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Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 9/9/2018

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So mostly because of how pivotal certain shows were on September 1st, I decided we’d do the August Pool voting last week. Given that, voting was still insanely close. Let’s see what the MOTY Pool looks like, so you see what won, as well as remember who’s already on the list.

  • January – NXT Takeover Philly: Johnny Gargano vs Andrade Almas
  • February – New Beginning in Osaka: Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA
  • March – Strong Style Evolved: Golden Lovers vs Young Bucks
  • April – NXT Takeover NOLA: Andrade Almas vs Aleister Black
  • May – WWE  Backlash: Seth Rollins vs The Miz
  • June – NJPW Dominion: Kazuchika Okada vs Kenny Omega
  • July – G1 Climax 28: Hirooki Goto vs Tomohiro Ishii
  • August – G1 Climax 28 Finals: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi

Now that wasn’t that only vote we had, and this one was even closer. Winning by literally 1 vote was, NWA Championship: Cody vs Nick Aldis (c).  So that’s the first NWA match since the Tim Storm and Jocephus empty arena match to make the list, much less win the week.

I guess we should see what made the Top 5 for this week.

 

5. NOAH Ark New Chapter GHC Heavyweight Championship Match: Takashi Sugiura (c) vs Masa Kitamiya

Well this was the last match of Sugiura’s three day marathon from Takayamania, Marufuji’s Anniversary Show and this title defense. Kitamiya has earned his position this year, from having a fairly impressive tag run with Katsuhiko Nakajima (team name The Aggression), he’s proven enough. Yes this is further extending the Super New Generation against the  old generation story, but no one’s been able to touch Sugiura yet.

This match was the equivalent of two bulls just slamming into each other early on. Sugiura did get the better of Kitamiya, rocking him pretty hard, so much so he nearly didn’t make the 20 count. After the close call on the outside, Masa’s gameplan took shape.

He started to focus on Sugiura’s knees, numerous Chop Blocks, Spears to the Knee and his signature Prison Lock (kneeling figure four), saw Sugiura in quite a bit of pain throughout the match. Takashi hit a few desperation power moves, including his signature Olympic Slam, but Kitamiya kicked out. Kitamiya then went for his Saito Suplex, but Sugiura kicks out.

Kitamiya knowing he needs to doing something unique, tries to go for back to back Saito Suplexes, but on the second one, Sugiura sinks in the Front Neck Lock. Kitamiya tries to drive him towards the corner, but Sugiura pushes off and sinks in deeper in the middle of the ring. After a few moments where it looked like it would break, Kitamiya passes out and the referee stops the match.

It should be noted that this is the first title defense since his Marufuji match where he had to break out the Front Neck Lock. So Sugiura still shows some versatility, all while Katsuhiko Nakajima is the next to step up and challenge the champion.

Winner: Sugiura via Front Necklock (referee stoppage)

Rating: *** 3/4

 

4. MLW Fusion Tag Team Championships Match: Pentagon & Rey Fenix (c) vs Rey Horus & Drago

The Lucha Bros are probably the most well known of the newest generation of luchadors. Their opponents are veterans and have a little bit of worldwide notoriety themselves so this isn’t a layup at all.

In regards to matches, it’s exactly what you’d expect form a lucha match. The referee allowed “lucha rules” so there was a lot of constant motion, not many tags, but plenty of things that made it hard for the camera to keep up. Drago seemed to be fighting through the shoulder injury that was mentioned during Triplemania, but it didn’t slow him down too much.

Fenix did some of his rope bouncing for big Arm Drags and dives, but after a while the Lucha Bros had solid control of the match. We saw Fenix and Pentagon hit the Double Footstomp/Fear Factor, which then had Fenix dive to the outside to keep Drago away, but Rey Horus kicked out. So they ran the move back, this time with a little extra flair from Fenix, and the match was over.

After the match Fenix and Pentagon addressed the crowd, and Pentagon urged the crowd to start chanting, “Please Come Back”, for Drago and Horus. So it’s nice to see the camaraderie from the luchadors.

Winner: Pentagon via Fear Factor/Double Footstomp Tandem Move

Rating: *** 3/4

 

3. Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix Goddesses of Stardom Tag Title Match: Tam Nakano & Starlight Kid vs Mayu Iwatani & Saki Kashima (c)

Well both teams are from the STARS stable, so their pre-match promos were more about proving themselves aside from beating the enemies. Finally though, we see Starlight Kid gave Tam a mask to wear on the way out, so Tam finally gets an actual mask (a nod to a few months ago when she was teaming with all of the masked wrestlers and playfully put her hands in front of her face to act like a mask). I obviously hope Tam wins, but it’s not going to be easy.

The opening salvo was actually gorgeous in this match. Both teams shake hands, but Kid and Tam rush the others to get the upper hand. Saki manages to reverse a double Irish Whip as she focuses on Tam, sending Kid into the ropes and Mayu comes flying in connecting with a nice dropkick. From that point that match a little hit or miss honestly. Out of all four women, Saki is definitely the weakest link.

Aside from a few awkward spots and near miss/barely hit maneuvers, it really was an entertaining match. My highlight was Kid and Tam drop toe holding Saki and Mayu into the ropes and hitting stereo Tiger Feints (619), and honestly I didn’t know Tam could do that. The followed that up with dual Dropkicks, that send Mayu and Saki to the outside and then two Flying Crossbodies really made it look like Kid and Tam had a good shot to take this match. Tam also had a nice moment in the match where she had Saki in a Dragon Sleeper, Mayu tried to break it up, but Tam kicks her and hooks her head for a DDT, so she drops for the DDT/Reverse DDT combo.

Mayu and Tam’s interactions were really good in this match and gives everyone watching hope that Tam can maintain this level. Mayu and Saki hit a few tandem moves on Starlight and Mayu keeps Tam out of the ring while Saki hits the Unprettier for the pinfall.

Winner: Saki via Unprettier

Rating: ****

 

Honorable Mentions:

Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix: Kagetsu vs Utami Hayashishita
Winner: Kagetsu via Boston Crab
Rating: *** 3/4
MLW Fusion: PCO vs Homicide
Winner: PCO via Forearm Smash
Rating: ***

 

2. NXT: Velveteen Dream vs Johnny Gargano

From Steven Mitchell’s NXT Coverage:

Johnny Wrestling has fallen to new lows while the Patrick Clark Experience has risen to new heights. Dream rubbed that in Gargano’s face last week, but only because he didn’t realize Gargano was still okay to go in the ring. Whether rising or falling, which man will move forward after tonight?

Dream mocks Gargano with a “Johnny FAILURE” t-shirt, and even a “Who Am I?” armband to taunt Gargano’s crisis of confidence. But it’s not like Gargano needs reasons to be riled up for this match. The two men throw their shirts at each other, then the bell rings, and they tie up. Dream gets a waistlock to headlock to hammerlock to takeover. Dream poses and taunts Gargano, then shoves him. Gargano rocks Dream with a left forearm! Gargano dares Dream to come back and sprawls to a facelock. Dream rolls around but Gargano keeps hold. Dream reaches back with legs and gets a ropebreak. Gargano lets go at 4 while fans duel.

Gargano drags Dream up but Dream puts on a headlock. They go to a corner and Gargano sees Dream going up and over, to rock him with another forearm! Gargano stomps a mudhole into Dream to show he’s not a failure. He comes back but Dream takes down and goes after legs. Gargano powers out a couple times and sends Dream out. Gargano rocks him with a baseball slide dropkick, then bounces Dream off the apron. Dream goes around the corner but Gargano follows to chop him against barriers. Gargano wants to know where the arrogance went as he chops Dream again! He puts Dream in but Dream hotshots Gargano on the ropes! Fans keep dueling while Gargano gets to a corner. Dream runs over and kicks Gargano down. Dream rains rights and stomps on Gargano, grinding his boot into Gargano’s chin.

Gargano drags himself up but Dream throws forearms into his back. Dream backs off to then put Gargano in another corner. Dream keeps on Gargano with forearms, then chokes him on the ropes. The ref counts and Dream stops at 4, but Gargano turns it around to chop away! Gargano whips but Dream reverses and Gargano hits buckles and tumbles! Dream gives Gargano a neckbreaker, then covers. TWO, but Dream keeps his cool. Dream stomps Gargano to a corner, then stands on him at the ropes. The ref counts and Dream stops at 4 to stalk Gargano again. Dream climbs up to pose, then swings in for a bronco buster on Gargano’s back! Gargano has his eyes locked on the Johnny Freakin’ Wrestling sign, even as Dream throws him down by his hair.

Dream circles Gargano, and boots him down. High stack cover, TWO, so Dream goes to a grinding chinlock. Fans rally up and Gargano powers out of the hold. Dream kicks him and puts him in a sleeper hold now, and Gargano fades fast. Fans rally again and Gargano gets a second wind. Gargano stands and opwers Dream into buckles. Dream clubs him but Gargano fires back with haymakers. They brawl in the corner, Dream boots Gargano down, then hops up. Dream leaps, but the ax handle is caught. Dream fights out to prepare the sidewinder, but Gargano spins through to make it an elbow drop DDT! Fans rally once more and Gargano stands up. Dream staggers into a boot, then Gargano hops up for a flying headscissors! Gargano enziguris Dream right out of the ring, then slingshots. Dream gets in and runs, into the slingshot spear! Cover, TWO!

Gargano grits his teeth as he brings Dream up. He chops Dream against ropes, then whips. Dream tumbles out and hits a swift jab. Gargano goes outside while Dream goes up, SUPERKICK! Dream tumbles to the floor, but the apron cannonball wipes him out! The referee checks on both men but they’re both okay. Gargano stands while Dream drags himself up. Gargano puts Dream in at 4, then returns at 6. Fans duel whiel Dream gets to a corner. Gargano runs in for a forearm smash. He whips but Dream reverses. Gargano goes up and over, school boy kick misses, Dream hits a Famouser! Cover, TWO! Fans fire up as both men slowly stir.

Gargano gets to a corner but Dream walks over. Gargano elbows Dream away, then hops up, for another try. Dream counters and wants a submission, but instead rolls through to a fireman’s carry. Gargano sunset flips, TWO, Dream sits on it. TWO, and Gargano buzzsaws, only to run into a boot. He comes back with a discus lariat! Cover, TWO!! Dream crawls to a cover, TWO!! Both men are exhausted but the fans know “This is Awesome!” Gargano drags himself back to a corner but Dream pursues. Gargano climbs but Dream anchors his leg. They’re both on the apron and start brawling. They give haymakers back and forth, then Dream kicks low. Gargano forearms but gets another boot.

Dream lifts Gargano, but Gargano fights the Death Valley off. Gargano wants a powerbomb but his leg gives out! The very leg he hurt when he tried to finish Ciampa. Dream adds on by shoving Gargano into steel steps, knee first! Gargano writhes in pain but Dream shows no mercy. Dream puts Gargano in, Sidewinder!! Cover, TWO!? Gargano’s superhuman heart is still very much part of him! Fans love it as they give a standing ovation of “NXT! NXT!” Dream yanks the leg and drops a knee on that knee! Fans duel while Dream exposes the knee to hit it directly. He even wrenches it at the ropes. The referee backs Dream off, but the damage is done.

Dream drags Gargano up, but Gargano swing kicks him away! Dream SUPERKICKS back! Then with Gargano on the apron, Dream climbs up, for Purple Rain Maker! But Gargano gets away and Dream hits only apron! Gargano DIVES!! Fans are thunderous as Gargano drags Dream into a GargaNO Escape on the outside! Dream taps and flails but it doesn’t matter, this has to end in the ring! Gargano doesn’t care, he just wants to torture Dream! The ring count gets his attention, and he gets in at 7. Gargano leaves Dream out, but Dream gets in at 9.5!

Gargano seethes as he drags Dream back up. He has Dream between the ropes, and drags him out, just like Ciampa would! Dream knows this and resists, so Gargano instead ties him up in the ropes to SUPERKICK! Gargano drags Dream out from the apron now, but the referee tells him not to do this. Fans are divided, they want to see Gargano win but this might be too much. Gargano puts Dream back in and apologizes to his fan in the front row. Gargano goes back in, but Dream just keeps calling him “Johnny Failure!” Fans fire up, the knee pad comes down, but Gargano rusn into the Dream Valley! Cover, DREAM WINS!!

Winner: Dream via Dream Valley Driver

Rating: ****

 

1. NJPW Road to Destruction: The Golden Lovers vs Will Ospreay & Tomohiro Ishii

Well what the heck? This is a Road to… show, we’re not supposed to get big show matches here. As we should all know, Ishii has a title shot against Omega at Destruction in Hiroshima (yes yes the irony of the name isn’t lost on me). So this is one of those tag matches to build suspense and they’ll trade wins back and forth that don’t mean anything…right?

To be completely honest this match wasn’t mind blowingly special, but the fact that all four men went so hard on a show that people don’t expect it at, is why this stands out. We got to see a beautifully executed Cross Slash from the Lovers, a few other tandem moves, but we still have yet to see a Golden Shower (dual 450 Splash) since the reunion.

The interesting wrinkle that came from this was the heat between Ospreay and Ibushi. As far as New Japan is concerned, I’m pretty sure by the time Ospreay hit the Junior scene, Ibushi was moving up to Heavyweight and also drifting between companies. So this would be something special if we get a special singles match between Ospreay and Ibushi some time soon.

So this match is definitely worth the watch, you won’t be disappointed. But you can also kinda check the box next to “typical good New Japan match”.

Winner: Lovers via Golden Trigger

Rating: **** 1/4

 

Thoughts:

This isn’t an easy choice for me this week. None of the matches were historically cataclysmic, so there’s a good case for all of them.

However, NXT: Johnny Gargano vs Velveteen Dream, had the most psychology and story telling layered in the match. Watching Johnny actually break out of his rage driven moments, and conveying his shock and disappointment on his face was nice. Him going over to the fan and embracing the kid mid match to try and hold on to who he is, was great. So that will get my vote this week.

Like I always say, if you haven’t seen most of these, find what you can, expand your horizons, but ALWAYS, USE YOUR HEAD.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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The Good, Bad and Ugly: WWE NXT (01/23/2019)

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Good Bad Ugly WWE NXT

The go-home show for WWE NXT Takeover: Phoenix is in the books, and Bobby Fernandes takes a look at the episode from the Good, Bad, and Ugly perspective!

WWE NXT Takeover is coming on Saturday Night before a huge Sunday Royal Rumble.  The stories finalize before the big PPV and everyone has one final chance to solidify their place on the show.  Raw was packed with a ton of content, SmackDown in contrast was not, but was pure quality with the exception of a few small issues.  Now its NXT’s turn to get us and keep us sucked in.  Will NXT do their job as usual? 

THE GOOD

Opening Segment w/ Velveteen Dream

What an interesting way to open the show.  Dream always has a spectacular time in front of the camera in any fashion.  It is no secret that he has been a bit unhappy with his current “drawbacks” and wants more.  Just when he makes a claim to the North American Championship, Adam Cole and Bobby Fish, interrupted Velveteen Dream.  This would be such a brilliant feud.  Undisputed Era is just fantastic and brings the best to the audience constantly.  Dream doing what he does best, got in Undisputed’s head before fleeing safely away.  Very interesting open. 

Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan vs. Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel

Burch and Lorcan are dangerously Good.  They pair up so well, and have great matches with anyone they face.  Aichner and Barthel didn’t seem like anything special from previous times but the chances for a better showing with Danny and Oney increase significantly.  Oney Lorcan got singled out early on by Barthel and Aichner and took a lot of punishment until Burch came in hot and took control.  Lorcan again however got singled out.  Aichner did some awesome stuff in there nearly getting the win, but Lorcan would not surrender.  There was a lot of action here.  Oney Lorcan is so freaking Good.  After a seriously kick ass back and forth match, Oney Lorcan gets a rollup for the victory.     

Io Shirai and Kairi Sane vs.  Tanea Brooks and Amber Nova

Shirai and Nova started out, full steam.  Shirai has a unique style and always delivers.  The same can be said about the ever popular Kairi Sane.  Her gimmick, style and absolutely talented abilities have been well showcased and appreciated.  Tanea Brooks is a powerful wrestler and had a Good energy.  She just was a bit of an afterthought while in the ring with Sane and Shirai.  With the Main Roster’s Women’s Tag Team division coming up Sane and Shirai could make a strong case for those new shiny Championship belts once things are in motion.  They certainly won this week in a decisive fashion.  Nothing great but passible as Good overall. 

Velveteen Dream vs. Bobby Fish w/ Adam Cole “BAY BAY”

Oh my God, what an awesome treat here.  We have an incredible match set up, and a surprise one at that.  The presence of these two, the respect they demand is unprecedented.  Bobby Fish is an unsung hero as to how talented he truly is.  Both competitors are greatly unique.  As it should be expected, the action went back and forth and was plentiful.  Dream is all over the ring, continuous action.  Fish finally got a chance and went after Dream’s legs and knees.  Great move keeping Dream down.  Fish really got in deep with a half crab on the injured knee of Dream, but Dream does not quit.  As hard as Fish tried he just couldn’t get Dream to stop but Fish countered an elbow drop an ended up almost getting dream to tap, but Dream again came back.  Dream hit his “Purple Rainmaker” for the win.  Adam Cole of course ran in but Dream got out in time.  Great match.       

Ricochet Promo

Ricochet is one of the most talented high flyers of all time, that will be repeated often his entire career.  He moves around like no other.  Gargano is called Johnny Wrestling confidently for well deserve reasons.  They will put it all out there.  Hyping it will only get Good attention and heat.  Ricochet is so confident and wears the North American Title well.  Ricochet’s Achilles heel is his mic skills.  He could use a Good hype man or woman so that he can only focus on his in ring talents.  Johnny Gargano could not interrupt fast enough and luckily for everyone he isn’t Bad to listen too.  Gargano and Ricochet did not waste any time and went at it.  Out of nowhere, Ciampa the NXT Heavyweight Champion attacked Ricochet coming to the aid of his former friend and heated rival.  Very interesting.  Of course Aleister Black came out and beat the hell of Ciampa for his trouble.  Gargano came to Ciampa’s rescue hitting Black with a devastating “superkick.”  The duo previously known as “DIY” dominated both Black and Ricochet before leaving their rivals laying in the ring.  Ciampa and Gargano seemed like they were about to bury the hatchet until Gargano’s wife Candace put a stop to it.  Decent promo and end to a successful week.

THE BAD – No

THE UGLY – and No

FINAL TALLY

  • GOOD – 5
  • BAD – 0
  • UGLY- 0

OVERALL

Good which means it must be NXT.  Again, another successful, entertaining, content filled NXT.  They literally had as much impressive content as SmackDown did and they did it in an hour.  NXT sets the standard and hopefully WWE Main Roster watches and takes notes every chance they get. 

NXT continues to be the most entertaining brand of all weekly.  The sky is the limit and with HHH steering the ship, the momentum is surely going to continue for some time.  They have a lot of fresh talent as well as established Superstars, and Takeover should deliver above expectations.  That is what NXT does. 


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Daily DeMarco: New Japan’s “New Beginning in USA’ Cards Are Irresponsible

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New Japan New Beginnings In USA

Greg DeMarco weighs in on the sure-to-be-controversial New Japan “New Beginning In USA” cards that were recently released.

Well hello there! I know it’s been a few days since I last posted, and if you follow me on Facebook, you know what’s been going on (see that here). But I am excited to be back, and excited to share my opinions with you!

So…shall we?

New Japan’s United States events, called “New Beginning In USA,” finally got their announced cards today.

January 30 in Los Angeles:

  • Alex Coughlin vs. Clark Connors
  • Jonathan Gresham vs. Tyler Bateman
  • Colt Cabana vs. Shane Taylor
  • Brody King & Marty Scurll vs. Killer Elite Squad
  • Jeff Cobb vs. Karl Fredericks
  • David Finlay vs. Chuckie T
  • Tracy Williams & Juice Robinson vs. Roppongi Vice (Trent Beretta & Rocky Romero)

February 1 in North Carolina:

  • Karl Fredericks vs. Clark Connors
  • John Skyler & Colt Cabana vs. Shane Taylor & Lance Archer
  • Tracer X vs. Great-O-Kharn
  • Jonathan Gresham & Jeff Cobb vs. Brody King & Marty Scurll
  • Alex Coughlin vs. Davey Boy Smith Jr.
  • Tracy Williams & David Finlay vs. Rocky Romero & Chuckie T
  • IWGP United States Championship: Juice Robinson (c) vs. Trent Beretta

February 2 in Nashville:

  • Karl Fredericks vs. Alex Coughlin
  • Jonathan Gresham and Colt Cabana vs. Shane Taylor and Lance Archer
  • Harlem Bravado vs. Great-O-Kharn
  • Clark Connors vs. Marty Scurll
  • Jeff Cobb vs. Brody King
  • Tracy Williams, David Finlay and Juice Robinson vs. Rocky Romero, Chuckie T and Trent

These shows aren’t bad, but they aren’t New Japan cards! The company isn’t even sending over any lower card guys. I know you have a concurrent tour in Japan, but like you couldn’t spare Jushin “Thunder” Liger?

Don’t get me wrong, there are great matches on each show. The problem is they are being promoted as New Japan, and that’s simply not true. This is “ALL IN was self-funded by Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks” levels of untrue.

Hell, much like ALL IN, these are basically ROH cards (with less ROH talent).  I love Ring Of Honor, but they need to focus more on their own product and less on partnerships that are doing nothing but hurting them in the end.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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