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Mathew’s Top 25 Matches of 2019: #25-21

Mathew’s 25-21 with a tiny nugget of a hint towards the rest of his Top 25.

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Well, the time has come to begin the countdown. I’m sure you’ve seen my honorable mentions from my previous article and you might have a good idea by now for what might be on my list. But the real question is, where did they rank?

Before I begin, I gotta point out that I do my lists differently, otherwise it would just be a unbalance list from the same person in a quarter of the list. So because of this, if someone is on here more than once, they’ll have two of their best matches here. The only time you’ll see them more than that is if it was a tag match or a multi-man one but it doesn’t seem to be the case this year.

Anyway, let’s get this countdown started!

25. War Raiders vs. Ricochet & Aleister Black (NXT Takeover: New York 4/5/2019)

– This one would just barely make the list but the fact that I was at this show live was what helped boost it up by quite a margin. Who knew that Aleister and Ricochet would work so well as a tag team together? War Raiders have been stepping up their game during their time in NXT to deliver some memorable matches but this one to me was their best work and showed how great they are in the ring. Plenty of action, there were times that they made me believe that War Raiders would actually drop the belts but they would somehow find a way to barely survive. It was an emotional send-off for both Black and Ricochet after the bell was rung before they officially made their way to the main roster. Great match, excellent performances, and what a way to exit.

24. Isami Kodaka vs. Masaya Takahashi (BJW Endless Survivor 5/5/2019)

– I usually have a deathmatch or two find its way into my list and it looks like one was able to grab onto the list. Isami Kodaka is someone I’ve followed recently for a good year now and I have enjoyed his work in deathmatches. I also enjoy how BJW does these matches because it’s not just a stupid hardcore style of wrestling, these guys are also able to wrestle on top of what they could already do in that ring and it’s just a treat to see how they perform overall. Plenty of weapons, wrestling, and a good environment to top it off. Kodaka as able to win his second Death Match Heavyweight Championship after a grueling fight between two deathmatch warriors and was able to have a memorable reign that lasted for 227 days. Plenty of violence, they were able to tell their story and got the job done with the right payoff. If you’re a fan of this type of wrestling, definitely give it a look as you won’t be disappointed.

23. Aleister Black, Velveteen Dream, & Ricochet vs. Tommaso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano, & Adam Cole (NXT Halftime Heat 2/3/2019)

Halftime Heat WWE NXT

– Shockingly enough, this is also the last NXT (not UK) match that made it on the list since a lot of great matches happened elsewhere, but this one was still able to stand out. During the Super Bowl, WWE would host this match when the Halftime show was going on and it was like how they did it for The Rock and Mick Foley twenty-years ago. You had six of the top names in NXT at the time just put on a great show for the people to see and was well worth it since it was better than the Halftime show. All six of these men had equal time in the ring and was nothing but quality. As you would expect, the faces stood tall to make the fans happy and plenty of hype to come for NXT afterward.

22. Mayu Iwatani vs. Momo Watanabe (Stardom 5 Star Grand Prix 9/22/2019)

– I was able to cover this match during my coverage of the tournament and was still my favorite match of the whole tournament. Mayu never disappoints in big matches and Momo has established some credibility from the past year when they fought the last time and these two were able to make magic in the ring together. The best part about this encounter was that it didn’t end in a time limit draw unlike last year and we were able to get a clear winner with Momo getting the victory, but was still unable to advance in the tournament. Another exciting chapter they could add to their little story with Stardom’s Ace and Stardom’s Icon. Great match and shows why most Joshi women are probably better than your favorite male wrestler right now.

21. Ben-K vs. Masaaki Mochizuki (Dragon Gate: Gate of Victory 10/8/2019)

– Ben has had an incredible year in Dragon Gate. He won the King of Gate Tournament after being betrayed by his unit, the one to end the undefeated streak of PAC since his WWE departure, and had three successful title defenses before dropping it a little over a week ago. The ironic thing is that these two were able to make it to my list last year and now appears to have happened twice in a row as they delivered another great match for the Dragon Gate books.

The year difference you could see from Ben in this match shows how much he’s improved in that time and as someone that could be a future star of the company if they choose to stick with him, which they should. Mochizuki never disappoints as well as he was able still to go for a guy his age and bring out the best of his opponent. How was Ben able to win? He would defeat him by hitting him with just a headbutt and it was a brutal headbutt on top of that you would think that he knocked him out with it. Ben is here to stay at the top and this match would prove that as one of the best in his career right now and be sure to keep an eye out on his growth since 2020 will be a big year for him.

That’s all the time we have for right now on the first set of matches on the list. Did some of them surprise you?

I’m already waiting for the backlash of no more NXT matches on here and you’re just gonna have to wait and see who else made it. Until next time and Happy Holidays!


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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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