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Mitchell’s WWE SmackDown Live Report! (3/20/18)

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All images courtesy of the WWE’s official Twitter

 

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • Shinsuke Nakamura VS Rusev w/ Aiden English; Nakamura wins.
  • Baron Corbin VS Tye Dillinger; Corbin wins.
  • Charlotte Flair VS Natalya; Natalya wins.
  • Jimmy Uso w/ Jey VS Harper w/ Rowan; Harper wins.
  • Naomi & Becky Lynch VS The Riott Squad; Naomi & Becky win.

PLAY BY PLAY

SmackDown flashbacks to the night Daniel Bryan retired.

He wrestled for 16 years, and was grateful to the WWE. “It is with a heavy heart and the utmost sadness” that he had to officially announce his retirement. But now, Bryan is medically cleared for competition! And an outpouring of love, support and excitement came from everyone, ranging from superstars to celebrities to fans.

Daniel Bryan is here!

Dallas greets the SmackDown General Manager with an incredible ovation of “YES! YES!” and even “Welcome Back! Welcome Back!” Bryan hears their chants, and thanks them all. But he moves things from joy to sadness, as Shane McMahon was attacked. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn aren’t here yet, so for now, Bryan will talk about something else. Two years ago, Bryan’s forced retirement was one of the toughest days of his life. But Bryan focused on gratefulness. He admits he was depressed, that he was angry, that he was being kept from doing what he loves, but he stayed focus on being grateful. He has much to be grateful for. From his family, to friends, to “the best fans in the world”, but especially his “beautiful wife”.

Through all his struggles, Brie was there supporting him. She let him know it was okay to fight for a dream. Brie encouraged him to see specialists, and Bryan did. Each new review encouraged them to see another, and another. Fans chant, “Thank You, Brie!” Every specialist that cleared Bryan encouraged him to keep going. Bryan fought his way back, even when he wanted to quit. Brie kept him in the fight for his dreams, because if you fight for your dreams, you dreams will fight for you! “Every hard thing seems impossible until it becomes real.” Bryan got the WWE to review his case, and they sent him all over the country to meet the best of the best. And every specialist said one thing: “You are cleared.” Fans chant “YES! YES!” once again in hearing this great news.

“There was a time when being cleared to compete in a WWE ring seemed impossible. But now it is real.” Bryan has many thanks, such as to the WWE and the doctors. They looked at him as a person and not a wrestler. They gave Bryan that second look and cleared him. Bryan thanks the WWE Universe, in Dallas or at home, for the support through all of this. Every week, all the “YES!” Chants, or “Daniel Bryan!” or “You Deserve It!”, Bryan thanks them for that. And lastly, Bryan thanks Brie, because she’s supported him more than anyone else can imagine.

Now to the fun stuff. Bryan doesn’t know when or where it’ll be that he returns to the ring– Fans want Wrestlemania!

Is that a good idea? “YES! YES!” Bryan vows that even if it isn’t Wrestlemania, he will return to the WWE ring for competition! It’s only a matter of time, where and who against will it be?

 

Daniel Bryan talks with Charles Robinson backstage.

Robinson congratulates Daniel Bryan, but reports that Kevin & Sami aren’t here yet. When they arrive, let Bryan know. Dolph Ziggler comes over to congratulate Bryan, and to say he can’t wait to beat him. Bryan says Ziggler can try. Is the Show-Off a potential return opponent for the Goat?

 

Shinsuke Nakamura VS Rusev w/ Aiden English!

The King of Strong Style beat the Bulgarian Brute back at Fastlane, but Rusev is back for more! Can Nakamura maintain momentum this close to his WWE Championship match with AJ Styles? Speaking of Styles, he’s ringside on commentary to keep an eye on things.

The bell rings and the two circle. Rusev gets the arm wrench and wristlock while fans duel back and forth. Nakamura uses the ropes to flip and reverse the hold, but Rusev turns that around into a headlock takeover. Nakamura headscissors back, but Rusev pops out. They circle again, feeling each other out, but Nakamura gets a quick kick in on Rusev. Nakamura laughs, then dodges to say “C’MON!”

Rusev runs in but into the knee. Nakamura kicks, Rusev kicks, then Nakamura forearms and Rusev forearms. Nakamura fires off but Rusev put shim in a corner. Rusev kicks the inner thighs, whips and then knocks Nakamura over with the heel kick. Cover, TWO, but Rusev keeps his cool while we go picture in picture.

Rusev stalks Nakamura, dragging him up to stomp his ribs. Rusev reels Nakamura into a clothesline, then drives an elbow into Nakamura’s shoulders. He backs up to kick Nakamura stiff in the back, then cover, TWO. Rusev keeps his cool but Nakamura fires back, only to run into Rusev’s back elbow. Rusev wags a finger “No no no” before wrapping Nakamura in a chinlock. Nakamura endures the squeeze on the mat, and slowly works his way up. Rusev squeezes and stretches Nakamura, but Nakamura responds with a jawbreaker! Nakamura runs but into Rusev’s boot, then Rusev stomps Nakamura’s head. Rusev drops an elbow, then another elbow, then another, and covers, TWO. Rusev glares at Nakamura, then drags him up to the ropes to choke him. He backs off at the ref’s count, then brings Nakamura up for a back suplex. Cover, TWO, so back to the chinlock it is.

Nakamura endures more squeeze while we go single picture again. He fights out with elbows, but Rusev responds with a knee. Rusev whips, but Nakamura dodges, to hit the dynamic dropkick! The fans rally while Styles looks on intently. Nakamura strike fests and kicks Rusev in the chest. Rusev blocks one but gets the other, and gets to a corner. Nakamura gives an elevated Good Vibrations, then sets Rusev up top for the Top Shelf knee! Nakamura fires up and aims at Rusev, but Rusev drop toeholds! Accolade barely escaped, but that roundhouse! Cover, TWO! English is furious in Rusev’s place, but Rusev himself keeps his cool. Rusev stomps the mat and prepares himself. He thrusts in but Nakamura swings, swings, but brings Rusev into a takedown! Cover, TWO, and Rusev tries his own, TWO. Nakamura gets another cover, Nakamura wins! Even Styles grins there.

But English attacks! Team Rusev Day stomp and stomp Nakamura, like they did to Styles last week. Styles watches, like Nakamura did last week, then slowly prepares to help. However, Nakamura fights Rusev Day off by himself! Seems Nakamura didn’t need Styles to help him out. Will the Rockstar be in better shape then the Phenomenal One come Wrestlemania?

 

SmackDown looks at Championship VS Streak.

The Queen of Flair is the SmackDown Women’s Champion, but the Empress has a streak as long as it is dominant. “No one is ready for Asuka!” Charlotte herself is preparing backstage when Natalya comes along. Natty knows Charlotte is scared. What is she babbling about? The clock is ticking, it is only a matter of time the Queen bows down. No, Charlotte is excited because this will be her biggest challenge yet. Natty is better than both of them! She should be the one facing Charlotte! Asuka is only undefeated because she hasn’t faced Natty. Well if Natty wants to prove that, they’ll have a match tonight. Fine by the Queen of Harts. Will Natty put her money where her mouth is? Or will Charlotte get some easy momentum headed towards Wrestlemania?

 

AJ Styles find Nakamura backstage.

Nakamura assures Styles he didn’t need his help. Styles saw that. Okay but one more thing. Styles knows, Nakamura says he’ll beat Styles at Wrestlemania. Styles needs to be more confident. But yes, Nakamura will win, with a #Knee2Face.

 

Baron Corbin VS Tye Dillinger!

The Lone Wolf and Perfect 10 have both declared for the Andre the Giant Battle Royal, but who will gain momentum towards it here 1v1?

The bell rings, Tye gets a waistlock but Corbin backs him to a corner. Tye gets a headlock and holds on even as Corbin tries to power out. Corbin lifts but Tye holds on. Tye tries to snapmare but Corbin won’t go down, so Tye gives forearms. He whips but evades Corbin’s kick to chop, Corbin clobbers Tye down! Corbin drags Tye up and rock him with a right forearm, and Tye staggers to ropes. Corbin throws Tye into a buckle, then backs off to run back in. Tye evades, Corbin slides out and in but into Tye’s boot!

Tye clotheslines Corbin out, and then goes to the apron to jump. Corbin catches him by the throat, lifts but Tye slips out. Tye mule kicks Corbin then puts him back in the ring. Tye hops up, flies, but the crossbody turns into End of- No, Tye manages to counter by going limp and slipping out. Corbin throws Tye all the way out of the ring, then goes out to rock him with a right. Corbin reels Tye in, NOW End of Days! Cover, Corbin wins! Can the Lone Wolf finally take advantage of opportunities by becoming a two-time Battle Royal winner?

 

Charlotte Flair VS Natalya!

SmackDown’s Queen of Flair and Queen of Harts do battle once again to see if catty Natty really can beat the Women’s Champion.

The bell rings and Charlotte lets out a “WOO~” before tying up with Natty. Natty gets the wristlock but Charlotte arm-drags her, and meow, those claws come out. They tie up again as fans rally, and Natty gets the wristlock again, but Charlotte spins around and puts the lock back on Natty. Natty shows her agility to reverse and then get he takedown. She rolls over Charlotte but Charlotte reverses to a headlock. Natty goes back to the wristlock, then rolls up, TWO. Natty tells the fans to shut up, they just “WOO~!” at her. Charlotte lunges in and get a waistlock slam, cover, TWO. Charlotte gets another takedown, cover, TWO, and Natty kicks low. Natty clubs Charlotte, then whips her to a corner, but Charlotte goes up and over to roll Natty back with a bridge, TWO!

Things are still technical and scrappy as Charlotte pushes Natty for another cover, TWO. Charlotte drives in an elbow, then goes to a neck wrench before shifting to a headscissors hold. She throws Natty around in that hold three times before covering, TWO. Natty kicks low again, then tells the fans to shut up. She whips Charlotte but Charlotte goes up and over to shoulder in and dive for a roll, TWO. Stiff neckbreaker to big boot, and Natty bails out of the ring. Charlotte styles and profiles while we go to break.

SmackDown returns to Natty now in control with an abdominal stretch. The fans rally and Charlotte works her way out, but Natty turns that to a backslide. Charlotte slides off and boots Natty down again. She runs at Natty in a corner but Natty elbows back. Natty tries to boot back but Charlotte takes that leg and puts it on the ropes. Charlotte springboards to drop a knee on it, but Natty evades and Charlotte’s knee goes into the mat. Natty throws Charlotte against the buckles, then embraces the heat. She stomps a mudhole into Charlotte, then tells the ref to shut up about the count. Natty drags Charlotte up and out for a snapmare, then runs over her, but Charlotte kip-up to lariat! Both women are down from exhaustion, but Charlotte drags herself up to her feet.

The fans rally, and both women approach each other. Charlotte gives out those Flair chops! She whips Natty to the corner, then chops again! Charlotte’s exploder suplex throws Natty at the ropes, and she walks over, but Natty yanks her into the buckles! Natty spins, but into another boot! Charlotte goes for the legs but Natty scrambles away, then evades in a corner. Natty runs in but is caught into backbreaker and buckle shot! Natty gasps while Charlotte brings herself up to her feet. Charlotte climbs up, but Natty springs up to trip her up! Natty carries Charlotte, for a spinning powerbomb!

Cover, TWO! Both women are down again, barely moving. Natty finally gets up, and she goes for the legs, for the Sharpshooter! Charlotte endures, reaches and crawls for ropes, to get the ropebreak. Natty kicks her to the apron, then guillotine catapults her into the ropes.

Natty staggers up, as does Charlotte, Natty discus lariats Charlotte down! Cover, TWO! Natty brings Charlotte up, Charlotte cradle counters, TWO. Charlotte gets the takedown, but Natty shoves Charlotte out. Natty comes out running but Charlotte runs her over with a SPEAR! Charlotte brings Natty up and in, and finally into the Figure Four! Natty endures, slapping Charlotte. Natty rolls things but Charlotte keeps it going, and then Charlotte brings Natty tot he apron for a hanging Figure Four! The referee has them break it up, but Charlotte isn’t done yet. She climbs up, but Natty intercepts again. They brawl while Natty climbs up, and Natty grabs Charlotte, for a SUPERPLEX! Natty can’t move for the cover, out comes CARMELLA!!

Ms. Money in the Bank brings her own ref, and the briefcase! But Charlotte revives! She boots Carmella down! Natty rolls Charlotte, Natty wins!! No cash in for Carmella, but no win for the SmackDown Women’s Champion, either! Was this a conspiracy or just perfect timing for Natty? And all that aside, can Charlotte refocus to be ready for Asuka?

 

Jimmy Uso w/ Jey VS Harper w/ Rowan!

After the utter devastation The Bludgeon Brothers brought upon The New Day and the SmackDown Tag Team Champions, obviously the Usos would want some semblance of revenge. Can Jimmy do it when it’s just him and just Harper? Or will the story be the same for the stoic behemoths of the Blue Brand?

Before the match, the Usos speak. “Check this out.” At Fastlane, Usos VS New Day, battling it out to be the champions. “One of the hottest rivalries renewed.” Another instant classic to determine who goes on to Wrestlemania. Until the Bludgeon Brothers got involved. Harper & Rowan weren’t just after titles, but they were out to give out beatings. Jey is all banged up, but it’s okay because the Usos still have the belts. The Usos don’t know how to back down, they only know how to survive. They only know is how to go hard and be “the best damn tag team the WWE has ever seen!”

Three weeks away, they’re not standing down. Nine years in the game, and you think you can take just take away what they’ve worked so hard to get? It doesn’t matter if the Usos are 100%, 90%, 80, 70, 60, 50, 40, 30, 20. It doesn’t matter, you get in the ring, it’s #LockDown! Welcome to the Uso Penitentiary! Harper & Rowan appear while we go picture in picture.

The Bludgeon Brothers take their time entering the ring. Harper hops up onto the apron and stares Jimmy down. The two circle, but Jimmy slips out of the ring. Harper follows, with Rowan behind him, and they stalk Jimmy regroups with Jey to lead them around. Jimmy reenters the ring, to hit Harper as he hops up. Jimmy runs, but Harper knocks him back, to then get in the ring and throw Jimmy out. Harper leaves the ring again to rock Jimmy with a stiff chop and uppercut. He rips Jimmy’s shirt off before giving him another uppercut, then another. Jimmy gets to a corner but Harper is upon him, a palm grinding into Jimmy’s jaw. Harper chops Jimmy, then chops him again, but Jimmy hits back with an uppercut and chop of his own.

Jimmy backs Harper down, then whips but Harper reverses to hit a corner uppercut. Harper throws Jimmy down, then stalks him to a corner. Fans rally, but Harper chops Jimmy again. Harper runs in for a side splash, but fans keep rallying for the Usos. Harper runs but Jimmy ducks and Harper tumbles down and out. Jey stays clear while Jimmy comes out, but Harper shoves him back. Harper runs but a drop toehold sends him face first into the LED, breaking a panel! Jimmy builds speed but Rowan is on the apron to stop him.

Harper returns, but Jimmy kicks Rowan and dragon whips Harper. Rowan is incensed, but Jey SUPERKICKS Harper, Jimmy SUPERKICKS, cover, TWO!? Jimmy is shocked but he doesn’t lose focus. He runs but into Harper’s SUPERKICK. Harper lifts Jimmy but Jimmy slips out, and boots Harper away. Jimmy climbs up, Harper sweeps his legs, and then climbs up to smack Jimmy’s face off the top of the post. Harper backs away to take aim from the corner, big spinning lariat! Harper covers, Harper wins for the Bludgeon Brothers. With great dominance and durability even 1v1, who can hope to defeat Harper & Rowan as a team?

 

Sunil Singh introduces Jinder Mahal.

Or in other words, the “next United States Champion” and Modern Day Maharaja. The WWE announced a United States Championship Triple Threat with Mahal, former champion Bobby Roode, and current Champion, Randy Orton. The fans boo and jeer, but Mahal says they’re just hypocrites. Mahal has sacrificed everything for a moment on the Grandest Stage. He reminds us that “a man of my wealth” could be vacationing anywhere in the world. And a “man of my looks and physique” could be the biggest star in Bollywood. Yet, Mahal chose to restore the WWE Championship to prestige and make SmackDown the show. People should worship him! Americans claim to want change, yet all they care about is the status quo with men like Randy Orton and… Bobby Roode appears!

The GLORIOUS Roode says the only hypocrite here is Mahal. As for no respect, “respect is a two way street.” And Mahal doesn’t deserve any respect. What Mahal deserves come Wrestlemania is Roode beating him and winning back the United States title. And when Roode does, “it’s going to be absolutely–” Randy Orton appears!

Yes, the Grand slam Champion! Mahal, shut up. He doesn’t understand why no one respects him, or why when people think of the greatest champions, he’s not included. It’s actually rather obvious, really: without the help of his stooges, Mahal sucks. The fans agree, they chant “You Suck! You Suck!” at Mahal. Mahal takes off his coat, but throws Sunil Singh at Orton! Mahal runs away, Orton gives Sunil the draping DDT! Orton prepares those voices, but Roode takes Sunil for the GLORIOUS DDT! He tries one for Orton, Orton tries to reverse to the RKO but Roode pushes away. Mahal slinks near the ring but they’re both ready for him. The fans chant “RKO! RKO!” but this will wait for Wrestlemania. Who will be THE United States Champion after these three meet on the Grandest Stage of Them All?

 

Naomi & Becky Lynch VS The Riott Squad w/ Ruby Riott!

The Glow and the Fire look to get back on track after a few defeats as of late. Meanwhile, Ruby’s #KentuckyStrong and #LivStrong compatriots want to look strong going into the Women’s Wrestlemania Battle Royal. Who will get the edge here tonight?

The bell rings and Sarah Logan starts against Naomi. They tie up and Sarah picks Naomi up to bring her to the Squad’s corner. She tags in Liv Morgan and they double whip Naomi, only for Naomi to slide under and kick them both. Liv ducks a kick and a kick and a kick, but not that knee. Naomi covers, TWO, so Naomi tags in Becky. They double whip and double hip toss Liv down. Becky mule kicks and European Uppercuts Liv to then go after her at the ropes. Liv kicks back then whips but Becky reverses. Liv yanks Becky into buckles and tags in Sarah, Ruby looking on with a grin as Becky’s head is bumped off Sarah’s boot. The Squad mudhole stomp Becky, then Sarah runs to hit Becky with a stiff sliding knee. Cover, TWO, but Sarah stays on her with a half straitjacket.

The fans rally for Becky, even as Sarah thrashes her around. Becky fights up to her feet and arm-drags out, but Sarah intercepts her tag to slam Becky down. Sarah brings Becky up but Becky throws Sarah out over the top rope. Becky crawls but Ruby helps Sarah get back in, and Sarah runs to knock Naomi off the apron. Sarah drags Becky back, then single leg deadlift, but Becky reverses into the Disarm-her!

Liv comes in, Rear View from Naomi! Sarah taps, Becky & Naomi win! The Fire and the Glow light up, can one of them carve their names in history at Wrestlemania?

 

Daniel Bryan learns of Kevin & Sami arriving.

He has his assistant tell them to meet him in the ring. What will happen on the other side of the break?

 

Daniel Bryan returns to the ring.

The SmackDown GM waited all night for this. They’re here, so he asks Kevin & Sami come to the ring to join him. Sami & Kevin do come out, and are excited from knowing the news of the day.

They weren’t sure about coming, since Shane McMahon wasn’t. Then they got the news! Daniel Bryan is cleared for competition! Kevin & Sami raced here, but got pulled over by Walker Texas Ranger for speeding. They talked their way out of it, because “everyone’s dumber in Texas.” But they’re here now to share the moment and it feels great. Sami & Kevin wouldn’t miss this for the world. He supported them day one. He understood them when no one else did. When the rest of SmackDown’s roster hated them, he stood up for them. When Shane had a grudge against them, he was fair. And now, Bryan gets to return to in-ring competition! Good things happen to good people.

Raw VS SmackDown, A-Show VS B-Show? The show that has Kevin, Sami and Bryan is the DREAM Show! In fact, that sounds like a dream team. The fans say “NO! NO!” and Bryan appreciates the idea, but that’s not what this meeting is for. It’s about the assault they committed on Shane last week after Shane said he would take an indefinite leave of absence and step down from being Commissioner.

Sami & Kevin can’t help but laugh. They think that was funny? Kevin admits they got carried away, and Sami admits that looks extreme, but we all know Shane deserves it, right? Bryan says they can’t act like this is something small. That attack was a big deal. They understand what they did, right? Bryan knows they’re the very best of this generation, and when Shane said Bryan lived vicariously through them, he was right. They’ve known each other for 15 years. But they assaulted their boss.

And the one thing Bryan really can’t understand is, they’d won. Shane admitted to everything, and gave them a 1v1 match at Wrestlemania! Imagine back to ten years ago, if they were told this was going to happen. Not only did Shane do that, but also, he was leaving! Bryan was in their corner to run this show, yet they still went and did that. Shane was right, and Bryan doesn’t want to do this but… Bryan was fired twice, and came back better. Sami & Kevin can learn and grow, so as much as Bryan hates having to do this, but… “You’re Fired.”

The fans chant “YES! YES!” as Kevin & Sami get what they deserve. Bryan says they won’t be gone forever, just for now. He’s sorry, but he has to. He offers a handshake good-bye, which Sami accepts. Bryan offers it to Kevin, Kevin accepts it. They go to leave, but Kevin attacks!! Kevin roars as Sami rains down rights and lefts! Deja vu to last week, #Kami goes after Bryan, but Bryan fights back! He pushes Kevin to a corner and unloads kicks! Then Sami comes in for a sleeper, but Bryan slips around for a German Suplex! Dropkick fro Kevin! Dropkick for Sami!

Another for Kevin! Another for Sami! Bryan is back! And fans chant “YES! YES!” as Kevin takes the YES Kicks!

Sami returns to clobber Bryan, and fans boo. Referees try to stop this but Sami keeps going. He drags Bryan up,  SUPERKICK from Kevin. Kevin holds Bryan up, and shouts for Sami to “DO IT!” Sami runs in, HELLUVA KICK! Bryan goes down, the fans say “You Suck! You Suck!” Kevin and Sami look down at Bryan as he tries to stand, and Kevin punches him down again. They bring Bryan out of the ring and to the floor, and Sami feeds Bryan to the APRON POWERBOMB!! Bryan goes down in a heap, and the fans boo and jeer while Kevin roars in rage. Kevin & Sami finally leave while a stretcher comes out. The fans remind them “You’re Still Fired!” but will there be consequences beyond that for them? And what will this mean for Bryan’s in-ring return after taking all that damage?

 

My Thoughts:

This was quite the episode of SmackDown. Things were a bit copy & paste of last week with some edits, but it was all in good taste of the stories building. Nakamura taking on Rusev, winning, then actually fighting them off, all without Styles, was a great flip from last week when he bailed Styles out. There should be a Styles-Nakamura VS Rusev Day tag match before we get to ‘Mania, it’s completely logical. Corbin VS Dillinger was a bit filler, but still great to see Dillinger back on TV. Clearly WWE wants us to anticipate a possible repeat win for Corbin, which will likely mean he doesn’t repeat. Would be great if Dillinger wins, battle royals are perfect for giving someone a big boost in the card.

The Women’s Division did pretty good tonight. Charlotte VS Natty was incredible, but their matches always are. Carmella pulling off a cash-in swerve not-swerve was incredible. I’d like to think Carmella was being in it for herself and Natty took advantage as opposed to a plan between the two. Carmella still has chances, but this could foreshadow how she tries it again at ‘Mania. As for the tag match, that was a bit weaker, but good for Becky to get the win. Maybe Becky can use the Women’s Battle Royal to boost her back up to the top. The Tag Team and US Championship segments were also good, helping set up some great stuff for ‘Mania, and especially next week’s tag team of Orton-Roode VS Mahal-Singh. Given how Orton pointed out Mahal sucks when he’s without the Singhs, I’d hope they win to prove it.

Great to hear the news reported again on air, and Bryan was genuinely emotional sharing the reality of it all. There was so much speculation in the hours leading up to tonight, and Ziggler gave a nice tease. However, it’s clear the first thing for Bryan in-ring has to do with Kevin & Sami. I did not expect Bryan to “fire” them, and I really didn’t expect them to attack like that. They did almost as much as they did to Shane, but obviously they couldn’t go that hard on someone who just got cleared. This does kinda make you wonder just how long he really was cleared, or why he was finally cleared. But chances are, Bryan & Shane VS Kevin & Sami is where this is heading. After that, the sky’s the limit for Bryan because of how red hot over he still is with fans.

My Score: 8/10


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Ja’Von’s IMPACT Redemption PPV Live Report! (4/22/18)

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Impact Wrestling Redemption PPV

IMPACT Wrestling presents Redemption tonight, live from the Impact Zone in Orlando, Florida. A total of eight matches are announced, including the much anticipated triple threat (re)match between Impact World Champion Austin Aries, Pentagon Jr, and Fenix. The promotion has debuted new championships (Tag Team, Knockouts, X-Division, World), and a new stage/set.

Keep Refreshing For The Latest Results!


IMPACT Redemption Quick Results:

  • Impact World Championship
    Austin Aries (c) vs. Pentagon Jr. vs. Fenix: NEW Impact Wrestling World Champion Pentagon Jr. 
  • Impact Knockouts Championship
    Allie (c) vs. Su Yung: STILL Knockouts Champion Allie via pinfall
  • Impact X Division Championship
    Matt Sydal (c) vs. Petey Williams: STILL X-Division Champion Matt Sydal via pinfall
  • Impact World Tag Team Championship
    LAX (c) vs. Eli Drake and Scott Steiner: NEW Impact Tag Team Champions Eli Drake and Scott Steiner via pinfall
  • House Of Hardcore 6-Man Tag Match
    Tommy Dreamer, Moose, and Eddie Edwards vs. oVe: oVe via pinfall
  • Ishimori vs. Dezmond Xavier vs. El Hijo del Fantasma vs. Brian Cage vs. DJZ vs. Trevor Lee: Brain Cage via pinfall
  • Aerostar vs. Drago: Aerostar via pinfall
  • Taya Valkyrie vs. Kiera Hogan: Taya Valykire via pinfall 

 


IMPACT Redemption Play-By-Play:

Redemption opens up with the cold opening.

Drago vs Aerostar:

Drago vs Aerostar kicks us off tonight as Drago makes his way to the ring. Aerostar makes his way to the ring next. Collar and elbow tie up with a go around and Aerostar gets the upper hand with a headlock but Drago turns it around into a wristlock hold on Star. The match starts to pick up the pace just a tad with back and fourth counters. Aerostar dodges Drago and connects with kick to the chest.

Aerostar kicks Drago in the face while he’s in the ropes. Fast forward a bit and Drago launches Aerostar with his feet from the corner and follows up with a kick to the head. Back and forth we go and Aerostar is driven out of the ring and Drago follows it up with twisting tope con hiro and throws Aerostar back in the ring for a two count. Drago stays on Aerostar and flips he over into the seated position and connects with a kick to the back of the head. Drago picks up Aerstar to follow but Aerostar counters and gains control of the March sending Drago out of the ring and hitting his signature move La Bonetia and gets a two count.

Back and forth ww go with multiple covers only getting two counts. Both guys have the same idea in their heads as they hit double clotheslines and both men are down. Aerostar comes charging in at Drago but he counters with a back breaker across the knee followed by a kick to the side of thehead. Drago then hits a hangman’s DDT for a two count. Drago hits multiple shots on Aerostar but Aerostar pushes Drago out of the ring and follows with a tope. Star rolls Drago back in the ring and covers him for a two count. Aerostar stays on Drago but comes up empty and Drago knocks down Aerostar for a two count. Drago puts Aerostar in the La Miestra cradle for a two count. Aerostar is planted with a powerbomb and looks to go for another but wastes time and allows Aerostar to counter and hit a springboard neckbreaker.  Aerostar hits Drago with a flying codebreaker for the pinfall victory.

Winner: Aerostar via pinfall 

Backstage segment showing Josh Mathews and Matt Sydal talking and Matthews saying that Sydal has fully blossom and doesn’t need him anymore. He also wishes him luck in his title match tonight against Petey Williams.

Eli Drake and Scott Steiner vs LAX (Impact Tag Team Championship Match):

LAX is shown in the clubhouse getting ready for their match. They get a call and apparently someone has taken out Konnan but they don’t know who. They now have to refocus and get ready to defend their titles. Eli Drake makes his way to the ring and debuts a new theme song. Scott Steiner makes his way to the ring for the match.

LAX make their way to the ring without Konnan. LAX is jumping at the bit to get at Eli Drake as the ref holds them back.

Collar and elbow tie up and Eli pushes Santana into the corner. Drake begins to trash talk Santana and regrets it immediately and finds himself in enemy territory. Ortiz tags in and they hit double team maneuvers for a two count. Drake fights back and hits a knee to the gut of Ortiz. Steiner and Eli hit a double team maneuver which knocks Ortiz out of the ring and Eli follows him out and knocks him down. Drake throws Ortiz back in and tags in Scott who gets a one count. Stiener hits a big move on Santana and then the same move on Ortiz. Drake tags in and hits his signature elbow for a two count.

Ortiz begins to fight back and Steiner tags himself in but gets pushed into a corner and eats a boot for his troubles. Both Ortiz and Steiner tag out and Santana fires off on Drake. LAX begins their double team maneuvers for maximum impact but Steiner stops them in their tracks and hit a overhead suplex on Santana. Steiner sets Santana up on the top rope and hits a frankensteiner. Scott tries to lock in the Steiner recliner but Ortiz comes back in and breaks it up. Down the stretch Scott Steiner was taken out but Santana and Drake hits the gravey train on Ortiz for the pinfall victory.

Winners: NEW Impact Tag Team Champions Eli Drake and Scott Steiner 

Dezmond Xavier vs Trevor Lee vs Taiji Ishimori vs El Hijo del Fantasma vs DJZ vs Brian Cage (Six Way Match):

Everyone makes their way to the ring for the match. DJZ and Dezmond Xavier start the match and DJZ gets a wristlock on Xavier. Dezmond counters and gets a side headlock on DJZ. DJZ counters and puts Xavier in a headlock of his own.

The match begins to pick up a bit and Dezmons hits a dropkick on DJZ which kicks him into a corner. DJZ knocks Ishimori off the apron with a flying senton flip. Since DJZ went to the outside Trevor Lee gets in the ring and thinks he tossed Xavier out of the ring. Xavier toss Lee out of the ring and Fantasma enters the ring. This match takes off and the two men that become legal are Ishimori and Fantasma. Ishimori hits a springboard senton. Ishimori gets taken to the outside and Trevor Lee comes in and gets a two count on Fantasma.

The match breaks down and Lee has now attacked Cage twice but he’s still on the apron while everyone is down. Cage finally gets in the ring and hits multiple clothesline to Trevor in the corner. Xavier enters the ring and almost gets thrown out of the ring for his troubles. Fantasma and Ishimori try to take out Cage who fights back and hits a springboard moonsault on Taji. Cage is eventually sent out of the ring and DJZ hits a DDT to the outside of the ring taking out Cage.

The match is fast and furious as Xavier and Fantasma work together to take out Brian Cage to no avail. Trevor Lee enters the ring and counters him for a two count. Down the stretch Cage takes out Lee, Fantasma and hits the Drill Claw on Dezmond Xavier for the win.

Winner: Brian Cage via pinfall

Taya Valykire vs Kiera Hogan:

Taya Valkyrie makes her way to the ring.

Kiera Hogan makes her way to the ring for the match. Taya pushes Hogan down to the mat. Hogan uses her speed against Taya but she knocks her down with an elbow. Kiera fights back and hits a hurricanrana on Valykire in the corner. Kiera keeps it up on Taya and hits a springboard move on Taya. The match spills to the outside but Taya eventually regains control.

TESSA BLANCHARD JOINS THE COMMENTARY TABLE MIDMATCH. Taya stays on Hogan but Kiera fights back for a bit but Taya counters and hits a big move for a two count. Taya then hits Kiera with a big knee for another two count. Kiera tries to fight back while Taya holds her hair with multiple elbows. Hogan breaks free and hits a huge double sledgehammer on Taya for a two count.

Taya rushes Hogan in the corner but Kiera counters and stomps down Valykire. Taya fights back and hits a big suplex for a two count. Taya has had enough of Kiera and clubs Hogan in the back of the neck with multiple elbows in the corner. Taya Valkyrie eventually hits the Road to Valhalla for the win.

Winner: Taya Valkyrie via pinfall

Matt Sydal vs Petey Williams (X-Division Championship Match):

Petey Williams makes his way to the ring for the championship match with his feast or fired briefcase.

Matt Sydal makes his way to the ring to defend his title. Collar and elbow tie up and Petey goes for the go behind Sydal counters and takes down William’s with a headlock then turns it into a head scissors. Sydal then puts a submission on Petey but Williams breaks it and gets Matt in the corner and hits a gut shot on Sydal. Matt counters but Petey then counters and sets up Sydal on the top rope and hits a hurricanrana. Petey sets Sydal in the tree of woe and steps on his no no area then a superkick on his knee.

Petey continues the aggression and attacking the lower body of Matt. Sydal eventually gets control of the match and wears down Petey. Sydal hits a standing moonsault on Petey for a two count. Petey is thrown into the corner and Sydal rushes in but eats an elbow for his troubles. Petey hits a big move and both men are down for a moment. The match picks back up a bit as Petey hits a big Russian Legsweep. Both guys go back and forth and Sydal gains control and knocks Petey in the corner and hits a sliding knee on Petey. Sydal tires to go for a hurricanrana but Petey counters and locks in a submission on Sydal. Matt breaks free and goes to the apron to recover but Petey meets him out their hitting a slingshot code breaker knocking Sydal to the floor. Williams throws Sydal back in the ringgit Sydal counters and hits a big knee then a hurricanrana. William’s fights back and hits the Canadian Destroyer but Matt rolls out of the ring. Petey follows and drags Sydal back in the ring and goes for a super Canadian Destroyer but Matt holds on and eventually hits a pumphandle slam for the pinfall victory.

Winner: STILL X-Division Champion Matt Sydal

Moose, Eddie Edwards, and Tommy Dreamer vs oVe (House of Hardcore Rules Match):

oVe makes their way to the ring for the match followed by Tommy Dreamer, Moose, and Eddie Edwards. What makes this a little interesting all the competitors are in street clothes. Jake Crist is caught mid dive and powerslammed into the apron.

Sami Callhian comes in to attack but taken down. The faces grab the toys and get started taking out oVe. Dreamer connects with a cookie sheet to Jake Crist and then sets him up in the tree of woe.

Dreamer was about to hit Crist with a chair but Sami comes in and hits a big boot taking out Tommy. Sami takes out Eddie and covers him for a two count. Moose comes in and hits a pop up powerbomb on Callihan. Moose goes for a tope con hilo but lands right on the ladder.

Dreamer and Eddie back inthering locks in submissions on the christ brothers. Sami gets back in the ring to make the save. Callihan instructs the Crist Brothers to get the the tables. They set up two tables on the outside. oVe have Eddie all alone inthe ring and go on the attack but Eddie fights back until Sami hits him in the head with a trashcan. The Crist Brothers hit the all seeing eye on Eddie on top of chairs and they cover him but Moose makes the save. Moose is on fire right here as he knocks Sami off the top rope with a dropkick. Moose then sets a trashcan in front of one of the Crist brothers and hits a dropkick. On the outside Dreamer puts Sami Callhian through a table via death valley driver.

Dave Crist introduces thumbtacks into the match but ends up going through them thanks to a knee from Eddie. Dave Crist is set up on a table and Moose looks to put him through a table but midjump eats a cutter from Jake Crist.

Back in the ring Eddie and Sami trade blows but Callihan hits the get out of here for a two count. Sami grabs his baseball bat but Dreamer makes the save with a barbed wire bat and hits a DDT. Sami hits a lowblow on Dremer to secure the win. Post match Eddie puts the barbed wire bat over Sami’s eye and busted him wide open. Eddie then tapes Sami to the ropes. Eddie then kicks Sami in the groin and follows up with multiple shots with a kendo stick. The ref tries to break it up but ears a kendo stick of his own. Dreamer tries to stop Eddie but eats a Kendo stick shot then Jake Crist. Eddie’s wife Alisha enters the ring to stop him and turns around and accidentally hits his wife with the kendo stick.

Winners: oVe via pinfall

Allie vs Su Yung (Knockouts Championship Match):

Braxton Sutter introduces Su Yung and she makes her way to the ring. Allie makes her way to the ring to defend her title. Su Yung gets the jump on Allie as Allie was trying to get Braxton to go to the back. Allie fights back and hits the thez press on Yung followed a hair toss. Allie gets distracted by Sutter and Su tries to take advantage but Allie is having nothing of it. Allie goes to the top but gets distracted by Braxton which drops her into the tree of woe postion and Su Yung goes on the attack. The match spills out of the ring and Yung removes her bloody dress and hits a rolling senton. Yung drags Allie back in the ring for multiple near falls. Su puts on a body rubber glove and tires to use it but Allie counters with a code breaker and both ladies down. Su props herself in the corner and Allie hits big elbows on Su but Allie gets caught by a big elbow from Yung. Allifights back and hits a russian legsweep for a two count. Allie goes for the BSE but misses and Su hits a tiger driver for a two count. Allie eventually hits the BSE but Sutter gets on the apron to stop the pin. Su Yung from behind tries to hit the paincswitch but Allie counters for the pinfall victory.

Post match Braxton says he can fix the situation and proposes to her. Su Yung answers with the red mist to his face then puts the mandible claw on him.

Winner: STILL Knockouts Champion Allie

Slammiversary just announced to take place in Toronto, Canada on July 22nd

Austin Aries vs Pentagon Jr. vs Fenix (Impact World Championship Match):

Pentagon Jr. makes his way to the ring for the main event.

Fenix makes his way to the ring second. The belt collector, the world champion Austin Aries makes his way to the ring last. McKenzie Mitchell makes formal introductions. The bell rings and Pentagon soaks in the crowd. A little bit mind games between the three then the match gets underway.

Aries knocks down both men and boxes both of their ears. Aries then scouts the move they used in New Orleans to knock him out of the ring last time and slides out of the ring to dodge it. The match picks up speed and Aries eventually locks in the last chancery but Fenix breaks it up by launching himself onto both men and Pentagon rolls out of the ring. Fenix stays on aries but Austin fights back and hits in elbow on Fenix for a two count. Pentagon gets back in the ring but gets blocked by Aries.

Fenix is knocked down and allowsfor Aries to lock in the last chancery again on Pentagon but Fenix rolls over Aries to break it up.

Aries boxes Pentagon’s ears and knocks him out ofthe ring Fenix tosse Aries out of the ring but Aries counters and hits a hurricanrana on Pentagon. Fenix hits a springboard triple axel to take out both men. The match is so fast and quick Pentagon finds himself with the opportunity of both men being down and goes for covers and gets a two count on both men. Pentagon then ends up on the outside leaving Aries and Fenix in the ring. Aries hits a big elbow then tosses Fenix over his head turning him inside out. Aries goes for a 450 but Pentagon breaks it upand knocks Aries to the floor. Pentagon then hits thelung lower. Fenix suckers Pentagon in and goes ont he hunt. With Pentagon on the top rope Fenix hits a spinning musclebuster for a two count. Pentagon comes back to life and hits the Pentagon driver but Aries breaks it up. The match eventually  spills to the outside and tosses Pentagon into the crowd. Both menget back in the ring and Aries hits the 450 on both men for a double pin but only for a two count. Down the stretch Pentagon hits a gory special and package piledriver on both Fenix and Aries. Pentagon then hits the Pentagon driver on Aries for the win.

Post match Pentagon Jr. and Fenix hug it out.

Winner: NEW Impact Wrestling World Champion Pentagon Jr.

My opinion this was an amazing show from top to bottom. I enjoyed every single match and got some shocking results as I thought we would get more new champions. Where does Impact go from here? Find out this Thursday on Pop TV for all the fallout. Welcome to the era of Zero Fear!

My Score: 8/10


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MLW Fusion Ratings & Review: 4/20/18

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Major League Wrestling, makes it’s television debut! Tony Schiavone is back everyone! Friday Nights at 8pm we get to toggle between Tony Schiavone and Jim Ross again. MLW and NJPW aren’t WCW and WWF, but it’s pretty close to 1998 again.

Either way, MLW makes it’s debut, and they decided to give us two long matches, with four well known wrestlers. Production value is like a combination of WrestleCircus and ROH, but the bright whites of the rope and mat really help the presentation pop.

So how about I shut up, and just get to the what happened?

 

Austin Aries vs ACH

Now to kick off, I never realized ACH says he hails from the Planet Vegeta, that popped me for the Dragon Ball reference.Either way, we have two very well known Cruiserweights, and this is the kick off match.

When the match starts we see ACH has the right side of his ribs and his right upper thigh taped up. Aries and ACH shake hands to kick things off, and honestly, Aries never really tries to exploit the injured areas.

This match was the longest match of the night, and the two put on a clinic. ACH was hampered slightly because of his injuries, but both men got all of this signature moves in. Schiavone kept jumping at the opportunity to call the 450 Splash, and when ACH finally did it, he was met with Aries’ knees.

After a Horns of Aries submission and the Discus Fivearm, Aries finally puts away ACH with the Brainbuster.

If this is a precursor for how they’re going to pace out their shows, anyone who loves quality wrestling, will enjoy this program.

Winner: Austin Aries via Brainbuster

Rating: *** 3/4

 

Jimmy Havoc promo, basically talking about how fans love blood, referencing Dusty Rhodes and Steve Corino. Informs everyone that he will bring the violence.

 

Chico Adams vs Barrington Hughes

Aside from learning his nickname is Caramel Colossus, we’re not given enough time for much. Hughes dispatches of this wannabe Chico, immediately with an Urange.

His outfit is bright and flashy, and he’s like a more well spoken Sexual Chocolate. Barrington will probably makes some big waves in the near future.

Winner: Barrington Hughes via Urange

Rating: N/A (Squash Match)

 

#1 Contender Match: Rey Fenix vs Pentagon w/ Salina de la Renta

We’ve seen both of these men go at it a few times, and we’ll see it again on Sunday. Funnily enough, the 3 competitors in Redemption, were on this show.

This match is almost as long at the Aries match, but a much different feel. They move to the outside fairly early, and spend a lot of time out there. Multiple crowd interaction spots, Pentagon getting them to chant ‘Uno Mas’ and he even borrowed a fans’ hat.

However, even though the fan interaction helped to keep everyone on their feet, it started a few awkward spots. A Frankensteiner into the crowd was slow and awkward because they fell into a bunch of fans and chairs. Shortly there after, Fenix tried to spring up and do a Spanish Fly, but that looked bad.

Yes, yes, I’m nit picking, but those couple small things close to each other, and a commercial break, kinda hurt the flow of a match that has two of the best in the world.

Pentagon ends up putting it together following a Powerbomb Backbreaker, his Bone Collector maneuver, capped off with the Fear Factor. Which gives Pentagon the opportunity against Shane Strickland for a rematch from WrestleCircus: Raise the Curtain.

Winner: Pentagon via Fear Factor

Rating: *** 1/4

 

Even though Tony Schiavone gave us the “we’re out of time”, from the WCW days, there was more if you stayed tuned in. The show technically ended with a video package hyping the Jimmy Havoc vs Shane Strickland match next week.

All in all, it was an impressive debut. Two very good matches, a few intriguing video packages and an up and coming beast in Barrington Hughes. MLW is off to a good start, and of course, I’m a huge fan of hearing Schiavone again.


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Mitchell’s NJPW AXS TV Report: New Japan Cup 2018 Quarterfinals!

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AXS TV begins a three week coverage event of the 2018 New Japan Cup! NJPW’s finest fight for the right to face a champion of their choice for his title! This first week is for the quarterfinals, with matches such as Michael Elgin VS Juice Robinson, Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Bad Luck Fale and Kota Ibushi VS Zack Sabre Jr!

 

This review of The New Japan Cup 2018 will be as broadcast by AXS TV.
Therefore, all images are courtesy of AXS TV.

 

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • Michael Elgin VS Juice Robinson; Robinson wins and advances to the semifinals.
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Back Luck Fale; Tanahashi wins and advances to the semifinals.
  • Toru Yano VS Sanada; Sanada wins and advances to the semifinals.
  • Kota Ibushi VS Zack Sabre Jr; ZSJ wins and advances to the semifinals.

PLAY BY PLAY

AXS TV and NJPW recap the New Japan Cup’s opening round!

Sixteen of NJPW’s best Heavyweight wrestlers started this year’s tournament in eight spectacular matches over the first four days! And all for a shot of the winner’s choice in titles: the IWGP Heavyweight Championship; IWGP Intercontinental Championship; or the NEVER Openweight Championship.

The Flamboyant Juice Robinson defeated Tokyo Pimp, Yujiro Takahashi and Big Mike Elgin overcame the Stone Pitbull, Tomohiro Ishii. The Underboss, Bad Luck Fale, battled it out with Killer Elite Squad’s Lance Archer and came out on top while Hiroshi Tanahashi returned to eliminate the newly-minted Heavyweight in Taichi. The Golden Star and former Cup winner took care of the Head Hunter, Yoshi-Hashi, while the Technical Wizard known as Zack Sabre Jr. made the 2016 winner, Tetsuya Naito, tap out. In quite the surprise victory, the Sublime Master Thief, Toru Yano beat Killer Elite Squad’s Davey Boy Smith with a count out. But the Kentucky Gentleman, Chuck Taylor, could not keep even with his Chaos ally against the Cold Skull, as Sanada would powerbomb him through a table, and out of the tournament.

Our field of eight is set! The quarterfinals begin, who will win to become the Final Four in the next round?

 

Michael Elgin VS Juice Robinson!

The Juice is loose and thirsty for gold, but so is the Unbreakable Canadian. Elgin broke through the Stone Pitbull while the Flamboyant Robinson outdid Bullet Club’s playboy, who will have what it takes to get to the semifinals?

No time wasted in this No Time Limit match as AXS TV gives us more of a montage of the solid shoulder collisions between Juice & Elgin. Elgin dominates Juice with suplexes, back elbows and slams, but Juice soldiers on. Elgin slingshots but Juice dodges, letting Elgin hit hard on the mat. Then Juice slingshots onto Elgin on the outside! At one point, Juice gets Elgin on his shoulders for the Electric Chair facebuster!

Cover, TWO, and the frustration grows for Juice. Later, Juice and Elgin stand on the top rope, and Elgin hits Juice with a SUPERPLEX! Cover, TWO, but close. Elgin clobbers Juice with another lariat and fires up while Juice’s eyes glaze over. Elgin picks Juice up, prepares the powerbomb and hits the buckle bomb, to then move right into another, but Juice small package counters, Juice wins!

Winner: Juice, by pinfall

The Flamboyant One surprises the Unbreakable to move forward, and the elation is clear on Juice’s face. Can he surprise everyone again in the next round?

 

Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Back Luck Fale!

The Bullet Club’s Underboss is already one-third of the NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Champions, but there’s nothing wrong with wanting more. Meanwhile, the Once in a Century Talent returns from being sidelined by the menacing Minoru Suzuki in their IWGP Intercontinental Championship encounter back in January. Will Fale move to add more titles to his collection? Or will The Ace take one step closer to revenge?

Another montage shows us Tanahashi hit Fale with a baseball slide dropkick but then Fale using Tanahashi as the ball in a game of bowling-for-chairs! Fale continues the outside action as he disassembles the railings to then use them all to flatten Tanahashi! Or, he would, if they weren’t mostly plastic… Fale keeps piling the railings on, then leaves Tanahashi behind. The 20 count rises up to 14 before Tanahashi makes it back to ringside, then 17 before Tanahashi gets back in the ring. Fale keeps on Tanahashi with a scoop slam then sitting pin, putting his full weight on Tanahashi’s chest! TWO, but Fale keeps his cool.

Tanahashi turns things around with a drop toehold that sends Fale into the corner pad. Tanahashi throws body shots, and manages his own scoop slam of the massive Underboss! Fans fire up with Tanahashi as he runs and hits the slingblade! Tanahashi clotheslines Fale out of the ring, then climbs up for a SUPER Crossbody!

Both men would climb up onto the apron at about 8 in the count, but Fale would clothesline Tanahashi down onto the apron! Fale drags Tanahashi off to then prepare a Razor’s Edge! But Tanahashi would push off the post to send Fale into the railings! The count reaches 18 and Tanahashi gets in the ring! Fale can’t get back, he’s counted out! Tanahashi wins!

Winner: Tanahashi, by count out

The Ace survives the Underboss, but after he clears his head, Fale comes back to the ring.

Fale pushes past the referee and goes after Tanahashi, but Tanahashi blocks his boot to dragon screw him down. Tanahashi stands tall as Fale retreats, then Tanahashi takes to the mic. “New Japan Pro Wrestling has returned to Fuji City!” He thanks the fans for their support, and vows to “keep building up New Japan”, so please continue to support him now. “Thank you for everything.” Tanahashi then celebrates by playing his air guitar! Will the Ace of NJPW rock and roll all the way to the finals?

 

Toru Yano VS Sanada!

Chaos’ Binwan Producer survived Bulldog The Second with a count out victory while Cold Skull decisively dealt with the Kentucky Gentleman. Can the former three-time IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Champion keep one half of the current Heavyweight Tag Team Champions out of the semifinals? Or will Sanada put Chaos’ comedian to sleep?

Yano tries to get Sanada before the bell but Sanada is ready for him and counters by putting Yano’s shirt over his face. Sanada then gets Yano in an Oklahoma roll! They roll and roll and roll and roll, then Sanada finally stops, TWO. Sanada keeps his cool while Yano struggles to figure out where he is in the ring. He’s by the ropes, so Sanada goes over and includes the rope in the Paradise Lock! However, the referee backs him off before he can finish it, so Sanada settles for hitting Yano with a baseball slide dropkick. Yano falls to the floor, and Sanada goes out to fetch him. Sanada rocks Yano with a haymaker, and they go around the outside of the ring as the ring count begins. Yano pushes Sanada back then whips him, but Sanada reverses and whips Yano into railings.

Sanada then goes after Yano, wanting to use camera cables to hog tie Yano, but Yano shoves him away and into the crowd! The count reaches and Yano hurries into the ring. Sanada hurries, too, and narrowly beats the count at 19! Fans applaud and chant as Yano goes after Sanada with stomps. Yano takes off his shirt to choke Sanada, but the referee counts. Yano lets go at 4, then goes back to stomping Sanada. He whips but Sanada reverses again, Yano holds onto ropes. He baits Sanada in then dodges, but runs into Sanada’s headscissors. Yano ends up outside the ring again and Sanada goes over. Sanada slingshots over and knocks Yano down. Fans applaud again while Sanada brings Yano up to rake the back.

Sanada searches for something under the ring but Yano pounces and pushes him into a post. Yano grabs his “director’s chair” and swings, but Sanada ducks to let the chair hit post. Then Sanada kicks the chair into Yano’s face!

Sanada leaves Yano out for the count now, and it reaches 17! Yano stirs but beats the count at 19, too. Sanada argues with the referee but Yano did make it in. Sanada takes his frustrations out by stomping Yano. He then drags Yano up for a haymaker, and more stomps. Sanada brings Yano up again but Yano fights back! They brawl with forearms back and forth, but Sanada knees low. He goes to run but Yano grabs him by the hair and brings him down to a pin! TWO, but Yano hurries to untie a corner pad. Sanada runs at Yano but Yano gets away, corner pad in hand. Yano runs back in but Sanada dodges, and Yano hits the buckles he himself exposed!

Sanada runs in but Yano dodges, and Sanada runs into the buckles, too. Yano drags Sanada, in the dragon sleeper! He lifts Sanada but Sanada slips out into his own dragon sleeper. But then Yano reverses into the Urakasumi fisherman cradle! TWO, but very close! Yano and Sanada slowly stand, and Sanada kicks Yano. Sanada runs but into an atomic drop, and then Yano catapults Sanada at those exposed buckles! Yano grabs Sanada and lifts for a powerbomb, but Sanada sunset flips out. TWO, and Sanada goes after Yano, but Yano grabs for the ref! It’s a distraction so Yano can low blow Sanada with a mule kick!

Then back to the Urakasumi! But Sanada blocks the count! He pushes the referee away and gets out of the cover. Fans applaud while both men stand. Yano argues with the ref, but Sanada low blows Yano with a kick! Then Sanada puts Yano in the Skull End!

Yano taps, Sanada wins!

Winner: Sanada, by submission

Los Ingobernables’ Cold Skull takes care of #YTR in quick fashion, but he’s not done with him. Sanada puts Yano in the Paradise Lock, and stands over him as the conqueror. Then when the referee protests, Sanada does the same to him! A young lion tries to undo the lock, but Sanada catches him into one! Another young lion protests, but Sanada scares him off with the threat of being the fourth victim. Sanada leaves Yano, the referee and the random trainee in the ring like this. Will he leave his semifinals opponent the same way?

 

Kota Ibushi VS Zack Sabre Jr w/ Taka Michinoku!

It’s The Golden Star and the Technical Wizard in a highly anticipated match that’s already amazing just because it’s happening! Will the former New Japan Cup winner make his way to a possible repeat? Or will he #JustTapOut to ZSJ’s arsenal of sinister submissions?

But before the match, fellow Suzuki-Gun member Taka speaks. “The 2018 New Japan Cup. Who do you think will take it?” He wants to know what fans think the result of this match will be. And he asks again, who will win the New Japan Cup? It’s “the man who can finish an opponent with a joint lock anytime, anywhere, the man with unlimited submission holds, the man who beat Tetsuya Naito in the first round.” That man is “the master of submissions”, Zack Sabre Jr! Some fans cheer and some boo while Taka finishes with a message “to anyone who stands in his way: Just Tap Out!” And with that, Taka shouts for Ibushi to “come on over here” so this match can begin!

Fans cheer for Ibushi as he enters the ring. The bell rings, and the chants fire up already. Ibushi and ZSJ circle, feeling each other out. ZSJ reaches in but Ibushi slips away, but they circle again. ZSJ gets the headlock and wrangles Ibushi down to go after arms. Ibushi sits up but ZSJ gets a chinlock, then brings Ibushi back to an armlock and a cover, ONE. The fans applaud this great opening exchange while the two men get up and circle again. Ibushi is wary of ZSJ as they tie up, ZSJ pushes him to ropes. ZSJ honors the break, but still pie-faces Ibushi. Ibushi shrugs that off, and the two circle again. They reach in at each other and now Ibushi pushes ZSJ to the ropes. ZSJ calls for the break, as does Red Shoes, and Ibushi honors it, to then swing a roundhouse!

ZSJ narrowly avoids the hit, and keeps between the ropes for safety. Ibushi backs up so ZSJ can come out, and the two circle again. The two tie up again and ZSJ gets a barbed wire armlock and pushes Ibushi over to a cover, but Ibushi keeps shoulders up. ZSJ makes it a mount then a headscissors hold. Ibushi works his way around to get the ropebreak, and ZSJ lets Ibushi go. The two stand once again and circle to tie up once again. ZSJ gets the wristlock and bends Ibushi’s arm back into a top lock. He sits Ibushi down, and adds on a chinlock for a modified crossface. Ibushi endures the bend and reaches for ropes but ZSJ shifts right to a half-surfboard. ZSJ turns Ibushi away and digs his forehead into Ibushi’s back for more torque.

Ibushi works and turns the hold around to put ZSJ in that hold! ZSJ stands up and breaks out to hit Ibushi with a European Uppercut! Ibushi hits back with a forearm and ZSJ falls down. Ibushi hits him again and then kicks him down. ZSJ gets up but Ibushi just kicks his leg out again. Ibushi targets that thigh with more kicks while ZSJ is down. ZSJ stands and catches that kick into a heel hook! Ibushi drags himself to ropes and gets the break just as ZSJ shifts to include one of Ibushi’s arms in the hold. ZSJ has to let Ibushi go, but he’s still got control while we go to break.

NJPW on AXS returns, and ZSJ stands on Ibushi’s leg while twisting the other. ZSJ tortures both Ibushi’s legs at the same time, then stomps the back of a thigh. Fans cheer for Ibushi but ZSJ is on him again, grinding his wrist tape and forearm into Ibushi’s eyes. ZSJ then grinds a knee into Ibushi’s face while going after the leg again. ZSJ suddenly shirts to a standing knee wrench! He even adds a bridge!

ZSJ doesn’t hold it long, he goes right back to the heel hook. Ibushi tries to use his free leg, so ZSJ grabs it to twist its ankle. Ibushi uses his hands to fight now, and gets that leg free to kick with it! ZSJ tries to bend that leg back again, but Ibushi still fights back, and gets another kick. The kicks are too much for ZSJ, he lets Ibushi free of the knee wrench. Fans rally for Ibushi and he kicks ZSJ again. Ibushi snapmares and kicks ZSJ in the back, then dares ZSJ to get up. ZSJ does, and snapmares Ibushi down to scrape his heels on Ibushi’s face. ZSJ then traps the arm and spins around to twist it! Ibushi writhes and clutches his arm, but ZSJ takes a moment to catch his breath.

ZSJ goes back to Ibushi to grind his knuckles into various points. Ibushi gets the ropebreak but ZSJ doesn’t care, he just puts an arm in a figure four scissors. The referee counts so ZSJ lets go, but he then goes back to Ibushi to continue torturing that arm all the way to the wrist. ZSJ uses his chin to dig in and bend the arm more, then rocks Ibushi with another EuroUpper. Fans rally for Ibushi while he and ZSJ glare at each other. ZSJ gives another EuroUpper, then a running one, and then runs corner to corner. Ibushi goes up and over, and he throws ZSJ with a huricanrana! Ibushi kicks ZSJ down, and the fans chant for him while both he and ZSJ are down on the mat.

That leg bothers him, though, so he’s slow to standing up. ZSJ also stands, but Ibushi gives a strike fest and another swift roundhouse. ZSJ falls down, Ibushi adds a standing moonsault! Cover, TWO! Fans rally for Ibushi again as he stands up. Ibushi drags ZSJ up but ZSJ resists the Half ‘n’ Half. ZSJ gets the standing switch but Ibushi prevents the full nelson to standing switch back. ZSJ switches again and puts Ibushi in a modified abdominal stretch!

Ibushi endures the bend, stretch and digging elbows as ZSJ shifts through all sorts of minor changes. ZSJ settles on a chinlock variant, but Ibushi wills himself to walk towards ropes. Ibushi reaches but ZSJ shifts to a crossface variant! Ibushi still gets the ropebreak, and ZSJ lets go in frustration. Taka coaches ZSJ to keep going, so ZSJ stands and brings Ibushi up. ZSJ rocks Ibushi with another EuroUpper but Ibushi hits back with a forearm. ZSJ hits another EuroUpper, but Ibushi comes back with another elbow! Fans rally while ZSJ gives more and more EuroUppers, but then Ibushi slips around to hit the Half ‘n’ Half Suplex! Cover, TWO!

Fans are fired up for Ibushi and he fires up with them. Taka coaches ZSJ to get up but Ibushi is upon him. Ibushi goes to lift ZSJ but ZSJ slips under and trips Ibushi up. ZSJ then rolls Ibushi for a bridging cover, TWO, but into an STF! ZSJ then changes it up again to be combination STF and chickenwing crossface. Ibushi reaches but then ZSJ grabs that arm to shift things into a partial straitjacket. Ibushi moves the other arm to reach forward, but ZSJ grabs it to complete the straitjacket.

ZSJ and Ibushi struggle against each other, and somehow Ibushi gets the ropebreak. ZSJ lets him go and fans rally for Ibushi all over again. The two slowly stand, but ZSJ grabs Ibushi first. Ibushi arm-drags ZSJ away, runs into ZSJ’s EuroUpper, but retaliates with the Pele! Both men are down, ZSJ reeling while fans will Ibushi on. Ibushi brings ZSJ up in the powerbomb position, but ZSJ makes it into a triangle hold. Ibushi endures the hold, drags ZSJ around, then deadlifts him for a sit-out powerbomb!

Cover, TWO! Ibushi has turned the tides while we go to break.

NJPW on AXS returns to Ibushi slowly standing. That leg still bothers him, but he still signals he’ll end this with that knee. He walks over to ZSJ and Taka panics, but ZSJ rolls to pop Ibushi into a sunset cover, TWO and Ibushi covers ZSJ, TWO back ZSJ’s way! TWO but it was so close! Fans are thunderous for Ibushi as the two crawl over to each other. ZSJ kicks Ibushi’s bad knee then his chest, but Ibushi kicks back. Ibushi reaches for ZSJ but ZSJ kicks him near the face, so Ibushi dares him to do more. ZSJ slaps Ibushi so Ibushi slaps back! Another slap for a slap, so ZSJ goes back to a kick. Ibushi kicks back, then shifts things to forearms.

They hit each other back and forth, Ibushi continuing to egg ZSJ on. ZSJ stands up and stomps Ibushi right in the neck! He drags Ibushi up for another EuroUpper, but Ibushi wants more. ZSJ gives him more, so Ibushi gives back. They go EuroUpper for forearm, and Ibushi gets the edge. Ibushi reels back for another but ZSJ kicks that away to then Pele Ibushi’s arm! Ibushi roundhouses and clotheslines ZSJ down! Both men fall and the fans rally for Ibushi while Taka coaches ZSJ.

Ibushi is up first, but he’s sore and exhausted. ZSJ sits up, Ibushi goes for the buzzsaw but ZSJ catches it! ZSJ then yanks Ibushi down and catches him with the Penalty Kick! Taka wants him to keep going, so ZSJ stands up. ZSJ kicks again, but Ibushi blocks it! Ibushi stands up, ZSJ slaps him again and again, but Ibushi holds on to slap back! Fans are thunderous again while ZSJ flounders. Ibushi waits for ZSJ to run at him, and catches him with a powerslam! Ibushi immediately moonsaults, but into ZSJ’s triangle!!

The hold is in, both arms trapped inside! ZSJ shifts it around to a one arm with the figure four headscissors, and then he grabs the trapped arm. Ibushi clasps hands to prevent the extension, but ZSJ drives elbows into Ibushi’s head. Red Shoes checks on Ibushi, but Ibushi is still conscious. Ibushi fires up again, he gets another deadlift! He tries the Last Ride but ZSJ pops out to put on the Octopus stretch! Ibushi endures, pops out and swings ZSJ around onto his shoulder. He aims for a corner but ZSJ slips out the back. Ibushi runs at ZSJ but ZSJ back elbows him away. ZSJ slaps Ibushi again, then runs, but the back elbow is turned into a backslide! ZSJ rolls through, and sees Kamigoye coming, to duck under and cross Ibushi’s arms.

Ibushi resists and pulls ZSJ back around, for the straitjacket suplex pin! TWO!! But Ibushi keeps hold of the wrists! Kamigoye misses and ZSJ puts the Octopus back on!! He even shifts it to be part motorcycle stretch, using his foot to push Ibushi’s head down. ZSJ kicks and kicks Ibushi in the head, and fully bends the arms back! Red Shoes asks Ibushi, but Ibushi shakes his head “No”, even as ZSJ gives stomps and elbows. ZSJ cranks on the hold as hard as he can but Ibushi won’t quit. Fans are at a fever pitch as ZSJ turns Ibushi around. Ibushi is stuck, Red Shoes calls it! ZSJ wins!

Winner: Zack Sabre Jr, by referee stoppage

Ibushi didn’t tap but he couldn’t defend himself anymore, so Red Shoes had no choice but to spare Ibushi more suffering. In the end, the submission machine of Suzuki-Gun still moves on to the next round.

Taka takes to the mic again. “Kota Ibushi versus Zack Sabre Jr, who won?” And who will Zack face in the semifinals? Sanada, this is your chance. Come out and say something! “Come on over!” But he’s not coming out. Not that he’d say anything anyway. Taka says Sanada is next, because “anyone who stands in Zack’s way, you just tap out!” So Taka will ask again: “Who will take the 2018 New Japan Cup?” Zack! Who? Zack!! Yes, the winner will be the man with unlimited holds and now defeated both Naito and Ibushi, the Submission Mater, Zack Sabre Jr! He has two belts already, will ZSJ win it all to add a third?

 

Backstage interviews.

Kota Ibushi admits defeat, his New Japan Cup run is over. He had lots of support from the fans who felt he could win it all, but he let them down. Ibushi apologizes and hopes they forgive him.

As for ZSJ, he knows he’ll wake up the next morning as if he spent a “fortnight in a bad moon.” He admits Ibushi is strong, powerful and fights with a lot of heart. That’s admirable, but stupid. ZSJ doesn’t fight with his heart, he fights with his brain. “And an underlying hatred of the British Conservative Party,” but mostly his superior brain. He’s the dark horse, right? Not favored? What’s wrong with these people? Just look outside! He’s won titles everywhere he’s been! “This cup is mine!” But he’s gonna go ice now, so he leaves Taka to finish.

Taka knows everyone saw what just happened. Ibushi had the whole crowd while ZSJ only had Taka while “fighting in a foreign land.” ZSJ’s heart, mind and skill, but the best is yet to come. There are no flukes here. Naito, Ibushi, and next will be Sanada. Sanada, bring it on! Because as always, fighting ZSJ means “You Just Tap Out!” The semifinals will feature Cold Skull’s Skull End going against ZSJ’s limitless list of holds, which one will get the job done?

 


 

My Thoughts:

This was a pretty good way to cover the quarterfinals in one night. The summarized coverage of Elgin VS Juice and Tanahashi VS Fale were well done to give us the best moments. Juice has been doing great so it made sense he went over, even if it was a bit of a surprise when against a veteran like Elgin. Fale obviously gets upset over losing in only a count-out but it still makes him pretty strong, as the returning Tanahashi couldn’t put him away with a pin or submission. Seeing Juice VS Tanahashi in the semifinals makes for a great young vs old story.

Then seeing the entirety of the rather short Sanada VS Yano match was fun, because it still hit all the finest points of a Yano match: buckle pad, low blow, and a touch of comedy. Yano loses because Sanada has been on his own roll in singles competition. All the members of LIJ are strong, so if Sanada and EVIL were to drop those IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championships, Sanada would be just fine if he were to try for a singles title. And the entirety of Ibushi VS ZSJ was the perfect choice for the match of the show, because it was amazing. Great story and contrast in style, and ZSJ wins out because he’s been on the best roll of all these winners. By this time, we already know [Highlight for spoilers] Sabre wins it all, but it was booked so well that it feels natural as opposed to inevitable.

My Score: 8.5/10


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