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Shawn Michaels: The Return We Never Knew We Didn’t Want

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WWE WrestleMania Shawn Michaels

I will admit, I am a Shawn Michaels mark. He is one of my favorite wrestlers of all time, and probable number one or two when it comes to in-ring performances. When he retired after WrestleMania 26, I thought it was still a little too early for him to leave the ring completely, but I respected his decision. I respected it even more so by the fact that he actually kept his word and hasn’t wrestled since then, unlike so many other wrestler “retirements” we have seen throughout the years, and amidst occassion after occasion in which he has been showered with chants of “One More Match” during various appearances. But now it seems the inevitable has occurred and Michaels is now primed to make his in-ring return after eight years. Am I interested? Absolutely. Am I excited? Not really, no. Not as much as I should be. And as a longtime HBK fan, that is disappointing.

I have always thought that Michaels could still “go” in the ring, so I am interested in seeing HBK back in the squared circle doing his thing. But there are too many dark clouds hovering over his return for me to really enjoy it the way I thought I might if this day were to come. The first is obviously the setting. The controversy, or at least uneasiness at best, surrounding the Crown Jewel event is well documented. In addition to the differing opinions about Saudi Arabia’s social beliefs and culture perhaps making an undesirable environment for a publicly traded company to be holding an event at in the first place, there is now the very real situation of a Washington Post journalist being “allegedly” murdered, “allegedly” while inside the country’s consulate, and government officials “perhaps” having a part in the victim’s death. When I envisioned Shawn Michaels’ return to the WWE, I envisioned a stage such as WrestleMania, not in the center of an international incident. In my opinion, Crown Jewel should be moved to a different location, which is another article for another time, and I hate the fact that Michaels’ return will be the biggest selling point of an event that is surrounded by such controversy.

The second thing that hasn’t excited me is the booking of Shawn’s return. Granted, while the story itself has made sense and has made a solid natural progression, are the Brothers of Destruction really the best choices as opponents? Do we really need to see ANOTHER version of Shawn Michaels versus Undertaker at this point in their careers, especially Taker’s? And don’t get me started on Mayor Kane. I know wrestling is about suspending disbelief, but when you run for office all summer and then return as a masked demon and brother to the Deadman, that’s asking a lot of even the stoutest wrestling fan! Why not book Shawn against one of today;s up and coming superstars? Could someone like Bobby Roode or even Elias not have used the rub from HBK? Couldn’t have Finn Balor benefitted from a Club vs DX angle? If nothing else, I think I’d rather see HBK vs HHH if nothing else (which we may still get to, actually.) Now I understand that if Shawn was going to return it was going to have to be on his terms. And I’m sure he is working with three guys he is very comfortable with, and we know he had already previously turned down an opportunity to wrestle AJ Styles, so it is what it is. Granted, we don’t really know what Shawn’s situation will be after this event, so maybe we will get some of those dream matches at some point down the line. But for now it is just disappointing to think about the “what if” scenarios, especially when I predict that at Crown Jewel, Michaels’ will be the best in-ring performer in that match, even after an eight year hiatus. Nostalgia can be fun, but Michaels’ could do so much more.

And finally, and perhaps the most pressing disappointment in this whole situation for me personally, is the “why.” Why has Shawn chosen now as the time to return? After eight years of being the only guy to keep his word and truly retire and stay away from the ring, what has changed? Unfortunately, I think the answer is his bank account. I think Shawn is coming back, above all else, for the money. Not because he needs it, but when you are reportedly offered seven figures for one match, that’s something that is hard to pass up. And who can blame him? This is a business after all. I don’t begrudge him for the compensation he will receive at Crown Jewel. I just hate it for him that, due to the location, and controversy, and booking that has left a lot to be desired, most people will point to the money as the only reason he came out of retirement after such a long time. You won’t wrestle AJ Styles at WrestleMania, but you’ll reunite DX (again) to face the Undertaker (again) and Kane, in a country that treats women as second rate citizens and whose government may or may not have had a role in the murder of an American journalist?

As I said, I am a Shawn Michaels fan. I will watch his match at Crown Jewel. I fully expect him to be in top form and at this point I hope this is not a one-off. But for a guy who has done as much as he has in wrestling, making a much anticipated return after eight years away, I was hoping for a bit more. On all accounts.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Stone Cold Fever: Is Kevin Owens the Next Big Thing in WWE?

Is this rendition of KO Mania real?

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Kevin Owens WWE Raw Three Stars of the Night

Kevin Owens is quickly becoming the hottest Superstar in WWE. The former Universal champion is embarking on a war with Shane McMahon and while that war is only just beginning, KO is already reaping the benefits.

Owens is getting over and there’s no denying that. Many fans believe that this is just the beginning of something epic for KO and it’s hard to argue that point. But as with everything in WWE, Owens’ future depends on his booking and how much the company truly wants to invest in him. So will Kevin Owens be the next big thing in WWE?

It’s as if WWE suddenly flipped a switch and activated this new KO. The man that so many felt was on his way to superstardom in the company has always been just on the verge of greatness, but he always seemed to fall just short. It’s been through no fault of his own however as Owens has consistently always delivered, both in the ring and on the mic.

But despite how much he’s accomplished, there always seems to be an asterisk by his name. The same is true of other potential main event stars as well, like Finn Bálor and Braun Strowman. All three men have excelled on the worldwide stage but for whatever reason, none of the three have truly achieved legendary status in WWE.

While the men involved may not be too concerned with such positioning, the fans have been all too consumed with it. In their minds, the time for these talents and many more, is now. Why wait, when the business is experiencing such a resurgence in popularity? The time to strike seems to be now, so why not move ahead and make a massive impact with guys that can handle the pressure?

Perhaps that is exactly what the WWE faithful are seeing right now with Kevin Owens. Owens is capable of rising to the occasion and he’s done it many times before. Maybe there’s no better time for him to prove what he can do and maybe the company finally recognizes that. 

But nearly every time fans depend on “maybe,” they wind up disappointed. WWE has not always been the most reliable company when it comes to doing right by hardworking talents, especially those who deserve a shot at the next level. Owens has been counted among those talents for far too long and now he’s getting a chance to finally step up. 

The good news is that so far, it’s working. The live crowds are loving what he’s doing and no one can do it quite like he can. The comparisons to Stone Cold Steve Austin are coming like never before and KO, as well as WWE, obviously see that. The fact that Owens uses the Stunner as much as he does is proof that the entire angle is a tip of the cap to The Texas Rattlesnake.

It’s not that Owens needs to use anyone else’s finisher, just as he doesn’t need to mimic anyone else’s gimmick. KO can succeed based on his own merit and everyone knows that. But he’s saluting Austin and in doing so, reminding a legion of fans why they fell in love with WWE in the first place. There is no way to really revive The Attitude Era, but that’s not the point.

Kevin Owens is bringing back a taste of the past and making it relevant to his cause, as well as to the company’s current climate. The Stunner is as much of an anti-authority move as the middle finger, both of which keep Stone Cold on the minds of fans who love him for what he did in the business. 

So is WWE truly headed for a new era of relevancy in the industry? Vince McMahon’s company has always been at the forefront of the business and for many fans, they’ve been the only game in town for a very long time. But with the rise of New Japan, Ring of Honor, as well as various promotions around the world, the wrestling world is becoming a much bigger place. 

Of course much of the focus on the business right now is due to the birth and evolution of AEW. Cody Rhodes’ fledgling company is making waves and turning heads, just as everyone knew it would. But AEW has also captured WWE’s attention, despite any belief to the contrary. If Owens’ new run is a result of WWE going against the grain and trying something familiar, yet new, then that’s definitely a good thing.

But the bad news is that this is still WWE, which can change plans at a moment’s notice. Things can fluctuate at any time and when they do, an entire storyline can either twist in a different direction, or end altogether. Could this happen with KO versus Shane McMahon?

Much of what happens from here depends on just how long WWE can keep the fans invested in this angle. The live crowds are connected and the same is true of the audience at home. Everyone seems truly intent on following this story and they’re all rooting for Kevin Owens to keep rising higher on the card. If KO continues to get hot and if the company really gets behind him, then the entire landscape of WWE could change.

Kevin Owens is not the next Stone Cold Steve Austin and he surely does not want to be. KO has fought his entire career to be the best he can be and this new storyline is just the latest avenue for him to rise up. Maybe it will only go up from here and maybe Kevin Owens will finally realize his potential in the company that desperately needs the next big thing.


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Andrew’s G1 Climax 29 Ratings & Analysis: Night 7 A Block

KENTA and Okada may start pulling away in A Block! Who falls first? The Rainmaker or The NOAH Outsider?

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KENTA and Okada may start pulling away in A Block! Who falls first? The Rainmaker or The NOAH Outsider?

Aside from the big names being stuck in the middle of the pack, we’ve got poor little Zack Sabre at zero points. Can he twist Fale into a pretzel and figure it out?

Then we have Okada facing a banged up Ospreay, while KENTA takes on a rising EVIL.

Do we still have any undefeated participants in A Block after today?

Ratings:

  • Yota Tsuji & Juice Robinson vs Jon Moxley & Shota Umino: Shooter wins via Boston Crab @3:55 – ** 1/4
  • Taichi, Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Toru Yano, Hirooki Goto & Yuya Uemura: Kanemaru wins via Deep Impact @8:50 – ***
  • Yujiro Takahashi, Chase Owens & Jay White vs Jeff Cobb, Tomoaki Honma & Toa Henare: Chase wins via Package Piledriver @9:50 – ** 1/2
  • Shingo Takagi, BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito vs YOSHI-HASHI, Ren Narita & Tomohiro Ishii: BUSHI wins via MX @7:35 – **
  • A Block: Zack Sabre Jr vs Bad Luck Fale: Sabre wins via Countout @6:30 – ** 1/4
  • A Block: Lance Archer vs Hiroshi Tanahashi: Tanahashi wins via Victory Roll @12:00 – ** 1/2
  • A Block: KENTA vs EVIL: KENTA wins via Go 2 Sleep @15:05 – *** 1/2
  • A Block: Kota Ibushi vs SANADA: Ibushi wins via Kamigoye @19:15 – *** 3/4
  • A Block: Will Ospreay vs Kazuchika Okada: Okada wins via Rainmaker @21:55 – **** 1/2

 

 

Analysis:

Still a lot of heat from their NXT past and Moxley’s debut match in NJPW. Juice and Mox don’t face each other until the end of their block schedule, but if this needed more heat…well this was gasoline. Juice and Mox stay on each other, brawl to the back while the Young Lions fight, but Mox apparently gets the best of the brawl. He returns to the ring to help Shooter, hit their Hart Attack tandem move and Shooter sinks in the Boston Crab.

There’s history between Taichi and Goto centering around the NEVER Openweight Title, Yano and Suzuki have fun history and it looks like Uemura is stepping up to Suzuki. So there’s a lot of fun moments, Uemura has a death wish trying to fight Suzuki, but it’s still fun. A lot of moving pieces in this one that kept it very entertaining.

Honma got put through the paces, Jay White got tossed around a little bit by Jeff Cobb, but the Bullet Club tag partners proved to be more useful than Cobb’s. Chase has picked up a few wins in the tag matches, so he might get some kind of push coming soon.

BUSHI continues to pick up pinfalls in these tag matches, and this sort of builds for Ishii and Naito, but not a ton happens. YOSHI-HASHI is there, Shingo looks like a million bucks and BUSHI wins the match, LOL. This was very paint by numbers.

Sabre jumps all over Fale at the start and tries a plethora of submissions to no avail. A kendo stick shot from Jado pushes the action to the outside. Fale and Bullet Club look to have an advantage, but Sabre dodges some double team tactics, grounds Fale with a Triangle Arm Bar, and then races to the ring to beat the 20 count. Fale couldn’t make it back fast enough, so Sabre gets the first Countout win of this year’s tournament.

Tanahashi is really showing the age and injuries this year, so all of these flukey wins just come off as forced. The match was slow, had moments of being interesting, but Tanahashi not even being 50% of what he used to be makes these hard to watch at times. Archer is getting over well, but Tanahashi winning at this point does hurt the credibility a little. I get the story they’re telling, but unlike last year where Tanahashi could push through injuries, this year, they are much more obvious, and he’s much more hampered.

EVIL took the fight to KENTA and then they went to the outside. Through the back and then into the crowd area next to the ramp. EVIL went for Darkness Falls on a bunch of a chairs, but KENTA stopped him and suplexed him onto said chairs. When it got back in the ring, EVIL tried to weaken the legs and KENTA went after EVIL’s upper body to mitigate the power advantage. Heavily booed, KENTA played up heel nicely (I guess WWE did help for something), and eventually he gets the best of EVIL and lets him take a nap. KENTA moves to 4-0.

We get a solid match between two guys who are right on the precipice of the Main Event scene. Kota outsmarts SANADA early by not going for the stupid dueling Dropkick spot, and from then on it was an interesting struggle. Between fan support and the general “anything you can do, I can do better” pacing, this was entertaining, yet slow and felt too long in some spots. Both looked pretty good, but this could’ve been told faster and SANADA’s perpetual struggles are a little frustrating for anyone who is a fan of his.

Okada and Ospreay were expected to blow the roof off, and well I’d say this was a damn good shot. Ospreay is obviously dinged up, but he fought through the pain and pulled off numerous flipping counters and found a few different ways to hit the Os-Cutter. They both let their personalities fly and this was a lot of fun to watch. Okada always has this older brother aura since he’s the one that brought Ospreay to New Japan and Chaos, so whenever they get together, it’s very much like two siblings trying to outdo the other. Ospreay had a great flurry at the end, flipping through a Rainmaker attempt, to try his Stormbreaker, but Okada flipped through that and hit a short arm lariat. Rolling Rainmaker and a normal Rainmaker later, Okada edges out the little brother. Great match.

 

Overall Score: 7/10

Well this night struggled cause the first two Block matches were really weak. The next two amped-up the intensity a little, but fell short of a memorable match. The main event was fantastic, but generally speaking this felt like it was slow, plateau’d for a while and only picked up at the end. Nothing out right awful, but a lot of matches that could’ve been a little better.

Still a solid enough night if you’re following it all, but only the main event is worthy of seeking out individually. It is nice to see that everyone is on the board with some points. So if Okada and KENTA stumble a little, the rest of the block could plausibly catch up.

 

Block A Standings:

  • Kazuchika Okada: 4-0 (8 Points)
  • KENTA: 4-0 (8 Points)
  • Lance Archer: 2-2 (4 Points)
  • EVIL: 2-2 (4 Points)
  • Kota Ibushi: 2-2 (4 Points)
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi: 2-2 (4 Points)
  • SANADA: 1-3 (2 Points)
  • Will Ospreay: 1-3 (2 Points)
  • Bad Luck Fale: 1-3 (2 Points)
  • Zack Sabre Jr: 1-3 (2 Points)

 


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