Now this week was interesting. It starts off with a pretty lame RAW and no one had a lot of expectations for the G1 Special in San Francisco. So you’d expect a down week, right?
Before we get into this week, let’s handle the results of last week’s vote and reveal the June Pool for Chairshot MOTY. Last week’s winner, by a very slim margin, ROH BITW Tag Team Championship Match: Young Bucks vs The Briscoes (c). Which rounds out June, so not let’s look at that.
205 Live Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy vs Cedric Alexander
NJPW Dominion IWGP Heavyweight Championship 2 out of 3 Falls: Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega
WWE Money in the Bank WWE Championship Last Man Standing: AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura
205 Live: Buddy Murphy vs Hideo Itami vs Mustafa Ali
ROH BITW Tag Team Title Match: The Briscoes vs The Young Bucks
To be perfectly honest, this is a difficult pool. Many people might default to Omega vs Okada IV because of the Meltzer rating or what have you, but none of the matches on this list are hands down inferior. Since I didn’t think Meltzer’s 7 star orgasm was that fantastic (it was still damn good, just not scale breaking), I’m giving my vote to, AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura.
So let’s get to this week’s matches, and yes, still doing the overview since life and chores get in the way. Being an adult kinda sucks…but anyway…TO THE LIST!
5. Dragon Gate Rainbow Gate Open the Triangle Gate Championship: Natural Vibes (Genki Horiguchi, Kzy & Susumu Yokosuka) (c) vs Don Fujii, K-ness & Ryo Saito
Now admittedly my interest in Dragon Gate waned a bit after a fairly awful King of Gate tournament. But my general confusion on how this match happened and the main event of the show, intrigued me enough to turn it on. So the usual goofy Ryo Saito, is apparently going under a new transformation where he is a “rookie” again. Due to his change, he and Don Fuji managed to get a tag team win over Genki and Susumu, so it set the stage nicely for them to have a claim to the Triangle Belts.
This match started off the way most 6 man tags do, where each person got a few minutes, tagged out, rotated for a while and then finally the match started to pick up. I was curious why Ryo was going for so many Backslides, and apparently it’s because that was his new “finishing maneuver”. That at least explained the crowd reaction and why the pinfall break ups seemed so intense.
However, Ryo, Don and K-Ness aren’t really a legitimate stable, and Natural Vibes are still rather new and building steam. So it’s not really surprising that Kzy finds a way to win the match, but it was a fun match. Numerous near falls, multiple finishers and seeing Ryo Saito playing a more serious character again is, well…different. After being rejected as a main event player, he’s become a beloved comedy guy.
All in all, this match was really solid and seemed to be more a conduit for Ryo Saito’s new character and evolution.
Winner: Kzy via Skayde Schoolboy
Rating: *** 3/4
4. 205 Live NoDQ Match: Mustafa Ali vs Buddy Murphy
This is like the 5th matchup between these guys in 7 or 8 weeks. They have yet to put on a bad match, but running it back too often is starting to wear on my desire to watch.
When we get down to the match, it works the same way most of them have. Murphy establishes his dominance since he’s bigger and stronger, but Ali finds a small opening and the match gets a little closer. I’m not sure how I feel about the crowd chanting “we want tables” and then when they didn’t get what they wanted we got a “no more steps” chant, so it was just a small annoyance about the crowds trying to get themselves over.
Funnily enough, there was one attempted announce table spot with the Spanish Fly onto it, and then the finish utilized the steps nicely. Ali had a superplex spot where he used the steps for extra height and then hit his Popping Tornado DDT off of the steps for a rather surprising victory. Now I may be wrong, but I feel like this evens up their overall record at 2-2-1, so we might get another match, hopefully much later.
Really good match, but aside from the use of the steps towards the end, it wasn’t super different from what we’ve already seen from them.
Winner: Ali via Popup Tornado DDT
3. NJPW G1 Special IWGP Heavyweight Championship Match: Cody vs Kenny Omega (c)
This match had a lot to follow up during the show, but it was the most well known storyline, probably in all of wrestling. Will Cody pull off the massive upset and ruin Omega’s victory parade over Okada, or does Omega get his win back over Cody while solidifying his leadership of Bullet Club?
Honestly, this match was just a lot of spots. It could be interpreted that both men were willing to “go to their limits” to take leadership for Bullet Club, but it just felt like too much. The first table spot was set up poorly, where Cody looked like he was gently tossed and ready to take a nap. Then we had a bunch of Brandi interjecting herself, the Bucks pleading with both guys to just squash things, but more stuff came out.
Chairs, Ladders, another table, all came out to try and end the match. Cody with a Superplex off the ladder back into the ring, Kenny Powerbombed Cody towards the outside table, but came up a little short. Cody hits a Crossroads after a ref bump for a near fall, but then Kenny hits multiple V-Triggers and finally finishes it with a One Winged Angel.
A few slow spots in the match, overkill on spots and general hiccups stopped this from being the best match of the show, but it definitely told a great story and showed Cody’s workrate ability a little more than previous matches.
Also the entire match got overshadowed more by the Tongan Firing Squad angle, as well as what looks like Cody and Kenny burying the hatchet. So lots of fun moving pieces, the match set things in motion…but just fell short.
Winner: Omega via One Winged Angel
Rating: **** 1/2
NJPW G1 Special IWGP Heavyweight Tag Title Match: Young Bucks (c) vs EVIL & SANADA
Winner: Bucks via Meltzer Driver
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW G1 Special: Kazuchika Okada & Will Ospreay vs Tetsuya Naito & Bushi
Winner: Ospreay via Stormbreaker
Rating: *** 1/2
Impact: Rich Swann vs Fenix
Winner: Fenix via Fenix Driver
Rating: *** 1/2
2. NJPW G1 Special IWGP US Championship Match: Jay White (c) vs Juice Robinson
This was honestly surprising. Jay White has a tendency to be put in a bad spot before a Bullet Club main event and after a big match right before his, so he tends to get overlooked.
What started out as a mostly basic match, that was gimmicked because Juice was unable to use his left hand in fear of getting disqualified because of the cast on it, really blew up after one big spot. Jay White, throws Juice into the guardrail in front of the announce table and knocks over Jim Ross, which prompts Josh Barnett to get up and stalk down Jay White as the heel back peddles for a decent chunk of time.
You may be wondering how random extra people helps, but holy hell it added another layer of intensity to the match. Jay was getting booed more furiously (and the crowd already liked Juice’s Flamboyant Colonial Pirate outfit), which just dialed everything up to 11. Then on top of that, Jay tries to beat Juice in a cheap way with a low blow while Red Shoes is cowering in the corner.
However, thanks to Red Shoes apprehension to turn around, it gave Juice the ‘turn around is fair play’ moment and he clocked Jay White with his illegal left hand. Surprisingly that only got a 2 count, and it came down to Juice with a cute Rollup, and the pinfall victory. So he wins with the called shot, that he’s made a joke about all month.
The first United States born wrestler to hold the US Championship, but the match really helped to define Jay White’s character and maybe set up something cool between Josh Barnett and Jay White.
Winner; Juice Robinson via Rollup
Rating: **** 1/2
1. NJPW G1 Special IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship Match: Hiromu Takahashi (c) vs Dragon Lee
The insanity in this match, just, wow. Dragon Lee and Hiromu go all the way back to Mexico, but Dragon Lee started the match before Hiromu even got into the ring.
We saw a match that was expected from both of them. Fast paced, hard strikes and general disregard for their health. Nothing I say can really do this match justice since they started at 100 mph and never slowed down.
Plus now we’re all aware of the infamous Phoenix Plex/Steenilizer spot, which caused Hiromu to possibly suffer a broken neck.
Really hope the reports of Takahashi suffering a broken neck and collapsing backstage aren’t true, prayers and well wishes for the time bomb👏🏼😔 pic.twitter.com/yTdA1a3tyy
— Rachereen Dream. (@WWERDream) July 8, 2018
This spot was part of what took away from the match for me, since some of the moves were just risky for the sake of being risky and not overly necessary. Hopefully the injury isn’t too serious and we see Hiromu back shortly, even though comparisons will be drawn to the infamous Shibata Headbutt and how he walked away but then collapsed.
A wonderful match, might’ve even been better without the cringe worthy moments. Thoughts and Prayers with Hiromu.
Winner: Takahashi via Time Bomb
Rating: **** 3/4
Now even with the news that broke Sunday about Hiromu, that doesn’t take away from how beautiful the match was and I already wasn’t a fan of some of the riskier moves or obvious botch, of course. So with all that said, Hiromu vs Dragon Lee, stole the show, let’s just make sure we get more matches from these guys instead of crazy spots for the present.
Everyone likes to pick on WWE’s “safe” style, but there’s a big difference between people tearing an ACL (it happens in non contact situations, ask Teddy Bridgewater) and getting dropped on your neck cause the move looks cool. Use Your Goddamn Head.
The Good, Bad and Ugly SmackDown Live (2/19/19)
Bobby gives us the Good, Bad and Ugly of SmackDown following Elimination Chamber!
Bobby gives us the Good, Bad and Ugly of SmackDown following Elimination Chamber!
Raw was okay. That’s it. NXT did their usual stellar job but the show had some major flaws. It’s nothing major and overall Raw was Good and more than got the job done. The whole roster both NXT and WWE Raw and SmackDown have been going full steam and ready for this WrestleMania which speaking personally feels very special this year for some reason.
Here comes the money! Shane took to business hyping the NXT call ups, when Miz interrupted and apologized to his partner. Shane O Mac and Miz can work the hell out of a crowd and bring a ton of emotions every single time! Sometimes things get crazy and not everything clicks especially when high risk is involved which messes these guys up every single match. They still continue to show up every show and put in work. We haven’t seen their best stuff yet. The Usos when they get loose out go wild and leave it all out there. All legit vets that can work and will be present in the some fashion at WrestleMania. It went a little bit slow and long but it was from the heart which WWE fans respect. Uso’s joined and taunted McMiz to a rematch in a mocking fashion. Fastlane Rematch for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships. Good by a heartbeat, the match Fastlane hopefully will be better than the last one.
Andrade w/ Zelina Vega vs. Aleister Black
SD Live whipped out the big guns in this one! Holy talent! No need to build up this match, it is Good the way it is. As usual we had talent showcasing kicks, strikes and high risk. That is these guys comfort zone and it shows. The NXT crew has only made things better as they always do. Being used in the NXT personas has been a great way to keep them prominent and seemingly safe from being buried on the main roster. Andrade was a huge NXT Star himself at one time and him and Black are a perfect blend. Zelina Vega is a pleasant addition to Andrade every match as well and always finds a way to get involved effectively. However before she could get involved in this one, Aleister Black hits “Black Mass” for the win. Solid, clean match with two very talented Superstars.
“DIY” Ciampa and Gargano (NXT and NXT NA Champions) vs. The Bar Shamus and Cesaro
The promo of Cesaro talking trash and The Bar laughing and belittling DIY was entertaining and very effective. Good little hype promo. This is a solid contrast of teams. All four are extremely intense and physical. DIY has all the speed and the little bit of crazy that helps when you need it. The Bar is all precision, pain and power. Really stiff match here, a lot of punishment on both sides. It was fantastic though as NXT Talent continues to show up ready to rock out! The Bar had this match on ice but out Ciampa got the blind tag and an over the top “roll up” on the “Swiss Superman” for the upset victory. Awesome Match!
Non-Title Match- (SmackDown Women’s Champion) Asuka vs. Mandy Rose
Mandy Rose wanted to fulfill Asuka’s Challenge. Mandy Rose with her sidekick Sonya Deville came down and Mandy Rose faced the Champ. Out of the blue, Lacey Evans came out distracting everyone. Sonya Deville stood in her way and turned her around. Mandy Rose looked great in there and working with someone as Good as Asuka is a big thing for her. Asuka is amazing and is a strong person to have that title. Mandy Rose hit a vicious knee on the outside and later played an eye injury getting a cheap roll up for the win and pinned the SmackDown Women’s Champion in this non-title match.
Ricochet vs. Eric Young w/ Sanity)
Another very effective mix of talent here. Eric Young who isn’t seen enough being as Good as he is, facing the best of the best, Ricochet. This is a potential blockbuster. Honestly though considering who was working here, this was a pretty slow match at times. Looked sharp though but not the usual speed of these two. Finally after Eric Young had controlled the whole match, Ricochet started moving. Eric Young got busted open and Ricochet continued his assault. Ricochet took down the whole Sanity crew flying through the air. Ricochet maintained and hit his “630” Splash for the win! Okay match, and with Ricochet, far from being a Bad one.
Kofi Kingston, AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy vs. Daniel Bryan (C), Randy Orton and Samoa Joe
Bryan, Orton and Joe, make Sanity look like a Boy Scout troop. The heels isolated Jeff Hardy and took turns beating him down. Rapid tags and effective offense kept them in control until Kofi Kingston got the tag and came in hot. All hell broke loose, Kofi got slammed onto an announce table, with fighting all around. Once things got back in the ring, AJ Styles got the tag from a beaten Kofi and AJ killed it but took some punishment as well. Kofi came in again and shined! Kofi went on to hit a “trouble in paradise” and pin the Champ, Daniel Bryan for the impressive victory.
Shane O’ Mac then announced that Kofi Kingston will be getting a title shot at Fastlane against Daniel Bryan. Well-deserved and well done!
BAD and UGLY- No and No.
Nothing is perfect but SmackDown was Good. There were a few blah spots and times where it could have been better overall, but it was a solid show. It was entertaining and continued the party on the Road to WrestleMania.
NXT is the next one on the agenda and never soon enough. But we seemingly have had NXT action all week so far which has been a huge success. The audience wins all around with the addition of NXT talent to Raw and SmackDown. What will that mean for NXT now though? Well I would say it will only make everyone else there even hungrier to shine. Looking forward to seeing what’s next! Read the next Good, Bad and Ugly!
Cook: Don’t Hate Lafayette Because They Don’t Know #DIY
Steve Cook chimes in on the controversy surrounding the WWE Monday Night Raw crowd from Lafayette.
Anybody that knows me well knows that I’ve always been a huge baseball fan. It was the first sport I fell in love with as a kid and has been part of my life as far back as I can remember. I read pretty much anything I could about the history of it. I might be a Cincinnati Reds supporter, but I also have a good appreciation for most of baseball history.
That’s why I was excited when the New York Yankees came to town in 2011. The Yankees don’t come to Cincinnati very often. In fact, it was only the second series they’d played in Cincinnati since interleague play started in 1997. Whether you like the Yankees or not, it’s hard not to be impressed with their tradition of success. Their twenty-seven World Series championships are sixteen more than any other team has. Names like Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle & countless others give the Yankees a tradition that’s unparalleled.
Aura & Mystique on the road
Even in 2011 the Yankees had some all-time greats on their roster. Mariano Rivera became the first unanimous Hall of Famer this year. Derek Jeter will follow him into the HOF in 2020. Alex Rodriguez…well, that vote’s going to be interesting. He’s got the numbers! Heck, Bartolo Colon was on that team, and his HOF vote will also be interesting if he ever retires.
I was lucky to get off of work and get a ticket to a Wednesday afternoon game. The stadium was packed & stacked, as fans in the area knew that the Yankees wouldn’t be back in Cincinnati for several years. Unfortunately for the fans & myself, Jeter was on the disabled list so he wouldn’t be playing. Nobody’s fault, these things happen. We would have expected A-Rod to play, but a rainout the night before resulted in Wednesday being a previously unscheduled doubleheader, and Yankee manager Joe Giradi opted to give Rodriguez the day game off.
Lineup card subject to change
Playing third base for the Yankees instead was the immortal Ramiro Pena. He played 23 games in 2011 and went 4 for 40 for a batting average of .100. He had one home run, four RI & scored five runs. If you’re one of those advanced stats guys, he had a WAR of -0.8 for the season. In all fairness, this & 2012 were his least productive seasons in MLB. He managed to play 50 games in 2013 & 81 games in 2014 for the Atlanta Braves & wrapped up his MLB career in 2016 with the San Francisco Giants. From what Wikipedia tells me, he’s currently playing in the Mexican League.
Jeter’s replacement ended up accomplishing a bit more. Eduardo Nunez played 127 games for last season’s World Champion Boston Red Sox. He was also an All-Star in 2016, though I think that was due to the fact that every team has to have an All-Star & the Minnesota Twins didn’t have a ton of candidates. We also got to see Rivera close out the game, so it’s not like we missed out on everybody of historical importance. And yes, Jorge Posada was there playing first base and hit a home run. Any Yankee fan reading this will yell at me if I don’t mention Posada.
Core 4, baby
At this point you’re probably wondering why in the the world I’ve spent all this time writing about a random June 2011 Yankees/Reds game. In the big picture, that game wasn’t too terribly important. A ton of baseball games aren’t. The game came to my mind early Tuesday morning while I was catching up on Twitter’s reaction to Monday’s Raw episode.
Mostly, people were mad at the crowd. This week’s Raw was notable for being the main roster debut of four NXT Superstars. (NXT wrestlers are called Superstars too, right?) Ricochet, Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa all wrestled on Monday night’s show in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Triple H did the big introduction at the beginning of the show, we got videos with Michael Cole yelling buzzwords, and the four men got to take part in matches. Which is more than some of the last crop of NXT call-ups can say. Ricochet got to do some flips. Black got to beat up Elias. Gargano & Ciampa got to randomly re-form their tag team.
It was fine, if a wee bit random. I would have expected NXT fans to be happy that some of their favorites were on Raw-wait, no, I wouldn’t have expected that at all because NXT fans want their favorites to stay in Full Sail forever. WWE will mis-use them on the main roster, you see. So I was a little surprised that wasn’t the main thing that Internet wrestling fans were complaining about.
No, it was the crowd.
The Raw crowd didn’t make enough noise for these debuting talents. They should have been out of their seats for Ricochet & Black like they were Austin & Rock in 1998. And of course the fans should have gone crazy for DIY vs. The Revival because it’s great tag team wrestling.
Listen, I’m with you guys as far as the talent of these guys goes. I’m hip to the NXT jazz. I’ve been watching & reviewing lately, If I was in that crowd, I would have been cheering & rooting all of those guys on. The thing is…I’m not in the majority of wrestling fans. Far from it. I’m a wrestling nerd that consumes way too many hours of my day with watching wrestling & writing my opinions about it. From what I can tell, a lot of the people I saw whining & moaning about that crowd do the same thing that I do. We’re obsessed with wrestling & analyze everything way too much because that’s what we enjoy doing.
Not everybody does that.
Sometimes we lose touch with the fact that not everybody is like us. There are plenty of wrestling fans that don’t spend every day obsessing over the gossip or watching every single show they can get access to. I know WWE fans that don’t get WWE Network. There are even WWE Network subscribers that don’t watch NXT. I’m not going to get all hot & bothered & mad at people that don’t watch NXT for not going crazy over NXT call-ups. I might wonder why Baron Corbin gets a louder reaction than any of them, and I might think that reflects poorly on their taste, but at the same time, I realize that it’s because Baron Corbin’s been on TV long enough to establish a persona.
To the casual wrestling fan, Ricochet & Aleister Black are like random guys filling in for Derek Jeter & Alex Rodriguez. Hopefully their careers turn out a little bit better, but just like I wasn’t excited to see Ramiro Pena back in 2011 at Great American Ballpark, Lafayette wasn’t excited to see Aleister Black. You can’t fault paying wrestling fans for not watching all the shows, unless you’re just looking to lord your knowledge over everybody else.
Most of those fans at Raw didn’t have any idea what a Johnny Gargolye or a Tomato Chomper was. Hopefully they’ll get the chance to find out, and hopefully they’ll appreciate them as much as we do. Until then, give Lafayette a break. Don’t get mad at them because they paid to see WWE Superstars & got NXT ones instead.