they right or is this another example of fans hijacking the narrative?

Heel!Becky. This is the WWE narrative: Becky was so outraged by Charlotte stealing her moment again, she turned on Charlotte and has repeatedly attacked her former friend from behind, which is certainly what a heel would do.

The pros of this has been Becky’s new attitude and her more ruthless approach in the ring. The way she turned was very heelish. To hug your best friend and congratulate her and then slap the taste out of her mouth and beat her up is extremely heelish…or it should be.

The problem is that Becky’s reaction is perfectly understandable. Pretty much everyone knows a Charlotte Flair, the favorite that always gets the breaks, whether or not they’ve really earned it. For Becky, who had worked so hard to earn that title shot, to have Charlotte basically get a shot just for showing up and then stealing the title from her, would’ve been hard to swallow, especially knowing that you had the match won and your ‘friend’ not only cost you the title but attacked you and pinned you to win that title.

Heel!Charlotte.  This is the fan narrative: Charlotte is the heel because she didn’t have to work nearly as hard as Becky to get that SummerSlam title shot, all she did was show up for work and win one match, while Becky had to beat every heel in the division. Charlotte also seems to have made the decision to attack and pin Becky rather than Carmella. That’s an extremely shitty thing to do to someone you consider a friend, especially knowing how hard that friend worked to get the opportunity you stole from her.

Charlotte doesn’t help her case by acting like an entitled princess who can’t understand why people  don’t get why she deserves to always be champion, even when she doesn’t. Her derision of Becky as ‘insecure’ and saying that Becky didn’t deserve the title because she didn’t win, even though Becky HAD the match won and basically derided and insulted the person she used to call a friend, shows a level of narcissism that’s just shy of being a serial killer. It shows that in Charlotte’s mind, it’s ALL about her and that she’s the only one who deserves to be champion and if you’re not going to cheer for her and support her, you’re nothing to her. This is a woman who will not tolerate her flaws being pointed out, even when she deserves to be called out. That’s not much of a babyface.

However, Charlotte’s reaction to Becky’s comments isn’t that uncommon with how other babyface champions have reacted to insults, justified or not. John Cena has been infamous for having similar reactions to being called out, and a lot of women would probably have had similar reactions during a fight with a good friend.

If there is a defense for Charlotte’s behavior, it may be that her path to WWE was SO different from Becky’s which makes it hard for her to understand why Becky was so upset, but at the same time, she doesn’t seem to really want to understand or care. To her, Becky is just jealous and insecure, not someone with a legitimate reason to be angry.

So, who is the real heel here? Well, in the words of Obi-Wan-Kenobi, it depends on your own point of view. Both women have a real claim to be the righteous party in this argument, but it’s pretty clear that, at least to most fans, Becky is the hero who struck back at teacher’s pet, Charlotte. It remains to be seen if WWE will get on board or stick with their chosen narrative.


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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