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King: A Reality Check For Wrestling Fans

Chris King is shedding light on the subject of reviews and statistics over just the plain joy of pro wrestling.

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Chris King is shedding light on the subject of reviews and statistics over just the plain joy of pro wrestling.

In 2019, everyone’s focus including mine is solely based around star ratings or statistics on a match it’s no longer about what level of storytelling did the actors convey. There are millions of websites that grade each event critiquing everything a performer does from the way they enter an arena all the way to the manner in which they win or lose said match.

Bleacher Report is my guilty pleasure to read the grades and influence my reaction to certain storylines or matches. This is a terrible disease that we’ve spread all over the world and then, in turn, we ourselves become a wrestling critic and ruin the fun and enjoyment. It doesn’t help that every five minutes there’s a hot topic news story uploaded to social media with someone’s opinion on anything and then all of a sudden a match or a storyline is viewed in a negative light. So, what am I even talking about exactly? It’s pretty simple. Why can we not just watch a wrestling match and purely enjoy the story being told to us by the performers?

In the 1990s WWE had some of the biggest stars in the business such as Hulk Hogan, The Macho Man Randy Savage, and a plethora of others. These megastars would bring in thousands of wrestling fans to watch them perform. The audience would be completely captivated by their larger than life personalities and watch in awe whether they won or not. Nobody was concerned with what rating their match garnished they were just happy to be in the presence of magic.

I remember receiving a VHS tape of WrestleMania XII for my birthday and watching Shawn Michaels challenge Bret Hart for the WWF Championship in the infamous Ironman Match. I watched in amazement as “The Heartbreak Kid” descended from the heavens on a harness flying through the crowd making his Iconic entrance. What followed was sixty minutes of fantastic five-star wrestling between the babyface and the heel champion. I can still hear the boos when the match ended in a draw. Then Gorilla Monsoon restarted the match and HBK landed two Sweet Chin Music’s to win the title. Who could ever forget Vince McMahon’s iconic “The boyhood dream has come true” catchphrase.

Credit: Bleacher Report

Nobody was grading the match back then and I may be wrong but there was no Dave Meltzer star rating if there was I didn’t know about it. The WWE Universe didn’t go home that night and critique the performers over every little thing. They just paid their hard-earned money to go watch a great story unfold as their hero won the gold.

In today’s wrestling world, there is so much emphasis placed on comparing promotions and different matches to add up to a certain expectation that we’ve placed on ourselves. It’s as ludicrous as someone trying to compare the Iconic first-ever TLC Match between The Hardy Boyz, Edge & Christian, and The Dudley Boyz to the NXT North American Championship Ladder Match at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans. You can’t do that because it’s in a completely different time and a different story. Yet, we still do it. I’ll give you another perfect example and it’s absolutely baffling.

At this year’s Hell in a Cell match between the Universal Champion Seth Rollins and “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt when the match ended due to referee stoppage almost immediately the WWE Universe compared it to the Iconic Hell in a Cell Match between The Undertaker and Mick Foley at the 1996 King of the Ring. Stating that Foley still continued the match even after being thrown off the cell and through the announce table.

Credit: Sportsbible

So because one man decided to cause his own body an unimaginable amount of pain then Bray Wyatt should do the same? There’s even a rumor going around that the original finish had Wyatt being thrown off the cell and that would have caused the no contest. People would still be complaining and comparing it to Foley.

Folks I’m preaching to the choir here I make the same mistakes every week I watch an insane amount of wrestling and then I compare matches and grade them in my head. I take away the pure childlike joy from myself. I remember watching NXT TakeOver: Toronto’s main event essentially a Three Stages of Hell Match between the NXT Champion Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano. I thoroughly enjoyed the match including the Asylum match at the end feeling that their story was over and it was awesome. Afterward, I went and read bleacher report and read how they criticized the match and compared it to previous takeover main events claiming it didn’t live up to those.

How terrible is it that now we are critiquing takeover main events? Something so amazing that has only lasted for six years is under the same microscope to be scrutinized in every way possible. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why can’t we just get back to enjoying wrestling simply for the story two performers tell inside the squared circle?

I’ve actually been starting to this very recently while I’m watching 205 Live and NXT. Every week I do a recap of the high-flying cruiserweights who have been criminally mistreated from the jump. I feel so bad for them when the show starts it’s typically dead silent and how hard of a job is it for the two performers to not only wake up the dead crowd but also produce a great match?

That’s why it’s so easy for these incredibly-gifted superstars to have terrific matches because nobody expects anything from them. Most of the WWE Universe has already labeled them as unimportant because of how poorly WWE has handled the brand. But I have to tell you that I’ve seen much more enjoyable content in one hour over five hours on Raw and Friday Night SmackDown. It’s also reignited my passion for pro wrestling.

Perhaps, if we all stopped grading and comparing wrestling content and simply enjoy the story being told maybe we could stop complaining so damn much. Why don’t we all try to do that? I implore whoever is reading this to do this next week. Whether you watch WWE, AEW, ROH, TNA, NJPW, or simply all of the above just sit back and get lost in the art of storytelling and let the joy we used to have returned to us.


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Bodeen’s Top 5 Moments: WWE RAW 3/1/21

Bodeen takes a look ath the Top 5 moments from an eventful episode of WWE Raw on the Road to WrestleMania!

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Bobby Lashley WWE Champion Raw

Bodeen takes a look ath the Top 5 moments from an eventful episode of WWE Raw on the Road to WrestleMania!

With just 6 short weeks left until WrestleMania, RAW once again came to us from the Thunderdome, with the main story on RAW this week being focused on the WWE Championship match between The Miz and Bobby Lashley. Despite this there were still some other moments on RAW that stood out, so without further ado let’s once again look at the top 5 moments that stood out on RAW.

5. Mustafa Ali pins Riddle

There is no denying that the booking of RETRIBUTION has been botched. While it was extremely interesting to watch Retribiution at first, Retribution soon died even after Mustafa Ali turned heel mainly due to terrible logical booking and a series of losses that made them all look weak.

However, it is still nice to see RETRIBUTION get wins back, especially when it comes to their leader, Mustafa Ali. Ali is extremely talented and has shown he can perform with the best in the ring. That is why it was so great to see him beat Riddle on RAW.

While the match between the two men was nothing special and had a bad-looking finish, it was still nice to see him beat the United States Champion in a non-title match and give RETRIBUTION and himself a small amount of credit back.

4. Miz makes Bobby Lashley wait

Over the years The Miz has grown to be one of the best heels in the business, his promos are amazing to watch and over the years Miz has learned to control any crowd as a heel. Miz’s promos though are not the only thing that has helped him as a heel, as we have seen Miz over the years use brilliant strategies to give himself an advantage in the ring.

Miz would once again use his mind this week on RAW as he used excuse after excuse throughout the night to avoid defending the WWE Championship against Bobby Lashley until eventually, Shane McMahon forced him to defend or vacate the title at the end of the night.

The great part about watching this was seeing the reaction from MVP and Bobby Lashley as they grew increasingly frustrated with The Miz and his ideas as their annoyance at the start of the night turned into a pure rage after Miz retained after being counted out.

3. Damian Priest gets another win 

At first, I was somewhat worried about Damian Priest being teamed up with Bad Bunny, mainly due to the fact it feels Priest deserved more. However, after a few weeks and seeing how much merchandise Bad Bunny has been selling, the relationship between the two men can be effective for Priest especially as Bad Bunny guarantees Priest time on RAW, where he can impress fans.

Priest would once again look good on RAW this week as he pinned Elias in a solid match between the two men. It was also nice to see Priest beat Elias without any major interference from Bad Bunny, as Priest has arguably looked somewhat weaker due to the distractions from Bad Bunny in his matches.

With there being a good chance that Bad Bunny will be on WrestleMania with Preist, it will be interesting to see what will happen to Priest after WrestleMania

2.  Drew Mcintyre and Sheamus destroy each other

While this may not off been on a Pay-Per-View, Drew McIntyre and Sheamus put on an amazing match between each other and easily put on the best match of the night. The match showcased the brutal style of the two men as they traded moves with both men working extremely well together.

The match would start with an intense brawl between the two men as they gave each other a beating. After a brutal match where both men push each other to their limit, Drew McIntyre would catch Sheamus with a Claymore after Sheamus attempted a Brouge kick to win the match.

After the match, both men stared at each other potentially meaning that this is not the end of their feud as he approach Fastlane.

1. Bobby Lashley finally wins the gold 

It is hard to believe how much Bobby Lashley’s career has changed in a year. This time last year, Bobby was stuck in a never-ending feud with Lana and Rusev which had lost all credibility. Then Bobby Lashley left Lana for MVP and started The Hurt Business, where he became a dominant part of the mid-card as the United States Champion.

Even after being a dominant mid-carder for so long Lashley still hadn’t reached that next level however Bobby would finally break through the glass ceiling this week on RAW after he waited for three hours to dominate The Miz to finally become WWE Champion after what has felt like an eternity.

With Bobby now Champion the big question is, will Lashley be Champion by WrestleMania and if so, who will Lashley face?

These were my top 5 moments from RAW this week. What were your top 5 moments and what do you think of Bobby Lashley being WWE Champion? Let us know in the comments below. 


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Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 2/28/2021

A weird week of matches and shows! Let’s see what made the Top 5!

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This is one of the more tame weeks. New Japan had a few big events, but let’s just say it wasn’t their best work. Then we get the announcement of combining the Intercontinental and Heavyweight to become a “world heavyweight” title, so yeah, New Japan is weird right now.

Speaking of weird, AEW Dynamite: Riho vs Serena Deeb, won the match vote last week.

This will be the voting week to round out February, and we should start March off strong with what’s coming next week!

Quick Top 5:

  1. NJPW Castle Attack 2.27: Jay White vs Tomohiro Ishii
    Rating: ****
  2. NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi (c)
    Rating: *** ¾
  3. AEW Dynamite: Lance Archer vs Rey Fenix
    Rating: *** ¾
  4. NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: BUSHI vs El Desperado vs El Phantasmo
    Rating: *** ¾
  5. AEW Dynamite: Hangman Page vs Isaiah Kassidy
    Rating: *** ½

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • NJPW Castle Attack 2.27: Kazuchika Okada vs EVIL w/Dick Togo
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NJPW Strong: IWGP United States Championship: Jon Moxley (c) vs KENTA
    Rating: *** ¼
  • IMPACT!: Chris Bey, Ace Austin & Black Taurus vs Josh Alexander, Trey Miguel & Willie Mack
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: TenCozy (Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan) vs The United Empire (Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay)
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NXT: Zoey Stark vs Io Shirai
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: NEVER Openweight Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs The Great O-Khan
    Rating: *** ¼
  • WWE Raw: Bobby Lashley vs Braun Strowman
    Rating: ***
  • NXT: No DQ: Santos Escobar vs Karrion Kross
    Rating: ***
  • IMPACT!: TNA World Heavyweight Championship: Moose vs Jake Something
    Rating: ***
  • WWE Raw: Angel Garza vs Damian Priest
    Rating: ***

5. AEW Dynamite: Hangman Page vs Isaiah Kassidy

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Kassidy runs, but Hangman follows! Kassidy leaps, into a DEATH VALLEY DRIVER! Both men are down and fans are fired up! The standing count begins, the fans rally up, and both men stand at 3. Hangman runs in at Kassidy to corner clothesline him! Hangman snapmares Kassidy, runs and SLIDING- NO! Kassidy dodges, mule kicks and CHOPS! Kassidy reels Hangman in but Hangman suplexes to BRAIN BUSTER! Cover, TWO!!! Kassidy lives and “This is Awesome!” Hangman and Kassidy slowly stir. Hangman aims from a corner, runs at Kassidy, but Kassidy blocks the boot to BOOT back! And enziguri, to a POISON-RANA! Cover, TWO!?!

But Kassidy has the arm for an ARMBAR! Hangman endures as Kassidy pulls back! Hangman sits up, and gets the ropebreak! Kassidy lets go at the ref’s count of 4, and Hangman drags himself away. Kassidy gets up, runs over, but Hangman FLIPS him out to the apron! Kassidy grabs at Hangman’s arm but Hangman BOOTS him from below! Hangman runs to triangle LAR- HOT SHOT!! Kassidy counters Hangman at the right time, slithers back up to the apron, and springboards, but no Destroyer! Hangman gives him the DEADEYE! Cover, Hangman wins!!

Winner: Hangman via Deadeye

 

2t. NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: BUSHI vs El Desperado vs El Phantasmo

From My Results:

Early on this was a little paint by numbers. Counters, a few signature spots to get early advantages, but the match didn’t pick up until ELP tried to take out Desperado. ELP and Despy fight up the ramp, ELP rips the mask to expose Despy’s head and pulls out the Jerry Lynn special, Cradle Piledriver right into the ramp!

ELP takes the ripped mask as a trophy, and we see a singles match between BUSHI and ELP for a good bit of time. BUSHI proves to be as stubborn as other Tetsuya’s in LIJ, and takes it to ELP fairly well. BUT – that’s not the story here. Desperado starts slowly making his way back to the ring with a new mask. Desperado comes in and goes on a warpath after ELP. Stiff looking strikes, dives that take out both of his opponents, and just an unbridled rage that makes him focus on ELP.

This of course allows for BUSHI to pick some solid spots, and after Despy returns the match really picks up. It’s also great to ELP’s heel tendencies where he takes moves from higher profile people just to turn the knife. Styles Clash, V-Trigger, an attempted One Winged Angel, Sweet Chin Music, the Undertaker arm fold pin cover, and it’s just good entertainment.

BUSHI has a great count break up where he just grabs Marty Asami’s arm to prevent the 3. BUSHI sets up for MX, but he gets caught with Sudden Death…and rolls out of the ring. So ELP has to go back to a now slowly coming back up Desperado, ELP charges, gets caught with a big right hand and not 1 but 2 Pinche Locos!

Winner: Despy via Pinche Loco

 

2t. AEW Dynamite: Lance Archer vs Rey Fenix

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Fenix goes to a corner while Archer is in the drop zone. Fenix hops up and MOONSAULTS, but Archer moves, so Fenix somersaults through! ROLLING CUTTER!! Cover, TWO!! Archer survives again and Fenix can’t believe it! Fenix hauls Archer up, Archer whips him away and runs in to ROCK him with a right! Archer puts Fenix up top, hooks legs and brings Fenix out, FISHERMAN BUSTER! Cover, TWO!! Fenix survives again but Archer drags him back up! Archer goes up the corner, drags Fenix up to join him, but Fenix fights the choke grip to adjust! Archer body shots, Fenix rebounds, SUPER SPANISH FLY!! Cover, TWO!?!? How are either of these guys doing this?!

Fenix fireman’s carries, Archer pulls the mask! Fans boo, Fenix SUPERKICKS, mule kicks, forearms and CHOPS! Fenix fires up, runs, but gets DERAILED!! Both men are down but Archer fires up! Archer drags Fenix up and reel shim in, for a BUCKLE BOMB! Choke grip, CHOKE SLAM!! Cover, TWO?!?! Archer drags Fenix to a corner, hauls him up, CHOPS and inverted crucifix lifts, for the BLACKOUT BOMB!!! Cover, Archer wins!!!

Winner: Archer via Blackout

 

2t. NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi (c)

From My Results:

Naito focused on mat wrestling in the beginning, and it was all in effort to get to Ibushi’s knees to bring the match to parity. With Naito having well documented bad knees (including miss time during the Road to), Naito had to work to make things more even.

We see a lot of old threads get pulled on, the corner spot could reference to Naito and Omega’s G1 match, the Outside In German Suplex was something Ibushi struggled to execute before on Naito. Naito pulled out an Avalanche Diamond Dust that we don’t often see, and this was somewhat interesting. New Japan continues to implore that main events are 25+ minute matches, and lately these all drag.

Even with the fun story aspects, a few big scary spots as we’ve come to expect, the match never ascended to a great height. Naito hit Valentia and a few running Destinos, but that wasn’t enough to take out the champion. Ibushi hit Kamigoye to the back of the head, much like as Wrestle Kingdom, then we got 2 more Kamigoyes and Ibushi just falling on top of Naito for the pinfall victory!

Winner: Ibushi via Kamigoye

 

1. NJPW Castle Attack 2.27: Jay White vs Tomohiro Ishii

From My Results:

Ishii has had White’s number lately, and just added to the broken status of his mental health after the Wrestle Kingdom loss. Within the first minute or so, Jay looked to have tweaked his hamstring, and that added an interesting layer to his early attack. But much like the strategic genius that he is, he lays Ishii over the barricade, and Ishii starts selling a rib injury.

Everything in this match mattered, the leg and ribs came back to play into aspects of the finishing sequence. Ishii was slow transitioning between some of his power moves since he was hampered with the rib injury, and Jay got caught a bit more than usual because his quickness was taken away.

A huge Avalanche Brainbuster after a Jumping Headbutt nearly gave Ishii the win, but a slow cover as he wanted the high stack, kept Jay alive. They fight back and forth, then we get a great counter wrestling sequence to finish the match. Ishii slips suplexes and Blade Runners, Jay slips the Brainbuster and eats a strike. It was up, down, back and forth, just hard to call until Jay finally slips a hold and catches Ishii with Blade Runner for the win!

Winner: Jay via Blade Runner

 

Thoughts:

Definitely a weird week when I was not a fan of the New Japan shows, and I’m not AEW’s biggest fan…but I guess the top stuff is the top stuff. My vote will go to Jay White vs Tomohiro Ishii, purely because it was the only thing that really stood out during this weekend.

Personally, I hope New Japan figures it out and starts getting interesting; because I’m really going to need to consider other promotions if New Japan stays stale – you know, just to spice things up. Ugh…weird week, but yeah the White vs Ishii match is worth watching.


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