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Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 8/26

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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

From Steven Mitchell’s Coverage:

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

Rating: ****

 

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

From Joe Dinan’s AAA Coverage:

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

 

Honorable Mentions:

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
Rating: ***
Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix: Utami Hayashishita vs Tam Nakano
Winner: Utami via Argentine Backbreaker
Rating: ***

 

2. Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix: Kagetsu vs Konami

From My Stardom Coverage:

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

 

Thoughts:

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.


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Steve Cook’s Fave Five: March 2021

Cook gives us his quick snapshot of early storylines that might be the important things through the month of March!

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It’s March! You know what that means.

It’s time for me to channel my inner Booker T and list my Fave Five in the world of wrestling! This list could very well change tomorrow, or whenever this ends up getting posted, but I only type it out once each calendar month. Consider it a snapshot in time.

5. Cameron Grimes

People have been telling me about Grimes for years, going back to his stint with Impact Wrestling. I never really saw it. Decent enough competitor, sure, but he always seemed like Just A Guy to me. Now that he hit it rich on the stock market, he’s the most entertaining part of NXT.

Get rid of Finn Balor & Adam Cole and put the strap on Grimes! TO THE MOON!

4. Shane Taylor

One of my criticisms of ROH television over the past several months has been a lack of defined characters. As fun as Pure Wrestling is, everybody involved in the tournament & the division tend to sound the same. Then, with a lot of the main guys, it’s tough to tell whether they’re good guys, bad guys, or shades of grey. There’s a place for shades of grey, but it’s tough to be interested in a TV show where you don’t know who to root for.

Shane Taylor’s presentation suffered from this for me for awhile. I wasn’t too familiar with his work pre-pandemic, so I’ve been getting to know him along with the rest of the ROH talent. From what I can gather, he was working one of those deals where the promotion didn’t really want to promote him, which can either make one very popular or largely ignored. The promotion tended to treat him like a heel. Either way, Shane looked pretty darn good in his matches, working a physical style that appeals to fans like me. Apparently it appeals to other people as well, since Taylor was the #1 choice of the fans to get a shot at Rush. Taylor was screwed this time around, but now has a story to sink his teeth into. Nothing wrong with that.

3. Tully Blanchard

2021 is quickly becoming the year of the olds. WWE has seen Goldberg & Edge emerge as top championship contenders. Keiji Muto won the GHC Heavyweight Championship. Tommy Dreamer celebrated his birthday by challenging for the Impact Championship. Sting will be taking part in a street fight this weekend.

Age is only a number, and Tully’s number is a little higher than these other men. He also spent more time out of the ring. Nearly fourteen years since he had any kind of match, but he went into Wednesday night with all guns blazing. J.J. Dillion was in the corner. Tully was wearing his classic robe & the silver US Heavyweight Championship, while FTR donned the classic NWA World Tag Team Championships. All the old school feels were being had before the match, and after the match as well, when Arn Anderson looked on from the entrance and flashed that familiar hand signal.

Tully had plenty of talent around him to make the match work, but he hit his spots well. Marko Stunt’s good to have around so he can take a slingshot suplex. JJ got to give his shoe to somebody to use. It ended up being a fitting tribute on the night of Jim Crockett Jr.’s passing, and maybe a sign that Tully’s got a little more left in the tank. (Multi-man would probably be for the best though, I’m not as confident that he can hang with Kenny.)

2. Bobby Lashley

As expected, The Miz joined the likes of Ivan Koloff, Stan Stasiak, the Iron Sheik and other men whose world championship reigns merely existed to get the title from one person to the other without having them face off. In the case of Bobby Lashley, it’s because they didn’t want him to beat Drew McIntyre for the title, so their eventual match will be a first-time (in this particular WWE run) meeting. It makese sense, and Miz played his part well, as you’d expect.

Now is Lashley’s time, and one can wonder why it took so long. The guy looks like what’d you’d expect a WWE Champion to look like. Huge. Powerful. Dominant. He fits the prototype of what Vince McMahon would have seen as an appropriate champion back in the day. Is there anything there that Vince wouldn’t like?

Bob seems to be on a collision course with Drew at WrestleMania, and that should be a pretty solid piece of business.

1. Rey Fenix

I don’t know who the “best in the world” is, but Rey Fenix is the most exciting wrestler currently gracing televisions & other viewing devices. All he does is go out there and deliver every time he’s out there, if you see him listed on a card you know it’s going to be a good match.

AEW seemed a bit slow to capitalize on Fenix’s abilities, but since 2021 began we’ve seen the masked man getting bigger matches. His win-loss record hasn’t been the best, as he’s come up short against Kenny Omega & Lance Archer and eaten the pin in some multi-man matches. He’s still making people take notice, and I’d be surprised if Fenix doesn’t jump up to the next level sometime this year.

My favorite wrestler to watch right now, which is how one tops a list like this one.


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Bodeen’s Top 5 Moments: WWE NXT (3/3/21)

Bodeen breaks out his Top 5 moments of NXT this week. Did he miss anything that made your list?

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After Adam Cole put the nail in the coffin in the Undisputed Era last week, many eyes were on NXT this week to see what the reaction from Roderick Strong would be as well as the Tag title matches after the Dusty Rhodes Classic. With all these factors it’s no surprise that NXT put on another amazing night of action that was entertaining from start to finish. So without further ado, it’s time to look at the top 5 moments from NXT this week.

5. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler beat Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez

It feels like so long ago we saw Shayna Baszler on NXT. Just a few years ago Baszler was dominating the NXT women’s division as she beats the likes of Kari Sane, Mia Yim, Bianca Belair and Io Shirai. After she lost the title to Rhea Ripley and moved to RAW, over time she lost credibility and she was slowly removed from the title picture. That’s why it was so great to see the submission magician back to her former self on NXT as she and Nia Jax beat Dakota Kai and Requel Gonzalas in a great match that ended in controversial circumstances

This was another great match for the team of Dakota Kai and Raquel Gonzalez, with Raquel Gonzalez once again being the MVP of this match as she took a hot tag from Dakota Kai to dominate Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax. The match would end under controversial circumstances after Adam Pearce called for a referee to ring the bell after Kai was trapped in a submission despite the fact Gonzales was legal.

This finish made Kai and Gonzales look strong in defeat as they did not lose cleanly. It also sets up a storyline in the future, especially after NXT General Manager, William Regal stated he had an announcement to make that would change the NXT landscape.

4. The Way go to therapy 

The Christmas with the Gargano’s vignettes were one of my favorite moments from NXT in 2020. The jokes catered to everyone and ranged from inside jokes to die-hard wrestling fans to silly, cheesy jokes that you would see in a Monty Python or Adam Sandler movie. While the Way going to therapy wasn’t near the level of Christmas with the Gargano’s it was still a fun segment that continued to highlight how good Johnny Gargano is at being a goofy heel.

Gargano’s reactions were priceless to watch as he could not believe that Austin Theory enjoyed his time with Dexter Lumis. Indi Hartwell’s innuendoes were also hilarious to watch, as this series of segments did a great job in giving all members of The Way enough lines so that no member felt pointless being there.

With Dexter Lumis most likely the next in line for Johnny Gargano’s North American Championship, it will be interesting to see the involvement of Austin Theory in what is sure to be a highly entertaining feud to watch.

3. Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch beat Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher  

While it was originally meant to be Dusty Rhodes Classic winners, MSK facing Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch we instead got the makeshift team of Tommaso Ciampa and Timothy Thatcher facing the NXT Tag Team champions in a brutal, hard-hitting match that was intense from start to finish, with Lorcan and Burch getting the win after Imperium distracted Thatcher and Ciampa.

This match did a good job at bringing together Thatcher and Ciampa as they smiled at each other, sharing their joy for inflicting pain on their opponents. Despite sharing a moment with each other, the relationship between the two men would be tense as Ciampa seemed annoyed at Thatcher’s history with Imperium costing them the match.

2. Roderick Strong faces off against Finn Balor  

After Adam Cole put the nail in the coffin of the Undisputed Era by superkicking Roderick Strong last week, Strong would open the show this week and would waste no time in calling Adam Cole out to the ring. Despite Strong calling Cole out, Finn Balor would come out, with Roderick blaming Balor for Cole’s actions. Balor would reply by saying that Roderick does not have the killer instinct that Balor has causing Roderick to attack the NXT Champion, leading to a match between the two men later in the night.

This was my favorite match of the night as Roderick Strong, pushed the NXT Champion to his limit, with Balor once again doing an amazing job of selling, as he sold the back which, Strong attacked throughout the match. The match would end after Balor hit the Coup De Grace and 1916 on Strong to win, with Adam Cole coming out to stare off at Balor ahead of their title match next week.

With Finn Balor and Adam Cole ready to face each other in a TakeOver worthy match, it will be interesting to see who will win, in what is sure to be an amazing match.

1. LA Knight makes his intentions known 

While his name change has led to disagreement between fans LA Knight’s short time in NXT has been entertaining to watch. His promo skills and style remind me of a 1980s movie star as he is always the center of attention when he is on the mic. This week would be no different as LA Knight cut his first in-ring promo on NXT TV as he called out the entire roster as well as sewing the seeds for a feud with Bronson Reed.

LA Knight’s promo this week was absolute gold, as he blended cockiness, arrogance, pride and emotion brilliantly, stating that he is not in NXT to do flips and dives, but rather win regardless of style. LA Knight would make his big move against Bronson Reed, as he cost Bronson Reed a match against Cameron Grimes.

Bronson Reed is a great first feud for LA Knight, as it can perfectly show off LA Knight’s style well against a bigger man like Bronson Reed.

These were my top 5 moments from NXT this week. What were your top 5 moments and who do you think will win the NXT Championship Title match next week? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 


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