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Opinion

Abe’s 2018 in Review (Part 2): Wrestler of the Year Candidates

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Velveteen Dream

This is the second installment of my review for the 2018 calendar year.  You can read my Match of the Year candidates here.  We’re about halfway done with this year so I wanted to take some time to reflect on those who have contributed most to our wrestling world so far.  The candidates across all promotions are listed below with my front-runner being announced last.

Aleister Black

I mentioned in my last article how he very narrowly missed the cut for my MOTY entries.  It’s a shame because he’s had a fantastic showing at every TakeOver event.  He started the year with a brutal street fight against Adam Cole, won the NXT Title in April, then had a stellar match against Lars Sullivan when many were concerned with how their styles would mesh.  When he defeated Andrade “Cien” Almas for the belt, a friend of mine mentioned how Aleister would provide more interesting storylines going forward.  I’m a big fan of Almas so I didn’t want to agree but he was ultimately right.  Now that I think about it, his run on the main roster is going to be really interesting.  He takes his character and ring work so seriously that it might be impossible for management to ruin him.

Undisputed Era

Triple H has figured out how to book them to their full potential.  I think the best way to get the most out of cowardly heels is to showcase their impressive ring work as well.  That’s exactly what they’ve been able to do.  Even when they’re not cheating or using their numbers advantage, they’re still good enough to beat you in the ring.  Adam Cole won the inaugural North American Championship, Kyle O’Reilly had a classic against Pete Dunne, and Roderick Strong has found a new lease with the absence of Bobby Fish.  Even though they lost their tag belts, their matches against British Strong Style and Mustache Mountain were some of the highlights of the UK special.  With how successful their year has been, I almost forgot to mention their show-stealer with Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch.

Velveteen Dream

He just gets it.  Everything he touches turns to gold.  Even John Cena said he may be “the one”.  At the end of every night, he wants to be the topic of conversation.  It wasn’t talked about much because it wasn’t his greatest match but his bout with Kassius Ohno is a perfect example.  Part of the story was that he promised to knockout the “Knockout Artist” in 30 seconds.  Then in true Velveteen style, he showed up in full boxing gear and had an assistant carrying his mouthpiece on a giant pillow.  It’s just little ideas that leave a big impression.  Mania weekend he was an integral part of a 5-star ladder match then had a fan-favorite match and social media feud with Ricochet last month.  Before his classic with Ricochet, he decided to enter the ring in Prince Puma tights and flex like Hulk Hogan.  Hulk reached out to be his manager on Twitter but Velveteen told his former Tough Enough judge that he’d rather ride solo.  You know you’re doing something right when you have a legion of fans waiting to see what you’re going to do next.

Ronda Rousey

She’s only had two matches but you can tell she understands the art of wrestling and loves it too.  Being an MMA fighter has taught her how to properly sell and feed off a live audience.  Ronda still has a whole career ahead of her but she’s quickly become one of my favorite things about the product.  Just like Velveteen, she’s gotten me excited for whatever her next step is going to be.  This is sort of like an MVP list so she’s still too relatively new to be given serious consideration.  If I was to crown a Rookie of the Year, she’d be the clear winner.

Cedric Alexander/Mustafa Ali/Buddy Murphy

If you’ve given up on 205 Live then you should really go back and watch the Cruiserweight Championship tournament from March.  That’s when we started to watch things shift direction and see the members of the division get more creative freedom.  Since then, the main event of 205 Live has been a talking point on social media on an almost weekly basis.  Cedric still isn’t getting the biggest pops when he comes out but he knows how to get the crowd on their feet by the end of the match.  Mustafa Ali has not only been a positive voice online but he’s been one of the most consistent performers of the year.  There’s nothing he wont do to leave the fans happy.  Buddy Murphy has the talent, size, and look to compete for any belt in the company but took on the challenge of elevating a smaller division instead.  My Match of the Year article was written a week too early because the match between Murphy and Ali from this week’s episode of 205 Live deserved to be on the list.  I implore you to go watch it if you haven’t already.  It would have been match of the night on any main roster pay-per-view this year.

Chris Jericho

In the middle of being on tour with Fozzy, he has somehow managed to work two of the hottest feuds of the year with Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito.  Every time it feels like he’s done it all, he manages to do something fresh and exciting every time he’s on screen.  Stealing a television camera during a match and filming his own middle finger is just one example.  We also can’t forget his profanity-laced promo he shot with a wild turtle.  Despite his recent commitments to NJPW, he still made appearances at Raw 25 and The Greatest Royal Rumble.  On top of his already impossible schedule, he’s taking the best wrestlers in the world and putting them all on a cruise ship this fall.

Johnny Gargano/Tommaso Ciampa

I had to package them together.  They’ve already provided two of the best matches we’ve seen this year and the rivalry still hasn’t been settled yet.  When they split last year I was genuinely upset.  I felt that we were being robbed of so many future classic tag team matches waiting to happen on the main roster.  At the time I was too short-sided to realize we were going to be getting an all-time great feud out of it.  Their work with each other hasn’t even been their only success.  Johnny kicked off the year with spectacular matches against Andrade Almas.  Ciampa has not only mastered social media but he just started a program with Aleister Black which could go in a variety of directions.

The Elite

While this entry is mostly referring to Kenny Omega, The Young Bucks, and Cody, the remaining cast of “Being the Elite” deserves recognition too.  Marty Scurll, Hangman Page, Brandi Rhodes, Flip Gordon, and even Burnard the Business Bear contribute to the success of the whole group.  Kenny and Cody headlined Supercard of Honor and are now headlining the G1 Special in San Francisco.  The Young Bucks, headlined Long Beach, became the first ever 7-time junior tag champs in history, moved up to the heavyweight division, then captured those tag belts on the first try.  On top of that, Matt sustained a back injury at Wrestle Kingdom in January and has been selling it in every match since then.  If the injury is real, then dealing with that is even more impressive.  Flip and Marty had great showings in the BOSJ tournament.  Marty also put his IWGP Junior Heavyweight belt on the line at Wrestle Kingdom and competed for ROH Championship along with Cody.  ALL IN not only met its goal of 10,000 tickets but sold out in 30 minutes.  In fact, it was just announced on Thursday that Marty will be competing against Kazuchika Okada at the show.  After Kenny Omega won the IWGP Heavyweight Championship at Dominion, him and The Young Bucks announced they would be forming “The Golden Elite” with Kota Ibushi.  Outside the ring, The Elite beat The New Day in Street Fighter, and Kenny, the Bucks, and Cody became the first non-WWE stars with Funko Pops.  And for good measure, Matt and Nick decided to write a children’s book too.

My Current Frontrunner: Seth Rollins

I know everything I just typed is pretty hard to follow so I’ll try my best to make my case for Seth.  Unlike The Elite, Seth hasn’t had the help of The Shield this year.  He’s putting on the best matches for the biggest brand, and on the most-watched programming.  He was running stale for awhile as a babyface but that gauntlet match on Raw where he wrestled for over an hour gave him enough momentum for the rest of the year.  He won his IC belt at Wrestlemania and has picked up steam seemingly every week since.  When he was holding the Intercontinental Championship, it felt like the most important belt in the company.  I think I speak for most people when I say he should be the current Universal Champion.  He’s become the highlight of Raw solely by his wrestling ability.  “Burn it down” helps too but it’s Seth’s charisma that was able to get it over.  Whether it’s against Miz, Finn Balor, Elias, or Dolph Ziggler, the match of the night always seems to involve Seth Rollins.

Honorable Mentions

Kazuchika Okada – Dalton Castle – Will Ospreay – Asuka – Sami Callihan – Tetsuya Niato – Pentagon Jr. – Hiromu Takahashi – Pete Dunne – Suzuki-gun – Shayna Baszler – WALTER – Io Shirai – Daniel Bryan – Jay White – Keith Lee – Matt Riddle


Who is your wrestler of the year so far? Tweet us @theCHAIRSHOTcom with your top name!

 


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Opinion

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?

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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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Opinion

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!

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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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