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CheapShots: New Wavelengths of The Brain

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WWE Shinsuke Nakamura
Cheap Shots are unfiltered, uncensored opinions, and those opinions reflect only the author!

Two special spirits guide the wings of my plane as I look at Indianapolis on approach with The Brickyard below me. I can’t help but feel a vibe about the place. Basketball and auto racing are lifeblood here. Sports fans know that. But I wonder how many Hoosiers; including one of us who whack you over the head regularly, understand the weight of their city’s connection to the modern art form and WWE? Let’s find out if the stories being told underneath our landing gear added to the legacy of professional wrestling in The Bruiser’s second city; and, The Brain’s first territory (WWA).

There were old-school flashbacks all over last night’s SmackDown Live, including a few that would make Bobby Heenan proud. We start with a rare mechanism indeed. An authentic dueling baby face promo. AJ Styles comes out and says it’s fine to call him anything outside the ring, but inside he is Phenomenal. No argument here. The truth keeps planting roots as he says the odds of him being in WWE, being WWE Champion, and retaining Gold all looked impossible at times. But, he is here holding the title and ready to give us the match we all want to see at WrestleMania.

Lights out, violin hits. Now we’re Walkin’ to New Orleans! Shinsuke Nakamura swags his way to the ring as only he can. “I respect you…Dreams come true at WrestleMania. My dream? Knee to face, I’m WWE Champion!” I am a total nerd who does a running commentary when I watch, stop laughing! I do not geek out for promos. Last time I had goosebumps like this? Lady Banks and The Female Muta the night after The Rumble. On both occasions, I was screaming at the top of my lungs: “LET’S GO!” I must ask smart marks of the Japanese art form to shut up because countless Americans have never seen this match, and don’t want to ruin its epic nature by doing a Google search.

Aiden English and Rusev; who WWE is wasting, (Where the HELL is Lana?), come out to kill the buzz. The bell rings with English on the outside and Nakamura watching from the announce table. Two years ago, this is a WrestleMania match. Now it’s a thrown away match on SmackDown. It was still fun, with a split crowd. The Bulgarian was focused and methodical. He kicked AJ in the skull. His boots were probably gimmicked, sounded like a shot and would’ve scrambled an average man. Styles is not average. Rusev tried for his finisher. The Champion slipped behind him, stuck-and-moved a while. After displaying hidden power, Styles put The Calf Crusher on and another referee forgot the rules again. Why are there ring ropes? English causes a DQ when he jumps in the ring to break up the hold. Both guys attack AJ after the bell. It took longer than expected, but Nakamura jumped in for the save. Backstage, The Artist flashed back to Mania VI, when he told AJ that he would save him until Mania, so he could beat a healthy champion for The Gold.

The Brain would have been more than happy to make The Bludgeon Brothers the top tag team of The Heenan Family. My thoughts on Rowan & Harper? They are a new-school heel version of The Road Warriors capable of destroying any team on the entire roster. They proved it at Fast Lane, rendering the majority of The Usos and The New Day incapacitated last night. The monsters asked whoever was left between the two teams to step up and fight on SmackDown Live. This forced a VERY cool flashback to World Class if Terry Gordy had to team with Kevin Von Erich. After the initial emotion. The match was brutal and quick with The Bludgeon Brothers going over. I know the hypothetical match in Texas would have gone longer.

Lunchtime recess, as The Rising Sun Mystic made her SmackDown Live Debut. At Fast Lane, Asuka cemented her challenge to Second Nature with a simple point at the WrestleMania sign. Charlotte says she’s ready. Even while watching The Rumble; The Queen was hoping Asuka would win and select her to face off at Mania. The Japanese Ace responds, saying she wants the challenge.  She doesn’t bow to anybody, and: “No one is ready for Asuka!” Vince, we can see your hamster running. If ANYBODY F**** this up, millions of us may have to come find you. Don’t make us do that. Did I mention anybody? Two former cheerleaders wrestled. Only one of them knows what she is doing. However, Carmella beat Naomi for her first singles-match win in what feels like six months. I hate that damn briefcase! A manager like Heenan would prop her up more efficiently. Backstage, Ms. Stolenmoney was cutting a promo while I was screaming at my TV in a vain attempt to show I can indeed do the half of her job that matters better than she can!

Randy Orton comes out to cut an in-ring promo. The Viper is glad to finally be A United States & Grand Slam Champion and says no one is taking The Gold away. The latest Saint Richard Knock Off comes out gloriously to congratulate him. Bobby Roode shrewdly creates his WrestleMania moment by stating that he will invoke his rematch clause in New Orleans. The Indian Brooklyn Brawler walks down the ramp to do the inverse of last week; take on Roode, with Orton sitting at the commentary table. It’s a solid match. Mahal wins, which will inevitably set up a pointless Triple-Threat Match at Mania. The Canadian Sikh takes an RKO after the match though.

Earlier in the night, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn did opposing promos whining about the outcome of The Six-Pack Challenge. Owens went after Shane McMahon. Zayn pretended to switch baby face and blamed his association with Owens for his fate. With this expectation, Shane closes the show with two huge announcements. First, he says Daniel Bryan will be back next week to take over as both GM and Commissioner because Shane is taking a leave of absence. He says his last current act is to make a match between the two Canadians at WrestleMania. In a very Bobby “The Brain” move, they go to the ring, and prove the dissention between them was fake! They assault Shane and drag him backstage, where Owens powerbombs him on what looks like a metal piece of staging. Now what? Rock solid show. Bobby Heenan was smiling down on his original territory last night. As I head south, I eagerly invite my passengers to join me in my adopted home territory next week. God Bless Texas!


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CheapShots: Kazuchika Okada,The Best In The World

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Image Via NJPW

Kazuchika Okada, is the best wrestler there is today. Period. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Yes I said it, if you don’t agree with me you are wrong. If you don’t agree, then you need to get off of the Kenny Omega Bandwagon, and stop only watching WWE, and go watch Okada’s matches. Is my statement bold and out of left field? No. There are many people who believe this same thing. How do I know that Okada is the best wrestler there is today? Allow me to tell you the ways.

Shades of Flair

image via NJPW

Now is it ballsy of me to compare Okada to Ric Flair? Yes. But, there is no one who reminds me so much of Flair than Okada. It’s not that he is copying Flair in any way. It is Okada’s ability in the ring that reminds me so much of Flair. I believe that Okada is doing something in wrestling today that I believe has not been seen since the days of Ric Flair. Okada is a champion, who has held the title for over 600 days, and puts on 60 minute matches. Have you ever tried to sit down and watch a 60 minute wrestling match? Some just drag on and on. There are very few people who can put on a 60 minute match consistently and keep it entertaining. Flair is one, Okada is the other.

He echoes shades of Ric Flair who made his rounds during the NWA territory, and early WCW days. Flair wasn’t the biggest, wasn’t the fastest, but his in ring ability, and his ability to tell a story in the ring is what makes Flair great, Okada is doing this same thing. One of the other things that make Flair the greatest of all time, was his ability to make anyone he wrestle look like they belong in the ring with him. Okada does the same thing, but elevates it. He makes them look like they belong in a Heavyweight Title match, and will also wrestle their style of wrestling. His match against Zack Sabre Jr. proved that he doesn’t just have the Strong Style Wrestling ability. He wrestled a match that showcase Sabre’s style, and at the end of the match it showed that yes Okada beat him, but he beat him at his own game, proving why he is the champion.

Okada was picked to be the face of NJPW, and he hasn’t let them down, showing why he deserves that top spot. (Something WWE could learn from.) He being the face of NJPW is a reason why we will never see him in WWE. And we really don’t need to see him in WWE. I fear it would hurt his wrestling ability. He is known for 60 minute, barn burning matches for him to have a 15min spot on the card would be insulting. But, every time he wrestles he shows why he is the champion and the face of NJPW. He is charismatic, he is a big guy, but also agile. His ability in the ring isn’t the flashiest, but he is polished. I am not going to talk about star ratings cause I think one man’s opinion shouldn’t be taken as gospel. But, if you are into that kind of thing, then yes Okada does have a few of these matches.

Conclusion

NJPW Kenny Omega Kazuchika Okada

I truly believe that once his career is said and done (which will be a long time from now cause he is still young), Okada will be considered one of the greatest wrestlers who has ever laced up his boots. If you aren’t watching Okada wrestle, or haven’t seen him wrestle, then I implore you, to drop what you are doing and start watching. My ramblings don’t do him justice. All I can say is, see it for yourself, you won’t be disappointed. If you are a fan of Pro Wrestling and not “Sports Entertainment” as Vince calls it, then do yourself a favor, and get in on history in the making.


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CheapShots: Winners and Losers Of The WWE Superstar Shake-Up

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Jeff Hardy WWE United States Championship
Cheap Shots are unfiltered, uncensored opinions, and those opinions reflect only the author!

The Superstar Shake Up of 2018 has come and gone and we’re all left wondering:  Which roster, out of all the WWE shows, was really dealt the winning hand?

Monday Night Raw started off with Kurt Angle being interrupted by The Single Singh brother and introduced the US Champion, Jinder Mahal. Jinder is not on everyones favourite wrestler list, but him going from jobber to main roster talent is an important shakeup. I think because he has had that main roster success this leaves a lot of opportunity for him to grow into a mid- to sometimes main-card status. Jeff Hardy, came out in a surprising matchup as Jinder made some demands of Kurt and offered a title match to anyone who would accept his challenge. The unexpected twist really got me invested in the match and watching Hardy counter the Coloss, hit the twist of fate, and land a swanton bomb made the match incredibly intense. After being crowned the new US Champ it was clearly expected that Jeff would be traded to Smackdown the following night.

The Miz had Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn on Miz TV where it was announced that Kevin Owens and Zayn have been signed to Raw. This was announced after an email was read by Zayn to Kurt Angle, that read that Stephanie McMahon had decided to move Owens and Zayn and undermines GM Kurt. Not willing to back down, Kurt countered by sending The Miz to Smackdown, one of the biggest storyline draws for WWE out of all of the superstar trades and call ups. The feud between Daniel Bryan and The Miz had some heated promos between one another. The Miz took Bryan’s signature YES kicks and turned them into IT kicks, something that taunts Bryan inside and outside of the ring. Things between the two of them will definitely flare up now that Bryan is cleared to wrest and The Miz is on Smackdown.

WWE

Backstage we learn that Breezango are now on Raw and issue citations to The Bar. I think with the addition of Breezango, AoP and the Woken Lovers, the Raw tag team division is starting to shape up a lot better. With the addition of AoP and the alliance between Bray Wyatt and Woken Matt the tag team division seems to be more fleshed out. More competition involved and more storylines to be draw upon.

Natalya has moved from Smackdown to Raw after having match after match with her long time rival, Charlotte. The feud has gone on for as long as it can and her addition to Raw breathes some new life into the women’s division.. I’m excited to see where this goes because shes a great heel and gets a lot of heat from the audience when she does her promos. So it should be good to see what the womens division on Raw pulls out with her on their roster. Natalya’s was also paired off against Absolution’s Mandy Rose. She got the win and was ambushed by Sonya Deville. In an unexpected twist, Ronda Rousey saved Natalya which I suspect will lead to an eventual Feud between Natalya and her one-time saviour, Ronda.

Not every part of the Raw side of the shakeup made sense to me though. Dolph Ziggler was introduced as the newest Raw member during a Titus World Wide Skit (hey! Apollo got his last name back!). In a move that drew “HOLY SHIT!” chants from the crow, Dolph turned down the offer to join the Raw roster and was joined by Drew McIntyre. Together they beat down Titus and Apollo Crews. The alliance between Dolph and Drew doesn’t make a lot of sense because Dolph is, ultimately, an overpaid jobber. He was a former MITB winner and former World Champion with a great feud against The Miz, but after that he disappeared. He has no storyline that can save him and comes across like he’s just here for the paycheck. On the opposite end of the spectrum you have Drew McIntyre. He has countless accomplishments on the indie scene as well as in TNA and has had a redemption tour of sorts by coming back to the WWE as a recreated and legitimate main card, main event wrestler. Winning the NXT championship and having his feud that ultimately led to his injury and loss of the championship and move to main roster status is great, but why with Dolph? If creative thinks that this might help Ziggler I doubt it or if Dolph could help Drew I strongly doubt that.

Bobby Roode, the last member of the WWE Superstar Shakeup that was announced, joined Raw this time around in another confusing choice. While Roode is clearly talented, he has been poorly booked as of late since joining the main roster. Maybe this shift to Raw’s roster will help get him out there and in the ring more.

Shelton Benjamin had a heel moment against his former partner Chad Gable, who is now on Raw and says he [Benjamin] wants competition. Out comes Randy Orton, but as he is making his way to the ring, Jeff Hardy the newly crowned US Champ comes out and faces Benjamin. So it makes one wonder if we are going to get an Orton vs Hardy feud for the US Championship from this point. Jeff hits the twist of fate and a swanton bomb to win the match. I think it was a good move to have Jeff on Smackdown the WWE has always pushed Jeff in terms of single matches to be that it guy in the ring as his brother Matt and his Wokengimmick, is more of a story teller with his promos and Jeff tells a story with his in ring ability.

WWE

We had the next member of the shake up, Samoa Joe, in a match against Sin Cara. Joe beat Sin Cara fairly quickly and then cut a promo calling out AJ Styles and Randy Orton. Later he boasts he’s going to beat Seth Rollins for the IC title in Saudi Arabia and then he’s going to take down Reigns for the Universal Championship. This has been one of the few impactful moves that was done and it’s a great addition for Smackdown but a loss for Raw. There are a lot of match ups that fit nicely with Joe as he can create heat with anyone. There’s a dream matchup in the lengthy history between Joe and Styles from their days in TNA. I hope creative reignites this for the WWE Championship as it would help showcase the long careers these two have.

It was also announced that Sanity minus Nikki Cross. While this made me quite hesitant about the call up, I am curious to see what NXT do with Cross without Sanity by her side. I think Smackdown could have benefited from Cross being called up because the Smackdown Womens division is a little sparse, but we can draw back to Carmella being left in NXT when Big Cass and Enzo Amore were called up to the main roster and what that did for her.

Carmella had her, Mellabrationafter beating Charlotte last week and cashing in her MITB contract to win the WWE Smackdown Womens Championship. Carmella really put herself over by silencing the YOU DESERVE ITchants by stating that now she is THE woman to beat now. Charlotte comes out and talks up a storm before The Iconics, Billie Kay and Peyton Royce attack Charlotte. Becky Lynch comes out to save her BFF Charlotte. This then leads to a match between Billie Kay vs Charlotte. Charlotte wins with the figure 8, but is attacked by Kay, Royce and Carmella before we are introduced to the newest member of Smackdown, Asuka.

Its a good move for Asuka because shes beaten and done almost everything and everyone on Raw, except winning the Raw womens title. On Smackdown Asuka has a new roster of woman to beat and there is still in ring tension between her and Charlotte that has spilled over from their WrestleMania 34 match.

Its also announced that The Club is being reunited as Anderson and Gallows are joining Smackdown. I don’t know about this move because Anderson and Gallows have been booked poorly since making their debut, even though they arent really the powerhouses they were in NJPW. I thought they were making strides by joining Finn Balor at one point and maybe turning Finn heel as well, but maybe a reunion between Anderson, Gallows, and AJ Styles. Its also revealed that The Bar are going to Smackdown.R-Truth is also joining Smackdown Live as well as the former NXT Champion Andrade CienAlmas with Zelina Vega will be joining. Almas has always been a draw in regards to matches. I have rarely seen him have a poor match, but Zelina has added more to his overall character and really given him the push he needs to be considered main roster talent in the way she presents Almas.

Now, who in my opinion won the shakeup?  I think Smackdown had the better luck in terms of trades and call ups. Raw is slightly weakened by the shakeup without Samoa Joe or The Bar. Joe has chemistry with anyone he is paired up with and while I think the addition of Drew Mcintyre as a newly turned heel will help with that void. it is hard to replace such an well rounded wrestler as Joe. Same can be said for The Bar. Both wrestlers as individuals have great backgrounds and great chemistry with whoever was opposite of them in the ring and they have really come together as a tag team. You cannot take away the experience these two have and while I think AoP can help in that situation, they are new to the main roster and are new in comparison to Sheamus and Cesaro in terms of wrestling. While Raw did have the better showing of new Wrestlers I think Smackdown will have the advantage overall with the utilization of the new talent.


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CheapShots: Impact Quickie #5

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Impact Wrestling Pentagon Austin Aries
Cheap Shots are unfiltered, uncensored opinions, and those opinions reflect only the author!

My robot friends and I are here to dissect The Go Home Show for the next Impact PPV. We bring the microscopes out for the first match of the night. A partial recess primer to spotlight the showdown for Knockouts Gold. PC Little Dragon is already booted up. “Mr. Scrambled Brains and The Dead Angel Rip Off.” The Odd Couple has an interesting challenge. Fallah Bahh is accompanied to the ring by an athlete named Kiera Hogan. As soon as both parties were between the ropes, AI Hercules asks: “Are we watching what I think we’re watching?” I give tacit confirmation, as I’m unsure myself.

Smaller promotions have these matches regularly. Sabotage in Texas comes to mind. I hadn’t seen an intergender match on a bigger stage until Thursday night. My boys were laughing their asses off at some of the spots here. Bad camera angle? Check! A wide shot caught Braxton Sutter jumping off the second rope to the mat. He landed on his feet right in front of the big man, so he could be taken over with a Belly-to-Belly Suplex. PC Little Dragon screams: “AT LEAST JUMP FAR ENOUGH FOR HIM TO CATCH YOU!” Fake Kendo Stick Shot? Check! Su Yung didn’t even hit Fallah Bahh. Impact continues to make The Three Stooges look like Shakespeare. The Undead Bride went over her female counterpart with a Panic Switch. Hogan certainly has potential. Who knows if Orlando is planning to keep her? Corporate flexibility does not appear to be a choice for Anthem’s Circus Division.

“That was interesting. Could’ve been presented better.” Little Dragon is not wrong. After the bell, Knockouts Champion Allie fires the next shot at Su Yung, attacking her on the ramp. It’s gonna take all of Allie’s emotional strength and positive energy to overcome this challenge, and she knows it. Weirdly, Braxton Sutter appeared torn between both ladies while pulling them apart. I doubt this was intentional. Given his erratic behavior, few sheep would buy a face turn right now. Most would be very surprised if The Second Bride Gimmick in recent Impact history doesn’t leave Redemption with Knockouts Gold.

Even for a show under these circumstances, there were tons of promos and recap material. The rehash fest began with a scene from the LAX clubhouse. Konnan is warning the crew about Scott Steiner’s volatility. “This dude can sell anything, including a 50-year-old relic.” After AI Hercules picked up the mic, we cut to Eli Drake doing some self-aggrandizing because of his dual briefcases. Ham Cube shows up mid-way through his promo; running down The Mexican Ace, saying all he did in The NWO was carry bags. Bless your heart Scott. Next was a vignette recounting the Eddie Edwards/OVE angle along with its pending 6-man resolution at Redemption. Our last sleeping pill comes in an infomercial for The Indian Sub-continent, as Matt Sydal continues to lie about his third eye in preparation for his X-Division Title Match with Petey Williams.

We wake up to a relevant interview as Jimmy Jacobs and Kongo Kong remind us that Johnny Impact’s opportunities have increased thanks to his good looks. Dragged Out Disco parrots that monsters like Kongo Kong must take opportunities when they present themselves. Johnny Gorgeous would have some empathy after Jimmy’s Giant Stutter got his hands on The Captain of Starship Pain. It’s very difficult to move a pissed off brick wall. For now, this program is meant to mimic a windshield and bug encounter. Despite Mr. Morrison’s professionalism, PC Little Dragon notices negligence from some of his co-workers. “Either the cameraman shot this from the wrong angle, or Impact has terrible editors.” Jacobs’ monster set up the ring steps on the apron. Kong carried Johnny into his crude weapon face-first. His hand was clearly going up; both to cushion the blow and hide the obvious blading. Seriously Impact? This episode has been canned for weeks and THAT’S the best you’ve got? Betting my chair swinging supervisors could find a more usable shot.

Unfortunately, additional filler closed the show. Before we got there, KM was issuing his “open challenge” in the ring. Brian Cage enters and squashes the heel as a billboard for the 6-way X-Division match at Redemption. Apparently, bookers in Orlando have been watching RAW under cover. They replayed the entire Main Event from a tandem show with Lucha Underground at WrestleCon in New Orleans. The only problem with doing this is that the exact same match is The Main Event Sunday, Austin Aries Promotional Gold will be in the balance though. Don’t misunderstand, it was a very good match and I enjoyed learning the backstory of Pentagon Jr. & Fenix. Why cut the buy rate to a PPV on purpose? Who honestly believes either of the masked siblings is walking out of the reset with the strap? If owl suits need assistance with talent and creative process, my boys and I know a weather-related couple not far from the Parent Company who could help with both. We will see everyone soon. Time to recharge!

 


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