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Mathew’s Top 25 Matches of 2019: #15-11

First 10 down, 15 to go. Mathew brings us his 15-11 matches of 2019!

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Welcome back and I hope everyone had a great holiday yesterday.

It looks like we’re down to the halfway point of our list and this is where things start getting more difficult to see who will be next on the list. If you’re just joining us now, then go ahead and read the previous lists.

#25-21
#20-16

You all caught up? Good, let’s continue our journey!

15. Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (Wrestle Kingdom 13 1/4/2019)

– Tradition vs Evolution, that was the story for this match and it was enough to sell it as a big match. These two had unfinished business in 2016 where they were supposed to have a Ladder Match but didn’t happen due to Tanahashi getting injured. The two never fought each other in singles action again until this show right here, nearly three years later. Kenny has had a rather underwhelming reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion except for his time in the G1 Climax due to all his title defenses being underwhelming.

While the fans were divided on how New Japan should be going forward with how Kenny trying to make things more western and some wanting to keep it as it is since they were fine without it. The match would finally happen and it was a great main event. Tanahashi has had a rough couple of years but he was able to step it up in 2018 despite all the injuries he’s had. Tanahashi would shockingly win the match along with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for the eighth time since people were expecting Kenny to retain, but it looked like that wasn’t the case due to Kenny not signing a new contract. I think it worked out as a better story for Tanahashi winning but his reign didn’t last long due to losing to Jay White a month later. Great match and worthy of a WK main event to show why he’s still our ace. Go Ace!

14. Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston (WrestleMania 35 4/7/2019)

– One man’s injury is another man’s opportunity. Kofi was someone who wasn’t supposed to be mixed in with the WWE Title picture but he finally had his chance after failing over ten years ago. The build-up to this story was nicely done and the ironic part was it being against Daniel Bryan who had a similar struggle five years ago with the B+ Player storyline leading into WrestleMania. Fans would start getting behind Kofi to push behind this Kofimania trend and they had no choice put to pull the trigger and keep the ball rolling.

He kept having minor setbacks from Elimination Chamber and losing matches to get his chances back but would finally get it after his New Day Brothers helped out to win a match, so Kofi can get his big WrestleMania match. The two would deliver their best match this year and the only match on ‘main roster’ to say it was a great match. It also helped that I was able to witness it in person and the atmosphere for it was something else. Kofi would finally win the big one after eleven years with the big payoff. Unfortunately, after he won the title there was little to impress with his matches being underwhelming except for his matches with Randy Orton. Despite the bad payoff, the build-up prior and the match itself was alone worth being on the list.

13. Suwama & Shuji Ishikawa vs. Jake Lee & Naoya Nomura (Real World Tag Team League 12/9/2019)

– All Japan Pro Wrestling delivered another successful Real World Tag Team League with some great matches but the final day would be one of their best matches of the year when The Violence Giant would fight Jake and Naoya in the finals of the tournament. Suwama and Shuji would show why they’re the Tokyo Sports Tag Team of the Year three consecutive years in the row while Jake and Naoya have been making fantastic progress during the whole year.

A lot of close calls and during the final minutes of the match and it looked like Jake and Naoya would defeat them again but the Violence Giant would be able to win the match and the league itself. It had a lot of great tag team wrestling which is something you don’t get to see too much of these days and kept it simple but very effective. If you never watched Violence Giant in action, you’re missing out on one of the best tag teams in a long time.

12. Kazuchika Okada vs. SANADA (New Japan Cup 3/24/2019)

– This would not only be Okada’s best match for the year, but also one of SANADA’s best in his career. SANADA hasn’t had luck in defeating Okada whenever they fought each other (except for G1), but he would keep on getting closer each time and this was one of those times that would kind of make you believe that he had a chance of winning. Despite SANADA losing again, he still put on an incredible effort that should be worth mentioning.

These two had about four battles and it is debatable to which one was the better match since they all have a good claim, except for maybe their final one at Kings of Pro Wrestling but there were still claims and to me, this one was the better match out of the four this year. All of them are worth watching and you really can’t go wrong with either one as I also thought about adding their G1 Climax match instead where SANADA finally got his first win over him. All great matches and exciting chapters in their rivalry.

11. WALTER & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Yuji Hino & Yuji Okabayashi (BJW Ryogokutan 11/4/2019)

– If you had to describe a match that screams manly as fuck, this would be the match right here. NXT UK Champion, WALTER would make a surprise appearance to BJW during one of their biggest shows and teamed up with Daisuke to take on Yuji Hino and Yuji Okabayashi. What do you get when you have these four men fighting? Nothing but pure brutality and it was glorious in every regard.

These four men are great as being known as powerhouses and if you love their chops, you’ll be getting plenty of them right here. It made me wish WALTER had singles matches with any one of them, especially against Yuji Hino. After the match was over, it would make you wanna have a 24 oz porterhouse steak with a side of a baked potato to go with it, it was that manly and rough. If you think BJW is just deathmatches, you’re 100% wrong and matches like these will show you that they can be great at both types of matches.

That’s it for our next five. I hope you’ve all enjoyed it and tomorrow, we’ll be down to our final ten!


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Opinion

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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wwe-vs-aew-war-logo

“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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