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Mitchell’s NJPW AXS TV Report: New Japan Cup 2018 Finals!

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NJPW’s 2018 New Japan Cup has reached the finals! It will either be The Ace, Hiroshi Tanahashi, or the Submission Master, Zack Sabre Jr, that will win the cup and earn the right to challenge a top champion of their choosing! Will Tanahashi win to challenge Minoru Suzuki? Or will ZSJ make him #JustTapOut?

 

This review of The New Japan Cup 2018 will be as broadcast by AXS TV.
Therefore, all images are courtesy of AXS TV.

 

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Zack Sabre Jr; ZSJ wins and will challenge Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Sakura Genesis.

PLAY BY PLAY

AXS TV and NJPW review the finalists’ paths to this moment.

The Once in a Century Talent’s participation in this year’s New Japan Cup was unsure, given his injury at the hands of the Man with the Worst Personality, THE Minoru Suzuki. Suzuki won and now has the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Hiroshi Tanahashi got through Taichi, Bad Luck Fale and even his teammate in Juice Robinson to get here. Should Tanahashi win, it’s almost certain his target would be Suzuki for sweet revenge. Meanwhile, Suzuki’s own protege, Zack Sabre Jr, proved he is both a Technical Wizard and a brutal brawler in his own right. ZSJ defeated Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi and Sanada all through use of his unlimited arsenal of submissions.

ZSJ already has a victory over Tanahashi from the G-1 Climax last year, but Tanahashi also has a win over him in their own IWGP Intercontinental Championship match. This will be the rubber match between the two, who will win it all and call out the champion of their choice?

Two of the best in NJPW, but who will be THE New Japan Cup champion?

 

Hiroshi Tanahashi VS Zack Sabre Jr w/ Taka Michinoku!

As always, Taka Michinoku speaks before the match. “The finals of the 2018 New Japan Cup. Zack Sabre Jr. VS Hiroshi Tanahashi. Who wins?!” Fans choose Zack. “And who will take the cup?” Fans again choose Zack. Because the winner will be the man who can finish anyone anywhere with any hold, the man who has unlimited submissions, the man who defeated Naito, Ibushi and Sanada. That man is the Submission Master, ZSJ, Zack Sabre Jr! “To anyone who stands in Zack’s way, when he gets a submission”, you #JustTapOut! So Hiroshi Tanahashi, “C’mon over here!”

One of NJPW’s fastest rising stars takes on one of NJPW’s most decorated of all time. Tanahashi wants his IWGP Intercontinental Championship back while ZSJ wants to take the Rainmaker’s IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Who will win the cup to grant their wish?

NJPW on AXS takes a quick break, but comes back with the ring of the bell. This match has no time limit, so it can go as quick or as long as it takes. The fans already rally behind Tanahashi while he circles with ZSJ. ZSJ reaches at Tanahashi who keeps a safe distance. They tie up, ZSJ gets around to a waistlock but Tanahashi resists any other kind of hold. Tanahashi turns things around but ZSJ switches back. Tanahashi gets to the ropes, so ZSJ backs off. Fans rally again as the two circle. Tanahashi ties up with ZSJ but ZSJ spins and goes for the top wristlock. Tanahashi turns that back on him with strength and leverage, but ZSJ spins around to wrench Tanahashi’s arm. ZSJ wrenches more and brings Tanahashi down to the mat. Tanahashi sits up but ZSJ is all over his arm again.

ZSJ has Tanahashi on his hand and knees while torturing the other arm. Tanahashi stands and resists, and gets ZSJ in a drop toehold. Fans applaud while ZSJ reaches back for a chinlock. Tanahashi fights that off, then floats over to a facelock, but ZSJ slips out of that to put Tanahashi in a modified crossface. ZSJ grinds in elbows and fists while also going from chinlock to chinbar. He flips Tanahashi over to a cover, ONE. Tanahashi stands up while ZSJ backs off. They circle again while fans rally. Tanahashi is ready for ZSJ, and gets a leg. ZSJ leans back to slip out, but Tanahashi follows. Tanahashi grabs an arm but ZSJ resists the wristlock by clasping hands. Tanahashi rolls ZSJ and keeps on that arm.

ZSJ keeps his grip while Tanahashi sits on him, then ZSJ hooks around to bring Tanahashi to the mat. ZSJ wants an armbar but now Tanahashi clasps his hands together to resist. Tanahashi rolls towards ropes, but ZSJ traps a leg in a calf killer style hold. Tanahashi rolls over to get the ropebreak, so ZSJ has to let go, and Tanahashi rolls out of the ring. ZSJ waits for Tanahashi to return. Tanahashi makes sure his legs are good, as well as his arms, then he enters the ring. He and ZSJ circle again, then tie up, and Tanahashi shifts smoothly from wristlock to hammerlock to headlock. ZSJ fights back and tries to power out, but Tanahashi keeps a hold of him. Fans applaud as Tanahashi forces ZSJ to the mat.

ZSJ grinds his forearms into Tanahashi’s face but Tanahashi swats those away. They both stand up, but Tanahashi brings ZSJ back down with a headlock takeover. Only for ZSJ to get the headscissors! ZSJ squeezes Tanahashi’s head and neck with his figure-four knot. Tanahashi rolls around but ZSJ grinds in knuckles and elbows into Tanahashi’s back. Tanahashi powers out and goes for a cover, only for ZSJ to wrap him right back up in the headscissors! ZSJ props himself up to wrench Tanahashi’s neck, but Tanahashi works to roll ZSJ. Tanahashi pops out and floats over to a chinlock on ZSJ! Fans applaud this incredible exchange of technical skill.

ZSJ grabs at Tanahashi’s hair, then rolls around. ZSJ pushes against Tanahashi, then fights out. He powers out but Tanahashi runs him over. Tanahashi runs, ZSJ drops, so Tanahashi drops on him to get that headlock back! ZSJ resists again, hooking with his leg. Tanahashi swats the leg away and wrenches back. ZSJ tries again but can’t get Tanahashi’s head to go back. ZSJ tries with his hands now, getting them across Tanahashi’s face and nose. They battle with holds but Tanahashi pries free to keep his. ZSJ works again and gets the legs up, it’s headlock versus headscissors!

Tanahashi holds on to his hold and pops his head out of ZSJ’s. ZSJ rolls and sits up, then stands up. ZSJ looks for an opening but Tanahashi just switches sides of the headlock. Tanahashi switches back, then back again, keeping ZSJ guessing. ZSJ keeps trying, so Tanahashi hooks a leg to hit a headlock Russian leg sweep!

The Ace is in control while we go to break.

NJPW on AXS returns to fans rallying while Tanahashi stands up. Tanahashi drops an elbow, but is caught into ZSJ’s armbar! ZSJ can’t get the extension before Tanahashi scrambles and uses his legs for the ropebreak. ZSJ keeps on Tanahashi anyway, but lets go at the referee’s count of 4. Referee Red Shoes reprimands ZSJ but ZSJ catches his breath before going back for more. He grinds knees into Tanahashi while going after the arm. Tanahashi is still under the ropes, so Red Shoes tells ZSJ to break, but ZSJ keeps going. Tanahashi grabs the ropes, so ZSJ lets go this time. ZSJ watches Tanahashi check his arm. Tanahashi stands up, ZSJ gives him a European Uppercut. ZSJ gives Tanahashi another, so Tanahashi gives one back.

ZSJ picks the leg and brings Tanahashi down. He traps an arm, and pulls Tanahashi with a headlock. Tanahashi gets another ropebreak, and ZSJ is frustrated. ZSJ stomps Tanahashi, then toys with him with those kicks to the arm. ZSJ goes after the arm, and bends it from elbow to wrist. Tanahashi grits his teeth as he resists, and it forces ZSJ to use even his chin to force the bend. Tanahashi gives it one more go, but ZSJ Pele kicks the arm! ZSJ catches his breath while fans rally for Tanahashi. ZSJ stands on Tanahashi while pulling at limbs. Red Shoes backs ZSJ off and checks on Tanahashi. Tanahashi is good to continue, so ZSJ gives him another EuroUpper. Tanahashi retaliates with a body shot, so ZSJ picks a leg again and goes after that arm. ZSJ pulls Tanahashi in to the coil lock, then the other arm!

ZSJ has his foot on Tanahashi’s head as he pulls back on the arm. Tanahashi endures as he reaches with his legs agan, and gets another ropebreak. Fans applaud while ZSJ lets go. ZSJ keeps his cool while fans rally for Tanahashi again. ZSJ thinks on what to do next. He goes back after the arm and wrenches it, then wrenches the wrist. ZSJ goes left and right with the wrist, but Tanahashi fights back with body shots. Tanahashi fires off strikes on ZSJ, then whips ZSJ corner to corner. ZSJ reverses the whip but runs into Tanahashi’s boots. Tanahashi runs into a kick from ZSJ, then ZSJ whips, but Tanahashi comes back with a forearm smash.

Both men are down but the fans are applauding. The fans rally again while Tanahashi makes sure his arm is good. Tanahashi stands up and rocks ZSJ with forearms and body shots. Tanahashi scoop slams ZSJ, then climbs up, and hits a second rope senton!

Cover, TWO! Tanahashi keeps focus while fans chant “Go Ace! Go Ace!” Tanahashi fires off more body shots to ZSJ, then whips him corner to corner. ZSJ sticks out a boot but Tanahashi catches it, only for ZSJ to wrap him up in the Octopus Stretch!

ZSJ even pulls off Tanahashi’s sleeve to expose the athletic tape. He digs in elbows on Tanahashi’s ribs, then pulls back on fingers. Tanahashi endures it all, then uses power to get free and dragon screw ZSJ’s leg! Both men are down again, and fans rally for Tanahashi. Tanahashi stands up, and pulls his sleeve back down to cover his athletic tape wrap. Tanahashi runs but ZSJ is ready, and wrangles Tanahashi back into the hold, only for Tanahashi to reverse it onto him. ZSJ switches it right back, but Tanahashi switches it again. They move around in a circle, chasing the abdominal stretch, and it’s Tanahashi who gets the hold first. Tanahashi turns the hold into a pumphandle for a slam! Tanahashi can’t make the cover with his arms hurting him, but fans rally for him as he stands back up.

ZSJ slips out of the facelock to hop on for a sleeper hold! ZSJ then climbs around the front to get the triangle hold! Tanahashi holds on as ZSJ weighs him down and pulls him in. ZSJ is also careful not to end up in a cover. Tanahashi gets a second wind and he starts pushing ZSJ, but ZSJ hooks a leg to bring Tanahashi in deeper. Tanahashi won’t give in, he keeps pushing ZSJ. ZSJ keeps his shoulders up, but Tanahashi turns him enough to stomp him on the head. ZSJ starts to go limp, and Tanahashi breaks free, to go after the Cloverleaf!

Tanahashi turns ZSJ over, bending him sideways, but ZSJ works on an escape. ZSJ slips between the legs and drags himself to ropes, but Tanahashi drags him away! Fans are thunderous as Tanahashi sits down, but ZSJ slips around to pry his legs out. ZSJ hooks Tanahashi into the takedown, but Tanahashi clasps hands to resist the armbar. ZSJ slaps those hands, then pulls back. Tanahashi holds on, but ZSJ pries a single finger and undoes the grip! Tanahashi tries to roll so ZSJ quickly yanks on the arm, but Tanahashi stands up! He stands up for another dragon screw! ZSJ escapes the ring, clutching his leg. Michinoku coaches him up but the fans are on Tanahashi’s side as they rally. Tanahashi gets to a corner and climbs up, to FLY!

High Fly Flow Crossbody connects! Both men go down while we go to break.

NJPW on AXS returns again, and fans are thunderous while Red Shoes checks on Tanahashi and ZSJ. Both men are able to continue, so a ring count begins. It reaches 7 before Tanahashi stands. Tanahashi brings ZSJ up and puts him in the ring. Tanahashi waits for ZSJ to stand, then he runs, but into ZSJ’s EuroUpper. ZSJ throws Tanahashi to ropes but Tanahashi tumbles to the apron. Tanahashi brings himself back in, but ZSJ is ready, and goes after the legs. ZSJ drags Tanahashi into a kneebar, but Tanahashi drags himself to ropes for another ropebreak. ZSJ lets go and fans rally for Tanahashi again.

Michinoku coaches ZSJ to keep going, ZSJ stands and stomps on Tanahashi’s knee. He also kicks Tanahashi’s arm. ZSJ stands on the knee, pulls at the ankle, then stomps them both. Tanahashi writhes, but then fires himself up. ZSJ gives more toying kicks, but those only anger Tanahashi. Tanahashi blocks another kick, but ZSJ hops up into a guillotine. ZSJ gets body scissors, too, but Tanahashi endures to power ZSJ out into a swinging neckbreaker! Tanahashi holds on to ZSJ and gives him a second swinging neckbreaker, then stands him up for the third!

Tanahashi gets the cradle cover, TWO! Fans rally again while ZSJ flounders. Tanahashi fires up, gets to the apron, then climbs up, but ZSJ catches this second High Fly Flow Crossbody into a kneebar! ZSJ grapevines and twists Tanahashi’s ankle. Tanahashi endures, even as ZSJ sits up to add a heel hook. Tanahashi still gets the ropebreak, and ZSJ is further frustrated. Red Shoes checks on Tanahashi while ZSJ checks his own neck and shoulders. Tanahashi keeps going, but ZSJ stands up first. ZSJ gives a EuroUpper, Tanahashi gives back a forearm. ZSJ gives another EuroUpper, so Tanahashi gives one of his own. That shot sits ZSJ down, but he comes back for a flurry of EuroUppers. Tanahashi ducks the roundhouse but ZSJ sweeps the legs.

ZSJ stands up and takes aim from a corner. Tanahashi sits up, and blocks the Penalty Kick! Tanahashi dragon screws but ZSJ slips out to roll Tanahashi for the European Clutch bridging pin! TWO!! And Zack can’t believe it! Fans rally again while ZSJ catches his breath. ZSJ keeps his eyes on Tanahashi, and gives him more EuroUppers. Tanahashi stays standing to give a EuroUpper of his own. ZSJ falls but drags himself back up while Tanahashi hobbles over. ZSJ gives EuroUppers, Tanahashi gives one back that rocks ZSJ again. Tanahashi drags ZSJ up but his EuroUpper is blocked to a backslide attempt.

Both men fight the other, but ZSJ flips over to flip Tanahashi into the double wristlock back into the EuroClutch! TWO!! Penalty Kick! Cover, TWO, and ZSJ is furious. The fans are loving this match, though. They rally again while ZSJ waits for Tanahashi. Both men stand, and ZSJ goes after the leg. He wants the kneebar but Tanahashi sits down on the rolling takedown. Tanahashi pries ZSJ off the leg and goes for a full nelson. ZSJ uses his own leg to prevent it, then mule kicks Tanahashi away. ZSJ runs but into the slingblade! Cover, TWO, but Tanahashi gets the full nelson and Dragon Suplex!

Tanahashi bridges for the cover, TWO! But Tanahashi keeps going, getting himself to a corner and to the top rope. Fans are thunderous, Tanahashi hits THE High Fly Flow to ZSJ’s back. Then Tanahashi flips ZSJ over, and climbs back up. His leg slows him down but he still goes for High Fly Flow, only for it to flop! Michinoku coaches ZSJ up while the fans rally for Tanahashi one more time. Tanahashi’s leg bothers him again, but he still forces himself up. ZSJ also stands up, and goes after that very leg. Tanahashi slaps ZSJ away from a dragon screw, then rolls ZSJ back, to copy the EuroClutch! TWO, and ZSJ grabs Tanahashi into a sleeper, but then shifts to the calf killer!

Tanahashi writhes and flails, then rolls over only for ZSJ to roll him back. ZSJ moves Tanahashi all around to get back to the calf killer. ZSJ grabs both legs, keeping his leg hooked on, and drags Tanahashi away from the ropes. Tanahashi endures, uses the free leg to scrape ZSJ’s face, but ZSJ grabs that for a stretch muffler! Or as ZSJ calls it, Orienteering with Napalm Death!

Both of Tanahashi’s legs are being tortured now, with fans rallying, but Tanahashi taps! ZSJ wins!!

Winner: ZSJ, by submission

He did it! Zack Sabre Jr. does as Michinoku predicted, and wins the New Japan Cup with a submission. ZSJ denies Tanahashi his third career New Japan Cup victory, and we take a break as the young lions help Tanahashi to the back.

NJPW returns as Zack Sabre Jr. is presented the New Japan Cup trophy.

Michinoku also holds up ZSJ’s Revolution Pro Wrestling Undisputed British Tag Team and British Heavyweight Championships for the Technical Wizard. Michinoku then takes up the mic again to review, “The 2018 New Japan Cup, who is the champion?!” Congratulations, Zack, because you now have the right to challenge a champion for the April 1st event in Ryogoku, Sakura Genesis. Michinoku has a question, then. “What do you want next?!” ZSJ thinks on that a moment. “No question,” he says, “I want Okada.” Fans applaud that idea. Michinoku confirms, “The IWGP Heavyweight Champion, you have been chosen. Okada Kazuchika, c’mon over here!” And Okada appears!

The Rainmaker walks down to the ring, with Gedo in two. Fans chant “Okada! Okada!” as the IWGP Heavyweight Champion enters the ring. Michinoku knows Okada is a strong champion, but “faced with Zack Sabre Jr.’s submission holds… You JUST–” Gedo interrupts Michinoku!

Gedo takes that mic, and admits ZSJ has made a lot of guys tap out. ZSJ has incredible holds. But, they’re not gonna work on the Rainmaker. ZSJ can NOT make Okada tap out, and do you know why? Because Okada– Michinoku interrupts Gedo back!

Michinoku tells Gedo that ZSJ’s holds are on that “whole ‘nother level”, so he WILL take Okada out. As for Okada and ZSJ themselves, Okada simply holds up his title, while ZSJ holds up the middle finger. ZSJ it’s only going to be two weeks until Okada taps out. Okada says it’ll be two weeks until ZSJ goes down. Michinoku gives Okada some advice: when you get caught in one of ZSJ’s holds, “You JUST! TAP! OUT!”

As Okada and Gedo take their leave, Michinoku again reviews with the fans. “Who won the 2018 New Japan Cup tournament?” The man who can finish anyone anywhere with any hold, the man who has unlimited submissions, the man who defeated Naito, Ibushi, Sanada and now Tanahashi. And now he’s the man who will beat Okada, that man is the Submission Master, ZSJ, Zack Sabre Jr! Will Michinoku’s prediction come to fruition again at Sakura Genesis? Or will there be a Rainmaker lariat in his future?

 

Backstage interviews.

Hiroshi Tanahashi, exhausted as he is, manages to say, “It was in my reach, and then it wasn’t.” The Ace was about to catch up to the champion, but he’s still far away.

As for Zack Sabre Jr, a first-time New Japan Cup winner, ends it the way he started it: Orienteering with Napalm Death. Tanahashi was the old ace, ZSJ is the New Ace of NJPW. And Okada had a good run, but it’s time for a new, English champion. Michinoku points out ZSJ is already a champion in Revolution Pro, so all that’s left is Japan’s IWGP Heavyweight belt. Okada is powerful, no doubt, but now he will “experience a whole new kind of submission hold.” Okada can preapre all he wants, but he saw what happened to Tanahashi. The new era begins, it is the ZSJ Era. And those who stand in his way, #JustTapOut.

But Okada has something to say, too. “So, Zack Sabre Jr.” Congratulations on the win to be the best wrestler of the Spring. But ZSJ isn’t the best, Okada is the best. You aren’t the best until you beat Okada. “This is not a good matchup for you.” Ever since Okada became the Rainmaker, he’s only tapped out once. Only one man made him submit, so Okada looks forward to seeing what ZSJ tries. “Maybe I’ll give up. Or maybe I won’t.” Which means ZSJ either becomes the best, or he doesn’t. We’ll see at Ryogoku.

 


 

My Thoughts:

And incredible episode, and all with just one incredible match. Two of NJPW’s best today and this one match shows everything as to why they are two of the best. There was so much story focusing on how both men played the submission game. However, playing the submission game that ZSJ knows so well may have been Tanahashi’s downfall. Tanahashi had the size and strength advantage and should’ve tried harder to make this about strikes or slams, but he couldn’t get away from ZSJ’s holds. That is likely the point Gedo and Okada make with their promos. Okada can play the striking and power games better than ZSJ and those will be what helps the champion win. But win or lose, ZSJ is making great strides towards the top of NJPW, so he’ll surely be a top champion in the future.

My Score: 8.5/10


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Coverage

Mitchell’s WWE Raw Results & Report! (1/18/21)

Will Raw be on fire tonight?

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Coverage Raw 2021

Will Alexa Bliss have a twisted surprise for the Raw Women’s Champion?

She gave Randy Orton a taste of his own medicine, but she might be hungry for something more! Will Alexa be ready for Asuka and earn herself a shot at the title?

OFFICIAL RESULTS

  • Charlotte Flair VS Peyton Royce; Charlotte wins.
  • Xavier Woods VS Mace w/ Retribution; Mace wins.
  • Mandy Rose w/ Dana Brooke VS Shayna Baszler w/ Nia Jax; Baszler wins.
  • Ricochet VS AJ Styles w/ Omos; Styles wins, Ricochet is NOT in the Men’s Royal Rumble.
  • Six Man Tag: The Hurt Business VS Matt Riddle & The Lucha House Party; win(s).
  • Asuka VS Alexa Bliss; wins.

PLAY BY PLAY

“Now is the time.”

Martin Luther King Jr’s dream lives on, but only if we live it. Do not judge by the color of one’s skin, but by the content of their character. We will reach the promised land together. #LongLiveTheDream.

 

Randy Orton speaks.

“There is a saying that people who fight fire with fire usually end up with ashes. Ashes of the one responsible for their affliction.” Orton wears a mask to cover his burned face. “The voices in my head have never been louder. Encapsulating my every thought, just like this mask encapsulates my face.” Orton held Alexa Bliss’ fate in his hands, yet showed a side of himself he didn’t know he had: compassion. Orton rewatches the footage for himself. The hatred he had for himself needed to be redirected, and he was ready to make Triple H “like a lamb to the slaughter, until she interrupted.”

It was only just last week that HHH was shockingly spirited away so that Alexa could throw a literal FIREBALL at Orton! “And now look at me. LOOK AT ME! This is the damnation I receive for showing compassion? I haven’t been able to sleep because every time I close my eyes, all I see is that ball of fire hurtling towards my face.” Orton seethes as he says “that inescapable feeling of the fire burning my flesh will never go away.” Whatever compassion was in him, it left with that inferno. Orton wears this mask to not only protect himself, but to shield everyone else from the horrors that he endured.

Orton watches himself from last week flail and writhe as he clutched his face in pain. “Despite the agony I felt that would mortify a lesser man, I consider myself… lucky.” Orton came away with just first degree burns and not much worse. He could’ve been disfigured forever! But Orton doesn’t blame Alexa. He blames THE FIEND! Orton already sent him straight to Hell. “There’s no doubt The Fiend is responsible for this. Alexa was merely the vehicle. And I know exactly what The Fiend wants. He wants to stop me from achieving the inevitable.” That is to say, winning the Royal Rumble again, going back to WrestleMania, and becoming a world champion.

Orton is sure everyone else in the locker room loved seeing his face burn, “knowing that their biggest threat may have just been eliminated from competing in the Royal Rumble match. But you could chop off all my limbs and it wouldn’t stop me from winning this year’s Royal Rumble match. Because despite my sickening affliction, I vow to remain in the Royal Rumble match. I can only compete as long as I can tolerate the pain, but the funny thing is… I enjoy the pain. It fuels my every move.” Orton has a match! Orton wants everyone to thank The Fiend when he burns their dreams to ashes and goes on to main event WrestleMania! He lights the match, watches it burn, then blows it out. Will this new, even darker Orton extinguish 29 other lights before going back to the Grandest Stage of Them All?

 

Ric Flair arrives at the ThunderDome, with Lacey Evans!

Lacey wants to hear some Four Horsemen stories but Charly Caruso comes over to ask about this “relationship” first. Lacey says that’s so nasty. This isn’t TMZ. This is beneath Charly! Charly is compelled to ask because Ric helped Lacey beat Charlotte Flair, his own daughter! Lacey says to show respect to the 16-time world champion, and a living legend. But to answer the question, there’s a reason Ric is the Dirtiest Player in the Game. He was just living up to that name. As far as the relationship goes, Lacey is simply learning from the greatest man to ever step in the ring. Now, they are going to go watch Peyton Royce knock the nasty Queen of her throne.

Charlotte Flair VS Peyton Royce!

But speaking of dirty, Peyton attacks Charlotte from behind at the ramp! They brawl, referees hurry to separate them but this match is going to happen, after the break!

Raw returns and the bell rings and Charlotte tackles Peyton to a corner! Then stomps away on her! The ref backs Charlotte off but she goes right back for more! She RAMS Peyton, RAMS her again, but Peyton sends Charlotte into buckles to fire stomps back! The ref counts, Peyton stops at 3 and brings Charlotte out to hammer away. Charlotte trips Peyton, gives some ground ‘n’ pound, then tackles her to ropes! They spill out of the ring and Charlotte CHOPS! And CHOPS! And CHOPS! Charlotte puts Peyton in but Peyton rolls out the far side. Charlotte pursues but Peyton kicks back, only for Charlotte to CLUB her, and bounce her off the desk!

Charlotte stalks Peyton around the way, they go back in the ring, then back out the ramp side. Another CHOP, CHOP and CHOP into the post! Peyton shoves Charlotte into the post, then into the ring! Cover, TWO! Charlotte is still in this but Peyton drags her around to drop elbows. Peyton puts on a thrashing chinlock but Charlotte endures. Charlotte fights up, arm-drags free, and CLOBBERS Peyton! Charlotte looms over Peyton, drags her up and bounces her off buckles. Charlotte bends Peyton against ropes, lets go at 3, and brings Peyton around for another buckle bump! Peyton dodges, Charlotte hits buckles, and Peyton throws Charlotte down by her hair! Cover, TWO!

Peyton is frustrated but she kicks Charlotte down and around. She pushes Charlotte to ropes, bumps her off buckles in return, then digs her boot into Charlotte’s face! The ref counts, Peyton lets off and bumps Charlotte off more buckles. Peyton whips corner to corner, Charlotte goes up and out to shoulder back in! Slingshot and roll up, TWO, but Charlotte ROCKS Peyton with a right! Charlotte blocks boots, has Peyton in the ropes, DRAPING NECKBREAKER! Cover, TWO! But now Ric makes his entrance?! Ric swaggers on stage and Charlotte is annoyed, because here comes Lacey in one of Ric’s robes!

Charlotte is confused as ever, but Peyton catches her with the HEEL KICK! Cover, TWO!! Peyton is furious that Charlotte survives and Raw goes to break.

Raw returns and Peyton goes to buckle bump but Charlotte blocks to CHOP! And O’Conner roll, TWO! Charlotte goes into buckles but she dodges to send Peyton back into buckles! Both women are down and Peyton crawls away. Charlotte gets up, checks her nose, and then goes after Peyton. Peyton jawbreakers, whips, but Charlotte holds ropes to KICK back! Peyton dodges to HEEL KICK back! Peyton runs but Charlotte puts her on the apron, but Peyton SCORPION KICKS! Peyton goes up, leaps, but Charlotte gets under! Peyton turns around into the backbreaker and BUCKLE SHOT! Cover, TWO!

Charlotte watches Peyton go to the apron, runs in and BOOTS her down! Charlotte dares Lacey to do something again, but no, Lacey stays in the back this time. Peyton drags herself up as the ring count is 8 and is in at 9, but gets stomped by Charlotte! Charlotte puts Peyton’s leg on the rope, then drops a knee, only to miss! Peyton mule kicks then hobbles away from her back hurting. She dodges Charlotte’s clothesline to elbow, kick and HEEL KICK, to then ENZIGURI! Cover, TWO!

Peyton is furious and she drags Charlotte up to suplex. Charlotte slips out to CHOP BLOCK the leg! Knee breaker after knee breaker, Charlotte shows no mercy! Charlotte steps through, Figure Four, to FIGURE EIGHT! Peyton taps, Charlotte wins!

Winner: Charlotte Flair, by submission

But she doesn’t let go! She wants Peyton to suffer on behalf of Lacey! Charlotte finally does let Peyton go, will Peyton even be able to team with Lacey now? Will anyone want to?

 

Matt Riddle crosses paths with The Hurt Business.

Riddle just wants to say hi but MVP doesn’t want to hear it. Does he wear this same lame outfit on the streets? Of course. Riddle lives his life free and untethered. And unkempt, it seems. Uncalled for, bro. But Riddle will take the high road. Of course he will. Riddle just wants to say he admires how nice they all dress. MVP is like Gordy Gecko, then there’s “Ceddy the Cheddy,” and Benjamin spending the Benjamins. And of course, who would ever call Lashley “Slobby Bobby.” Lashley handles this and the others head out.

Lashley tells Riddle that if it were him, he actually likes the flipflops. But he heard they’re bad for your feet. What? No they’re not. Lashley STOMPS one of Riddle’s feet, and says that proves his point. Riddle says Lashley will see this foot later, right up his ass! Will The Bro and his “brochachos” make the Hurt Business pay in their 3v3 later tonight?

 

Raw returns as Lucha House Party checks with Riddle.

Is he going to be okay for the match? Riddle says when he was in high school, his cousin ran his foot over with his truck, and Riddle was still able to go to prom. He’ll just tape it up. If he says so…

 

Xavier Woods VS Mace w/ Retribution!

Here he goes again on his own! Mustafa Ali says this is their time to strike. Kofi Kingston at home with a broken jaw isn’t enough, Ali wants to break his spirit, and that’s by breaking one of his most beloved friends! Ali prays Kofi can’t compete or even be in Elimination Chamber or WrestleMania. Then Kofi will feel what Ali did just one year ago! Will this revenge a long time coming be carried out by the menacing monster at Ali’s command?

Ali shouts at Woods about Kofi being a coward. Woods DECKS Ali for that and the ref has to keep Retribution back! Woods is ready for a fight but Raw goes to break!

Raw returns and the bell rings! Woods circles with Mace but is cornered! Mace keeps Woods from getting away but Woods CHOPS back, only for Mace to shrug it off. Woods and Mace go again, Woods CHOPS and fires off hands but Mace shoves him away. Woods kicks low, climbs up and throws more hands but Mace shoves him away again. Mace catches Woods with both hands and brings him out to center for a CHOKE SLAM! Cover, TWO!! Woods survives but Mace choke grips Woods again and dead lifts him to shove him to a corner! Mace runs in to elbow Woods down! Ali mocks Woods’ pain as Mace whips Woods and KNEES him in the back! Mace looms over Woods, covers, TWO!

Mace sits Woods up, pries on fingers and then clamps on for a neck wrench! Woods endures, Mace fish hooks Woods’ mouth, and Ali says Kofi doesn’t need to worry. Woods will break his jaw and be right next to Kofi tomorrow. Woods bites Mace’s hand! Woods mule kicks, CHOPS away, then kicks low to CHOP and CHOP again! Mace ROCKS Woods with the uppercut! Mace whips, Woods dodges and ducks to dropkick a leg out! Woods keeps on Mace with haymakers and elbows! Mace shoves Woods away but Woods CLUBS him! Mace shoves Woods but runs into a boot! HONOR- NO! Choke grip! Woods fights the grip, gets free, and ENZIGURIS!

Mace flops out of the ring but Ali shouts at him to get back in. Mace goes up, but Woods baseball slides under Mace to hit Ali! Woods hits Mace off the apron again but Ali tells them they stop this. They’re going to shut Woods down! Mace gets in, the other members run distraction, Woods SUPERKICKS but runs into a BOOT! Mace drags Woods back up, fireman’s carries, and SWINGING AIR RAID CRASH! Cover, Mace wins!

Winner: Mace, by pinfall

Retribution wins again, and Ali stands over Woods. “Tell Kofi, Retribution says, ‘Get well soon.'” Ali and his cohorts are laughing now, but will Kofi make a comeback to shut them up?

 

Backstage interview with Asuka.

She’s been invited to Alexa’s Playground, what does she expect? Asuka honestly doesn’t know. But after seeing her set Orton on fire, Asuka hopes it isn’t Alexa’s dark side.

 

It’s the WrestleMania Report!

It’s Hank E. Panki, totally not Triple H, and Anita Reelman, totally not Stephanie McMahon. Don’t question it. But they’re sending it over to the weatherman, Sunny McCloud. Nope, it’s Roman Reigns, and there is no weatherman. Roman sits at the rightful place as Head of the Table. He’s not going to play along. But if they were, Paul Heyman is sure someone would say, “The extended forecast-” Paul, no. Just give it to them straight. Heyman says Tampa Bay’s Raymond James Stadium will be the home of WrestleMania 37! Wow, big news! It’s going to be buck wild this April! And how great that they get to host WrestleMania again, for the first time.

But some real breaking news in sports, “Hailey Mary” and not Sasha Banks has the exclusive! But then an assistant makes sure she got the report about how WrestleMania is coming back to AT&T Stadium for 2022. Uh, y-yes, now she does! Now shoo. But you heard it here first! WrestleMania 38 will be right here in Texas! It doesn’t get much bigger than that! Dropping exclusives like it’s hot! And what a spectacle! Hank’s a spectacle. Rawr. But now, to Huge Kantseeme for entertainment news! Hugh? Hello? We can’t see him. It’s totally not John Cena! They love it when he does that. And you know what Huge loves? LA!

CUT! When Cena- er, uh, Hugh, says that, it sounds so fake. Um, Hugh, we’re live… Okay, he’ll try again. “Y’know what else I love? LA! That’s right, Hollywood!” Who doesn’t love drama? Cue zoom. Here’s some drama: WrestleMania is going Hollywood in 2023! PLOT TWIST! Thanks, Hugh, but you got a bit carried away. It will be in SoFi Stadium, or as Anita likes to call it, “So FINE Stadium.” Nothing like a good giggle. And that wraps things up for the WrestleMania Report. And we’re good. Phew! HHH and Stephanie take off the “costumes” and are pretty sure no one realized it was them all along. But yes, WrestleMania is all set for the next THREE YEARS! Who will make it to each of them? Will you be there?

 

Raw presents… Alexa’s Playground…!

Alexa goes to her swing and welcomes us back. She is so excited we’re all here, but before we get started, she wants to address The Viper in the room. “Randy, last week, I was just coming out here to talk to you. Y’know, clear the air. And then, things got a little… heated!” Alexa laughs at her own joke and says if Orton needs some sunblock, just let her know. But either way, good to see he’s feeling okay. Now to tonight’s very special guest! Alexa is so excited to invite her opponent, the Women’s Tag Team and Raw Women’s Champion, ASUKA! Asuka makes her entrance, and joins Alexa on the swings. Alexa says no, that’s not her seat. Oh, okay…

Is Asuka okay? Yes, yes! Asuka is okay. Sorry, Alexa wasn’t talking to her. Oh, okay. Asuka says she’ll just stand over here by the slide… They giggle, and Asuka more nervously than Alexa. Alexa knows they have a match tonight but for now, let’s have fun! Alexa has breaking news! It’s big news! Should she tell them or do you want to, invisible friend? Okay, she’ll say it. Alexa is entering the Women’s Rumble! Asuka wishes Alexa good luck. But wait. If Alexa wins the Rumble match and Asuka is still champion, then they might face off at WrestleMania! Asuka says that would be her honor! And Asuka is a big fan of Alexa’s! Really? Yes! Thank you, that’s so sweet! Well of course! YOWIE WOWIE~!

Alexa doesn’t like Asuka saying that. Asuka hopes Alexa still wants to have fun. Let’s dance! It’s Asuka’s theme, but Asuka still dances. Alexa doesn’t want that. Alexa says STOP IT! Asuka’s music stops and Asuka is a bit startled. Alexa’s friend says something and Alexa says they’re right. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. If Alexa had done something differently, he’d still be here… Asuka says it’ll be okay. Asuka tries to explain in Japanese, and then says The Fiend’s still here. “Do NOT say his name!” Alexa then gets a smile as she waves at the rocking horse. Asuka is spooked and leaves the ring. Alexa switches to the rocking horse, but will she flip the switch when the bell rings?

 

Backstage interview with The Miz and John Morrison.

Can they give us a hint at what they have in store for Goldberg tonight on The Dirt Sheet? Oh, she wants to know? Of course Sarah wants to know! “I WANT THE SCOOP~!” NO! No spoilers. Tune in like everyone else. But what Miz will say is that what is in store will definitely be controversial. Controversy creates cash, much like the Money in the Bank. CHACHING!

 

Raw hears from Jeff Jarrett!

Double J has a prediction for Drew McIntyre VS Goldberg for the WWE World Championship at the Royal Rumble PPV. Jarrett knows both men, but he quotes his old buddy, Toby Keith. The hook goes, “I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m good once as I ever was.” That will be the story of the Rumble, because we’ll see Goldberg’s Spear, Jackhammer and win for a NEW WWE World Champion! Will McIntyre deny that prediction when the  match actually happens?

 

Mandy Rose w/ Dana Brooke VS Shayna Baszler w/ Nia Jax!

While the #SexyMuscleFriends go to the ring together, the Queen of Spades gives fair warning backstage. “Last week, I made Mandy Rose tap out, and then I threw Mandy Rose out of the ring like an empty can of White Claw.” She promises to do the same thing tonight, and then everyone the Women’s Rumble better watch out because she’ll do the same to them. It doesn’t matter if it’s Charlotte, Bayley, or even her own tag team partner. Nia is surprised by that, but it IS every woman for themselves. Nia says she’s been the one carrying the team, but will Shayna prove she can do bad all by herself after the break?

Raw returns and Nia joins commentary as the bell rings. Mandy and Shayna tie up, Mandy shoves Shayna then trips her up with a leg. Shayna gets up, Mandy waistlocks, rolls Shayna up, ONE! Shayna kicks Mandy’s legs out, KNEES her down then covers, TWO! Shayna drags Mandy around and clamps on with a neck wrench. Mandy endures and Dana coaches her up. Shayna drives an elbow into Mandy’s face! Shayna CLUBS Mandy, Mandy hits back but Shayna CLUBS and KICKS her around! Shayna throws forearms, drags Mandy up for knees, then snapmares to KICK her again! Cover, TWO!

Shayna is back on Mandy with the neck wrench. Mandy fires up, throws body shots but Shayna throws her down by her hair! Shayna clamps onto Mandy again, pulls on arm arm for a half straitjacket, then stands on the arm! It’s a new take on the ARM STOMP! Dana checks on Mandy but Shayna tells her to back off. Mandy rolls Shayna up, TWO!! Mandy runs Shayna over but shakes out the bad arm. Mandy ducks a kick and uses the good arm to lariat over and over! And hit a FLAPJACK! Mandy manages a kip up, runs in and powers Shayna to a corner! Mandy fires off forearms, the ref backs her off but Mandy comes back to throw more forearms and even stomps!

The ref counts, Mandy backs off but Shayna gets around to KICK the bad arm! Shayna wrenches that arm, but Mandy fires off forearms with the other! Mandy pulls Shayna’s hair but Shayna twists the arm! KEYLOCK TAKEDOWN! KIRAFUDA KLUTCH! Mandy taps, Shayna wins!

Winner: Shayna Baszler, by submission

The Queen of Spades took care of this by herself, just as she said she would! Nia says Mandy almost had her, but Shayna argues it wasn’t even close. But Dana sneaks up and dropkicks Nia into Shayna, and they both hit post! The Flex Appeal gets away with Mandy, and they aren’t out of the running yet! Will one of these women win the Women’s Rumble to go after the Raw Women’s Championship?

 

Shayna and Nia argue backstage.

Shayna says that was Nia’s fault for getting involved but Charly Caruso comes by to ask about them not getting along. Well they’ve never really gotten along, even as champions. But meanwhile, the current champions, Charlotte has her daddy issues and Asuka is being creeped out by Alexa, are they really getting along? In fact, now is the perfect time to get that rematch for the titles! Nia says that’s actually a good idea. They go off to find management, will they regain the gold before getting into the Rumble?

 

Backstage interview with Charlotte Flair.

Before discussing the tag titles, how uncomfortable was it for her to see Lacey wearing one of Ric’s robes? Ever since stepping foot in the ring, people accuse her of living off her family name. Now there is literally a woman draping herself on Ric’s arm, begging for her 15 minutes of fame, and living off the name! Charlotte knows that Lacey is just using Ric to get to her. But Charlotte’s been learning from Ric her entire life. She just never went down that path. Maybe Charlotte needs to rethink things, because one person can only take so much trash. Lacey may have one of Ric’s robes, but she will never has Charlotte’s crown.

 

Adam Pearce talks with Ricochet.

We know that there are superstars who need to earn their way into the Rumble match. And this match is perfect timing. A win can go a long way towards opportunities. Ricochet is just glad to have this opportunity. Maybe this is the start to his road to WrestleMania. But then AJ Styles comes by and says it’s funny that Pearce is talking about opportunities. Who would take advice from Pearce, who just literally ran away from the Universal Championship? Yes, he would’ve lost, been embarrassed, but at least he’d have his dignity. Look at Ricochet. Ricochet is going to lose, but he’ll lose with dignity.

Ricochet says Styles has selective amnesia, like 50 First Dates. What’s he talking about? Well, Drew Barrymore’s character couldn’t remember a thing past a certain date because- Styles knows the movie! It’s in his top ten, right next to The Notebook. What’s he talking about here tonight? Ricochet’s point is that Styles has forgotten about TLC when he got embarrassed- Hey! That was The Miz’s fault! Well all Ricochet knows is that Styles will need more than a seven foot giant by his side to prove Ricochet doesn’t belong in the Rumble. The One and Only heads out to the ring, but will he be better than Phenomenal once again?

Ricochet VS AJ Styles w/ Omos!

Styles hangs back long enough to tell Pearce that he doesn’t like him anymore. And when he doesn’t like someone, Omos doesn’t like someone. Omos literally looks down on Scrap Daddy, but what will Pearce do about it, after the break?

Raw returns and Styles makes his entrance. The bell rings, Styles and Ricochet circle, tie up, and Styles powers Ricochet to a corner. The ref counts, Styles lets off and Ricochet circles with him again. They tie up, Styles headlocks, Ricochet tries to power out but Styles holds on tight. Styles grinds Ricochet down, Ricochet rolls to a cover, ONE and Styles holds on. They get up, Ricochet tries to power out again but Styles still holds on. Ricochet makes it a cover again, ONE! Ricochet throws body shots, powers out this time but blocks Styles’ kick to hit an arm-drag! Ricochet whips, Styles gets around to backslide, but Ricochet rolls through. Styles reels Ricochet in but Ricochet trips him up to jackknife bridge! TWO, and Styles tilt-o-whirls to a sunset flip, TWO!

Styles wants the Clash but Ricochet pops free to get around and roll him up, TWO! Ricochet dodges, runs, and headscissors! Styles pops up but into a RANA! Styles is back again, Ricochet rolls and handsprings to headscissor again! Styles is dizzy and flounders, into a dropkick! Ricochet talks some smack to Omos as Styles flounders out. Ricochet runs, slides, but Styles catches him, only for Ricochet to still headscissor him! Ricochet is getting fired up, but Omos glares at him from around the way. Ricochet puts Styles in and follows, but Styles runs in. Ricochet sends Styles out, slingshots, but Omos catches him!

The ref warns Omos to set Ricochet down, and Omos DROPS Ricochet! Ricochet is down but not out yet, and Raw goes to break!

Raw returns and Styles drags Ricochet up to bump him off buckles. Styles scoops Ricochet for a RUNNING BACKBREAKER! Ricochet writhes but Styles paces around. Styles sits Ricochet up to dig a knee in and clamp on with the chinlock. Ricochet endures, fights his way up and throws body shots. Jawbreaker! Styles staggers, but he dodges to waistlock and GERMAN SUPLEX! Ricochet lands on his feet! Ricochet dodges Styles, runs and tilt-o-whirls for the DDT! Both men are down and Omos stares as fans clap on their screens. Ricochet gets to ropes and uses them to get up, and he counter punches Styles then fires off strikes! DISCUS LARIAT! Cover, TWO!!

Ricochet is frustrated but Omos is relieved as Styles survives. Ricochet fireman’s carries but Styles fights out. Ricochet mule kicks a leg then back flips into the DEAD LIFT GERMAN! Bridging cover, TWO! Ricochet grows further frustrated but he watches Styles stand. Ricochet runs out from the corner but Styles dodges. Styles runs in, Ricochet elbows back, QUEBRADA into a LARIAT! Styles gets Ricochet up, SNAP BRAIN BUSTER!! Cover, TWO!! Styles fireman’s carries Ricochet for USHIGOROSHI! Cover, TWO! Omos says it’s alright but Styles is still surprised Ricochet survives!

Styles goes to a corner, goes to the apron, and takes aim. Styles springboards, but Ricochet hits the RECOIL!! Both men are down, Ricochet crawls to the cover, TWO!! Styles survives and Ricochet is beside himself! Ricochet goes to the corner, climbs up top, but Styles trips him up! Ricochet lands hard on his stomach and flops to the apron! Omos coaches Styles as Ricochet drags himself up. Styles goes to the corner, brings Styles up, but Ricochet hotshots! Ricochet aims, slingshots, but into Styles’ suplex, that rebounds off the ropes! Into the STYLES CLASH!!! Cover, Styles wins!

Winner: AJ Styles, by pinfall

Now that was a PHENOMENAL way to win a match! But once again, Styles denies another entry into the Rumble, will he continue to eliminate superstars before they ever get in?

 

 


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Andrew’s Impact Wrestling Hard to Kill Results & Match Ratings: 1.16.21

Three title matches, the return of Decay, Barbed Wire Massacre and a main event with Kenny Omega. Impact Wrestling’s Hard to Kill definitely sounds like it’s got a little bit of everything. Check out how it went!

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So the news that made many people cry a few days ago, was that Alex Shelley would be out of the main event. He went out of his way to film a response/promo/apology so fans knew it was something non-pandemic related, so that was an effort that wasn’t necessary, though appreciated.

Aside from losing it’s “Dream Match” luster, we get Moose as a replacement, which could really work for the cold calculated persona he’s taken on after his EC3 encounter. We also get to crown Knockouts Tag Team champions for the first time in seven and a half years. Let’s also not forget, this could end up being Taya’s swan song from Impact, so we should expect a good match but no Wera Loca victory.

Let’s see if we get any surprises!

Ratings:

  • Decay (Rosemary & Crazzy Steve) vs Tenille Dashwood & Kaleb: Steve wins via King Kill 33 @8:55 – * ½
  • Old School Rules Match: Violent by Design (Joe Doering, Eric Young & Deaner) vs Tommy Dreamer, Rhino & Cousin Jake: EY wins via Piledriver @9:55 – ** ½
  • Knockouts Tag Team Title Finals: Fire & Flava (Kiera Hogan & Tasha Steelz) vs Nevaeh & Havok: Kiera wins via Face the Music @8:40 – ***TITLE CHANGE!!
  • Ace Austin w/Madman Fulton vs Matt Cardona: Cardona wins via DQ @2:30 – N/A
  • X Division Championship: Manik (c) vs Rohit Raju vs Chris Bey: Manik retains via Ole Cradle @13:50 – *** ½
  • Knockouts Championship: Deonna Purrazzo (c) w/Kimber Lee & Susan vs Taya Valkyrie w/ Decay: Deonna retains via Venus de Milo @11:40 – *** ¼
  • Ethan Page vs The Karate Man: Karate Man WINS…Fatality – 200 Stars
  • Barbed Wire Massacre: Sami Callihan vs Eddie Edwards: Eddie wins via Diehard Flowsion @18:50 – *** ¾
  • Moose, Rich Swann &Chris Sabin vs Kenny Omega, Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows: Kenny Omega wins via One Winged Angel @20:30 – ****

 

Results:

During the last few moments of the Countdown, Madison Rayne officially retired from wrestling and from Impact Wrestling. Not sure how long she’ll stay a house wife, but good for her. She did great to actually prove to people she was a decent wrestler since her run during the WOH tournament, she was a fun commentator, so good for her.

Decay (Rosemary & Crazzy Steve) vs Tenille Dashwood & Kaleb

The weird thing about this match was the dynamic between who was involved and what went on.  Crazzy Steve showed a very high work rate in this match, with his strikes and moves looking fantastic. But Rosemary got exposed a bit on still being less than 100% with the knee and generally sloppy on a lot of spots.

Kaleb and Tenille definitely tried to add comedy and their quirky personalities, but the fact that we saw a lot of sloppiness, Steve working his ass off and just comedy spots or gimmick spots too often; this was a giant mess of a match. It also didn’t help that D’lo and Striker are still getting used to each other, so the announcing was distractingly bad.

It can only get better from here!

Old School Rules Match: Violent by Design (Joe Doering, Eric Young & Deaner) vs Tommy Dreamer, Rhino & Cousin Jake

This starts the same way every Tommy Dreamer match starts, with a brawl and weapon use.  This wasn’t a terrible match, but it’s really not anything worth going deeply in to. EY did the flair corner to top rope spot, which ended with Dreamer hitting him with a cookie sheet. We had a Tower spot in the corner, with Joe Powerbombing a Suplex, and it landed right into Dreamer’s face.

Doering got to look like a beast when the entire team took the chairs to him, and he still fought back, ending up in control. Dreamer introduced tacks, then we saw the Signature/Finisher spam which ends with EY breaking up the pinfall and hitting Cousin Jake with the Piledriver.

Again, decent enough, but nothing really special.

Knockouts Tag Team Title Finals: Fire & Flava (Kiera Hogan & Tasha Steelz) vs Nevaeh & Havok

Oh, Brian Hebner is back for this match. Slightly surprising.

Kiera and Tasha try to start fast, but the bigger women over power the smaller team and throw them around a little bit. Havok beats up on both of them, Neavaeh comes in to keep up the momentum, but eventually Tasha and Kiera start making a comeback. We see Fire and Flava go for a lot of quick spots, fast tags and trying to spin around the larger women, but they just get taken for a ride more often than not.

It’s not until Kiera hits a High Round Kick, followed by Tasha with the Springboard Neckbreaker actually takes Havok off her feet. Nevaeh tries to make a save and get things back on track, but Tasha picks her leg, Havok gets wiped out after a great Super Kick from Kiera, Tasha and Kiera use some tandem attacks on Nevaeh, then Tasha slows down Havok as Kiera hits Face the Music and we have new Knockouts Tag Team Champions!

Ace Austin comes out to declare himself into the X Division Triple Threat to make it a 4 way! D’Amore comes out, says he can have a match, just not the title match. Matt Cardona comes out.

Ace Austin w/Madman Fulton vs Matt Cardona

Ace tries to go at Cardona before the ring jacket is off, but Cardona absorbs some offense and then fires back a bit. Fulton gets in the way quite often during this match, so the finish is a little telegraphed. But right as Cardona starts building momentum; Fulton slides in to cause the DQ.

Decent enough way to protect Ace and give Cardona quick win.

X Division Championship: Manik (c) vs Rohit Raju vs Chris Bey

Rohit went after Manik to try and prove his point that it’s TJP. Bey seemed dead set on finding a way to win, and as we expected in an X Division match; there were a lot of spots, but they all made sense. Rohit does manage to take off the mask, but TJP painted his face under the mask, so it still throws off Rohit. TJP strings together a few moves, goes for the Mamba Splash, but gets caught by Bey with a Cutter. Bey then hits a Double Art of Finesse, but his brief moment of not knowing who to pin, caused the pinfall breakup.

Rohit almost won the title back after his call back to hitting his Tiger Knee after a Mamba Splash but Bey kicked out. Haymakers get thrown, Rohit hits the Dragon Stomp on Bey, and looks to finish things, but TJP slides in for the style of Cradle he’s used a bit lately, and retains his title after a fun, hard fought match.

Knockouts Championship: Deonna Purrazzo (c) w/Kimber Lee & Susan vs Taya Valkyrie w/ Decay

Early on all of the seconds get kicked out, with the beauty of the situation being that Susan pulls out her phone and says she’s filming the whole thing. So Susan, really may be a middle aged transformation of Su Yung. Susan might as well be named Karen.

As we focus on the actual match, Deonna starts slowly picking apart Taya. Going after her left arm, then her left knee and just trying to apply submission and weaken different limbs. Taya was able to push back and have her own submission attempt moment. Taya went for an STF, but the submission game isn’t her wheelhouse.

Deonna was able to pick her apart, counter a pinfall attempt and keep Taya grounded long enough to work in some holds. The normal Fujiwara didn’t get her submit, so Venus de Milo followed up and Taya verbally submitted.

Ethan Page vs The Karate Man

Since this is cinematic or at least green screen, I won’t rate this as a real match. But it was amazingly entertaining. Dragon Ball Z references, Karate Kid, and Mortal Kombat references, it was just amazing.

Barbed Wire Massacre: Sami Callihan vs Eddie Edwards

Interesting pacing to get across the familiarity, twisted respect and love for punishment between these two. We saw Barbed Wire Tables, Chairs, Baseball Bats, Kendo Sticks and even an…N64 Controller!

Sami took a ton of punishment, but the story was basically playing with Eddie’s emotions to bait him into bad dives, and openings for Sami to move out of the way, or sneak in a barbed wire shot. Eddie hit a Blue Thunder Bomb on a barbed wire chair, Sami hit an Avalanche Piledriver through a barbed wire table, but none of this was enough. If anything, the Piledriver just pissed Eddie off.

Going for the callback that started it all, Sami tries to hit a Barbed Wire Chair into Eddie’s face with a Barbed Wire Bat, but Eddie hits a low blow to get a moment. Sami tries to bring himself up with a chair, Eddie hits the Boston Knee Party, then the Diehard Flowsion for the win!

Eddie hasn’t hit that Flowsion in a long time. I did appreciate Sami paying homage to Cactus Jack and Striker acknowledging Jun Akiyama and Mitsuharu Misawa on commentary though.

Moose, Rich Swann &Chris Sabin vs Kenny Omega, Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows

The early onset is interesting. Karl Anderson and Chris Sabin start off and there’s some solid technical counter wrestling, and it’s fast paced action. Moose and Gallows come in to do a big boy showdown which worked fairly well, where Swann and Omega had a brief lockup before the Brothers come in to start heeling it up.

We get a lot of Japanese tag stylings, from the triple team that Team Impact pulls off, to the way the Club breaks up any type of momentum with their own train attacks into the corner. Moose looked amazing in this match. He went toe to toe with everyone, pulled off great moves like a Standing Moonsault, leaped to the top rope for a Spanish Fly and was a really good teammate, regardless of his issues with Rich Swann. Hell Swann and Moose even hit a Doomsday Device variant together. Small aside, I did like seeing Chris Sabin pull off Cradle Shock, which just doesn’t happen often enough anymore.

Omega almost has the match one on Rich, but the only one able to break it up was Moose, and he did so. Omega went into V-Trigger spamming mode to wipe out Moose, rock Rich and then a One Winged Angel won the match for the Bullet Club former members.

 

Overall Score: 6.75/10

Well this started off pretty bad, but at least it built upwards. The main even had a lot of fun wrinkles which increased the storytelling, psychology and overall enjoyment of the show. Hell even when Callis nearly jumped into the ring to break up a pin on Kenny was a good little nugget.

As I said in the weekly coverage, this is probably Taya’s final match, or at least one of the last, especially since they logically moved Rosemary back to Decay with Crazzy Steve. Eddie and Sami had a hell of blood feud and it was nearly cathartic. Let’s also not overlook the fact that Tasha and Kiera actually won the Knockouts Tag titles. I almost thought they wouldn’t win just because they are so charismatic and attractive without the titles, where Havok and Nevaeh don’t exactly have electric personalities. But I’m ecstatic that Kiera finally has a title in Impact!

With the pretty awful start for the wrestling and the commentary, which put the show behind the eight ball; but it did recover fairly well. Not nearly as good as Genesis, but it managed to keep the stories rolling and end on an interesting note. A pretty good show after all was said and done.

 


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