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Official Chairshot Picks: WWE Fastlane 2018

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WWE Charlotte Flair Smackdown Women's Championship

Well two shows down, and some undetermined numbers of show to go (we’ll eventually pick non-WWE). Now after Elimination Chamber, my pick record looks slightly more respectable, but the fantasy booking is messing with my head. Maybe one day I’ll remember the motto of The Chairshot and use my damn head. Not sure if Fastlane will be the start of a major comeback or a continuation my botchtastic picking.

Current Standings:

DPP: 11-0
Harry: 10-1
Platt: 10-1
Tony: 9-2
Big Dave: 9-2
Marilee: 9-2
Mathew: 9-2
Weigell: 9-2
Greg 8-3
Ninja Steve: 8-3
Cook: 8-3
Steve: 8-3
PC: 8-3
Patrick 7-4
Andrew: 6-5

Well Fastlane is the final single branded PPV for the foreseeable future, and, I couldn’t be less excited. The final speed bump in the road to Wrestlemania. Let’s just get through this.

Carmella & Natalya vs Becky Lynch & Naomi

To be completely honest, I didn’t even remember this getting announced. I had to be reminded, and that didn’t make me care any more or less. This is just a way to get more people on the card, and maybe add to speculation of Carmella cashing in at Fastlane. All in all, this is an inconsequential match, that I would expect many snacks purchased and heated up at this point.

Voting Breakdown:

Patrick – Carmella & Natalya
Andrew – Becky & Naomi
Weigell – Becky & Naomi
Greg – Becky & Naomi
PC – Carmella & Natalya
Mathew – Becky & Naomi
Steve – Becky & Naomi
Big Dave – Becky & Naomi
Ninja Steve – Becky & Naomi
Marilee – Becky & Naomi
DPP – Becky & Naomi
Platt – Becky & Naomi
Cook – Becky & Naomi
Tony – Becky & Naomi
Harry – Becky & Naomi

Carmella & Natalya – 2
Becky & Naomi – 13

Chairshot Official Pick: Becky & Naomi

United States Championship Match: Bobby Roode (c) vs Randy Orton

Speculation abound, this is one of the closer matches in our voting, and in most people’s assessments. Orton being off TV for a short while and coming back by RKOing everyone in the United States matches, was a wonderful way to utilize him. This match can either be used to help legitimize Bobby Roode’s title reign, or to give Randy Orton the title that’s eluded him, his entire career. Should be a good match, with or without Jinder Mahal interference.

Voting Breakdown:

Patrick – Bobby Roode
Andrew – Randy Orton
Mathew – Bobby Roode
PC – Bobby Roode
Marilee – Bobby Roode
Weigell – Bobby Roode
Greg – Randy Orton
Steve – Bobby Roode
Big Dave – Bobby Roode
Ninja Steve – Randy Orton
DPP – Randy Orton
Platt – Bobby Roode
Cook – Randy Orton
Tony – Randy Orton
Harry – Randy Orton

Randy Orton – 7
Bobby Roode – 8

Official Chairshot Pick: Bobby Roode (our closest vote to date)

Shinsuke Nakamura vs Rusev

In what feels like a filler match to keep Nakamura on PPVs, we get two fan favorites going at it. Regardless of why they are wrestling, this match set up gave us some golden lines. “I will break you, like you broke my Aiden”, ” You broke my friend”, “Nakamuraaaaa Daaaay” – all amusing things to give fans a small glimpse at the personalities and help you connect, to an otherwise pointless match.

Voting Breakdown:

Patrick – Shinsuke Nakamura
Andrew – Shinsuke Nakamura
Mathew – Shinsuke Nakamura
PC – Shinsuke Nakamura
Marilee – Shinsuke Nakamura
Weigell – Shinsuke Nakamura
Greg – Shinsuke Nakamura
Steve – Shinsuke Nakamura
Big Dave – Shinsuke Nakamura
Ninja Steve – Shinsuke Nakamura
DPP – Shinsuke Nakamura
Platt – Shinsuke Nakamura
Cook – Shinsuke Nakamura
Tony – Shinsuke Nakamura
Harry – Shinsuke Nakamura

Official Chairshot Pick: Shinsuke Nakamura (Unanimous)

Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (c) vs The New Day

Another match that has set a precedent for greatness. We all remember their series of matches last year, and sadly this seems to be more of an affirmation that Smackdown’s Tag Division is worthless, aside from seeing it purely as a retread. Whoever wins, will have the support of the crowd. But the Usos have a little more riding on this, since they’ve never been on the main card of Wrestlemania, in 6 years of eligibility.

Voting Breakdown:

Patrick – The Usos
Andrew – The New Day
Mathew – The Usos
PC – The New Day
Marilee – The Usos
Weigell – The New Day
Greg – The Usos
Steve – The Usos
Big Dave – The Usos
Ninja Steve – The Usos
DPP – The Usos
Platt – The Usos
Cook – The Usos
Tony – The Usos
Harry – The Usos

The Usos – 12
The New Day – 3

Official Chairshot Pick: The Usos

Smackdown Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte Flair (c) vs Ruby Riott

So this is interesting in the set up. The Riott Squad tried to make a name for themselves by picking a fight with the champion, but it’s a hard pill to swallow. The Riott Squad have only gotten the upper hand while having the numbers advantage and Ruby isn’t established enough for us to think this match matters. Could they swerve us all and help make Ruby by beating Charlotte? Sure, it’s wrestling, anything is possible. But ts still no likely.

Voting Breakdown:

Patrick – Charlotte
Andrew – Charlotte
Mathew – Charlotte
PC – Charlotte
Marilee – Charlotte
Weigell – Charlotte
Greg – Charlotte
Steve – Charlotte
Big Dave – Charlotte
Ninja Steve – Charlotte
DPP – Charlotte
Platt – Charlotte
Cook – Charlotte
Tony – Charlotte
Harry – Charlotte

Official Chairshot Pick: Charlotte (Unanimous)

WWE Championship 6 Pack Challenge Match: John Cena vs Baron Corbin vs Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn vs Dolph Ziggler vs AJ Styles (c)

Well, if this isn’t complex for no reason. AJ seems to be on the short end of every stick, with people trying to test him and passing it off as coincidental. Also, the other major storyline in this, aside from the championship, is John Cena trying to find every way possible to wriggle his way onto WrestleMania. So it should be interesting to see exactly what happens here.

Voting Breakdown:

Patrick – AJ Styles
Andrew – AJ Styles
Mathew – AJ Styles
PC – AJ Styles
Marilee – AJ Styles
Weigell – AJ Styles
Greg – AJ Styles
Steve – AJ Styles
Big Dave – AJ Styles
Ninja Steve – AJ Styles
DPP – AJ Styles
Platt – AJ Styles
Cook – AJ Styles
Tony – AJ Styles
Harry – AJ Styles

Official Chairshot Pick: AJ Styles (Unanimous)


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Opinion

Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 5/20/2018

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There were a lot matches to watch this week, and a rainy miserable week in Jersey lends itself to catching up on some shows I let slip past the wayside. Even though we’ve got two tournaments going on in Japan, this was a quality week from most companies. Either way, last week’s winner was, Buddy Murphy vs Mustafa Ali 205 Live. The vote was a little close, but the cream rose to the top this time.

Now let’s see what matches made the Top 5 this week:

5. ROH: Jay Lethal vs Punishment Martinez

Jay Lethal is on his tour of trying “get his wins back”, by challenging people who’ve recently defeated him.

This match started off shaky with Lethal jumping on Martinez immediately and slipping on the streamers (but saving it) while he goes for seven suicide dives. After that Lethal went after Martinez’s knee and didn’t really let up.

As the story of the match unfolded, we got to see Lethal start regaining that edge he lost after turning babyface. He focused the knee, put on numerous Figure Four Leglocks and made sure to attack the leg whenever given the chance. Martinez had a few glimmers of offense, but quickly lost any momentum because the knee would prove to be his downfall.

After a few strikes, a timely Lethal Injection picks up the victory for Jay. So that’s one loss redeemed, now on to the next.

Rating: *** 1/2

 

4. MLW: Pentagon Jr vs Rey Fenix

MLW Fusion Pentagon Jr Fenix

This Double Jeopardy match happened because of Pentagon and Salina de la Renta’s tactics against MLW Champion Shane Strickland.

So we get another match between Fenix and Pentagon, and that’s not really negative, it is however something we’ve seen often the last few months. But as always, they deliver a damn good match. Pentagon loves to go to the outside and steal hats, but Fenix’s offense looked much better.

The interesting wrinkle right before the match was that Salina de la Renta signed Fenix to her stable, so she won regardless. It did seem like she was a little more invested in Pentagon winning, but she played impartial fairly well most of the match.

Fenix pulled off most of his rope jumping, springboard offense bt he still couldn’t finish off Pentagon. After a Fear Factor onto the apron, Pentagon rolled in Fenix, hit his Pentagon Driver, and Fenix kicked out. This just annoyed Pentagon as he hits one more Fear Factor to pick up the pinfall.

Rating: *** 3/4

 

3. NJPW Best of Super Juniors 25: Taiji Ishimori vs Will Ospreay

This is Ishimori’s second BOSJ. He made it to the semi-finals of his last one before losing to the eventual winner Prince Devitt.

The most refreshing aspect to this match is that Taiji actually focuses a body part. Everything Ishimori did, meant something. Enziguiris that aim for the neck instead of the head, a sliding second rope German suplex, neckbreakers and an assortment of strikes aimed at the problem area. Early on he hits his new finish called Bloody Cross, but Ospreay managed to kick out.

Ospreay continued his Okada style of working from underneath and still finding the resolve to pull off his bigger moves, but he actually falls a little short here. He goes for Storm Breaker, but Ishimori rolls off, hit’s a bicycle knee and then a big Reverse Rana. Ospreay has one more flash with a Standing Spanish Fly and goes for the Oscutter, just for Ishimori to catch him and counter it with another Bloody Cross.

Even if he doesn’t win BOSJ, this helps establish the Reborn Bone Soldier and gives him a legitimate claim at a title shot.

Rating: ****

 

Honorable Mentions:

WWE Raw Intercontinental Championship: Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins (c)
Rating: *** 1/4
NJPW Best of Super Juniors 25: Yoh vs Bushi
Rating: *** 1/4
ROH: Marty Scurll, Hangman Page & Cody vs SoCal Uncensored
Rating: *** 1/4
WWE SmackDown: Shinsuke Nakamura vs AJ Styles
Rating: *** 1/4
NJPW Best of Super Juniors 25: Chris Sabin vs Kushida
Rating: *** 1/4
AJPW: Toyou & Senshin vs Shuji Ishikawa & Suwama
Rating: ***
Lion’s Gate Project: Daisuke Sekimoto vs Shota Umino
Rating: ***

 

2. NJPW Best of Super Juniors 25: Dragon Lee vs Sho

Dragon Lee has proven himself over and over in Mexico, but is slowly gaining more celebrity since Hiromu returned from excursion. Sho on the other hand, is known primarily as the power guy in Roppongi 3k, so having both halves in the tournament will help to flesh them out as characters.

This match went back and forth between a swiftly paced Lucha match, and a strong style Japanese match. Dragon Lee showed more power than he usually does, while Sho kept turning up the aggression. Big moves, nice ways of using the outside of the ring and the apron, just made this match fun to watch.

Given the fact that there isn’t a ton of storyline, this was just a well paced tournament classic. After trying it once, but Sho countered, Dragon Lee finally hits his Desnucadora finisher and picks up a well earned pinfall.

 

Rating: **** 1/4

 

1. Dragon Gate King of Gate Tournament: Kzy vs Ben-K

Two of the men that challenged for the Open the Dream Gate championship earlier in the year, and both carrying gold of their own in the tag team and trios divisions.

So sufficed to say, these are up and coming stars for Dragon Gate, and this match proved it. The pacing was fairly high energy the entire time, and did wonders for Ben-K, since it protected his Ben-K Bomb.

A big running shoulder tackle sent Kzy flying, and Ben-K showed off a lot of technical and power ability, where Kzy was the quicker more opportunistic one. La magistral pin attempts, frog splashes and DDTs weren’t enough to put down Ben-K. As the match was coming to an end, Kzy did his best Hiroshi Tanahashi impression and hit a Swanton Bomb followed immediately by a Frog Splash, but Ben-K kicks out right as time expires.

Even though the match ends in a draw, it was exciting, well paced and did wonders for both men. In no way does the match feel incomplete with no definitive finish, especially since both men are faces, so it plays nicely.

Rating: **** 1/2

Now I feel like people will sob since nothing made the Top 5 from WWE so god forbid the computer would need to be used for something beyond porn, Twitter and Facebook. But as I usually say, when you have tournaments in other companies, their quality will go up, as compared to a usual television match. It’s not like WWE had nothing good, but that’s the beauty of their being more wrestling available than just what you get from one company.

Either way, I’m gonna go with my rankings for this week and vote for, Kzy vs Ben-K Dragon Gate. The match was fantastic, works well for two rising stars and adds some more suspense to the A Block since 1 point each makes the standings less swingy.

So if you want to cry about WWE not making it, or need to learn how to use a browser for more than porn, shoot me an e-mail at andrewbalaz@thechairshot.com – but regardless, make your opinion heard and Always Use Your Head.


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Opinion

The Case For Ronda Rousey To Lose

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Ronda Rousey WWE Lose

“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey may be one of the hottest commodities in wrestling right now but she should lose her first title match.  I know this is a very hot take but I think the best thing the WWE can do for Rousey’s character development, if she plans on joining the roster full time, is to lose to Nia Jax at Money in the Bank. I’m not saying by Pinfall or Submission, as that could hurt her character, but a well executed DQ finish. More on that later.

If, and most likely, when she beats Nia at Money in the Bank, she would become the third fastest WWE SuperStar to win a premier title at 141 days. The fastest being “The Dirtiest Player in the Game”, Ric Flair. He accomplished this feat at the 1992 Royal Rumble by eliminating Sid Justice and becoming the only one to win the Heavyweight strap by doing so. This was 113 days after he debuted but “The Nature Boy” was a 9 time Heavyweight champion at this point, 8 times in the NWA and 1 WCW reign. She has her accomplishments to this point, former UFC/StrikeForce Women’s Bantamweight champ and two Olympic medals, but this is Professional Wrestling. As much as I like “Rowdy” Ronda, she is not even on the same playing field as Flair was when he earned The Strap so quick. If Rousey beats Nia Jax it would slot her between Sheamus, at 116 days, and Brock Lesnar, who at 126 days beat The Rock at SummerSlam ’02. She and Lesnar have similar pedigrees, but the difference is we actually saw something in the ring from Lesnar first. All we have gotten from Rousey is a gimmick match at WrestleMania, which was great by the way but a gimmick still, and NO singles matches. Don’t get me started on the mic skills.

Ronda Rousey WWE

I think the only way to end this and still leave credibility for Ronda Rousey’s character is to have her loose by DQ. Be it by Alexa Bliss having a “Moment of Bliss” and trying to regain the trust of Jax after the “bully angle’ or whatever the “Road Dogg” throws together over there at Titan Towers.With this angle we would get the hype, like we have had with the Styles/Nakumara feud of late, and they could even finish in a cage match at Extreme Rulez. Imagine “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey winning her first WWE Women’s Title in the cage. That would make for good TV.

But we won’t get this. The same “Marks” who BOO Roman Reigns will cheer to the high heavens when Ronda wins from a premature, undeserved push. Roman deserves it. He has been around for awhile now and even came up through the NXT system. But because he comes from a wrestling family, The Anoa’i Dynasty, and has the proverbial “Machine” behind him the fans don’t give him the time of day. Or, maybe it’s because he falls in the “MAN” category (more on that here)  That’s a discussion for another day. We will most likely see her become a Brock Lesnar type champ, with part time appearances and this guy as her mouthpiece.

Make sure to tell me what you don’t like about my opinion on TWITTER @james_callear


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Opinion

What Happened To The Heels?

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Ric Flair Heel WOOO

Where have all the good heels in professional wrestling gone? Why aren’t there characters like the ones from my youth that struck fear in me while watching the NWA on Saturday mornings with my father?

Granted, I am a bit older than I used to be and I know what professional wrestling is now as opposed to being seven years old. Still, the heel wrestler has been eliminated like the “Loser Leave Town” matches from the days of territorial promotions.

After finally watching ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentary on Ric Flair, it has occurred to me there will never be a heel as solid as the “Nature Boy” and a generation will never know what “real” wrestling was about.

I will need a moment of silence to get over this pain I feel.

Back in the day, when Kayfabe was alive and well, Kevin Sullivan terrorized my mind at night with his cryptic messages on Championship Wrestling from Florida. The Wild Samoans scared fans in the stands at Madison Square Garden. Gary Hart and his band of Japanese heels proved to be evil. They were just a few of the “bad guys” fans hated with a passion. There was no blurred line. Heels were hated, babyfaces loved. It’s a phenomenon that is scarce in WWE or TNA or even ROH.

We can thank Vince McMahon for that and the creation of Sports Entertainment. The name on the marquee used to be “wrestling” and that is what superstars did, helping to create my childhood memories of Dusty Rhodes and Sullivan, Dory Funk, Jr. and Jack Brisco.

Blake Oestriecher of Forbes.com wrote a story recently about the deficiency of heels in WWE. He makes a valid point, addressing the issue of fan support for the bad guys while the scales are tipped toward the babyfaces on both Monday and Tuesday nights. This would never have been the case if McMahon had just let wrestlers wrestle and honored the traditions of 1970s grappling.

Those days are gone forever.

“Overall, WWE has a lot of depth on the heel side. There are quality villains on Raw in the form of Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin and Jinder Mahal and on SmackDown with guys like Shinsuke Nakamura, Samoa Joe, and The Miz,” Oestriecher writes. “It’s not the number of heels that is the issue. Rather, it’s WWE’s presentation of those heels and the creative team’s inability to establish them as bona fide superstars in that role that have really hurt the quality of WWE’s programming.”

Oestriecher hits it out of the park with that one paragraph.

Mahal is as close to a throwback heel you will find in WWE. His look, his gimmick, the venomous dialogue he spews and takes heat from the fans. It’s a perfect combination. Mahal, who has become a fringe main event star, would be successful in the 1980s NWA with Rhodes championing the cause of fighting good versus evil.

Other than the former WWE champion, who else besides Brock Lesnar, who is back hibernating with the Universal Title under his pillow, is there to fill that role? Even Lesnar, who by all accounts is a heel based on his gimmick, his look, and his mouthpiece Paul Heyman, is cheered simply because of size, power and his ability in the ring.

“Now, with Brock Lesnar, who is widely viewed to be WWE’s No. 1 heel, apparently not set to wrestle again until at least July, WWE finds itself with a gaping hole on the heel side of Raw,” Oestriecher adds. “There is not one particular thing that will make up for the loss of Lesnar, who many still consider to be WWE’s biggest draw, and doing so on Monday nights won’t help the blue brand.”

This might be a case of fans learning to deal with deficiencies in booking, that creative writers don’t see three steps in front of them and the bad guy is really the good guy and the good guy is really bad because he doesn’t have the qualities fans want in today’s business. If that is the case, then why is Roman Reigns so hated by the wrestling community?

That’s another column for another time and place.

No matter what WWE does to try and correct its problem, there will never be a viable solution. The present and future dictate the company sticks to the script of uneven booking. And until the problem is eased – not fixed – we will all wonder whatever ever happened to the “real” heels of professional wrestling?


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


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