Will the King of Strong Style still reign?
There’s gold on the line even before Extreme Rules! SmackDown sees Apollo Crews going back after the Intercontinental Champion and Shinsuke Nakamura!
- WWE Intercontinental Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura w/ Rick Boogs VS Apollo Crews w/ Commander Azeez; Nakamura wins and retains the title.
- Liv Morgan VS Zelina Vega w/ Carmella; Vega wins.
- Nikki A.S.H. w/ Rhea Ripley VS Natalya w/ Tamina; Nikki wins.
- Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman VS Montez Ford; Reigns wins.
PLAY BY PLAY
Becky Lynch is in Philadelphia!
Fans fire up to see the SmackDown Women’s Champion this close to her title defense at Extreme Rules! #BigTimeBecks rained on Bianca Belair’s big moment last week, but she’s feeling the brotherly love from Philly. Were they expecting a Becky party tonight? What a party for Bianca in her hometown, though. Becky isn’t sure why, but maybe it was for making it out of Knoxville and making something of herself. Becky did that in her own right, she’s back after less than a year after having a child and won the title in record time. No one threw a party but that’s okay. Becky likes cake but it’s fine. As the better superstar, she congratulated Bianca.
But then here’s where it gets interesting. Bianca was unprovoked in trying to show how big and strong she was. So what choice did Becky have? “Real greatness isn’t made in the body, it is made in the mind. And this is the law of the jungle, baby, it’s hit or be hit! So what choice did I have?!” Fans are still torn but Becky defends that she didn’t want to embarrass Bianca in front of her family, friends, hometown and high school teachers, but what choice did she have? As The Better Man, she was giving Bianca time to recalibrate after her humiliating loss at SummerSlam. But no, Bianca wants to come after Becky again, so what choice will Becky have at Extreme Rules? Remember that-
Bianca interrupts! The EST is back from the WWE European tour to shine in Philly and fans are happy to see her! Bianca gets a mic as fans chant for “E S T! E S T!” Bianca tells Becky, “First of all, keep my mama and my daddy’s name out your mouth.” And real talk, Becky did get Bianca at SummerSlam and did embarrass her in her hometown. But if you think that’s happening on Sunday, #GirlUhUh. SummerSlam was a surprise. But she knew she was having a match! Just didn’t know it would be against the greatest woman to ever hold this title! Bianca is the EST, but doesn’t she already be ready? Or is it a cute little catchphrase for Bianca?
Bianca asks how many different ways must she say it and show it? She showed how strong she was when she lifted Becky easily, “even in heels.” And Bianca is the fastEST because while Becky was away, she surely watched Bianca match every accomplishment of Becky’s, from winning the Royal Rumble to main eventing WrestleMania, just in a quarter of the time. Oh, oh and! Bianca won an ESPY so put some respect on the name! Fans are fired up but Becky gets mad. “Esther” only got to be good because Becky taught the world how to be great! Wow, Becky’s really holding onto SummerSlam in a match that wasn’t even supposed to happen.
But we know what’s happening Sunday and it won’t end in 26 seconds. It’ll be the EST VS “the greatest woman to ever hold that title,” but the winner will be the strongEST, the fastEST, the roughEST, the toughEST, the greatEST and the newEST SmackDown Women’s Champion! Fans are fired up again as Bianca offers a handshake. Becky smirks and takes the chance to SLAP Bianca instead! Fans are going nuts as Bianca keeps her cool. Becky talks more trash, so Bianca ROCKS her with forearms! Bianca stomps Becky into a corner, hammers away, then brings her out, only for Becky to throw her into buckles! Becky reels Bianca in, but she fights free to torture rack! KISS OF DEATH!!
Fans are fired up as Bianca takes off her jacket but leaves it at this. Will Becky learn that Bianca is the strongEST, the fastEST, the roughEST, the toughEST, and the greatEST challenger she’s ever faced?
Toni Storm rocks out with Nakamura and Boogs!
They’re having a great time with air guitars and air drums, but will they be rocking in an after party after Nakamura’s title defense?
WWE Intercontinental Championship: Shinsuke Nakamura w/ Rick Boogs VS Apollo Crews w/ Commander Azeez!
The rockin’ bard gives the King of Strong Style his introduction, and then Apollo has his with the virtual lions roaring. Will Nakamura be dethroned as the Pride of Nigeria is after his pride and joy, the Intercontinental Championship?
The introductions are made, the title is raised, and we see who holds onto the gold and who feels the steel!
Nakamura and Crews approach, Crews keeps up his guard from the strikes to then knee low and CLUB Nakamura. Crews runs to run Nakamura over and things speed up. Nakamura hurdles to WHEEL KICK Crews down! Crews gets to a corner, Nakamura digs his boot in for Good Vibrations! Nakamura puts Crews on the top rope, runs in but misses the knee! Crews hotshots Nakamura, runs in and LARIATS Nakamura inside-out! Crews then trophy lifts and TOSSES Nakamura out of the ring and to the floor! Crews soaks up the heat as SmackDown goes to break.
SmackDown returns and Crews has Nakamura in a chinlock but Boogs shreds to get fans rallying. Nakamura fights up, throws body shots but Crews CLUBS and whips. Nakamura comes back with a DYNAMIC DROPKICK! Fans fire up as Nakamura kicks away on Crews, then KICKS him again. Crews blocks one but the ENZIGURI hits! Crews is in a corner, Nakamura runs in but blocks boots to spin Crews sideways. Kick and SLIDING GERMAN! Cover, TWO! Nakamura goes to a corner and hops up to leap, into Crews’ dropkick! Both men are down and fans rally up. Nakamura and Crews rise, Crews kicks and punches but Nakamura blocks to forearm!
Nakamura wraps on a sleeper but Crews elbows free. Crews runs in at the corner but into a knee! AX KICK, then Nakamura hops up to FLYING KNEE! Cover, TWO! Nakamura keeps his focus and he fires up from a corner. Crews stands, Nakamura runs in, but into an ENZIGURI! Crews scoops Nakamura for the POP-UP SAMOAN DROP! Cover, TWO!! Nakamura survives and Crews is furious! Crews drags Nakamura up, reels him in, POWREBOMB! Then a dead lift but Nakamura slips out! Crews ducks the roundhouse but not the HEEL KICK! Nakamura aims from a corner again, “YAO~!” But Crews bails out to avoid disaster.
Azeez checks on Crews but Nakamura runs over to BOOT Azeez from the apron! Azeez stays up and is furious, but Boogs sneaks up to get him for an EXPLODER! Nakamura gets back in, Crews KNEES Nakamura and reels him in, OLYMPIC- ARM-DRAG! Nakamura tilt-o-whirls to a takedown, deep cover! Nakamura wins!!
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura, by pinfall (still WWE Intercontinental Champion)
Crews is stunned but Philly is rocking with Nakamura and Boogs! But now the question is, with the WWE Draft returning, will Nakamura be moved over to Raw? Or will he still reign over SmackDown?
Backstage interview with Montez Ford.
One half of the Street Profits is here and Kayla Braxton brings up the Usos joining Roman Reigns for a special appearance on Raw. The Bloodline dominated there, but is Ford worried the Usos will be able to do that the Profits on Sunday? Ford says he has a lot of feelings about Extreme Rules: excitement, anticipation and hunger! But concern? No, no. Sunday, he and Dawkins will regain the SmackDown Tag Team Championships! Speaking of, Dawks was called upon to witness the nuptials of a near and dear friend, bless his heart.
But make no mistake, Dawkins will be there at Extreme Rules to help with the takeback season! They’ve beaten the Usos twice, and big daddy cousin Roman Reigns, the Tribal Chief, “acknowledge me,” has been running those boys ragged. “Beat up this guy, do this, pick up my dry cleaning, rub my ashy feet. He ain’t been treatin’ ’em like no bloodline or cousins. He’s been treating ’em more like his bloodline bitches.” Ford gets serious as he says that on Sunday, they take the titles from the Usos, because the Profits are up, and #WeWantTheSmoke! But will Ford’s fire be extinguished when he and Dawkins enter lockdown?
Roman Reigns sits with Paul Heyman.
Roman asks what Ford just said. Heyman says Ford had the guts to call “the greatest tag team of all time,” Roman’s cousins, bitches. Then Roman wants a match with Ford tonight. But in 48 hours, Roman defends his WWE Universal Championship against an undefeated Demon in an Extreme Rules match. Roman glares at Heyman, and Heyman understands to make the match, Reigns VS Ford live from Philly. What a main event for SmackDown! Heyman promises to make it happen, but Roman wants him to get going already. Heyman hurries out, will the Head of the Table be the one to put out that fire in Ford’s eyes?
Heyman finds Sonya Deville and Paul Heyman backstage.
They all say hi and other pleasantries, and Heyman welcomes them to Philly. But Pearce already tells Heyman that no, they don’t know where Brock Lesnar is going through the WWE Draft. Are they in on this, too? Stop with Lesnar. Heyman has a main event for them tonight, live here on SmackDown: Roman Reigns, the Tribal Chief VS The Street Profits’ Montez Ford, 1v1 tonight! They can do that. “I bet you can. And then… After the match… Then, we’ll talk about The Draft.” Heyman leaves, but do he and Roman really hold all the cards this close to the PPV?
Seth Rollins speaks.
“I am a patient man, Edge, I really am. But it has been seven days since I laid an ultimatum at your feet, and I have gotten no response. I’ve heard nothing. Not a peep.” But that’s okay, because Edge’s silence is deafening. And it reveals the truth! The truth is, Edge is hurt. He is hurt bad. He is afraid and ashamed to admit that Rollins is why Edge will never compete in a ring ever again. While that’s mildly amusing to Rollins, it’s also not good enough. Rollins wants an answer, and he doesn’t want to wait any more. So this is how it’ll be: Edge will show up next week, crawl his way to the ring, look Rollins in the eyes and tell the entire world the TRUTH! Rollins is NOT Edge Lite, he is superior in every single way, and that Rollins is the man who ended Edge’s wrestling career.
Edge could not do that, if he wants, but Rollins will not be made a liar. Rollins will find Edge where he sleeps and beat those words out of him in front of Edge’s wife and children. Rollins laughs as he says the choice is Edge’s, and Rollins is sure Edge will make the right one. Is Rollins’ unraveling going to cost Edge his career one way or another?
Liv Morgan VS Zelina Vega w/ Carmella!
One way or another, Liv gets her 1v1 fight with Carmella at Extreme Rules! But as payback for what almost happened to the face of the Most Beautiful Woman in the WWE, La Muneca wants to make Liv’s life harder. Will Liv have smooth sailing or choppy seas ahead of this Sunday?
SmackDown returns as Vega makes her entrance, then Carmella enters. Liv figured the Princess of Staten Island would find a way to make this about herself. The bell rings, Liv SHOTGUNS Vega into the corner! Then back body blocks! Liv keeps going, and she dropkicks Vega against ropes! Liv whips Vega into the corner, runs in but Vega boots her. Vega swings, Liv goes Matrix and Liv rolls her up! TWO, Mella lounges on the announce desk but Vega arm-drags Liv to a corner. Vega runs in to DOUBLE KNEE, then she snapmares to a cover, TWO! Mella thanks all the fans who reached out to her with concern while Vega has a seated dragon sleeper.
Liv endures being bent back, Mella talks trash to “mouth breather” fans who support Liv. Fans rally, Liv fights up but Vega shifts to a sleeper hold backpack. Liv RAMS Vega into buckles and gets free, but then Vega comes back with a BULLDOG! Vega bumps Liv off buckles, stomps a mudhole in, and then backs off as the ref counts. Vega runs in, Liv wrenches and WING SNAPPER to BUCKLE BUMP! Mella gets mad and shouts at Liv about the same move that almost broke her nose. Liv fakes Mella out with a dropkick to grab at Mella’s hair! But Vega BOOTS Liv down, then hops on for a CODE RED! Cover, Vega wins!
Winner: Zelina Vega, by pinfall
Mella is so happy that her new friend won and especially that Liv lost! Liv is seething, will she make things ugly for Mella at the PPV?
“Happy” Corbin is showing off his new threads.
Custom suits, luxurious fabrics, water resistant! But wait until tonight when he debuts his WWE talk show, Happy Talk. Speaking of…
Baron Corbin heads to the ring!
The newly re-wealthy Lone Wolf is now the host of a new talk show! But will #HappyTalk be the happiest or the crappiest talk show in WWE history? We find out, after the break.
SmackDown returns and we see the set of Happy Talk: red carpet and velvet ropes; hat racks with various fedoras; plush leather armchairs; and of course, a table for drinks. Corbin welcomes us to the premiere of Happy Talk! Even the name makes Corbin happy! Even being in Philly makes Corbin happy! Life is so good for Corbin right now, he feels like he could whistle a little tune. He does his best to whistle his own theme song as he sits down. Yes, beautiful, he knows. But he wants us all to understand. This show is not like any other talk show, and especially not The Kevin Owens Show, where Kevin just invites someone out, breaks them down and makes them sad.
This show is about happiness and joy! About putting smiles on people’s faces! So Corbin thought long and hard about his very first guest. Someone who could light up a room as the embodiment of happiness. So everyone, please welcome Corbin’s very first guest… HIMSELF! Happy Corbin is of course his own guest as the happiest person in the world. He is rich, handsome and flew here on a private chef. Corbin got a full tasting menu from pork belly to Wagyu to these ravioli stuffed with goat cheese and truffles. OMG the truffles. Then there’s his limited edition Rolex, his custom $9,000 suit, with an amazing interior.
Fans chant “WE DON’T CARE!” but Corbin gets happier watching footage from last week. That is to say, Corbin attack Kevin before their match ever happened, and making sure the match never happened with an apron choke slam. Fans boo but Corbin says that was incredible! That was KEVIN OWENS! A former Universal Champion! One of the toughest guys on the WWE roster, and Corbin did it with ease. It is such a great feeling to be that physically powerful! And another thing that’s been making Corbin very happy lately is- Here comes Kevin! Kevin snarls and goes right to the ring, only to be BLINDSIDED, by Riddick Moss!?
Moss returns from the pro-wrestling wilderness but Kevin fights back! Moss throws hands, stomps Kevin down, then Corbin helps out. They double whip Kevin into the steel steps! Moss is fired up and he pulls steps apart to put the base right in front of Corbin. Corbin fetches Kevin, he and Moss DOUBLE CHOKE SLAM Kevin onto the steps!! Corbin and Moss are laughing all the way to the bank as they leave Kevin writhing outside the ring. Does this mean Corbin has a new best buddy in bullying Kevin and the rest of SmackDown?
Backstage interview with Montez Ford.
Kayla wants to check back in with him and asks if he regrets the comments he had about The Usos. Ford even sings “Bloodline bitches~!” now, so no, he doesn’t regret it! The truth shall set you free! This is one of the times Ford’s mouth has landed him a world of opportunity! Ford is sick of the roster being afraid to do or say around The Bloodline and Roman. Tonight, Ford does what he does best and be Ford. He just wishes Dawks was here to see this, cuz the Profits are up, and Ford wants THAT smoke. Will Ford get himself a chance at the Universal Championship taking on the champion tonight?
Edge tweets out his response.
“I’ll see you at SmackDown next week.” The Rated R Superstar has spoken, but will he give Rollins the answer he wants? Or will he give The Architect what he deserves?
Nikki A.S.H. w/ Rhea Ripley VS Natalya w/ Tamina!
The NEW WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions are here on SmackDown, ready to rock in Philly! But will the Almost Super Hero keep things rolling from Raw as she takes on the Queen of Harts 1v1?
SmackDown returns and the former tag champs make their entrance. The bell rings and the two tie up. Natty hits a headlock takeover, Nikki headscissors but Natty kips free to kick low. Natty whips Nikki to a corner, Nikki goes up and over and speeds things up. Nikki rolls, eggs Natty on, then wrenches. Natty whips, hurdles, but Nikki dropkicks a leg out! Nikki adds a basement dropkick, covers, ONE! Natty goes to ropes for defense and Nikki stays back. But Natty kicks low, throws Nikki by her hair, then bumps Nikki off buckles. Natty bumps Nikki off more buckles, and more buckles, then stomps a mudhole in! Natty soaks up the heat and runs back in, into an elbow!
Natty kicks Nikki again, snap suplexes her out of the corner, then covers, TWO! Rhea coaches Nikki up, but Natty tells Nikki she is NOT a superhero! Nikki throws body shots but Natty bumps her off buckles and throws hands. The ref counts, Natty lets off but Nikki elbows her away! Nikki reels Natty in but Tamina gets on the apron. The ref is busy with Tamina but Rhea walks over to trip Tamina up! Nikki makes Natty’s cradle into her cradle, Nikki wins!
Winner: Nikki A.S.H., by pinfall
Natty is furious but wait! Here come the other contenders for those tag titles! Shotzi Blackheart & Tegan Nox ride in on the TCB Tank MK. III! Shotzi and Tegan are happy for their fellow NXT alumni, but then it’s SHOTS FIRED! The Nerf missile narrowly misses Rhea’s head, but when and where will Shotzi & Tegan get their title shot?
Rey Mysterio grills Dominik on last week’s loss.
Rey says Dom took too long climbing up but Dom knows all this. But that’s why Rey is trying to help. Dom knows that, too, but this is him suffocating Dom more than anything. Rey says Dom is to fly on his own but then doesn’t give him the chance. Week after week, match after match, Rey has nitpick after nitpick. If Rey wasn’t ringside, Dom could’ve won! Rey says he’ll give Dom some space since he’s not thinking straight. Dom feels bad for upsetting his dad, but then Sami Zayn walks. Sami doesn’t want to fight, he just overheard things. Dom’s confidence is shaky after losing to Sami but there’s no shame in losing to one of the very best.
Now, Sami’s also been in the ring with others who are the very best, and he sees the potential in Dom. Every single time they’ve been in the ring, Dom got better and better! Dom is growing so fast! If there’s one piece of advice Sami could give, not that Dom has to take it, well… Rey is a good dad and means well, but listen to him less and trust your own instincts more. That’s all Sami will say. Sami leaves, but does he have a point? Will Dom accept the words of the master strategist?
Naomi heads to the ring!
SmackDown finally gets to #FeelTheGlow again! Naomi may have had to pay a fine for getting in Sonya’s face, but she looks ready to do something about that, too! Is she going to ask for a match? Or demand one?
SmackDown returns and Naomi has a mic to speak. “I cam here to SmackDown to compete. But Sonya Deville refused to put me in a match.” Naomi has been fined, disrespected, insulted and ignored. But no longer! Naomi wants a match! And she isn’t talking about tomorrow, next week, but right here TONIGHT! Fans like the sound of that and Naomi calls out the roster. Who wants to #FeelTheGlow? Sonya walks out and says no, this is not happening this way. “Sorry, honey, it’s just not gonna happen. Because I make the matches around here, not you.” Then make a match! Naomi VS Sonya! No, Sonya would smack the glow right off Naomi’s face.
But Sonya wouldn’t, she’s a WWE official. Not a good one if she can’t make a match! Fans chant “MAKE A MATCH! MAKE A MATCH!” in support but Sony has the Naomi’s mic cut. It doesn’t matter, she and Philly are loud enough to be heard without it! Sonya mockingly says, “Sorry, we can’t hear you.” Then she calls out security!? Security storms the ring and Sonya says this is all to help Naomi. “We all know that when your elaborate entrance is over, it’s all downhill from there.” A power trip and the insults Naomi talks about, but Sonya says it is Naomi’s own fault for dropping the ball when she’s been given chances. So Naomi can go TikTok in the back while Sonya creates the future of SmackDown.
Fans still rally behind Naomi but Sonya demands Naomi leave. Fans boo Sonya but she shrugs it off. Will Naomi find another way to get what she wants?
The Bloodline heads out.
The Usos hype up Roman about this “light work” but then they spot Chad Gable & Otis Dozovic. The Alpha Academy eye the titles but the Usos stare them down. If the Profits don’t get it done at Extreme Rules, will Gable & Otis go for the gold?
Becky Lynch speaks.
“I gave you the opportunity to back down and back out, but you kept pushing me and pushing me and pushing me. The EST may be the strongEST but she’s also the dumbEST. I have been champion every active day I’ve been in the WWE since WrestleMania 35! Everything in my life may changed, but the facts remain the same.” Becky isn’t scared of someone she beat in 26 seconds. But this time, she’ll make Bianca suffer. There is no terrible way to win, there is only winning. At Extreme Rules, Becky will BREAK Bianca.
Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman VS Montez Ford!
The Head of the Table has a Demon waiting for him on Sunday but there’s a Profit coming for him tonight! Will the sinful pride of the Reigns-ing, Defending, Undisputed, and highly controverted Universal Champion finally cost him this close to the PPV?
SmackDown returns again and Roman makes his entrance. The Usos stay in the back given their stare down with the Alpha Academy, so it is just Roman who raises his title for the pyro. Roman then takes his time going to the ring and raising the belt again for more pyro. The bell rings and Roman circles with Ford. They tie up, Ford headlocks, Roman pries his way out to get a headlock of his own. Ford powers up to power out, but Roman runs Ford over. Things speed up, Ford hurdles and hurdles to dropkick! Roman rebounds but into another dropkick! Roman tumbles out but lands on his feet and Philly is fired up as SmackDown goes to break.
SmackDown returns and Ford is taking it to Roman, but Roman DECKS Ford with an uppercut! Roman throws more hands then chokes Ford on the ropes! The ref counts, Roman lets off, then stalks Ford to a corner. Roman bumps Ford off buckles, turns him around and climbs up to rain down punches! The fans count all the way to 5 before Ford shoves Roman away, but Roman comes back with a clothesline! Roman raises a finger to say #WeTheOnes, and he chokes Ford against ropes again! The ref counts, Roman lets off and tells the ref to back off. Ford gets back to a corner but Roman encourages fans to cheer and jeer.
Roman gets Ford up to throw point-blank lariats. The fans count all the way to 10 for Roman, and then he pie faces Ford before he runs. Ford BOOTS back! And CHOPS! And CHOPS! And CHOPS, CHOPS, CHOPS! Ford kicks but Roman blocks to flip him! Ford lands on his feet to ENZIGURI, then he clotheslines Roman out! Ford hurries to RAM Roman into barriers! And then MORE barriers! Ford refreshes the count, heads back out and climbs up the announce desk, but then it falls apart on him! Oh well. Ford uses the steps to LEAP and knock Roman down with ax handles! Ford puts Roman in, runs and dodges, but runs into a FLAPJACK!
Roman snarls as he looms over Ford, then he gets him up to LEAPING LARIAT! Fans duel as Roman again raises a finger to the sky. Ford bails out and Roman sees him crawling as SmackDown goes to break.
SmackDown returns again and Roman stalks Ford. Ford rolls to the apron but Roman drags him up, to choke him on the ropes again! The ref counts, Roman lets off but again tells the ref to shut up about that stuff. But then Ford GAMANGIRIS! And springboards to CROSSBODY! Cover, TWO!! Roman narrowly escapes, but Ford comes back to mule kick! Front kick! Roman ducks the enziguri and whips Ford to a corner, but Ford goes up and over and shows off his agility! Dropkick then a RUNNING BLOCKBUSTER! Cover, TWO! Ford keeps his cool as he heads for a corner and climbs up top. FROM- NO, Roman avoids the splash, and gets Ford for an URENAGE! Cover, TWO!
Roman is growing annoyed but he goes to the corner. He locks ‘n’ loads and takes aim at Ford as he stands, SUPER- NO! Ford dodges, reels Roman in, DDT! Cover, TWO!! Roman is still in this and now Ford gets frustrated. Ford drags Roman back up, but Roman ROCKS him with an uppercut! Ford falls, Roman is in the corner, Roman storms over but Ford POSTS him! Roman falls out of the ring, Ford takes aim, but Roman moves away. Ford goes out to PENALTY KICK from the apron, then RAMS Roman into the steps! Ford puts Roman in, climbs back up, FROM THE HEAVENS!! ONTO KNEES!! Roman wraps on the GUILLOTINE!! Ford flails, but he’s caught! He taps, Roman wins!
Winner: Roman Reigns, by submission
In the blink of an eye, Roman turns Ford’s fortunes around and snatches victory from the jaws of defeat! The fire was put out, there is no more smoke, and Heyman boasts, “That was NOT enough for his sins! No no no no!” Heyman wants Roman to show Ford, Balor, the Demon and even “BRRROCK! LESNARRR! What happens when Roman takes it to the extreme!!” Fans chant for “E C DUB! E C DUB!” and Heyman even has the Usos come out. Jimmy & Jey storm down to get their own pound of flesh for Ford insulting them. Roman has the Usos go looking under the ring, and they bring out chair after chair!
Roman JAMS Ford with a chair, SMACKS him with it, and now there’s a table! Roman sees the table has been set up, so as Head of the Table, he drags Ford over. “Who’s a bitch now, huh?!” URENAGE THROUGH THE TABLE!! The Bloodline says this is why you respect them, but then the lights go out!? The heartbeat is back! And DEMON BALOR is up on top of the post!! The Bloodline turns around and he CROSSBODIES them all down!! Balor gets a kendo stick and starts firing off on the Usos! Jimmy, Jey, back again! Roman ROCKS Balor with a forearm and puts him in the ring, and brings a chair, only to get a SLINGBLADE!
Balor gets the chair to SMACK away on Roman! And even SMACKS Jimmy and SMACKS Jey! Roman bails out but Roman FLIES out to wipe him out at the ramp!! Will Balor finally win back the title he never, ever lost?!
Now this was a really good episode for SmackDown, even with it being a go-home. Go-Home Syndrome didn’t feel as strong here, with only three recap packages happening in the two hours. Granted, those still felt so awkwardly placed with two of them being during a superstar’s entrance. Becky and Bianca had a very good promo segment, but per WWE math, Bianca standing tall here means Becky retains on PPV. There is a very good chance that the WWE Draft won’t change where brand name champions are, so I think Becky stays to keep the SmackDown Women’s Division going. Seth Rollins also had a good promo per his character, and Edge returning on Draft night should be to give us one last match between them, probably for Crown Jewel.
Other than Becky and Bianca, Team Vince is definitely making things hard for the rest of the SmackDown Women’s Division. Liv VS Vega was short and half of it was the camera watching Carmella lounge on the announce desk. It’s good for Vega to get a win but it was a bit weak. Liv VS Mella will probably be Kickoff Show material but they might still be able to give us something good if they let Mella wrestle like she has before. I’m thinking Liv wins either way, since she lost here. Toni Storm only got to rock out with Nakamura & Boogs, hopefully there’s more for her after Extreme Rules and the Draft.
Naomi and Sonya are having a good build, though. Sonya suddenly getting power mad over the women’s division is of course to push Naomi towards wanting The Bloodline’s backing, which goes with the story I fantasy booked with Raw. Naomi, Tamina and Nia Jax can all be on SmackDown, they can all go for gold. Nikki VS Natty was filler just to give Shotzi & Tegan reason to roll out on stage and remind everyone of the title match they’re owed. Rhea & Nikki VS Shotzi & Tegan makes for a great match, I just hope they’re allowed to give us one.
The Happy Talk show segment was alright, it was of course to set Kevin up for a trap, but what a surprise that Riddick Moss is back. Guess this isn’t going to be a celebrity match thing with Logan Paul, but if Moss is with Corbin, maybe we’re still getting a tag team match? Still hoping it’ll be Sami, personally. Contract talks out there say Kevin’s is almost up and he might go rejoin the Mount Rushmore of Wrestling in AEW, but I feel like a tag title shot with Sami could sway things. And Sami perhaps tied up his part in the Dominik story with that bit of advice. Dom can take the next step, perhaps using Ziggler, Roode or whoever moves around in the Draft as someone to experiment against and use some moves that are more Dom’s than Rey’s in hopes of winning.
The Intercontinental Championship match was a great first match of the night, but I figured Nakamura was retaining. Boogs throwing Azeez was awesome, too. The Draft might move Apollo & Azeez to Raw, maybe he goes after the US Championship because of it, or maybe the midcard titles are traded. Nakamura, with or without Boogs, gets to freshen things up over on Mondays while Priest (or whoever comes out of Extreme Rules champion so… Priest) gets to thrown hands with big names and heavy hitters like Cesaro, Rollins, and other names that head over with the Draft. Personally hoping Keith Lee gets to emerge and throw down, maybe bring some physical power to SmackDown while he’s at it.
I like that there’s more on the Usos’ plate than just one team at a time. Gable & Otis could easily look like Faces against the Usos since everyone loves Otis destroying people. Usos VS Profits could go either way, but that one moment made me think the Usos retain. Ford definitely had a lot of fire tonight in a singles showing, but I sure hope Dawkins really did have another friend’s wedding to go to and that the Profits get to stick together through the Draft. Ford and Dawkins have been champs, they could each move on to singles titles if they wanted, but much like with The New Day, teammates should be allowed to stay together and still support each other in singles pursuits.
Ford had a really good match with Roman, but Roman of course wins for momentum. But then furthermore, Demon Balor got to thrill Philly and stand tall over The Bloodline. We all get that with Crown Jewel being fully advertised as Roman VS Lesnar that Balor wasn’t winning here, but the math for tonight also says that on its own. Balor will get to shine but this is still Vince’s Beef-o-rama, with Roman and Lesnar still at the center. There could be a huge surprise within this and Vince gets some real buzz going for WWE again, but it’s more likely a portal in space-time opens up and an Infinity Stone powered Ultron-Vision hybrid leads an army of robots- Oh sorry that might be Marvel’s What If spoilers…
My Score: 8.4/10
Andrew’s IMPACT Results & Match Ratings: 10.21.2021
Bound for Glory is on Saturday! How does IMPACT! hype us up for one of their crowning PPVs of the year?!
We get to see Mickie in an IMPACT ring for the first since 2015, Heath tries to get answers out of Rhino and we’ll probably see a lot of Josh Alexander and Christian Cage fleshing out the last little bits of the World Title match.
Aside from that, do we get anything of note to talk about, or is it just an appetizer for the real show on Saturday?
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) October 22, 2021
- Bullet Club (Chris Bey & Hikuleo) vs FinJuice: NO CONTEST/Double Pinfall – ***
- Jordynne Grace & Fallah Bahh vs Tenille Dashwood & John Skyler vs Chelsea Green & Crazzy Steve: Tenille wins via Spotlight Kick – ***
- Pick Your Poison: Savannah Evans w/Tasha Steelz vs Mickie James: Mickie wins via Mick DDT – *** ¼
- Alex Zayne vs Trey Miguel: Miguel wins via Meteora – ** ¾
The Insiders Stream on YouTube didn’t start until about 9:00pm, I’m not sure why IMPACT constantly has issues, but YouTube is not a hard platform to utilize. These delays are inane and embarrassing.
Bullet Club (Chris Bey & Hikuleo) vs FinJuice
Bey and Leo try some trickery early, but Finlay keeps pace. When Leo gets back into the match he starts throwing Finlay around a bit, which opens up opportunity for Bey. Bey looks to get flashy, but Finlay manages to get Juice in and Juice comes in hot. He nearly flips Bey out of the ring, takes Leo off the apron and tags in Finlay for some tandem work.
Leo breaks up the pinfall and then throws out Juice. Finlay grabs Bey in a Backbreaker/STO combination but Bey’s feet bump the referee. Leo chokeslams Finlay, puts Bey on top, but it takes the new referee too long to show up and it’s only a two count. We see Hikuleo trying to finish things, while the new referee tries to wake up the original referee. Leo gets double teamed, Juice Rolls Up Leo and then Bey Rolls Up Finlay, both referees count a 3 count for the different pinfalls. So we get a little call back to Beer Money and Motor City Machine Guns if we’re staying within TNA Universe.
This will probably end up a triple threat, unlike the MCMG/Beer Money double pinfall which ended in overtime.
There’s a long segment with Josh Alexander giving us his story. It’s not a bad segment, but the only advantage to the show starting late means I got to rewind for the match and speed through most of this. Alexander is a great story, but I already mostly know it, and would really like to see him win at Bound for Glory. Get the title back on a wrestler on the actual IMPACT roster.
Jordynne Grace & Fallah Bahh vs Tenille Dashwood & John Skyler vs Chelsea Green & Crazzy Steve:
This is a Digital Media Championship preliminary match. I find it interesting that there’s 3 men and 3 women. So instead of one or two for “inclusion” it’s actually an even spread. The way the teams are broken apart is interesting too where it’s Power vs Crazy vs Opportunistic.
The gimmicks actually paid off in the match. Jodynne massacred kids, but then things started to get a little messy. Fallah gets a handle on things, squishes the world, and then looks to BAHHnzai Drop on Tenille but Kaleb gets involved. A little more confusion, Steve hits King Kill 33 on Fallah, but Skyler pulls Steve out of the ring. Tenille hits the Spotlight Kick and the Opportunistic team win because well…there was an opportunity.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) October 22, 2021
Pick Your Poison: Savannah Evans w/Tasha Steelz vs Mickie James
Mickie takes a moment to absorb the accolades from the crowd first, and then we see a quick strategy twist. Savannah looks for a few Haymakers and using her reach to her advantage, where Mickie just finds a few quick strikes and interesting angles to land some offense. Mickie looked to be building some momentum, and then Tasha got involved.
Savannah starts to dominate after the assist from her second. Big Bear Hug in the middle has Savannah just ragdolling Mickie until she can land a few choice Forearms. Mickie fights out, Sole Butts, a few nice attacks and Mickie hits the Avalanche Thesz Press, but only a 2 count. Deonna’s music plays as Savannah kicks out, Mickie is distracted and then we see Savannah lay in some big shots. The Full Nelson Bomb only gets Savannah a 2. Mick Kick rocks Mickie and then Mick DDT for the win. Hardcore Country wins the match.
Deonna walks down, mouths off…actually pushes Mickie…so I’m confused about the no contact clause…but then Rehwoldt shows up behind Mickie and wipes her out.
— IMPACT (@IMPACTWRESTLING) October 22, 2021
Alex Zayne vs Trey Miguel
The Sauce against the other guy who can’t speak but likes to try to use food analogies and sucks at it, aka, Trey Miguel. He’s like a Young Will Ospreay with less ability to talk…so no upside at the moment cause Ospreay was pretty awful up until a year or two ago.
So this is just a lot of counters, blocks, Arm Wringers, not much direct offense, just a lot of choreographed spots. This feels like a much slower paced version of a Ricochet/Ospreay match from 2016. Zayne is a more fluid wrestler, and he just makes everything look good. Miguel does a weird Cradled Octopus but Zayne responds with a Handspring Frankensteiner, as an early highlight spot.
Miguel in Ospreay fashion hits the Cheeky Nandos, into the corner stuck Tiger Feint, Meteora and Trey wins.
Thankfully Maclin attacks Trey after the match so I feel generally better. Bullet Club comes out and take out both Maclin and Trey. El Phantasmo just baby faced himself in my house.
Show ends with the usual talking segment hyping the World Title match. Alexander gets a “You Deserve It” from the crowd and portrays himself as the everyman fighting for his boys. Christian’s music hits and Captain Charisma vacuum shows up to stir a pot that doesn’t need to be stirred.
Christian taking the experienced thrives under pressure condescending veteran angle is…annoying. Like I said a few weeks ago, the boxes they are trying to play in, I don’t love. Alexander does flip the script nicely talking about how people classified him as nothing more than a Tag Team guy, and “sounding familiar” strikes a chord with Christian. Small scuffle as Christian tries to snip back, but it’s fairly paint by numbers.
Overall Score: 5/10
Low key? This was a pretty lame episode for an Impact Go Home. The matches weren’t really anything special, with the most happening during Pick Your Poison, but it effectively being a non-issue. The YouTube delay of course hurt my enjoyment of the show, but even without the delay, I don’t really feel like this would’ve registered much higher on my scale.
I am looking forward to Bound for Glory because of who’s in the matches, but this episode didn’t help sell it. Thankfully it’s already sold out, and most people probably decided if they were purchasing it by now.
When it comes down to it, I’m expecting quite a few title changes, even though I’m figuring that Mickie’s involvement is more of a one off to give the rub to younger talent and cement her dominant reign. Alexander I would love to see win the belt and The IInspiration would do wonders and put an immediate spotlight on a division that has floundered behind a lack of real teams and no real direction.
So I’ll see all of you on Saturday for Bound for Glory!
Mitchell’s NJPW G1 Climax 31 Results & Report! (10/21/21)
Will history be denied in the Climax?
The Autumn heatwave comes to a head right here!
NJPW could see something never before seen! The Golden Star makes a fourth finals appearance, but will he have a historic THREEPEAT in the G1?
NOTE: NJPW no longer wants to feed AXS TV now that it is with Anthem and Impact Wrestling. But never fear, I will cover NJPW in the spirit of AXS in providing the most important matches of the show.
- The United Empire VS Toru Yano & Yuji Nagata; Yano & Nagata win.
- Six Man Tag: Chaos VS House of Torture; House of Torture wins.
- Special Exhibition: Zack Sabre Jr. VS Katsuyori Shibata; Time Limit Draw.
- G1 Climax 31 Finals: Kota Ibushi VS Kazuchika Okada; Okada wins and has the Right to Challenge for the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship.
PLAY BY PLAY
The United Empire VS Toru Yano & Yuji Nagata!
Jeff Cobb was so close to the G1 finals but he still fell short. Will he and Great-O-Khan unleash their frustrations on the Producer and Blue Justice? Or will their woes only continue on the final night?
Cobb and Khan stand still at center during Yano’s long introduction. The teams sort out and Khan calls Yano out. Fans rally up, Yano starts with Khan and the two circle. Yano is a bit scared of Khan but then Khan attacks from behind! Khan stomps and CLUBS Yano in a corner, rakes his eyes, then lets off as the ref counts. Khan whips Yano corner to corner but Yano reverses, and goes to untie the corner pad! Yano gets the buckle pad off, Khan runs corner to corner but Yano dodges! Khan hits bare buckles, Yano slaps Khan on the back of his head! Fans rally up as Yano runs, but Khan BOOTS him down!
Khan drags Yano up by his ears, the ref counts and Khan throws Yano out. Cobb gets in to DECK Nagata! The United Empire goes out, Khan SMACKS Yano with the buckle pad! Khan stomps Yano at the railing, then storms off. Cobb stomps Nagata, fans rally up, and a ring count begins. Khan drags Yano up and puts him in, then CHOKES him! The ref reprimands, Khan lets go at 4, and he taunts Yano with his ponytail before he stomps him down. Fans rally up for “Y T R! Y T R!” but Khan drags Yano up and to the corner. Cobb tags in and headbutts Yano in the side! Cobb slaps Yano around, brings him up and ROCKS him with a forearm.
Cobb headbutts Yano down, drags him to a cover, TWO! Another try, TWO! Cobb is annoyed but fans rally up as he drags Yano around. Cobb hoists Yano up and RAMS him into a corner! Then goes corner to corner, but chooses not to use the bare buckles as he rams Yano in again! And again! Fans fire up for that showing of strength, and Cobb taunts Yano. Fans rally, Yano throws body shots, but Cobb eggs him on. Yano throws a forearm, Cobb knees him down! Yano pulls hair, Cobb ROCKS him with a right! Cobb whips but Yano reverses to throw Cobb down by his hair! Hot tag to Nagata! Nagata BOOTS Cobb, BOOTS Khan then KICKS away on Cobb!
Nagata whips Cobb but Cobb reverses, only for Nagata to come back with a BOOT! Nagata brings Cobb up but Cobb blocks the exploder, so Nagata ENZIGURIS! Cobb staggers, fans rally for Nagata and he runs in to SHINING WIZARD in the corner! Nagata reels Cobb in but Cobb fights off the exploder. Nagata throws forearms, whips but Cobb reverses to DROPKICK! Fans rally up and Cobb tags in Khan. Khan and Cobb coordinate, Khan CLUBS and stomps Nagata. The United Empire double whip then Cobb whips Khan in, but Nagata dodges to BOOT Cobb down! Khan dodges the boot but Nagata holds off the iron claw!
Khan keeps trying but Nagata throws the claw away. Nagata fakes Khan out to dropkick Khan’s leg! Nagata then dodges Khan’s clothesline to hit an EXPLODER! Fans fire up and Nagata tags in Yano! Yano fires up and whips Khan. Khan reverses but Yano stops himself from hitting the bare buckles, only for Khan to RAM him in! Khan whips Yano to ropes, Yano holds ropes and dodges Khan to clinch and BELLY2BELLY! Fans rally, Yano drags Khan up and dodges the claw to Fireman’s Carry Takeover! But Khan returns the Fireman’s Carry Takeover! Fans fire up, Khan elbows Nagata down and Cobb joins in.
The United Empire double whip Yano, Khan runs in and clotheslines! Cobb runs in to back elbow! Cobb gut wrench suplexes Yano, then Khan gut wrench suplexes Yano back! Cover, but Nagata breaks it! Cobb throws hands on Nagata then throws Nagata out. Cobb keeps after Nagata with a choke against railing! Fans rally up as Khan pushes Yano towards his boot! But the ref is distracted by Nagata whipping Cobb into railing and Yano LOW BLOWS Khan! Cover, Yano & Nagata win!!
Winners: Toru Yano & Yuji Nagata, by pinfall
The United Empire got ahead of itself and now they’ve lost again! Will they ever be able to face their leader, Will Ospreay, like this?
Six Man Tag: Chaos VS House of Torture!
Tomohiro Ishii fell in the ninth but Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI finished strong. Now they go back to focusing on being NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Champions. Will they win together in this non-title match? Or will the King of Darkness lead Tokyo Pimp and High Voltage to victory in their first trios outing?
Sho still has a Chaos towel and looks at it. It hasn’t been updated, it still has his name on it. He throws it down and stomps on it! And a brawl breaks out! Hashi throws Evil out, Ishii is after Yujiro, and Goto goes after Sho in the ring. The bell rings and Goto stomps away in the corner. The ref counts as Goto digs his boot in but Goto lets off to then stomp Sho more. Goto stands Sho up to CHOP him, then whips him corner to corner. Goto runs in to clothesline, then he feeds Sho to Hashi’s CHOP! Sho sputters and crawls but Goto-Hashi fire off on him. They double whip but Sho holds ropes, and then Evil and Yujiro get in to throw them down! Sho DECKS Ishii, then stomps away on Goto!
Evil and Yujiro go after Ishii and Hashi, then Sho stomps Goto out of the ring. Sho goes after Goto’s bad arm with elbows, and Evil RAMS Ishii into railing in front of commentary! The ref is busy watching Sho and Goto so Evil gets a chair to dig it into Ishii’s neck! Sho digs his heel into Goto, the ref reprimands, but Yujiro whips Hashi into railing on the other side. Sho stomps Goto but fans rally up for Chaos. Goto hits back but Sho CLUBS away on him! Sho drags Goto up and puts him in the ring. Sho whips him in, and surprise! The blue corner’s buckles are bare! Standard Bullet Club fare at this point. Evil tags in and he stands on Goto’s head.
Hashi gets in and goes after Evil but Evil rakes Hashi’s eyes! Evil throws Hashi out but distracts the ref so that Dick Togo can whip Hashi hard into railing! Evil drags Goto up, CLUBS the bad arm, then gives him toying kicks. Fans rally up for Goto as Evil drags him up. Evil CLUBS the bad arm, tags in Yujiro, and Yujiro drives an elbow into the bad arm. Yujiro wraps the arm around ropes while Sho distracts the ref. Yujiro lets off to bring Goto around and snapmare. Yujiro runs to basement boot the bad arm! Cover, TWO! Fans rally up, Yujiro stomps Goto to the ropes but Goto kicks back. Yujiro knees low, tags in Sho, and Sho taunts Ishii before he mugs Goto.
Sho stomps and digs his heel into Goto’s bad arm! Sho even uses the ropes! Ishii gets in but the ref works to keep him back. Sho taunts Ishii but Ishii still backs down. Fans rally, Goto rises, but Sho slaps him. Goto throws elbows and CHOPS! Sho elbows the bad arm again and again! Goto drops to a knee, Sho wrenches the good arm and KICKS away. But Goto blocks a kick, so Sho rakes his eyes! Sho runs, Goto follows and LARIATS! Both men are down and fans rally up again! Goto crawls, hot tag to Ishii! Ishii storms in after Sho, drags him up but Sho throws forearms! Ishii just ROCKS Sho! Yujiro runs in but Ishii ROCKS him, too!
Ishii whips, Yujiro reverses and Evil catches Ishii. Yujiro runs in but Ishii boots him first! Ishii elbows Evil away and then baits Yujiro in! Yujiro falls for it, Ishii sends him at Evil! Ishii whips and sends Yujiro in again! Evil holds on but Ishii baits Yujiro in again! Yujiro runs but Ishii dodges and the BOOT sends Evil down! Ishii runs and CLOBBERS Yujiro! Fans fire up as Ishii stands tall and goes back to Sho. Ishii CHOPS high on Sho and the ref reprimands but Ishii still CHOPS! Sho gasps and sputters, Ishii stands him up to CHOP him and slap him! Ishii drags Sho up to suplex, but Sho slips out to waistlock. Ishii elbows away until he’s free, then runs into Sho’s kitchen sink knee!
Sho stomps Ishii to a corner, stomps away on him and digs in boots. The ref reprimands, counts, but Sho lets off at 4. Sho comes back to KICK Ishii but Ishii stands right up! Ishii throws forearms but Sho gives them back. Fans fire up as the two go back and forth, and Ishii gets the edge! Sho wobbles, Ishii runs but Sho JUMP KNEES! Sho whips Ishii into the bare buckles! But Ishii swats the clothesline away, only to swing into a waistlock. Sho shoves Ishii to ropes and Evil trips him up! Sho runs to basement dropkick! Evil tags in, Sho goes after Goto-Hashi! Yujiro and Evil whip Ishii into a corner, Yujiro runs in to BOOT! Sho adds a clothesline, then Evil adds his own!
Evil brings Ishii out to a FISHERMAN BUSTER! Cover, TWO! Evil is furious but the ref defends his count. Fans rally up for “I-SHI-I!” but Evil drags him back up. Evil fireman’s carries but Ishii fights free to shove Evil into Hashi’s forearm! Then Ishii reels Evil in for a BIG back suplex! Both men are down, fans rally up, hot tag to Hashi! Hashi runs but Evil blocks the clothesline, so Hashi CHOPS! Evil rebounds but Hashi forearms, kicks and CHOPS! Evil spins, into a SUPERKICK! Evil falls, Sho gets in but gets a mule kick! Yujiro runs in but gets a BACKSTABBER! Fans fire up with Hashi but Evil kicks and runs. Hashi ducks and dodges to LARIAT!
Hashi drags Evil up with a sleeper, then half nelsons and pump handles. Evil fights, grabs the ref, and Dick gets on the apron with the SPOILER CHOKER! Evil distracts the ref but Goto trips Dick! Hashi is free, Goto gets in but Evil kicks first. Evil runs, but into the fireman’s carry! Evil slips off, runs at Goto but Goto dodges and Hashi SUPERKICKS! Goto reels Evil in, HEADSHOT to Hashi’s METEORA! Fans fire up, Goto gets Evil up, dragon sleeper and Hashi picks Evil up, G Y W!! But Dick distracts the ref from the cover! Chaos would’ve won by now! Yujiro gets in to shove Hashi into the ref! CANE SHOT for Goto! CANE SHOT for Hashi!
But Ishii gets in to GERMAN SUPLEX Yujiro! Sho gets in to CHAIRSHOT Ishii! CHAIRSHOT to Hashi’s head!! Evil drags Hashi up and reels him in, EVERYTHING IS EVIL!! Dick gets the ref up and he counts the cover, House of Torture wins!
Winners: House of Torture, by pinfall
Bullet Club’s newest sub-faction just pinned the champions! And now they add insult to injury! SPOILER CHOKER for Goto! Sho reels Ishii in for the CROSS ARM DRIVER! Yujiro chokes Hashi with the pimp cane! Evil grabs the NEVER Openweight Six Man belts, and hands one each to Sho and Yujiro. The HOT boys stand tall, will they soon take gold away from Chaos?
Zack Sabre Jr heads to the ring.
It’s not really clear what the Submission Master is doing here. He missed out on the finals, and he isn’t dressed in his usual gear. Wait is that Katsuyori Shibata?!?! He’s got wrist tape, a kneepad, and a wrestling towel, but this can’t be! Is he coming back to wrestling?!
Special Exhibition: Zack Sabre Jr. VS Katsuyori Shibata!
Fans are thunderous already and the bell rings! ZSJ and Shibata circle, feel things out, collar ‘n’ elbow but Shibata gets a waistlock. ZSJ moves around, Shibata keeps on him. ZSJ switches Shibata scrambles free and fans cheer. Shibata goes for a leg sweep, has a leg guard when it misses, but ZSJ works on getting through it. ZSJ facelocks, armlocks, goes back to the facelock as Shibata stands, but Shibata hits a takedown. ZSJ keeps Shibata back with a body scissors, but Shibata shifts around. ZSJ holds off the lateral press but Shibata manages a top mount. ZSJ tries to fight it with his legs but Shibata gets away. The two stand off and fans are thunderous again!
Shibata and ZSJ knuckle lock, Shibata gets a leg. Shibata gets under the leg and trips ZSJ up to then get a FIGURE FOUR! ZSJ fights it to the last, using his own head to block. Shibata fights through but ZSJ toeholds! Shibata has that kneepad for a reason and he lets off as he clutches his knee. ZSJ keeps on the foot, makes it a standing toehold and again uses his own head for leverage. Shibata rolls, reels ZSJ in for a headlock takeover but ZSJ headscissors! Shibata moves around, headstands and pops free to have ZSJ’s leg for a toehold. ZSJ grabs at Shibata but Shibata has the same standing toehold. ZSJ rolls and tries to use the same trick Shibata did but Shibata holds that off!
Shibata rolls ZSJ, the two stand off again and fans cheer. ZSJ and Shibata reset, tie up with knuckle locks, and Shibata brings ZSJ to his knees. ZSJ fights up but Shibata powers him down again. ZSJ spins things around to a straitjacket stretch! Shibata turns it around onto ZSJ and sits him down. ZSJ wriggles, spins Shibata around and brings him down. ZSJ hooks Shibata’s legs and brings him into a STRAITJACKET SURFBOARD! Shibata gets his legs free and rolls back to put the straitjacket back on ZSJ! ZSJ stands up, wiggles the straitjacket down and gets a headlock. Shibata powers up but ZSJ holds on tight!
Fans rally for “SHI-BA-TA!” and he powers out to get a SLEEPER!! ZSJ fights up, but Shibata goes for the Cobra Twist! ZSJ holds that off, switches and puts the twist on Shibata! Shibata fights, ZSJ does everything he can to get leverage, but Shibata switches back to the IRON OCTOPUS! But the bell rings because time’s up!!
Time Limit Draw
Fans are thunderous as ZSJ and Shibata let off and reset to their corners. The ref raises both men’s hands, and Shibata offers a handshake. ZSJ accepts it, and fans cheer even more! ZSJ takes his leave, and Shibata gets the mic to speak to the crowd. “Zack. Thank you.” Shibata then passionately promises that this isn’t the last time we see him back in the ring! Is the Wrestler to be believed? Is he on the mend back to wrestling shape?
G1 Climax 31 Finals: Kota Ibushi VS Kazuchika Okada!
The Golden Star has made history already by making it to the finals four years in a row. But he wants to make further history by winning three in a row! Will that be the headline of the year? Or will the Rainmaker rain on that parade to reestablish himself?
The bell rings and the clapping for “I-BU-SHI!” “O-KA-DA!” is thunderous as the two stare down. Okada and Ibushi slowly circle, approach, feel things out, and Okada backs away. They circle more, approach again and feel things out again. Ibushi shoots in but Okada blocks with a facelock. Ibushi slips around to a waistlock, Okada switches, but Ibushi wrenches the arm to a wristlock. Okada rolls and trips Ibushi to have a toehold. Ibushi tries to headscissor but Okada fights that off as he cranks the hold. Ibushi gets a chinlock and pries Okada off the foot. Okada stands up, Ibushi hits a takeover but now Okada headscissors. Ibushi kips free and fans cheer the standoff!
Okada and Ibushi go back to their corners, then approach again. They circle, tie up, Okada headlocks and grinds Ibushi down. Ibushi hooks a leg but Okada keeps on the headlock. Ibushi rolls but can’t get the cover so he gets Okada with a headlock. Okada fights off Ibushi trapping an arm, gets a headscissor and he clamps on tight. Okada pushes up to put on pressure but Ibushi endures. Ibushi kips, moves around, and he pops out to then get a headlock. Okada rolls it to a cover, ONE! Ibushi holds on, Okada fights up, pries at the hold, but Ibushi clamps it back on. Okada pushes with wrists to put Ibushi on the ropes and Red Shoes calls the ropebreak.
Ibushi lets go, Okada lets off slowly, and then he whips! Okada drops, hurdles, Ibushi leaps over, ducks and dodges, but Ibushi fakes out the dropkick! Okada lands on his feet, avoid the V-Trigger and gets around to wristlock! Ibushi avoid the Rainmaker and fans are thunderous again as the two stand off. Okada and Ibushi reset, approach, feel things out, and they feel things out. They knuckle lock, Ibushi kicks low then KICKS Okada off is feet! Ibushi wraps on a chinlock and grinds Okada down. Ibushi then gets Okada’s arms for a motorcycle stretch, with a knee in Okada’s back. Okada scoots forward but Ibushi uses a chicken wing and crossface!
Okada turns to block the hold but Ibushi hops on for a rear mount. Ibushi goes to a sleeper and body scissors, but Okada fights to the ropebreak! Ibushi lets off, but then he stomps Okada down! Fans rally up, Ibushi drags Okada up and CLUBS Okada on the back! Ibushi stands Okada up to whip but Okada reverses and FLAPJACKS! Fans rally again, “I-BU-SHI!” “O-KA-DA!” as Okada stalks Ibushi. Okada drags Ibushi up, turns him and hits a NECKBREAKER! Cover, TWO! Okada paces and brings Ibushi up but Ibushi scrambles away to ropes. Okada stomps him down, brings him back up, and snapmares to run for the basement dropkick!
Okada drags Ibushi back up, ROCKS him with a right, but Ibushi glares and throws a forearm back. Okada eggs Ibushi on and Ibushi throws more forearms. Okada takes those to knee low, then scoop SLAM! Okada goes to the apron to slingshot senton! Cover, ONE!! Okada clamps right on with a chinlock and fans rally again. Ibushi endures, fights up and throws body shots. Okada CLUBS Ibushi on the back, brings him around and ROCKS him with a forearm to the back! Fans rally up as Ibushi is in the corner. Okada stands Ibushi up to throw back elbows. Okada then whips Ibushi corner to corner, runs in, but Ibushi dodges! Ibushi comes back but Okada BOOTS him!
Okada runs but into a dropkick! Fans rally up while both men are down! Ibushi rises but Okada follows. Ibushi throws forearm after forearm then whips, but Okada reverses, only for Ibushi to GAMANGIRI! Fans rally, Ibushi fires off a strike fest, then ROUNDHOUSES Okada down! STANDING MOONSAULT! Cover, TWO! Fans keep rallying as Ibushi gets up. Okada bails out but Ibushi pursues. Okada kicks low and whips Ibushi into railing! Ibushi falls in a heap but Okada brings him up to whip him the other way. Ibushi reverses and Okada stops himself, only to swing into a HALF ‘N’ HALF to the floor!
Both men are down on the outside and Red Shoes checks on them. They’re both okay to continue and a ring count starts. Ibushi stands at 4, brings Okada up at 7, and puts him in at 9 of 20. Ibushi aims, springboards and missile dropkicks! Okada flounders to a corner, Ibushi runs in, but Okada dodges! Okada puts Ibushi up top to dropkick him to the floor! Fans rally up as both men are down. Okada goes out after Ibushi, throws a EuroUpper, then brings Ibushi around the way to the ramp, for a DDT! Red Shoes checks but Ibushi is somehow okay. Okada takes a moment while the ring count climbs to catch his breath and get up.
Okada goes into the ring at 8 of 20 then leaves the rest on Ibushi. Ibushi stirs at 13, rises at 15, stands at 16 but Okada goes out to put him in. Fans cheer as this continues in the ring, and Okada SHOTGUNS Ibushi into the other corner! Okada drags Ibushi up, reels him in and wrenches to the MONEY CLIP! Ibushi endures, throws body shots with his free arm and RAMS Okada into the buckle! Ibushi is free, he throws more elbows then runs, but Okada dropkicks him down! MONEY CLIP! Ibushi endures again, fights his way up, reaches for ropes, but Okada lets him go to scoop and SPINNING TOMBSTONE! And back to the MONEY CLIP!!
Ibushi endures, fans keep rallying and Ibushi fights for the ropes. But Okada drags him away! Ibushi pounds the mat and fans rally up. Ibushi reaches out again but Okada hits a BACK2BACKBREAKER! And back to the MONEY CLIP!! Ibushi scrambles and gets the ROPEBREAK! Okada lets go in frustration but fans are thunderous again. Okada brings Ibushi up, scoops and SLAMS him, then goes to the corner. Okada climbs, aims, MACHO ELBOW DROP! And… Rainmaker Pose! Okada stalks Ibushi, drags him up and ripcords, but Ibushi ducks! Okada ducks the roundhouse, tries again, Ibushi LARIATS first!!
Fans rally hard as ever as Ibushi gets Okada’s wrists. Okada throws a forearm but Ibushi gives it back! Ibushi eggs Okada on so Okada forearms again! Ibushi forearms back, Okada gives another! Ibushi forearms, Okada forearms, and they pick up speed. Fans rally as Okada eggs Ibushi on, the forearms keep going, Ibushi ROCKS Okada then fires off a flurry! Okada staggers but stays up and Ibushi grins! Is this Kowai Ibushi!? Okada roars but runs into a RANA! Okada bails out and fans are thunderous as Ibushi goes to the apron. Ibushi rallies the fans and ARIHARA MOONSAULTS!! Direct hit at the ramp and fans stay fired up!
Ibushi drags Okada up, puts him in, and he drags Okada up to reel him in. SIT-OUT POWERBOMB! Cover, TWO! Ibushi keeps his focus and gets the wrists. Okada shoots in to avoid Kami-Goye but Ibushi CLUBS away! Okada ducks the buzzsaw to backslide but Ibushi rolls through! Ibushi ducks the lariat to ripcord ROUNDHOUSE! Ibushi keeps the wrists, to V-TRIGGER! KENNY~! Ibushi gets both wrists, KAMIGOYE!! Cover, TWO!! Okada survives and fans are thunderous again! Ibushi brings the kneepad down and vows to end it this time. Ibushi drags Okada up with wristlocks but Okada shoots in to back drop and sit on the cover, TWO!!
Ibushi is surprised he escaped, but he runs in, only for Okada to dodge. Okada ducks the lariat, spins but Ibushi LARIATS again! Fans rally hard as ever, Ibushi puts Okada in a drop zone and goes to the corner. Ibushi climbs up, to PHOENIX FLOP!! Okada avoids the splash and fans are electric as both men are down! Okada sits up in the corner, Red Shoes checks on Ibushi, and he calls it?!? Ibushi can’t continue, Okada wins!!!
Winner: Kazuchika Okada, by referee’s stoppage (G1 Climax 31 Winner)
Medics hurry out to check on Ibushi as he clutches an arm. Okada lets Young Lions help, and this isn’t really how anyone wanted this one to go. Shingo Takagi even gets off commentary to be at ringside for this. Either way, the Rainmaker wins the 31st G1. Okada checks on Ibushi and fans clap for Ibushi as medics help him up. The injury does seem to be Ibushi’s right arm, and that complicates his ability to exit, so the bottom rope has to be undone. At the same time, Red Shoes and timekeeper Abe-san set up the NJPW flag and G1 trophy. Okada checks with Ibushi and assures him it’s alright. Fans clap to assure Ibushi the same, and he manages to exit the ring.
Red Shoes raises Okada’s hand in victory and now things can be a celebration. Okada is presented with the trophy and banner by the NJPW president, then they stand together for the photo op. Okada gets his solo photo op and fans cheer. Okada then takes a moment and gets the mic. “G1 Climax!” This match ended in a referee stoppage, but all the same, Okada sticks out his chest with pride in saying he won. Okada and Ibushi fought with heart and pride all over Japan, and in the end, the result is what matters, a win is a win, and Okada has won. He thanks the fans for their support in this hot, hot Autumn.
So now, Okada’s eyes are set on the Tokyo Dome, but also on showing us he is the CENTER of NJPW’s world! It is on him to tear it up! Okada vows to once again carry NJPW on his back. Okada wants to say that this is the end, but first, he hopes Ibushi can come back so they can do this again properly. And as the G1 Champion, Okada will say this to management. “Make sure that I get to re-assault Kota Ibushi again, so that I can face Ibushi and make sure I am the fourth IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.” Okada wants to be IWGP Heavyweight Champion if he can’t be world champion, as he waits for Ibushi. And of course, he’ll make it rain all over NJPW!
Okada strikes his pose and the streamers fly! Okada is fired up for the road to WrestleKingdom 16, will he make it to the goal of the Tokyo Dome?
That was a rough ending for the main event given how great it was going, but this was still an overall great event. I chose to skip the 8 Man Tags because in many ways, NJPW uses those as filler. I believe Bullet Club won theirs while Los Ingobernables de Japon won the other. I kept the first two matches, though, because I was curious. For one, I thought Cobb & Khan were going to rebound but Yano gets another one over on Khan. The Six Man Tag was really good stuff, even with the usual antics of Evil and Dick. But in the end, the House of Torture winning of course sets up a Six Man title match for Power Struggle (and hopefully not a random Road to event). Hard to say who wins that at this point but it wouldn’t surprise me if House of Torture cheats to take those belts.
As I said, a rough ending to what was building to be an epic match between Okada and Ibushi. Ibushi really went hot into that Phoenix Splash and that is clearly what injured his arm around the forearm to wrist area. Who knows if Okada was meant to win before, but that’s just how it goes. Okada now carries the Right to Challenge and might owe Tama Tonga a shot at that with Tama being the only one who beat Okada during the round robin. I’m pretty sure Okada holds onto the Right to Challenge to have another match with Takagi that at this point could go either way.
My Score: 8.9/10
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