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Kota Ibushi, The Star Looking For Gold

With a newly signed contract, what does the future hold for Kota Ibushi?

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This picture right here is the definition of subtle storytelling.

With a newly signed NJPW contract in his pocket, New Japan may trust him more. What does the future hold for Kota Ibushi?

Kota Ibushi, New Japan’s Golden Star, made his return in Osaka last February after having to take some time off following Wrestle Kingdom. Ibushi announced he would now be a New Japan performer full time, and he threw himself in the field of the New Japan Cup. With the first round of the tournament now being done with and with Ibushi advancing, let’s look at what might be in store for him from now on.

Since returning in New Japan for the G1 Climax 27 in what will be two years ago this summer, Kota Ibushi, while being as good and popular as ever, has known quite the rocky road so far. From losing the championship matches he was involved in until last December, to being forced into the storm that was the Bullet Club’s civil war, Ibushi has had a hard time shining in New Japan’s landscape. It wasn’t helping that in that same time period, both Tetsuya Naito and Kenny Omega were rising as both tried to dethrone Kazuchika Okada during his tremendous IWGP Heavyweight championship reign. However, defeating Hirooki Goto for the NEVER Openweight championship during the World Tag League finals may have been what Ibushi was looking for.

While he lost the championship to Will Ospreay at Wrestle Kingdom 13 a month later, this win against Goto represents the first heavyweight championship Ibushi won in New Japan, his biggest accomplishment since winning the New Japan Cup in 2015. Therefore, this is only a starting point for the Golden Star.

Then, with the announcement of the New Japan Cup bracket, the road for Kota Ibushi was clearly shown to be a very, very hard one. Not only Ibushi had to face Tetsuya Naito in the first round and  defeated him, which I will come back to later, but the rest of his side of the bracket isn’t easy either. Who is Ibushi’s second round opponent ? Oh, just the defending New Japan Cup winner, Zack Sabre Jr. Not to mention that, if Ibushi manages to defeat ZSJ, another face-off with Tanahashi may await him, in another very storied match. You can’t forget about both Minoru Suzuki and SANADA, who will be facing off in the second round. The winner of this match will also be a potential tough match-up for Ibushi.

This heavily competitive bracket where Ibushi is in, is no coincidence. Going back to him having quite the hard time since returning in new Japan, Ibushi is someone who still needs a strong build-up to be contending for the top titles in the company. If Ibushi can go to the New Japan Cup finals, which means he would have defeated several top New Japan talents in a row, making him a credible threat for any champion he may have crossed path with.

Speaking of, let’s bring up Ibushi’s first round opponent, the IWGP Intercontinental champion, Tetsuya Naito. Since Ibushi has eliminated him, it is fair to expect that the current champion will defend the IC title against Ibushi in the near future. Will it be in Madison Square Garden ? That now depends on Ibushi himself, but let’s focus back to the two individuals, as well as the title Naito holds. The first thing you need to know is that Ibushi and Naito have had an evolving relationship throughout the years, from being quite friendly in their younger days to now considering each other as a foe, since Naito returned from Mexico in 2015.

The other big subject surrounding these two men is the Intercontinental championship, of course. We already know all of the history Naito has with the belt, but what about Ibushi ? Well, there is some symbolic with him going after that championship. Back in 2015, Ibushi challenged then IC champion Shinsuke Nakamura for the belt at Wrestle Kingdom 9, in what was Ibushi’s first high profile championship match as a heavyweight in New Japan. While he lost, this match confirmed Ibushi’s transition, as well as this was setting new goals for him. In that regard, fighting for and claiming the IC title is, in a way, the test Ibushi needs to pass. He needs to win this title, as it represents his first big goal as a heavyweight. It would definitely push Ibushi as the star New Japan always wanted him to be, so, do not be surprised if Kota Ibushi is your next IWGP Intercontinental champion, and don’t be surprised if he holds it for a good while, too.

The last thing I wanted to cover is pretty symbolic as well, as it also relies on Ibushi having the chance to become one of New Japan’s top stars. Ibushi has a very special relationship with Hiroshi Tanahashi, as they have fought several times in the past, as Ibushi was trying to reach to “God”, in Tanahashi. The Ace has always seen Ibushi as the future, and now more than ever seems to be on Ibushi’s side, as noth more than hinted at a pairing or alliance after the Anniversary show.

What does this mean for Ibushi ? Ultimately, no one can say with certainty, but I’d bet on some kind of torch passing between the Ace and the Golden Star, as it would be the current theme in New Japan, which new faces coming in and putting themselves at the top of the promotion.

You can already bet Ibushi will be a major part of this process.

 


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Tiffany’s Takes: WWE NXT (5/22/19)

Prince Pretty is back on NXT!

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WWE NXT Tyler Breeze Velveteen Dream

Tiffany’s Takes dives into this week’s edition of WWE NXT as the black and yellow continues their built to Takeover XXV!

As we head into TakeOver XXV, what is the state of WWE NXT this week?

NXT Championship: I love when a babyface drops some hard facts. I also love that I’m apparently better at math than Adam Cole. Gargano pointing out that Cole’s talking point about winning the first fall was nonsense was so fun. I do like that we’re getting Part II at Take Over XXV, but I was surprised that Gargano didn’t insist that UE be banned from ringside.

The tag team match between Gargano/Riddle vs UE was fabulous! It seems that all is back on track between Strong and Cole, at least for now, but it remains to be seen how it’ll be after TakeOver.

North American Championship: This segment was really interesting. Tyler Breeze never really got any traction on the Main Roster, so moving him back to NXT makes sense. I think the match between him and Dream will be an interesting one, but I don’t see Dream dropping the title.

Women’s Division: Candice LeRae seems to finally be back on track after months of being Gargano’s perpetually worried and vengeful wife. Her match with the Lone Star Loca, Reina Gonzalez was so good! WWE certainly seemed impressed with Gonazalez after the Mae Young Classic, so it was nice to see her get some screen time. Going by Baszler’s actions after the match, it appears that Ms. LeRae is on track for a title shot, thank God.

Remind me to never piss off Io Shirai.  The Genius of the Skies definitely seems to be tapping into her hardcore side because the sight of her wielding that Kendo stick AND using it scared the shit out of me. It’s pretty clear that the reckoning between Shirai and Shayna Baszler is going to happen at TakeOver.

Well, it is officially official, Mia Yim and Bianca Belair will meet again NEXT week and settle the score. I really want Yim to win this because her booking has been weird considering her talent.


Elisa looks great in her Chairshot gear.
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NXT Tag Team Championship: Another announcement was made officially official – Viking Raiders are no longer NXT Tag Team Champions, but because the Street Profits didn’t get an ACTUAL pinfall, the titles are now vacant. I love that Regal has made it a ladder match between the only four tag teams in NXT right now: Forgotten Sons, Street Profits, Burch and Lorcan, and Undisputed Era. I have a feeling Forgotten Sons will win, but we’ll see.

Sean Maluta vs Mansoor: This was a good, if random match. Sean Maluta has been back to WWE several times since the Cruiserweight Classic, but he never seems to stick around for very long. Mansoor seems to be someone WWE is very high on considering he’s racked up several victories over the last few months. The match was okay, but since it was two jobbers going at it, it was hard to get into. I was more excited about Maluta than Mansoor.

Overall Thoughts: So, how was NXT US this week? It was really good. They’re really kicking the build to TakeOver XXV into high gear without making it seem really rushed, especially in situations where substitutes are being made (Dream vs Breeze).

Even though it LOOKS like all is well in Undisputed Era, the fact that all of them have matches next Saturday makes me wonder if that’s when the final breakdown will happen, especially with Strong taking on Riddle. I’m very excited by the change in Io Shirai, I think Baszler’s going to learn the hard way to never underestimate someone’s willingness to fight.

That’s it for Tiffany’s WWE NXT Takes. Be back on Monday for RAW!


Let us know what you think on social media @theCHAIRSHOTcom and always remember to use the hashtag #UseYourHead!
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Andrew’s WWE Raw and SmackDown Live Ratings & Analysis (5/20 + 5/21/2019)

Coming out of Money in the Bank, how do the WWE main roster shows stack up?

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Coming out of Money in the Bank, how do the WWE main roster shows stack up?

We’ve got a Beast in the Bank and a new title being debuted on Raw.

So generally speaking this could be interesting. I guess there’s only one way to find out.

Let’s get to the shows!

 

Raw Ratings:

  • Sami Zayn vs Braun Strowman: Strowman wins via Running Powerslam – N/A
  • Cesaro vs Ricochet: Cesaro wins via Gotch Neutralizer – ** ½
  • The Usos vs The Revival: Revival wins via Dirty Roll-Up – *** ¼
  • Becky Lynch, Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross vs The IIconics & Lacey Evans: Becky wins via Guillotine Leg Drop – **
  • WWE 24/7 Championship Scramble: Titus O’Neil wins – * ½
  • WWE 24/7 Championship: Robert Roode vs Titus O’Neil (c): Roode wins via Roll-Up – N/A
  • Drew McIntyre vs The Miz: McIntyre wins via Claymore – ** ½
  • WWE 24/7 Championship: Robert Roode (c) vs R-Truth: Truth wins via Roll-Up – N/A
  • NoDQ  Tag Match: Seth Rollins & Kofi Kingston vs Bobby Lashley & Baron Corbin: Kingston wins via Trouble in Paradise – ** ¼

 

 

Analysis:

Brock and Heyman come out to kick things off. Brock seems to be loving the hate, using the briefcase like a boombox. Heyman doesn’t say anything interesting beyond the fact that he made it clear that Brock isn’t sure which belt he wants yet. But Brock seems to be tickled, and I was amused.

Foley takes a Uber to the arena! We all know he didn’t pay for that one, Foley is notoriously cheap.

Wait, so Sami and Braun are going to have a match? Even though Braun didn’t hang Sami up, and we can kinda figure it was Brock, or someone trying to help Brock. We need to see Sami get smashed? I mean, the crowd seemed to like it, even though Braun is bland and his involvement against Sami is just dumb. But it is what it is.

Wh-Why do we need to hear Lars Sullivan talk? So, generic cornball question from Charles is interrupted by…the god damn Lucha House Party. Okay well that’s a half point off of the score. Oh god, they’re giving them a modicum of offense too. Sheesh…no one cares about any of these four. Stupid Lucha morons.

Ricochet and Cesaro time! Oh okay, start with a commercial, hey the match starts to pick up, and then we go to that crappy picture in picture commercial break during what might’ve been a Sasuke Special from Ricochet. Well, talk about taking a match that could’ve been match of the night, and butchering it with poorly timed breaks.

So Styles and Corbin will clash eventually? Well…ugh.

So Shane is claiming he’s done with The Miz and moving onto Reigns. But now Shane has Drew Mcintyre in his arsenal as well as Elias. While I don’t mind this whole thing from a pro wrestling perspective, I’d really prefer McIntyre to stand on his own for a singles push soon. Playing the lackey really isn’t a great look, even though yes, it’s well positioned in the story.

This was a solid match between the two best tag teams in WWE. The fact that The Revival went over because of heel tactics is even better. So with the Usos’ being jerks and The Revival taking a few short cuts, we might get to see a few good matches out of this. I don’t need a whole year like New Day and The Usos basically had, but a few months of solid matches would be great.

Firefly Fun House introduces another verse to the theme song and a 90s style introduction clip, and then distorted into a creepy video with depressed kids and Let Him In, written on faces and shirts. Not the quality I’ve been expecting, but not awful.

Alexa comes out for Moment of Bliss with Nikki Cross in tow. Alexa is seemingly getting nasty with Nikki and she’s just acting like a loyal puppy who wants to make Alexa happy. Granted, I still see this as a bigger game, but that’s not the point Becky Lynch comes out for the interview and IIconics and Lacey Evans interrupt. A few decent lines were thrown around, Becky challenges all 3. Nikki immediately stepping up to fight with Becky was cute and perfectly simple with the “I’ll be your partner”. Also the way the heels try to dismiss it since they’re one short and Becky just shrugs at Alexa and says “She’ll do”. Plus the whole just stand there and look pretty, let the man do the work – that’s just a fantastic line, and Alexa plays along bringing her coffee. If Alexa really is hurt, this was a genius way to get them all over in a match. Alexa being disinterested sipping her coffee and just occasionally rooting on her team was perfect. This was such a perfect moment with a decent match attached.

Okay so the new title is effectively the PG Hardcore DDT Heavymetal Weight 24/7 and Free Tank of Gas championship! Foley has a scramble match and we see a few people we rarely see, including Eric Young doing his best Crash Holly impression. Titus World Slide wins the scramble, so he’s the inaugural champion, only to be rolled up at the top of the ramp by Robert Roode after like 65 seconds of being champion. Then the Scooby Doo chase begins!

Miz puts up a solid fight being out numbered and outclassed by McIntyre. So Shane just being a manipulative prick is great. Working his way on the Mr. McMahon 2.0 persona is entertaining and again, Roman and Miz being on the same page and working together as a positive thing…are just unexpected.

Joe makes a convincing point that the referee screwed up. I guess we’ll see how this goes.

Oh R-Truth has a car ready for Robert Roode, and funnily enough, a referee also. One Roll-Up later and the perfect Saturday Morning Cartoons on the brain mofo has the 24/7 belt. Three total champions in like 60 minutes. This is gonna be gold. I’m waiting for a Bayley Buddy to pin the champion.

So even though the tag match was turned into a NoDQ match, Bobby and Baron still kind of suck. Solid match all in all, but it’s very reminiscent of when Baron was GM and he’d just add stipulations and still fail more often than not.

 

Overall Score: 6.5/10

Really solid episode of Raw. Decent wrestling, storylines were moved along well enough, 24/7 title could be fun and damn did that whole Moment of Bliss thing play out like a damn beauty. So I would give the show a 7, but Lucha House Party being on the show and getting in offense is a half point off.

Firefly Fun House was a little disappointing and just there, so neither added nor subtracted to the Steiner Math.

 

SmackDown Live Ratings:

  • Andrade vs Ali: Ali wins via Inside Cradle – *** ¼
  • Carmella vs Mandy Rose: No Contest – *
  • Kofi Kingston vs Sami Zayn: Kofi wins via Trouble in Paradise – ** ½
  • Becky Lynch & Bayley vs Lacey Evans & Charlotte Flair: Bayley wins via Roll-Up – **
  • Elias vs Roman Reigns: Reigns wins via Spear – ***

 

Analysis:

So Elias apologizes to Shane and uses the fact he put all his energy into the performance, for why he lost. It’s a decent excuse. Oh we’re getting a rematch tonight. Gotta love Shane trying to set up anything and everything to soften up Roman for Jam in the Sand III.

Okay so the fake out reveal for Big E was funny and then the side comments about Becky’s mom were also amusing. Kofi trying to end the digressions by saying he needs to be serious since he’s champion was an amusing jab at people saying he’s a comedy act. KO and Sami interrupt, as Sami talks, the New Day take a jab at KO losing and Owens just walks off. Sami makes a challenge to stand up for him and his buddy. Ok, I don’t expect Sami to win, but it should be a decent match.

Carmella and a bunch of others are looking for R-Truth, but Carmella is his friend, trying to help him out. So we get Truth in a blonde wig and Carmella needing to give him a makeover.

So we get a great match for people who like good wrestling. Andrade and Ali seem to work well together and it was just fun to watch. Ali getting the win is interesting, cause that makes you wonder if he positioned himself as next in line for the Intercontinental Championship, or maybe it becomes a Triple Threat. This result could have interesting ramifications.

Mandy Rose and Carmella have beef that came from the MiTB Ladder match, and we get a non-finish when the undercard mob comes out to get R-Truth since he came out to second Carmella. I’m a little annoyed at the non-finish, but Carmella and R-Truth are amusing.

Kofi and Sami was shorter than I’d like, and also didn’t do much to help Sami, but I guess if they’re moving away from KO and Sami until after the Saudi show, it was fine. Plus the Dolph Ziggler attack needed time, so the shorter match was necessary I suppose.

Roman walks in and Elias is looming above him singing his song – and it was actually pretty neat. I like the way the scene was framed, and definitely came off as Elias trying to play mind games.

This women’s tag wasn’t really set up in as entertaining of a way as the 6 woman tag from Monday. This is just Champs versus people they just beat. The match was fine and Bayley getting the pinfall after Becky got ganged up on a little bit was fine.

Oh Jinder and the B-Team catch Truth, but he manages to get away.

The ring work may not have been fantastic, but the story beats were entertaining. Shane trying everything to screw Roman over the same way he’s screwed with Miz, but failing this time, added a wrinkle. Shane looked concerned for a change, until Drew McIntyre showed up to tip the scales. Shane going from concerned to “yup this was all part of the plan, yup”, is a fun moment.

 

Overall Score: 6/10

Even though I didn’t mind the show, it was really nothing overly special. A few beats were rehashed from Money in the Bank and Monday, so this falls into the same rut that SmackDown has hit lately. Instead of feeling like two shows, SmackDown just extends certain stories and feels like only half of the show is dedicated to new/unique stories.

So not a bad show, but in no way was it a must watch.

 


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