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The 5 Worst Segments in WWE History

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Vince McMahon Laughing

Originally, I was planning on writing an article regarding Roman Reigns and his reputation amongst the WWE fanbase currently, but this past Monday Nights edition of RAW hosted one of the worst wrestling segments I have ever sat through, which is a bold claim. The infamous Sami Zayn interview of Bobby Lashley’s ‘sisters’ didn’t just annoy me but annoyed me into looking back at some of the similar slip-ups that WWE have achieved in the past, and how they compared.

Despite the WWE being the most storied & successful entertainment brands on the planet, it isn’t without its downfalls. The company has created countless memories that will live on in the hearts & minds of millions for years to come but sadly some of those memories leave the sourest of tastes in the mouths of professional wrestling fans, many of which we want to forget.

No, I’m not talking about your generic answers such as the ‘Bayley: This is Your Life’ or ‘The Old Day’ segments, I mean those segments that are so aggressively terrible they haven’t just resulted in the demise of superstars and their reputations, but sadly reflected on the WWE’s overall mindset (whether those reflections are accurate or not is up for debate).

I wanted to shed light on the WWE product, and what it reveals may not be pleasant especially to those that are passionate about this industry but may provide some education on how not to book a professional wrestling product. What is being discussed today are the 5 worst segments in the history of the WWE, at least from my own personal perspective.

I’m always up for any suggestions on how to improve this list, but I realistically cannot see any choices that are as terrible as the ones I’m about to discuss.

#5: Mae Young Gives Birth to a Hand

Most of us regard the Attitude Era as the peak of professional wrestling, or at least the general consensus of people does from the point of quality. This era was filled with the most talented and fleshed out roster the business has ever seen, not only did they push the traditional boundaries of professional wrestling on a weekly basis, but the product produced red-hot crowds on every single sell-out crowd they performed in front of.

A gigantic chunk of that era fell on the use of satire to develop storylines, characters and was just a general means of WWE (at the time the WWF) attempting to push their programming’s boundaries even further. One of the most noteworthy results of their satire was Mark Henrys ‘Sexual Chocolate’ persona, framing the now ‘Worlds Strongest Man’ as a playboy who on almost a weekly basis found himself in a new love affair, none however we as ‘memorable’ as the one he had with WWE Hall of Famer Mae Young.

In terms of comedy the angle was brilliant for what its intent was, and some of the moments between the two showed a weird yet fantastic chemistry that only added to the charm a character like Mae Young brought on screen. However, like WWE has done on so many occasions, they took it too far.

During an episode of RAW in 2000 the twos relationship came to its peak point at that time, with the kayfabe birth of their first child. The show itself played up the comedy that surrounded both Henry & Young prior to the key moment of their ‘child’s’ birth but resulted in Young herself giving birth to a hand. You read that right, a hand.

Gerald Brisco who was present during the filming of this segment followed up the initial birth by throwing up on the floor besides both Henry & Young, a reflection of how any fan would feel while watching such an angle. The angle itself has since become a wild satirical piece, even garnering a call-back during the 1000th edition of RAW in 2012 to boisterous cheers, which was a welcome change to the angles initial reaction.

#4: Hornswoggle is revealed as the ‘Anonymous RAW General Manager’

In any form of entertainment, it is vital that a long-term storyline is followed up to perfection. Having a lengthy program, character arc or build doesn’t just take lots of time & effort on the part of your creative team but requires the attention & investment of your audience.

2010 was an odd year for the WWE, as the company’s PG guidelines began to show their impact on the weekly programming many elements of the product began to shift, with new stars being introduced following the departure of some former legends (i.e. Undertaker, HBK, Triple H, etc.) to either a more part-time roll in the company or retirement entirely.

One of the company’s big introductions was the ‘Anonymous GM’ who ran Monday Night RAW on a weekly basis without any real sense of identity, clues or mystery as to whom the person behind the computer was. The character had been voiced through Michael Cole at the time and while speculation ran rampant over the months of this angle, it ultimately came to a halt fairly quickly in mid-2011.

Fans were left with none of their questions or concerns answered until 2012 rolled around. With the company preparing to embrace a new full-time General Manager a weekly special guest was brought in to run the show, one of them being none other than the ‘Anonymous GM’ themselves. A show-spanning angle took place as Santino Marella attempted to uncover the mystery of the GM and who stood behind the computer that had ruled WWE programming for so long, what we got was a swerve that none of us saw coming nor was it a swerve that would necessarily satisfy our urges, as the GM was revealed to be Hornswoggle.

Hornswoggle had long been a satirical element of WWE programming for almost half a decade at that point, going from a vicious leprechaun to Vince McMahons ‘son’, but this just seemed to overstep that fine line between comedy and ridiculousness. The angle not only received backlash from fans who had any slight questions over the ‘Anonymous GM’ but was yet another fine example of WWE favouring comedy over something that potentially could have provided genuine intrigue.

#3: Every Single Bra & Panties Match

I’m almost certain this is the one choice that will receive unanimous votes from anyone who reads this, because who in their right mind thought these matches were a good idea?

The Attitude Era was famous for its boisterous male talents who not only received some of the best storylines and angles in company history but were allowed the time & development to put on some pretty crazy matches during that period. Sadly, we can’t say the same for the women of that era, who on countless occasions were subjugated to abominations like these ‘matches’. The rules were fairly standard; first woman to strip their opponent down to their undergarments wins the match which in turn did absolutely nothing for either performers credibility.

What was baffling about these scenarios was that the women on the roster from the period of 1998-2004 were as talented as ever and could have easily rivalled the efforts of their male counterparts but instead received this treatment. Compared to the modern-day product matches like this gave off awful messages regarding the company’s women, particularly to any of the younger generations watching. Instead of providing viewers with a professional look at the talent behind their female athletes, they were lowered to the standard of pure vanity and nothing more, something I cannot believe was manufactured by the most lucrative wrestling brand on the planet.

Thankfully over a decade removed from those tragic days, women aren’t just being used more prominently on wrestling programs but have been receiving more pushes than many of us could have imagined. Instead of Bra & Panties they step foot inside Hell in The Cell, Steel Cages, Ladder Matches & most recently being the prime attraction of their very own Royal Rumble match. This is certainly one memory all of us can leave behind happily.

#2: Vince McMahon vs God

Distasteful. I don’t think there is one word better suited for this segment than distasteful.

2006 was a strange year for the WWE with the infamous reunion of DX, the return of ECW, the rise of John Cena & certainly one of the worst build-ups to a Pay-Per-View match I have ever seen in all my years of watching this business. Prior to his reunion with best friend Triple H as part of DX, Shawn Michaels embroiled himself in a feud with company chairman Vince McMahon which originally culminated in a clash at Wrestlemania 22, which the former walked out of victorious.

The rivalry however didn’t end just there as McMahon retaliated against his rival in the following weeks demanding more punishment to be inflicted to ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ in their rematch which would occur at that years Backlash event. With the stipulation now being a handicap match featuring Shane McMahon on the side of the boss, Vince mocked Michaels by allowing him a partner larger than anything fathomable, god himself.

Most people took this as a joke, but one that must have raised concerns considering the track record Vince McMahon has with controversy in the WWE. In a segment feature on the build towards the fateful event, Vince & Shane paid a visit to a church to challenge and literally mock god and it turned out exactly as awful as it sounds in my description. Religion is certainly not a key element of wrestling programming by any means and I wish it had remained that way here.

A topic such as this was very difficult to take both seriously or from the stance of satire, as the whole concept just came across as incredibly unnecessary and left a bad taste in fans mouths following these events. It didn’t help either that the segment was held in a real church in the US, which feature Vince crafting his own 12 Commandments, portraying himself as the ‘God’ of WWE & even forcing his son to read out a pre-written psalm which again, is as awful as it sounds.

I know Vince McMahon has been involved in some controversial work during his WWE tenure, but none rivalled the distastefulness that followed this angle. That is, unless you don’t go onto #1 on this article.

#1: Bark Like A Dog

I hate to sound as aggressive as I’m about too, but there has (arguably) never been a more disgusting and vile angle in the history of professional wrestling. Similar to what I mentioned earlier an angle such as this spoke volumes on the state of the WWE’s Women’s Division during this period and also how backwards the company’s policies on women were, especially when compared to the modern-day product.

This angle played a fairly prominent role in WWE history however as it was used as a catalyst in the build to the Vince vs Shane McMahon match at Wrestlemania X-Seven, widely regarded as the best wrestling show of all time. One of the key elements of this angle was Vince McMahon announcing he was cheating on his wife Linda and having an affair than none other than Trish Stratus, which on its own actually gained him legitimate heat with audiences.

In bizarre fashion however, Vince decided to manipulate his power to the women around him in order to establish dominance, by making them bark like dogs. You read that right, Vince McMahon made one of his finest talents crawl on her knees and bark like a dog in front of millions of viewers watching around the world.

Not only was this angle extremely degrading to Trish Stratus and her reputation but was just vile as a basic storyline angle. These segments while only used on one or two occasions were extremely unsettling, vile & demeaning regardless of whether that was the intended effect on the audience. Seeing a woman of Stratus’ calibre forced to get on her knees and crawl around is easily the most disgusting thing I’ve had to sit through as a fan, especially considering what she would go onto accomplish in the later years prior to her retirement.

The angle itself paid off at Wrestlemania X-Seven itself, with Stratus finally standing up to the ego of her overly-inflated romantic partner, but this didn’t remove the damage that had already been done. Moments such as these should be a pleasant reminder of how lucky we should be as fans to have a women’s division like we do now, one that gives women a platform to steal the show on instead of being demeaned & subjugated on.

I love professional wrestling, I just wish moments like these didn’t make me hate it too.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Chris’s Extreme Rules Grades And Analysis

Chris weighs in on WWE Extreme Rules!

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Brock Lesnar Extreme Rules

Chris weighs in on WWE Extreme Rules!

With so many questions, where to begin? Will Seth Rollins and Becky Lynch shut up Baron Corbin and Lacey Evans once and for all? Is The Beast in the Bank going to attempt a cash-in? Let’s find out!

Chris’s Grades

  • Drew Gulak (c) vs. Tony Nese: Cruiserweight Championship–B
  • Finn Balor(c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura–B+
  • The Undertaker/Roman Reigns vs. Shane McMahon/Drew McIntyre: No Holds Barred Match–A
  • The Revival (c) vs. The Usos: Raw Tag Team Championships–B
  • Aleister Black vs. Cesaro–A+
  • Bayley (c) vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross 2-On-1 Handicap Match: SmackDown Women’s Championship–C
  • Braun Strowman vs. Bobby Lashley: Last Man Standing Match–A++
  • Daniel Bryan and Rowan (c) vs. New Day (Xavier Woods and Big E) vs. Heavy Machinery (Otis and Tucker) Triple-Threat-Match: SmackDown Tag Team Championships–B+
  • Ricochet (c) vs. AJ Styles: United States Championship–A-
  • Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler–C
  • Kofi Kingston (c) vs. Samoa Joe: WWE Championship–B
  • Seth Rollins/Becky Lynch (c) vs. Baron Corbin/Lacey Evans Winners-Take-All Mixed Tag Team Match: Universal and Raw Women’s Championship–A+

Analysis

Kick-off Show:

We kick off the pay-per-view with Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Finn Balor for the Intercontinental Championship.

This was a good match, with both competitors able to capitalize on opportunities. It started off slow but, when the action picked up they gelled perfectly. Nakamura allowed his dangerous side on display as he landed a sliding snap German suplex to Balor from the ropes. The finish came after a Coup de Grace landed but nobody was home. Two Kinshasa’s later and we have a new Intercontinental Champion.

I was shocked by the title change after no build-up for their clash, but I’ve been saying for months; that Balor needs to drop the Intercontinental Championship so he can move back up to the main event title scene, where he’s truly belonged in since returning from injury in 2017.

Will the ruthless and more dangerous Drew Gulak retain his Cruiserweight Championship or will The Premier Athlete Tony Nese regain the title he didn’t “technically” lose? Gulak blasts Nese right after the bell. Lots of great back and forth action here. Gulak lands a ferocious lariat off the ring apron! Nese catches him and hits a German suplex into the turnbuckle.

Nese lands a jaw-dropping Moonsault on Gulak hanging off the ropes. Nese back in hits a beautiful 450 splash…long two-count. A Sunset Flip pinning combination, Nese wants the Sunset Flip Driver…nope… Gulak gets a Powerbomb for another long two-count. Gulak hits the Cyclone Crash for the 1-2-3 still Cruiserweight Champion Drew Gulak. Wow…What a match…Nese and Gulak had impeccable chemistry, and I can’t wait to see more clashes! Gulak truly has evolved into this vicious and dangerous character.

Main-Card:

Here we go folks, we’re going live! No Holds Barred opens the show. Taker/Reigns vs. Shane-O Mac/McIntrye

This match definitely delivered, I feel the number one question going into this was what shape is The Deadman in following the disastrous Goldberg vs. Taker match at Super ShowDown? The young studs Reigns and McIntrye carried the contest very well. Of course, Elias would come out here and stack the deck against Taker. Unfortunately for Shane-O Mac and gang, the numbers weren’t enough to prevail. Two Chokeslams and a perfectly-timed Spear followed by a Devastating Tombstone Piledriver the win was academic.

Raw Tag Team Championships are the line. Will the Top Guys and The Usos take the tag team division to a whole new level? The action starts off red-hot as Jey and Dawson start things off. Dawson slows the pace down and terrific old-school wrestling by Dawson and Wilder. A fantastic sequence happened as Jey finally made the tag to Jimmy but the official’s back was turned. So Dawson and Wilder pound away at him in the corner, while Dawson plays dead with a hilarious facial expression. Jimmy lands a stunning corkscrew splash on both Dawson and Wilder. The Revival retain the titles after a magnificent Shatter Machine!

Hell Yes, It’s time for Aleister Black’s first singles match against Cesaro! Will he make The Swiss Cyborg Fade to Black? Black Mass right out of the gate, Cesaro blocks as both competitors traded kicks and punches. Cesaro plays mind games using Black’s own cross-legged pose. The Swiss Cyborg lands a jaw-dropping slingshot uppercut off the ropes for a long two-count.

Black attempts the Double-Stomp from the top-rope but, gets caught and Cesaro lifts him up and hits an uppercut in mid-air. Black locks Cesaro’s injured leg into submission, and the crafty Swiss Cyborg turns it into a Sharpshooter. The finish comes after a back-and-forth sequence of uppercuts and stiff kicks…Black Mass for the win and a hell of a match! I would not mind seeing a best of 7 series between them.

2-on-1 Handicap Match is up next. Will the odds be too much for Bayley to retain her SmackDown Women’s Championship? Will we see the long-awaited return of The Boss Sasha Banks? Nikki Cross and Bayley start the match. Bayley is holding her own against both opponents. Bliss gets the blind tag and Bayley fights Cross outside. After she gets on the apron, Bliss drives her headfirst into the steel steps.

Cross and Bliss are exhibiting stellar teamwork with quick tags and keeping the champ down. Bayley locks in a knee lock and a headlock submission on both of her challengers. The finish came when Twisted Bliss was blocked by knees, Cross gets the tag and a hard knee… Bayley’s Flying Elbow Drop 1-2-3. I’m a bit surprised that Bliss and Cross worked so well together, that said the resilience of Bayley was on point!

Last Man Standing Match…How the hell are The Monster Among Men and The Almighty Bobby Lashley going to top what they did three weeks ago? This is going to be a horror-flick themed wake of destruction. Lashley tries to hit Strowman on the ropes but gets chunked outside. Bell rings as Strowman hits back-to-back shoulder tackles in the corner. The Monster is running and bulldozes through Lashley…Second time…nope SPEAR!

Holy Shit! This match had everything that you could have wanted from two behemoths. The action went everywhere from inside the main lobby of the Wells Fargo arena, back to ringside as Strowman bulldozes through his foe like a bull. Lashley picks him up and slams The Monster through the barricade. The Monster Among Men Powerslammed Lashley through an open area down below, through some tables. While the official made it to the eight-count Strowman punched through the surrounding and was declared the Last Man Standing!  A very fitting brawl for the old ECW arena! Please let these two beasts tear each other apart again!

Up next is the SmackDown Live Tag Team Championship Triple-Threat-Match. Can The Planet’s Champions overcome the odds and keep their titles? Or will Woods and E become Six-time Champs? Or will the hungry newcomers Heavy Machinery Compactor their way to the titles? Woods and Bryan start things off. After a headlock both Bryan and Woods, they use their speed and agility to dodge and leap over each other, Woods drills Bryan with a hard right. Tucker is in now and he flips over Woods! Rowan gets the tag and just plows through him to send him outside.

Woods is in, Rowan is throwing him around like a sack of laundry. Otis tags in and plows through Bryan in the corner and it’s Caterpillar time! Otis lifts E up for an impressive hanging Suplex and Tucker hits a cross-body splash at the same time! Tucker hits a massive cross-body splash on top of competitors outside! Trash Compactor to both Woods and E back-to-back…two-counts.

Bryan sneaks a tag while several competitors execute a Superplex into Powerbomb in the corner. E hits the Superplex on Rowan and, Bryan lands the diving headbutt. He locks in the Lebell Lock on E; while he’s trying for a rope break Bryan magnificently holds his leg and an arm to prevent it. Bryan gets caught mid-air after his signature moonsault flip in the corner… Midnight Hour for the 1-2-3.

I thought to myself, I feel bad for whatever match follows the last man standing. I was wrong this was an incredible match. Heavy Machinery went toe-to-toe with the powerhouses, Bryan uses the masterfully clever tactics to put on a hell of a performance. I was surprised by the title change here, but I think E and Woods vs. Heavy Machinery for the titles at SummerSlam would be a terrific match!

While New Day is in a backstage interview holding all the gold, Paul Heyman grabs a mic. He enters HIS ARENA as Mr. Extreme. Once again he gives an Oscar-worthy promo hyping Brock Lesnar cashing-in tonight. Is he telling the truth or is he Paul Heyman?

United States Championship is on now. Before the bell rings Gallows and Anderson attack Ricochet. Ricochet lands a beautiful running shooting star press on Styles off the apron. The Phenomenal One is putting on a clinic here as his brothers cheer him on. Every time Ricochet starts to mount a comeback Styles just knocks him right back down.

Here we go now as The One and Only runs up Styles and hits a step-up enzuigiri. Ricochet flies and takes out Gallows and Anderson. From a northern lights maneuver, Ricochet deadlifts Styles into a Suplex for a two-count. Ricochet attempts a slingshot DDT but gets suplexed into the turnbuckle. The One and Only countered a Styles Clash into a hurricanrana pin and almost got the victory. Anderson breaks up a pinfall after Ricochet hits another stunning shooting star press. Gallows and Anderson distract the champ and Styles hits the Super-Styles-Clash for the 1-2-3 and the new United States Champion!

What a Phenomenal match (Pun Intended) Styles and Ricochet put on an amazing match. Tons and tons of reversals and counters, they showed off what has been held back on the past week’s Raw. I can’t Freaking wait to see Styles/Ricochet II at SummerSlam hopefully.

Up next is a match that wasn’t even on the card when I made my predictions Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler. Following Owens’s pipebomb promo this past Tuesday and, a parking lot brawl. The bell rings and Ziggler slaps him in the face, Owens hits a Stunner…1-2-3. Round 2 of the KO Pipebomb; as he grabs the mic and stands by his comments from Tuesday and once again proclaims how disgusting it is for Shane McMahon to call himself The Best in the World! Owens as the antihero to the authority is AMAZING!

WWE Championship time now…Will Kofi survive Joe and remain WWE Champion, or will Joe put his ass to sleep? Was Heyman telling the truth earlier, when he said his client would cash-in tonight? Joe and Kofi are trash-talking each other in the intro, this is going to be the biggest test for Kofi to date. Joe eats a dropkick in the corner, he drills Kofi with a lariat! The Destroyer is dominating the champion, taking his ass to school.

Kofi mounts a comeback with some dropkicks but, Joe just cuts it off. Joe grabs Kofi’s fingers and smashed them on the steel steps, for retribution for flipping him off a few weeks ago. Here we go… Flying cross-body and a splash off the top rope. Joe hits a monstrous powerslam and Powerbomb into the STF. The champion barely makes it to the rope. Kofi hits an SOS out of nowhere for a long two-count. Coquina Clutch is locked in, Kofi tries to leap through via the ropes, Joe just drops him and hits a senton splash. A Trouble in Paradise and the 1-2-3 Kofi survives! No Lesnar yet!

I have to admit, while Joe appeared completely ruthless this match didn’t seem to kick into second gear. Kofi and Joe had good chemistry, but the contest ended before they had the opportunity to steal the show. I would love to see a round two with a better build-up.

It’s Winners-Take-All Mixed Tag Team Time! I’m pleasantly surprised that the WWE and the Universal Championship match was booked back-to-back! Can The New Power Couple keep the top Gold intact, or will we see new Champions crowned?

The Man and The Sassy Southern Belle are starting off. Lynch just tosses Evans outside, followed by a throw into the ring. Corbin and Rollins get the tag. Rollins drills Philadelphia’s Favorite Son and Corbin grabs a kendo stick. Dual kendo shots on the heels. Amazing in-ring chemistry between the lovebirds. This is the second “We Want Lesnar” chant from both the WWE and this contest. Corbin drops Rollins with a DDT on the steel chair for a long two-count.

Here comes The Man who grabs a steel chair and heads towards Evans, Bexploder onto the steel chairs! Lynch goes up top but Corbin moves Evans out of the way, Rollins hits the flying knee. He throws Corbin a chair and Lynch hits a Van Maninator paying homage to RVD! Rollins gets the tag but, Corbin is laid out on the outside. The Architect has a plan. Rollins and Lynch…Get the Tables! Corbin and Evans take control and, our having kendo stick practice on Rollins. They hit dueling chokeslams for both getting almost a victory.

Lynch and Rollins go up top, The Man lands a leg drop through Evans and the table…Rollins hits a jaw-dropping frog splash crashing into the table. Corbin hits an End of Days on Becky Lynch! Rollins lost his freaking mind and unloads on Corbin…followed by three CURB STOMPS 1-2-3 Rollins and Lynch retain…But wait here comes The Beast in the Bank! Rollins is traveling to Suplex City as Mike Rome announces the cash-in. The bell rings and The F5 and a New Universal Champion!

What’s mind-boggling here is why was the WWE Universe clamoring for Lesnar to win the championship, after complaining and bitching about him hogging the spotlight not even three months ago? Yes there was shock value, let’s hope and pray that this is only for a short period of time… perhaps until SummerSlam?

Chris’s Pay-Per-View Grade–A

The Intercontinental Championship, Cruiserweight Championship, and the No Holds Barred Match started the night off red-hot! In my opinion; the Last Man Standing, the United States Championship and both the WWE Championship/Winners-Take-All Match were the best matches on the card!


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Andrew’s G1 Climax 29 Ratings & Analysis: Night 4 B Block

Second night for the B Block! Jay White and Tetsuya Naito need to get on the scoreboard. Did it happen?

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Second night for the B Block! Jay White and Tetsuya Naito need to get on the scoreboard. Did it happen?

Sapporo is a fun city for the main event, with a lot of general history.

Will Ospreay having a neck injury means he’s not working the undercard tonight.

Those are probably the two points that matter the most. So I guess let’s get to the show!

Ratings:

  • Jyushin Thunder Liger & Kota Ibushi vs Yota Tsuji & Shota Umino: Ibushi wins via Half Boston Crab @8:20 – **
  • Toa Henare, Ren Narita & Tomoaki Honma vs EVIL, BUSHI & SANADA: BUSHI wins via MX @7:20 – ** 1/2
  • Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Zack Sabre Jr & Lance Archer vs KENTA, Clark Connors, Karl Fredricks & Hiroshi Tanahashi: Kanemaru wins via Deep Impact @11:30 – ***
  • Chase Owens & Bad Luck Fale vs Kazuchika Okada & YOSHI-HASHI: Okada wins via Rainmaker @8:45 – ** 1/4
  • Block B: Shingo Takagi vs Toru Yano: Shingo wins via Pumping Bomber @6:15 – ** 3/4
  • Block B: Juice Robinson vs Hirooki Goto: Juice wins via Pulp Friction @12:20 – *** 1/2
  • Block B: Jon Moxley vs Jeff Cobb: Moxley wins via Draping Deathrider @8:55 – *** 1/4
  • Block B: Tomohiro Ishii vs Jay White: Ishii wins via Vertical Drop Brainbuster @19:15 – **** 1/2
  • Block B: Taichi vs Tetsuya Naito: Taichi wins via Last Ride @21:00 – *** 3/4

 

Analysis:

Liger and Ibushi take on Young Lions because Will Ospreay is nursing an injury. So this was unexpected, but who’s gonna argue with some Liger? Bare bones basic Young Lion match, but Liger and Ibushi kept the interest high.

EVIL and SANADA are facing one another on Thursday, but they were on the same team tonight. Part of this story was BUSHI remaining to look strong since the end of the BOSJ, while EVIL and SANADA had the tension building up. Instead of the LIJ fist bump after the win, EVIL tries to cheap shot SANADA, SANADA counters and then they have a stand off.

This Suzuki-Gun match was beautiful. It was just a gang fight, with each member of Suzuki-Gun taking someone off and Lance Archer even joined commentary at some point. House show quality match was a good way to describe this, but it was still fun and got across the point for future matches and just great character work.

It might be a little mean to say, but YOSHI-HASHI is in this match, so who cares? Chase Owens does prove why he’s the glue that holds Bullet Club together. He’s a great tag team player and this year he’s looked a lot better than he has in the past. So we’ve got an alright match, Okada wasn’t gonna eat a pin, but I guess they wanted to protect YOSHI a little, so Chase ate the Rainmaker.

Shingo proved he watched the Naito match by trying to get Yano to take off his shirt. Anyone who saw Shingo in Dragon Gate knows he’s got some comedy chops being a former…wait…the current, Open the Owarai Gate champion (Owarai means comedy). Shirt, wrist tape and turnbuckle shenanigans ensue, but the right person won. Shingo gets on the board and doesn’t suffer the shame of getting bamboozled.

This tends to be an issue with Goto and Juice a lot of the time. By this, I mean boredom. Goto and Juice have bumped heads a few times and they both try very hard, but they aren’t exciting together. Juice being a quirky but not overly animated just means you get a snarky line and one move that may be entertaining (usually Left Hand of God) and then the action stalls. So both did good work, it was a tough match, but it wasn’t really anything crazy. Solid enough match though.

Moxley focused on Cobb’s left shoulder, so the story was to take out Cobb’s power and try to figure out how to end the match. We saw another solid match, and Moxley gets across more of his character. He does borderline heel tactics and then apologizes to the referee. So this brawling, unstable babyface is an old school gimmick in Japan, but not often seen in New Japan. It’s nice to watch, and Moxley taking advantage of Cobb’s positioning to hit the Draping Dirty Deathriding Paradigm DDT.

Jay White starts off against two of the heavier hitters from Chaos, his former stable. After taking Goto lightly, Ishii comes into this match after a big win over Jeff Cobb. White came into the match less relaxed, but still playing up his smarmy character. Ishii laid into Jay the whole match, where Jay tried to outsmart the Stone Pitbull, but Jay isn’t as clever as he thinks he is. A great match with well placed false finishes and a lot of tension. Fantastic back and forth, plus Ishii picking up the win is something special.

There were so many story threads going on here. Sapporo is the place of their Intercontinental Championship match earlier in the year where Taichi had Takashi Iizuka interfere. Iizuka left the Iron Fingers for Taichi, but he hasn’t used them in the 6 months he’s had them. This was a great struggle of wrestlers who were once rivals, but Naito has since eclipsed Taichi. Hell, Taichi even hit a Ganso Bomb, shades of his mentor Toshiaki Kawada. References, call backs and a solid match from a story telling perspective.  Work rate might not have been fantastic, but that’s the beauty of professional wrestling being more than the moves in the ring. Plus part of the fun of Taichi matches is watch Miho Abe react, since she’s such a lovely devoted valet.

Overall Score: 6.75/10

A lot of this show was driven by the stories and the historical threads between participants, opposed to the in-ring action. I appreciate the mixture of angles that New Japan shows attack with. Many newer fans just know NJPW for great hard hitting work rate, but the beauty of puroresu in general is how deep the stories go.

Sometimes the wrestlers reference things from their mentors/trainers, sometimes it’s just a story line from the isolationist politics that each puro company has dabbled with or sometimes it goes all the way back to when someone was a Young Boy in a dojo. The layers are there for those who wish to know, so part of the fun in nights like this, are what personally floats your boat.

The show was the weakest so far, but there were plenty of satisfying moments outside of ring work.

B Block Standings:

  • Tomohiro Ishii – 2-0 (4 Points)
  • Jon Moxley – 2-0 (4 Points)
  • Juice Robinson – 2-0 (4 Points)
  • Toru Yano – 1-1 (2 Points)
  • Hirooki Goto – 1-1 (2 Points)
  • Shingo Takagi – 1-1 (2 Points)
  • Taichi – 1-1 (2 Points)
  • Jay White – 0-2 (0 Points)
  • Jeff Cobb – 0-2 (0 Points)
  • Tetsuya Naito – 0-2 (0 Points)


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