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Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 1/6/2019

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Continuing how we did it last year. Top 5 Matches will feed Match of the Year monthly pools. Let’s see what made it to kick off the new year!

So our first full year of doing voting like this happened, and I’m fairly happy with the result. Our pool was a little different, and I’m pretty sure our Match of the Year was unique for 2018.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. However with there being so many early year events, in the interest of fairness, I included a few more ties in the Top 5 than will be normal moving forward. So between the 7 matches in the Top 5 and the Honorable Mentions, this could be a solid sign of a healthy year to come for wrestling.

Let’s get to the match list!

 

5.  Impact Wrestling Homecoming Impact Tag Team Title: LAX (c) vs Lucha Bros

From My Homecoming Notes:

Well now, LAX and Lucha Bros start off at a blistering pace and never really slow down. Some of the transitions were faster than the other partner were ready for though. Most notably when Pentagon and Fenix hit their Double Footstomp/Fear Factor tandem and Ortiz doesn’t quite push Fenix into the pin to break it up, so Santana has to kick out. But the match was fast, a lot of crisp moves, but very much a spot fest. Also the awkward use of tags and the fact that camera caught Pentagon just kinda standing on the outside watching the finish instead of even trying to get in the ring. So yeah…very fun, the crowd loved it, but plenty of noticeable issues

Winner: LAX via Tandem Inverted Suplex

Rating: **** 1/4

 

4 (tie). AJPW New Year Wars Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Joe Doering & Dylan James vs Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa

The only match that doesn’t have a coverage link ( YET! Mathew should be working on that soon). But this is also the only match that felt like there was a real challenge for the champions. New Year Wars are fun shows to get the year going with most of the titles up for grabs, but the challengers were really fairly weak to begin the year. All Japan has a tendency to hit weird lulls the last few years.

But regardless of the commentary on their booking, this match was exactly what you would expect from these four. Doering and James are known as The Bombers, and Suwama and Ishikawa are Violent Giants. So lots of power moves, haymakers and just heavy hitting moments made for a fun match. After both teams got reasonable near falls, James is left in the ring with Ishikawa, and he starts lighting him up with knee strikes, before finishing the match with the seldom used, but always effective Giant’s Slam.

After retaining Okabayashi and Daisuke Sekimoto come out to challenge. This promises to be another hard hitting, top contender match up.

Winner: Ishikawa via Giant’s Slam

Rating: **** 1/2

4 (tie). NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 IWGP Junior Heavyweight: Kushida (c) vs Taiji Ishimori

From My Wrestle Kingdom Notes:

Goofy entrance by Kushida with a kid coming out dressed as him and Taguchi playing Doc Brown to make him to correct size. And the match was tremendous. A little bit of everything, Ishimori showcases his prowess as he unseats the Ace of the Junior Division. This is the first must watch of the night. Damn good match.

Winner: Ishimori via Bloody Cross

Rating: **** 1/2

 

4 (tie). NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13: Kazuchika Okada vs Jay White

From Chris Platt’s Notes:

  • Okada has been living his best life since losing the heavyweight title
  • He seems to be having a lot more fun wrestling
  • New Japan has strapped the rocket to Jay White’s back and he’s delivered
  • He’s delivered more than I thought he could and is heading towards being a legit main eventer
  • Jay White is the correct moniker…only thing more fitting is Jay Casper
  • Okada’s so damn good in the ring
  • Wow. Don Callis quoting Lex Luger
  • He made up for it by calling Gedo a human wood tick. Classic
  • I do like that NJPW makes wins and loses count. There’s something to that
  • Okada throws a pretty legit flying elbow
  • Excellent heel work by Jay White in this bout
  • The crowd is into it for really the first time this evening
  • That’s a testament to both Okada being the man and Jay White’s heel persona
  • Good match with Jay White picking up the win.
  • Honestly thought this one could have used a little more time
  • It appears New Japan is basically using the Tanahashi story for Okada

Winner: White via Blade Runner

Rating: **** 1/2

 

3. NOAH Navigation for the Future GHC Heavyweight Championship: Kaito Kiyomiya (c) vs Kenoh

From My Navigation for the Future Notes:

Kenoh and Kiyomiya have had an interesting rivalry. It definitely comes off as brotherly where there’s elements of jealousy and Kenoh thinking he has Kiyomiya’s best interest in mind by taking the title off of him. This match definitely had the personal undercurrent where both men were trying to prove a point to one another. Kiyomiya pulled out a few more stops than usual and Kenoh seemed to be taken by surprise on multiple occasions.  Some could compare this to the old AJPW feud between Toshiaki Kawada and Mitsuharu Misawa. Which is fitting since Kenoh likes to kick and Kiyomiya is a walking homage to Misawa. The crowd was a little split at times, but no one sounded upset about Kaito’s victory.  Kotoge and Kitamiya coming out to challenge at the end is interesting, but given Kaito’s age either of them could be an intriguing match.

Winner: Kiyomiya via Tiger Suplex Hold

Rating: **** 1/2

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • AJPW New Year Wars Triple Crown Championship: Kento Miyahara (c) vs Kai
  • Rating: **** 1/4
  • WWE SmackDown #1 Contender 5 Way for WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs Rey Mysterio vs Samoa Joe vs Randy Orton vs Mustafa Ali
  • Rating: ****
  • Impact Wrestling Homecoming Impact World Championship: Brian Cage vs Johnny Impact (c)
  • Rating: ****
  • AJPW New Year Wars Junior Heavyweight Championship: Yusuke Okada vs Koji Iwamoto (c)
  • Rating: ****
  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 NEVER Openweight Championship: Kota Ibushi (c) vs Will Ospreay
  • Rating: ****
  • Impact Wrestling Homecoming Knockouts Championship: Tessa Blanchard (c) vs Taya Valkyrie
  • Rating: *** 3/4
  • NOAH Navigation for the Future GHC Heavyweight Tag Team Titles: Yuji Hino & Maybach Taniguchi (c) vs Go Shiozaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima
  • Rating: *** 3/4
  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 IWGP Heavyweight Titles Triple Threat: Guerrillas of Destiny (c) vs EVIL & SANADA vs The Young Bucks
  • Rating: *** 3/4
  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 Rev Pro Undisputed British Heavyweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii (c) vs Zack Sabre Jr
  • Rating: *** 1/2
  • NOAH Navigation for the Future: HAYATA, Tadasuke & Daisuke Harada vs Kotaro Suzuki, YO-HEY & Yoshinari Ogawa
  • Rating: *** 1/2
  • Impact Wrestling Homecoming: Willie Mack vs Sami Callihan
  • Rating: *** 1/2
  • NJPW New Year’s Dash NEVER 6 Man Title: Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa & Taiji Ishimori vs Ryusuke Taguchi, Toru Yano & Togi Makabe
  • Rating: *** 1/2
  • AJPW New Year Wars All Asia Tag Team Championship: Yuma Aoyagi & Naoya Nomura (c) vs Takao Omori & Black Menso-re
  • Rating: *** 1/4
  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 NEVER 6 Man #1 Contender Gauntlet
  • Rating: *** 1/4
  • NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 IWGP US Title: Juice Robinson vs Cody w/Brandi Rhodes (c)
  • Rating: *** 1/4
  • Impact Wrestling Homecoming Falls Count Anywhere: Eddie Edwards vs Moose
  • Rating: *** 1/4
  • NJPW New Year’s Dash: YOSHI-HASHI, Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Jay White, Bad Luck Fale & Gedo
  • Rating: *** 1/4
  • WWE SmackDown: John Cena & Becky Lynch vs Andrade Almas & Zelina Vega
  • Rating: ***
  • NOAH Navigation for the Future: Hitoshi Kumano & Hajime Ohara vs Junta Miyawaki & Seiya Morohashi
  • Rating: ***
  • AJPW New Year Wars Gaora TV Title: Tajiri (c) vs Minoru Fujita
  • Rating: ***

 

 

2. NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 Intercontinental Championship No DQ Match: Tetsuya Naito vs Chris Jericho (c)

From My Wrestle Kingdom Notes:

Naito started off with more urgency and the match had much better chemistry than their first meeting, and that was still damn good. we saw numerous call backs, big false finishes and near falls. Naito even got to delve into his love of Baseball a little bit with a few kendo stick spots. But still, great match, told a great story and these two work well together. Now does this set up an entire night of title changes, or is this building a false expectation for the surprising Omega retain?

Winner: Naito via Destino

Rating: **** 3/4

 

1. NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 IWGP Championship: Kenny Omega (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi

From Chris Platt’s Notes:

  • Now we have our main event with Omega defending his World Heavyweight Title vs Tanahashi
  • New Japan has done an excellent job of telling the Tanahshi road to redemption story
  • The outcome of this match will tell us quite a bit about the immediate future of pro wrestling
  • Apparently, Omega killed an eagle on his way to the ring
  • Wonder how the lack of his ‘partner’ at ringside will affect Kenny
  • There’s a definite big fight feel that’s coming through the tv
  • Is Kenny the best big match wrestler in the game?
  • I’d really like to see Omega wrestle Ricochet or AJ Styles
  • I’d like to see Tanhashi versus Cena or Pentagon Jr
  • Omega playing the good cocky heel
  • Callus having a good night on the stick
  • Tanahashi’s chest looks like hamburger meat
  • Red Shoes!
  • Kenny tweaked his knee
  • Tanahashi tweaked Kenny’s knee
  • That cloverleaf gotta hurt in real life
  • Styles Clash!
  • Damn! That sounds like it hurt
  • Which one goes through the table?
  • Welp. Asked and answered
  • Oh shit! I don’t know how you fake some of this stuff
  • Here we go with the dick check….but they’ve earned it
  • They been wrestling for a minute now
  • I hate to agreed with Ballz and Meltzer but this is a damn good match
  • Hell of a reverse of the one winged angel
  • The crowd is bananas
  • Omega kicked out of 2 consecutive frog splashes
  • DRAGON SUPLEX OFF THE TOPPPPPP!
  • And the crowd goes wild!
  • Tanahashi picks up the win
  • Which pretty much means Kenny’s going to All Elite
  • Overall the show started off strong, lagged in the middle, but pick up steam in the last 2 matches
  • Omega/Tanahashi did the damn thing. Match of the night, and set the bar high for the rest of the year

Winner: Tanahashi via High Fly Flow

Rating: ******

 

Thoughts:

Alright, so even though I opened up many more ties just to give respect to many of the great matches this week, come on…is there a question? I mean Omega/Tanahashi even got Chris Platt to agree with me. So now he may vote something else to spite me, but Omega vs Tanahashi captured the hearts and imaginations of most watching. Omega was trying to prove that his vision was better than Tanahashi’s tradition, and Tanahashi was trying to cap off his redemption storyline.

For as over as Kenny is, Tanahashi is beloved in Japan. So even if the Omega fans are more vocal, don’t think that Tanhashi somehow doesn’t have support. Great pacing, great psychology, just a great week of wrestling.

If you didn’t like our Match of the Year pool last year, then make sure you vote on Twitter, Facebook, where ever you see this article. Always Use Your Head!


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Opinion

NXT Minus 6: A Tale of Two Champions

Bradley Jay is here with the WWE NXT Minus 6, and we have new champions. Two very, very different new champions.

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Bradley Jay is here with the WWE NXT Minus 6, and we have new champions. Two very, very different new champions.

Our two new champions could not be more different…

Karrion Kross return vignette airs during NXT TakeOver: WarGames

6. Doomsday Saito comes to the ring and gives a painful, cliched promo. Any wrestler in the back could have said those exact words. Train harder and beat people up. He’s angry. We get it. The only thing Saito could do that would interest me is move to RawDown. On the other hand…

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Not gonna lie, that promo was wasn’t even hot garbage. It was cold garbage.]

Raquel Gonzalez & Rhea Ripley And Bianca Belair Celebrate | Franky Monet Debut | WWE NXT Highlights - YouTube

5. Raquel Gonzalez delivers a genuine, heartfelt promo that only she could give. Tears of joy. It told her story, and it’s exactly why she got the pop and the chant she deserved. The addition of Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair, complete with throwback pic, was icing on the cake. I’m excited for whatever Gonzalez does next. Speaking of…

WWE: Dakota Kai on what she misses about New Zealand and her quest to be NXT champion | Newshub

4. Fantasy booking alert!!! Two weeks ago, Raquel Gonzelez told the world I was the one who believed in her. I was the one who made her a champion. Then Rhea Ripley shows up, and Bianca Belair shows up, and I’m the one sent to the back. How quickly you forget who your real friends are. I was the one who took you to the top, and chicka, I am the one who is going to drag you to the bottom. I used you to get to the top and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I am Dakota Kai.

Santos Escobar loses the Cruise Championship to Kushida | Superfights

3. No more Santa Claus Ice Cream Bar. Santos Escobar has earned his name back. His match with KUSHIDA is everything great about NXT. Say it with me. Good things happen when you let wrestlers wrestle! Fast paced. Great action. Surprise ending. I’m going 4.5 stars. Give me a match that good every Tuesday and I’m a happy camper. 

WWE NXT results – 13/04/2021 (Raw and Smackdown Champions appear, Franky Monet debuts) » FirstSportz2. Right now, I don’t know if any two wrestlers have better chemistry than Swerve Scott and Leon Ruff. Every time they get together, it’s electric, and this week was no different. This is quickly climbing into Rivalry of the Year territory. I thought I was happy to see Swerve pick up the victory and move on. Then Ruff goes insane in the membrane and now I’m excited to watch them fight forever.

WWE News: Roderick Strong 'Resigns' From NXT, Video of Karrion Kross' NXT Promo | 411MANIA

1. This week’s That’s Why I Love Wrestling goes to…Roderick Strong. Kayfabe. Work. Shoot. I don’t care. Strong deserved a better goodbye than what he got. He is the Perfection of Performance (shout out to the Hitman). He and Kyle O’Reilly were the best version of the Undisputed Era tag team champions. I always got excited for a Strong match because I knew he’d deliver. Roderick Strong is exactly the kind of wrestler that makes me love wrestling. Until he returns, he will be sorely missed.


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Steve Cook’s Fave Five: April 2021

It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means…

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It’s a little more than halfway through April! You know what that means.

It’s time to talk about my current five favorite wrestlers like I’m Booker T. Let’s break down the Fave Five!

5. Samoa Joe

I figure what happened between Samoa Joe & WWE was the following: WWE offered Joe an announcing contract since either they didn’t want to use him in the ring or their doctors wouldn’t clear him to wrestle. Joe looked at the contract, noticed the financial discrepancy, realized he could probably get NJPW to let him train young boys in California for that kind of money and said “thanks but no thanks”. Nothing else really makes sense to me.

Unfortunately, those who thought that WWE wouldn’t utilize Joe to their fullest potential were right. It wasn’t all WWE’s fault though. Joe had a lot of miles on his tires when he got there. Injuries are always more of a concern with larger wrestlers the older they get. And when Joe was healthy, he did get to do some good stuff and show people a glimpse of the Samoa Joe that people like me raved about back in the mid to late 2000s.

In any event, Joe got his WWE run. It was a thing that happened. I’d be shocked if he doesn’t wind up in AEW because he seems like the kind of guy Tony Khan would throw all the money at. Should be fun!

4. Kris Statlander

AEW does have a pretty insane number of factions right now. It risks the possibility of all of the groups blending together, with none of them really capturing the attention of fans. However, there are positive things about AEW’s faction warfare that shouldn’t be overlooked. It makes booking fresh matches to fill cards pretty easy. You can have groups facing off each week, but in different combinations that keep it fresh.

Another good thing: It can help us decide how we feel about characters that we might be on the fence about. Kris Statlander’s character was a topic of discussion from the moment she entered AEW. A lot of people weren’t sure how to take her. Wrestling aliens, or wrestlers who think they’re aliens, aren’t exactly common. Its the kind of thing that gets over in the indies, because those feds attract fans that are more willing to buy into unique concepts. Mainstream is a tougher sell.

Aligning Kris with the Best Friends makes sense to those in the know, since she came up working shows with them. It also helps people that don’t know about her figure out more. The Best Friends are a happy go lucky group that are the whitest of white meat babyfaces you’ll find in AEW, and that’s a good thing. They’re welcoming to people with unique personalities, as Orange Cassidy’s presence establishes. A friendly alien couldn’t ask for a better group to surround herself with, and from their appearances so far she seems like a perfect fit.

Add in the fact that the time on the shelf helped her get into better shape and refine her look & presence, and the sky’s the limit for Statlander. As long as she can stay in the ring, I’m expecting big things from her in 2021.

3. Tay Conti

Sometimes, all one needs is a change of scenery to approach their true potential. Tay spent a few years at the WWE Performance Center learning how to be a professional wrestler. During her time there, Tay never showed much in the way of potential. Even though she had a combat sports background and had the type of physical appearance that gets attention, Conti’s TV time was very limited and uneventful. She seemed like one of those wrestlers that was bound to stay in developmental until WWE gave up on them, then drop off the face of the earth without most wrestling fans noticing.

Tay’s story took a different route. She ended up being one of the cuts that AEW took an interest in, and was brought in for the Deadly Draw Women’s Tag Team Tournament. Her teaming with Anna Jay worked well on & off-camera, and she pretty much fit right in with the group immediately. She started training with Dustin Rhodes, and pretty much immediately started looking better in the ring & figuring out what worked for her. Now, she’s one of the people helping AEW’s women’s division go to a higher level.

This isn’t meant to denigrate WWE’s Performance Center or its methods. There just isn’t a wrestling training center out there that’s going to work for everybody. Tay had to find what worked for her. The people that recently got cut will have to do the same. Hopefully, the people that recently got signed by WWE will thrive in that environment.

2. Bianca Belair

We’ve recently seen three new Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella, all of whom are great in their own way. I’ve talked about Rhea Ripley before, she’s got unlimited potential and so far she’s done very well on the main roster. Raquel Gonzalez is doing very well on NXT and her push to the championship made perfect sense & got over. I do think the best of the title changes was Bianca’s defeat of Sasha Banks in the main event of WrestleMania Saturday. It was a special moment for Bianca, a very fun match to watch, and a great performance from both Bianca & Sasha Banks, who did everything she could to make Bianca in that match.

You see the video of the NXT segment up above, with the three current Women’s Champions under the WWE umbrella celebrating together. Apparently there was a picture taken in 2019, and there were pictures taken after this week’s NXT, with Triple H making sure to get in there as he likes to do with all new champions. I’ve never really been a fan of that sort of thing, even the “Horsewomen” celebrations on previous NXT shows didn’t do much for me.

Besides the usual complaints people have about things like that, the thing that I didn’t like was how Rhea & Raquel came off. They were all smiling & happy like they were Big Daddy Cool Diesel after beating Mr. Bob Backlund in 1994. Completely against what Raquel has been up to this point, and what Rhea has been when she’s been at her best. Hopefully this is just a one-time thing for Rhea for the portion of the NXT audience that likes their lady wrestlers crying & happy after their performances, and hopefully it’s leading to Raquel getting dismembered by Dakota Kai, who can’t be happy about her heater winning the championship and then turning into Smilin’ Diesel.

Fortunately for Bianca, it does nothing to affect her character or our opinion of her. That’s why I think her title run will go best. I’m also putting her here because I’m pretty well convinced there isn’t a wrestling move or spot she can’t do well. Insanely talented, and the more experience she gets the better she’ll be.

1. Darby Allin

Sometimes you just want to watch something that’s stupid fun. Something that doesn’t need too much thought in order to enjoy it. Just people doing crazy things to entertain an audience. Darby Allin matches are just what you need when you’re looking for something like this. There isn’t anybody crazier in pro wrestling today than Darby, which is probably for the best. I’m convinced this kid has a death wish.

The one thing that kinda gets me about Darby sometimes is how he kicks out of everything. Poor Matt Hardy wasn’t going to beat that kid unless he shot him with a gun, and apparently there’s a metal detector at Daily’s Place. (Shoutout to Matt by the way, hell of an effort in that match.) But then I remember that Darby Allin is a daredevil and constantly posting videos online where he’s jumping off high places and doing crazy things. Obviously, it’s going to take a little more to beat a daredevil than your average pro wrestler.

What’s it going to take to beat Darby Allin? That’s a good reason to keep watching.


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