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Top 5: Matches of the Week Ending 3/18/2018

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Well I felt like I was dying most of this week, so I missed a bunch of stuff, since I was trying to sleep off the death. So this week is a more straight forward Top 5, from easily found products. But before the new list, we need to reveal the winning match from last week. In yet another 1 vote win, Kazuchika Okada vs Will Ospreay @ NJPW 46th Anniversary, scraped by.

So there we have it, another close vote, and now we’ve got a new week. Let’s get to that already, shall we?

 

5. NOAH Great Voyage 2018 in Yokohama GHC Heavyweight Championship: Kenoh (c) vs Takashi Sugiura

There was a lot of threads that went into this story. Sugiura is less than a year removed from open heart surgery, he was tag team partners with Kenoh up until a month ago, and if he wins, he becomes the only man to hold the belt more than 3 times.

This match had every bit the feel of a grudge match. The strikes were stiff, the submission trades looked like they had emphasis and each man seemed to take a few extra chances. A big double footstomp to the outside from Kenoh, as well as, Sugiura pulling up the padding and hitting an draping neckscrew from the apron.

Sugiura’s amateur wrestling and MMA background ended up being the difference in this match. His striking and submission ability trumped Kenoh’s kicks. Takashi wins his record 4th title reign, via guillotine choke.

So they are supposed to be partners in the upcoming Global Tag League…so that should be interesting how it plays out.

Rating: *** 1/2

 

4. 205 Live: Roderick Strong vs Cedric Alexander

205 Live has done very well for itself in recreating the magic of the Cruiserweight Classic.

We see two fan favorites, come out on fire, and it doesn’t slow down too much. So much went on in this match, it’s not fair to highlight only a few things, but I will say it was nice to seem them both kick out of the first finisher. Granted the pin was super close to the ropes for both men, so it was an obvious spot, but the match was still entertaining, hard hitting and the winner definitely earned it.

Speaking of winner, Cedric pulled off the win, after his second Lumbar Check. After this match, I personally feel like only Gulak can match up with Alexander. Since we’ve already seen Alexander beat Ali in his recent rise to number one contender and now basically being the “anointed heir” for the belt. But, we haven’t seen Alexander face Gulak in his old, malicious, mat technician mentality, during these last few months.

Rating: *** 3/4

 

3. NJPW New Japan Cup Semi-Finals Day 2: Zack Sabre Jr vs SANADA

Sabre has been on a tear in this tournament. He’s had easily the hardest schedule ( Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi and now SANADA), and he’s looked fantastic in all of them.

This was an odd match for SANADA, since not only was he working from underneath a lot, Sabre had counters for SANADA’s technical moves. The beginning of the match was both men matching the other one, or finding different escapes, but slowly Sabre started working over some limbs, and SANADA’s desperation crept back up.

SANADA went for a moonsault when he really shouldn’t have, and that’s when the match slowly started slipping away. Unable to really regain momentum, or get Sabre to submit, in his one chance at the Skull End, Sabre twisted him up and made it impossible for him to move to the ropes. So SANADA verbally submits, and Sabre moves to the finals.

As I mentioned in my last blurb about a ZSJ match, TAKA has become his Gedo. TAKA playing hype man before and after matches is beautiful. I feel like Sabre should win the Cup just so TAKA and Gedo can have a “hype man off”.

Rating: ****

Honorable Mention:

Raw: Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins
Rating: *** 1/4

 

2. NOAH Great Voyage 2018 in Yokohama GHC Jr Heavyweight Championship: Daisuke Harada (c) vs HAYATA

Two stablemates, going at each other like they hated each other. The familiarity between the two was evident, and made for a great match.

Starting off before the bell, HAYATA hits a big cannonball as Harada is walking down the ramp, and proceeds to beat on him before rolling him into the ring. At this point the referee calls for the bell and only seems concerned with taking the belt off the prone champion. It really reminded me of looting a dead body, because once the ref took the belt off, he was like ‘okay, continue killing him’.

As soon as Harada got a little momentum back, this match was very typical back and forth Junior match. However, the last 5 or so minutes really sold this match. The pace quickened to lightning speed and we saw numerous move combinations, counters, roll ups, attempts and wow, it didn’t stop until the pinfall.

What makes this special is how each man sold the move they were attempting, before the mid air counter. There were numerous times HAYATA would change what looks like a basic high flying move and kick Harada in the face. So even though Harada picked up the win after back to back German Suplex Holds, HAYATA looked amazingly impressive. HAYATA’s biggest highlight being a missed moonsault, into a standing shooting star press, into a middle turnbuckle corkscrew senton.

HAYATA is so fluid I want to call him Shape of Water. It is to be noted, that all of the Ratel stable posed together after the match. So there seems to be no bad blood.

Rating: **** 1/4

 

1. NJPW New Japan Cup Semi-Finals Day 1: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Juice Robinson

Tanahashi finding success in the New Japan Cup for the first time in a few years, and Juice reaching the semi-finals, in only his second appearance in the tournament, are the obvious notes to this match. Juice and Tanahashi have a lot of history as well, from being on the same teams and Tanahashi mentoring Juice when he was younger. So the way both men approached this match was different, and helped the story exponentially.

We saw a more aggressive Tanahashi, which has been the way his character is trending last couple years. Unwilling to shake hands, and more willing to hold submissions beyond the referee’s count, Tanahashi was playing more of the heel role.

The story and actual wrestling was fantastic throughout the match. Each man got in all of their stuff, and even took a page out of the other one’s book at a few different points. A spot in the match that proves the “Former Ace’s” desperation to win, is while in the corner and getting admonished by Red Shoes, Tanahashi stops, slowly walk Red Shoes away from the corner and shushes him; only to return to laying the boots to Juice in the corner.

Little things like that, all through the match made this very special. Juice had plenty of times where he had a believable pin attempt, and at the end of the match, Tana and Juice showed respect. Juice even went as far as to get Tanahashi’s air guitar for him, but had a Young Lion throw it in, since he was too injured after the match.

Tanahashi vs Zack Sabre Jr will be a fantastic finals, and if last year proves anything, both finalists position themselves towards chances for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. So win or lose, we should see Okada vs Tanahashi 1 more time, very soon.

Rating: **** 1/2

 

Well now I know I said I didn’t go out of my way, but that’s also because NOAH has been my second favorite promotion in Japan for years, so if it’s available to find, I don’t see it as an issue. That being said, neither of the NOAH matches get my vote, even though I was happy with the quality of the entire show.

My vote for match of the week is, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Juice Robinson, there was just too much too like about this match. Well wrestled, good story, happy ending for the crowd, overall exactly what a wrestling match should be.

Vote on Facebook, Twitter, via Carrier Pigeon, or e-mail me at: andrewbalaz@thechairshot.com


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NXT Minus 6: Bloody Brilliant

Brady focuses on the action across the pond, a little more than usual. Check it out!

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This week, NXT UK steals the show. 

WALTER to collide with Ilja Dragunov for NXT United Kingdom Title next week: NXT UK, Oct. 22, 2020 - YouTube

6. If you aren’t watching NXT UK, you’re missing some of the finest character work anywhere. Ilja Dragunov is a deeply tortured soul on the edge of madness. If I took a bazillion chops from WALTER, it would probably shatter my brain bananas too. Dragunov is on another level. His battle to overcome the WALTER demon should be the talk of the wrestling world. 

Kay Lee Ray retiene ante Meiko Satomura - MUNDO WRESTLING

5. Dragunov’s match this week with my man Thunderstorm Sam Gradwell was a-freaking-mazing. 4.6 stars. It started with solid grappling and broke down to a savage brawl. Post-match, Gradwell is laughing because he got knocked out and Dragunov is attacking a ref. Insane drama. This was as good as a mid-week match could be without a title or something bigger involved. But it wasn’t even the best match of the night. 

upNXT (@upNXTpodcast) | Twitter

4a. Kay Lee Ray versus Meiko Satomura was bloody brilliant. 4.8 stars. Near flawless. Oh how these two deserved a live crowd. I was worried because the build was rushed and forced. Silly me. After 25 years of bumps, Satomura is still quick as a blink. I can only imagine what she looked like in her prime. I’ll be honest. The post-match show of respect from KLR was so genuine, I shed a tear. Icing on the cake. 

4b. By the way, the backdrop graphic they use in NXT UK is so damn cool. They should use that across all of NXT.

Kay Lee Ray Reaches New Milestone As NXT UK Women's Champion, Priest/Gargano - eWrestlingNews.com

3. I want to issue a formal apology to Kay Lee Ray. I called her 2019 Takeover match with Toni Storm the worst match of the year. I thought she was reckless and it was a matter of time before she crippled herself or her opponent. I was 100% wrong. KLR is world class and would be in the title picture in any women’s division anywhere. They desperately need to bring more worthy talent to NXT UK to challenge her. Right now she’s not just a big fish in a small pond. She’s a whale in an inflatable kid’s pool.

Dakota Kai & Raquel González vs Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax | Women's Tag Team Champions | NXT 3/3/2021 - YouTube

2. If it doesn’t end in a Wrestlemania rematch, then Dakota Kai-Raquel Gonzalez versus Nia Jax-Shayna Baszler was absolute ass trash. Why was the Raw GM there with a Raw referee? And why does the WWE think we’re too stupid to ask why the RAW GM and a Raw referee were backstage? There are a million ways to end a match dirty. This was possibly the worst. Even if they did still lose, Kai and Gonzalez deserve so much more. Speaking of…

Raquel González 💪🏼 : WrestleWithThePlot

1. This week’s That’s Why I Love Wrestling goes to…Raquel Gonzalez. Specifically, her pre-match pose. Shotzi Blackheart can jump around like a kid on a candy high. Doomsday Saito can have his veeeeeeery long low budget horror movie intro. Gonzalez’ pose is simple yet effective. She spreads those traps and without saying a word, she is telling you that she is a woman ready to kick all the asses. Less is more and right now Gonzalez is the most. 


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Cook’s AEW Revolution 2021 Gambling Picks

Time to gamble on wrestling! Steve Cook is here with your AEW Resolution gambling picks–for entertainment purposes only of course!

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AEW Revolution

Time to gamble on wrestling! Steve Cook is here with your AEW Resolution gambling picks–for entertainment purposes only of course!

All Elite Wrestling is presenting Revolution this Sunday. Sunday Sunday Sunday. Gotta keep that in mind since they usually run on Saturdays. They didn’t this time because of various boxing & UFC events, but ended up booking themselves against the NBA All-Star Game. No, I don’t know why the NBA is bothering with an All-Star Game either, but they are!

I liked AEW doing their PPVs on Saturday, as that’s a better night for most of their viewers for an exceptionally long wrestling show. This card’s pretty stacked, with an 8PM Eastern start time I can see it stretching past midnight. Which is a lot better for most people on a Saturday night. (Doesn’t affect me, my work schedule changes every week with no rhyme or reason and I never have a Sunday off. It’s a wonderful life!)

I went to BetOnline to find some odds on these matches and had mixed success. Granted, some of these matches were just booked, and others have moving parts. I’m doing the best I can here, people, I’m only one man! As usual, lines are subject to change, and this column is purely for entertainment purposes.

Buy In Match
Thunder Rosa & Riho vs. Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. & Reba

Kind of an unfair match here from a kayfabe perspective, as Reba is not officially a wrestler and has also been beat up a bit lately. Unless Dr. Baker is allowed to find another partner, you have to give Thunder Rosa & Riho the advantage here.

The one thing that could go against them: Is Thunder finishing up now that the NWA is re-starting? If she is, I could see her eating one more pin from Dr. Baker. Nah, either way it’ll probably be Riho getting the win.

Casino Tag Team Royale
Bear Country vs. Alex Reynolds & John Silver vs. Evil Uno & Stu Grayson vs. Santana & Ortiz vs. The Butcher & The Blade vs. Private Party vs. Top Flight vs. Pac & Rey Fenix vs. Varsity Blondes vs. Matt & Mike Sydal vs. SCU vs. Natural Nightmares vs. Chaos Project vs. Gunn Club vs. Dark Order’s 5 & 10 vs. Possibly More

The winners here get a Tag Team Championship match at some later date. Considering we just had a gigantic tag team battle royal to get Chris Jericho & MJF a title shot at this show, deciding the next contenders through a Casino Tag Team Royale seems a bit repetitive to me. But it’s a nice way to promote their new casino app game, so there’s that.

Picking a winner in this thing is pretty much like picking one number on a roulette wheel. There are a few teams you can write off pretty much right away, but that still leaves a bunch of possible picks. I think Pac & Rey Fenix could be a pretty fun team to get a title shot, so that’s who I’d go with here. Not going to complain if they go with one of the Dark Order teams instead, or use this to get SCU their big title shot to continue the Christopher Daniels angle that I think is still on-going. I think I’d go with Daniels & Kazarian if there were odds on this thing, simply because it’s the easiest way to tell that story.

AEW Women’s Championship Match
Hikaru Shida vs. Ryo Mizunami

I have to figure that Shida would be the huge favorite whenever odds get posted for this, and she’s going to win so it’s not going to be worth betting on. No disrespect meant to Ms. Mizunami, who is a solid in-ring competitor, but I don’t see her being the one to take the title off of Hikaru Shida.

Now, if somebody reports in the next couple of days that Ryo is staying here for the next six months, my opinion on this might change. Otherwise, it’s Shida all day.

Face of the Revolution Ladder Match
Cody Rhodes vs. Scorpio Sky vs. Penta El Zero Miedo vs. Lance Archer vs. Max Caster vs. TBA

I haven’t seen odds posted on BetOnline, but apparently some books are offering this so you can bet on Cody Rhodes or “The Field”. If that’s the case, you have to take “The Field”, don’t you? Especially when there’s a mystery guy! The winner gets a shot at the TNT Championship, and Cody can always find another way to get a title shot.

If you can’t pick “The Field” and each wrestler is an option, I’d look at Scorpio Sky as a solid choice that should get a favorable price for your wallet. He hasn’t wrestled in a couple of months due to injury, but he’s been doing a podcast and was acting pretty darn heelish on commentary this week. He’s targeted the TNT Championship in the past, and he’d probably have a pretty darn good match with Darby Allin. Of course, there’s always the mystery guy too, who they might want to have go over on his debut. I’ll stick with Sky as the best way to make money if you can’t take “The Field”.

Of course, all of this can be voided out if Cody just wants a new nickname.

Best Friends (-160) vs. Miro & Kip Sabian (+120)

Trent’s out of the picture, so Chuck Taylor & Orange Cassidy are the Best Friends in question here. Easy to see why Orange would be a betting favorite here, as he’s one of the most popular people in AEW and has a pretty good win-loss record. I think things go a different way here, as Miro looks ready to step up & become the monster people think he should be, and Kip Sabian deserves some revenge for Charles & Orange ruining his wedding. Go with Miro & Kip Sabian here.

Big Money Match
Adam Page (-350) vs. Matt Hardy (+225)

Having Hangman lose to Matt Hardy doesn’t make a ton of sense here in 2021. I can make an argument for Matt winning because his spending Hangman’s money could be pretty amusing, and Hangman being sad over losing his money would be a pretty typical state of affairs. There’s also the matter of all these people Matt has helping him these days.

Maybe throw a few bucks on Matt Hardy if you’re feeling froggy, could pay off for you. Personally, I’d rather see Dark Order spending all of Matt’s money on BTE. They could finally get a new table for their lair!

Street Fight
Darby Allin & Sting (-450) vs. Brian Cage & Ricky Starks (+275)

I’d like to be able to make an argument in favor of Team Taz here, but there’s really not one to be made. Sting should win every first match he has in a promotion, and he & Darby will come out on top in what will apparently be a cinematic masterpiece. Hopefully AEW does a better job on this one than the Tooth & Nail match!

AEW World Tag Team Championship
The Young Bucks (-250) vs. Chris Jericho & MJF (+170)

Tony Khan said this will be the opening match, and it should be a doozy with a good amount of emotion behind it. What Jericho & MJF may lack in flashiness & in-ring appeal, they make up for with personality, cleverness & chicanery. If this was a WWE show, I’d pick them without a problem, as Jericho had a pretty crazy amount of random partners he won championships with. Here in AEW, I think the Young Bucks are going to wait to lose to an actual tag team before dropping the belts. We’ve got an eventual Bucks/Good Brothers match pitting company champions against each other to build to, I assume.

How Jericho & MJF lose the match will be the story going forward for them. Miscommunication? Involvement from somebody else? One of them just gets beat? Time will tell.

AEW World Championship Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match
Kenny Omega (-550) vs. Jon Moxley (+325)

You would think that Moxley would get more love from the bettors, as something like an Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match seems more his speed than Omega’s. That just goes to show how little people believe that Kenny Omega can lose the championship at this time. He just seems destined for one of those never-ending reigns, doesn’t he? I have to agree with the public on this one, as I don’t see Kenny Omega losing this match.

I do see Kenny Omega getting his ass kicked pretty bad during this match. He’s not losing the title though.


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