NXT TV: Episode 515 (10/7/2019) – Review

The 515th edition of the best hour of wrestling all week began with a very different entrance from someone we know very well looking very different…

Io Shirai HEEL promo

A futuristic type of music began the show before a plethora of strobe-type lights proceeded the entrance of Io Shirai. The former happy, smiley Genius of the Sky was amiss of her former colorful attire and instead came out dressed all in black, if ever someone was telling us they’d turned heel before they even spoke then THIS was it (those of you who had the pleasure of seeing her for a brief time as a heel in the infamous wrestling series Lucha Underground (YouTube it I highly recommend) it reminded me of her look in that role a lot. The crowd seemed initially excited when her name and some Japanese writing initially appeared on the screen, but this quickly turned to boos. Io had a very ‘so what’ and seemed to not understand and be annoyed almost with the reception she was getting. They showed a replay of her loss to Shayna from two weeks ago and her subsequent turn on Candice LeRae. We then returned to Io who was in the ring with a stone-cold look on her face as the boos from the Full Sail crowd that once adored her continued.

Away from the mic Io shouted at the crowd in Japanese as they chanted “Io sucks”… For those who don’t know this was filmed at the start of the next day of the final set of tapings before TakeOver so this crowd was fresh and ready to go and it showed here. If this was a Raw or SmackDown crowd Io would probably be a hero, not to these fans, Full Sail played their role perfectly as always. Eventually Io spoke and said “I don’t need any friends, I don’t need any of you”. She spoke slowly and clearly and defiantly and it was really effective. There were more boos as she rolled out the ring and left up the ramp. This was short but sweet, and it worked. Excellent stuff.

Velveteen Dream press conference promo 

We then went to the Velveteen Dream who was stood on some form of pedestal on a stage at Full Sail as it appeared he was wrapping up some form of press conference. He thanked all ‘journalists’ for coming and said he needed to get something off his chest, that he had heard the murmurs and he would like to answer them. One guy asked him about speculation on who would be the next challenger for the NXT North American Championship? The Dream said that he did not approve of that question and asked for the next question. Cathy Kelley could then be heard asking for the Dream’s response to Roderick Strong calling him out? Dream responded saying that was ‘an excellent question Queen Cathy’ (which is kinda cute and has become somewhat of a running thing and since… well… google it…).  He continued saying ‘with love and respect you should relax Queen Cathy’ and that Roderick Strong got lucky, but he’s not ready or deserving to experience the Dream one on one. He then thanked everyone for their time and said that was enough questions and he walked off. Again simple but effective, none of this boring 20 minute bullshit, sharp and to the point (TAKE NOTES MR HEYMAN AND MR BISCHOFF)!

Damian Priest defeated Blanco Loco 

He comes across as a big deal that’s for sure. The spotlight is used to great effect to… well… put the spotlight on Damian Priest. The lamb to the slaughter this week was ‘Blanco Loco’… nope, me neither. Loco got a high kick to the face, a running elbow to the corner, a falcon arrow, he briefly striked back but Priest then launched him into the ropes and then hit a big clothesline. Then he did the same again but the lariat was much cleaner. Priest hit a a type of spinning, roundhouse kick and then ‘The Reckoning’ (spinning neckbreaker) for the win. Exactly what you’d expect, but as these NXT squash matches always do this did what it needed to. Priest marches on, I’m interested to see how high up the NXT card he goes.

Killian Dain ‘Coming Soon’ promo package 

We got a similar package to last week (footage via a camera projected onto a wall, war/violence being shown etc.). His throughout tone really put across his pain and anger. The camera would focus on his partially shadowed face and switch back to the footage (apparently of the Irish civil war I was informed last week so that’s cool attention to detail from NXT if so). Dain said the following :

“it’s only now that the truth is getting revealed, 10,20,30,40 years later our stories are being heard, I can tell you stories, I can tell you stories, my house being set on fire with all of us still in it, I can tell you about gang violence, I can tell you about the armored cars, the tanks, the soldiers at every street corner, we practically lived in Marshall law, I can tell you why I can’t hear in one ear, cause the car bomb that exploded at my street, I could tell you about how I’m the only surviving member of my high school class, but the difference between me and everyone else, is I haven’t forgotten, I haven’t repressed these memories these stories, I carry these stories with me, if anything I wear these stories as a badge of honor, and I tell you this because I want you to know who and what I am, I want you to know why I do the things I do, I will go right up to you, I will breathe on your face, See I had nothing, in fact everything I had was taken from me, and now I’m gonna take anything and EVERYTHING I want” 

This was exceptional stuff and whoever made this video package isn’t paid enough.

NXT Breakout Tournament: Round 1 – Jordan Myles defeated Boa 

I don’t even know what to say about Boa’s entrance music but it was kind of oriental, kind of country, and I liked it I think (Boa was billed from Beijing so that makes sense). Boa said he believes in himself because he’s a fan and said that his Jujitsu inspired technique is for him to know and us to find out. Jordan Myles (fka ACH and of Impact, ROH, New Japan and essentially everywhere else before WWE) was definitely more popular with the fans initially during the entrances. Myles said in his inset-video that had been doing this for 13 years and that this moment was for him to grab it. Myles smiles… a lot… Boa was in control early with a series of holds (somewhat of a theme in these round 1 matches), the pace quickened as Myles tried to get out of it and did so with a back-flip into a dropkick, Boa got back into it with some kicks and then had him held tight whilst hitting more kicks and knees, Boa stayed in charge only being stopped momentarily by a roll-up that got Myles a nearfall, but really the much taller Boa was well in control. Myles eventually began his comeback and hit some big kicks of his own, followed by some more quick offence and then a 450 splash for the win. This was the least interested I’ve been in any of these tournament matches, crowd seemed similar mood-wise to me I think as they were fairly quiet during Boa’s seemingly endless offence, but from what I saw of these two guy’s characters it was clear who was advancing and more so when Boa took 95% of the match.

NXT Women’s Champions Shayna Baszler promo

Shayna Baszler was in a media scrum and basically mocked Mia Yim’s emotionally-told backstory from the other week. She said it’ll take more than a great story to impress her and that it always ends the same way: tap, nap or snap. This was good stuff, AGAIN simple but effective.

Keith Lee video package 

This got over Lee BIG TIME! He said he’d been in NXT for a year but had yet to be seen as a ‘chosen one’, but he said he’s always the one who ends up on top. He said he has yet to reach his goal of being ‘limitless’ so he said in year 2 in NXT he will be “infinite”. This was GREAT. Simple but VERY effective (good god I hope Heyman and Bischoff are watching this show).

NXT General Manager William Regal announcement 

From ‘earlier today’ Regal revealed that next week Kushida will face of against another returning NXT OG… APOLLO CREWS!!!

Also…

Also ‘Next Week’ Adam Cole will defend the NXT title against an ‘unnamed opponent’… And despite having read the spoilers from the tapings I’ve since forgotten who this was so I’m in as much suspense as you all are.

NXT Tag Team Championship: Street Profits (C) (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) defeated Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan to retain 

Street Profits are very popular, I’m not sure if you’ve heard… They shook hands with their respected challengers before the match so it was clear we were going to get a double-baybface match here so should be fun. ‘King Tez’ began with 205 Live’s Oney Lorcan and they did some basic grappling, Dawkins and Burch tagged in and quickly the defending champions cleared the ring with a pair of flapjack moves. They then did a really cool-looking spot where both their opponents were laying on the ropes before they did a leapfrog-splash combo move which got the crowd excited. Londoner Danny Burch was able to get back into it when they got back in the ring by kicking Dawkins in the chest after rejecting a handshake. Not long after he and Lorcan teamed up on Dawkins that lead to a nearfall by Lorcan. Not long after more double team moves it was then Burch looked for the submission win by putting a Crossface on Dawkins before Ford jumped in and made the save. Ford got the hot tag and ran wild, and after a series of offence it was Dawkins who was sent flying to the outside. Burch and Lorcan aggressively then got the offense in of their own, then what happened next I legitimately couldn’t keep up but there was a lot of moves that all looked super cool and they all happened really quickly, and I only have two hands so I couldn’t type it all fast enough to do it justice… I’ll just say it was all really fun to watch! The finish came when Dawkins hit a big Spinebuster before Ford hit the frog splash for the pin. Street Profits retain. This was a good match, and the contrasting styles meshed really really well.

As the champions celebrated with their titles none other than former NXT Tag Team Champions Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish of the Undisputed Era strolled out and stood on the entrance ramp for a stare-down with the current title holders to close the show. I wonder where this will end up………………

It’s clear the morale of the story this week on NXT is simplicity is often the most effective quality something can have. Everyone who was intended to be put over across the various forms of promotion on this week’s show all came across as big stars. If you’d never seen NXT before then in ONE episode you are presented with 6,7,8 STARS. Many wrestling promoters and/or people in power should watch this week’s show as lesson 1 in how to get extremely talented performers over with fans. It really isn’t all that hard now is it?

Josh. 

NXT TV: Episode 514 (3/7/2019) – Review

After last week’s shocking heel turn by Io Shirai following another unsuccessful challenge for the NXT Women’s Championship who knows what chaos this week’s NXT will bring. Speaking of chaos we saw the first vignette seeming to promote the imminent return to NXT of Killian Dain so who knows when we will see more of him. And you have or may not have seen but on Raw this Monday we saw the first appearance on the main roster for the current NXT Tag Team Champions The Street Profits. I know that NXT has been filmed already right up until TakeOver so I wouldn’t expect them to disappear from the black and Gold brand anytime soon, but who knows what the future holds for the kings of Swag. This week we have the continuation of the NXT Breakout Tournament, Roderick Strong vs Tyler Breeze plus the second part (hopefully) of the Adam Cole Bay Bay Championship celebration tour (or whatever it was called), so if that’s anything as good as it was last week it promises to be another great show for the best brand in the business!

The title sequence shows they have removed the awful miming of the NXT superstars to the show’s theme song by Slipknot and replaced it with more of your usual highlight reel-type stuff, so that’s a big plus for me right away and the show hasn’t even began yet!

Vanessa Borne and Aliyah are out to open the show (oh the joys…)

Mia Yim defeated Aliyah (with Vanessa Borne) 

Nigel’s gushing on commentary over Vanessa Borne (and somewhat over Aliyah) is starting to grain on me a little now. I get it’s the gimmick but they both suck in the ring so it comes across as cheap. Mia Yim on the other hand is straight up awesome! The super-over babyface was non-surplussed by Aliyah’s antics and showed off her far superior arsenal of moves and her willingness to stand up for herself. Borne did her best to help her ally throughout, Aliyah even got a couple of nearfalls following some help from The Vision on the outside and then got some more offence in that included a tarantula submission hold on the ropes as Yim did the classic babyface in peril-but-we-know-will-fight-through-in-the-end sell job. Aliyah got another nearfall via an enziguri kick and that carried on to work on Yim’s lower back, but a missed knee drop allowed Yim to get inot the match with a drop toe hold and then a cannonball in the corner. A series of offence sent Aliyah to the outside but as Vanessa Borne tried to help her friend Mia Yim sent them both down with a Tope Suicida through the ropes. Then after rolling Aliyah back into the ring Mia Yim hit a fallaway slam followed by her ‘protect ya neck’ finisher for the win. With the show barely 8 minutes old our first match was over as Yim racks up another win and commentary mention her as a future title challenger. It was your standard babyface win designed to get them over as a fighter so it was never going to be a classic. After the match was done Yim went to the outside and launched Borne into the ringsteps and the crowd applauded. Yim then went over to the commentary desk and essentially called out NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler saying she is coming to ‘whoop that ass’!

There was a recap of last week’s main event and the Io turn on Candice LeRae afterwards.

Cathy Kelly went to ask William Regal about LeRae’s condition but before he could give a proper answer the Forgotten Sons entered and complained about Street Profits making title matches their-selves (why they’d complain about being offered a title match I don’t know). Regal rightfully pointed out that they got themselves disqualified and that put them to the back of the queue. Forgotten Sons were not pleased and said he’d regret this. Cathy asked if Regal had another team in mind and he replied saying that he’d spoken to the Street Profits and with their blessing he then made official for next week the NXT Tag Team Champions vs Danny Burch & Oney Lorcan.

We had a quick advert for the main event of the show tonight that will see Tyler Breeze taking on Roderick Strong.

Adam Cole Bay Bay Championship Celebration Tour Part 2 

We picked it up from last week when Cole was on the phone to Roderick Strong asking if he placed the order before Cole’s car pulled up outside ‘Gargano’s’… Cole went inside and was greeted by a guy at the counter called Frank. Frank is indeed irl Johnny Gargano’s father. Cole said he was here to collect four pizzas and Frank went to the back and did not look to pleased to see this customer. Cole said the pizzas were for a lot of hungry wrestlers as Frank went to the back to fetch them. Meanwhile Cole stuck on the wall a picture of himself holding the NXT Championship. He put the picture up on a ‘wall of fame’ with a few other framed pictures featuring Johnny and also I think Candice was in another. Cole had signed the picture to Frank with the words ‘a champion you can be proud of’. Frank returned with the pizzas as Cole thanked him, told him to keep the change as before he left said that he loved the wall of fame. Frank went over and looked at the picture of Cole and shook his head as he took it down. Cole got in his car and next stopped and got out at a training school nearby that Johnny Gargano had visited before his title win and then returned after with the title belt. Cole approached the class that was ongoing and stated that he came in peace. He told the trainee wrestlers that although Gargano had said if they work hard enough they could succeed, and maybe they could become NXT Champion. Cole said Gargano was full of crap. As the wrestlers seemed upset at this Cole asked them to hear him out, Cole said Gargano got lucky and anyone can get lucky once, he said he had watched back when Gargano had won the NXT title and now he felt pity for them (the trainees) and that by letting them all hold the title Gargano had given them all false hope that they could be NXT Champion one day. Cole picked out a man called Twan, he asked Twan if he seriously in a million years felt he could be NXT Champion, Twan said yeah and Cole said he had no chance. Cole said he had bought Pizzas with him for a reason, and that they should take a Pizza, go home and sit on the couch and just give up. Cole then left when someone told him they had heard enough, Cole said his final free advice was to get out of the school, and the city and find themselves a new hero. THIS WAS A-MA-ZING!!!

Kushida defeated Jeff Parker 

Kushida’s futuristic entrance is super awesome and one day I can’t wait to see it on a grander scale at a TakeOver. The jobber was already in the ring. Jeff Parker was his name apparently.  This was as expected in that it was a showcase for Kushida, a handspring back elbow was followed by a drop-toe-hold and then after twisting his opponent’s arm in a unique way he went for his finish before his opponent got to the ropes to escape before it could be locked in. Kushida got the advantage again with a hip toss and then a basement dropkick to Parker on the floor. And then shortly after Kushida got his Sakuraba Lock submission in and Parker tapped quickly. Standard NXT squash match.

We cut to Tyler Breeze in the backstage area. Cathy Kelly came over and said that Breeze had come back to NXT at a time when a lot of the current roster, including Roderick Strong, claimed NXT’s popularity was because of them. Breeze said he was thinking about Undisputed Era and said he thinks he needs to give them a refresher that this place was NX-Breeze long before Undisputed Era ever set foot in a ring.

Our next match was advertised, the second of the NXT Breakout Tournament.

A vignette played of someone watching types or carnage and chaos footage via a reel-to-reel projector, a Northern-Irish voice said aggressively “I want you to know who and what I am, I want you to know why I’m doing the things I do, see I had nothing, in fact everything I had was taken from me, and now I’m going to take anything and everything I want” ‘ Killian Dain – Coming Soon ‘then came on the screen. Excellent stuff.

NXT Breakout Tournament Round 1: Cameron Grimes defeated Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott

Scott seemed over with the crowd. His inset video portrayed him as confident and that ‘swerve’ is confident. Grimes was not nearly as over. He had your basic black wrestling attire, in his inset video he said was the best wrestler in the world. The match started with lots of technical-mat wrestling and strikes, and it eventually became a battle to see who could out-strike the other in unique ways. Highlights of this saw Scott do a series of rolls followed by a reverse Flatliner for a nearfall, later Grimes got a backslide that he transitioned into a sit-out powerbomb for his own 2 count. Grimes hit a Superman Forearm, Scott hit a hard back elbow to the head, then did a front spring flop (that’s what Mauro called it anyway) to Grimes who was on the outside and the crowd liked it. Back in the ring Grimes hit a roundhouse kick only for Scott to respond with a knee strike, then they both seemed to crossbody eachother at the same time somehow but Grimes got the better of it. Grimes then followed up with a double foot stomp to Scott’s neck (yes this really happened)  for the 1, 2, 3 and the win to advance in the tournament. The crowd seemed somewhat surprised by the result as was I. This was not as good as Garza vs Wilde from last week nor did it have nearly as much crowd-heat, but it was a very different match and a decent showing for both nonetheless.

An advert was played for NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff on August 31st. August 31st you say… hmm…

Bianca Belair came out introduced as someone’s opponent. We know what’s coming here then…

Bianca Belair defeated Priscilla Zuniga

What was expected but also what Belair needed after a number of losses recently to Mia Yim. Bianca tried to bully her and really put in a brutal beatdown on her opponent using her long hair braid to hit her with before tossing her around the ring. Bianca did a Military Press slam to the delight of the crowd. Belair caught her opponent who tried a  rana off the top and hit a series of powerbombs without letting go.  Commentary put over her incredible athleticism and the crowd loved Belair. After launching Zuniga into the top turnbuckle Belair hit the KOD for the win. This was cool to see as it was a much more aggressive performance than we’ve seen from Belair before, and given the previously ‘un-de-fea-ted’ Belair has a few defeats to her name now this made a lot of sense for her to act like this. Lets hope she keeps this going in the weeks to come.

Roderick Strong was seen backstage putting the final touches to his prep for his match against Tyler Breeze.

We were played a cool video of Matt Riddle in an MMA gym, that showed his practicing the various MMA forms he has mastered. He spoke over the top of it saying how he kept training and getting stronger, he said his training put him ahead of everyone else when he finally came to NXT and that nobody could figure him out in the ring.

A graphic for the match next week confirmed the Street Profits vs Burch & Lorcan match would be for the NXT Tag Titles.

Roderick Strong defeated Tyler Breeze 

Strong was popular when he came out, Breeze even more so. I still just get a kick out of seeing Tyler Breeze back home in NXT. They began with an exchange of submission holds, Breeze was able to escape and tried an Unprettier only for Strong to in-turn escape himself. Breeze got really aggressive and launched a series of offense on his opponent, but as Breeze argued back at the ref who was telling him to calm down Strong took advantage with a strike as both men went to the outside of the ring. Strong dropped Breeze onto the ring steps and then onto the barricade followed by a falling-backbreaker. Breeze tried to fightback but Strong kept up the pressure and continued to target Breeze’s back. Breeze foughtback and even got a nearfall after a backstabber. Roderick Strong got a nearfall of his own after a superplex before nearfalls were again traded between the two. Breeze was able to get out of a Stronghold submission and hit a Supermodel kick for another nearfall pin attempt. After another exchange of offence Strong’s fellow Undisputed Era members Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly came down to cause the distraction, but Breeze got rid of them and hit Fish with a superkick only to be caught off guard enough for Strong to hit the End of Heartache for the win. Fun match between two very solid wrestlers. Strong keeps his own momentum going with recent pins of both the men in the previous TakeOver’s North American title match… I wonder where that will lead us… Era posed on the ramp to close the show.

Overall a fun show even without the blockbuster ending we had last week. It says it all about the strength of the NXT roster when you think about the whole host of names who didn’t appear this week and last too and still the quality of the episodes. TakeOver is still over a month away but it looks already like 3 matches for the card are being teased, but as I’ve said we’ve not heard from a lot of people in NXT for a little while so I’m sure all is not what it seems on the road to Toronto! 

Josh. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NXT TV: UPDATE & Episode 513 (26/6/2019) – Review

So since I haven’t posted about NXT since my review of Takeover: New York, that took place over WrestleMania weekend, I feel I should give you all an update as to the state of the land of the Black and Gold brand… because A LOT has gone on since!!! SOOOOOO:

  • Kairi Sane bid farewell to NXT after her friend Io Shirai mercifully saved her from inevitable suffering at the hands of NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler. As a result of her DQ loss Sane, per the pre-match stipulations, could never again challenge for the NXT Women’s title and so that was her done in NXT and off to the main roster. It also set up Io vs Shayna for Takeover XXV (25).
  • Matt Riddle and Johnny Gargano joined forces to take on the Undisputed Era, who themselves had to get past problems between leader Adam Cole and member Roderick Strong. This led to the Cole v Gargano title rematch and a singles match between Strong and Riddle at Takeover.
  • NXT legend Tyler Breeze has returned to NXT as a full time roster member after languishing on the main roster for some time now. He immediately made the challenge to NXT North American Champion Velveteen Dream in a battle of past vs present and the right to call themselves the ultimate showman of NXT.
  • The War Raiders aka The Viking Experience aka The Viking Raiders aka whatever they are called at the time you are reading this vacated the NXT Tag Team titles after their main roster call-up. This led to the announcement of a fatal 4 way Ladder match to crown new champions being announced for Takeover XXV.

Elsewhere we have former New Japan superstar KUSHIDA building up a decent winning streak to begin his NXT career with a bang, Bianca Belair and Mia Yim continuing their feud with a fun series of matches and Percy Watson has been replaced on commentary by WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix. So far Beth isn’t great but is slowly getting up to speed and no doubt just as Percy did will greatly improve overtime alongside the brilliance of Nigel and Mauro.


So NXT Takeover: XXV was unique in that it was a standalone Takeover and not a part of a main roster PPV weekend. That was all down to the rescheduling of the Saudi Arabia show and the cancellation of the Backlash PPV in favour of Stomping Grounds. And even then this Takeover was originally planned to take place in San Jose but was moved to WWE’s home state of Conneticut. Regardless they got the show on and as per it was a GREAT show. The pre-show featured an appearance from former NXT Champion Tomasso Ciampa who got a huge reaction from the fans nearby as he stated that Johnny Gargano was the only person who could hold his “Goldie” aside from him. He also had lots of positives to say in regards to his recovery from neck surgery which was promising. The show itself then… :

Matt Riddle defeated Roderick Strong. Exceptional match between two great wrestlers. Brutal and hard-looking strikes all round and the crowd lapped it all up. Riddle won with the Bro Derek… Yes, that’s really what one of his many finishers is called. ****1/2 

Street Profits won the vacant NXT Tag Team Championships in a 4 way Ladder Match against Burch & Lorcan, Forgotten Sons and Fish & O’Reilly. This was nuts! How nobody was seriously hurt in this one I’ll never know! Fans HATED the Forgotten Sons and booed ferociously anytime they got close to winning and more so when their heavy Jaxson Ryker made an appearance. Finish was great; Blake climbed the ladder, below him Angelo Dawkins speared Steve Cutler through the ladder and then suddenly Montez Ford leaped onto the standing Ladder and went face-to-face with Blake, and with an amazing stare on his face he knocked him to the floor below before grabbing the titles. HUGE babyface pop and they celebrated in the crowd afterwards. Super cool moment to cap off a fine match. ****1/4

Velveteen Dream defeated Tyler Breeze to retain the North American Title. Lots of character work, crowd loved both guys, fun match too. Dream won as expected. After the match Dream seemed to show Breeze respect by willingly taking a selfie with him which popped the crowd big. ***3/4

Shayna defeated Io to retain the NXT Women’s title. Io led the match and Baszler kept up every step so it ended up as one of her better matches in WWE. Mid-way through Candice LeRae continued to show she had Io’s back by stopping interference by Shayna’s fellow horsewomen Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir. Candice battered them both with a Kendo Stick which was fun.  Baszler made Shirai reluctantly tap which was a bit of a shock but was saved somewhat with the afters. Shirai didn’t take her loss too well and  proceeded to destroy Baszler with the Kendo stick. Crowd chanted to the champion ‘You Deserved It’ which was funny.  ****

Adam Cole defeated Johnny Gargano to become the new NXT Champion. Wrestle and Flow’s (check YouTube) Josiah Williams rapped Adam Cole to the ring. They did so many crazy moves and exchanges all of which were executed and laid-out brilliantly. At one point Cole pretended to signal for his fellow Undisputed Era members to come out and help him win but it was all a rouse to gain an advantage over a distracted Gargano. With 32 minutes on the clock Cole got the win after a Panama Sunrise and then his Last Shot running knee strike. The crowd erupted like Cole was the hero as Strong, Fish and O’Reilly came down to congratulate their victorious leader. This match was incredible. I didn’t think it possible to go above what they did in New York, and they may well have done that here. *****


On the next week’s weekly show they recapped Takeover and showed the matches filmed in the arena before Takeover went on the air: Keith Lee beating Kona Reeves and Mia Yim defeating Bianca Belair (AGAIN).

The week after Io and Candice had a tag match against Duke and Shafir but it ended in a no contest after Baszler and Shirai started brawling in the crowd. KUSHIDA beat 205 Live’s Drew Gulax in a Submission match and Burch & Lorcan beat Strong & O’Reilly despite Jaxson Ryker trying to interfere only to be held back by security whom he then beat up. After the distraction Burch pushed Strong into O’Reilly and then rolled him up for the 3. The Era pair were NOT happy!

The June 19th 2019 show opened with an exceptional opening segment as Undisputed Era came out and presented their own opening video package for the show… featuring… just themselves…, Velveteen Dream followed by Riddle and Breeze came out to interrupt and it set up a main event 6 man tag. Damian Priest (fka Punishment Martinez) after weeks of vignettes made his debut beating Raul Mendoza. We had the announcement of the NXT Breakout Tournament beginning next week featuring names that have not yet been on NXT TV, with the winner getting a future title shot. The participants are: Angel Garza (fka “Humberto Garza”), Boa, Bronson Reed (fka “Jonah Rock”), Cameron Grimes (fka “Trevor Lee”), Dexter Lumis, (fka “Sam Shaw”), Isaiah “Swerve” Scott (fka “Shane Strickland”), Joaquin Wilde (fka “DJZ”) & Jordan Myles (fka “ACH”). Xia Li defeated Taynara Conti in a… erm… it was a match… anyway… Street Profits hosted a ‘Championship’ edition of their promo-segment Street Talk. It was great as always and they said they’re facing The Forgotten Sons next week. There was a cool video hype package explaining the personal background of Mia Yim which was really insightful and got her over as a super yet strong babyface. And finally in the main event Adam Cole, Roderick Strong & Bobby Fish defeated the Velveteen Dream, Matt Riddle & Tyler Breeze in a really fun match. The Finish saw a miscommunication spot between Breeze and Dream led to Strong hitting the End of Heartache to get the win and a pinfall over the  North American Champion. Also I should note it was announced that Shayna will defend her title against Io in a cage match on next week’s show!


Sooooooo… now we are all up to date here is what went down this week on NXT, Episode 513!!!

The show opened with a preview video for the main event of the show where Io Shirai will challenge Shayna Baszler once again for the NXT Women’s title, only this time the match will be inside a steel cage thus making it the first women’s cage match in the history of NXT!

After the weekly opening video for the show we went right into our first match.

NXT Breakout Tournament Round One: Angel Garza defeated Joaquin Wilde 

This was the first match in the NXT Breakout Tournament. Joaquin Wilde (the former DJZ in Impact wrestling were he won a few titles and made a name for himself), who was wearing a jacket and face mask to the ring that wouldn’t look out of place in a Daft Punk video, facing off against Angel Garza. During Wilde’s entrance they cut to an inset-video of him explaining he once had a serious surgery that has left a large scar across his chest (which he pointed out the doctor’s had to cut into his six-pack) and that as a result people said he was damaged goods but now he had a 2nd chance and he wanted to make a name for himself in this tournament. The Mexican Garza had his own inset-video where he was put across as a braggadocious pretty boy so it’s clear he’s going to be the heel in this one. I’m really interested to see how this whole tournament and the matches play out as it really is a HUGE showcase opportunity for these guys to make a name for themselves. I just hope they’re given the time in their matches to do so… we shall see…

They had a few basic yet fast-paced exchanges early on, with an exchange of nearfalls splattered in as well as some pretty unique-looking offence. Garza eventually ripped off his trousers that were emblazoned with the Mexican flag to leave him with your classic wrestling pants that were red, before he continued to be on the offensive. The Mexican got a couple of nearfalls that he was very cocky in doing so, before he went on to get Wilde in a straight-jacket hold that was eventually flipped over. Not long after Joaquin Wilde got his own nearfall after hitting some form of dropkick to Garza whilst his own back was on the mat-floor. After Garza made his way to the outside of the ring for a breather it was Wilde who went to dive over the ropes on to him but the arrogant Garza escaped out the way, it was to no avail though as Garza got a Tope by diving through the ropes near the turnbuckle and onto Wilde. After they were both back in the ring they would find themselves both on the top rope and exchanged strikes, with the outcome being an amazing Avalanche Spanish Fly off the top which the Full Sail crowd and Mauro Ranallo (in his typical fashion) on commentary went wild for. Wilde after kicking out of the high-flying move got a nearfall of his own by putting Garza in a crucifix roll-up pin immediately after his own kick out. The crowd were really into the match now and after Garza got a double underhook locked in he followed up with a Butterfly Stunner for the win. The crowd gave a standing ovation after what was a fun opener of the tournament. If this sets the tone for what is to come then we are off to a great start. Angel Garza advances to the next round.

**1/2 

We were reminded of our main event tonight, as well as the next match that sees the NXT Tag Team Champions the Street Profits taking on The Forgotten Sons.

A video package for KUSHIDA played. He explained he was in an interesting spot right now for NXT, Raw, Smackdown and 205 LIve. He wondered who would stand in front of him next and who was next and that he was excited by the possibilities ahead. He said the best was here in NXT and he will face everyone. It was cool.

We were shown a clip that was filmed last week with an interviewer asking Damien Priest for his thoughts after his victory over Raul Mendoza. Priest, in his dulcet toned voice, said we hadn’t seen anything yet because unlike everyone else around here his name will live forever.

NXT Tag Team Championship (or was it?): Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) (C) defeated Forgotten Sons (Steve Cutler & Wesley Blake) with Jaxson Rykder by Disqualification 

Street Profits made their entrance. They’re popular aren’t they?! Great showman and super-over babyfaces, feels good to have them as the tag team champions of NXT, been a LONG time coming! Forgotten Sons by the contrary are by far the most disliked tag team we’ve seen in NXT for some time. Their muscle Jaxson Ryker accompanied Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake to the ring. There is a man stood up front row as they are in the ring with a sign on a luminous green background that reads “Nobody Likes You”. This is accurate. Ford and Dawkins has mics and between them in their usual comedic way they questioned how the Forgetten Sons could think they could ‘step’ to them? And that their opponents think they could take their titles from them, so they said they had an idea to put their titles on the line right now! The crowd groaned and chanted no (this was the first NXT show of the first tapings filmed after NXT Takeover so I think the crowd feared this was going to lead to a title change). Nonetheless Dawkins and Ford said their opponents wouldn’t be forgotten but remembered as the first team to take an L from the new NXT Tag Team Champions the Street Profits. And with that the match was on and the titles on the line… Good luck everyone, lets keep everything crossed…

The three commentators seemed also to be confused if the titles were actually on the line or not, so I’m glad it wasn’t just me. Blake and Cutler isolated Ford and beat on him with stomps and double team moves. He eventually fought them off and jumped over to make the tag to his partner. Dawkins came in hot on both his opponents, he hit a pair of exploder suplexes and spinning splashes on both men, before he hit a Spinebuster as Ford came off the top with a big splash. Ford as the legal man by this point went for the cover but Jaxson Ryker pulled him out the ring and attacked him for the DQ barely a few minutes into the match. The Forgotten Sons beat on both Ford and Dawkins, before Danny Burch and Oney Lorcan came out to make the save and the Forgotten Sons eventually retreated. Burch and Lorcan then found themselves holding the NXT Tag title belts and starred off with the champions opposite them. Eventually they handed the belts over as Burch said to them that these (the belts) belonged to Ford and Dawkins but made it clear that he and his partner Lorcan wanted them next and that they were owed one. The crowd let out a light applause but seemed kind of flat as a result of the non-match. Let’s just be happy that when it was all over the titles stayed were they started.

N/A

We cut to shots of NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler preparing backstage with fellow Horsewomen Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir ahead of her title defense later in the show. Followed then by shots of the challenger Io Shirai warming up for the main event.

After that… this is where I got excited… We see an old camera projecting footage of conflicts and wars onto a screen accompanied with some appropriate music. The shots dramatically switch to the camera and we see a shot of a face as well. It then cut immediately to black as the camera reel seemed to have finished. The face in question was none other than KILLIAN DAIN!!! Given the apparent disbandment of his former faction Sanity (given Alexander Wolfe is in NXT UK being pals with WALTER and his boys, Eric Young is being a jobber on Raw and Nikki Cross is waiting hand and foot on Alexa Bliss right now) it appears the Beast of Belfast is coming home to where it began for someone who made a real name for himself when he was last in these parts. Exciting times indeed!

Aliyah and Vanessa Borne were shown in an ‘earlier today’ promo. They kept up their mean-girls act mocking the emotional Mia Yim video from last week. Borne asked since when did people get applauded for being poor and Aliyah said they couldn’t relate. Aliyah faces Yim next week.

A man by the name of Nykos Rikos came out for a match. He was wearing a black leather suit that looked out it was taken from Catwoman’s wardrobe that had then been cut diagonally across the front and on one side at the bottom so that his right pectoral and also left leg were not covered by the suit, it had a Greek flag across the front of it. I rate his attire about as highly as I give him chances of winning this match. Keith Lee came out to a big reaction. I love Keith Lee. He’s tremendous.

Keith Lee defeated Nykos Rikos

Exactly what you’d expect. Crowd did the “oooo bask in his glory” chants to the theme of the Seven Nation Army song. Rikos tried his best but Lee just took his offence in and obliterated him with amazing power. Rikos was a cruserweight and the super-heavyweight Lee made light work of him to the delight of the crowd, winning after a huge shoulder tackle that sent Rikos flying into the ropes and following up with a Limit-Breaker Fireman’s Carry. Can’t have gone more than a minute surely? Keith Lee continues to be adored by the NXT crowd. Lee said this was his NXT.

N/A

They played an advert for NXT UK’s Takeover show in Cardiff on August 31st. Hopefully  I wont have too much wrestling to watch on that same day, I’m pretty sure nothing else is going on anywhere else in the wrestling world on August 31st …………………………………………………. anyway…

They showed a video of NXT Champion Adam Cole taking his Bay Bay Championship Tour to Download Festival in the UK. Cole was in a glorious blue suit and upon boarding a private jet Cole said this was the life of the NXT Champion and that Johnny Gargano didn’t know about travelling in class like this on a private jet. They then showed Cole at the festival in a place called “Leicestershire” in England meeting with Slipknot lead singer Corey Taylor (NXT UK Tag Team Champion Zack Gibson was also seen in the background), and then shots of Cole making his entrance and then being victorious in his match at the NXT show that took place during the festival weekend. He said the Bay Bay Championship tour had just begun. After a “Next Week” graphic was shown we see Cole having just landed back from Download on the phone to fellow Undisputed Era member Roderick Strong, he asked if had put the order in? and said he was about 10 minutes out? and that he’ll let him know how it goes? Cole then asked his driver if he had the address? This wall all weird but then the car Cole was in stopped outside a diner of some form called “Gargano’s”. Cole got out his car and closed the door behind him before the ‘BAY BAY CHAMPIONSHIP CELEBRATION TOUR’ graphic came on the screen. I hope this series of segments turns out as good as it looks like it could be, just Adam Cole being Adam Cole on tour, already got me excited for next week’s!

Next week Roderick Strong will take on Tyler Breeze (which should be great) and in the NXT Breakout Tournament Isaiah “Swerve” Scott (fka Shane Strickland) will take on Cameron Grimes (fka Trevor Lee).

As we cut back to the ring area the steel cage was in place and the lights lowered ahead of what should be… well… It’s going to be something let me tell you…

NXT Women’s Championship: Shayna Baszler (C) defeated Io Shirai in a Steel Cage Match by escaping the Cage to retain 

Io came out to a big babyface reaction. I love Io’s entrance music a lot as I do her whole entrance and gimmick and if she were to ever change it I’d be a little sad… Shayna came out and was not as well liked let me just say that. They did the classic big-match ring introductions they do so well in NXT of lowering the lights and all of that, really gives it a big occasion feel. Shayna is wearing MMA gloves now which was noted by commentary, following on from a couple of other notable heel champions of very recent times.

The match began at a fairly slow pace as they exchanged strikes and holds early on. Shayna was in charge for most of it and after some hard striking offence by Io she climbed the cage wall before Baszler pulled her down and rammed her hard into the cage wall… twice… OUCH! Mauro Ranallo perfectly called it when he said that Shirai was being ‘twisted like a pretzel’ by the champion Baszler. Beth Phoenix also got over well how Baszler was using various forms of attack to get at her challenger. Baszler absolutely dominated the next part of the match in a variety of ways including her hitting her with strikes whilst having her pinned against the cage wall and at one stage Shayna went to leave via the cage door, but instead turned back to beat on Shirai some more. As the crowd tried to will Shirai back into the match she was able to move out of the way of the incoming Baszler so she then went flying into the cage wall herself, this was followed up with by Shirai who ran off the ropes and dropkicked Shayna into the cage wall twice in a row. Io Shirai then get her first real series of offence on Baszler to finally get some momentum going, before she then climbed to the top of the cage only for Shayna to grab her foot and with both women on the ropes in the corner Io eventually got the better of it by giving Baszler a german suplex off the 2nd turnbuckle. Later after Io got a nearfall she went to try and escape towards the cage door, only for Duke and Shafir to come running down and stop the ref on the outside from opening the door. Shayna would get back up and get the Kirifuda on Shirai only for Io to use her momentum to kick up against the cage door sending the referee, Duke and Shafir flying. Io got out of another Kirifuda Clutch attempt by flipping Shayna and giving a double foot-stomp to Shayna on the floor. Marina Shafir meanwhile locked the cage door and shouted to try and get Shayna to get back up, Io climbed the Cage wall but Shafir climbed on the outer side to try and stop her from winning. Candice LeRae then came down and beat on Duke, before herself climbing the cage wall and kicking Shafir off before continuing to climb. Jessamyn Duke ran into the ring to try and help Shayna leave via the cage door, but to stop this Candice came FLYING off the top of the cage for a flying crossbody to Duke in the ring below (this was something else to witness, little did we know it would soon be topped). Baszler took down LeRae soon after, but then Io came off the top of the cage with an INCREDIBLE moonsault to Baszler in the ring below! This was an unbelievable move to see and the crowd loudly chanted NXT. Everyone in the ring as well as Shafir on the outside were all down, ‘Yowie Wowie’ chants came from the crowd which made me very happy. Io and Shayna then each tried a number of times to try and escape via the cage door, only for the other to get some strikes in on them and stop them from winning as they desperately crawled towards potential victory. Baszler got in the Kirifuda Clutch on Shirai as they were practically hanging out of the open door, and as they were in the doorway Shirai willed herself to use the cage door to ram it multiple times into Shayna’s head to try and break the hold… it did so… Shayna was so hurt and effectively knocked out that she released the hold and collapsed, falling in a heap OVER Io and onto the floor below! So somehow and in what I thought was a super creative finish Baszler wins! The crowd, who were super hot towards the end from pretty much when Candice came running out, seemed utterly devastated at how on earth this had happened and yet again Shayna had escaped still as your NXT Women’s Champion. I thought as TV matches go this was really good. It built really well and of course the two major high spots were incredible, and I loved the finish a lot. Great stuff. Io was completely disconsolate to the referee in the ring at what had happened. Shayna seemed not to have a clue that she had won when she was handed the belt. Candice tried to comfort Io in the ring as the Horsewomen left up the ramp. As the camera cut back to the ring Shirai attacked LeRae to the shock and horror of everyone watching. And after initially appearing to be shocked at her own actions Io then rolled to the outside and got a steel chair from under the ring, before coming back and taking her anger out on her ‘friend’ Candice LeRae. The crowd watching were horrified as were the commentary team. When was the last time you saw a main roster heel turn for example that people legitimately were upset at the one who turned and didn’t cheer because it was cool? Shirai then Vertical Suplexed LeRae onto the steel chair that she had set up. I bet that wasn’t fun to take. Shirai actually had a big smile over her face as she told the crowd she didn’t need her former friends help. The crowd continued to boo loudly as Io made her way back up the ramp. Shirai bartered away in Japanese (I did make out something about Kairi in there also) but in English said “I don’t need a friend”. Io also said she didn’t care about the crowd’s booing of her before making her exit. The camera panned to an aerial shot of LeRae laying beaten in the ring as the show ended.

This was a fucking TREMENDOUS angle and heel turn to follow what was a good match to close the show.

****

Wowsers… who saw that one coming??? Once again, just as they did at the time with Gargano in late 2018, NXT have turned one of their top babyface stars heel. I’m interested to see what story they try and tell with Shirai here, we’re going to get a match surely between her and Candice which I’ve no doubt will be great. But my oh my what a shocker that really was! Overall a good show; the breakout tournament got underway with a promising outing, Street Profits continue to be over as heck, Keith Lee continues to be cool as heck, and then the main event was a good match followed by a legitimately shocking turn by Io Shirai. I’m not sure what her reasoning for all this is going to be but I’m looking forward to hearing Shirai’s explanation over the coming weeks.

Next week we have Strong vs Breeze and the second Breakout match which should both be fun to watch. Plus I’d expect the second part of the BAY BAY Championship Celebration Tour and all the fallout from the shocking conclusion to this week’s episode.

As always… thank u, NXT!

Josh. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okada Vs Omega 4 – Review (1 Year On)

Image result for omega vs okada 4

On June 9th 2018 New Japan Pro Wrestling put on their annual Dominion PPV. Generally seen as their 2nd biggest non-tournament show of the year it is often the setting for a number of high profile matches. The 2018 show was no different featuring: The Young Bucks (record 7 time former Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions) win the Heavyweight titles for the first time, the team of Cody, Adam Page and ‘The Villain’ Marty Scurll defeat an extraordinary team of legends made up of Hiroshi Tanahashi, Rey Mysterio & Jushin Thunder Liger, Hiromu Takahashi beat Will Ospreay in a classic to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship and some guy called Chris Jericho pinned Tetsuya Naito to win the IWGP Intercontinental title. And then after what had been an excellent show up to that point it was time for the main event. The next chapter in the most incredible series of matches wrestling may have ever seen.

Kazuchika Okada is for me the best professional wrestler on the planet, and given I didn’t live in the eras of Bruno Sammartino or Ric Flair and was only young when Austin was at his peak I also believe Okada to be the greatest of all time. He is a 5 time IWGP Heavyweight Champion with a combined total of over 1500 days (and counting) as champion. He has had a good – great match with pretty much every star to have been in NJPW within the last 6 or so years. But even in the most distinguished careers every guy has their equal, that guy they just click with; Flair had Ricky Steamboat, Bret had Shawn, Austin had The Rock. Kazuchika Okada seemed to have that in 8 time IWGP Heavyweight Champion Hiroshi Tanahashi… but then it all changed from the day Kenny Omega won the 2016 G1 Tournament to set up a match against Okada for the title in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom the next year.

Although Okada kept his title the match was so critically acclaimed it made as big or maybe a bigger star out of Omega. And of course like with any great wrestling match the rematch wasn’t far away as at the 2017 Dominion PPV the two went at it again, the result being a 60 minute draw that many said was even better than their first encounter. Their 3rd match came as part of the 2017 G1 Tournament with this time Omega getting the win in a non title match. It was some time before we got to see the two go at it again, but ahead of the 2018 Dominion PPV the Champion Okada called out Omega as his next challenger. Omega would accept but suggest the match be made a 2 out of 3 falls match with no time limit. And so with the score set at 1 win for Okada, 1 win for Omega and 1 time limit draw the two best in the world would settle the score with the most prestigious championship in the business at stake, but to win one would have to beat the other… TWICE!

New Japan Pro Wrestling ‘Dominion 6.9 (2018)’; IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kenny Omega with Kota Ibushi vs Kazuchika Okada (C) with Gedo – No Time Limit 2 out of 3 Falls Match 

A video is played with dramatic music throughout that highlights Omega’s previous unsuccessful matches against Okada as well as his fall-outs with then fellow Bullet Club members The Young Bucks and Cody. This is interspersed with footage of Omega walking and struggling emotionally with his anguish, until he picks up a feather than turns into his friend Kota Ibushi. Ibushi is painted as Omega’s savior and shining light as we see the two reuniting and re-forming their tag team ‘The Golden Lovers’. Ibushi asks Omega (in Japanese but with English subtitles on the screen) “are you ready?” … “have you prepared yourself for what is to come?” … “what did it cost?” Ibushi asks, we then see the Bullet Club logo on the screen before it vanishes into pieces, with Omega then saying “Everything”.  This video was excellent.

Billed as The Best Bout Machine Omega makes his way to the ring, with Ibushi not far behind him, played out with his old, epic ‘Devil’s Sky’ music. Colour Commentator for the English NJPW commentary Don Callis noted to the lead announcer Kevin Kelly that “Omega looks shredded” and he was not wrong! Kelly himself pointed out that so far Omega and Okada had gone 2 hours 11 minutes and 26 seconds in their three previous encounters with the score all tied at 1-1-1. The Champion Okada came out next with long-time former manager Gedo accompanying him. His ‘Okada bucks’ (gold notes with his face on) came raining down on the entrance ramp as he wore his traditional Rainmaker outfit with Gold Chains around his neck and his colorful and sparkling attire, he really comes across as the champion he is just based on the aura of his appearance alone.

You could sense from the crowd there was a nervous tension in the air. I remember watching it at the time it happened I too felt kind of nervously excited, just because of the magnitude of this match. I knew history was about to happen, that with the two best in the business all tied up that after this we would know who the better man was. I knew something big was about to happen, but little did I know the levels these two professional wrestlers were about to take their art-form to over the course of this match. The referee, as is traditional in NJPW, patted down and checked both competitors in what is a normal thing for them but as a westerner it really to me adds to the ‘big fight feel’ the match had. Okada fist bumped Gedo as Omega hugged and then had a few words of advice from Ibushi as the crowd let out various shouts and chants of support before the bell rung and the match was underway.

They eventually lock up but its a stalemate in the early going. Interestingly the crowd chants for “O-KA-DA” are firmly shouted down by those of “KENNY”. They exchange very basic holds and exchanges in the early stages, which is hardly a shock given how much of the match was still to go. At one stage Okada teased hitting Kenny in the corner of the ring, but instead nonchalantly patted him instead, before then Omega reversed roles and did the same thing back. The pace quickened as Omega missed his signature V-Trigger knee strike, Okada went for a Tombstone but Omega got out of it, and then they each missed their finishers as the champion couldn’t connect with his Rainmaker clothesline and the challenger was unsuccessful trying the One Winged Angel. Eventually both men fell to the outside over the ropes to the floor outside. Kota Ibushi was seen looking on as the two competitors in the match exchanged forearm strikes, this lead to Omega flying into the barricade and then Okada striking him over the barrier. The crowd clapped in anticipation as Okada went for a flying crossbody over the barricade but Omega caught Okada in MID AIR with a vicious V-Trigger to his THROAT which looked nasty.

Omega backbody-dropped Okada onto the fallen barrier before dragging him back into the ring for a nearfall. Omega continued his assault on Okada for another nearfall, and then hit him with some really hard kicks to his back as Gedo from ringside tried to cheer Okada on and get the crowd behind him but Omega continued to hit Okada down as the clock went to 10 minutes gone of the match. After another nearfall Omega hit Okada with some seriously hard-looking chops in the corner of the ring and then hit a backbreaker for a 2 count. Kenny continued to be on top in the match as he had Okada in a form of crossface submission move before transitioning into a camel clutch, until Okada was able to dive onto the bottom ropes to break the hold. Both men got to their feet as Gedo continued to very vocally play cheerleader for Okada from the outside of the ring. The two exchanged strikes, Omega hit more huge chops, but then Okada was able to to get somewhat into the match as he caught Omega with a flapjack slam as Omega came running of the ropes, possibly going for a V-Trigger. This left both men down again. The referee for the match by the way is affectionately known as ‘Red Shoes’ (because… he wears red shoes… obviously…), he’s essentially like to NJPW today what Earl Hebner was to the E in the attitude era.

The crowd continued to chant as both men exchanged strikes again, an Okada running elbow sent Omega down before charging at him in the corner and then hitting a ddt for a 2 count. Omega then fought out of a cobra clutch before going for a moonsault but with Okada in the ring he went to the outside but collided with the railings nearby instead of his opponent. Okada then went to the top and after an exchange Okada kicked Omega’s head but Kenny countered with a Snaprana to send Okada down and Kenny followed up by dropkicking Okada over the railings. The crowd tried to get behind Omega again as he extraordinarily springboarded off the ropes and onto Okada on the outside over the barricade, it really was an amazing leap. Both back in the ring after a nearfall and seeming to get in charge Omega went for a V-Trigger but Okada dodged it and went for a German, only for Omega to get to his feet and kick Okada before going for a snaprana again but Okada hung onto the ropes before hitting a German Suplex to Omega for a nearfall. Okada got hold of Omega’s wrist in preparation for a Rainmaker but intelligently Omega ran both of them into the corner of the ring.  With both men on the top rope they exchanged strikes before eventually Omega tried to get Okada down but somehow they both ended on the apron and Okada hit a Tombstone on to the apron! Okada followed up by dropkicking Omega off the apron and into the barricade HARD, as Red Shoes asked Kenny if he could carry on, Don Callis on commentary noted that Ibushi was nearby with a towel in his hand teasing the idea he may throw it in on Kenny’s behalf, Okada put Omega back in the ring and hit a standing dropkick off the top but Omega kicked out at 2.

Omega was really selling the pain he was in. Okada hit a diving elbow drop off the top, and did his pose that is usually a pre-cursor to the Rainmaker but suddenly Omega sent Okada to the outside. The crowd clapped as Omega did a pretty incredible dive onto Okada out of the ring.

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Omega though was still hurt as the clock reached 25 minutes. He put Okada in to the ring before hitting a dropkick off the top to the back of Okada’s head for a nearfall. After that Okada got out of a possible snap dragon suplex but Omega got out of a One Winged Angel, Okada went for a Rainmaker but couldn’t, Omega hit a V Trigger but couldn’t hit his finisher, Omega did though have Okada in an Electric Chair position and hit a powerlift German suplex for a 2 count. With the crowd cheering on Kenny hit the V Trigger but again couldn’t hit the One Winged Angel as Okada (who is famed for his exceptional dropkicks) hit the dropkick two times before letting out a mighty roar as Omega looked dazed, Okada went for the rainmaker again but Kenny countered with the V Trigger and got another nearfall. Both men eventually got back to their feet and Okada hit a Tombstone and again let out a roar of defiance. He went for the Rainmaker but Omega rolled out of it only for Okada to fall down and trap his body weight on Omega on the ground keeping his legs down and with a form of Cradle pin Okada got the 1, 2, 3 and the first fall. This fall was worth ****1/2 on its own!

1-0 Okada 

There was a 2 minute break between the falls. Gedo and Ibushi saw to their men as both were exhausted. Kevin Kelly and Don Callis put over the size of the task for Kenny Omega now; to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship he would have to do something he hasn’t managed in his career up to this point in beating Okada twice… IN A ROW!

The 2nd fall had a much more aggressive start to it than the first, Okada kicked Omega to the outside and continued his attack punishing Kenny on the railings. Omega tried a moonsault off the railings but Okada pushed him off and into another set of railings further back… OUCH! Not long after Okada hit a DDT on Omega on to the floor outside the ring. Okada went back in to the ring and seemed happy to take a count out win, Omega got back in at 8 (I should point out if you don’t know that NJPW have their counts to 20 as opposed to the 10 count seen in the US or England). Kenny tried in vain to mount a fightback and eventually Okada took control with a Cobra Clutch hold that he had begun to use around that time, Omega hit a stunner to escape followed by a chop and then a back suplex. He then hit Okada with another back suplex only this one was on to the ring apron. Omega then retrieved a table from under the ring and eventually threw the table onto Okada and came diving off the ring and hit a footstomp to Okada with the table on top of him. Kenny Omega then set up the table but Kazuchika Okada threw Kenny into the ringpost. With both men back in the ring Okada went for a senton but Omega got his legs up to block, and eventually Okada hit a Suplex to send both men down again. A shotgun dropkick ala Finn Balor sent Okada into the corner before some serious chops were dished out, and then Omega hit an avalanche superplex off the top rope at around 10 minutes into the 2nd fall.

Omega hit a series of strikes before saying ‘you can’t escape’ and hitting a rolling drop move and trying to follow with a moonsault only for Okada to have his knees up, and followed up with a huge uppercut to Omega. The champion then pointed to the table outside the ring but after going for a backdrop it was Omega who hit a big ddt. With both men on the apron it was then Omega who pointed to the table and after they teased a suplex through the table (with the crowd going wild for the possibility) it was Omega who got the better of it with as after Okada tried to fight out he was hit with a reverserana on the floor by Omega. Kenny instructed the referee to count Okada out as Gedo tried to cheer his man on. Okada though then hit a Rainmaker on the outside but he struggled to get in to the ring. He did JUST at a count of 19 but was immediately hit with a V Trigger. Kenny went for the One Winged Angel but Okada got out with a Tombstone to Omega. He went for the Rainmaker but Omega countered with a cool-looking Spike Urinagi. Both men got to their feet and exchanged elbow strikes, as commentary sold how tired Okada was, Omega hit a hard looking uppercut, they exchanged strikes again until Omega hit a Dragon suplex before they each hit great looking dropkicks. Omega hit a powerbomb, then a V-Trigger and then Okada went to try and get another cradle pin, only for Omega to hit another V-Trigger and then a Piledriver-type move for a very close nearfall. As the crowd chanted loudly for KENNY and eventually Omega hit another V-Trigger and then hit the One Winged Angel (which it was pointed has NEVER been kicked out of by anyone) and Kenny Omega got the pin to level the scores at a fall each. This fall was worth ****3/4 alone, the wrestling itself combined with the incredible story-telling from both men made it spectacular to watch.

1-1

Gedo was heavily stalling during the break, clearly concerned for Okada. Omega immediately hit a V-Trigger and went for the One Winged Angel, but Okada got out of it and failed a Rainmaker attempt and both men were down again. The crowd were very loud at this point knowing the finale of this classic was not far away. Gedo slapped away at the canvas trying to get the crowd into it even more as the total time of the match hit 50 minutes, Okada went for another Tombstone but Omega held on to Okada and the two exchanged strikes again shortly after, an uppercut by Okada sent Omega into the ropes, Okada went for a dropkick but Omega was so tired he held onto the ropes and so Okada just kicked thin air. Omega tried for a Piledriver but Okada held onto the ropes, Omega clubbed away more at Okada’s back and went for a powerbomb… only to transition and then hit a STYLES CLASH! This only got a 2 count as Okada lept to the bottom rope just before the 2, the crowd chanted the name of another former IWGP Heavyweight Champion AJ Styles… wonder what happened to him…

Omega hit a V-Trigger in the corner and went for the One Winged Angel but collapsed from exhaustion. He tried again and after both men exchanged counters until Omega hit a form of spike-drop move but Okada kicked out at 2. Kota Ibushi got on to the apron to seem to try and motivate his friend Omega, commentary cleverly explained that Ibushi was in fact giving Kenny instructions, and then after Kenny went to the top rope and went for Ibushi’s finishing move the Phoenix Splash… but Okada moved out the way and later hit a dropkick to Omega’s back, he went for a Tombstone but Omega cameback with a V-Trigger to send Okada down. Kenny then hit THREE V-Triggers but Okada somehow cameback with a dropkick. He went for a Tombstone but couldn’t, he did though hit a dropkick and then as he went for a Rainmaker Okada collapsed this time as it was now he that was too tired. The crowd loudly chanted more-so for Omega as the ref began the double count (can you IMAGINE), he only though got to a count of 7/20. Both men whilst on their knees hit one another but we so incredibly worn out they were really weak strikes as both sold the toll the match had taken on them really well.

The strikes did get more aggressive as they went on before Omega hit a headbutt, and then suddenly Okada hit a Rainmaker, but he maintained hold of Kenny’s wrist so he could then hit the move again! Both men fell to the floor with Kenny looking out of it as Okada willed himself to Omega. He went for a Rainmaker again but Kenny cameback with a German Suplex to the delight of the majority of the 12,000 people in the arena. Kenny kept hold of Okada’s chest and went for another German only for Kazuchika to counter with a suplex of his own, but he then got hold of Omega’s wrist (which commentary pointed out), he went for the Rainmaker but Kenny countered with a snap German Suplex attempt only for Okada to break out and then he got hit with a spike reverserana by Omega. Kenny used the ref to pull himself up but Okada dropkicked Omega as he came running off the ropes looking for a V-Trigger. Okada went for a Rainmaker but Kenny countered into the One Winged Angel! Okada was exhausted and went against the ropes and Omega was too exhausted to make the cover. The crowd chanted for Omega as he willed himself to his feet before hit hit a HUGE V-Trigger to the back of Okada’s head. He then hit the One Winged Angel and then got the 1, 2, 3! The match went in total for 1 hour, 4 minutes and 50 seconds.

2-1 to your winner and NEW IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kenny Omega 

Commentary went crazy and the crowd were equally loud at what was a massively huge moment. There were even people in the crowd that were crying. This was a monumentally big moment in New Japan Pro Wrestling history for a number of reasons; the end of the legendary reign of Okada and the beginning of a new era under Omega as champion. Both men were tended to in the ring, and then The Young Bucks made their way down from the ramp before coming in to the ring. Omega was announced as the winner as Red Shoes went to hand the belt to Omega. However he shunned it to instead hug The Young Bucks before Ibushi joined in for a group hug which the crowd were delighted with. Omega saw making this up with his friends as more of a priority to him in that moment than the championship belt he had wanted for so long. Beautiful stuff. Okada was helped to the back as Omega celebrated with his friends. Omega cut a promo after as they formed ‘The Golden Elite’ (a combination of The Elite team he had with The Bucks and The Golden Lovers tag team he had with Ibushi).

I am not the first person to state this by any means, and many people with way more knowledge than me on the topic have said the same thing; this was the greatest match I have ever seen in the history of professional wrestling. The two best wrestlers on the planet and two of the best ever each had their best performances of their lives against one another in the same match. It saw the end of the best title reign (or at least one of) of the modern era, and the climax of the nearly 2 year chase for the belt by Omega. There have been two matches I’ve ever watched that changed my entire outlook on professional wrestling; the Mankind vs Undertaker Cell match, and this one.

*******

Image result for omega video vs okada 4

In the year that followed the match A LOT has happened in the careers of the two competitors. Omega eventually lost the title at this year’s WrestleKingdom show to Hiroshi Tanahashi in his final New Japan match before he signed with AEW. Okada meanwhile has now regained  the title from Jay White at the MSG show in April of WrestleMania weekend. Although he defends the title at this year’s Dominion show against some guy called Chris Jericho so that could well change soon. Oh and btw yes I’ve used pics but ofc they aren’t mine, so credit to who they belong to. Not that they’ll mind I hope as I don’t make any money from this blog… for now… But I hope you all like this recap. Maybe I’ll do more soon. Maybe I’ll do some more NJPW matches or shows or from other companies I really don’t know. What I know for sure is NOTHING I watch will ever top the fourth match between Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega .

Josh.

All Elite Wrestling: Double or Nothing – Review

One of the potentially most historic shows in modern day professional wrestling took place overnight in Las Vegas, Nevada. In front of a record attendance at the MGM Grand a show more hyped than any in the business outside of the top promotion that I can ever remember had an awful lot riding on it. If the show went well it really could change the business…

The broadcast of the Buy In pre show opened with a very American style video package promoting the PPV, with loud “AE-DUB” chants coming before commentators Alex Marvez and Excalibur introduced the show and went through most of the matches on the main card later on. Ring announcer Justin Roberts then introduced the rules of the Casino Battle Royal…

“Hangman” Adam Page won the 22 man Casino Battle Royal match to earn a future match for the AEW World Championship 

The first set of entrants were the ‘clubs’: Dustin Thomas, MJF (who was booed a lot), Sunny Daze, Brandon Cutler (who was cheered) and Michael Nakazawa who was also cheered. Fun exchanges featuring a baby-oiled aided Nakazawa against Daze and MJF vs Cutler as Thomas lay in the corner came before the next set of entrants came into the match, this time it was the diamonds: Brian Pillman Jr, Isiah Kassidy, Jimmy Havoc, Joey Janela with Penelope Ford alongside him and finally a man called Shawn Spears… for some reason the crowd chanted “10” and he was very popular… MJF targetted Thomas and Daze to Nakazawa. The Hearts were next out: Billy Gunn, Glacier, Jungle Boy, Marq Quen and Ace Romero. The match was pretty much chaos up to this point but very fun to watch with Nakazawa (via Sunny Daze), Daze (via Glacier) and Glacier (via MJF) the  eliminations so far… The Spades came out next: Luchasaurus, Marko Stunt, Sonny Kiss and Tommy Dreamer. Stunt opened up immediately on the cocky MJF, and Ace Romero did a tope through the ropes which given his giant size was something else to see. Apparently before this Joey Jenela had a cigarette he had lit put out on his head by Jimmy Havoc  via him stapling it on him so that was kind. Tommy Dreamer then bought a load of weapons into play and smashed a load of people with a trash-can lid. Then was time for the final entrant, the person who had drawn the Joker card… it was HANGMAN ADAM PAGE! Naturally the crowd went wild for this as Page limped to the ring, selling the attack previously from PAC during their match. The action then really picked up the pace, the highlight being no-legged Dustin Thomas doing a 619 then a 450 splash on Joey Janela! Thomas eliminated Spears which shocked me, Cutler eliminated Gunn then was put out by MJF for the heel heat. Luchasaurus then chokeslamed Joey Janela out of the ring and through a table I think he himself had earlier set up, which to the displeasure of Penelope Ford. Dreamer eliminated Kiss and then Orange Cassidy then came in to the match and did his ‘slow motion’ gimmick to Dreamer delivering the lightest kicks in the world whilst having his hands in his pockets and looking completely dis-interested to Dreamer (it’s an odd yet fun gimmick trust me). Dreamer then threw out Cassidy with ease after seconds. Havoc then used the staple gun on Dreamer and tossed him out after, Havoc then bit the fingers of Jungle Boy to make him go over the ropes. The final 4 were MJF, Luchasaurus, Havoc and Adam Page. The 3 babyfaces targeted MJF and the crowd loved it, MJF escaped to the outside before Havoc and Page teamed up on the taller Luchasaurus, Havoc then went for Page but not long after was eliminated by Luchasaurus before he went at it with Adam Page. Page sold his knee again before eliminating Luchasaurus and the bell rung as if Page had won but of course MJF was still in the match. He ran in and tossed Page over the ropes but Page didn’t touch the floor and MJF thought he had won. Page cameback with a huge bug-shot Lariat before eliminating MJF to win the match to a huge pop. This was an at time chaotic and messy match but fun. It really picked up when Page came in and booking wise it is both sound and logical. Good stuff all round.

***3/4

Backstage interviewer Alicia Atout was backstage talking with Kylie Rae. She played her usual very excited self before Peter Avalon in his Librarian character came in and “SHUSHED” her before the other Librarian Leva Bates came in and did the same. The crowd loved it, I’m not sure how much it’ll get over long term but hey… We were then shown a video package for Cody V Dustin which was great.

Kip Sabian defeated Sammy Guevara 

These two worked really hard and put on a decent match, pretty much a solid pre show match. They did plenty of flips and dives so the crowd enjoyed all of those. At one stage there was a suplex spot which saw both men fall to the outside which led to “AE-DUB” chants. The craziest spot saw Guevara place Sabian across the top of the guardrail stomach first, and then hit a shooting star press off the apron on to him. Back in the ring not long after Guevara went for a 630 splash but Sabian got his knees up. Sabian then capitalised hitting his ‘Deathly Hallows’ finisher for the win. As I said it was a fun, solid pre show match.

***1/4

We had a hype package for AEW women’s roster member Sadie Gibbs. And then they made a big deal of Jim Ross walking backstage towards the commentators area. He got a big pop as his music played and a standing ovation. A car then pulled up backstage and we saw Pharaoh the Dog who got a big pop, Brandi Rhodes then stepped out followed by Cody, then we cut to Kenny Omega in front of a laptop who then got up and walked off, Matt Jackson seeing Michael Nakazawa in a corridor of the arena, before he bumped in to his brother Nick Jackson and eventually the two superkicked an AEW employee when he asked them to present their ID credentials. The Being The Elite intro package then played as the cast all made their way into the arena to massive reactions. They traded turns trying to say welcome to the show before Kenny got the honour. They cut a bayface promo between them to hype the crowd up, although we missed the later part as they went over the pre show time so the show cut off as they were talking. But you got the idea of what they were saying. A funny moment saw Cody brag about an attendance of 20,000 (the gag being in pro wrestling people always lie about attendances), before Brandi made a point of saying what is factual was that the show was the first ever Sensory inclusive event which was nice.

The main show began with Justin Roberts introducing the Mother-Father-Daughter family that sung the American national anthem.

We had the video package that was shown at the beginning of the pre show followed by Jim Ross welcoming us to the show before running through some of the match card order.

SoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian & Scorpio Sky) defeated Strong Hearts (Cima, T-Hawk and El Lindaman)

SCU made their entrance to a big pop and the match was announced as having a 30 minute time limit (I think it was all but the final 2 matches which had 60 minutes that had this time). SCU cut a fun promo before their opponents came out. After being cut off just before my Alex Marvez when he tried to do so Jim Ross was able to set up Excalibur to explain that in tag matches AEW would have a 10 count in the ring for other people to get out as opposed to the usual 5 count (I presume this is so they have more time to do spots). The match started at a solid pace but got good towards the end and was a good match when it was over. The crowd were split throughout. Kazarian got nearfalls on Cima after a roll up and T-Hawk after a Nothern Lights suplex. Daniels also hit a Tope onto Lindaman. Towards the end the action was really good as Kazarian hit a hurricanrana from the ring apron to the outside and then Scorpio Sky hit a Finn Balor-like dive over the ropes which looked amazing. Daniels and Kazarian then hit the ‘Best Meltzer Ever’ (Kazarian with a tombstone assisted by Daniels coming down with a moonsault) onto Lindaman for the win. Really decent PPV opener and the crowd loved all of it.

***3/4

AEW women’s roster member and future opponent of Brandi Rhodes, Allie joined the commentary team for the next bout.

Dr Britt Baker defeated Kylie Rae, Nyla Rose and Awesome Kong with Brandi Rhodes 

Kylie and Nyla came out followed by Baker who has a banger of a theme song and was the most popular of the three with the crowd when she came out. Before the match could be started Brandi Rhodes came out as commentary pointed out she had her wrestling gear on so teased the idea she could insert herself into the match. She said the match was looking good but she wanted it to be AWESOME… and then out came former TNA legend AWESOME KONG to a massive pop. This was a huge moment, and came across as big as intended. Kong dominated the start of the match before Rae and Baker had a fun exchange that ended with Dr Baker doing her ‘smiley’ pose back at her. The wrestling was really really good throughout here and everyone looked good in their role. Kylie Rae hit a sunsetflip on Rose which looked great but Britt Baker broke up the pin. Then in a great spot with Baker and Rae on the top rope with Rose… Awesome Kong came underneath them all and hit a Powerbomb as they came down in a superplex which the crowd liked a lot (I could see Noelle Foley in the crowd at this point having earlier seen Bryan Alvarez and Vinny Verhei from the F4W shows with Meltzer). Baker hit superkicks to Kong on the apron before Rae did the same, and to add to her misery Kong was then speared into the ring steps by Nyla Rose. In the ring for the finish Baker got a nearfall after a spinning neckbreaker on Rae, and not long after hit another superkick followed by an Adam Cole special in homage to her boyfriend to pick up the win. This made logical sense as she’s been pushed as the biggest star of the women in the companies earlier days. The match was really good in-ring wise and Baker came off as a big star with the win.

***3/4 

Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho were shown backstage with both getting big reactions.

Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent Beretta) defeated Jack Evans & Angelico 

Evans and Angelico had horrific looking gear that was luminous green and black coloured. The in-ring stuff was maybe the best of the show so far. Best Friends were in control and went to hug to celebrate but Evans and Angelico broke it up which got booed. Trent hit a spinning DDT and Taylor a dive to the outside which looked great, Evans and Angelico hit a back suplex/foot stomp combo and then in a really cool spot Angelico boosted Evans up to hit a standing shooting star press for a nearfall. The action was very fast paced throughout with both teams getting close pin attempts. The Best Friends eventually got in which made Jim Ross laugh. There ‘this is awesome chants’ towards the end which saw Angelico miss a dive to the outside before Taylor hit one of his own. Best Friends then did a stomp-crusher combo move on Evans for the win. The crowd applauded. After the match Best Friends wanted to hug it out with Evans and Angelico but the lights in the arena went out. When they came back on the Super Smash Bros were in the ring with a load of guys in masks and they attacked both the teams. The crowd didn’t really react to well or much to this and booed. The lights went out again and we cut to a video. As flat as the pre match angle kind of was given I don’t think too many knew who the attackers were the match was the best of the show so far.

****

It was announced that on Saturday August 31st ALL OUT will take place in the Sears Centre in Chicago. This will essentially be ALL IN 2.

Hikaru Shida, Riho & Ryo Mizunami defeated Aja Kong, Yuka Sakazaki & Emi Sakura 

This was SOMETHING ELSE!!! The pace didn’t slow down at any point, all 6 women were really good and the in-ring work was fantastic. At one point Riho and Sakazaki had a great exchange of moves that lead to Riho escaping a pin attempt before Sakura came in and smashed Riho before launching her half way across the ring, a chant of “Women’s Wrestling” greeted this. Towards the end Aja Kong hit a suplex to Riho and Mizunami at the same time before Yuka Sakazaki hit a great looking crossbody to the outside. Sakura then hit a moonsault on to Shida for a really close nearfall but the bell was rung despite the referee making it clear it was only a 2 count. The fans weren’t happy but it was definitely a 2 count as the replays confirmed. Aja Kong went for a big back fist on Shida but hit Sakura instead, and then not long after Shida hit Sakura with a running knee for the 1, 2, 3. This was really super fun and way above the usual level of women’s multi-person tag matches you will see.

****

Cody with Brandi Rhodes defeated Dustin Rhodes

They played the cool video promoting the match from earlier again. Dramatic music and lighting played and a big golden throne was shown on top of the entrance ramp. Cody then came to a giant ovation. As they got to the ring Brandi handed Cody a sledgehammer and then ran back to the chair and destroyed it with the sledgehammer… This was so awesome and a clear dig at ‘The man with the 3 H’s’… Commentary was silent throughout this which really added to the big-fight-feel. Dustin came out to a massive ovation as well. Earl Hebner was the referee and there were loud “Dusty” chants before the match started as Dustin pointed to the sky. They had a really fun exchange to begin with, Cody did a Tope and Dustin not long after did a flipping senton off the apron to which the crowd told him “you still got it”. Dustin did the Stardust pose as he rained down strikes on Cody stood on the apron, Brandi got a cheap shot on Dustin leading to Cody to hit a gutbuster for a nearfall. Another near pin came after the classic Rhodes powerslam. The crowd seemed pretty split and I must point out that Dustin looked in really great shape physically given he’s 50. It looked as if Dustin would hit the Shattered Dreams but Cody managed to rip the middle turnbuckle pad off and then eventually drop Dustin into the buckle. Soon after Brandi hit a great Spear on Dustin on the outside and as a result Hebner banished her from ringside. She was not happy about this and eventually Diamond Dallas Page came out to carry her to the back. It appeared then that Dustin Rhodes was bleeding, and when I say that it was by no means a papercut. Think Eddie Guererro Judgement Day 2004 levels of blood GUSHING out his head. Cody took advantage and hit him in the head, clawed at him and then rubbed his brother’s blood across his own chest. Cody got a couple of nearfalls as the blood was absolutely everywhere by this point, Dustin cameback with a Rhodes Powerslam of his own for a nearfall. Cody then got a figure 4 leg lock in which whilst the crowd was going crazy Dustin managed to reverse the pressure of the hold until both men got to the ropes. Cody took off his trouser belt but Hebner got hold of it before Cody could use it, eventually though it was Dustin who SPANKED CODY’S BARE BACKSIDE WITH THE BELT and Dustin got a nearfall with a great-looking Canadian Destroyer. The crowd noise throughout the match was really loud and only increased when Dustin hit the Cross Rhodes for a nearfall. Cody hit a low blow and a kick for a nearfall that the crowd cheered thinking Dustin may not be able to kick out. The crowd chanted “fight forever” as Dustin again hit the Cross Rhodes for another nearfall. By now it was like a butchers with the levels of blood all over both men, the ring mat and the ref. They manged to get lots of fans in the crowd looking concerned which was a great visual aid for the story. They exchanged strikes with Cody being booed and Dustin cheered, Dustin got another nearfall and then at long last Cody picked up the win after a Cross Rhodes. The crowd gave a standing ovation at what was an amazing match. The Blood only added to the drama as well. After the match Cody left the ring but then went back in, a wounded Dustin backed away sat on the floor in the corner, Cody got the microphone as the crowd chanted “THANKYOU CODY”. Cody told his brother ‘hold on… you don’t get to retire here… I need a favour… I put my name down for a match in Jacksonville… I need a partner against The Young Bucks… I don’t need a partner or a friend, I need my older brother’. With both men in tears the crowd gave this a giant pop as both men embraced and left the ring together. There were chants of “Dusty”. This was an amazing emotional moment to follow what was an amazing match that more than lived up to and even surpassed all the hype. I think you will struggle to find a better match than Dustin has had for YEARS and with that given the magnitude it may have been one of Cody’s best too.

****3/4

The commentary team appeared very emotional after that. They then recapped the Casino Battle Royal from earlier. Jack Whitehall (no really) was then in the ring to introduce the presentation of the AEW World Championship belt. He introduced BRET HART who came out with the belt in a bag. Hart as a shock got a HUGE ovation and is one hell of a get for AEW to do this. Bret cut a promo that included a funny moment when he said it would be Page vs Omega/Jericho next month, before quickly correcting himself that it’d be at some point in the next few months stating he was a bit rusty, which made the crowd laugh. Bret introduced Adam Page but he was quickly interrupted but MJF. The crowd called MJf an Asshole, but MJF cut an amazing heel promo slagging of Page, the fans and Bret which included a reference to Bret’s incident when he was jumped at the Hall of Fame ceremony. It’s clear AEW want Maxwell Jacob Friedman to be a big star and he absolutely hit a home run here. He demands Page relinquish his title shot to him but as Page goes to strike him MJF backs away only for Jungle Boy and then Jimmy Havoc to come out and corner MJF. They chased and brawled with him through the crowd and it was really fun to watch. Bret then held up the title belt and although the camera focus on the belt wasn’t exactly putting the big close-up shot we all wanted the live crowd liked the look of the belt, and having seen it closer up it looks good.

Apparently they changed the ring canvas whilst the next video package played. A red cover was on the mat during the belt segment and they replaced the previously blood soaked canvas ahead of the final 2 matches.

The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson) (C) defeated The Lucha Bros (Pentagon and Fenix) to retain the AAA World Tag Team Championship

Both teams got megastar ovations when they came out. Pentagon lead the crowd to chant “Cero Miedo” which means zero fear. Both teams got in each others faces as the match begun, but not before referee Rick Knox outlined via a mic the rules to both teams ala boxing which really gave it a big occasion feel. This was exactly the sort of match you would expect from these two teams and they did so many moves I couldn’t keep up. It was amazing the spots and exchanges they were having time after time and the match didn’t slow down at any point for a notable length. The main spots I did note about were when Fenix dropped Nick Jackson on the top rope, and then used Matt Jackson to balance as he walked across the ropes and hit Nick with a hurricanrana which got a nearfall. Then later Nick hit a slingshot facebuster to Fenix followed by a moonsault off the apron to Pentagon outside. In another crazy spot Pentagon used his brother Fenix’s back as a springboard into a viscous looking Canadian Destroyer on Matt on the ring apron. Fenix got a nearfall after a swanton on Nick but after going to the top rope after he flew into double superkicks from The Bucks. Matt gave Fenix a brainbuster off the top turnbuckle which looked nasty to take. The Young Bucks hit their old More Bang For Your Buck move for a nearfall, after an assisted package piledriver got a 2 count they then set up for the Meltzer Driver but not before Fenix could break it up. Then Pentagon got Matt in an armbar and snapped his arm back. He followed this up with a Pentagon Driver (a variation of a piledriver) for a 2 count. Fenix ran at Matt but was caught with a Tombstone position that Matt had to hold him up with one arm given the attack by Pentagon. Nick came off the ring ropes to assist for the Meltzer Driver to give the Bucks the win. A Crazy match full of all sorts of mad spots, and it was of the high level of quality you’d expect.

****1/2

Chris Jericho defeated Kenny Omega to earn a future match against “Hangman” Adam Page for the AEW World Championship

Jericho’s entrance began with someone having a spotlight on them dressed as all his old gimmicks; firstly as Lionheart, then with the List of Jericho and finally with the light-up jacket. His Judas theme song then hit and the crowd gave him a big ovation. Omega came out with cool gear and a good new theme song. This was a really great match. Jericho was on top in the early parts, on the outside Jericho tried to launch Omega into the guard-railing but Omega stopped himself beforehand and jumped on the rails as if to set up for a moonsault but Jericho shoved him into the fans instead. He then grabbed a camera from a nearby cameraman and filmed Kenny until Omega spat water at him. Jericho got a table from under the ring and tried to use it to block Omega but Kenny hit a sliding dropkick and then a dive over the ropes so the table flattened Jericho. It was clear by this point that Kenny had hurt his nose really bad and was bleeding with many saying it maybe broken. Kenny though didn’t let this deter him and hit a series of offence that included a double foot stomp from the top onto the table that was on Jericho on the outside, then a V-Trigger knee strike, a back suplex off the top ropes but after he went for another V-trigger Jericho managed to hit him down and came off the ropes for a Lionsault only for Kenny to get his knees up. Kenny then went for his finisher the One-Winged Angel but Jericho got out of it, and followed up with a couple of Lionsaults for a nearfall. In a mad spot Omega was sent flying to the outside and through the aforementioned table with a backdrop. Omega did a flip after a springboard dropkick from Jericho and Kenny landed on his head on the apron, he jumped off the top turnbuckle but Jericho caught him in mid-air with a Codebreaker that got a 2 count. Later Jericho tried for the Walls of Jericho, but Omega fought out. Omega again went for the V-trigger after only for Jericho to get the Walls locked in this time with Omega almost getting to the ropes only for Chris Jericho to haul him back to the middle of the ring. Eventually though Omega got out and hit another brutal-looking V-trigger knee strike. Not long after Jericho tried for another Lionsault but Omega was able to catch him and tried to go for the One-Winged Angel only for Jericho to counter to a DDT. And then Jericho hit his new finishing move called ‘the Judas Effect’ (a back-spinning elbow strike) for the victory. This bought what was a great match to a close and was no less than the quality a main event match between two of the very best would be expected to put on. People loved their first match from NJPW in 2018 but I preferred this one personally. The live crowd seemed to appreciate the match too.

****1/2 

Jericho got on the mic as Omega lay flat-out in the middle of the ring. Jericho called the crowd ungrateful jerks for booing him, he said his time is now and AEW is Jericho. He said all of AEW’s success was down to him and he twice demands a thank you from the crowd. Suddenly people in the crowd began to look to the side and people began to scream… and then…. JON MOXLEY (fka Dean Ambrose) appeared in the crowd and made his way to the ring as the fans in the arena went absolutely APE SHIT!!! The streamers rained down in the ring as Moxley hit a underhook-DDT (aka Dirty Deeds) to Jericho. He then did the same to the ref as the crowd chanted his name. He then turned his focus to Omega and Kenny charged him out of the ring and they brawled into the crowd area as the fans chanted “AE-DUB” and continued to go crazy for Moxley. With both men stood on the giant stack of Poker Chips at the front of the stage area Moxley hit his finisher on Omega, before hitting a knee to Omega’s injured nose and then he lifted him up in a fireman’s carry position and threw Omega crashing to the floor below. And the show closed with the crowd going crazy, and Jon Moxley standing tall having taken out both Jericho and Omega. INCREDIBLE STUFF. This came off as just as big a moment as it was intended to be. An amazing moment to close and amazing show.

My overall thoughts were that this was an EXCELLENT show. AEW hit this one out the ballpark with a series of incredible moments, really cool surprises and great wrestling throughout. There was not one bad match on the show and every match met it’s expectations. It was a great starting show for AEW and if they deliver more of the same then they will continue to be a huge success. The booking of the show sets up many many stories for the future; Page winning the Battle Royal was predicted by some but a good call and the crowd loved it, all the undercard matches were good in ring, the shock arrival of Awesome Kong came across as a huge deal and got a big reaction, Britt Baker winning is the obvious call as it’s clear in hindsight that they see her as a star. And she can pull it off because she’s just really good. Cody vs Dustin was everything and more than expected, the Bucks tag match was as good as predicted and the main event the same. The angle with Moxley at the end will rightfully get a lot of headlines and they booked the segment to present him as strong as possible right away having him beat up the two biggest names in the company on night one. It was a fitting end to one of the best wrestling PPVs of recent years and one regardless of what the future holds for All Elite Wrestling will surely be looked back upon very fondly indeed.

Josh. 

 

THE MOST FAMOUS (ALL ENGLISH) MATCH IN BRITISH PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING HISTORY – REVIEWED

If you speak to any British wrestling fan, or even some people of a certain age that aren’t your avid fans, they will more than likely have heard of the names of Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. The two biggest names from an era when British Wrestling was at an incredible level of popularity collided in MASSIVE (in more ways than one) clash at Wembley Arena in 1981. The headline act of the show helped bring in 7000 fans in attendance which is the biggest draw by a British promotion still today. It was also a key point in a time when wrestling drew giant TV numbers as well. Big Daddy (played by Shirley Crabtree) was the hero of the tale, his foil coming in the form of Giant Haystacks (Martin Ruane) whom he was previously a tag team partner with. This seemed like the definition of your good guy vs bad guy ‘fight’, and it was clear throughout that this crowd were desperate to see their hero triumph. I’m sure you’ve all heard about these two and their almost at this stage mythical match, but what actually happened in the match? Well, and maybe I should be ashamed of it given my level of fandom, but I until today had never seen the match in full. So there I am on the sofa and my Mum shows me her phone, she had been scrolling through Facebook and saw a video of something she recalled from her childhood, and so just randomly like that I then matched the most famous all-British match in wrestling history… and afterwards I had A LOT of thoughts…

Big Daddy defeated Giant Haystacks in a ‘Knockout Match’ 

Haystacks was announced as being from Salford in Lancashire, 6 foot 11 tall and weighing 30 stone (420 pounds) and he looked every bit of it. He also had a man called Anaconda and Tom Walsh in his corner (I have no idea why he needed cornermen). Daddy was a mere 6 foot 3 and 24 stone (336 pounds) and was wearing his signature white wrestling vest with ‘Big Daddy’ and ‘Sock it to em’ written on alternate sides. The commentator made note that there would be no pinfalls or submissions and that ‘the bout will go on til a knockout has occurred’ with no time limit. The match began with your classic collar and elbow tie up with Daddy then coming away from it, Haystacks then got in a neck hold as Daddy responded with a bearhug. Big Daddy then hit a series of running shoulder charges then sent Haystacks onto the ring ropes, the crowd audibly showing their delight as the ref tried to untie Haystacks from the ropes. Big Daddy hit another running charge that sent the ref flying in the process, he followed up with a series of strikes to Haystacks in the corner, only stopping to try and revive the ref and with his back turned Haystacks made his attack with hits, stomps and kicks to the heroic Big Daddy. The 2nd referee who was previously on the outside came in to the ring to try and warn Haystacks off, he then went for a standing elbow drop to his opponent but Daddy rolled out the way to the delight of the crowd. The ref began a 10 count but Haystacks got up, Daddy quickly sent him to the corner again with another running charge, followed by… (yes you guessed it) more running shoulder charges… eventually Haystacks hit back with a forearm smash, Big Daddy hit 2 more… running shoulder charges…, these sent Haystacks again towards the ring ropes… as (the highlight of the match for me) the commentator noted “you wont see many wrestling holds” which maybe the most accurate piece of wrestling commentary I’ve ever heard… The one millionth running shoulder charge by Big Daddy sent Giant Haystacks over the ring ropes and to the outside as the referee eventually counted him out despite his cornermen trying to help the absurdly big Haystacks to his feet. The crowd were absolutely delighted as Big Daddy was declared the winner by ‘knockout’ (that’s what they called it anyway…). It went 2 minutes and 50 seconds.

This was not Omega vs Okada 4… It was not as good as Cole vs Gargano from WrestleMania weekend… It was not as good as Gerald Brisco and Pat Patterson’s evening gown match…

The fact these two guys were very very over with the crowd in their good guy vs bad guy roles (the famous ‘EASY, EASY, EASY” chants helped) is THE only saving grace for this match… very much of the times of course and as I said it was clear the fans their live loved it and people I’ve spoken to from that time were all giant fans. It is quite incredible how the industry has come on over the years. I’m pretty sure most wrestling gets worst with age such is the current level of in-ring competition at all levels.

To put it mildy… this match did not age well…

1/4* (0.25) 

Josh.

All Elite Wrestling: Double or Nothing – Preview

Such is the nature of professional wrestling as a live entertainment show that often real-life can get in the way and dictate what stories can be told. This goes for all of pro wrestling regardless of company. I’ll go into detail shortly but the main story is the previously scheduled PAC vs Adam Page match is OFF, apparently due to “creative differences”… whatever on earth that means… well… I say it’s OFF, it isn’t happening at Double or Nothing… because the match has in fact already taken place (stick with me here)… Let me paint the scene:

So PAC was going to beat Page at Double or Nothing, this was going to lead to a future match with Kenny Omega, which Omega was going to win. But PAC is currently the World Champion for Dragon Gate Pro Wrestling in Japan as holder of the beautifully named ‘Open the Dream Gate Championship’. PAC is old school in that he takes his status as a world champion very seriously (the old school mentality was booking the champion strong so they feel and come across as deserving of being a champion and when they lose it means so much more, I know right how unusual in American Pro wrestling in 2019…). As a result PAC hasn’t been put down for 3 or tapped out since winning the title, in fact he hasn’t been pinned or submitted once since becoming a free agent.

So AEW decided they didn’t want Adam Page (who they rightfully so see as a big star) getting beat for no reason, because there’s every chance that when it came to the time for PAC v Omega that PAC could still be Dragon Gate Champion and therefore not want to lose, and then AEW are left in a tricky spot. So they’ve decided to change course now rather than stick to the plan and be left scrambling last minute wondering what to do booking wise. Imagine a world where American wrestling companies booked long term and are therefore able to book well ahead of time and make any necessary changes to keep their storylines making sense should outside factors dictate them to.

Watching the Being The Elite YouTube series (subscribe IMMEDIATELY if you plan on following AEW) it’s clear that Adam Page is seen as a big star. And his current ‘full gear challenge’ storyline that was culminating in the PAC match has got him even more over as a top guy, so it would’ve been gutting for Page’s creative if the match didn’t happen at all. So instead of just replacing PAC and forgetting all the long build up they’ve done something I actually really admire. Despite not being able to do the match maybe how they wanted, or on their big PPV, they instead decided to have the match happen anyway, and put it up on YouTube for people to see so they still showed and got the pay off for their billed match, even if it wasn’t at Double or Nothing.

So during a Wrestle Gate Pro (an English independent promotion) show in Nottingham last weekend PAC was in their ring and cut a promo saying that his scheduled opponents for the night had vanished (in reality one was injured and the other had travel issues… apparently…) and so he put out an open challenge… and out came “Hangman” Adam Page… and the people went absolutely NUTS!!! And suddenly the match was ON! The first match in the history of AEW took place in a Nottingham Sports Hall in front of maybe a few hundred people… Amazing…

“Hangman” Adam Page defeated PAC by Disqualification 

The ring announcer appears to be about to tell everyone that the scheduled next match is off, but she is interrupted by the music of PAC. PAC cuts a great promo trashing Jody Fleisch and Robbie X (who he was supposed to be facing in a triple threat), and saying how much of a BASTARD (which is his actual nickname now honest) he is. He made an open challenge essentially saying nobody on the roster or in this country could touch him… and then Hangman’s music hit, and at the moment everyone realized who it was they went absolutely BAT-SHIT CRAZY! I should also mention the lead commentator for the match was Dave Bradshaw (formerly of WhatCulture Pro Wrestling). The usual custom of independent wrestling of the crowd showing their appreciation for a performer by showering them with streamers kept up here as Page entered the ring, as PAC looked on in utter shock. I said before I thought there were a few hundred in the crowd… but seeing it now this building they were in was TINY and I’m not even sure there were more than a hundred in the building seeing what is actually a very historic match. There were very loud “A-E-DUB” chants before the bell rang as PAC looked very hesitant to begin with, the pair then went head to head as the match got underway.

Page unloaded strikes on PAC as the crowd continued to show their adoration. Hangman dominated the early part of the match and even when PAC went to the outside to take a breather Page came flying through the air with an amazing Tope, as the crowd gave ‘The Elite…’ chants. PAC soon got the advantage by dodging Page who then hit himself on the apron on the way to the floor. PAC then did an exquisite over the top rope dive followed by a 450 splash back in the ring for a 2 count. PAC stomped on Page’s head in the corner, Page came back with some chops before PAC kicked him and launched Page into the corner followed by a missile dropkick off the top for another nearfall. PAC had Page in a submission hold before Hangman fought back and they exchanged strikes, eventually leading to Page hitting a huge lariat that took PAC down.

Page charged at PAC but the Bastard had lowered the ropes so Page fell out of the ring. PAC then went for a moonsault off the top but Page dodged it before going to the top rope and hitting a moonsault to the outside of his own, this was incredible to watch. It should be noted the ref in this promotion was counting to 20 and not 10 so I think they got back in the ring both of them for about a 12 count. Page got two nearfalls not long after; via a dropkick in the corner followed by a running shooting star and then from a big boot after PAC came off the top rope and Page caught him in the air. Adam Page then had PAC in a form of a modified crossface but PAC got to the ropes. The crowd then chanted “FULL GEAR READY” which I can confirm Adam Page indeed was! There was then a really fun exchange where they swapped superkicks, then PAC caught him with a release snap German Suplex, followed by a deadlift German with a bridge that got a 2 count.

PAC later hit a massive Superplex that got him a nearfall. He looked almost in disbelief and very concerned that he couldn’t put Page away. He dragged him to the corner as a possible set up for a Red Arrow, only for Page to get up but then PAC with a running enziguri put him down again. PAC did indeed then go for the Red Arrow but Page rolled out the way. Hangman then hit a discuss Lariat, followed by a variation of a Tombstone  (it’s a cradle Tombstone that when I last checked was called a ‘cracker barrel’) which looked great. Everyone seemed to think this would be the finish but PAC kicked out at 2! Page then went to the outside of the apron and removed his elbow pad, but before he could hit his move PAC inside the ring had got hold of the referee and gave him a low blow punt! Page though continued and hit his big Lariat move before getting a visual pinfall over PAC, but as a result of the Bastard’s earlier misdemeanors the ref called for the bell and Adam Page was declared the winner, but by Disqualification.

The crowd gave Page a standing ovation. He was though not happy and made his feelings clear to the official that he wanted to win by pinfall. As Page was arguing with the ref PAC came from behind and attacked him with a steel chair by smashing him with the edge of it onto the back of his head. PAC then beat down Page and smashed his ankle with the chair. The commentary team were selling Page’s beatdown so maybe an injury angle is to come. PAC kept up his beatdown and then Pilmanized Page’s leg and hit that with another chair. PAC then got the mic and got in Page’s face, he then said the only reason he was going to Vegas was to hurt Page and it looked like his work was done. PAC continued telling Page ‘you can tell all your little Elite buddies I’m not coming to Vegas and I’m not coming to Double or Nothing and I’m not coming to AEW’. An image appeared on the screen of the promo picture for the match with a giant CANCELLED logo across the middle. Commentary sold this really well as a shock.

I loved all of this. Of course I’m gutted it wasn’t on the PPV (although I expect Page to be on the show in some form) but for what it was it was great. Page is an awesome babyface and PAC is… well… a BASTARD!

****1/4 

NOW THEN… with that out the way we are now just around the corner (on May 25th) from the first ever PPV put on by All Elite Wrestling. For a number of reasons this will be one of the most important and significant shows in the history of Professional Wrestling. It being a success could be a springboard for AEW to very quickly become one of the top organisations in the business, way more than just a “T-Shirt company” anyway… So here is my full preview ahead of All Elite Wrestling’s Double or Nothing!

BUY IN (PRE SHOW): Kip Sabian V Sammy Guevara 

This is a great opportunity for these two to be able to showcase themselves in a big spot. Giving two talents who on a worldwide scale are relatively unknown but as I said it is still a big opportunity for both to impress the masses. Kip Sabian is originally from Norfolk and was trained by the parents of Paige (he even had a cameo in Fighting With My Family), having also competed for the likes of RevPro, Progress and OTT in Ireland as one of the brighest up and coming talents in the British Independent Wrestling scene. Sammy Guevara’s reach so far is even bigger having up until mid February been the Cruserweight Champion for the AAA Lucha Libre promotion in Mexico. He has also been featured heavily on the Being The Elite YouTube series where the storyline being told is that he is viewed as a dick but when people meet him he convinces them that he’s an OK guy, despite it being obvious that he may not be being as genuine as he tries to convince people he is. Given name value and his BTE role I’d have to lean more towards Guevara getting the big win, but could see a win for Sabian too serving multiple purposes. Expect a fun match here. Should be noted also at the ALL IN show there was a similar singles match between two stars at the time that weren’t too well known between MJF and Matt Cross in which Cross won, yet it was MJF that has since been signed by AEW and pushed as a big star.

Prediction: Sammy Guevara 

BUY IN (PRE SHOW): 21 man Casino Battle Royal Match for a future AEW World Championship Match 

OK so here’s how this one will work; the 21 participants will each draw a card (shown in various forms of media from a part of BTE to individual videos on social media) and this will determine where they come in the match. Wrestlers who draw a club, spade, diamond or heart will each be put in a group together. One of those groups will begin the match, after three minutes another of the groups will enter and the same after six minutes, and then at nine minutes, but then at the 12 minutes mark the final entrant will come in to the match. This will be whoever draws the joker card when selecting from the deck. Eliminations occur int he standard way of over the top rope. Confirmed participants so far are: Sonny Kiss, Brandon Cutler, Ace Romero, Glacier, Brian Pillman Jr, Sunny Daze, MJF, Joey Janela, Dustin Thomas, Billy Gunn, Jimmy Havoc, Michael Nakazawa, Jungle Boy, Isiah Kassidy, Marq Quen and Luchasaurus. On top of that the most recent participant to be announced is Shawn Spears (fka Tye Dillinger) so by my count that’s 17 names so expect maybe 1 or 2 surprises. This should be fun, the in-ring action should be fine as long as it is put together well. The danger always with Battle Royal’s of any form is that it can be a clusterfuck and get overbooked, so one with a gimmick and something brand new has every danger to go wrong. But looking at the talent and given how long this had been announced for I think it’ll be really fun. Result wise given what is at stake I’d expect a huge name winner, sure it could be Shawn Spears but I’ll go for MJF. He’s been a character since day one of AEW across all their various forms of media outlets, so I see him as a very safe prediction for a winner. Given the announcement this week about how they’d decide the first AEW Champion and who they’d face, I’d say they’d be wise to put over a big, big star in this match and with that said I’d say it likely too they’ll have the winner be a huge name surprise entrant.

Prediction: MJF 

Aja Kong + Yuka Sakazaki + Emi Sakura V Hikaru Shida + Riho + Ryo Mizunami

This will be something else! 6 Japanese woman in a tag match and all of them on the biggest stage worldwide they’ve maybe ever performed on. This match is the brainchild of Kenny Omega who is heavily involved in the recruitment for AEW of Japanese female performers. Given the pedigree of competition of women’s wrestling in Japan I’m excited to see what these six women will have to offer. Aja Kong has name value having competed for the WWF amongst others in the past, it appears to me that Yuka Sakazaki is the biggest star of those involved in today’s women’s wrestling scene, so this is yes a bit of the unknown but for that reason it should be a fun watch.

Prediction: Kong/Sakazaki/Sakura 

SoCal Uncensored (Christopher Daniels + Frankie Kazarian + Scorpio Sky) V Strong Hearts (Cima + T-Hawk + El Lindaman)

SCU are off a long run as top stars in Ring of Honor so putting experience pros in with a group from CWE (the Chinese promotion) is interesting. SCU have been over there working with some of those so I’ve no doubt they’ll do a great job in the match. This match much like most on this show is tricky to predict, because you have to wonder if the people running the company or with outside of the ring roles will want to go over or not and give the rub to others. Looking ahead to future tag team championships maybe you’d go SCU for the win, but given the relationship with CWE that AEW has I’d lean towards this being a showcase match for those guys. But even then you can showcase people without putting them over, so we will see.

Prediction: Strong Hearts 

Best Friends (Chuck Taylor + Trent Beretta) V Los Gueros del Cielo (Angelico + Jack Evans)

Best Friends have worked pretty much every major promotion together winning plenty of championships along the way, so for sure they have pedigree and name value.  Angelico and Jack Evans have worked in AAA and PWG together and despite both being non-Latino (Angelico is from South Africa and Evans from the USA) wrestle a lucha-libre type style. The story with Taylor and Beretta was that they were told they were in the Battle Royal but were both underwhelmed, and eventually wound up in this tag match with plenty of hilarity along the way. Expect a spot fest, but expect a fun match.

Prediction: Best Friends 

Dr Britt Baker V Nyla Rose V Kylie Rae

The big women’s match on the show is a really great mix of different types of characters. Dr Baker is the real-life dentist who wrestles as well. She is the only woman of those who took part in the women’s 4 way at ALL IN to be on this show (the others; Tessa Blanchard (Impact), Chelsea Green (NXT) and Madison Rayne (ROH but since returned to Impact) have all signed elsewhere since). Baker has improved over the last couple of years to the point she is pretty decent in-ring now. Nyla Rose is the very first transgender wrestler to be signed to a major wrestling promotion but is much more than that. Imagine Nia Jax but better in the ring. ‘Smiley’ Kylie Rae is a star. Ultra-ultra babyface all about happiness and more notably is booked strong and as a champion in basically every indie promotion she’s worked for, and she’s good in-ring too. The story with this match as seen on the latest YouTube videos is Brandi Rhodes (who is in charge of booking the women’s division) has told each of the women individually that they are her pick to win. I’d go towards Kylie to win for a few reasons, but I could easily see someone winning here and then another woman on the AEW roster coming out after and confronting them. AEW haven’t yet announced anything about a Women’s Championship and they have so many names on their women’s side that aren’t on this show wrestling, so I’d strongly presume this match is as part of a set up between the winner here and someone else on the roster to determine a Champion.

Prediction: Kylie Rae 

AAA World Tag Team Championship: The Lucha Bros (Pentagon Jr + Rey Fenix) V The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson + Nick Jackson) (C)

So with AEW’s partnership with AAA (Mexico) this match was made for their tag titles after the match itself was first set up. It’s pretty simple in that The Young Bucks said they’re the best tag team in the world and want to prove it, and The Lucha Bros (a credible threat to that moniker) came out to argue otherwise. The Lucha Bros were in the ring in Mexico and The Bucks came out and quickly beat them for their titles, and so here we are. Both of these teams have been the most sought after in pro wrestling by pretty much every major company in the world yet have chosen to make home in AEW. I think this match is going to be incredible as these two teams aren’t just talk, they really are the two best teams in the world in my opinion. Result wise it’s really hard for me to predict, as it isn’t inconceivable given the AAA partnership that The Bucks could retain as it is equally possible that with and it not being too well known what sort of contracts Pentagon and Fenix have with AEW who knows just how often they’ll be around for. In terms of crowd support I’d  give the edge to The Bucks, I think they’ll be received like they’re gods by the crowd and I think that’s pretty obvious. But I don’t think Penta and Fenix will get any sort of negative crowd reaction so who knows. I think the Lucha Bros will win mind you, but it’ll be an excellent match.

Prediction: The Lucha Bros

Cody V Dustin Rhodes

Of any of the matches on the card this one has had by a mile the best build, and it’s all been by social media and YouTube video promos. They haven’t had a physical on-camera encounter once up to this point. It’s an easy story to tell sure with it being brother vs brother, but it’s so much deeper than that. They’ve said themselves they have done it in the past, but as Cody put it so well they got to do it at Fastlane… not WrestleMania… and Fastlane is not WrestleMania… so this time they get to tell the story exactly how they want to. It was made story from the very start of the Road to Double or Nothing YouTube series of who would Cody’s opponent be for the show? Time and time again during the series the name was either bleeped out or their image blurred out on promotional material, of course with hindsight we know now that that was because Dustin was still under contract elsewhere at the time. And so after weeks and weeks of speculation and so many names being banded about on who it should be, then the following video dropped, and we witnessed a legend give maybe his best promo in years… Please watch the following video because it’s exceptional.

Pretty much certainly in my mind this was the perfect choice. My friend Stefan (the only friend who I at length talk about wrestling outside of “the nest” with had the same feeling of this being the dream match for Cody) So the wrestling world was again set on fire, but how would Cody respond? Dustin’s promo was incredible and a great mix of storyline and you could say maybe a hint of truth in there too? How would the younger brother respond to one of the best promos of a legendary career? Well, with one of his own… Watch this too please… It’s something else…

Wow. I was absolutely speechless after the first time I saw that. Now tell me just based on those two clips alone you aren’t so pumped up to see these two kick each others ass!? It’s not going on last for a few reasons but for me personally it’s the biggest match on the show. Maybe they wont because we all expect it to happen, but for me regardless Cody has to win this match.

Prediction: Cody 

Kenny Omega V Chris Jericho – the winner will face the winner of the Casino Battle Royal at some point in the future to decide the first ever AEW World Champion 

The stakes of the match were a late announcement made only this week, but it makes total sense. These are the two biggest singles stars in the company so it’s only right that one of them has the first shot to be the world champion. This is a rematch from the Wrestle Kingdom show in 2018 (New Japan Pro Wrestling’s equivalent of WrestleMania) which was a real brawl and a classic that Omega won. They reignited their feud when Jericho attacked Omega at the ALL IN show and now here we are for the rematch. Omega is obviously one of the best on the planet and Jericho has continually evolved his persona to the point now that after this Omega match (where a win will put him in line to be the first AEW Champion), in a few weeks Jericho will return to New Japan to main event their 2nd biggest PPV against their champion Kazuchika Okada for the title. Based upon that last point and that although with no official relationship with the company, both Jericho and Omega have contracts with AEW that allows them to work for New Japan I can only really see Jericho getting his win back against Omega here. Jericho has really pushed how in shape he is and the training he has done, as well as teasing tensions and a possible future match against Cody. Then again as I’ve mentioned the original plan was Omega to face PAC in the future, maybe that was going to be for the title… maybe not…

Prediction: Chris Jericho 

This is going to be one of the most important shows and definitely most talked about pro wrestling PPVs maybe of all time. If it’s a storming success then it can only increase everything that AEW has promised to do, and if it really is the alternative they claim they can be for fans, like myself, who are disillusioned with the product put out by the industry leader right now. I hope it’s a great show and I think it will be. But I’m aware a lot of people watching this show, and me included for some, will be watching people for the first time. Maybe most will have never seen a PPV by another wrestling company. Lets hope this one lives up to the hype just as ALL IN did. If it does it could change professional wrestling forever… and right now I think the industry as a whole needs this PPV to be a success… fingers crossed…

Josh.

 

A Beginner’s Guide to All Elite Wrestling

So yes I am indeed as they say ‘joining the indies’ rather than be exclusive to one promotion… for now… but I honestly could not think of a better place to start with than a wrestling company who are soon to be putting on the first PPV under the banner of the most realistic alternative wrestling promotion on a worldwide level since World Championship Wrestling (WCW),  which has been folded for over 18 years now. On May 25th All Elite Wrestling will hold their very first PPV. It will be emanating from one of the most famous arenas in combat sports history in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in a suburb of Las Vegas, Nevada. The show is going to be called Double or Nothing.

One thing that I should make clear right away is the difference between this show and ALL IN. ALL IN was the show that took place last year put on via a combination of Cody, Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson and a whole host of various staff from all over the industry. But ALL IN was very much an independent wrestling show. A super-indie show sure with a collection of THE very biggest names in the business (Okada, Omega, Jericho, Rey Mysterio amongst others) but one without the name of a huge company attached. Double or Nothing will have every bit of the heart, passion and excitement ALL IN had but with way much more… well OK I’ll be honest Double or Nothing is an AEW show and AEW is funded by Tony Khan. The Khan family have billions of dollars in the bank. So you draw your own conclusions. Imagine ALL IN but even bigger and better.

Another thing you’ll have heard all about is Starrcast 2. This is a convention like event taking place in the 4 days over the same weekend as Double or Nothing. The first of these events took place in conjunction with the ALL IN show and is essentially an incredible gathering of a collection of some of the biggest names in the industry. So many different types of events all happening in one place, and you’ll be able to watch it too. Check out the FITE app for more details. This blog would be twice as long if I explained all about this but I thought it worthy of a mention.

All Elite Wrestling honestly seems like a dream for me. I really got into wrestling outside of the normal setting in 2016 when me and my friend Stefan attended a Ring of Honor house show in Leicester, I was spell-bounded by what I saw. I saw the BROKEN universe change the game once again over in Impact wrestling not long after, I watched Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada put on a series of matches that absolutely changed my entire outlook on wrestling and took in-ring competition to new heights over in New Japan Pro Wrestling. I saw Cody leave the nest and go out on his own, and just keep getting better and better and better. I had the pleasure of meeting Cody and his wife Brandi Rhodes and despite me literally shaking with nerves they both could not have been nicer. I watched these two brothers Matt and Nick Jackson do stuff as a tag team I hadn’t seen since the peak of Matt and Jeff or Edge and Christian or maybe even top that at times. The Young Bucks have a mantra to change the world, and for me they have done just that, and haven’t stopped yet. On the 18th August last year on the day of my 23rd birthday me and Stefan went to our 5th wrestling show together and beforehand we met The Young Bucks in person. Honestly I’m not exaggerating when I say they were so great and just like normal guys, aside from the size of their biceps. Both seemed genuinely grateful that I had spent a part of my birthday meeting them. I know they get paid for this stuff but they are paid the same regardless of how nice and personable they are. All this has taught me that whatever you want to get out of professional wrestling as a fan it IS out there, you just have to look hard enough for it. Don’t be afraid to leave the nest and what you know professional wrestling to be if it just isn’t doing it for you at the moment. I believe AEW’s Double or Nothing show will bring together a variety of all that’s great about professional wrestling today.

OK so you’ve heard the buzz about AEW and the promotion of their Double or Nothing show. But what and more importantly WHO will you be watching on the show. I don’t expect you’ll have heard of everyone on the AEW roster, neither have I to be honest. I would STRONGLY recommend checking out the Nightmare Family YouTube channel and watching their series of videos entitled AEW – The Road to Double or Nothing. The weekly videos so far have done a superb job of promoting the show and giving you an insight to those involved. I’d say they’re essential viewing before you watch Double or Nothing. You also must check out the Being The Elite YouTube series. This is a mostly satirical episodic series starring the performers of AEW and others. It began as a form of video diary following The Young Bucks on their travels around the world as professional wrestlers, and gradually over time more and more people have come and gone and it’s really evolved into a show with storylines of its own. If you saw ALL IN basically all of the build and storylines going into that show all took place on Being The Elite, some of them were told over the course of many many months all culminating at ALL IN. But it also at times over the years led into storylines that played out in promotions that the stars of the show where a part of; The Bullet Club turn on Adam Cole for example was all built up to on BTE as well as what happened on ROH or NJPW Television.

So All Elite Wrestling then. WHAT titles will be in the company is currently not known for sure but I’d say a safe bet would be a world championship, a women’s belt, tag titles and maybe some others. In terms of WHEN they have just announced officially their upcoming TV schedule looks to be kicking off on a weekly basis sometime in the Autumn, on the TNT network in America (the former home of WCW). You can watch Double or Nothing in the UK via ITV Box Office and the BUY IN (pre show) is available on ITV4. Other shows they have announced are Fyter Fest on June 29th and Fight for the Fallen on July 13th. An announcement on AEW’s weekly TV schedule is expected BEFORE Double or Nothing so keep your eyes and ears peeled.

In terms of WHO it seems they are signing people on a daily basis but so far they’ve built up an incredible roster of talent. Here’s who is on board so far and what they’re doing, and the most exciting thing about the company is their seemed-willingness to partner up or allow their stars to compete elsewhere and ply their trade… unlike some… so why this is a list of names we know are signed, but it doesn’t mean others may not pop up here and there to wrestle under the AEW banner. So don’t be surprised if you see a few names at Double or Nothing that aren’t listed below. I’m sure though that some of the names will be familiar to you already…

MAIN STAFF:

Owner: Shahid Khan (Billionaire owner also of Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team and Fulham Football Club)

President/CEO: Tony Khan (son of Billionaire, works also for family owned Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team and Fulham Football Club, BIG wrestling fan)

Executive Vice Presidents: Cody Rhodes, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, Kenny Omega

Chief Brand(i) Officer: Brandi Rhodes

Head of Talent Relations: Christopher Daniels

ROSTER:

Main Eventers: Kenny Omega, Chris Jericho, PAC (fka Neville), “Hangman” Adam Page (legitimately one of the most promising all-rounders in the business right now, currently embarking on his ‘full gear challenge’… check BTE out for the backstory, for me he is a definite future AEW World Champion. For context Page is 27, Omega is 35, Jericho is 48), Cody, Dustin Rhodes (fka Goldust).

Other Male Singles: MJF (going to be a BIG star, plays cocky, self-confident heel), Jimmy Havoc (English, death match specialist, psychopath), Joey Janela (lunatic… unique, laid back guy… I don’t know what more to add), Darby Allin (dark and mysterious character, talented MOFO), Jungle Boy (future star), Jack Evans (great talent), Kip Sabian (good reputation, fun to watch and he’s a Brit), Sonny Kiss (embodies AEW’s mantra of its openness and welcoming of all, but above that a talented individual that oozes charisma and star-power), Sammy Guevara (a VERY talented wrestler, has competed in the AAA promotion in Mexico to let you know the type of performer he is), Michael Nakazawa (largely a comedy guy, but over the YouTube series of BTE seems to have an enemy in Matt Jackson so keep an eye out for that), Peter Avalon (going to be one of ‘The Librarian’ characters… trust me it’ll make sense… it’s a long story…), Cima (experienced Japanese wrestler, actually was key in booking The Young Bucks in Japan back in the day so kind of a full circle story for them all now), Angélico (formerly of Lucha Underground, was much sought after but chose AEW as his home), Brandon Cutler (friend of the Bucks, has a story that really is fascinating and is featured in one of the YouTube episodes that I recommend seeing), Dustin Thomas (has no legs… I’m not kidding you… just an unbelievable human being), Ace Romero (pretty much impossible to miss), Brian Pillman Jr (more than just someone’s son trust me… he has IT), Sunny Daze (has a really emotional backstory, one to look out for).

Tag Teams: The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), The Lucha Bros (Pentagon and Fenix) – maybe the best tag team in the world, SoCal Uncensored (aka SCU) (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky) – you’ll love these guys trust me. Experienced but entertaining as hell, Best Friends (Trent Berretta and Chuck Taylor) – you wont be bored watching these guys. absolutely hilarious, Private Party (Isiah Kassidy & Marq Quen) – I don’t know too much about these guys but I hear that they’re unbelievable in the ring with the stunts they do and their gimmick is basically party-goers and fun-seekers, I imagine them being super popular babyfaces as AEW progresses.

Females: Brandi Rhodes, Allie (formerly of Impact, ultra babyface), Dr Britt Baker (Great in-ring performer and also a dentist – no really she is…, has a famous boyfriend… BAYBAY…), Bea Priestley (Girlfriend of Will Ospreay, via her work in Japan and on the indies has come on leaps and bounds in the ring over the last few years and is the current World of Stardom Champion following in the footsteps of previous champions Io Shirai, Toni Storm and a woman called Kairi… something…), Aja Kong (Japanese veteran), Leva Bates (another potential player of ‘The Librarian’ character… it’s a long story…), Penelope Ford (Joey Janela’s manager, had a tryout in Orlando fairly recently, a breakout star of ALL IN), Hikaru Shida (Japanese star, a Kenny Omega signing), Yuka Sakazaki (another Japanese star), Sadie Gibbs (British, Will Ospreay told her she wasn’t ready to work in Japan, Matt Jackson disagreed, one to keep an eye on), Nyla Rose (the first transgender woman to be signed to a professional wrestling company in the US, a powerhouse), Kylie Rae (nicknamed ‘smiley Kylie’ she is about as ultra and babyface as you could get, but great in the ring, a possible first AEW Women’s Champion).

Commentators: Alex Marvez (sports broadcaster), Excalibur (masked guy and commentator for the PWG promotion), Jim Ross (the GOAT), Hugo Savinovich (Spanish-language commentator, and yes it’s the guy from the attitude era that used to go flying when the Spanish Announce Table was smashed).

Ring Announcer: Justin Roberts (showed at ALL IN he really hasn’t lost a step).

Backstage interviewer: Alicia Atout (has her own YouTube channel where she interviews wrestlers, the channel is called AMBY).

AEW also has a partnership with the OWE wrestling organisation in China that will see some of the most amazing Kung Fu/high-flying wrestling hybrid style stars compete for All Elite Wrestling. They are like nothing you have ever seen before trust me. AEW wrestler Cima is the company’s president.

Among a host of familiar names working for the company backstage will be Billy Gunn (producer), Glacier & Jerry Lynn. A host of referees have also been signed including popular indie refs Rick Knox, Paul Turner (formerly of ROH), Aubrey Edwards and finally Earl Hebner (who has refereed in professional wrestling a couple of times before) have also been signed.

So that’s pretty much all you need to know about AEW… I think… so now you know all about the company itself lets now look ahead to their first show. So look out for a future blog that will be out just before the show where I will do a full preview of the very first AEW PPV, Double or Nothing! And as always if anyone has any questions they want to know about AEW, Double or Nothing or anything else to do with the whole thing then please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m always happy to help. 🙂

Josh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WRESTLEMANIA 35 Review

WrestleMania 35 was an odd one. I think it tried so hard to be one of the best WrestleMania shows of all time and if you see the results of the show on paper you may look at it and consider it up there. And for sure it certainly had moments that were of the GOAT level, but there were a few things on this show that just left me with a tad sense of dissatisfaction. Kofi’s win felt huge watching, Seth’s big but the sheer insanity of it being FIRST on the main card I think caught us all off guard… which thinking back now not long after the show finished is a sad ironic thing to say when it comes to the main event. The moment that should have been one of the biggest in all of pro wrestling history was less of a grand finale and incredible moment, and more of a WTF moment. And for the main event of WrestleMania, particularly THIS of all years, to finish with a surprise winning moment did not feel right at all. It didn’t allow for us to explode as everyone wanted to. They dropped the ball on the finish but I guess at least we got the 3 main things I’d say the large majority of the watching fans wanted; Seth then Kofi then Becky ALL winning championships.

———————————

The pre show had your usual mix of the panel talking about the upcoming main show matches, we had so many different people on this panel that changed personnel fairly regularly throughout as well as them cutting to various people around the stadium that talked up various aspects of the show. We also had FOUR matches as opposed to the advertised 3, although given which one the “bumped down” pre show match was it kind of made sense.

Tony Nese defeated Buddy Murphy to win the Cruserweight Championship

The general consensus with the people I was with was that Murphy had no challengers left as he’d beaten everyone else, yet none of us had Nese to win… it was a good match but way shorter than the 205 Live guys usually get, which on of all the shows was most disappointing. Murphy hit his finish but Nese got his leg on the ropes, and Nese won with the running knees to the corner.

***1/2

Carmella won the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal

This had basically everyone from the main roster of the women that wasn’t on the main card aside from Alicia Fox. We also had Kairi Sane and Candice LeRae from NXT. Kairi did have significant moments in the match but you easily could have missed that Candice was a part of it which was a little sad. There was no Lacey Evans in the match either, but there was the return of Ember Moon from injury. People we’re son angry in the arena when Lana of all people got rid of Ember. Dana Brooke also was very over. The finish saw a final 3 of Sonya Deville, Sarah Logan and pre-match favourite Asuka. Eventually and very surprisingly it was Logan who outlasted the others… only for (in what was essentially the repeat finish from last year with Bayley and Naomi) Carmella to reappear having never been eliminated. She eventually super kicked Logan to the floor below for the win. This was… a battle royal…but better than I thought which in all honesty my expectations were very low

**1/4

Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins defeated The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) to win the Raw Tag Team Championship

The match itself was fairly good in parts but as I called in my blog, as a result of them basically missing or forgetting to do the entire build to this match, the match as it was going on didn’t have half as much heat as it could and maybe should have had. The finish did get a decent pop with Hawkins finally ending his long losing streak with a roll up pin. I’d presume they’ll lose the titles fairly soon possibly right back to The Revival on Raw it maybe even a new team from NXT or a team that comes to Raw in the Superstar shake-up next week.

***

Braun Strowman won the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal

This was decent in ring but just showed how many people WWE have and yet they still can’t fit everyone on a show with a crazy number of matches. Strength in depth maybe? Lack of direction for most? You decide… anyway of course the two SNL guys hid from Braun pretty much right away and for the entire match almost. Until Braun was the last man standing so they both reappeared and tried to throw him out. After plenty of teases that the impossible was going to happen including it seeming to be down to just Braun and Matt and Jeff Hardy as Colin Jost and Michael Che hid, and also one of them introducing to the ring a guy which he claimed was his therapist (which was funny). Braun chucked them both out. I guess it was fairly sound logic the biggest name should win here, but by that logic why didn’t Asuka win the women’s? Good accolade for world-championship shy Braun I suppose…

**1/2

————————-

The main show began with the anthem being sung, a pretty great WrestleMania video package being played before finally our host for the evening Alexa Bliss came out. She finished by saying she could have a WrestleMania moment at the click of her fingers… so she clicked her fingers and out came HULK HOGAN! I’m not a Hogan guy myself but seeing him at Mania again was kind of cool and the live crowd loved him. He made fun at himself for getting the stadium name famously wrong at Mania 30, and did his usual Hogan speech and then posed with Bliss.

As the two were posing out came Paul Heyman marching to the ring (I hear this was a very very very very late change as this next match was not planned to go first until literally the show began…hmm…). He got in and grabbed a mic and basically said if Lesnar wasn’t in the main event he wanted to be out of here fast, and to be able to go to Las Vegas where he is appreciated (Las Vegas is essentially the home of the UFC so I’m sure that wasn’t coincidental). So Lesnar came out followed by Rollins and we had the Universal Championship match IN THE OPENING MATCH of the WrestleMania 35 main show!

Seth Rollins defeated Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman to win the Universal Championship

If you could have booked this match however you wanted you probably couldn’t have done it better than this. Brock beat down Seth around the ringside area before the bell had even rung, tossed him in the ring then out again, did a few suplexes as the match properly got underway, the ref took a bump as Lesnar went for an F5, Rollins hit a low blow, a superkick, THREE Stomps and pinned Lesnar in about 2 1/2 minutes. Seth Rollins pinned Brock Lesnar to win the title in the first match on the card. Just let that sink in. Crowd loved all of this. ***** for the booking, but of course the match itself was only a few minutes.

**3/4

AJ Styles defeated Randy Orton

Jerry Lawler came out to join commentary for this one. Styles won clean with a Phenomenal Forearm. It was fine as a match but I was expecting a little better. Both did most their big moves, Orton even hit an RKO but it was not enough to win. Good for AJ to get a big win, be interested to see what both these do going forward. Could see this being the first in a series. This was deliberately wrestled at a slower pace it seemed which makes me think they’ll wrestle each other again.

***1/4

Lacey Evans came out. Then she left again… I don’t know anymore either…

The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) defeated Rusev with Lana & Shinsuke Nakamura, The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) and Ricochet & Aleister Black to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championship

This was pretty good and really fast paced. Was amazingly cool to see Black and Ricochet compete on this stage. Most memorable spot of the match was Cesaro doing his swing on Ricochet for an absurd amount of time whilst Sheamus was hitting everyone else with his forearm smashes he does. A close 2nd was everyone in a big tower of doom when they all were part of a duplex off the top yet Ricochet nearly landed on his feet and it was crazy how he even came close to landing on his feet. Finish came with basically everyone hitting their finish on one another before being thrown out, until finally the Usos did a double splash combo move on Sheamus.

****

They introduced the Hall of Fame class with DX coming out last. This was really cool.

Shane McMahon defeated The Miz in a Falls Count Anywhere Match

This was really what you’d expect for better or more so worse. They brawled for the whole match and went right into the crowd area as they did it. Miz’s Dad got in the ring and went at it with Shane at one stage which was… a sight… and also Shane went to do the elbow through the announce table to Miz but George Mizanin got in the way leading to their… erm… fight… The finish came when they were in the crowd area on top of a platform, Miz superplexed Shane off it and they both fell onto the floor (crash pad but shush it’s wrestling). Bizarrely it was Shane who put himself over Miz for the pin fall. Shane’s punches again where beyond belief bad. God knows what they’ll do with Miz or even Shane now…

**1/4

The IIconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) defeated The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection (Sasha Banks & Bayley) (C) , Nia Jax & Tamina and Natalya & Beth Phoenix to win the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship

Paige did guest commentary. This wasn’t of the level or even close to the men’s 4 way tag match. But this surprised me not one bit. Beth and Natalya came out dressed like the Hart Foundation and Bret even joined them on the stage which for a giant pop. Beth Phoenix looked decent in-ring considering, and the finish saw her hit the Glam Slam on Bayley off the turnbuckle before The IIconics threw her out and Billie Kay got the pin. They were both very emotional at the win. People watching seemed happy enough despite one of the heel teams winning. But this was not good.

**

Kofi Kingston with Big E & Xavier Woods defeated Daniel Bryan with Rowan to win the WWE Championship

Remember when I said Rollins vs Lesnar was everything we could have wanted in our dreams? This was the same. Kofi was a megastar to everyone watching, Bryan was hated. The match was really really good and by a mile match of the night. Everything has so much heat behind it as you’d expect. The finish was great too, with Kofi escaping from Bryan’s submission and beating him down before hitting Trouble in Paradise for the win. This got the reaction you’d expect… which was extremely loud. New Day unveiled the new title belt after… which was the old title belt before Bryan’s eco friendly one. Kofi had his kids in the ring as they, Big E and Woods celebrated. This really was everything we wanted. A really great match and a proper all-time amazing moment at the end. I don’t want to talk about this but it happened… basically Big E revealed some new t shirts to commemorate Kofi being champion… it turns out WWE were already advertising them online as the match was still going on. So to those who saw it WWE spoiled one of the biggest matches on their biggest show. I personally didn’t see it so if a Tree falls and nobody hears it, does it still make a sound? I’ll leave that with you… nonetheless… Kofi Kingston is the WWE Champion. What a time to be alive. The afters of this match honestly were incredible, and if you watched NXT Takeover you saw an all time great aftermath of a match with the Main event. This will go down in history amongst the best feel good Mania moments of all time. Daniel Bryan was exceptional as always in this match but this was all about Kofi. Superb stuff.

****3/4

The two SNL guys were backstage with Alexa Bliss. Suddenly Kevin Nash and Scott Hall appeared as doctors ready to give them a Prostate check. This was so weird.

Samoa Joe defeated Rey Mysterio to retain the United States Championship

Joe won a complete squash after Rey hit a 619 but Joe caught him off the Senton with the Coquina Clutch and eventually the ref checked Mysterio and called it off. Just under 1 minute. I’d presume Rey wasn’t fully healed after all then? There was nothing to do with Dominic Rey’s son who had appeared on tv recently. Massive boost for Joe mind you given it was his Mania debut. Booker T was guest commentator.

N/A

Roman Reigns defeated Drew McIntyre

This was very underwhelming. McIntyre was played out by a band and Roman had so much fireworks as he came out it was crazy. Drew looked like a monster in the match, Roman didn’t look as good in the ring as he did with The Shield at Fastlane. Drew battered Roman at various points. Roman won after a Superman Punch and a Spear. Crowd was kind of flat and clearly still worn out emotionally from the Kofi stuff. Reigns hid his face after the win and was very emotional. When you think about it this HAD to be the result of this match. Amazing that during a WrestleMania match nobody really cared good or bad for Roman, so much so a Mexican Wave was going on in the upper decks. It wasn’t Roman being booed it was people boing the end of the wave. Christ.

**3/4

Then came one of the best parts of the show. And If I began by saying it was the Elias segment you will be shocked right? So Elias does this thing where he appears on the big screen playing drums, then a second one of him playing base, then he was in the ring for real doing his usual thing. Suddenly a film on Babe Ruth played… he’s the GOAT in baseball so we really if you listened closely to his most recent run you should have known who was coming out… out comes John Cena… with The Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick!!! He was wearing a Number 3 Yankees jersey, which was Babe Ruth’s number. This got probably the biggest reaction he has got in years and certainly the first Universally positive one on this stage for a while. I know where I was we all went absolutely crazy for it. Cena then, as he did all the time in this gimmick, absolutely ripped Elias apart on the mic. He said he felt like he was watching his movies because this whole thing sucks, called Elias a wasted wrestling experiment, said he’s not half a dog but a little piece of shitsu, your face looks like my nuts but you’ve got a hairier bush and finished with saying ‘no AA, but you’re going to get the FU’ and then he hit him with the mic, the 5 knuckle shuffle and then the FU/AA. This was… brilliant!!! Whoever came up with this isn’t paid enough.

Triple H defeated Batista in a No Holds Barred Match with Triple H’s in-ring career on the line

I enjoyed this. Some didn’t as much. It was very long and late in the show and slow paced. But I personally had fun watching. It was a weapons based fight rather than a wrestling match which it should have been so that was good. Both guys particularly Triple H looked in INSANELY good shape. Batista tripped on the ropes as he came into the ring, that was not so good. Triple H had a cool ‘Mad Max’ (shout out to Dan as I’m not cool enough to watch films like that so didn’t get the reference) entrance. One big spot was HHH removing Batista’s nose ring with pliers. Very babyface of him… HHH also speared Batista through an announce table which was a good looking spot. Triple H of course bought a sledgehammer in to it… leading to a finish where Batista had it, only for Ric Flair to come down and hand Triple H a second sledgehammer. Triple H used the steel steps that were in the ring as almost a boost and jumped off then to hit Batista with the sledgehammer. He then hit a Pedigree for the win. Triple H kicked out of the spinebuster, Spear and Batista Bomb. Batista kicked out of the first Pedigree. This earlier on in the show would’ve been so much better received imo. Batista announced his retirement on social media after the show.

***

Baron Corbin defeated Kurt Angle in Kurt Angle’s farewell match

JBL did guest commentary. Yes the match happened. No interference, no funny business. Corbin pinned him clean and then Kurt took in the applause one last time. Crowd was deathly silent when ref counted the 3. Corbin got the win with the End of Days after Angle missed a moonsault. It was what you’d think. Kurt thanked the fans and asked for a “You suck” chants one last time. I think they might put Corbin against Rollins. This was not a fun watch aside from being able to pay tribute to Kurt before and after. In one of the more poetic moments of the show there was a sign in the crowd you could see when Kurt told people to do the You Suck chants. The sign read “you never sucked Kurt”. He was correct, Kurt Angle has never and will never suck.

**

Demon Finn Balor defeated Bobby Lashley with Lio Rush to win the Intercontinental Championship

Again pretty much what you’d expect. The demon entrance was cool, and he won in less than 5 minutes with a powerbomb (yes, Finn Balor did that to Bobby Lashley) and then the Coupe de Grace. Lashley earlier hit a crazy spear through the ropes to the outside and also the spear in the ring that Finn kicked out of. Exactly what it should have been, particularly given how late it was and it was just before the main event.

**1/4

Alexa came out again in her umpteenth different outfit of the show. She announced the absolutely factual attendance of 82,265. Eventually she bought out R Truth and Carmella who did a dance break.

Becky Lynch defeated Ronda Rousey (C) and Charlotte Flair (C) in a winner takes all match to become the new Raw Women’s Champion and the new Smackdown Women’s Champion

Yes they botched the finish or at least aspects of it. Yes it spoilt the match and the moment. Charlotte came to the arena in a helicopter in homage to a previous entrance of her Dad’s. Ronda was played out by Joan Jett which was cool. Becky was cheered by the crowd but I think they were all so exhausted. They were not alone let me tell you. The match itself was actually pretty good. Charlotte has blood coming from her right arm, apparently from when she had Rousey in the Figure 8 and Becky came off the top with a leg drop. Lots of nearfalls and submissions being broken up throughout. Flair screamed at Ronda for calling wrestling fake and slammed her head into a table that had been set up in the corner multiple times (ILY Charlotte). Becky and Ronda teamed up to throw Charlotte into the table in the corner, then they traded strikes, eventually she went for the Piper’s Pit but Lynch rolled her over for the backslide and the pin. Everyone was caught off guard by this so it didn’t get nearly the pop you’d expect. Ronda’s shoulders were definitely not down fully for the whole 3 count. Worked or botched … regardless the finish to me sucked. Ronda was pissed afterwards and left the ring sharpish and appeared to head in the direction of her husband who was in the crowd. The match was good and the crowd were more alive for it than anything since Kofi winning the title. Becky held both belts up to close the show. Ronda broke her hand during the match. And she IS leaving I hear. She COULD be back but as of now she’s done. Why this didn’t end in a submission if there’s no guarantee she’s coming back and it’s the main event of WrestleMania I don’t know? I heard it was originally going to be a submission but they switched it. I don’t know there reason and I don’t get their logic either.

***

I missed out but there was a backstage thing with Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel and Alexa Bliss and Ron Simmons came in and ofc he said DAMN (apologies for missing a minute long backstage segment in a 7.5 hour show). Oh and just an FYI: no Undertaker, no Ambrose, no Kevin Owens. As I said before I liked the show, but it was way too long and there were way too many matches. It was once again a WWE PPV more of moments than great matches. It’ll be historic for sure, 8 titles changing hands will do that for sure. Raw will set up Seth’s next opponent and a Ronda promo where she says she quits. And SD we get Bryan and Kofi setting up their next one. Of course we have the superstar shake up next week too so it could all change again. But this was a very long show with amazing moments with a bizzare finish to the main event. But we got our big 3 babyfaces winning. So at least we have that.

And just to clarify… that finish in the main event was supposed to happen. What wasn’t meant to happen was Ronda’s shoulder coming up part way through it. Commentary and the replays after point it out was odd with that in mind. Ronda didn’t shoot. She’s leaving so everyone chill. Thanks.

Josh.

NXT Takeover: New York – Review

This is either going to be the best or worst blog I’ve ever written. So here we go…

So the kick off show was your usual stuff of the panel previewing the matches for the upcoming event. Charley Caruso was leading it and with her you had Sam Roberts and Pat Macafee. It was fine… and then Sam (after his slagging off of Bianca Belair at the last Takeover pre show) decided to really out of nowhere say Matt Riddle would ‘CHOKE’ tonight and that he had been handed everything since he came to WWE… seemed like to get heat for the sake of heat and it seemed really uncessary to say it. He would go on to, when the panel bought on NXT UK commentator Vic Joseph to discuss the UK Championship match, asked ‘who is this guy?’ when talking about WALTER and ‘how’d he end up in this match?’… which all credit to Joseph he did a great job of putting the match over. Then we had O’Reilly, Strong and Fish of the Undisputed Era cut a very entertaining backstage interview with Sarah Shreiber (Era wore new t shirts that STILL HAD THE STICKY WWE LOGO YOU GET ON NEW WWE SHIRTS ON… these guys are the best)!

AND THEN…

We had the WWE 2K19 Million Dollar Challenge. Essentially a guy who beat a load of other guys to get here faced the game’s cover star AJ Styles in a match on the game, and if he won he’d win a million dollars. This guy was a complete asshole and was cutting funny yet really obnoxious heel promos and the crowd HATED him. Corey Graves and Xavier Woods were out to oversee things and they just stood back as this guy took every second of his big moment. They stood on the top of the entrance ramp and played on the titantron. The guy (who dressed in an all gold suit went by the moniker of Real Golden Voice; Stephan Benson) played the game as Brock Lesnar and AJ was himself.

WWE 2K19 Million Dollar Challenge: Brock Lesnar (controlled by Stephan T.Benson aka The Golden Voice) defeated AJ Styles (controlled by… AJ Styles) 

YES I’M REVIEWING THIS MATCH. JUST ACCEPT IT OK!?

It very quickly became apparent why this guys was in this spot… because he was really good at the game funny enough. Props to him for using Brock Lesnar as he would wrestle IRL. He did a tonne of suplexes as Benson continued to act like the biggest of assholes. The live crowd that was in the arena at this stage HATED this guy and DID NOT want to see him become a Millionaire in front of the world. The crowd went pretty dead as the guy F5’d AJ and won the computer game match. He was an asshole after too and even took digs at AJ and said Orton would beat him at Mania. He held the big novelty cheque after and the crowd hated him.

Dear Triple H,

Your shows are excellent. But please never sell your sole for this kind of thing ever ever again.

Regards,

Everyone who watched this.

*

That was basically the kick off show.

The main show began with an AWESOME video package looking back at the history of NXT Takeovers before leading into the matches ahead tonight. The “record attendance of 15,697” was announced by a delightful-Salmon coloured suit sporting Mauro Ranallo with Percy and Nigel by his side.

NXT Tag Team Championship: War Raiders (Hanson & Rowe) (C) defeated Aleister Black & Ricochet to Retain 

We got another super cool Viking themed War Raiders entrance. It may have been as cool as their one for Takeover: Phoenix. The crowd very loudly chanted along with the “One and Only” part of Ricochet’s song and sang the first part of Black’s theme too. The live crowd even given the computer game stuff some of them just endured were really fired up for the start of the main show and this first match. The theme of this match was that the two very popular babyface teams had a lot of respect for eachother but still wanted to have a killer match and leave the seemingly obvious result in doubt. They did that and then some! If you want big spots, this match had loads. If you like good old fashioned ‘rasslin, they gave us that at times too! At one stage during this match there was apparently a very bright light that was shining directly into the upper deck of the building, so much so that when it was turned off the crowd went wild for it and chanted ‘you deserve it’ and the YES chants. Although momentarily the attention was away from the match I thought it a good sign that this crowd was excited by a light being switched off, it turned out I was not wrong… There were so many ridiculous spots and exchanges in this match it wasn’t really a match you could watch and take notes on as there was not a second to catch your breathe! By far the most unbelievable spot of an insane match was the surely 300 pound-odd Hanson doing a SENTON SPLASH off the top turnbuckle to the outside to take everyone out! Not to mention Ricochet picking up and slamming Hanson to the ground (Ricochet is a cruserweight and Hanson a heavyweight so bare that in mind). They teased a possible countout and a draw but Ricochet and Rowe JUST made it in the ring in time. Aleister Black then soon after hit the Black Mass on Rowe and Ricochet a shooting star press for a nearfall. Ricochet then missed a 630 and the War Raiders soon then hit ‘Thor’s Hammer’ before Hanson got rid of Black with a Suicide Dive and then they hit the Fall Out on Ricochet for the 1, 2, 3. Medical staff seemed to tend to Ricochet right away after this. Black checked on him to and it seemed War Raiders stopped celebrating for a moment also. It was unclear how badly or what was hurt but Ricochet to me at least looked somewhat dazed when he looked up. But both members of each team embraced after and then Hanson and Rowe put their belts down and bowed to Black and Ricochet before leaving. The fans gave the beaten main-roster bound challengers a giant standing ovation that brought Ricochet to tears. The fans chanted ‘You Deserve It’. If this was main roster someone would have come out and beat them up. Not in NXT. This was all absolutely wonderful all-round. 

****3/4

They showed NXT UK’s Piper Niven and Women’s Champion Toni Storm in the crowd. This made me happy.

NXT North American Championship: Velveteen Dream (C) defeated Matt Riddle to Retain

This match was extraordinary as well! So in the early stages it was clear Dream was going to be the cocky one and Riddle the fighting babyface. But (and I’m not exaggerating) this crowd was probably 85-90% in the corner of the Velveteen Dream. So I’m not sure if this was planned or if they decided to call it in the ring, but as the match went on they completely switched the way they both acted to suit the crowd response, so it was Dream who played babyface and Matt Riddle who acted more of a heel. It was amazing to witness. Riddle came out first and then Dream came out in typically understated fashion… he was dressed up as the STATUE OF LIBERTY and was carried on top of a platform by people in his t shirt. It was awesome and made him with that belt look like a megastar, which he already is. For the first few seconds of the match the crowd were so loud and pretty split with “BRO” and “VEL-VE-TEEN” chants. This was a really unique match were both guys showcased their styles really well and told a fun story. It may have dragged in the middle but the crowd noise along with the start and finish made it a great match overall. Dream stomping on Riddle’s foot (he wrestles barefoot) was a spot I really enjoyed as I’ve never got why more people don’t do that against him. Riddle showed pretty amazing levels of strength throughout using various throws and holds. It was clear towards the end he was the working heel of the match with his much more aggressive approach to Dream, and the crowd really took Dream’s side. Be it via an Ankle Lock or a crazy looking German Suplex from the outside of the apron into the ring there were many occasions it looked like Riddle would get the win. Dream also coming back by HULKING UP with the point and the “YOU” and the powerslam and leg drop ala Hogan was super cool too.  But in the end the finish came when Riddle locked in the Bromission but Dream managed to roll through and get the pin. A finish clearly designed to protect Riddle somewhat even in defeat so I applauded that thought. Dream celebrated after as a clearly upset Riddle stood and watched. I was convinced Riddle was about to turn heel and beat the shit out of him, but to my pleasant surprise Riddle extended his fist out to Dream and they did the Bro fist bump to a HUGE pop. At the beginning of the match Dream has turned down a bro fist, but by now he had grown to respect Riddle. And then Riddle applauded him and left. So no heel turn at least for now. So that (given the amount of HEAT gaining segments we see on main roster) was a welcomed surprise. I loved this. Dream is great, Riddle is exceptional.

****3/4

They recapped from WWE’s social media a few hours before the show began the news that former New Japan Pro Wrestling star KUSHIDA had signed to NXT. He was then shown in the Barclays Centre sat in the crowd which got a huge pop. He’s really, really good trust me.

WWE United Kingdom Championship: WALTER defeated Pete Dunne (C) to become the NEW WWE United Kingdom Champion 

The crowd popped HUGE when the graphic for the match was first shown. Their noise only continued as they chanted along to WALTER’s theme and gave Dunne a huge ovation when he came out. NXT UK Commentator Vic Joseph replaced Percy Watson to call this match with Nigel and Mauro. In the least surprising thing probably of the entire weekend this match was brutal, really really good, and… BRUTAL! They started at a methodical pace and then began pretty much a constant exchange of really nasty looking submissions and strikes. WALTER chopped the piss out of Dunne, and Dunne bent and twerked WALTER’s fingers in places and ways human fingers should not go. It seemed everytime Dunne defied belief and seemed to hurt the big Austrian WALTER would comeback with a power move, such as the avoidance of Dunne by jumping over him and then seemingly kicking him into WrestleMania weekend next year with a huge big boot. WALTER putting the champion on the turnbuckle and standing on his HEAD looked absolutely vile as did he later stomping on his head and then hitting a powerbomb. There were just so many spots and moments in this match that looked horrible to have to take. Dunne did in fact at one stage hit his Bitter End finishing move but WALTER somehow kicked out. The finish was by far the most insane moment of a long but brutal looking match; the absolute giant WALTER climbed to the top turnbuckle, Dunne went up to and locked in a triangle hold, but WALTER gave Dunne a POWERBOMB OFF THE TOP ROPE and Dunne went absolutely flying across the ring!!! Then WALTER went back up and hit a big Splash off the top.. 1, 2, 3! The 685 day reign of The Bruserweight is OVER and your NEW WWE United Kingdom Champion is WALTER! WOW! This was everything I wanted it to be. In one word this was a WAR!

****3/4

Edge and Beth Phoenix were shown in the crowd. Both of whom the crowd liked a lot.

NXT Women’s Championship: Shayna Baszler (C) defeated Bianca Belair & Io Shirai & Kairi Sane to retain

They, in the spot they were in, did about as good a job as they possibly could have done. The 3 challengers all got decent reactions, and the champion was seen backstage walking with her accomplices Jessamyn Duke and Marina Shafir but they did not accompany her to the ring for the match. The four of them went 100 miles an hour but did a great job of it not looking like a clusterfuck. After Baszler and Belair cleared The Sky Pirates out to brawl amongst themselves both Sane and Shirai would team up after to then return the favour and do the same. Baszler did the stomp-on-the-elbow spot she does to Bianca, who in turn would later get her own back when on the outside Shayna tried to pull Belair into the ringpost by her hair, but Bianca kicked her foot off the post and pulled back to send the champion colliding with the post instead! Later in a crazy spot Belair and Baszler were on the top rope with Bianca looking to hit a superplex, but then Kairi Sane came underneath to try and throw them down but couldn’t manage it, so then Io Shirai helped and the gave Shayna a double-powerbomb who in turn gave Bianca a superplex all at the same time. Later on something extraordinary happened; Shayna had Belair in the Kirifuda Clutch but in what I believe is a first Bianca Belair POWERED OUT of it! She would follow up with a KOD but Io Shirai came in to only allow for a near fall. Io and Kairi then seemed to fall out after Sane broke up a Shirai nearfall on Shayna, so then they went at it, which lead to Kairi picking her friend up and hitting her with an Alabama Slam on to Shayna Baszler! Kairi then hit her finishing move the Insane Elbow on Baszler but again it was Io Shirai that broke up the pin! Then in another crazy Bianca moment she knocked Sane off the top by whipping her with her hair then lifted BOTH Kairi Sane AND Io Shirai on her shoulders at the same time for a double KOD… but then Shayna came back in and with both the other challengers OOA she locked in the Kirifuda again and got the win. The crowd seemed in a stunned silence. All the challengers looked visibly upset as Shayna was then joined by Duke and Shafir (who surprisingly didn’t get involved in the match itself at any stage) to celebrate. In my group chat to say one of my friends was unhappy with this result would be like saying it would probably be a bad idea to jump off a cliff. Taking away my personal disappointment at the result here and looking at it objectively this was probably as good a match as they could have put on in this spot and with this result. Although as my friend Dan pointed out, after weeks and weeks of Shayna and co basically burying the entire NXT female roster each time… she then won this match fairly clean. Which I don’t think is a great reflection on them…

****

NXT Championship: Johnny Gargano defeated Adam Cole in a 2 out of 3 Falls Match to become the NEW NXT Champion 

The video they showed before the match, considering it was a change from the original match with Ciampa, was exceptional. Gargano came out to a mixed reaction sporting an Iron Man inspired attire, Cole came out with the rest of the Undisputed Era and got possibly the biggest reaction for an entrance of the entire show, he was like a God to this crowd. The ‘boom’ and the ‘ADAM COLE BAY BAY’ chants during his entrance were absolutely thunderous. The chants were duelling as the match started at a slow pace with Cole and Gargano eventually colliding in the air as they both hit a crossbody, Gargano later hit a Flatliner after moving out the way of a superkick and got a nearfall, and not long after got another with an inside cradle pin attempt. There was then a really fun spot where they both went to superkick one another but both stopped at the same time realising what one another was going for, but it was Gargano who reacted quickest after hitting a kick to the knee of Cole instead. Gargano then went for a Sunset-flip but Cole rolled through it and connected with his Last Shot knee strike to score the pin and the first fall. 1-0 to Adam Cole.

Adam Cole continued to be in charge as the second fall began. He pretty soon hit the Last Shot a 2nd time but somehow Johnny Gargano kicked out. Later Adam Cole tried to get a powerbomb off the top rope but Gargano hit a form of body-drop instead which got a nearfall, and not long after that Gargano hit his signature slingshot DDT on to the apron which looked as good as always. Cole was on the verge of having the match tied at 1-1 but chose to break the refs 10 count as Cole was on the outside. And so then of course Cole immediately got back in to it by sending Johnny into the ring post. After they both went for submissions Gargano was able to transition into the Gargano Escape and Cole tapped frantically almost right away after the hold was put in. 1-1. I felt at this stage the match was good, but not a classic… that changed…

They had a brutal looking exchange of strikes in the ring before Gargano got the better of it with a big Clothesline for a 2 count. A notable cut then appeared above Gargano’s eye I wasn’t sure where from the cut was caused to be honest. In retaliation Gargano picked Cole up and launched him half way across the ring, head-first into the middle turnbuckle on the far side. Ouch. There was then a great spot where they simultaneously hit one another with Clotheslines and then Superkicks to the side of the head which the crowd loved. Cole after hit another Superkick then a German Suplex for a 2 count. Johnny Wrestling came back with a beautiful reverse Hurricanrana and then a Superkick… only for Adam Cole to roll out of the ring. Cole then pulled Gargano to the outside and gave him a big German Suplex into the apron which looked horrid, but Gargano cameback with a draping DDT and tried for another slingshot Spear only to be caught with a Superkick by Cole. He then hit an exquisitely executed Canadian Destroyer for a very, very close 2 count. So Adam Cole as the heel went in on the heroic Gargano and called him a ‘failure’… so Gargano got mad and launched him over the Spanish announce table at ringside. But with both men on the announce table it was Adam Cole who got the better of it and of ALL the moves in professional wrestling… Adam Cole hit Johnny Gargano on the announce table with… THE FAIRYTALE ENDING (the finishing move of a certain TOMASSO CIAMPA)… beautiful stuff!!! Cole made his way back in the ring as the ref began the 10 count. I legitimately thought this COULD be the finish and I don’t think I was alone! Gargano though made it back in to the ring at probably 9 and 1/2! Cole not long after hit another Superkick for another close nearfall which everyone again bought as a possible end of the match. They then traded kicks again before Cole eventually went for another Canadian Destroyer… only for Johnny TAKEOVER to transition into the Gargano Escape again… and just as the crowd went wild the rest of the Undisputed Era made their presence known. Roderick Strong came running out to divert the referees attention and allowing for Kyle O’Reilly to get in the ring and despite Cole tapping out the ref was dealing with Strong so didn’t see it and O’Reilly instead raked at the eyes of Gargano to break the hold. Cole then pushed Gargano in to the ref to take him out, and then Bobby Fish came in and he and O’Reilly hit their tag team finisher on Gargano before they all retreated. This though only got a 2 count! In his anger Johnny Gargano threw Cole onto all 3 other Era members outside the ring, and then one by one fought them all off. Adam Cole then hit two superkicks and then the Last Shot but Gargano kicked out again! The crowd by now were going wild and by far the loudest they were all night (and they were pretty loud all show to be fair to them). AND THEN COLE WENT FOR THE LAST SHOT AGAIN BUT MISSED, GARGANO PUT IN THE GARGANO ESCAPE, COLE NEARED THE ROPES BUT GARGANO ROLLED OVER WITH THE HOLD STILL LOCKED IN SO THEY WERE AWAY FROM THE ROPES ONCE AGAIN… AND ADAM COLE TAPPED OUT!!! JOHNNY GARGANO HAD FINALLY DONE IT AND WAS THE NEW NXT CHAMPION!!! That 3rd and final fall was probably over ****1/2 on its own! Despite the fact upon the entrances and all show it appeared Adam Cole was the most popular guy with the fans, when this match was drawing to the end and then for the finish this crowd was so desperate for Gargano to win you would not believe it. It was pointed out to me Gargano may have lost a tooth in the process to but I’d presume he wont mind too much. They laid this match out so well to ensure Gargano got the biggest of babyface pops at the end. Johnny Gargano it was noted was now the only man to have won the NXT Championship, the NXT North American Championship and the NXT Tag Team Championship. This was one of the all time great NXT Takeover matches. And that is saying something!

*****

As Gargano was celebrating his wife Candice LeRae came out as Gargano got a massive ovation from the crowd. The two went in to the crowd to celebrate with Johnny’s family including his parents which was super cool. And then just as they made their way to the top of the ramp… out from behind them came… TOMASSO CIAMPA!!! He hugged them both as everyone went wild… and I’m not going to lie when I said I cried my eyes out at this. I, after seeing an incredible match and a guy I’ve seen in over a dozen Takeover matches finally win the big one, was not ready to see the injured former champion as a total surprise, and then for him to embrace his IRL best friends on the ramp was an absolutely surreal moment. One of those that if you know the full story transcended professional wrestling. This was one of the most special moments I think I’ve seen in wrestling for a long long time possibly ever. Yes as a grown man I cried at this. But FUCK YOU if you think that is not a worthy reaction. This was absolutely beyond belief cool. The final shot we saw of the show was Gargano, Ciampa and Candice embracing to end what may be the best story in the history of NXT and one of the best in the business for many years.

There was a lot of talk online after the show of ‘best Takeover ever’. Right now in the immediate aftermath I think it was. One thing I don’t think is up for debate is in terms of the quality of the matches this was the best NXT show I’ve seen EVER. Yes this time last year we had two ***** matches but the matches in between I didn’t feel were as consistently strong as this show had. The crowd was certainly one of the best and Takeover crowds are usually good but this one was exceptional and credit to them. The ‘Mamma Mia’ count from Mauro tonight was off the scale! I’ve never seen a bad Takeover and with the historic implications of what took place on this show: Ricochet and Aleister Black’s NXT swansong, Matt Riddle being pinned for the first time in WWE, the arrival of KUSHIDA, the ending of the reign of Pete Dunne and the beginning of WALTER’s, the women’s 4 way being great and of course the main event with the embrace of Ciampa/Gargano/LeRae to end the show… this once again took me on an emotional rollercoaster maybe even more so than NXT Takeover New Orleans this time last year. And after that show was over I thought that was the best Takeover I’ve ever seen. But this bettered it. ANOTHER absolutely incredible show, and considering the standard NXT Takeover shows set, to say this was the best one EVER says all you need to know. If I’m ever going to have to convince someone to like professional wrestling I’m going to get them to watch this show. And I think that’s maybe the biggest compliment I could possibly give it.

Josh.