Well as I usually say during tournament or big event time in Japan, it’s hard for normal television to compete. So yes, this Top 5 is almost exclusively New Japan, but to be fair, next week will probably be mostly NXT and WWE. So let’s take the bad with the good, and move on.
However, last week we had the weekly vote and the May vote. So, no one should be surprised but, Buddy Murphy vs Cedric Alexander, won last week’s vote. As for the May vote…well let’s just look at our MOTY Pool and find out.
January – Johnny Gargano vs Andrade Almas
February – Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA
March – Golden Lovers vs Young Bucks
April – Andrade Almas vs Aleister Black
May – WWE Backlash: Seth Rollins vs The Miz
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, and we see the first “main roster” WWE match made it into the Match of the Year pool, let’s see what’s getting voted in from New Japan this week.
5T. NJPW Dominion IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles: EVIL & SANADA vs The Young Bucks
Match was paced quickly, and that helped and hurt it at the same time. Matt and Nick sold a back and foot injury through most of the match, but that fell apart a little towards the end.
Most of each teams signature moves were hit, SANADA was never able to hit Skull End or his Moonsault and EVIL never managed to hit Everything is Evil. So LIJ weren’t hurt at all in the loss, but the super hero resolve and a fairly bad sell on the Magic Killer just to increase the suspense made the finish feel flat to me.
Yes there was a lot of action, so it was entertaining, but it felt more like an older Young Bucks match when people would complain they had no psychology and were all about spots. Let’s hope that their first reign as Heavyweight Tag Champs have more well rounded matches.
Winner: Young Bucks via More Bang for Your Buck
5T. MLW Fusion: Rey Fenix w/ Salina de la Renta vs ACH
Both play to the crowd for a while, then finally a test of strength into and Arm Ringer from ACH, Arm Drag from Fenix, a little oneupsmenship, followed up by ACH hitting a sweep, double foot stomp, shotgun drop kick. ACH hits a big plancha after Fenix powders out, and then as they come back in, Fenix returns the favor by hitting a big dive, leaving both men prone for the commerical break.
Following the break a big to turnbuckle springboard senton for a nearfall. Big kicks from both as Fenix hits a rewind Spin Kick for another 2 count. Fenix attempts a Rolling DDT, but gets caught into a backbreaker and German Suplex Hold, for 2.
The match finally slows down a little as they both counter Brainbusters, Fenix gets caught mid move, but manages to keep the momentum. Hits a splash, as he goes for a middle rope moonsault, ACH seems to move, but Fenix keeps rolling and catches ACH with a Cutter for the near fall again.
Fenix keeps his position and starts chopping ACH very deliberately and plays to the crowd to get “Uno Mas” chants. Fenix goes for a corner springboard, ACH stops it, Fenix bounces up again, ACH counters again and Fenix pulls himself out of a Tree of Woe, while both men fight for position. Fenix gets a small advantage, goes for a Crossbody, but ACH catches him into a Death Valley Driver, for yet another 2 count.
Both move over to the apron and begin chopping one another. ACH gets the best of the chops, but Fenix escapes, slips momentarily but still hits an Enzuigiri. Following up the Enzuigiri by sliding out, jumping up to the apron and hitting a nice Spinning Back Kick right in ACH’s face.
Fenix tries a big top tope move, but ACH catches him with Flash Kick (Guile from Street Fighter). Pace slows down again, and we get a strong style chop battle. Fenix sells his arm, hits a big combination, but ACH manages to catch him with a few kicks of his own, Vertical Suplex float over, into a near fall.
Big Frog Splash from ACH missed, springboard Spin Kick from Fenix in the corner leads to the Fenix Driver, and the pinfall.
Winner: Fenix via Fenix Driver
4. NJPW Dominion IWGP Intercontinental Title: Tetsuya Naito (c) vs Chris Jericho
Wow, Jericho jumps Naito before the bell, hits him with tripods, barricades, anything that isn’t tied down. Hell even a Japanese Table breaks for Jericho. Also it must be noted that Jericho comes out looking like Clockwork Orange. Nice call back to his finger flip off spot, but this time he takes a video camera. Jericho DDTs Naito on another table, but it refuses to break.
Eventually Jericho slides in Naito for the match to start, Naito fights back a little, but Jericho maintains all of the advantage. Even hits a nice Lionsault, for another near fall.
Jericho manhandles Naito from pillar to post, until the classic Naito spit spot, gives him a small opening. The leg sweep, Wrecking Ball Dropkick leads to a Rude Awakening on the apron and Naito is finally showing signs of life.
He begins choking Jericho with parts of his suit outfit, and the crowd boos him pretty thoroughly. Maybe Naito is popular, everywhere except Osaka. Naito takes a piece of the broken table and beats Jericho over the head with it multiple times, to more boos.
Naito hits a big Piledriver onto the table from earlier, that still doesn’t break, moves back to the ring and Jericho takes a Dropkick to the back of his neck. Jericho blocks a top turnbuckle Frankensteiner and drops down into the Walls of Jericho. At this point it sounds like the crowd finally comes around to Naito.
At this point it seems to go a lot of one for one with Jericho really pushing to win with the Walls of Jericho, but Naito doesn’t tap. Scary moment when Naito goes for a running Destino, but Jericho loses his balance and then saves it to look more like a side slam cover.
Few more strikes and then they do the Destino spot correctly. But too lose to the ropes. Naito goes for a flying forearm, but Jericho catches him with a Codebreaker. Naito lands Gloria, goes for a Destino again, but Jericho slips away, and pushes Red Shoes. Low blow and Codebreaker, equals Jericho is the new IWGP Intercontinental Champion.
A little sloppy and slow at points, so their chemistry wasn’t fantastic. But, it was a brutal and entertaining match.
Jericho continues beating on Naito and EVIL shows up for the save. So I’m guessing the first official Jericho defense may be EVIL.
Winner: Jericho via Codebreaker
Rating: **** 1/4
3. NJPW Dominion IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Hiromu Takahashi vs Will Ospreay (c)
Starts off with a flurry, Hiromu with the release German into the corner and attempts the Apron Sunset Bomb. Ospreay blocks that and takes a page out of Hiromu’s book by running up the apron, for a full sprint running flip dive off the entrance ramp.
Ospreay goes for a more methodical approach, a Grounded Hammerlock Inverted Armbar, while leaning back keeps Hiromu on the ground. Then we see Ospreay being more aggressive and deliberate, until Hiromu finally starts stringing some offense together.
Lots of quick erratic movements, a big Pop-up Power Bomb gets Hiromu a near fall, leading into a corner chop spot and Ospreay curses at Hiromu. Pip Pip Cheerio, leads into a few attempts and counters at offense. Hiromu goes to the outside and Ospreay hits a Space Flying Tiger Drop.
Oscutter attempts number one, gets caught by Hiromu for a big German Suplex to break the flow of offense. We get the building up strikes back and forth spot, before the pace accelerates and there is a lot of transition and counter wrestling. Suplexes countered, Enzuigiris, but Ospreay catches Hiromu with two big Reverseranas, goes for Stormbreaker, but Hiromu counters with a Code Red.
Match moves to the apron and we get some back and forth strikes before Ospreay superplexes him outside in into the Burning Star Press. A Corkscrew Shoot Star press from Ospreay gets a near fall. Ospreay goes for Stormbreaker one more time, Hiromu counters it into a Canadian Destroyer and tries to tap him out with his Triangle Choke.
Ospreay powers out by twisting and driving Hiromu’s head into the mat, like a Triangle Driver or something. Ospreay goes for another Oscutter, but Hiromu finally gets the Sunset Bomb, into the Dynamite Plunger for 2.
Lots of sloppy offense from Ospreay at this point, Crescent Kick doesn’t hit right, Spinng Heel Kick barely makes contact, and Hiromu manages to counter the Stormbreaker one more time. Hiromu hits his Time Bomb after a Butterfly Piledriver, and a few other moves and, defeats Ospreay!
Winner: Hiromu via Time Bomb
Rating: **** 1/2
- Smackdown: Charlotte Flair vs Becky Lynch
Rating: *** 3/4
- Dragon Gate King of Gate Finals: Masato Yoshino vs YAMATO
Rating: *** 3/4
- NJPW Dominion: Cody, Marty Scurll & Hangman Page vs Rey Mysterio, Jushin Liger & Hiroshi Tanahashi
Rating: *** 1/2
- 205 Live: Mustafa Ali vs Buddy Murphy
Rating: *** 1/2
- NXT: Danny Burch vs Roderick Strong
Rating: *** 1/2
- MLW Fusion: Tom Lawlor vs Fred Yehi
Rating: *** 1/4
- NJPW Dominion NEVER Openweight Triple Threat: Taichi vs Michael Elgin vs Hirooki Goto (c)
Rating: *** 1/4
- NJPW Dominion: Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano vs Minoru Suzuki & Zack Sabre Jr
Rating: *** 1/4
- NXT: Lacey Evans vs Kairi Sane
- Smackdown: New Day vs The Miz, Rusev & Samoa Joe
2. NJPW Dominion IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match 2 out of 3 Falls: Kazuchika Okada (c) vs Kenny Omega
Okay, outline version for this match, since too long, too much going on and hard to look away to type.
- Okada and Omega go to the outside, Okada goes for his crossbody, but V-Trigger counters right into his ribs.
Omega top rope Dragon Suplex, Okada countered into Tombstone on Apron
Rainmaker pose, turned into Dragon Suplex, then Rise of the Terminator
Okada sits down in a sunset flip position and picks up the surprise first fall.
- Double stomp from Kenny on table
Okada teases backdrop through table
Omega teases Dragon Suplex through table
Reverserana on the outside from Kenny to Okada
One Winged Angel wins Kenny fall 2
- Callback to second match, Omega gets thrown into ropes, Omega collapses and Okada lands on his back after attempting a Dropkick.
Omega hits a Styles Clash
Ibushi tells Kenny to go for a Phoenix Splash, it misses.
Okada couldn’t pull of the tombstone, goes for a Rainmaker, and another callback as Okada crumbles after barely making contact
So many attempts at Rainmakers, both were exhausted a really fast One Winged Angel sets the stage for one more V-Trigger and one final One Winged Angel.
Winner: Kenny Omega 2-1 via One Winged Angel
Rating: ***** 3/4
1. BOSJ 25 Finals: Hiromu Takahashi vs Taiji Ishimori
Lots of fast attempts at offense, Hiromu tries the Sunsetbomb but Taiji backflips out of it and they start exchange strikes and moving through the audience. This sets up a recurring move Hiromu was using in this tournament, but finding a long stretch of the building (sometimes the ramp, in this case, the upper deck bleachers) and he runs a long distance and hits a big Shotgun Dropkick.
Hiromu goes to follow that up by Powerbombing Taiji down the steps, but Ishimori counters it into a Frankensteiner that sends Hiromu crashing down 2 or 3 levels of cement steps and crashes into the barricade. After recovering, Taiji walks back to the ring and allows Red Shoes to apply the 20 count, since he doesn’t care how he wins, as long as he wins; but Hiromu slides in at 18.
Hiromu tries to stike back a little, bit Hiromu still is reeling from the steps, Taiji takes him over and twists Hiromu’s neck with his ankles. Taiji keeps the offense as he takes the match to the floor and throws Hiromu into the chairs, hits him with a few and goes for the count out again.
Taiji hits his Sliding German Suplex and stays ontop of Hiromu until Hiromu finally finds an opening to hit the Sunsent Bomb and returns the countout indifference as Ishimori rolls back in at 19. Hiromu starts using his body as a weapon at this point, and will need to change his wrestling style or he’ll be crippled by 35. Fun to watch, just crazy stuff.
Hiromu picks up a near fall, Ishimori tries to go for a Reverse Handspring Elbow, but Hiromu catches him with a forearm shiver. Dynamite Plunger gets countered into a pin for 2, and then Ishimori transitions to the crossface. Hiromu breaks the submission, both men trade forearms, and then Ishimori lands a big Spinning Headscissors Takedown in the perfect position to reapply the Crossface.
Ishimori keeps the Crossface in for a while, changes it to a Grounded Armbreaker to try and keep Hiromu from the ropes, but his feet get to the bottom rope. Some good big move counter wrestling, as Taiji flips out of a release German, but falls victim to the release Belly to Belly into the corner. Hiromu then hits the Dynamite Plunger for a near fall.
More back and forth movement where they just keep trying to out do each other, Ishimori hits Hiromu with a big Reverserana and then Hiromu answers back, but it’s a little sloppy and he spikes Ishimori. Both men slowly get to their knees, and start laying in the strikes as they get to their feet and keep throwing hands. A jumping knee and big lariat, Taiji goes for the pin and Hiromu kicks out at 1.
Shotgun dropkick, Meteora, followed by a big Lung Blower, and still Ishimori only gets a 2. Taiji hits a Popup Powerbomb for 2, and Hiromu catches him in a Triangle Choke. Sunk in deep for a minute or so, Ishimori manages to stand up and just drive him into the corner to break the submission.
Taiji gets some offense going, and goes for his old NOAH finisher, the 450 Splash, but is met by Hiromu’s knees. A few counters led to Hiromu hitting a big Butterfly Piledriver, and then goes for the Triangle again. Ishimori gets out, tries Bloody Cross, Hiromu counters it with a Death Valley Driver into the corner and then a Time Bomb for the pinfall.
Winner: Hiromu Takahashi via Time Bomb
Rating: ****** (Highest rating of the Year)
So some may be surprised that Omega vs Okada IV wasn’t at the top of my list, but I explain my overall feelings in the Dominion article. The match was good and driven by the storyline, but the match pacing was odd, 2 minutes breaks made action a little stilted and the spamming feeling of the third fall from both wrestlers, made it fall short of previous epics.
Given all that, Hiromu Takahashi vs Taiji Ishimori was the first match since Omega vs Okada I to make me say “Wow” as I watched it. So my vote goes to the Best of Super Junior Finals match, and here’s to hoping they clash again in the near future.
I don’t expect my number 1 to win the vote, but I wanted to make sure it got the appreciation it deserved.
Could Finn Balor Actually Beat Brock Lesnar at the WWE Royal Rumble?
Finn Balor is on his way to the main event of The Royal Rumble on January 27. The Irish born Superstar has the chance of a lifetime against Brock Lesnar and that chance may deliver the Universal Championship. Finn has worked hard for this moment as he’s finally getting another run at the top.
That is the narrative that’s currently being written by WWE. Finn Balor’s career resurgence is a feel-good story and understandably so. It’s been nearly three years since he’s truly been in serious world title contention. He is one of the most popular Superstars on the roster and fans want to see him do well. All of this is true. But is he really going to win it all on January 27?
Balor’s rise to the top back in 2016 seemed like a perfect move. He was riding a wave of momentum from his run in NXT and he was gaining popularity with each passing week. The fans saw him as a top babyface and that’s how WWE booked him.
His debut on the main roster was met with overwhelming approval, as fans couldn’t wait to see him mix it up with Raw’s biggest names. One of those names was of course Roman Reigns, who Bálor defeated en route to beating Seth Rollins and becoming the first-ever Universal champion.
Both wins were a statement by WWE. It wasn’t often that the company moved anyone ahead of Reigns, but that’s exactly what happened with Finn. Roman wasn’t going anywhere of course and Bálor was probably not taking his place.
But WWE was giving the fans something new, something different. Balor was a breath of fresh air on a program that often grows very stale at times. However with Finn at the helm, there was little chance of that happening again.
So now that he’s finally regained momentum after three years, what are the chances that Finn Balor will once again be slowed to a dead stop? His injury the night he won the Universal title was through no fault of his own. These things happen and it could very well happen to any WWE Superstar at any time.
But there is definitely someone to blame for Finn’s booking since relinquishing the championship. WWE surely could not be expected to immediately reinsert Finn into a top spot the moment he came back from injury. But to wait this long to elevate him to the world title picture?
WWE had to change plans after Finn went down. Fans surely realize that. The company really cannot afford to sit still for anyone, especially someone that had just arrived on the main roster. But Balor’s lack of main event success in the time following his return is indeed a curiosity.
Brock Lesnar was the top titleholder for the majority of the time after Finn returned to Raw. WWE’s plans didn’t include Balor versus Lesnar. So why not move Finn to SmackDown Live and give him a run against then-WWE champion AJ Styles?
A feud between the two could have led to a WrestleMania 35 showdown for the WWE Championship. The founder of The Bullet Club versus the man who took his place. Two veteran stars that made their names outside of WWE now waging war on the WrestleMania stage. It’s a story that really could have written itself.
But even as fans contemplate what could have been, there’s no denying that Finn is once again in a great place in his WWE career. Maybe it did take too long for him to return to this elite level. But he’s back nonetheless and now he indeed has a chance of achieving greatness. All he has to do is get past Brock Lesnar.
Facing Lesnar right now is a somewhat odd prospect for Finn Balor. On one hand, Finn has to look good and he most likely will. The contrast between the two men is apparent and that contrast should make for an intriguing matchup.
Balor will stick and move, he will weather the storm and he will continue to come out swinging despite how long the match lasts. But what happens when crowd fatigue sets in, as is often the case, during Lesnar’s matches?
The fact is that may bode well for Finn, because once he starts his comeback, the crowd will go along for the ride. The real drama in Brock Lesnar’s matches typically does not come until the end. That’s when the real test begins, as fans hold their collective breath to see if Brock’s opponent will actually pull out the win. The problem is, that win rarely ever happens.
But this is actually in Finn’s favor as well. Even if Finn loses to Brock, it probably won’t affect Balor that much at all. No one expects Lesnar to really ever lose and when it does happen, it’s a complete shock to the system. So, Balor would be just another star that tried and failed. How could anyone hold that against him?
However will the notion that Finn is destined to be nothing more than a top mid-card star once again become the prevailing opinion? Fans have always debated Balor’s worth and WWE’s apparent refusal to use him as a main event star. Will a loss at The Royal Rumble once again put Balor right back in the middle of that situation?
The truth is that for fans desperately wanting to see the Universal Championship back on Raw full-time again, nothing would be sweeter than a Lesnar loss. Roman is still out action and it’s clear that Braun Strowman is not the answer to Brock. So now may be the perfect opportunity to take a different path and reinsert Finn Bálor as the new top titleholder on Monday Night Raw. WWE did it before. Whether or not it will happen again is anyone’s guess.
WWE NXT: Whose The Babyface?
Bianca Belair gets her NXT Women’s Championship match with Shayna Baszler at WWE NXT Takeover: Phoenix, but Scott Mcleod wonders who the babyface is?
A few weeks ago Bianca Belair earned the right to face Shayna Baszler for the NXT Women’s Championship a week from on Saturday at NXT Takeover: Phoenix.
While I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Belair, I don’t object to her having a title shot. Given that she has been heavily featured and as they like to say is undefeated it was only a matter of time.
The thing is I didn’t think she would be going up against Baszler for one reason: I don’t know who is supposed to be the face?
Judging by a confrontation between champion and challenger on this week’s NXT they both have their fans but their gimmicks are more effective when they are positioned as the heel. Maybe they see Belair as more of a tweener at this point
Now in this modern age of wrestling just because you position someone a certain way doesn’t guarantee the fans will react to them the way you want them to. Faces and heels aren’t what they use to be.
I think it shows how high the likes of Triple H are on Belair that she is getting this title opportunity. I don’t see her winning it here however as I think there is still time for her.
Shes approaching that point that a lot of people who have a undefeated streak get to in that people worry what they’re going to once they’ve suffered their first loss. Have her lose then spend a couple of months telling the story of her having to start from the bottom again.
If she dose lose it should be thanks to Horsewomen interference to help Shayna get the upper hand. Following this is where she has to prove shes more than a catchphrase because she can’t call herself undefeated. The fact the lose wasn’t clean always gives her a reason to challenge again.
I would have thought Shayna would have defended against either Io Shari or Dakota Kai since they’ve had their issues since War Games. As they have Kairi Sane in their corner it would even up the odds. This means Shayna doesn’t have the advantage which would make her losing believable.
You could still do that after this match with Belair at Phoenix perhaps at the Mania weekend Takeover. Coming out of that Belair having been winning enhancement matches on TV to rebuild her and telling the stoey of her wanting another shot challenges whoever took the title from Shayna.
By this point she could have even transitioned from tweener to full blown face.
Then I would by her winning the title. I think she could be a big part of the NXT Women’s Championship picture in 2019 and beyond she just needs more of a story behind her getting the title.
One think I would like to see at Takeover is Shayna to get the choke on Belair while wrapping the braid around the throat. I look that would be a good image for people to have looking back on this match