We made it through WrestleMania weekend, and now we have a sort of normal week. However, since I’m doing coverage for the All Japan Champion Carnival, those matches will be more prevalent than an average list.
Before we get to the AJPW dominated Top 5, let’s assess the month of March and last week’s votes. Month of March match that got added to the yearly pool:
January – Gargano vs Almas
February – Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA
March – Golden Lovers vs Young Bucks
That gives us a little variety already in the early goings of the year. As for last week it was close, I had to consult a tiebreaker. So the match that won the tie breaker, Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas vs Aleister Black @ Takeover NOLA. This may be a little controversial, but opinion is subjective, and obviously no one match ran away with a consensus number 1.
Let’s get to this week’s Top 5.
5. Impact Demon’s Dance: Rosemary vs Taya Valkyrie
Rosemary and Taya have had a feud dating back to AAA, while bleeding into Impact starting last year when Taya debuted.
So Demon’s Dance is just another name for Raven’s Rules…or basically, extreme rules. They went outside early, and Taya kept trying to callback to her initial statement to Rosemary with Road to Valhalla on the entrance ramp. For Rosemary’s sake, she blocked it a few times and forced Taya to change her direction.
A solid wrestling match ensued, a bunch of chairs got introduced and…well there was an awkward spot. After Taya hits a double knee to a chair on Rosemary’s face, while she’s laying in the corner, Taya then decides to place a chair between her legs and…well…split the uprights? I can honestly say, I’ve never seen that in a women’s match.
Following that Rosemary got the momentum back, introduced a table and was setting up for something. Taya nearly circumvents the table, but Rosemary powers through Taya’s offense, eventually they both battle on the top rope, and Rosemary drives Taya through the table, for the victory.
Solid hard hitting match between two women with a lot of history.
Rating: *** 1/2
4. 205 Live: Kalisto vs Akira Tozawa
Continuing the Lucha House Party versus the Japanese guys storyline, we see these two get paired into a match.
Surprisingly, this drop down to 205 Live, seems to have given Kalisto validity and a venue to look like a legit threat. This match went back and forth nicely, with not many sloppy spots. Tozawa and Kalisto played their parts of two former champions who are trying to reestablish themselves.
After a multitude of dives from Tozawa, he tried to set up for his Senton, but was countered by Kalisto. After a good exchange between the two, Kalisto hits Salida Del Sol, and gains the pinfall victory.
Rating: *** 3/4
3. AJPW Champion Carnival: Jun Akiyama vs KAI
Still looking to establish himself in All Japan, KAI comes into this match behind the eight ball, against a legend.
Given the types of matches Jun has put on lately, this really floored me. He seemed more determined to hurt KAI. Took a big spill into the guardrail and in general, pulled off moves with much more velocity than I’m accustomed to seeing him do.
They traded multiple pinfalls , changed the pace a few times and made both men look fantastic. Akiyama still proves himself to be the crafty veteran with the way he wins. At the point this match happened, it was the highest rated B Block match, thus far.
AJPW Champion Carnival: Jun Akiyama vs Yukata Yoshie
Rating: *** 1/2
Smackdown: Daniel Bryan vs AJ Styles
Rating: *** (would be higher if it didn’t get cut short)
2. AJPW Champion Carnival: Jun Akiyama vs Suwama
Two guys towards the top of the standings, this will either give Jun more space, or help Suwama come back from an early loss.
Now this is where my lack of historical knowledge hurt me. Suwama and Akiyama went at it, like two men who hate each other. Suwama threw the guard rail at Akiyama, they both threw chairs and this was all after about 40 seconds of them just hitting each other over the ropes.
So I’m not sure where this grudge started, but the hatred was palpable. Hell, even at the end of the match it was obvious when referee Wada calls for the stoppage and Suwama doesn’t release right away and continues trying to inflict damage.
Rating: **** 1/4
1. AJPW Champion Carnival: Shingo Takagi vs Yuji Hino
Shingo is a highly decorated wrestler billed out of Dragon Gate (even though news broke recently about him leaving), and Hino is on a hell of a run.
Both of these guys were undefeated moving into the match, and it had a feeling like a finals match. A lot of hard and heavy strikes, big power moves and just impressive resilience from both men. It should be noted that with how close this match was, Shingo is about 30 pounds lighter, and still managed to lift him for power moves.
In a feat that isn’t often done, Hino kicks out of a Pumping Bomber and Last Falconry, so that left Shingo trying to find an answer. But sadly for Shingo, the size and power of Hino took the advantage, and on the second attempt hits the Fucking Bomb (literally the name of his move) for the pinfall.
Rating: **** 1/2
If anyone wants to complain about a Japan bias, think about it like this. Champion Carnival is a tournament like the G1, the quality of the matches will be hard to top, with basic television programming. With all that said, Jun Akiyama has been working well beyond what I expected from him, but Shingo has had onl 3 matches so far, and 2 have been the best matches of the tournament.
So be that as it may, Shingo Takagi vs Yuji Hino @ AJPW Champion Carnival, is my choice of match of the week. Agree or not, leave your choices and comments. Use your head for more than a hat rack and make your opinion known.
WWE Has Too Much Talent
WWE in the past four years has been signing talents from all over the world and from every promotion that has amazing talent in an effort to steal those talents and to prevent this promotions to make any good quality wrestling. NJPW and ROH have been the biggest targets on talent that WWE takes from, names like Finn Balor, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Adam Cole, and just name a few have been signed to the WWE machine but the biggest problem WWE has is that what to do with all that talent.
Starting in NXT has been proven to be the best way to start your journey in WWE and the biggest example of this was Mike Kanellis, who started on the main roster instead of NXT and after just a few months of his debut he was relegated to low card position in WWE.But starting in NXT does not guarantee success in WWE, because like I mention before WWE and all it’s brands currently have to much talent and wrestlers like Balor,Roode, and others are lost in the shuffle and not to mention that Balor and Roode had very good runs in NXT.
Despite WWE having a full roster, they are looking to sign ore talent and their biggest targets are Kenny Omega, Cody and The Young Bucks In a desperate way to stop NJPW’s plans to expand into the american market and stop the rise of the independent scene it currently has by the success this men have right now. Also, another factor WWE would like to try to sign this amazing wrestler in the case of The Young Bucks is to boost the profile of the WWE tag division that in it’s current state is really bad.
Despite all this good wresters WWE has in its roster right now, the booking has become dreadful and some of the worst wrestling right now and maybe wrestlers like Finn Balor, Shinsuke Nakamura, Bobby Roode and others should consider jumping ship to another promotion that could book there talent in a better way.
Levin’s SmackDown Live Review
You figured the aftermath of the Extreme Rules pay-per-view would be “must-see” television on SmackDown Live. With Jeff Hardy demanding a rematch for the United States Title with Shinsuke Nakamura and a potential confrontation with Randy Orton, the show was very much something I was looking forward to.
Let’s not forget WWE still had to wade through the waters of A.J. Styles’ win over Rusev. Would the company continue to book this feud moving forward? There was Carmella and her stooge James Ellsworth and the Asuka “situation.” Would the Empress of Tomorrow exact her revenge?
And if that wasn’t enough, Daniel Bryan has officially signed his new deal with WWE, which means he could be booked as a contender for Styles’ WWE Title. Where did The Miz fit in all of this, while he was busy playing softball during the MLB All-Star festivities and missed the show on Sunday night?
I waited anxiously for answers. Was I satisfied with the results? No exactly. Here are a few thoughts about SmackDown Live.
A.J. Styles vs. Cien Almas
The two superstars meet for the first time in WWE and does well for himself. The two crossed paths in Japan, renewing an old rivalry. The former NXT star has shown in recent weeks he could be part of the blue brand’s title picture. Almas was able to answer the WWE champion’s arsenal.
If WWE is going to push Almas toward the main event picture, this was the showcase he needed. Almas may have submitted to the calf crusher, but this is a feud I would love to see moving forward.
It also remains to be seen when WWE may book Styles to finally drop the company title.
The Demise of Rusev Day?
More like the beginning of the end of the relationship between Rusev and Aiden English. After watching the exchange between English and Lana, discussing how bad Rusev’s sidekick felt about costing him the WWE Title at Extreme Rules, I hope this does not lead to a confrontation between both performers.
This would be a huge blow to Rusev’s chance to remain in the main event picture. It may also put an end to the “Rusev Day” phenomenon.
Becky Lynch vs. Mandy Rose
While I am huge fan of Lynch, maybe even a slight crush on the Irish lass, the continual weekly bouts with Lynch and Sonya Deville have to stop. There is no movement in the women’s division. If anything, moving Sasha Banks to Tuesday nights might be the best thing for this division while Charlotte Flair is still out of action.
I will say this, the match between the two women may have been the best we have seen, with Rose showing she can hold her own with a former women’s champion. But still, “Make this stop!”
Now, Lynch sets her sights on Carmella and the SmackDown Women’s Title.
Paige and Carmella
I love Paige. Leave it to the SmackDown Live general manager to stir the pot. Lynch gets her shot at Carmella in a non-title match. If she beats the champion, she gets another match at SummerSlam. It makes you wonder what the heck the company is doing with Asuka.
Samoa Joe vs. Tye Dillinger
Seriously! Dillinger is a classic example of moving to the main roster too soon. Joe should be part of the main event picture. You have to wonder when that might happen as WWE has yet to fully push the wild Samoan.
If Joe is not used effectively, where he deserves a chance to face Styles (see a theme here?) but his health and a crowded title picture may screw him out of a match.
The Miz Eulogizes Team Hell No!
The best part of Tuesday nights is the appearance of the “A-Lister.” Offering a eulogy for the demise of Daniel Bryan and Kane, who suffered a broken ankle in the loss to the Bludgeon Brothers was class Miz.
Oh, and congratulations on winning the MVP of the celebrity softball game on Monday night. Sorry, back to the moment at hand. We even got an N’Sync reference which was classic.
The Miz remains the class of Tuesday nights.
After proclaiming Bryan’s career is dead, you know what happens next. The setup for SummerSlam has begun.
Yes! Yes! Yes!
Kofi Kingston vs. Eric Young
There was a time when Eric Young was one of the best in the business and one of the more underrated wrestlers. Now, he is the leader of Sanity. I’m not sure if I like this faction, but they are growing on me.
Kofi Kingston could be part of the main event picture, but he is mired in the current situation with The New Day. I’m still waiting for WWE to dissolve this trio and give Kingston, Big E and Xavier Woods their own angles. The match between Kingston and Young could be a solid mid card feud, but that won’t happen.
A wheel barrow neck breaker gives Young the win.
Jeff Hardy vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (for the United States Title)
In the opening segment, Hardy said he was BROKEN because he did not have the United States Title around his waist and invoked his return title match clause. It was a good match, but not great.
Hardy takes the fight to the champion immediately. But this match slows down as expected. Nakamura continues to play the role of villain well, getting heat from the fans in attendance (who were mostly quiet until the Bryan-Miz segment). I’m curious what this match would be like if Hardy was healthy.
He admitted he has been banged up for some time prior to the Extreme Rules pay-per-view.
Insert Randy Orton. The Viper beats the hell out Hardy until he defends himself. Ultimately, Orton stakes his claim as the top heel on Tuesday nights.
WWE Possibly Doing an All Women PPV? Yes, Please!
So, rumor’s been going around that WWE’s planning to do a PPV strictly for the Women’s Divisions of RAW and SmackDown and all I can say is: FINALLY! WHERE DO I SIGN UP FOR TICKETS?!
Ever since the start of the Women’s Revolution, it’s become more and more obvious that the women need a show of their own because as the Women’s Divisions grow on the Main Roster, there’s less and less room for them on the PPVs and TV and it’s a problem that’s not going to get better with time.
A major promotion doing an all women PPV isn’t new. TNA has done them before for their Women’s Division, however, WWE has never before invested the time in exploring such a thing, or had a big enough Women’s Roster to do it with, now they have both.
Why? Well, the RAW and SmackDown Women’s Divisions have a lot of talent, but are still seriously outnumbered by the men’s roster and so don’t get as much TV time as they should and when they do get TV time, if they aren’t involved in the title situation, they’re usually in a multi-person tag match.
So, what are WWE’s options here?
1. A Regular PPV. They could just take an already existing PPV like Unforgiven or No Mercy and just have an all-female card. Problem is making it feel special instead of WWE just copping out.
2. A Brand New PPV. This is the one I like the best, instead of resurrecting an old PPV: Give the women a PPV of their own that is named for them. The name I’ve been kicking around today is ‘WWE: Revolution’ and having the poster be of the two Women’s Division rosters.
3. A Network Special. This is the one I can honestly see WWE doing in the spirit of the UK Tournament or the Greatest Royal Rumble. One idea that a lot of fans seem to like is ‘Queen of the Ring’, which would, of course be an all women’s version of King of the Ring.
One issue I can see arising from doing an all women PPV is having enough matches to fill a three hour PPV/Special slot plus the Kickoff Show. There’s about twenty women between RAW and Smackdown, now that sounds like a lot, but WWE had a card of about 35 people divided up into twelve matches, including the Kickoff Show, and there was still a lot of talking to make the time stretch and that was with seven title matches. So how would they fill in the gaps for the Women’s Division when each division only has one title belt to compete for?
1. Include NXT. The NXT Women’s Division is looking really good right now and a good case could be made to include the NXT Women in an all women WWE PPV/Special.
2. Include some legends. If WWE were to do something like they did with the Women’s Royal Rumble and bring back some past Women’s Division stars and Legends and set up some dream matches it would not only generate a lot of interest in the show but definitely fill the roster up.
3. Have Title Tournaments. This would really only work if WWE was planning on introducing secondary and tag titles to the Women’s Divisions. The finals for those matches would be great additions to a Women’s PPV.
4. Include the Mae Young Classic. I doubt very seriously that this will happen, but it would be a great addition if this PPV goes off to maybe have the Mae Young Classic final match on the card.
Again, it’s only rumored that WWE’s considering a Women’s Division PPV, but I think it’s an idea whose time has come and is long overdue. Since 2015, the revamped Women’s Division has shown that they are more than capable of carrying a card, never mind a PPV on their own and it’s time they were given the chance to prove it.