Now that Ibushi lost the championship which meant so much to him and the G1 Climax coming up, does he come in as the favorite to win it all and headline Wrestle Kingdom ?
At Dominion this past Sunday, Kota Ibushi was facing Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship, in a battle where both men once again threw it all on the line. But this time, it was Naito who prevailed and recaptured the championship, for the 4th time.
A few months ago, I wrote about Kota Ibushi after he announced he signed a full-time contract with New Japan Pro Wrestling, mainly stating that the Golden Star was looking to win championships to cement himself as one of New Japan’s top stars, starting 2019. At G1 Supercard last April, Ibushi claimed the Intercontinental Championship from Tetsuya Naito, thus winning his second title as a Heavyweight in the company. Here we are past Dominion and Ibushi is now, surprisingly or not, left without the championship he won not so long ago… Again. For a good amount of fans, this loss confirms Ibushi’s status of favourite to win the G1 Climax this year, which to be fair, is a solid point in itself. After all, in both 2016 and 2017, Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito did lose the Intercontinental championship in Osaka-Jo Hall and went on to win the tournament.
However, I would like to ask : Is it the right time to write what would be the last chapter of Ibushi’s story ?
I will start things off by stating the overall reason this thought came up first. Kota Ibushi lacks the build and credibility to not only win the G1 Climax, but also to eventually become IWGP Heavyweight Champion.
Let’s not kid ourselves. If Ibushi is indeed winning the G1 this year, most people will expect him to defeat Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom. Now, think about this : Since claiming his first championship as a Heavyweight in New Japan last December, Kota Ibushi only had once successful title defense. The point with this is, besides winning the New Japan Cup four years ago, besides performing very well in previous G1’s, even making it to the finals last year, and adding some gold to his waist, Ibushi is still a bit unproven compared to both Okada and Naito. He is unproven because he has yet to cement himself as a defending champion within the Heavyweight ranks. Becoming IC champion was a big step in the right direction, but not managing to hold on to the title for longer than two months did not put him in the most favorable position to ultimately claim the Heavyweight Championship. Now, winning the G1 would also be a step forward, but this is where I remind you of Kenny Omega, who won the G1 after a fairly short IC title run in the first year of his Heavyweight stint, in a context where New Japan badly needed new stars, and someone to fill in for AJ Styles. As we all know, he ultimately lost to Okada in the Tokyo Dome and their rivalry grew from there.
The current context however is quite different when looking at Ibushi’s case. New Japan doesn’t desperately need to elevate people like it was in 2016, but they need to build these already elevated people up more than they currently are, so the responsibility of carrying the IWGP Heavyweight Championship doesn’t solely revolve around Okada and possibly Naito for the next couple of years. In that regard, when it comes to Ibushi, what he needs first and foremost is a decently long, as well as meaningful, championship run.
Let’s now take a moment to look at Ibushi’s inability to defend championships from the opposite perspective. Let’s assume the Golden Star manages to win the G1, how can anyone be certain he makes it to Wrestle Kingdom with the G1 contract ? Granted, since the G1 winner has to defend his rights to main event the Tokyo Dome, no one actually lost them. Yet again, Ibushi has barely managed to defend anything he has held in New Japan since becoming a Heavyweight. Lastly, in such a context, as most will be expecting Ibushi’s G1 win to result in him becoming IWGP Heavyweight Champion because this actually makes perfect sense from a storytelling standpoint, having him lose at Wrestle Kingdom is out of the question.
While I could go on with the different scenarios concerning Ibushi, let’s wrap things up by slightly touching on the new Intercontinental Champion, Tetsuya Naito. Naito has spent most of the year focusing on his new goal of becoming the first man to hold the Heavyweight and IC Championships at the same time. Now that he once again is in position to achieve this goal, we can wonder what this means for him, as well. One thing we can be sure of, though, is that if there is any other big favourite to main event the Tokyo Dome at the moment, it probably is the leader of L.I.J.
With this article coming to an end, tell me what you think ! What are your thoughts about Kota Ibushi winning the G1 Climax and headlining the Tokyo Dome for the first time of his career ? If not Ibushi, who is your favourite, and why ?
Chris’s WWE Raw Grades & Analysis For 7/15/19
Chris takes a look at Monday’s edition of WWE Raw
RAW is live 24 Hours after The Beast in the Bank made good on Heyman’s word, and cashed-in on an emotionally spent Seth Rollins. A four-year story came circle, with Brock Lesnar returning the favor from Rollins’s Heist of the Century at WrestleMania 31. What will the self-proclaimed Beastslayer have to say?
Chris’s WWE Raw Grades
- 2/3 Falls Six Man Tag: Ricochet & The Usos VS Robert Roode & The Revival–B
- The Viking Raiders VS Vinnie Rooner & Jackson James–D
- Drew McIntyre VS Cedric Alexander–B+
- Finn Balor VS Samoa Joe–C for the match, A for The Arrival of The Fiend
- Zack Ryder VS Mike Kanellis w/ Maria–D
- Six Man Tag: The Club VS Lucha House Party–A-
- Raw Women’s Championship #1 Contender Elimination Fatal 4 Way: Natalya VS Naomi VS Carmella VS Alexa Bliss w/ Nikki Cross; Natalya wins and will face Becky Lynch for the title at Summerslam–C+
- WWE 24/7 Championship: Drake Maverick w/ Renee Michelle VS R-Truth–B
- WWE Universal Championship #1 Contender “Cross-Brand 10-Man Over-The-Top-Rope Battle Royal–B+
WWE Raw Analysis
We go live as the new Universal Champion Brock Lesnar and his advocate Paul Heyman make their entrance. We see a recap of last night’s Winners-Take-All Match, and the inevitable cash-in by the Beast Incarnate. I TOLD YOU SO! Heyman gives a history lesson of how many times HE told us that Lesnar would cash-in, and HE told us that Rollins wouldn’t be defended his Universal title at SummerSlam.
Brock wants to do what Brock wants to do! Tonight there will be a 10-man cross-branded over-the-top-rope battle royal to determine Brock’s opponent for SummerSlam. Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Big E, Cesaro, Braun Strowman, Rey Mysterio, Baron Corbin, Sami Zayn, Bobby Lashley, and, last but not least The Big Dog Roman Reigns! Apparently, we’re all Brock’s Bitches.
Here comes The One and Only Ricochet making his electric entrance as The Beast looks on from the apron… could Brock want to go one-on-one with the high-flyer? Ricochet is in action… Commercial.
It’s Six-man Tag Action as The Usos team up with Ricochet vs. Robert Roode and The Revival ⅔ Falls Match. Jey and Dawson start off… Superkick and Dawson is rocked, here comes Ricochet. Dawson eats a Recoil and a running Shooting Star Press for the 1-2-3. I am expecting The Club to cause a distraction and allow the heels to get the win. Recently, WWE has been giving six-man tag matches it’s like we’ve traveled back in time. Dawson gets the second fall with a Pancake Slam… Commercial.
We return to Dawson hitting multiple suplexes… two-count. Dawson and Wilder are absolutely brilliant with old-school wrestling 101, Wilder gets arm-dragged however he still makes the tag to Dawson to prevent Jey. Ricochet comes in and firing on all cylinders…Jimmy flies to the outside. The One and Only is hitting everything that’s moving…Recoil…The Dazzling 630 1-2-3! While The Usos and Ricochet celebrate guess who shows up…The Club.
Before they even make it to the ring, Ricochet hits a suicide dive on AJ Styles. A massive brawl ensues as all the tag teams fight all over the place. Usos are having a Superkick party! Ricochet hits a cross-body splash on Roode and The Revival! Ricochet you need to keep eyes in the back of your head… Phenomenal Forearm that turns him inside out! It’s not over yet… Magic Killer and Styles shoving HIS United States Championship in the face of the former champ, while screaming “NO ONE, NO ONE, I’M THE MAN!”
Its Raid Time as The Viking Raiders is shown in a red-lighted room preparing to obliterate when we return.
A commercial for Next Week’s Monumental Raw Reunion with all. the legends and greats are making an appearance! I got no problem with that, as long as they don’t steal the spotlight from the Full-Timers!
Which jobbers are Erik and Ivar going to destroy apparently, it’s Vinnie Rooner and Jackson James? No matter how many jobbers they annihilate; and no matter how much Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Renee Young sell The Viking Raiders as real threats, WWE isn’t doing these two badasses any favors with one-minute squashes. When the hell are these two going to get a real feud? At this point, they’re just another name on the long list of NXT teams that have been mistreated. Rant over… Viking Experience for the academic win.
Recap of the No Holds Barred Match last night, The Big Dog and The Deadman handled their business! Taker looked really good.
Earlier today, The Scottish Psychopath is ready to eviscerate Cedric Alexander for his masked trick on Shane and McIntyre last week. Alexander is not scared and stands up to him, ahead of their match tonight… Commercial.
Apparently, their match is up next as McIntrye is out first, followed by Alexander. The Scottish Psychopath is in a foul mood tonight as he bulldozes through his opponent. Alexander springboards off the ropes and delivers a beautiful Neutralizer enzugiri that sends McIntrye outside. Alexander takes out his foe with a jaw-dropping overhead splash to the outside.
One of the highlights of the match is when The Scottish Psychopath hits a ferocious Belly-to-belly that sends Alexander into the turnbuckle. The Age of Alexander is showing why he was the soul of 205 live, long before Mustafa Ali was. McIntrye sets up for the Alabama Slam but Alexander counters into a rolling pin and hooks the leg for the shocking 1-2-3. RUN Alexander! Looks like another joke on McIntrye!
Recap of Shinsuke Nakamura defeating Finn Balor. Balor gives a Focus-driven promo about finding ways to move forward, but rest assured, he’s going to find a way back to HIS Intercontinental Championship! He says he’s going over, under or through Samoa Joe. Joe responds on the other side, “YOU’RE GOING TO DO WHAT?” The Samoan Specialist is not fazed! I am hoping these two get a good amount of time, going back to their exhilarating battles in NXT! The match is next… Commercial.
We come back as Charly Caruso is interviewing Reigns “Tonight is his week, from winning the Espy’s to Hobbs & Shaw Movie Premiere to Whooping ass with The Deadman last night…The only way to cap it off is to win the battle royal and taking back HIS Universal Championship!”
Back live as Balor is making his entrance. The Bell rings and both competitors tie-up…Break and Joe locks in an armlock, Balor attempts a Russian Leg Sweep… Nope. Wow, this one was quick…Quite disappointing as both rivals could tear the house down! Anyways, Joe rolls Balor and hooks the arms for the surprise pin. After though, Joe locks in the Coquina Clutch…Maybe not as Balor slips out, and hits the slingshot dropkick and the Coup de Grace!
All of a sudden the lights go out and shrieks echo…HOLY SHIT when they come back on The Fiend in mask and all is in Sister Abigail position! The Crowd is going nuts!!!! I predicted this about a month ago since we never got a truly good program with Balor and Wyatt. The dreaded Sister Abigail character was thwarted by The Flu or something. This is how you make an impact! While the lights go out again, sounds of Wyatt laughing echoes through the arena!
Mr. and Ms. 24/7 Champion are checking into a hotel to well you know…consumate the marriage. Drake Maverick is hilarious with his facial expressions like a teenager about to get lucky. Truth is hiding behind the wall with a referee. He asks the front desk if Hornswoggle is there? These vignettes are entertaining but what’s the end game here? I’ve been saying for a while now that Maverick vs. R-Truth in a real match at SummerSlam is the next step in the 24/7 process.
The Street Profits are backstage and give another 100% FULL OF ENERGY HYPE for the Fatal-4-Way Elimination Match tonight where Natalya, Naomi, Carmella, and Alexa Bliss Dawkins goes…”Is Nikki Cross going to be with Bliss?” The hilarious Montez Ford pulls down his shades with a hilarious sly grin and says “That’s what the graphic says”. Dawkins has Big E for the battle royal, while Ford has MONDAY NIGHT ROLLINS!
We head back to the ring as Zack Ryder is waiting for his opponent. Maria Kanellis is degrading Mike again… and apparently, she’s taking the match and pushes her loser husband out of the way. She comes down the ramp and the official stops her…Here comes Mike to save the day…Nope Ryder hits the Rough Ryder for the 1-2-3. What was the point of that? How is this verbal abuse going to even help Mike become a credible superstar?
We finally see that the Fatal-4-Way is to determine Becky Lynch’s opponent for SummerSlam. The Club is in six-man tag team action when we return.
We’re back as The Lucha House Party are their opponents. Styles blasts Gran Metalik to start the match. Hot tags and a brutal onslaught so far as its been all Club. Out of nowhere Ricochet snatches Styles from the apron and drives him into the barricade. Officials come out to break it up as we’re taking another commercial break? What the hell!
We return to see Kalisto taking it to Anderson…hits a hurricanrana and Anderson goes outside. Double suicide dives from Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado, followed by a stunning Corkscrew splash from Kalisto to wipe everyone out! I’m pleased to see for a moment the luchas got some form of offense. Kalisto and Anderson are back in…The boot of Doom. Styles gets the tag and locks in the calf-crusher. Styles keeps it locked in despite the tap-out!
How many recaps of The Winners-Take-All match are we going to get tonight?
Sarah Schrieber is interviewing a LASER-FOCUSED Seth Rollins, who says The Man will be fine after Baron Corbin dropped her with The End of Days last night. He’s pissed that Lesnar holds HIS Universal Championship that The Beast Incarnate doesn’t deserve. He is prepared to fight and destroy anyone who stands in his path to regaining the Universal title including…Roman Reigns.
We see a recap of The Fiend’s shocking return to attack Balor.
I apologize, folks, my power went out so I didn’t see much of the Fatal-4-Way Elimination Match. So here are a few highlights, before the bell rings the Courageous Lynch proudly walks out battered and bruised but still the Raw Women’s Champion! Bliss kicks Natalya and slaps Naomi, she gets chased out. Mella is tossed out as well, now the two friends go at it. Natalya and Naomi hit dueling dropkicks to each other, and clotheslines. Mella gets some good offense in now and she hits a Stunning Steiner for a two-count. This is the point where I can pick up as my cable is back on.
Mella-Go-Round to Natalya…Naomi with the Rearview… nope Superkicks to both her and Natalya and the crafty Bliss rolls Mella up for the first elimination. Noami drops Bliss with a dropkick. She drills Bliss with some high kicks in the corner, followed by one that has Bliss rocked and almost gets the elimination. Both Bliss and Naomi collide with clotheslines and we go to commercial.
We are back as all three women are ready to continue the fight. Again we see Bliss rolling outside and appears to be “hurt” leaving the two friends to battle. Natalya wants a Suplex on the outside, Naomi counters…she almost gets sent into the steel steps, blocked and hits a gorgeous Blockbuster! All three superstars get some offense in and several near falls. Bliss is extremely crafty and picking her spots. The crowd is chanting “This is awful!” Natalya stacks Naomi up from a roll-up pin for our second elimination… commercial.
We return as the wily Bliss is in control…Insult to Injury. Natalya wipes out Cross by accident. This is a distasteful crowd tonight as a “Let’s go, Cena, Cena Sucks” chant begins. Granted this isn’t the best fatal-four-way but still have some respect! Anyway Bliss drives Natalya into the steel steps and rolls her in the ring, she was playing possum and locks in the Sharpshooter and Bliss taps out. Natalya is the Number-One Contender for SummerSlam.
Post-Match Interview with Charly Caruso, she is proud of competing for the Raw Women’s Championship in her hometown of Canada! The Man has something to say! She and Natalya her “friend” share some mince words. The typical I’m going to kick your ass threats! I would be much more thrilled if WWE actually made Natalya seem like a real threat… instead, she’s just another victory for The Man.
Orton gives his hype for the battle royal… courtesy of R.K.O. The Miz is coming out now for his Miz TV as we go to commercial.
We return and The A-Lister welcomes his guest Dolph Ziggler. Right off the bat, Ziggler is passive-aggressively throwing jabs about Miz. He used to prove he was the best and now he’s just a Yes-man and has a show. Ziggler tries to fire back at Miz about not being on the card last night, Miz says well it’s better to not be on than to lose to Kevin Owens in seventeen seconds. Ziggler crosses the line as he claims that all Miz cares about is fame and fortune…just like his wife. The A-Lister pounces on him and unloads right hands. As much as I love both Miz and Ziggler, I would rather not see a recycled feud again.
It’s Maverick’s lucky night or so he thought! Room service arrives with their champagne that his wife ordered. Maverick is wearing nothing but the 24/7 title. The attendant doesn’t leave and, Maverick notices its an official. He frantically starts lifting up the bed and looking for someone. Truth crawls out from under the beverage cart. He rolls Maverick up for only a two. He hits a version of a cross-body splash and gets the three! Truth has his baby back all is right with the world!
We return from commercial as all 10 competitors in the Cross-brand Battle Royal are in the ring, and Heyman and The Beast are watching from the entrance ramp. To keep things not confusing I’ll just be naming superstars one-by-one who gets eliminated.
Cesaro eliminated by Bobby Lashley
Bobby Lashley eliminated by Braun Strowman
Big E eliminated by Sami Zayn
Sami Zayn eliminated by Randy Orton
Rey Mysterio eliminated by Baron Corbin
We’re down to four Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman and poor Baron Corbin!
6. Baron Corbin eliminated by Seth Rollins
Roman Reigns inadvertently speared Rollins as Strowman sidestepped.
7. Both Braun Strowman and Roman Reigns eliminated by Seth Rollins.
He starts to celebrate but The Viper strikes.
8. Randy Orton eliminated by Seth Rollins
Winner: Seth Rollins
Rollins says at SummerSlam it’s going to resemble WrestleMania. He will stomp The Beast and become THE REIGNING DEFENDING UNDISPUTED WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION! Brock marches down and throws a chair at Rollins and exits.
That’s the show folks!
Tiffany’s Takes: Monday Night RAW (7-15-19)
Tiffany’s Takes digs into WWE Raw: after a shocking Extreme Rules, will Seth Rollins get his rematch?
Tiffany’s Takes digs into WWE Raw: after a shocking Extreme Rules, will Seth Rollins get his rematch?
I will not discuss the new Universal Champion beyond saying that it should never have happened.
Ricochet kicked off the show with a six man 2-out-of-3 Falls tag with the Usos against Bobby Roode and the Revival, for some strange reason. Guess the ‘No Rematch’ thing is back in force because he should be getting a shot at AJ Styles after last night. Well, I guess it’s not over between Ricochet and Styles and it looks like the Good Brothers are getting in on the fun with the Usos. Not sure why Roode stuck his nose in it. I’m guess Ricochet will get a rematch at SummerSlam and the Usos and the Good Brothers will face the Revival. Not sure what Roode will do.
Viking Raiders took on two locals who didn’t have a prayer and got squashed and that was that.
So Drew McIntyre’s response being beaten by Undertaker and Roman Reigns was to pick a fight with Cedric Alexander, who helped Reigns get the better of the Corporation 2.0 last week. Guess ol’ Drew needs to take his impotent rage out on someone. Also, Drew, disembowel and eviscerate mean the same thing. If you’re going to use big words, at least look them up in a dictionary, okay?
Oh. My. God! I expected a squash and got Cedric Alexander PINNING Drew McIntyre 1, 2, 3! That was hilarious!
Did Balor call Shinsuke Nakamura ‘Shitske’? I like that Balor is back in the hunt, even if he’s got to go through Samoa Joe, who was also licking his wounds after losing to Kofi Kingston.
I know a lot of Roman Reigns fans want him to get his rematch against Lesnar since he never lost the title, but I don’t think it’ll happen. Reigns is on SmackDown and WWE has been firm in making sure cross brand title matches don’t end with titles changing hands.
Balor vs Joe was disappointingly quick. Joe got the win but Balor was the last man standing. Also, NOT here for a rehash of the Balor/Wyatt trainwreck from two years ago? Nope, not having it.
Well, it looks like Drake Maverick’s big night is finally going to happen, but since it’s on RAW, it’s probably not going to end in fireworks.
What the hell is going on with the Kanellis storyline? Maria Kanellis is being the pregnant wife from Hell and Mike Kanellis looks like a jackass instead of a badass. He lost to Zack Ryder of all people! There better be an amazing payoff for this because this storyline is annoying.
I’m honestly surprised The Club vs Lucha House Party wasn’t an out and out squash. Maybe it would’ve been if not for Ricochet. Judging from how Kalisto got treated, the Club isn’t feeling too great about being taken to task by luchadors or Ricochet. Look out, RAW.
Seth Rollins has a right to be pissed. He towed the company line and threw Dean Ambrose under the bus and lost the title to a man who had no business being Mr. Money in the Bank. If this is Vince making Seth earn it all over again after what happened in January, he’s a bigger idiot than I think.
You gotta respect Becky Lynch. She had a huge knot on her forehead from Lacey Evans, took an End of Days from Baron Corbin, and she still came out to see who she would be facing at SummerSlam between Alexa Bliss, Naomi, Nattie, and Carmella. The match was really good, but I’m honestly SHOCKED that Nattie won. I figured Bliss would get yet another chance at the title, but that was not the case. It’s Becky Lynch vs Nattie at SummerSlam!
Well, I guess after last night’s embarrassing defeat, Dolph Ziggler had to find SOMEONE to whine to and who better than Miz, who was NOT in the mood for Ziggler’s shit. Looks like another feud from 2016 is being revived.
I’ll give Maverick his due, he really tried to make this wedding consummation romantic, but I think we all know what’s going to happen since it’s on RAW, though I REALLY hope he had a thong between him and that belt. At least it wasn’t coitus interruptus. Also, kudos to Cory Graves for the ‘small package’ punchline.
I gotta admit, I wasn’t stoked about the Top 10 Battle Royal because the ‘Top 10’ seemed to be drawn at random. I could see them picking guys who’d won last night, but then you have Sami Zayn, Randy Orton, Bobby Lashley, Baron Corbin, and Rey Mysterio. I’m not surprised that Seth won, since he’s the only logical choice, I am surprised that Orton was runner up. Guess we should warn Kofi Kingston.
That’s it for Tiffany’s RAW Takes! Tune in tomorrow for SmackDown and 205 Live!