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Chairshot 50: Top Wrestlers of 2018 (11-50)

Who made the list???

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WWE Charlotte Flair Chairshot 50
The Chairshot 50: eight featured personalities from The Chairshot come together to form the definitive list regarding the very best talents–male and female–in professional wrestling.






First let’s go over who we received lists from.

List of Participants:

  • Denise Salcedo (Xpac 1,2, 360, Greg DeMarco Show guest) Twitter: @_denisesalcedo
  • Greg DeMarco (Owner/Publisher of The Chairshot, Greg DeMarco Show) Twitter: @ChairshotGreg 
  • Mathew Sarpaicone (Puroresu and Joshi Coverage expert) Twitter; N/A
  • Andrew Balaz (Managing Editor of The Charishot, Raw Reaction, POD is WAR) Twitter: @IWCWarChief
  • Joe Dinan (Lucha Libre Weekly Coverage expert)  Twitter: @PhofessorDhamma
  • Eric Ames (News Editor of The Chairshot, Top of the Morning Podcast) Twitter: @E_Ames323 
  • Steve Cook (Top 5 guru) Twitter: @stevecook84 
  • Steven Mitchell (weekly TV Coverage Articles) Twitter: N/A

So for a little criteria clarity. The evaluation period was from 8/31/2017 – 8/31/2018. Some of the criteria was work rate, time spent at the top/main event picture, as well as, the beloved kayfabe aspects of wrestling. Also to be clear, men, women and tag teams (though listed individually) were all eligible for this list.

As you can see from the title this is just 11-50, the Top 10, was decided via Podcast roundtable and may surprise some people with the order.

So without further ado, let’s get to the list.

50. Rush (CMLL)

Rush is CMLL’s biggest stars  his summer feud with L.A. Park nearly doubled CMLL’s weekly Friday night attendance. He’s character so transcending that both New Japan(Naito) and WWE(Almas) have characters that borrowed and are influenced by Rush.  – Denise

49. Brian Cage (Lucha Underground, Impact Wrestling)

Funny story…Cage was accidentally listed at #3 in our initial compilation, and I got crazy excited. He has the size, look, and talent to be #3. Here’s to hoping he makes it there. Judging by the way he is being used early into his IMPACT Wrestling career, he might be headed to the top. – Greg

48. Kento Miyahara (All Japan Pro Wrestling)

While still under most people’s radars, he’s been low key giving us great matches in AJPW that people need to see. One day more people will get to experience his matches. – Mathew

47. Carmella (WWE)

Carmella Smackdown Entrance

The Princess of Staten Island that won the first TWO Women’s Money in the Bank matches, held the briefcase for 200+ days to stay around the main event scene, and then eventually pay it off with a beautiful heel victory. Like her or not, she plays her role well and deserves a Top 50 nod. – Andrew

46. Johnny Mundo/IMPACT/Hennigan ( Impact Wrestling, AAA, Lucha Underground, MLW)

He’s one of the main stars of both Lucha Underground and IMPACT. He’s of one of the guys through his work that has helped IMPACT Wrestling shake the negative stigma. He also held all 3 singles titles for AAA simultaneously.  – Denise

45. Cedric Alexander ( WWE, 205 Live)

WWE Cedric Alexander

Made a strong case for himself when Enzo was the champ (and still employed) and went undefeated in 2018 for this evaluation period, including becoming the champ at WrestleMania. Been a shining star on a brand that floundered a little, but may be bouncing back with Triple H running the show now. – Andrew






44. Becky Lynch (WWE)

The Lass Kicker may be firing herself back up from her fall, but fans still loved her through the struggle. She has always hovered around the title scene, and was truly close at SummerSlam 2018. Her turn on Charlotte was so welcomed, it’s all but ruined WWE’s plans of making her a true Heel, and she could still get that belt back before the end of the year. – Mitchell

43.  Daniel Bryan (WWE)

I feel like he’s still a top worker. WWE has done a good job of putting him on the back burner again but they will never stop believing he’s a B plus player even though he’s proven time and time again he is above that. In a company that pretty much lacks any real draws because the brand is what draws now days, he’s one of the few guys that resonates a bit outside of the wrestling circle, and if he were put in an important main event spot I think, like it did in 2014 before he got hurt, it would show in ratings for his segments. Perhaps if this feud with the Miz is for the title eventually an up tick will be seen, but rest assure if he left for the indy’s whatever company he’d go to would see a huge rise in business. – Joe Dinan

42. Aleister Black (NXT)

Aleister Black

I wasn’t that high on him when he first came on and I think he’s been a bit underappreciated and pushed to the back burner in favor of Ciampa and Gargano. He’s a great worker, and as an avid watcher of MMA around the world, he has realistic looking strikes and hardly messes up. He was just the NXT Champ and had an injury that’s derailed him. But in a company where there are a lot of plain looking guys who all look the same with no gimmick, he has something special, and if only the main roster wasn’t filled with crappy writers he could be something special. – Joe Dinan

41. Shane Strickland (Evolve, MLW, Lucha Underground)

Holding the WrestleCircus briefcase, MLW Heavyweight Championship, Evolve Championship and Lucha Underground Trios Championship during this span, it’s hard to argue that Shane isn’t a top independent draw. He wins gold where ever he goes, so let’s see what the future holds. – Andrew

40. Shayna Baszler (NXT)

Shayna didn’t come to mind for my list, but I don’t blame anybody else for ranking her. She’s trained with Ronda Rousey in MMA for years and there are some similairities there. Both have taken to wrestling like fish to water. Ronda was a bigger star in MMA, and she does have more charisma. Make no mistake, Shayna has every bit as much potential as Ronda. Their eventual match will be pretty intense. – Steve Cook

39. Jinder Mahal (WWE)

Jinder Mahal WWE Bold Prediction

Why isn’t he #1??? I mean c’mon! In all seriousness–nah eff that. The Maha-Freaking-raja deserves far more credit for his performances during this time. – Greg (was there any question who wrote this?)

38. Jay Lethal (ROH)

Constantly delivers great matches and has had Ring of Honor on his back. He’s basically Mr. Consistent and his recent story of avenging all of his losses to finally recapture the ROH World Title was a good one. He’s consistently one of the best workers and connects with the crowd. Aside from that ROH is likely the second biggest promotion in the United States and he’s the champ. – Joe

37. Asuka (WWE)

The Empress of Tomorrow came into 2018 as hot as any wrestler in WWE. She had her undefeated streak, won the inaugural Women’s Royal Rumble and was poised to be SmackDown Women’s Champion. Bad booking may be keeping her down, but there’s no way Asuka didn’t have a Top 50 worthy 2018. – Mitchell

36. Tessa Blanchard (Impact Wrestling, WrestleCircus, Rise, The Crash Lucha Libre)

Arguably the best female wrestler not signed to the WWE, Tessa is still one of the industry’s hottest prospects at the young age of 23. While continuing to travel the world performing, Blanchard earned her first contract with a major company, joining IMPACT Wrestling back in April. Just a mere four months later and a day before our Top 50 cut-off date, she earned her first major title by becoming the IMPACT Knockouts Champion. –  Eric

35. Fenix (AAA, CMLL, WrestleCircus, Impact Wrestling, MLW)

Similar to LA Park and Fenix’s brother Pentagon, when those three, any pairing were headlining a CMLL show the attendance went up making them big players. Fenix won the AAA mega championship at Triplemania, and just co-main evented in CMLL. He’s a prominent figure for Impact and along with his brother, are MLW tag team champions. He’s very hot on the indy scene and is one of the best in ring performers period. He has the potential to be the next Rey Mysterio more than anyone I’ve seen since.  – Joe

34. Kofi Kingston (WWE)

The veteran of The New Day, Kofi is now 37-years old and been with WWE for 12 years (including developmental). Who would have figured that if you watch him in the ring today, maintaining his status as one of the industry’s top high-flyers. Add the continued success of The New Day (I mean, they have now gotten pancakes over) and Kingston is deserving of a Top 50 spot. – Eric

33. Xavier Woods (WWE)

Perhaps one of the most underrated WWE Superstars, we got to see more glimpses of just how talented inside the squared circle Xavier Woods is in the last year-plus. The New Day continues to be one of the company’s most recognizable acts and Woods perhaps the leader of the pack as his UpUpDownDown YouTube channel keeps growing. Don’t sleep on Dr. Watson. – Eric

32. Finn Balor (WWE)

WWE Finn Balor Three Stars

I’m not as high on Finn as most are. I don’t see main event potential with him. I do see a solid upper-card presence for the next decade or so, which is a pretty great place to be. His entrances will always be pretty great whether he’s the Demon or plain old Finn. – Cook

31. Big E (WWE)

While many have called for the group to split up, The New Day continues to add to its gimmick and remain one of WWE’s most popular acts. The muscle of the group, Big E, remains a Superstar that some see a future WWE Champion in. Just when you thought the Power Of Positivity was through, they pull you right back in! – Eric






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

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Opinion

The Good, Bad and Ugly SmackDown Live (2/19/19)

Bobby gives us the Good, Bad and Ugly of SmackDown following Elimination Chamber!

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Good Bad Ugly WWE Smackdown

Bobby gives us the Good, Bad and Ugly of SmackDown following Elimination Chamber!

Raw was okay.  That’s it.  NXT did their usual stellar job but the show had some major flaws.  It’s nothing major and overall Raw was Good and more than got the job done.  The whole roster both NXT and WWE Raw and SmackDown have been going full steam and ready for this WrestleMania which speaking personally feels very special this year for some reason. 

GOOD

Shane McMahon

Here comes the money!  Shane took to business hyping the NXT call ups, when Miz interrupted and apologized to his partner.  Shane O Mac and Miz can work the hell out of a crowd and bring a ton of emotions every single time!  Sometimes things get crazy and not everything clicks especially when high risk is involved which messes these guys up every single match.  They still continue to show up every show and put in work.  We haven’t seen their best stuff yet.  The Usos when they get loose out go wild and leave it all out there.  All legit vets that can work and will be present in the some fashion at WrestleMania.  It went a little bit slow and long but it was from the heart which WWE fans respect.  Uso’s joined and taunted McMiz to a rematch in a mocking fashion.  Fastlane Rematch for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships.  Good by a heartbeat, the match Fastlane hopefully will be better than the last one.    

Andrade w/ Zelina Vega vs. Aleister Black

SD Live whipped out the big guns in this one!  Holy talent!  No need to build up this match, it is Good the way it is.  As usual we had talent showcasing kicks, strikes and high risk.  That is these guys comfort zone and it shows.  The NXT crew has only made things better as they always do.  Being used in the NXT personas has been a great way to keep them prominent and seemingly safe from being buried on the main roster.  Andrade was a huge NXT Star himself at one time and him and Black are a perfect blend.  Zelina Vega is a pleasant addition to Andrade every match as well and always finds a way to get involved effectively.  However before she could get involved in this one, Aleister Black hits “Black Mass” for the win.  Solid, clean match with two very talented Superstars. 

“DIY” Ciampa and Gargano (NXT and NXT NA Champions) vs. The Bar Shamus and Cesaro

The promo of Cesaro talking trash and The Bar laughing and belittling DIY was entertaining and very effective.  Good little hype promo.  This is a solid contrast of teams.  All four are extremely intense and physical.  DIY has all the speed and the little bit of crazy that helps when you need it.  The Bar is all precision, pain and power.  Really stiff match here, a lot of punishment on both sides.  It was fantastic though as NXT Talent continues to show up ready to rock out!  The Bar had this match on ice but out Ciampa got the blind tag and an over the top “roll up” on the “Swiss Superman” for the upset victory.  Awesome Match!

Non-Title Match- (SmackDown Women’s Champion) Asuka vs. Mandy Rose

Mandy Rose wanted to fulfill Asuka’s Challenge.  Mandy Rose with her sidekick Sonya Deville came down and Mandy Rose faced the Champ.  Out of the blue, Lacey Evans came out distracting everyone.  Sonya Deville stood in her way and turned her around.  Mandy Rose looked great in there and working with someone as Good as Asuka is a big thing for her.  Asuka is amazing and is a strong person to have that title.  Mandy Rose hit a vicious knee on the outside and later played an eye injury getting a cheap roll up for the win and pinned the SmackDown Women’s Champion in this non-title match.    

Ricochet vs. Eric Young w/ Sanity)

Another very effective mix of talent here.  Eric Young who isn’t seen enough being as Good as he is, facing the best of the best, Ricochet.  This is a potential blockbuster.  Honestly though considering who was working here, this was a pretty slow match at times.  Looked sharp though but not the usual speed of these two.  Finally after Eric Young had controlled the whole match, Ricochet started moving.  Eric Young got busted open and Ricochet continued his assault.  Ricochet took down the whole Sanity crew flying through the air.  Ricochet maintained and hit his “630” Splash for the win!  Okay match, and with Ricochet, far from being a Bad one.    

Kofi Kingston, AJ Styles and Jeff Hardy vs. Daniel Bryan (C), Randy Orton and Samoa Joe

Bryan, Orton and Joe, make Sanity look like a Boy Scout troop.  The heels isolated Jeff Hardy and took turns beating him down.  Rapid tags and effective offense kept them in control until Kofi Kingston got the tag and came in hot.  All hell broke loose, Kofi got slammed onto an announce table, with fighting all around.  Once things got back in the ring, AJ Styles got the tag from a beaten Kofi and AJ killed it but took some punishment as well.  Kofi came in again and shined!  Kofi went on to hit a “trouble in paradise” and pin the Champ, Daniel Bryan for the impressive victory. 

Shane O’ Mac then announced that Kofi Kingston will be getting a title shot at Fastlane against Daniel Bryan.  Well-deserved and well done!

BAD and UGLY- No and No.

FINAL

Good- 6

Bad- 0

Ugly- 0

Overall

Nothing is perfect but SmackDown was Good.  There were a few blah spots and times where it could have been better overall, but it was a solid show.  It was entertaining and continued the party on the Road to WrestleMania. 

NXT is the next one on the agenda and never soon enough.  But we seemingly have had NXT action all week so far which has been a huge success.  The audience wins all around with the addition of NXT talent to Raw and SmackDown.  What will that mean for NXT now though?  Well I would say it will only make everyone else there even hungrier to shine.  Looking forward to seeing what’s next!  Read the next Good, Bad and Ugly! 


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

Cook: Don’t Hate Lafayette Because They Don’t Know #DIY

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Johnny Gargano Tommaso Ciampa WWE Raw

Steve Cook chimes in on the controversy surrounding the WWE Monday Night Raw crowd from Lafayette.

Anybody that knows me well knows that I’ve always been a huge baseball fan. It was the first sport I fell in love with as a kid and has been part of my life as far back as I can remember. I read pretty much anything I could about the history of it. I might be a Cincinnati Reds supporter, but I also have a good appreciation for most of baseball history.

That’s why I was excited when the New York Yankees came to town in 2011. The Yankees don’t come to Cincinnati very often. In fact, it was only the second series they’d played in Cincinnati since interleague play started in 1997. Whether you like the Yankees or not, it’s hard not to be impressed with their tradition of success. Their twenty-seven World Series championships are sixteen more than any other team has. Names like Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle & countless others give the Yankees a tradition that’s unparalleled.

Aura & Mystique on the road

Even in 2011 the Yankees had some all-time greats on their roster. Mariano Rivera became the first unanimous Hall of Famer this year. Derek Jeter will follow him into the HOF in 2020. Alex Rodriguez…well, that vote’s going to be interesting. He’s got the numbers! Heck, Bartolo Colon was on that team, and his HOF vote will also be interesting if he ever retires.

I was lucky to get off of work and get a ticket to a Wednesday afternoon game. The stadium was packed & stacked, as fans in the area knew that the Yankees wouldn’t be back in Cincinnati for several years. Unfortunately for the fans & myself, Jeter was on the disabled list so he wouldn’t be playing. Nobody’s fault, these things happen. We would have expected A-Rod to play, but a rainout the night before resulted in Wednesday being a previously unscheduled doubleheader, and Yankee manager Joe Giradi opted to give Rodriguez the day game off.

Lineup card subject to change

Playing third base for the Yankees instead was the immortal Ramiro Pena. He played 23 games in 2011 and went 4 for 40 for a batting average of .100. He had one home run, four RI & scored five runs. If you’re one of those advanced stats guys, he had a WAR of -0.8 for the season. In all fairness, this & 2012 were his least productive seasons in MLB. He managed to play 50 games in 2013 & 81 games in 2014 for the Atlanta Braves & wrapped up his MLB career in 2016 with the San Francisco Giants. From what Wikipedia tells me, he’s currently playing in the Mexican League.

Jeter’s replacement ended up accomplishing a bit more. Eduardo Nunez played 127 games for last season’s World Champion Boston Red Sox. He was also an All-Star in 2016, though I think that was due to the fact that every team has to have an All-Star & the Minnesota Twins didn’t have a ton of candidates. We also got to see Rivera close out the game, so it’s not like we missed out on everybody of historical importance. And yes, Jorge Posada was there playing first base and hit a home run. Any Yankee fan reading this will yell at me if I don’t mention Posada.

Core 4, baby

At this point you’re probably wondering why in the the world I’ve spent all this time writing about a random June 2011 Yankees/Reds game. In the big picture, that game wasn’t too terribly important. A ton of baseball games aren’t. The game came to my mind early Tuesday morning while I was catching up on Twitter’s reaction to Monday’s Raw episode.

Mostly, people were mad at the crowd. This week’s Raw was notable for being the main roster debut of four NXT Superstars. (NXT wrestlers are called Superstars too, right?) Ricochet, Aleister Black, Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa all wrestled on Monday night’s show in Lafayette, Louisiana.

Triple H did the big introduction at the beginning of the show, we got videos with Michael Cole yelling buzzwords, and the four men got to take part in matches. Which is more than some of the last crop of NXT call-ups can say. Ricochet got to do some flips. Black got to beat up Elias. Gargano & Ciampa got to randomly re-form their tag team.

It was fine, if a wee bit random. I would have expected NXT fans to be happy that some of their favorites were on Raw-wait, no, I wouldn’t have expected that at all because NXT fans want their favorites to stay in Full Sail forever. WWE will mis-use them on the main roster, you see. So I was a little surprised that wasn’t the main thing that Internet wrestling fans were complaining about.

No, it was the crowd.

The Raw crowd didn’t make enough noise for these debuting talents. They should have been out of their seats for Ricochet & Black like they were Austin & Rock in 1998. And of course the fans should have gone crazy for DIY vs. The Revival because it’s great tag team wrestling.

Listen, I’m with you guys as far as the talent of these guys goes. I’m hip to the NXT jazz. I’ve been watching & reviewing lately, If I was in that crowd, I would have been cheering & rooting all of those guys on. The thing is…I’m not in the majority of wrestling fans. Far from it. I’m a wrestling nerd that consumes way too many hours of my day with watching wrestling & writing my opinions about it. From what I can tell, a lot of the people I saw whining & moaning about that crowd do the same thing that I do. We’re obsessed with wrestling & analyze everything way too much because that’s what we enjoy doing.

Not everybody does that.

Sometimes we lose touch with the fact that not everybody is like us. There are plenty of wrestling fans that don’t spend every day obsessing over the gossip or watching every single show they can get access to. I know WWE fans that don’t get WWE Network. There are even WWE Network subscribers that don’t watch NXT. I’m not going to get all hot & bothered & mad at people that don’t watch NXT for not going crazy over NXT call-ups. I might wonder why Baron Corbin gets a louder reaction than any of them, and I might think that reflects poorly on their taste, but at the same time, I realize that it’s because Baron Corbin’s been on TV long enough to establish a persona.

To the casual wrestling fan, Ricochet & Aleister Black are like random guys filling in for Derek Jeter & Alex Rodriguez. Hopefully their careers turn out a little bit better, but just like I wasn’t excited to see Ramiro Pena back in 2011 at Great American Ballpark, Lafayette wasn’t excited to see Aleister Black. You can’t fault paying wrestling fans for not watching all the shows, unless you’re just looking to lord your knowledge over everybody else.

Most of those fans at Raw didn’t have any idea what a Johnny Gargolye or a Tomato Chomper was. Hopefully they’ll get the chance to find out, and hopefully they’ll appreciate them as much as we do. Until then, give Lafayette a break. Don’t get mad at them because they paid to see WWE Superstars & got NXT ones instead.


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