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Andrew’s Top Matches: Week Ending 8/18/2019

With the G1 ending, how wide open is the Top 5? Do you agree with the matches?

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With the G1 ending, how wide open is the Top 5? Do you agree with the matches?

This is a pretty varied week for the Top 5. WWE fans should be happy with their choices and non-WWE fans have a couple things as well.

Let’s address the match that won the vote last week! NXT Takeover Toronto: Io Shirai vs Candice LeRae, won the votes by quite a bit. I’m surprised it beat out some G1 bangers, but I know somewhere Greg DeMarco is screaming at his screen. So that’s a little reassuring.

Now let’s get to this week’s Top 5!

 

5. 205 Live: Cruiserweight Championship Match: Oney Lorcan vs Drew Gulak (c)

Snippet from Mitchell’s Coverage:
Lorcan runs corner to corner, for a back elbow! Then again, for a second back elbow! Lorcan goes for the hat trick, but Gulak gets clear! Gulak scoops and slams Lorcan into ropes! Cover, TWO! Lorcan escapes, and Gulak looks to be thinking on what he has to do to end this. Gulak drags Lorcan up, torture racks, but Lorcan fights out to half nelson! Gulak elbows out, but Lorcan runs, only to get Gulak’s LARIAT! Cover, TWO!! Lorcan survives and Gulak is stunned. Fans cheer Lorcan on but Gulak is already on him. Gulak lifts Lorcan to the top rope, then climbs up to join him. Gulak is on the very top as he rains down rights. Lorcan pops out and trips Gulak up! Gulak is crotch’d on the top bar, and Lorcan climbs up behind him. Fans fire up as Lorcan wants to end this!

Lorcan has the half nelson, and brings Gulak up, SUPER HALF ‘N’ HALF! But Gulak ends up so far away! Lorcan has to crawl to the cover, ROPEBREAK! Gulak survives and Lorcan is at a loss for words. Gulak slumps out of the ring but Lorcan grits his teeth. Fans give him the fire he needs, and Lorcan pursues Gulak. Lorcan whips Gulak into barriers! And into the announce desk! Gulak staggers but Lorcan throws him into steel steps! Lorcan puts Gulak in the ring, but Gulak cradles! TWO, and Lorcan CHOPS Gulak! Lorcan grabs Gulak’s jaw, slap, slap, SLAP! Then spinning backhand CHOP! Cover, TWO!! Gulak pushes Lorcan away but Lorcan just SLAPS him again! Lorcan tees off with slapping palm strikes to the back! Half ‘n’ Half but standing switch, roll up, GULOCK!! Lorcan flails, reaches, but the body scissors are on, too! Lorcan is fading, he is OUT! Gulak wins!!

Winner: Gulak via GuLock

Rating: ****

 

4. NJPW G1 Climax Night 19: Kazuchika Okada & Hiroshi Tanahashi vs Zack Sabre Jr & Minoru Suzuki

From My Analysis:
Suzuki’s great plan of revenge has now begun in full swing. Since being spurned from the G1 Climax this year, he’s been quietly plotting. Sabre had to put up a fight against Tanahashi since he’s lost the last two matches against him. The match was damn good, and you kept seeing Suzuki chomping at the bit to make sure he had Okada. So now, Suzuki is in line for a championship shot. It is very rare for the Champion to get pinned in an undercard match, especially by someone who didn’t even qualify for the G1 Climax.

Winner: Suzuki via Gotch Style Piledriver

Rating: ****

 

3. WWE SmackDown Live: Buddy Murphy vs Roman Reigns

Snippet from Mitchell’s Coverage:
Roman is feeling it, and he goes to a corner. He locks ‘n’ loads, then runs, but Murphy dodges! Roman elbows Murphy away, but misses in the corner to get the post! Murphy rolls Roan and feet on ropes! TWO!! Roman runs at Murphy but is dumped out instead! Murphy wrecks with a dropkick, then builds speed, to FLY! The Juggernaut topples Roman over! “This is Awesome!” as Murphy gets Roman up and into the ring at 6. Murphy wants this the clean way, and climbs up high. He leaps, another meteora! Cover, TWO!! Murphy and Roman are down again, exhausted from the action so far. Roman gasps for air as he sits up. Murphy is on him first, and he lets off a strike fest! He stomps Roman’s foot then thrusts the knee, bout Roman comes back with a BIG uppercut! SUPERKICK from Murphy! Rebound, SUPERMAN PUNCH! Cover, TWO!!

Roman is shocked but Murphy wasn’t a dominant Cruiserweight Champion for nothing! But Roman pumps himself up, because he isn’t a Grand Slam Champion for nothing. He aims from the corner, “OOAH!” And runs, into a kick! KNEE TRIGGER! AUSSIE-GOYE! BRAIN BUSTER!! Cover, TWO!?! Roman survives and Murphy is in shock! Murphy drags Roman to a drop zone and climbs but Roman trips him up! Murphy still fights back, only for Roman to uppercut him off the top! Murphy hits barriers, Roman comes by for a FLYING SUPERMAN PUNCH! Roman puts Murphy in, FLIPPING SPEAR!! Cover, Roman wins!

Winner: Reigns via Spear

Rating: ****

 

Honorable Mentions:

NJPW G1 Climax Night 19: YOSHI-HASHI, KENTA & Tomohiro Ishii vs Guerrillas of Destiny & Bad Luck Fale
Winner: Tama via Go 2 Sleep
Rating: ****
Stardom 5 Star GP Red Stars: Momo Watanabe vs Hazuki
Winner: Hazuki via Hazukistral
Rating: *** 3/4
NJPW G1 Climax Night 19: Yota Tsuji & Ren Narita vs Clark Connors & Karl Fredericks
Winner: Connors via Boston Crab
Rating: *** 1/2
NEW Prison Break: NEW Tag Team Titles: David Arquette & King Brian Anthony vs Jerry Lawler & Keith Youngblood (c)
Winner: Lawler via Fist Drop
Rating: *** 1/4
NXT UK: Kassius Ohno vs Ilja Dragunov
Winner: Ohno via Rolling Elbow
Rating: *** 1/4
IMPACT!: Tessa Blanchard & Tommy Dreamer vs Sami Callihan & Dave Crist
Winner: Tessa via Magnum w/Kendo Stick
Rating: *** 1/4
NEW Prison Break: nZo vs Brian Pillman Jr
Winner: nZo via Jaw Done
Rating: *** 1/4
NXT: Cameron Grimes vs Jordan Myles
Winner: Myles via 450 Splash
Rating: ***
NEW Prison Break: Thrillride vs CazXL
Winner: CazXL via Jacknife Powerbomb
Rating: ***
IMPACT!: The Rascalz vs RVD, Willie Mack & Rich Swann
Winner: Swann via Phoenix Splash
Rating: ***
NEW Prison Break: NEW Championship Match: Darby Allin (c) vs Hale Collins
Winner: Allin via Coffin Drop
Rating: ***
WWE SmackDown Live: Randy Orton & The Revival vs The New Day
Winner: Revival via Shatter Machine
Rating: ***
NEW Prison Break: Jon Moxley vs Pentagon Jr
Winner: Moxley via Paradigm Shift
Rating: ***

 

2. NEW Prison Break: ROH World Championship: Matt Taven (c) vs JT Dunn

From My Analysis:
Well with Rey Fenix having travel issues, they called on an old NEW champion, Matt Taven, to fill in. Taven was more of the face in this match, which is a little awkward. But the fact that he was a returning face and put up the ROH title, it made sense for him to play babyface. This was probably the best match I’ve seen Taven have during this title reign. Great back and forth from both men, Taven kicked out of Death by Elbows, Dunn kicked out of the Climax, just really well contested. Maybe Taven should play a face more? I don’t know. This whole show so far has been like bizarro land…but…me likey.

Winner: Taven via Frog Splash

Rating: ****

 

1. NJPW: G1 Climax Finals: Jay White vs Kota Ibushi

From My Analysis:
Jay White has a solid lock on his character. He comes down with the full Bullet Club entourage in tow, and it looks like the Finals will be ruined with Bullet Club shenanigans. Red Shoes immediately throws out all of them, except Gedo. Then he catches Gedo so throws him out shortly after. We get a great back and forth match with both personalities shining through. When Red Shoes gets bumped and Gedo comes back out, it almost looks like that’s the opportunity to ruin a great match. But Ibushi fights through it all, taps into his second life bar, hits 2 Bom-ba-ye and 2 Kamigoyes. So much was riding on Ibushi to be the hero to overcome the villain. Kamigoye means to surpass god, and he used it to surpass the ultimate evil. Simple, yet beautiful.

Winner: Ibushi via Kamigoye

Rating: *****

 

Thoughts:

It’s hard to argue against the beauty that was the G1 Finals and the joy it gave so many fans. The feelings could be a little muted since it happened on Monday, and some things are more in the forefront of people’s opinions. But definitely, G1 Finals: Kota Ibushi vs Jay White, was my match of the week.

The historic box that Ibushi checked, by being the first person to win the Best of the Super Juniors (2011), New Japan Cup (2015) and now G1 Climax (2019), adds to the enjoyment of the whole match.


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The Paradox of the Wrestling War in 2021

The IWC has been talking about a certain Friday Night and what numbers matter. Tommy Starr chimes in with his perspective on this “war”.

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“War is peace… freedom is slavery… ignorance is strength.”  These are among George Orwell’s key three slogans in his novel 1984, which exemplify the ideology that when one has the power to lull individuals into false senses of security, they will blissfully ignore truth and reality to serve a perpetual agenda.

Since the inception of AEW, wrestling media has insisted on this idealistic narrative of a born-again “Monday Night Wars” comparative to that of a bygone era of professional wrestling that has not been seen since and will never be seen again.  For one reason or another, modern wrestling fans have bought into this impractical religious doctrine hook, line, and sinker, despite statistical evidence that contradict this ideology.

To put this in perspective, if there is a genuine wrestling “war” in the wrestling market today, it is not merely a war of the companies of AEW vs. WWE, rather it is a frivolous war between the oppositional fans of AEW and WWE.  The center of authority that continues to drive this animosity amongst the opposing fan bases rests at the helm of the wrestling media and the individuals within the business itself.  The manipulative narrative of the wrestling media and wrestlers in the business have managed to perpetrate a falsified creed that AEW and WWE are “at war.”  It is interesting to note that this blanket statement hedges the particular element of what both companies are at war with. The common implication is the war of competition, particularly competition for viewership.  And while this narrative carries some validity, it misses the key detail of what this abstractive war revolves around.  It is a waging fight among AEW and WWE fans to try and claim superiority over the other, despite the apparent truth that both sides are failing to expand beyond their niche audiences.  Hence, neither party can credibly claim any form of superiority.  In essence, this religious irrationality to suggest that one company is directly “winning” over the other continues to miss the essential endgame of what winning a war truly looks like.

In the business world, “smart companies” understand and invest in long-term strategies of acknowledging that when they lose small battles, they allow their opposition to enjoy those smaller victories; meanwhile, they do not allow those battle losses to obstruct their long-standing progress.  So contextually, AEW would be wiser to accept that their Friday night edition of Rampage show running head to head with SmackDown lost in overall viewership numbers by approximately 288,000 viewers, despite the fact that not only was SmackDown running on a different network due to Fox coverage of the 2021 American League Championship Series, but that AEW Rampage had actually gained viewership from the previous week by about 15.14%.  Instead, wrestling media continues to propagate that overall viewership is subordinate to what truly matters in this equation, that being the key male 18-49 demographic.  What this discounts is that when one analyzes actual numbers, both shows essentially tied in the target 18-49 demographic at a 0.24.

A strategic business owner obsessed with “winning wars” understands his opposition’s leader and avoids engaging in projecting irrational and petty beliefs in order to stir up his or her army.  Rather, it would be wiser to quietly and cautiously observe the opposition’s decision-making to effectively counter-program and capture the attention of potential consumers.  This does not bode well for Tony Khan when he engages in social media warfare with the opposition to try and stoke a fire that merely exists in a metaphorical fantasy.  All the while, the rival niche audiences partake in nonsensical arguments over which organization “won” a war that has not, does not, and will not exist, despite a genuine hope that professional wrestling will ever reach that level of popularity again worth necessitating a war.

A true and authentic wrestling war in today’s culture should be the fight to reassemble a lost and/or new audience. Per discussion of a lost audience, that insinuates both parties fight for the admiration and trust of disgruntled audiences that have since tuned the product off from their habitual consumption.  Arguably, this can be seen as a lost cause, considering most of these wrestling fans have long since distanced themselves from professional wrestling. However, a business that can successfully earn back that trust of disassociated consumers is a fruitful investment. Catering to loyal and clinging fan bases may be short-term goals, but they are not expansive business strategies.  And based on the weekly viewership numbers, ratings, and key demos for both parties, AEW and WWE continue to cater short-term appeal to their niche audiences instead of investing in long-term strategic outreach to new audiences.  The art of mastery on this level is a war worth fighting for.

Sources:

  • Casey, C. (2021, October 18). Who won Friday night’s ratings battle between WWE smackdown and AEW Rampage? WWE. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://comicbook.com/wwe/news/wwe-smackdown-aew-rampage-oct-15-ratings-war-who-win-tied-demographic-smackdown-wins-audience/.
  • Feloni, R. (2014, August 14). 33 war strategies that will help you win in business. Business Insider. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://www.businessinsider.com/war-strategies-to-win-in-business-2014-8.
  • Thurston, B. (2021, January 15). Key demo and total audience: What are they and how much do they matter? Wrestlenomics. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from https://wrestlenomics.com/2020/07/14/key-demo-and-total-audience-what-are-they-and-how-much-do-they-matter/#:~:text=With%20a%20new%20head%2Dto,advertisers%20to%20the%20programs’%20networks.


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Steve Cook’s Fave Five: October 2021

From the Head Of The Table to the Future Head Of The Table, and more, Steve Cook has his Fave Five for October!

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Bron Breakker

From the Head Of The Table to the Future Head Of The Table, and more, Steve Cook has his Fave Five for October!

We’re more than halfway through October, and you know what that means! It’s time to make a list of my five favorite wrestlers! It’s either do this or write about the latest wrestling news, and as fun as it is to talk about television ratings, this seems more productive at the moment.

5. Mercedes Martinez

It’s considered impolite to discuss age. At least it used to be. I’m not sure anything’s considered impolite anymore based off of what I read on the Internet & see on television. People have pitched manners out the window as they’ve become accustomed to not worrying about getting punched in the face. There’s a point I’m trying to get to here, and that point is that it’s nice that women’s wrestling has arrived at a place where I can write about somebody that’s been wrestling about as long as I’ve been an online wrestling journalist, and they’re kicking ass & taking names. Makes me feel a bit less creepy.

Martinez’s return to the indies & emergence in Impact Wrestling has gone well. What Impact is doing with her isn’t exactly rocket science: have Mercedes Martinez destroy everybody in her path to a title shot, and make people believe that whoever the champion will be between Mickie James & Deonna Purrazzo will have a difficult test on their hands. Simple, right? Throw in the incoming debut of the IInspiration, and it’s pretty easy to get excited about the Knockouts Division & where it’s headed.

4. Bron Breakker

Yes, the name is pretty awful. Yes, NXT 2.0 isn’t exactly setting the world on fire after a few weeks. But it’s tough to deny the talent of the son of Rick Steiner. Dude has the physicality & the speaking tone of his father & uncle. Not quite the size of Rick or Scott in later years, but if genetics are any indication he’ll get there. It won’t be long before he’s NXT Champion, heck, I’m kind of surprised he didn’t get drafted to Raw or SmackDown already. He’s got money written all over him.

As for that pesky name issue…names aren’t as big of an issue as we like to think they are. Dolph Ziggler would have been future endeavored years ago if bad names held talent back. You also have to keep in mind that WWE will probably change his name before he gets to the main roster. No need to sweat the small stuff here. This guy will be a star somewhere under some name. Probably for the best the longer he holds off using the Steiner name, given how the wrestling business works.

3. Junior Dos Santos

If you’ve followed mixed martial arts for any length of time, you know that most fighters’ careers don’t end in a blaze of glory. Fighters want to keep fighting, and even if the losses keep stacking up they still think they’re one win away from getting back to the top. Young fighters are looking to make their names, and beating the brakes off of fighters with track records is a good way to do that. At age 37, JDS has entered that phase of his MMA career. He’s lost four straight fights, all via TKO, all to younger fighters looking to make a name. He could keep doing that, or he could move on to something else while his name still has value.

Why not pro wrestling? Granted, I seem to be one of the few people writing words on wrestling websites that actually like AEW’s angle with American Top Team & Dan Lambert, but JDS is the perfect fit for something like this. He’s a large human being, wrestling fans by & large know who he is, and he has the type of athletic ability that should transition well to pro wrestling. He’s lost a few fights, but the people he lost to are doing pretty well in UFC’s heavyweight division. I’m willing to give it a chance. Also, when the inevitable AEW vs. WWE shootfight rumble happens, AEW’s going to need him around.

2. Roman Reigns

It’s like we said years & years ago: Turn Roman Reigns heel and people will start to like him. I don’t know why the idea took so long to enact, but WWE finally turned Roman Reigns heel and people have started liking him. How about that? Amazing how these things happen. Roman’s charisma has become much more apparent in his role as the Tribal Chief, Head of the Table, Big Dog, Island of Relevancy or whatever else they’re calling him this week. The interactions between Roman & Brock Lesnar have made for good television, so good that I think even Patrick O’Dowd is on the Paul Heyman bandwagon these days.

That all being said, I think I’m enjoying his off-screen character more than his on-screen character these days. Reigns has taken the baton from Seth Rollins & become Mr. WWE Defender, and does it in a way that’s less whiny than what Seth used to do. Perhaps a bit delusional, but much more convincing. Who would win in a shootfight between Roman & CM Punk is completely irrelevant, as last I checked none of these people were shooting in WWE or AEW rings, but he managed to make people care about it somehow. Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

1. Bryan Danielson

I know we’re supposed to care first & foremost about what company somebody works for these days. So I’m sure there are some of you out there that have decided that the man formerly known as Daniel Bryan has to be washed up and no longer one of the best wrestlers in the world. Or he’s unfairly putting his life on the line outside of the welcoming bosom of WWE. Nah, it’s probably just the easy “B+ player” talking point that most of the same folks went with when Bryan was still with WWE.

Me, I just care about what’s going on in the ring. Whether other people like it or not has never been one of my main problems. As I’ve pointed out before: I don’t get paid by any of these companies, and I don’t get paid by other people to shill for them. All I know is that it’s a joy to have Bryan Danielson back on my television, and his matches have been as good as expected. It really doesn’t take all that much to make me happy, just good wrestlers doing good things.


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