Royal Rumble 2019 Review

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Results + Star Ratings:

  • Asuka defeats Becky Lynch to retain the Smackdown Women’s Title @17:08 ****1/4
  • Shane Mcmahon and The Miz defeat The Bar to win the Smackdown Tag Titles @13:17 ***1/4
  • Ronda Rousey defeats Sasha Banks to retain the Raw Women’s Title @13:47 ***1/2
  • Becky Lynch wins the Women’s Royal Rumble @71:05 ****
  • Daniel Bryan defeats AJ Styles to retain the WWE Title @24:31 **3/4
  • Brock Lesnar defeats Finn Balor to retain the Universal Title @8:39 ****3/4
  • Seth Rollins wins the Men’s Royal Rumble @57:39 **1/2

Becky Lynch vs. Asuka(c) for the Smackdown Women’s Title:

  • Big fight feels.
  • Asuka asserts dominance early on and taunts but Lynch fights back and strings together some offense starting the momentum. 
  • Hip attack by Asuka sends Lynch off the apron to the floor, Asuka misses a kick off the apron and Lynch fires back with a running big boot on the apron. 
  • Asuka sends Lynch shoulder-first into the ring LED board but Lynch recovers and hits an exploder suplex into the barricade. In-ring near fall for Becky. 
  • Becky begins to dominate the match a bit and starts working the arm setting up the Disarm-Her.
  • Lynch dodges a Hip Attack sending Asuka into the ropes, Lynch capitalizes by attacking but Asuka grabs Lynch in a sleeper around the ropes. 
  • Disarm-Her by Lynch in-between the Turnbuckles in the corner but has to release it. Asuka catches Lynch in mid-air with a buzzsaw kick.
  • German Suplex followed by a Hip Attack by Asuka for a near fall.
  • Asuka misses a missile dropkick, Uranage by Lynch gets a close near fall. 
  • Asuka locks in a Cross Armbreaker, Lynch tries to pin out of it but Asuka transitions into an Asuke Lock but Lynch rolls to the ropes. 
  • Asuka attempts to German Suplex Lynch off the apron to the floor but Becky breaks free, Lynch goes for an exploder suplex but fails, Asuka hits a great Swinging Neckbreaker off the apron to the floor. Lynch gets back in at 9. Asuka capitalizes with a shining wizard kick for a great near fall. 
  • Strikefest, Asuka catches Lynch with a roundhouse for a near fall. 
  • Super Exploder suplex by Lynch for a great near fall. 
  • Diving Leg Drop by Lynch misses, Asuka locks in an Asuka Lock but Asuka transitions into a Disarmher but Lynch transitions into an Asuka lock, amazing sequence. 
  • Disarm-Her locked in by Lynch, Asuka rolls up Becky to escape. 
  • Takedown into the Asuka Lock, Asuka locks in an inverted version of it to tap out Becky. 

Winner: Asuka Retains @17:08!

Rating: ****1/4, A match that impressed the hell out of me. These women pulled out some amazing spots and great in-ring work and delivered another revelation in Women’s Wrestling. WWE has got one thing consistently right in the last year and that’s Women’s Wrestling and in my opinion, this is one of the top examples of why they’ve done it right. Asuka kicked ass and hit hard with intensity and Lynch is one of the best wrestlers going right now so they clicked really well and made something that will be hard to forget. A prime example of how far Women’s Wrestling has come. 

The Miz and Shane Mcmahon vs. The Bar(c) for the Smackdown Tag Titles:

  • Shane and Sheamus start the match, Shane starts fired up. 
  • The Bar clear off an announce table and try to bomb Miz through it but Shane comes to the save. Mcmahon puts Cesaro on the announce table Sheamus saves Cesaro from the bump but Shane dives with an elbow taking out Sheamus ringside. Cesaro takes out Shane.
  • The Bar isolates The Miz in-ring with Shane outside. 
  • Hot tag by Shane, float over DDT to Sheamus gets a near fall. 
  • Coast to Coast by Shane attempted but Cesaro catches him mid-air and gets the Cesaro Swing in for a while but Mcmahon locks in a Triangle once it’s over. Flying knee drop by Sheamus to escape the hold. 
  • Double Team White Noise by The Bar for a near fall on Shane. 
  • Brogue Kick by Sheamus, Miz shoves Shane out of the way. Shane hits a Great Shooting Star Press to close the match. 

Winner: Shane Mcmahon and The Miz New Champions @13:17!

Rating: ***1/4, The Shane spots were in full effect here with an insane shooting star press and he took a lot of offense and well too. The Miz wasn’t a huge part of the match and neither was Sheamus but the match was a very solid spot fest with distinct characters and some surprisingly solid in-ring work. 

Sasha Banks vs. Ronda Rousey(c) for the Raw Women’s Title:

  • Rousey says “you say I can’t wrestle, I’ll show you how to wrestle” and hits the Tres Amigos suplexes taunting Banks and her idol Eddie Guerrero. 
  • Rousey punches Banks against the post but Banks dodges and Rousey collides with the LED post. Suicide Dive by Banks. 
  • A little bit of a halt in pace as Banks shows a little bit of dominance. 
  • Rousey rolls Banks into a Piper’s Pit attempt but Banks rolls through and torques the arm of Rousey in a Rings of Saturn hold targeting the arm that hit the LED post, Banks transitions into the Banks Statement, Banks rolls away from the ropes but Rousey escapes. 
  • Piper’s Pit hits by Rousey allowing her to heal the arm. 
  • Bodyscissors Hold over the top rope by Rousey but she has to release. 
  • Superplex by Banks for a good near fall, after the kickout Banks goes back to working the arm. Rousey powers into a judo throw for another near fall. 
  • Series of arm-oriented judo throws by Rousey but Banks gets Ronda ringside to allow Sasha time to heal, another suicide dive by Banks is caught. Rousey locks in a Cross Armbreaker ringside Banks taps but it doesn’t count. 
  • Strikefest but Rousey takes control, Rousey hits a flying knee for a near fall. 
  • Piper’s Pit by Rousey reversed mid-air by Banks as she comes down on Ronda for a near fall. Banks locks in the Banks Statement and uses her gear to torque the hold but doesn’t quite get it in. Near fall roll up by Banks into a Fujiwara Armbar Rousey rolls through and hits a Gutwrench Powerslam and follows it up with Piper’s Pit to close the match.

Winner: Ronda Rousey Retains @13:47!

Rating: ***1/2, A really solid hard-hitting women’s match with some great working of the arm and two wrestlers at the top of their game. The match was worked at a good pace and was a smart match wrestling logic-wise. The match didn’t kick into top gear but delivered another great example of how good Women’s Wrestling has become.

Women’s Royal Rumble Match:

  • Lacey Evans at #1.
  • Evans cuts a promo, Natalya at #2. 
  • Mandy Rose at #3. 
  • Double Sharpshooter by Natalya on Evans and Rose. 
  • Liv Morgan at #4.
  • Liv Morgan is eliminated immediately after 8 seconds by Natalya.
  • Mickie James at #5.
  • Ember Moon at #6.
  • Billie Kay at #7. She doesn’t enter because she wants to wait for Peyton Royce. 
  • Nikki Cross at #8. Cross takes out Kay. And dives out taking everyone out in the ring with a crossbody.
  • Peyton Royce at #9.
  • Tamina Snuka at #10.
  • Mickie James eliminated by Tamina Snuka.
  • Xia Li at #11 from the Mae Young Classic. 
  • Sarah Logan at #12.
  • Logan strikes Ember Moon almost out of the ring but Moon hangs on by her boots. 
  • Nikki Cross eliminated by Peyton Royce. 
  • Charlotte at #13.
  • Xia Li eliminated by Charlotte. 
  • Kairi Sane at #14.
  • Tamina Snuka eliminated by Charlotte (2)
  • Kairi and Charlotte face-off which is surreal because both are amazing. 
  • Sarah Logan in eliminated by Natalya (2) and Kairi Sane. 
  • Maria Kanellis at #15. 
  • Naomi at #16.
  • Naomi and Mandy Rose go after each other igniting the feud from SD Live over Jimmy Uso, Mandy Rose is eliminated by Naomi. Rose gets Naomi out but Naomi handstands onto the barricade and walks on it and jumps to the steel steps to get back in but Rose eliminates her anyway. 
  • Lacey Evans eliminated by Charlotte (3). 
  • Candice LeRae at #17.
  • Alicia Fox at #18.
  • Maria Kanellis and Alicia Fox have a horrible feud moment that kills the match’s momentum. 
  • Maria Kanellis eliminated by Alicia Fox. 
  • Kacy Catanzaro #19. 
  • Zelina Vega at #20.
  • Vega and LeRae face-off calling back the Gargano Almas feud in January last year. 
  • Ruby Riott at #21.The rest of Riott Squad comes back down with her. 
  • Riott squad pulls Charlotte under the bottom rope and triple team attacks her. The Squad also pull a couple others out but Vega goes under the ring.
  • Alicia Fox is eliminated by Ruby Riott. 
  • Candice LeRae is eliminated by Ruby Riott (2).
  • Dana Brooke at #22.
  • Kairi Sane eliminated by Ruby Riott (3).
  • Io Shirai at #23. 
  • Shirai takes out the Riott Squad saving Sane and hits a great diving moonsault off the top to outside. 
  • Rhea Ripley at #24.
  • Kacy Catanzaro eliminated by Dana Brooke, nevermind Kacy gets a handstand in and clings to the ring post to climb back in, impressive. Kacy gets eliminated by Rhea Ripley instead. 
  • Sonya Deville at #15.
  • Dana Brooke eliminated by Rhea Ripley(2).
  • Hornswoggle comes back and gets Zelina Vega out from under the ring, Zelina Vega is eliminated by Rhea Ripley (3).
  • Alexa Bliss at #26, return from injury.
  • Sonya Deville eliminated by Alexa Bliss. 
  • Bayley at #27.
  • Ruby Riott eliminated by Bayley, Rhea Ripley eliminated by Bayley (2).
  • Lana at #28. She looks injured after the bump she took on the Pre-Show for the Rusev Nakamura match. 
  • Nia Jax at #29. Jax attacks Lana on her way down.
  • Io Shirai eliminated by Nia Jax.
  • Natalya eliminated by Nia Jax(2) after being in the match for 55 minutes.
  • Carmella at #30.
  • Becky Lynch comes down and enters the match for the injured Lana. 
  • Becky Lynch and Nia Jax stare-down for the first time since the facebreak incident. 
  • Bliss and Moon fight on the apron, Ember Moon eliminated by Alexa Bliss(2)
  • Alexa Bliss is eliminated by Carmella and Bayley(3)
  • Carmella is eliminated by Charlotte(4). 
  • Bayley is eliminated by Jax(3) and Charlotte(5).
  • Final 3 are Becky Lynch, Charlotte, and Nia Jax. 
  • Nia Jax is eliminated by Becky Lynch. Lynch and Charlotte are the only ones left. Nia Jax shoves Lynch off the steps to a hard landing on her knee. Lynch fights back and gets in the ring.
  • Great ending sequence between Charlotte and Lynch with Becky being an amazing underdog and winning the match. 

Winner: Becky Lynch @71:05!

Most Eliminations: Charlotte with 5. 

Iron Man: Natalya staying in for 55 minutes

Rating: ****, It is really hard to rate Royal Rumble matches but this one was top-tier. For starters, it focused on NXT workers like Candice, Kairi, and Io instead of washed up legends like last year’s women’s rumble. It had some great drama and an amazing ending sequence with Becky Lynch winning is one of the best moments in Rumble history with a crazy pop for Lynch and her overcoming the knee injury. The match started slow but kept it interesting and is one of my favorite rumbles I’ve watched. 

Daniel Bryan(c) vs. AJ Styles for the WWE Title:

  • Great feud heading up to this match. 
  • Slow paced start. 
  • Bryan sends Styles over the corner into the post and crashing to ringside. Bryan sends Styles shoulder-first into the post from ringside. 
  • Bryan begins to dominate as he works the arm of Styles. 
  • Butterfly Suplex into an armbar by Bryan but Styles keeps his grip locked and rolls to the ropes. 
  • Strikes by Bryan bust open the nose of Styles. 
  • Roll up battle of near falls for both men, Styles gets Bryan downed with a Dragon Screw as Styles begins to work the leg. 
  • Dragon Suplex by Bryan for a near fall. 
  • Great Moonsault DDT off the barricade by Styles ringside. 
  • Springboard 450 by Styles but Bryan gets up the knees and goes for the LaBell Lock and locks it in, Styles rolls it up for a near fall. AJ locks in the Calf Crusher but Daniel grabs the ropes. 
  • Calf Crusher attempt by Styles but Bryan rolls through and hits him with a snap kick for a near fall.
  • The pace has been incredibly slow for 15 minutes. 
  • Head Stomps by Bryan but the leg is tweaked from it, Bryan goes to the top rope but Styles meets him up there, Bryan maintains control and hits a super Saito Suplex but Styles rolls through. They get back up and Styles hits a Calf Crusher Driver for a near fall but then locks in the Calf Crusher, near fall rollup by Styles but Bryan escapes off the kickout. 
  • Good Snap Brainbuster by Styles for a near fall.
  • Bryan kicks out the arm of Styles off the springboard, Styles uses one arm to springboard but Bryan kicks Styles out of mid-air. AJ fights back and hits a Pele kick knocking both out. 
  • Erik Rowan comes down and stands at ringside, okay??
  • Bryan hits the referee accidentally with an enzugiri, Styles hits a Styles Clash and Rowan comes in and hits Styles with a chokeslam Bryan covers Styles for the win.

Winner: Daniel Bryan Retains @24:31!

Rating: **3/4 This was a good technical match that didn’t really fit the parameters of a WWE stadium show. The match was getting really good even though it was most definitely a slow-paced match that took the casual fan out of it. The technical work form both men was good and the logic was solid but it missed any kind of gear and the Rowan ending was a bit cheap. Wasn’t horrible just wasn’t anything all that good either.

Finn Balor vs. Brock Lesnar(c) for the Universal Title:

  • Immediate shotgun dropkick by Balor as he starts offense fast. 
  • Slingblade by Balor caught into a Belly to Belly by Lesnar.
  • Belly to Belly suplex ringside by Lesnar. 
  • Powerslam attempt by Lesnar through the announce table, Balor sends Lesnar into the corner of the announce table twice and smashes his face against it but Lesnar levels Balor and sends him back in-ring, 
  • Another Belly to Belly suplex by Lesnar sends Balor across the ring. The 4th Belly to Belly by Lesnar does the same thing. 
  • Slingblade by Balor hits, shotgun dropkick attempt runs into a stiff lariat by Lesnar. 
  • Lesnar still is selling the announce table spot. 
  • F5 by Lesnar countered into a DDT by Balor for a great near fall. 
  • Tope Con Hiro by Balor takes out Balor ringside, Balor hits a second Tope Con Hiro and a third one to follow. 
  • Coup De Grace hits by Balor amazing near fall. Kimura Lock by Lesnar is locked in and taps out Balor. 

Winner: Brock Lesnar Retains @8:39!

Rating: ****3/4, The pure investment in this match was crazy. Lesnar sells his matches like nobody else on the wrestling planet right now and Balor was the perfect opponent. I like this match better than Lesnar vs. Styles and Lesnar vs Bryan. Finn Balor wrestled with intensity and the pace was incredible. What an incredible sprint with so much emotional investment making it seem like Balor was going to win but having the hope crushed out of you with the Kimura Lock. Both men sold the match like a million bucks and I have no idea how they could’ve done what they did any better. My Match of the Weekend for sure sorry Gargano vs. Ricochet. 

Men’s Royal Rumble:

  • Elias at #1.
  • Jeff Jarret at #2 interrupting fellow fake musician Elias. Elias and Jarrett promo with each other until Elias attacks Jarrett. 
  • Elias breaks his guitar over the back of Jarrett and eliminates him. 
  • Shinsuke Nakamura at #3.
  • Kurt Angle at #4.
  • Suplex Series by Angle takes out Elias and Nakamura. 
  • Big E at #5.
  • Kurt Angle eliminated by Shinsuke Nakamura. 
  • Johnny Gargano at #6.
  • Jinder Mahal at #7.
  • Jinder Mahal eliminated by Johnny Gargano. 
  • Samoa Joe at #8.
  • Big E eliminated by Samoa Joe.
  • Curt Hawkins at #9.
  • Curt Hawkins goes under the ring, Vega and Hornswoggle style.
  • Seth Rollins at #10.
  • Elias is eliminated by Seth Rollins. 
  • Titus O’Neil at #11.
  • Titus calls back the slide to get Hawkins from under the ring.
  • Titus O’Neil eliminated by Curt Hawkins, Curt Hawkins by Samoa Joe(2).
  • Kofi Kingston at #12.
  • Mustafa Ali at #13.
  • Shinsuke Nakamura eliminated by Mustafa Ali. 
  • Dean Ambrose at #14. Rollins and Ambrose go at it.
  • Ambrose kicks Kofi to ringside but Kofi twists his body around the apron to get back in the match and on the steps. 
  • Johnny Gargano eliminated by Dean Ambrose. 
  • No Way Jose at #15.
  • No Way Jose eliminated by Samoa Joe(3) immediately.
  • Drew Mcintyre at #16.
  • Xavier Woods at #17.
  • Woods inverted piggybacks Kofi back to the ring steps to avoid elimination. 
  • New Day eliminated by Drew Mcintyre(2).
  • Pete Dunne at #18. He comes in with intensity. 
  • Andrade Almas at #19.
  • Apollo Crews at #20.
  • Aleister Black at #21.
  • Dean Ambrose is eliminated by Aleister Black. 
  • Shelton Benjamin at #22. 
  • Samoa Joe eliminated by Mustafa Ali(2) calling back their feud. 
  • Baron Corbin at #23.
  • Apollo Crews eliminated by Baron Corbin.
  • Jeff Hardy at #24.
  • Aleister Black eliminated by Baron Corbin(2), big boos 
  • Pete Dunne eliminated by Drew Mcintyre (3).
  • Rey Mysterio at #25.
  • Bobby Lashley at #26.
  • Bobby Lashley eliminated by Seth Rollins, Lashley attacks Rollins and chokeslams him through the announce table.
  • Braun Strowman at #27.
  • Baron Corbin eliminated by Braun Strowman.
  • Shelton Benjamin eliminated by Braun Strowman(2).
  • Dolph Ziggler at #28. 
  • Jeff Hardy eliminated by Drew Mcintyre (4).
  • Drew Mcintyre eliminated by Dolph Ziggler. 
  • Randy Orton at #29.
  • Amazing Super Chain Bomb led by Braun with Mustafa, Almas, and Mysterio on top. 
  • R-Truth at #30. Nia Jax attacks R-Truth and joins the Rumble. 
  • Mustafa Ali eliminated by Nia Jax. 
  • Nia Jax eliminated by Mysterio, Mysterio eliminated by Orton, Orton eliminated by Almas. 
  • Ziggler, Almas, and Rollins work together to take out Strowman.
  • Andrade Almas eliminated by Braun Strowman. 
  • Dolph Ziggler eliminated by Braun Strowman. 
  • Curb Stomp on the apron by Rollins eliminates Strowman and wins the Rumble. 

Winner: Seth Rollins @57:34!

Rating: **1/2, This Rumble was less inventive than the women’s one, had less great moments than last years and included Nia Jax who may be the worst wrestler in WWE. It lacked any interesting spots and high-intensity drama and the closing sequence was one of the worst in recent Rumbles but Rollins won and I guess that’s what matters and Gargano, Dunne, and Black had amazing showings. 

Grade: A

Last Word: This is one of WWE’s best PPV’s in a very long time. It included a career-making night for the greatest women’s wrestler in history Becky Lynch, an amazing women’s royal rumble, an amazing match between Balor and Lesnar, a Rollins Royal Rumble win, and the quality was very consistent. Even sleeper matches like the Men’s Royal Rumble and Bryan vs. Styles had interesting things happen that made it worthwhile. One of the first weekends ever that a WWE PPV was better than a Takeover and I stand by that opinion. All-around amazing show from the WWE starting their year off right. 

 

 

 

 

NXT Takeover Pheonix 2019 Review

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Star Ratings + Results:

  • War Raiders defeat Undisputed Era to win the NXT Tag Team Championships @16:54 ****1/2
  • Matt Riddle defeats Kassius Ohno @9:18 ***
  • Johnny Gargano defeats Ricochet to win the NXT North American Title @24:38 ****3/4
  • Shayna Baszler defeats Bianca Belair to retain the NXT Women’s Title @15:14 ***1/2
  • Tomasso Ciampa defeats Aleister Black to retain the NXT Championship @26:30 ****

War Raiders vs. Undisputed Era(c) for the NXT Tag Titles:

  • A fast start to the match, Rowe bodyslams Hanson onto Undisputed Era at ringside which is a solid spot. 
  • UE throws Rowe into Hanson on the apron sending both crashing to ringside. 
  • UE isolates Hanson in their corner, with a guillotine locked on by O’Reilly, Rowe makes the tag to Hanson who comes in with a hot tag. Rowe gutwrenches O’Reilly into Roddy. 
  • Suicide Tope Con Hiro by big boi Hanson misses and he hits the floor hard. 
  • Double Team Draping Suplex by UE begins isolating on Rowe, Rowe deadlifts O’Reilly out of the Triangle but Strong hits a powerbomb before O’Reilly gets powerbombed. Great heel tag work by UE, Hanson gets back on the apron and in the ring but with the referee distracted Strong pulls Rowe back into UE’s corner. Rowe exploder suplexes O’Reilly into Roddy on the apron wiping both out and opening tags but O’Reilly pulls Hanson off the apron. 
  • Great FlipOver Knee by Rowe opens tags as Mauro references Sicko Mode with a like a light ayy like a light. Hot tag by Hanson is finally made, insane cartwheel lariat by Hanson wipes out O’Reilly. Bronco Buster in the corner by Hanson to Strong gets a near fall. 
  • Great 4-man sequence into a pop-up powerslam by War Raiders followed by a Suicide Dive by Hanson to Strong ringside. Amazing near fall on O’Reilly after the powerslam.
  • Jackknife Powerbomb/Diving Crossbody combo by War Raiders near fall save by Strong.
  • Great superplex by Strong to Hanson followed by a diving knee by O’Reilly for another great near fall. 
  • Great show of strength by Strong (literally) to Olympic Slam Hanson for a near fall. 
  • HighLow Tandem Strike Finisher by UE for a great near fall on Hanson.
  • Hanson cartwheels to miss a running knee by Strong and hits an insane backspring double elbow, insane powerslam/powerbomb combo by Rowe into a Diving Slam combo for the win for War Raiders. 

Winners: War Raiders New Champions @16:54!

Rating: ****1/2, An insanely hot opening tag match with an insane performance by War Raiders with crazy strength from Rowe and surprising agility from Hanson. The match moved at 100 MPH and the crowd was hot as hell. Undisputed Era always plays the technically dominant heel to a tee and does that again here but the Raiders were too much to handle for the Era as they will most likely go up to the MR. This will be a big-time contender for Tag Match of the Year and almost Match of The Year but most importantly the match did what it set out to do and that was to put over War Raiders and start the show off with another Takeover Classic. 

Matt Riddle vs. Kassius Ohno:

  • Matt Riddle was one of the best independent wrestlers last year and now he’s got his first big Takeover match. I’m really excited about the future of Riddle mostly because WWE haves a love affair with UFC guys. 
  • Running Forearm off the steps ringside by Riddle. 
  • Insane deadlift by Riddle of Ohno to send him over in a gutwrench.
  • Riddle goes for a Sunset Bomb off the apron, Ohno traps Riddle’s face under the apron and kicks it to escape which is a smart spot. 
  • Spinning Back Elbow by Ohno knocks Riddle down for the first near fall.
  • Slow pace instigated by Ohno acting like a heel.
  • Ohno sends Riddle face-first into the post yelling “Remember This” because he did the same thing on NXT TV. Then Ohno sends him into the steel steps. 
  • Ohno strikes at Riddle on the apron who fires up and gets Ohno in a rear-naked choke, Ohno gets the ropes but Riddle tries to German Suplex Ohno. Kassius stomps on the barefoot of Riddle to escape but Matt comes back to hit the German Suplex for a near fall. 
  • After some Bro Kicks, Ohno bites at the feet of Riddle weird but he escapes further attacks. Sit-out powerbomb by Ohno for a near fall. 
  • Great Diving Moonsault by Ohno for a near fall.
  • Senton by Ohno caught into a Rear Naked Choke by Riddle but Ohno gets to the ropes. 
  • Ohno on his knees looks for a fist bump but Riddle hits him with a knee and a Dragon Suplex. Riddle taps out Ohno after repeated elbows. 

Winner: Matt Riddle @9:18!

Rating: ***, This was okay but ranks on the lower end of Takeover matches in the past few years. Ohno played an okay heel but he really needs a character revival that’s more drastic than what he’s currently trying to do and Riddle hasn’t had his calling card match in NXT and that’s what I expected this to be but I was disappointed. The story kept very solid and the strikes hit hard but the match was missing something and never really kicked into any gear. 

Johnny Gargano vs. Ricochet(c) for the NXT North American Title:

  • Genuine MOTY potential on this one. 
  • Solid feeling out period at the start. Momentum gains and a great sequence ensues as both get the better of each other. Staredown and “NXT” chants end the sequence. 
  • Rico asks which Johnny he’s gonna get tonight and Gargano gets up and punches him in the face. Heel Johnny then. 
  • Springboard Stepping Moonsault off the turnbuckle to Gargano ringside. 
  • Off the top rope, Gargano Alley-Oop bombs Ricochet into the top rope face-first. 
  • Stiff dropkick to the back of the head of Ricochet by Gargano for a near fall.
  • Standing Moonsault by Rico is caught mid-air by Johnny as he pushes him with his legs across the ring. 
  • Slower start than would be expected.
  • Grounded Octopus Lock by Gargano in, Ricochet gets a pin attempt to escape the hold. 
  • Slingshot Spear by Gargano halted, Ricochet hits a Standing Moonsault to Gargano on his knees.
  • Strikefest, Ricochet begins to bring momentum back in and hits a huricanrana and a Tiger Faint Kick in the corner followed by a Springboard uppercut to Gargano to knock him down. 
  • Rolling Brainbuster by Ricochet for a near fall. 
  • Rolling Huricanrana by Ricochet stopped with a mid-air powerbomb by Gargano, Johnny gets in the Gargano Escape but can’t get all of it. Ricochet rolls Gargano up for a near fall. 
  • Slingshot DDT by Gargano stopped in mid-air, Ricochet throws Gargano to ringside and he hits his face on the apron. Twisting Tope Con Hiro by Ricochet hits. 
  • Diving Moonsault by Rico gets a near fall. 
  • Avalanche Huricanrana by Gargano, Rico flips out of it. Insane. The two strike off as Rico hits a rolling Pele kick, Backspring back elbow by Rico caught into a Gargano Escape. Rico deadlifts out and throws him into the corner. 
  • Rico goes to the top rope but Gargano rolls to the other side of the ring. Rico aims at Gargano on the apron but Johnny drops off the apron. Rico Tope con Hiros over the corner to hit Gargano ringside and hits a Springboard 450 back in-ring for a great near fall. 
  • Shooting Star Press by Rico caught with Gargano’s knees as Johnny rolls him up for a near fall. 
  • Running Stiff Superkick by Gargano sends Ricochet ringside, Suicide Dive by Gargano caught into a Fireman’s Carry by Rico. Gargano hits an insane reverserana ringside. Slingshot DDT by Gargano back in-ring for an amazing near fall.
  • Gargano goes ringside to remove padding Tomasso Ciampa style, Johnny decides against it which is amazing storytelling. Roll up by Ricochet back in-ring for a great near fall. 
  • Stiff Lariat by Rico knocks out Johnny, Pheonix Splash misses for Ricochet. Johnny catches him with a superkick. Gargano Escape by Ricochet locks in but Gargano gets the ropes. 
  • Gargano shoves Rico into the post calling back the Andrade match, Gargano grabs Rico and looks at the floor and hits a Vertical Suplex onto the exposed floor. Johnny rolls Ricochet back in the ring. Slingshot DDT again for the win. 

Winner: Johnny Gargano New Champion @24:38!

Rating: ****3/4, One of the best stories told in recent memory in my opinion. Gargano deciding who he wanted to be and ending up choosing the villainous side was amazing. The in-ring material was insane too but not as up to par as I expected it to be and not on the level as a Gargano vs. Black or Almas. The match started slow which was just to boost storytelling but it took them a little too long to get it back up and running. The match got incredible though but it missed that huge spot. The layout of the match aside, the storytelling and talent mixed together to really make something special. Serious MOTY contender. 

Shayna Baszler (c) vs. Bianca Belair for the NXT Women’s Title:

  • Bianca Belair is undefeated going into this match. 
  • Baszler used the hair to send Bianca into the ring post, smart spot. Belair looks to have injured or is selling the shoulder.
  • Shayna stomps on the arm of Bianca brutally. 
  • Baszler continues to work on the arm with efficiency keeping herself dominant. 
  • Stiff knee by Baszler gets the first near fall. 
  • Belair comes back and gains momentum. Belair hits a spear for a near fall. 
  • Jumping Knee by Baszler for a near fall.
  • Good strikefest ensues and Belair ends it with a hair whip that takes down Shayna.
  • Baszler gets out of the Chicken Wing and throws Belair into the referee. Belair hits the KOD but there’s no referee to count the pin and Bianca releases some blood-curdling screams. Marina Shafir and Jessamyn Duke come in but Belair fights them off. Coquina Clutch by Baszler in locked in and the referee comes back but Belair deadlifts Baszler up and breaks the hold and hits a Vertical Suplex for a great recovery. 
  • Jessamyn Duke distracts Belair on the top rope, Belair misses the Diving 450 and Baszler locks in the Coquina Clutch again and she sells it amazingly and gets back up again but then falls back down but Belair deadlifts Baszler up again but Baszler gets her back down and she passes out. One of the best submission sequences I’ve seen in a while.

Winner: Shayna Baszler Retains @15:14!

Rating: ***1/2, This was a great women’s match with so much emotional investment put into the amazing Bianca Belair. The strikes hit hard and the submission sequences were amazing but the referee bump with the Four Horsewomen interfering was annoying. It would’ve made perfect sense for Belair to come back and win but Baszler ended up getting the victory. Amazing showing from Belair and Baszler continues to show that she has taken to wrestling amazingly. Rousey gets the majority of the credit because she is on the big stage but Shayna is so much better. 

Tomasso Ciampa(c) vs. Aleister Black for the NXT Championship:

  • The match starts very solidly with a feeling out period that isn’t slow paced. 
  • Buzzsaw kick by Black sends Ciampa ringside, flip over taunt by Black. 
  • Black taunts Ciampa with the sit-down but Ciampa strikes at him while he’s down. 
  • Tope Con Hiro by Black wipes out Ciampa ringside. Black lands a bit hard on his knee. 
  • Springboard Standing Moonsault by Black for the first near fall. 
  • Ciampa rolls ringside but Black catches him with a buzzsaw kick leveling him. Ciampa whips the leg of Black into the steps and chucks him into some stairs for good measure. 
  • Vertical Suplex ringside by Ciampa sends the legs of Black into the steps. Ciampa aims to work the leg of Black that he tweaked from the dive earlier.
  • In-ring Ciampa works the leg innovatively. Ciampa wraps the leg of Black around the ring post and sends him leg-first with a suplex into the announce table. Ciampa sits on the table Black-style. 
  • Stiff buzzsaw kick by Black sends the water in the hand of Ciampa flying. Back in-ring Ciampa hits a low dropkick to the leg of Black getting him down again. 
  • Ciampa wraps the leg around the top turnbuckle while he’s in the Tree of Woe, Black fights out and hits a flying knee to Ciampa on the top that sends both out to ringside.
  • Black begins to string strikes together and gain momentum, Aleister hits a big kick for a near fall on Ciampa.
  • Small Package by Ciampa for a near fall.
  • Black misses a Black Masses and Ciampa goes for the Fairytale Ending but fails. Lariat by Ciampa and he attempts Fairytale Ending again but again fails. Black hits a one-legged German Suplex Bridge for a near fall. 
  • Dragon Screw Leg Whip by Ciampa into a Single Leg Crab but Black fights out. 
  • Black locks in a Single Leg Boston Crab of his own but has to put too much weight on his injured knee and he falls.
  • Draping Cutter from the top rope onto the apron by Ciampa for a great near fall. Running Knee Strike by Ciampa against the ropes for another near fall. 
  • Ciampa does Black’s signature foot raise taunt but Black catches him with a knee strike, Ciampa knocks him down with a knee strike of his own. 
  • Strikefest ensues and speeds up Ciampa catches Black with a near fall roll up. More roll-ups from both men and strikes continue Ciampa levels Black with a lariat. Black removes the knee pad but Ciampa escapes but Black catches him with a double stomp. Black catches Ciampa in the back with a knee and hits a brainbuster for a near fall. 
  • Moonsault off the corner to outside by Black, Aleister slips on the water from earlier and Ciampa hits Fairytale Ending in-ring for a great near fall. 
  • Ciampa removes the ringside padding similar to Gargano earlier tonight. The referee argues with Ciampa and Black hits a Meteora onto the exposed concrete. Black Mass hits but he can’t capitalize because Ciampa turns over. 
  • Ciampa grabs the referee to escape Black Mass, Ciampa rolls Black over and hits the draping DDT. Fairytale Ending by Ciampa for a great near fall. 
  • Another Fairytale Ending hits and Ciampa goes for the 3rd one but Black levels him with a buzzsaw again but Black misses the Black Mass because of the knee and Ciampa hits the final Fairytale Ending for the win. 

Winner: Tomasso Ciampa Retains @26:30!

Rating: ****, When a 4-star match underwhelms you know you’ve had it good. The working of the leg was really smart but it took the heat out of the match. Ciampa turned in a solid performance and the match kicked into a top gear momentarily but it wasn’t on the caliber of a Takeover main event. It was still really good though but it just felt like something was missing and Gargano vs. Ricochet goes home with Match of the Night. 

  • Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa hold up their belts to end the night. 

Show Grade: B+

Last Word: A great show but a lacking Takeover. Mostly for one reason, there are going to be a lot of call-ups soon and NXT is in a transition point right now. With Aleister Black and Undisputed Era mostly getting the raise the faces of NXT are leaving. However, it is also a possibility that WWE realized Takeover was a threat to their product and wanted Royal Rumble to be the highlight of the weekend especially with it being the first PPV after the whole Mcmahon revamp thing and WWE in one of it’s lowest points right now. However, this show still wasn’t bad it had two very legitimate MOTY contenders in Ricochet vs Gargano and War Raiders vs Undisputed Era but the main event while it was good it was underwhelming and the Riddle vs Ohno match just wasn’t any good. The big news for NXT though is that after this show DIY runs the place again but as heels this time which I can totally look forward to. It will be interesting to see how NXT changes by the Next Takeover Event. This was the worst Takeover show of the 2018-2019 season but by now you should now that the worst Takeover is still freaking awesome. 

 

NXT Takeover UK Blackpool 2019 Review

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Results + Star Ratings:

  • Grizzled Young Veterans defeat Mustache Mountain to become the First NXT UK Tag Team Champions @23:47 ****3/4
  • Finn Balor defeats Jordan Devlin @11:24 ***3/4
  • Dave Mastiff defeats Eddie Dennis in a No DQ Match @10:49 ****1/4
  • Toni Storm defeats Rhea Ripley to win the NXT UK Women’s Title @14:49 ***1/4

 

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Moustache Mountian vs. Grizzled Young Vets to Crown the First NXT UK Tag Team Champions:

  • Moustache Mountian waring tribute attire to the British Bulldogs. 
  • Really beautiful belts are unveiled. 
  • Tyler Bate and Zack Gibson start the match. 
  • “Shoes off if you hate Gibson” chants happens and delivers another reason why the UK crowd is the best regardless of in Progress or here. 
  • Great chain wrestling from Tyler Bate and Zack Gibson, Gibson tags in Drake but Bate escapes isolation. 
  • Trent Seven tags in and him and James Drake standoff.
  • Tyler Bate flips over Seven to senton onto Drake, Bate gains some momentum but Gibson pulls Drake to ringside to half the momentum. 
  • High Cross Body by Seven gets a pop because of the history of that move in Progress retiring Doug Williams, hits on Gibson for the first near fall.
  • Great low suicide dive by Seven takes out Drake ringside. Trent seems to have tweaked his elbow, Seven chases Drake but Gibson catches him with a lariat knocking Seven down.
  • Grizzled Young Vets isolate Seven and hit him with a diving sidewalk elbow ringside, Gibson rolls Seven back in and continues to isolate Seven with Drake. Drake caught Seven with a stiff discus elbow that busts him open hard way. Tyler Bate begins to look worried on the apron. Draka and Seven strikefest ringside and Seven tries to go for the tag to Bate again but Drake pulls him in with a heel hook. Seven flies over Gibson to tag in Bate. 
  • Amazing hot tag by Tyler Bate with the crowd excited as hell. 
  • Airplane Spin by Bate to Drake into an insane double airplane spin with Drake and Gibson on his shoulders. The crowd keeps the amazing intensity. 
  • Exploder Suplex by Bate off the apron to Drake sending him into Gibson ringside, Bate hits a Standing Shooting Star off the apron to the Vets and pulls in Gibson to attempt the Tyler Driver 97 but fails. 
  • Running Powerslam/Flying Headbutt combo by MM pays homage to the British Bulldogs for a great near fall. 
  • Bate dives out to Drake ringside, Seven hits a Buring Hammer to Gibson for a great near fall save by Drake. 
  • RollUp Batte between Bate and Drake gets a really near fall on Tyler. 
  • Gibson catches Tyler Bate off the rebound lariat with a Ticket to Ride codebreaker, Helter Skelter/450 Splash combo for the Vets hits and they get a great near fall with an insane crowd pop. 
  • Shankly Gates by Gibson locked in on Seven and the tweaked elbow, Drake stops Bate from getting to the save by locking in a Shankly Gates of his own on Tyler. Bate deadlifts up Drake and Death Valley Drivers him into Gibson to end the great double submission sequence. 
  • Rebound Lariat/German Suplex combo by MM on Drake for a crazy good near fall.
  • “Fight Forever” Chants. 
  • Doomsday Suicide Dive by GYV is one of the best dive spots I’ve ever seen. Trent Seven goes for a suicide dive but Drake catches him with a dropkick. 
  • Ticket to Mayhem in-ring by GYV to Seven closes the match. 

Winners: Grizzled Young Veterans First Champions @23:47!

Rating: ****3/4, Peak Tag Team work from some of the best in the game right now. The match built around a great layout on the isolation of Seven building the match up until the insane hot tag by Bate which unglued the match as it diverged into chaos. Mustache Mountain did some of their normal spots but Bate included an insane double airplane spin and the heel work of GYV was amazing. Nothing was better than the Doomsday Suicide Dive from GYV in this match either as that’s probably my favorite spot of the year so far. 

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Travis Banks vs. Jordan Devlin:

  • A video was shown of a brawl earlier today in which Banks injured his knee. Devlin and Banks brawl before their match and Devlin brutally works Travis’ knee.
  • Jordan Devlin grabs a microphone and cuts a heel promo and calls himself the Greatest Irish Wrestler Alive. You know who is coming out right now. 

Jordan Devlin vs. Finn Balor:

  • Insane pop for Finn Balor like the pop of the year material type. 
  • The tension is in the air big time between the mentor and mentee showdown.
  • Devlin tries to leave but Balor brings him back and hits a running forearm ringside. 
  • Devlin kicks the ropes to low blow Balor to knock him off the apron.
  • Double Stomp by Devlin gets boos as he makes fun of Balor and does his signature taunt.
  • Dropkick by Devlin catches Balor on the top rope and Finn takes a rough tumble hitting the apron going to the outside, Balor gets back in at 9. 
  •  Stiff chops by Balor but Devlin fires back with some of his own, Devlin catches Balor with an uranage/standing moonsault combo for the first near fall. 
  • Strike sequence begins and a Pele Kick from Balor puts both down. 
  • Bloody Sunday Driver by Finn Balor for a near fall. 
  • Devlin catches Balor running with a superkick and follows it up with tight Saito Suplex for a near fall. 
  • Devlin keeps Balor down with kicks as he talks trash to Finn and the audience, great heel work. Balor gets him down and turns up the aggression with stomps in the corner. 
  • Running Penalty Kick off the apron by Balor follows by a Coup D’Grace attempt, Devlin runs into the top rope to take him down and rolls him up with his feet on the ropes for a great near fall. 
  • Diving Moonsault by Devlin but Balor gets his knees up. 
  • Balor hits a shotgun dropkick and follows it up with a successful Coup D’Grace for the win. 

Winner: Finn Balor @11:42!

Rating: ***3/4, A really good hard-hitting and high-flying encounter from two wrestlers with very similar looks and styles but the main thing separating them was Devlin’s great heel work selling the dynamic of being the disgraced mentee and Finn Balor being a great bold babyface who got insane crowd support. The match ran at a solid pace and momentarily kicked into top gear with some solid near falls and big moves but the star of the show was how big the match felt. Jordan Devlin really deserves to be the flagship of NXT UK however I feel like he will always be in the shadow of Balor which made me disappointed that he caught the loss in clean fashion in this match. 

20181231_nxttakeoveruk_blackpool_mastiffdennis-0a4aa3c18ce6ddb119627544b75559d0-e1547076531779Dave Mastiff vs. Eddie Dennis No DQ:

  • Strikefest out of the gates between the two big guys, Mastiff catches Dennis with a high crossbody. 
  • Mastiff grabs steel steps and brings them in-ring, Dennis rolls ringside and grabs a kendo stick and hits Mastiff twice. 
  • Dennis removes the ringside padding but goes back in-ring to continue clobbering Mastiff with the kendo. 
  • Mastiff catches the kendo stick and turns the tables and hits Dennis with some hard strikes with the kendo, powerbomb by Mastiff takes down Dennis.
  • Dennis catches Mastiff running and shows incredible strength lifting up Dennis and swinging him uranage-style into the steel steps, great spot. 
  • Dennis grabs a steel chair but misses the shot, Mastiff hits him with a rolling slam. Mastiff climbs to the middle rope but Dennis deadlifts him into the Crucifix Bomb and hits it for another great show of strength for a good near fall.
  • Eddie brings in a table while the crowd comes unglued for the table but Dennis can’t do anything with it.
  • Rolling Slam/Running Senton by Mastiff to Dennis on the exposed floor from earlier 
  • Insane split legged moonsault attempt for Mastiff misses. Neck Stop Driver by Dennis hits and gets an incredibly close near fall. 
  • Dennis gets Mastiff on the middle rope and goes for the Crucifix Bomb through the table in the corner but Mastiff rolls off. They club each other with lariats but Dave catches Eddie with a German Suplex.
  • Insane running cannonball by Mastiff sends Dennis through the table and closes the match. 

Winner: Dave Mastiff @10:49!

Rating: ****1/4, These two big dudes just hit each other really hard for 10 minutes. Dennis showed some incredible strength and Mastiff worked the hardcore style really well. This was a smartly worked match with some great spots like the combo onto the exposed floor by Mastiff and the Swinging Uranage by Dennis onto the steps. Big dudes clobbering the hell out of each other on a good pace is always good but throw in two guys who match their size with athleticism and some weapons for some good measure it makes a more than worthwhile 10 minutes.

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Rhea Ripley(c) vs. Toni Storm for the NXT UK Women’s Title:

  • Toni Storm’s first big match back since her photo scandal. It is great to see her shrug it off and step back into the spotlight unphased. 
  • Storm chases Ripley around the ring but eventually catches her with a suicide dive.
  • Ripley begins to dominate and keeps Storm down with stomps in the corner. Ripley gets Storm back in the middle of the ring and keeps her down with a body scissors hold, Storm hits Ripley with forearms to escape but Ripley slams Storm with a stalling Vertical Suplex for the first near fall. 2 Bodyslams by Ripley for another near fall. Ripley has been dominate for 3 minutes now but Ripley goes for the Cloverleaf and Storm kicks her off into the post. 
  • Ripley takes Storm down with a dropkick for a near fall and gets back to dominating. 2 Leg Drops consecutively by Ripley for another near fall. Headbutt by Storm catches Ripley running and both are laid out. 
  • Strikefest gets fast as both send strikes at 100 MPH but it slows down then speeds up again, German Suplex by Storm but she holds on and hits the 2nd one then holds on again but Ripley fights out of a 3rd. Storm goes for Storm Zero but fails, Ripley goes for RipTide but Storm shifts her weight to come down on Rhea for a near fall. 
  • Inverted Cloverleaf by Ripley applied on the weakened lower back on Storm, Toni fights out and applies an Ankle Lock but Ripley gets to the ropes.
  • Cannonball in the corner followed by a 3rd German Suplex into a Bridge by Storm for a near fall. 
  • Storm looks desperate as she starts to strike at Ripley but Rhea slams her down and follows it up with a RipTide for a very close near fall. 
  • Arm Control Lariats by Ripley 2 hit but Storm counters it with a headbutt and hits Storm Zero successfully for a great near fall.
  • RipTide fails as Storm flies over and hits Storm Zero to close the match. 

Winner: Toni Storm New Champion @14:49!

Rating: ***1/4, While much of the match was slow and Ripley was dominating there was a very good story in Storm beating the odds and becoming champion. Storm looked amazing for her first match back from her troubles and Ripley played a great dominant heel but Storm kept fighting with some great near falls and the speed gradually increasing over time. The match was played out really well but lacked some of the drama it could’ve had and the crowd seemed the least invested for this match of any tonight but that still means the crowd played a big role because this crowd is amazing. 

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Pete Dunne (c) vs. Joe Coffey for the NXT UK Championship:

  • In my opinion, this is Dunne’s first formidable challenger in the 600 days he has held the title. He’s kind of been a flagship champion in a company that didn’t exist for a while so now that the company exists he actually has to act like a champion. 
  • Staredown as soon as the bell rings and they start the collar and elbow tie up with aggression. 
  • Coffey absorbs a forearm strike from Dunne and they go back to the stand-off, Dunne gets Coffey down and wrenches on the fingers. Very solid technical start to the match. Dunne gets in an inverted Figure 4, Coffey escapes by grabbing in a headlock and bringing Dunne to his feet. Coffey catches Dunne running and brings him back to the mat to trade submissions. Discus Lariat by Coffey sends a warning shot to Dunne but clearly misses.
  • Dunne lays out Coffey with a side lariat and gets in the Regal Stretch on Coffey but Joe grabs the ropes. 
  • Coffey pops up Dunne but Pete comes back down and tries to get in the Bodyscissors Kimura, Coffey gets Dunne into a stalling vertical suplex but Pete rolls back into the Bodyscissors Kimura, Float Over suplex by Coffey gets Dunne off finally.
  • Coffey throws Dunne to ringside and he clips his head on the apron on the way out. Dunne flips off the steps over Coffey and hits an enzugiri ringside. Pop-up Bodyslam by Coffey slams Dunne onto the ramp. Joe lets the ref count Dunne out but Pete fights to get back in. 
  • Backbreaker/Sidewalk slam combo by Coffey for the first near fall.
  • Coffey begins to dominate and locks in a bearhug but Dunne fights out and regains the match. 
  • Belly to Belly suplex by Coffey for a near fall. 
  • Great forearm by Dunne knocks Coffey into the corner, Dunne flips off the top rope over Coffey and hits an enzugiri. German Suplex by Coffey but Dunne flips off that too and hits a snap kick to a kneeling Coffey. Amazing moonsault off the corner to the outside by Dunne takes out Coffey with precision. 
  • Stiff elbow by Coffey catches Dunne back in-ring but Dunne reverses into an Explex for a near fall and both are laid out. 
  • Dunne flips over Coffey off the top rope again but Coffey fires back with a diving crossbody, Coffey hits a powerbomb for a near fall. Dunne is starting to sell a back injury. 
  • Piledriver Bend hold by Coffey which is really innovative but he transfers it into a Boston Crab wrenching the hurt back of Dunne, Joe steps on Pete’s head and he looks to be knocked out but Coffey still has the hold in Dunne wakes back up to grab the bottom rope.
  • Dunne wrenches the fingers of Coffey but he holds on as the two tradeoff headbutts until both get knocked down great strike sequence. 
  • German Suplex by Dunne but Coffey gets back up immediately, Pete catches him with a Koji Clutch, Coffey deadlifts Dunne up for a Tombstone attempt but Pete rolls through and locks in an Ankle Lock, Coffey gets back up and drops Dunne with a German Suplex. 
  • Coffey flies at Dunne for a spear but Pete knocks him with a knee strike. Diving Crossbody attempt by Coffey caught mid-air with a forearm strike. Bitter End by Pete Dunne hits for a great near fall.
  • Coffey sends Dunne into the post on the apron and hits a Powerbomb on the apron with Coffey driving himself into the apron too, crazy spot. Both get in at the ring count of like 9 3/4.
  • Coffey sends strikes to a downed Dunne but Pete grabs his arms and strikes on his head from the ground then gets him down and continues to stomp away as the crowd becomes unglued again. Pop-up uppercut by Coffey, enzugiri by Dunne, and Coffey finally hits the Discus Lariat for an amazing near fall and both stay down as the crowd gives a standing ovation. 
  • Another Discus Lariat from Coffey is caught by Dunne as he pulls him to the ground and tries to work the fingers but Dunne gets in a triangle, Coffey pulls Dunne up and to the top rope. Dunne keeps in the triangle on the top rope but Coffey lifts him up and super swinging powerbombs him. Amazing innovative spot. 
  • Both stare down from opposite corners as the crowd erupts and they strike off in the middle of the ring, they strike each other into the ropes until they’re exhausted. 
  • Pop-up German Suplex off the corner by Coffey for a great near fall. 
  • Coffey keeps striking at a downed Dunne, Coffey went for the Bitter End but Dunne reverses with a DDT. Dunne hits a Bitter End but can’t immediately capitalize as Coffey rolls away from the one-arm pin. 
  • Discus Lariat by Coffey from the apron to Dunne in-ring. They climb to the top rope but Dunne pushes Coffey to the outside. Coffey gets back up though and hits a Discus Lariat ringside. Bitter End uranage in-ring by Coffey for another great near fall. 
  • Coffey climbs to the top rope again and they pull each other both to the outside into the barricade.
  • Ducking Discus Lariat by Dunne hits and he follows it up with another Bitter End for an amazing near fall.
  • Dunne taps out Coffey with the finger wrench to end the incredible match.

Winner: Pete Dunne New Champion @34:12!

Rating: *****, Yeah okay this wasn’t a perfect match. The botch towards the end is not as close to as bad as people are saying it is. Coffey falling off the top rope is absolutely no big deal and it looked like Dunne pushed him and they shrugged it off and continued the incredible incredible match. There’s so much to talk about, this was an all-around amazing technical, striking, and high-flying match with too many amazing spots to talk about. The crowd was incredible here too adding so much intensity and urgency to the breakneck speed these guys were going. The near falls were absolutely bloody incredible and both sold the match as it was a life or death scenario. I like this better than Dunne vs. Bate from Takeover Chicago, and all Progress matches other than Walter vs. Tyler Bate that I’ve seen so far. Also, might be a bit of a stretch but I also like this better than Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi. This was a more entertaining and electrifying match than the Wrestle Kingdom main event even though that meant much more to the wrestling landscape in 2019. Incredible work and sets the tone for NXT UK to run wrestling in 2019. Progress, the ball is in your court. 

Show Grade: A-

Last Word: As an idea, I don’t love NXT UK as a promotion. WWE doesn’t need to create more content as they are right now with the Main Roster and 205 Live and NXT US they are stretching themselves too thin. Also, NXT UK kills a promotion I love in Progress, WWE takes their main wrestlers like Walter and British Strong Style and forces Progress to almost die in silence unless they can find a new wave of talent that can have banger matches and not want WWE money just yet. However, the wrestling fan in me is willing to forgive sin if it is to be for a good wrestling future. This show made me forgive NXT UK for what they have done to the UK scene and WWE itself. Starting off, the show had one of the tightest cards I’ve seen in a while with every match delivering quality which is what we’ve come to expect from a Triple H produced show. Coffey vs. Dunne is my MOTY so far, GYV vs. Mustache Mountain is one of the peak tag matches I’ve ever seen, and the rest of the card delivered fun moments like Balor’s appearance, Dennis vs. Mastiff, and Storm winning the title coming back from adversity. Truly, an incredible show for the risks it took, however, it doesn’t rank in the top Takeovers from 2018 which is just a testament to how good NXT US is. Hopefully, NXT UK doesn’t stretch NXT US too thin and suicide both companies. 

 

NJPW WrestleKingdom 13 Review

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Results + Star Ratings:

  • Taguchi Japan wins the Never Openweight 6-Man Gauntlet to become #1 Contenders for the titles @27:12 **1/2
  • Will Ospreay defeats Kota Ibushi to win the Never Openweight Championship@18:13 ****3/4
  • Los Ignoberables de Japon defeat Desperado and Kanemaru and Roppongi 3k to win the IWGP Jr Tag Titles @6:49 ***
  • Zack Sabre Jr defeats Tomohiro Ishii to win the RevPro British Heavyweight Championships @11:37 ****
  • Evil and Sanada defeat The Young Bucks and Guerillas of Destiny to win the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Championships @10:14 ***1/2
  • Juice Robinson defeats Cody to win the IWGP US Championship @9:04 **
  • Taiji Ishimori defeats Kushida to win the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship @11:16 ***1/2
  • Tetsuya Naito defeats Chris Jericho to win the IWGP Intercontinental Championship @22:33 ****3/4
  • Hiroshi Tanahashi defeats Kenny Omega to win the IWGP Heavyweight Title *****

NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Titles #1 Contenders Gauntlet (Bullet Club: Marty Scurrl, Hangman Page, Yujiro Takahashi vs Yuji Nagata, Jeff Cobb, and Dave Finlay vs. Chaos: Trent Baretta, Chuck Taylor, and Hirooki Goto vs. Suzuki Gun: Minoru Suzuki and Killer Elite Squad vs. Taguchi Japan: Rysuke Taguchi, Togi Makabe, and Toru Yano) :

  • Bullet Club and Nagata, Cobb, and Finlay start the match.
  • Nagata and Scurrl begin the match for those 2 teams. 
  • Nagata locks Scurrl in an Indian Deathlock but Marty grabs the ropes.
  • All 3 members of Bullet Club take out Cobb and bring him to the outisde, Scurrl hits the apron superkick as Page follows it up with the Shooting Star Press.
  • Buckshot Lariat by Page to Cobb gets the first near fall. 
  • Finlay and Yujiro strike off, Yujiro caps off the sequence with a Fisherman Buster near fall save by Nagata. 
  • Chase Owens sweeps the leg ringside of Finlay but Page accidentally takes him out, with Page distracted Finlay rolls up Yujiro to eliminate the Bullet Club. 
  • Chaos is the 3rd team. 
  • Chaos and Nagata, Cobb, and Finlay brawl the start the second match.
  • Plancha Dive by Baretta is caught by Cobb but Trent fights out as Chuckie T hits a Tope Con Hiro over Trent to take out Cobb and Finlay, Baretta hits a beautiful springboard moonsault to also take out Cobb and Finlay.
  • Spinning UshiGoroshi by Goto to Nagata for a near fall. 
  • Best Friends seem to be on the same page unlike they were in World Tag League. 
  • Nagata hits an overhead suplex on Trent to open up tags, Goto and Cobb tag in. 
  • Jeff Cobb hits Goto with an amazing Deep Six/Standing Moonsault combo, near fall.
  • Double Lariat Battle by Goto and Cobb, Goto gets a final lariat in to win the sequence. 
  • Double Saito Suplex by Cobb to Baretta and Taylor, incredible strength. 
  • Stiff knee strike followed by a piledriver by Taylor to Finlay, near fall save by Nagata. 
  • Taylor misses a moonsault, Finlay rolls him up to eliminate Chaos. 
  • Suzuki-Gun is the 4th team. 
  • Nagata and Suzuki strike off calling back former WrestleKingdom matches between the two. 
  • Olympic Slam followed by a Standing Moonsault that misses by Cobb and Davey Boy capitalizes by hitting a stiff Saito Suplex.
  • Finlay gets a near fall roll up on Archer but Archer calls in Davey and they hit a Killer Bomb to eliminate Nagata, Cobb, and Finlay.
  • Taguchi Japan is the 5th team. 
  • Taguchi is successful on hitting a hip attack on Suzuki and is able to tag in Togi Makabe. Makabe delivers a hot tag but Suzuki stops it. 
  • PK by Suzuki for a near fall on Makabe. 
  • Suzuki and Makabe strike off and it hits hard but Makabe gets Suzuki down with a rebound lariat and opens tags. Toru Yano and Davey Boy come in. 
  • Hart Attack by Killer Elite Squad for a near fall on Yano.
  • Last Chapter by Killer Elite Squad for another near fall on Yano. 
  • KneeDrop Backbreaker by KES to Yano but Taguchi makes the save. 
  • Taguchi hits a hip attack twice on Suzuki to save Makabe from the Gotch Piledriver.
  • Yano fights out of a Killer Bomb and goes for a low blow but Taguchi attacks Killer Elite Squad first, Makabe distracts KES as Yano gets a low blow in followed by a roll up for the win by Taguchi Japan. 

Winners: Taguchi Japan #1 Contenders @27:12!

Rating: **1/2, This was a really long gauntlet match with weird winners that took up a lot of unneeded time but at the same time the New Japan Rumble that normally takes up this time on a Wrestlekingdom card is normally worse with a weirded winner so this is an upgrade. The 2nd match between Cobb, Finlay, and Nagata vs Chaos was pretty good too so this was fine enough. The Suzuki-Gun and Taguchi Japan shenanigans are getting beyond old now. 

0_Ospreay

Kota Ibushi(c) vs. Will Ospreay for the Never Openweight Championship:

  • An obviously fast start as Ospreay Monkey Flips Ibushi out of the ring and follows it with a taunt which Ibushi almost hits the Kamegoye to but Ospreay escapes. Ibushi and Ospreay stare down. 
  • Ibushi dropkicks Ospreay to ringside, Ibushi goes for the Golden Triangle Moonsault but Ospreay capitalizes with a mid-kick to Kota in mid-flight. Ospreay goes back in-ring to hit a Space Flying Tiger Drop wiping out Ibushi ringside. 
  • Ospreay has idolized Ibushi since he was 15, now I’m idolizing Ospreay when I’m 15. Hmm.
  • Ospreay starts to slow down the pace as he goes to work on the back of Ibushi. 
  • Strikefest from Ibushi and Ospreay, Ibushi hits a snaprana to get Ospreay to ringside. Ibushi hits an insane springboard corkscrew moonsault to Ospreay ringside. 
  • Springboard missile dropkick by Ibushi followed up with a rolling German Suplex for the first near fall on Ospreay. 
  • Roll up by Ospreay for a near fall but Ibushi catches Ospreay with a stiff buzzsaw kick when he gets back up. Ospreay gets Ibushi down after a handspring enzugiri. 
  • Cheeky Nandos Kick by Ospreay in the corner for a near fall. 
  • Strikefest fires both up, Ibushi gets with a stiff chop knocking him down. 
  • Ospreay gets out of the Last Ride Powerbomb attempt by Ibushi as the 2 tradeoff powerbomb attempts and strikes at a breakneck speed and Ospreay end the sequence with an impressive standing Spanish Fly. Amazing sequence!
  • Stiff Wrap Around Kick by Ospreay catches Ibushi, Will goes for the Stormbreaker but Ibushi counters it with a huricanrana into a rollup for a near fall. Ibushi goes for a Lawn Dart but Ospreay counters that with a German Suplex. Stiff running knees by Ibushi slam Ospreay down. Another great sequence.
  • Great Last Ride Powerbomb by Ibushi gets a great near fall on Ospreay. 
  • Ibushi goes to the top rope but Ospreay clips the leg and Ibushi falls down and gets trapped in the Tree of Woe, Ospreay sits down and slaps at Ibushi but Ibushi strikes back and the two strike off in the Tree of Woe until Ospreay viciously stomps at the head of Ibushi. Ospreay gets Ibushi out of the tree of woe but Ibushi hits his head against the top of the apron. Both fight on the top rope, Ibushi hits a great jumping double stomp to Ospreay draped on the top rope. Another smart and innovative sequence. 
  • Deadlift German Suplex by Ibushi from the apron but Ospreay flips through and lands on his feet. Amazing! Oscutter attempt but Ibushi catches Ospreay and hits a Straightjacket German Suplex for a near fall. Ibushi maintains wrist control and goes for the Kamegoye but Ospreay dodges. 
  • Stiff Lariat by Ospreay knocks down Ibushi.
  • Another Stormbreaker attempt fails for Ospreay, Ibushi flips into a Jumping Tombstone for a great near fall.
  • Another stiff wraparound kick by Ospreay catches Ibushi, Ospreay hits the Beheader which absolutely knocks the hell out of Ibushi. The referee tries to remove Ospreay from attacking more but Ospreay hits the Stormbreaker for the win. 

Winner: Will Ospreay New Champion @18:13!

Rating: *****, Not only was this probably one of the greatest Jr. Style matches I have ever seen, these two innovated like crazy and Ospreay shows a vicious side which is great character development. They also hit each other so hard and their styles mixed so freaking well. I hope Ibushi is okay, he got stretchered out after an insane Beheader by Ospreay. The match left a shocked vibe not only because of Ibushi’s injury but the fact that these guys did what they did in the opener of Wrestlekingdom. A MOTY contender gets delivered in the 2nd match I’ve seen this year. That’s hopefully an indicator of how this year is gonna go. This is one of the most entertaining matches I’ve ever seen and these guys are legitimately not human. The rest of the show has something insane to follow. 

0_Tag-match-another

Desperado and Kanemaru (c) vs. Roppongi 3K vs. Los Ignorables de Japon for the IWGP Jr Tag Team Championships:

  • Roppongi 3k stay standing tall after an initial brawl and hit stereo Tope Con Hiros taking out Takagi and Bushi.
  • A rematch of the Final of the Super Junior Tag League. 
  • Instantly in the dead spot after an insane opener. 
  • Shingo Takagi and Sho strike off, Takagi is a heavyweight for sure but is labeled as a Junior to start his career in NJPW. 
  • Sho does a great German suplex to Takagi and Kanemaru simultaneously.
  • Kneedrop Backbreaker by 3k to Takagi gets the first near fall.
  • Double Superkicks by 3k to Suzuki Gun as they spit out whiskey. 
  • 3 Pumping Bombers by Takagi to Sho gets a great near fall.
  • Bushi hits a suicide dive sending Yoh into the barricade. 
  • Last of the Dragon by Takagi to Yoh closing the match.

Winners: LIJ New Champions @6:49!

Rating: ***, This was a fine short match that had a bit of a dead spot from the 5-star opener but it was good to see Kanemaru and Desperado get the titles taken off of them and put of Bushi and Takagi who are both very talented. I’m disappointed that Takagi is in the Junior Tag Division right now as he could genuinely be the next Tanahashi if booked right. 

0_Sabre-JrTomohiro Ishii (c) vs. Zack Sabre Jr. for the RevPro British Heavyweight Championship:

  • Very good exposure for RevPro having their title defended on the 2nd biggest company in the world’s biggest show. 
  • A fast start to the match until ZSJ grabs Ishii into a Cross Armbreaker, Ishii grabs the ropes. 
  • ZSJ keeps Ishii down with mid-kicks until he grabs the arm to work the Cross Armbreaker again but Ishii grabs the ropes again. 
  • ZSJ starts to hit Ishii with cocky kicks which is ill-advised, ZSJ hits a Northern Lights Suplex and then transitions into an Ankle Lock Ishii fights into an Ankle Lock of his own, ZSJ hits an enzugiri to escape. 
  • Stiff chops by Ishii in the corner, ZSJ starts to fire up but Ishii catches him with an overhead suplex to escape the Guillotine Choke. 
  • Great Holding Superplex by Ishii but ZSJ pops back up to intensely torque the arm. Smart move by ZSJ. 
  • The 2 speed up and go at each other in a move attempt sequence until ZSJ locks in the Octopus Lock, ZSJ transitions into a great Sunset Flip to get a near fall.
  • Stiff Penalty Kick by ZSJ keeps Ishii down. Ishii gets up as ZSJ strikes him with mid-kicks, Ishii hits a stiff chop to knock down Sabre. Powerbomb by Ishii into a near fall. 
  • Running Lariat, impact weakened by the work ZSJ has done on the arm, by Ishii for a near fall.
  • Victory Roll Up by ZSJ for a great near fall. Ishii catches ZSJ with a sliding lariat then attempt the Vertical Brainbuster but ZSJ locks in a Guillotine Choke, Ishii fights out but ZSJ locks in another Octopus Lock, ZSJ brings Ishii to the ground and locks both arms in the Octopus Lock to submit Ishii.

Winner: Zack Sabre Jr New Champion @11:37!

Rating: ****, This was a very good technical match with some great selling by Ishii. ZSJ did his normal great technical shtick making a smaller skinny dude look like he’s incredibly unstoppable. Ishii had some great fire in this match like he always does and the strikes hit pretty hard. The match was also great exposure for RevPro and what product they put on because I’d pay to see more matches like this one. 

0_Tag-match

Guerillas of Destiny (c) vs. Evil and Sanada vs. The Young Bucks for the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Championships:

  • A controversial match because many felt that The Young Bucks were an unneeded addition.
  • Nick Jackson and Tama Tonga start the match. 
  • Tama Tonga convinces Evil he’s a good guy but Evil tags in and pulls him out of the ring unglueing the match. 
  • Evil bodyslams Matt Jackson on the stage attacking the formerly injured back, Evil follows it up with a Running Lariat.
  • Tanga Loa hits a Frog Splash on Evil but the Young Bucks stop Tama Tonga from doing so.
  • Neckbreaker/Swanton combo by the Bucks on Evil, Matt throws Sanada ringside and The Bucks hit a float over neckbreaker combo on Evil for a near fall. 
  • Sharpshooter by Matt on Evil, Nick hits a great springboard corkscrew to the outside taking out Sanada. Tanga Loa stops his brother from breaking rules to break the hold.
  • Sanada locks in a Paradise Lock on both of the Young Bucks but Tama Tonga comes in to interrupt, Sanada sends Tanga ringside and hits 4 plancha dives to all of the Young Bucks and Guerillas, great dive sequence.
  • Sanada has Matt in the Skull End but Nick hits a blockbuster to have his brother escape the hold. Good tandem sequence from all men, Matt ends the sequence with a spear to Tanga Loa.
  • Chain Superplex in the corner led by Tama Tonga, Nick Jackson hits a 450 Splash to Sanada but can’t capitalize due to the impact. Good sequence. 
  • Jado and Bad Luck Fale come in but get taken out by the Young Bucks and Evil. 
  • Step-up Avalanche Huricanrana by Nick to Loa, Double Superkicks to a mid-air Sanada. Gun Stun catches Matt Jackson mid-air off the Meltzer Driver. Magic Killer by Evil and Sanada to Matt followed by a moonsault by Sanada ending the match. 

Winners: Evil and Sanada New Champions @10:14!

Ratings: ***1/2, A pretty solid 3-way tag match that was better than the Jr. Tag Title match but never kicked into another gear. This was wrestled at a solid pace and had some good sequences and big spots but wasn’t super impressive and lacked urgency and drama. In-ring wise this was pretty good but it didn’t add much more than that.

0_CodyCody(c) vs. Juice Robinson for the IWGP US Championship:

  • Cody tries to hit Juice with the title early on but Juice dodges. 
  • Juicebox by Robinson takes Cody down early, Juice gets on the top rope but Brandi comes in to protect Cody from a diving attack. Brandi dares Juice to hit her but Juice won’t.
  • Cody comes into the match with a knee injury. 
  • Cody goes for a Cross Rhodes off the apron but Juice fights into a Pulp Friction attempt on the apron but Cody throws Juice into the post. Hard Landing for Robinson. 
  • Cody wears the Jacksonville Jaguars colors because the owner bought All Elite Wrestling.
  • Cody distracts the referee Tiger Hattori while Brandi attacks Juice Robinson. Tiger ejects Brandi from ringside. 
  • Cross Rhodes by Cody gets a great near fall. 
  • Vertebreaker by Cody attempt but Juice fights out into a failed Pulp Friction attempt. 
  • Juice hits a Cross Rhodes for a near fall. 
  • Cody hits a rough Pulp Friction that doesn’t get all of the impact but still gets a good near fall on Juice. 
  • Cody hits Juice with his weight belt but Juice fires up, both trade Juice’s signature jabs until Juice hits a ton of them but Cody catches him with a superkick. Juice catches Cody in mid-air with a stiff left hand. Juice hits another hard-hitting punch to take out Cody. 
  • Juice hits a Pulp Friction but decides to hit another one and is successful, Juice takes his time to go for the pin but gets it. 

Winner: Juice Robinson @9:04!

Rating: **, As a huge fan of both men this match severely disappoints me. I knew Cody was going to lose because of AEW but this match really wasn’t much of anything. The first half was taken up by Brandi interference then at about 6 minutes they were trading finishers like they were out of ideas. They traded finishers for about 3 minutes until Juice hit the 2 Pulp Frictions for the win. Cody can normally take match drama into another gear and make the best out of his opponent and this really should’ve been an underdog Juice versus a dominant cocky Cody which took the best out of both but that really didn’t happen. Big disappointment. 

0_Kushida-c-Vs-Taiji-IshimoriKushida (c) vs. Taiji Ishimori for the IWGP Jr Heavyweight Championship:

  • Kushida comes out with a big head and as a little kid but then Rysuke Taguchi comes out as Doc Brown and changes time and Kushida comes out of an explosion of pyro as himself, great Back to the Future entrance. 
  • Another fast start no surprise.
  • Crossface by Ishimori is locked in early, Taiji holds it in for a while but Kushida grabs the ropes. 
  • Springboard Standing Senton by Ishimori takes down Kushida.
  • Ishimori has firm control of the match around the 5-minute mark.
  • Amazing sliding German Suplex by Ishimori to Kushida draped on the middle rope, 450 by Ishimori misses as Kushida locks Taiji in a Cross Armbreaker, Kushida transitions into a Triangle but Ishimori powers it up. Kushida goes back for the arm but Ishimori escapes and does a Tilt-A-Whirl into a Crossface but Kushida instantly escapes. 
  • Ishimori prevents the triangle with his strength and goes for a Tombstone Kneebuster but Kushida holds on and places Ishimori’s legs on the referee to set him up for a stiff kick to the arm. 
  • Kushida tries for the Back to the Future Bomb but Ishimori holds on and hits the Tombstone Kneebuster for a great near fall. 
  • Kushida locks in the hoverboard lock but can’t get all of it, Kushida rolls into the center of the ring and torques the hold in, Ishimori rolls through and hits a high momentum Death Valley Driver.
  • Running double knees by Ishimori to Kushida in the corner.
  • Kushida rolls into a Back to the Future Bomb but can’t hit the 2nd one. Kushida hits a big right hand but Ishimori comes back with a Standing Double Stomp. Ishimori hits the Bloody Cross to win the match. 

Winner: Taiji Ishimori New Champion @11:16!

Rating: ***1/2, With Ospreay into the Heavyweights and Hiromu Takahashi, injured it’s great to have a young champion like Ishimori. The match was pretty good and hit decently hard but it never reached that upper gear and is nothing compared to Ospreay vs. Ibushi earlier on which pretty much was a glorified Jr match. Kushida probably is getting a semi-sendoff soon as he might go to the E. The submission work in this match was really good and Ishimori is unbelievably athletic and showed it again. I’m excited to see where he goes with the title. 

1_Okada-White

Kazuchika Okada Vs. Jay White:

  • This is a HUGE match and represents the future of NJPW. New Japan is in a new era and this is one of that new era’s first big matches. With many foreigners leaving to AEW or WWE it’s time for Jay White to take over big time. A lot of pressure is on him tonight. 
  • The Rainmaker entrance has returned as Okada is no longer broken. 
  • Kazuchika Okada has also returned to the trunks. 
  • A new position for Okada being in a special singles match that isn’t the main event. 
  • Gedo is ringside for Jay White. 
  • Jay White starts the match dominant by using cheap tactics.
  • White jams Okada’s back into the apron then into the barricade. 
  • Saito suplex by Jay White gets the first near fall.
  • Kazuchika Okada fires up by hitting a clothesline as the match begins full momentum, the crowd is very much behind Okada. 
  • Okada hits a great dropkick to White on the top rope knocking him to ringside. 
  • Okada boots White over the barricade, Gedo goes to attack Okada but gets sent over the barricade too. Okada does his amazing crossbody suicide dive over the barricade to take out White and Gedo to a huge pop. 
  • Huge diving elbow drop by Okada, Kazuchika does the Rainmaker pose as the camera does the great zoom out thing, White takes down Okada with an STO/German Suplex combo.
  • Stiff Uranage by Jay White for a near fall.
  • Blade Runner attempt by White fails as Okada strikes his way out but White meets him with a stiff lariat to knock him down.
  • Gedo distracts the referee as White goes to hit him with a chair, Okada knocks White into Gedo knocking him off the apron. Okada hits his signature dropkick and goes for the Rainmaker but White takes him down with a Dragon Suplex. 
  • Kiwi Crusher by White for a great near fall. 
  • Blade Runner fails again for White as Okada escapes and hits the Tombstone Piledriver and both get laid out. 
  • Okada misses a dropkick but White fails the Blade Runner attempt allowing Okada to roll White away from him and hit the dropkick. 
  • Tombstone fails for Okada but White tries to transition into the Blade Runner and fails. Okada hits a spinning Rainmaker. 
  • Another Rainmaker attempt goes into the Blade Runner for the shock win for Jay White.

Winner: Jay White @14:09!

Rating: ****3/4, This is a huge match for NJPW. Jay White has taken over and has beat Kazuchika Okada. It might be the end of the era of Okada and whatever is next in his career will be special but it’s time for the new generation. New Japan is in good hands. However, the match itself was also really good. The clash of big match wrestling styles and Okada’s typical dramatic style was in peak form here. The match ended sooner than it should’ve and had it gone longer and added a couple more spots this would’ve been a legitimate early MOTY contender. The story told was incredible though. This match makes me excited for the future of New Japan and delivers another great big Okada match. 

1_Jericho-Naito

Chris Jericho (c) vs. Tetsuya Naito for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship NO DQ:

  • Naito attacks Jericho from behind as these guys brawl before the match.
  • Hard piledriver on the stage by Naito sends Jericho to a stiff fall. 
  • Naito removes the turnbuckle pad and attacks Jericho with it.
  • Naito clotheslines Jericho to ringside and goes to suicide dive but Jericho catches him with a kendo stick shot to the head. 
  • Diving Kendo Stick shot by Jericho begins dominance. 
  • Great Triangle Dropkick by Jericho takes Naito off the apron.
  • Vertical Suplex ringside by Jericho. Jericho brings Naito into the crowd and jams him repeatedly into the barricade. Jericho climbs the announce table and delivers a hard DDT to Naito spiking him on the top of his head. Very hard landing for Naito yikes.
  • Jericho rings the bell and acts like he won after the intense table spot but then decides to go back to attacking Naito.
  • Diving Crossbody by Jericho gets a near fall on Naito. 
  • Jericho has been very dominant so far. 
  • Lionsault by Jericho for another near fall.
  • Naito springs off the ropes with a forearm to take down Jericho and try to come back in the match.
  • Slingshot dropkick by Naito caught by Jericho and entered in the Walls of Jericho,  Naito rolls out to escape. 
  • Codebreaker attempt fails as Naito throws him off, Naito follows it up with the Tornado DDT.
  • Gloria by Tetsuya Naito for a near fall. 
  • Destino by Naito fails as Jericho gets Tetsuya in the Walls of Jericho again, Jericho rolls Naito into the middle of the ring and torques in the hold again, Naito grabs a kendo stick and whacks Jericho down to escape the hold. 
  • Naito attacks Jericho with a kendo stick getting in a few hard strikes, Naito misses one shot and Jericho hits a Codebreaker which gets an amazing near fall. 
  • Jericho goes to ringside and grabs 8 chairs and puts them in the ring. 
  • Naito reverses Jericho’s powerbomb with a DDT onto the pile of chairs. 
  • Codebreaker by Naito for another great near fall. 
  • Jericho throws a chair at Naito on the middle rope, Jericho tries to superplex Naito onto a chair but Naito escapes and hits a German Suplex onto the chairs. 
  • Jericho shoves Red Shoes and hits a low blow and hits a codebreaker on Naito which gets like a near fall of the year level kickout. 
  • Jericho goes to grab the title and charges at Naito with it, Naito sends Jericho into the exposed turnbuckle and hits the Destino for another near fall of the year contender.
  • Naito eyes the belt and grabs it, Naito hits Jericho with the title belt and hits Destino for the win. 

Winner: Tetsuya Naito New Champion @22:53!

Rating: *****, This was a shock to me that this match was as good as it was. Jericho wrestled like he did in the 2000s and Naito like always delivered a dramatic and athletic performance. This match had some insane near falls and really went down to the wire. It was also one of the best brawls in wrestling since Jimmy Havoc vs. Will Ospreay in August of 2018. This really was a full package match: it had a solid story with the two absolutely despising each other, it had some great brawling moments, some great spots, good length, good in-ring work from both men, and the amazing near falls. I would go as far to say that this match is better than Omega vs. Jericho from WrestleKingdom last year and it’s one of Jericho’s all-time best matches. 

omegatana

Kenny Omega(c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship:

  • This is without a shadow of a doubt the biggest NJPW match of all time. It’s the foreign talent versus the natives, it’s the greatest of the modern era versus the greatest of all time, it’s a gigantic match-up and the main event of the biggest New Japan show in history.
  • Whether Omega goes to AEW or WWE it’s not certain but Tanahashi will forever stay in NJPW.
  • Tanahashi slaps Omega and Kenny fires up starting momentum in the match.
  • Omega goes for the One-Winged Angel early but Tana escapes into the Tana Twist Hold, Omega hip tosses out but Tana gets a roll up for the first near fall.
  • Stiff slaps from both men are hitting both hard as Kenny tries to escape from an Indian Deathlock, Omega grabs the ropes. 
  • Omega begins to dominate the match as he works the previously injured back of Tanahashi. 
  • Saito Suplex on the apron by Omega. 
  • Thudding chop by Omega hits ringside, Omega whips Tana into the barricade but Tana catches running Omega with a dropkick. Omega drives Tana’s back into the apron. Omega bodyslams Tana into the announce table where Tana lands hard on the edge of the table. 
  • Amazing Springboard moonsault off the barricade into the crowd by Omega. 
  • Omega looks like an erratic heel and it’s amazing. 
  • Omega sets up a table ringside. 
  • Stiff chops by Omega in-ring, Tana fires up and hits a running forearm. 
  • Dragon Screw Leg Whip by Tanahashi allows Hiroshi to get some space. 
  • Shotgun Dropkick/Bodyslam/Somersault senton combo by Tanahashi.
  • Slingblade by Tana shut down with a chop by Omega, Kitaro Crusher by Omega takes out Tana. Tana rolls ringside. 
  • The rise of the Terminator is called for by Omega but Tana comes in and shuts him down by hitting a dropkick. Omega hits a snaprana that sends Tana to ringside. The rise of the Terminator is successful as Omega drops Tana ringside. Omega takes a hard landing on the stage but Tana also slams hard. 
  • Omega hits a stiff missile dropkick to the back of Tanahashi in the ring. Omega follows it up with a SnapDragon Suplex but Tana fires up, Omega hits another one but Tana again is back up. Omega hits the first V-Trigger.
  • You Can’t Escape by Omega but Omega tweaks his knee, Tana hits an intense Dragon Screw Leg Whip further attacking the leg of Omega.
  • Texas Cloverleaf by Tanahashi goes for the knee of Omega, Tana torques it in but Omega rolls onto his back. Tana picks up Omega and hits the Styles Clash which is an amazing tribute to AJ. Tana goes for the Hi-Fly Flo but Omega gets his knees up. 
  • Omega goes for a V-Trigger in the corner but Tana dodges as Omega sends himself flying into the corner. Dragon Screw Leg Whip over the middle rope by Tanahashi again goes for the knee of Omega. 
  • Amazing slingblade on the apron by Tanahashi. 
  • Tana sets Omega up on the table set-up ringside, Tanahashi goes for the Hi-Fly Flo through the table but Omega dodges and Tana crashes and burns through the table onto the floor. Omega decides to help Tana back in-ring instead of taking the countout. 
  • Omega drapes Tana over the middle rope and Omega hits a brutal double stomp while diving off the top rope. Brutal powerbomb by Omega for a near fall, Omega deadlifts and hits another powerbomb for another near fall, Omega hits yet another powerbomb for a great near fall.
  • Omega goes for a V-Trigger but Tana catches him running with a slingblade. 
  • Strikefest Tana gets Omega weakened but Omega gets him on the ground and knees him in the ribs. Omega hits a deadlift German suplex but Tana shrugs it off and gets himself back up. Omega hits a slingblade of his own to get Tana down. 
  • Hi-Fly Flo hits for Omega but Tana kicks out at one which is amazing and gets back up. Omega hits him with a stiff V-Trigger but Tana stays up. Omega and Tana stare at each other and start to strike off until Omega hits a V-Trigger to rock Tana. 
  • Reverserana by Omega jams Tana on his head. Omega hits a V-Trigger to Tana on the ropes. Tana fires up but Omega attempts the One Winged Angel, Tana hits a reverserana of his own to escape the One-Winged Angel.
  • Dragon Suplex Bridge by Tana, near fall. 
  • Tana climbs to the top rope and hits a Hi Fly Flo to a standing Omega, Tana hits another Hi Fly Flo for an amazing near fall. 
  • Omega hits a V-Trigger to Tana on the top rope, Omega hits an amazing Dragon Suplex off the top rope, Tana doesn’t take too hard of a fall on his neck because he over-rotated a bit which is good because we need an alive Tanahashi. 
  • V-Trigger into a One-Winged Angel attempt but Tana counters out and follows it up with a slingblade. 
  • Hi Fly Flo by Tana for the win. 

Winner: Hiroshi Tanahashi @39:12!

Rating: *****, Yep yet another 5-star match and I may have been too positive on the other 2 tonight but this was definitely 5 stars and maybe more. The biggest match in NJPW history killed and both men delivered probably their best career performances. Omega as an erratic foreign heel and Tanahashi being the hometown babyface hero. While this isn’t as good as Omega vs. Okada 4 it’s definitely better than the rest of them in my opinion. This was a huge match and it fulfilled like crazy in both story and in-ring work. I’m gonna have to see something groundbreakingly incredible to have this knocked off from Match of the Year and that means a lot when we’re only 4 days into the year. This was the longest Tokyo Dome Main Event and it felt short. Tana and Omega are 2 of the world’s greatest wrestlers. With Omega gone from NJPW most likely after this, Tana is the flag bearer into the new era of New Japan Pro. 

Show Grade: A+

Last Word: This very well might be the best Pro Wrestling show of all time. It came in a transition period for New Japan too as All Elite Wrestling is opening up and the foreigners versus natives argument were at an all-time high. However, New Japan stayed loyal to itself here which it had every chance to not but it was amazing to see how it went back to its roots and restored. Tanahashi as champion signifies that stronger than anything else on the show. While the show had some less than incredible matches it had 3 5-star matches and while I may have been a little too positive because New Japan had a lot on their plate going into this show and pulled off one of the best shows of all time and that’s god damn impressive. Ibushi vs. Ospreay is one of the best in-ring matches I’ve ever seen, Jericho vs. Naito was a mixing pot of entertainment, brutality, and good ‘ole wrasslin’ and the main event is one of the greatest pro wrestling matches in a historical and emotional standpoint. This was insane and had every ability in the world to be a bad show but it wasn’t and New Japan looks like it’s in good hands with the new management and Tanahashi and Jay White taking the company into the next era. 

MOTN: Kenny Omega vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

Progress Chapter 80: Gods and Monsters Review

DtluCbrW0AA7QC_-e1544139012939

Results + Star Ratings:

  • Paul Robinson defeats Chris Ridgeway @11:33 ***1/4
  • Drew Parker defeats Ligero @8:10 ***
  • Pete Dunne defeats Mark Andrews @6:02 ****1/2
  • Trent Seven defeats Dan Moloney to retain the Atlas Title @12:41 ***1/2
  • Eddie Dennis and Mark Haskins defeat Chuck Mambo and William Eaver via DQ @12:42 ***1/4
  • Ilja Dragunov defeats Tyler Bate @17:27 ****1/2
  • LAX defeat CCK to become the #1 Contenders to the Progress Tag Titles @28:00 ****3/4

DtM74xAXQAYWuCa-e1544138770339

Paul Robinson vs. Chris Ridgeway:

  • A match between 2 hard strikers.
  • Stiff front kick by Ridge knocks Robin down for the first time. 
  • STF locked in for Ridgeway, Robin gets the ropes to escape. 
  • Kick Battle from both men on the apron, Robin catches the leg and trips him out on the apron. 
  • Robin taunted but caught a buzzsaw kick to the head from Ridgeway. 
  • Robinson begins to work the leg of Ridgeway. 
  • Trading Kicks from both men to a great sequence, Robin goes for the leg of Ridgeway to end the sequence. 
  • Ridgeway starts to phase off kicks from Robinson and he catches him with a Dragon Screw Leg Whip to get back on top. Ridge hits a sequence of kicks to Robinson against the ropes. 
  • Curb-Stomp attempt by Robin is caught in mid-air with a German Suplex for the first near fall. 
  • Flying Spear by Robinson for a near fall. 
  • Robinson Special caught by Ridgeway into an ankle lock attempt but Robin catches him in a roll-up for a near fall. Robinson hits an enzugiri taking Ridge out for another near fall.
  • Brainbuster into a Falcon Arrow by Ridgeway, Chris locks in a Sleeper Hold but Ridgeway rolls him up for a near fall. 
  • Robinson Special misses again as Ridgeway kicks the back of Robin’s neck and both go down.
  • Robin grabs the chain from around his neck to distract the ref, Robin dropkicks Ridgeway into the ref to go and grab a bigger chain from ringside. With the referee down, Robin hits Ridge with the chain for the win. 

Winner: Paul Robinson @11:33

Rating: ***1/4, This was a very solid strike-off with some technical work of the leg thrown in there. Robinson had to throw in his normal heel shtick towards the end which was annoying but these 2 hit each other hard and fast for a little more than 10 minutes.

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Drew Parker w/Spike Trivet vs. Ligero:

  • Drew and Spike are members of the new faction of undercard young guys who are taking over Progress. 
  • Spike Trivet does a pre-match promo saying the goal of his new faction is taking out the tired and washed up talent and blames the crowd for allowing those talents to be adored. This is an amazing promo.
  • Parker attacks Ligero early as Ligero goes to attack Spike. 
  • Ligero sends Parker to the outside taking out Spike, then Ligers hits a diving cannonball off the apron taking everyone out. 
  • Running superkick by Ligero ringside to Parker set up on a chair. 
  • Parker begins to dominate the match.
  • Ligero hits a comeback sequence capping it off with a Death Valley Driver/PK combo for the first near fall. 
  • Running Huricanrana ringside by Ligero ducking under Spike to hit Parker. 
  • Spike distracts Ligero on the top rope, Parker catches Ligero with a rolling elbow but Ligero fights back and starts an academic sequence into a springboard dropkick to Parker’s back. 
  • Sliced Bread by Ligero fails and Parker gets Ligero on the top rope, Ligero hits a Springboard Avalanche Huricanrna taking Ligero off the top. 
  • Big Move attempt sequence from both ends with a Cutter by Ligero.
  • Spike Trivet takes Parker out of the ring, Spike grabs onto the leg of Ligero so Parker can hit the Backseat Driver in ring for the close. 

Winner: Drew Parker @8:10

Rating: ***1/4, While the match itself, was nothing special and often had moments of silence where nothing was happening, this match was an important one. Parker’s faction is Progress’ answer to the WWE signings as they are a new guard of guys coming in to take over. The faction labeled Do Not Resuscitate made a huge statement in this match by looking dominant. This match starts a long stretch of DNR taking over. 

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Pete Dunne vs. Mark Andrews:

  • A huge match that might be either man’s last appearance in Progress due to the inevitability of NXT UK.
  • Dunne pushes Mandrews down instead of taking a handshake. 
  • As soon as the bell rings, Mandrews knocks Dunne ringside and hits a Tope Con Hiro and a Huricanrana back-in ring for the first near fall. 
  • Match plays to a long history between these 2. 
  • German Suplex by Dunne gets a rough landing and he follows it up with an Explex Powerbomb for a near fall. A fast start to this match. 
  • Bitter End attempt by Dunne but Mandrews takes him over with a huricanrana.
  • Dunne tries to catch Mandrews with a Tombstone but Mandrews hits a tornado DDT out of it. 
  • Mandrews hits a Stundog Millionaire out of the Explex by Dunne.
  • Bitter End attempt by Dunne but Mandrews flies into a piledriver, great spot that takes both out.
  • Dunne catches Mandrews ringside and hits a Tombstone. Back in-ring, Dunne hits the Bitter End finally for a great near fall. 
  • In the first 3 minutes, this is already amazing. 
  • Dunne stomps on the neck on Mandrews but Andrews fires back up and hits Dunne with a series of chops, Dunne gets him down and does the finger break, Mandrews gets a Huricanrana roll up for a near fall. 
  • Insane Avalanche Huricanrana by Mandrews followed up by a failed shooting star attempt, Dunne hits 2 consecutive Tombstones for the win. 

Winner: Pete Dunne @6:02

Rating: ****1/2, HOLY SHIT! This was incredible, it was an insane match that didn’t need a long stretch of time to tell a story or pack in incredible spots. This was a sprint for the ages and one of the top Progress matches I’ve seen so far and it was a great surprise. It also gets added points for being really impressive that they worked at the pace they did for more than 5 minutes straight. The definition of all thriller, no filler. 

  • Do Not Resuscitate attacks Mandrews after the match but Mandrews and Dunne work together to take them out. 

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Trent Seven Atlas Title Open Challenge:

  • Dan Moloney answers the Open Challenge, Who? Yeah, I don’t know either. He has wrestled for NXT UK though. Apparently, he’s also a close friend of British Strong Style.
  • Good comedy shoulder block sequence.
  • Stiff chops sent by both men start a chop off, Moloney wins the chop battle.
  • More chops turn Moloney’s chest red.
  • Snap Dragon Suplex/Landslide combo by Seven for the first near fall. 
  • Figure Four Leglock by Seven, Moloney grabs ropes by tweaking the knee of Seven.
  • Insane Inverted Suplex by Seven on the apron slams Moloney down hard. 
  • Super Exploder Suplex followed by a Ripcord Deep Six by Moloney gets a near fall. 
  • Powerbomb by Moloney for a near fall, Moloney follows it up with a Gutwrench Powerbomb for another near fall but Dan grabs in a Single Leg Boston Crab off the kickout, Seven grabs ropes.
  • Small Package by Seven for a near fall, Moloney also delivers a small package for a near fall. Strikes into a Seven Star Lariat/Piledriver combo by Seven for an amazing near fall. 
  • Burning Hammer by Seven to retain the title. 

Winner: Trent Seven Retains @12:41!

Rating: ***1/2, This was a really good big match wrestling encounter. Seven has been amazing as Atlas Champion and continues that with another good defense, Moloney also delivered a really good performance making believable near falls and delivering huge moves to precision. While not as good as Seven’s defense against Kyle Fletcher at the last Progress Chapter this goes up as one of Seven’s best title defenses.

Dtwl2fTXcAA89L1-e1544138837985Mark Haskins and Eddie Dennis vs Chuck Mambo and William Eaver of D.N.R:

  • Brawl outside of the ring before the match.
  • Double Yakuza Kicks by Dennis and Haskins to Eaver and Mambo set up on chairs ringside.
  • Air Raid Siren by Mambo to Dennis on the stage.
  • Haskins and Eaver get in the ring to start the match.
  • Eaver and Mambo isolate Haskins, Dennis is still laid out from the stage spot.
  • Eddie Dennis comes back to tag in and delivers a hot tag on Chuck Mambo and Eaver. Dennis picks up Eaver and Mambo simultaneously and hits a double fallaway slam. 
  • Great Superplex by Dennis to Mambo followed by a Jackknife powerbomb into the turnbuckles with a stiff lariat to cap off the combo for a near fall on Mambo.
  • Suicide Dives by Haskins wipe out Eaver and Mambo on different sides of the ring, 
  • Haskins rolls Mambo into a Landslide for a near fall, Mark grabs the arm off the kickout in a Fujiwara but Eaver breaks it up.
  • Next Stop Driver attempt by Dennis is rolled up by Mambo for a near fall.
  • Superkick by Mambo to Dennis saves Eaver from a Next Stop Driver, Haskins saves the pin on Dennis.
  • Meteora by Mambo gets a near fall on Dennis.
  • Vicky Haskins grabs the leg of Eaver, Mark Haskins locks in a Sharpshooter, Dennis locks in a Bow and Arrow on Mambo for a Double Submission spot but Drew Parker comes in to attack and end the match via DQ.

Winners: Do Not Resuscitate @12:42!

Rating: ***1/4, This was a very solid fast-paced tag match for the exception of the isolation bit on Haskins but DNR is a very good faction and got more TV time here. Haskins and Dennis worked very well together and the beginning brawl was decently fun. 

  • Mark Andrews comes out to save Dennis and Haskins from DNR but leaves immediately after he saves them from attack because of the sore history he has with Eddie Dennis.

Dtg6L9lWsAEtl0w-e1544138922273Tyler Bate vs. Ilja Dragunov:

  • Very Technical beginning to the match.
  • Monkey Flip in the corner by Bate begins the match’s momentum.
  • Discus Chop/Jumping Senton combo by Dragunov for the first near fall. 
  • Ilja starts to dominate the match with strikes keeping Bate down, Tyler begins to be unphased by strikes and punches Dragunov into the corner. Bate flies at Ilja with a European uppercut to get back in the match.
  • Vertical Suplex Bridge by Bate for a near fall. 
  • Rebound Lariat by Dragunov caught by Bate but Ilja rolls Bate over and hits a Blue Thunder Bomb, Ilja gets a near fall on Bate. 
  • Diving Senton by Ilja misses, Bate hits the Airplane Spin for so long that it makes me dizzy then turns and spins the other way, Ilja sells it amazingly by trying to strike the air once he escapes.
  • Great Torpedo Suicide Dive by Dragunov, Ilja hits a back senton to Bate on a row of chairs.
  • Superplex by Bate into a Small Package for a good near fall. Both men are laid out as the crowd chants “This is Progress”
  • Strikefest but Ilja begins to get the upper hand sending the strikes rapid fire but Bate hits an Exploder Suplex but Dragunov kips up and hits a Saito Suplex. Both men fire up and begin to lariat the hell out of each other. Both men go to hit a rebound lariat and hit each other on the way back, amazing spot to end a great sequence. 
  • Bate catches Dragunov with another Exploder and follows it up with a Standing Shooting Star, Dragunov kicks out at 1 and hits a Death Valley Driver into the corner and hits a Coast to Coast for a near fall. 
  • Torpedo Moscow attempt caught into a Wheelbarrow kick by Bate. 
  • Bate goes for the Tyler Driver 97 but Dragunov escapes and hits the Torpedo Moscow for the win.

Winner: Ilja Dragunov @17:27!

Rating: ****1/2, This was another great match for both men in 2018 and Dragunov continues to show his greatness on a larger scale. Their styles mixed perfectly as both are insanely athletic and energetic wrestlers and they often worked the match into amazing mixes of speed and technical wrestling. The double rebound lariat spot was amazing and they worked at an incredible pace. The ending was abrupt but it worked to protect Tyler Bate but also allow Dragunov to pick up the win as he settles into becoming a Progress mainstay.

DtHW4ayWkAEPAJM-e1544138896276CCK (Chris Brookes and Jonathan Gresham)vs. LAX (Santana and Ortiz):

  • A rematch of a very good tag match that these teams had on the Progress America Tour. 
  • Winner faces Aussie Open for the Tag Titles at Chapter 81.
  • Jonathan Gresham and Ortiz start the match.
  • Everybody including the referee brings it around town with their hips to huge pops from the crowd, Jonathan Gresham brings in his signature stapler and acts like it brings it around too. I love silly wrestling.
  • Santana flips off Ortiz to moonsault on Gresham, solid spot. 
  • Funky Monkey by Ortiz on Brookes for the first near fall.
  • Jonathan Gresham catches Ortiz mid-air with a German Suplex. 
  • CCK isolates Ortiz and works on his arm. Great Spinebuster by Ortiz knocks Gresham off and opens tags, Santana and Brookes come in. Great Hot Tag by Santana.
  • Lionsault/Leg Drop combo by LAX to Gresham for a near fall.
  • Running Corner Lariats by Gresham for a comedically long time, Santana sends Gresham into the post. 
  • Ortiz rolls Santana through to add momentum to a superkick on Brookes, great tag team sequence into a near fall save by Gresham. 
  • Missile Dropkick by Brookes over Santana hits Ortiz then collapses on Santana, great innovation. 
  • Springboard Moonsault by Gresham, Gresham rolls into an ankle lock on Ortiz but decides to hit a German Suplex Bridge for a near fall.
  • Great Springboard Cutter by Brookes on Ortiz, Gresham hits a 450 Headbutt on Ortiz, Santana comes in to save the match.
  • Gresham hits a Shooting Star Press on Ortiz, Santana sends Brookes into Gresham to save the match. 
  • Octopus Stretch attempt by Jonathan Gresham on Ortiz, Brookes grabs Santana in an Octopus lock and Gresham’s attempt becomes successful. Double Octopus Lock is stopped by Santana who powers up Brookes and throws him into Gresham. 
  • Strikefest between Santana and Brookes, Santana decks Brookes. Gresham comes into strikefest with Santana, Gresham wins. Ortiz and Gresham strikefest, Ortiz decks Gresham. All 4 strike off at the same time, the strikes become intense and everyone gets knocked down. Gresham goes low on Ortiz. LAX hit a leg drop/backbreaker combo on Gresham and a superkick/cutter combo on Brookes, Gresham comes in for the near fall save. Great sequence. 
  • Gresham and Santana strike off, Santana wipes out Gresham but Gresham fires up and hits an enzugiri/German Suplex combo. Gresham gets a near fall after Brookes takes out Ortiz, Gresham gets back on top and hits a forearm on Santana for another near fall. 
  • Snap German followed by a huge forearm by Gresham takes out Santana, near fall save by Ortiz. 
  • Rollins Assisted Cutter by CCK into a Praying Mantis Bomb with a superkick by Gresham for an amazing near fall save by Ortiz. Gresham and Brookes sell the near fall with great facial expressions.
  • Springboard Moonsault/Suicide Cannonball combo by Gresham. Brookes hits a springboard cutter followed by a Shooting Star Press by Gresham but Santana gets his knees up. Powerbomb on the apron by Ortiz to Brookes. Alley Oop Bomb/Powerbomb combo by LAX followed up by a Shooting Star Press by Santana, Brookes Frog Splashes in to make the save. 
  • Burning Hammer by Ortiz to Brookes, LAX both pin on Gresham for a great near fall. 
  • Amazing Powerbomb/Blockbuster combo by LAX puts away Gresham.

Winners: LAX #1 Contenders @28:01!

Rating: ****3/4, This was the definition of insane. These guys defined what you could do in a wrestling ring in a tag match without any added stipulations. These guys innovated like they were in PWG but added a bit of technical smarts and great high-flying. Both teams were at the peak of their game here and worked each other to perfection. This is one of the best tag team matches of 2018 and it’s a bit unfortunate that I waited until 2019 to watch it because I believe this is a legitimate MOTY Contender. I’m really excited to see LAX vs. Aussie Open on the next Progress Chapter. 

Show Grade: B+

Grade: There were 3 very good matches in Mandrews vs. Dunne, Bate vs. Dragunov, and LAX vs. CCK but the rest of the card was lukewarm making the show feel hard to get through, however. Each of those 3 matches are bangers especially CCK vs. LAX. This isn’t Progress’ best chapter but it delivers some very good entertainment and a fantastic main event as Progress is beginning to turn the page from the wrestlers who are signing to the WWE with most of them eating losses tonight like Tyler Bate and Ligero. Based off of this show, Progress looks like it’s future is in great hands. 

 

WrestleGrade Yearly Awards 2018

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This year has been incredible for Professional Wrestling, from all over the world wrestling has been in peak form. Here are my picks for the Top Ten Best Wrestlers of the Year, Top Ten Best Matches of the Year, Top Five Best Tag Teams of The Year, Top 5 Women’s Wrestlers of the Year,  Best Promotion of The Year, Best Wrestling Show of The Year, Best Feud of the Year, and what wrestler to look out for in 2019.

Top 5 Best Tag Teams of 2018:

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5. Aussie Open, The current Progress Tag Team Champions had an amazing year this year for the UK independent scene. Mark Davis is a big powerful dude filled with agility and having had battles with Walter for the Atlas Title, Kyle Fletcher is a great high-flyer and the mixing of these guys styles makes for often incredible matches. While their solo stuff might be some of their best work this year when they team together they’ve had great matches with the likes of Timothy Thatcher and Chris Brookes. They also shined big time in the Progress Tag Team Gauntlet match picking up the victory with a great performance. The future is only looking bright for Aussie Open. 

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4. So Cal Uncensored, the ROH Natives got over this year in a big way. At All In, in September these guys were one of the hottest acts in the business. The bold characters in SCU have also had some great matches this year including a banger at Final Battle with Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky battling the Briscoes and The Young Bucks. There is a great mix of comedy wrestling and in-ring skill when these guys are on however now that they have left ROH you have to wonder where they go from here. 

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3. The Rascalz, while these guys didn’t strike the mainstream until very late in the year when they debuted in Impact, they were absolutely tearing it up in PWG. These guys have had absolute tag team lucha classics with Flamita and Bandido and Pentagon Jr and Fenix. Zachary Wentz and Desmond Xavier are also some of the best high-flyers I’ve ever seen as what they can do in that ring is unique and incredible. Their finisher is Wentz jumping up in the air for a moonsault as Xavier pushes him in mid-air on top of the opponent and it’s incredible. These guys will only continue to strike gold as they make it further in mainstream professional wrestling. 

9602. Undisputed Era, Undisputed ERA made this year so enjoyable in tag team wrestling. The absolutely amazing heel antics and the great tag team work have mixed to deliver some legitimate MOTY contenders. The War Games match was incredible, The series of matches against Mustache Mountain has been incredible, and I don’t think they are anywhere close to stopping. Adam Cole as the frontman has been amazing as he is the perfect mouthpiece for a tag team like this, Kyle O’Reilly is one of the best in-ring talents in the world, and Roderick Strong made a shock move in joining Undisputed ERA and turning heel earlier this year. NXT has been an incredible place for Professional Wrestling and much of the greatness has come from the ERA. 

Being-The-ELite1. The Young Bucks/The Elite, the Bullet Club has absolutely dominated 2018. They have been everywhere popping up into the mainstream frequently, promoting their own event, and having incredible matches along the way. Specifically, the Young Bucks stand out, their matches against the Golden Lovers and The Briscoe/SCU Ladder Match and countless others have made their wrestling stand out leagues above everything else this year. They have become captivating characters that glue your eyes to the screen whenever they come on. This won’t be the only time I talk about The Elite on this list though. 

Promotion of the Year:

Logo_NewJapan_dnNew Japan Pro Wrestling has revolutionized Wrestling this year like no other company has before. The incredible matches stand out a cut above everything any other company put out this year and their expansion into the American Market has been successful. NJPW has skyrocketed themselves into the mainstream with wrestlers like Kenny Omega, Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Will Ospreay leading the ship. However, NJPW is beginning to have internal conflicts with management and foreigners taking over the spotlight of Japanese Natives but the company still looks to be holding onto greatness heading into Wrestlekingdom 13. 

Best Wrestling Show of the Year:

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NJPW Dominion, This show was stacked, like enormously. The top 3 matches on this show would’ve been MOTY contenders in their own rights. The 1-2-3 punch of Hiromu Takahashi vs. Will Ospreay, Tetsuya Naito vs. Chris Jericho and Kenny Omega vs. Kazuchika Okada ended this show historically. While the undercard also shined as this show had a very good layout the main event stole the show like nothing else. The 70 minutes closer of Okada vs. Omega 4 is one of the greatest matches of all time and boosted this show into the #1 spot of show of the year, in a year that had many amazing NXT Takeovers and All In to be competitors. 

Feud of the Year:

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Tomasso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano: The routine tag team breakup feud was done to perfection in NXT this year. Johnny and Ciampa had the perfect dastardly heel and underdog babyface dynamic with the crowd organically cheering for Gargano. Ciampa was one of the best heels in the business to the point where the boos he was getting were so powerful that he had no entrance music. The writing was incredible as well stretching this feud over a year-long and adding different elements to the story over that long period of time. The matches that came out of this feud is the best series of matches since Okada vs. Omega and maybe in WWE history. This feud was the main reason why NXT was preferred over the main roster this year. 

Top 5 Women’s Wrestlers of the Year:

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5. Kairi Sane, Last year’s Mae Young Classic Winner had an amazing year for validating herself in the Women’s Division this year. Winning the NXT Title was huge but what meant even more for her career was the amazing matches she had with Shayna Baszler which are some of the best Women’s Matches of the year. It had taken me a while to buy into the hype around Kairi Sane but she destroyed in NXT this year and made me a believer. 

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4. Ronda Rousey, when she broke onto the scene for the first time in the WWE my initial thoughts were great a female Brock Lesnar is exactly what we need. As much of the critics like myself were shocked this year to see how fast Ronda Rousey became one of the best Women’s Wrestlers in the world. She took over in her debut having an amazing match against HHH and Stephanie Mcmahon with Kurt Angle that surprisingly stole the show. From her debut, she’s had great matches with the likes of Charlotte and Nia Jax. The future looks bright for Rousey if this is the accolades she has in her first year. Going into Wrestlemania, her Main Eventing will be amazing.

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3. Charlotte:  In my opinion, the greatest Women’s Wrestler of all time. While this year she took a back seat to 2 other wrestler’s she still had an overall amazing year. She has had probably the highest number great matches of any other wrestler in WWE this year having classics against Becky Lynch at Evolution, Becky Lynch and Asuka at TLC, and Ronda Rousey a Survivor Series but other than match quality Charlotte has revived Women’s Wrestling in WWE to a point that it has never been before. The Women’s Division is the best thing in WWE currently and that’s due to the work that Flair has put in. 

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2. Asuka: The whole year wasn’t flattering to Asuka losing to Charlotte at Wrestlemania began a downward spiral that she only just recovered from in time to win the Smackdown Women’s Title at TLC in one of the best Women’s Matches I’ve seen. While, the year wasn’t all Asuka’s best work her highs are some of the highest achievements a Woman has ever reached in WWE. She made history winning the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble and had that amazing TLC match we’ve already talked about a lot. She also played a big role in the revival of the Women’s Division, going into Wrestlemania most likely with the Smackdown Women’s Title it will be interesting to see what match she gets and how she makes the most of it. 

gqz8wr6f0cpzglmgkptz1. Becky Lynch: You probably saw this one coming, the biggest star in WWE for the first time in history is a woman. Her character work is the best of any woman probably in wrestling history. WWE saw how fans reacted to her as a babyface and allowed her to take the ball and run her heel character into superstardom. While her achievements aren’t as spectacular as Asuka or Charlotte’s she has trailblazed like no woman before her has. Her achievements include the TLC match, the Smackdown Women’s Title, a great performance in the Women’s MITB, and the Last Woman Standing Match against Charlotte at Evolution. I’m VERY excited to see where Becky Lynch goes from here. 

Who to Look Out for in 2019:

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Bandido: This is most definitely not the last time you will hear this name not only on this list but future lists to come. Bandido is an incredible talent mixing high flying like you’ve never seen and adding the drama that many luchadores lack. He had an amazing 2018 but is still relatively underground as his biggest exposure was the main event of All In and he’s mostly been a PWG mainstay. Bandido recently signed a Full-Time deal with ROH which will boost him into the spotlight as I expect him to be one of the best luchadores of all time by the time he’s done but he’s just getting started.

Top Ten Matches of 2018:

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10. Johnny Gargano vs. Tomasso Ciampa at NXT Takeover New Orleans, It might be an unpopular opinion to put this match this low on the list but I believe the NXT Takeover Chicago rematch topped this one. This match had an amazing story using the crutch as a weapon to represent the injuries both men have struggled through and it kicked off the 3 match trilogy from Ciampa and Gargano, this was also Ciampa’s return match which makes it even that more surprising that this is an incredible match. The layout on this match was incredible and it main evented one of the best wrestling shows of the year so it was even more memorable. 

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9. Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurrl IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title NJPW Sakura Genesis, any other year this would’ve had no problem whatsoever being the match of the year. These guys have had matches for many different promotions and most of them have been absolute bangers but this takes the cake. It started off fast but nobody would expect Will Ospreay to crush his neck on the apron trying to Spanish Fly Scurrl. Any other wrestler after taking a bump like that would quit and end the match soon but instead the absolute mad lad that Ospreay takes the match to the next level going absolutely insane to retain his title delivering one of the most impressive performances of the year. Marty Scurrl played an amazing heel taking advantage of the neck and trying to stomp it off but Ospreay gets the victory after one of the best IWGP Title matches ever. 

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8. Walter vs. Zack Sabre Jr Progress World Championship Chapter 77: This was a fight and one of the best of the year. Wrestling is often about suspension of disbelief but I had to convince myself that this match was fake. These guys clobbered the shit out of each other with insane strikes and had some amazing submission work. Walter plays an amazing Andre the Giant style unbeatable heel every time he wrestles and that dominance was turned up to 11 in this match. ZSJ rarely plays an underdog but you can see that he was desperate to escape the match with the Progress Title and gave everything he could to win the match. This is my favorite technical match maybe ever.

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7. Jimmy Havoc vs Will Ospreay 2 out of 3 Falls No DQ Match Progress Chapter 75: This was utter chaos and my first big Progress match. The energy in this match was incredible with the crowd being into every second of this 30-minute long saga. This also included a heel Will Ospreay which is undoubtedly the best Will Ospreay and a vengeful Jimmy Havoc which delivered a HARDCORE performance. This was the most brutal match I’ve seen this year as these guys did some insane spots including a Spanish Fly off a balcony by Ospreay onto a table that didn’t break. This match isn’t for the faint-hearted but it was an amazingly entertaining car crash. 

43164558_1153427018130199_1241942089160196096_o-16. Tyler Bate vs. Walter Progress World Championship Chapter 80: At Progress’s biggest ever show in Wembley arena these 2 main evented and it was hard to expect anything other than greatness. This is a modern day Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan but with actual amazing in-ring work and great spots. Tyler Bate played an amazing underdog babyface getting huge crowd reactions when it looked like he was gonna win the match. This was a spectacle and the best ever Progress match and again in any other year would not have an issue being match of the year.

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5. Johnny Gargano vs. Aleister Black NXT Takeover War Games, Another unpopular opinion in having this match this high but I believe this match is severely slept on and one of the best NXT matches of the year while not quite the best. The dynamic was so amazing in the newly heel Johnny Gargano being incredibly fresh and the vengeful Aleister Black being one of the most determined performances of the year. These guys put on an amazing in-ring clinic that mixed in the amazing story to perfection. This match also included one of my favorite spots of the year with Johnny Gargano’s suicide dive being caught by a huge jumping knee by Black. Incredible work by two guys who had an amazing year. 

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4. Shingo Takagi vs. Bandido vs. Jeff Cobb PWG BOLA 2018 Final: Nothing against Shingo Takagi but as soon as he was eliminated from this match it became a MOTY contender. BOLA is a long weekend full of insane matches so it’s easy for the crowd and especially the wrestlers to become sluggish and that happened for about the first 5 minutes of this match but what happened for the rest of the match was something special. The crowd was entirely behind Bandido getting louder and louder making one of the best environments of the year. After every near fall and big spot, the crowd became unglued and it is one of the most exciting things I have ever seen. Jeff Cobb and Bandido put on a great match in its own right but in front of every other crowd, this wouldn’t be on this list. This match was an incredibly exciting, nerve-wracking, and emotional event that I felt I was a part of while I was sitting at home. Wrestling often lacks emotional investment but only one other match made me feel that way. 

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3. Johnny Gargano vs. Andrade Almas NXT Championship Takeover Philadelphia: No one really expected this one to be as good as it was. Up until this point, NXT was already better than the main roster but it was still dwarfed in quality compared to NJPW and ROH but this match broke that barrier. NXT was missing that coveted 5-star match and this delivered that. It was 2 of the best in-ring talents in the world doing what they do best. The spots were incredible and this match was wrestled at a pace like I have never seen before. It also had some great manager spots with Zelina Vega and Candice LeRae going at each other. The drama was turned extra high and this match is historically important as it was WWE’s first 5-star match in 7 years. This was a flawless match and really should be MOTY in any other year. 

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2. Tomasso Ciampa vs. Johnny Gargano NXT Takeover Chicago Street Fight: Another possibly unpopular opinion but I believe this is the greatest WWE match of all time. It was so iconic and had some insane spots, like the exposed ring DDT and the Air Raid Crash off the rafters through a table below. It was chock full of amazing moments and the feud was hotter than it was at Takeover NOLA with Johnny Gargano becoming so desperate to win that he cost himself the match. Tomasso Ciampa was also an incredibly dastardly heel putting Johnny Gargano through hell for the fun of it. One of the best matches of all time is only number 2 on this list though which really should show you how incredible wrestling was this year. 

kazuchika-okada-vs-kenny-omega-njpw-dominion-750x4221. Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega for the IWGP Heavyweight Title 2 Out of 3 Falls Match: Yeah you probably guessed it. There’s not much I can tell you about this match that hasn’t already been said. It was an absolute saga reaching 70 minutes but not once slowing down, which is incredible. The story was insane too as Kenny Omega had gone from hell and back to try and win the IWGP Heavyweight Title. I haven’t ever been this invested in wrestling, I sat biting my nails for 70 minutes waiting to see if Kenny could end Okada’s amazing championship reign. This match’s spots were top notch too as you would expect from Okada and Omega but the wrestling logic was what really stole the show. For all 70 minutes of the match, something smart was happening as everything legitimately felt like these guys were going through a life-changing experience. It will take a lot to convince me that this isn’t the greatest wrestling match of all time. 

Top Ten Wrestlers of the Year:

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10. Bandido: And we’re back with this guy. Nobody else in the business currently is as impressive as him and he wasn’t shy to show it this year having the MOTY contender against Cobb and Takagi that we’ve already talked about and main eventing All In. The dude also had 2 5-star matches in a single night with the triple threat and an amazing match against Joey Janela. Bandido is an incredible talent that ROH is so lucky to have signed, the future is so scarily bright for this guy and he showed it at every chance he could this year. 

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9. Hiroshi Tanahashi, The Ace of NJPW is one of the best Japanese Natives currently in New Japan and is currently one of the brightest stars there. While the Japanese guys are being taken over by new management and guys like the Elite are being pushed into the mainstream, Hiroshi is keeping his spot strong. This year he had 2 incredible matches against Kazuchika Okada and won the G1 Climax which is one of the biggest accolades in modern wrestling, going into the Kenny Omega main event of Wrestlekingdom 13 I’m excited to see how 2019 treats the John Cena of Japanese Wrestling. 

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8. Tomasso Ciampa, the best heel performance in modern wrestling was turned in this year by Tomasso Ciampa. I’ve probably already talked your ears off about how amazing he was and how amazing his matches with Johnny Gargano were. Not only did he have that amazing sequence of matches he went on to win the NXT Title and have another MOTY Contender match against Velveteen Dream. Tomasso Ciampa is another guy that the future is really bright for as it is hard to forget with the amazing performance he put in that he is still in the so-called “developmental” of WWE. 

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7. Will Ospreay, Ospreay showed this year that he is just so much more than a guy who can do flips. Ospreay has had so many amazing matches this year including the ones against Havoc and Scurrl that we’ve already talked about but also matches against guys like Jay Lethal, Walter, and Hiromu Takahashi come to mind. He has spent most of 2018 being a heel in the UK and a face in Japan showing how versatile he can really be. He is also shifting to becoming a heavyweight in NJPW and going into a match with Kota Ibushi for the Never Openweight Championship the sky is the limit. Ospreay also put his career on the line more times this year than Mick Foley did in his prime so for that Will I’m thankful. Thank U, Next.

b0d98-15421741186422-8006. Kota Ibushi, It took a while for Ibushi to focus on serious wrestling and he finally did this year and took the world by storm. He started the year right with a great match at Wrestlekingdom 12 against Honorable Mention Cody Rhodes and from there reunited Golden Lovers with Kenny Omega which is one of the biggest moments in wrestling this year. Ibushi has had so many amazing matches that it’s hard to keep track of but matches against the likes of Omega, Ishii, and The Young Bucks stand out. Ibushi ends the year with the Never Openweight Title and next year could be the defining year for Kota Ibushi. 

94ee6-1522863097-8005. Zack Sabre Jr, Maybe the greatest technical wrestler of all time had a stand out year in 2018. Having 5-star matches against Walter, Hiroshi Tanahashi, and Kazuchika Okada and winning the New Japan Cup defeating New Japan legends in one of the best tournament runs I’ve ever seen. ZSJ has been around the world this year winning championships and wrestling in every single major indy promotion from PWG to Progress to NJPW to ROH he did it all this year and kept it fresh and unique all along the ride. 

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4. Kazuchika Okada, Okada started the year in one of the greatest title reigns of all time and had amazing defenses against Tetsuya Naito at Wrestlekingdom, Zack Sabre Jr at Sakura Genesis, and Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestling Dontaku but the cream of the crop for Okada this year was the greatest professional wrestling match of all time against Kenny Omega. However, since he started the year off hot after the title loss to Omega he began to broke down and had a couple good matches in the G1 and an amazing match against Marty Scurrl at All In but he slowed down and fell from relevancy a little bit. Going into 2019, I hope to see Okada regain momentum and be back on top. 

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3. Walter, The Undisputed King of the Indies this year with his championship reigns in PWG and Progress being incredible and him taking up 2 of the Top 10 match of the year spots makes it easy to see why he is so captivating. Walter is an absolute beast of a man and all of his matches make it seem like he brings his opponent to the brink of death but they always seem to fight back and have extremely captivating matches. Along with his MOTY contenders against Tyler Bate and ZSJ, he has had amazing matches against Timothy Thatcher, Ilja Dragunov, and Shingo Takagi. Still having the Progress Title going into WWE with a deal with NXT UK it will be interesting to see how 2019 plays out for the big man from Austria. 

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2. Kenny Omega, Omega was penciled in for the top spot on this list until he ended the year the way he did. He has a very similar story to Okada building his heat early in the year and being one of the greatest acts in wrestling history. Defining himself with instant classics against The Young Bucks with Kota Ibushi, the famed Okada match, and the solo G1 Climax match against Kota Ibushi. He also had one of the feuds of the year contenders against Cody Rhodes that involved 2 very good matches. Omega started the year with so much momentum he could be called the Greatest of All Time but looking back on the first half at the end of 2018 you wonder where all the momentum has gone. Sure, he’s still IWGP Champ but he hasn’t done much with the title which is in sharp contrast to the last champion Kazuchika Okada who was the greatest ever IWGP Heavyweight Champion. 2019 will be incredibly interesting for Omega, he has a match in 4 days against Hiroshi Tanahashi at Wrestlekingdom but after that where does he go. Is it WWE time for the face of the alternative? Will he show up in the new All Elite Wrestling Full-Time? Will he stay the Golden Boy of New Japan?

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1. Johnny Gargano, the best babyface in the modern era Johnny Gargano took over wrestling like no one has before. In a place like WWE, Johnny Gargano shined head and shoulders above everybody else this year. Johnny Gargano takes out 40% of the Top Ten Matches of the Year which is an incredible feat and is all around one of the best modern in-ring wrestlers. I have nothing but good to say about Johnny Gargano which is why he just inches by Kenny Omega for wrestler of the year. Going into 2019, he has reformed a heel DIY and is one of the most captivating characters as a tweener going right now. 2019 will be another amazing year for Gargano and the future is bright on the main roster for this guy. 

WWE Tables Ladders & Chairs 2018 Review

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Star Ratings + Results:

  • Carmella and R-Truth defeat Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox to get the #30 Spot in the Royal Rumble @5:37 *
  • The Bar defeat New Day and The Usos to retain the SD Live Tag Titles @12:20 ***3/4
  • Natalya defeats Ruby Riott in a Tables Match @12:46 ***1/4
  • Finn Balor defeats Drew Mcintyre @12:09 ***
  • Rey Mysterio defeats Randy Orton in a Chairs Match@11:30 ***
  • Ronda Rousey defeats Nia Jax to retain the Raw Women’s Title @11:00 ***3/4
  • Daniel Bryan defeats AJ Styles to retain the WWE Championship @23:52 ****3/4
  • Dean Ambrose defeats Seth Rollins to win the IC Title @22:52 ***1/4

 

 

Jinder Mahal and Alicia Fox vs. R-Truth and Carmella MMC Final for the Royal Rumble #30 Spot:

  • Is this seriously who’s in the Mixed Match Final?
  • Truth and Mahal start the match. 
  • Annoying dance break mid-match, the Singh brothers join.
  • None of these wrestlers deserve the #30 spot in the Royal Rumble, especially R-Truth. 
  • Hot tag by Truth.
  • Fox goes for the scissor kick on Truth because he stole her hat but Carmella hits a superkick for a near fall. 
  • Sloppy transition into the leg submission thing Carmella does to tap out Fox.

Winner: Carmella and R-Truth get the #30 Spot @5:37!

Rating: *, This is peak annoying for WWE. This is who they chose to fight for the prestigious Royal Rumble spot. The dance break was annoying, the match had no action, and it felt too long at 5 minutes. No Thanks. 

20181203_TLC_TagMatch-7c6aaf1fcfde4804684b818e3a27a687The Usos vs. The Bar(c) vs. New Day for the Smackdown Tag Titles:

  • Kofi Kingston and Sheamus start the match. 
  • Strikefest between Usos and Cesaro and Kofi sends Cesaro ringside, Jey goes for a suicide dive but is caught over the ropes with an uppercut by Cesaro. Sheamus catches Woods running with an Irish Curse Backbreaker for a near fall. 
  • The Bar isolating Xavier Woods, Woods hits a draping missile dropkick to Sheamus to open up tags. Hot tag by Kofi. 
  • Jimmy Uso tags himself in blindly, Cesaro catches Kofi mid-air in a vertical suplex hold. Jimmy dives to Kofi to slam him down, great spot.
  • The Usos superkick party everything, doing it a little bit better than the Bucks. And follow it up with a pop-up Samoan Drop on Kofi, near fall save by Woods.
  • Jimmy Uso hits the Frog Splash, Cesaro grabs Uso and throws him into the post to try and steal the pin on Kofi and gets a great near fall. 
  • Cesaro Swing to Kofi goes 12 times and steps into the Sharpshooter, Woods comes in with a DDT through the ropes to Cesaro to break the hold. 
  • Sheamus goes for a Brogue Kick, Kofi rolls it up for a near fall. Kingston hits a standing double stomp to Sheamus. Trouble in Paradise by Kofi followed up by the Diving Elbow by Woods for a near fall save by the Usos. 
  • Cesaro knocks Jey Uso down with a pop-up European uppercut. Once everybody goes outside, Kofi hits the diving trust fall to ringside.
  • Through the ropes DDT by Woods gets caught with a Brogue Kick by Sheamus to close the match. 

Winner: The Bar Retains @12:20!

Rating: ***3/4, This was a very fun triple threat tag match between 3 of the best ever WWE tag teams. While it could’ve been much better, I’ve learned to temper my expectations with the WWE but this was very solid. It had some great new spots from these guys that seem to repeat spots over and over especially New Day. The match was surprising and fast-paced and very enjoyable. 

  • Baron Corbin comes down to the ring to propose a match against the injured Braun Strowman with Heath Slater as the referee to get himself the easy win via countout but Strowman returns and brings a ton of Raw people out to attack Corbin capping off with Kurt Angle hitting an Angle Slam and Finn Balor with the Coup De Grace, Heath Slater counts the pin giving Strowman a match against Brock Lesnar at Royal Rumble for the Universal Title. 

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Natalya vs. Ruby Riott in a Tables Match:

  • Feud over the late Jim the Anvil Neidhart is a bit cheap. 
  • Natalya tries to german suplex Riott off the apron into a table she fails but decides to spear her off instead, Liv Morgan hops in to take the spear off the apron through the table to save the match for Riott. 
  • Natalya kicks a table into the midsection of Sarah Logan to stop her from interfering.
  • Natalya whips Riott into the barricade, Natalya hits a bodyslam to Logan sending her through a table set up ringside. 
  • Riott pushes Natalya up against the table with Jim Neidhart printed on it getting great heel heat, Riott chucks Natalya into the steel steps. 
  • Riott tries to through Natalya through the table with her father on it but Natalya fights out and locks Riott in the Sharpshooter, Riott dumps the table on Natalya to escape the hold. 
  • Riott struggles to set up the table, Natalya deadlifts her up and hits an electric chair driver.
  • Natalya brings out a table with Ruby Riott printed on it and she grabs the jacket of Jim Neidhart and pays respect. Natalya catches a Riott kick and attempts to dump Riott through her own table but doesn’t succeed and eats a superkick. 
  • Off the middle rope, Natalya hits a powerbomb sending Riott through the table with her on it to close the match. 

Winner: Natalya @12:45!

Rating: ***1/4, Natalya put in an amazing babyface performance knocking out Riott and her squad with intensity. Riott also played an amazing heel and stirred the pot whenever she could. While there were moments of awkwardness and in-ring roughness it was a relatively clean match that told a very good story out of a bad feud. 

20181203_TLC_FinnMcIntyre-4f6b73a4d6edf886dc0fe3ce6ccd4d52Finn Balor vs. Drew Mcintyre:

  • Mcintyre starts the match dominantly.
  • Dropkick to the knee by Balor gets him some space but Drew gets back on top with chops in the corner.
  • Mcintyre gets Balor up on the top rope but Finn breaks free and assaults the leg of Mcintyre. 
  • Huge Belly to Belly suplex by Mcintyre launches Balor across the ring but also hurts Drew’s knee. 
  • Another huge suplex by Mcintyre launches Balor across the ring and gets the first near fall. 
  • Deadlift vertical suplex by Mcintyre shows impressive strength. 
  • Finn Balor hits a comeback sequence but Mcintyre halts it. Balor escapes and hits a double stomp to get him space from Drew. 
  • Tornado DDT by Finn Balor, Balor sends Drew to ringside. Tope con hiro by Balor wipes out Drew. 
  • Slingblade by Balor, shotgun dropkick caught into a Tilt-A-Whirl Backbreaker by Mcintyre for a near fall. 
  • Inverted Alabama Slam by Mcintyre gets rolled into a pinning combo by Balor for a near fall. 
  • Coup de Grade attempt by Balor fails as Mcintyre chops him on the top rope and delivers a great Super Air Raid Crash for a near fall. 
  • Balor traps Mcintyre’s legs in the ring apron and attacks him with strikes. Mcintyre gets free and Finn goes for a penalty kick but Drew knocks him off the apron to a hard landing. Mcintyre hits a stiff headbutt ringside.
  • The referee is distracted as Dolph Ziggler hits a superkick to Mcintyre, Ziggler goes for a steel chair shot but Drew kicks it back into his face. 
  • Finn Balor shotgun dropkicks the chair into Mcintyre then hits a Coup De Grace on the chair to close the match.

Winner: Finn Balor @12:09!

Rating: ***, This was a Raw match on PPV that should’ve been better. The pace was mostly slow except for bursts of offense from Balor and Mcintyre did an okay performance as a dominant heel but took the loss nonetheless. The Dolph Ziggler interference was unnecessary and added nothing. Yet, it was a match between two very talented men and they mixed in some good wrestling here. 

20181211_TLC_MysterioOrton-8b6878662e67fa18fb286f1a26dfcd94Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton in a Chairs Match:

  • Mysterio immediately attacks Orton with a steel chair. Mysterio bounces off a chair and dives at Orton but Orton catches him and sends him into the corner. Orton hits Rey with a steel chair shot in the corner. 
  • Mysterio kicks Orton off the apron and uses the chair as a boogie board to dive under the ropes and crossbody Orton with the chair, great spot. 
  • Rey sits Orton on a chair ringside and goes for a senton but Orton dodges and Mysterio flies hard into the chair.
  • Orton removes the hood of the Raw announce table and places a chair on top of it, Facebuster by Orton drives Rey into the chair on the table. 
  • Mysterio huricanranas Orton into a chair set up in the corner, Orton no sells it and hits a powerslam to get a near fall on Mysterio.
  • Hangman DDT by Orton escapes, Mysterio gets in a failed 619 attempt. Mysterio springboards at Orton but Randy throws a chair at him.
  • Mysterio hits Orton with a chair to the back sending him into the ropes for a successful 619, Orton no sells it again to remove Mysterio from the top rope. Orton slams Rey face first into a chair from the tree of woe. 
  • Orton sets up a row of 4 chairs, Rey flips off the chairs to hit a pinning combination and win the match. 

Winner: Rey Mysterio @11:30!

Rating: ***, This match had a very weird layout but kept interesting with some unique spots. Like most Orton matches, this was really really slow at parts but the energy of Mysterio kept some moments highlights. This was a match ripped from WWE in 2009 but with men who have aged. There was almost no story here but there was a dynamic of cocky heel versus underdog face that was worked decently. 

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Ronda Rousey(c) vs. Nia Jax for the Raw Women’s Title:

  • Rousey gets Nia in an armbar attempt early buy Jax reverses it into a Sit-out Powerbomb. 
  • Jax throws Rousey into the post and hits a hip attack from the apron jamming the shoulder of Rousey into the post. 
  • Guillotine Choke by Rousey, Jax tries to vertical suplex out of it but Rousey locks in a sleeper from the back, Jax tries to escape but Rousey locks in an armbar. Jax rolls with Ronda to ringside and throws Rousey into the barricade. 
  • Powerbomb attempt by Jax but Rousey huricanranas out. Ronda sidesteps Jax sending Nia into the post. 
  • Rousey climbs the top rope and hits a diving crossbody to ringside to take out Jax in a risky spot by Ronda that was executed greatly. 
  • Rousey fires up and hits Ronda with a series of strikes including an amazing one-two of a step up knee then a superman punch for a near fall. 
  • Diving Crossbody by Rousey but Jax rolls through and hits a Samoan Drop for a great near fall. 
  • Nia Jax climbs the ropes with Rousey on her shoulders but Ronda fights out and powerbombs Nia off the middle rope for a great near fall. 
  • Tamina distracts Rousey so Jax can avoid the armbar and Jax goes for the Facebreaker but Rousey hangs on and goes into an armbar and Nia immediately taps. 

Winner: Ronda Rousey @11:00!

Rating: ***3/4, It’s finally totally hit me how well Rousey has taken to the WWE. She is incredible. She carried one of the worst current wrestlers on the women’s roster to a near 4-star match. She fights with amazing intensity and hits her moves so cleanly. Jax did some good work in this match but most of it was on Ronda’s side. The match felt big and Ronda impressed again. This is yet another showcase of how good women’s wrestling has gotten in WWE. 

20181203_TLC_BryanStyles-a6876e25834c419cc94bdce1b8fecc5dDaniel Bryan vs. AJ Styles WWE Championship:

  • I love this Daniel Bryan more than I love myself.
  • I have high hopes for this match.
  • Daniel Bryan immediately rolled ringside and plays mind games with Styles.
  • Styles clotheslines Bryan to ringside after a flurry of offense begins the match’s momentum. Styles goes for a plancha dive but Bryan catches Styles with a mid-kick in the air.
  • Bow and Arrow lock by Bryan weakens Styles for a while until he gets a rope break. 
  • Stiff chops in the corner by Bryan, Styles returns the favor with chops of his own in the corner. Bryan strikes him down and gets him in the Tree of Woe to continue and work the back. 
  • Bryan does Yes! Kicks against the ropes until he knocks Styles to ringside.
  • The slower pace at the beginning stretch here. 
  • Corner Dropkicks by Bryan, Styles meets him before the 3rd one with a lariat flipping Bryan. 
  • Spinning Backfist by Styles gets the first near fall. Styles starts to stomp at Bryan’s face similar to how Daniel did after his title win. 
  • Styles sends Bryan into the post and begins to fire up ringside, Styles rolls him back in ring and Bryan tells him to wait, Bryan tries to sucker him in but Styles hits an UshiGoroshi Backbreaker. 
  • Styles goes for the Reverse DDT but Daniel gets a Cravat Locked in, Daniel hits a series of brutal knees and suplexes him back. 
  • No! Kicks by Bryan and the final one clips Styles on the head, near fall.
  • Styles flips out of a suplex attempt by Bryan and hits him with an enzuguri to get space. 
  • Styles goes for the Phenomenal Forearm but Bryan kicks him down. Styles gets back up to repeatedly kick out the leg of Styles. 
  • AJ wrenches the knee of Bryan around the post to continue work on the leg. 
  • In-ring, Styles hits a chop block to take out Bryan’s leg. 
  • Avalanche Huricanrana by Bryan rolled into a pin by Styles for a near fall, Styles decides to go for the Styles Clash but Bryan fights out. 
  • Single Leg Boston Crab by Styles locked in on the weakened leg of Bryan, Styles has it deep in the middle of the ring, Bryan slides out and transitions into the LeBell Lock (Yes! Lock) Styles fights into a rollup for a near fall, Bryan gets a roll-up for a near fall. Both kick each other out to end an awesome sequence. 
  • Strikefest, Bryan goes for a Running Knee but eats a dropkick from Styles. 
  • Springboard 450 by Styles for a great near fall. 
  • Calf Crusher by Styles locked in and continues to work the injured leg of Bryan, Styles wrenches it in but Bryan finally gets to the ropes. Bryan rolls ringside.
  • “This is awesome” chants go which is impressive because this is a storyline match and not a flip fest like the WWE fans like. 
  • Phenomenal Forearm off the barricade ringside by Styles. Styles goes for the Phenomenal Forearm back in-ring but Bryan dodges, Running Knee by Bryan misses, Styles rolls up Bryan for a near fall but Daniel rolls up Styles for the win. 

Winner: Daniel Bryan @23:53!

Rating: ****3/4, This was INCREDIBLE and easily the best thing WWE has given us this year. This was a barnburner but didn’t feel long at all, I never wanted this to end. These guys told an incredible story and Daniel Bryan is the best heel in the world right now even though that’s a weird sentence today. The WWE crowd resonated with the storyline too getting this is awesome chants even though the match was never at a breakneck speed. They mixed the typical amazing in-ring work like always and had a lot of great technical wrestling moments in here too. This was a stand-out match in a bad year for the WWE. 

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Seth Rollins vs. Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental Title:

  • This has been one of WWE’s better feud this year mostly because of an incredible performance from Dean Ambrose. 
  • Rollins runs at Ambrose ringside, Dean catches him and drops him face first on the announce table.
  • Corey Graves keeps talking about Renee Young’s relationship with Ambrose which makes the commentary hilarious because she gets awkward as hell.
  • Ambrose whips Rollins into the corner and on the rebound hits a discus lariat for the first near fall. 
  • Diving standing elbow by Ambrose for another near fall, Dean is working at a dominant slow pace. 
  • Ambrose goes for a ton of pins and doesn’t get any and becomes frustrated. 
  • The crowd is very quiet and has been all night. 
  • Ambrose begins to work the knee of Rollins and locks in a Cloverleaf, Rollins grabs the ropes. 
  • Suicide Dive attempt by Rollins gets caught with a fist by Ambrose from ringside. 
  • Rollins lariats Ambrose to ringside and is finally able to hit the suicide dive on 2 different sides of the ring.
  • Rollins goes for a sunset bomb off the top rope but can’t get it due to his knee calling back his injury from a while ago. Rollins still powers him up for the buckle bomb though.
  • Strikefest into a Double Crossbody taking both out. Fuck this crowd man. 
  • Another strikefest into a Wheelbarrow Facebuster by Ambrose for a near fall.
  • Rollins goes for the Falcon Arrow but the knee gives in and he drapes himself over the top rope, Ambrose hits a flying clothesline taking Rollins off the top rope for a near fall. 
  • “This is boring” chants.
  • Ripcord Knee by Rollins for a near fall. 
  • Frog Splash by Rollins, Ambrose gets the knees up and rolls up Rollins for a near fall. 
  • Super Falcon Arrow by Rollins for a near fall. 
  • Rollins went for the superkick but Ambrose wanted the Shield fist bump and Rollins knocks Dean down and hits the superkick. They brawl to ringside. 
  • Buckle Bomb into the barricade by Rollins. 
  • Rollins slaps Ambrose and fires up and runs at him, Ambrose hits a Dirty Deeds for the win. 

Winner: Dean Ambrose New Champion @22:52!

Rating: ***1/4, the crowd ruined a match that was a genuine fight with so much great storytelling. Yes, this was a disappointing match but it wasn’t boring or even bad. I kept expecting it to end via DQ or Countout but Ambrose won cleanly which no one expected. The match never kicked into really any gear but kept itself running off of great storytelling. I want them to get another chance to put on a banger because I believe this match should’ve been better than it was. It was worked really slowly which is shocking from Rollins and Ambrose but the crowd really took a shit on this one. 

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Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte vs. Asuka in a TLC Match for the Smackdown Women’s Title:

  • I am so so happy that this is main eventing. 
  • Flair and Lynch begin to argue so Asuka takes them both out.
  • Asuka and Flair bring in ladders, Flair shoves the ladder out onto Asuka on the floor. 
  • Flair sets up a table in the corner and smashes Asuka’s face into it but it doesn’t break, while Lynch is focused on Asuka Lynch sets up a ladder but Flair boots the ladder into her face.
  • Spear by Flair countered into a codebreaker by Asuka. 
  • Asuka slams Lynch off the top rope into a hard landing on a ladder.
  • Flair starts to climb the ladder but Asuka pulls her down, Asuka powerbombs Flair through a table set up in the corner. 
  • Asuka starts to climb the ladder but Lynch knocks her off with a missile dropkick. 
  • Hip attack by Asuka knocks Lynch off the apron, Flair fires at Asuka with a chair shot. With both ringside, Flair hits a diving moonsault off the top rope. 
  • Flair sets up a table, Lynch starts to attack both Flair and Asuka with a chair. Flair throws Lynch into the barricade. 
  • With Asuka and Flair on the announce table, Lynch begins to climb up a huge ladder and flies down with a senton hitting brutally on Flair but not Asuka who rolls off. Great spot. 
  • Lynch and Asuka begin to climb a ladder in the ring, Flair comes back with a kendo stick to attack both getting them off the ladder. 
  • Lynch hits a Bexploder against a table on the barricade to Charlotte, Asuka goes crazy with kendo stick shots to Lynch.
  • Amazing spear through the barricade by Flair sends Asuka into the crowd. 
  • Lynch begins to climb the ladder in-ring, Flair grabs her down and they stare off. Lynch and Flair strike off and look intense, they begin to fight ringside and Flair unloads with chops. 
  • Flair sets Lynch up on a table ringside, Amazing Swanton bomb off the top rope through the table below by Flair.
  • Flair climbs up the ladder but Asuka runs up to meet her, they strike off for the title. Lynch brings in a ladder to the side of the other ladder, Flair knocks Asuka down. Lynch and Flair strike off for the title now. Ronda Rousey comes down and dumps Becky and Charlotte off setting up a match at Wrestlemania. 
  • Asuka climbs up the ladder to great crowd response and wins the match. 

Winner: Asuka New Champion @22:39!

Rating: ****3/4, This was another incredible match out of nowhere and it’s amazing to see how far the women have come in WWE. This main evented a PPV for another reason than the fact that they were women which to me is the biggest step in the evolution so far. These 3 ran through insane spots while working really clean and stories were getting continues, Rousey comes out to attack Lynch and Flair and Asuka completes her dream. This was similar to a match like Lesnar vs. Rollins vs. Cena from Royal Rumble 2015 but an amazing step in history for women’s wrestling. I’m proud this was the last WWE match this year. 

Grade: A-

Last Word: This is without a doubt one of WWE’s best shows in the past 2 years. While unfortunately, that isn’t saying much this show feels like a huge step in the right direction. While outside of 2 amazing matches the show suffered from being really long and WWE’s typical lame booking, those 2 matches were some of the best WWE matches in a long time. Styles vs. Bryan was an amazing storytelling technical match and Asuka vs. Flair vs. Lynch made history and looked great doing it. While WWE still has it’s problems they are now realizing what they can do to make it better. I believe Vince Mcmahon is stepping down on Monday and giving control of the company to his kids who while HHH loves killing the indies, the WWE will be in more relevant hands. I’m looking forward to 2019 because this show sets a precedent for what could be.