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Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 8/5/2018

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This is another week where we get a couple non-G1 matches in the Top 5, but it’s still mostly New Japan. Still very similar to last week, our number 1 match doesn’t take place in Japan! Speaking of last week, I guess we should find out what the July Pool looks like, so you’ll figure out who won last week.

July Pool:

205 Live No DQ: Buddy Murphy vs Mustafa Ali
G1 Climax 28: Kenny Omega vs Tetsuya Naito
G1 Climax 28: Hirooki Goto vs Tomohiro Ishii
NXT Championship: Tommaso Ciampa vs Aleister Black (c)

So that means this a week with two votes. For July, I’ll have to go with, G1 Climax 28: Hirooki Goto vs Tomohiro Ishii.  

Aside from that, let’s see what we’ve got on tap for August.

 

5. Kazuchika Okada vs Michael Elgin

From My Coverage:

Elgin was really the first one to challenge Okada last year during his 6-0 run. Even though Okada came out with the win, a bunch of big moments could’ve had last year’s match go either way. Can Elgin overcome ‘Gone Fishin’ Okada, or does this watered down Rainmaker still have enough for a victory?

This match was kind of the same, but different than their previous encounters. Almost immediately both men went for signatures before the Tombstone ended up being Okada’s Achilles heel. Elgin stops the attempt and counters it into a Delayed Vertical Suplex. This gave Elgin the necessary space to pull off numerous lariats, Powerbomb variations and generally over power Okada.

That’s what I meant by saying it was the same, because it was Elgin’s power against Okada’s athleticism. Especially on display when Okada tried the Scooby Dooby Doo Crossbody only to get caught and slammed down by Big Mike. The landscape changed a bit when Elgin attempts an Avalanche Splash Mountain, but Okada counters it into a Super Wheelbarrow Arm Drag.

Elgin got a little desperate at different points in the match, which is a good story, since a loss to Okada and his G1 hopes are over. So he tries to force the Burning Hammer, but Okada gets out of it. During a lariat exchange, Okada finally gets the best of Big Mike, hitting a Tombstone shortly after, Discus Rainmaker and then the official Rainmaker for the pinfall victory.

Winner: Okada via Rainmaker

Rating: **** 1/2

 

4. G1 Climax 28: Kenny Omega vs Tomohiro Ishii

From Mathew’s Coverage:

Kenny Omega is still undefeated and I’m surprised he didn’t lose at the previous night, but he’s still on a roll and adding another victory here could very well secure him a spot in the final if things do in fact go his way here but he would have to now fight one of his rivals from last year, Tomohiro Ishii. These two would have a trilogy of matches and all three of them would be some of their best bouts in the year of 2017 and now they must fight once again and Ishii could be the one to give Omega that first defeat in the G1 Climax and could also increase the chances of Naito and Ibushi to make it instead of Kenny.

The story for this one was rather simple and yet effective and that is you don’t poke a pitbull with a stick because bad things happen to you and they bite…hard which is what he did to Kenny Omega when he kept trying to poke the pitbull and slapping his shiny bald head which is pretty much asking for a death sentence thanks to Kenny getting rather cocky lately since he still hasn’t lost a match yet. Is the match great? Absolutely. Is it my favorite match in G1? Honestly, kinda gonna have to go with no since I will admit that the beginning felt a little bit sloppy at times and while I did love the sequences between the two with the V-Triggers, Lariats, and among various moves, it did feel rather predictable at times and felt like it took away from the match a little bit. These two did go to war and I will not take that away from them despite the little nitpicking I just said and Ishii really is the MVP of this G1 Climax so far as he keeps on delivering in either match quality or storytelling and they just work out so well. Ishii would hit his Vertical Suplex and he would give Kenny Omega his first loss in the tournament! Ishii really needed another big win in his record aside from Goto and this was definitely needed for him, especially since it was a matter of time before he took a loss from his arrogance just like Okada did last year, now Kenny is gonna have to really focus or he could slip-up once again.

Now that Ishii has defeated Omega, he very well could be a future challenger for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship before Wrestle Kingdom since the champion usually defends the belt against people that have defeated him in the tournament to avenge their loss. Wonder what big show it would take place in?

Winner: Ishii via Vertical Drop Brainbuster

Rating: **** 1/2

 

3. NOAH GHC Heavyweight Tag Title Match: Akitoshi Saito & Naomichi Marufuji vs Katsuhiko Nakajima & Masa Kitamiya (c)

The generational war is in full swing in Pro Wrestling NOAH. The younger generation is rising up to cut their teeth and prove themselves. With things trending upwards for NOAH in the last year or so, it makes sense to solidify the new stars with the beloved veterans.

Nakajima starts off by trying to dissect Marufuji. They had one really good counter exchange, before Nakajima’s aggression started shining in full force. Marufuji’s entire right arm was taped, so it’s safe to say they’ve been trying to work over the older stars the entire tour. Focusing on Marufuji’s left knee, Nakajima utilized stomps, chairs and just torquing on the knee.

Kitamiya got tagged in and continued more of the same. Eventually Naomichi gets away from the slower power guy, to tag in Akitoshi Saito. We get a nice power battle between the two for a while, before Nakajima comes in to work over Saito’s right arm. Even going as far to use a Fujiwara Armbar, which yes is an effective move, but could’ve also been psychological since Akitoshi was trained by Yoshiaki Fujiwara himself.

So the trend in the match was the younger guys trying to isolate and pick apart the older generation, but we did get a rare treat. Knowing there was a level of desperation, Marufuji dumps both Kitamiya and Nakajima to the outside, and wipes them out with a Tope con Hilo.

It was at this point the older generation was putting together better offense, but Nakajima still proved a step ahead. Marufuji went for his combination blitz from the corner, but Nakajima dodged it all, and landed dozens of stiff kicks. At this point, we start remembering why Nakajima is known as the ‘Genius of the Kick’, but then tags in Kitamiya. Sadly for Kitamiya, he doesn’t know Marufuji as well, and gets lit up by the corner blitz.

Saito comes in and has to wrestle the good portion of the rest of the match alone. Numerous Uranagis from Saito start to build momentum. Marufuji does make a nice save when he slides in, jumping off Saito’s back, laying out Nakajima with a Ko-Oh. Kitamiya and Saito exchange lariats and willing themselves through the pain. Death Sickles come in bunches from Akitoshi, as he finishes off the match with Death Brand (vertical suplex piledriver).

So the older generation manages to outsmart the younger guys in this one.

Winner: Saito via Death Brand

Rating: **** 1/2

 

Honorable Mentions:

G1 Climax 28: Jay White vs Hangman Page
Winner: White via Blade Runner
Rating: **** 1/4
G1 Climax 28: Kenny Omega vs Zack Sabre Jr
Winner: Omega via Roll Up
Rating: **** 1/4
G1 Climax 28: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs YOSHI-HASHI
Winner: Tanahashi via Arm Capture Cradle
Rating: **** 1/4
G1 Climax 28: Kazuchika Okada vs EVIL
Winner: Okada via Rainmaker
Rating: **** 1/4
G1 Climax 28: Hirooki Goto vs Kota Ibushi
Winner: Ibushi via KamiGoya Knee Strike
Rating: **** 1/4
G1 Climax 28: Kazuchika Okada vs Minoru Suzuki
Winner: Okada via Rainmaker
Rating: **** 1/4
Inaugural WOS Women’s Championship Match: Viper vs Kay Leray vs Bea Priestly
Winner: Leray via Gory Special
Rating: ****
G1 Climax 28: Minoru Suzuki vs EVIL
Winner: Suzuki via Gotch Style Piledriver
Rating: ****
G1 Climax 28: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Michael Elgin
Winner: Tanahashi via Inside Cradle
Rating: ****
205 Live: Kalisto vs Tony Nese
Winner: Kalisto via Salida del Sol
Rating: *** 3/4
Evolve 108 Evolve Tag Team Championships: Chris Dickinson & Jaka (c) vs TK Cooper & Tracey Williams
Winner: Dickinson via Thrust Kick/O’Connor Roll combo
Rating: *** 3/4
G1 Climax 28: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs EVIL
Winner: Tanahashi via High Fly Flow
Rating: *** 3/4
G1 Climax 28: Jay White vs Togi Makabe
Winner: White via Blade Runner
Rating: *** 3/4
WOS: Adam Maxted & Nathan Cruz vs Doug Williams & HT Drake
Winner: Cruz via Springboard Blockbuster
Rating: *** 1/2
G1 Climax 28: Minoru Suzuki vs Hangman Page
Winner: Page via Rite of Passage
Rating: *** 1/2
G1 Climax 28: Juice Robinson vs Zack Sabre Jr
Winner: Sabre via Submission
Rating: *** 1/2
G1 Climax 28: YOSHI-HASHI vs Jay White
Winner: White via Blade Runner
Rating: *** 1/2
WOS Heavyweight Championship Match: Rampage (c) vs Joe Hendry
Winner: Rampage via DDT
Rating: *** 1/4
G1 Climax 28: Hangman Page vs Togi Makabe
Winner: Page via Rite of Passage
Rating: ***

 

2. G1 Climax 28: Kota Ibushi vs Tetsuya Naito

From Mathew’s Coverage:

It is time for our main event as it is between the other top contenders in the tournament, Kota Ibushi, and Tetsuya Naito. Last year, the two would fight on the very first night of A Block and Naito was the one that came out the victor in that match. Now they will fight again, as Ibushi needs to defeat Naito here if he wants to stay alive in this tournament or he will be considered eliminated and we’ll only have Naito and Omega as our top 2 contestants in the B Block. Can Naito tie it up with Omega or will Ibushi find a way to stay in the race?

This match was just as good as their match last year and probably slightly better in my opinion since the story in this one made it a lot more emotional since both of them really need a win here, but you, unfortunately, can’t give it to them and especially this late in the game no less so this was crucial for both of these men here. How does Naito still have a neck? I ask because it’s not just this match but in most of his big matches he would just land on his neck and he somehow appears to be fine and still going, I don’t know if it’s just how he lands to make it safe or if he’s just a madman but he makes any neck bump spot look so deadly in these. Both of these men performed at the top of their game had the right amount of pacing, and again it was the story that made it so much better to give it that little bit extra of an edge. Ibushi pulled all of the stops on this one when he did a backflip when Naito attempted a Reverserana off the top rope and looked much better than when you do it with a Sunset Flip, also did his German Suplex from the other side of the ropes and even hitting the Bomaye to get a two count. Naito would hit the Destino for a two count and would attempt to go for another one but Ibushi catches him to drop him down on his head for a two count and would end it with the Kamigoye to secure the victory and stay alive in the race!

Now that Kota Ibushi has defeated Tetsuya Naito, he’s still in the race and has a chance to advance if he wins his next two matches. While Naito could’ve used a win, this one loss won’t hurt him too bad but he cannot afford to take another loss or he will be out himself and there should be a clear idea on how it would go once the next day happens.

Winner: Ibushi via KamiGoye Knee Strike

Rating: **** 3/4

 

1. Evolve 108 Evolve Heavyweight Championship Hardcore Match: Matt Riddle (c) vs Shane Strickland

This whole rivalry got extremely personal. In their previous 2 meetings Strickland won via DQ and then there was a no contest. Which lead to the stipulation and explains the lengths these two are willing to go to.

Riddle starts off immediately lighting up Shane’s chest with Open Hand Chops that visibly take the breath out of his chest. Riddle then keeps it up in and outside of the ring. The crowd is pretty hot for this early on, and Riddle goes to get the ceremonial table that all crowds always want nowadays. However, getting the table allows Shane to find a chair and hit Matt with it when he comes around the corner. Riddle does manage to send Swerve through the table after a Broton (senton) from the apron.

Strickland has an awesome heel moment here by taking Riddle up the ramp to where his 3 kids and wife are sitting, and proceed to beat the hell out of him. Shane sits him down on a chair and goes for what was probably supposed to be a Swerve Stomp, but looked more like a Seated Senton. Either way, you can see the concern on the faces of the children, and Shane just continues to berate the crowd and Riddle’s family.

By the time they get back into the ring, we can see that Riddle’s hand is cut open, as Shane goes for submissions holds and joint manipulation focusing there.  Strickland starts to introduce a few more chairs and jaws at the crowd that keeps asking for tables by saying, “What’s that? You want more chairs? Okay”. After setting up six chairs, Shane gave Riddle far too much time to recover, and Riddle pops up, catching him in a Tombstone position and forward slamming him through the chairs for a near fall.

We see a little strong style back and forth striking, before Riddle hits the Bro to Sleep, but Swerve kicks out. Riddle gets even more chairs (I hope they got a wholesale deal or something) and piles them into the middle, slamming Swerve onto them. Then he goes to the top rope, but Shane manages to intercept him and Superplex him on the afore mentioned chairs.

Strickland gets this look in his eye and you know he’s just trying to hurt Riddle. He literally hits 3 Swerve Stomps but Riddle shows his resiliency. Strickland goes out for a ladder and another table. Riddle absorbs a few more shots before falling on the table as Swerve climbs the ladder. The referee holds the ladder as Matt finds some surge to climb up and try to muster up some fight. They go back and forth at the top of the ladder, before Shane steps over and rocks Riddle to the point where he’s hanging on by just one arm.

Swerve Stomp from the ladder through the table is a massive spot, but Riddle finds a way to kick out. At this point Shane is apoplectic, and removes the padding from his knee. Riddle slowly sits up and eggs on Shane. After multiple running knee strikes, Riddle keeps asking for more as Shane grows more frustrated. When Shane turns for another strike, Riddle pop up with a Bicycle Knee Strike of his own. Riddle looks to finish the match, but Swerve catches him with his Killshot finisher, the JML Driver, for the pinfall victory.

Winner: Strickland via JML Driver

Rating: *****

 

Shane Strickland and Matt Riddle work wonderfully together. This is actually the second time this year I’ve given them 5, the first being their MLW Championship Match. With all that and the fact the Riddle is a few months away from debuting in NXT, I’ll give my vote to the Evolve 108 match. Great storytelling, fantastic action in the ring, just all in all very enjoyable.


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Opinion

Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 10/21/2018

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Well damn this is a busy week for wrestling. NWA 70, New Japan Super Jr Tag League, All Japan leading up to their big Triple Crown match…and I wasn’t even able to get to Stardom’s Tag Tournament. So just a whole lot of stuff going on, on top of regular television products. Sheesh, sometimes just covering all this is tiring, in the fact that there aren’t enough hours in a day.

ANYWAY – last week the match that ran away with the votes was, NJPW King of Pro Wrestling Triple Threat: Cody vs Kenny Omega (c) vs Kota Ibushi. So now we’re gonna be looking at a lot of Japanese matches in the coming weeks, but part of the fun is seeing if other stuff can sneak in too.

So let’s see what made the grade.

 

5. 205 Live Fatal Five Way: Gran Metalik vs TJP vs Tony Nese vs Cedric Alexander vs Lio Rush

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

The Age of Alexander wants to rebuild his legacy, but the Premier Athlete wants to pave his own over it. The FilAm Flash wants to humiliate the lucha libre tradition, but the King of the Ropes won’t stand for it. As for the Man of the Hour, he simply came to collect! Who will succeed in their mission and take a step towards the top of the Cruiserweight Division?

Current Cruiserweight Champion, Buddy Murphy, watches from backstage, wanting to see the moment someone wins this match. The bell rings and DC cheers its own 23 Year old Piece of Gold. The five circle and TJP rushes Metalik while Lio gets out of the way. TJP drags Metalik out of the ring, wanting to focus on their lucha libre grudge. He bumps Metalik off barriers, while Nese and Alexander brawl in the ring. Nese backs Alexander down but Alexander chops him back. Alexander clotheslines Nese out and Lio comes back in. Lio talks trash with Alexander, but Alexander catches that kick. Alexander flips Lio but Lio lands on his feet. Things speed up as Lio keeps changing directions on a dime. Lio slides but Alexander catches him. Alexander yanks Lio back up but Lio arm-drags.

Things speed up again and Alexander handsprings back to headscissor, but Lio lands on his feet again! Lio says “it’s not happening”. Alexander rushes Lio but Lio ducks. Lio whips but Alexander reverses, only for Lio to springboard and headscissor Alexander again. Lio does a dance and knows Alexander knows what that means. Alexander rushes Lio and the chase is on. They pass around the corner and Nese clobbers Alexander! Metalik and Lio are in the ring, and the luchador dares Lio do come at him. Metalik swing kicks Lio away, then springboards for a crossbody! He keeps moving and handsprings but Lio avoids it. Lio runs but Metalik dodges, tilt-o-whirl gutbuster! Metalik keeps moving, runs the ropes, and hits the missile dropkick! He drags Lio to a cover but Nese throws Metalik out hard.

Nese has Lio but Lio fires off forearms. Lio whips but Nese stops himself. Nese elbows Lio then leaps but Lio gets clear. Nese goes Matrix to then mule kick, knee lift and roundhouse, but Lio dodges to mule kick and enziguri back! Lio stands tall while Nese rolls out, and DC cheers their own. Murphy seems moderately impressed as Lio dropkicks Alexander back out. Lio joins everyone on the outside and drags Metalik in. Metalik crawls but Lio dares him to stand up. But TJP grabs Lio in a modified abdominal stretch. Metalik swings on TJP but ends up in another abdominal stretch. TJP has mirrored stretches, and goes after Metalik’s mask!

Nese comes in and rolls TJP up, but TJP resists. Lio runs in, but into a German Suplex! Nese bridges to have both TJP and Lio in simultaneous pins! Metalik breaks both covers just in time! Nese kicks Metalik back, then throws TJP into a post. TJP tumbles out while Nese runs Metalik over with an elbow. Nese rocks Alexander to keep him out of the ring, and now the Premier Athlete flexes. Fans boo and jeer but Nese stomps Metalik and Lio. Nese wrenches Metalik’s neck while putting his weight on him. Fans rally up for the others, and Metalik fights back. Nese back suplexes Metalik down, covers, TWO!

Nese goes back to the neck wrench, but lets go to intercept and throw out Alexander. Alexander hasn’t gotten much of anything, and Nese goes back to Metalik for more neck wrench. Metalik fights but Nese drops a leg. Nese soaks in the heat, then drags Metalik up and over. He puts Metalik in the Tree of Woe to then stomp a mudhole into him. Nese brings back Full Contact Cardio! Fans boo more but Nese simply counts out that 8-pack. But Alexander rolls him up! TWO, and Nese runs Alexander over again! Cover, TWO! Nese drags Metalik up, but Metalik fights back. Nese knees then whips Metalik, but Metalik stops himself to SUPERKICK Nese back!

Metalik jumps up and quebradas, but Nese catches it and makes it a cover. ONE, and Nese fireman’s carry. Metalik fights out and suplexes, for a brain buster! Cover, but Alexander breaks it just in time. Alexander goes after Metalik but is powered to a corner, for a LOUD chop! Metalik runs in but into a boot. Alexander springboards for the clothesline! Fans fire up with the former champ as he runs at Nese. Alexander rallies with lariats and a big uppercut. Alexander whips but Nese reverses, only for Alexander to dropkick the legs out. He hurries to the apron, but Alexander has to jump over TJP’s swipes at his legs. Alexander boots TJP then kicks Nese, to then hit the springboard complete shot! Cover, but Lio breaks it!

DC cheers Lio he stomps Alexander. TJP comes in and fireman’s carry, but Lio slips out to put TJP in a corner for a forearm smash. Lio hoists TJP up top then climbs up. They brawl up top, and TJP dumps Lio all the way down. Metalik swing kicks TJP, then brings him back up. TJP resists the superplex, but Alexander adds on. They both want to suplex TJP, but in comes Nese. Nese throws Alexander down then electric chairs Metalik. TJP works with Nese, but Metalik victory rolls to avoid the crossbody! TJP gets Alexander but Alexander rolls through! Cover on Nese, TWO! Lio climbs, Alexander hits a Michinoku Driver on TJP, cover, TWO! Final Hour frog splash on Alexander! Cover, but Nese and Metalik both break it! All five men are down but DC fires up. DC chants for “205! 205!” as the five men stir.

DC goes back to cheering for Lio while Metalik and Nese brawl. Metalik chops Nese but Nese mule kicks Metalik. Nese runs but Metalik dodges, handspring arm-drag and dropkick! TJP is up to rolling sobat Metalik! Lio is up to mule kick and heel kick TJP! Nese is up but Lio bobs ‘n’ weaves to fire back. Lio swings but Nese shoves to rock him with that left! Nese turns around, Alexander blows past to handspring and Neuralizer! Cover, TWO!! All five men are down again, but fans rally up. Alexander grits his teeth as he glares at Nese. Nese crawls to the apron but Alexander is on him. SUPERKICK from Metalik, but Alexander swing kicks him down. Alexander builds speed to FLY onto Metalik! He gets Metalik back in, but TJP rocks Alexander to cover Metalik! TWO, but TJP is after that mask again!

Metalik kicks TJP away, but TJP clubs him back down. TJP whips but Metalik DIVES onto Alexander! TJP hits the triangle wrekcing dropkick, but then Lio handspring kicks TJP! Nese rolls Lio, TWO, to a deadlift bomb to the OUTSIDE! Lio, TJP, Metalik and Alexander are all down, and Nese has his pick. Nese drags Lio up and in, covers, but Alexander drags him off it. Nese shoves Alexander away but Metalik is on Nese. Metalik chops Nese in the corner, thenw hips him corner to corner. Nese reverses but runs into a SUPERKICK! Sling-dog! Metalik climbs up but TJP shoves him right off. TJP has Nese in the kneebar! Nese endures, but is so close. Alexander stomps TJP, only to get put in the kneebar!

Metalik stomps TJP and then whips TJP. TJP holds ropes and puts Metalik on the apron. TJP runs, but Metalik springboards to let TJP go under AND Asai at the same time! All five men are down once again, but Nese and Lio stand. Nese runs into a SUPERKICK! Lio hurries up top and DC fires up for the hometown hero! Alexander runs in but gets a haymaker. Lio leaps for a flying headscissor, but Alexander blocks with pure power! And lifts Lio, to then pop him into the Lumbar Check!! But Nese rolls Alexander up, Nese wins!!

Winner: Tony Nese via Roll Up

Rating: ****

 

4. NWA 70 NWA Heavyweight Championship 2 out of 3 Falls Match: Nick Aldis vs Cody (c)

Well we all know the backstory for this. Cody won the NWA title at All In and Aldis felt robbed. Which he had legitimate claims that there was interference and an extended period where the match should’ve been thrown out, but it wasn’t. So Aldis gets a female enforcer to keep Brandi in check and requests the 2 out of 3 falls match. Does Aldis win the belt back, or do we continue to ride the feel good high of Cody Rhodes?

So Aldis’ female enforcer turns out to be Kamilla Kaine, aka Mrs. Braun Strowman. So she’s an Amazon in her own right and definitely played her part in the match. Much like Omega vs Okada, I’m not going over everything since there’s just too much to try and document.

The first fall saw Cody tap out quickly to protect himself from further damage in the King’s Lynn Cloverleaf. It seemed clever until Aldis immediately powders out at the beginning of the second fall. So this forces Cody to make a big dive and the entire second fall sees them brawling through the entire Fairgrounds. Trash cans were used, even the refreshment stand spot with the cup of soda or water, got used as weapons on the way back to the ring. Cody tried to introduce a table, but Brandi and Kamilla got involved which took attention away from the table as the referees got the table out of the ring.

Aldis gets a small advantage and goes to get the aforementioned table, places Cody on top and then goes for an Elbow Drop. Nick misses big and crashes through the table. Cody gets Nick back in the ring, Crossroads, and the second fall goes to Cody.

Third fall was exciting with how quickly it started, and then turned into a video game move stealing marathon. Firstly, the women get everyone thrown out of ringside when Brandi gets sick of Kamilla and tries to choke a bitch. But after the attention goes back to the ring, we see Cody execute the Bionic Elbow, Orton Style Hanging DDT and even a Rainmaker. So it’s at this point, Cody definitely seems more desperate when he thought he had the advantage.

Nick hits a Tombstone Piledriver, and then we get one more reference from Cody as Nick grabs his foot, and the boot slips off. Cody goes for the Small Package, but Aldis shifts the weight and turns the Small Package in his favor. So, NEW NWA Champion and man who effectively sucked the air out of the entire building, Nick Aldis.

Here’s to hoping Willie Mack turns into the working man’s draw, cause this event should prove the Aldis doesn’t have the appeal at all to the crowd. No boos, just dead silence.

Winner: Nick Aldis via Small Package (2-1)

Rating: **** 1/4

 

3. NJPW Super Jr Tag League: Shingo Takagi & BUSHI vs SHO & YOH

Well Shingo being the big sixth member of Los Ingobernables de Japon lead to BUSHI having a tag team partner. Shingo moved away from the Junior Division earlier in his career, but the Animal Hamaguchi bond most of the LIJ members have, must’ve convinced him to drop back down for now. The focus of this match is really to see SHO vs Shingo, the two powerhouses of the Junior Heavyweights.

This was just a very good tag team match. BUSHI seems to be trying a little harder than usual and Shingo is establishing himself as a beast. SHO and YOH pulled off numerous tandem moves, just never the 3K. There was even a great moment where Shingo came in to save BUSHI and absorbed strikes from both SHO and YOH.

Yes, I’m aware this is an abbreviated version, but this match felt more like an introduction for people who didn’t know Shingo. Shingo looked amazing, Pumping Bombers, Pop Up Death Valley Drivers and power moves for days. YOH tried his Rewind Kick, but Shingo just over powered the smaller man and lands his finisher Last Falconry – oh wait, since he’s the Dragon it’s Last of the Dragon now. Okay, so Last of the Dragon, and it’s just the beginning.

As a special treat the rest of LIJ showed up at the end, the crowd erupted, and they ended with the fist bump pose.

Winner: Takagi via Last of the Dragon

Rating: **** 1/4

 

 

Honorable Mentions

NJPW Super Jr Tag League: SHO & YOH vs Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado
Winner: YOH via Japanese Clutch Hold
Rating: ****
NJPW Super Jr Tag League: ACH & Ryusuke Taguchi vs Taiji Ishimori & Robbie Eagles
Winner: Ishimori via Bloody Cross
Rating: ****
NWA 70 National Heavyweight Title Match: Willie Mack vs Samuel Shaw
Winner: Mack via Stunner
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW Super Jr Tag League: Soberano Jr & Volador Jr vs Tiger Mask & Jushin Thunder Liger
Winner: Tiger via Tiger Suplex Hold
Rating: *** 3/4
AJPW Raising an Army AJPW World Tag Title match: Shuji Ishikawa & Suwama vs Kai & Kengo Mashimo
Winner: Suwama via Last Ride
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW Super Jr Tag League: Tiger Mask & Jushin Thunder Liger vs Robbie Eagles & Taiji Ishimori
Winner: Eagles via Inverted Figure 4
Rating: *** 1/2
NJPW: Hiroshi Tanahashi, Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs Kota Ibushi, Chase Owens & Yujiro Takahashi
Winner: Tanahashi via High Fly Flow
Rating: *** 1/4
NJPW Super Jr Tag League: BUSHI & Shingo Takagi vs Tiger Mask & Jushin Thunder Liger
Winner: Tiger via Abdominal Stretch Cradle Pin
Rating: *** 1/4
NXT Tag Team Championship Match: War Raiders vs Undisputed Era
Winner: War Raiders via DQ
Rating: ***
NJPW: Ayato Yoshida, Yota Tsuji & Yuya Uemura vs Ren Narita, Shota Umino & Tomoaki Honma
Winner: Umino via Boston Crab
Rating: ***
NWA 70 Women’s Championship Match: Jazz (c) vs Penelope Ford
Winner: Jazz
Rating: ***

 

2. NJPW Super Jr Tag League: Kushida & Chris Sabin vs Shingo Takagi & BUSHI

So the previously highlighted tandem from LIJ, who will ride the Dragon to victory. Yes I’m aware that’s a drug reference, it’s funny, roll with it. But the other team has a built in story since Kushida picked Chris Sabin because Alex Shelley retired. So Kushida wanted to tag with Shelley’s other tag team member, and they are affectionately referred to as the Time Machines ( Time Spliiters + Motor City Machine Guns). Does the singles champion and his new partner have what it takes to put the Dragon to rest?

Since it’s late and I’m tired, I really tend to enjoy abbreviated recaps. This was a continuation of the first match where Shingo looks like the most imposing figure in the Junior division. Kushida more then held his own though.

At one point Kushida had Shingo knotted up in a Rings of Saturn variation, which made it interesting that both BUSHI and Shingo were favoring their arms. Even dinged up, Shingo pulled off many impressive power moves. Hell there was a spot where he did the Pop Up Death Valley Driver, but was falling backwards. It could’ve been a mistake, but it still looked good and since it was done to Sabin, I was happy no one died.

BUSHI definitely has fallen into his role in this team. He takes most of the offense, gets in some impressive tandem stuff, like a Spinebuster/Back Cracker combo, but Shingo is the main event. If this team loses, BUSHI will most likely eat the pin.

As a good way to create some heat with Shingo and Kushida, they exchanged even blows, but the finish comes on Sabin. So Shingo hits Last- of the Dragon on Sabin, and the LIJ team keeps rolling.

Winner: Takagi via Last of the Dragon

Rating: **** 1/2

 

 

1. AJPW Raising an Army Triple Crown Championship Match: Zeus (c) vs Kento Miyahara

This is Zeus’ second defense, against the man he took the title from. Kento won the 6th Royal Road tournament to earn this shot, so this should be interesting. Kento is easily the new Ace of All Japan, but Zeus has been a very good up and coming foil. Does Zeus retain, or do we see the Ace reclaim the belt for the 4th time?

I don’t have intelligent sounding words for how fantastic this match was. The aggression of both men was through the roof. Early hard shots and then they take the match to the outside. Zeus flings Kento around, and pulls off a nice Snap Suplex on the outside. Zeus does something he doesn’t usually do and removes part of the turn buckle pad and throttles Kento’s throat across the exposed part. Kyohei Wada has to pull Zeus off of Kento and the match continues.

The expression on both men’s face just dialed up in emotion and aggression. We saw them charge at each other multiple times and this just had a much different feeling than any other modern All Japan match I’ve seen. Kento chained a few Blackouts and German Suplexes together, but that just pissed off Zeus and he came back more angry. Another uncharacteristic spot was Zeus kept pummeling and choking Kento in the ropes. He throws Wada off and continues his assault until Wada literally has to wedge himself in the middle to get Zeus to break.

Kento has a Sting like resiliency where no matter how long the match goes, he can charge back up. Multiple knee strikes made it seem like Kento was putting it all together. He hits his Shutdown German Suplex Hold…but Zeus kicks out. That’s maybe happened once or twice in the last 2 years, so that was a huge spot.

Kento tried to follow up and Zeus hits him with a straight right fist. Jackhammer from Zeus, but Kento kicks out. So the frustration is huge on both men. Chops and strikes, Zeus even gets Kento down on the ground with repeated Karate Chops to the back of the neck/shoulder blades. Just when it seems like Zeus beat the life out of him, Kento fires back up and lands a half dozen Blackouts.

Zeus kept trying to pop back up after them, but the last one rocked him. He stumbles around the ring, not aware of where he was, so Kento catches him for the Shutdown German Suplex Hold. The three comes down and Kento is champion once again!

King’s Road style is different than New Japan’s “Strong Style”, but I’m fairly sure this match will translate beyond what many assume all Japanese wrestling is. After the match Kento called Zeus back up, I think saying something about continuing to build up All Japan together. Zeus took his hand and agreed before the leaving the ring to a chant of ” Zennippon” (All Japan).

Winner: Kento via Shutdown German Suplex Hold

Rating: ******

 

Thoughts:

I feel like this happens quite a bit, but the All Japan match can’t be touched this week in my opinion. Passion, aggression, resiliency and the power struggle between these two all year has been a great story. Yes, yes, more people visit the Dunkin Donuts in rural West Virginia than watch All Japan, I get it. But that doesn’t lessen how amazing the match was, with or without context.

So Always Use Your Head, and watch some of these matches you may have not seen. Branch out, put extra bacon on your burger, just enjoy the wide variety of wrestling that we have currently


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Opinion

NXT UK Is Not The End Of The UK Indy Scene

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NXT UK WWE

Ever since the announcement of a WWE UK brand and the relationship WWE had with certain UK promotions people have been crying it as the end of the UK Indy scene.

I don’t think this is the case and I’ll tell you why.

On Wednesday night after months of waiting for it NXT UK has finally aired on the network. A good first episode caped off with Pete Dunne retaining his UK Championship over Noam Dar.

While it seems clear that NXT UK is a knee jerk reaction to the relaunch of World of Sport both are great for a lot of the wrestlers. WOS being on terrestrial TV and NXT UK being on the Network it gives a lot of talent an opportunity to be seen by a whole new audience.

About every home in the UK get ITV so could possibly see WOS and casual fans who have persuaded to get the network may stumble across NXT UK. Also American fans who are very into Indy wrestling but don’t watch a lot of UK wrestling can go on the network and get a good insight to how good British wrestling is.

The wrestlers involved are still able to work indies in between which helps those indies in turn gain some new eyes. They can put NXT superstar next to a NXT UK Guys name to draw in the casual fans.

While there has been criticism that they’re only doing indies WWE approve of they’re still working the main UK promotions like Progress and ICW. These are the promotions responsible for the recent boom so I think it stands to reason that these are the companies WWE would look to for the best in the UK. It’s almost recognition to these promotions for helping build the scene.

There was a story that WWE UK guys weren’t allowed to work Indy shows if it’s within a certain amount of time before one of their WWE dates that caused to outrage. While that might suck if it causes them to miss a date it just seems like WWE protecting their investment and preventing these stars from being injured.

Missing one show is better than getting injured and missing out on your opportunity to work with biggest wrestling promotion in the world and depending on the injury miss out on more indy dates than you would have originally.

If anything, the fact that NXT UK and WOS are fighting over talent is a compliment to how big the UK scene has gotten in the last few years. Not even WWE  who have notorious for pretending no other promotions exist can ignore how big it’s gotten.

This is part of WWE’s global expansion which if it’s anything like this looks to hearkens back to the old territory system of the 60’s and 70’s. Something you know has to be a Triple H idea because he loves old school wrestling.

If Triple H is behind it which all the evidence is pointing to gives me more faith in it as we’ve seen what he’s done with NXT.

In the end I think the fans are going to be the real winners. With NXT UK and World Of Sport competing against each other could almost be the UK’s version of WWE’s war with WCW. Not exactly because they’re not on at the exact same time but you get my point.

 


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Opinion

Kenny Omega vs Bad Luck Fale Needs, Or Needed, To Happen.

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 I am pretty sure some of you are wondering after reading the title, but allow me to reaffirm this. Kenny Omega vs Bad Luck Fale, for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, is a necessity. I will now tell you everything about why I think this match should, or possibly, should have happened.

 

 Kenny Omega has been the IWGP Heavyweight Champion for slightly more than five months. In these five months, he defended the championship three times. Once against Cody Rhodes, then against Tomohiro Ishii, which was, in my opinion, his best out of the three defenses, and a triple threat against both Kota Ibushi and Cody Rhodes. The match against Ishii really felt like a test for Omega, but, in my opinion, a second test to see if he is worthy of main eventing Wrestle Kingdom as IWGP champion would have been interesting. That’s where Fale enters. Since the Triple Threat match which happened at King of Pro Wrestling has been announced, I thought it wasn’t the right match. Even after it ended, and it’s not taking anything away from the match itself since it was really good, I had this same feeling. So, I thought to myself : “Which match would be better than this, storyline wise ?”
 

There, I thought of The Underboss of Bullet Club. Fale is not an easy opponent to defeat, he represents the perfect challenge for a man needing to prove something. Kenny Omega needs to prove he is the right man to bet on, now that he is the champion. His ultimate test being against Tanahashi at Wrestle Kingdom, imagine if he enters his first main event as champion after defeating two of the toughest wrestlers to beat in the whole roster ?
 

Now, to the other important part. I talked about the story, and, after the story of Fale being a great challenge for anyone needing to prove something, let’s talk about the Bullet Club as a whole. The Faction has been divided, Kenny represents The Elite, and Fale the OG’s. The thing is, there was, at King of Pro Wrestling, the perfect opportunity to add more to the inner Bullet Club storyline. Obviously, it has been done with Jay White joining and, I’m assuming, taking the top spot in the group, as he’s likely to be the man who will main event shows and challenge for the Heavyweight championship in the future, but what about Kenny ? Was costing him a win against Toru Yano in the G1 and beating him up an handful of times really enough ? Tama Tonga and company are pointing Kenny Omega as, pretty much, THE reason why Bullet Club isn’t what it was and how bad it is, but they’re not making him that much of a priority in the end. they just kicked him out and changed the face of the faction. Where has been the involvement of the Bullet Club OG’s in Kenny Omega’s IWGP Heavyweight Championship reign ?

Going back to the match itself, if you are really not going to give Kota Ibushi the one on one match for the championship he earned, the King of Pro Wrestling main event should have had a storyline purpose. It is exactly what Fale represents. Oh, and let me clarify that Fale is indeed a more than decent wrestler. He will do his job right, and the man he faces will look strong or smart. Ask Tanahashi, Okada, Shibata or Nakamura.  

 Now, since this quick rant is now post-KOPW, we know it is very unlikely that this bout, that I believe to be both interesting, meaningful and important, happens before January 4th. There is a chance it happens afterwards, since the Wrestle Kingdom 13 match hasn’t played out yet, we can still assume Kenny might retain the championship, which opens the door again for the match against Fale. But tell me, would it have the same impact if it happens after Omega’s biggest match since he defeated Okada ? I don’t think it would. Kenny just proved to the world he really is the man to lead New Japan into this new age, and then he gets to this sort of other gatekeeper to stop him from going forward. But, what gate does Fale keep in that case ? What special flavour does he bring, by not getting the possibility to take Kenny Omega down, as the latter is trying to get to the top of the Wrestling world ? Is he really the biggest challenge Kenny has to face at that specific time ?

 

 Ask yourselves these questions, and you can tell me how you feel about a Kenny Omega vs Bad Luck Fale match for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Was or is it a necessity to you ? What do you think about such a match ?


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