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Andrew’s Top 5 Matches: Week Ending 2/28/2021

A weird week of matches and shows! Let’s see what made the Top 5!

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This is one of the more tame weeks. New Japan had a few big events, but let’s just say it wasn’t their best work. Then we get the announcement of combining the Intercontinental and Heavyweight to become a “world heavyweight” title, so yeah, New Japan is weird right now.

Speaking of weird, AEW Dynamite: Riho vs Serena Deeb, won the match vote last week.

This will be the voting week to round out February, and we should start March off strong with what’s coming next week!

Quick Top 5:

  1. NJPW Castle Attack 2.27: Jay White vs Tomohiro Ishii
    Rating: ****
  2. NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi (c)
    Rating: *** ¾
  3. AEW Dynamite: Lance Archer vs Rey Fenix
    Rating: *** ¾
  4. NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: BUSHI vs El Desperado vs El Phantasmo
    Rating: *** ¾
  5. AEW Dynamite: Hangman Page vs Isaiah Kassidy
    Rating: *** ½

 

Honorable Mentions:

  • NJPW Castle Attack 2.27: Kazuchika Okada vs EVIL w/Dick Togo
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NJPW Strong: IWGP United States Championship: Jon Moxley (c) vs KENTA
    Rating: *** ¼
  • IMPACT!: Chris Bey, Ace Austin & Black Taurus vs Josh Alexander, Trey Miguel & Willie Mack
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: TenCozy (Satoshi Kojima & Hiroyoshi Tenzan) vs The United Empire (Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay)
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NXT: Zoey Stark vs Io Shirai
    Rating: *** ¼
  • NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: NEVER Openweight Championship: Hiroshi Tanahashi (c) vs The Great O-Khan
    Rating: *** ¼
  • WWE Raw: Bobby Lashley vs Braun Strowman
    Rating: ***
  • NXT: No DQ: Santos Escobar vs Karrion Kross
    Rating: ***
  • IMPACT!: TNA World Heavyweight Championship: Moose vs Jake Something
    Rating: ***
  • WWE Raw: Angel Garza vs Damian Priest
    Rating: ***

5. AEW Dynamite: Hangman Page vs Isaiah Kassidy

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Kassidy runs, but Hangman follows! Kassidy leaps, into a DEATH VALLEY DRIVER! Both men are down and fans are fired up! The standing count begins, the fans rally up, and both men stand at 3. Hangman runs in at Kassidy to corner clothesline him! Hangman snapmares Kassidy, runs and SLIDING- NO! Kassidy dodges, mule kicks and CHOPS! Kassidy reels Hangman in but Hangman suplexes to BRAIN BUSTER! Cover, TWO!!! Kassidy lives and “This is Awesome!” Hangman and Kassidy slowly stir. Hangman aims from a corner, runs at Kassidy, but Kassidy blocks the boot to BOOT back! And enziguri, to a POISON-RANA! Cover, TWO!?!

But Kassidy has the arm for an ARMBAR! Hangman endures as Kassidy pulls back! Hangman sits up, and gets the ropebreak! Kassidy lets go at the ref’s count of 4, and Hangman drags himself away. Kassidy gets up, runs over, but Hangman FLIPS him out to the apron! Kassidy grabs at Hangman’s arm but Hangman BOOTS him from below! Hangman runs to triangle LAR- HOT SHOT!! Kassidy counters Hangman at the right time, slithers back up to the apron, and springboards, but no Destroyer! Hangman gives him the DEADEYE! Cover, Hangman wins!!

Winner: Hangman via Deadeye

 

2t. NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: BUSHI vs El Desperado vs El Phantasmo

From My Results:

Early on this was a little paint by numbers. Counters, a few signature spots to get early advantages, but the match didn’t pick up until ELP tried to take out Desperado. ELP and Despy fight up the ramp, ELP rips the mask to expose Despy’s head and pulls out the Jerry Lynn special, Cradle Piledriver right into the ramp!

ELP takes the ripped mask as a trophy, and we see a singles match between BUSHI and ELP for a good bit of time. BUSHI proves to be as stubborn as other Tetsuya’s in LIJ, and takes it to ELP fairly well. BUT – that’s not the story here. Desperado starts slowly making his way back to the ring with a new mask. Desperado comes in and goes on a warpath after ELP. Stiff looking strikes, dives that take out both of his opponents, and just an unbridled rage that makes him focus on ELP.

This of course allows for BUSHI to pick some solid spots, and after Despy returns the match really picks up. It’s also great to ELP’s heel tendencies where he takes moves from higher profile people just to turn the knife. Styles Clash, V-Trigger, an attempted One Winged Angel, Sweet Chin Music, the Undertaker arm fold pin cover, and it’s just good entertainment.

BUSHI has a great count break up where he just grabs Marty Asami’s arm to prevent the 3. BUSHI sets up for MX, but he gets caught with Sudden Death…and rolls out of the ring. So ELP has to go back to a now slowly coming back up Desperado, ELP charges, gets caught with a big right hand and not 1 but 2 Pinche Locos!

Winner: Despy via Pinche Loco

 

2t. AEW Dynamite: Lance Archer vs Rey Fenix

From Mitchell’s Coverage:

Fenix goes to a corner while Archer is in the drop zone. Fenix hops up and MOONSAULTS, but Archer moves, so Fenix somersaults through! ROLLING CUTTER!! Cover, TWO!! Archer survives again and Fenix can’t believe it! Fenix hauls Archer up, Archer whips him away and runs in to ROCK him with a right! Archer puts Fenix up top, hooks legs and brings Fenix out, FISHERMAN BUSTER! Cover, TWO!! Fenix survives again but Archer drags him back up! Archer goes up the corner, drags Fenix up to join him, but Fenix fights the choke grip to adjust! Archer body shots, Fenix rebounds, SUPER SPANISH FLY!! Cover, TWO!?!? How are either of these guys doing this?!

Fenix fireman’s carries, Archer pulls the mask! Fans boo, Fenix SUPERKICKS, mule kicks, forearms and CHOPS! Fenix fires up, runs, but gets DERAILED!! Both men are down but Archer fires up! Archer drags Fenix up and reel shim in, for a BUCKLE BOMB! Choke grip, CHOKE SLAM!! Cover, TWO?!?! Archer drags Fenix to a corner, hauls him up, CHOPS and inverted crucifix lifts, for the BLACKOUT BOMB!!! Cover, Archer wins!!!

Winner: Archer via Blackout

 

2t. NJPW Castle Attack 2.28: IWGP Intercontinental Championship: Tetsuya Naito vs Kota Ibushi (c)

From My Results:

Naito focused on mat wrestling in the beginning, and it was all in effort to get to Ibushi’s knees to bring the match to parity. With Naito having well documented bad knees (including miss time during the Road to), Naito had to work to make things more even.

We see a lot of old threads get pulled on, the corner spot could reference to Naito and Omega’s G1 match, the Outside In German Suplex was something Ibushi struggled to execute before on Naito. Naito pulled out an Avalanche Diamond Dust that we don’t often see, and this was somewhat interesting. New Japan continues to implore that main events are 25+ minute matches, and lately these all drag.

Even with the fun story aspects, a few big scary spots as we’ve come to expect, the match never ascended to a great height. Naito hit Valentia and a few running Destinos, but that wasn’t enough to take out the champion. Ibushi hit Kamigoye to the back of the head, much like as Wrestle Kingdom, then we got 2 more Kamigoyes and Ibushi just falling on top of Naito for the pinfall victory!

Winner: Ibushi via Kamigoye

 

1. NJPW Castle Attack 2.27: Jay White vs Tomohiro Ishii

From My Results:

Ishii has had White’s number lately, and just added to the broken status of his mental health after the Wrestle Kingdom loss. Within the first minute or so, Jay looked to have tweaked his hamstring, and that added an interesting layer to his early attack. But much like the strategic genius that he is, he lays Ishii over the barricade, and Ishii starts selling a rib injury.

Everything in this match mattered, the leg and ribs came back to play into aspects of the finishing sequence. Ishii was slow transitioning between some of his power moves since he was hampered with the rib injury, and Jay got caught a bit more than usual because his quickness was taken away.

A huge Avalanche Brainbuster after a Jumping Headbutt nearly gave Ishii the win, but a slow cover as he wanted the high stack, kept Jay alive. They fight back and forth, then we get a great counter wrestling sequence to finish the match. Ishii slips suplexes and Blade Runners, Jay slips the Brainbuster and eats a strike. It was up, down, back and forth, just hard to call until Jay finally slips a hold and catches Ishii with Blade Runner for the win!

Winner: Jay via Blade Runner

 

Thoughts:

Definitely a weird week when I was not a fan of the New Japan shows, and I’m not AEW’s biggest fan…but I guess the top stuff is the top stuff. My vote will go to Jay White vs Tomohiro Ishii, purely because it was the only thing that really stood out during this weekend.

Personally, I hope New Japan figures it out and starts getting interesting; because I’m really going to need to consider other promotions if New Japan stays stale – you know, just to spice things up. Ugh…weird week, but yeah the White vs Ishii match is worth watching.


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NXT UK Chuffed and Buzzin’

Brad hits us with some NXT UK highlights!

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Brad hits us with some NXT UK highlights!

6. It is time for Johnny Saint to retire and officially promote Sid Scala to General Manager. Saint is a beloved figure in British wrestling (and a technical in-ring wizard), so I understand why they brought him in. Truth be told, he’s never done much and when he is around he isn’t a strong presence. Scala is there every week and has earned the job. Give Sid the job!

Johnny Saint | WWE

5. It is only right to send Mr. Saint out with a proper farewell. This is a gem from at least 1985, the last year for the original World of Sport Wrestling. It’s easy to see his influence on British wrestling and safe to say Tyler Bate studied and stole every one of Saint’s moves. Added bonus: some youngster named Dave Finlay has a mullet that would make Eddie Guerrero jealous.
TAELER: Isla Dawn Unleashed In NXT UK | Fightful News

4. Isla Dawn’s character keeps getting better. For months, she hasn’t cared about winning and losing, only taking trophies from her opponents. This week, she beat Aleah James then returned the hair scrunchie she stole from her. That is a seriously cool twist & one I hope they continue until Dawn returns all her stolen goodies. It’s like she took everything she needed from her opponents in order to build herself up to challenge Meiko Satomura. I don’t know if she’s championship material, but I’d love to see her and Satomura try and top their first encounter.

WWE NXT UK notes: Ilja Dragunov vs. Rampage Brown, Charlie Dempsey

3. I like the idea of Teoman’s family, but the execution is lacking. There is no reason for Rohan Raja or Charlie Dempsey to be with him. There’s nothing that ties them together. NXT UK has been running blazing hot this year, so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it works. Maybe it won’t. Either way, Charlie Dempsey is a star. When the time is right, he and Tyler Bate can have the 5 star Heritage Cup match we’ve been waiting for.

WWE on Twitter: "The legendary #NXTUK tag team Moustache Mountain want those @NXTUK Tag Team Titles held by Pretty Deadly! @SamStokerPD @LewisHowleyPD https://t.co/UbWuNohd8q" / Twitter

2. Pretty Deadly versus Mustache Mountain feels like a MOTY in the making. Can the Dandy Highwaymen defeat the forefathers of British Strong Style again and officially claim to be the best tag team in the brand’s history? Can Mustache Mountain finally capture the titles that surprisingly have evaded them since the brand’s inception? If they keep it clean with no outside interference, there is about a 1% chance this match won’t live up to the hype.

WWE NXT UK: April 29, 2021 | WWE

1. Gallus’ theme music is bad ass. That is all.


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Steve Cook’s Fave Five: November 2021

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The Inspiration The Iconics WWE Impact Wrestling

It’s Thanksgiving week, and you know what that means!

This is the time we give thanks for our favorite professional wrestlers. And other things, I’m sure. Many of you reading this have other things to be thankful for. I don’t know what those are, but I do know which wrestlers I’m thankful for here at this moment. Let’s dive into the Fave Five!

5. Eddie Kingston

As somebody that was into the independent wrestling scene back in the mid-2000s, I’ve been aware of Eddie Kingston’s existence for a long time. I’ve known that the man was a better talker than almost anybody in the wrestling business. I’ve also known that the man was his own worst enemy, much like Buddy Landell was his own worst enemy back in the 1980s & 90s. If Eddie could somehow find the right place and right time, nothing could hold him back.

This seems like Eddie Kingston’s right place & time. He got a spot with AEW, and he kept getting over. His piece with The Player’s Tribune got him even more sympathy than he already had. The feud with CM Punk heading into Full Gear was perfect. It got Punk into the state people wanted him in. The match at Full Gear was great, even if Punk ended up winning. The only issue? The feud isn’t continuing. But that’s AEW. Feuds don’t last long unless they’re on BTE. Punk & King have already moved onto other things, and we can only hope they get back to each other in a year or two.

4. Bryan Danielson

I know that Bryan’s biggest run came when he was the underdog going against The Authority, and many folks took to him as that underdog. I was one of those guys that followed Bryan during his indy career, and his best run came when he was a total dickhead heel in Ring of Honor. Yeah, he was still short or whatever mainstream fans complained about at the time, but he could out-wrestle anybody put in the ring with him, and he was supremely confident about that fact. Not over-confident, supremely confident. He’d tell the referees the rules, because he was the Best in the World.

AEW fans are now getting that side of Bryan Danielson, and fortunately he has the right opponent to do it against. Hangman Adam Page has been accepted as a folk hero by hardcore AEW fans. They won’t turn against the Hangman for anybody, even when it’s really tempting since Bryan Danielson is a pretty amazing professional wrestler. One of the best I’ve seen! He’s getting to be a total dickhead again while he runs through Page’s Dark Order friends, and it’s amazing.

He’s not lying either. He wrestled the day after he won the WWE Championship at WrestleMania! Bryan Danielson has never lied. Maybe you don’t like what he says, but he’s always been honest. And the second he mentioned WrestleMania, those hardcore AEW fans were ready to jump on him. Bryan didn’t bury WWE like other folks that previously worked for them did. He had his reasons, and this was one of them.

3. The IInspiration

I was asked to be part of 411’s Fact or Fiction this week, since this week was decided to be the blowoff for a tournament from way too long ago where Len Archibald & myself made it to the finals. Bad news for me, as Len is much better with the written word than I am. 411 readers will sacrifice me at the temple of the Tribal Chief that is Len Archibald. I can’t blame them. One of the questions of this particular Fact or Fiction column asks us if underutilized people are better off getting released. Two of the most underutilized people in the history of WWE were Cassie Lee & Jessie McKay. WWE never knew what they had with them. Not the slightest idea. The only time they ever put them over was to spite Bayley & Sasha Banks for reasons. They never followed up on that because they didn’t care.

Cassie was supposed to be the breakout single star, except they never followed through with it. Jessie had the personality, and she had the look too but WWE did the best they could to take the look away from her. It was so weird. That’s why I’m so happy they found a place to let them be them. Impact Wrestling is a strange place. Certain people find their place there. The IInspiration seem to fit like a glove.

2. Dalton Castle

The Party Peacock was somebody that original Ring of Honor fans would have rejected in an instant. Some will try to tell me I’m wrong about that, but they in fact are wrong. The very first segment on “The Era of Honor Begins” featured the Christopher Street Connection getting squashed by Da Hit Squad because their sort of flamboyance wasn’t what ROH was going to be all about. It was 2002, a different time. I remember it well, as I graduated from high school. Way too many things have happened since then and I feel way too damn old.

Dalton Castle would not have been a favorite to original ROH fans in 2002. By the time he came around, he was just what the promotion needed. He had a personality the likes of which hadn’t been seen in pro wrestling for quite some time, which was great because the main knock against ROH was that their wrestlers didn’t have personality. Dalton Castle was ROH’s answer to that criticism. Unfortunately, Dalton’s body broke down at the same time he won the company’s World Championship. He fought through a broken back to have a reign worthy of the championship, but nearly killed himself in the process.

Castle wasn’t the same for a long time afterward. Only recently, we started to see shades of the old Dalton Castle. The man was revitalized by the promise of Television. He wanted to make Ring of Honor the best show on TV, even though he was a very busy man. Very busy. We’re lucky to see him when we do. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with him now that Ring of Honor is letting their people go. If he’s back to being the Dalton Castle we remember from a few years ago, the sky’s the limit. Any company would be lucky to have his talent & personality.

1. Cora Jade

I realize that I am in the minority of people around here when it comes to NXT 2.0. I can’t really say it’s a good wrestling show, but I do find it interesting. You have to know a little bit about my rasslin fan background. I ended up in Louisville during the time when Ohio Valley Wrestling was WWE’s developmental territory. While I never got the chance to attend a show at Davis Arena until years afterward, I enjoyed getting to watch the future stars of WWE on television learning their craft before they made it to Raw or SmackDown. Some were really good in the ring. Some were not. But it was all interesting to me.

Here in 2021, I have more interest in seeing the people that WWE thinks is going to be their future than seeing people I saw in Ring of Honor more than ten years ago having great matches just like they did in Ring of Honor more than ten years ago and having no chance of making it any bigger than “NXT TakeOver main eventer”. Which is fine if you’re into that kind of thing. Me…not so much.

I’m looking for the next big thing. Always have been, always will be. So when I take a look at Cora Jade, the youngest person under WWE contract, I see the potential. I see her work against Mandy Rose, who WWE wants to be the next big thing. I see Cora Jade get over, and I see the future, which is Cora Jade. People will try to tell me I’m wrong. They’ll be proven wrong eventually, but since they’re a lot louder, followers will act like the fools were right all along, even though they had the wrong opinions back in the day. That’s America for ya.


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