NXT UK travels back in time to 8/31/19!
Join them in reliving TakeOver: Cardiff’s main event! Walter and Tyler Bate share their thoughts on that truly incredible encounter!
- 8/31/19 – NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff, WWE UK Championship: Walter VS Tyler Bate; Walter wins and retains the WWE UK Championship.
PLAY BY PLAY
Andy Shepherd again welcomes us to NXT UK.
It’s another special edition in which we look back to NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff, and a main event match “for the ages.” It was the Ring General VS The Big Strong Boy in what is now being called…
NXT UK’s Most Brilliant.
At Tyler Bate’s family home in Dudley, England, Mrs. Jill Bate speaks to Tyler’s love of pro-wrestling from a young age. They would make sure to buy tickets to go to events when WWE came to the UK. And now, it’s Tyler’s job. That’s rather crazy to think about for her, but Tyler always knew he was going to do this. Trent Seven says he first met Tyler in a Birmingham training camp. Just right away, he could see Tyler was leaps and bounds above everyone at that age. Seven knew he would be great. Tyler himself knew that this was always the goal. It was the dream to be a WWE superstar eventually. Few wrestlers start their career without that being the case. So for Tyler, signing at just 19, he “just kinda winged it.” No one in that field of 16 knew what was coming when they signed up. And then it became the WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament, that Tyler of course went on to win.
Being the inaugural United Kingdom Champion at just 19, it was just surreal. Tyler had no idea who he even was as a wrestler, performer or person. The last three years, growing up in the WWE, it was a constant search to figure all of that out. He was the youngest person to ever be a champion in the WWE. You always talk about first-evers, and that is what British Strong Style carries so closely. Tyler, Pete Dunne and Trent Seven carried the brand and took pride in being the first three in the brand. And then Imperium coming in, Seven feels he’s partly responsible for how it turned out.
Now we go to Hommersum, German, the hometown of Walter. Walter jogs through the countryside. This is the border of Germany and the Netherlands. He likes coming out here because he can focus on himself. The cities are so crowded, it just distracts you from what’s important. When Walter first signed with the WWE, he was asked if it was possible for him to move somewhere, like the US or the UK. The biggest difference between him and everyone else in this sport is that he is true to himself. He is true to his roots and to the sport he deeply respects. Everyone thinks that what British Strong Style does is the “new style in professional wrestling.” But Walter is embarrassed to know people pay good money to watch that and think that is what the sport is about.
Show him one person from England that looks like a true man. Show him one person from England that can stand beside him in Imperium. They can’t, because they’d look like little children next to him. Walter is aware he is not liked, and he doesn’t care. There would be nothing better for NXT UK to have Tyler Bate as a champion. Bate is 10 years younger, handsome and in great shape, “a beautiful boy.” But he’s losing focus on what matters in this sport. What has Bate done since winning the UK Championship? If the WWE wants a champion that is always excited to be in England or do media, autographs, so on, well then find someone who can do that and beat Walter.
Walter goes to the wXw (Western Xtreme Wrestling) training academy in Essen, Germany. This place was built by Walter. You do not get anything for free here. Everything must be earned. Walter is very strict on his students, because he demands they respect the mat. No one respects the mat as much as Imperium. They don’t just say something to impress someone. They mean it. Everyone in Imperium has the same philosophy about the sport.
Back to Jill Bate. Seeing what Walter did to Tyler is something no mother should ever have to see. Seven says it isn’t just the attack and its brutality. It is the fact Imperium robbed Moutache Mountain of their chance at the NXT UK Tag Team Championships. They had those titles in hand, and Imperium knew that when they attacked. They brutalized Seven, and then cuffed him so that he couldn’t do anything to save Tyler. “You can’t be prepared for that.” Walter says British Strong Style does not stand a chance. Especially Tyler, because he was trained the wrong way. Just look what Walter did to him. In 10 seconds, Walter took Tyler out for weeks. Tyler himself says Walter disrespected him. Walter then took Trent Seven on, and Seven admits to rushing in without a plan. Walter dominated and brutalized Seven until the referee had to stop the match. Tyler says it will be Walter’s turn to suffer.
January of 2017 was when the world was in awe of a 19 year old kid. But now, he is a man, an elite level performer. This is the best Tyler Bate Seven has ever seen. Jill Bate is extremely proud of his son. Tyler’s growth these last three years is incredible, and he always strives to better himself. Tyler says Walter is greed and power and all of these things Tyler doesn’t agree with. Walter just walks all over and disrespects what NXT UK represents. Cardiff is Tyler’s opportunity to prove to the world, and to himself, that he can be the champion that the brand can be proud of. Tyler carries a lot on his shoulders beyond the title. There is the honor of British professional wrestling and what the brand was built on. Truly an important day to Tyler Bate, and we will watch that match alongside the men in it after the break!
Other NXT UK superstars share their memories of this match.
First, Amir Jordan recalls how “Big Walter shows up at the start of 2019, chops his way to the top of NXT UK, dominates everyone, and now, up steps Tyler Bate.” Can Bate get Walter up for the Tyler Driver? Or even just a classic Hogan scoop slam? Or will Walter just chop him down? Watching backstage, Amir was gripped. As a smaller guy, he was totally behind Bate in this. Isla Dawn says Walter VS Bate is one of the best matches she was lucky enough to see live. Backstage, everyone was transfixed for the entire match. No one was talking or distracted. No one could look away. And by the end, everyone was applauding these two talented individuals putting it all on the line and leaving it out there in the ring. Flash Morgan Webster says there’s this one crazy moment where Tyler just takes this clubbing beating for what feels like 30 or 40 minutes. Somehow he always fights through the pain, bridges up, and hits Tyler Driver ’97! There is not anyone in the NXT UK Universe not on their feet. What were your favorite moments from this match?
8/31/19 – NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff, WWE UK Championship: Walter VS Tyler Bate!
Accompanying unseen footage of the event, NXT UK Head Coach Johnny Moss speaks to this match being not only NXT UK’s greatest match, but perhaps the greatest match in the WWE. Moss watched backstage with goosebumps, because it was like a movie coming to life. Bate’s heart of a lion going up against the sheer brutality of Walter, “this is an absolute war, plain and simple.”
Before the match begins, we hear from Walter. “Going into the match, I was very aware of what to expect from Tyler.” When you look at the picture, the build, it is obviously the bigger and heavier wrestler and the smaller, more agile wrestler. If you look closer at it, this is actually a much more even match-up. Then we hear from Tyler Bate. “Well, I’m not ashamed to admit I was a bit scared.” Walter is the man who beat Pete Dunne for the title. And Dunne beat Tyler for the title, so it seemed natural to think Walter was going to win. But Tyler wasn’t going to let that scare him off. Instead, he just looked Walter dead in the eyes with a confident smile.
The introductions are made, the belt is raised, and this battle for dominance begins!
Bate and Walter stare down as fans sing for Bate. Walter and Bate circle and feel out the grapple. They tie up and Walter powers Bate to the ropes. Then he swings a big hand, but Bate gets clear! Bate kicks then backs off. Fans chant for “Big Strong Boy!” as he circles with Walter more. They approach and lock up, but Bate rolls back to get the wristlock. Walter grabs Bate’s head but Bate gets to ropes. Bate gets free to kick at the leg more. The singing gets stronger as Bate and Walter tie up again. The two go shoulder to shoulder in a test of strength. But Walter brings the wristlocks up to lean on Bate. Fans still cheer and Bate bridges as Walter pushes him back. Cover, ONE! Walter drops on Bate, TWO as Bate bridges again! Walter struggles to keep Bate down as the cheering continues!
Walter backs Bate up but Bate turns things around to have Walter on the ropes. Bate gives Walter an elbow grind before backing off. Fans want Bate to “F him up, Tyler, F him up!” But Walter gets Bate and throws a forearm! But Bate gives big hands back! Bate kicks the leg but Walter headlocks to a takeover! Fans rally as Bate endures the grind. Walter cranks back but Bate fights his way up to his feet. Fans sing to troll Walter but Walter throws Bate down again. Walter cranks Bate’s head more, but Bate fights back up. Bate endures more grinding as he crotch lifts Walter! Walter fights that off but Bate throws body shots. Bate powers out but gets run over! Walter has Bate up fast, but Bate slips out of the bomb! Walter back drops out of the driver but Bate lands on his feet. Bate rams his shoulder in, then runs. Walter hurdles Bate, but Bate scoops Walter! To slam him down!
Bate rams his shoulder in and Walter is on the outside! Cardiff is thunderous while Walter is reeling! Bate strikes a pose, brother! Walter gathers himself before getting back in. Bate dropkicks Walter a few times, but Walter swats the last one away. Walter scoops but Bate holds on! Walter rams Bate into buckles, then scoops him up. But Bate slips out to huricanrana Walter out! Bate runs and DIVES! But Walter catches him, pops him off and CHOPS him with those monstrous hands! And then apron WALTER BOMBS Bate! Flashbacks to the Download Festival! In the present, Tyler remembers back to that moment in the match. Needless to say, it was a even more of a struggle from there on. Walter leaves Bate for dead while he rests in the ring. A ring count begins and climbs to 5, but Bate is up. Bate climbs in but Walter BOOTS him back out! Walter follows after but Bate throws hands. Walter swats Bate then throws him into barriers.
Walter runs in to BOOT Bate almost over! Walter has Bate again, POST BOMB! Bate is wrecked all over again and Walter wants to leave him behind. The referee checks on Bate but Walter cares more about the count. A medic checks on Bate as fans rally up. Bate says he doesn’t want to lose like this, and fans cheer him on. Bate rises to his feet and this match continues. Fans say “F you, Walter!” as the ring count begins. Bate stands at 5, but has to drag himself in at 7. Bate kicks from the mat but Walter just stomps him back. Walter kicks Bate around but fans rally and sing again. Walter drags Bate up for another scoop slam. The fans still sing as Walter kicks Bate hard in the back. Fans now boo and jeer, but Walter just ignores them as he drags Bate up. Bate can’t stand but he does kick from the mat. Walter stomps Bate more, egging Bate on. Walter drags Bate up and Bate throws body shots! Bate throws hands but Walter kicks him back down. Walter drags Bate up and clamps his hands on for a neck wrench. Bate endures but fans rally again.
Bate feeds off the energy, even as Walter thrashes Bate around. Walter smothers Bate with his weight but fans give Bate the strength to stand, only for Walter to kick him back down! Walter looms over Bate as fans sing both ways. Walter sits Bate up for clubbing forearms, and then wraps on a sleeper hold! Bate endures and gets to the ropes! But Walter breaks the break, only for Bate to get behind him! Bate clobbers Walter with a big left hand! Bate tries to fireman’s carry, but that bad back gives out! Walter falls on top of Bate and clubs away! Then Walter puts on a massive crossface hold! Fans rally yet again and Bate gets the ropebreak! Walter just puts Bate on the ropes to stretch him out and club his chest! And again, and again!
Bate flops out of the ring and to the floor, but Walter just waits in the ring. Fans boo Walter while Bate hears the count. The count passes 5 as Bate forces himself up. Bate stands at 7 and drags himself in just before 8. But Walter is right on him, stretching those arms out and stepping on Bate’s back! The fans cheer for “Big Strong Boy!” and Bate sits up. Walter grinds his knee in now, but Bate keeps standing up. Bate works against the stretch, but Walter headbutts him down to stop the turn. Bate keeps trying, and the fans are still with him. He goes to turn the hold again, and has it, only for Walter to turn it back. So Bate flips and kicks Walter away! But Walter comes back to fall on Bate! Cover, TWO! Bate still lives and it annoys Walter. Walter watches Bate sit up just to boot him back down. Walter drags Bate up for a CHOP! Bate crawls to a corner but Walter looms over him.
Walter drags Bate up to CHOP him down again! Bate still glares defiantly, so Walter stomps Bate in the corner. Walter eggs Bate on, so Bate CHOPS back! Walter still wants more so Bate CHOPS him again! But Walter CLUBS Bate down, then drags him up to ram him into buckles! Walter has Bate on the top rope and he CLUBS Bate! Walter climbs up to stand on Bate! Bate flops out to the apron and Walter goes out to join him. Walter grabs Bate and brings him up. He brings him in, but Bate holds ropes to save his life! Walter clubs Bate but fans chant again. Walter stands Bate up for forearms. Bate catches Walter, for an EXPLODER off the apron! Fans lose their minds as both men crash down! A new ring counts as both men start stirring. Bate is up first, and he goes after Walter again.
Bate rams Walter into the barriers, then the apron. He puts Walter in at 7, then drops on Walter’s back! And then again, and again! Bate headbutts Walter from the mat, then drags him up again. Bate throws EuroUppers, and fans fire up with him. Bate runs into the corner with an uppercut, and keeps Walter there. Walter blocks the whip to reverse it. But Bate boots and knees back. Bate hops up, to leap into a CHOP! Walter puts on a Boston Crab on Bate’s bad back! Bate endures as Walter sits deep, and powers his way up! But Walter puts a knee into Bate’s neck, then shifts to a crossface! Bate endures all this stretching and pulling, and still manages to crawl for ropes. Walter elbows Bate down, then makes the hold a Chancery! Bate still fights, slips out and gets the ropebreak! Walter lets go in frustration, but Bate keeps kicking from the mat.
Walter stands and looms over Bate. Walter stands Bate up to CHOP him down again. Fans have not given up on Bate, even as Walter circles Bate. In the present, Walter says that at this point, he felt in total control, yet also not. Because Tyler kept getting up and Walter couldn’t think of what it would take to keep him down. Back in the match, Walter drags Bate up and goes to suplex, but Bate resists. Bate somehow holds Walter off, and the two start throwing body shots. Bate tries to suplex Walter, but that’s so much to lift! Walter spins out to CHOP Bate again! Walter suplexes Bate but Bate knees free. Bate tries again, and gets Walter up and over! Fans are on their feet for the Big Strong Boy’s big strong heart! The singing begins again and Bate stands. Walter follows but Bate is on him with hands. Bate EuroUppers and Walter staggers about. Bate runs, clotheslines, but Walter stays up! Bate tries again, still not enough. A third time, not yet! Bate tries a fourth, but gets rocked! Only to come back with the rolling kick!
Bate waistlocks, but Walter swings an elbow, only to end up in another EXPLODER! Bate somehow kips up!? And hits a standing shooting star! Cover, TWO!! Walter survives and Bate cannot believe it. “This is Awesome!” but far from over. Bate drags Walter up and wants the underhooks! But Walter resists, spins out and gives a EuroUpper. Bate gives one back, then turns Walter’s retaliation into a backslide! That he just flips over to underhooks! But Walter back drops out to deny the driver. Walter runs in, Bate goes up and over, but Walter dropkicks Bate in the back! Bate rebounds off buckles, into Walter’s powerbomb lift, only to make it a DESTROYER!! Cover, TWO!?! Walter almost lost for the first time in NXT UK! Fans cheer for “NXT! NXT!” again as Bate crawls his way to the apron.
Bate heads for a corner as fans declare “This is Wrestling!” Bate slowly climbs while Walter is still down. Bate reaches the top but Walter crawls to the apron. Fans boo but Bate just adjusts and stares down with Walter. They brawl, and Bate clubs Walter. Walter throws body shots and climbs up. Bate clubs him back, and sees where they are. Fans anticipate what’s coming, but Walter does, too. Walter fights and clubs back, then gets back to the apron. Walter CHOPS Bate off the top rope! Bate is in the drop zone and now Walter climbs up top. But Bate jumps up to headbutt! Bate fires up with the fans as he climbs up again. But Walter goes to chop, only for Bate to shout out the Bruiserweight! SNAP goes the fingers! SUPER EXPLODER!! Bate crawls to the cover, TWO!?! Walter still lives and Cardiff can’t believe it! Both men are down but fans are singing for Bate.
Walter sits up but Bate follows. Bate throws hands from the mat, showing that boxing training. Walter kicks Bate over but Bate kicks back. Walter CHOPS Bate, but Bate kicks a leg out! Bate tweaks the ankle, but Walter still stands. Walter throws a BIG forearm and Bate falls. But Bate is up again to throw hands! Walter CHOPS Bate, but Bate still rises! Bate throws more hands but takes another CHOP! How is Bate getting up again!? Walter doesn’t care, he welcomes Bate rising again. Walter CHOPS, but Bate grits hits teeth. Walter CHOPS and CHOPS, but Bate dodges. Walter sees through Bop to CHOP! But he still gets BANG! But then Walter falls on Bate’s body! It’s not a pin but Walter looks out cold! Bate gets free, and both men are down again.
Fans give another rally, and Bate feels his chest stinging. Bate and Walter can barely move, but they refuse to stop. Walter slaps Bate down but Bate kicks Walter. Walter forearms down but Bate drops a short elbow. Walter clubs, Bate CHOPS, and fans are still singing. The two men find the power to stand but Walter gives sumo palm strike! Bate fires off kicks on the leg, then dodges to rebound, into Walter’s Exploder! Cover, TWO!! Walter has had enough of Bate, powerbomb lift but scorpion kick! Bate tries, and somehow fireman’s carries Walter, for the AIRPLANE SPIN! In the present, Bate remembers this being a moment, after struggling for any offense, the tide felt like it was turning. That’s when he got the idea to think outside his moveset, and borrow from his British Strong Style brothers.
Back in the match, they go around and around, but Walter grabs ropes to stop it. Walter climbs off but Bate kicks the legs! Bate has Walter stuck and just clubs away. Bate then brings Walter out on a torture rack, for a shout out to Trent Seven, with that BIRMINGHAMMER!! But Bate can’t cover, he’s too exhausted! Bate crawls but Walter crawls to retreat! The fans hope they “Fight Forever!” at this point. Walter flounders about on the outside until he just topples over. Walter gets up again but so does Bate. Fans rally as Bate kicks Walter down! Bate runs, DIVES, and topples Walter over again! Bate staggers back into the ring and tries once more, and FLIES! Another direct hit, and Bate puts Walter back in. Walter is crawling and Bate is on him. Bate waistlocks, and deadlifts Walter for a German Suplex!! Bridging cover, TWO!!
Bate won’t stop to wonder how Walter survives, he underhooks. But Walter back drops to a cover, TWO!? Underhooks, TYLER DRIVER ’97!!! TWO!?! No one knows what to make of this! Bate hurries up top, leaps, corkscrew senton! Cover, TWO?!? “This is Awesome” all over again, but what will it take to finish it? Bate just forces himself to sit up while Walter stirs. The wrist tape comes off, and Bate wants Walter to stand. Bate starts throwing those hands! He has Walter reeling again, and in a corner. The referee reprimands Bate but Bate just fires off! The ref backs Bate off, Walter SLAPS and CHOPS and BOOTS! And into a sleeper hold with body scissors! Walter even rolls onto Bate’s back to smother him. But Bate again shows his Herculean heart as he stands up with Walter on his back! For a BACKPACK SENTON! But Walter rises like the dead to wrap back on! Bate is caught by the Austrian anaconda, but fights back up again.
Cardiff gives Bate everything they have, and Bate uses the ropes to climb up, only for Walter to shove him out. Walter drags Bate up to club away, then put on a sleeper! But Bate drags Walter over with him! Walter still has Bate in the hold, but Bate elbows free. Walter CHOPS Bate on the back! Sleeper Suplex to the apron!! The referee checks but Walter drags Bate in as fans lose their minds once again. Walter climbs up, LEAPING SPLASH! Cover, TWO!?!?!? This is insane! Walter sleeper holds, another suplex! Cover, TWO!! Walter just SLAPS Bate around, then hits the WALTER BOMB! High stack, ONE?!?! Just what is Tyler Bate?! Walter is in utter shock as Bate drags himself up, but then he CHOPS Bate again. Fans are going to lose their voices cheering for Bate. Walter runs to Clothesline from Hell! Cover, Walter wins!
Winner: WALTER, by pinfall; still WWE United Kingdom Champion
Walter has the toughest match in his NXT UK career, in this title’s history, and perhaps all of WWE 2019! And still, he reigns atop the UK brand. If Bate couldn’t dethrone him after all this, will anyone ever end the reign of the Ring General?
In the present, Walter speaks to how it felt after the match. “I felt like the mission was successful.” He defeated the last member of British Strong Style, and it was clear that Imperium was taking over NXT UK. Tyler adds that maybe his preparation still wasn’t enough. But the result speaks for itself. Tyler won’t beat himself up about it, because he has no regrets with the performance. He put in 100% effort into the match, and sometimes you just can’t win, but that’s okay. What matters is not the loss, but the heart. So next time, and Bate vows there will be a next time, he will be even better.
Andy Shepherd thanks you for watching NXT UK.
And he also lets us know that next week will be another special episode. It will be NXT UK: Hidden Gems, with never-before-seen matches, including the current #1 contender, Ilja Dragunov!
It was so great to relive this great match. I love that opening documentary video, it was like a WWE 24 or something. For those who know the TakeOver: Cardiff article, you know I gave that event the highest score I’ve given anything because of how amazing it was from start to finish. Walter VS Bate truly is the best NXT UK has given us so far, and is one of the best WWE as a whole has had in a long time. I don’t know if any event from any company will ever outdo TakeOver: Cardiff 8/31/19 in my eyes. That event came out of nowhere to be the best event on a day jam-packed with wrestling. There was NJPW Royal Quest and even AEW All Out, and those were only second to Cardiff. Bate’s growth is an incredible journey and Walter is another “once ever” talent like how Paul Heyman loves to hype Brock Lesnar as. I’m not sure a rematch of Walter VS Bate down the line could capture the magic of this first one, but I would love to see them try.
My Score: 8.7/10
WWE 24/7 Championship Results & Report! (4/10/21)
BEHOLD! The Night Panther!!
It’s the epic conclusion to the Legend of the Night Planter!
Mild-mannered Old Spice salesman, Joseph Average, finds himself in the middle of an incredible WWE 24/7 Championship prophecy! But is he hero or villain?
- WWE 24/7 Championship Picnic Panic: R-Truth VS Akira Tozawa & Night Panther; Truth retains the title.
PLAY BY PLAY
R-Truth is having a picnic.
“This is just not your ordinary picnic. We eatin’ good.” And after spraying some Old Spice Night Panther, they’re smellin’ good, too! But Akira Tozawa is sneaking up to snatch Truth’s snacks! Truth goes to reach for some, sees Tozawa, and Tozawa says, “Say cheese~!” What’s Tozawa doing at Truth’s picnic?! And with Ninja Referee (Drew Gulak) and the Night Panther! Truth finds he’s outnumbered! Tozawa and Ninja Ref Gulak grab Truth, and Truth says, “Oh no! Say it ain’t so, Joe!” He went from Average Joe, to Average Ninja! But if you go full ninja, you go evil. But, Joe’s not evil…
Tozawa shouts, “ATTACK!” But stand back, there’s a Hurricane comin’ through! A hurricane? Truth’s insurance covers that. But what is he doing here? What’s he doing here? Everyone knows that hurricanes and night panthers are mortal enemies. Truth confirms. And yet, here Joe is, ruining Truth’s picnic with his baby. Wazzupwiththat?! Night Panther, attack!! Night Panther punches at Hurricane but is blocked and counter punched! Truth breaks free of the kung-fu grip, and hurries with Hurricane to the Truth Cave! AWAY~!
The ninjas pick themselves up and Tozawa blames Night Panther for this. But he tried…! Tozawa takes away Night Panther’s seemingly endless blackbelt. Was this Yokozuna sized? But Tozawa doesn’t care what the prophecy says, Joseph Average is NOT the Night Panther! The “HAH! HAH! HAH!” turns into laughter at Joe’s failure, and Joe runs away in shame. Ninja Ref Gulak tries to talk with Tozawa but he won’t hear it. Will Tozawa ever get the 24/7 Championship away from Truth? Will Joseph Average redeem himself? Or is there truly someone else who the Night Panther mantle is meant for?
Not quite as conclusive as I thought, but this was a pretty great next part to this story with Eric Bugenhagen, aka Ricky Buge, aka The Buge, now Joseph “The Night Panther” Average, who may not even be the Night Panther anymore. I like that we got The Hurricane in this, and if it weren’t for the divide of WWE and AEW, I would love if the cinematic wrestling universe got Matt Hardy involved with this title. Having a brand deal feels right up the “Big Money Matt” gimmick’s alley. I hope Buge returns and proves himself as the Night Panther, or even just as Joseph Average. This is the kind of fun this title needs to be having either way.
Andrew’s AJPW Champion Carnival Results & Match Ratings: 4.10.2021
Day 2 of my fill in stint covering the AJPW Champion Carnival! Can Suwama get in the winner’s column? Can the Ace Kento get on the board? Does anyone pull away so early?
Day 2 of my fill in stint covering the AJPW Champion Carnival! Can Suwama get in the winner’s column? Can the Ace Kento get on the board? Does anyone pull away so early?
Given the fact the incumbent champion lost his first round, the ace lost and there were a few main event players that picked up hard fought wins but don’t have an easy day today, this should be interesting. What kind of tournament are we looking at?
Since the tournament is 1 block, each person gets 9 matches, similar to the G1. So using G1 logic, 2 losses puts you on the bubble of being out, and 3 losses is basically death with the exception of weird breakers or fun rock/paper/scissors situations.
So for everyone’s sake, let’s hope we end up at mostly parity to continue to keep everyone alive for most of this single block tournament!
- Yuma Aoyagi vs Shotaro Ashino: Aoyagi wins via End Game @9:22 – ** ¾
- Kohei Sato vs Koji Doi: Doi wins via Murder Lariat @4:52 – * ½
- Shuj Ishikawa vs Zeus: Zeus wins via Arm Trap Facelock @10:41 – *** ½
- Shinjiro Otani vs Kento Miyahara: Kento wins via Blackout @13:23 – *** ¾
- Jake Lee vs Suwama: Suwama wins via Last Ride Powerbomb @18:23 – ****
Yuma Aoyagi vs Shotaro Ashino
So very similarly to the match against Otani, Aoyagi starts slow. The match begins with a handshake, then he gets driven to the ropes, Ashino slides under his legs during the break to trip him up and starts working over the leg. An early Stretch Muffler indicates that Ashino is most likely aiming to win with the Ankle Lock.
Aoyagi was on the move and constantly clawing for an opening. A few strikes and early knockdown give Aoyagi hope as he goes for End Game, but Ashino powers up and slams him into the corner. Ashino controls most of the tempo until we get a German Suplex trade off spot. Aoyagi ends up taking the worst of it, and Ashino goes for the Ankle Lock.
While in the Ankle Lock, Aoyagi tries to roll through 3 times, but Ashino moves with the roll and holds the move in place. Right before Aoyagi looks like he’s going to tap, he adjusts, grabs Ashino’s head for the Small Package; Ashino manages to kick out. But before Ashino can really re-orient himself, Aoyagi slaps on the full version of End Game. Ashino tries to fight through, but succumbs.
Ashino with two big losses almost writes him out already. Hopefully he makes a small run to suspend disbelief for a little bit and this isn’t his swan song from AJPW.
Kohei Sato vs Koji Doi
Doi comes out of a loss to a major player, Shuji Ishikawa, of current AJPW and Sato avenged his loss to the current Triple Crown Champion Suwama. So at face value, one should think this is a perfect time for Sato to gather some momentum to make sure he gets another shot at the title.
Contrary to logic, this match was interesting. Doi starts off with a quick flurry and picks Sato up into a Torture Rack. Sato eventually fights out and then we get a chop battle, which Sato is notoriously bad at and throws some of the lamest looking chops. Granted, even though he was losing the chops, apparently a well-placed Forearm rocked Doi enough to have Doi selling the forearm for nearly the rest of the match.
Referee Nikkan Lee gets up to seven before Doi starts responding enough to be on the receiving end of a Soccer Ball Kick from Sato. Sato senses the match is over, picks Doi up real cocky for a Brainbuster, but it gets countered into a Brainbuster of Doi’s own! A short range lariat rocks Sato afterward and then off the ropes for Murder Lariat! Sato is stacked up, Doi covers and Doi gets the win!
Well we look to be in an interesting starting spot so far. Who would’ve figured Koji Doi would have more points than Shotaro Ashino…ever. Also for clarity, the low rating is because the match was so abrupt. It wasn’t inherently bad, just not really anything to sink teeth into beyond an upset win.
Shuj Ishikawa vs Zeus
There is history with these two, most notable in my head is during Zeus’ only Triple Crown championship reign, Shuji was his first and only defense. So Zeus looks to continue momentum this year, possibly running back the undefeated record of last year; while Shuji is trying to protect his position and title as Gaora TV champion.
This goes the way most of their previous meetings have, where Shuji tries to overpower Zeus. Because even though Zeus is a bodybuilder, he’s a bit on the short side (5’10”). So with Shuji standing about 6 inches taller and not being of a slight build, Shuji loves to buckle Zeus and play the power struggle. Tests of Strength, Shoulder Tackles, Lariat battles, it’s all great power wrestler spots.
Shuji does however start to catch Zeus. So after a chagrining Lariat into the corner, the middle rope Mushroom Stomp and a few Tsunamis; it looks like Shuji is setting up to win with a Fire/Thunder Driver – but Zeus slips out the back! Zeus locks in the Arm Trap Facelock, and Shuji is dead to rights. Stuck in the middle, twisted about in the move, it only takes a few moments before Shuji is forced to tap and Zeus moves on with 4 points!
Shinjiro Otani vs Kento Miyahara
Dueling boots start the match, which Kento bails after being on the losing end of the exchange. Otani decides to remind him that recovering on the apron isn’t safe, so he charges and lands the Bootwash through the bottom rope sending Kento flying. As the match plays out on the outside, Kento regains his swagger, talks smack to referee Wada and does his “headbutts around the ring” spot.
After rocking Otani, Kento gets cocky, poses back in the ring and the smug Kento from his previous Triple Crown champion days starts making a return. He gives Otani too much space though, charges the corner, and takes a Drop Toe Hold into the bottom turnbuckle, and then Otani revs up the old kicking boot across Kento’s face for a few Bootwashes.
From this point, both men’s stubbornness comes out in spades. Kento gets a little cocky, Otani catches him on the corner, they fight back and Otani refuses to fall before hitting Kento with a Superplex. Then we go into a strike exchange where both are just wailing on one another. Otani manages to rock Kento and then catch him with a Dragon Suplex for a near fall.
Moving quickly, Otani hits Spiral Bomb, but again only two. So he tries a Dragon Suplex again, but Kento fights out. Kento hits a Blackout to the back of Otani’s head, and now they are throwing haymakers. Kento catches Otani with another Blackout, but Otani returns the favor with one of those Hashimoto Overhand Chops that put down Aoyagi yesterday! Otani goes for another, but Kento Blackouts the chop. The clash leaves Otani in more pain, another Blackout and Otani powers out of the pinfall at 1, but is scrambling and stumbling around, unable to find his feet. Kento hits one more point blank Blackout, and picks up his first points of the 2021 Carnival!
Jake Lee vs Suwama
So watching this second tournament match for Jake, I’ve come to realize what I’m referring to him as during this Total Eclipse gimmick. He is very much “Light Yagami” Jake Lee. He’s cackling when he accomplishes something, unbridled frustration and nearly schizophrenic reactions do really scream Death Note crazy Light.
This match was interesting since early on Suwama didn’t really know what to make of Jake, and Jake tried the same stuff he pulled on Ashino, where he was a little awkward, took advantage of situations and tried to bait Suwama into bad spots. The difference is, Suwama is a veteran and Triple Crown champion; so even though Jake got a few early shots, Suwama eventually forced him back into old habits.
Jake was forced to wrestle, hitting interesting flying kick and knee variations, pulled out the old Kitchen Sink and put in a lot more effort than the first match. Suwama managed to stay resilient and push our new Total Eclipse Death Note wielder. This match was built more around Jake coming into his new persona, and yet still not being able to get passed certain old hurdles.
Suwama absorbed a lot, hit some short range lariats, his Double Chop comeback, and the spinning chop. Jake hits the back of the head Giant Killing, attempts D4C, but Suwama blocks. Jake keeps the pressure up, attempts and old Giant Killing/Knee Lift, but Suwama catches the leg, lifts him into a Last Ride, and puts him away!
Suwama finally gets on the bored, and Jake is left stunned and seething. Which plays perfect for Jake to win the Carnival and earn his Suwama shot, and prove his evolution then.
Overall Score: 7.5/10
So this ended a little stronger over all than day 1, but both days so far have been a fun start. The mixture of upsets and oddly abrupt matches are perfect for a tournament even if they don’t rank high. In the larger picture of things it’s nice to see that a competitive match can end in less than 5 minutes without comedy tactics.
Seeing how Jake took the loss to Suwama gives me hope for this anime antagonist character. I’m honestly a little surprised that the whole tournament is knotted up except for Zeus at the 2-0 and Ashino at 0-2. I really did not think Ashino would be the slow kid in the pool right now. But I suppose since he was just betrayed he’s still finding his footing. Like I alluded to before, it would be nice if he’s just getting broken down to be built back up and not just putting people over on his way out.
Now since the only unique records are first and last, the rest of the tournament isn’t hard to figure out, but here are the standings! Solid first 2 days so far!
- Zeus: 2-0 – (4 Points)
- Shuji Ishikawa: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Shinjiro Otani: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Kohei Sato: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Jake Lee: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Kento Miyahara: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Suwama: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Koji Doi: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Yuma Aoyagi: 1-1 – (2 Points)
- Shotaro Ashino: 0-2 – (0 Points)
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