Race For Wrestler of the Year: June 2018

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Wrestler of June: Kenny Omega, the performance Omega had this month was historic. He opened it by having an amazing “7-star” clash between himself and Kazuchika Okada at NJPW Dominion. Omega picked up the title after the 700+ days Okada held the IWGP Heavyweight Title. Omega after the match reformed with The Bucks and created the Golden Elite. Omega again will dominate the race to the wrestler of the year for 2018. 

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Match of the Month: Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada at NJPW Dominion in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship: In my personal opinion, this is the best match I’ve ever seen. These two went for 70 minutes and managed to keep me invested the whole time. The spots to the storytelling to the work rate to the Kenny Omega win everything was done perfectly. The match felt HUGE and maybe had the biggest “big fight feel” of any match ever. NJPW knows how to book matches and this might be their best ever. 

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Feud of the Month: Johnny Gargano vs. Tomasso Ciampa, Man was this month for wrestling amazing. This match would’ve been the best match in any other month but got topped by Okada v Kenny just barely but the storytelling here was a tad bit better. The former tag team members put each other through hell and Johnny Wrestling continued to push how much the feud has changed his life. Ciampa was a dastardly heel and now, in my opinion, is now the best heel in wrestling going. The face vs heel dynamic works wonders here and grabs this feud it’s second Wrestlegrade feud of the month award. 

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Team of the Month: Undisputed ERA, and another repeat award for NXT. The Undisputed ERA again shined better than any other team in the world. They boast in-ring skill, crowd heat and character like no other tag team (other than the Young Bucks). The ERA has grown so much since Roderick Strong joined and this month they did amazing, having amazing matches with Burch and Lorcan, Moustache Mountain and British Strong Style. The Undisputed ERA continues to be WWE’s best current faction going and maybe in the whole world of wrestling. 

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Women’s Wrestler of the Month: Alexa Bliss, even though she is very overpushed she did amazing this month. Winning the MITB, cashing in the same night and pushing the heel champion agenda led to her standing out this month. Her performance at Money in the Bank will go down as one of the best for women in recent memory. Even though other women were more deserving Bliss did very well in this role. 

 

Most Improved: Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan, going from jobbers to excellence in a month really sums up what this award is for. Burch and Lorcan were weird choices for challengers to Undisputed Era at Takeover Chicago but they shined in that match and now will be heavy contenders in the NXT Tag Team scene. 

Champions in June (Points are Given to who holds the title at the end of the month)

WWE:

  • Universal: Brock Lesnar 453+ Days
  • RAW Women’s: Nia Jax 70 Days, Alexa Bliss 13+ Days
  • IC: Seth Rollins 71 Days, Dolph Ziggler 12+ Days 
  • Cruiserweight: Cedric Alexander 82+ Days
  • RAW Tag: Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt 63+ Days
  • WWE: AJ Styles 234+ Days
  • SD Women’s: Carmella 80+ Days
  • US: Jeff Hardy 74+ Days
  • SD Tag: Bludgeon Brothers 84+ Days

NXT:

  • NXT: Aleister Black 85+ Days
  • North American: Adam Cole 85+ Days
  • Womens: Shayna Baszler 85+ Days
  • NXT Tag: Undisputed ERA 202 Days, Moustache Mountain 2 Days, the Undisputed ERA 7+ Days
  • UK: Pete Dunne 405+ Days 

NJPW:

  • IWGP Heavyweight: Kazuchika Okada 720 Days, Kenny Omega 21+ Days
  • IWGP US: Jay White 151+ Days
  • IWGP IC: Tetsuya Naito 41 Days, Chris Jericho 21+ Days
  • Never Openweight: Hirooki Goto 156 Days, Michael Elgin 8 Days, Hirooki Goto 11+ Days
  • IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team: Evil and Sanada 156 Days, The Young Bucks 21+ Days
  • IWGP JR: Will Ospreay 156 Days, Hiromu Takahashi 21+ Days
  • IWGP JR Tag: Desperado and Kanemaru 115+ Days
  • Never 6-Man: Marty Scurrl and The Young Bucks 56+ Days

ROH:

  • World: Dalton Castle 197 Days, Jay Lethal 1+ Days
  • ROH TV: Silas Young 70 Days, Punishment Martinez 14+ Days
  • Tag: The Briscoes 114+ Days
  • WOH: Sumie Sakai 85+ Days 

Matches over 4-Stars

  • Dragon Lee vs. Desperado NJPW BOSJ XXV ****
  • Flip Gordon vs. Will Ospreay NJPW BOSJ XXV ****1/4
  • Michael Elgin vs. Hirooki Goto vs. Tai-Chi NJPW Dominion Never Openweight Title ****
  • The Young Bucks vs. Evil and Sanada NJPW Dominion IWGP Tag Titles ****1/2
  • Hiromu Takahashi vs. Will Ospreay NJPW Dominion IWGP JR Title ****3/4
  • Chris Jericho vs. Tetsuya Naito NJPW Dominion IWGP IC Title ****1/4
  • Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada NJPW Dominion IWGP Heavyweight Title 2 out of 3 Falls *****
  • Undisputed ERA vs. Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan NXT Tag Titles Takeover Chicago ****
  • Velveteen Dream vs. Ricochet NXT Takeover Chicago ****3/4
  • Tomasso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano NXT Takeover Chicago Street Fight *****
  • Elias vs. Seth Rollins WWE MITB IC Title ****
  • Women’s MITB (Bliss, Moon, Natalya, Lynch, Naomi, Charlotte, Banks, Lana) ****1/2
  • AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura MITB WWE Title Last Man Standing ****1/4
  • Men’s MITB (Owens, Roode, Miz, Balor, Strowman, Rusev, Joe, Kofi) ****
  • Michael Elgin vs. Hirooki Goto Never Openweight Title NJPW Kizuna Road ****
  • Hiromu Takahashi vs. Desperado IWGP Jr Title NJPW Kizuna Road ****
  • Taiji Ishimori vs. YOH NJPW BOSJ XXV ****
  • SHO vs. Marty Scurrl NJPW BOSJ XXV ****
  • Hiromu Takahashi vs. Kushida NJPW BOSJ XXV ****1/2
  • Taiji Ishimori vs. Hiromu Takahashi NJPW BOSJ XXV Final ****3/4
  • Zack Gibson vs. Jack Gallagher WWE UK Tournament ****
  • British Strong Style vs. Undisputed ERA WWE UK Tournament ****1/2
  • Zack Gibson vs. Travis Banks WWE UK Tournament Finals ****1/2
  • Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler WWE RAW IC Title ****
  • Moustache Mountain vs. Undisputed ERA NXT Tag Titles WWE UK Tournament ****1/2
  • EC3 and Velveteen Dream vs. Aleister Black and Ricochet WWE UK Tournament ****
  • Zack Gibson vs. Pete Dunne UK Title WWE UK Tournament ****1/4
  • Jay Lethal vs. Kushida ROH BITW ****1/4
  • The Briscoes vs. The Young Bucks ROH Tag Titles BITW ****3/4

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After June, the winner of the Race….. Kazuchika Okada (still) 

  1. -Kazuchika Okada 144 Points
  2. -Kenny Omega 143 Points
  3. -The Young Bucks 118 Points
  4. ↑Hiromu Takahashi 116 Points
  5. ↓ Will Ospreay 105 Points
  6. ↑ Johnny Gargano 96 points
  7. ↓ Kota Ibushi 89 points
  8. Zack Sabre Jr. 77 points
  9. AJ Styles ↑Tomasso Ciampa 62 points
  10. ↓ Marty Scurrl 61 points
  11. Seth Rollins- Strong and O’Reilly(ERA) 60 points
  12. Adam Cole 58 points
  13. Alexa Bliss 55 points
  14. Hiroshi Tanahashi 53 points
  15. Hangman Page 51 points
  16. Andrade Almas -Dalton Castle 50 pointss
  17. Cody 47 points
  18. Sanada -Jay White 46 points
  19. Brock Lesnar 42 points
  20. Cedric Alexander -Kushida -Hirooki Goto 40 points
  21.  Pete Dunne 38 points
  22. Minoru Suzuki -The Miz -The Briscoes 35 points
  23. Bobby Fish 31 points
  24. Evil -Flip Gordon -Tetsuya Naito -Jay Lethal -Aleister Black -Braun Strowman -Zack Gibson 30 points
  25. El Desperado -Dragon Lee 28 points
  26. Shinsuke Nakamura 27 points
  27. So Cal Uncensored -Finn Balor -Chris Jericho 25 points
  28. Charlotte -Matt Taven 22 points
  29. Ronda Rousey -Jonathan Gresham -Killian Dain -Kalisto -Ember Moon -Jeff Hardy       -Michael Elgin –Velveteen Dream -Ricochet -Taiji Ishimori 20 points
  30. Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan -Chris Sabin 17 points
  31. Asuka -Usos -John Cena -Tomohiro Ishii -The Bar -Mustafa Ali -The Tongans -Buddy Murphy -Silas Young -Roppongi 3k -Bobby Roode -EC3 -Dolph Ziggler 15 points
  32. Nia Jax -Kingdom -Yoshinobu Kanemaru -Bludgeon Brothers -Becky Lynch 13 points
  33. sAnitY -Drew Gulak -Kenny King -Juice Robinson -Dave Finlay -Lars Sullivan -Carmella -Matt and Bray -Sumie Sakai -ACH -Shayna Baszler -Jack Gallagher -Kofi Kingston -Sasha Banks -Punishment Martinez -Kevin Owens -Moustache Mountain 
  34. Ruby Riott -Alex Shelley 8 points
  35. New Day -Hideo Itami -Chase Owens -Beer City Bruiser -Trent Barretta -Shane Taylor -Togi Makabe -Yoshi-HASHI -Sami Zayn -Baron Corbin -TJP -Akira Tozawa -Kurt Angle -HHH -Rysuke Taguchi -Rusev -Samoa Joe -Lana -Travis Banks -Naomi -Elias 
  36. Mandy Leon -Tenille Dashwood -Peyton Royce -Gallows and Anderson 

Monthly Wrap Up: June 2018 may have been the greatest month for wrestling ever. Including, NJPW Dominion one of the best PPV’s of all time, NXT Takeover Chicago which hosted Ciampa vs. Gargano in an amazing match topping anything else WWE has done this year. The WWE hosted a UK tournament which saw some amazing matches and highlighted Zack Gibson and the commencement of a new NXT UK brand. NJPW finished up the Best Of the Super Juniors and had Omega vs Okada in the same month. Way to go professional wrestling! 

 

 

ROH Best In the World 2018 Review

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ROH Best in The World 2018 Results:

  • The Kingdom defeat Los Ignoberables via pinfall to retain the ROH 6-man titles ***
  • Flip Gordon defeats Bully Ray via DQ *1/2
  • Sumie Sakai, Jenny Rose, Mayu Iwatani and Tenille Dashwood defeat Kelly Klein, Kagetsu, Hana Kimura and Hazuki via pinfall ***1/4
  • Austin Aries defeats Kenny King via pinfall ***3/4
  • Jay Lethal defeats Kushida via pinfall ****1/4
  • Punishment Martinez defeats Adam Page via pinfall in a Baltimore Street Fight to retain the ROH TV Title ***1/2
  • The Briscoes defeated The Young Bucks via pinfall to retain the ROH Tag Titles ****3/4
  • Dalton Castle defeats Cody and Marty Scurrl via pinfall to retain the ROH World Title **1/2

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The Kingdom (c) vs. Evil, Sanada, and Bushi representing Los Ignoberables de Japon for the ROH 6-Man Tag Titles

  • Both teams have been really good so far in 2018. LIJ has more solo stars but The Kingdom are some of ROH’s best characters. 
  • TK O’Ryan and Evil start the match.
  • Cheap Shot by Taven starts the match with a double team attack on Evil but Evil fights it off. 
  • Amazing Standing Moonsault by Sanada on Taven for the first near fall. 
  • Vinny Marseglia goes for the mask of Bushi starting a 6-man brawl. 
  • Matt Taven does the Naito Tranquilo pose getting a great crowd response. 
  • Spinebuster/Diving Headbutt combo by TK and Vinny for a near fall on Evil.
  • Evil gets the ref to hold the leg of TK O’Ryan so Evil can hit him with a kick to the previously injured leg opening up tags. 
  • Hot tag by Sanada
  • Paradise Lock by Sanada on Taven, TK tries to put the Paradise Lock on Sanada but fails, Sanada gets the PL on TK. Double Dropkick by Sanada opens both Locks. 
  • Vinny pops balloons at Sanada opening up a Triple Bomb by The Kingdom. Sanada fights out though. Magic Killer attempt by Sanada and Evil on TK fails as well. 
  • Just The Tip of the Knee by Taven to Sanada, near fall
  • Sanada works the previously injured knee of Taven
  • Double Huricanrana by Bushi to TK and Taven.
  • Strike sequence by LIJ ending with a backstabber by Bushi, near fall on Taven. 
  • Great Sequence of moves by The Kingdom on Bushi, Evil barely makes the save. 
  • Kick of the king by Taven to Sanada stops the Skull End on Taven.
  • Bushi mists Vinny.
  • Rockstar Supernova by Taven and TK closes the match on Bushi.

Winners: The Kingdom Retain

Rating: ***, This was a fun and fast-paced opener even with the predictable finish. Could’ve gone a little longer but both teams performed well and the Kingdom continue to be some of ROH’s Best characters. Solid start to the show. 

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Bully Ray vs. Flip Gordon

  • Horrible feud leading to this point. 
  • HOPEFULLY, Bully Ray’s last match.
  • Immediate attack by Flip.
  • Plancha Dive by Flip.
  • Amazing Tope Con Hiro by Flip Gordon. 
  • Fantastic Springboard Forearm Dive to the outside by Flip.
  • Very hot start by Flip. 
  • Samoan Pop/Shooting Star Press/Springboard Moonsault combo by Flip for the first near fall. 
  • Bully Ray hits a lariat draining all the energy from the match. He sucks.
  • Vader Bomb by Bully Ray misses, crowd chants “Vader” 
  • Star Spangled Stunner by Flip blocked with a low blow. Match gets called off and Bully continues the attack. 

Winner: Bully Ray

Rating: *1/2, Words cannot explain how much I hate this feud, Bully Ray and even ROH writers for allowing shit like this to happen on a show that’s supposed to be all about wrestling. “No Filler just Thriller” right? So make it that way ROH. Bully is trash and maybe he’s just so good at his character he makes fans feel this hatred but he sucks in the ring and drives all the energy out of his matches. This match ended fast and thankfully. Flip Gordon is great however so his performance saves this match from absolute hell. 

  • After the match, Colt Cabana saves Flip from Bully Ray and a Table Spot. 
  • Jenny Rose, Sumie Sakai, Tenille Dashwood and Mayu Iwatani won a solid 8-Woman tag match featuring the women from Stardom. However, A Klein vs. Sakai Title match would’ve been better fitted to this show as an 8-woman tag can happen anytime. ***1/4

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Kenny King vs. Austin Aries

  • Rivalry based on Aries thinking he’s better than King and a former friendship. 
  • This match should’ve had the ROH TV Title instead of Page vs. Martinez. 
  • Good competitive start. 
  • Solid Leg Sweeps from King getting the crowd to ask “One More Time”
  • Another leg sweep but ringside this time from King getting fans to jokingly chant “Holy Shit”
  • Aries dropkicks King off the springboard to ringside and Aries hits a diving ax handle to ringside. 
  • Flipping Springboard Senton to get back in the ring by Aries for a two count.
  • Diving Back Elbow by Aries for the match’s first near fall. 
  • Solid Methodical Pace. 
  • Elbow Drop by Aries to King on the apron, pin inside the ring for a near fall. 
  • Great Springboard Blockbuster from King for a two count. 
  • The last Chancery by Aries, King gets the ropes. 
  • Neckbreaker in between the ropes by Aries sends King to the outside for a suicide dive. Amazing enzugiri to stop Aries mid-dive by King. Great spot. 
  • Back in the ring,Roll-up by Aries, near fall 
  • Half-Assed Royal Flush by King, near fall as Aries grabs ropes at the last second. 
  • Aries grabs his belt collection and tries to leave, corkscrew plancha by King stops Aries. 
  • Ringside Brainbuster by Aries getting “You Killed Kenny” Chants. 
  • Suprise roll-up by King, near fall. 
  • Brainbuster in-ring closes the match.

Winner: Austin Aries 

Rating: ***3/4, The match started with a technical methodic pace and evolved into a fast near-fall filled fun match. Aries was showing his character greatly while King did amazing in-ring. This is the best match so far on the card but that isn’t saying a hell of a lot. Hopefully, from here all the matches are great. The match ended a bit abruptly to get into the 4-star range but it was damn close. It will always be great to see Aries back in the ring and the crowd was hilarious in this match. The highlight spot was the enzugiri catching the suicide dive by King. Let’s continue this momentum with Kushida vs. Lethal. 

25a79c377572030fef8ac3d7958294b0a1b24835r1-1024-576v2_hqKushida vs. Jay Lethal

  • ROH treats Kushida like a star and Lethal is the franchise of ROH.
  • Kushida refuses a handshake from Lethal.
  • Hip toss dropkick sequence into three Tope Con Hiro’s by Kushida mocking Lethal’s Triple Suicide Dive.
  • Triple Ax Handle by Kushida, Kushida does the Macho Taunt targeted at Black Machismo from Lethal. 
  • Suplex Attempt Sequence 
  • Kushida tries for the Lethal Injection but Jay kicks out the leg of Kushida. 
  • Lethal working the taped knee of Kushida.
  • With Kushida down, Lethal finally gets his handshake. 
  • Texas Cloverleaf by Lethal, Kushida gets ropes. 
  • Slow pace after Kushida gets down selling the knee. 
  • Triangle Dropkick by Lethal into the Triple Suicide Dive, The 3rd one is caught into a Fujiwara Armbar by Kushida ringside. Great catching spot there. 
  • Good sequence including a near fall rollup by Kushida and ending with a Lethal Combination putting both down. 
  • Lethal Injection by Kushida caught into a Torture Rack by Lethal. 
  • Elbow Drop by Lethal caught into a Cross Armbreaker by Kushida, Lethal pins his way out into a near fall on Kushida. 
  • Figure Four by Lethal locked in, Kushida grabs ropes. 
  • “This Is Awesome” Chants. 
  • Hard Strikefest with some disrespect mixed in, they handshake mid-way through, the strikefest speeds up with more complex strikes and Lethal calls for the Injection. 
  • Lethal Injection caught into the Hoverboard Lock by Kushida, Lethal fights out into a roll up after a Back To The Future attempt by Kushida. 
  • Back To The Future by Kushida reversed into a cutter by Lethal. 
  • Lethal Injection closes. 

Winner: Jay Lethal

Rating: ****1/4, Yep, this match just topped Aries vs. King by a mile. This match was great and technical. This match mixed High Spots and Technical Wrestling with a good rivalry very well. Mid-match, the pace slowed down to turtle speed but they picked it back up. Kushida kept popping up and catching Lethal into different armbars and did a great job of selling the knee. The rivalry here was good too as Lethal was lost without a title and Kushida was his attempt at getting a big victory. Both of these men did very well but I wasn’t surprised that they did. These two always deliver and Kushida is having a great month. 

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Adam Page vs. Punishment Martinez in a Street Fight for the TV Title 

  • Page comes down with new entrance music. 
  • Punishment Martinez wears the Street Fight Jeans. 
  • Suicide Dive by Adam Page. 
  • Good feud leading up to this point with frequently canceled matches with these two because of brawling beforehand. 
  • Page whips Martinez into the corner with a chair set up. 
  • Apron Shooting Star Press by Page dodged, the Last Ride on the apron by Martinez then a chokeslam on the barricade. Two Brutal spots were taken by Page in a row getting a “Holy Shit” Chant.
  • Page dodges a Martinez knee sending him knee first into the barricade, awesome superplex off the barricade by Page. More “Holy Shit” Chants. 
  • Brutal Cradle Tombstone by Page onto a chair, near fall on Martinez. 
  • Curb-Stomp on the apron by Martinez puts Punishment back on top. 
  • Punishment zip-ties Page’s hands together 
  • Superkick by Martinez drives Page into a chair, near fall. 
  • Page spits on Martinez and fires up, Page spears Martinex through a table ringside set up on the post. 
  • Diving Moonsault to the outside by Page. 
  • Martinez boots Page off the apron into a Stacked tower of chairs. Not great delivery to a match-making spot. 
  • Martinez gets out thumbtacks. 
  • High back body drop by Page sends Martinez into the Thumbtacks.
  • South Avon Chokeslam through a table by Martinez closes. 

Winner: Punishment Martnez Retains

Rating: ***1/2, To me personally I thought this street fight was tacky (pun intended) and without much story dimension. Punishment and Page had some very good choreographed spots but in the end, the match ended up being worked a little bit underwhelming and Page very much should’ve won. After the amazing Gargano vs. Ciampa street fight 2 weeks ago this had a lot to live up to and predictably didn’t. The match itself wasn’t bad but the lack of story and logic dragged it down. 

f6e9c6df8797dd1ce5010c3fad7b0f253a29afa0r1-1024-576v2_hqThe Young Bucks vs. The Briscoes for the ROH Tag Titles

  • Two of ROH’s great all-time tag teams. 
  • Mark Briscoe and Nick Jackson start. 
  • Good Stand-off sequence early in the match. 
  • Good Tandem work from the Bucks. 
  • Redneck Bomb by The Briscoes, near fall save by Nick. 
  • Crowd Divided between the two teams. 
  • Briscoes isolating Matt Jackson. 
  • Mark inadvertently dropkicks Jay. Matt Jackson hits a Blockbuster ringside opening up a tag to Nick. 
  • Amazing Corkscrew Plancha by Nick outside then the awesome hot tag sequence by Nick hits ringside. 
  • Stereo Suicide Dives by The Bucks. 
  • Mark saves his brother from a superplex by getting Nick into a sleeper. Allowing the Briscoes to get on top again. 
  • Amazing Blockbuster off the apron by Jay to Matt ringside. 
  • Froggy Bow by Jay to Nick, near fall. 
  • Supercanrana by Nick Jackson to Mark Briscoe. 
  • Death Valley Driver by Jay Briscoe lays down the legal men triggering a “This Is Awesome” Chant. 
  • Double Superkick sequence into Double Lariats by The Briscoes. 
  • Jay Driller to Matt, very near fall save by Nick Jackson. 
  • Super Cutter by Nick to Mark, Matt rolls up Jay for a near fall. 
  • Springboard Doomsday Device by The Young Bucks imitating the Briscoes, near fall. 
  • Moonsault sequence by the Bucks on Mark, Jay hits the Froggy Bow on the referee to stop the count. 
  • Meltzer Driver to Jay, The referee barely wakes up and slowly counts to a near fall. 
  • Mark throws a chair at Nick to stop the Meltzer Driver, Jay Driller on the chair to Matt, amazing near fall. 
  • Super Redneck Boogie Bomb gets the final pin. 

Winners: The Briscoes Retain

Rating: ****3/4, This was an amazing tag match. It was so well worked in the ring and had some very believable near falls. Especially, the Jay Driller on the chair to Matt towards the end. In my opinion, this match is one of the Briscoes best and one of the best ROH matches this year. This was an amazing clash between some of the best ever ROH tag teams. Not really a MOTY contender but it was a fantastic tag team clash and one of the best tag matches since Golden Lovers Vs. The Young Bucks. Best match of the show so far. 

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Marty Scurrl vs. Cody vs. Dalton Castle for the ROH World Title

  • Darker Theme and attire on Marty Scurrl. He looks badass. 
  • Cody again accompanied by Burnard and Brandi 
  • Cody vs. Nick Aldis at All In is on the line here, so Cody is almost definitely going to win.
  • Hopefully, Dalton Castle can deliver here. He has only delivered against Jay Lethal in his title reign. 
  • Cody ejects Burnard from ringside. Hopefully, this means Cody is more focused on in-ring than shenanigans. 
  • The match starts fast out of the gates. 
  • Nick Aldis and the NWA Title are ringside. 
  • Tornado DDT off the apron by Scurrl to Cody. 
  • Cody and Scurrl Strike-off back in the ring. 
  • Superplex turned into a Judo Throw by Castle to Cody for a 2 count. 
  • Chicken Wing by Scurrl on Castle, Cody joins and gets in the American Deathlock on Castle, Dalton fights out. 
  • Great Snap DDT by Cody for the match’s first near fall. 
  • Cody grabs the title to distract the ref, Cody tries to low blow Scurrl but Scurrl blocks it. 
  • Scurrl tried to go for Goldust’s Shattered Dreams but Brandi distracts Scurrl, near fall rollup by Cody. 
  • Finger Break by Scurrl to Cody and Scurrl removes the ring and puts it on. 
  • Bangarang by Castle to Scurrl, Nick Aldis pulls out the referee for a near fall. 
  • Cody Double Springboard Dives to take out Aldis. 
  • With the ref distracted, Scurrl hits Castle with the belt, ref back in counting the pin for a near fall but Cody pulls the ref out. 
  • Three men roll up sequence into a triple strikefest. Scurrl hits Castle with a hard elbow to take out both Castle and Scurrl. 
  • Scurrl throws Powder in Cody’s Face, Cross Rhodes to Scurrl, Castle pins Scurrl to a near fall. 
  • Bangarang to Scurrl rolled up for a near fall. Chicken Wing by Scurrl to Castle, Cody pulls Scurrl off but Scurrl hits a Cross Rhodes to Cody. 
  • Bangarang by Castle to Scurrl ends the match abruptly. 

Winner: Dalton Castle Retains

Rating: **1/2, this match SUCKED honestly. This is one of my least favorite main events from all of 2018. Why did Castle retain? Why was Aldis there if Cody didn’t win? Why was Scurrl beefing so hard with Cody? Why was Scurrl wearing the Jericho make up? Why did the match end so abruptly? Where were all the important spots? Honestly, as being an ROH fan for a few years I have no idea. ROH books themselves into a corner and they have the talent to make these matches awesome. Even with Cody as my favorite wrestler, I can’t justify this match. I’m confused on how ROH let this main event happen to end a good show. The match quality was fine after all and only the logic dragged this down. 

Show Grade: B-

Last Word: This was a great show with some very good matches including Kushida vs. Lethal, Aries vs. King, Page vs. Martinez and especially The Young Bucks vs. The Briscoes. This show was dragged down by the usual ROH logic by having Castle retain in a lackluster main event and have Bully Ray stand tall over more talented people like Cheeseburger and Flip Gordon. For 2018 ROH this was a very good show. 

 

 

The Race for Wrestler of the Year: Weekly Awards 6/11 – 6/17/18

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Wrestler of the Week: Kyle O’Reilly, Kyle last week had an amazing match on NXT TV for the UK title against Pete Dunne. That alone wouldn’t get him this spot but then on NXT Takeover, he had a fantastic tag team match with Roderick Strong against Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan. Kyle mixes amazing selling and great technical talent to perfection and makes the majority of his matches really fun. 

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Women’s Wrestler of the Week: Alexa Bliss, her performance at MITB was historic for women’s wrestling. As much as I think that she is overpushed she delivers when called upon. Bliss won a very good MITB match and cashed in on Nia Jax later the same night to win the RAW Women’s Championship. Alexa has already made a case for women’s wrestler of the month with her performance here and maybe women’s wrestler of the year. 

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Match of the Week: Johnny Gargano vs. Tomasso Ciampa in a Chicago Street Fight at NXT Takeover Chicago, I don’t know what else to say about this match. If you want to see more of my thoughts check out my review of Takeover Chicago (https://wrestlegrade.com/2018/06/17/nxt-takeover-chicago-2-review/). This match mixed storyline, brutality and work rate to make a masterpiece and one of my favorite matches ever. 

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The team of the Week: Oney Lorcan and Danny Burch, as previously mentioned there was an amazing tag match at NXT Takeover Chicago between Undisputed ERA and Oney and Burch. Oney and Burch were interesting choices for the challenger role but showed in the end that they deserved it. Lorcan really shined in the match and post-match they got a standing ovation. This week, these guys solidified themselves as serious contenders in the NXT Tag Division. 

 

Leaderboard: 

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And STILL the leader of the race for Wrestler of the year…Kazuchika Okada

  1. Kazuchika Okada 122 points
  2. Kenny Omega 106 points
  3. The Young Bucks 100 points
  4. Will Ospreay 95 points
  5. Kota Ibushi 89 points
  6. Hiromu Takahashi 80 points
  7. Zack Sabre Jr. -Johnny Gargano 77 points
  8. Hiroshi Tanahashi -Marty Scurrl 53 points 
  9. Hangman Page 51 points
  10. Andrade Almas -AJ Styles -Dalton Castle -Seth Rollins 50 points
  11. Cody 47 points
  12. Adam Cole 44 points
  13. Tomasso Ciampa 43 points
  14. Sanada -Jay White 41 points
  15. Minoru Suzuki -Brock Lesnar -Cedric Alexander 35 points
  16. Roderick Strong -Kyle O’Reilly 34 points
  17. The Miz -KUSHIDA 30 points
  18. Alexa Bliss 29 points
  19. Bobby Fish 28 points
  20. So Cal Uncensored -Pete Dunne -Hirooki Goto -Evil -Flip Gordon -Tetsuya Naito -The Briscoes 25 points
  21. Dragon Lee 23 points
  22. Shinsuke Nakamura 22 points
  23. Ronda Rousey -Jonathan Gresham -Jay Lethal -Killian Dain -Kalisto -Finn Balor -Aleister Black -SHO 20 points
  24. Matt Taven 18 points
  25. Charlotte -Chris Sabin 17 points 
  26. Chris Jericho -Asuka -Usos -John Cena -Tomohiro Ishii -The Bar -Mustafa Ali -Braun Strowman -Ember Moon- The Tongans -Buddy Murphy -Jeff Hardy -Desperado -Silas Young 15 points
  27. Nia Jax 13 points
  28. YOH -Bobby Roode -sAnitY -Drew Gulak -Kenny King -Juice Robinson -Michael Elgin -Dave Finlay -Velveteen Dream -Ricochet -Lars Sullivan -EC3 -The Kingdom -Taiji Ishimori -Yoshinobu Kanemaru -Bludgeon Brothers -ACH 10 points
  29. Becky Lynch -Ruby Riott 8 points
  30. Carmella -Matt and Bray -Sumie Sakai 7 points
  31. Alex Shelley 6 points
  32. Jack Gallagher -New Day -Hideo Itami -Chase Owens -Beer City Bruiser -Trent Baretta -Sasha Banks -Shane Taylor -Togi Makabe -Yoshi-HASHI -Punishment Martinez -Dolph Ziggler -Kevin Owens -Sami Zayn -Baron Corbin -TJP -Akira Tozawa -Kurt Angle -HHH -Rysuke Taguchi 5 points
  33. Mandy Leon -Tenille Dashwood -Peyton Royce -OGBC -Lana -Burch and Lorcan 4 points 

WWE Battle of the Brands: Raw and Smackdown 6/18-6/19 2018

Raw

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The show opens with Alexa Bliss’ Title Celebration

Fresh off her historic performance at MITB, Bliss here goes into another feud. Kurt Angle also announces Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss for the RAW Women’s Title at Extreme Rules. Bliss talks cocky until Ronda Rousey comes down. After Bliss roasts Rousey including a line saying “You are just an over-hyped rookie”, Rousey comes unglued and attacks. Rousey attacks Angle,Bliss and security. Rousey then powerbombs Bliss through a table. Backstage, Angle suspends Rousey for 30 days which just postpones her title win until Summerslam. This segment was fantastic. Bliss played a great cocky champion and Rousey showed her character off really well. 

(c) Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler IC Title Open Challenge

Rollins comes hot off a great match with Elias at MITB, Ziggler opens Rollins’ open challenge and is accompanied by Mcintyre. As soon as the bell rings, both men try to hit their finishers. The match gets slow but picks up and gets competitive. Rollins hits a suicide dive. There is also a sequence of roll up near falls ending in a Ripcord Knee by Rollins for another near fall. The Curb Stomp is reversed into the Fameasser which goes for a really good near fall. That spot triggers “This Is Awesome” chants. Rollins hits 2 superkicks for another near fall. A crossbody by Ziggler is rolled through and powered up into a buckle bomb by Rollins. Mcintyre distracts Rollins and Ziggler picks up a shock win. While this was a very good match and made this RAW get into great territory, I think for right now Ziggler winning is the wrong choice. For 1, unless this leads up to Rollins vs. Lesnar at SummerSlam it is absolutely pointless as Rollins was a great champion. For 2, if you wanted to give the title to someone give it to Mcintyre. He’s a fresh, young and dominant talent and would be a better champion than Ziggler. ***1/2

  • Bobby Roode beats Curt Hawkins stretching his loss record to 0-204

Braun Strowman Promo

Strowman says that winning Money in The Bank is his greatest accomplishment which is true. Strowman calls out Lesnar but Kevin Owens comes out. Selling his injuries from MITB, Owens tries to allign with Braun. Braun shakes Owens’ hand but holds on. Braun attacks but Owens rolls out immediately. This segment sets up the main event later. 

  • Bayley and Banks backstage segment, Bayley asks Sasha to be her partner against the Riott Squad. 
  • Bray and Matt beat Rhyno and Slater after a great B-Team impersionation of Bray and Matt video. 
  • Angle and Corbin backstage segment, Angle says he has a big announcement for tonight. 

Jinder Mahal vs. Chad Gable

Pre-match, Mahal cuts an annoying promo on self re-invention after his match against Reigns. Like anyone was watching that match and not chanting about unrelating wrestling. Gable hits a series of very solid suplexes. Gable hits a moonsault for a near fall. After Gable got to looking good in this match, Mahal hits the Khalas to close. ** Chad Gable deserves much better. Mahal still REALLY sucks. 

Sasha Banks and Bayley vs. The Riott Squad

Liv Morgan and Bayley start the match. Banks tags herself in creating tension. Bayley hits a sliding huricanrana ringside to Sarah Logan. Meteora by Banks to Liv, near fall. Bayley inadvertantely distracts the referee allowing Logan to cheap shot Banks and Liv gets the roll up win. So now finally, Banks vs. Bayley’s feud can finally start right?

  • Post-match, Sasha Banks and Bayley stare down, Banks slaps Bayley and leaves. 
  • Back from commercial break, Bayley and Banks are brawling backstage. Banks stands tall.

Kurt Angle’s “Big” Announcement

Angle says his announcement will be about Brock Lesnar’s next Universal Title Defense. Roman Reigns comes down and complains more about losing at Wrestlemania and Greatest Royal Rumble. Bobby Lashley comes down and decides to show actual character for once. Kurt Angle announces a Multi-Man at Extreme Rules (AGAIN) for Universal Title’s #1 contendership. Revival comes down and challenges Lashley and Reigns. 

Lashley and Reigns vs. The Revival

Dawson and Reigns start the match. Lashley hits an Elevation Spinebuster to Wilder and tells Reigns “That’s How It’s Done”. Sidewalk slam elbow drop by Revival for a near fall. Reigns adds a move to his 5 move moveset and hits a Leg Drop to Dawson draped over the middle rope. Superman Punch by Reigns to Dawson, Roll up to Reigns by Wilder for a near fall but Reigns recovers and hits a Superman Punch to Wilder. Lashley tags himself in and hits a mocking spear to Wilder to close the match. **1/2 While I liked the Reigns and Lashley one upping dynamic this match was not good. At least, Lashley actually showed character. I hate the Revival being booked like this and this match put them down even further as jobbers. 

  • Finn,Angle and Corbin Backstage Segment. Finn looks for entry into the multi-man. Owens interreupts and so does Strowman. Strowman stands up for Finn. Angle makes a Corbin and Owens vs. Finn and Braun main event. 
  • Mojo Rawley beats No Way Jose
  • Banks and Bayley segment again. Banks drives off from Bayley.
  • Elias concert
  • Seth Rollins interview with Renee Young, Rollins announces next week he’s invoking his rematch clause against Ziggler next week. 

Kevin Owens and Baron Corbin vs. Braun Strowman and Finn Balor

Corbin and Finn start. Corbin wrestles in a suit now. Corbin and Braun stand-off, somehowe Corbin is taller than Braun. Strowman gorilla presses Balor to ringside taking out Owens and Corbin. Owens is still heavily selling his injuries from the Money in the Bank match. Corbin punches Balor off of the springboard for a near fall. Deep Six by Corbin to Balor for a near fall. Hot Tag by Braun but Corbin dives off the apron to stop Braun from colliding with Owens. Strowman charges Owens through the barricade. End of Days to Balor closes the match. *** This was a very fun main event with some good heel work from Corbin. I also loved the team up from Balor and Braun. The match was also very competitive and Corbin picked up a rare victory. 

Raw Pros: 

  • Rousey and Bliss opening segment
  • Ziggler vs. Rollins
  • Owens/Corbin vs. Finn/Braun
  • Bayley and Banks segments

Raw Cons: 

  • Revival vs. Lashley and Reigns
  • Mahal vs. Gable

Raw Last Words:

This episode, by riding the momentum of Money in the Bank, massively improved from former week’s episodes of Raw. The show started hot with Rousey’s attack and then went to a great Ziggler vs. Rollins match with a shock win. Bayley and Banks finally brawled and the main event was fun. This was a great follow up to MITB

RAW Grade: B

Smackdown Live: rusev-wwe-smackdownShow opens with Paige announcing a WWE Title #1 Contender Gauntlet Match with Big E, Rusev, The Miz, Samoa Joe and, Daniel Bryan

Carmella Promo

Carmella cuts a VERY annoying heel promo on never having any self-doubt. Asuka comes down but removes her mask to be James Ellsworth. Ellsworth claims Asuka to be the greatest woman ever. The actual Asuka comes down. Ellsworth squares up to Asuka but gets kicked, Carmella takes down Asuka and stands tall. 

Billie Kay vs. Becky Lynch

Another REALLY annoying Iconics promo. Becky Lynch immediately attacks after the bell. Bexploder but Kay rolls ringside. Kay sends Lynch into the post. Cheap shot by Royce for a near fall. Becky hits another Bexploder for a near fall. Lynch hits a crossbody to take out Royce. Dis-arm-her taps out Kay. ** While this continued Lynch’s much deserved roll of victories and good performances the match was very sloppy and made Iconics look annoying. 

  • Jeff Hardy Backstage Segment on Shinsuke Nakamura, Hardy says Nakamura’s actions made him more focused, Hardy turns around and reveals the face paint. This was awesome. 
  • Daniel Bryan interview with Renee Young, Announcing he’s #1 in the Gauntlet
  • Usos promo on sAnitY and starting in the WWE, sAnitY comes down and a brawl starts. sAnitY stands tall. 

(c) Bludgeon Brothers vs. The Goodbrothers for the SD Live Tag Titles

Gallows and Rowan start the match. Plancha dive by Karl Anderson caught, Harper throws Anderson into the steps. Superplex by Rowan to Gallows. Facebuster on the apron by 2B to Anderson on the apron. Splash by Rowan to Gallows for an awkwardly close near fall. Gallows fires up and superkicks Harper. Hot Tag by Anderson, Spinebuster to Harper for a near fall. Deep Six by Harper to Anderson for another near fall. Rowan boots Gallows over the barricade and 2B hits the Bludgeoning on Anderson to close. *** While the smark in me wanted Gallows and Anderson to pull the victory this match pleasently suprised me. I continue to love the fast style 2B worked and this match was one of their best so far. Anderson and Gallows had the oppurtunity to shine and hopefully this leads to more for them. 

Gauntlet Match

Daniel Bryan enters at #1 (when Bludgeon Brothers are leaving) with Big E at #2. Big E hits a splash on the apron to Bryan. Diving Headbutt by Bryan misses, Big E pins for a near fall. Supercanrana by Bryan. Crucifix Backbreaker by Big E for a near fall. Amazing Apron Spear by Big E triggers a “This Is Awesome” chant. Running Knee by Bryan eliminates E. Samoa Joe comes down at #3, Joe chops the hell out of Bryan’s chest. Brutal snap powerslam by Joe, Bryan lands on his head. Ringside, Joe has a Coquina Clutch locked in, Bryan escapes and eliminates Joe by countout. Bludegon Brothers attack Bryan. The Miz comes down at #4, Miz hits a Skull Crushing Finale on Bryan to eliminate Bryan. Rusev comes down at #5. Rusev hits a Machka kick for a near fall. Miz sends Rusev into the steel steps and rolls him in for a near fall. Miz mockingly hits the It! kicks. Snap DDT by Miz for a near fall. Miz goes to mock Bryan and hit a Running Knee but is stopped by a second Machka kick by Rusev. The Accolade taps out The Miz for Rusev’s shock win. ***3/4 This match was REALLY REALLY good for SD Live. Bryan played the Iron Man and got taken out by Bludgeon Brothers which hopefully starts a new feud. The Miz played a great heel, Big E had some great spots, Joe played a dominant heel and Rusev pulled off a shock win. Unlike, the gauntlet match on RAW before elimination chamber every member of this match had a purpose and it played out perfectly. 

SD Pros: 

  • Gauntlet Match
  • Bludgeon Brothers vs. Gallows and Anderson
  • sAnitY debut

SD Cons: 

  • Lynch vs. Kay

Grade: B+

Last Word: It was hard to choose which show was better this week while both were good. In the end, I chose Smackdown because it meant better for the future of the brand and played less of a role as a MITB post-show. The Gauntlet Match was amazing with a deserving Rusev win. 2B vs GB was fast and hard-hitting and sAnitY’s debut was very well done. 

Record for 2018: 8-3 SD Live 

WWE MITB 2018 Review

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WWE Money In the Bank Results+Star Ratings: 

  • Daniel Bryan defeated Big Cass @15:13 via submission ***1/4
  • Bobby Lashley defeated Sami Zayn @6:30 via pin N/A
  • Seth Rollins defeated Elias @17:05 via pin to retain the Intercontinental Title ****
  • Alexa Bliss won the Women’s Money In the Bank @18:25 ****1/2
  • Roman Reigns defeated Jinder Mahal @15:37 via pin *1/2
  • Carmella defeated Asuka to @11:03 via pin to retain the SD Live Women’s Title **
  • AJ Styles defeated Shinsuke Nakamura @31:08 in a Last Man Standing Match to retain the WWE Title ****1/4
  • Ronda Rousey defeated Nia Jax @10:47 via DQ, Nia retains the RAW Women’s Title ***1/4
  • Alexa Bliss cashes in her MITB on Jax to win the RAW Women’s Title @0:35 N/A
  • Braun Strowman won the Men’s Money in the Bank @19:51 ****

b9c167b30f257962a69c9602112c225970ab335cr1-1005-571v2_hqDaniel Bryan vs. Big Cass

The feud leading to this point has been pretty bad with Cass just gloating about his height until Bryan taps him out in the Heel Hook. In the build-up, no one looked strong. Big Cass is an amazing talker but I didn’t expect much out of this match. Surprisingly, the match picked up. The crowd LOVED Bryan and this made the match exciting. Cass looked good in-ring compared to how he has recently. Even though, Bryan had to carry most of the match it was a competitive bout. Surprisingly too, I went into this match bored and it grabbed my attention. I never thought this match would be a classic and it wasn’t but it was great for what it was supposed to be. ***1/4

  • Bobby Lashley defeats Sami Zayn in a crappy squash match to (hopefully) end a crappy feud

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Seth Rollins vs. Elias for the Intercontinental Championship

During Elias’ pre-match concert he was very over. The Chicago Crowd yelled Walk With Elias and it became obvious that Elias can even be over in a hardcore crowd. Seth comes down and the Wrestlemania 31 attire returns on Rollins. The match starts slow but picks up very well. This match had some very solid near falls especially toward the end when Elias attacked Rollins ringside and then hit a huge Elbow Drop for a convincing near fall. The Lesnar vs. Rollins Summerslam rumors led me to predict Elias. Even though, I don’t believe Elias is ready to take the title from Rollins he really shined here. In his short WWE career, this is definitely his biggest match. And in my opinion, his best. Elias spent a lot of the match working the neck of Rollins but then switched up to working the knee when Rollins tweaked it. Towards the end, Rollins looked desperate and picked up a roll-up victory. I expect this feud to continue at Extreme Rules. ****

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Banks vs Natalya vs Charlotte vs Moon vs Bliss vs Lynch vs Naomi vs Lana in the Womens MITB match 

This match was near perfect for what I expected it to be, the spots were great. Including, Moon’s springboard Crossbody onto Banks on the ladder and Charlotte’s powerbomb to Moon on the ladder. Ember Moon shined out in this match. The match was unpredictable even though I don’t agree with the finish. Becky Lynch looked to win the match and the Chicago crowd really wanted her to win too. In the end, Alexa Bliss takes out Lynch to win the MITB. Alexa Bliss, in my opinion, is the Roman Reigns of the Women’s Division. She is overpushed, consistently in the spotlight and (unlike Reigns) haven’t proved it in the ring by having a single great match. However, I won’t let the finish take away from the match. The match was smooth and the spots were done so much better than last years Women’s MITB. Also, I felt like this match portrayed the Women better than most recent (non-Rousey) matches have. Nice Job to the Women in this match! ****1/2

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Jinder Mahal vs. Roman Reigns

WWE should’ve known this was a bad idea to put on in a smart ass Chicago crowd. I was at MITB and this match was fun for all the wrong reasons. All the chants and beach balls were very deserved with what we’ve been given with this feud. Reigns was booed out of the building as fans chanted for NXT, The Elite, Velveteen Dream, CM Punk and to end this match. Not only was this match ill-advised, it went on for way too long. 15 minutes were spent with the crowd messing around and in the end, there was a predictable Reigns win. This sucked. *1/2

  • Carmella defeated Asuka in a very mediocre match that ended with a returning James Ellsworth distracted Asuka for a Carmella win. **

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AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE Championship in a Last Man Standing

They FINALLY did it, these guys had an amazing match. This is their 6th big deal encounter. They fought in New Japan in a great match but then in WWE, they fought at Wrestlemania, Greatest Royal Rumble, BackLash and SD Live and now MITB. Shinsuke’s heel turn made this feud good towards the end and this match made the LONG feud worthwhile. The match had some great spots especially towards the end but like the feud the match was long. Clocking in at 30 minutes. In the end, Styles Styles Clashes Nakamura off the steel steps was amazing. After that, the finish was incredible. Nakamura says “Come On!” but Styles kicks Nakamura in the nuts. Then Styles climbs the top rope and Phenomenal Forearms Naka through the announce table. These two finally had an amazing match which was such a relief. I wonder where Nakamura goes from here. ****1/4

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Nia Jax vs. Ronda Rousey for the RAW Women’s Championship 

This match was going to be a challenge for Ronda, she shined at WM 34 but she was in the ring with Kurt Angle and HHH two in-ring greats. At MITB, she went against Nia Jax and as great as Jax is she has been known to be green and injure people. I was scared going into this match that the result would be a crappy match between two green women’s wrestlers but nope. This match was all action and no filler. Rousey continued to be intense and show she was deserving of her spot while Jax showed her ability to successfully put on a match as the ring leader. It could’ve gotten great however the match never finished. Bliss came down to cash in and succeeded on the same night. When I said earlier, Bliss is the Reigns of the Women’s Division this continued to prove my point. ***

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Owens vs. Roode vs. Miz vs. Balor vs. Strowman vs. Rusev vs. Joe vs. Kofi for the Men’s MITB

Wow, during the entrances I realized how STACKED this match was. 1) all of these guys but Kofi and Miz came from NXT beginnings 2) Every person in this match had great momentum coming in and 3) All these men deserved their spots. Kofi got announced as the New Day member joining and he really impressed with his athleticism last night. While the Women’s match had smoother transitions, this match had some CRAZY spots. Especially, when Owens was pushed from the top of like a 20-foot ladder down through tables by Strowman. Also, when Balor just cleared the ropes to Coup De Grace Roode. The storytelling in this match was great too as each member had their own distinct character. Owens was the leader of this match helping take out Braun but getting taken out himself. Towards the end, it was anybody’s game and I thought it could go on a lot longer. However, Braun very abruptly won. I LOVE Braun winning though however, I might’ve preferred Joe and his cash in to be pre-announced to Styles at Summerslam or Roode using the briefcase as a jetpack to heel turn stardom. Braun will be who dethrones Lesnar though and that is a great thing. ****

Grade: B

Last Word: This was another case of Takeover hangover however Money in the Bank tonight was really great and had 4 over 4-star matches, which is fantastic for WWE. However, the rest of the show very much sucked. Reigns vs. Jinder was only fun because I was in the crowd and Carmella vs. Asuka had a bullshit finish. This is WWE’s best 2018 PPV but honestly, that isn’t saying much. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m very positive on this show. 

 

 

NXT Takeover Chicago 2 Review

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NXT Takeover Chicago Results + Star Ratings: 

  • Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly defeat Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan to retain the NXT Tag Team Championships @16:00 ****
  • Ricochet defeats Velveteen Dream @22:03 ****3/4
  • Shayna Baszler defeats Nikki Cross to retain the NXT Women’s Championship @9:30 ***1/4
  • Aleister Black defeats Lars Sullivan to retain the NXT Championship @14:05 ***1/2
  • Tomasso Ciampa defeats Johnny Gargano in a Chicago Street Fight @35:37 *****

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(c)Roderick Strong and Kyle O’Reilly(Undisputed ERA) vs. Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan for the NXT Tag Titles

This match was the literal perfect opener. It started fast and got the crowd into it. The pop for UE was insane. Lorcan and Burch were interesting choices for the challengers here but they totally showed their ability in-ring to any doubters. Lorcan especially shined here, hitting an amazing diving double Blockbuster to ringside and being fast as lightning. After a Doomsday Uppercut by Lorcan and Burch, Adam Cole removes Lorcan from the pin and gets an ejected. The match continues at a splittingly fast speed and had an amazing double submission spot by Lorcan and Burch. After a flurry of strikes by ERA, the match ends. Even with a predictable match, Lorcan and Burch were amazing here and got a standing ovation post-match. ****

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Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream

This feud had been all about Dream showing Ricochet whatever Ricochet can do Dream can do better. This played heavily into this match. The Dream came down in a Hulk Hogan-inspired attire which was surprising.  If you don’t know, Velveteen used to be on Tough Enough in 2015 and Hulk Hogan was a judge. Hulk Hogan was one of the main reasons Dream was kicked off the show and then Hogan had his “controversy” that then kicked Hogan off of Tough Enough. The match started slowly with Dream in control. Velveteen then dumps Ricochet ringside and hits an amazing tope con hiro. The crowd is split and starts to chant “Both These Guys”. Ricochet fired back with two topes of his own picking up the pace. Dream hit an amazing rolling Death Valley Driver off the top rope for a near fall. The dream also hit a Brutal Suplex to ringside, both men get in at 9. STO DDT by Dream gets a very near fall. Towards the end, this match got into very near 5-star range. Dream yells at Ricochet “I’m a Wrestling God!” This fires up Ricochet to hit Dream’s moves. Ricochet hits a Rolling DVD and hits a Purple Rainmaker but Dream gets his knees up and gets a near fall on Rico. Velveteen flies across the ring to hit the Purple Rainmaker but Rico misses. A 630 Senton by Ricochet closes. ****3/4 

I loved this match so much. I was at NXT Takeover and this match was so fun to watch live. This will go down as one of my favorite 2018 matches however it isn’t the best in quality so far this year. The characters clashed so well and Velveteen and Ricochet provided another amazing NXT Match. The feud was fantastic and this, in my opinion, was better than Dream vs. Black. 

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(c)Shayna Baszler vs. Nikki Cross for the NXT Women’s Championship

Cross vs. Baszler had so much potential and while it was better than almost all of the WWE Women’s matches in 2018, I was still left disappointed. Cross is fantastic while Baszler is one of my favorite women’s wrestlers ever. Early on, Cross was hilarious and crazy yelling at Baszler to choke her out. Ringside, Cross gets a choke on Baszler and Baszler drops Cross onto the ramp out of the hold brutally. In the arena, a beach ball was released but fans grabbed it and ripped it. A “Beachballs Suck” chant boomed through the arena. Knee strikes by Baszler fire up Cross. Cross hits a Diving Crossbody for a near fall. Cross hits a Reverse DDT on the apron. Cross tries to roll up Baszler but Baszler grabs in a coquina clutch. Cross smiles then abruptly passes out. While this was nowhere near bad, it could’ve been great and it was VERY short. ***1/4

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(c) Aleister Black vs. Lars Sullivan for the NXT Championship

This match follows the same theme as the last match, it could’ve been fantastic but one thing stops it from being amazing. In Cross vs. Baszler it was the finish but in this match, it was a major botch. The match starts hot though as Black moves like a cheetah out of the gates. Black goes for a Moonsault off the post ringside but Lars catches him, Dead eyes him on the apron and launches Black into the barricade. Lars goes for a Flying Headbutt but Black gets a single leg up but it hurts Black playing the leg selling into the rest of the match. Black manages to hit a Standing Springboard Moonsault for a near fall. Lars gets in a Brock Lock which Black pins Lars to get out into a near fall. Lars hits a great powerslam on the apron. Now it’s time for the botch, while Black tries to go for a Fade to Black it misses but Lars sells it for a near fall anyway. The commentary makes it worse by saying that it was because Lars was so hurt he passed out and Black hurt his leg too. The crowd chants “You Fucked Up”. This led to a great finish however as Black finally hits two Fade To Blacks for the win. ***1/2

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Johnny Gargano vs. Tomasso Ciampa in a Chicago Street Fight 

Okay, okay guys, this may be the greatest WWE match of ALL TIME. So, Ciampa vs. Gargano was MOTY at Takeover NOLA until Okada v. Omega 4 came along. This match, however, blew the Takeover NOLA match out of the water, however, I don’t know if it’s better than Okada vs. Omega but it’s on the same level.  Instead of continuing to rave on, I’m going to talk about the match. Before the match, Candice LeRae gives Johnny the crutch from Takeover NOLA. Ciampa wears an Infinity War Reference on his shirt. Gargano flies out of the gates. Gargano throws Ciampa over the announce table wiping out Nigel. The fight goes into the crowd. In the crowd, a fan has a sign for Johnny that hides a stop sign and Johnny attacks with it. Johnny hits an amazing dive off the rafters. The match returns ringside and later on, Ciampa wraps a chair around Gargano’s head and send him face first into the steel steps in a brutal spot. Ciampa slingshots Gargano brutally under the bottom turnbuckle. Ciampa hits a Shell Shock on the steel steps. At this point, Ciampa grabs Bolt Cutters and cuts the apron off to remove the bare wooden ring. Ciampa initially fails to slam Gargano on it as Gargano hits a Cheeky Nandos Kick. A Strike Fest ends in a Double Weapon shot, Gargano falls onto Ciampa in a pin for a very near fall. Ringside, a knee strike by Ciampa misses sending his knee into the steel steps. Gargano attacks the previously injured knee with a chair. Ciampa locks in a Gargano Escape, Gargano grabs a crutch but Ciampa repeatedly elbows Gargano. Ciampa hits Gargano with the crutch from Takeover NOLA for a near fall. There is an amazing callback to Takeover Chicago last year with Ciampa sending Gargano into the stage. They climb the rafters, at the top Ciampa removed Gargano’s wedding ring, spits on it and throws it away. From the top of the rafters, Gargano shell shocks Ciampa all the way down through tables. Security comes down to stretcher Ciampa away but Gargano at breaking point continues to attack, Gargano wipes out the security and the referee. In the Ring, Ciampa taps out to the Gargano Escape but there is no ref. Gargano handcuffs Ciampa but security comes down to stop Gargano. Gargano distracted gets DDT’d into the Bare Ring to close the match giving Blackheart the win. *****

This match mixed brutality, story and in-ring skill better than any other match this year. It was so captivating, as everyone cared about the results. This match reminded me of Mankind vs. Undertaker from King of The Ring in the Hell in a Cell but if it had better characters and in-ring skill. The callbacks to the Takeover NOLA match and the DIY break up were fantastic and Gargano was really aggressive as Ciampa was a despicable heel. The match last night rocked the arena and was maybe the best WWE match ever. It’s hard to think of a better match from the primary wrestling company. Everything mixed so well and it was so captivating. They topped their match from just a couple months ago and did so by miles. I’d give it 6 stars if I could. 

Show Grade: B+

Last Word: While this show hosted three amazing matches in Ricochet vs. Dream, Ciampa vs. Gargano and Lorcan and Burch vs. Undisputed ERA, the rest of the card was mediocre for a Takeover. Ciampa vs. Gargano is an instant classic and Takeovers continue to be the best shows. 

NJPW Dominion 2018 Review

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Star Ratings:

  • Desperado and Kanemaru defeat Roppongi 3K via pinfall @9:50 ***
  • Juice Robinson and Dave Finlay defeat Jay White and Yoshi-Hashi via pinfall @7:35 ***
  • Zack Sabre Jr. and Minoru Suzuki defeat Toru Yano and Tomohiro Ishii via submission @8:50  ***1/2
  • Michael Elgin defeats Tai-Chi and Hirooki Goto via pinfall to win the NEVER Openweight Championship @13:55 ****
  • The Young Bucks defeat Evil and Sanada via pinfall to win the IWGP Tag Team Championships @15:11 ****1/2
  • Bullet Club(Cody, Page, and Scurrl) defeat Rey Mysterio, Jyushin Liger, and Hiroshi Tanahashi via pinfall @11:35 ***1/2
  • Hiromu Takahashi defeats Will Ospreay via pinfall @20:22 to win the IWGP Jr Championship ****3/4
  • Chris Jericho defeats Tetsuya Naito via pinfall @17:50 to win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship ****1/4
  • Kenny Omega defeats Kazuchika Okada in a 2 out of 3 falls match via pinfall (2-1) @69:30 to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship *****

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Kanemaru and Desperado(c) vs. Roppongi 3K for the IWGP Junior Tag Titles

Desperado, SHO, and YOH are straight off very good runs in Best Of The Super Juniors. However, none of that showed here. While this match was a good opener it wasn’t as good as it should’ve been. Since The Young Bucks left, the JR Tag division has been lacking and Roppongi 3k should have the titles to carry the division and in a night of MANY title changes, this was not one. This match worked like a normal Suzuki Gun match as there were crowd fighting and cheating to win. SHO carried most of this match and like the BOSJ shocked me in showing how good he is. In the end, Desperado takes down the ref and Kanemaru hits a cheap shot so Desperado could roll up SHO for the win. ***

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Juice Robinson and Dave Finlay vs. Jay White and Yoshi-HASHI

This match was solidly decent. The match continued the very good Jay White vs. Dave Finlay rivalry and had some work rate moments. Juice looked really good in this match as he was in the ring most of the time. Unfortunately, Yoshi continued to blend in and not do anything of note. Hopefully, a G1 run will fix Yoshi’s run recently. There was a good ending sequence with everybody hitting their signature move and Juice pins Jay with a Pulp Friction to win. After the match, Juice grabbed White’s US title and disrespected him after taunting with the title. This foreshadows a match for the title later on which Juice should win. ***

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Toru Yano and Tomohiro Ishii vs. Zack Sabre Jr and Minoru Suzuki

This match was the first to break into great territory. In this match, Suzuki and Ishii stole the show, their strikefests and back and forths were amazing. Toru Yano was his normal comedic self and ZSJ was able to shine a little bit with his technical work. There’s not much to complain about here. ***1/2

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Michael Elgin vs. Hirooki Goto vs. Tai-Chi for the NEVER Openweight Championship

This match exceeded my expectations by far. I’ve been heavily down on Tai-Chi but his character in this match was actually pretty good. Big Mike looked very good in this match too. Early on, Elgin hit a Tope Con Hiro which amazed me because he’s almost a super heavyweight. Elgin also lead an amazing springboard powerbomb chain suplex spot. There were some believable near falls when Tai-Chi distracted the ref and hit a stiff superkick to Hirooki Goto for a near fall. The ending was fantastic too, Elgin buckle bombed Tai-Chi picking him up off of a roll up on Goto, Elgin then powerbombed Goto into Tai-Chi and then hit a finishing powerbomb on Tai-Chi to win the title. Although an Elgin vs. Goto clash would probably be better, and their stare off post-match might mean that comes later, these three worked very well together. ****

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Evil and Sanada vs. The Young Bucks for the IWGP Tag Team Championships

This is the Young Bucks’ first title match in their new run as Heavyweight Tag Champions. Also, the Tag Titles have changed hands at Dominion 4 years in a row and this year makes 5. The highlight of this match was the selling of the leg from Nick Jackson and the back from Matt Jackson. Mid-match, Nick went for an apron superkick to Evil, Evil ducked allowing Nick to smash his leg into the post. These injuries helped make the Bucks look like legitimate underdogs. There were some very close near falls too, off of a Magic Killer towards the end by LIJ and when LIJ hit the IndyTaker. These teams worked very well together and this match makes me very excited for the Young Bucks Tag Reign. ****1/2

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Rey Mysterio, Jyushin Liger and Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Bullet Club

The Highlight of the match was Rey Mysterio’s mask. Rey had a mask resembling the Lion Mark logo of New Japan. It was REALLY cool. The rest of this match was mostly, “I’m Cool, look at me” versus “I’m a Legend, Look at Me”. This match only had a couple of spots and it had potential. Every match this night didn’t need to be a banger. This was still really cool to see as it was Rey’s NJPW debut. If you know me, Cody is my favorite all-time wrestler so I would’ve booked this differently. I would have Marty and Page face Hiroshi and Jyushin in a tag match and Cody vs. Rey in a separate match.***

340d54a22b4610ccdfcc103f1cc47a9fe3ec5738v2_hqHiromu Takahashi vs. Will Ospreay for the IWGP JR Championship

Hiromu won the Best of The Super Juniors to get to this match while having some VERY good matches on the way. This was also a rematch from February when it won my match of the month. Unfortunately, this match got outshined tonight but it was still fantastic. The match started FAST and Ospreay hit a flipping stage dive off the ramp. Ospreay does have to maintain a slower pace after the stage dive in order to spread out the spots. Hiromu’s missile dropkicks continue to be some of the best in the game. There were also some insane sequences here which aren’t rare in either of these guys matches. The Stormbreaker got reversed into a Code Red by Hiromu which was awesome. Hiromu hits a Canadian Destroyer into a Triangle Hold, the submission sequence off of the Triangle hold was fantastic and Ospreay powered up Hiromu and dropped him straight on his head. There was a botched spot in which Hiromu Sunset Flipped Ospreay onto the exposed floor but Ospreay just landed on padding but sold it like he landed on the concrete. Hiromu hits a Piledriver, Death Vallet Driver into the corner then a final Timebomb for the win. The Japanese crowd loved Hiromu winning but I disliked it. Will has worked wonders for the JR division on this last run holding the title through some of the best cruiserweight matches ever. Hopefully, Hiromu can continue this with the division. ****3/4

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Tetsuya Naito Vs. Chris Jericho for the IWGP IC Championship

Starting off, it shocked me how good Jericho was here. He can still GO. The Clown Makeup was weird AF though. Jericho attacks early and puts Naito brutally through a table set up on the barricade. Jericho DDTs Naito onto the announce table. NJPW Jericho is unleashed and can do whatever he wants. Jericho surprised me by hitting a very solid lionsault at his age. Jericho is dominant early on but Naito switches the pace. At this point in the match, Naito has a cut in his eye that starts to bleed. It looks crazy brutal. On the top rope, Naito tries to go for a supercanrana but Jericho drops him on his head and transitions into the walls of Jericho. Naito fights out. Destino hits but Naito can’t capitalize. A Codebreaker catches a forearm by Naito which leads to a believable near fall. Naito goes for another Destino which Jericho reverses, takes out the ref, low blows Naito and hits a closer codebreaker. Jericho pulls off a shock win in a very good match. This means we get to see more of the great NJPW Jericho. I also predict that Naito moves back up into the Main Event scene. ****1/4

 

Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match for the IWGP Heavyweight Title

This is the match of the year, maybe all time. This match combines a story, amazing work rate, and genuine emotion to make a masterpiece. Obviously, this is the 4th match in their series and the idea behind this match is that it will be the last. Whoever wins here is crowned one of the best of all time and a tie isn’t possible. The 2 out of 3 falls stipulation fits these guys so perfectly. Going into this match Okada held this title for 700+ days. Omega is the perfect person to take it off of him too.

Let’s talk about the match, this match spans almost 70 minutes. The match starts with a long resthold period but as soon as the pace picks up it launches. Okada tries his suicide dive over the barricade but Omega catches it in a V-trigger. Omega misses a plancha dive but Okada runs back in the ring to hit a plancha dive of his own. Okada dropkicks Omega off the apron sending him brutally into the barricade. Omega hits his Rise of the Terminator spot. There was a sequence of v-triggers and german suplexes and rainmaker reversals that led to some very close near falls. Especially when Okada rolls up a v-trigger attempt leading to a very near fall. Okada goes for the Rainmaker but Omega fights out but Okada fights into a roll up to get the first fall.

I love what NJPW did with the intermissions, in between falls there were 2 minutes of free space allowing the wrestlers and the viewers to take a breather. Once the intermission is over the fight is back on. Omega hits a reverse huricanrana ringside and Okada gets back in at 19. The Rainmaker was reversed into a Spike Uranage which was a cool spot. V Trigger and a One-Winged Angel closes the second fall and now the third fall decides the winner.

Out of the gates, Omega hits another V-Trigger and One Winged Angel gets reversed into a finally successful Rainmaker for a one-armed very near fall. Kenny Omega hits a Styles Clash for another near fall and the Japanese crowd chants “AJ Styles” which is a very sweet moment. A worn out Okada hits a Rainmaker without any followthrough and both collapse. Here I thought they would end this in a double countout pulling a Styles/Nakamura but I was so relieved it didn’t happen. My favorite moment in this match, Okada went for another Rainmaker which then gets immediately reversed into a One-Winged Angel. This looked sick and snap fast. There is a great visual where both men are exhausted in the corner sitting together. Omega hits one last One-Winged Angel for the much-deserved win. 

This was the kind of match you could only dream of. This match had spots nobody else could ever do. These two solidified themselves as some of the greatest of all time. I almost gave it 6 stars but decided not to break the system even though it more than deserved it. *****

Show Grade: A+

Last Word: This show goes hand in hand with NXT Takeover as the best PPV of 2018. Every Match was good especially the last 3. The best match obviously is the main event which will go down as one of the greatest ever.