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Abe’s 2018 in Review (Part 1): Match of the Year Candidates



June has almost concluded which means we’re about halfway through the 2018 calendar year.  Let’s take a look at some of the best matches thus far and reflect on the highlights.  The candidates are listed below in chronological order with the winner being announced last.

Kenny Omega (c) v. Chris Jericho – Wrestle Kingdom 12 (1.4)

I was initially worried that Jericho was reaching a certain age and that he wouldn’t be able to keep up with Kenny.  What then happened was far from my assumption.  The No DQ stipulation really added to the match and the new environment brought Jericho into his comfort zone.  He made the most out of his new heel “Alpha” persona and delivered on all levels.  The Wrestle Kingdom card was loaded with great matches but this is the match that brought a whole bunch of fresh eyes on the New Japan product.  Even with all the hype surrounding the match, they surpassed my expectations by putting on my favorite match of the night.

Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) v. Minoru Suzuki – NJPW New Beginning in Sapporo (1.27)

Not enough people talked about this match because it wasn’t on some giant marquee show.  I showed it to a friend and a family member and they were incredibly impressed.  The friend even had a frozen expression on his face with mouth agape at the match’s conclusion.  Suzuki had injured Tana’s knee earlier in the month and was obsessed with exploiting it.  Add that with his already injured bicep muscle to Suzuki’s target of choice.  Minoru Suzuki worked the body parts for the whole match which isn’t to most fans’ liking but I thought it was riveting stuff.  The top villain of the company was setting an example at the expense of the top hero as the fans watched in agony.  The fans cheered Tanahashi on while the official urged him to save himself and give up but he refused.  I was captivated.  It happened Royal Rumble weekend and I genuinely didn’t think any WWE match was going to top it but then something happened…

Andrade “Cien” Almas (c) v. Johnny Gargano – NXT TakeOver: Philadelphia (1.27)

It was the instant classic that WWE has been searching for.  Every time I thought the match was near its conclusion, the competitors traded even more holds and near-falls.  It was the first WWE match that Dave Meltzer has awarded 5 stars since 2011 and I think it rightfully deserved it.  The showcase of technicians paired with the involvement of Zelina Vega and Candice LeRae gave us something all fans could enjoy.  Johnny has had such a big 2018 that this match already feels so far in the past.  I know a lot of fans wanted this to be Johnny’s crowning moment but I think the right man won.

The Young Bucks v. The Golden Lovers – NJPW Strong Style Evolved (3.25)

If you love storytelling then this is the match for you.  Some elements of the story date back about 8 years.  Newly realigned with his former lover, Kota Ibushi, Kenny Omega was forced to battle his two closest friends for the right of tag team supremacy.  You can visibly see the emotional thermometer fluctuate for all four men throughout the match.  Anguish, regret, aggression, passion, love – all of it.  It was truly a work of art.  The entire audience rose in unison at the sound of the final bell and delivered a standing ovation.  Many tears were shed that night.

Inside Pulse

The Night of Ladder Wars and Blood Feuds – ROH Supercard of Honor XII & NXT TakeOver: New Orleans (4.7)

Like many fans, I was labored with the first-world problem of choosing between NXT and Ring of Honor.  I ultimately chose NXT because I was a little more invested in those storylines going into Saturday night.  Of course I didn’t regret my decision because I ended up seeing an all-time great ladder match for the North American Title.  The guy next to me even called his friend twice during the match to make sure he was watching it.  While all of that was going on, the Young Bucks (and Flip Gordon) were putting on a classic ladder match of their own against SoCal Uncensored over in ROH.  Both cards also had the two hottest feuds of the wrestling world headlining: Omega v. Cody & Gargano v. Ciampa.  The Gargano and Ciampa match might be my favorite match I’ve ever seen live.  I’ll never forget the fans raining down expletives on Ciampa for several minutes straight during his entrance.  The perfect combinations of booking, storytelling, and brutality concluded the best show I’ve ever attended.  I had the ROH main event spoiled for me but I’m still glad I went back to watch it.  It was obviously entertaining and I’m incredibly excited for Cody’s and Kenny’s rematch for the IWGP Heavyweight belt next week.

Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey v. Triple H & Stephanie McMahon – Wrestlemania 34 (4.8)

I couldn’t remember if I was more intrigued or nervous for this one.  Kurt and Triple H are at the tail-end of their careers, Steph hadn’t wrestled a match in years, and Ronda had never had a televised match ever.  This was Kurt’s return to the grandest stage and Ronda’s re-introduction to the world.  I just wanted desperately for everyone to do well because there were so many things that could have gone wrong.  When reflecting back on the event that night, I decided this was the match that left me the most entertained.  Keep in mind, I was sitting near the top of the Superdome.  I was physically far removed from the electricity of the match but it still kept my attention the whole time.  Also, being so high up means I can see everyone laying around the ring which gives me a chance to anticipate broken pinfalls and submissions.  Even with that advantage, I still had no idea which way the match was going to tilt on many occasions.  I don’t know if it was the spot on the card or everyone doing their job right but it was fantastic.  Ronda having the match of the night at Wrestlemania in her television debut is an impossible feat to accomplish.  You can tell they all worked really hard to put it together and I’m just so proud of all parties involved.


Hiromu Takahashi v. Taiji Ishimori – NJPW Best of the Super Jr. 25 Finals (6.4)

I wrote about this one in a past article so I wont go on for too long about it.  This match was the conclusion of the Best of the Super Juniors tournament and clearly the best bout of the whole thing.  The BOSJ Finals has a habit of providing a MOTY candidate and this one did not disappoint.  This match had everything: submissions, dangerous spots, fights in the bleachers, crowd energy – you name it.  With Hiromu being the fan favorite and Ishimori the newest member of the Bullet Club, NJPW’s junior heavyweight division is going to be in good hands for years to come.

Johnny Gargano v. Tommaso Ciampa II – NXT TakeOver: Chicago II (6.16)

When this one was over, my buddy and I were left laughing.  Not because it was bad.  It was executed so well that laughter was the only way we knew how to express our sheer joy and appreciation.  A lot of us were anticipating Candice to cost Johnny the match but the segment beforehand told us that wasn’t going to happen.  That was wise because then we went in with any expectations wiped clean.  The match featured references to the feud’s history with added moments like the one involving Johnny’s wedding ring.  As Ciampa was getting stretchered out, I was left wondering if they were ever going to incorporate the exposed ring canvas.  They made sure to answer that thought right away.

Pete Dunne (c) v. Zack Gibson – NXT UK Championship Special (Aired 6.26)

This one was taped last week and televised this week so it’s the most recent addition to the list.  It aired in the middle of the day in The States so not many fans have even seen it.  I was ready to write about the United Kingdom Championship Tournament Finals between Gibson and Travis Banks but then this one edged it out the next night.  Our favorite snarky heel, Pete Dunne was actually the babyface of this match which provided a refreshing dynamic.  The UK crowd was hot as usual and Zack Gibson solidified himself as a potential cornerstone for the future NXT UK brand.


MOTY: Kazuchika Okada (c) v. Kenny Omega – NJPW Dominion (6.9)

I didn’t forget about it.  I may have been running on zero sleep during the match but I didn’t forget.  I said the winner was going to be announced last, remember?  It was a 2 out of 3 Falls match that lasted over an hour with a storyline two years in the making.  What more could you ask for as a wrestling fan?  Some have said it’s the greatest match in the history of wrestling.  I’m not sure if I’ll go that far but I understand the sentiment.  I may not be ready to call it the best match ever but it’s going to be awhile before another match makes me jump up and down while hugging my best friend.  It was the total underdog story that provided me with one of my favorite memories of watching wrestling.  I can’t wait to see what Omega, Okada, and New Japan do to follow it.

I am fully aware I left off A LOT of great matches.  Seth Rollins, Aleister Black, Tetsuya Naito, Will Ospreay and the Undisputed Era are notable absences but I promise they all very narrowly missed the cut.  EC3 would want me to only include the top one percent of my favorites anyway.  The ultimate deciding factor was which matches left me feeling something at the end.  There is also a lack of female wrestlers.  I think the reason for this is some of the most talented women on the roster (Sasha, Bayley, Ember, Becky, Nattie) haven’t yet received the high quality storylines they’re accustomed to.  If Charlotte/Asuka and the women’s MITB match were each given 5 more minutes, they likely would have been on here.  The NXT women’s division is also rebuilding with fresher faces.  Shayna Baszler had stellar matches against Ember Moon and Toni Storm so I think she’s only going to get better.   The next parts of my Review will look at current MVPs of 2018 and things to look out for the rest of the year.


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AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns

With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?



With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?

With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.

With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.

1. Johnny Gargano

Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?

WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen  the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.

2. James Storm

This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.

Watch your Money and your Alcohol.

Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”

3. Big Cass

Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.

Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.

4. Bronson Reed

The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.

Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?

5. Bray Wyatt

And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.

To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.

– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!

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King’s Greatest Hits Of Jeff Hardy

As he battles his demons, Chris King looks at some more positive moments in Jeff Hardy’s career!



Jeff Hardy WWE Smackdown

I’m sure by now you’ve heard the disturbing news that former WWE superstar and recent AEW signee Jeff Hardy, was arrested again for multiple charges including a DUI.  Hardy has had a hard and tragic road of recovery throughout the years in multiple wrestling promotions.

Not too long ago, Hardy walked out on WWE after they were rumored to have offered the former world champion to go to treatment for his substance abuse issues. Hardy refused and said that he was better but, as we saw the demons are still lurking and got the best of him again.

I have seen some nasty comments and even some distasteful memes about the AEW superstar and felt compelled to go against the grain. Instead of kicking a man when he’s down, I’m going to put together a greatest hits for the “Charismatic Enigma.”

Jeff Hardy & The TLC Match

Everyone can say that Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon helped innovate the iconic ladder match and you are right, but Jeff Hardy and his death-defying stunts changed the concept of the match forever. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian and their iconic TLC match should have their wing in the Hall of Fame. The risks all six superstars took for the adoration of the crowd could have ended all of their illustrious careers. In the words of Vince McMahon, It’s such good shit!

Jeff Hardy Earns The Undertaker’s Respect

On the July 1st, 2002 episode of Monday Night Raw, Hardy delivered the performance of a lifetime nearly winning the WWE Undisputed Championship from The Undertaker in an incredible ladder match. The young up-and-comer was faced with his greatest task yet, challenging for the most prestigious title in sports entertainment. Hardy showed that without a shadow of a doubt he deserved to be in the main event scene, but came within minutes of defeating Taker. At the time of the match, Hardy was still finding his footing as a singles competitor and earned the respect of the champion and legend.

Swanton Bomb From The Heavens

When I think of the daredevil Jeff Hardy, I can’t help but think of this one crazy-as-hell stunt. At WWE One Night Stand 2008, Hardy faced off against the juggernaut Umaga in a falls count anywhere match. This match was so insane as both superstars fought into the parking lot. Hardy is one of the craziest and bravest superstars, hit a Swanton Bomb off a damn stage truck onto Umaga. It’s one of the wildest things you’ll ever see.

Hardy Wins The WWE Championship 

In 2008, Hardy finally made his way to the main event title picture alongside partner Triple H. HHH was Hardy’s mentor in some sort of way which led to the daredevil achieving his lifelong dream of becoming WWE champion. At the 2008 Armageddon pay-per-view, Hardy would face HHH and longtime rival Edge in a triple-threat match for the title. In what was a great match between all three superstars, Hardy delivered a Swanton Bomb to Edge to win the illustrious championship.

Straight Edge Problems For Hardy

The following year, Hardy found himself in the way of young-up-and-comer CM Punk who is looking to make an example out of him. Punk had won the Money in the Bank briefcase for the second year in a row and took advantage of Hardy to win the world title. What started as mutual respect between both superstars changed drastically, when Punk started throwing jabs at Hardy for his drug and substance abuse real-life issues. Punk would form his infamous stable known as the Straight Edge Society. This is a very underrated feud and you should go back and watch it in its entirety. The promos are gold.

The Hardy Boyz Return To WWE

Both Matt and Jeff Hardy found success in multiple other wrestling promotions including Ring of Honor, and TNA during their time away from WWE. Both brothers were struggling with their vices and made poor life choices but straightened up their act over the years. In 2017, the Hardy Boyz would face longtime rivals The Young Bucks in ROH. The following night the adored tag team would make their incredible return to WWE at WrestleMania 33. Matt and Jeff would be named the final team in the Fatal 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Championships. The pop these two received was insane and very much deserved. They would go on to win the match and win the titles to capitalize on their momentum.

Jeffery Nero Hardy Makes AEW Debut

From 2017-to 2022 Jeff Hardy would find himself pigeonholed in the mid-card title picture. He would have feuds with a plethora of superstars including Samoa Joe, and Randy Orton. Orton and Hardy had a nasty Hell in a Cell match back in 2018. Earlier this year, Hardy was seen running around after the 24/7 Championship, which was disappointing to see. After being genuinely unhappy in WWE, Hardy would make his AEW debut on the March 9th episode of AEW Dynamite. Hardy would come to the aid of his brother and longtime partner.

This week news broke that Hardy had been arrested for multiple charges including a DUI. While it’s easy to beat a man while he’s down, how about we uplift and try to encourage him to get the help he needs.

As a longtime wrestling fan, I have the utmost respect for Hardy and wish him the best of luck in his battle with addiction.

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