Abe checks in on the idea of moving forward with Kofi Kingston coming out of WWE Fastlane!
I thought WWE Fastlane was a pretty solid pay-per-view. It had some great matches and planted plenty of seeds for Wrestlemania. However, there was one segment that really caught my attention. I didn’t exactly see anybody on the internet mention it during the show but I couldn’t ignore it.
As you know, Kofi Kingston was sent out to the ring by Vince McMahon thinking he had just been added to the WWE Championship match. But once Kofi got to the ring, it turned out to be a setup. Kofi ended up facing The Bar in a Handicap Match where Cesaro and Sheamus were not required to tag in and out. It was a one-sided assault that leaned closer to a statement of humiliation rather than a match.
I understand that this is all an intricate way to get Kofi over with the audience. The segment immediately following the match is was bothered me more. It was a backstage interview with Sasha Banks and Bayley with big smiles on their faces. Bayley opened by saying that Kofi is a big inspiration to her and encouraged him to keep moving forward. They then proceeded with the interview as if a giant travesty didn’t just occur two minutes prior.
If a superstar truly cared about Kofi Kingston and his success, wouldn’t they be furious over what just transpired? The boss they work for just unjustifiably lied to the most loyal employee in the company for the sole purpose of embarrassing him in front of the world. If your boss continued to publicly bully your best co-worker on a weekly basis, you’d likely want to do something drastic.
If you’re a fan that’s been watching WWE for the last several years, you may see the similarities in the current Becky Lynch and Kofi Kingston storylines with the angle that inspired Daniel Bryan’s “Yes” Movement leading up to WrestleMania 30. He was deemed unfit to be a main event guy until the WWE Universe hijacked Raw and got him an opportunity at ‘Mania.
A way to rectify the Sasha and Bayley segment is to plan a similar segment for Smackdown. The New Day opens the show and is rightfully pissed. No pancakes or colorful gear – they’re in regular clothes and walk straight to the ring. Vince McMahon cuts them off and says he made a mistake by making that 2-on-1 handicap match. Instead, he creates a 3-on-1 handicap match that starts immediately. Big E and Xavier Woods are sent to the back with threats from Vince and Sanity makes their entrance. Another mugging begins. Kofi loses in quick fashion. The fans as well as commentary are enraged. Kofi is assisted to the back and Smackdown continues.
In the next segment, AJ Styles is scheduled to have a match but he refuses. He voices his displeasure on the current situation and states that the WWE isn’t worth working for if that’s how Vince treats his employees. Styles not only refuses to compete, but creates a call to action for the rest of the locker room to join his strike. Slowly, but surely, superstars begin to file out a couple at a time. Even the heels. Once the ring is full, they make it clear that they will not compete or risk their bodies for Vince until he gives Kofi Kingston his Wrestlemania match with Daniel Bryan.
The Vince McMahon character has made it clear he wont listen to the blatant displeasure from the WWE Universe. The only way he would listen is if his show and wallet were at stake. He can’t make money without any superstars. Vince is obviously reluctant but eventually agrees and creates a real contract signing later in the night. The show goes on as planned.
Randy Orton has made is clear that he’s not a fan of AJ Styles vouching for Kofi and has accused him of going soft. After the strike, AJ Styles is the last to exit the ring and is ambushed by Orton who is being seen for the first time. The ambush is violent enough that it requires the superstars involved in the strike to pull Orton off. Two WrestleMania matches have now been set up by the end of the segment.
Greg DeMarco’s Three Stars Of The Night: WWE Raw (5/20/19)
Big night on Raw — who stood out?
WWE Raw returned stateside this week, and we got ourselves a new championship. Who stood out?
The Third Star for WWE Raw: Paul Heyman
Paul Heyman knows how to deliver, and he delivered big time during Raw. He made the show feel like a big deal, and it did. He made both champions feel important, but put Brock Lesnar over in the process. Lesnar is so much more comfortable with Paul Heyman around, and the job done to make this briefcase situation feel unique was really solidified by Paul Heyman. Plus, his line about Rollins sitting through 7 hours of WrestleMania waiting for his girlfriend to main event the show he’s always dreamed of main eventing was clutch.
Elisa looks great in her Chairshot gear.
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The Second Star: The IIconics
Billie Kay and Peyton Royce really are national treasures. America, Australia, it doesn’t matter. They are the best, and they’ve crafted characters that don’t need to win or lose, they just need to perform their act. That’s what it takes in WWE, regardless of what we want it to be. Their promo during A Moment Of Bliss (full of people perfectly playing their characters, by the way), was outstanding. Hats off to both ladies for getting themselves to this place.
Honorable Mention: Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross, Lacey Evans, Becky Lynch, Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Kofi Kingston, the entire 24/7 crew, The Usos, The Revival, Baron Corbin (yup), Bobby Lashley (I miss Lio), Drew McIntyre, and Shane McMahon
So many great performances tonight, and I am positive I’m leaving deserving folks out.
The First Star for WWE Raw: The Miz
The Miz is on fire right now, and it comes at a time where both world champions are babyfaces. He’s world champion caliber, and needs something to sink his teeth into if the issue with Shane truly is done. Drew McIntyre is a fine option, but I really want a top flight program for Miz. Maybe he’s the guy to elevate Drew? I’m not sure. I don’t feel like we turn Miz, but the best options for him (to me) are AJ Styles and Seth Rollins.
In hockey, a game’s “Three Stars Of The Night” represent the top three performers of the night. For more clarification, I defer to this Pittsburgh Gazette explanation:
“The tradition dates to the 1936-37 season, when Imperial Oil became the principal sponsor of Hockey Night in Canada radio broadcasts and was seeking a way to promote one of its products, Three Star gasoline. The idea of doing so by selecting the top three performers in a particular game purportedly came from a Canadian advertising agency.
Many clubs do recognize the player with the most three-star selections with an award or trophy, usually in conjunction with a corporate sponsorship, at the end of the season (or sometimes, each month). All six Canadian franchises, for example, have an affiliation with a well-known brewery.
The NHL keeps track of its own Three Stars Of The Night selections, but that is done on a league-wide basis. The league employs a system that awards 30 points to a first star, 20 to a second star and 10 to a third – a running total can be found on the league’s website – but it does not present an award based on them.”
In hockey tradition, the first star represents the best of the three, but all three are considered to be receiving a high honor.
7 Best Candidates To Win New Japan Best Of The Super Juniors 26
Who is the front runner?
Abe takes a look at the New Japan Best of the Super Juniors tournament and who is on pace to pick up the overall win.
New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Best of the Super Juniors tournament kicked off just last week and plenty of quality wrestling has already taken place. For the first time ever, twenty total men make up the tournament field. That means a few more sleeper candidates could potentially sneak their way into the finals.
Best Chance of Winning The New Japan Best Of The Super Juniors
At the time of this being written, Takagi is still undefeated since making his debut in NJPW. That includes the matches he’s already competed in during this year’s tournament. I don’t believe they’ll pull the trigger on him going the whole tournament without a loss but it’s definitely something to monitor. He’s been an incredible addition to Los Ingobernables de Japan as well as to the company as a whole.
Takagi has already taken shots at current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Dragon Lee for overlooking the field and only thinking about impending return of Hiromu Takahashi. Dragon Lee and Shingo are the favorites in their block. Takagi’s reason for winning the block could be that Lee was too focused on the future.
After winning the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship in Madison Square Garden, there is nobody in the tournament with more momentum. The current champion winning the tournament is very uncommon but there is already a story in place as I mentioned. If the current champion wins the entire BOSJ tournament, he will get to select who challenges him for the championship at Dominion. Hiromu Takahashi is the man he wont stop talking about. Almost a year ago, Dragon Lee was the guy that put his biggest rival on the shelf. Hiromu had to vacate the title as a result of the injury suffered in that match. If Takahashi is cleared to compete, there is no better person to accept the challenge.
Who Else Has A Chance?
He hasn’t won the tournament in three years and is competing with the heavyweights more and more. Among the current field, Ospreay almost certainly has the most high-profile matches under his belt. He’s the clear betting favorite to make it to the finals in his block. If there’s anything that’ll stop him, it’s that NJPW may already be trying to transition him into a heavyweight.
Ishimori made it to the finals of the BOSJ tournament last year but only finished as the runner-up. He was also the most recent IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion. Since his official rebranding as Bullet Club’s “Bone Soldier” last year, he’s maintained a spot near the top of the junior division. If they want to continue his recently-formed feud with Dragon Lee, the opportunity is right there.
The newest member of the NJPW roster is in a similar position to the one Taiji Ishimori was in last year. El Phantasmo was introduced as the newest member of the Bullet Club mere days before BOSJ. The aforementioned Ishimori did actually end up going all the finals and Phantasmo is off to a 3-0 start this year. The only man in the B Block that’s a real threat to his path there is Will Ospreay but that’s going to be a tough ask.
Most fans think of him as a comedy wrestler but if you’ve seen him in longer, more competitive matches, you know that he’s one of the most talented guys New Japan has. It’s rare to find someone that can balance entertainment with in-ring skill the way he does. Taguchi is a two-time Junior Heavyweight Champion, former BOSJ winner, leader of his own faction, and one of the veterans of the locker room. It sounds strange but I wouldn’t put my money on Ospreay or Phantasmo as long as Taguchi is hovering near the top of the standings. He’s my dark horse in this year’s tournament.
This definitely wont happen but he is worth mentioning. SHO isn’t going to win the tournament as long as he’s attached to YOH and Rocky Romero as a part of Roppongi 3K. However, with three matches in, SHO has already wrestled the two longest and best matches of the tournament. He’s only 1-2 so far but that could make things more interesting. Watching him storm back and go on a serious winning streak would be something amazing to see.