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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.


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Entertainment

Ratings Talk is Back!

Rob always brings logical insight to any topic, regardless of how often it’s brought up in the IWC. Sit back and give this a read, they don’t call Rob a genius for the t-shirts.

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OK, I know, I know, I’ve been saying it over and over for a very long time, ratings talk is dumb.  So why on Earth am I bringing it back?  Because now that some, ahem, developments have transpired I think I have a better case to make.  I don’t expect any of you who are obsessed with the subject to let it go, but you should at least hear me out here.  Now that the worm has turned a little, maybe the things that I and others have been saying all along will sink in a bit.

What am I talking about?  In short, AEW’s live audience numbers have taken a bit of a dip over the past couple of months, and this week even Dave Meltzer couldn’t say anything other than it was disappointing.  They haven’t gone over a million viewers for Dynamite in almost two months and Rampage slipped under five hundred thousand last week.  If this kind of thing was happening on the other side of the street then there would be some hot takes flying for sure.  So, are we going to get some of those now?  You know what I mean, things like:

  • AEW in the mud!
  • Worst ratings since (pick whatever date works for you)!
  • At what point does TNT start making demands on how the show is booked?
  • The ratings are obviously going down because the shows are unwatchable now!!
  • (Insert name here) is not a draw!
  • That title match in two weeks is hotshot booking to pop a rating!

Sound familiar?  We’re gonna see these soon, right?  No?  Why is that?  Are you trying to tell me that wrestling media doesn’t call this stuff the same on both sides of the street?  Seriously though, here are some other familiar things for you to chew on:

  • Dynamite is the highest rated non-NBA show on TNT, and it’s not close
  • Even on a disappointing night, it finished third in the ratings on cable
  • Rampage is the next highest rated and watched show on TNT after Dynamite
  • Fewer people watch TV now than before

Those are the kind of things a lot of us would say every week after people on the internet waxed doom and gloom about Monday Night Raw, of course.  And we were summarily dismissed as E drones or whatever.  But now that the falling numbers have struck AEW, the same rationalizations have begun.  But here’s the truth in both cases:

Everyone is doing fine.  RAW, Smackdown, NXT, Dynamite, and Rampage are all leading their respective channels for the day they air.  They all are among the top shows for their respective channels, even the much maligned (for their live audience numbers) NXT and Rampage.  There is literally nothing to see here folks as none of these shows are in any danger of getting cancelled.  No one is actually in the mud, guys.  The networks all know that Nielsen is suspect at best when it comes to measuring audience numbers, and they act accordingly.  There is no reason to rush to Shobuzz Daily every day at 4:30 unless you are just a numbers nerd like me but even then save the pontificating, ok? The numbers exist and that’s about it.  They serve no purpose for us as fans beyond goofy talking points.

But doesn’t it mean SOMETHING?

Well no, it doesn’t.  There are things you can derive from looking at the patterns over time but trust me when I tell you that your entire  narrative can be blown up in a matter of two weeks.  So don’t bother.  As I and many others have said before, a good rating does not mean a good show and vice versa.  There was a lot of trying to figure it out in the replies to Meltzer’s ‘disappointment’ tweet, and while there were reasonable takes there was also a lot of nonsense.  Which has been par for the course with RAW since like…….2002 at least.

So why do we keep doing this thing?

Well, it was a talking point that Eric Bischoff used to show how he was kicking the WWF’s butt over those 83 weeks.  But once that ended it became less and less relevant over time.  And then once TV viewership made the shift to streaming and DVRs it’s relevance was all but dead.  And it should have ended entirely once WWE signed two $1 billion TV deals in the face of nonstop ‘what about teh ratingz?’ talk on the internet.  That should have totally killed the conversation, but your friends Meltzer and company kept it going even though they (should) know better.  And they did it for traffic.

‘Fed bad’, ‘Fed down’, and ‘Fed in the mud’ has been selling Observer subscriptions for almost 40 years now while it has spawned a whole cottage industry of podcasts, YouTube channels, and websites over the last decade.  There is little to no truth to what any of these people are telling you when it comes to ratings, because if there was then they would be firing off the same takes about AEW that they’ve been using about WWE right now.  But they aren’t and that should be a tell.  If you ever needed proof that it was nonsense the last two months should be it.

Here’s a dose of reality for you:  Nielsen numbers are not accurate.  Several networks have already announced that they aren’t relying on them, Nielsen itself has lost it’s accreditation as an information gathering service, and the company itself has begun a shift to overall impressions from traditional audience measuring via Nielsen boxes.  What you read every day at 4:30 or on some wrestling website is by all accounts an inaccurate at best and dishonest at worst representation of how many people are watching these shows.  And the recent reporting of Fast Nationals, aka Overnights has only made it worse because those are a hastily gathered version of an already inaccurate report.

Here’s some more reality for you.  Regardless of what Nielsen says the live numbers are both WWE and AEW are going to get a nice bump in TV rights fees when they negotiate their new TV deals.  Other sports with smaller audiences just got more, and the NFL and NBA continue to get price hikes even as their numbers aren’t what they once were.  And your favorite internet loudmouths will continue to spout the same factually challenged gibberish that they’ve been saying for decades now.  None of it will matter unless you guys keep giving them money and traffic every month.

I’m going to make a bold statement here:  there is not a single thing that ratings talk has done to help the fan experience and in fact it’s only made things worse.  But it has made money for a lot of bad faith actors out there, many of whom want us to treat them as if they are reporting on Watergate or the Civil Rights Movement while they spout off takes based a change up or down of 100,000 people watching a wrestling show on TV.  At this point anyone writing serious essays or going on rants about ratings is not someone you should take seriously.  Just go do what you should have always been doing.  Watch the shows, enjoy the shows, go to the shows, talk reasonably about them with your friends, etc.  Anything else is just dumb.


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News From Cook’s Corner 12.6.21: The Kids Are All Right

Cook’s news has a grab bag of interesting topics! New faces in weird places, an NXT major event and more!

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! I’m Steve Cook, and I can’t believe we’re approaching the end of 2021. It just seems like yesterday we were talking about how 2020 was the worst year ever and were excited to see it coming to an end. I haven’t seen that sentiment as much about 2021, but I think that’s because time moves so quickly that we don’t have the opportunity to take these things into account.

Has 2021 been good or bad? I have no idea! It’s been a year, as far as I can tell.

As for this past week in the world of wrestling…it was a week! Just glancing over the week’s news gives me the feeling that nothing happens when people aren’t getting released. Uncle Dave spent most of his time talking about who should make his hall of fame. Heck, the main thing to rock Wrestling Twitter last week was a casting decision for the NXT WarGames pre-show panel. I had no idea people still watched those things, especially on an NFL Sunday where there were a number of exciting finishes. I did catch the last bit of it though, and from what I saw I don’t think we have to worry about the future of wrestling journalism being corrupted.

I’m trying to work up some kind of take on the whole thing, because I know people love it when I go off on other Internet wrestling journalists/personalities for perceived grievances or for being hypocritical sycophants. Unfortunately, I don’t really know any of these people, and as far as I know they haven’t said any shit about me or my friends. So I’ve got nothing, other than my opinion that Denise Salcedo is more visually appealing than David Bixenspan. I know! It’s a hot take, but I went there!

Let’s look at what happened at NXT WarGames, a show I was interested in more than Broncos vs. Chiefs. Looks like I was right on that one.

Raquel Gonzalez, Io Shirai, Cora Jade & Kay Lee Ray beat Toxic Attraction & Dakota Kai in the Women’s War Games Match

First of all, credit to all the women involved, because they put it all out there and did the best they could. The only issue was a little bit of booking getting in the way. There’s a reason why War Games is almost always worked with the heels having the advantage. Unless Toxic Attraction & Dakota Kai aren’t heels, which I thought they were, but the match layout had the effect of having them get sympathy for most of it. Also some awkward moments where the heels got the advantage even whilst outnumbered. However, there was more than enough to make up for the weird psychology. Lots of weapons, Cora Jade losing her mind and doing a swanton off the top of a cage through a table, good times.

And I’ll probably get some crap for it, but I still don’t like the whole “pinfalls in WarGames” thing. I know it’s been a thing here in NXT, but give me “Submit or Surrender” any day of the week. In any event, it was nice to see the young girls do a good job here and shove it in the face of those that didn’t think they could pull off a WarGames match. Give the kids a chance, I say.

Imperium defended the NXT Tag Team Championship against Kyle O’Reilly & Von Wagner

Fabian Aichner likes to jump around, doesn’t he? I thought this was a pretty solid match, which did one thing much better than most of the NXT Tag Team Championship matches I’ve seen over the years. Imperium eventually hit their finisher after everybody did a bunch of stuff. One finisher ended it. Didn’t need to do five Imperial Bombs to get it done on one of these shows. I can dig that.

Then in a shocking surprise, KOR actually got the better of Von in the attempted post-match beatdown. We expected Wagner to drum the poor boy out, but that’ll have to wait for another day. O’Reilly also threw up some Undisputed Era sign language, just the thing to get people talking.

Cameron Grimes beat Duke Hudson in a hair vs. hair match

NXT’s crowds certainly have their rough moments, but I do appreciate their knowledge of mid-90s WWF Superstars leading to a “Duke the Dumpster” chant. The more I noticed the tell-tale signs of male pattern baldness on Hudson, I had a feeling where this was going. He got the ol’ weedwhacker haircut too, which is much worse than the clean shave. Match was ok, just killing time until the haircut.

Roderick Strong retained the Cruiserweight Championship against Joe Gacy

Roderick did the best he could with this one. Frankly, I would have been ok with Gacy becoming an All Inclusive champion, but that would have been a division-killing move more than anything else. 205 Live does seem to still be a thing for some reason, so that doesn’t seem imminent. I’m sure Gacy will find something to do, as we liberal scum always have some hopeless cause to fight for.

Kyle challenged Von to a cage match on Tuesday, because cage matches are the thing in WWE these days. Big E vs. Kevin Owens on Monday, this on Tuesday, all kinds of house show ones apparently. Not sure what the deal is there.

Team 2.0 defeated Team Black & Gold in the Men’s War Games Match

The young boys pretty much had to win this one in order to be taken seriously, and that’s exactly what they did. Proper WarGames psychology with the heels continually getting the advantage. You got Gargano & Ciampa doing their old tag team spots one last time. LA Knight showed more fire than usual. The youngsters were fine, but Bron Breakker easily stood out amongst the pack. We thought that Bron might get the win over Gargano, but Bron getting the win over Ciampa was the smarter move, to further set up the eventual title change. Lots of crazy spots, weapons randomly brought into the ring. I’d say it stood up well against previous iterations of the WarGames match.

I know that my general opinions on NXT fly in the face of most folks’ on the Internet. They’re upset that the super indy is no more. At some point, however, one must move on. Or at least try to give the new thing a chance. I will say that the wrestlers on this particular show put on a good effort, and I was especially impressed with the folks that people told me weren’t ready for a WarGames match.

The one downside of NXT 2.0 that I can’t deny? You’ll get some dumb shit like this:

Fortunately I was in the bathroom when this happened live. So my best advice to you would be to drink a lot of water so you’ll be in the restroom during commercials.

Who Was Where?

With all these companies releasing people lately, it’s only natural to expect names to show up different places than you might expect. When possible, I’ll try to update you on these matters so you know who to expect in what places.

AEW: Matt Taven & Jonathan Gresham were backstage at the AEW tapings in Duluth, GA this week. Both men are under ROH contract until the end of the year and currently have other things going on, but it wouldn’t be shocking if Tony Khan was interested in bringing either in based off of their working ability. Gresham is from the Atlanta area, while Taven was in town for the NWA’s Hard Times 2 event, which featured some other interesting names in a different place than usual.

NWA: The aforementioned Hard Times 2 saw a couple of interesting debuts for the company. Dirty Dango, formerly known as Fandango, appeared after the tag team championship match, forming a team with none other than JTG. Seems like an awfully random teaming, but I’m sure they worked together at some point during their tenure with WWE. It seemed like they were both there forever.

Matt Cardona also made his debut with the company, he’ll be targeting the NWA World Championship. I said the other night that Impact Wrestling should put their title on Cardona to try & make themselves more relevant, and the same definitely holds true for the NWA. Cardona easily has more buzz than anybody else working NWA shows right now. Heck, his positive buzz might cancel out some of the negative buzz surrounding other people on that roster.

AAA: A couple of familiar names returned to AAA at their TripleMania Regia event, neither coming as much of a surprise. Taya Valkyrie sent in a video declaring her intention to challenge Deonna Purrazzo, current holder of the Reina de Reinas Championship. Makes sense, as Deonna was the last woman to wrestle Taya before her ill-fated stint with WWE NXT. Taya has spent most of her career working for AAA and didn’t leave on bad terms, so her return was always just a matter of time.

A name less familiar to most of you but one I remember from back in the day also returned, as Cibernetico made his first appearance with AAA since 2015. He was one of the company’s top stars during the 1990s & 2000s, and has had several stints with the company. He usually seems to leave due to some sort of an issue with Konnan, and has returned to re-establish his issue with Konnan. Lots of people have issues with Konnan, what can I say? If you’re old like me, you might remember Cibernetico’s brief stint with the WWF as part of an AAA invasion deal that helped fill out the card for the 1997 Royal Rumble in San Antonio.

Jeff Hardy Sent Home

PWInsider reported that Jeff Hardy was sent home by WWE after Saturday’s live event in Edinburg, TX. He was working a six-man tag team match with Drew McIntyre & Xavier Woods against The Bloodline. Apparently Hardy spent most of the match selling in a more sluggish way than usual, and after tagging out he went into the crowd, not returning for the post-match celebration.

Naturally, given Jeff’s history people are going to be alarmed whenever reports like this come out. Hopefully things will end up all right.

AEW Had A Release

I almost forgot, we had another AEW release made public this week. Big Swole’s contract expired at the end of November, and she asked not to renew it. Swole hadn’t wrestled for AEW since a Dark taping on September 11, and hadn’t been on TNT since October 14, 2020. Her highest-profile feud was with Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D, and Swole even defeated Dr. Baker in the infamous Tooth & Nail match.

Swole is married to Cedric Alexander, who’s still under WWE contract. That used to be a pretty good way to get hired over there, but not so much these days.

Welp, that’s all we have time for this week! Thanks for reading, and until next time, keep your stick on the ice.


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