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Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 10/14/2018

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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.

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

 

Honorable Mentions:

NJPW King of Pro Wrestling IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship Match: Kushida vs Marty Scurll
Winner: Kushida via Back to the Future
Rating: ****
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
Rating: ***
AJPW Raising an Army Memorial Series: Jake Lee vs Yusuke Okada
Winner: Jake via High Angle Back Body Drop
Rating: ***
AJPW Raising an Army Memorial Series: Dylan James & Kotaro Suzuki vs Koji Iwamoto & Ryoji Sai
Winner: James via Chokeslam
Rating: ***

 

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

Rating: *****

 

Thoughts:

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.


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News From Cook’s Corner 9.27.21: Held Under Extreme Rules

New gimmicks, no gimmicks, bad gimmicks…show gimmicks. Cook breaks out the gimmick bag and funnily enough, it’s all News worthy! Check it out!

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! I’m Steve Cook, and frankly I’m not sure what’s going on around here. The Bengals beating the Steelers by double digits surely qualifies as one of those signs of the apocalypse. Though, I’ve seen so many signs of the apocalypse by now that it should have already happened.

(Wouldn’t it be hilarious if it came sometime between my typing this and getting it posted? Nobody would be around to notice that I called it, but I could at least take some satisfaction in it.)

Quick Programming Note: There will be no News From Cook’s Corner next Monday, as I’ll be out of town for work this Friday, Saturday & Sunday. The Week 4 NFL Gambling Picks will drop on Thursday, then you probably won’t read me on here until the Week 5 NFL Gambling Picks. Or if something tremendously important comes up. I never rule anything out, but I am looking forward to a few days away from staring at my computer and hoping words appear eventually.

Owen Hart’s Legacy Honored By AEW

This news broke just after last week’s News column was submitted, and I want to talk about it here because it’s pretty great. AEW & the Owen Hart Foundation reached an agreement where AEW would honor Owen’s legacy a number of different ways. One will be an annual tournament known as the Owen Hart Cup. Hart will also be featured in AEW’s upcoming video game, along with action figures, apparel, posters & other items.

Last week we talked about some of the fallout of the Dark Side of the Ring episode about the Plane Ride From Hell & the negative effect its had on some folks. On the flip side of that, the episode on Owen Hart featuring his family has largely had a positive effect. Doing the show and seeing the feedback from Owen’s fans helped Dr. Martha Hart realize that her late husband still had many fans that cared deeply for him. She also discovered there was a way for those fans to honor Owen that wouldn’t allow World Wrestling Entertainment, the company that set up the events leading to Owen’s passing, to make money off of his name.

I would comment on some of the negative opinion circulating online about this, but it’s not like anybody with an ounce of credibility expressed such things. I know it’s 2021 and the in vogue thing is to pick a side and spend all day telling you how the other side is wrong, but I’d still like to think there are some things we should be able to agree on. Honoring Owen Hart is one of those things, as should be honoring the wishes of his family. We hope AEW proves as up to the task as they appear to be.

Rampage No Longer Moving

It’s official that AEW Dynamite will be moving to TBS on January 5. TNT released their NHL schedule last week, which revealed that double headers will take place the first two weeks of the season, then 10 PM games will air from October 27 until December 29 with Dynamite as the presumptive lead-in. None of those games feature the Nashville Predators, because TNT doesn’t want to make things easy for me.

AEW Rampage was originally scheduled to move to TBS at the same time, but will be staying at its current slot on TNT. Rampage’s ratings in a time slot where people allegedly go out and do things have been impressive, and there won’t be NHL or NBA games on the station except during the playoffs. Tony Khan is happy with the idea of having shows on both channels, and it’s won’t be like WWE’s Fox/USA relationship where people get mad because Roman Reigns isn’t on their show or because they don’t want to promote a streaming service they don’t own. TBS/TNT heat is mostly limited to arguments over who has to clean the office microwave.

TBS Championship?

Speaking of TBS, Andrew Zarian reported that AEW will be establishing a secondary championship for their women’s roster, & will call it the TBS Championship. See, I’d been wondering if they would change the TNT Championship’s name when Dynamite moved to TBS, but with Rampage staying there we won’t have to worry about that confusion.

One definitely wonders if AEW’s women’s roster can support two championships, but they already kind of did that for a minute when Thunder Rosa & Serena Deeb were making defenses of the NWA World Women’s Championship. That title hasn’t been mentioned on TV since Kamille won it, with the exception of a segment building up Leyla Hirsch challenging for it at NWA Empowerrr.

The best argument for a second women’s championship in AEW? Simple: Dr. Britt Baker shouldn’t be losing their Women’s Championship any time soon. Gotta give the other women something to fight for.

Shane Thorne Wants Us To Know His New Gimmick Is His Idea

So word came out this week that Shane Thorne is doing an Outback Jack/Aussie gimmick in his dark matches. I hadn’t really had time to form an opinion on a gimmick I hadn’t seen yet when Thorne took to the Interweb to let us know not to blame WWE for it:

We’ve said it before, but the whole trend of workers taking to the Interweb to let us know that WWE writers aren’t to blame for whatever they’re doing now & it’s Actually Good is rather odd. That being said, a stereotypical Aussie gimmick at least has to be better than being part of Retribution.

Joe Gacy’s New Gimmick Is Already His Old Gimmick

Thorne can only hope his Crocodile Dundee character has a longer shelf-life than that of Joe Gacy’s recent contribution to NXT 2.0. Gacy appeared on last Tuesday’s episode to wrestle Cameron Grimes and introduce his new persona, that of a man that doesn’t need male privilege talking about conflict resolution & safe spaces and hugging his opponents after their match ends. This seems to have lasted all of one match, as the clips were pulled from WWE’s YouTube page and all references to it were removed from other social media outlets.

It seems that this was one of those things that certain audiences liked a lot, as Fox News & the New York Post were all about WWE taking a shot at the woke left. The assumption is that this media attention led to WWE pulling the character, as WWE really doesn’t want politics to seep into their presentation for a litany of reasons. For what it’s worth, I don’t think any left-wing outlets even noticed whatever was happening on NXT 2.0, so Joe Gacy’s cancellation was definitely thanks to the right-wingers.

I do wonder if the character had much of a long term future. It’s tough to challenge for championships and be in favor of conflict resolution over conflict.

Let’s Get Extreme!

Extreme Rules went down Sunday night. I have to be honest with you folks. I made it through two matches of this show and tapped out. Now, some of my peeps at offtheteam.com frequently comment about how the LED lighting & camera cuts and all that stuff that have become trademarks of WWE television. It doesn’t typically bother me as much, but for whatever reason, the neon green & yellow all over the screen had quite the negative effect on my old man eyes and I had to turn the darn thing off.

That isn’t really a knock, to be honest. I know that kids love bright lights & special effects and all of these things that old people like me with declining vision can’t take. Better to market to them, as they have many more years of WWE viewing in their future than I do. Here’s what happened on the show in case you were wondering:

Liv Morgan beat Carmella on the Kickoff Show: Liv is over with the WWE Universe and has more upside than Carmella at this point. Nothing against Carmella, she seems like a friendly gal, but it seems like we’ve already seen her best while Liv still has room to improve.

The New Day defeated Bobby Lashley, AJ Styles & Omos: This match is one of those things that’s a sign of the difference between pro wrestling then & pro wrestling now. Back in my day, PPV matches were supposed to be built to for a certain period of time. Wrestling groups that threw stuff together the day of the show were mocked, because who was going to put their money down if there wasn’t anything announced? Here in 2021, nobody cares. They’ve either already subscribed to Peacock or they haven’t. So what if nobody knew this was happening before it happened?

-It was a good match, which is what the Internet crowd cares about.
-The New Day was there, which is what the live crowd cared about.
-Lashley, Styles & Omos got to do something instead of nothing, so we feel good for them.

It’s completely against anything the experts would describe as “good booking”, but that isn’t what WWE is about, and their fans aren’t bothered by it. I’ve already spent too much time on something that was fun, but was just something to fill time until Lashley challenged Big E to a title match on Raw.

The Usos defended the SmackDown Tag Team Championships against the Street Profits: I felt bad for my buddy that bet on the Street Profits based off my tip. In my defense, my idea was that this would be a hot opener that would feature a happy ending to get the crowd excited. I wasn’t aware they were going to book something with the main event acts on Raw to fill that spot. Once I saw it going on second, I knew my goose was cooked. Well, not mine since I can’t legally gamble on these things.

Match was good, but those darn lights were too distracting, and when I saw what was coming up next…well…

Charlotte Flair retained the Raw Women’s Championship against Alexa Bliss: There was actually a finish to this one. The spooky nonsense would be saved for later. I still dislike Alexa’s current act, but people keep telling me it’s Actually Good for Reasons, and I don’t care enough to argue with them since the whole thing is easy enough to ignore. Shockingly, Alexa lost in her hometown. Who would have guessed?

Damian Priest defended the US Championship against Jeff Hardy & Sheamus: We went over how this was the obvious outcome, and the right outcome. Not much else to say here, other than the fans getting behind Jeff Hardy speaks well for a guy that’s been booked into a state worse than oblivion for most of the past few months. People gonna like who they like. Well, not me. I’m pretty fickle.

Bianca Belair beat Becky Lynch by disqualification when Sasha Banks interfered: I suspect these three won’t be on the same show for too long, so expect a triple threat match on this week’s SmackDown. Should be a good one.

Roman Reigns retained the Universal Championship against Demon King Finn Balor: Reigns put on a mask to brawl through the crowd. On one hand, it’s smart, but on the other hand it establishes masking up as a heel move. And here I thought WWE wanted to stay out of politics. The Demon demoned up with red lighting like he was the Fiend or something, and was on the verge of winning with a double stomp when…the top rope broke. Certainly a different choice. People will tell you that this keeps Demon Finn Balor strong, but does it really? Dude lost because of a broken ring rope. He’d be stronger if he lost because it was Roman Freaking Reigns.

So that was Extreme Rules. Raw comes to downtown Cincinnati tomorrow, which means I have to deal with WWE semi trucks along with anti-vaxx truckers trying to shut down interstates. Fun!

Well, that’s all we have time for this week. Thanks for reading, and until whenever we come back with more news, keep your stick on the ice.


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Opinion

Random NXT Stuff 2.0: Worlds Collide

Brad gives his 2.0 cents about some Worlds Collide fantasy booking! So the NXT opinion isn’t over…just…different. Check it out!

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It’s time to fantasy book NXT Worlds Collide, the mashup special that always produces top quality matches. And I renamed my column. Catchy, right? 

Noam Dar Nxt Uk GIF - Noam Dar Nxt Uk - Discover & Share GIFs

6. Noam Dar versus Swerve Scott for the North American Championship – Dar deserves a bigger platform so the entire world can experience his greatness. It might as well be for a title. The personality clash between these two would produce more fireworks than any bloated, overproduced WrestleMania opener. 

Dakota Kai Reveals Reason She Dyed Her Hair Pink, An Excited Asuka Records Video Message Backstage For Io Shirai | EWrestling

5. Meiko Satomura versus Dakota Kai for the NXT UK Women’s Championship – Champion versus champion is too easy and lacks drama. Kai can hold her own against Satomura, and it is entirely believable that she could win and move to NXT UK. That is the extra level of storytelling and drama we wouldn’t get with Satomura versus Raquel Gonzalez. And I’m still a Dakota Guy.

Kenny Williams | WWE

4. Johnny Gargano versus Kenny Williams versus Jordan Devlin – I love triple threat matches. I love all three of these guys. I love that the winner of this match gets a title shot of his choosing on either NXT brand. 

WWE Marquee Matches: NXT TakeOver: Chicago 2017 (WWE Network Exclusive) - YouTube

3. Tyler Bate versus Pete Dunne for the Heritage Cup – So much history between two of the founding fathers of British Strong Style. This rivalry should be Flair/Steamboat of British wrestling. Let’s add another chapter to what I hope is a very long story between two of the best wrestlers on the planet.

Various News: Tommaso Ciampa Wants 'Goldie' Back, The Miz Promotes 'Philly Is Awesome' Shirt, EVOLVE 131 Video Recap | 411MANIA

2. Tommaso Ciampa versus Ijla Dragunov – Remember when I said champ versus champ would lack drama? Forget that. I want to see these two stiff shot the stuffing out of each other to see who is the roughest, toughest, most violent champion in the company. And in the spirit of NXT 2.0, they are also fighting for control of Cameron Grimes’ estate, because he’s currently MIA after his one-man space flight goes horribly wrong.     

Interview With . . . Pretty Deadly | Inside The Ropes
1. MSK versus Pretty Deadly – The main event. Yes, the main event. I want to headline a show with the two best tag teams in a place where tag team wrestling still gets the respect it deserves. For now. Both teams have been absolutely crushing it in 2021. It really is too close to say who has been better, so we might as well settle it in the ring. And it might as well be for the first time ever winner takes both titles.  


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