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Mathew’s Top 25 Matches of 2018 #20-16

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Mathew’s 2018 Top Matches list continues! Let’s see what ends up 20th through 16th.

Welcome back to my Top 25 Matches of the year list and as you saw yesterday, I posted my first five matches from my list and I’ll keep doing five a day until December 31st which will be the final five to end the year.

If you haven’t seen the first set of lists, there will be a link in here and I’ll do it for the other days just in case people started following didn’t see the previous ones. Anyway, let’s not waste any time and get ready for our next five sets of matches.

 

20. Takashi Sugiura vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima (NOAH Global Junior League 10/4/2018)

– Takashi Sugiura was the unsung champion of 2018 and I say this as Takashi has had a fantastic reign with each title defense being different and giving us unique stories for him to tell once he won it in March. This match was mostly about Nakajima who went through a major transformation ever since he lost the GHC Heavyweight Championship last year and looked to be considered a failed experiment due to not being a big draw like NOAH would hope. During this year, Nakajima would go through a transformation from being a vanilla babyface with great wrestling ability to an aggressive heel with a new appearance and still just as badass in the ring as ever. Nakajima was one who took Takashi to his limit in this match with how aggressive his style has gotten this year and he took out all that frustration onto the champion to show the fans this is the ace they could’ve gotten if they didn’t give up on him last year to let him grow. If Nakajima were to win here, this would’ve been the perfect way to do so along with a big middle finger to the fans but it didn’t work out that way since Takashi was able to make Nakajima tap out in the match and have that final defense under his belt until he lost it to Kaito Kiyomiya in December. This is the Nakajima that fans should definitely fear since he has shown how dangerous he can be and if he keeps it up in 2019, he will take that title back. Definitely check out Takashi’s GHC Heavyweight title defenses as all of them were a treat to see and how a heavyweight champion should look.

 

19. Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair (WWE Evolution 10/28/2018)

WWE Evolution Becky Lynch Charlotte Flair Smackdown Womens's Championship Last Woman Standing

– I think a lot of people knew this match would be on here somehow as it’s on a lot of peoples lists as not only the best women’s match of 2018 for some people, but also probably the best match when it comes to the WWE’s main roster scene. There’s no doubt that Charlotte Flair had the best year in wrestling when it comes to just the women as she performed at a high level and I know people wanna say Becky Lynch because of her new change in character, but it sadly doesn’t change the fact that the first eight months of 2018 had her in the background while Charlotte was making history and delivering quality matches and while I do applaud Becky for finding her voice and now being on the top draws on SmackDown and WWE as a whole, can’t call her number one for the overall year.

The two had an explosive rivalry with Becky Lynch stepping out of Charlotte’s shadow finally to show that while she’s better than her, she can carry the division by herself without her. Becky eventually defeated her for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Hell in a Cell and held out on her own with the title where the two would have the final chapter of their feud at WWE’s first all women’s pay per view, Evolution where they would wrestle in the first ever women’s Last Man Standing Match. They made full use of the stipulation of the match with the use of weapons, wrestling, and having the crowd loving it that it boggles my mind that this match didn’t close out the show since it would’ve been the better way to close it up instead of Ronda Rousey vs. Nikki Bella. Becky would retain the title against Charlotte to prove that she’s all on her own from here and there was definitely respect shown between the two. Fantastic match and I hope these two women keep this momentum going for 2019 to help that their division to new heights.

 

18. Masaaki Mochizuki vs. Ben-K (Dragon Gate Champion Gate in Osaka 3/4/2018)

– This was the second Dragon Gate show I covered and I said this match would be on my list and I meant it since it was a great match that still holds up nine months later. Masaaki Mochizuki had an underrated title reign with the Open the Dream Gate Championship with some solid performances in his matches, but this is the one that stood out the most in his series of title defenses in this reign. Mochizuki would defend the title against a future star of the company, Ben-K and this was the first time seeing him in singles competition to see how he would do in the main event level if we were to one day win the championship, which blows my expectations out of the water and made me a fan of him right away.

Ben-K looked strong in this match and even in the end when he lost the match by TKO instead of actually tapping out to make him look like a star. Will Ben-K win the title one day? I think he will since both times he went for the title this year showed he will be a huge success and it all depends on when they want to pull the trigger, especially since PAC came back and is not the current Open the Dream Gate Champion, so it all depends on how they plan it out. If you haven’t check out Ben-K before, this is the first match I would show people so they get a familiar idea of what he’s all about. My favorite Dragon Gate match this year and one that should be talked about when it comes to this company.

 

17. Taiji Ishimori vs. Hiromu Takahashi (NJPW Best of the Super Junior XXV 6/4/2018)

– This one is my favorite junior heavyweight match this year and definitely deserves a spot on the list for sure during this first time ever match-up. This was the finals of the 25th annual Best of the Super Junior tournament where the winner of this match will earn the right to challenge Will Ospreay for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship at Dominion a few days after this show. Both Taiji Ishimori and Hiromu Takashi almost downright killed each other in this match with them pulling out all of the stops right in the beginning in the match with Taiji making Hiromu roll all the way down the bleachers and landing on the floor.

This match felt a little too dangerous for peoples tastes since it looked like they could’ve been seriously hurt if they weren’t careful with any of the moves that they pulled off in this match, but luckily that both of these men made it out of the match in one piece because nobody likes to see a wrestler injured or having their careers cut short by one mistake. Hiromu would eventually defeat Taiji in an incredible match to finally also defeat Will Ospreay to bring Mr. Belt back home after being separated from him for an entire year. Unfortunately, Hiromu wouldn’t hold the title long as he injured his neck when he fought Dragon Lee and landed on his head wrong on a Phoenix Suplex. I don’t know if he will be able to return or not and it’s a real shame to hear since he definitely had a lot more left to offer for the business and to see it cut short like this would be heartbreaking. I do hope for a successful recovery at the end of it all and thank him for giving us excitement for the junior heavyweight division.

 

16. AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Money in the Bank 6/17/2018)

– “But this feud was underwhelming and awful!” Technically it was but at the same time, it wasn’t the worst feud during AJ’s run. Both AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura fought at Wrestle Kingdom 10 in a much-anticipated dream match where Nakamura was the victor before the two would depart to the WWE. Fans were excited to see them one day fight on the big stage and it happened when Nakamura won the Royal Rumble to earn that right to finally fight AJ Styles for the WWE Championship. A lot of fans were disappointed since it wasn’t like their Wrestle Kingdom match that many considered a classic, but I’ll get to that later since this was the first step to Nakamura turning heel once he lost to AJ Styles.

The two would meet in the ring at least three more times where the next two ended in a no contest and then Nakamura would get a win to tie it up which lead to the Last Man Standing Match. This match was their best WWE match together as it had the story from the rivalry, incorporated their skills mostly to try and take each other down rather than heavily rely on the weapons. I do wish Nakamura won this match since this would’ve been the right time for him to win the championship, but they wanted to advertise the WWE 2K19 game with Styles on the cover, so it would’ve been a bad move to take the title off him while giving him that honor. I was gonna use AJ Styles vs. Daniel Bryan from TLC instead but I decided not to since while that one was the much better wrestling match, this was the overall package if you were to compare the two, but still great and should check it out if you haven’t.

So why did this feud technically bomb to a majority of the fans? I think it’s because of the fact that a lot of people had their expectations set way too high when this rivalry was being developed. I liked it a lot more since I didn’t compare it to their match at New Japan because they’re two different companies who have different aspects on how they do their business and style of wrestling, if people were going to expect something similar or better then that is their doing for assuming. Also, you gotta understand that Nakamura is way past his prime and even has been for a couple of years before he left New Japan except for his matches with Styles, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Kota Ibushi since that was the only time during his final run where he had great matches while the rest of it was pretty much just him there. His charisma was mostly the only thing keeping him over at this time and he can have a great match from time to time around this point of his career, but how he used to be isn’t him anymore and this is his own doing, which I don’t blame him since he wanted to tone it down. But, this was still a great match and definitely a top one for a Last Man Standing Match as a whole if I were to do a top 15 for this type of match.

That’s it for this set of matches and thank you very much for tuning in to read them. I know some are confused about the placements of the matches and everything, but again it’s all opinion based and my reasoning for each one is posted up there. I hope you all enjoyed the read and tune in tomorrow as we look at our next five matches. See you all then!


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Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 7/25/2021

So it’s been about a month, but we finally got enough good matches to inspire a Top 5! Let’s see what stood out this week!

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Been a while since this has happened, right? Well much like a bunch of people, wrestling hasn’t really lit my world on fire lately. Plus when there’s only like 1 or 2 decent matches a week, it’s pointless to make a Top 5.

With that said, I’ll play the executive decision card here and declare a winner for June.

  • January: NJPW New Beginning Nagoya: NEVER Openweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
  • February: NXT Vengeance Day: North American Championship: Johnny Gargano (c) vs Kushida
  • March: NJC 3.21.21: NJC Finals: Will Ospreay vs Shingo Takagi
  • April: NXT Stand & Deliver: UK Championship: Walter (c) vs Tommaso Ciampa
  • May: WWE WrestleMania Backlash: Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs Cesaro
  • June: Stardom: World of Stardom Championship: Utami Hayashishita (c) vs Syuri

Let’s be honest here, anyone that saw those two women put the work in, won’t question its place in the list. IF you haven’t seen it…go, find it. The initial match and the overtime I personally count together, and it was just beautifully done.

Depending on next week, this might end up being the July vote, so make your vote count this time around. I really hope that with all the in-ring returns and return of fans, wrestling picks up again.

Quick Top 5:

  1. NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
    Rating: **** ¼
  2. NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: Kazuchika Okada vs Jeff Cobb
    Rating: ****
  3. NXT UK: NXT UK Tag Team Championships: Pretty Deadly (c) vs Subculture
    Rating: ****
  4. NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles: SANADA & Tetsuya Naito (c) vs Dangerous Tekkers
    Rating: ****
  5. GCW Homecoming 7.24: GCW World Title: Nick Gage (c) vs Matt Cardona
    Rating: ****

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: El Desperado (c) vs Robbie Eagles
    Rating: *** ¾
  • NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Titles: Mega Coaches (Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi) vs Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & ELP) (c)
    Rating: *** ½
  • AEW Fyter Fest Night 2: IWGP US Championship: Lance Archer vs Jon Moxley (c)
    Rating: *** ½
  • AEW Fyter Fest Night 2: AEW Women’s Championship: Britt Baker (c) vs Nyla Rose
    Rating: *** ¼
  • IMPACT!: Chris Bey vs Rohit Raju w/Shera
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: KOPW 2021 New Japan Rambo w/Handcuffs
    Rating: ***
  • NXT: Bobby Fish & Kushida vs Tyler Rust & Roderick Strong
    Rating: ***
  • IMPACT!: Knockouts Tag Team Titles: Fire N Flava vs Havok & Rosemary (c)
    Rating: ***

2t. GCW Homecoming 7.24: GCW World Title: Nick Gage (c) vs Matt Cardona

So Cardona took his shots in an area he’s not comfortable in, and much like WWE wrestlers treading into ECW territory, he was not met kindly. Cardona came out, action figures adorned on his gear and around the ring, along with appropriate chants made this feel very…ECW in the 90s. Part of the thing that added to this match was that rabid tension in the air, where the crowd is loyal to their brand and hates outsiders.

When we get around to the match, Cardona busts up Gage first, and pulls off the old Broski Boot, which pisses off Gage as he’s being fed light tubes from the outside. The early part of this match felt like someone in hostile territory and literally everyone not in the back, were trying to help Gage kill Cardona. Murder Death Kill was in full effect.

Cardona eventually loses the small upperhand he gets, when he just tries to treat this as a normal match at times, and Kid Ref has to be like “nope, that’s not how this works”. So playing in the space of Cardona only understanding sterile wrestling and being out of his element was amusing. The fact he came in with purple gloves that the fans and announcers decreed “Purple Prolapsed Anus” gloves or something like that, was amusing but got old the 20th time it was said.

Gage carved Cardona up, but then we go from ECW style death match to more of an AEW overbooking gimmick. First Judas starts playing, and some masked person rushes the ring, Gage handles him, but it’s not Jericho. Purely a mind game. But then 44OH come out, minus Ricky Shane Page. They attack Gage, RSP hits the ring after, RSP and Gage fight off 44OH, stand tall together for GCW…until RSP shows his true colors, Low Blows Gage, helps out Cardona and the end is nigh.

Three bundled Light Tubes and a Radio Silence/Ruff Ryder crown Zack Ryder..erm…Matt Cardona as GCW champion!

Yes it was overbooked, but it’s hard to deny the atmosphere and the cool factor of the old school ECW vibe of a packed house wanting to see a literal murder. It also was a little more pro wrestling than most American death matches, so I found myself enjoying mostly everything except the commentary. They are really awful.

Winner: Cardona via Radio Silence/Ruff Ryder

 

2t. NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles: SANADA & Tetsuya Naito (c) vs Dangerous Tekkers

From My Results:

Naito and ZSJ start and mess with each other, as SANADA and Taichi continue their own personal rivalry around respect and pec dancing.

Most of Naito’s offense focused on ZSJ’s knee, but a huge portion of this match felt more like a tornado tag. We saw plenty of time where all four men were in the ring at the same time. Dueling submissions, stereo submissions, everyone hitting a finish/signature, just a lot of hard work. Call backs galore to previous encounters, but unless I blinked, no cheating. The beauty of the Tekkers this year have been that they are more tweeners than heels.

SANADA cut off Taichi at many times, but we saw great babyface moments from the Suzuki-Gun duo. ZSJ asking Red Shoes to stop the double knockout count so they could finish it correctly, Taichi imploring Zack that what ended up being the ending sequence was “their last chance”. So there was great desperation, great mutual needling. ZSJ pulled off the counter he couldn’t figure out when they lost the belts; and ends up surprising Naito by turning a Destino into the European Clutch.

Winner: Tekkers via European Clutch

 

2t. NXT UK: NXT UK Tag Team Championships: Pretty Deadly (c) vs Subculture

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

The ref is upset, but the count is over and this match continues! BT Sports Studio says “This is Awesome!” as Howley drags Andrews out. Howley whips Andrews at steps but Andrews jumps up to QUEBRADA! Howley catches him, but Andrews tilt-o-whirls to DDT Howley to the floor! Stoker victory rolls FMW, TWO! FMW has a cover, TWO!! Stoker and FMW run in, ETON RIFLE!! Tag to Andrews and he goes up the corner! FALL TO PIECES FLOPS as Howley drags Stoker out of harm’s way! The ref reprimands but FMW FLIES in! Only to be caught! DOUBLE BARRIER SNAKE EYES! Pretty Deadly get in the ring, but Andrews DECKS Howley!

Andrews fires off on Stoker, forearms and CHOPS on repeat! Howley grabs the tag title belts! Andrews DECKS Howley again and the belt falls in the ring! The ref grabs that as Andrews continues to fire off on Stoker! Stoker gets under, Howley runs in, SPILT MILK!! Cover, Pretty Deadly wins!!

Winner: Pretty Deadly via Spilt Milk

 

2t. NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: Kazuchika Okada vs Jeff Cobb

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Fans return to the thunderous rallying as Okada and Cobb stir. Okada sits up but Cobb follows, and the two stare down. They go forehead to forehead before going forearm for forearm! Okada hits, Cobb hits, and then Cobb slaps Okada on the head. They stand, Okada forearms but Cobb forearms back. Cobb eggs Okada on so the forearms go faster and faster! Fans rally up as the shots keep coming, and Okada gets the edge. Okada EuroUppers, talks some trash, and walks into a CHOP from Cobb! Cobb BLINDSIDE LARIATS! Cobb gut wrenches for the DOCTOR BOMB! Cover, TWO!?! Okada survives and Cobb can’t believe it! Cobb gets Okada up, whips, TOUR OF THE-

NO! Okada slips out and wants to gut wrench! Cobb fights free and SUPERKICKS! Okada staggers, fires up, but runs into a HEADBUTT! Cobb whips again, TOUR OF THE- Wait, Okada slips out again! Okada wristlocks, ripcords, but Cobb ducks to ripcord for a COBB MAKE- NO! Okada Alabama lifts but Cobb sunset flips, only for Okada to sit on it! Cover, OKADA WINS!!

Winner: Okada via Double Legged Cradle

 

1. NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi

From My Results:

In typical Tanahashi fashion though, he powers through and gets better as the match pushes forward. His desperation attacks were well-timed and looked great. Tana had callbacks and all of his finishers and signatures come to mind. Texas Cloverhold was used to weaken Takagi’s base, just like earlier in the year, Slingblade countered Last of the Dragon once, and Dragon Suplex, were all kicked out of. These all won Tanahashi titles in the past and Takagi overtook them. The major moment was when Tana hit the first High Fly Flow to take Takagi off his feet, but Takagi grabbed the Ace’s foot. He refused to let him hit the follow up, so Tana smacked him around more and even pulled out the reference to Ibushi with a Kamigoye! God uses the move invented to surpass him!

A second High Fly Flow…BUT TAKAGI KICKED OUT! That’s the first time, in quite a long time that anyone kicked out of the sequential High Fly Flow. Also as we saw during his match with KENTA, Shibata handed Tanahashi a few new moves as well. The corner Dropkick and a resounding Headbutt kept Tanahashi alive at many times in the match.

This had a lot of moments of the “old gunslinger” style of fight, but I feel like that’s been consistent with Tanahashi the last 3 or 4 years. Tana took a beating, even ate Stay Dream, and kept kicking. A desperation strike exchange turned into Takagi getting the better of it and putting down the Ace with Last of the Dragon.

Winner: Takagi via Last of the Dragon

 

Final Thoughts:

Like I said at the start, wrestling has been weird the last few months. Not sure if it was just the pandemic wearing on me personally, but it was really hard to find things about this entertainment medium to enjoy. I really hope this is a turning point since most things are coming back, including covid…see this proves Loki was too popular since now even covid has variants.

ANYWAY – bad observational humor aside, we got a solid week for a bunch of different fans. My vote will honestly go to. GCW Heavyweight Championship: Nick Gage (c) vs Matt Cardona. Was it the best wrestled match in the Top 5? Nope. But hot damn was it electric. It was probably one of the most interesting scenes in wrestling since I went to ECW shows at the old Trenton CYO back in the day.

So maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe I just also enjoy watching brutality sometimes. But either way, Cardona and his action figures pulled off an upset in my personal preferences too! Until next…week? Hopefully next week…


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News From Cook’s Corner 7.26.21: Returns Out The Yin Yang

Cook’s News has returned thanks to wrestling being interesting lately! Has the current direction of wrestling helped to peak your attention as well?

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Hi, hello & welcome to News From Cook’s Corner! I’m Steve Cook, and I’m here because there are things worth writing about. See, that’s one of the things about me. Maybe it’s held me back over the years, tough to say. All I know is I’m not one of those guys that has to have an opinion on every single thing going on in the wrestling business. Come to think of it, that probably has held me back, since wrestling websites want me to have opinions.

It’s nothing new.

Why do you think I burn out on wrestling writing every few years and transition to writing about other things that interest me? Why do you think the most common phrase I utter on podcasts other than “Good times” is “It is what it is”? I probably shouldn’t be admitting this live & in public, but I go to “It is what it is” when I have nothing further to say about a topic that is either relevant or true. My man Larry, he had a take on every single thing going on in the wrestling business, and after he was done talking he’d throw it to me and I’d reply with “Uh, well, it is what it is, man. Am I right?”. The poor bastard. If only he had a proper podcast partner.

It’s a weakness of mine.

Though, I feel like it might be preferable to the weakness many of you have, where y’all feel compelled to comment on every single thing for the most ridiculous of reasons. I was looking on the Twitter just after work ended on Sunday, and I noticed that Eddie Guerrero was a trending topic. Twitter usually kills people, so Twitter bringing somebody back to life would have been a welcome change of pace. No, unfortunately, it was just some jackhole Twitter account calling Eddie a B+ player. See, the “B+ player” thing is a trigger for a lot of folks. Including some folks in the business!

All because one thirsty guy trying to get attention from a female Internet wrestling personality in her replies said something. I remember when Colin Cowherd slandered wrestling fans for caring about Eddie’s death. That was actually worth responding to because the guy had an ESPN Radio show. The guy everybody’s complaining about barely has more Twitter followers than I do. Why waste your time? You’re giving the guy clout, which is what he wants so he can get attention from the female Internet wrestling personality.

This whole thing tells me that y’all are too thirsty. People need to keep themselves lubricated. That’s the lesson to be learned here. On to the news!

Summer of Cena!

WWE is back on the road, which means they have to fill some of those seats for television purposes. While just the idea of seeing rasslin live is enough for some, others need a little bit more. WWE knows the number one thing that appeals to those fringe fans…previous stars!

That’s why we’ve got the Summer of Cena coming to a town near you. John Cena is back in the mix and appearing on WWE live events up to SummerSlam, and people are pretty darn excited about it. It’s nice to see Cena getting this type of appreciation now after years of wrestling fans whining & moaning about Super Cena and his lack of work rate. I wonder if this is because the fans have done a 180, or if the fans that whined & complained about Cena back in the day have moved on to other things. Maybe it’s just the natural course of things. Jeff Gordon went from getting boos to getting cheers at NASCAR races.

Either way, Cena’s return seems to have sparked some interest, and a feud with Roman Reigns should spark some more. Seems pretty obvious after one week that Reigns is playing the role of 2011 John Cena, while Cena is playing 2011 The Rock. Some take artists will jump on the Reigns bandwagon since he’s pointing out that Cena’s playing the hits, while folks like me will point out that Cena’s doing what the fans want him to do. Play the hits.

You just have to make sure you don’t play the same songs too long. Then you end up like Bill Goldberg, making yet another comeback to challenge Bobby Lashley. It’s the same song we’ve heard a few times at this point, and I’m not really sure who it’s appealing to. Is there a large number of fans out there that want to see Goldberg vs. Lashley? Was there a large number for Goldberg vs. McIntyre, or Goldberg vs. Reigns/Strowman? Goldberg vs. Lesnar worked for what it was, but it’s been diminishing returns ever since.

Nothing against Goldberg, who seems like a good dude. But the 2021 nostalgia kick would be just fine without another Goldberg championship match. I feel like if he shows up in a few years at age 60 still all jacked, maybe you get some morbid curiosity buys out of it. Otherwise I’m not seeing a use for Goldberg.

Plenty of use for Cena though. Word is that WWE isn’t done, and that this is “just the beginning” with even bigger names to come! I get the feeling that some of these names are being oversold. As much as we love Becky Lynch, she isn’t bigger than John Cena. The only pro wrestling name out there bigger than John Cena is The Rock, who we might be seeing at Survivor Series if the rumors are true. Anybody else, well, they’re nice but they’re not bigger than John Cena.

AEW also going to that nostalgia well!

Say what you will about WWE digging up the likes of Cena & Goldberg to wrestle, but at least they’ve been in the ring fairly recently. AEW is reportedly going to bring in somebody that hasn’t wrestled since the 2014 Royal Rumble. Talk about ring rust!

CM Punk is the fella in question. They say he’ll be back for the All Out PPV in September, which I’m told is in Chicago. You might say it’s an easy commute for him, but saying that would tell me you’ve never been to Chicago. Indianapolis would be an easier commute.

Some question the idea of bringing Punk in at this point, largely because they don’t like him. That’s the main argument against CM Punk, some people don’t like him because he quit wrestling back in 2014. They got their feelings hurt and he didn’t properly apologize to them. It’s a strong energy these people have.

Not saying Punk doesn’t come without controversy. The first meeting with him & Colt Cabana should be interesting. The other big name reportedly coming to AEW is much less controversial.

Return of the Danielson

Bryan Danielson is a name we haven’t heard regularly except from super smart fans refusing to use his WWE name for over a decade now. Seems like we’ll be hearing it more often now, as Bryan is reportedly on his way to AEW. The scuttlebutt says that Danielson will be debuting at the Arthur Ashe Stadium show.

It was long believed that Danielson would sign wherever he could get the most freedom to do other things, with New Japan as a particular destination. To WWE’s credit, Nicholas Khan tried to get a deal done to make that happen. However, Anthony Khan was able to swing the deal, as we’ve seen with the IWGP US Championship regularly featured on Dynamite. Y’all thought that online promo he did was unhinged, but he knew what was going on. That forbidden door has been opened, and Bryan looks to be one of the folks jumping through. It’s a pretty cool wrestling universe right now with AEW, NJPW, AAA, Impact Wrestling and even ROH having some links to it. (Could we see a Bryan Danielson appearance in ROH? Since I recap their weekly show I’m certainly hoping so. Their spot in the grand scheme of things isn’t great, but maybe he has a soft spot for them.)

From a wrestling fan perspective, AEW is a good landing spot for Bryan. All kinds of new matches for him, and some that are ready to be re-visited. Yes, he wrestled Kenny Omega before, but that was before Kenny became Kenny BY GOD Omega. That’s an easy main event for some show.

Punk & Danielson are the two biggest names AEW can bring in right now. We all know that bringing in names is one thing. TNA was great at that. The important part is the follow-up. What Punk & Danielson do in AEW will decide whether they generate interest or not. Just showing up isn’t enough to change much of anything.

It is exciting, though. I root for exciting & interesting, and we’re getting plenty of that these days.

GCW > NXT

Here’s a truth: I’ve never watched a full GCW show. I have seen plenty of NXT shows. However, I can say that Game Changer Wrestling obviously has smarter booking than NXT. They know to take their championship off of a wrestler before he jobs on national television. They also know how to make a top heel, as indicated by the reaction of their fans to…Matt Cardona? OK, so that wasn’t the guy I expected to see covered in blood getting a reaction like he was the NWO in 1996.

I did expect to see Nick Gage on AEW television at some point. Given Tony Khan’s fandom of all things 2000s Combat Zone Wrestling, it was bound to happen. We just needed the right time for it, and MJF needing outside help to take care of Chris Jericho was as good a time as any. You gotta love 2021 giving us weird matches like Chris Jericho vs. Nick Gage, right?

Not if you’re a stick in the mud, apparently. Some folks are outraged that AEW would book somebody like Gage. One complaint is the fact that he robbed a bank, which, granted, wasn’t the brightest thing to do. That said, Gage did his time in prison, paid his debt to society, and has been a better person since. I’m told that America is a forgiving place and people deserve a second chance, so I don’t see the issue here. If Gage robs another bank before Wednesday, sure, throw the book at him.

Then there’s the argument against deathmatch wrestling. It can be argued that AEW goes to that well a little too often, as we’re getting this match a week after Lance Archer beat Jon Moxley by choke slamming him on a barbed wire board. Some would argue that any deathmatch wrestling is too much, and folks like Gage don’t belong in a wrestling ring. Me, I’m ok with it as long as the people involved are ok with it. You don’t have to watch it if you don’t like it, but the people that get on their high horse and claim that *fill in the blank* isn’t wrestling irritate me. Wrestling is a large number of different things.

You might not like people getting stabbed with a fork. Maybe you don’t like Alexa Bliss hypnotizing people. It’s still wrestling.

And that’s all we have time for this week. Thanks for reading, and have a nice day!


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