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!
Stone Cold Fever: Is Kevin Owens the Next Big Thing in WWE?
Is this rendition of KO Mania real?
Kevin Owens is quickly becoming the hottest Superstar in WWE. The former Universal champion is embarking on a war with Shane McMahon and while that war is only just beginning, KO is already reaping the benefits.
Owens is getting over and there’s no denying that. Many fans believe that this is just the beginning of something epic for KO and it’s hard to argue that point. But as with everything in WWE, Owens’ future depends on his booking and how much the company truly wants to invest in him. So will Kevin Owens be the next big thing in WWE?
It’s as if WWE suddenly flipped a switch and activated this new KO. The man that so many felt was on his way to superstardom in the company has always been just on the verge of greatness, but he always seemed to fall just short. It’s been through no fault of his own however as Owens has consistently always delivered, both in the ring and on the mic.
But despite how much he’s accomplished, there always seems to be an asterisk by his name. The same is true of other potential main event stars as well, like Finn Bálor and Braun Strowman. All three men have excelled on the worldwide stage but for whatever reason, none of the three have truly achieved legendary status in WWE.
While the men involved may not be too concerned with such positioning, the fans have been all too consumed with it. In their minds, the time for these talents and many more, is now. Why wait, when the business is experiencing such a resurgence in popularity? The time to strike seems to be now, so why not move ahead and make a massive impact with guys that can handle the pressure?
Perhaps that is exactly what the WWE faithful are seeing right now with Kevin Owens. Owens is capable of rising to the occasion and he’s done it many times before. Maybe there’s no better time for him to prove what he can do and maybe the company finally recognizes that.
But nearly every time fans depend on “maybe,” they wind up disappointed. WWE has not always been the most reliable company when it comes to doing right by hardworking talents, especially those who deserve a shot at the next level. Owens has been counted among those talents for far too long and now he’s getting a chance to finally step up.
The good news is that so far, it’s working. The live crowds are loving what he’s doing and no one can do it quite like he can. The comparisons to Stone Cold Steve Austin are coming like never before and KO, as well as WWE, obviously see that. The fact that Owens uses the Stunner as much as he does is proof that the entire angle is a tip of the cap to The Texas Rattlesnake.
It’s not that Owens needs to use anyone else’s finisher, just as he doesn’t need to mimic anyone else’s gimmick. KO can succeed based on his own merit and everyone knows that. But he’s saluting Austin and in doing so, reminding a legion of fans why they fell in love with WWE in the first place. There is no way to really revive The Attitude Era, but that’s not the point.
Kevin Owens is bringing back a taste of the past and making it relevant to his cause, as well as to the company’s current climate. The Stunner is as much of an anti-authority move as the middle finger, both of which keep Stone Cold on the minds of fans who love him for what he did in the business.
So is WWE truly headed for a new era of relevancy in the industry? Vince McMahon’s company has always been at the forefront of the business and for many fans, they’ve been the only game in town for a very long time. But with the rise of New Japan, Ring of Honor, as well as various promotions around the world, the wrestling world is becoming a much bigger place.
Of course much of the focus on the business right now is due to the birth and evolution of AEW. Cody Rhodes’ fledgling company is making waves and turning heads, just as everyone knew it would. But AEW has also captured WWE’s attention, despite any belief to the contrary. If Owens’ new run is a result of WWE going against the grain and trying something familiar, yet new, then that’s definitely a good thing.
But the bad news is that this is still WWE, which can change plans at a moment’s notice. Things can fluctuate at any time and when they do, an entire storyline can either twist in a different direction, or end altogether. Could this happen with KO versus Shane McMahon?
Much of what happens from here depends on just how long WWE can keep the fans invested in this angle. The live crowds are connected and the same is true of the audience at home. Everyone seems truly intent on following this story and they’re all rooting for Kevin Owens to keep rising higher on the card. If KO continues to get hot and if the company really gets behind him, then the entire landscape of WWE could change.
Kevin Owens is not the next Stone Cold Steve Austin and he surely does not want to be. KO has fought his entire career to be the best he can be and this new storyline is just the latest avenue for him to rise up. Maybe it will only go up from here and maybe Kevin Owens will finally realize his potential in the company that desperately needs the next big thing.
Andrew’s G1 Climax 29 Ratings & Analysis: Night 7 A Block
KENTA and Okada may start pulling away in A Block! Who falls first? The Rainmaker or The NOAH Outsider?
KENTA and Okada may start pulling away in A Block! Who falls first? The Rainmaker or The NOAH Outsider?
Aside from the big names being stuck in the middle of the pack, we’ve got poor little Zack Sabre at zero points. Can he twist Fale into a pretzel and figure it out?
Then we have Okada facing a banged up Ospreay, while KENTA takes on a rising EVIL.
Do we still have any undefeated participants in A Block after today?
- Yota Tsuji & Juice Robinson vs Jon Moxley & Shota Umino: Shooter wins via Boston Crab @3:55 – ** 1/4
- Taichi, Minoru Suzuki & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Toru Yano, Hirooki Goto & Yuya Uemura: Kanemaru wins via Deep Impact @8:50 – ***
- Yujiro Takahashi, Chase Owens & Jay White vs Jeff Cobb, Tomoaki Honma & Toa Henare: Chase wins via Package Piledriver @9:50 – ** 1/2
- Shingo Takagi, BUSHI & Tetsuya Naito vs YOSHI-HASHI, Ren Narita & Tomohiro Ishii: BUSHI wins via MX @7:35 – **
- A Block: Zack Sabre Jr vs Bad Luck Fale: Sabre wins via Countout @6:30 – ** 1/4
- A Block: Lance Archer vs Hiroshi Tanahashi: Tanahashi wins via Victory Roll @12:00 – ** 1/2
- A Block: KENTA vs EVIL: KENTA wins via Go 2 Sleep @15:05 – *** 1/2
- A Block: Kota Ibushi vs SANADA: Ibushi wins via Kamigoye @19:15 – *** 3/4
- A Block: Will Ospreay vs Kazuchika Okada: Okada wins via Rainmaker @21:55 – **** 1/2
Still a lot of heat from their NXT past and Moxley’s debut match in NJPW. Juice and Mox don’t face each other until the end of their block schedule, but if this needed more heat…well this was gasoline. Juice and Mox stay on each other, brawl to the back while the Young Lions fight, but Mox apparently gets the best of the brawl. He returns to the ring to help Shooter, hit their Hart Attack tandem move and Shooter sinks in the Boston Crab.
There’s history between Taichi and Goto centering around the NEVER Openweight Title, Yano and Suzuki have fun history and it looks like Uemura is stepping up to Suzuki. So there’s a lot of fun moments, Uemura has a death wish trying to fight Suzuki, but it’s still fun. A lot of moving pieces in this one that kept it very entertaining.
Honma got put through the paces, Jay White got tossed around a little bit by Jeff Cobb, but the Bullet Club tag partners proved to be more useful than Cobb’s. Chase has picked up a few wins in the tag matches, so he might get some kind of push coming soon.
BUSHI continues to pick up pinfalls in these tag matches, and this sort of builds for Ishii and Naito, but not a ton happens. YOSHI-HASHI is there, Shingo looks like a million bucks and BUSHI wins the match, LOL. This was very paint by numbers.
Sabre jumps all over Fale at the start and tries a plethora of submissions to no avail. A kendo stick shot from Jado pushes the action to the outside. Fale and Bullet Club look to have an advantage, but Sabre dodges some double team tactics, grounds Fale with a Triangle Arm Bar, and then races to the ring to beat the 20 count. Fale couldn’t make it back fast enough, so Sabre gets the first Countout win of this year’s tournament.
Tanahashi is really showing the age and injuries this year, so all of these flukey wins just come off as forced. The match was slow, had moments of being interesting, but Tanahashi not even being 50% of what he used to be makes these hard to watch at times. Archer is getting over well, but Tanahashi winning at this point does hurt the credibility a little. I get the story they’re telling, but unlike last year where Tanahashi could push through injuries, this year, they are much more obvious, and he’s much more hampered.
EVIL took the fight to KENTA and then they went to the outside. Through the back and then into the crowd area next to the ramp. EVIL went for Darkness Falls on a bunch of a chairs, but KENTA stopped him and suplexed him onto said chairs. When it got back in the ring, EVIL tried to weaken the legs and KENTA went after EVIL’s upper body to mitigate the power advantage. Heavily booed, KENTA played up heel nicely (I guess WWE did help for something), and eventually he gets the best of EVIL and lets him take a nap. KENTA moves to 4-0.
We get a solid match between two guys who are right on the precipice of the Main Event scene. Kota outsmarts SANADA early by not going for the stupid dueling Dropkick spot, and from then on it was an interesting struggle. Between fan support and the general “anything you can do, I can do better” pacing, this was entertaining, yet slow and felt too long in some spots. Both looked pretty good, but this could’ve been told faster and SANADA’s perpetual struggles are a little frustrating for anyone who is a fan of his.
Okada and Ospreay were expected to blow the roof off, and well I’d say this was a damn good shot. Ospreay is obviously dinged up, but he fought through the pain and pulled off numerous flipping counters and found a few different ways to hit the Os-Cutter. They both let their personalities fly and this was a lot of fun to watch. Okada always has this older brother aura since he’s the one that brought Ospreay to New Japan and Chaos, so whenever they get together, it’s very much like two siblings trying to outdo the other. Ospreay had a great flurry at the end, flipping through a Rainmaker attempt, to try his Stormbreaker, but Okada flipped through that and hit a short arm lariat. Rolling Rainmaker and a normal Rainmaker later, Okada edges out the little brother. Great match.
Overall Score: 7/10
Well this night struggled cause the first two Block matches were really weak. The next two amped-up the intensity a little, but fell short of a memorable match. The main event was fantastic, but generally speaking this felt like it was slow, plateau’d for a while and only picked up at the end. Nothing out right awful, but a lot of matches that could’ve been a little better.
Still a solid enough night if you’re following it all, but only the main event is worthy of seeking out individually. It is nice to see that everyone is on the board with some points. So if Okada and KENTA stumble a little, the rest of the block could plausibly catch up.
Block A Standings:
- Kazuchika Okada: 4-0 (8 Points)
- KENTA: 4-0 (8 Points)
- Lance Archer: 2-2 (4 Points)
- EVIL: 2-2 (4 Points)
- Kota Ibushi: 2-2 (4 Points)
- Hiroshi Tanahashi: 2-2 (4 Points)
- SANADA: 1-3 (2 Points)
- Will Ospreay: 1-3 (2 Points)
- Bad Luck Fale: 1-3 (2 Points)
- Zack Sabre Jr: 1-3 (2 Points)