Category Archives: Pro Wrestling

2019 WWE Survivor Series Results & Review

Photo Credit – WWE.COM

The thirty-third annual Survivor Series emanated from the All-State Arena in Chicago, Illinois, with a new caveat added to the event’s brand supremacy theme. For the first time, NXT competed against Raw and SmackDown. There were several Interbrand matches along with three title matches that made for one of the better WWE pay-per-views of 2019.

WWE didn’t make the wrestlers wear those color-coded brand-specific t-shirts, which were lame. Adam Cole is the big winner here as his matches throughout this pay-per-view cycle exuded superstardom. It will be interesting to see what is in store for him in the next six months.

The match I was looking forward to the most was the Triple Threat encounter between NXT North American Champion Roderick Strong, U.S. Champion AJ Styles, and Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura. In some ways, this match was behind the eight ball before it began since it was never going to live up to the impossible expectations fans had considering the talent involved.

While it never got to that fifth gear, it got close as all three wrestlers worked well together. Several big spots got the tough Chicago crowd to come alive. Roderick Strong got the win when Styles hit the phenomenal forearm on Nakamura and Strong ran in, threw Styles out of the ring, and pinned Nakamura.

Adam Cole defeated Pete Dunne to retain the NXT Championship in what is unquestionably match of the night. This was their most high profile match to date. This match could have very easily been a significant misstep considering Vince McMahon usually doesn’t book NXT style matches on major WWE shows. Vince deserves credit for letting NXT shine by allowing them to do what they do best. I’d recommend going out of your way to see this one.

Team SmackDown won the Men’s Survivor Series Triple Threat Elimination Match when Roman Reigns pinned NXT’s Keith Lee to emerge as the sole survivor. I was concerned that NXT would get lost in the shuffle of the main roster star power of Raw and SmackDown.

One point of contention occurred right of the bat when WWE U.K. Champion WALTER, representing Team NXT, was eliminated in four minutes. The crowd hated this, and fans online were equally as upset. WALTER shined against both Bruan Strowman and Drew McIntyre until McIntyre hit WALTER with the Claymore Kick for the elimination.

Looking at this from a promoter’s lens, this was the first time seeing WALTER for a large part of the audience. Booking WALTER to run roughshod over McIntyre and Strowman was done with the idea of getting him over with the uninitiated before he was eliminated. However, it wasn’t enough as all everyone remembers is how quickly WALTER was pinned.

Tomasso Ciampa pinning Kevin Owens with a draping DDT, in front of Randy Orton, was funny because it is a move out of Orton’s playbook. Also, Orton never beats anyone with that move while Ciampa sealed the deal.

Seth Rollins’ next t-shirt should read, “How the mighty have fallen.” The once-popular superstar is now a pariah due to several Twitter faux pas over the past few months. While he didn’t say anything offensive, his comments have made him come off as a company kiss ass while WWE has been pushing Rollins as the cool lead babyface on television.

Photo Credit – WWE.COM

Keith Lee came off like a superstar in the final frame with Roman Reigns. In defeat, Reigns offered a fist bump out of respect to Lee, which spoke volumes. Typically, fans would have rejected the idea of the top guy giving props to an already popular wrestler.

However, Reigns has only extended his fist to members of The Shield. Lee getting such praise came off as a nice moment that suggests big things are in store for the former Texas A&M defensive end. At 6′ 2″, 320 lbs. and moves like a cat, Lee has the makings of a superstar.

Brocks Lesnar matches at Survivor Series have become an event unto itself. The past two years he tore the house down with smaller opponents in AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan. This year he wrestled the smallest of the small in Rey Mysterio.

The NO DQ stipulation was used well as the mammoth Lesnar threw Mysterio around like a ping-pong ball. Rey found an opening and walloped Lesnar at will with a lead pipe. Rey’s son Dominick got involved and looked as if he was going to throw the towel in. The father and son duo delivered a double 619 to Lesnar, which was fantastic.

Each also delivered an Eddie Guerrero style frog splash to Lesnar. Dominick got some serious height with his splash. Lesnar caught Rey coming off the top rope with an F-5 for the win. While the match was short, it was fun while it lasted and told a great story.

In the main event, NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Bazler defeated Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch and SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley. The finish saw Bazler submit Bayley with a rear-naked choke, giving NXT the overall win for the evening with four wins, two wins for SmackDown, and one win for Raw.

NXT’s involvement this year made for one of the better Survivor Series shows in some time. They added a fresh element to the overproduced “brand supremacy” theme and greatly improved the match quality. WWE booking NXT as the heel invaders worked against them, inadvertently making them the babyface underdogs that no one wanted to lose.

It was important for NXT to shine on its biggest stage to date, and their win over Raw and SmackDown could give them the rub needed to beat AEW, in the ratings, consistently going forward. WWE produced a fun show that elevated their most popular asset. I’d say mission accomplished.

 

Survivor Series Quick Results:

Photo Credit – WWE.COM

  1. Team NXT (Rhea Ripley, Io Shirai, Bianca Belair, Candice LeRae, and Toni Storm) def. Team SmackDown (Sasha Banks [c], Dana Brooke, Carmella, Lacey Evans, and Nikki Cross) and Team Raw (Charlotte Flair [c], Natalya, Asuka, Kairi Sane, and Sarah Logan)
  2. NXT North American Championship Roderick Strong defeated Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura and U.S. Champion AJ Styles
  3. Adam Cole pinned Pete Dunne to retain the NXT Championship
  4. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt def. Daniel Bryan to retain the WWE Universal Championship
  5. Team SmackDown (Roman Reigns, King Corbin, Shorty G, Mustafa Ali, and Braun Strowman) def. Team Raw (Seth Rollins, Randy Orton, Ricochet, Drew McIntyre, and Kevin Owens) and Team NXT (Tommaso Ciampa, Matt Riddle, Keith Lee, Damian Priest, and WALTER)
  6. Brock Lesnar defeated Rey Mysterio in a No Holds Barred, No Disqualification Match to retain the WWE Championship
  7. NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler defeated SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley and Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch

Favorite Matches #1: Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kota Ibushi

For twenty-three years, Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin from the 1996 Survivor Series was my favorite wrestling match of all-time. That all changed on January 4, 2015, at 5:30 A.M. EST as the IWGP Intercoientlal Title was defended in the co-main event of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s preeminent show, Wrestle Kingdom 9.

I’ve been a casual fan of New Japan since the mid-’90s. Through internet tape trading, I would often see the promotion’s marquee matches weeks or even months after they occurred. Five years ago, New Japan was in the midst of a resurgence that got fans excited. The company’s streaming service debuted within that time and American fans had the opportunity to watch Wrestle Kingdom, for the first time, live.

I had seen Nakamura wrestle for the first time at a 2011 New Japan show in NYC. I was thoroughly impressed with his in-ring style but I was unfamiliar with his character. Wrestle Kingdom served as my introduction to Kota Ibushi and knew absolutely nothing about him going into the match. The show was already great and I assumed that Nakamura in the second to last match against anyone had to be good.

So, why do I love this match? Well, for starters, Nakamura came to the ring dressed as a combination of Freddie Mercury and the Statue of Liberty. The attire was Nakamura’s flamboyant way of proclaiming himself the King of Strong Style. The story going in was simple. Ibushi was a newly minted heavyweight coming up from the junior heavyweight division. He assaulted Nakamura two months earlier and challenged him to a title match.

Ibushi got into Nakamura’s head early, mocking him at every turn. Nakamura missed the Bom A Ye knee and received a dropkick in the back. Ibushi hit Nakamura with some of his own signature moves including the good vibrations kick in the corner. Nakamura regained control and pumbled Ibushi with every type of knee strike imaginable. Nakamura slapped Ibush a few times and followed up with a backstabber.

Ibushi landed on his feet from a Nakamura suplex, delivered a hurricanrana and followed up with a moonsault off the top rope and to the floor on Nakamura. Back in the ring, one roundhouse kick from Ibushi appeared to knock Nakamura out cold. I jolted out of my seat at that moment because I truly believed Ibushi hit him too hard and the match was going to be called early. Nope, I was wrong. It was a testament to how well Nakamura sold it.

What I thought was the move of the match came when Ibushi jumped up for a leapfrog, Nakamura slid underneath and Ibushi connected with a double foot stomp to the chest. It looked like something out of The Matrix. The real move of the match came when Ibushi climbed to the top rope, grabbed Nakamura, who was standing on the apron and threw him with a German suplex into the ring.

At that point, I was sold. This was officially my new favorite wrestling match of all time.

The finish came when Nakamura blocked a Phoenix plex attempt from Ibushi and delivered the following onslaught of moves. Head-butts, elbows, Bom A Ye knee to the back, a backstabber, a falcon arrow, and finished it off with a vintage Bom A Ye for the 1-2-3.

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Kota Ibushi was a transformative experience for me as a wrestling fan. I went from a casual viewer to a full-on die-hard fan of anything carrying the red and yellow lion mark New Japan. Both wrestlers produced a twenty-minute masterpiece of personified action and excitement.

Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to properly articulate how much I love this match. I’ll always remember where I was the night Nakamura and Ibushi blew the roof off of the Tokyo Dome.

 

My Favorite Matches

Kenny Omega vs. Okada III – G-1 Climax B Block Finals 2017

Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania 25

Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin – Survivor Series 1996

Kurt Agle vs. Chris Benoit – Royal Rumble 2003

Bret Hart vs. Undertaker – One Night Only 1997

Ricky Steamboat vs. Macho Man Randy Savage – WrestleMania 3

Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart – Summer Slam 1991 

British Bulldog vs. Owen Hart – Monday Night Raw 3/5/97

Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog – Simmer Slam 1992

Favorite Matches: Honorable Mentions

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been on a quest to pen love letters to my ten favorite wrestling matches. Nine of them have already been written with one more to go. Professional wrestling, like any form of entertainment, is subjective. What I like is going to be different from what someone else enjoys, and that’s ok. That is part of the reason why I wrote about each of these matches. To celebrate, not delineate, or force my opinion upon anyone. As my good buddy Dave once told me, “Hey, you like what you like.”

Before reveal post reveal my favorite match of all-time, I’m going to dedicate this post to some of the matches that go in my honorable mentions category. Anyone of these matches could have taken a spot in my top ten. Some of them did when I started this journey. Some of the matches will speak for themselves, while others will require more explanation.

Without further ado…

Magnum TA vs. Tully Blanchard: I Quit Steel Cage Match – Starrcade 1985: A lot of wrestling matches today resemble a dance more than a fight. Magnum and Tully exuded utter hatred for one another that may never be duplicated. Every punch and kick was thrown with the sheer intention to make the other man say the words “I Quit.” Magnum finally won the U.S. Championship after months of Tully escaping by the skin of his teeth. Side Note: This match inadvertently exhibits how wrestlers today can’t throw a punch.

 

Ric Flair vs. Ted DiBiase – Mid South Wrestling 11/6/85: An angry Dick Murdock came out before the match, saying he was the rightful contender. DiBiase told his old mentor that he was yesterday’s news and received a brainbuster suplex on the concrete floor for his troubles. Blood, blood everywhere. DiBiase somehow got to his feet and competed in the match. Everyone was on the edge of their seat, wondering if a heel DiBiase could pull off the miracle of miracles to win the world championship. All around phenomenal storytelling.

 

Sting vs. Diamond Dallas Page – WCW Monday Nitro 3/23/98: This was an unadvertised babyface vs. babyface affair as U.S. Champion DDP challenged Sting for the world title. I felt so lucky to see this match at the time. It was a clean match with no shenanigans or outside interference where both wrestlers fought tooth and nail. Sting won with the Scorpion Death drop, helped DDP to his feet afterward, and shook his hand out of respect. DDP lost but showed everyone he was world championship material.

Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi: 1/4/19: Sometimes, I get so excited about something, the finished product is doomed before it can begin because it can never live up to my impossible expectations. Omega vs. Tanahashi is the match I wanted more than any other from the moment I became a fan of the current form of New Japan Pro Wrestling. Despite the pre-match drama of Omega’s eventual departure from the company, both wrestlers put on a stellar performance. If you played a drinking game of how many times my jaw dropped during this match, your liver would tap out.

 

Macho King Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior – WrestleMania VII: This career match between two titans of the squared circle personified professional wrestling. Great action and high stakes drama were executed to its fullest. Warrior vanquished the Macho King. Moments later, the Macho Man was reborn as he reunited with the lovely Miss Elizabeth. Tears galore were shed as wrestling’s it couple paraded around the ring. I can’t believe this match didn’t make my top ten.

 

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Triple H:  3 Stages of Hell – No Way Out 2001: A two out of three falls match where each fall had a different stipulation. The first fall was a regular match. The second fall was a no disqualification match. The third was a steel cage match. This was the big blow-off where Austin would finally get revenge against Triple H for having him run down by a car one year earlier. Austin made his big return, won the Royal Rumble, and was set to main event WrestleMania 17 against The Rock. The action, storytelling, ring psychology, and selling were all on point. It was all topped by a shocking finish where Triple H pinned the rattlesnake.

 

Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Eddie Guerrero – Halloween Havoc 1997: Many call this the greatest match in WCW history. Mysterio put his mask on the line to get a shot at the WCW Cruiserweight title. They took high flying wrestling to the next level and had a great story going into the match. Eddie was a bastard of a heel, and Rey exuded the heart of a warrior. There was no doubt after this one that Eddie and Rey were two of the best in the business. Another match that could have easily made my top ten.

 

Dynamite Kid vs. Tiger Mask: New Japan Pro Wrestling 8/5/82 – Tokyo, Japan: Between April 1981 – April 1983, Tom Billington and Satoru Sayama revolutionized the wrestling business with seven innovative matches. The emotion and athleticism these two put on display was uncanny and still holds up today. The fifth match is considered their best outing and won the Wrestling Observer Match of the Year. However, you can’t go wrong with any of their bouts.

 

Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior – WrestleMania VI: This was the wrestling equivalent of Superman versus Batman. An epic dream match where no one knew who was going to win. Warrior won in a touch passing moment to capture the world and intercontinental titles. It doesn’t hold up too well today as to match quality. However, at the time, it was great.

 

Maverick Wild vs. Doug Williams: NECW – Somerville, MA 6/22/01: This match occurred on an independent show promoted by New England Championship Wrestling (NECW). I attended the event as a networking opportunity when I was breaking into the business. Maverick Wild was considered the best wrestler in New England while British grappler Doug Williams had earned the same reputation across the pond. They wrestled a superb fifteen-minute draw that got better and better with each bump on the canvas. The wrestling, ring psychology, and intensity on display represented everything I wanted to be as a professional wrestler. This match will stay with me forever.

 

My Favorite Matches

Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels – WrestleMania 25

Bret Hart vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin – Survivor Series 1996

Kurt Agle vs. Chris Benoit – Royal Rumble 2003

Bret Hart vs. Undertaker – One Night Only 1997

Ricky Steamboat vs. Macho Man Randy Savage – WrestleMania 3

Mr. Perfect vs. Bret Hart – Summer Slam 1991 

British Bulldog vs. Owen Hart – Monday Night Raw 3/5/97

Bret Hart vs. British Bulldog – Simmer Slam 1992

New Japan Pro Wrestling of America Announced

PRO

New Japan Pro Wrestling announced yesterday a new U.S. based subsidiary called  New Japan Pro Wrestling of America. The company will be based in California and begin operations in November. CEO Takami Ohbari presented the three phases of their expansion plan.

-Phase One: Discovering new wrestlers in markets outside Japan and developing talent through the LA Dojo.

-Phase Two: Run events in the US, including at Madison Square Garden and Dallas this year, both independently and with the assistance of other promotions.

-Phase Three: Establish a company within the US, and be ingrained in the everyday fabric when it comes to fans’ wrestling consciousness.

Phases one and two are already completed, and phase three is set as NJPW of America will be putting on twenty-seven live events across eighteen states in 2020. Arenas with twenty-five hundred seat capacity will be the targeted cites for the shows.

This is interesting considering WWE recently tried to purchase two wrestling promotions in Japan to create NXT Japan. Pro Wrestling NOAH and women’s promotion Stardom ultimately turned down their respective offers.

New Japan has made some promotional errors in the U.S., which can be chalked up to a difference in business culture. The opening night of the G1 Climax in Dallas only drew five thousand people. It should have drawn more; however, New Japan promoted the show like they usually do in Japan when they announced the card a few days before the show.

That kind of promotion won’t work with a U.S audience because we’re used to getting the lineup at least a month before the event. People need time to decide if they want to spend their money on event tickets, travel plans, and hotel accommodations.

New Japan also announced they’re staying on AXS TV for the foreseeable future. However, AXS is now owned by Anthem, the parent company of Impact Wrestling (Formerly TNA). Impact’s weekly television show debuts on AXS this evening. Odd are Impact will be the station’s priority, not New Japan.

While some feel New Japan is starting off its American expansion too slow, I think it’s just right. Slow and steady wins the race. NJPW of America needs time to adjust to the American way of promotion and marketing.

WWE is the industry leader. Their lackluster storytelling, however, has led to decreasing ratings, which has ultimately led to the emergence of All Elite Wrestling. Wrestling fans want quality matches and storytelling, and other companies are moving in to fill the void.

Arguably, New Japan has the best in-ring product in the game today. It will take more than suitable matches to get over in the U.S. on a mainstream level. I think New Japan realizes this and doesn’t mind moving slowly with its expansion while ensuring the product doesn’t take a single dip in the quality.

Leave Marko Stunt Alone

This past Wednesday on AEW Dynamite, Pentagon and Fenix defeated Marko Stunt and Jungle Boy in a match that has become as divisive as The Last Jedi. Some fans loved the match, and others hate it with a burning passion. However, those who dislike it are not upset because it was a bad match. Their anger stems from the participation of a 98-pound wrestler who stands at 5 foot 2 inches named Marko Stunt.

Marko Stunt didn’t do anything wrong or say anything offensive. His diminutive stature was such a turn off that many couldn’t suspend any modicum of disbelief in a professional wrestling match. Famed manager Jim Cornette echoed the sentiments of disapproval when he tweeted the following.

“The most embarrassingly rotten stinky tag match in history of wrestling just took place on #AEWDynamite & the Ding Dongs are now in 2nd place for worst alltime tag team”

In tag team wrestling, there are two wrestlers to a team and four wrestlers in total. Cornette has called foul on an entire team and match due to the presence of one fun-sized participant. The gist of the vitriol surrounds the notion that it was embarrassing to watch grown men act as if Marko could hurt them or kick out of their big moves.

Marko has been wrestling for four years. However, Wednesday night’s match on TNT was by far the most massive audience he’s performed in front of. 1,014,000 million people witnessed the pint-size grappler perform, and many deemed him too unbelievable for an unbelievable sport.

If you watch the match and look at it from solely a performance perspective, it was a great match, and Marko did his job well. Especially considering he was booked in the match on two hours’ notice as an injury replacement for Luchasaurus. However, when I watched the match with the narrative stakes involved, I was nervous because there were a few big moves where I wasn’t sure if Marko should have kicked out.

Marko worked the match as a hit and run underdog, who was pinned by Pentagon, which is how he should have been booked. Unfortunately, Marko’s stature will make it extremely difficult to overcome any carefully crafted booking. However, it’s not impossible.

Wrestling has always had smaller people inside the ropes. Some felt Bret Hart and Shawn Micheals were too small to be credible world champions when they first won their respective titles. People said Sean Waltman was too small to be taken seriously when he made his WWE debut in 1993 as the 1-2-3 Kid.

“How the hell is this guy gonna beat up anybody,” was my reaction when I saw Rey Mysterio walk down the aisle for the very first time. I ate my words once the bell rang as this amazing athlete proved that his talent was undeniable.

If you don’t like Marko Stunt as a performer, then you don’t like Marko Stunt as a performer. However, while not every super small person who is a wrestler can convey the intangibles to produce the ultimate underdog character that people love to cheer. Marko Stunt does that for those who like him.

In some ways, Marko being the anthesis of what a wrestler is supposed to look like is the evolution of professional wrestling. The industry is in the maiden voyage of a new era. New and up-and-coming talent is being featured. We’ve already seen the biggest of the big get starring roles right out of the gate simply because of their monstrous size, only to fail spectacularly.

Why not see what the smallest of the small has to offer?

NWA POWERRR: Old School Look with New School Energy

Over two years ago, when Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan bought the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), everyone wondered what could be possibly done with the brand. We’re long removed from the days when the NWA was the governing body of professional wrestling or even relevant within the industry.

The last twenty plus years saw the vestiges of the promotion attach itself to any independent promotion willing to pay a membership fee. Most obtained membership out of nostalgia for the once-mighty company where iconic names such as Lou Thez, Harley Race, and Ric Flair showcased their skills.

Last week, NWA debuted their new show on YouTube called POWERRR filmed in front of a live studio audience in Atlanta. The set design is a replica of the old Georgia Championship Wrestling cable television show on channel 17 (TBS).

Old school production graphics are used, similar Georgia show format, and they even used the old yellow NWA logo. If that’s not cool enough, the show has a worldwide air time on Tuesday at 6:05 EST. The: 05 start time was a distinguished hallmark of TBS programming for many years and most synonymous with wrestling. Unforgettable start time is an excellent piece of marketing, and it’s free.

Powerrr is a one-hour commercial-free show with a mixture of squash matches and competitive matches between stars. Promos occur at the studio podium after the match where current storylines and advanced and future angles and born. This is precisely how Georgia Championship Wrestling was formatted.

However, what makes Powerr different from other nostalgia acts is the show’s old school motif coupled with contemporary wrestling. This gives the show a new school energy that makes it feel fresh. Industry leader WWE has thrown basic wrestling storytelling by the wayside. The NWA is giving older fans what they’ve missed while providing younger fans with a version of wrestling they never knew they wanted.

What a difference two years makes. In 2017, WWE was the only wrestling promotion that could get a viable television deal. Jeff Jarrett and Tobey Keith couldn’t even get a tv deal. The belief within the television industry was that wrestling’s popularity is fading, and WWE is the only company that can do it on a large scale.

Today, WWE has three shows on television worth billions of dollars, and AEW is making waves on TNT. Billy Corgan might have picked the perfect time to debut Powerrr. The response to the show has been overwhelmingly positive. Hopefully, continued success can be parlayed into a television deal to coincide with the recent resurgence of wrestling’s popularity.

The first two episodes are posted down below. I highly recommend giving NWA Powerrr a close look. The second episode features a wrestler I’ve had the pleasure fo working with named Ashley Vox who wrestles the NWA Women’s Champion in a non-title match.

 

New Japan Invades Lowell

I finally got to enjoy the birthday present from my lovely wife when New Japan Pro Wrestling held the first show of their three event tour at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium in Lowell, MA.

Eight matches were on the line up as an all-star six-man tag team match served as the main event. The show was structured as an intimate house show setting as opposed to a significant event.

There was nothing newsworthy that came out of the event, but it was still fun. Winning the lottery via an amazing parking spot in front of the building was first sign that the night was going to be alright.

Upon, entering the realm of ‘Fight Spirit Unleashed,’ I got to meet two wrestlers who weren’t advertised for a meet and greet. Hirooki Goto and one of my favorites, Tomohiro Ishii were in the foyer. I was lucky enough to be one of the first people in line, which never happens.

Next up, was the merchandise table for authentic New Japan goods that are normally only available in Japan. The line was super long, however, it moved rather quickly. I purchased some of the popular muffler towels… and let’s just say I’ve never spent so much money on linen in my life.

Match Highlights:

-The Rock & Roll Express/Chase Owens & Jado might have had the best match of the night. The audience was super into it and seeing Ricky Morton pull off a hurricanrana in 2019 was absolutely nuts! It was a great piece of nostalgia

-Lance Archer was over like a rockstar and beat the hell out of poor Ren Narita.

-Jay White is genuinely the top heel in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Heck, he might be the top heel in the entire industry. No matter how you slice it, the audience loves to hate him.

-Guerillas of Destiny (GoD)/Roppongi also deserved consideration for match of the night and probably garnered the loudest reaction. GoD was super over with the crowd during their entrance.

While there were some minor miscommunications between the wrestlers in the ring, the audience couldn’t tell. The last five minutes of the match had everyone on the edge of their seat.

YOH kept creatively rolling up Tonga with each pinfall attempt being more exciting than the last. Tonga went for the Gun Stun and YOH caught him for a backslide teasing a remarkable near fall.

New Japan does a great job of augmenting the prestige of their championships by having one title match per show on every tour. This makes the titles and the match mean more, which was evident here.

-The main event was more spectacle than anything else. It was a sight to behold having who many consider the top four wrestlers not only in the promotion but in the world in the same match. Three of them were on the same team.

None of the wrestlers hit their signature maneuvers, which was kind of surprising. It was even more surprising when Tanahashi pinned Naito out of nowhere with a reverse cradle.

This match wasn’t anything special and it didn’t need to be. It was about having all of New Japan’s big guns in the ring at the same time.

Tanahashi, Ibushi & Okada

Final Thoughts:

The maiden voyage of ‘Fighting Spirit Unleashed’ had a little something for everyone. It wasn’t a blow away event. However, it was a house show where all of the matches were well worked. New Japan didn’t need to go all-out crazy for this show. It was a pleasure seeing the best wrestlers in the world apply their craft. The first five matches were finished in 57 minutes. Nothing felt rushed and it gave more time for the two featured matches to shine. This feat is an independent wrestling promoter’s dream. Overall, New Japan adds another fun chapter to the wrestling history of the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

 

Match Results:

-Karl Fredericks made Alex Coughlin with a modified half crab.

-Lance Archer pinned Ren Narita with the EBD Claw (Everybody Dies).

-Juice Robinson & Mikey Nicholls defeated Clark Connors & TJP

-Chase Owens & Jado defeated The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) when Owens pinned Gibson with a package piledriver.

-Tomohiro Ishii & Amazing Red defeated BUSHI & Shingo Takagi when Ishii hit BUSHI with a brainbuster for the win.

-Hirooki Goto, Rocky Romero & YOSHI-HASHI defeated Jay White, KENTA & Gedo, when YOSHI-HASHI made Gedo submit with a Butterfly Lock.

IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: Guerillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) defeated Roppongi 3K (SHO & YOH) to retain the titles when Tama Tonga hit the Gun Stun.

-Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kota Ibushi defeated Tetsuya Naito, SANADA & EVIL when Tanahashi pinned Naito after reversing a cradle pin attempt.

KOTR Subverted Expectations

After the dust settled last Monday on Raw, Baron Corbin became the 2019 King of the Ring (KOTR).

Yes, the same Baron Corbin who was blamed for the show’s record-low ratings over the summer.

Yes, the same Baron Corbin who diehard fans believe is absolutely atrocious in the ring.

Yes, the same Baron Corbin who reportedly only Vince McMahon sees as a star.

The criticism is fair, but I don’t agree with a lot of it. Corbin’s win capped off a KOTR that was highly entertaining while subverting expectations.

Baron Corbin and Chad Gable were the last two people anyone expected to make it to the KOTR finals, much less, win the whole thing.

Gable was brought up from 205 Live and saddled with a sympathetic babyface character who people look down on because he’s short.

Corbin returned for the tournament after being off of television for the first six weeks of the Paul Heyman booking regime, which reportedly didn’t plan on using Corbin much going forward.

When KOTR began, Ricochet, Ali, and Buddy Murphy were each in the midst of a newly minted push. Meanwhile, Samoa Joe, Drew McIntyre, and to a lesser extent, The Miz are always in the mix for a significant win.

Elias had some momentum due to his alliance with Shane McMahon. While Kevin Owens would have been a popular choice to win, everyone expected him to be screwed out of the tournament via Elias/McMahon, which is precisely what happened.

Corbin and Gable put on strong performances through the tournament, and their match in the finals was highly entertaining. Corbin got the win with a beautiful finishing sequence where Gable spun into Corbin’s End of Days finishing maneuver.

Last night, on Raw, Corbin, and Gable had a rematch that expanded their story and made for another fun outting. Corbin debuted a Game of Thrones-inspired crown, robe, and specter after Gable destroyed the chintzy looking crown and royal garb WWE had reserved for the winner.

WWE has received a lot of slack over the past year for their monotonous storytelling and homogenized presentation of the product. Creatively, KOTR served as a big win for the company. They were able to subvert expectations with the tournament while keeping it interesting throughout with excellent matches and several twists and turns along the way.

Now, Chad Gable is a prominent character on television, and Baron Corbin proved he doesn’t suck as a wrestler while his character has a fresh coat of paint, now dubbed King Corbin. The Kansas City native is the seventh consecutive heel to win KOTR. While it would be nice to see an up and coming babyface win the crown, bad guys always make for a better king.

Page vs. Jericho: Who Should Win?


This Saturday night, Chris Jericho and “Hangman” Adam Page will headline AEW’s All Out pay-per-view to crown the promotion’s first World Heavyweight Champion. This is not only a crucial outing for Jericho and AEW; it is the biggest match of Page’s career. There are many storytelling avenues to travel. However, the big questions remains, who should be the first AEW Champion ?

AEW is a new wrestling company who will introduce the world to a new cast of wrestling characters. Some we already know, like Chris Jericho. Others most will meet for the first time, such as Adam Page. AEW is going with a sports-centric presentation for their product. This means the world champion will be their most essential character. Should AEW’s first champion be a rising star or an established superstar?

Adam Page was pegged for success from the moment he made his professional debut in 2011 for Ring of Honor. Page entered New Japan Pro Wrestling in 2016 as a member of the Bullet Club. It was during his time with the popular stable where Page began to find his footing as a top-level performer while adopting the “Hangman” ring-name.

“Hangman” Page is a favorite among diehard fans. However, there will be more casual viewers watching AEW’s television show, debuting October 2nd on TNT. Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks will be introduced to a mainstream audience and will have to get over based on their character and talent. If Adam Page is the champion, his role will have instant credibility to the uninitiated.

From Monday Night Jericho all the way to the man with the infamous clipboard, Chris Jericho has been a wrestling superstar on television for twenty-three years. He’s reinvented himself repeatedly over the course his career and is one of the best to ever do it. At forty-eight years old, the work Jericho’s produced with his current Clock Work Orange inspired persona has been some of the best of his career.

Jericho being the inaugural AEW Champion could be a double-edged sword. If AEW comes off as a major league wrestling product, Jericho is the exalted king of the new hot promotion. However, if AEW comes off as bush league, Jericho would become the big fish in a small pond.

Some would say Jericho vs. Page represents the past colliding with the present to dictate the future. To many, AEW will hopefully be the future of wrestling, and perhaps Page will be its representative. Jericho has been there and done that. However, he’s not a veteran who’s past his prime. Jericho’s career renaissance since leaving WWE has made him more relevant than ever.

While the title could bring credibility to Adam Page, Chris Jericho will bring credibility to the title. Jericho became the first undisputed world champion in 2001, and it’s only fitting he becomes the first AEW World Champion in 2019. All signs point to AEW coming out of the gate with a strong wrestling product. TV shows need popular characters to thrive, and there are none bigger on the roster than Jericho.

The best scenario is to build up Hangman Page for a few months on television following a Jericho title win on pay-per-view. Then, pick a date, hype of the episode, and have Page go over on Jericho for the belt. TNT is going to get more viewers than any AEW pay-per-view will garner. The key to a successful Hangman title reign is to have the largest audience possible withness his journey and capture the gold.

As for August 31st, Chris Jericho is the man who should be champion.

Ricochet Busted My Bracket

I believed my King of the Ring bracket should have been etched in stone. Well, Ricochet changed that when he defeated the tournament favorite, Drew McIntyre on Raw. Not only did they put on a really good match, but Ricochet went over clean. Baron Corbin toppled The Miz to ensure half of my Raw bracket was still intact.

Then, SmackDown happened. Ali defeated Buddy Murphy, which didn’t surprise me even though I picked Murphy to win. Chad Gable pinned Shelton Benjamin ensuring I ended the week 2-2. My tournament predictions had a back door of sorts since Murphy, in my mind, wasn’t a sure thing. Ricochet straight-up broke my bracket by beating the guy I picked to win the whole thing.

Now, I got to predict the rest of the tournament and pick a new winner…Thanks, Ricochet. 😡

Official Updated Bracket

This Monday on Raw will host the quarterfinal matchups. Samoa Joe vs. Ricochet is the hardest match to predict considering who’s involved. Samoa Joe is always a good bet to win a tournament or championship. However, Ricochet has been getting a push over the last few months. Samoa Joe is a strong enough performer to bounce back from a loss here. Ricochet has the spotlight on him right now and shouldn’t lose this soon in the tournament.

The second quarterfinal match on the Raw side features Baron Corbin taking on Cedric Alexander. If I had to bet, I’d pick Baron Corbin to win. While an Alexander vs. Ricochet semifinal would be fantastic, Vince McMahon likes newly featured babyfaces to conquer dastardly heels. Plus, Vince thinks Corbin is a star. However, since Paul Heyman is the booker, I believe he will produce an Alexander win to get the semifinal match everyone wants to see.

Elias tangos with Ali in the first SmackDown quaterfinal match. This is the easiest one to call. Elias has been making Kevin Owens’ life a living hell at the behest of Shane McMahon. Shane injected himself as the special guest referee; helping Elias beat Owens in the first round. It’s time for Owens to return the favor and cost Elias the match with Ali.

The second blue brand quarterfinal match will see Chad Gable taking on Andrade. Both wrestlers are super talented; however, WWE has done next to nothing with Gable. It’s s shame, too. Andrade seems to be someone the company has high hopes for. This should be a great match, but Andrade gets the W in this one.

My New Prediction Bracket

Here we go. My new prediction bracket. I’m going all in on a Ricochet vs. Andrade final. Ricochet can afford a loss in the tournament finals. Andrade needs it more, and I think he’ll take the whole thing going forward. Still, though, no matter how it goes, the finals should make for a match of the year candidate!