Been a while since this has happened, right? Well much like a bunch of people, wrestling hasn’t really lit my world on fire lately. Plus when there’s only like 1 or 2 decent matches a week, it’s pointless to make a Top 5.
With that said, I’ll play the executive decision card here and declare a winner for June.
- January: NJPW New Beginning Nagoya: NEVER Openweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
- February: NXT Vengeance Day: North American Championship: Johnny Gargano (c) vs Kushida
- March: NJC 3.21.21: NJC Finals: Will Ospreay vs Shingo Takagi
- April: NXT Stand & Deliver: UK Championship: Walter (c) vs Tommaso Ciampa
- May: WWE WrestleMania Backlash: Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs Cesaro
- June: Stardom: World of Stardom Championship: Utami Hayashishita (c) vs Syuri
Let’s be honest here, anyone that saw those two women put the work in, won’t question its place in the list. IF you haven’t seen it…go, find it. The initial match and the overtime I personally count together, and it was just beautifully done.
Depending on next week, this might end up being the July vote, so make your vote count this time around. I really hope that with all the in-ring returns and return of fans, wrestling picks up again.
Quick Top 5:
- NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
Rating: **** ¼
- NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: Kazuchika Okada vs Jeff Cobb
- NXT UK: NXT UK Tag Team Championships: Pretty Deadly (c) vs Subculture
- NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles: SANADA & Tetsuya Naito (c) vs Dangerous Tekkers
- GCW Homecoming 7.24: GCW World Title: Nick Gage (c) vs Matt Cardona
- NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship: El Desperado (c) vs Robbie Eagles
Rating: *** ¾
- NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Titles: Mega Coaches (Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi) vs Bullet Club (Taiji Ishimori & ELP) (c)
Rating: *** ½
- AEW Fyter Fest Night 2: IWGP US Championship: Lance Archer vs Jon Moxley (c)
Rating: *** ½
- AEW Fyter Fest Night 2: AEW Women’s Championship: Britt Baker (c) vs Nyla Rose
Rating: *** ¼
- IMPACT!: Chris Bey vs Rohit Raju w/Shera
Rating: *** ¼
- NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: KOPW 2021 New Japan Rambo w/Handcuffs
- NXT: Bobby Fish & Kushida vs Tyler Rust & Roderick Strong
- IMPACT!: Knockouts Tag Team Titles: Fire N Flava vs Havok & Rosemary (c)
2t. GCW Homecoming 7.24: GCW World Title: Nick Gage (c) vs Matt Cardona
So Cardona took his shots in an area he’s not comfortable in, and much like WWE wrestlers treading into ECW territory, he was not met kindly. Cardona came out, action figures adorned on his gear and around the ring, along with appropriate chants made this feel very…ECW in the 90s. Part of the thing that added to this match was that rabid tension in the air, where the crowd is loyal to their brand and hates outsiders.
When we get around to the match, Cardona busts up Gage first, and pulls off the old Broski Boot, which pisses off Gage as he’s being fed light tubes from the outside. The early part of this match felt like someone in hostile territory and literally everyone not in the back, were trying to help Gage kill Cardona. Murder Death Kill was in full effect.
Cardona eventually loses the small upperhand he gets, when he just tries to treat this as a normal match at times, and Kid Ref has to be like “nope, that’s not how this works”. So playing in the space of Cardona only understanding sterile wrestling and being out of his element was amusing. The fact he came in with purple gloves that the fans and announcers decreed “Purple Prolapsed Anus” gloves or something like that, was amusing but got old the 20th time it was said.
Gage carved Cardona up, but then we go from ECW style death match to more of an AEW overbooking gimmick. First Judas starts playing, and some masked person rushes the ring, Gage handles him, but it’s not Jericho. Purely a mind game. But then 44OH come out, minus Ricky Shane Page. They attack Gage, RSP hits the ring after, RSP and Gage fight off 44OH, stand tall together for GCW…until RSP shows his true colors, Low Blows Gage, helps out Cardona and the end is nigh.
Three bundled Light Tubes and a Radio Silence/Ruff Ryder crown Zack Ryder..erm…Matt Cardona as GCW champion!
Yes it was overbooked, but it’s hard to deny the atmosphere and the cool factor of the old school ECW vibe of a packed house wanting to see a literal murder. It also was a little more pro wrestling than most American death matches, so I found myself enjoying mostly everything except the commentary. They are really awful.
Winner: Cardona via Radio Silence/Ruff Ryder
2t. NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Titles: SANADA & Tetsuya Naito (c) vs Dangerous Tekkers
Naito and ZSJ start and mess with each other, as SANADA and Taichi continue their own personal rivalry around respect and pec dancing.
Most of Naito’s offense focused on ZSJ’s knee, but a huge portion of this match felt more like a tornado tag. We saw plenty of time where all four men were in the ring at the same time. Dueling submissions, stereo submissions, everyone hitting a finish/signature, just a lot of hard work. Call backs galore to previous encounters, but unless I blinked, no cheating. The beauty of the Tekkers this year have been that they are more tweeners than heels.
SANADA cut off Taichi at many times, but we saw great babyface moments from the Suzuki-Gun duo. ZSJ asking Red Shoes to stop the double knockout count so they could finish it correctly, Taichi imploring Zack that what ended up being the ending sequence was “their last chance”. So there was great desperation, great mutual needling. ZSJ pulled off the counter he couldn’t figure out when they lost the belts; and ends up surprising Naito by turning a Destino into the European Clutch.
Winner: Tekkers via European Clutch
2t. NXT UK: NXT UK Tag Team Championships: Pretty Deadly (c) vs Subculture
The ref is upset, but the count is over and this match continues! BT Sports Studio says “This is Awesome!” as Howley drags Andrews out. Howley whips Andrews at steps but Andrews jumps up to QUEBRADA! Howley catches him, but Andrews tilt-o-whirls to DDT Howley to the floor! Stoker victory rolls FMW, TWO! FMW has a cover, TWO!! Stoker and FMW run in, ETON RIFLE!! Tag to Andrews and he goes up the corner! FALL TO PIECES FLOPS as Howley drags Stoker out of harm’s way! The ref reprimands but FMW FLIES in! Only to be caught! DOUBLE BARRIER SNAKE EYES! Pretty Deadly get in the ring, but Andrews DECKS Howley!
Andrews fires off on Stoker, forearms and CHOPS on repeat! Howley grabs the tag title belts! Andrews DECKS Howley again and the belt falls in the ring! The ref grabs that as Andrews continues to fire off on Stoker! Stoker gets under, Howley runs in, SPILT MILK!! Cover, Pretty Deadly wins!!
Winner: Pretty Deadly via Spilt Milk
2t. NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: Kazuchika Okada vs Jeff Cobb
Fans return to the thunderous rallying as Okada and Cobb stir. Okada sits up but Cobb follows, and the two stare down. They go forehead to forehead before going forearm for forearm! Okada hits, Cobb hits, and then Cobb slaps Okada on the head. They stand, Okada forearms but Cobb forearms back. Cobb eggs Okada on so the forearms go faster and faster! Fans rally up as the shots keep coming, and Okada gets the edge. Okada EuroUppers, talks some trash, and walks into a CHOP from Cobb! Cobb BLINDSIDE LARIATS! Cobb gut wrenches for the DOCTOR BOMB! Cover, TWO!?! Okada survives and Cobb can’t believe it! Cobb gets Okada up, whips, TOUR OF THE-
NO! Okada slips out and wants to gut wrench! Cobb fights free and SUPERKICKS! Okada staggers, fires up, but runs into a HEADBUTT! Cobb whips again, TOUR OF THE- Wait, Okada slips out again! Okada wristlocks, ripcords, but Cobb ducks to ripcord for a COBB MAKE- NO! Okada Alabama lifts but Cobb sunset flips, only for Okada to sit on it! Cover, OKADA WINS!!
Winner: Okada via Double Legged Cradle
1. NJPW Wrestle Grand Slam: IWGP World Heavyweight Championship: Shingo Takagi (c) vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
In typical Tanahashi fashion though, he powers through and gets better as the match pushes forward. His desperation attacks were well-timed and looked great. Tana had callbacks and all of his finishers and signatures come to mind. Texas Cloverhold was used to weaken Takagi’s base, just like earlier in the year, Slingblade countered Last of the Dragon once, and Dragon Suplex, were all kicked out of. These all won Tanahashi titles in the past and Takagi overtook them. The major moment was when Tana hit the first High Fly Flow to take Takagi off his feet, but Takagi grabbed the Ace’s foot. He refused to let him hit the follow up, so Tana smacked him around more and even pulled out the reference to Ibushi with a Kamigoye! God uses the move invented to surpass him!
A second High Fly Flow…BUT TAKAGI KICKED OUT! That’s the first time, in quite a long time that anyone kicked out of the sequential High Fly Flow. Also as we saw during his match with KENTA, Shibata handed Tanahashi a few new moves as well. The corner Dropkick and a resounding Headbutt kept Tanahashi alive at many times in the match.
This had a lot of moments of the “old gunslinger” style of fight, but I feel like that’s been consistent with Tanahashi the last 3 or 4 years. Tana took a beating, even ate Stay Dream, and kept kicking. A desperation strike exchange turned into Takagi getting the better of it and putting down the Ace with Last of the Dragon.
Winner: Takagi via Last of the Dragon
Like I said at the start, wrestling has been weird the last few months. Not sure if it was just the pandemic wearing on me personally, but it was really hard to find things about this entertainment medium to enjoy. I really hope this is a turning point since most things are coming back, including covid…see this proves Loki was too popular since now even covid has variants.
ANYWAY – bad observational humor aside, we got a solid week for a bunch of different fans. My vote will honestly go to. GCW Heavyweight Championship: Nick Gage (c) vs Matt Cardona. Was it the best wrestled match in the Top 5? Nope. But hot damn was it electric. It was probably one of the most interesting scenes in wrestling since I went to ECW shows at the old Trenton CYO back in the day.
So maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe I just also enjoy watching brutality sometimes. But either way, Cardona and his action figures pulled off an upset in my personal preferences too! Until next…week? Hopefully next week…
AJ’s Controversial? Wrestling Opinions 10.12.21
AJ feels like spouting off about a few wrestling topics that bug him. How controversial are they though?
As Eric Bischoff, President of WCW once said, Controversy Creates Cash…no I’m serious; it’s even the title of a book that he did. Everyone has their hot takes on professional wrestling and some are always wide eyed and kind of shocking to some. There are some of us that will have same opinions or chastise me on a show or an article maybe but hey, don’t hate the player, hate The Game.
Maybe there are some that the readers at home agree with or you want to also be the one to chastise me, @PhenomenalAJB on Twitter. This one is going to be fun!
#1- There are more things than just WWE/AEW and are better majority of the time
There are many people that will rant, rave and complain that the mainstream product is so bland and boring and the classic, “Who even watches this trash?” Whether you love the flippy dippy do’s like I don’t or long drawn out storylines that peter out very quickly because fans aren’t invested in a story or character. To those people, I will say something very bold, very confusing and very… very controversial…
THERE ARE OTHER COMPANIES YOU CAN WATCH ON VARIOUS PLATFORMS IN VARIOUS MEANS ON YOUR OWN TIME!
I don’t know how and I don’t know why that this is even a topic. “TNA has been dead for years” No it hasn’t. Pay $1 USD for Impact Plus on YouTube so you can watch it without commercials at 8:30 Eastern. “Two hours is too long!” NWA and MLW both go for an hour on their respective YouTube Channels as well and if you want to watch, you can hop in at any time. Everyone has something for everyone and you might find your new favorite wrestler in a matter of minutes into an episode. I would never have known who Eli Drake (now LA Knight on SmackDown Live), Alexander Hammerstone or even in the early stages of TNA Impact, AJ Styles, was! You can watch more than what is broadcasted on your TV. Is it easier? Of course but, there is so much more than just the popular option.
#2- Belt Collecting now is just redundant and moronic
Back in 1996, Ultimo Dragon famously has a picture of him holding TEN championships looking like an amazing superstar with amazing defenses. What people don’t know is, that was because eight championship belts were united in a tournament called “The J-Crown Championship” with the adage of ‘All or Nothing’. He lost them one by one but, it was to show that he was the best Junior Heavyweight (or Cruiserweight/Light Heavyweight) out of everyone in various promotions.
People after that really haven’t belt collected other than unifying championships to a grand caliber… then Austin Aries showed up. Aries kind of revised the gimmick and brought it back to light. Newer fans might have thought this was cool but older fans kind of groaned and grumbled. I was one of them but, nothing is original in anything anymore so it’s a fresher concept at the time back in 2018. He did surpass Ultimo with ELEVEN championships but it seemed everyone started doing it to an extent after. Matt Cardona, after being released from WWE, started doing it, getting up to six championships before dropping them. As of right now, not necessarily solo belt collecting, The Bloodline has a stranglehold of the World Championships for both Singles and Tag Teams, we had Becky Two Belts, Bayley wanted Dos Straps but nothing makes this worse than Kenny Omega’s stint as a belt collector.
I am not and will never be a Kenny Omega fan. I don’t see the appeal, I don’t see the amazement or anything like that out of him. I’m impressed he did three 35+ Minute IWGP Championship matches against Okada because that takes a lot of stamina to do so but, that’s about it. When he won the AEW Championship, alright. That’s fine. Nothing wrong with that since he helped build the company up. The Triple A Megas Championship… nothing too wrong here. I hate that he had five defenses in two years but he vacated it due to his injuries. It wasn’t until Don Callis and Omega popped into Impact and made the Hogan Era of TNA look like a dream… okay ALMOST but still. Kenny defeats Rich Swann and Moose in two different matches and has everyone else carry the belts while holding the AEW Championship. I understand heel tactics and mentality but at one point in an interview about going for the Impact Championship, he compared it to a common Comic Book and the AEW Championship as Superman Issue #1. I understand trying to be a heel in this story but you boost your clout, not rain on what you are going after. Heel or Face, belt collecting has just been a cluster within itself in the past four years and it honestly needs to stop.
#3- Overuse of Certain Moves
This one is a more recent problem that I have seen and no, I wish EC3 paid me to say this but it is true and very annoying to even bring up but here I am, wishing for Carter money and a fifth Rum & Coke…
Stop. Overusing. Moves. Because you think. They were cool.
If I had a shot for every time a Canadian Destroyer, Superkick, Suicide Dive, Avalanche (Insert High Spot here), Dual Dropkick spots where they cancel each other out or opposing members do back to back high spots on the prone partner spot… I would not have written this article due to death… even if it was water, I would have died due to drowning. They don’t look cool anymore when everyone does it. It’s bland. When Petey Williams wrestled in his last return to Impact, the Destroyer looked very… stale. Superkicks are the new DDT apparently (another Finisher turned common everyday move) and most people that do dives mess it up in some way shape or form whether it’s their feet get caught in the ropes, they didn’t get a full launch or they overshoot it. Having your own move special to you is difficult now but different wrestlers do their own styles or the pay homage to a family member or a wrestler that they interact with or ask permission… or asked to stop.
How’d you feel if you watched WCW and WWF in 1997 and saw DDP do the Diamond Cutter and HHH did the Pedigree Pandemonium and say they do the same move? That is exactly what happened too if Dallas didn’t ask Hunter to stop using it. We might not have the RKO out of nowhere or an iconic move that seldom bigger names use today.
That’s my list. I said before if you agree with my list and if you don’t and want to throw hate my way… @PCTunney is the hate mail account so enjoy!
AJ’s Thoughts: Five Potential Returns
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With Trips in charge and already starting to bring back some people that didn’t work in Vince’s picture, AJ got an idea. Who else could we see on the horizon radar?
With everything going on with WWE, the one thing we have all been hyped about are all of these returns. Dakota Kai made her return at SummerSlam alongside Io and Bayley and now on last SmackDown, Karrion Kross and Scarlett made their returns in a big way against Drew McIntyre and showed the Hourglass to The Bloodline.
With all of that, there have been things in the pipeline saying Triple H’s foot isn’t off the pedal so these are 5 returns from either NXT, main roster or even Try-Outs that I would love to see happen with the new regime.
1. Johnny Gargano
Now this is a name that people have been saying, “Maybe Impact or MLW” but, what about a return? Gargano didn’t renew his contract, most likely to be with his family which is a valid and amazing reason, will never disrespect that. If he were to return, there would be a handful of great reasons. Maybe a singles run with the Intercontinental or United States but with Ciampa getting limelight in the main roster from RAW, what if we get a tag team reunion?
WWE is hurting for Tag Teams and what better than to scare off The Bloodline, loosen the stranglehold of championships with some Do It Yourself action. DIY reunion could be amazing, especially with newer faces showing up to get championship aspirations like Kross and Ciampa. Want to break the hierarchy? Do It Yourself.
2. James Storm
This one is a little bit weird and off. On one hand, who doesn’t love the Tennessee Cowboy, Jimmy James Storm? On the other, he is 45 and getting some nagging injuries as of late. So why would I say Triple H should bring James Storm back and give him something for the main roster? One of the things I said for Gargano, we have a lack of something and The Usos might need to watch two things in the rearview.
Watch your Money and your Alcohol.
Beer Money showing up in WWE would be amazing in my personal opinion. The Bloodline jump Roode, someone in a hoodie or jacket comes up and jumps them to even the fight and as soon as one Uso remained in the ring, the figure goes down and the old stomping goes off and we hear “BEER…” and Roode looks around and gets hyped up and shouts, “…MONEY!”
3. Big Cass
Since his departure from WWE, he has done something I have said since they split him off from Enzo. Take him through the Kevin Nash School of How To Big Man. ROH and Impact are great examples that he actually cleaned up and worked on what he has to do to be good in the ring. He can work the microphone, he can work the ring so we got a new big boy to take on the WWE once again.
Now I could have said Enzo and Cass to rejoin but, I’m sure the antics of Enzo will get Cass in deep water along with the fact that I already made two tag team predictions, we don’t need another. Cass brings a lot to the table and was kind of unproven in WWE because he was just the big enforcer to the more charismatic Enzo. Give this man about six months in the ring and you have your next MASSIVE problem in the IC or US Championship scene or even more.
4. Bronson Reed
The big man from down under is a former NXT North American Champion. He looked to have a good push going with that championship but he got release. If you wonder where he went… he actually made a pit stop in Impact Wrestling as JONAH with the most fire theme song in recent history I swear… I will link the theme song and Trips… please. Get rights to this theme song. I will be a bigger Bronson Reed fan.
Bronson to me is the weird man in all of this but, I think with Triple H involved, he could get something going for him with a good singles champion run or a big threat to go through like a gatekeeper of sorts. Big boy with a great amount of athleticism? Can’t really hate on that considering the last time we saw athletic bigger people were Keith Lee and… what was that one guy? Sherman Tank with a Ferrari Engine…?
5. Bray Wyatt
And the last one is the obvious one in all of this. Yes… we have Judgment Day as the somewhat supernatural dark group but we know the true successor of the supernatural and that is “The Eater of Worlds”, “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt. This time around, I don’t think we will get the Jekyl and Hyde, Mister Rogers gimmick. I believe this time around we get full darkness and mayhem. We get the darkness and the theory of reverting back to your prime.
To make a refresher… Miz went back to being the cocky narcissist after fighting The Fiend. Finn turned back to the Prince and much more. With guys like Edge returning, maybe we see the return of the Heel Ultimate Opportunist, maybe a Fiend fight with AJ Styles to get the TN-AJ perhaps. Possibilities are endless and with a great mind like Wyatt for character and execution, I think Hunter will pick up the phone and Let Him In.
– There are clearly others that I could say, or maybe even didn’t think about, but hey, that’s the Chairshot way of Always Using Your Head. Those are just five returns that could happen and hopefully you read this before RAW or SmackDown and who knows if I get any of these right, maybe I missed an obvious one or maybe we get a giant signing that nobody thought possible. Let me and all of Chairshot know!
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