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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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WWE Week in Review: November 5-11, 2018

As WWE leaves the controversy of Crown Jewel in the rearview mirror, all eyes turn to Survivor Series. What happened this week?

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As WWE leaves the controversy of Crown Jewel in the rearview mirror, all eyes turn to Survivor Series. What happened this week?

On RAW, Baron Corbin deals with the fallout of his actions at Crown Jewel. The RAW Men’s and Women’s Survivor Series Teams begin to take shape. A dangerous new team forms in the Women’s Division. Team Boss Hart Hugs’ bid to earn spots on the Women’s team runs up against the ruthless Riott Squad. Seth Rollins tries to defend the tag titles on his own, and Kurt Angle tries to take back his spot on RAW.

On SmackDown, the fallout of Crown Jewel and build of the Men’s Survivor Series Team leads to some very surprising bedfellows. The SmackDown Women’s Team is announced, but there are some sour grapes that comes with the announcement. Becky Lynch fires back at Ronda Rousey, and deals with an insane challenger, and a dream match takes place.

On NXT UK, Pete Dunne takes on Danny Burch in a match you have to see to believe. Dakota Kai and Toni Storm go one on one in a bid to put their names in contention for the Women’s Championship. The Coffey brothers explain the shocking turn of events last week, and Pete Dunne and Mark Andrews’ old friend, Eddie Dennis makes his debut, but will bitterness spoil the reunion?

On 205 Live, Buddy Murphy takes on Mark Andrews in a cross-promotion pride match. The new team of TJP and Mike Kanellis try to gel against the Lucha House Party. Cedric Alexander tries to get back to his winning ways, and gets a surprising offer from Lio Rush.

On NXT, all eyes are turning to War Games. Johnny Gargano explains his actions against Aleister Black. Dakota Kai takes on the dangerous Taynara Conti, Mia Yim’s dream finds a challenger in the EST, and Lars Sullivan looks to take out his rage on Velveteen Dream.

So, what happened? Let’s find out!

RAW

 WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar was not at RAW this week, but he will be at RAW next week.

Braun Strowman vs Baron Corbin: Baron Corbin sought to explain his actions at World Cup, saying that he’d been trying to teach Braun Strowman a lesson in respect. He’d cost Strowman the match as retaliation for Strowman attacking him last week, though, it has to be said, Corbin deserved it. Corbin then said that he hoped that Strowman would understand that he needed to respect the authority of Corbin.

Fat chance.

As you can well imagine, Braun Strowman was NOT in the mood to be understanding after being robbed of the Universal Championship. He wanted to get his hands on Corbin, and Corbin’s ‘crack’ security squad and the heels on RAW were no match for the irate Monster Among Men, and Corbin was eventually chased out of the building.

RAW Women’s Division: One of Corbin’s announcements for Survivor Series involved the Women’s Division and introduced Alexa Bliss as his ‘Administrative Assistant’ and as non-competing team captain.

Bliss addressed the Women’s Division, stating that she doesn’t want RAW to lose to SmackDown again this year and wants to see ‘killer instinct’, so the auditions for the RAW Women’s team starts tonight with Sasha, Bayley, and Nattie facing the Riott Squad starting as soon as the segment is over.

Nattie, Sasha, and Bayley were full of confidence in their pre-match interview. Nattie revealed that she’d brought her dad’s sunglasses, dedicating the match to her dad’s memory.

The match was really good. Both sides wanted to impress Alexa Bliss and showed a lot of aggression. It looked like Nattie was going to get her team another victory when Ruby Riott came up with Jim Neidhart’s sunglasses and BROKE them in front of a devastated Nattie. The match ended in a no-contest, but if Alexa Bliss was looking for killer instinct, the Riott Squad showed a lot of it.

Ronda Rousey, who will be meeting Becky Lynch at Survivor Series, cut a promo on her fiery opponent. Showing a surprising amount of arrogance, Rousey basically dismissed Lynch as a threat, stating that Lynch had her respect. She poo-pooed Lynch’s road to WWE, citing a childhood that sounds more like signs of a very dysfunctional family life, like her mom waking her up by trying to break her arms. She also mocked the various careers Lynch had while learning to wrestle, including being a flight attendant. She said that Lynch might call herself the Man, but Rousey is the Baddest Bitch on the Planet and tells Lynch to bring all her anger to Survivor Series because she wants a challenge.

At this point, Rousey was interrupted by her #1 Contender, Nia Jax. Nia thanked Ronda for getting her fired up for Survivor Series and warns Rousey that she’ll need that fire because Nia’s waiting…champ.

Nia took on her friend, Ember Moon, in a one-on-one contest. Ember seemed to have learned something from last week’s encounter because she managed to get more offense in, and the two ladies put on a pretty good match. However, like last week, Ember proved no match for Nia’s size and strength and the Irresistible Force had her hand raised in victory.

The real surprise came after the match was over. Nia had been having staredowns with her cousin, Tamina Snuka, for weeks and, as usual, Tamina showed up once the match was over. However, Tamina attacked Ember, not Nia. Nia seemed shocked for a moment and then joined in the attack, leaving Ember in the ring. The RAW Women’s Division now has a dangerous new partnership brewing.

RAW Tag Team Division: Last week, the Lucha House Party made their debut against the Revival, defeating the Top Guys, despite the Revival dominating the match. Not surprisingly, the Revival were NOT amused by the Lucha House Party’s antics, calling them an embarrassment to tag team wrestling and vowed to send them back to 205 Live.

Seth Rollins vs Dean Ambrose: Despite their falling out two weeks ago, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose are still the RAW tag team champions. On Monday, Seth Rollins went to the ring wearing all three belts: Intercontinental Championship and both tag belts.

Rollins addressed the controversial Universal Championship match at Crown Jewel and said that Brock Lesnar holding the title again was a slap in the face to Roman Reigns, who fought so hard to win it, and to everyone in the locker room, being very critical of Baron Corbin’s role in the debacle.

Turning his attention back to his own problems, Rollins admitted that he’d wanted to come to Manchester with the belts AND the World Cup Trophy, but that didn’t happen. He addressed his former partner, Dean Ambrose, who had still not explained his actions two weeks ago. Rollins admitted that he couldn’t defend two titles at once, which seemed to imply that he was going to vacate the Tag Team Titles since he no longer had a partner.

At that point, he was interrupted by Corbin, who was clearly not happy about Rollins comments about him. Despite Rollins clearly not having a partner anymore, Corbin says that Rollins and his invisible partner will defend the tag titles against a rising team: AoP!

Despite the fact that AoP are both much larger than Rollins, who isn’t a small man, and aren’t the best wrestlers in the world, this was a great match. Rollins was able to make AoP look great without letting himself get squashed. The outcome of this match was never in doubt and we have new Tag Team Champions.

After the match, Dean Ambrose finally appeared and made his way to the ring. Sitting next to Rollins, he commented that Rollins wanted to know WHY Dean turned on him. As Rollins got to his feet, Ambrose dropped him with another Dirty Deeds, still with no explanation.

In a post-show interview, an angry Rollins said that he was done trying to get answer out of Ambrose by asking. Now, he was going to beat the answers out of his former friend. Good luck with that, Seth.

Dolph Ziggler vs Elias: Fresh off his shocking defeat at the hands of Shane McMahon at Crown Jewel, Ziggler looked to regain some momentum, especially since he’d been added to RAW’s Survivor Series team. Addressing his loss, Ziggler claimed that he’d been the victim of a vast conspiracy to screw him over yet again.

Before he could finish putting on his tinfoil hat, he was interrupted by Elias, who was very over with the UK crowd. Elias claimed that he wanted to play a song that two members of Oasis had liked and had promised to reunite if he did. He also took the time to insult Ziggler and his excuses, calling him a loser.

Ziggler wasn’t interested in Elias’ musical ambitions and challenged Elias to a match.

The match was really good. Ziggler and Elias worked really well together and put on a great match. Despite the best efforts of Ziggler, Elias would put the Show-Off away with his patented Drift Away for the win.

Jinder Mahal vs Apollo Crews: Apollo Crews has been looking to gain some momentum since leaving Titus Worldwide and has come up a little short in his attempts. This week, he faced Jinder Mahal, another RAW star who has been coming up short in his bids for momentum.

The match was good, but very boring. Apollo Crews would pull out the win with a standing moonsault.

Bobby Lashley (with Lio Rush) vs Finn Balor: Finn Balor and Bobby Lashley have been feuding for the last few weeks, egged on somewhat by Lashley’s hype man, Lio Rush.

This week’s match was pretty good. It’s still not really clear just what Lashley and Balor are feuding about, but the matches are always good, except for the constant annoyance that is Lio Rush.

Rush did prove his worth to Lashley this week by helping him get a win over Balor by causing enough distraction that Balor took his eyes off the ball and chased him, which gave Lashley the opening he needed.

Survivor Series: Before being chased out of the arena by the furious Braun Strowman, Corbin made several announcements for Survivor Series, including announcing the first member for the RAW Men’s Team: Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, and Braun Strowman. Corbin expressed the hope that once Strowman understood and accepted why Corbin screwed him out of the Universal Championship, he’d understand that he’s the best man for the RAW Men’s Team. Again, this was BEFORE Strowman chased him out of the building.

Corbin also said due to his status as RAW General Manager, he would not be competing in the match, but would be the team captain.

Kurt Angle, who is the REAL General Manager of RAW, came out and said that competing at the World Cup had lit a fire in him and he wanted into the Survivor Series match. Corbin refused, mocking Angle, so Angle offered him a deal. They would have a match on RAW and the winner would not only be on Team RAW but would be team captain. Corbin agree, but that had been before he’d had to run for his life from Braun Strowman.

Drew McIntyre vs Kurt Angle: Since Corbin was forced to vacate the premises, his spot in the Team Captain match was filled by Drew McIntyre.

The match was great. Angle and McIntyre worked very well together and were able to put on a really good match despite Angle’s age and injuries. Despite Angle’s best efforts, he would be forced to tap to his own Ankle lock by Drew McIntyre. Given that Stephanie McMahon is going to be back next week and that McIntyre was a substitute for Corbin, Angle could still get his wish to be on Team RAW, but time will tell.

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Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 11/11/2018

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Well this is certainly an odd weekend. Not exactly a ton of stand out stuff from the usual companies, but a lot of the usual suspects. Pro Wrestling NOAH has been putting on some of the best wrestling all year, and currently has their round robin tournament going on, and Northeast Wrestling had an event with some familiar names.

But before we get to this week, let’s not ignore the two votes we just finished. Let’s look at the MOTY pool since it’s nearly complete.

  • January – NXT Takeover Philly NXT Championship: Johnny Gargano vs Andrade Alma(c)
  •  February – New Beginning in Osaka IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada(c) vs SANADA
  •  March – NJPW Strong Style Evolved: Golden Lovers vs Young Bucks
  •  April – NXT Takeover NOLA NXT Championship: Andrade Almas(c) vs Aleister Black
  •  May – WWE Backlash Intercontinental Championship: Seth Rollins(c) vs The Miz
  •  June – NJPW Dominion IWGP Heavyweight Championship 2 out of 3 Falls: Kazuchika Okada(c) 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)
  •  October – Evolution SmackDown Women’s Title Last Woman Standing Match: Becky Lynch(c) vs Charlotte

So the Evolution match left a big enough impression on our voters to make it the only women’s match currently in the pool. As for last week, another WWE match won the vote, SmackDown WWE Championship: AJ Styles (c) vs Daniel Bryan.

Now let’s see what kind of variety we have in the list this week.

 

5. SmackDown: The New Day vs The Usos

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods and Big E didn’t win back the tag team titles, but they have a chance to lead their brand into battle! However, so do Jimmy & Jey, as the winning team of this match will be captains of the Survivor Series team! But don’t get confused, it’s for the WWE Tag Team Division match.

The teams sort out and the New Day goes with Kofi and Big E. Woods tosses pancakes as Kofi starts with Jey. Jey and Kofi circle and tie up. Jey gets a headlock but Kofi powers out, only for Jey to run him over. Things speed up and Kofi jumps, but Jey catches him! Jey back suplexes but Kofi slips out to dropkick! Jey is out, Jimmy runs in but is sent out. Big E tags in, Kofi bounces as Woods plays the trombone. Kofi fakes out Jey, and Woods adds some “laughter”. Big E runs Jey over! The New Day has control while we go picture in picture.

Big E drags Jey up and in, cover, TWO! E tags in Kofi, and they work together for a leap frog senton! Cover, TWO! Kofi keeps on Jey with an arm wrench and armlock. Woods flings more flapjacks to the fans while Jey endures. Jey gets up but New Day brings him around for a whip. Jey reverses but Kofi goes up, only for Jey to kick his legs out! Kofi goes down and Jey tags in Jimmy. The Usos stomp Kofi, then Jey brings Kofi up. Jimmy uppercuts, then chops Kofi in the corner! Tag to Jey, and Jimmy feeds Kofi to a lariat. Cover, TWO! Jey drags Kofi away, tag to Jimmy. Jimmy runs as Jey holds Kofi down, leaping headbutt! Cover, TWO! Jimmy wraps Kofi in a chinlock, but fans rally for Kofi.

Kofi gets up and fights back, but Jimmy keeps him from the corner. Jimmy whips Kofi into the Uso corner and Kofi hits buckles hard. Tag to Jey, and the Usos stomp a mudhole into Kofi. Jey backs his brother off for the hesitation dropkick! Kofi gasps and rolls to an open corner, but Jey is right on him. Jey whips Kofi corner to corner hard and Kofi hits buckle then the mat. We return to single picture as Jey takes aim from across the way. “Uce! O!” Jey runs into Kofi’s double stomps! Fans rally up while The Bar watch from backstage. Hot tags to Jimmy and Big E! Jimmy runs into Big E’s overhead belly2belly suplex! Then another, then another! Fans fire up and Big E swivels the hips. Big E runs, but into an uppercut! Jimmy runs in, but into the urenag-E! Cover, TWO!

Big E has the fans rally up with the “New! Day Rocks!” clap. He scoops Jimmy but Jey tags in. The Usos double kick Big E away, Jey climbs up, Uso Splash onto knees! Big E scoops, Big Ending! Cover, but Jimmy breaks it just in time! Fans duel as Big E gets up. He keeps his eyes on Jey as he rolls to the apron. Jey stands, Big E runs and Kofi tags in. Jey dodges the DIVE and Big E hits the floor! But Big E gets up to barrel Jimmy into barriers!! Then he goes after Jey, to scoop him and run! Jey slips off to send Big E into the timekeeper’s area! The Usos regroup but Kofi climbs up high, SUPER TRUST FALL!! Woods checks on his team, and gets them going. Kofi puts Jey in, covers, TWO! Somehow Jey lives, and this match continues.

Fans rally up as Kofi brings Jey around. Jey breaks free but runs into SOS! Cover, TWO!! Both men are down but so are their partners. Jey hits Kofi to a corner but Kofi boots him away. Kofi quickly goes up and leaps, crossbody! Cover, TWO!! The New Day are frustrated but still in control as we go to break.

SmackDown returns as Kofi goes after Jey at the ropes. He kicks and punches away, then drags Jey up for a whip. Jey reverses but Kofi holds ropes, so Jey runs in. Kofi dumps him out, but Jimmy tags in! Jey hits Kofi, and then the Usos double suplex Kofi! Kofi fights his way out, Big E SPEARS Jey!! They both go down and Kofi hits Jimmy with Trouble in Paradise! Kofi drags Jimmy in for a cover, TWO!? How?! Kofi gets back up and brings Jimmy up. He headbutts Jimmy to a corner, then CHOPS. Kofi hoists Jimmy up top and climbs up to join him. Kofi wants the superplex, but Jimmy resists. Jimmy fights back, and headbutts Kofi down. Jimmy adjusts, but Kofi comes back, SUPER STEINER– Blocked into a powerbomb!!

Both men are down but Manchester is fired up. Woods tries to coach Kofi up as Jimmy climbs. Uso Splash! Cover, Usos win!

Winner: Usos via Uso Splash

Rating: *** 3/4

 

4. Stardom Goddesses of Stardom Tag League: Hazuki & Kagetsu vs Jungle Kyona & Natsuko Tora

Well our little Oedo Tai monsters refer to Kyona and Natsuko as the Short and Dumpy Piggies. So they seem more amused that the current tag champs are pigs, as opposed to concerned about a loss. Will the Oedo Tai shenanigans prevail, or will they eat their words?

This match had a little bit of everything. Early on Hazuki is in a submission and Kagetsu blatantly uses their toy mallet to wack Natsuko and then hand Hazuki her folded fan to beat Natsuko with. Another spot is a twist on Kagetsu’s usual water spot, but this time she dumps most of the bottle on Natusko’s head and spits the rest at Kyona.

That’s when it gets a little interesting, cause both Kyona and Natsuko just start wailing away on the extra members no selling some moves and just looking generally annoyed. After these dumb spots we get to some actual forward motion when Kyona flings Hazuki into a row of chairs, then Kagetsu to follow up before they both drag them back into the ring.

Surprisingly a lot of this match is Kyona and Natsuko in charge of the match. Hazuki even eats the big JAN Splash from the top rope, for a near fall. Oedo Tai never really gets a good handle on the match. Kagetsu lands a few suplexes, Hazuki hits a Codebreaker, but just as things look bleak, Hazuki hits her La Magistral cradle, the Hazukistral for a rather surprising win.

This match had a little bit of everything for most people, but still suffers from a little more of the goofy aspects of Japanese wrestling. Obviously a solid match, especially since there are a few elements for many to enjoy, but not really a stand out match for Joshi.

Winner: Hazuki via Hazukistral

Rating: *** 3/4

 

3. N.E.W. Redemption: Pentagon Jr vs Darby Allin

Not even gonna pretend here, I don’t know what a Darby Allin is really. So I couldn’t even begin to invent a lead in, so let’s just get to the match.

Pentagon does his usual “Cero Miedo” in the person’s face and Darby tries to take his arm. A quick back and forth leads to a Suicide Dive to the floor and Allin takes control on the outside until he goes to the top rope, Pentagon catches him and suplexes him right on the apron. Pentagon lights him up in and then back out of the ring with chops. Goes for his chops against the post. Misses the third one as usual, so Darby takes advantage, hits combination ear clapping strikes, a headbutt to the stomach and then a Code Red for a two count.

A strike exchange  leads to Pentagon getting annoyed and threatening the ref, Darby tries to take advantage of the distraction but Penta hits the Hanging Double Footstomp in the corner for a near fall.

Allin puts together some interesting offense with a Stunner out of being over Pentagon’s should, his Coffin Drop Trust Fall, but Pentagon won’t be outdone, so he hits the Mexican Destroyer on the apron. The Destroyer was leading to the end, Darby tries to fight back, Pentagon breaks the arm and then hits a Fear Factor in the middle of the ring for the pinfall victory.

Now since I said I didn’t know Allin, I’m not unhappy with what I saw. His offense is a little unorthodox at times, and nothing was overly unique, but everything he did, he did well. So I might have to find more of his stuff.

Winner: Penta via Feat Factor

Rating: **** 1/4

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

NOAH Global League: Go Shiozaki vs Kazusada Higuchi
Winner: Go via Burning Lariat
Rating: *** 1/2
NXT UK: Toni Storm vs Dakota Kai
Winner: Storm via Neckbreaker
Rating: *** 1/4
NOAH Global League: Takashi Sugiura vs Kaito Kiyomiya
Winner: Kiyomiya via Counter Cradle Pin
Rating: *** 1/4
205 Live: Buddy Murphy vs Mark Andrew
Winner: Murphy via Murphy’s Law
Rating: *** 1/4
SmackDown: Rey Mysterio vs Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas
Winner: Mysterio via 619/Droppin the Dime
Rating: ***
N.E.W. Redemption: Rob Van Dam vs Jack Swagger
Winner: RVD via 5 Star Frog Splash
Rating: ***
NXT: Velveteen Dream vs Lars Sullivan
Winner: Sullivan via Freak Accident
Rating: ***

 

2. N.E.W. Redemption: Kenny Omega vs Fenix

Fenix shows that he’s a little faster than Omega early on. A few quick strikes and a diving Suicide Senton gives Fenix an early advantage. He takes Omega towards the ramp and goes for an Old School variation where he walks the guardrail, jumps off for a Frankensteiner, but Omega catches him and Powerbombs him onto the ramp.

Then we get a long period of Omega dominating. It should be noted, that during this period of dominance, Omega utilized a Camel Clutch and Triangle Cross Armbreaker, and submissions aren’t really what he’s known for. He lands a Kotaro Crusher, throws Fenix around outside, Fenix tries to fight back a little but the opening doesn’t happen until Omega throws him into the ropes and Fenix hits a Handspring Headbutt, followed up by a Springboard Headbutt and then a Rolling Cutter for the near fall. After this point we finally start seeing more of both of their styles.

Fenix hits a Fire/Thunder Driver for 2 and goes to the apron. The two exchange moves, before Omega gets the best of the exchange and Suplexes them both through the ringside table. Omega attempts the One Winged Angel numerous times, with Fenix either rapid fire punching Omega in the head, or even hitting the Reverse Frankensteiner, to counter the move.

After a plethora of near falls and crazy moves, Fenix goes for a Triangle Springboard Corckscrew Headbutt, but Omega hits him with a mid air V-Trigger. Fenix can’t fight out of the concussion, Omega hits the One Winged Angel, and gets the pinfall victory.

Winner: Omega via One Winged Angel

Rating: **** 1/2

 

1. NOAH Global League: Naomichi Marufuji vs Kenoh

Kenoh is never one to withhold his opinion, since he is openly brash and fluent in cursing. This is important to know that Kenoh feels that Marufuji is still an obstacle he needs to get over. Besides the Super New Generation versus Old Guard storyline that’s been going on, there is really no love loss between these two. Will Kenoh’s shrieking pay off, or will NOAH’s Genius out smart the younger wrestler?

The match started off at a slower pace with both men trying to play a few mind games. We see a nice exchange with Marufuji using Kawada Kicks and Kenoh, who’s known for his kicking ability, screaming something and hitting back with Low Round Kicks to Marufuji’s hamstring. The match spills to the outside, where Marufuji takes the advantage and uses the guardrail masterfully. Driving Kenoh chest first into the rail four times before seating him next to the gate and then slamming it against his shoulder blade.

Kenoh wrestled from underneath for a long period, but he never lost the defiant sneer. Marufuji’s demeanor became increasingly more stern, almost like he was trying to prove a point to Kenoh. But the familiarity these two have really started to show in full when Marufuji countered a kick attempt simply by kicking Kenoh’s plant leg out from under him. Then we got the following beautiful exchange:

After this we saw both of them basically try to kill each other. Marufuji catches Kenoh right under the chin with the Ko-Oh, and looks like he might have dropped the young brash foul mouthed kohai. But Kenoh took a page out of Kenny Omega’s book where he hit a Snap Dragon Suplex out of nowhere, and even pulled off the Release Avalanche Dragon Suplex, which left Marufuji dazed. A penalty kick and Double Footstomp couldn’t put Marufuji away, so Kenoh digs into the play book and hits a Rolling Diving Stomp. Marufuji looks like his organs just exploded as Kenoh pins him for the win and 2 points.

Winner: Kenoh via Rolling Diving Stomp

Rating: **** 3/4

 

Thoughts:

Kenoh versus Marufuji exudes psychology without even needing to know the history or language. Their body language explains what the match means to them, and the moves were crisp, stiff and all made sense. Even if the overall grades weren’t too far off, Omega versus Fenix was more of a spot fest that went too long, and Marufuji versus Kenoh was an actual wrestling match that told a story.

So there we go, yeah yeah, Japan bias whatever. Watch both matches and decide for yourself. No matter which you like better, all you have to do is, Always Use Your Head.

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