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Book Club: Making a Star Out of Dakota Kai

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Via WWE.com

Dakota Kai has been someone I’ve had my eye on since last summer.  She was one of the standouts of the Mae Young Classic and has recently been thrust into the spotlight of the NXT women’s division.  With Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, and Ember Moon all called up to the main roster, the next class of talent is going to need to create their own legacy from scratch.  Nikki Cross is the longest tenured name left among the current crop but she will likely be joining Sanity on Smackdown before the summer is over.  Drawing many comparisons to Bayley, Dakota has a chance to be the next bright face of the division.  Admittedly, she has experienced a pretty fast rise so if you have 15 minutes to spare, I recommend watching the documentary on her journey if you’d like to get more familiar.

Dakota Kai currently finds herself in a unique position.  Every week she continues to be tormented by locker room bully and current NXT Women’s Champion, Shayna Baszler.  This is unique because it’s not often we see one wrestler afraid of another, especially not someone of Shayna’s stature.  When a story is going in that direction, the domineering figure is usually someone more physically imposing like Nia Jax, Kharma, or Braun Strowman.  This all started when Shayna injured Dakota’s arm on an episode of NXT a few months back.  Dakota has since recovered but was left traumatized from the incident.  Her ring work has not been affected but she always shudders or grows cold at the mention or sight of Shayna Baszler.  Shayna has complete control over her.

Let’s Book It

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My first step in the booking process was going to be to put Dakota Kai in a championship match on an NXT taping in the near future.  Amazingly enough, that match was just announced on Wednesday’s episode and will be taking place next week.  I should mention that I have no knowledge of what’s to come in future NXT episodes.  Spoilers aren’t for me.  I actively try to blind myself from any news that emerges from tapings.  In this match, I would have Dakota Kai lose after a rigorous effort.  If possible, I would prefer it end with a referee’s stoppage after Shayna re-injures Dakota’s arm.  Let a week or two pass then have Shayna return to announce that she will be instituting a weekly open challenge.

I decided to do this for a couple reasons.  NXT has never had a weekly “open challenge” segment issued by one of the champions.  Also, the two more notable weekly segments were created by John Cena and Seth Rollins – both babyfaces.  I know there are still people that were not initially sold on Baszler as champion so weekly matches can showcase her worth while accumulating maximum heat.  Since we are so close to NXT TakeOver: Chicago, her first challenger should also be her opponent for the pay-per-view.  The match could end in DQ or a no-contest leaving the rematch for the big show.  I was initially going to have this be Candice LeRae but she is likely going to be ringside for Johnny Gargano’s match again.  Then I thought Kairi Sane but she just lost on Wednesday.  That’s why it needs to be Nikki Cross.  She has never had a 1-on-1 TakeOver match and this would be a perfect send-off before moving up to the main roster. With that being said, it means Nikki would have to lose.

In July, Shayna would properly bring back her weekly open challenge.  Dakota is still injured and Nikki is gone.  Shayna is reigning supreme over NXT.  The month of July is where she would run through the division.  At the end of July or beginning of August, Nixon Newell would challenge Shayna Baszler.  You probably aren’t familiar with Nixon.  She’s a Welsh wrestler with major potential.  Last summer she was forced to withdraw from the Mae Young Classic due to injury.  If you want to get acclimated, I bet she can win you over with her inter-gender matches against Mark Andrews and Pete Dunne.  She also has an interview on WWE’s website to read.  I know I said I stay away from spoilers but I do know she has recently recovered and has since made her debut at Full Sail.  However, she may now be going by her real name, Steffanie Newell.  If you follow Dakota Kai through social media, you know that her and Newell are best friends.  For this reason, toward the end of their match Shayna would try to injure Newell just as she did to Dakota.  Before the deed is done, Dakota runs down the ramp and returns from injury to save her best friend.  Dakota Kai has finally faced her fear and now you have your women’s title match for TakeOver: Brooklyn.

Brooklyn is where I would eventually have Dakota dethrone Shayna to win the championship just as Bayley did to Sasha three years prior.  After Brooklyn, the story is pretty open ended.  Dakota could go in any direction as the new face of the division.  Kairi and Candice could finally get a proper feud and Bianca Belair would have had a whole summer’s worth of momentum behind her at that point.  If the timing is right, maybe even a heel Steffanie Newell could emerge to challenge her best friend.


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Levin’s WWE SmackDown Live Review

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If WWE can bring back Dean Ambrose for the “go home” show before SummerSlam, then why can’t the creative team for SmackDown Live do something equally dynamic?

WWE took a page out of old-school wrestling on Tuesday night, building the match between The Miz and Daniel Bryan to be as big, if not bigger than any feud the company or the business has ever witnessed. By promoting both company superstars through three vignettes, the next six days to SummerSlam should be full of hype, anticipation, and suspense.

The WWE did this right. The back and forth comments were perfect. The walk down memory lane sent chills down my spine. The fear of the match falling short, leading to disappointment vanished with each segment, which was better than the last. Whoever came up with this concept deserves a gold star and a raise.

When I look at feuds of the past, Flair-Steamboat, Savage-Hogan, Brisco-Funk, they all had a great storyline and even better in-ring chemistry. The same holds true for this match and hopefully, it means a continuing feud moving forward. Also, like John Cena and CM Punk, there is potential to write more chapters as a “go to” feud when ratings fall or the business becomes stale.

Bad blood usually spoils over again in this business.

Here are a few more points I need to make.

The Tuesday night show started off with Carmella, Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair in the ring ahead of the SmackDown Women’s Title match on Sunday night. I’m still trying to get behind this one and waiting for ether BFF to turn to the dark side. There are plenty of scenarios that could take place, but the fact remains if Carmella walks out of Brooklyn with the title in hand, I’m going to be pissed with plenty of other wrestling fans.

The dialogue between the three ladies was decent but still didn’t excite the masses. The best line of the opening segment is when Flair told the champ, “You’re a diva living in a women’s era.”

Of course, Paige (Good Gawd) comes out and orders a tag team match between Flair and Becky vs. Mandy Rose and Sonya DeVille.

I’ll say this, the women’s division has gotten better – with the resurgence of Lynch, Hopefully, the match will be better than the hype.

Lynch got the pinfall and stole the show, leading to more backstage tension between the two women.

The Bludgeon Brothers and Everyone Else

The Bludgeon Brothers remind me of the Wild Samoans from the old WWWF/WWF. Over 600 pounds of intensity and tougher and meaner than any other tag team. The current SmackDown tag team champions have no peer and should New Day beat them, it shows WWE’s need to keep the four-time tag team champions relevant.

This is a division that is good, but it could use a shakeup.

Sanity vs. The New Day – Does Nothing For Me

Alexander Wolf, Killian Dain, and Eric Young should be one badass tag team that challenges the Bludgeon Brothers but are stuck in tag team mediocrity.

Young is one of the better mat wrestlers of this generation. Dain should be in singles competition. I’m still of the belief WWE should figure out what to do with Xavier Woods (205), Kofi Kingston (main even picture) and Big E feud with Rusev.

Don’t get me wrong about my point. The match itself was very good, but there was no way WWE would put Sanity over when New Day has a tag team title opportunity.

Samoa Joe Must Beat AJ Styles

There is no way A.J. Styles will hold the WWE Title for over 500 days. There is no way Samoa Joe will continue to march through the SmackDown Live roster without a title. This is a match I cannot wait to see on Sunday.

While Styles may be a better in-ring performer, Joe is the more complete performer. Personally, I would love to see Joe as the next Paul Heyman guy. I did not like the end of the show.

Aiden English Needs A Spot

English vs. Andrade “Cien” Almas. You knew this would happen. It’s the only reasonable progression. But it makes no sense.

The rumor has been Vince McMahon is in favor of an Almas run toward the main event after two weeks of matches against Styles and Rusev. Rusev vs. Almas at SummerSlam would be perfect if it were not for the current storyline.

English really is a ball and chain. And honestly, I don’t want to see a mixed tag match to kick off SummerSlam.

By the way, Lana cannot remember her accent.

Shelton Benjamin Deserves Better

What would happen if Shelton Benjamin could stay healthy? Would he be in line for a main event push? The match with Jeff Hardy, which was good, was a mere icebreaker for a confrontation with Shinsuke Nakamura.

With the addition of Randy Orton to this angle, there is no doubt he will decide the outcome of the match and the United States Title. WWE has to be careful here. If he costs Nakamura the match, what does that do for the former champion’s character? What happens with Hardy moving forward?

Would Benjamin get a chance at the title and have Orton and Nakamura work a program?


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TIME AND FATE: NOAH’S GHC HARDCORE CHAMPIONSHIP

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“It seems there was once a belt a long time ago I guess.”
Hi69 (May 4th 2018 after a hardcore match with Daisuke Harada).

I hope to present here a brief history of what was known as the GHC Hardcore Championship.

NOAH is not a hardcore promotion that does deathmatches (although they did run one in May 2018 between Hi69 and Daisuke Harada, this was Harada’s first time doing hardcore), so you weren’t going to win this belt by lighttubes, blowing the ring up, electric barbed wire or stapling paper to your opponents head; although it was defended in some matches termed as “hardcore”, or at least as hardcore as NOAH got in that era.

In this situation “Hardcore” meant that anyone could challenge for it regardless of division as it was openweight, you just had to survive and have incredible endurance. The title could be won by a count-out, and if the challenger was smaller than the champion and lasted fifteen minutes, the title could change hands. A win could only be gained by a pinfall, no submission was allowed.

The title could only be challenged for by NOAH wrestlers (or those working for NOAH at the time, such as Scorpio in 2005), not from anyone by an outside promotion.

The title began in 2004 when Jun Akiyama came up with the idea. He felt the concept would be exciting as it would create matches regardless of weight and size and would be open to anyone of any division. Mitsuharu Misawa agreed to the idea, funded it, and the belt was created. For this reason Misawa was considered to be the chairman of the belt (in the same way that the GHC has its own committee who decide who gets it etc), and the belt was thought to be Jun Akiyama’s as it was created in his style, the same way that the GHC Heavyweight is Misawa’s.

The GHC Hardcore belt differed from the other GHC belts as the main belt was white (Jun Akiyama’s colors) with the crest being silver, and for that reason it was sometimes known as “The White GHC”.

In the beginning it was decided that the belt would only be defended outside of the Kanto area (outside of the metropolitan Tokyo district which included Chiba, Saitama etc), with a fan who won a competition reading out the match announcement (like Joe Higuchi did for championship matches). After the match they would have the honor of handing the belt to the winner, and posing for a commemorative photo afterwards. This didn’t happen as the belt would be defended very much in Tokyo.

Immediately the rules caused confusion as in Jun Akiyama’s first defense, Takuma Sano was put in a front necklock and passed out, the referee not hearing his “I quit”. The belt then passed to Naomichi Marufuji who lost it to Mohammed Yone. NOAH held a rare deathmatch, where Yone faced Morishima in a “Chain Death Match” in Osaka in April 2005, it went to a double knock out. Yone’s fourth defense was against Scorpio, who was taken to hospital after the match having injured his leg.

Scorpio lost the title to Kentaro Shiga in September 2006, and the title became a tag title as Shiga unified it with Kishin Kawabata after vacating the belt as he declared he wanted to make a tag with it, (although there were never two belts made for this purpose), and the belt was billed as the “GHC Openweight Hardcore Tag Team Championship”. It was defended that December at Korakuen Hall in a “Lumberjack Deathmatch”.

By late 2007, the championship belt was becoming sporadic as NOAH booking and NOAH fans were losing interest in it, compared to the turn around of roughly six months when the belt was first inaugurated, Kishin Kawabata made only four defenses in eleven months before losing it to Makoto Hashi in October 2008, he made only two in nine months before losing it to Kenta Kobashi in June 8th 2009 who defended it four times before vacating the title after becoming injured that December.

No one after this it seemed to have much interest in reviving the belt and NOAH had little interest in booking it. Simply put, the concept had run its course, and by late 2009 and early 2010, NOAH were facing serious problems with the death of Misawa and internal fighting about the company restructuring. In the following years talent walkout, scandal, a decline in business and money issues became a far more pressing problem than who held a little white belt with a silver crest.

As of August 2018 NOAH have announced no plans to bring the GHC Hardcore Championship back, and the belt is not listed on the site under a the list of championships.


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Opinion

The Elite Should Not Join WWE

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After both All In and The G1 Supercard were sold out, reports of Vince McMahon wanting to sign The Elite in a way to stop the rise of competition for his monopoly were reported everywhere. More than just The Elite rumors regarding a lot of Indy talent joining the ranks of WWE, thanks of these events and the next lucrative deals that WWE will receive in the coming years, gives credence to the speculation in all wrestling circles. The big problem that comes with The Elite joining WWE is that currently after all these years, the wrestling world is no longer a one place only to make big money. Promotions like ROH and NJPW have grown a lot in the last couple of years thanks to the efforts done by the The Elite to change the wrestling world.

If NJPW loses Kenny Omega to WWE, the promotion based in Japan will lose not only a top player but their ambassador of puroresu in the US. As we know, NJPW has big plans to expand into the American market, and those plans have Kenny Omega as the flagship of that expedition.

The Young Bucks will also face some serious problems if they were to go to WWE. The first problem is that as we all know, WWE and more specificly Vince McMahon, is not a fan of tag team wrestling and teams like Anderson and Gallows coupled with current booking, are a clear example of this. Creative will be bad for them and their creative minds will not be used to the extent we’re familiar with. That would be a shame seeing how beloved their YouTube show is, Being The Elite.  Also let’s not forget the case of the cease and desist letters sent to them because of the Too Sweet sign. Vince McMahon does not forget and could easily bury them in a way to punish them for the case of the situation of the letters and the fan’s saying in the show he got free tickets like most people do to fill RAW

If The Elite stay for at least  2 or 3 years before joining WWE and help the wrestling world grow, the business will not only be good for the fans but to wrestlers not signed with WWE. Like we saw with Flip Gordon, who thanks to the Being The Elite show is a well known name already and his career is just beginning. If we’re to believe the brand is as big as any brand in WWE right now, The Elite should stay away from WWE to preserve their phrase, ‘’Change the world’. If they leave, a big hole will be present in the indy scene and the wrestling world will go five years back in time. Further increasing the gap, in a bad way, between WWE and the rest of the wrestling world.

 


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