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.
Kevin: “Firefly Fun House” Bray Wyatt Is The Best Bray Wyatt
“He must differentiate himself from the old Bray Wyatt in some capacity, or else the character will be doomed to fail.” Do you agree?
Bray Wyatt is back in WWE in a whole new way, and Kevin is on board to see this continue over the old obsessive Bray Wyatt.
There’s a familiar sinister force permeating the walls of the WWE. Bray Wyatt is back, and this time around he’s a…children’s TV show host? Yeah, you’ve read that correctly. Bray Wyatt’s newest gimmick is that of the host of the “Firefly Fun House,” featuring a doll, a buzzard, and the man himself.
After weeks of creepy vignettes showing the buzzard and the doll, we finally got a taste of Bray Wyatt in his new role on Monday night. Wyatt introduced us to his new friends, atoned for years of being a bad man, and symbolically ended his former demonic self with a chainsaw.
All that is a lot to take in. It was wacky, it was bizarre, and it was downright goofy. And BRILLIANT.
I ate this segment up, and took to Twitter to pronounce its brilliance immediately after I finished watching it. I know it took the majority of people a couple re-watches to come around on it, but I was on board with this version of Bray Wyatt from the jump.
There’s something delightfully creepy about Bray Wyatt the children’s show host. He straddles that line between playing it straight and going off the rails perfectly, and while you know that something isn’t right, the character is still drastically different than “The Eater of Worlds.”
Let’s face it, Wyatt was in desperate need of a fresh look and character, and boy, did he get it. Before disappearing from WWE television last year, Wyatt had been treading deep water being stuck with Matt Hardy, and frankly, he had been in trouble dating back to the WrestleMania 33 loss of his WWE Championship to Randy Orton in a subpar showing.
That was back in 2017. Now, in the year 2019, we’re finally getting to see something new out of Wyatt, and it couldn’t come at a better time. Now, the question remains: where will he go? We’ve just had a Superstar Shake-Up, what seemed like an appropriate time to sort out Wyatt’s return, but that ship has sailed.
Is the host of the Firefly Fun House headed back to RAW, where he was before disappearing? Or is a return to Smackdown in order for Wyatt, where he ascended to the ranks of world champion back in 2017?
It’s difficult, because we still don’t really know what Wyatt is supposed to be. Is he still a bad guy,or is he some kind of demented wannabe hero? I think a character like this would thrive on RAW, but if Wyatt’s still going to be performing as a heel, then he might do better on Smackdown, a show that needs another heel or two.
Personally, I don’t see Wyatt as a heel in this character. He’s more psychopath than ever before, but I still don’t see him as a bad guy, but rather as a crazed man trying to make amends for his past wrongdoings. He could instantly become the most interesting character on WWE TV, and in my mind, he’s already there with one segment. Imagine how hot he’ll be with a few more vignettes?
But the thing that intrigues me most is what he’s going to look like in the ring? Is he going to wrestle in his khaki slacks and his Mr. Rogers sweater? Is he still going to use the End of Days as his finisher? What new wrinkles is he going to add to his entrance, to his moveset, to his overall character?
HE MUST differentiate himself from the old Bray Wyatt in some capacity, or else the character will be doomed to fail. People had gotten tired of the same old shtick for five years, and were yearning for something different.
Well, now different is here. But it will all be for naught if Wyatt still acts the same and wrestles the same, we need to see some change desperately. I expect to see more of this new, nutjob Bray Wyatt on RAW next week, and I can’t wait for it. This could be a real game-changer.
Tiffany’s Takes: WWE NXT (4/24/19)
NXT was loaded with action this week–how did it land for you?
Tiffany takes her Takes to Full Sail University and WWE NXT today, featuring Johnny Gargano vs Roderick Strong and more!
So, time for OG NXT and Johnny Gargano will face Roderick Strong, but will Undisputed Era stand together or will a jealous Cole wreak havoc?
Johnny Gargano vs Roderick Strong/Undisputed Era
I think we all figured when Gargano chose Roderick Strong as his UE opponent that Cole wasn’t going to be happy, and we’ve all seen definite signs of dissent in the Undisputed Era ranks, but I was honestly surprised by how this match ended. Cole vs Riddle promises to be great. I can’t stand Matt Riddle, but him pointing out that Cole was jealous was perfect.
Gargano vs Strong was every bit as great as it promised. Strong’s a great athlete and letting him show that off in this match was a great move. Having Cole accidentally cost Strong the match and having Riddle come in to help Gargano was the perfect amount of chaos to end the match while protecting everyone involved.
I don’t know what next week will hold for Undisputed Era, but Strong basically telling UE to f**k off after the loss isn’t a good tiding.
Jaxson Ryker vs Humberto Carrillo
I have a question: Is Jaxson Ryker the only competitor in Forgotten Sons? Seriously, when is the last time Blake and Cutler had matches? Don’t get me wrong, Ryker is a great, albeit psychopathic, competitor, but I’m a little tired of him being the only member of Forgotten Sons competing.
The match with Carrillo was fantastic, even if Carrillo had a little trouble getting started. The Double Countout was a smart move to protect both guys, but I loved thorough line of having Oney Lorcan, now on 205 Live with Humberto Carrillo, and Danny Burch come to Carrillo’s rescue and keep Forgotten Sons from completely destroying him. This should be a fun feud.
Aliyah and Vanessa Borne vs Candice LeRae and Kacy Catanzaro
So it seems like Candice LeRae is being groomed to take the belt off of Shayna Baszler if this match was anything to go by. I love Aliyah and Vanessa Borne, but I was disappointed by this match because it became clear very quickly that the whole point of the match was to make Candice look stronger when she got a pretty easy pin on Vanessa Borne. It’s nothing against Candice, but I hated seeing Borne Bougie getting sacrificed like that.
Women’s Division vs Shayna Baszler
I’m not sure what WWE is thinking, but if you want to keep Shayna Baszler looking like a badass, DON’T have her constantly getting cheap shots on anyone she deems a threat, whether they are or not. She doesn’t look like an unstoppable badass, she looks like a punk, which is a disservice to her. Plus having Shafir and Duke being her lackeys hurts them too.
I APPLAUDED Mia Yim’s promo, especially her calling out Biance Belair’s constant insistence that she was still undefeated, even though she’s lost to Baszler twice, for the nonsense that it is. I’m totally behind Yim getting another shot at Baszler, especially since Belair didn’t have to earn her second chance while Yim hasn’t gotten another one.
William Regal had a hell of a career but, in my opinion, he’s at his best as an authority figure and I’m glad he’s loosened up from his days as the strait-laced Commissioner of WWF in 2001. I love Ohno demanding his…right to try out the shiny new NXT toys and I have a feeling he’ll regret demanding a shot at KUSHIDA, which is probably why Regal gave it to him. Sounds fun.
Street Profits vs War/Viking Raiders/Experience
I’m still puzzled as to why Street Profits got a shot at the NXT Tag Champions, whatever they’re called this week, but the match was fantastic. Dawkins and Ford did the smart thing by getting the jump on Rowe/Erik and Hanson/Ivar (I honestly am not sure which Viking name goes with whom, I’m just guessing), but it was for naught because the Nordic dudes got themselves together and absolutely thrashed the Profits, but the Profits definitely proved that they belong in the Tag Title picture.
Great episode of NXT! Much like NXT UK, the matches and segments all had a purpose and were pretty good.
The disintegration of Undisputed Era seems to be moving much faster than the first ending of the Shield and I’m a little confused as to why. Undisputed Era hasn’t been called up to RAW or SmackDown, so I’m not sure why there seems to be a rush on breaking them up. Granted, having Cole ‘accidentally’ costing Strong the match and his clear jealousy of Strong getting the first shot at Gargano could be leading to Strong breaking off and feuding with Cole, but it’s not clear where Fish and O’Reilly will end up in this.
Well, that is it for Tiffany’s Takes for this week! Next week, we’ll be looking Week 2 out of the 2019 Superstar Shake Up and see how RAW and SmackDown will deal with the fallout of this week!
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