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Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 9/13/2020

NXT, Stardom, All Japan, Impact…all have big matches or tournaments going on. What does this week’s Top 5 look like?

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We see the Stardom 5Star Grand Prix continuing, AJPW Champion Carnival starting, plus some pretty big television matches. So much wrestling, so many tournaments…this is gonna be an interesting next few weeks.

So let’s see how August broke down and what the Match of the Year Pool looks like so far.

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
  • August – NOAH the Chronicle Vol 3: GHC National Openweight & GHC Heavyweight Championship Double Title Match: Kenoh (c) vs Go Shiozaki (c)

I always love when a non-New Japan puro company makes it on to the list; especially a quality match like the Double Champion match. Plus, to prove there’s no hanky panky in the votes, AEW All Out: AEW Tag Team Championship: Hangman Page & Kenny Omega (c) vs FTR, won the weekly vote. And we all know I’d rather eat glass than vote for AEW 90% of the time, so there we go.

Quick Top 5:

  1. NXT: Vacant NXT Championship: Finn Balor vs Adam Cole
    Rating: **** 1/4
  2. Stardom Red Stars: Mayu Iwatani vs Konami
    Rating: ****
  3. IMPACT!: World Tag Team Championships: The Rascalz (Dez & Wentz) vs Motor City Machine Guns (c)
    Rating: ****
  4. Stardom Red Stars: Saya Kamitani vs Himeka
    Rating: ****
  5. AJPW Champion Carnival: SUWAMA vs Jiro Kuroshio
    Rating: ****

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • AJPW Champion Carnival: Kento Miyahara vs Yoshitatsu
    Rating: *** 3/4
  • Stardom Blue Stars: AZM vs Utami Hayashishita
    Rating: *** 3/4
  • NJPW New Japan Road: NEVER 6 Man Championship: CHAOS (YOSHI-HASHI, Tomohiro Ishii & Hirooki Goto) (c) vs CHAOS (Kazuchika Okada, SHO & Toru Yano)
    Rating: *** 3/4
  • AJPW Champion Carnival Day 2: Yuma Aoyagi vs Shotaro Ashino
    Rating: *** 3/4
  • NJPW New Japan Road: Vacant IWGP Jr Tag Championship: Suzuki-Gun (El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) vs LIJ (Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI)
    Rating: *** 3/4
  • Stardom Blue Stars: AZM vs Jungle Kyona
    Rating: *** 1/2
  • AJPW Champion Carnival Day 1: Jake Lee vs Jiro Kuroshio
    Rating: *** 1/2
  • NJPW Strong Ep. 6: TJP & ACH vs Adrian Quest & Logan Riegel
    Rating: *** 1/2
  • NJPW New Japan Road: LIJ (Hiromu Takahashi & BUSHI) vs Suzuki-Gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru & El Desperado)
    Rating: *** 1/2
  • Stardom Red Stars: Konami vs Giulia
    Rating: *** 1/4
  • Stardom Blue Stars: Momo Watanabe vs Natsuko Tora
    Rating: *** 1/4
  • NJPW New Japan Road: Ass Masters (Master Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi) vs Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & Gedo)
    Rating: ***
  • IMPACT!: TJP vs Chris Bey
    Rating: ***
  • NJPW New Japan Road: Kota Ibushi, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Tomoaki Honma & Yuji Nagata vs Suzuki-Gun (Minoru Suzuki, ZSJ, Taichi & DOUKI)
    Rating: ***
  • NJPW New Japan Road: Yota Tsuji, Gabriel Kidd & Yuya Uemura vs Tomoaki Honma, Yuji Nagata & Satoshi Kojima
    Rating: ***
  • NJPW Strong Ep. 6: IWGP US Rights Certificate: KENTA (c) vs Jeff Cobb
    Rating: ***
  • NJPW New Japan Road: Darkness Club (Yujiro Takahashi, Dick Togo & EVIL) vs LIJ (SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito)
    Rating: ***
  • NJPW Strong Ep. 6: Guerrillas of Destiny vs David Finlay & PJ Black
    Rating: ***
  • IMPACT!: Willie Mack vs Brian Myers
    Rating: ***
  • AJPW Champion Carnival Day 2: Kuma Arashi vs Zeus
    Rating: ***
  • NJPW New Japan Road: Darkness Club (EVIL, Dick Togo & Yujiro Takahashi) vs LIJ (SANADA, Tetsuya Naito & Shingo Takagi)
    Rating: ***

2t. AJPW Champion Carnival: SUWAMA vs Jiro Kuroshio

Snippet From Mathew’s Review:

They get back into the ring and Jiro tries to do an Irish Whip but Suwama holds on, so what does Jiro do? He springboards off the ropes to do a backflip and brings Suwama’s arm down with him and applies the Kimura Lock. Jiro struggled to get it on but does until Suwama made it to the ropes. Suwama hits Jiro with the Lariat but Jiro kicked out at two. Suwama attempted a German Suplex but Jiro landed on his feet as Suwama saw and went for a Lariat, and Jiro spun to catch his arm into an Armbreaker! Suwama got to the ropes again and Jiro would hit a Superkick to make the champ to down. Jiro would go for the Moonsault Press to end it but Suwama had his knees up before he could connect. Suwama ran into him in the corner for a Lariat and hits a German Suplex, only to top it off with a Discus Lariat right after but Jiro kicked out after all that! The champ is looking to end it as he lifts him up for the Last Ride but Jiro flipped over him to roll him up and get the surprise victory! Jiro has pinned the champ!

Winner: Jiro via Roll Up

 

2t. Stardom Red Stars: Saya Kamitani vs Himeka

From My Results:

WOW! So Himeka comes out with medical tape on her right shoulder, so that gives Saya an eventual target. This started out slowly with both women taking a little bit to lock up, and then try to search for some grappling/mat based advantages before Himeka finds the opening and boots Saya out of the ring. This gives us the first glimpse of their dynamic, with Himeka talking smack the entire time as she bounced Saya’s head off the chairs and apron.

Once Saya turned things around, I think we’ve learned how to make Saya look good. She was vicious! Saya started talking crap, repeating jabs back at Himeka, and she threw the referee off multiple times during the match. Saya focused Dropkicks on the injured shoulder, chided and goaded Himeka to engage in strikes, and proved she has quite a sadistic side herself.

Both women sold well, fought well and it was just fantastic. Saya still has to work on finding a good time to do her Water Wheel Kick, cause that still looks bad, but so much of this was tremendous. The Draw worked wonderfully because it showed a vulnerable side of Himeka, since she’s been a bit sadistic and dominant; but damn did this do wonders for Saya.

Winner: Time Limit Draw

 

2t. IMPACT!: World Tag Team Championships: The Rascalz (Dez & Wentz) vs Motor City Machine Guns (c)

From My Results:

Early on the Guns picked apart Wentz once the initial onslaught stopped. They focused his knees and worked through the progressions well. Bullseye Dropkicks on the knee, a grounded Dragon Screw Leg Whip, and a plethora of other moves. Notably, Shelley was clever as hell when Wentz was seated, Shelley jumped for the expected Dropkick to the chest, but instead drives his knee into Wentz’ busted knee.

Little tandem aspects the Guns pulled off were beautiful, Dez did get the hot tag and it looked great. He took advantage of a tiny slip up by Sabin, Wentz came in, even though he was beleaguered with the knee. They went for Hot Fire Flame, and missed. Shelley comes in, Guns take out Dez, Dirt Bomb on Wentz, and the champs retain.

Winner: MCMG via Dirt Bomb

 

2t. Stardom Red Stars: Mayu Iwatani vs Konami

From My Results:

Mayu got a near fall with a Dragon Suplex Hold, went to the top rope for her Moonsault, but as soon as she missed, Konami was back in attack mode. Konami sunk in a Sleeper Hold for so long that by the time she broke the hold, since Mayu managed to get her foot to the ropes, Mayu looked like she was just coming back to. More submission offense, Front Neck Lock, a few Triangle Lancer attempts, and then the Triangle Kimura that finished off the match.

Watching Mayu barely limp over to the ropes, and reach with the last bit of her energy as Konami just kept finding ways to choke the life out her was pretty awesome. Konami is usually a little too stoic to get a good read on things, but after this match, attack mode Konami is pretty great.

Winner: Konami via Triangle Kimura

 

1. NXT: Vacant NXT Championship: Finn Balor vs Adam Cole

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Cole aims from a corner again, Balor stands up, but Balor SLING BLADES Cole first! Cole comes back, into the elbow drop DDT! Balor hobbles but takes aim from a corner now, to SHOTGUN dropkick Cole to a corner! Cole bounces off buckles and is in the drop zone! Balor goes up top as fast as he can, takes aim again, COUP DE GRACE!! But the bad leg slows Balor to the cover! TWO!?! Cole survives because of that delay!! Balor refuses to be frustrated, he just drags Cole back up. Cole trips Balor up, wraps up the legs for another FIGURE FOUR! Balor endures, his shoulders are down, TWO! Balor refuses to quit, and he works to turn this over. Cole turns it back over, but Balor reaches for the ropes again! Cole lets go, drags Balor away, and goes to reapply, but Balor cradle counters, TWO!

SUPERKICK!! Cole takes Balor down outta nowhere but he isn’t done there. He sits Balor up, runs, LAST SHOT!! Cover, TWO!?!? Now Balor shocks Cole! The crowd is loving “NXT! NXT!” as the atmosphere is electric! Cole goes to a corner, climbs up the ropes again, but Balor catches the jump to a fireman’s carry! And pops Cole to a half hatch, but Cole rams Balor into buckles! Balor holds on, turns Cole around, BLOODY SUNDAY!! But Balor can’t cover because of the bad leg! Balor grits his teeth and powers through the pain to climb back up! Cole SUPERKICKS a leg out! Cole hurries up from the outside, but Balor grabs him first! Balor throws elbows, shifts position, for a SUPER 1916!! Cover, Balor wins!!

Winner: Balor via Avalanche 1916

 

Thoughts:

So we get a solid bit of Japanese tournament matches, yet, NXT and Impact make a decent showing. As much as I enjoyed Greg’s boyfriend versus Miranda’s, I have my own biases. Himeka vs Saya Kamitani, gets my vote for multiple reasons. Those being, they help to cover one another’s short comings and I really have enjoyed watching Himeka’s story throughout the tournament.

The Jumbo Princess has won me over quite a bit. Not yet at the drinking of bath water level, but she’s special.

 

 

 


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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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