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Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 6/9/2019

Two big New Japan shows, King of Gate and…erhm…Super Showdown? Okay nothing made the list from that last show. Right?

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Two big New Japan shows, King of Gate and…erhm…Super Showdown? Okay nothing made the list from that last show. Right?

Well last week was a two vote vote week! May MOTY Pool was finalized and we had a pretty distinctive winner. So our current MOTY pool looks like this:

  • January – NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 13 IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
  • February – NXT Halftime Heat: Ricochet, Aleister Black & Velveteen Dream vs Adam Cole, Johnny Gargano & Tommaso Ciampa
  • March – Stardom: Wonder of Stardom Title Match: Jungle Kyona vs Momo Watanabe (c)
  • April – WrestleMania 35: WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston vs Daniel Bryan (c)
  • May – AEW Double or Nothing: Cody Rhodes vs Dustin Rhodes

It’s nice to see that our MOTY pool has a nice balance of different companies. Our first June match winner was, Takeover XXV: NXT Championship:Johnny Gargano (c) vs Adam Cole. 

Though it wasn’t my choice, the fact that this week’s Top 5 is dominated by New Japan and the first appearance of Dragon Gate in the Top 5 all year! Dragon Gate did their King of Gate tournament with more dignity this year, so it was nice to see a presentable product and some solid matches.

 

5. NJPW BOSJ 26 Finals Day: IWGP U.S. Championship: Juice Robinson (c) vs Jon Moxley

Snippet from Mitchell’s Coverage:
Moxley ends up on the table, and Juice has a target. Juice staggers away, then runs back in, CANNONBALL at the table!! But the table doesn’t break! Juice promises to “break this b*tch” one way or another. Juice drags Moxley up and bites him! Red Shoes says no, but Juice says yes to a powerbomb through the table! Juice drags Moxley from the wreckage and into the ring. Moxley stands but Juice trips him to turn him for a Tenzan Boston Crab! Moxley endures and crawls, but Juice drags Moxley away from the ropes! Juice sits back but Moxley slips out, dragon screw! And Cloverleaf! Moxley copies the Ace as he makes Juice suffer! Juice endures but crawls, but Moxley pulls him away! Juice won’t let Red Shoes calls this, he rolls and reels Moxley in, to bite! Moxley lets go, but comes back for the LEFT HAND OF GOD!

Juice wipes the blood from his face and drags Moxley up. Double underhooks from behind, but Moxley slips out. Moxley underhooks but Juice rolls up and bridges! TWO, and the two collide with clotheslines! But Juice stays up! Juice pump up but gets a kick to the bad leg! DIRTY DEEDS! Cover, TWO?! Juice survives!? But Moxley likes that! Moxley drags Juice back up even as fans rally. Moxley underhooks, and lifts, for Death Rider!! Cover, Moxley wins!!

Winner: Moxley via Elevated Double Arm DDT

Rating: **** 1/4

 

4. Dragon Gate King of Gate Finals: Eita vs Ben-K

Now you might think I don’t know, but I keep Dragon Gate in my periphery, honestly because of these two men right here. Ben-K turned heel along with his long time tag team partner Big R Shimizu late 2018. R.E.D. was the group founded by Eita out of the ashes of ANTIAS once Shingo Takagi left. However, this year there was a small power struggle, but it turned out to be a giant backstabbing on Ben-K considering him the weak link and kicking him out. So since PAC is still the Open the Dream Gate champion, and a member of R.E.D., Eita is trying to keep Ben-K down, while Ben is looking for vengeance.

My first take is it’s weird seeing Eita with short hair, but again, that’s my issue for not following Dragon Gate closely. This match definitely had a good tone of trying to keep Ben down. Eita was very arrogant which is just his character, and the outside members of R.E.D. even ran a corner train on Ben at some point (if you’ve seen Japanese wrestling, you know what I mean). Eita looked to be a step ahead of Ben a different points, especially with a very cool crouching Axe Bomber when he anticipated Ben going for a Spear or Wrap Around.

Eita pulled off some great high risk moves, even Ben hit a second rope Spear earlier in the match to make some space. But as Ben fought out of everything Eita tried, a timely Spear and Jacknife cover barely kept Eita’s shoulders down for the 3. So Ben calls out PAC for their Kobe World Festival show 7/21/2019.

Winner: Ben-K via Spear

Rating: **** 1/4

 

3. NJPW Dominion: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: Will Ospreay vs Dragon Lee (c)

From My Analysis:
Well this match was more of a typical Junior style match. Numerous huge excessive moves, flipping out of maneuvers, not a ton of selling. It was fun, there was high work rate, but not much anything else. People will love this match, some may hate it, but it was entertaining for the style of match it was. Ospreay challenged Robbie Eagles to be the first one to step up during the Southern Showdown tour in Australia.

Winner: Ospreay via Stormbreaker

Rating: **** 1/4

 

Honorable Mentions:

IMPACT: Tag Team Championship Match: LAX (c) vs Dez & Wentz
Winner: LAX via Dusty Finish
Rating: ****
NJPW BOSJ 26 Finals Day: Jay White vs Hiroshi Tanahashi:
Winner: White via Hammerlock Cradle
Rating: ****
NJPW Dominion: NEVER Openweight Championship: Tomohiro Ishii vs Taichi (c)
Winner: Ishii via Vertical Drop Brainbuster
Rating: ****
Dragon Gate King of Gate Semi-Finals: Ben-K vs Kzy
Winner: Ben-K via Ben-K Bomb
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW Dominion: IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Chris Jericho vs Kazuchika Okada (c)
Winner: Okada via Double Legged Cradle
Rating: *** 3/4
Impact A Night You Can’t Mist: HoH Television Championship: Willie Mack (c) vs Teddy Hart vs Rich Swann
Winner: Mack via 6 Star Frog Splash
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW BOSJ 26 Finals Day: Rocky Romero & Kazuchika Okada vs Brody King & Marty Scurll
Winner: Okada via Rainmaker
Rating: *** 1/2
NJPW Dominion: IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Guerrillas of Destiny (c) vs EVIL & SANADA
Winner: Tama via Roll-Up
Rating: *** 1/2
Dragon Gate King of Gate Semi-Finals: Eita vs KAI
Winner: Eita via Biblia
Rating: *** 1/2
NJPW BOSJ 26 Finals Day: YOSHI-HASHI, Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask, Toru Yano & Tomohiro Ishii vs Zack Sabre Jr, Minoru Suzuki, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Taichi & DOUKI
Winner: HASHI via Karma
Rating: *** 1/4
AAA Gira de Conquista Total desde MONTERREY: Keyra & Tessa Blanchard vs Lady Shani & Faby Apache
Winner: Keyra via Short Double Stomp
Rating: *** 1/4
NJPW BOSJ 26 Finals Day: LIJ vs Kota Ibushi, Togi Makabe, Tomoaki Honma & Henare
Winner: LIJ via Magic Killer
Rating: *** 1/4
NJPW Dominion: Shingo Takagi vs Satoshi Kojima
Winner: Takagi via Last of the Dragon
Rating: ***
Impact Digital Destruction: Billy Gunn, Tommy Dreamer & Jordynne Grace vs Johnny Impact, Taya Valkyrie & Moose
Winner: Gunn via Fame-Asser
Rating: ***
WWE Super Showdown: Intercontinental Championship: Finn Balor vs Andrade
Winner: Balor via Coup de Grace
Rating: ***

SmackDown Live: #1 Contender Triple Threat: Alexa Bliss vs Charlotte Flair vs Carmella
Winner: Bliss via Bliss DDT
Rating: ***
IMPACT: Kiera Hogan vs Jordynne Grace
Winner: Grace via Grace Driver
Rating: ***
WWE Raw: The Bloodline (Roman Reigns & The Usos) vs The Revival & Drew McIntyre
Winner: McIntyre via Claymore
Rating: ***
NJPW BOSJ 26 Finals Day: Shota Umino, Titan & Dragon Lee vs Ren Narita, Jonathan Gresham & Bandido
Winner: Lee via Running Knee
Rating: ***
Impact A Night You Can’t Mist: The Great Muta & Tommy Dreamer vs Michael Elgin & Johnny Impact
Winner: Muta via Shining Wizard
Rating: ***

 

2. NJPW Dominion: IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Kota Ibushi (c) vs Tetsuya Naito

From My Analysis:
This started off as a normal hard hitting affair between the two. Business didn’t pick up until a dangerous Release German Suplex from the apron, where Ibushi’s head clipped the apron on the way to the floor. These matches are beautifully reckless, frenetic and just something to watch. They definitely need space away from each other as to reignite interest in future matches, but this was great. Naito gets the best of the current rivalry, Naito reclaims the belt that speaks to him, yet he tends to shun all at the time. Moving into the G1, we’ll see what lies in store for both men for the rest of the year.

Winner: Naito via Destino

Rating: **** 1/2

 

1. NJPW BOSJ 26 Finals Day: BOSJ 26 Finals: Shingo Takagi vs Will Ospreay

Snippet from Mitchell’s Coverage:
Shingo shakes the stars out and drags Ospreay up. He throws big forearms, but Ospreay gives them back. They go back and forth, but Ospreay starts to wobble. Shingo throws more forearms from all sides! Ospreay staggers but comes back, for the JAB! HOOK KICK! Buzzsaw, heel kick, underhooks, and the lift! But Shingo slips out, ducks the roundhouse, and pump handles for MADE IN JAPAN! Cover, TWO?!? Now it’s Shingo who is shocked by this! Ospreay and Shingo are each reaching superhuman levels as fans rally up. Shingo is up, runs at Ospreay, Pumping Bomber! But he’s not done with Ospreay, he gets a bigger running start PUMPING BOMBER! Cover, TWO!?! This is what it means to be the Best of the Super Juniors in NJPW!

Shingo fires himself up and drags Ospreay up again. Another pump handle, fireman’s carry, but Ospreay wriggles free and pops up, REVERSE-RANA! That was one especially nasty Poison Steiner. But Shingo and Ospreay still glare at each other. They headbutt on the mat, then Shingo gives a point-blank Pumping Bomber! And then another, and another! Ospreay slumps down, but roundhouses! Ospreay runs but Shingo follows for a clothesline! Shingo runs but Ospreay gets a SPANISH FLY! Cover, TWO!!! Ospreay won’t take time to be frustrated, he drags Shingo up with a cobra clutch wring out, hook kick! And then, HIDDEN BLADE!! The back hand that has taken out so many! But even that doesn’t seem enough for Ospreay or Shingo. Ospreay watches Shingo rise, top rope OSCUTTER!

But Ospreay holds on, to roll through, underhook and lift! STORMBREAKER!! Cover, Ospreay wins!!

Winner: Ospreay via Stormbreaker

Ratings: *****

 

Thoughts:

A lot of good matches, but my number 1 is also my choice. The match was a great combination of Junior and Heavyweight style, high suspense and high impact. Sadly if you don’t watch anything outside of America, this wasn’t a week for you. But damn these matches were impressive.

My biggest take away this week was the fact that Dragon Gate took King of Gate seriously this year. Last year left such a bad taste in my mouth I mostly wrote the promotion off as a flaming trash can. I guess we’ll see if my interest remains peaked.

 


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Cook’s Top 5: Royal Rumble Diesel Pushes

The Royal Rumble is right around the corner, and someone’s Diesel Push might be on the way! Steve Cook looks back at the Top 5, including Diesel himself!

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Shayna Baszler WWE Royal Rumble 2020

The Royal Rumble is right around the corner, and someone’s Diesel Push might be on the way! Steve Cook looks back at the Top 5 such pushes, including the man himself, Diesel!

You guys might have heard about this. The Royal Rumble is coming up on January 31! Thirty men & thirty women will compete in battle royals to determine who will get a title shot at WrestleMania. The winners will certainly receive a boost in attention and esteem, but there are other ways to stand out in a Rumble match.

One way: Eliminate a bunch of people!

It’s known by us geeks as the Diesel push. One individual, typically a large one, runs over the competition in a short amount of time and helps get rid of some of the deadwood in the ring. An important part of any Royal Rumble.

Here are the top 5 recipients of the Diesel Push! (There are six listed)

5. Great Khali (2007)

Khali always got things done in short order. This is why it doesn’t surprise me that 7 eliminations in 3:45 is the craziest stat in Royal Rumble history. The man knew what his job was, and he didn’t waste any time. He was also self-aware enough to know that his stamina wasn’t the best, he had a good number at 28, so if he threw everybody out as quickly as possible, he had a pretty good chance.

The downfall in Khali’s strategy? Undertaker was number 30. Tough break, kid. It probably looked really good to Khali when Miz pre-teaming with John Morrison came out at 29, and hopefully 30 would be somebody in that same category, but nah, it was Undertaker.

4. CM Punk (2011)

We all know that CM Punk’s push in WWE became bigger during 2011. We don’t know if that was originally intended or not, but things seemed to be picking up for him at the Rumble. At the time, Punk had taken control of The Nexus from Wade Barrett, so he had plenty of backup to support him during matches like thus one. Which he needed, since he drew #1. Fortunately, many of his Nexus minions also drew low numbers, so he was able to last thirty-five minutes and eliminate seven people.

The difference between this & most Diesel pushes: Punk was already a bit of a star at this point. He became a bigger one later in the year. The Rumble probably didn’t have much to do with it, but it didn’t hurt either.

3. Shayna Baszler & Bianca Belair (2020)

The 2020 Women’s Royal Rumble saw a pair of dominant women. Shayna Baszler was rewarded a little earlier. She got a Raw Women’s Championship match against Becky Lynch at WrestleMania. The less said other than that sentence, the better.

Bianca Belair eliminated the same number of women that Baszler did, which was eight if you’re scoring at home, or even if you’re alone. It took some time, but as I write this here & now, Belair is finally getting to show her skills on main roster TV. Completely outclassed Bayley on an obstacle course, proving to be a superior athlete. Doesn’t always translate to pro wrestling, but I won’t deny Bianca’s athletic ability.

Two Diesel pushes in one match is a bit much, but I see what they were going for here.

2. Roman Reigns (2014)

The Shield had been picking up momentum throughout 2013, and it seemed like they were on the verge of big things. Maybe a face turn, maybe the group splitting up, probably both because that’s usually what happens when members of a group start getting over. The 2014 Royal Rumble provided a good opportunity to make the Shield members into stars on their own. Seth Rollins entered second & lasted over forty-eight minutes. Dean Ambrose had a solid showing at over thirty-three minutes.

However, it was the Big Dog that stood out from the pack. Roman Reigns entered fifteenth and was the last person eliminated by the winner, Batista. Prior to that, he set a Royal Rumble record, eliminating twelve people. Including Rollins & Ambrose! The record lasted until the Greatest Royal Rumble match, where Braun Strowman eliminated thirteen people. There were fifty people in that match though, so it wasn’t quite as dominant.

Reigns’ performance was somewhat overshadowed by the lack of Daniel Bryan and the match ending up being CM Punk’s last, but it was still an important part of his push to the main event.

1. Diesel (1994)

It’s a tough call between the original recipient of the Diesel Push and the Big Dog. Why do we go with Diesel? For me, it’s where both men started from. Reigns was already seen as a viable future star in the eyes of many fans. We tend to forget it now since the fans turned on Reigns once he got the push, but the man got over pretty well with the smart fans as a Shield member, even with the other two members having more indy cred. You could tell Roman was going places.

Diesel? Well, he was tall and had good hair. He was barely even a wrestler though! Diesel came into the WWF as Shawn Michaels’ bodyguard, and spent most of his time prior to the 1994 Rumble backing up the Boy Toy. To be honest, most of us that had seen Diesel’s run in WCW as Vinnie Vegas were happier to see him in the bodyguard role than as a wrestler. He wasn’t seen as a future main eventer or world champion or anything like that, until the Rumble match.

After the Diesel push, Kevin Nash was ready to shine.


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Rob: Has Pro Wrestling Become Too Soft?

The Undertaker took the online wrestling community by storm with his comments on the current product, and Rob offers some perspective!

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The Undertaker WWE WrestleMania Boneyard Match

The Undertaker took the online wrestling community by storm with his comments on the current product, and Rob offers some perspective!

So……the Undertaker had some things to say about how the kids today just aren’t doing it the way they did back in his day, and that it’s hurting the product.  In short he said it was harder to watch now because it was soft, and the guys weren’t real enough men – they spend too much time trying to look good and do things like play video games instead of packing heat.  Uhh………yeah………ok, Mr Callaway.

Now look, we can talk about the ring work – I for one think that there are way too many matches that look more like a gymnastics floor routine than what’s supposed to be a fight, from the indies all the way up to the WWE.  If he wants to stick to that than I think he’s worth listening to.  But that’s not what he focused on.  No, he spoke about how guys used to carry guns and knives in their bags, and that guys ‘handled stuff’ back in the day, and weren’t so occupied with grooming or playing video games with each other.  And that the changed behavior over the last few years has made the overall wrestling product harder to enjoy.  Help me out here but I don’t see how playing video games with each other and paying more attention to how you look, smell, etc makes for a worse wrestling product.  The ring action, sure.  The promos, which I didn’t see mentioned in the quotes I saw, sure.  Whether or not you do your hair…..really?  Does he not remember the many male wrestlers of days gone by who were sold to women fans as good looking men they’d want to go home with?  The Von Erich boys, the Rock on Roll Express, Ravishing Rick Rude, the Fantastics, Magnum TA?  Does he not remember commentary damn near yelling out loud ‘HEY LADIES, AREN”T THESE DUDES HOT?’ when those guys and many others were in the ring?  Does he not remember guys like ‘Gorgeous’ Jimmy Garvin, who was a proverbial man’s man but also had his valet (his real life wife Precious) spraying his hair while he was cutting promos?

But I got another question:

What kind of locker room does he think should exist? 

One where guys are dropping dead before the age of 50 or are concussed into oblivion?  Or one where they can work longer and not look pathetic if they so chose, or move on early if they want?

One where guys like Darren Young and Jake Atlas have to stay in the closet or where they can be out and accepted, where a guy like Randy Orton with his own checkered history will come up to them and say ‘if anyone gives you any crap, let me know?’

One where guys mostly keep each other out of trouble by doing things like……playing video games together or one where they’re out closing down the bar every night, getting into it with the police, etc.?

One where the men engage in all kinds of trifling behavior towards the women on the roster or one where they get along well enough for there to be genuine friendships where people look out for each other and even form some lasting romantic relationships?

And lastly in regards to guys carrying knives and guns instead of video games, do you want a locker room where guys work things out in a more civilized manner or one like where Bruiser Brody was stabbed to death?

Now he’s not the only one who says this kind of stuff.  A lot of guys from his generation have offered similar sentiments and there are a lot of podcasters who pine for the days when things felt more real and what not.  Well if we’re gonna keep it 100 a lot of those gave off more gravitas and sounded more real because they were legit living hard, messed up lives.  Drug problems.  Alcoholism.  Multiple marriages and divorces.  Bad relationships with their children.  Broken homes and childhoods that they were still traumatized over.  Failed careers in other professions.  I don’t know about you but I think it’s a plus that more of the guys seem to be living and working in such a way that they’re able to avoid those things.  I’ll take hearing Kofi and Xavier talk about their kids on the New Day Pod than a bunch of stories about how they were out boozing and cheating on their spouses in between shows.  The latter can be romanticized by guys who tell good stories and all, but the reality is a lot more grim (for good reference take a look at the ESPN documentary on Ric Flair).

And this goes beyond pro wrestling.  A lot of those old guys in our lives who say the same kind of things have suffered the same fates as their counterparts in the wrestling business.  It’s not healthy, full stop.  Just because you can’t relate with the guys who aren’t living and playing like you did 10, 20 years ago doesn’t mean that they’re doing it wrong.  As for the guys being ‘too pretty’ now…..it’s a lot easier to get opportunities to do things outside of wrestling if you look good, are well groomed, etc.  Acting gigs, TV gigs, magazine covers….you think Xavier Woods would have gotten a hosting job on the relaunched G4 network if he looked and groomed himself like Abdullah the Butcher?  Do you honestly think New Day would be more popular if they looked and acted more like what you consider to be real men?  I don’t see it.  And in an entertainment industry where women have to look damn near perfect just to get an interview I don’t think that men choosing to look as good as they possibly can is a negative.  And let’s not pretend that any of New Day can’t put their ring work alongside any guys from any era.  The video games, the gear colors and everything else don’t mean a damn thing as far as their abilities go.

Look man, time stops for no one.  Things change, and in this case I think they’ve changed for the better.  That he can’t see a trail several miles long of broken families, broken bodies, and premature death behind the ‘right way’ that he speaks of is kinda sad.


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