Another week, and another 5 matches that stand out. Most American companies are building for the end of this year/early next year PPV, so what did Andrew find for this week?
Well boys and girls, we made it to the final vote for actual week of matches. If your confused since December just started, let me explain.
This is the last week that will feed into November. Next week we will vote for the Match of November, as well as, the Second Chance vote to count as the 12th entry. I have a few people in mind to suggest a match that got overlooked or out-voted throughout the year, and we’ll get 5 Second Chance matches. Then the 12 will get voted down to 5, then the winner of the 5 will be our Match of the Year.
So before we get to this final week, we need to reveal who won last week. NXT UK: Toni Storm vs Jinny, was the match that made the biggest impact during the holiday week. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s see what this week brings.
5. NXT UK UK Championship Match: Pete Dunne (c) vs Jordan Devlin
From Mitchell’s Coverage:
The Bruiserweight is only the second-ever champion, but he has a reign that will be hard to follow. However, not only does the Iron Irishman vow to end that reign, he vows to rebrand the entire show as the NXT Irish Division, guest starring the rest of the UK. Will Devlin turn the Division upside-down? Or will Dunne keep there from being a third-ever champion any time soon?
Birmingham is fired up for their hometown Bruiserweight, while fans tell Devlin “We Want Balor!” The introductions are made, the belt is raised, and we begin! Devlin and Dunne stare down before slowly circling. Fans chant and sing as Dunne and Devlin tie up. Dunne has the chin and brings Devlin down to the mat. He wants the fingers but Devlin headscissors back. Dunne gets up and around but Devlin works to keep him down. Dunne pops out and stares Devlin down, so Devlin slaps him! Of course Dunne slaps back, then drags Devlin up for an armlock. Dunne twists the arm to a hammerlock, but Devlin avoids the stomp. Fans applaud this even match-up.
The two circle again and Devlin gets the wristlock. Devlin wrangles Dunne down but fans still taunt him that he’s a “Reject Balor”. Dunne gets up and monkey flips Devlin away. Devlin scrambles to the apron but then comes back to rock Dunne with a right! Devlin rains rights down on Dunne as fans boo and jeer. Dunne shakes the stars out of his head but Devlin gets him in a headlock. Dunne powers out and things speed up, Dunne runs Devlin over with a lariat! Now Devlin flounders as fans fire up for the Bruiserweight. Dunne gets Devlin down and traps one arm to pull on the other. And he pulls the fingers! Devlin endures the torture as Dunne bends his arm back. Dunne has double chicken wings, to stomp Devlin’s head!
Dunne kicks Devlin while he’s down, then yanks him up. He whips Devlin but Devlin reverses. Devlin stops Dunne from going up and over, and gives him a draping backstabber! Cover, TWO! Devlin grows frustrated while fans rally up for Dunne. He stomps but Dunne grabs the leg, so Devlin throws in forearms. Devlin sits Dunne up and slaps him around. Dunne clubs Devlin with clotheslines, but Devlin then ducks to urenage and moonsault! Cover, ONE! Devlin keeps his cool as he drags Dunne up. Fans rally but Devlin rocks Dunne with a forearm. Devlin eggs Dunne on as he throws more forearms. Dunne grits his teeth as he takes those forearms! Dunne then blasts Devlin with one big right! Devlin is in a corner as fans rally.
Dunne whips but Devlin reverses again. Dunne gets up and over this time then enziguris Devlin! Devlin standing switches and Germans but Dunne lands on his feet! Dunne kicks Devlin’s back, then shoves Devlin for a rebound snap German! Devlin wants mercy but gets a kick instead! And an X-Plex, into an armbar! Devlin reaches and endures, and manages to roll Dunne to a cover. TWO and Dunne lets Devlin go. Devlin gets to a corner again, and Dunne runs in. Devlin dodges and enziguris Dunne, to then boot wash! He drags Dunne right up for the saito suplex! Cover, TWO! Dunne lives but Devlin keeps his cool. Devlin hammers away on Dunne’s back with both hands. He stomps Dunne in the ribs, then gloats. Devlin moonsaults but flops! Dunne stands on Devlin’s hand, to stomp away!
Devlin clutches his beat up hand, but Dunne gets it again. Devlin breaks free to rock him with a right! Dunne hits Devlin back! Dunne runs but into a SPANISH FLY! But Dunne catches Devlin’s cover into a Koji Klutch!! Devlin endures, reaches, rolls, but Dunne rolls more. Ropebreak! Dunne lets Devlin go and Devlin slumps onto the apron. Devlin then slumps to the floor so Dunne goes out to fetch him. Fans rally up as Dunne brings Devlin to the steps. Dunne wrenches Devlin’s arm, but his stomp misses again, and Devlin shoves out the legs! Dunne’s face hits the steel! Devlin grits his teeth as he drags Dunne up. SUPER SPANISH FLY to the floor!! Fans lose their minds while the referee checks on both men. They’re somehow still okay to compete, so a ring count begins.
Devlin stirs at 2 but Dunne is vulnerable. The count reaches 5 before Devlin gets to Dunne. Both men get up and in at 9.99! Fans are thunderous for this action as both men glare at each other. They grind foreheads as they stand up. Devlin stands first as Dunne’s back bothers him. But Dunne blocks the cover into double knuckle locks. Dunne stands on both hands, and stomps them both! Then buzzsaw kicks Devlin! Then pumphandles, but Devlin slips out to hit a POISON-RANA! Cover, TWO!? Dunne survives and Birmingham knows “This is Awesome!” Devlin’s frustration boils up as he glares down at Dunne. Devlin drags him up and throws forearms. He then runs and springboards, but into a forearm! Dunne drags Devlin up, pumphandle, Bitter End!
But Dunne can’t cover right away from the bad back! He crawls over but Devlin rolls away! Dunne keeps pursuing but Devlin keeps evading. Devlin reaches ropes and the apron but Dunne won’t quit. Both men stand on either side of the ropes, and then Dunne joins Devlin on the apron. Devlin shoves him into a post, back first! Devlin drags Dunne up to the top rope, then positions him carefully. He comes in and climbs up to join Dunne. Dunne resists so Devlin throws more forearms. Devlin stands all the way up, another SUPER SPANISH FLY!! Cover, TWO!?! Fans are at a fever pitch as their hometown hero shows superhuman heart. They chant “This is Wrestling!” as Devlin stands and Dunne stirs.
Dunne sees Devlin walking over and sits up. Devlin dares Dunne to stand, so he does, only for Devlin to punch him back down. Dunne gets back up even as Devlin tells him to stay down. Dunne puts up his dukes, but Devlin gives him a headbutt! Both men are rocked, but Devlin gets up again. Devlin takes the mouth guard out, and tosses it away for a SUPERKICK! Cover, TWO?! As Nigel McGuinness says, “How on Earth?!” Devlin goes up top, moonsault, but into a triangle hold!! Dunne has Devlin stuck, and drives in his elbow. Devlin scrambles for another ropebreak, but Dunne brings him away! And snaps the fingers! Devlin taps, Dunne wins!!
Winner: Dunne via Triangle Choke
4. AJPW Jr Heavyweight Championship Match: Shuji Kondo (c) vs Koji Iwamoto
Iwamoto gets his rematch against the man who took the belt from him two months ago, and this should be good. Kondo is a decorated veteran and Iwamoto has been rising in the ranks over the last two years. Can Iwamoto get his belt back?
This was a fast paced Junior Heavyweight style match. There was a little bit of feeling out early, but after a while they just started throwing haymakers. Kondo hit many signatures, his Hurricane Mixer Spear/Uranagi move, Lanzarse and an Avalanche Inverted Suplex, but just for near falls. Kondo went for the King Kong Lariat, but Iwamoto countered with the first Koko no Geijutsu.
A couple Penalty Kicks fire up Kondo, as he hits the ropes again, but falls victim to another Koko no Geijutsu, giving Iwamoto a rather surprising win, but the fans were behind it.
All in all the match wasn’t anything overly spectacular, not bad at all, but it also shows All Japan is actively investing in the future. The fact the company seems to be on an upswing, this is a perfect time to establish some talent they can lock up for the future. If you like high impact and fast paced wrestling, this should resonate with you.
Winner: Iwamoto via Koko no Geijutsu
Rating **** 1/4
3. AJPW Real World Tag League: Jun Akiyama & Daisuke Sekimoto vs Ryouji Sai & Jake Lee
Welcome to another installation of Uncle Jun’s “You Gonna Learn Today”. With how stiff he was with Yoshitatsu a few matches prior, you have to wonder how he feels about Jake Lee. Jake is a young guy who left wrestling for MMA, but was trained by Keiji Mutoh and Atsushi Aoki, so the way he wrestlers is very much the older style. Will Jun lay in some real time teaching, or does he like this student?
Sekimoto and Sai start things off, but everyone wanted to see Jake and Jun. The crowd swelled and the two had a small standoff, before Jun grabs a waist lock, but gets pushed to the ropes. As Jun breaks, Jake slowly gives space and then connects with the Round Kick to Akiyama’s chest. Jun immediately removes his elbow pad and there was new fire in his eyes.
The important thing about this was in the Royal Road tournament, Jun injured his elbow in his match against Jake. So it was a little gamesmanship, followed up with Jake pulling a page out of Jun’s book and pulling off the old oki-doke misdirection as he attempted a move on the apron but Jun saw it and they just stared each other down. These two need to have another singles match soon because this will be great.
As for this match, all four of these guys put on a damn good show. Rouji Sai took most of the punishment, Jake managed to break up Sekimoto’s “I’m Helping” Super German Suplex, to give Sai the opening to take over the match, After a few kicks, Sai hits a big Sky Kick in the corner and gets the win for the team.
Abridged version yes, but much like New Japan, tournaments are used to build more storylines. The match was a good match, but the personalities shining through are what make these special.
Winner: Ryouji via Sky Kick
Rating: **** 1/4
Impact: Lucha Bros vs Willie Mack & Rich Swann
Winner: Lucha Bros via Tandem inverted Code Red
Rating: *** 3/4
205 Live: Cedric Alexander & Mustafa Ali vs Buddy Murphy & Tony Nese
Winner: Alexander via Lumbar Check
Rating: *** 1/2
WWE Raw Intercontinental Title Match: Seth Rollins (c) vs Dolph Ziggler
Winner: Rollins via Falcon Arrow
Rating: *** 1/4
NXT UK Women’s Title Match: Toni Storm vs Rhea Ripley
Winner: Ripley via Rip Tide
AJPW Real World Tag League: Odinson & Parrow vs Zeus & The Bodyguard
Winner: Parrow via Powerbomb/Backstabber Combo
Impact: Eli Drake vs Tommy Dreamer
Winner: Drake via Boat Oar/Chair combo
NXT: Keith Lee vs Lars Sullivan
Winner: Sullivan via Freak Accident
2. Progress Chapter 78 Progress World Championship Match: WALTER (c) vs Mark Haskins
So the story here was that Haskins had to relinquish the title due to a neck injury a few years ago, and now he’s finally clawed his way back. So can Haskins fell the giant Austrian Redwood for the title he never lost?
To take a line from my grandfather, this match encapsulated, “Ever see what a chainsaw does to a tree”. Haskins gave up significant size, but after getting thrown around and nearly toyed with, he started chipping away. Round Kicks to the back of WALTER’s hamstrings eventually dropped the hulking champion, and gave him the opportunity to work on the arm.
A big fun spot from this match was after Haskins had WALTER in the corner, a few running lariats, he winds up for a corner to corner move, WALTER tries to cut him off with a Shotgun Dropkick, but Haskins sees it coming, jumps in the air and times his Double Footstomp beautifully. Yes we see Kota Ibushi and other juniors do this often, but consider the two people here…it was cool.
Haskins locks in his Bridging Fujiwara Armbar a few times on top of strikes to weaken WALTER’s left arm. There was a real moment in this match where WALTER looked wounded and Haskins had a legitimate shot, as well as, the crowd support.
WALTER’s size saves him from tapping out to a Sharpshooter by just grabbing backwards and pulling Haskins off of him. Haskins fights out of a Sleeper Hold, Chicken Wing, Power Bomb…but eventually falls victim to the Fire/Thunder Driver. Haskins showed a lot of heart and it definitely told the story that WALTER was pushed further than most people have ever pushed him.
Winner: WALTER via Fire/Thunder Driver
Rating: **** 1/2
1. MLW Fusion MLW Tag Team Championship Match: Pentagon Jr & Fenix (c) vs LA Park & Hijo de LA Park
So this continues the Salina de la Renta vs Konnan story, where they just keep having different luchadors from each stable going after one another. Nothing more, nothing less, Salina is trying to take the Tag Titles out of Konnan’s camp, so she got LA Park and his son.
It’s always hard to describe the early bit of lucha matches. Everyone is in the ring, tags are optional and it’s just time to beat the hell out of each other. LA Park focused on Pentagon, so Hijo went after Fenix, and the pairings stayed pretty consistent. A big take away from this match was just that tables wouldn’t break.
Aside from that, we saw a lot of fun moments. LA Park (who is the original WCW La Parka) did his old air guitar with the chair, and his little La Parka strut at different points. Hell he even pulled off a Suicide Dive, and if you haven’t seen him since WCW, he’s at least 60 pounds heavier.
It was a fun match, lots of spots that played to the crowd, or allowed the combatants to pair off and not run everybody ragged at the same time. A goofy spot was when everyone missed Sentons. One would try, the other would move, but it was a solid spot to slow things down and reset for the finish. Hijo hit a nice Asai Moonsault on Fenix on the outside, while LA Park and Pentagon slugged it out in the middle of the ring.
When Hijo gets back in LA Park gets kicked out of the ring, they hit their tandem spike Fear Factor on Hijo and then Fenix dives outside to stop LA Park from breaking up the pinfall.
So this match was one for Konnan’s squad, but the rivalry is far from over.
Winner: Lucha Bros via Fear Factor/Double Stomp combo
Rating: **** 1/2
Well you know, since this is the last official ‘week’ Top 5 of 2018, I’m going to vote for, MLW: Lucha Bros vs LA Park & Hijo. I’d like to see MLW have a couple shots at winning a month since they’ve been putting on a great product. Also it’s a small nod to our podcast personality Christopher Platt, who called months ago on POD is WAR that MLW was going to be a player for a number 2 in the United States.
Well enjoy voting on this one, and wait to see what we have for the second chance vote next week!
WWE TV Ratings Still Matter
For the average WWE internet fan, TV ratings often support or refute claims about the product. But do TV ratings still matter?
In today’s TV landscape, the value of TV ratings has lost most of its importance because of the appearance of YouTube and torrent sites. WWE has used this excuse and the birth of the WWE network in a way of explaining why the ratings are down, and in a way, they are right, but WWE can’t use this excuse forever, at some point they have to see that their product they show to the fans weekly is the problem.
In the last couple of weeks RAW have been unwatchable and some of the worst WWE has to offer while ‘’the B show’’ SmackDown has been doing great and NXT is still on fire in terms of booking.
RAW and SmackDown have a symbiotic relationship, and this is so clear nowadays looking at the ratings. RAW’s terrible numbers affect SmackDown because of the stigma of being the B show and the fact that a lot of people use the logic of ‘’if the A show is bad, the B show will be bad as well’’ but this logic is wrong and SmackDown is paying the price for RAW’s mediocre performances which is a shame because SmackDown is killing it in almost all of its creative.
How Should Ratings Be Used?
The TV ratings in the most cases are used by TV shows in a way to measure what things are doing well and bad for a show while also listening to the audience, two things that WWE is oblivious of. WWE pretends to listen but its not true and the ratings reflect that.
The big amounts of money WWE will receive in 2019 from FOX and USA will only make things worse since WWE will not improve in terms of creative and things may actually get worse, which is a shame looking at the roster WWE has right now,and the ratings will still go down.
The only way that WWE will ever change is if the ratings of RAW fall under 2 million spectators and the WWE stock falls big time but both cases are very improbable to happen any time soon specially with The WWE stock having great numbers almost every day in Wall Street.
Could A Change Be Coming?
The XFL could be of tremendous help for WWE’s TV ratings in a weird way. In 2020 with the launch of the XFL, Vince could actually leave the control of WWE creative to Triple H, in a way to focus full time on the XFL, Triple H’s booking could be the fresh start the main roster of WWE needs and could potentially improve the viewership of the two biggest shows WWE produces weekly.
Currently the ratings are a reflection of WWE’s poor booking decisions and change may actually never happen and at some point fans will either quit wrestling or will change their loyalty to another promotion that can actually deliver the wrestling the fans want to see and only time will tell if WWE will ever be affected by this terrible viewership numbers they are drawing weekly.
Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
ROH In 2019: Top 5 Things To Watch For
Greg DeMarco explores the potential for a company-altering 2019 on the horizon for ROH.
As Ring Of Honor heads into Final Battle 2018, the company finds itself at a crossroads of sorts. Things might look quite different at the 2019 edition of the company’s annual capstone, and the year of 2019 could be quite a journey to get there.
Or not. That’s the really interesting part.
Here are my Top 5 things you need to watch for in 2019 for ROH.
(I am publishing this before Final Battle because the event itself, and subsequent tapings, will likely go a long way towards shaping 2019, and might answer some of the questions posed below.)
5. Continued Production Upgrades
This one seems like a “no brainer,” as the company has continually upgraded production equipment and production values over the past few year. Last year’s Final Battle was no different, with a new lighting rig that was almost too big for the Hammerstein Ballroom.
But this is on the list for a bigger reason: people are too hard on ROH for this subject.
I think people watch Ring Of Honor and expect WWE quality, or even IMPACT Wrestling quality. Yes, they are owned by a television broadcast company, but that company does more distribution than production. And the production they do is local news, mostly from affiliates they purchased.
They don’t do live sports, which is what ROH is. I’ve never really understood the thinking of fans when slamming ROH for this. But I do see it continuing to get better.
4. The Elite Departs…? (Big Shoes To Fill)
Talent turnover could be its own category, but let’s be honest here: The Elite has made themselves the most valuable talents in Ring Of Honor.
Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks, specifically, have had a hand in building the ROH of today, the one that partnered with New Japan to sell out Madison Square Garden for WrestleMania Weekend in 2019.
If Cody and The Bucks, along with “Hangman” Adam Page and ROH part-timer Kenny Omega do indeed leave, the void will be massive. “Next man up” is a great idea in theory, but this isn’t football. The “next man” doesn’t have the following to make an impact like The Elite did.
And because he was “spoiled in talent,” Delirious hasn’t spent the time and broadcast resources to build their replacements.
But here’s the biggest what if: What if they don’t actually leave?
Final Battle is supposed to be the last night for Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks (among others), but what if it isn’t? The trio already put on ALL IN, a “non-ROH” event that drew 10,000 fans in Chicago while under a Ring Of Honor contract.
Yes, they’ve filed trademarks for All Elite Wrestling, Double Or Nothing, and All Out, with those filings coming from Jacksonville. They are linked to the Jaguars owner. But does that mean they have to leave ROH?
Not hardly. No one has said that All Elite Wrestling is going to be a weekly or even monthly product. Nothing of the sort, actually. It’s entirely plausible that Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks could stay with Ring Of Honor and be given the freedom to put on the All Elite events that offer them more fulfillment.
In fact, having a “working relationship” with All Elite Wrestling can only benefit ROH. If talent has the chance to work 2-4 All Elite “mega-indy” events per year, while working a full ROH schedule, plus New Japan and international bookings, than said talent actually has an option outside of WWE to make a great living. No one company can provide that to many, but the combination of ROH, All Elite, and NJPW can. That’s a point many are overlooking.
3. A Departure For Christopher Daniels
Yes, losing The Elite is big. Bigger than any other talent loss the company could endure during this time of transition. But that doesn’t speak to the potential loss of Christopher Daniels.
All three members of SoCal Uncensored (Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky) are rumored to be leaving ROH at the end of the year. Daniels and Kazarian are under contract, and if Sky is contracted it’s not likely a full deal as he has been working independent dates throughout the year.
Daniels, Kazarian, and Sky have a good relationship with The Bucks and Cody, and Kazarian is actually in business with Rhodes outside of wrestling. So their involvement in whatever All Elite Wrestling does is an easy assumption.
But if Daniels does go, they are losing more than an in-ring talent. He is one of the most influential backstage personalities the company has. Seemingly ageless, at 48-years old and with over 25-years of wrestling experience, he has helped craft some of the best in-ring showdowns ROH has seen over the past few years.
The Ladder War that took place at All Star Extravaganza (The Addiction vs. The Motor City Machine Guns vs. The Young Bucks) was one of the best inc company history, and saw the first reports of Daniels’ work backstage in an agent-like capacity. He has since gone on to hold the ROH World Championship, and his partners Kazarian and Sky are the current ROH World Tag Team Champions.
Daniels, along with Kazarian, have a heavy influence over the talent in ROH, especially the younger talent. There is no one better to learn from than “The Fallen Angel,” and if he goes an irreplaceable amount of knowledge and impact will follow him out the door.
And in writing this section I cannot neglect Frankie Kazarian, himself closing in 20-years in the business and an amazing talent in front of and behind the camera, and Scorpio Sky, himself 35-years young, is just not getting the recognition he deserves as a performer. All three are tremendous losses for the company if they do indeed depart.
2. New Talent Coming In
With talent (potentially) leaving the company, opportunities are created for new talent to enter. One is already there, and two more have been recently announced.
Jeff Cobb: Cobb, recently killed off of Lucha Underground seemingly to end his role as Matanza Cueto, was long considered one of the best talents not signed to any major company. His signing is a major coup for ROH, and he’s already the World TV Champion. If the company plays their cards right, he could have a Samoa Joe like run through 2019 and beyond, and be a star they can catapult to main event status with ease.
PCO: The former Quebecer (not a Mountie) had a career resurgence in 2018, becoming one of the fanbase’s favorite stars at the young age of 50. Faced with losing The Elite, ROH was smart to sign the man who is arguably the most sought after talent not named Cody Rhodes, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, and/or Kenny Omega.
Brody King: With 3.5 years of experience, Southern California’s King has fast become one of the most reliable talents in independent wrestling, providing stellar match after stellar match. His signing proves that ROH is looking beyond the New England area for talent–and they’d be smart to look into other Santino Bros Academy grads while they’re at it.
Personally, I am surprised we haven’t seen more talent announcements. As I’ve hinted above, I am not 100% certain The Elite and/or SCU end up leaving, as recent comments by Cody, The Bucks, and ROH COO Joe Koff could be more posturing than anything.
If so, then look for more talent to be signed by ROH–and that’s a good thing. Otherwise it’s “more of the same,” and as much as I love Jay Lethal and The Briscoes, they need fresh talent to work with in order to keep the product interesting and relevant.
1. The New Japan Relationship
It might not be the most fun to admit, but ROH might not be in in the “Number 2” position in the United States without the New Japan relationship. In fact, it’s really easy to argue that ROH needs NJPW more than New Japan needs Ring Of Honor.
That’s why the company gets by not putting ROH talent over, regardless on which side of the ocean the match takes place. And if The Elite leaves, Harold Meij and company have even influence over ROH.
G1 Supercard is already a huge success, despite nothing being announced outside of a few talents. The event at Madison Square Garden is going to be nothing short of amazing, and anyone in attendance is sure to leave happy regardless of The Elite’s presence.
But what happens after? What I want to see happen is simple: the ROH World Champion after Jay Lethal (let’s just use Jeff Cobb as an example) needs to be put over by a big name from New Japan. A Tetsuya Naito level name.
Basically, ROH needs to stand up for themselves, and be treated as an equal to NJPW in their booking, not as a little brother. Otherwise the relationship remains one-sided, and hurts ROH despite helping them draw.
2019 is set to be a very telling year for ROH, and I personally plan to devote more time and energy to covering their product. Many of you know that I worked for Ring For Honor in 2010 as I was their local contact for the Phoenix events that happened during WrestleMania 26 weekend. Nearly everyone I worked with on that weekend is gone, but my love for the company and my desire to see them succeed hasn’t left at all.
Hopefully 2019 will be a year that ROH transitions into a strong #2 option, a true alternative to the WWE product.