Well in a weekend of cray matches, crazy football games and overall crazy entertainment, this isn’t a very WWE friendly list.
Before we get to the Top 5 Matches, we need to go over the two votes we had last week. Firstly, our September winner:
- 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
- September – All In NWA Championship Match: Cody vs Nick Aldis (c)
It’s not the kind of match the IWC usually goes crazy for, but this proves that good story telling and emotional investment still leave an impression on people. As for last week, that’s more par for the IWC course. WWE Super Show-Down Cruiserweight Title Match: Cedric Alexander (c) vs Buddy Murphy, got most of the votes last week.
Now that we see what the MOTY pool is shaping up to be, let’s see what else joins the Cruiserweight match.
5. NJPW King of Pro Wrestling IWGP Heavyweight Championship Triple Threat: Kenny Omega (c) vs Cody vs Kota Ibushi
Only the third IWGP Heavyweight Triple Threat, and I suppose it doesn’t have a high bar to live up to. The first was effectively a match just to make Brock Lesnar look like a beast in 2005. The second was at ROH War of the Worlds in 2014, and…well…we don’t speak of that. So yeah, low bar, so if they all have a mediocre match, it’ll still be the best Triple Threat in the history of the IWGP Championship.
To be succinct, Omega was right in his post match promo. It was a little bit of a Cody match, Ibushi match and Omega match…but that also made the pacing a little awkward. It was mostly a formulaic WWE style of Triple Threat where one person gets dumped out and two focus on each other for a few minutes and then, switch.
It had some flashy spots, like Cody going through the announce table. Also a nice subtle statement from Cody during the match was interesting, when he said, “I’m your friend too! Help me too!”. Omega’s bias was an interesting underlying theme in the match.
As a match, it was pretty good, it felt weird given it was in New Japan and Ibushi sold more frustration and emotional struggle than Kenny once again. The fact Kenny doesn’t think twice about landing moves on Ibushi and then tries to put him over in the post match promo, just makes this whole relationship feel like Stockholm Syndrome.
I’m not going into moves, but the match is fine, if you aren’t a puro purist, you’ll probably be okay with it. But the match wasn’t a classic that will last more than the next couple months in most memories.
Winner: Omega via One Winged Angel (on Ibushi)
Rating: **** 1/4
4. Impact Bound For Glory Knockout’s Title Match: Tessa Blanchard (c) vs Taya Valkyrie
There’s not really much else to lead into this then: They both are alpha females, they kick ass…so let’s see who wins this.
Hard hitting from both and they had pretty solid chemistry together. We saw from both women they can wrestle any style needed, while staying resilient and imposing.
Tessa hits the Buzzsaw DDT, but Taya manages to kick out to Tessa’s surprise. Taya then rocks Tessa pretty hard, so Tessa tries to powder out and grabs the ring skirt. When Taya drags her back in, Tessa drags the skirt with her and the ref goes to readjust the ring. Taya hits Road to Valhalla during the distracted referee moment, and him being out of position allows Tessa enough time to kick out.
We see Tessa get to the top rope and leaps about halfway across the ring to hit Taya with Magnum. Finally picking up the pinfall and retaining her championship.
Yes I gave a very abridged edition, but that’s mainly because you should watch this. Many writers, reviewers and casual fans shit on women’s wrestling, but these two women are special. We’ve seen them both go up against men and more than hold their own, and they prove that when they have time, they know how to put on solid matches.
Winner: Tessa via Magnum
Rating: **** 1/2
3. Impact Bound for Glory World Heavyweight Championship Match: Austin Aries (c) vs Johnny Impact
Well this match certainly got personal all of a sudden. Aries basically calling out the hypocrisy of ‘short jokes’ still being acceptable when other genetic short comings, difference or handicaps are seen as taboo, got blown way out of proportion. Yes he worded his stance in a harsh way, but that also proved exactly what he meant. So ya, worked shoots, shoot Tweets and TMZ made this an interesting build.
The match started off like a shoot. Both men were posturing and attacking like they were trying to expose the other instead of work a match. If that was intentional, very good, cause I know the group of people I was watching with couldn’t tell where the truth and lie blurred.
Either way we had a lot of jawing back and forth between the Hennigans and Aries, and we even got both men to grab the ropes after each one’s finishers. So obviously they were working together enough, and I’d be lying if it didn’t add a nice layer to the match. Hell there was even an early spot where they were on a narrow side, outside of the ring, Aries charged and Johnny jumped up balancing on the barricade and apron perfectly and then hitting a moonsault/flip kick…something like that, shut up it looked cool.
— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) October 15, 2018
Aries plays the jaded heel up until the end, even doing a dive to the outside straight on to Taya. Johnny goes right after Aries instead of checking on Taya, lands a brainbuster for rub ins and then one more Starship Pain, for the pinfall.
Nearly immediately after the bell, Aries gets up, effectively no sells the finish, curses at Don Callis and walks up the ramp flipping off the crowd. He could be heated that he was painted as the bad guy when logically his stance made sense. So I’m more interested to see the ramifications or if this is just another case of Aries’ ego showing him the door.
Damn good match, finish makes future episodes or news releases from Impact a little more interesting.
Winner: Impact via Starship Pain
Rating: **** 1/2
NJPW King of Pro Wrestling IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship Match: Kushida vs Marty Scurll
Winner: Kushida via Back to the Future
Impact Bound for Glory Concrete Jungle Death Match: OGz vs LAX
Winner: LAX via Street Sweeper
Rating: *** 3/4
Impact Bound For Glory: Rich Swann & Willie Mack vs Matt Sydal & Ethan Page
Winner: Swann via Middle Rope Phoenix Splash
Rating: *** 3/4
AJPW Raising an Army Memorial Series AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Championship Match: Shuji Kondo (c) vs Hikaru Sato
Winner: Kondo via King Kong Lariat
Rating: *** 3/4
Impact Bound For Glory: oVe vs Fenix, Pentagon & Brian Cage
Winner: oVe via 14 Superkicks (pinning Cage)
Rating: *** 3/4
NOAH Global Junior League Final Day Finale: YO-HEY vs Kotaro Suzuki
Winner: Suzuki via Requiem
Rating: *** 1/2
AJPW Raising an Army Memorial Series All Asia Tag Title Match: Takao Omori & Black Menso-re vs Yuma Aoyagi & Naoya Nomura (c)
Winner: Nomura via Maximum
Rating: *** 1/2
ROH Glory by Honor ROH World Title Match: Jay Lethal (c) vs Silas Young
Winner: Lethal via Lethal Injection
Rating: *** 1/2
NJPW King of Pro Wrestling IWGP Jr Tag Team Title Match: El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru (c) vs Jushin Thunder Liger & Tiger Mask
Winner: Despy via Pinche Loco
Rating: *** 1/4
ROH Glory by Honor 6 Man Tag Title: Young Bucks (c) & Cody vs SoCal Uncensored
Winner: Cody via Crossroads
Rating: *** 1/4
Raw: The Shield vs Dogs of War
Winner: McIntyre via Claymore
AJPW Raising an Army Memorial Series: Jake Lee vs Yusuke Okada
Winner: Jake via High Angle Back Body Drop
AJPW Raising an Army Memorial Series: Dylan James & Kotaro Suzuki vs Koji Iwamoto & Ryoji Sai
Winner: James via Chokeslam
2. NJPW King of Pro Wrestling G1 Briefcase Rights Match: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Jay White
We know the lead in to this. Jay beat Tanahashi during the G1, and because of that, he is granted a shot at claiming the briefcase for himself. We’ve seen White become even more of a heel, getting Gedo to turn on Okada and splinter off from Chaos. So will the Ace stay ahead of the young heel Switchblade, or has Switchblade matured enough to overtake the Ace?
Another Tanahashi classic where pacing is important. Unlike his time seconding Okada, Gedo got involved on numerous occasions during the match. Tanahashi took him out at one point which gave White multiple openings. The match is well wrestled and got across both characters. Tanahashi trying to preserve wrestling in his image and complete his comeback tour. Jay playing the foil of the heel that will do literally anything to win.
After two High Fly Flows, Gedo pulls Red Shoes out of the ring. Jay low blows Tanahashi, but Tanahashi returns the favor at some point. Jay introduced the chair, Tanahashi tried to slam Jay on it and then hit one more High Fly Flow, but hits all chair. Jay hits Tanahashi with the chair and then has Gedo go revive Red Shoes.
Just as we think Jay White is going to win with Blade Runner, after soo much cheating, Tanahashi counters it into a Small Package, and picks up the pinfall victory.
Fallout after the match is noteworthy since Gedo and White beat down Tanahashi, Okada comes out to make the save. Jado tries to calm down Okada and then the Bullet Club OGs show up, surround the ring and effectively jump Okada. White joins in and it turns out Gedo, Jado and Jay White are all part of the Firing Squad version of the Bullet Club now.
So it’s very much like nWo Wolfpack and Hollywood now, but hey, people like it, so why the hell not?
Winner: Tanahashi via Small Package
Rating: **** 1/2
1. NOAH Global Junior League Final Day GHC Heavyweight Championship Match: Takashi Sugiura (c) vs Katsuhiko Nakajima
Sugiura has had the best reign of any world champion in 2018. His defenses have all been different and bring out different feelings and layers in not only his opponents but also the crowd. Nakajima had Sugiura’s number last time he was champion in 2016, and he’s only gotten better. So will the shameless old man hold on, or do we see the cocky Nakajima take it again?
This match was unlike any other match Sugiura’s had all year, and I can’t even think of a similar one in quite a while. Nakajima outright dominated this match. He played coy, aloof and just straight arrogant. Every time Sugiura tried to hit him, he’d dodge and strike back. This was the classic story of egotistical youngster trying to make the old dog look bad, because he’s faster, better, etc.
Sugiura got in a small flurry when he was able to land a Spear off a misdirection move. But then Nakajima established himself as just being five steps ahead. Katsuhiko is known as the Genius of the Kick, and he light up Sugiura. Standing Round Kicks, a flurry of Thrust Kicks to the chest and head in the corner, Soccer Ball kicks to his chest, punting Sugiura’s head so well I’m pretty sure Randy Orton blushed somewhere. Nakajima put on a clinic, but Sugiura was mostly resilient.
I say mostly, because there was a moment after the second or third punt to the head, that Sugiura appeared knocked out. Nakajima puts his foot on his chest for the cocky cover, 1-2, and then he lifts his foot off and grins. Nakajima wanted to continue to embarrass the old man, instead of just win the match and be done with it. This would ultimately prove to be his downfall.
Nakajima got progressively more lazy with his kicks. The man has great form, but he was sacrificing torque just to be cute. Sugiura kicks out of the Vertical Spike and eventually puts a little offense together but Nakajima kicks out of the Olympic Slam. One of those lazy kicks finally bites the arrogant genius in the ass, and Sugiura locks in an Ankle Lock. After pulling back into the center of the ring twice, he grapevines the leg, and Nakajima is forced to tap out.
A well wrestled match, with gorgeous character work and ring psychology make this match special. Definitely worth watching for anyone with a half hour to kill.
Winner: Sugiura via Ankle Hold
As I usually mention when something obscure takes the top spot, I don’t expect it to win the vote, but it deserves the attention. Also just to throw this out there, Glory by Honor was a pretty awful show. Looked like the venue was at least one third empty, the matches were uninspired and the things that even made Honor Mention are well below average level for the participants. Couple that with Bound for Glory being a solid show mixing good wrestling with solid sports entertainment, it’s just a bad look for ROH.
Anyway! Back to the Top 5, my vote will go for the match that topped the list. I gushed a little in the description, because it’s so many professional wrestling tool utilized beautifully. Tessa vs Taya would be my second choice, but that’s not how this works.
So either way, hopefully you saw a couple of these. Make your opinion heard and let us know which one you think is the best of the 5. And remember, Always Use Your Head.
Fight or Flight: The Ongoing Drama of The New Day in WWE
The angle that has everyone talking…
The New Day is at a crossroads, or so WWE would have everyone believe. The typically fun-loving trio has hit a wall and is contemplating quitting the company due to recent events involving Kofi Kingston’s pursuit of the WWE Championship.
It’s all storyline of course. Maybe Big E and Xavier Woods were instructed to vent on social media, or maybe they pitched the idea and WWE signed off on it. Either way, the three Superstars are likely not going anywhere any time soon. So what is the point of all this?
In a perfect world, unity is the most important thing. E, Woods and Kingston have had each other’s backs for nearly five years, making them the longest running faction in WWE history. No matter what challenges have come their way, they’ve faced them together. The New Day has always been about the whole, not the one.
To find that kind of loyalty in any walk of life is a rare thing indeed. But that’s especially true in the pro wrestling business, where tag teams and stables come and go all the time. Eventually, a talent’s gaze shifts from the group to a championship. The lust for that championship becomes all-encompassing and sooner or later, the faction falls apart.
It happened with Triple H in D-Generation X and Evolution. It also happened with Seth Rollins in The Shield. But these are just two examples where the prize became more important than the partnership.
But in the case of The New Day, this has not happened. Kofi’s world championship dreams lay dormant for many years before he finally got his shot versus Daniel Bryan. Kingston was a champion with his two best friends and that was enough for him. It was also enough for the fans.
Indeed, when the WWE faithful speculated on The New Day’s demise, Big E was often the one predicted as the breakout star. He was just too big and too charismatic to not stand out from his New Day brothers.
Most of the possible scenarios involving Big E included him turning heel, with Woods and Kingston perhaps remaining a tag team. It was similar to Batista’s turn on Evolution, except Big E would be the heavy. He would leave his best friends in ruins, while he rose to the top of WWE. So is that still a possibility?
As fans try to find some sort of deep meaning here, the conversation regarding The New Day’s breakup is returning to the forefront. While it’s indeed refreshing to see a faction that takes care of its own, The New Day is still comprised of competitive Superstars. Competitive Superstars want to win and that means taking every opportunity available to do just that.
So if the carrot of championship gold was dangled in front of Big E, would he bite? Most fans would likely say yes. Of the three, Big E is the one that seems to be the more inclined to go heel and take advantage of the situation. But is that really the case?
— Florida Man (@WWEBigE) March 20, 2019
Xavier Woods has never really been portrayed as the primary mastermind behind The New Day, but that’s exactly what he is. He is the architect of the group and just like Seth Rollins, he might jump at the chance to become the next big thing. So where does that leave Kofi?
Kofi is perhaps the least likely to go heel here. He’s just so likable and his character has so much heart, it’s hard to imagine WWE fans turning on him. Of course if Kingston were to side with Vince McMahon to not only get his title opportunity but also perhaps win it? Then all bets are off. Kofi Kingston would become public enemy No.1.
It’s definitely an intriguing proposition. Kingston has never had the chance to fully flex his muscles as a heel. He would surely be up to the test and he may just impress everyone with his range as a performer. But in the likelihood of possible outcomes, this is one that is perhaps slim at best.
The fact is that for many WWE fans, the time has come to look deeper. Simply destroying Kofi Kingston on a regular basis in order to get him over seems incredibly simple and frustratingly repetitive. There has to be more to it than that. Right? Even if Kofi wins the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 35, which many believe he will, does everything just go back to normal with The New Day afterward?
We have kept other skills on deck for a reason…. pic.twitter.com/3B2IrqKqrE
— ✈️ GDC Wed/Thurs✈️ (@XavierWoodsPhD) March 20, 2019
But in the imperfect world of WWE, the ends justify the means. Or they don’t at all. It really depends on what day of the week it is. On one hand, Woods and E look like cowards for wanting to just cut and run. Top babyfaces stay and fight. They battle to the death if it means never giving the heel the satisfaction of owning the day. Babyfaces have much more honor and pride than to just walk away.
However on the other hand, maybe it’s indeed Kofi who wants to stay and fight. He could suddenly begin to see Big E and Xavier Woods as cowards as well and even chastise them for it on TV. How could they even contemplate walking away when The New Day has never backed down from a fight? Just that attitude alone could be enough to cause Woods and E to turn heel on Kofi. Then The New Day would be in tatters, just like every faction before them.
But in this modern PC world, the idea of leaving because the job you love doesn’t love you back, is pitch perfect. Sometimes it’s not enough to stay the course and keep striving to be the best. Sometimes it’s best to know when to move on, if only for the sake of maintaining sanity.
Despite what the truth is here, it’s obvious that everyone is talking about this angle. Fans are invested and that’s the most important thing. Kofi Kingston is the right player in the right moment and the crowd is on this journey with him. They’re also with The New Day as a group. Every twist and turn adds even more compelling layers to this storyline. Whether or not it will all mean anything in the end, remains to be seen.
Gunz: Roman Reigns Is Killing Seth Rollins
Has the return of Roman Reigns derailed Seth Rollins?
Has the return of Roman Reigns to WWE television (and storylines) derailed the momentum of Seth Rollins? See what Korey Gunz has to say about that!
Just two months ago, Seth Rollins stood in the middle of the ring as the winner of the Royal Rumble. Always a guy that would deliver in the ring, and having been long considered the workhorse of the WWE by most fans and deserving of “the push,” Rollins seemed poised to ride a wave of momentum into WrestleMania to face Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship, slay “The Beast,” and truly become the face of the next evolution in the WWE.
That seems like ages ago now. In this “what have you done lately” world, it feels like a distant memory. The momentum that Rollins once had appears to be waning. The groundswell of support for the Architect to be crowned “the man” seems muted now. Granted, some of that is probably due to Rollins’ latest unfortunate injury keeping him out of in-ring action for a month, and it is also due to the absence of the champion he is supposed to be building a heated rivalry with for the biggest show of the year. But the real proverbial fork in the road on Rollins’ road to WrestleMania came from an unlikely and undoubtedly unforeseen source- Roman Reigns.
Make no mistake, this is not about Joe Anoa’i, the person. You are a liar if you can with a straight face that you didn’t feel for the man when he made his cancer announcement back in October, or that you weren’t happy for him when he announced his return. Whether you cheer or boo the character Roman Reigns, you can’t help but have respect for the man.
However, you can’t deny that when Roman announced his return to the ring on February 25, things changed. The trajectory felt different. Take the Fastlane pay-per-view for instance. The focus shifted from the build up to WrestleMania to the latest hot shot reunion of the Shield. Roman was back, Dean Ambrose’s dramatic heel turn that took place the same night of Roman’s cancer diagnosis was quickly nullified (talk about coming full circle), and Seth Rollins was suddenly thrown back into a group he had supposedly, finally, outgrown.
Like it or not, Roman Reigns is viewed by the common fan as the “leader” of the Shield. Rollins might be a solid 1-A at best, but for the general audience he was always looked at as #2. That’s why he was first turned heel against his brothers five years ago in the first place. Roman was the next big babyface, and an Ambrose turn was too predictable. Plus, in Ambrose’s case, he was actually probably better off as a crazy babyface character anyway if his recent heel run was any indication. Rollins was the one who needed that “umph.” And he got it, to be sure. But now fast forward to 2019, and it’s hard to be groomed as The Beast Slayer and heir to the Universal Title throne when you’re hastily thrown back into a stable that you are not even perceived as the leader of, and four weeks out from your WrestleMania main event no less.
Want more proof? Look no further than this past Monday’s RAW. The opening segment, featuring the Universal Champion Brock Lesnar and advocate Paul Heyman trying to hype the match with Rollins for Mania, is interrupted by Drew McIntyre so he can challenge Roman Reigns. Rollins then comes out to beat up McIntyre to set up a match between the two for later, that Rollins loses (albeit with interference from Brock) so they can build the angle that Reigns is the last Shield member for McIntyre to beat- THE member. In many ways, you could argue Seth/Brock took a backseat to Roman/McIntyre, and Roman wasn’t even there!
In no way do I fault Roman for this situation. His comeback is a real life feel good moment for sure. But the residual effect it has had on Rollins’ momentum is palpable. The Big Dog has certainly taken a bite out of his push, and maybe even the chances of Rollins getting his true “moment” at Mania. If they really wanted to anoint Rollins as a flag bearer for the company, I think they should have held off Reigns’ return until after WrestleMania.
Follow Korey on Twitter @KoreyGunz