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
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
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
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
WOS: Davey Boy Smith Jr vs Will Ospreay
Winner: Davey via Avalanche Powerslam
NJPW G1 Climax 28: Kazuchika Okada vs YOSHI-HASHI
Winner: Okada via Rainmaker
Impact X Division Championship Match: Brian Cage (c) vs Matt Sydal
Winner: Cage via Drill Claw
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
NJPW G1 Climax 28: Tama Tonga vs Zack Sabre Jr
Winner: Sabre via DQ
NJPW G1 Climax 28: Togi Makabe vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Winner: Tanahashi via High Fly Flow
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!
— Ro Bert ロバート (@b3rt4) July 29, 2018
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.
— WWE (@WWE) July 26, 2018
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.
It’s Time For WWE To Reunite The Wyatt Family
Given all of their strife over the past year, Carol thinks it’s time for WWE to bring a family back together–The Wyatt Family!
Out of all the wrestling stables in recent years, The Wyatt Family stands out as one of the most intriguing groups. The trio consisting of Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, and Erick Rowan made their main roster debut in the summer of 2013.
From the moment they stepped into the ring, the stable piqued the interest of the WWE Universe. Bray Wyatt was perfect as the menacing cult leader, who preached about saving the world from darkness. Harper and Rowan excelled in their roles as Bray’s followers, doing whatever their leader commanded.
The group grew bigger when Braun Strowman joined the stable, making them a force to be reckoned with.
Yet, like many wrestling stables, The Wyatt Family soon disbanded. After their split, the four men have gone on to have decent singles careers with some ups and downs along the way.
Braun Strowman has been the member to have the best career.He’s gone on to become one of WWE’s top guys and has competed in numerous matches for the Universal Championship. While he hasn’t won the coveted title yet, Strowman has won over fans, who are strong supporters of The Monster Among Men.
Bray Wyatt also achieved a great amount of success by becoming WWE champion along with two-time tag team champion. As for Harper and Rowan, they’re run as singles competitors was a little rocky. But the two men would team up as The Bludgeon Brothers and became one of Smackdown’s top tag teams.
Currently, all four men are out of action. Strowman, Harper, and Rowan are dealing with injuries. As for Bray, he hasn’t been seen since July when he and Matt Hardy lost the RAW tag titles. But in recent days, he’s been hinting at a return, promising a something different.
While Bray hasn’t been on television in months, he did make an appearance during the Starrcade house show a few weeks ago, when he wrestled Baron Corbin. Bray’s involvement at Starrcade has led to speculation that he’ll be making his return at the upcoming TLC PPV during Braun and Corbin’s match.
If Bray does return to help Braun, does that mean that a Wyatt Family reunion is in the works?
It seems possible and to be honest this could be the best thing to happen to the group.
As I stated earlier, the men have had ups and downs in their singles careers. Braun’s momentum has faltered since losing his Universal Championship match against Brock Lesnar. Bray has been just one of the many wrestlers who’ve suffered at the hands of WWE creative team.
From a storyline point, you could have Bray come back to help Braun resurrect the monster that Strowman is. With Bray’s guidance, Braun could gain back some of the momentum he’s lost and become a dominant force among the roster.
As for Harper and Rowan, they too could benefit from a Wyatt Family reunion. The two have struggled following the disbanding of the group.Yet, with them part of the stable again, they’ll be back in the spotlight as they take on their roles as Bray’s enforcers.
There’s no telling what WWE has planned for Bray, but with Wyatt’s recent tweets and TLC coming up, it’s going to be interesting to see if The Eater of Worlds makes an appearance and sets up a Wyatt Family reunion.
Are We Really Even Fans Anymore?
Rey Ca$h looks to speak some truth into your life about your hatred of WWE Raw!
On April 3rd, 2016, The Walking Dead went from the biggest show on television to one riddled with controversy. This particular episode is the infamous one where Negan, the biggest of all the big bads, makes his debut and kills an unknown member of Rick’s crew with Lucille, his barbed wire bat. We don’t see who it is and we are forced to wait 6 months to find out who died and what all happened.
Why am I talking about The Walking Dead on a wrestling website? I bring up this show, and in particular this episode, for one major reason. The fan reaction to it was vitriolic. Some fans hated it. Some loved it. Everybody had an opinion. But for a large number of fans, that was where the show crossed the line. Funny thing is, if you read the comics that the show is largely pulled from, this was a paramount storyline that was always going to have to happen on the show. So essentially, fans were told EXACTLY what was going to happen, even down to the smallest details, and they revolted.
You Hate Raw.
The vitriol spewed at the WWE currently, particularly Monday Night Raw, is stronger than ever. The thing is, however, WWE has never lied about what type of show Raw is. It’s a variety entertainment hour featuring wrestling. And yes, ratings are down, but they’re consistently one of the top 5 shows watched every night on cable. So, do the ratings really matter when nobody’s watching anything else either?
I understand that we as fans have an intrinsic right to feel how we are led to about the product we are given. For many, Raw is sub-par to terrible. I get that and respect that. I even echo that to a small extent. But I’ve started to wonder one major question as of late – are we really even fans anymore?
I hate to go all literal on you guys, but Merriam-Webster defines fan in this particular respect as “an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator; an ardent admirer or enthusiast (as of a celebrity or a pursuit).” We all know that the word fan is derived from the word fanatic, as these definitions allude to. Have we thought, however, about how that really affects us? Do we think about what type of fan we are? How our fandom affects that which we are said fans of???
The WWE needs no sympathy. They’re a billion-dollar company, thriving in a business sense that was never before thought possible. But these criticisms…if we think deeply into them, is it really because the show is that bad, or is it because we’re not fans of what the product is anymore? Let me give you an example.
Gregg Popovich, super successful and championship winning coach of the San Antonio Spurs, was in the news recently because he mentioned that he thinks the current NBA is not beautiful anymore. The game, which has progressed from slower, more stylistic and cerebral play to quicker, more skill laden play, isn’t what he’s used to anymore. Add to that the empowerment of the player in this generation and the rise of super-teams, and many fans tend to agree with Coach Pop. The NBA has jumped the shark for many. For others, however, it’s the best it’s ever been. It’s massively entertaining, it’s breeding more stars than ever, and the skill is at an all-time high.
This reminds me of wrestling, WWE in particular. This generation of fans seems to be primarily interested in in ring prowess and “workrate”, choosing to focus on sequences of moves and characters that only resonate with them. Older generations, however, were largely intrigued by the characters and the stories told, with promo ability being lauded even more than in ring ability. A great match was only great because the story allowed it to be. Neither side is wrong, but much like if you watch CZW, you can expect hardcore style wrestling, if you watch Monday Night Raw, you can expect story driven television.
But What Is Raw?
Let’s take a look at the show from an analytical perspective. We have to acknowledge, from the beginning, that 5 of the top 8 male stars on the brand are out for significant periods of time. Roman Reigns is facing the fight of his life with leukemia, Braun has had his second surgery in years on his elbow, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn will be out possibly past WrestleMania season because of major surgeries, and the Universal Champion Brock Lesnar is somewhere on his farm. All criticisms must acknowledge this.
So, the major stories for the guys on the show revolve around Baron Corbin as General Manager Elect, and Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose’s blood feud revisited. For the women, Ronda Rousey is locked in a heated feud with Nia Jax and her cousin Tamina, and Natalya is out for personal revenge against the dastardly Ruby Riott and her Riott Squad. I ask you to think seriously about this question I’m about to ask you guys. What do all four of those feuds have in common?
They’re all story driven.
Corbin is drunk with power, abusing it to his whim. As such, he’s gained allies who want to be at the top, and are using Corbin’s power to hold their enemies down. Rollins and Ambrose have a near biblical feud, revolving around a very real and personal issue of betrayal. Ronda Rousey faced her toughest challenge recently against Becky Lynch and Charlotte, and Nia, who broke Becky’s face, wants to get back the title that she lost due to a cash in and beat the “Baddest Woman On The Planet” to prove her dominance. Ruby Riott broke Natalya’s late father, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart’s sunglasses, destroying a personal heirloom of Nattie’s. Natalya wants to get personal revenge for that and the multiple attacks that the Riott Squad have given her.
All four of those are Raw style stories. They are largely told through promos and backstage vignettes, they are riddled with drama, and they are building to a crescendo. The stories can always be told better, but are you sure you’re not against the stories before they’re even told to you because of your expectations?
Look at Dean Ambrose for example. We’ve long salivated at the thought of a truly unhinged, heel Ambrose. Instead, we get a germophobic, cerebral, emotional Dean. In a sense, the emotionless lunatic has turned into the over emotional thinker. And many fans are down on it. Why??? The promos have been fantastic. The cat and mouse game he’s played with “The Architect” have been wonderful.
But, it’s not what we expected. And to add to that fact, it’s not what we wanted.
That take is not only unfair, but it’s a hindrance to everybody involved in telling that story. The people with that take have essentially said that they refuse to let WWE tell them a story because it’s not what they want. That is MASSIVELY different than being told a story in full and not enjoying it.
I legitimately ask you all, which side are you on? Not liking things because it’s not what you wanted or expected, or reacting to what you’re being given. I’d bet good money it’s the former.
My goal in this column is not to tell any of you that you’re wrong in your opinions. I’m not even trying to advocate for Raw – if you listen to Chairshot Radio or The Outsider’s Edge, you’ll see that I criticize the show just as much as you guys. My point in this is simply to push you to step back and look at the big picture. Re-evaluate what you think you want. Ask yourself are you giving the show a legitimate chance, or are you already against the show before they get a chance to entertain you. Then, maybe you’ll realize that Raw doesn’t need to change when they’re being who they’ve always been. Maybe them not changing isn’t the problem. Maybe you’re the one who needs to change. Maybe we all are.