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Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 7/29/2018

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Okay, so we’re gonna have two more weeks of G1 dominance, and at this point, it’s inevitable. As you can see from this week, the Honorable Mentions have a nice mixture, including a match from World Of Sports’ return to TV. For a first episode, it showcased a few wrinkles, villains and babyfaces to get behind, while giving us at least one top quality match.

Last week’s voting was fairly competitive, but the number 1 match actually ran away with the vote by the final tally. So that means, G1 Climax 28 Hirooki Goto vs Tomohiro Ishii,  is moving into the July pool. Also this will be the final  week in the July voting pool, but at least we have a non-New Japan match that might take this week.

Without further ado, let’s just see what matches made the Top 5 this week.

5. NJPW G1 Climax 28: Kenny Omega vs SANADA

From My G1 Coverage:

These two men met up last year, and Omega moved passed him without much challenge. This year SANADA is in a position to not only help himself, but help his LIJ leader Tetsuya Naito, if he can put a blemish on Omega’s record.

Well SANADA was the overall favorite and played babyface in the match. Early on he knocks Omega to the outside, and Omega moves out of the way anticipating a Tope, but SANADA catches himself and holds the ropes open for Omega. Kenny never takes his eyes off SANADA, but SANADA allows him to get in. The crowd cheers, SANADA claps for good sportsmanship and as he tries to get in, Kenny dropkicks his knee.

That ends up playing a big part in the match, since many of Omega’s strikes aim for the injured knee, where a lot of SANADA’s offense needs his legs. Eventually we see Omega slip up and SANADA puts a few moments together, fighting through the pain to land a few dropkicks and a Plancha to the outside. At this point it seems a little more even, but a big highlight spot is when SANADA gets shot into the corner, does the Flair/Misawa up and over, then attempts a Springboard Dropkick only to get caught into a Powerbomb. I think Omega did something similar in one of his Okada matches, but the spot is still cool.

From  there we see both men trading strikes, playing to the crowd and trying to get small advantages. SANADA is only ever really able to get Skull End once, but let’s go to attempt his Moonsault, but misses that. SANADA however has kind of turned into a greatest hits of AJPW with his moveset. Mutoh Moonsault, Misawa up and over with the ropes and even pulling off a few Tiger Suplexes.

Even though we did see a lot more from SANADA this year, the match went the way most predicted. Omega and SANADA jocky for position, counter a few moves, until Omega gets him mostly set for the One Winged Angel, and good night SANADA. Omega moves to a perfect 10 points, and SANADA is still positioned okay with 6, but someone has to figure out how to slow down the champion.

Winner: Omega via One Winged Angel

Rating: **** 1/4

4. NJPW G1 Climax 28: Kota Ibushi vs SANADA

From Mathew’s G1 Coverage

Surprised this is the main event, but I am very glad this is the case, since I don’t think the two have faced each other before. Adding a special aspect to this match, despite it happening in the G1 Climax. Both of them have two victories and one loss and a victory for either one of these men would give them a bigger advantage since neither of them has fought Kenny yet and they could be the ones to knock Omega down a peg. Who’s gonna get the win? Either way, we’re gonna have something special in this dream match between two.

SANADA really is something special and the more I watch him more frequently in these types of matches, the more I slowly start to consider him my favorites in 2018 overall and not just in New Japan. It was pretty much exactly how I expected it to turn out with while having a great match, still leaving out enough to let us know that they could definitely fight again pretty soon and I’m sure they’ll blow us away the next time their paths cross. Majority of the match was fairly even with the chain wrestling, the reversals, and the attempts of hitting their big moves onto each other but some of the spots however would come out a tiny bit sloppy, but not enough to take it away from the match at all. SANADA goes to the outside where Ibushi attempts a Baseball Slide for SANADA to duck it and drag him outside also and eventually Ibushi jumps to the ropes to land an Asai Moonsault. Ibushi now pulling the big spots with the Last Ride only for SANADA to kick out at two and SANADA kept on weakening Ibushi with the Skull End a few times to try and get him down for the Moonsault and Ibushi rolls out of the way before it would connect. Ibushi looks to finish it with the Kamigoye Knee and SANADA ducks the knee to get him into the Skull End one more time and even gets him knocked out long enough to drag him to the corner for the Diving Moonsault as SANADA gets the win. I felt like SANADA winning the the Skull End here would’ve been a more impactful finish, but I will take this and glad to see SANADA getting the victory over Ibushi, but I would love to see them fight again and soon.

Winner: SANADA via Moonsault

Rating: **** 1/2

 

3. NJPW G1 Climax 28: Kota Ibushi vs Tomohiro Ishii

From My G1 Coverage:

Both men are in the middle of the block, and have a little bit of history. Ishii has been the MVP of the tournament so far, but we all know what Ibushi is capable of. So let’s see how this one plays out.

Girl damn. The start off driving into each other with Shoulder Tackles, and then we see a flurry of counters and misses that end in the good ole fashioned stare down. From there we go to Ishii being in control as he keeps baiting Ibushi to hit him harder, hit him for real, and just keeps sending Kota backwards with Forearm Strikes. The first few minutes were almost as brutal as the Ishii vs Goto match.

The Kota takes it into the crowd and does one of his signature second story/balcony Moonsaults onto Ishii as the crowd was in full throat with the Yes chant. From there Ibushi seems to almost channel his inner Shinsuke Nakamura. When they get back in, Ibushi starts with short kicks and slaps to Ishii’s head to insult him into squaring up. That goes on a few times, and both men trade ‘big brother’ kind of moments.

Kota hits his Last Ride Powerbomb while falling backwards a little so he just sits out, for a near fall. His first KamiGoye attempt is countered, as Ishii hits his own. Then when Ishii tries the Vertical Drop Brainbuster, Ibushi counters it with one of his own.

After both men steal a finisher, then we go back to strikes. Headbutts from Ishii rock Kota. Ibushi’s kicks glaze over Tomohiro’s eyes. The punishment was on full display as Kota hits a Sliding Knee for only a 1 count. At that point there’s a few more strikes until Ibushi grabs Ishii’s wrist, kicks him in the top of his head, which sends him down to his knees, and Ibushi takes the opening to land KamiGoye.

This match will be towards the top of most people’s lists in the G1. We’ve still got 9 more nights if you include the Finals, but this was tremendous.

Winner: Ibushi via KamiGoye Knee Strike

Rating: **** 3/4

Honorable Mentions

WOS:  Davey Boy Smith Jr vs Will Ospreay
Winner: Davey via Avalanche Powerslam
Rating: ****
NJPW G1 Climax 28: Kazuchika Okada vs YOSHI-HASHI
Winner: Okada via Rainmaker
Rating: ****
Impact X Division Championship Match: Brian Cage (c) vs Matt Sydal
Winner: Cage via Drill Claw
Rating: ****
Lucha Underground Gift of the Gods: El Dragon Azteca Jr vs King Cuerno vs Dezmond X
Winner: El Dragon Azteca Jr via Super Victory Roll
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW G1 Climax 28: Minoru Suzuki vs Michael Elgin
Winner: Suzuki via Gotch Style Piledriver
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW G1 Climax 28: Juice Robinson vs Kenny Omega
Winner: Omega via One Winged Angel
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW G1 Climax 28: Tomohiro Ishii vs Zack Sabre Jr
Winner: Sabre via Fujiwara Armbar
Rating: *** 3/4
Raw: Roman Reigns vs Bobby Lashley
Winner: Reigns via Spear
Rating: *** 1/2
NJPW G1 Climax 28: EVIL vs Hangman Page
Winner: EVIL via Everything is Evil
Rating: *** 1/4
Impact: Petey Williams vs Taiji Ishimori
Winner: Ishimori via Bloody Cross
Rating: *** 1/2
NJPW G1 Climax 28: Juice Robinson vs Toru Yano
Winner: Juice via Pulp Friction
Rating: *** 1/2
AJPW All Asia Tag Team Championship Match: Jun Akiyama & Yuji Nagata (c) vs Yuma Aoyagi & Naoya Nomura
Winner: Aoyagi via Rockstar Buster
Rating: *** 1/4
NJPW G1 Climax 28: Hirooki Goto vs Tetsuya Naito
Winner: Naito via Destino
Rating: *** 1/4
NJPW G1 Climax 28: Tama Tonga vs Tetsuya Naito
Winner: Naito via Destino
Rating: *** 1/4
AJPW All Asia Heavyweight Championship Match: Bodyguard vs Ryoji Sai (c)
Winner: Bodyguard via The Bounce
Rating: ***
NJPW G1 Climax 28: Tama Tonga vs Zack Sabre Jr
Winner: Sabre via DQ
Rating: ***
NJPW G1 Climax 28: Togi Makabe vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Winner: Tanahashi via High Fly Flow
Rating: ***

 

2. AJPW Summer Action Series Triple Crown Championship Match: Kento Miyahara (c) vs Zeus

Zeus has been on the rise for about a year now. After a decent showing in the 2017 Champion Carnival with a win over Joe Doering, he was granted a title shot during the January 2nd New Years Wars show, but fell short. From there we see Zeus slowly move away from being a tag team wrestler, especially off the heels of the 2018 Champion Carnival where he had an opportunity to win B Block, but fell short there also. Miyahara is seen as the new Ace of All Japan. Young, extremely charismatic, over with every crowd and very adept in the ring. After going back and forth in tag matches, Zeus was positioned well enough to grant him this opportunity. Does 6 more months of seasoning, give him what he needs?

So what we get here is a match with two men who are very familiar with the other. The early action is slow and methodical, where both trade back and forth until Miyahara takes it to the outside.  Kento decided to play heel, since this final show of the Summer Action Series, was in Zeus’ hometown of Osaka. So we see Kento using the barricades, working at Zeus’ legs and turning up the aggression. Even going as far to do a signature spot of his where he pulls his opponents head against the ring post and doesn’t relent even after the referee gives the 5 count. This time, referee Kyohei Wada was pulling on Miyahara’s hair and yelling at him, all while he continued to pull on Zeus’ head. This made for a small comedic wrinkle with Wada admonishing him like an angry father, but the match went on.

Kento maintained the advantage in a lot of this match. As soon as Zeus started to build some momentum with Lariats and power moves, they go out to the apron, where Kento snaps off a big Vertical Suplex, which may have given Zeus a stinger since he was favoring his left arm and wiggling his fingers, causing the referee to come out and double check on a couple occasions. Zeus is about to beat the 10 ten count (it’s at 7) but he loses grip of the ropes and falls back to the floor.

Wada is about to count 10 but Zeus is mostly on the apron, and Kyohei uses his discretion to stop his count. But it was here that we basically got a different match. Kento flies into the corner to connect with a Blackout, only to piss off Zeus and have him storm out of the corner with a massive lariat. Both men trade signatures for a while here. A few more Blackouts (V-Trigger Knees) and a German Suplex Hold from Kento, while Zeus connects with a Chokeslam and even a Jackhammer, but Kento kicks out.

I’ve never seen someone kick out of the Jackhammer, or it happens so rarely it felt new to me. So the suspense builds nicely as Miyahara keeps trying to land his Shutdown Suplex, but Zeus is a former bodybuilder, so trying to keep his arms down is asking a lot. After each failed attempt, both men trade strikes until it looks like Miyahara finally has it. But midway throw Kento’s arch for the bridge, Zeus breaks out and sends the Ace spinning with a lariat. One more Jackhammer, and we have it, a New Triple Crown Champion!

Winner: Zeus via Jackhammer

Rating: **** 3/4

 

1. NXT Championship Match: Tommaso Ciampa vs Aleister Black (c)

After feeling he’s dispatched Johnny Gargano, Ciampa decided to focus his attentions on the NXT champion. Neither one of them having a lot of back story together, made a lot of sense to give us a couple weeks of Ciampa stirring the pot and then we get a TV title defense.

The frustration was obvious in Aleister’s aggression, moments of chiding Tommaso and even things he said throughout the match. Early on it’s very back and forth, we see more mat wrestling than one might expect and not a lot of strikes. The early going showcased Ciampa’s mind games mainly, especially when he stops short as Black attempts a Deep Arm Drag but misses completely, giving Ciampa a pin attempt for 2.

Eventually Aleister turns the tide and Ciampa is on the back foot for a bit. It spills to the outside and Black continues to throw Ciampa around and land some big Round Kicks, as they slide back in Ciampa jumps on the champion quickly to try and build back his position in the match. But the educated feet of Black get the best of Ciampa again, so when Ciampa gets knocked off the apron, it looks like Black will go for a dive, but Ciampa moves, Aleister does his Asai Moonsault into a meditative sitting position and waves at a now annoyed Tommaso Ciampa.

After heading back into the ring, Ciampa finds a small opening to push Black over the top rope in mid Moonsault. This grants the opportunity for Ciampa to throw him into the barricade, apron and then the stairs. Ciampa returns the mind games but sitting on the stairs cross legged and waving. It’s at this point the intensity of the match picks up and it becomes a very back and forth effort. Ciampa has a small advantage, then a timely kick or suplex grants Aleister the opening he needs.

Out of desperation we see Ciampa uses a crutch from under the ring while the ref isn’t paying attention but only gets a 2 count. Then Ciampa goes to the outside and pulls up the protective mat, which prompts the referee to come out and scold him. So when Ciampa heads back in the ring, Black charges him and accidentally kicks the referee off of the apron, immediately after landing Black Mass, but with no one to count.

Black goes to try and revive the ref, when he returns to the ring and lifts Ciampa, Tommaso drives his thumb into Black’s eye. Taking the moment he goes to get the NXT Championship to use it as a weapon, but Johnny Gargano tries to get involved. Superkicks Ciampa and in the process of grabbing the belt away, he loses his balance and strikes Aleister with the belt.

Ciampa throws out Gargano, the ref slowly makes it back into the ring and Ciampa nails a Double Underhook Piledriver for the victory.

Most of the callbacks in this match were callbacks to his matches with Gargano, so it made sense for him to get involved. This is most likely heading towards a Triple Threat, but for now, we have one of the best heels in the business walking away with the gold.

Winner: Ciampa via Double Underhook Piledriver

Rating: **** 3/4

 

Well, this is one of those week’s I go with the dark horse match. Zeus has been one of my favorites since I got back into All Japan last year, so seeing the payoff in a high quality match, and his way of walking around the entire stage area to personally shake hands and hug each fan, was something special. Yes yes, Ciampa being the devious evil villain is a good story, but it’s also an outcome most of us knew was happening since WWE spoiled it themselves.

So for shear impact it had on me, and a little smidgen of bias, I’m going with, AJPW Triple Crown Championship: Kento Miyahara vs Zeus, just because.


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Should New Japan’s Next UK Show Be At Wembley Arena?

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After watching an incredibly successful and entertaining PROGRESS Wrestling Wembley Arena show that drew a reported 4,750 fans. I’d like to discuss the viability of New Japan running that same arena next year, on the back of a successful Strong Style Evolved UK tour earlier this year.  

Strong Style Evolved UK Success

Let’s start with the success of the Strong Style Evolved UK tour. New Japan ran two shows earlier this year in the UK. One at the Planet Ice Arena in Milton Keynes drawing 2,500 fans and another at the Altrincham Ice Dome drawing 3,000. Both were reported as sell outs on the day. What’s interesting about the success of these shows is that only a third of New Japan’s roster was available. They had CEOxNJPW, ROH Best in the World and this Strong Style Evolved UK tour all at the same time. This meant that the UK tour was largely headlined by Suzuki-Gun (Minori Suzuki, ZSJ, Taichi etc.) and CHAOS (Okada, Ishii, Jay White, Ospreay etc.) talent. Only Kazuchika Okada out of New Japan’s ‘big four’ was present as Kenny Omega, Tetsuya Naito and Hiroshi Tanahashi were at the other shows. An easy conclusion to reach would be that New Japan were able to draw 4,500+ fans with a third of their roster, surely if they brought their whole roster, they could have increased success? I think there is definitely some truth to that, however it’s worth mentioning that the majority of the tickets sold were prior to any talent announcements. So, many of those buying tickets (myself included as I attended the Manchester show) did so because it was the first New Japan tour of the UK, opposed to it being to do with any announced talent or match card. That being said, as someone who attended one of the shows and kept my eye on the social media feedback of the show/s. I didn’t see many complaints at all, it all seemed to be very positive. Especially at the shows, the feedback on the VODs is a different matter entirely. I think this is an important point that fans who bought their tickets weren’t disappointed with the lack of certain stars not being on the card. It speaks volumes to the depth of the New Japan roster and how great the partnership with RPW has been, which leads me to a great segue onto my next point of discussion.

SSE UK in Manchester night 2. Shared on Twitter by Andy Quildan, founder & promoter of RPW.

Partnership with Rev Pro

In my opinion Revolution Pro Wrestling’s partnership with New Japan Pro Wrestling has proven to be a great success so far for both parties. I really can’t praise RPW enough for how they’ve provided some absolute dream matches between the New Japan wrestlers and the indie talent not just from the UK, but from all around the world. They’ve also played a massive part in growing the New Japan brand in the UK. Whether that be through the frequent booking of talents such as Minoru Suzuki and Tomohiro Ishii or the sale of merch (be it at their shows or online). The consistent booking of New Japan wrestlers by RPW for their big shows has been such an important ingredient in allowing those outside of New Japan’s ‘big four’ to become draws in the UK.  it’s why despite having Okada on the SSE UK tour facing off against Zack Sabre Jr, Suzuki vs Ishii was the main event for their highest attended show competing for the RPW British Heavyweight Championship respectively. Another important factor of this relationship is how RPW helped produce the Strong Style Evolved UK shows, this includes handling the stage setup, arenas and the recording of the overall event. Which brings us onto the last point of discussion. What’s next?

Zack Gibson vs Yuji Nagata at Global Wars 2017. An example of the kind of unique matches RPW puts together.

Wembley Arena or UK Tour?

I think the first thing we have to ask is, could New Japan run Wembley Arena? As referenced earlier, PROGRESS Wrestling ran the arena and drew 4,750 fans. New Japan drew 4,500 fans across two shows in the UK. Could they draw more than that if they brought their whole roster over to the UK for a big show? It is my belief that they could. What I think they would need to do is confirm who is attending the show ahead of ticket sales, I think that would definitely create a lot of hype around this show.

The biggest question I think that should be asked is, should they? Should they run Wembley Arena or should they do another tour of the UK, only perhaps add a few more dates? Personally, it was very nice being able to attend the Manchester show and not have to travel down to London (the typical place for big RPW shows) for once. Another thing worth thinking about is, I have some friends that are in different parts of the UK, let’s say Wales or Scotland. They couldn’t make the shows in Milton Keynes or Manchester, so they definitely wouldn’t be able to make a Wembley Arena show in London. Perhaps there is more value in running more shows across the UK as part of a tour, opposed to running one big show? I think it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons. If they did a tour, more fans across the UK could attend shows closer to their home, they could run similar sized venues as they did for the SSE UK tour. The negative side of this is having to put match cards together for each event, which leads to opinions on who is getting the better show. We experienced this for the SSE UK tour where a lot of fans enjoyed the Milton Keynes show, but felt as though the Manchester one was definitely the better card with big singles matches. This is something New Japan and Rev Pro would have to be careful about. However, it does mean that more people up and down the country will have a chance to see New Japan live in person, that’s never a bad thing!

So, should they run Wembley Arena instead? In my opinion I think they should. The positives for me of running this show are that the UK will get a proper super show featuring all the New Japan talent under one roof. That’s something we just haven’t had yet. I also think they have a great opportunity to do some incredible numbers attendance-wise. I look at TNA’s record attendance and it was at Wembley Arena with 8,000+. Granted, the promotion was on UK TV via Challenge, but us Brits love pro wrestling. We’ve demonstrated our hunger for the New Japan product with two sold out shows and I do believe people would travel for one big show especially if it meant being a part of something special. There’s also a chance that New Japan could get some mainstream UK attention in the press if the show looks like it is going to be a success. I know PROGRESS Wrestling’s recent show got a lot of coverage online from sources that don’t usually bother with pro wrestling outside of WWE, this includes Sky Sports, Mirror, SportsBible and Daily Star to name but a few.

A Wembley Arena show could help New Japan keep their momentum going as a white hot promotion alongside their MSG sellout.   

All in all, I’d argue running a Wembley Arena show could have a greater impact on New Japan’s reach as a product. It would also help keep their forward momentum of an ever-growing promotion alongside the MSG show Stateside. I can honestly say doing either would be a positive thing, but I believe there to be more potential value in having one big show. Whatever happens next year, I’m looking forward to attending and being entertained by the New Japan stars as per usual!

 

What are your thoughts? Do you have a preference? If you’re in the UK, would you prefer a New Japan closer to you or one big show that brings fans from all over the country together? Let us know via social media or in the comments section!    


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Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 10/14/2018

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Well in a weekend of cray matches, crazy football games and overall crazy entertainment, this isn’t a very WWE friendly list.

Before we get to the Top 5 Matches, we need to go over the two votes we had last week. Firstly, our September winner:

  • January – NXT Takeover Philly: Johnny Gargano vs Andrade Almas
  • February – New Beginning in Osaka: Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA
  • March – Strong Style Evolved: Golden Lovers vs Young Bucks
  • April NXT Takeover NOLA: Andrade Almas vs Aleister Black
  • May – WWE Backlash: Seth Rollins vs The Miz
  • June – NJPW Dominion: Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega
  • July – G1 Climax 28: Hirooki Goto vs Tomohiro Ishii
  • August – G1 Climax 28 Finals: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi
  • September – All In NWA Championship Match: Cody vs Nick Aldis (c)

It’s not the kind of match the IWC usually goes crazy for, but this proves that good story telling and emotional investment still leave an impression on people. As for last week, that’s more par for the IWC course. WWE Super Show-Down Cruiserweight Title Match: Cedric Alexander (c) vs Buddy Murphy, got most of the votes last week.

Now that we see what the MOTY pool is shaping up to be, let’s see what else joins the Cruiserweight match.

 

5. NJPW King of Pro Wrestling IWGP Heavyweight Championship Triple Threat: Kenny Omega (c) vs Cody vs Kota Ibushi

Only the third IWGP Heavyweight Triple Threat, and I suppose it doesn’t have a high bar to live up to. The first was effectively a match just to make Brock Lesnar look like a beast in 2005. The second was at ROH War of the Worlds in 2014, and…well…we don’t speak of that. So yeah, low bar, so if they all have a mediocre match, it’ll still be the best Triple Threat in the history of the IWGP Championship.

To be succinct, Omega was right in his post match promo. It was a little bit of a Cody match, Ibushi match and Omega match…but that also made the pacing a little awkward. It was mostly a formulaic WWE style of Triple Threat where one person gets dumped out and two focus on each other for a few minutes and then, switch.

It had some flashy spots, like Cody going through the announce table. Also a nice subtle statement from Cody during the match was interesting, when he said, “I’m your friend too! Help me too!”. Omega’s bias was an interesting underlying theme in the match.

As a match, it was pretty good, it felt weird given it was in New Japan and Ibushi sold more frustration and emotional struggle than Kenny once again. The fact Kenny doesn’t think twice about landing moves on Ibushi and then tries to put him over in the post match promo, just makes this whole relationship feel like Stockholm Syndrome.

I’m not going into moves, but the match is fine, if you aren’t a puro purist, you’ll probably be okay with it. But the match wasn’t a classic that will last more than the next couple months in most memories.

Winner: Omega via One Winged Angel (on Ibushi)

Rating: **** 1/4

 

4. Impact Bound For Glory Knockout’s Title Match: Tessa Blanchard (c) vs Taya Valkyrie

There’s not really much else to lead into this then: They both are alpha females, they kick ass…so let’s see who wins this.

Hard hitting from both and they had pretty solid chemistry together. We saw from both women they can wrestle any style needed, while staying resilient and imposing.

Tessa hits the Buzzsaw DDT, but Taya manages to kick out to Tessa’s surprise. Taya then rocks Tessa pretty hard, so Tessa tries to powder out and grabs the ring skirt. When Taya drags her back in, Tessa drags the skirt with her and the ref goes to readjust the ring. Taya hits Road to Valhalla during the distracted referee moment, and him being out of position allows Tessa enough time to kick out.

We see Tessa get to the top rope and leaps about halfway across the ring to hit Taya with Magnum. Finally picking up the pinfall and retaining her championship.

Yes I gave a very abridged edition, but that’s mainly because you should watch this. Many writers, reviewers and casual fans shit on women’s wrestling, but these two women are special. We’ve seen them both go up against men and more than hold their own, and they prove that when they have time, they know how to put on solid matches.

Winner: Tessa via Magnum

Rating: **** 1/2

 

3. Impact Bound for Glory World Heavyweight Championship Match: Austin Aries (c) vs Johnny Impact

Well this match certainly got personal all of a sudden. Aries basically calling out the hypocrisy of ‘short jokes’ still being acceptable when other genetic short comings, difference or handicaps are seen as taboo, got blown way out of proportion. Yes he worded his stance in a harsh way, but that also proved exactly what he meant. So ya, worked shoots, shoot Tweets and TMZ made this an interesting build.

The match started off like a shoot. Both men were posturing and attacking like they were trying to expose the other instead of work a match. If that was intentional, very good, cause I know the group of people I was watching with couldn’t tell where the truth and lie blurred.

Either way we had a lot of jawing back and forth between the Hennigans and Aries, and we even got both men to grab the ropes after each one’s finishers. So obviously they were working together enough, and I’d be lying if it didn’t add a nice layer to the match. Hell there was even an early spot where they were on a narrow side, outside of the ring, Aries charged and Johnny jumped up balancing on the barricade and apron perfectly and then hitting a moonsault/flip kick…something like that, shut up it looked cool.

Aries plays the jaded heel up until the end, even doing a dive to the outside straight on to Taya. Johnny goes right after Aries instead of checking on Taya, lands a brainbuster for rub ins and then one more Starship Pain, for the pinfall.

Nearly immediately after the bell, Aries gets up, effectively no sells the finish, curses at Don Callis and walks up the ramp flipping off the crowd. He could be heated that he was painted as the bad guy when logically his stance made sense. So I’m more interested to see the ramifications or if this is just another case of Aries’ ego showing him the door.

Damn good match, finish makes future episodes or news releases from Impact a little more interesting.

Winner: Impact via Starship Pain

Rating: **** 1/2

 

Honorable Mentions:

NJPW King of Pro Wrestling IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship Match: Kushida vs Marty Scurll
Winner: Kushida via Back to the Future
Rating: ****
Impact Bound for Glory Concrete Jungle Death Match: OGz vs LAX
Winner: LAX via Street Sweeper
Rating: *** 3/4
Impact Bound For Glory: Rich Swann & Willie Mack vs Matt Sydal & Ethan Page
Winner: Swann via Middle Rope Phoenix Splash
Rating: *** 3/4
AJPW Raising an Army Memorial Series AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Championship Match: Shuji Kondo (c) vs Hikaru Sato
Winner: Kondo via King Kong Lariat
Rating: *** 3/4
Impact Bound For Glory: oVe vs Fenix, Pentagon & Brian Cage
Winner: oVe via 14 Superkicks (pinning Cage)
Rating: *** 3/4
NOAH Global Junior League Final Day Finale: YO-HEY vs Kotaro Suzuki
Winner: Suzuki via Requiem
Rating: *** 1/2
AJPW Raising an Army Memorial Series All Asia Tag Title Match: Takao Omori & Black Menso-re vs Yuma Aoyagi & Naoya Nomura (c)
Winner: Nomura via Maximum
Rating: *** 1/2
ROH Glory by Honor ROH World Title Match: Jay Lethal (c) vs Silas Young
Winner: Lethal via Lethal Injection
Rating: *** 1/2
NJPW King of Pro Wrestling IWGP Jr Tag Team Title Match: El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (c) vs Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask
Winner: Despy via Pinche Loco
Rating: *** 1/4
ROH Glory by Honor 6 Man Tag Title: Young Bucks (c) & Cody vs SoCal Uncensored
Winner: Cody via Crossroads
Rating: *** 1/4
Raw: The Shield vs Dogs of War
Winner: McIntyre via Claymore
Rating: ***
AJPW Raising an Army Memorial Series: Jake Lee vs Yusuke Okada
Winner: Jake via High Angle Back Body Drop
Rating: ***
AJPW Raising an Army Memorial Series: Dylan James & Kotaro Suzuki vs Koji Iwamoto & Ryoji Sai
Winner: James via Chokeslam
Rating: ***

 

2. NJPW King of Pro Wrestling G1 Briefcase Rights Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Jay White

We know the lead in to this. Jay beat Tanahashi during the G1, and because of that, he is granted a shot at claiming the briefcase for himself.  We’ve seen White become even more of a heel, getting Gedo to turn on Okada and splinter off from Chaos. So will the Ace stay ahead of the young heel Switchblade, or has Switchblade matured enough to overtake the Ace?

Another Tanahashi classic where pacing is important. Unlike his time seconding Okada, Gedo got involved on numerous occasions during the match. Tanahashi took him out at one point which gave White multiple openings. The match is well wrestled and got across both characters. Tanahashi trying to preserve wrestling in his image and complete his comeback tour. Jay playing the foil of the heel that will do literally anything to win.

After two High Fly Flows, Gedo pulls Red Shoes out of the ring. Jay low blows Tanahashi, but Tanahashi returns the favor at some point. Jay introduced the chair, Tanahashi tried to slam Jay on it and then hit one more High Fly Flow, but hits all chair. Jay hits Tanahashi with the chair and then has Gedo go revive Red Shoes.

Just as we think Jay White is going to win with Blade Runner, after soo much cheating, Tanahashi counters it into a Small Package, and picks up the pinfall victory.

Fallout after the match is noteworthy since Gedo and White beat down Tanahashi, Okada comes out to make the save. Jado tries to calm down Okada and then the Bullet Club OGs show up, surround the ring and effectively jump Okada. White joins in and it turns out Gedo, Jado and Jay White are all part of the Firing Squad version of the Bullet Club now.

So it’s very much like nWo Wolfpack and Hollywood now, but hey, people like it, so why the hell not?

Winner: Tanahashi via Small Package

Rating: **** 1/2

 

1. NOAH Global Junior League Final Day GHC Heavyweight Championship Match: Takashi Sugiura (c) vs Katsuhiko Nakajima

Sugiura has had the best reign of any world champion in 2018. His defenses have all been different and bring out different feelings and layers in not only his opponents but also the crowd. Nakajima had Sugiura’s number last time he was champion in 2016, and he’s only gotten better. So will the shameless old man hold on, or do we see the cocky Nakajima take it again?

This match was unlike any other match Sugiura’s had all year, and I can’t even think of a similar one in quite a while. Nakajima outright dominated this match. He played coy, aloof and just straight arrogant. Every time Sugiura tried to hit him, he’d dodge and strike back. This was the classic story of egotistical youngster trying to make the old dog look bad, because he’s faster, better, etc.

Sugiura got in a small flurry when he was able to land a Spear off a misdirection move. But then Nakajima established himself as just being five steps ahead. Katsuhiko is known as the Genius of the Kick, and he light up Sugiura. Standing Round Kicks, a flurry of Thrust Kicks to the chest and head in the corner, Soccer Ball kicks to his chest, punting Sugiura’s head so well I’m pretty sure Randy Orton blushed somewhere. Nakajima put on a clinic, but Sugiura was mostly resilient.

I say mostly, because there was a moment after the second or third punt to the head, that Sugiura appeared knocked out. Nakajima puts his foot on his chest for the cocky cover, 1-2, and then he lifts his foot off and grins. Nakajima wanted to continue to embarrass the old man, instead of just win the match and be done with it. This would ultimately prove to be his downfall.

Nakajima got progressively more lazy with his kicks. The man has great form, but he was sacrificing torque just to be cute. Sugiura kicks out of the Vertical Spike and eventually puts a little offense together but Nakajima kicks out of the Olympic Slam. One of those lazy kicks finally bites the arrogant genius in the ass, and Sugiura locks in an Ankle Lock. After pulling back into the center of the ring twice, he grapevines the leg, and Nakajima is forced to tap out.

A well wrestled match, with gorgeous character work and ring psychology make this match special. Definitely worth watching for anyone with a half hour to kill.

Winner: Sugiura via Ankle Hold

Rating: *****

 

Thoughts:

As I usually mention when something obscure takes the top spot, I don’t expect it to win the vote, but it deserves the attention. Also just to throw this out there, Glory by Honor was a pretty awful show. Looked like the venue was at least one third empty, the matches were uninspired and the things that even made Honor Mention are well below average level for the participants. Couple that with Bound for Glory being a solid show mixing good wrestling with solid sports entertainment, it’s just a bad look for ROH.

Anyway! Back to the Top 5, my vote will go for the match that topped the list. I gushed a little in the description, because it’s so many professional wrestling tool utilized beautifully. Tessa vs Taya would be my second choice, but that’s not how this works.

So either way, hopefully you saw a couple of these. Make your opinion heard and let us know which one you think is the best of the 5. And remember, Always Use Your Head.


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Opinion

Booking the Entirety of Smackdown 1000

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Smackdown Fist Stage WWE

The 1000th episode of Smackdown is this Tuesday and it’s been a highly anticipated show for weeks now. The reunion of all four members of Evolution is going to happen and Rey Mysterio vs Shinsuke Nakamura was just announced last week. There’s sure to be more returns and surprises so let’s see if I can make the most out of those within a two hour show. My goal here is to reminisce on the times and superstars we cherish while still making new stars.

John Cena’s Open Challenge

He doesn’t currently have a championship but John Cena made his WWE debut as a result of Kurt Angle’s open challenge. That’s why I would have John Cena open the show with an open challenge to all the current and former stars in the locker room. The man that answers the call is none other than Kurt Angle. When rumors of Kurt Angle returning to WWE started to surface a couple years ago I wanted him to answer John Cena’s United States Championship Open Challenge as his method of return. Since that is no longer possible, Tuesday feels like the best way to revisit that historic segment from 2002.

Evolution segment sets up giant main event

For the Evolution segment I’d have all four members go to ring and cut a promo. They would be interrupted by New Day, who would then be interrupted by The Club (Gallows, Anderson, and AJ Styles). All three teams are going back and forth on the mic when the lights go out. Sanity’s music hits and they decide they want in on the action. This now sets up the giant 12-man main event: Evolution (w/ Ric Flair) vs The Club vs New Day vs Sanity. Teddy Long can make the announcement of the tag team match because that’s what he does best.

Becky Strikes Again

As the segment concludes and is about to go to commercial, Becky Lynch attacks Ric Flair from behind. This is just the next way for Becky to get under Charlotte’s skin. Charlotte comes in to stop it but Paige needs to preserve their title match for Evolution. Paige announces that she’s recruited a former women’s champion to humble Becky. Beth Phoenix makes sense but Molly Holly is more synonymous with the Smackdown brand. We saw Molly return at the Royal Rumble so this isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Becky Lynch defeating a legend one on one would further cement her current status as champion.

Evolution (cont.)

During the main event my plan would be for Sanity to win. At Raw 25, the Revival got utterly humiliated by DX so here’s a chance to rectify that. If they’re not ready to give Sanity that kind of a clean win, Undertaker can cost Triple H and Evolution the match. They’re in the middle of a feud and there is no Smackdown celebration without an appearance from The Undertaker.

Eddie Guerrero Tribute

My original plan was for Andrade “Cien” Almas to pay tribute to Eddie but I eventually thought against it since he is his own person. Instead, after a commercial, a video montage should play of Eddie’s best Smackdown moments. WWE is usually really good with their video packages and Eddie is one of Smackdown’s most significant talents of all time. As the montage fades, Rey Mysterio’s music hits to signal his match with Nakamura. Since Rey was his close friend, it would be really special to see some sort of tribute to Eddie on his ring gear or maybe he wins the match via Frog Splash. Perhaps we see Vickie Guerrero play a role in this instead. She’s a former Smackdown General Manager so she deserves a spot in the show for multiple reasons.

Samoan Supremacy

I’m not sure if The Rock is scheduled to make an appearance but I need him for this segment. When looking back at the earliest memories of Smackdown, The Rock is all over them. I’d have him come down to the ring and talk about those memories and his legacy – saying it wouldn’t have been possible without his Samoan ancestors. That’s when Samoa Joe’s music would hit. He’d make the obvious remarks of The Rock’s Hollywood status and what not. Joe would then go on to say that the reason WWE brought him in was because they were tired of The Rock’s and Roman Reigns’ bloodline and needed a fresh start. After all, he has been one of main the faces of Smackdown for all of 2018. After another insult to The Rock’s family, a fight would ensue which would require both guys to get pulled apart. The Rock could even take a shot at Joe’s freshly injured knee before the scrap concludes.

A New Giant Emerges

One of the most iconic moments in Smackdown history is when Brock Lesnar’s superplex to Big Show collapsed the entire ring. Since Big Show returned last week, he could stand in the ring while the clip of that match plays on the Titantron. Big Show lost in his return last week so his promo would have a reflective and somber tone. He would have the audience believe that he’s about to retire. This would be the show to do it on, after all. However, before Show can conclude his speech, Lars Sullivan debuts. Sullivan declares that he won’t allow Show to walk out until he puts him down himself. Lars wins via superplex and a star is born.

Edge and Christian’s Cutting Edge Peep Show

I had a few big stars left over and this was the way to squeeze everyone in. Daniel Bryan is a guest on the Cutting Edge Peep Show. Edge and Christian are congratulating him on his recently earned WWE Championship match. Christian says him and Daniel Bryan are similar in the sense that they were once underdogs. Edge says he sympathizes with Daniel because he also had to retire early. Miz is annoyed and decides to crash the party. He cuts the promo of a lifetime of everyone in the ring and puts over Miz TV as the superior talk show.

A certain Rattlesnake in the back has heard enough. Glass shatters. Dads everywhere toss their children in the air out of excitement. Stone Cold Steve Austin is walkin’ and talkin’ all the way down to the ring. He is clearly fed up. Miz tries to talk over the entrance music and audience ovation to no avail. Austin gives a Smackdown-sized stunner to the Miz and the microphone goes flying. Austin, Bryan, Edge and Christian all celebrate in the ring as Miz lays lifeless. Miz tries to get up toward the end of the celebration but receives another stunner for his troubles. Everyone is happy heading into the main event.

Miscellaneous

The Fist

When lifelong wrestling fans think of Smackdown, they immediately think of the giant fist that used to be centered at the top of the stage. Tuesday is the ideal time to bring it back for one night.

Commentary Team

I’d like to hear some of the voices of Smackdown’s past. Michael Cole and Tazz on commentary with Tony Chimel as the special guest ring announcer would be quite the nostalgia trip.

Hardy Boyz vs The Usos

The Hardy Boys are clearly one of the most crucial elements to the early success of not only Smackdown, but the history of the tag division. In a down year for Smackdown, the Jimmy and Jey Uso were considered by many as the MVPs of the brand in 2017. To my knowledge, these pairs of brothers have never actually squared off in the ring. Let’s make it happen on Tuesday.

Missed Opportunity

As much as I loved King Booker’s return to introduce New Day into the 5-Timer’s Club, I wish there would have been a way to save Booker T for Tuesday night.

Opening Theme

I saw a poll going around Twitter asking for everyone’s favorite Smackdown opening theme of all time. This got me thinking that it would be a fun idea to open the show with a mash-up of all the past themes and short clips of all the past title sequences edited together. It’ll be a quick trip down memory lane to start the night.


Always Use Your Head and visit the official Pro Wrestling Tees store for The Chairshot All t-shirt proceeds help support the advancement of your favorite hard-hitting wrestling website, The Chairshot!


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