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Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 8/4/2019

Another G1 heavy Top 5, but Lucha de Apuestas provides a nice sprinkle of change! 

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Another G1 heavy Top 5, but Lucha de Apuestas provides a nice sprinkle of change!

So the last match of July is in! The votes were spread out a bit this week, but there was a definite winner. NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 9: A Block: Kazuchika Okada vs KENTA, won the vote and will go into the July pool. So the July Pool looks as such:

  • NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 9: A Block: Kazuchika Okada vs KENTA
  • NJPW G1 Climax Night 6: B Block: Jon Moxley vs Tomohiro Ishii 
  • NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 3: Block A: Kazuchika Okada vs Zack Sabre Jr
  • Impact Wrestling Slammiversary: Impact World Championship: Brian Cage (c) vs Michael Elgin

Well there’s definitely a theme, and anyone who follows Japanese wrestling, even a little, should know that tournaments produce some great stuff. So for WWE fans, umm…hey, SummerSlam is next week and the G1 is over soon. So you’ll recognize more things soooon.

As for July, my vote will go to, Brian Cage vs Michael Elgin, purely because I’m pretty positive that won’t win.

This week won’t look too different from July, but Impact managed to sneak in and Triplemania had a pretty good show.

 

5t. NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 12: B Block: Tomohiro Ishii vs Hirooki Goto

These two put on a fantastic match last year, but it signified the beginning of Goto’s disappointing G1 in 2018. Goto finally got a chance to prove that his LA Dojo training has changed something about him. After a slow start, and Ishii looking at moving into sole possession of second place, Goto had something to prove. This match wasn’t quite as explosive as last year (possibly because of the heat), but it was still a great hard hitting old school match. Goto pulling off the win could finally bring him back to prominence. 

Winner: Goto via GTR

Rating: ****

 

5t. NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 13: A Block: Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Kota Ibushi

Ibushi has finally surpassed god! Tanahashi has always been a hurdle he couldn’t get over. Tanahashi not quite looking like himself this tournament definitely bode well for Ibushi. There was a great strike exchange between the two and Ibushi landed all of his cringe inducing moves, so it was a sight to behold. Very good match, hard fought, and feels like a big step for Ibushi and possibly the first moment in A Block where you believe someone not named Okada has a shot.

Winner: Ibushi via Kamigoye

Rating: ****

 

4. AAA Triplemania 27: Lucha de Apuestas Hair vs Mask: Dr. Wagner Jr vs Blue Demon Jr

Blue Demon’s mask is one of the older family lineages in lucha libre. Demon himself is 20-0 in Apuestas matches while Wagner is 10-1. This was a brutal war, not a match, just a straight up fight. Broken beer bottles, chairs, hammers, and cinder blocks were all used on one another. This was a hell of a fight, lots of blood and the each man’s entourage interfered a little, but just damn. It also looked like Wagner broke a finger at some point, so Blue Demon using a modified Fujiwara Arm Bar often in the match, just looked crazy. I thought it was clever that Wagner used the fact the referee was out of position to visibly tap out, getting Demon to break the submission thinking he won. Wagner eats a cinder block to the skull, and after bandaging the bleeding portions of the man, the hair shaving begins.

Winner: Blue Demon via Cinder Block

Rating: ****

 

3. IMPACT!: Impact Tag Team Championship Match: The Rascalz vs The North (c)

So I was impressed this match got as much time as it did. Admittedly, early transitions were a little clunky, but because of the length, it didn’t hurt the match too much. Rascalz showed a lot of spirit being out sized and out muscled, and technically won the match. Meteora and Spiral Tap combination would’ve given them the win, if Page didn’t pull out the referee. Dez dives out on Page, and then the referee gets up and starts asking both men “which one of you pulled me out”. What kind of moron question is that? Both Rascalz were in the ring when he got pulled out. So the world’s dumbest sentence ever said by a referee aside, this was a damn good match.

Winner: The North via Tandem Inverted Mat Slam

Rating: ****

 

Honorable Mentions:

NJPW G1 29 Night 11: A Block: EVIL vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Winner: Tanahashi via High Fly Flow
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW G1 29 Night 13: A Block: Will Ospreay vs EVIL
Winner: EVIL via Everything is EVIL
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW G1 29 Night 14: B Block: Jay White vs Jon Moxley
Winner: White via Blade Runner
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW G1 29 Night 11: A Block: Lance Archer vs Kazuchika Okada
Winner: Okada via Rainmaker
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW G1 29 Night 12: B Block: Jeff Cobb vs Shingo Takagi
Winner: Cobb via Tour of the Islands
Rating: *** 3/4
Triplemania 27: AAA World Trios Championship: El Hijo del Vikingo, Myzteziz Jr & Golden Magic vs El Nuevo Poder del Norte (Mocho Cota Jr., Carta Brava Jr.& Tito Santana) vs Las Fresas Salvajes (Pimpinela Escarlata, Mamba & Máximo)
Winner: Vikingo via Inverted 450 Splash
Rating: *** 1/2
NJPW G1 29 Night 12: B Block: Juice Robinson vs Tetsuya Naito
Winner: Naito via Destino
Rating: *** 1/2
NJPW G1 29 Night 11: A Block: Zack Sabre Jr vs Will Ospreay
Winner: ZSJ via Modified Grounded Octopus Hold
Rating: *** 1/2
Triplemania 27: Killer Kross, Texano Jr & Taurus vs Psycho Clown, Cody Rhodes & Cain Velasquez
Winner: Velasquez via Kimura
Rating: *** 1/2
WWE Raw: Raw Tag Team Title Triple Threat: The Revival (c) vs The Usos vs Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows
Winner: OC via Magic Killer
Rating: *** 1/2
NJPW G1 29 Night 13: A Block: Lance Archer vs Zack Sabre Jr
Winner: ZSJ via Crucifix Pin
Rating: *** 1/2
IMPACT!: X Division Number 1 Conteder: Aiden Prince vs Wentz vs Rohit Raju vs Chuck Mambo vs Cody Deaner vs Petey Williams
Winner: Prince via 450 Splash
Rating: *** 1/4
NJPW G1 Climax 29: A Block: SANADA vs KENTA
Winner: SANADA via Moonsault
Rating: *** 1/4
Triplemania 27: Laredo Kid, Pentagon Jr & Fenix vs Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks
Winner: Pentagon via Spiked Fear Factor
Rating: *** 1/4
NJPW G1 29 Night 13: Jay White & Chase Owens vs Jon Moxley & Shota Umino
Winner: Owens via Package Piledriver
Rating: *** 1/4
Triplemania 27: Reina de Reinas Championship 7 Way TLC Match: Chika Tormenta vs Keyra (c) vs Lady Shani vs La Hiedra vs Taya vs Tessa Blanchard vs Faby Apache vs Ayako Hamada
Winner: Tessa Blanchard
Rating: ***
NJPW G1 29 Night 12: EVIL, SANADA & BUSHI vs Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay & YOSHI-HASHI
Winner: YOSHI via Butterfly Lock
Rating: ***
NJPW G1 29 Night 12: B Block: Toru Yano vs Jon Moxley
Winner: Yano via Count Out
Rating: ***
NJPW G1 29 Night 14: B Block: Jeff Cobb vs Hirooki Goto
Winner: Goto via GTR
Rating: ***
NJPW G1 29 Night 12: B Block: Taichi vs Jay White
Winner: White via Blade Runner
Rating: ***
Triplemania 27: Llave a la Gloria Twitch Exclusive Match: Dragon Bane, Astrolux & Arkangel Divino vs Aramis, Arez & Toxin
Winner: Dragon Bane via 630 Senton
Rating: ***
NJPW G1 29 Night 13: Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Tetsuya Naito, Shingo Takagi & BUSHI
Winner: Takagi via Made in Japan
Rating: ***
WWE RAW: US Title #1 Contender Gauntlet: Rey Mysterio vs Cesaro vs Sami Zayn vs Andrade vs Ricochet
Winner: Ricochet via 630 Senton
Rating: ***
NJPW G1 29 Night 14: Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro Takahashi w/ Pieter vs Tomoaki Honma, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi
Winner: Chase via Package Piledriver
Rating: ***
NJPW G1 29 Night 11: Hirooki Goto, Yota Tsuji & YOSHI-HASHI vs Tomohiro Ishii, Yuya Uemura & Tomoaki Honma
Winner: HASHI via Butterfly Lock
Rating: ***
Copa Triplemania (Rumble style match)
Winner: Pagano
Rating: ***

2. NJPW G1 Climax 29 Night 14: B Block: Tetsuya Naito vs Shingo Takagi

Naito pushed Shingo to try and take LIJ from him, he wanted a determined Dragon. The match started off deliberately and then turned into a hell of a battle. Shingo powered through a lot of Naito’s mind games, Gloria and a few Destino variants. As I’ve said a few times, Shingo being a Junior has him slated for a lot of losses, but this match proves that once he moves up, he’s gonna be a force to be reckoned with. An arm ringer style Destino seals the match shortly after the 3 minutes to go call. Great punctuation, and thanks to Jay White’s win, the Block is still wide open.

Winner: Naito via Destino

Rating: **** 1/2

 

1. NJPW G1 Climax 29: A Block: Kazuchika Okada vs SANADA

Well this was a hell of a match. We saw similar shadows of their matches earlier this year, where Okada was a step ahead and SANADA kept going to the well. Okada was in the Skull End for about 4 minutes towards the end of the match. Okada managed to counter out of it, looked to hit a Rainmaker, but SANADA hit a Pop Up Cutter and then two Moonsaults to give him his first win ever against Okada.

Winner: SANADA via Moonsault

Rating: **** 1/2

 

Thoughts:

These are all great matches to kick off August with, but honestly, how often do I get to write out a finish by cinder block? So just for the cinder block, and of course the blood, history and just unbridled hatred… Lucha de Apuestas Hair vs Mask: Dr. Wagner Jr vs Blue Demon Jr, gets my vote.

None of these are bad choices, but it’s the little things in life that sway me sometimes. Heh, cinder blocks…


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Opinion

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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NXT Minus 6: About that Cole-O’Reilly match…

It was the Takeover match that held the most promise. Where did it go wrong? 

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It was the Takeover match that held the most promise. Where did it go wrong? 

Exclusive: Kyle O'Reilly is ready to renew his career-long rivalry with Adam Cole at NXT TakeOver: Stand & Deliver

6. I was jacked to 11 for Adam Cole versus Kyle O’Reilly. I was ready to give it a Tokyo Dome 6 stars. MOTY before the bell rang. A masterwork of storytelling. I correctly predicted it would be an unsanctioned match. Then the action started, and it quickly became “be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.”

NXT TakeOver: New Orleans | WWE

5. After the first few acts of violence, it was apparent that the problem with the match would be the stipulation. The last NXT unsanctioned match was Johnny Gargano versus Tommaso Ciampa in 2018. That was 3 short years ago, but things move quickly in today’s world. There is very little chance an unsanctioned match can deliver the level of violence it promises as long as NXT is on the PG-13 Peacock.

The Most Brutal Spots from Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly's Insane Unsanctioned Match at NXT Takeover - EssentiallySports

4. Fans are losing their minds over all the content Peacock is leaving on the cutting floor. A lot of it was offensive and would never work today, but that’s not the point. The fact is there’s only so much violence Peacock’s parent company NBC will tolerate from wrestling. Take the chain, for example. Other than the clothesline, it was practically useless. O’Reilly tried to make it work, but it fell flat. In an unsanctioned match, 20 feet of heavy duty chain should be all you need to decimate another human being.

The B Word: Did Pro Wrestling's Blood Dry Up? | Ring the Damn Bell

3. Maybe I’m a victim of my own wrestling memory. An unsanctioned match in Memphis in the 80’s would have been a bloodbath. Someone would have been hung over the top rope with the chain around his neck. Whipped across the back. Hog tied. Someone would have wrapped it around their fist for a few stiff shots to their opponent’s forehead. But that goes back to my original point. None of that would fly today even if NXT was only on the WWE network.

5 Hilarious moments from this week's WWE programming

2. I’ll go so far as to say the only violent-promising stipulation that interests me is Falls Count Anywhere. There is zero drama in wrestlers pulling chairs from under the ring. The chance to use the naturally occurring environment as a weapon still holds a world of suspense. Someone is going through windows, walls, off the stage, over the guardrail, stuffed in a locker. Honestly, I’m tired of people getting hit in the stomach with folding chairs. Of all the ways to hit someone with a folding chair, that’s the least practical. 

WWE Announces Multiple Injuries At NXT New Year's Evil - WrestlingRumors.net

1. I’m sorry to say Kyle O’Reilly versus Adam Cole didn’t deliver what I expected. Maybe I’m in the minority. Maybe I don’t need over-the-top violence to entertain me. Maybe I don’t need wrestling to keep pushing the envelope. Five of my top 6 matches of 2021 are straight up wrestling matches. Maybe all I need is two (or three or four) strong characters and a good story. Damn, I sound old. 


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