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Mathew’s Top 25 Matches of 2019: #10-6

We’ve reached Mathew’s Top 10! How different has his list been from yours?

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I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and it’s now time to get back to the grind with the continuation for our countdown!

The previous five were difficult, so it’s going to be even more difficult from here on out but we gotta keep going. Who will be the next five? Let’s find out.

For those that are new to the list and wanna see the previous matches.
#25-21
#20-16
#15-11

10. Momo Watanabe vs. Jungle Kyona (Stardom World in Nagoya 3/3/2019)

– Jungle recently lost her chance at winning the red belt against Kagetsu over a month ago as she now tries to go for the white belt against Momo Watanabe. Jungle has been impressing people this year with her quality in matches and this may be one of her best matches in her career and shows that she could be a top girl if they ever wanna pull the trigger in doing so. Momo was on her way to make history by breaking Io Shirai’s record with most title defenses during this reign and was able to do so.

Momo is another one who has had an impressive year with her rise to the top after defeating Io Shirai last year to win the belt. She’s not the champion now and is in a cool down stage, which is a good thing because you don’t wanna overexpose her. Both of these women have a bright future if Bushiroad wants to use them going forward and this match should be a good example of what they’re made of. My favorite Stardom match this year and go give it a watch, it’s worth your time.

9. Kento Miyahara vs. Naoya Nomura (AJPW Summer Explosion Series 9/3/2019)

– Of course, Kento was going to be on the list as he’s someone that never disappoints in his matches and he kicked it up a notch this year. Naoya is another one who was able to step up his game and did show that he is a future Triple Crown Champion and I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens in 2020. Kento’s goal during this run is to break the record of most successful defenses in one reign and he is currently close with that goal with only three more to go to break it or two more to tie it. They had two Triple Crown Championship matches this year and while both were excellent, this one was the better match.

This match would also give me the illusion that Naoya could ruin Kento’s goal and those last few minutes of the match were intense. Kento was able to win but he got lucky and it shows that guys like Naoya and Jake Lee are worthy of being in the same rank as him. Kento’s reign has been an interesting one but his matches with the future talent are the ones that need more attention to see how bright All Japan’s future is. If you wanna see for yourself, I encourage you to do so with this match.

8. Sareee vs. Meiko Satomura (Sendai Girls 4/16/2019)

– Sendai Girls always delivers when it comes to their big matches and last year, we had Io Shirai and Meiko Satomura on this list in the top ten and this match was able to get in for the top ten as well! Sareee to me is the Joshi wrestler of 2019 as she’s had so many great matches and this one was her best against the legend herself.

You wanna know the best part about this match? Meiko lost the match cleanly. Meiko doesn’t always lose matches cleanly these days unless it’s to put over someone and this would put Sareee over big time. Sareee was even able to defeat their ace, Chihiro Hashimoto over a month later to win the Sendai Girls World Championship on top of that. This match was needed to give her that extra boost and you can see that it’s done wonders for her as even WWE wants to sign her. What will the future hold for Sareee? Only time will tell and until then, she has more to do in Japan.

7. Will Ospreay vs. Shingo Takagi (Battle of the Super Juniors 6/5/2019)

– Will has had a hell of a year, hasn’t he? Worked the New Japan Cup, Battle of the Super Juniors, Super J Cup, Junior Tag League, and the G1 Climax on top of all that and to a lot of people, he’s wrestler of the year. Another person does deserve credit and has made his mark ever since he came to New Japan and that man is Shingo Takagi. For people that have known him since his Dragon Gate years, it felt criminal when he was considered a junior heavyweight but he was able to make the most of it as he was dominating the scene and was even undefeated until this match happened. The match had a lot of hype once they won their respective blocks and these two stars would deliver in the match and then some.

Each sequence they’ve done was crisp, the impact of their moves was brutal, and the storytelling of this match did pay off. While some do say Will was the MVP of New Japan this year but I gotta give it to Shingo during his transition from junior heavyweight to regular heavyweight during the year. Will winning was huge though since it seemed like he would be the only one to end his winning streak due to the champion failing to do so during the tournament, and you needed a big name in that division to do it and it happened to be Will. My favorite junior heavyweight match this year and I can’t blame anyone that has it as their match of the year since it truly is a great match.

6. Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes (AEW Double or Nothing 5/25/2019)

– This was the match that did make me believe AEW was going to turn out fine in the long run if they kept producing matches like this, but their weekly show would sadly not live up to the hype that I’ve imagined it to be. I fully didn’t expect too much after their encounter in WWE but then again, they were held back, especially with the gimmicks they had along with the feud to go with it. Because of that, I wasn’t 100 percent behind the match once it was announced but was curious to see how much different it could’ve been without WWE and thankfully, I was wrong with my expectations.

The hype before the match was just enough to have people interested, they were able to tell a story in the ring with psychology in the mix and that’s a rare thing in the American wrestling scene these days. It had emotion, it had chemistry, and both men were able to do it the way it made sense which was again, telling a story. They’re storytellers like their father and were able to make magic in this match because of it. After the match was over, they shared a beautiful moment in the ring that it was the perfect payoff between these two men and if they never fight in a singles match again, I’m fine with just this match. The best match in their careers and something to be proud of, even if the promotion as a whole was unable to match this match.

That concludes the next set of five matches and we have done it. We have gone through twenty matches and are now on our final five. For some, it should be obvious but maybe not at the same time. I’m excited and conflicted at the same time.

What are my top five matches? Well, you’re gonna have to find out tomorrow.


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Opinion

NXT Minus 6: A Tale of Two Champions

Bradley Jay is here with the WWE NXT Minus 6, and we have new champions. Two very, very different new champions.

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Bradley Jay is here with the WWE NXT Minus 6, and we have new champions. Two very, very different new champions.

Our two new champions could not be more different…

Karrion Kross return vignette airs during NXT TakeOver: WarGames

6. Doomsday Saito comes to the ring and gives a painful, cliched promo. Any wrestler in the back could have said those exact words. Train harder and beat people up. He’s angry. We get it. The only thing Saito could do that would interest me is move to RawDown. On the other hand…

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Not gonna lie, that promo was wasn’t even hot garbage. It was cold garbage.]

Raquel Gonzalez & Rhea Ripley And Bianca Belair Celebrate | Franky Monet Debut | WWE NXT Highlights - YouTube

5. Raquel Gonzalez delivers a genuine, heartfelt promo that only she could give. Tears of joy. It told her story, and it’s exactly why she got the pop and the chant she deserved. The addition of Rhea Ripley and Bianca Belair, complete with throwback pic, was icing on the cake. I’m excited for whatever Gonzalez does next. Speaking of…

WWE: Dakota Kai on what she misses about New Zealand and her quest to be NXT champion | Newshub

4. Fantasy booking alert!!! Two weeks ago, Raquel Gonzelez told the world I was the one who believed in her. I was the one who made her a champion. Then Rhea Ripley shows up, and Bianca Belair shows up, and I’m the one sent to the back. How quickly you forget who your real friends are. I was the one who took you to the top, and chicka, I am the one who is going to drag you to the bottom. I used you to get to the top and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. I am Dakota Kai.

Santos Escobar loses the Cruise Championship to Kushida | Superfights

3. No more Santa Claus Ice Cream Bar. Santos Escobar has earned his name back. His match with KUSHIDA is everything great about NXT. Say it with me. Good things happen when you let wrestlers wrestle! Fast paced. Great action. Surprise ending. I’m going 4.5 stars. Give me a match that good every Tuesday and I’m a happy camper. 

WWE NXT results – 13/04/2021 (Raw and Smackdown Champions appear, Franky Monet debuts) » FirstSportz2. Right now, I don’t know if any two wrestlers have better chemistry than Swerve Scott and Leon Ruff. Every time they get together, it’s electric, and this week was no different. This is quickly climbing into Rivalry of the Year territory. I thought I was happy to see Swerve pick up the victory and move on. Then Ruff goes insane in the membrane and now I’m excited to watch them fight forever.

WWE News: Roderick Strong 'Resigns' From NXT, Video of Karrion Kross' NXT Promo | 411MANIA

1. This week’s That’s Why I Love Wrestling goes to…Roderick Strong. Kayfabe. Work. Shoot. I don’t care. Strong deserved a better goodbye than what he got. He is the Perfection of Performance (shout out to the Hitman). He and Kyle O’Reilly were the best version of the Undisputed Era tag team champions. I always got excited for a Strong match because I knew he’d deliver. Roderick Strong is exactly the kind of wrestler that makes me love wrestling. Until he returns, he will be sorely missed.


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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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