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Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 8/9/2020

July Match of the Year was voted on! Weekly Top 5 is a little interesting. How do you feel about these?

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Wow, we had one of the closest votes of the year for the July Pool! The show that surprised everyone, Slammiversary, and it’s main event…came up short by 1 vote!

Match of the Year Pool:

  • January – Wrestle Kingdom 14: Double Gold Match: Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito
  • February – AEW Revolution: AEW World Tag Team Championship: Hangman Page & Kenny Omega (c) vs The Young Bucks
  • March – AEW Dynamite: AAA Mega Championship: Kenny Omega (c) vs Sammy Guevara
  • April – WrestleMania 36: NXT Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs Charlotte Flair
  • May – NXT: Pit Fight: Matt Riddle vs Tim Thatcher
  • June – NXT In Your House: NXT Women’s Champion Triple Threat: Io Shirai vs Charlotte Flair (c) vs Rhea Ripley
  • July – NJPW Dominion: NEVER Openweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (c) vs SHO

Advantageously, the way we do the December match, is basically a second chance vote since we like to have a MOTY by end of year. So maybe the Impact 5 way will get another shot later in the year.

Oh! Yes, last week’s vote did have a decisive winner as well, being murder grandpas on ice! NJPW Summer Struggle: Minoru Suzuki vs Yuji Nagata.

Let’s see what this week gave us!

Quick Top 5:

  1. NOAH Departure Day 2: GHC Heavyweight Championship: Go Shiozaki (c) vs Naomichi Marufuji
    Rating: **** 3/4
  2. NJPW Summer Struggle: Vacant NEVER 6 Man Championship: CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, SHO & Toru Yano) vs CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii)
    Rating: ****
  3. IMPACT!: Impact Wrestling World Championship Open Challenge: Eddie Edwards (c) vs Sami Callihan
    Rating: *** 3/4
  4. AEW Dynamite: AEW Championship: Jon Moxley (c) vs Darby Allin
    Rating: *** 3/4
  5. NXT: #1 Contender for Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley vs Dakota Kai
    Rating: *** 3/4

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • NJPW Summer Struggle: CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi, Kota Ibushi & Master Wato
    Rating: *** 1/2
  • NOAH Departure Day 1: GHC National Championship: Kenoh vs Katsuhiko Nakajima (c)
    Rating: *** 1/2
  • NJPW Strong Ep.1: Tanga Loa vs Jeff Cobb
    Rating: *** 1/4
  • NJPW Summer Struggle: CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, SHO & Toru Yano) vs LIJ (Shingo Takagi, BUSHI & SANADA)
    Rating: *** 1/4
  • NXT: NXT Tag Team Championship: Imperium (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel) (c) vs Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reily)
    Rating: ***
  • NJPW Strong E.1: Brody King vs Tama Tonga
    Rating: ***
  • WWE RAW: Liv Morgan & Ruby Riott vs The IIconics
    Rating: ***
  • IMPACT!: Chris Bey & Rohit Raju vs TJP & Fallah Bahh
    Rating: ***

3t. NXT: #1 Contender for Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley vs Dakota Kai

Snippet from Mitchell’s Coverage:

Dakota is seething as she watches Rhea get up. KAI-RO- NO! Rhea pops out and BOOTS Dakota down! Then Rhea gets Dakota’s legs, PRISM TRAP!! The hanging Clover Leaf has Dakota caught! Dakota claws, crawls, rolls and sends Rhea into buckles! Dakota gets space as Rhea manages to stand. Dakota runs Around the World to BOOT! Rhea ends up on the apron, Dakota drags her up to the top rope. Rhea resists, Dakota clubs her back, but Rhea holds onto ropes. Dakota clubs more, tries with all her might, but Rhea hits back. Rhea DECKS Dakota off the top! But while the ref checks on Dakota, MERCEDES MARTINEZ BOOTS Rhea outta nowhere!! Does Robert Stone Brand still have beef with Rhea?!

Dakota drags Rhea back up, manages to fireman’s carry for a GO TO KICK!! Cover, Dakota wins!!

Winner: Kai via Go To Kick

 

3t. AEW Dynamite: AEW Championship: Jon Moxley (c) vs Darby Allin

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Darby rises and hurries to a corner! He goes up top, COFFIN DROP!! Cover, TWO!?! MJF’s screw job didn’t work out, but Moxley is bleeding! Taz loves this on commentary because of his issues on behalf of Brian Cage. Darby seethes as Moxley flounders. Moxley manages to stand, Darby throws haymakers on the wound! Moxley shoves Darby away but walks into boots! Darby leaps up and over to shotgun dropkick Moxley back! Then the THROWBACK STUNNER! Moxley wobbles into Darby’s run, and perhaps back elbow and back of the head collide with Moxley! Darby crawls over to another corner, heads back up top, and goes for COFFIN DROP into body scissors! REAR NAKED CHOKE!!

Moxley smothers Darby, Darby fades but gets a second wind! Darby sits up, reaches for ropes, Moxley wants Darby to tap! “Tap, you little bastard!” But Darby doesn’t, he just rakes Moxley’s bloody forehead!! Moxley cranks harder on the hold, spins Darby around, and shouts out Suzuki-san with the GOTCH PILEDRIVER!! Cover, TWO!?!? Moxley cannot believe it and neither can anyone else! Moxley shakes his head. He told Darby to stay down but also knew Darby wouldn’t listen, and that’s what happened. Moxley says one more prayer, drags Darby up, and underhooks the arms, for PARADIGM SHIFT!! Cover, Moxley wins!

Winner: Moxley via Paradigm Shift

 

3t. IMPACT!: Impact Wrestling World Championship Open Challenge: Eddie Edwards (c) vs Sami Callihan

From My Results:

RVD attacks Sami during his entrance while Katie Forbes twerks and holds off security. Callihan still goes down to the ring after RVD and Katie leave, but this sets up an easy excuse for Sami’s loss.

A very good match came from the gimmick angle open. Sami hit an early Piledriver on the apron and slammed Eddie into the barricade a few times to soften him up, which Eddie sold his neck for the rest of the match. Both had great offense and solid references to other styles or wrestlers that matter to them. We know of Eddie’s NOAH history, but Sami hit a Go 2 Sleep variation and Masato Tanaka’s Sliding D.

So great back and forth action, with an ending that created more questions. Sami grabbed a chair, pondered the usage and then got rid of the chair. Eddie took advantage of indecision, hits a normal Boston Knee Party, drops the knee pad, and his the Boston Knee Party to the back of Sami’s head.

Winner: Eddie via Boston Knee Party

 

2. NJPW Summer Struggle: Vacant NEVER 6 Man Championship: CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, SHO & Toru Yano) vs CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Hirooki Goto & Tomohiro Ishii)

Snippet from Mitchell’s Coverage:

Goto kicks Yano back out and tells Ishii to finish this! Ishii fires up and drags Sho into the suplex, but Sho breaks free! Ishii swats Sho’s punch and HEADBUTTS! Sho is in a daze as Ishii suplexes again. Sho slips out and pops Ishii up for the ARMBAR!! Hashi and Okada fight on one side while Goto and Yano are on the other! Sho has the armbreaker in deep but Ishii kicks around. Goto gets back in to stomp Sho but Yano throws Goto out. Sho grits his teeth as he drags Ishii up with a wristlock. Sho wrenches to a shoulder breaker! And another! And another! Sho ripcords Ishii, ducks Ishii’s clothesline, and hits a STRAITJACKET GERMAN!! Briding cover, TWO!?! Ishii escapes but Sho just powers up more! Sho runs, LARIAT!!

Fans are thunderous again while Okada keeps Hashi down. Sho aims his bow and drags Ishii up. Sho underhooks for the double pump handle, but Ishii resists and back drops free. Sho is up, runs at Ishii to clothesline him at the ropes. Sho keeps going, but Goto returns! SUPERKICK USHIGOROSHI!! METEORA! SLIDING LARIAT! Cover, but Okada breaks it in time!! Goto and Hashi kick Okada and Yano back out and Ishii takes aim again. Ishii runs, to LARIAT Sho down! Cover, TWO?!? Sho survives but Ishii just suplexes, for the BRAIN BUSTER!! Cover, Hashi anchors Okada, Hashi’s team wins!!

Winner: Ishii via Vertical Drop Brainbuster

 

1. NOAH Departure Day 2: GHC Heavyweight Championship: Go Shiozaki (c) vs Naomichi Marufuji

We had a decent build up for this match, coupled with a slight branding change, which makes the foundation of the fight more poignant. Shiozaki has been considered the Spirit of NOAH for a while, and took on more of an embodiment of the brand after his title win this year. I AM NOAH, WE ARE NOAH – has become his battle cry. Marufuji being the main protege of Misawa (basically his son in every way beyond blood); Marufuji has gone after the NOAH mantle, exploring the fact that HE is NOAH. So with CyberFight becoming a thing next month, the last vestiges of NOAH will live with one of these two. Misawa’s trainee or Kobashi’s trainee?

Marufuji did a wonderful job at pulling out bigger moves he only uses in big fights. Apron Piledriver, Double Jump Triangle Moonsault, his new Tiger King and Perfect Keylock. The last two were huge call backs because those gave Marufuji visible victories over Shiozaki in previous tag matches. Another part of Marufuji’s attack was to try and take Shiozaki’s chops out of the picture by focusing the arm heavily.

Shiozaki fought from underneath most of the match, and he really gave it his all. This match pulled a lot from their trainers, the pacing was great, the moment when they both grabbed one another’s wrist and just chopped away at each other was great. Shiozaki had some great counters, especially when he countered the Tiger King with an Emerald Flowsion. The last big spot of reference was when Marufuji hit the Kobashi style Spinning Back Chop and Shiozaki’s eyes were full of fire. So he returned the favor with the classic Misawa Rolling Elbow, before taking Marufuji’s head off with a Gowan Lariat.

Marufuji kicks out, so Shiozaki wins with the Moonsault, another Kobashi reference that he’s used more often their last year or so. Great match purely from in ring action, amazing with the context.

Winner: Shiozaki via Moonsault

 

Thoughts:

Now I’ll be honest, the CHAOS vs CHOAS 6 man match had no business being as good as it was. But also, YOSHI-HASHI finally has a belt…2020 is a weird timeline man. Can Bill and Ted fix whatever it is that went wrong?

Anyway, I LOVED the NOAH match. This has been a big year for NOAH for me personally, where 3 of my personal Top 6 matches are from NOAH. Great stuff from Shiozaki and Marufuji; PLUS Shiozaki has another defense on 8/10 so he might be in the Top 5 again! Go Go Shio-zaki…Mighty Morphin – wait no…wrong song.

Okay go home, I’m drunk.


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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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