Alright, sheesh, this was a busy week with so many different companies have large scale matches. For the lack of what I saw last week, there was a good variety this time around.
Before getting to what made our Top 5 this week, let’s address last week. In a little bit of a surprise, Takeover Brooklyn 4: Moustache Mountain vs Undisputed Era, took a commanding lead at the end of the week. We don’t get a ton of tag matches winning the week, so this should be interesting.
Now let’s get to the Top 5, a nice mixture this week, with no repeat companies.
5. WWE Raw Universal Championship Match: Roman Reigns (c) vs Finn Balor
The Big Dog finally beat the Beast, but he isn’t going to rest on his laurels. Demon Balor beat the cranky Constable but this is Finn the Man tonight. Will a Man be enough to take over The Yard? And what of the Monster in the Bank promising to cash-in on the champion no matter what?
The introductions are made, the belt is raised, and we begin! Finn and Roman circle then tie up. Roman powers Finn back, then throws him out of the corner. Finn gets a waistlock but also a back elbow. Roman locks on a headlock, but Finn powers out. Roman swings but Finn ducks, only to run into a shoulder. Fans duel while Finn catches his breath. Roman drags Finn up and whips him. Finn sunset flips, TWO, but Finn gets away to swing kick, but Roman rocks him with an uppercut! The Big Dog has control while we go to break.
Raw returns again, and Roman has Finn in a chinlock. Fans duel as Finn fights his way up and out. Roman knees low, then whips Finn. Finn reverses but Roman sunset flips. Finn rolls through for the basement dropkick! Roman checks his face while Finn gets up. Roman runs at Finn, but Finn tosses him out! Finn hits a wrecking ball dropkick, then an apron penalty kick! Wait, Roman catches that to throw Finn into the apron! Cover, TWO! Finn sits up but Roman stalks him to a corner. Roman gives Finn a quick haymaker, then whips him corner to corner hard. Roman takes his time checking his face while Finn writhes on the mat. Fans duel again as Roman circles Finn like a shark. Roman rocks Finn with a right, but then runs into boots!
Finn and Roman runs, but Finn hits forearms. Finn takes Roman down and gives him a double stomp! He keeps going, giving Roman a running chop in the corner. They go corner to corner but Roman reverses. Finn goes up and over, to give another chop. That one wasn’t as strong… Roman puts Finn in the corner to give close range clotheslines! Roman gets all 10, then runs, but into Finn’s dropkick! He goes out, but Finn FLIES! Direct hit on the Big Dog! Finn puts Roman in the ring, then covers, TWO! Finn is shocked but we go to one last break.
Raw returns once more, and Roman stands over Finn. Fans boo Roman, and someone in the crowd, but Roman goes back to Finn. Roman eggs Finn on, but Finn blocks the punches to give his own! Roman uppercuts Finn but Finn PELES Roman! Both men are down from exhaustion, but still have something left. Roman sits up but Finn follows. Finn drags himself up with ropes, but Roman runs at him. Finn ducks to fire off! He gives springboard stomp after springboard stomp! Fans fire up as Finn grits his teeth. He runs at Roman, but Roman counters the slingblade with a roll up. TWO, to a deadlift sit-out! TWO!! Roman can’t believe it, but Finn survives that sudden turnaround.
Roman gets to a corner, and he locks and loads. He runs but into a kick! Then the elbow drop DDT! Cover, TWO! Finn knows he’s close, so he keeps going. Roman shoves him back, but misses in the corner. Finn swing kicks Roman down, then climbs up! Roman gets up and under, but into the Slingblade! Finn runs, SUPERMAN PUNCH! Cover, TWO! Both men have gone so far already, but there’s still fight in both of them. Fans rally up and Roman stands first. He goes to a corner and fans are a thunderous mix as he lets out the howl. Roman runs, but into a knee! Then into a wheelbarrow roll-up! TWO! SUPERMAN PUNCH! Roman shouts “ENOUGH!” and goes back to the corner. But here comes BRAUN!!
The Monster in the Bank gave fair warning, but this is a bit different from his face to face from last night. Finn Slingblade! Blasting dropkick! COUP DE– SPEAR!! Cover, Roman wins!
Winner: Reigns via Spear
Rating: *** 3/4
4. AJPW Summer Explosion Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship Match: Zeus (c) vs Shuji Ishikawa
Well the Osaka bodybuilder had one of the most heartwarming and humbling celebrations with the crowd when he dethroned Kento Miyahara. But now he gets his first defense against a heavily decorated veteran, with the battle scars to prove his toughness. Should be interesting to see how these two monsters fair against one another.
To be completely fair, the match was a little awkward. Both men are tough guys, Shuji a veteran of strong style, death matches and the Japanese scene in general, and Zeus looks like a Vince McMahon wet dream. So the selling was a little spotty, but that was more on Shuji than Zeus. The expected spots for two big power guys happened with Lariat exchanges, Shoulder Blocks and the strike exchange.
It’s hard to go into much since the match wasn’t bad obviously, but it also never felt like it took the next step to be really amazing. Shuji gave Zeus a big Vertical Suplex off the apron to the floor, but that was the only ‘hold your breath’ kind of moment. Zeus was the babyface in peril so he absorbed a Fire/Thunder, Splash Mountain and numerous other power moves. But again, the dynamic of how both men look, makes Zeus wrestling from underneath a little hard to swallow.
Interestingly, this is the second match where someone kicks out of the first Jackhammer, and it takes longer for Zeus to finish the match. Not sure if that will lead to him getting a new finisher, or being more New Japan style where it takes 2 or more finishers to beat a high level opponent. Still of course, not a bad match, and honestly it’s not a bad sign to have something to build from.
Winner: Zeus via Jackhammer
3. TripleMania 26 Lucha de Apuestas Poker de Ases Mask vs Mask Cage Match: LA Park vs Pentagon Jr vs El Hijo del Fantasma vs Psycho Clown
Two guys will escape from the cage and then the final two face off in a singles match. Pentagon Jr comes out first. Whole crowd is chanting Cero Miedo. Hijo Del Fantasma is out next. LA Park follows, but as LA Park comes out he wheels out Perrioth, a former luchador who he had legendary battles with. He is in a wheel chair after having a stroke a few years ago. Vampiro got really choked up over it. Vampiro embraces with Park before he gets into the ring. Next comes out Psycho Clown who has main evented the past 5 TripleMania’s. He gets a big reaction, some boos and some cheers. Reminds me of someone in WWE.
Finally the match starts and they all exchange spots. Fatasma gets all the way to the top and rather than escape he does a dive off the cage. Fantasma is tearing at Pentagon’s mask and he then hit him with a chair. He’s starting to bleed. Park smashes Psycho Clown with a chair. Vampiro explains the meaning behind LA Park or La Parka, and it’s basically the reaper, or death, The one who waits for you on day of the dead. They set up a table. Fantasma’s hand is bleeding. Pentagon hit a package piledriver on Fantasma on a chair. Psycho clown did a suplex off the top rope onto a table on LA Park. Pentagon and Psycho Clown climb the cage next. Pentagon throws a fire ball at Psycho Clown as they’re atop of the cage. Pentagon is the first to climb out. Psycho Clown is the next to escape shortly after so now it’s down to Hijo Del Fantasma and LA Park in a singles match.
Fantasma hits Park with a middle rope dive. Fantasma throws Park into the crowd. Fantasma is ripping the mask off Park. He puts him on the announce table and hits a frog splash. Park is bleeding so bad. Park fights back and knocks Fantasma to the outside. He then hits a middle rope dive. Park now rips at Fantasma’s mask and then hits him with a computer monitor. Park is brutalizing him in the crowd. Park hit him with a ladder, and Park then proceeds to spit up blood. Now they both look considerably gassed, but it’s now more of a wrestling match.
The ref is starting to interfere as he senses Fantasma is in trouble. Fantasma and the ref go to the outside of the ring, and Park hits another middle rope dive. After they recover from the dive they make their way back into the ring. Fantasma threw his mask off and pretended that Park took it off him which would be a DQ. Then LA Park did the same. The ref raised both hands seeing who the crowd reacted louder for. He then told both to put their masks on and continue.
More ref interference however, and then Fantasma kicks Park in the nuts. He goes for the pin and Park kicks out. Fantasma argues with the ref then Park hits him with a low blow. Roll up, and 2 count. Park then executes a sunset flip in which the ref helps Fantasma counter it into a roll up combination on Park, but Park stops the refs hand from hitting 3. Fantasma argues with the ref and then clothesline him out of frustration. Park hits the spear and pins him. Fantasma loses his mask.
Winner: L.A. Park via Spear over El Hijo del Fantasma
Rating: **** 1/4
Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix: Kagetsu vs Rachael Ellering
Winner: Kagetsu via 450 Splash
Rating: *** 3/4
AJPW Summer Explosion Tour: Yuji Hino vs Kento Miyahara
Winner: Hino via Fuck You Bomb
Rating: *** 3/4
205 Live Tornado Tag: Buddy Murphy & Tony Nese vs Gran Metalik & Lince Dorado
Winner: Metalik via Sunset Flip Pin
Rating: *** 3/4
Lucha Underground Last Man Standing Lucha Underground Title Match: Pentagon Dark (c) vs Brian Cage
Winner: Pentagon Dark
Rating: *** 3/4
TripleMania 26 Lucha de Aspuestas Hair vs Mask: Lady Shani vs Faby Apache
Winner: Shani via Backstabber
Rating: *** 1/2
Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix: Mayu Iwatani vs Kelly Klein
Winner: Klein via Fireman’s Carry Slam
Rating: *** 1/2
NOAH Kawasaki Festival: Hitoshi Kumana & Hajime Ohara vs Tadasuke & Daisuke Harada
Winner: Ohara via Rollup
Rating: *** 1/2
Stardom 5 Star Grand Pix: Momo Watanabe vs Jaime Hayter
Winner: Momo via Package Driver
Rating: *** 1/2
Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix: Tam Nakano vs Konami
Winner: Tam via Cradle Reversal
Rating: *** 1/4
WOS 5 Way Battle Royal Women’s Championship Match: Kay Lee Ray (c) vs Viper vs Casey Owens vs Bea Preistly vs Aaliyah
Winner: Kay Lee Ray
Rating: *** 1/4
Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix: Hazuki vs Kelly Klein
Winner: Hazuki via La Magistral
Rating: *** 1/4
TripleMania 26 Lucha Extrema Match: Texano Jr, La Mascara & Rey Escorpion vs Pagano, Joe Lider & Murder Clown
Winner: Texano via Flaming Bullrope
Rating: *** 1/4
Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix: Jungle Kyona vs Kimber Lee
Winner: Kyona via Hammer Throw Powerbomb
Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix: Utami Hayashishita vs Tam Nakano
Winner: Utami via Argentine Backbreaker
2. Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix: Kagetsu vs Konami
Being that she is the heel World Champion and Prime Minister of Oedo Tai, Kagetsu dismissed the younger wrestler. Konami kept her composure, said her piece, and let her actions in the ring do the talking.
What we got was a more technical match than I’ve ever seen in Stardom. A lot of mat based maneuvers, both women going for a bevy of submissions before it looked like Kagetsu was getting the momentum.
Kagetsu manages to get out of a Guillotine with Body Scissors and apply her own Double Wristlock to Konami. Our little cheat code gets to the ropes, but Kagetsu makes her pay with a trifecta of Michinoku Drivers and then goes up for her 450 Splash.
The Splash misses and Konami wastes little time applying the Triangle Lancer, which is unique looking. It seems to be an Arm Ringer with the head and neck triangled forward. So it puts strain on the neck and the arm at the same time, making movement difficult.
Pretty damn cool honestly.
Winner: Konami via Triangle Lancer
Rating: **** 1/4
1. NOAH Kawasaki Festival GHC Heavyweight Championship Match: Go Shiozaki vs Takashi Sugiura (c)
The story here is a continuation of the Super New Generation versus the veterans. Funnily enough for anyone that knows Go, he’s closer to the veteran’s ages than the New Generation, but hey, it’s who he’s aligned with. So after defeating Kenoh, Go stepping up makes you figure that the New Generation will keep challenging until someone beats Sugiura. Let’s see if Go is the chosen one.
This was one of those Japanese matches with layers based on how much you knew. I mean the fact that Shiozaki came out to his old theme from the glory days with Misawa, already add a layer before the match starts. So as goes with a feud that has over a decade of layers, this was just a hard hitting match. Sugiura kept things grounded with submissions and his Misawa style elbows, where Shiozaki added a little more high flying. A big Suicide Dive to the outside and a gorgeous Moonsault were just a little taste of the lengths Shiozaki was willing to go to.
Even with all the layers, the match still holds up as a great showing between the two regardless of knowledge. There’s just too much to try and highlight since the match went over 30 minutes and really picked up in violence during the last 6 or 7. Sugiura did have to rely on the Avalanche Style Olympic Slam to finally put away Shiozaki. So the amount of tricks left up his sleeve could be a story that plays across the entire Super New Generation angle.
Just go find this match, and you won’t be upset with the 33 minute investment.
Winner: Sugiura via Avalanche Olympic Slam
Rating: **** 3/4
Well now, I think this is the first time we’ve had a Lucha Libre match in the Top 5 and might also be the first time NOAH placed first. Either way, we’ve got a lot of variety to pick from, and hopefully people took advantage of a free stream of TripleMania at the very least.
But since I need to pick one, I’m gonna go with, Stardom: Kagetsu vs Konami. As I said in my day 1 coverage of the Grand Prix, most of what I’ve seen of Stardom is very gimmicky and goofy. So I had fairly low expectations, but when they want to put on real matches, damn, I was impressed. So if all you’ve seen on this list is the WWE, do yourself a favor, and utilize google to find the other matches.
Is Kofi Kingston On His Way to The Top After WWE Elimination Chamber?
What does this recent push for Kofi Kingston mean?
Kofi Kingston is a man on a mission. Of course that mission is no different than any other WWE Superstar that wants to rise up and steal the show. Kingston is very accustomed to seizing his opportunities and creating moments that fans will never forget.
Now he has the chance to do that once again when he walks into the Elimination Chamber on Sunday, February 17. Kingston’s reputation as a dynamic highlight machine will be realized again and there’s no doubt that he will provide his fair share of amazing moments inside the Chamber. But will he do more than that?
This is the part where many WWE fans immediately begin shaking their heads. They already believe that Kofi’s inclusion in this match is nothing more than a filler. He’s a replacement for Mustafa Ali, who is dealing with injuries and cannot compete. So when the company has a spot to fill, they must fill it with a dependable Superstar that can deliver. Kingston is that Superstar.
Then there’s the fact that Kingston has been here before. Kofi was seemingly on his way up the food chain in 2010 against Randy Orton, but that rise never materialized. Many fans blamed Orton for stopping Kingston and not allowing him to move forward.
Others said that it was all too much, too soon for Kofi. The Superstar just wasn’t ready for the pressure that comes along with being a top guy and WWE had no choice but to pull back. Despite which side the fans took, the fact is that Kofi’s run was exciting and full of promise. But why was that?
The WWE faithful are suckers for a feel-good story and there’s nothing wrong with that. Some of the most memorable stars in the history of pro wrestling rose up from nothing and achieved success because they built a loyal fan following. Perception is reality in many cases. So when fans perceive a guy to be the well deserving underdog, then that belief becomes very real.
There’s just something about a rising talent fighting his way to the top that makes fans immediately feel connected to the moment. They invest in the run itself and before long, the talent in question gets white hot.
The only problem with Kofi is that fans have indeed seen him in this position before. They believed in him then and he showed some strokes of brilliance, if only for a brief time. Yet he was ultimately pushed backed down to earth. Kingston’s ascension was a tease. But maybe it was something more.
For WWE, it’s all about the experience. Just because a Superstar gets a break and hits a winning streak, does not mean he’s on his way to the world title. The company obviously sees potential in someone and the only way to cultivate that potential is to turn on the spotlight.
Once that happens, the Superstar’s strengths immediately shine through. Suddenly, the conversation shifts from “why him” to “is he the next big star?” That’s a completely natural conclusion and it’s reached from a train of thought that’s encouraged by the company along the way.
So when it comes to this situation, booking Kofi Kingston in The Elimination Chamber may have nothing to do with the desire to elevate him to the WWE Championship. In fact there may indeed be no plan to do anything with him in the singles division after February 17. It could very well be that Kofi will do his part, lose the match and then go right back to stealing the show along with The New Day.
If that happens, then it’s really no harm, no foul. WWE gets what it needs and the fans get an exciting match they will talk about long after it’s over. To be fair, there’s really nothing wrong with that and the company is only doing what it must do in order to keep moving ahead. The show must go on.
But then there’s the other side of the conversation and that’s the side the fans live for. They believe they have the power to light a fire under a Superstar and they’re right. Stone Cold Steve Austin, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are all living proof of that. Yes, the talent and the hard work was definitely there.
But without the fans demanding more, WWE would perhaps have never used any of them on the main event level. The same is currently true for Becky Lynch. So if the fans believe that Kofi Kingston should rise up and they indeed begin supporting him, then the desire to see him breakout and achieve major success will be irresistible. Of course that doesn’t mean WWE won’t resist.
WWE is a land of many stars, but very few megastars. It’s just not how the company is built. So when it comes to elevating anyone, there’s only so much forward progress that can be achieved. To the company, Kofi Kingston is surely a valued hand who is well loved and respected on every level. But is that where his story ends?
It’s only a matter of time until The New Day splits. The group has been together since 2014 and they’re currently the longest running unit in modern WWE history. However that run won’t last forever. When the time is right, The New Day will come to an end. When that happens, Kofi Kingston may finally get his break. Or maybe he won’t. Whether or not that will make a difference to him, or to WWE, is unknown. Whether or not it makes a difference to fans will never be in doubt.
Heel or Face? Make Up Your Mind WWE
Heel or face? WWE can’t make up their minds!
WWE has shown little regard for heel and face alignment, and Carol Cassada wants the company to make up their minds!
Any wrestling fan knows that there are two types of wrestlers: the heels and the faces. Although, every once in a while you’ll have a tweener, someone who’s not a villain, but not a good guy. With WWE, they often switch a wrestler’s persona around to fit a storyline.
WWE has a history of flip flopping when it comes to a wrestler’s persona. One week they’re face, the next they’re heel, then all of a sudden they’re face again. Recently, WWE has been doing this with a bunch of their stars, which leads me confused on whether they’re heel or face.
First, let’s start with Dean Ambrose, who’s been portraying a heel the past four months. Yet, in recent weeks he’s shown signs of becoming a face again. After Monday night’s RAW in which he offered his former Shield brother Seth Rollins support in his match against Brock Lesnar, it’s safe to say that Ambrose is a babyface. Given the news that Ambrose is leaving due to creative differences with Vince McMahon, Dean would be seen as a face no matter what role he portrayed on television.
The next turn that had me questioning a wrestler’s persona is Alexa Bliss. The Goddess has been viewed as a heel as well as her partner Mickie James. But three weeks ago she and Mickie wrestled against the heel team of Nia Jax and Tamina. It’s very rare that WWE has two heels compete in a match, so it could mean that WWE is turning Alexa into a babyface like the reports suggest. Although, in a recent segments, she’s coming off as more of a tweener than babyface.
Another turn that had me confused is Nikki Cross. When the Sanity member made her debut on RAW a few weeks ago, she was a babyface teaming with Bayley and Natalya to take on The Riott Squad. But during the women’s tag team qualification tournament, she teamed with Alicia Fox to attack Bayley and Sasha backstage. But on the most recent episode of RAW, Cross appeared to be a face again as she faced Ruby Riott.
The last person who’s been flipping back and forth between his persona is Elias. Since his debut, he’s been more of a heel. But in October, WWE decided to switch things up and make Elias a face. Elias is a star who’s naturally over with the crowd, so it doesn’t matter what type of role he has. Yet, WWE must’ve felt the face turn wasn’t working because they’ve had Elias resort back to his devious behavior.
WWE likes to do spur of the moment stuff all the time, but having the wrestlers switch from heel to face one week from the next is becoming too much. It’s leaving fans confused on whether they should boo or cheer a wrestler. I know WWE likes to test the waters and see the audience’s reaction; however the constant changes to a wrestler’s role will not only baffle fans, but it may hurt the wrestler’s credibility.