SmackDown 2007: Episode 1 (5th January) – Beat the Clock begins

So as we are in the middle of a nationwide lockdown I, like many others, am BORED!!! So I’ve come up with an idea to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. The WWE Network allows for me and all others who subscribe to go back and watch any WWE show from the past, and revisit some old favourites. As a kid one of my times watching was across the year 2007, in particular my weekly routine of watching Friday Night SmackDown on Sky Sports at 10pm on a Friday. So to keep me occupied during this really odd time in our lives, I will be going back and watching every single edition of SmackDown from the peak year of watching, and writing down my thoughts on each show that 11/12 year old me loved… if 24 year old me will like it all just as much who knows… so… lets hope it holds up well today… or at least its something I can laugh at. I know it gets good around May time and the mania match that year was huge, so fingers crossed the rest of the show holds up. Anyway… here is my first in this series as I look back at the first Friday Night SmackDown of the year 2007!


As the opening video for the show played I was reminded how much of a BANGER the old theme song for the show was; ‘Rise Up’ by Saliva if anyone is interested.

SmackDown GM Teddy Long kicked off the show in the ring. He announced there would be a 16 man ‘Beat The Clock Challenge’ taking place over the next two weeks to determine who would go on to the Royal Rumble to challenge Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship. It was emphasised that the matches and the bracket for the challenge would be randomly selected. Long then welcomed out Batista, who got a big reaction from the live crowd, then came out (Michael Cole, before he became almost intolerable, and JBL, before he became almost intolerable,  are the commentators for SmackDown in this era by the way). Batista comes out and basically says he loves the idea, that he doesn’t wanna be a paper champion and that he’s fought hard for this title and he will keep fighting to keep it. (Sidenote; if you don’t think the World Heavyweight Championship is the most beautiful belt in wrestling history then you are wrong!).

Teddy Long then welcomes out the first man in the beat the clock challenge… KANE! I for one LOVED this version of Kane, big bald badass with that unreal good theme song by Finger Eleven which may well be one of the best theme songs ever. His opponent Chavo Guerrero then came out, not exactly looking pleased at the prospect of having to face the Big Red Machine…

Kane defeated Chavo Guerrero in a Beat the Clock challenge match 

Kane battered Chavo all over the place as Guerrero tried to get some quick pin attempts only to lack the power everytime, with another time Kane launching Chavo off him and out of the ring after Guerrero went for a pin. Kane hit a big standing leg drop for a nearfall, and then tried for a Chokeslam but Chavo managed to roll out the ring. After Kane had caught up with him he beat on him a little before Chavo retreated back into the ring before he stopped on Kane. Shortly after they were back outside where Chavo managed to get Kane down long enough to then get back in the ring as the ref started counting for the count out. Kane though got back in the ring at 9&1/2 of course… Chavo stomps away again at Kane as he got back into the ring, followed by a dropkick to his back before another nearfall with his feet on the ropes, only to be caught by referee Charles Robinson. Guerrero then locked in a form of triangle submission on Kane, before he was powered up and Kane hit an electric chair. There was later a fun spot where Chavo reversed a suplex into a DDT for a close nearfall. Kane though immediately sat up after, hit the big boot, some punches to Chavo in the corner, two running clotheslines, before Kane then went to top rope, hit the big flying clothesline for a 2 count, he then tried again for a chokeslam but Chavo kicked his way out of trouble. Soon after came the finish as Chavo managed to get Kane on the ring floor before heading to the top looking for the Frog Splash, only for Kane to climb up after him and try a superplex before being kicked down, Chavo came off the top looking for the splash… only for Kane to catch him by the throat and finally hit the big Chokeslam for the 1, 2, 3. Kane wins in 7.53 to set the pace. This was a fine, TV opener between two veterans, and given how short it was it was decent.

A vignette played featuring candles and a scantily-clad dressed french speaking woman called “Maryse”… welcoming us back to Friday Night SmackDown.

Paul London vs Brian Kendrick ended when the time expired in a Beat the Clock challenge match 

Playing off the ‘randomly selected’ nature of the matches in the beat the clock challenge that was emphasised earlier in the show, here we had a match between the SmackDown Tag Team Champions. These two as a team were something else, two cruiserweight highflyers who could grapple as well, a heck of a team maybe a few years before an era that would’ve suited them down to the ground. During this one Batista was shown watching on backstage. The crowd was kinda dead for this match, mainly because I think everyone knew that this was going to a draw. They went, unsurprisingly, at a million miles an hour, we had lots of counter moves and tonnes more nearfalls for both guys. The match wasn’t bad but the lack of heat killed it, infront of a crowd in 2020 maybe it;d be different but I personally didn’t care much for the match, mainly cause these two guys were a million miles away from potentially facing the world champion. One thing that annoyed me is when London had a HEADLOCK in with 50 seconds left…??? … anyway the clock did indeed tick down to 0 and so Kane was still in the lead. After the bell Ashley Massaro, who was the valet of the team at the time and I think she may have even been dating London at the time, but she came out after the match to check on both guys. They both shook hands and embraced so these tag champs were still friends after. They mention on commentary that Ashley would be on the cover of Playboy just before that years upcoming WrestleMania.

After the break we had JBL in the ring. He cut a heel promo on what happened to MVP at Armageddon (the most recent PPV). JBL said he was the brightest star in wrestling they had, and he said seeing MVP’s perfection caused the fans to look and see how pathetic they themselves were and because of that they wanted him destroyed. He said Teddy Long potentially destroyed the brightest light SmackDown had ever seen. He eventually cut to footage of Kane lowering MVP’s back into the fire during their INFERNO MATCH. JBL eventually welcomed out MVP who limped to the ring and had his ring gear top pulled down so you could see the markings on his back left by the fire. MVP thanks JBL for representing him the last couple of weeks. He says he was in hospital in bed due to his burns and that he’s had 24 hour medical attendance (he was speaking in a much lower tone of voice), he had people dress and feed and bathe him, he can’t even go bathroom alone… the live crowd were less than sympathetic… He said he was Teddy Long make the Beat the clock sprint and that he thought he had to stop feeling sorry, and that the pain and suffering he felt would pale in comparison to pain and suffering that he would have to tolerate if he allowed himself to stop him fulfilling his destiny and become World Heavyweight Champion. He went in more on Teddy Long and said he’ll win the challenge and win the title at the rumble, before slowly making his way out of the ring as JBL put over MVP’s bravery on commentary. This was a fine promo to be fair, but the crowd didn’t care too much it seemed. 

Queen Sharmell was in the ring… she tells everyone to rise as she puts over the arrival of KING BOOKER “all hail king booker” over and over again as the crowd boos as King Booker comes out… I low key loved this gimmick… anyway his opponent was the then Cruiserweight Champion Gregory Helms (they mentioned he was the longest reigning champion in sports entertainment)… I’m gonna predict booker wins in about 6 minutes…

King Booker with Queen Sharmell defeated Gregory Helms in a Beat the Clock challenge match 

This was a heel vs heel match… Booker chopped Helms, and later his a power slam as we again saw Batista watching on… Booker got a nearfall about a minute in… Helms did manage to get some strikes in before the King came back with a big spinebuster for a 2… a big kick from Booker got another two count… and then the bulk of the match was Booker battering Helms, before the much smaller guy would get the odd strike back in before being overpowered once again. Cole and JBL even began to question why Booker is taking his time… later after the ref had his back tunred Sharmell got in on Helms that allowed Booker to then finally hit his Scissors Kick for the win. King Booker now takes the lead with the new time of 6.24 to beat.  

As if that wasn’t bad enough for Helms, once King Booker had made his way towards the back the music of the BOOGEYMAN played… he then came from under the ring and attacked Helms. He hit some form of sit-out Chokeslam move which looked kind of cool to be fair… and then he did his gimmick with the worms… as you do…

Next was a video package on Batista. It looked back at his WWE career from his time in Evolution, with Triple H doing a promo over the top of the footage that put over The Animal… it then told the story of how Batista went on to challenge his former leader after winning the royal rumble, and eventually beating him for the world title at WrestleMania. Batista would then come to SmackDown as part of the draft lottery, but would be attacked by Mark Henry in a steel cage match and his injuries would put him out of action and force him to vacate the world heavyweight title. We were told once this video package ended that the second part of it would air on next week’s show and tell the story of how Batista came back and tried to get his title back.

This video package was outstanding and did a great job of putting over the WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION as a huge babyface and a super cool, tough guy. What an alien concept….

Ashley defeated Jillian 

Ashley made her entrance… they keep promoting SmackDown as where you can see “the sexiest women on television” … as Jillian made her entrance they showed an inset video where she says she’ll rip her pretty little face apart (speaking of Ashley). This “match” consisted of all the hair pulling, horrid bumps and all the bad stuff you’d associate with women’s wrestling of this time. Ashley got the win with… I don’t even know what, some form of roll up I think… in about three minutes of my life I’m never getting back…

Another sexy Maryse vignette. She talks English now and she’s in a bath.

when we came back to the action…

JIMMY WANG YANG vs Tatanka ended when the time expired in a Beat the Clock challenge match 

This was another match where as hard as both guys tried, absolutely nobody cared about it (me included) because it was a certainty that neither guy was winning and going on to face Batista. They both tried hard as I said and the wrestling was technically fine, but there was next to no heat from the crowd at times. Jimmy Wang Yang hit a crossbody off top for a two with 1.20 left… Yang has cowboy tights over jeans as his gear, and one had now come off the jeans completely… Tatanka tried for multiple pins with 40 seconds left… JBL puts over how Tatanka was undefeated for over 2 years in the late 90s … this was in 2007… and of course the time expired. Towards the end Jimmy Wang Yang hit a moonsault to a standing Tatanka to take him down and he went for the pin as the clock with zero. Tatanka jumped Yang after the bell and laid him out. I don’t recall Tatanka being around for much longer after this.

The ‘Raw rebound’ for this week was John Cena vs KEVIN FEDERLINE in a no DQ match… Umaga interfered to allow KFed to pin the then WWE CHAMPION… Later that show Cena faced Jonathan Coachman, Johnny Nitro, Umaga and his managed Ermando Estrada in a handicap match. We saw Cena use a chair to batter everyone before going again at KFed who was doing commentary. Cena stood tall at the end of course…

And you thought this SmackDown was odd…

Kristal did a backstage interview with Vickie Guerrero. 2 weeks ago she hit Benoit with the US title belt that inadvertently cost Chavo the match. She was wearing a neck brace, and was shown being shoved down by Chavo after the match. Kristal asked asks how Vickie was holding up. Vickie says not good… that she was getting her career going but now she can’t move on. She says people like Benoit and the fans have turned their back on her, and now her own nephew has turned his back on her and walked out on her. She says she can’t handle this anymore and she feels lost… she basically says she’s lost her focus and faith in humanity and cries on Kristal’s shoulder, and says she feels confused…

I already can’t wait for what’s to come later in this year on SmackDown with Vickie…

They recap the beat the clock stuff so far…

Mr Kennedy defeated Chris Benoit in a Beat the Clock challenge match 

Mr Kennedy comes out for the last beat the clock match of the night… he does his own announcing gimmick… (he had a last ride match vs Undertaker at Armageddon). He went on to say he IS sports entertainment… He then did his announcing gimmick of announcing his own name. His opponent was the then US Champion Chris Benoit, whom won the title from Kennedy the previous October. The story of this match was that it went 50/50 for most of it, the key spots being when Kennedy missed a Kenton Bomb as Benoit got his knees up, Benoit hitting SEVEN german suplexes before heading to the top rope only to miss his flying headbutt when Kennedy moved out the way. Kennedy then removed the turnbuckle pad in the corner with the ref’s back turned. (They also mentioned on commentary during the match that Kennedy had beaten 5 former world champions in the year 2006, which is kinda cool and reminding people of that was a good way of putting him over)… Anyway… after thus Benoit would go on to try for the Crossface only for Kennedy to get to the ropes. Then Kennedy did this spot they’d done a few times in the match already where Kennedy would irish whip Benoit into one of the ring corner turnbuckles at a really hard pace… but of course this time he launched Benoit into the corner with the now exposed turnbuckle… and then after was able to pin Benoit for the finish. The new time to beat was 5.07. As is stood at the end of this show it was Mr Kennedy heading to the Royal Rumble to face Batista. This again was, for a tv match that went a few minutes, perfectly fine as a match between two solid in-ring guys.

Kennedy of course announced himself as the winner of the match after, and the man who just beat the damn clock and soon to be… but before he could finish Teddy Long came out and told Kennedy he wasn’t the number 1 contender yet and that the beat the clock challenge would continue next week, and that we still have four matches to go… and in those matches would be the likes of MVP, Matt Hardy, Finlay and The Undertaker! (I like how he advertises names for next weeks show at the end of this weeks. Cool, simple but effective way to get people to tune in next week)… Kennedy then grabbed the mic anyway and says… Kennedy…


And that was the show. Not the most glamorous show but a fine show for what it was, the first of a build to the royal rumble PPV. Trust me people it gets more exciting in the next few weeks, just by the sort of people and things that were going on at that time. But I hope you who read this find it fun enough, and if anything just know that it’s helping me not go insane whilst we are all grounded.

Josh. 

WWE Elimination Chamber 2020 – Review

I didn’t waste an hour of my life to watch the pre show, but for the record: Viking Raiders beat Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins in about 5 minutes in the epitome of a pre show match, and Zelina Vega and later The Usos cut promos.


Daniel Bryan defeated Drew Gulak 

Good good match, very technical as you can imagine and hard hitting. Gulak was in his hometown, but Bryan was much more liked by the crowd still. Gulak stood equal to the mutli-time former world champion Bryan the whole match pretty much, which was cool. They both did a lot of suplexes in this match, but the one that stood out was a release German form Gulak that made Bryan land very hard and very rough on his neck, it was really tough to watch. Daniel Bryan just got back in the ring before he was counted out, he then hit a big clothesline and then his patterned kicks in the corner. Drew Gulak came back with a suplex off the top into a dragon sleeper, but Bryan got out of this, hit a few elbows the the face of Gulak as he locked in the Yes Lock… with the ref eventually calling for the bell. This was a very non-WWE match and was like watching something from Zack Sabre Jr in New Japan, but it was really fun and they got about 15 minutes and opened the PPV, which was cool. Bryan showed his respect for Gulak after, pointing to him so the fans would give him applause. This was a good match. I hope Daniel Bryan gets to do… something… at WrestleMania…

***3/4 

Kayla Braxton interviewed Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode. Ziggler said he was dedicating his match tonight to Mandy Rose. As they were talking the tv behind them did the glitch thing that’s been appearing on SmackDown in recent weeks…

Andrade (C) with Zelina Vega defeated Humberto Carrillo to retain the United States Championship 

Another fine match, just the sort you’d expect from these two. Andrade hit a running double knees for a two count, before Zelina lifted the mats up on the outside of the ring. Andrade tried to ddt Carrillo but was countered into a back body drop. For the finish they traded roll-ups of different forms and nearfalls, the end coming when Andrade held the tights for the win. Fun match and the crowd, who were bored early, got into it towards the conclusion.

***1/2 

AJ Styles was interviewed backstage. He admitted Gallows and Anderson would be with him for the match. He said it wouldn’t be a fair fight, but it’s never a fair fight when someone has to fight him.

The Miz & John Morrison (C) defeated The Usos, The New Day, Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode, Heavy Machinery & Lucha House Party in an Elimination Chamber Match to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Championship 

Usos and New Day started. Lucha House Party came out 2nd. Miz and Morrison after that. Heavy Machinery came out next and the crowd loved them. They ran wild and Otis did his big caterpillar spot, they were by far the most over of the teams with the crowd. With the other teams all below there was an amazing spot where Lince Dorado of the Lucha House Party climbed up the chamber, and whilst hanging from the inside of the roof he hit a shooting star press onto everyone below in the ring. The crowd popped hard for this and justifiably so. Right after this Heavy Machinery hit their finisher on Gran Metalik and the Luchas were gone. Roode and Ziggler came out last after winning the gauntlet on SmackDown. Ziggler avoided Otis by climbing onto a pod, but tucker went after him before pushing Otis into the arms of Otis below (who then dropped Dolph over the ropes). Tucker then hit a senton dive off the pod onto the New Day and Usos below, which given Tucker’s size was a great-looking spot. Roode and Ziggler then tried to double team Otis, but he fought them off. Then Otis went to charge at Dolph but he moved, and Otis went crashing through the pod and fell to the outside of the ring. They played this as a big spot, but I’e no doubt Otis IRL is very safe. Tucker looked on worried, but then fired up on Roode and Dolph, but eventually Ziggler hit him with a superkick and Robert Roode hit the Glorious DDT and Heavy Machinery were out. The crowd were not happy. Not long after New Day knocked them both down, and then both of the Usos hit big splashes off the opposing ring posts and pinned both Roode and Ziggler to get them out. After Usos and New Day teamed up on the champions, Kingston missed a dive off the top of a pod, and Miz and Morrison both covered him. New Day were out. Surprisingly Jimmy Uso kicked out of a Skull Crushing Finale, after in a cool spot; Miz had him in a figure four as Morrison hit Starship Pain. Jey broke up the pin in time and they hit superkicks to John Morrison for a 2 count nearfall. Then after a bizarre sequence Miz and Morrison both pinned Jey Uso at the same time whilst Miz had his feet on the ropes. The champions retain. This was a fun match but some of the booking was bizzare. The big story of the match is clearly the one between Roode/Ziggler and Heavy Machinery, so I’d have thought the heels win the tag belts to then drop them to Otis and Tucker at Mania… but we shall see… the booking at sometimes abrupt eliminations took this match down a little for me.

***1/4 

Both Shayna and Asuka were shown warming up backstage.

Natalya did a backstage interview. They spoke more about Beth Phoenix and the Edge/Orton story than the main event.

Aleister Black defeated AJ Styles with Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson in a No Disqualifications Match 

I felt a little sorry for AJ and Black here, because they are two of the very best and this was a fine match, but the whole match start to finish almost, the crowd wanted and were chanting for one thing… and whilst waiting they didn’t care too much for the action going on at times. BUT they got what they wanted at the end, so they were happy. After some regular stuff it was AJ who hit Black with a kendo stick, Black later set up a table but Styles hit him with a few chair shots, and Black came back with some hard hitting strikes. Styles got the Calf crusher, and creatively Black got the kendo stick and smashed it into his face to break the hold, with Black using the kendo more after until Styles hit a Pele kick. He then got a nearfall after a mini-Phenomenal forearm, and another after a brainbuster. They each exchanged more nearfalls, before Styles set up for a Tombstone and even did the Undertaker throat slit, but black got out of it and kicked Styles colliding into a steel chair that had been set up in the corner. After, with both men on the outside Styles sent Black over the announce table having targeted Black’s leg all match. Styles had black on the announce table and looked to suplex him through the regular table that had been set up nearby to them, but Aleister Black kicked his leg out, and after came flying down with a double knees to Styles that sent him through the table. This was a really great spot. With Styles down in the ring Black finally set up for the Black Mass, before Gallows and Anderson jumped in. Black fought them all off at first, but the 3v1 odds became too much and they battered him. Gallows & Anderson hit a Magic Killer, and lifted up Black as AJ went to the outside to hit the Phenomenal Forearm… and then… GONG… crowd go ape shit, lights go out… GONG… lights come back, Undertaker is in the ring with his hands around Gallows and Anderson’s throats, Styles came flying in but taker caught him too and hit a Chokeslam. Lights went again and Taker dissapeared. Black then hit the Black Mass and AJ took a brilliant bump and made it look like his head was nearly took off. Crowd loved the finish that they were really waiting all match for. Bizzare to me how in a No DQ match that Gallows and Anderson waited 20 odd minutes to finally interfere, but whatever…

***3/4 

Street Profits (C) defeated Seth Rollins & Murphy With AOP to retain the Raw Tag Team Championship

The match was perfectly fine, but not amazing. These two teams are both really good and mesh well together. AOP tried to get involved but the Viking Raiders came out and took them out of play. After the match went on another few minutes, it was kind of just there in terms of how into it the crowd were, but they soon woke up when Kevin Owens appeared. Owens casually strolled tot he ring through the crowd eating popcorn. Rollins looked furious as Owens chucked popcorn in his face, just after Angelo Dawkins came flying in and took Rollins out with a big shoulder tackle, and as this was happening over on the other side of the ring we had Montez Ford powerbombing Murphy to the barricade. They got back into the ring and Dawkins got Murphy with a spinebuster than let Ford come off the top with a big splash for the win. Crowd were very happy that the champions had retained. After as Rollins was bemoaning to Murphy who was on the outside, Kevin Owens came in the ring and hit Rollins with a Stunner. Owens then got his popcorn and walked to the back without a care in the world. Fun stuff.

***1/2 

Sami Zayn won the Intercontinental Championship in a 3 on 1 handicap match with Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro against Braun Strowman (C) 

Zayn did a promo backstage before they came out. Zayn started the match but immediately tagged in Nakamura. Braun no sold Nakamura’s moves (sigh…) and went back at him, but was too focused on Zayn and this let Nakamura lead the heels to take control. Strowman would get the odd comeback here and there, but was cut off everytime. Shinsuke hit him with a Kinshasa into the ring post. Cesaro then joined Nakamura as they held Braun up as Zayn hit a Helluva Kick as they suplexed him. Zayn then got the pin to win the title. Amazingly this was Zayn’s first main roster title win and is many years overdue! Cesaro and Nakamura held Zayn up high as they left…

*3/4 

Shayna Baszler won an Elimination Chamber Match to earn a Raw Women’s Championship Match against Becky Lynch at WrestleMania … (there were also five other women in the match…) …

Ruby Riott and Natalya started. Sarah Logan came out after. Shayna came in and immediately tapped out Logan with the Kirifuda Clutch. She then did the same to Ruby within 30 seconds after that. Another minute or so later and Natalya was out the same way. Baszler stood waiting in the ring until the next victim came out. It was Liv Morgan. Shayna absolutely ragdolled her into the cage and then into a pod which looked horrible, she then put the clutch in and Morgan passed out. As she did this Shayna starred at Asuka who was still in her pod. Asuka came in and missed a kick but did get a hip attack in, and a few kicks to Baszler’s chest. Shayna came back with kicks of her own, but Asuka hit a roundhouse kick and got the Asuka lock in… only for Baszler to roll to the outside and slam Asuke into the chamber wall. She then went after Asuka’s injured wrist which allowed her to get out of another Asuka Lock. Baszler then hit a big knee and then got the Clutch in and Asuka tapped out. Crowd booed, Shayna makes history with the first ‘clean sweep’ in Elimination Chamber history. Becky Lynch was showing watching on a monitor during and after the match.

Now… yes it makes Shayna look as strong as she needs to going into WrestleMania, but it was a very… questionable… way to end a PPV. And it BURIES the rest of the Raw women’s division. I know there’s been rumours to the contrary going about recently, but surely Shayna is beating Becky???

**

This was definitely a b-level PPV, but it wasn’t a bad show by any means. Aspects of it were in fact pretty good. There were some questionable booking throughout, but what you gonna do? This was an ok show, not unmissable but not bad at all. But THANK GOD we can all just look to WrestleMania now.

Josh. 

 

 

 

 

WWE Super ShowDown 2020 – Review

Alright, so I’m doing it. I’ve not done a blog post since the Royal Rumble, which ended with a Rumble match I gave five stars and described as a ‘masterpiece’. I had some things going on at the time in my head and personal life I was getting to grips with, and the small fact that I had work the next morning, so this meant I didn’t put out a review of NXT TakeOver: Portland, which was in fact (to the shock of absolutely nobody) another all-time classic show. So better way for me to end my mini-hiatus than to review the latest in (for all the WRONG reasons) the most extraordinary set of shows any company may have put on in the history of the business.

The Greatest Royal Rumble was simply a Saudi propaganda show with some wrestling in between. The 2018 Crown Jewel show was the one where Shawn Michaels came close to ruining his legacy and was a frankly terrible show. the 2019 Super ShowDown was one of the worst PPVs of all time and featured not one but TWO DUD matches (thanks the LORD I was getting drunk whilst watching the show). BUT… the most recent Saudi show (Crown Jewel 2019) Was BY FAR the best Saudi show so far, in that it was ‘fine’ as opposed to terrible,despite getting terrible matches featuring Cain Velasquez and Tyson Fury, we did at least get The Fiend winning the Universal title… so every cloud… But one thing each of these shows have proven is that a Saudi Arabia WWE show will if nothing else be… different…

So I was close to reviewing the last Saudi show, but after hearing about the terrible issues the WWE talent had whilst trying to get return journeys back to America, I heard some pretty weird rumours about the mystery of what was going on, and it just seemed to me that it would be in poor taste to review a show when the talent on it where struggling to get back to their families. But they did have a women’s match on a Saudi show at long last… if you could call it a match… but this time they’ve gone one better and now have a women’s CHAMPIONSHIP “match”, so (for my eternal sins) I’ll give them a chance and see what they put on. My expectations are low to say the least… but they’ve at least now acknowledged that female wrestlers exist and can hold championships now… so lets see…

So the way this is going to work is, as I’m writing this now the day before the show, it is due to start around 5pm UK time which is just around the time I get home usually from work. So I’ll do my best to watch the show as it happens in some form, and I’ll do my best to get some form of review out asap after the show finishes. So it goes without saying please forgive any spelling errors or lack of detail or anything like that. I’ll just give my live thoughts on what happens as I see it, which may or may not make for a funnier review, or lack of if Goldberg beats The Fiend for example…

So………… without further or due here is my review of the 2020 WWE SuperShow-Down PPV… wish me luck…


KICK OFF SHOW:

Watched this at work/on the bus home. I got home and sat ready for the show almost bang on 5 when the main show started

We had Charly, scott stamford and david BORtunga in a studio previewing the show. we had interviews/promos from Aj, Heyman, Naomi, Street profits, miz and morrison at various points.

The O.C. (Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows) defeated Viking Raiders (Erik & Ivar) 

Two very good teams in a fine match. Crowd loved Ivar. This was exactly as you’dexpect from a pre show match with these two good teams. An above average match. It picked up well towards the end with Ivar using his freakish athletic ability for a heavyweight guy. OC had to win i guess as they are after all ‘the best tag team in the world’ after winning the bs trophy last time…

**3/4 


THE UNDERTAKER won The Tuwaiq Trophy (featuring AJ Styles, Andrade, Bobby Lashley, Rowan, R-Truth & Rey Mysterio as advertised participants for this gauntlet-style match) 

Cole, saxton and Graves on commentary.

R Truth is out first. I’ve started drinking already (Im going to need it)… he’s doing his rap gimmick on way to the ring… ION his IRL rap song ‘Set It Off’ that is out now is very good to be fair. Crowd like and are reacting to all Truth’s stuff. Lashley out second. Lana is out with him, ofc covered head to toe in clothing… She stood at the ramp top and then went to the back…

Lashley using his power to overwhelm and stop any R Truth offensive spells early on… they promote a 24 special on the network about R Truth that’s on after this show… big delayed vertical suplex by Lashley only gets a 2 count, Truth fights back with strikes and takes him down with a shoulder tackle, Lashley tries to set for a dominator, Truth does the 5 knuckle shuffle and tries an AA but Lashley fights out, he eventually slams Truth down and looks for the Spear… Truth ducks it, gets the roll up for the pin. Lashley is out! Lashley destroys Truth after.

Andrade comes out next after Lashley’s attack is done. US Champion in his first appearance after his wellness suspension was served. Andrade attacks on truth right from the start. Andrade is targetting Truth’s left arm and shoulder and he’s dominating so far. Truth dodges out the way of a running knee in the corner, after Andrade had exposed his knee as well so he goes flying to the outside. Truth brief comeback but Andrade to the shoulder again before Truth goes back on the attack, in a weird spot both men bumped heads… and Truth fell onto Andrade who was laying hurt on the mat. The idea is truth didnt have a clue he did it so it protects Andrade a little and plays into Truths gimmick.

Rowan is out next. Rowan slams and dominates Truth. Truth somehow sends Rowan to the outside. Then launches himself over the ropes onto Rowan. Rowan moves so Truth goes into the steps and the cage falls off. Rowan was pissed that the cage fell on the floor so went back to attack Truth. He smashes Truth with the steps amd Rowan is DQd… Truth is gonna lose to AJ last isnt he… Rowan attacks Truth some more… Rowan hits the claw slam and shouts ‘dont touch my stuff’… he then takes him and his cage to the back…

AJ is out now. Gets a big pop. Aj looks very cocky and is laughing. crowd chanting for aj styles. AJ mocking truth. aj dancing mocking truth begging him to fight him… before then kicking the injured Truth down again… Styles locks in calf crusher and Truth taps.

Rey Mysterio out last. He doesnt come out… Music plays again… (crowd are chanting lightly for undertaker…) … Still no Rey… we cut to the back and the oc are attacking rey… AJ gets on the mic… and eventually after we are told the opponet has til a 10 count to get to the ring we see gallows and anderson attacked… and then some black boots and a coat… DONG… out comes Undertaker!!!!!!!! Crowd goes NUTS ofc! Taker chokeslams AJ, Taker pins him 1,2,3 still with his coat and hat on!!! FML AHAHAHAHAHA. Taker wins.

This was fine for what it was. It was obviously ALL about the Taker v AJ mania set up so yeah whatever.

**1/4 

New day cut a promo backstage.

I’m off to get some food so apologies if the next match or so doesn’t get much of a review. …

John Morrison & The Miz defeated The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E) (C) to win the SmackDown Tag Team Championship

Miz and Morrison won the titles after Big E was taken OOA, Kofi and Miz were in the ring, ref didn’t see Morrison using a chair and hitting Kofi, allowing Miz to roll up Kingston after. These two teams had really good chemistry and this was a fun watch.

***1/4 

Saxton did a backstage interview with Murphy and Seth

Angel Garza defeated Humberto Carrillo

Garza won a really fun match. This really could be a world title match in future years, Garza is going to be a huge star, he just oozes charisma. Not sure the crowd knew who these two were to be honest, but I can tell them that they are both really good.

***1/4

Saxton did a backstage interview with Bayley

Seth Rollins & Murphy (C) defeated Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) to retain the Raw Tag Team Championship 

I returned from eating my tea half way through this one… It looked really fun from what i did see of it… These four are so so good!!! Rollins hit Dawkins with a stomp off the apron allowing Murphy to get the pin to retain. A really fun and good match, I hope we get to see it again and again… FYI they made ZERO reference to Rollins being ‘The Messiah’… cause you know… saudi…

***3/4

Mansoor Vs Dolph Ziggler with Robert Roode 

I’m actually writing my review of this match on the morning of the show UK time, I am 95% sure that it will be a perfectly accurate description of how the match goes later… ZZZzzz… 

Mansoor won an above average match. Dolph did most of the carrying but Mansoor was fine to be fair. Naturally Mansoor got a huge reaction from the locals and they were delighted when he won. Dolph worked his ass off to make Mansoor look good and was a great heel, bumping like Mansoor was Hogan during the peak Hulkamania years. This was OK for what it was. 

**3/4

LOL IT WENT EXACTLY LIKE THIS AHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Brock Lesnar (C) with Paul Heyman defeated Ricochet to retain the WWE Championship

Brock got a huge reaction coming out. Bigger than Ricochet the babyface for sure. Ricochet is wearing regular pants as opposed to his longer normal tights he’s wore for a number of years. Ricochet charged at Brock as he tried for an immediate dropkick and Brock just battered him with strikes and Germans after. He then hit an F5 and got the pin. Absolute squash. FUCK OFF.

1/2* (0.5) 

Roman Reigns defeated King Corbin in a Steel Cage Match 

IM SO OOOOOOOVVVVEEERRR THIS FUCKING FEUD I BEGGGG IT ACTUALLY IS OVER AFTER THIS PLEAAAAASSSEEEE!!!

Roman bought his own chain and lock with him to make sure the door couldn’t be opened mid-match… Corbin attacked Roman from behind as he was doing this… Crowd is absolutely dead as Corbin is on the attack early on… Corbin then tried to escape the cage over the top but Roman climbed after him and tried to climb down himself, Corbin hit a headbutt, roman came back with elbows and Corbin pulled Roman down, then looking at hitting a powerbomb only for Roman to hit a series of strikes. Roman came off the top ropes for a 2 count. Roman tried the superman punch, but after a reversal himself then got hit with a deep 6 to give corbin a nearfall. Corbin hit a chokeslam type move for another nearfall. Corbin got the key to the door chain lock from Roman’s pocket and tried the padlock, Roman caught him in time , only for Corbin to rain down elbows. Crowd is still fairly dead. Corbin again tried the door, Roman again stopped him. Corbin got the officials to open the door as he beat on Roman, but Reigns stopped him again. and again. Roman smashes the door onto Corbin’s head, tried a superman punch but got hit with a chokeslam for another King Corbin nearfall. Corbin used Roman’s chain and wrapped it round his own fist, he set for his own superman punch, but Roman hit the superman punch for a 2 count. Corbin tried to climb the cage wall, roman slowly followed… both men were perched on top of the cage… exchanging strikes, roman was outside the cage dangling but was dragged back over the top and back inside the ring… both men were on the ring ropes hanging onto the cage wall, corbin smashed romans head off the wall, roman though yanked corbin down onto the ropes. Roman hit a superman punch as Corbin was trapped, then another. He then picked up his chain and wrapped it round his fist for a ‘super’ superman punch. He then pinned corbin 123. This was… fine tbf… PLEASE BE OVER NOW FGS!!!

***

Bayley (C) defeated Naomi to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship 

Naomi did her glow entrance, but ofc covered neck to toe in clothing with no body being shown or shown off at all… cause… saudi… Bayley’s heel theme song BANGS by the way… Bayley was covered up fully as well. Bayley is smiling… HEEL bayley… fgs here we go again… crowd chanted for naomi and bayley told the crowd off… I mean… it seems like a regular-ish match between these two as they may have in the USofA… so…… I would love to know how the saudi commentary team are calling this one… Bayley is getting the best of it so far with her agressive heel style, Crowd is DEAD… The Lacey Evans rumble match was kinda boring, and for me this one is heading the same, Bayley on offence as a heel here is kinda dull. Naomi is fun when she does her acrobatic offence but im bored stiff right now ngl… Naomi hit a big knee to try and get back into it… a clothesline and a dropkick and a jawbreaker and a kick and a springboard kick from Naomi followed… another springboard attack got Naomi a nearfall. a roll up followed by Naomi and then a submission hold, but Bayley got the ropes. Bayley hit the bayley2belly but NAOMI KICKED OUt!!! Could we get a title change??? They exchanged strikes, and later Bayley bit a back suplex to stay in control. Bayley hit a big running knee in the corner as Naomi looks to have a hurt leg, Bayley went up top but Naomi kicked her and tried the split leg moonsault but Bayley moved… and then trapped Naomi’s leg in her own shirt, then used some kind of facebuster move to slam Naomi to the floor and get the pin. Bayley retains… this was certainly better that I though it would be, but then again I didn’t expect a proper match… so yeah… Bayley vs Sasha at Mania PLEASE!!!

** 

Goldberg defeated The Fiend (C) to win the Universal Championship 

crowd did the GOLDBERG chants and cheered him loudly as he came out. He looks in amazing shape. My guy Bray is making his entrance and im so so nervous… The Fiend’s entrance is an absolutely unbelievable watch by the way, maybe one of the best ever. They are doing the introductions and SO FAR we have no red light… They had a staredown… Bray took off the jacket, Goldberg spear, bray kicks out… Fiend got the claw… Goldberg powered out, another spear, and another… and another, 2 count… Bray got the claw… it was in for ages, Goldberg headbutt to get out of it and knees, looking for jackhammer, hits it, 123. Goldberg wins the title. FUCK OFF.

*

Fiend got right back up after the pin and the lights went out as goldberg celebrated with the belt and the fiend was gone… Goldberg won the belt…

Roman vs Goldberg for the belt at mania then

NGL rn im fuming. Maybe its the beers or the shock but rn im fuming. I know whats next or apparently next for the fiend so maybe that’ll cheer me up… but yeah rn you can FUCK RIGHT OFF!!!

Josh. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Royal Rumble 2020 – Review

OK so firstly, yes I’m a day late with this, but I had very little sleep after watching this show live. So by the time it came to do a write up about it, I was way too tired to do so! Instead you’ve got a PPV review on a Tuesday. But for anyone who didn’t see this incredible event, it was well worth the wait to read all about it, TRUST ME! Secondly, It’s very easy when you write about (and watch a lot of) professional wrestling like I do to overstate and exaggerate how good or bad something is. But in this case… FUCK, THAT! If you didn’t love the 2020 Royal Rumble, and didn’t come out of that show as a fan feeling happy, fulfilled and excited by what you had seen, then you really need to find something else to be a fan of. This may not have been the best PPV of all time, but in time it could well be remembered as one of… but for now, in recent memory at times at least, it was certainly one of the coolest. And for every Seth vs Fiend @HIAC, we have the 2020 Men’s Rumble match. For as long as I live I will never ever forget the 2020 Royal Rumble PPV. So let me shut up and get cracking talking about it. Enjoy!


KICK OFF SHOW:

Sheamus defeated Shorty G

This was exactly the sort of match you’d expect these two to have. It was the epitome of a pre show match, it felt at the time it went way too long but in fact it went about 12 minutes. And that, feeling like a match was longer than it really was, is not a good sign. Sheamus looked just like Sheamus in what was his first match since WrestleMania, so that was good at least. Sheamus eventually won with a Brogue Kick. Yawn.

**

Andrade (C) with Zelina Vega defeated Humberto Carrillo to retain the United States Championship

It appears Tom Phillips and Jerry Lawler will be calling the Raw branded action for the show. This was a really fun match, but they didn’t go as full-on as you’d expect and think these two could go, but what they did was great in-ring. Andrade got what appeared a sneak win with a form of roll up.

***


MAIN SHOW:

We were gifted with a quite brilliant video package previewing the Royal Rumble, narrated by none other than Stone Cold Steve Austin. If the goal of this was to hype us up for the show, mission accomplished.

Roman Reigns defeated King Corbin in a Falls Count Anywhere Match

They went all over the place, as you’d expect, which was fine for people watching on TV but for those in the arena I’m not sure they had too much fun trying to see what was going on in this match. The tag teams that had helped both guys in recent weeks both made appearances during the match, so at times it was as much a 6 man tag (and even a straight tag match at times) as a singles match. KING Corbin had a big grandeur entrance with his own thrown and everything, so Roman had seen enough of this and went to take the fight to him outside the ring. There were so many spots in this match so I’ll just list those best I can:  Corbin hit a Deep Six (which continues to be the most underutilized move in the WWE) for a nearfall, Corbin chokeslammed Roman through an announce table for another two count, They went deep through the crowd and Roman hit two Samoan Drops through some conveniently placed tables for a nearfall of his own, Ziggler and Roode came out and tried to handcuff Reigns to some railings before The Usos made the save (this was when Corbin and Reigns, the two guys IN THE MATCH, seemed to disappear for a few minutes and let the tag teams fight), Jey Uso was being double teamed until Jimmy Uso came flying off a big scaffolding-type structure onto everyone in what was a pretty cool looking spot in fairness, Corbin reemerged to attack Jimmy Uso, then Roman came back out and hit two Superman Punches, then Roman put Corbin into a PORTAPOTTY (Portaloo for us Britsh people) because of course there was a portapotty and he then tipped it over… and for the finish they were on top of the dug out (they were in a baseball stadium) Reigns gave Corbin a Superman Punch after Corbin was stood over him gloating, and then a Spear for the win. The crowd loved this in fairness. This went over 20 minutes and as there was always a chance this would be, it was a tad-overbooked but it wasn’t bad so to speak… it was, fine.

**1/2 

Backstage we had Kevin Owens talking with Samoa Joe. Owens reminded him he had a good history in Houston (Owens has won the IC and Universal titles in the city in the past), and said he would throw Seth Rollins over the top rope and win the Royal Rumble here too. Joe came back by saying that he (as was stated on Raw) would go through Owens to win the Rumble for himself if he had to.

Elsewhere, Sonya Deville (with Mandy Rose by her side) was spoken to by Kayla Braxton. She said she and Mandy Rose were not like Kevin Owens and Samoa Joe. And Sonya even said she would eliminate HERSELF if it came down to her and Rose as the final two. Deville then left as the camera panned to Mandy.

It looks like they may be going back to some form of Romance/infatuation angle here… interesting.

Both of these segments were really good.

Michael Cole talked about the death of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna. They then showed a graphic for Kobe.

Charlotte Flair won the Women’s Royal Rumble Match

This was a fun rumble with lots of NXT surprises. Bianca Belair got the elimination record, then so did Shayna Baszler later on from the number 30 spot. Beth Phoenix came in as a surprise, and despite being busted open bad to the back of the head, looked great. Charlotte won by last eliminating Baszler. Alexa Bliss was number 1, and NXT’s Bianca Belair was number 2. Number 3 was MIGHTY Molly (whom got a good pop coming out, but was not good in-ring wise really, she was banged up after I’m not sure when but she did little and what she did was not good here), Nikki Cross was number 4. Lana was number 5, and to the joy of nobody watching I’m sure was carrying a Mic. She cut a heel promo on her way to the ring. Recent new WWE NXT signee Mercedes Martinez was number 6, and of course with Lana in the ring already it was Liv Morgan at 7. Liv almost immediately eliminated Lana, and not long after Lana pulled Liv down from off the top rope to eliminate her and the two brawled on the outside. Number 8 was Mandy Rose. Candice LeRae (whom was VERY popular with me and the people I was watching with) was number 9. Bianca eliminated Molly. And then in a FANTASTIC spot that got a massive pop from the crowd in the arena and the people where I was, Alexa Bliss looked to have eliminated Mandy Rose, but Rose fell to the outside and landed… ON OTIS! This giant man appeared to be perfectly placed laying on the floor for his precious Mandy to fall onto him and stop her from being eliminated. Otis then carefully lifted Mandy back into the ring. An AWESOME spot. Conveniently Sonya Deville was number 10. Fire and Desire teamed up to eliminate Mercedes Martinez. Kairi Sane and her spinning Umbrella were number 11. Mia Yim was number 12. Kairi hit a great Insane Elbow to Candice LeRae. In another good spot Bianca Belair utilized her strength to lift up Alexa Bliss and use her as  a battering ram to inadvertently knock her tag team partner Nikki Cross off the apron to the floor and Cross was gone. Then with Mandy nearing elimination her tag partner Sonya Deville almost sent her out by accident… only for Mandy to fall into the arms once again of Otis (who had stayed outside of the ring ever since his first save of Rose). Bianca Belair then threw Sonya into both Mandy and Otis and this led to them all falling down and both Mandy and Sonya were out. Number 13 was Dana Brooke, as Belair eliminated her fellow NXT superstar Candice LeRae with a press slam over the ropes. Alexa Bliss then hit Kairi as Sane was on the top rope and now she was gone. Tamina was 14 and (thank GOD) was out again almost as quick as Belair eliminated her. At the half way stage the only women in were the 1&2 entrants and the number 15 Dakota Kai after Mia Yim was eliminated by Alexa Bliss. Number 16 was NXT’s Chelsea Green (who came out with her manager Robert Stone) and got out Dakota Kai, but was immediately after that eliminated by Bliss, and then Belair eliminated Dana Brooke and now we were just left with the 1st and 2nd entrants remaining in the ring. They had a pretty fun exchange and back and forth on the ring apron that saw Alexa trying to grab Bianca’s famed hair, only for Belair to use this to pull Bliss into the ring post hard and this caused Bliss to fall out after entering at Number 1 and lasting a solid 26 minutes. This left Bianca all on her own until of course number 17… was Charlotte Flair. In a expected (by me) yet cool surprise entrant we had number 18 as the returning Naomi (sporting a great big afro hairstyle) who got a huge pop. Charlotte and Naomi teamed up on Belair. Number 19 was Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix. Toni Storm was number 20. Charlotte eliminated Belair with a big boot as she was on the top rope. Belair lasted for 33 minutes and got 8 eliminations, which was the most in one rumble match in the short history of the Women’s Rumble… for now… Number 21 was Kelly Kelly (urgh). Sarah Logan was 22 but was out right away by Charlotte. Kelly Kelly tried to eliminate Charlotte, only for Charlotte to throw out her. Natalya was number 23 and she soon reunited by her tag team partner Beth Phoenix (who was bleeding heavily from the back of her head and had blood in her hair, apparently after colliding with a ring post) to give Charlotte Flair a powerbomb. NXT’s Xia Li was number 24. Zelina Vega was number 25. Shotzi Blackheart of NXT was number 26. Charlotte Flair had Phoenix’s blood down her arm now. Natalya throw out Naomi… but Naomi landed on the barricade and balanced so that she clung on and was not out of the match. Because of course she had to do a spot like this, it would be rude not to. She eventually made her way to the top of an announce table as Number 27 was Carmella. Charlotte went out BUT via the middle ropes as Natalya and Beth Phoenix launched her to the outside. Number 28 was Tegan Nox.

Number 29 was Santina Marella. they did a spot. Marella eliminated themselves. I can’t be arsed with this spot. FUCK OFF IT’S 2020.

The final entrant, was SHAYNA BASZLER. She went on an absolute TEAR; attacking Charlotte on the outside, and then very quickly eliminating: Xia Li, Tegan Nox, Zelina Vega, Shotzi, Carmella, Storm and Naomi (who did by the way make her way back into the ring with some parkour type stuff). In a great sequence we had Beth and Natalya team up on Baszler to give her a Hart Attack, and then BETH ELIMINATED NATALYA (having herself been eliminated by Nattie in the first women’s rumble)!!! Charlotte came back into the match, this led to a Shayna – Charlotte face off. Shayna eliminated Phoenix (who was really impressive in the match in all she did, and carrying on despite blood coming from her head. They had a brief exchange… but to the surprise of most people (me incvluded) who had Baszler as my favourite to come in number 30 as a shock and win the whole thing… Charlotte used a leg scissors to eliminate Baszler and your 2020 Women’s Royal Rumble match winner is Charlotte Flair. WE had fireworks and everything as Charlotte pointed at the sign etc. Flair was interviewed after and cut a heel promo saying she didn’t care if people liked it or not, but that this was her division. An interesting choice of winner. I’m not sure where they go with this now, given I had assumed it was Becky vs Shayna and Sasha vs Bayley for WrestleMania. Where The Queen fits in to all this remains to be seen. Overall I enjoyed this, lots of fun spots and surprises entrants. Charlotte winning is interesting, but I had assumed Charlotte had to win a rumble at some stage. Baszler also got 8 eliminations to match Belair’s record set earlier in the match. Apparently Kelly Kelly was the one who came in for Sasha Banks, who was not on the show at all even with Bayley as she is apparently hurt or not yet cleared.

***1/2 

King Corbin did an interviewing. He basically moaned about Reigns having help earlier (despite him having help also), but said it didn’t matter as he was going to win the Royal Rumble later anyway. Good luck with that I say…

Bayley (C) defeated Lacey Evans to retain the SmackDown Women’s Championship

This… coming after a rumble, was in a tough spot. But as a match it was just as TV match for me. Lacey and Bayley were perfectly fine in their respective roles but the match was nothing really. The finish was so flat, with Evans going up top for a Springboard Moonsault, only for Bayley to get her knees up and then pin Evans for the win to retain. Went just under 10 minutes. Bang Average for me.

**

‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt (C) defeated Daniel Bryan in a Strap Match to retain the Universal Championship

WE HAD NO RED LIGHT DURING THE MATCH!!! HALLELUJAH!!!

The Fiend had the custom title with his face on. It’s growing on me I have to admit.

Bryan started off by hitting the Yes kicks in the corner, only for The Fiend to hit a HUGE powerbomb and then hit him with the strap. Bryan looked like he’d been absolutely battered very early on. Daniel Bryan’s elbow was bleeding after being hit in the arm with the strap. Bray went for a Sister Abigail, only for Bryan to hit a kick to the head, and then right after he hit a running knee to Bray to a huge pop and got a nearfall as he came close to the big upset just minutes in. They brawled outside after Bryan hit a big dive, Bray threw him into the steps but then Bryan used the strap to force Bray collide with the ring post. Daniel Bryan hit a running knee off the apron… only for The Fiend to hit a huge clothesline almost right away after. Bray then put Bryan on an announce table, so then the BABYFACE Bryan kicked Bray down low FIVE times, and then a ddt onto the table. He then whacked Bryan with the strap a tonne of times as the crowd did the Yes chants. Bryan then went to town with a missile dropkick, more Yes kicks, more hits with the strap and finished off with a kick to the head… Only for The Fiend to no-sell all of it and demand more, Bryan then hit some nasty looking kicks to the head, and led more Yes chants followed by the running knee… only for The Fiend to catch him with a Sister Abigail for a nearfall that I watching legitimately thought was the finish. After an exchange The Fiend tried for the mandible claw, only for Bryan to get some form of submission, and then Wyatt got the claw.. only for Daniel Bryan to get the Yes lock and used the strap for extra leverage. The crowd went nuts for this willing Bryan on, I as a Wyatt fan was terrified. The Fiend though escaped and just battered away at Bryan. Daniel Bryan got a couple more nearfalls after a schoolboy and then another running knee. Bryan started his babyface spot trying to gee up the crowd, only for The Fiend in the background to get right back up to his feet. Bryan hit a few shots with the straps, The Fiend no sold it. The Fiend then got the mandible claw in again and then hit what was almost a ‘claw-slam’ I guess, and this was enough to pin Daniel Bryan for the 1, 2, 3. After the match The Fiend held up his title then did his lights-out gimmick and disappeared. After he was gone a very beaten up Bryan (who was COVERED in welts from the strap and his body just looked battered) was seen to by officials. The crowd gave him a huge ovation. Bryan sold how devastating this was so well, but also brushed off the help and limped to the back on his own will. I’ve absolutely no idea where he goes from here but I’m intrigued.

This was BY A MILE the best Fiend match so far. Daniel Bryan is one of the very VERY best in the world. He’s up there with the top stars in New Japan and AEW. Just the most unbelievable professional wrestler, The Fiend played his part too, but Bryan was incredible in his role in this match.

****1/2 

Becky Lynch (C) defeated Asuka with Kairi Sane to retain the Raw Women’s Championship

This was fine. But I can’t help feel underwhelmed by it given the great build up. It may have suffered going on after the match prior, and the fact that the live crowd seemed to think Asuka stood no chance of winning, which kind of took away from the atmosphere. Asuka missed her green mist spot and this led to the dis-arm-her to give Becky the win. Towards the start, Lynch got out the way of a hip attack from Asuka and applied a dis-arm-her whilst in the middle of the ropes, and then hit a dropkick for a nearfall. They then traded nearfalls after a shining wizard by Asuka and then a bulldog and low dropkick from Becky. Becky hit a suplex on Asuka off the apron, and Lynch followed up with a dropkick and Exploder suplex into the barricade, and then a leg drop back in the ring to get a nearfall. Asuka then hit some strikes, a hip attack on the apron and then Lynch hit a kick and a  Uranage off the middle rope for a two count. Asuka caught Lynch coming flying from the top rope with what looked like a codebreaker and then tried an armbar but Becky countered into a pinfall attempt. Asuka then got an Asuka Lock but Becky got to the ropes. Asuka then hit a German Suplex and then a HUGE kick to the head that lynch sold like she was knocked out (you definitely could’ve convinced me the way she went down). The referee even went over to call the match off, but Lynch grabbed his leg to stop him. Asuka hit a series of kicks to Becky’s chest and then one to her head for another nearfall. She then countered another dis-arm-her to a schoolboy pin for a two count, Lynch though came back with a type of ddt. Becky then almost collided with the ref, and then as she turned around Asuka went for the green mist, only for Becky to kick her in the chest and this made Asuka spit her mist into the air. Straight after she applied the dis-arm-her and Asuka TAPPED OUT. I actually really liked this finish, and Lynch seemed emotional after and sold this as a huge win for her. Who and what now for both of these women going forward remains to be seen.

***3/4 

Street Profits did their typical promo stuff hyping the men’s rumble. It was hilarious.

Drew McIntyre won the Men’s Royal Rumble Match

Booker T (in his hometown of Houston) came out to a big pop beforehand to do commentary. They announced before the match that Rusev and Lashley had been in a serious brawl before the show tonight, and neither were cleared to be in the rumble match… so we have two slots that have now opened up… hmmm… Anyway to being with here we had the WWE Champion Brock Lesnar came out first as number one, with his advocate Paul Heyman with him at ringside looking after the WWE Championship belt. And number 2 was… Elias. He came out and sung us a song about a “sacrificial lamb”… turns out HE was that lamb. As he was singing away Lesnar decided he had had enough of this crap and ran outside to ‘greet’ poor Elias. He battered him into the ring and smashed Elias’ guitar over him as the match officially got underway. Brock then eliminated Elias. NEXT. Number 3 was Rowan. He lasted 8 seconds. NEXT. Number 4 was Robert Roode. He lasted 41 seconds. NEXT. Number 5 was John Morrison. He lasted a measly NINE seconds on his return. NEXT (Brock now had 4 eliminations to his name within a few minutes of the match starting). Number 6… was the man Brock beat for the WWE title Kofi Kingston! This came across as what could be a BIG moment, and as it turned out Kofi was the first guy to stay in the ring before the next participant came out. The crowd were hot as they brawled. Number 7 was another recent enemy of The Beast, Rey Mysterio. Brock seemed to get the better of both men and sent both packing to the outside of the ring, without eliminating them. Number 8 was Kofi’s fellow New Day member Big E. Big E seemed to rally the troops and the three seemed prime to attack Lesnar 3 on 1. I was a little sad at this point that Xavier Woods was hurt, because this would have been even cooler a moment had it been the 3 New day members taking on Lesnar instead. But anyway the three valiant heroes tried, and initially got the advantage with each hitting their finisher (Big E hitting the Big Ending on BROCK LESNAR as if it was the easiest thing he’s ever done was one heck of a sight by the way)… but of course Lesnar eventually marked his territory again… after Rey and Big E tried to hit the classic Hardy Boyz spot with E down on his knees for Rey to springboard off, Lesnar caught Mysterio and threw him out, and then it was in fact Brock who lept off of Big E’s back and clotheslined Kingston before eliminating both Kofi and Big E. This was a quite spectacular sequence of moves. Number 9 was Cesaro. He lasted 18 seconds. NEXT. Number 10 was Shelton Benjamin. He’s Brock’s long time friend so was warmly greeted by Heyman and seemed to form an alliance with Brock in the ring… but as soon as Benjamin had his back turned Brock got rid of him. Shelton went for 37 seconds. NEXT. Nakamura was 11 and lasted 20 seconds. The returning MVP (Montel Vontavious Porter) was number 12. We caught a glimpse of Lesnar bopping to MVP’s BANGER of a theme music. MVP lasted 24 seconds. Lesnar now had 11 eliminations to his name. NEXT… NEXT… WAS NXT’s KEITH LEE! A moment me and all watchers of NXT have dreamed of… we got it. The crowd popped LOUD for Lee, and the staredown between both giants was awesome. Brock even could be clearly mouthing (as Lee was making his way to the ring) that Lee was a ‘big boy’ and asked ‘who’s this motherfucker?’ which made me laugh as it was like Brock legit didn’t know who he was. Anyway once in the ring and toe to toe with The Beast, Keith Lee stood tall when Lesnar tried to knock him down, and then lee knocked down Brock with a shoulder block in a HUGE moment which got a massive pop. Then then knocked one another down with dualing clotheslines. With both men down another giant came in at 14; Braun Strowman! He went after both guys and knocked Lee through the ropes. He later went for Brock but got caught with a German Suplex, as did Keith Lee, a couple for each of them. But then as Lee and Braun both brawled it was Brock who went behind them and eliminated them BOTH. The crowd was not happy. But Keith Lee was and is now for me at least a MEGAstar after this performance against Lesnar. Brock now had the REAL record of 13 eliminations. Number 15 was Ricochet. He got beat up. Number 16 was Drew McIntyre. He went toe to toe with Brock, Lesnar removed his MMA gloves… and as he did Ricochet got revenge on Brock for the previous Raw by giving him a low blow… AND THEN… DREW MCINTYRE HIT A HUGE CLAYMORE KICK TO BROCK AND THIS SENT LESNAR FLYING OUT THE RING!!! DREW MCINTYRE ELIMINATED BROCK LESNAR FROM THE ROYAL RUMBLE! This got a MASSIVE POP! Brock went 26 minutes. I don’t ever again want to here anyone criticise Brock, because he was AWESOME in this Rumble. He sold to who he should have and made Keith Lee into a star. And made Drew McIntyre into a legend. Lesnar stayed down on the ring mat floor for about a couple of minutes without really moving after the Claymore. Then once he got back to his feet he staggered away to sell to Drew some more. The crowd gave him the goodbye song. Brock Lesnar is the best seller in WWE, DO NOT DARE @ ME! Drew eliminated Ricochet. Miz was 17, and Drew quickly got him out. Drew then went right back to glaring at Brock. This was fucking awesome and Drew came off as the biggest star you could ever imagine anyone being. AJ Styles was number 18. Dolph Ziggler was number 19 and Karl Anderson was number 20… and then…

THEN…

Professional wrestling has gifted me some amazing moments and memories in my life. Moments that have made me feel so much joy and excitement as if I was a small child at Christmas. The Royal Rumble is prime for moments like this. This one was like no other I have ever witnessed. At Number 21… was EDGE!!! I, the people with me, the live crowd in Houston and I’m 100% sure everybody else watching LOST THEIR FUCKING MINDS!!! He looked in incredible shape, got fireworks in his entrance and… I was beyond words. This wasn’t just the best Royal rumble moment of all time, but one of the best moments in the history of WWE and pro wrestling as a whole. Absolutely beyond our wildest of dreams. He came into the ring and hit Spears to pretty much everyone in the ring. Naturally the crowd was still losing it’s mind as all this took place, as was I.

King Corbin was number 22. AJ Styles was then eliminated by Edge. Number 23 was NXT’s Matt Riddle which was cool. But he got beat up by Drew and then Edge and then tossed out by Corbin all within about 30 seconds. Almost as if he’d pissed someone off… (google it)… Number 24 was Luke Gallows. Corbin hit Edge with a Deep Six, before being eliminated by McIntyre. Randy Orton was out at number 25. He combined with fellow Rated RKO buddie Edge to go at The O.C. and they got both of them out. Roman Reigns was number 26. He quickly gave Ziggler a Spear and got rid of him. Kevin Owens came in at 27 and gave cannonballs all round, pop up powerbombed Drew and gave Roman a stunner. KO then avoided an RKO and hit Randy Orton with a stunner too. Number 28 was Aleister Black. He hit Owens and Edge with high knees and then a Black Mass to Drew. Samoa Joe was 29 and right away he traded strikes with Owens. Number 30 was Seth Rollins. He smugly made his way towards the ring with the rest of his gang in tow… Owens and Joe then went under the ropes and to go fight with Seth’s crew of AOP and Buddy Murphy. The heel group then pulled Orton and Edge under the ring ropes and attacked them. Seth Rollins hit stomps to both Reigns and McIntyre. Murphy saved Rollins from Black. Rollins eliminated Black. Owens hit a stunner on Seth Rollins, he then went to throw him out but AOP were there to catch their leader. Just after as Owens went to attack both Akam and Rezar, Seth Rollins eliminated Kevin Owens. Murphy saved Rollins from a Coquina Clutch from Samoa Joe, and then Rollins eliminated Joe. Then a big brawl began outside that led AOP, Murphy, Joe, Owens and I think Black also away from the ringside area. Rollins no longer had his buddies to help him. As this happened the other four final superstars all surrounded Rollins. Seth tried to pal up with his former Shield buddie Roman Reigns, but Reigns hit him with a superman punch. Orton, Drew and Edge all his big moves on Rollins and then Drew eliminated Rollins. Edge and Orton seemed to again form an alliance. Orton hit an RKO on Drew and then Edge hit him with a Spear. Rated RKO then combined to hit a double RKO. Orton then set up to RKO his apparent friend, but Edge caught him beforehand. Orton tried to act all innocent and jokey, but Edge soon after threw out Orton! Roman Reigns tried to Spear Edge, but he dodged it and hit a Spear of his own. They then traded strikes on the apron, this ended with Roman striking Edge off the apron to eliminate him. The crowd hated this. But Edge was very very impressive in his shock return. The final two were Roman and Drew. Reigns hit a Superman Punch and tried to throw McIntyre out, but Drew managed to push Roman off him. Roman went against the ropes looking to get extra momentum on a Spear… but as Roman came back he got hit with a massive Claymore! The crowd went absolutely apeshit for this… and they only got louder and louder as Drew grabbed Roman and threw him out. DREW MCINTYRE WON THE 2020 MEN’S ROYAL RUMBLE MATCH!!! This was absolutely fucking brilliant. What a moment.

In the build up to this event I’ve gone back and watched most of the previous year’s Rumble matches. The classics and the rest; 2001, 2002, the 2018 Men’s, 1992, my guilty pleasure 1999… I could go on and on. But for so many reasons, this was the best Royal Rumble Match I’ve ever seen. The Brock stuff and the many many stars he made. Drew winning, and the return of EDGE. Absolutely incredible stuff. Bravo WWE. This was a masterpiece.

*****

The road to WrestleMania is well underway. And although they say its more about the destination than the journey, the journey has begun in the most amazing way. This was one of the best and most enjoyable WWE PPV’s for a long long time.

Josh. 

Royal Rumble 2000 – Review

The year 2000 was financially the best year in company history for the then World Wrestling Federation. They were far and away the number one company, WAYYYYYY ahead of WCW. We were still within the Attitude Era. Business was certainly a BOOMIN… but when you think Attitude Era, who do you think of usually? Well, I know I think of Vince McMahon, and Stone Cold Steve Austin. BUT… Austin wasn’t here (out with a serious injury, explained by that awful angle the previous November of him being ran down by someone who… ‘did it for The Rock’…) and Vince wasn’t on TV too. Instead the McMahon-Helmsley era was in full force as WWF Champion Triple H and ‘that jezebel’ Stephanie as the lead authority figures, with DX doing their biding. The Rock, in the absence of Austin, was BY FAR the top star in the business but as he was aiming to win the Royal Rumble Match itself and get the prized spot in the main event of WrestleMania, it was cult hero Mankind who was the good to the evil champion of The Game… although it wasn’t Mankind who stood opposite the WWF Champion in Madison Square Garden… it was Cactus Jack! And that is someone who is a whole-nother level of insane… as we certainly saw! On the TWENTIETH anniversary of this show, and with the 2020 Royal Rumble around the corner, now felt like as good a time as ever to look back at this show and see what went down. So here is my review of the 2000 Royal Rumble Pay Per View. Enjoy.

The show began with a cool video focusing on the title match later between some guy who looks just like Mick Foley, and a much younger looking version of that jacked dude who runs NXT… As the show began it struck me how many crowd signs we used to get at that time. Jim Ross, and The King Jerry Lawler introduced us to the show from MSG. I should also note the entrance way was opposite the hard-camera, which was a unique but really cool look for me that has become a WWE-MSG trademark.

Taz defeated Kurt Angle 

Howard Finkel gave Kurt the big intro. They pushed Angle being undefeated, he was booed by the crowd and also still had hair, which is funny. He cut a good promo in his great obnoxious, overtly happy heel style. And he slagged off the local sports team for the easy heat. He said he’ll be the crowd’s champion… at this point I can audibly here people chanting “WE WANT TAZ” as Kurt went on to talk all about this “mystery opponent” and told him to remember your 3 I’s, and to come on out here and ‘give it your all’… And then… The Intro to Taz’s music played… and this crowd went NUTS! A HUGE pop greeted the former ECW Champion as he made his way to the ring to a thunderous ovation. Credit to JR and The King who sold it as a huge surprise. Taz, who is from Brooklyn, New York which helped, came out in his OG ECW gear. You’ll notice I’m referring to him as Taz (as he was in ECW) and not Tazz as he was in WWF/E… Tazz in WWE was a loser, mid-carder afterthought. Taz with one Z in ECW was a real Human Suplex Machine. In this match Kurt Angle faced Taz! Taz beat On Angle early on before Angle came back when they were on the outside, Taz though got an overhead Belly to Belly from the 2nd rope and got a 3 count, but Kurt had his foot on the ropes. Kurt got a couple of nearfalls, after this Kurt took a really horrible looking bump from some weird suplex thing that Taz did that looked rough to take and I’m not sure if that legit dazed Kurt or whatever, but not long after this Taz did a couple more suplexes and then the Taz-mission and Angle passed out. Taz won and the crowd was very happy. A tonne of refs and doctors came out after to tend to Kurt, I think this was a sell job though to get Taz over as Angle was moved onto a stretcher. Commentary sold this as if Angle was really in big trouble. This was a fine showcase for Taz in his WWF debut, but its hard looking back now to be so fond of this knowing how underwhelming Taz’s WWF/E run ended up being. Not much of a match (it went about 3 minutes), but for what it was meant to be it did the job for sure.

*3/4 

A VERY young looking Michael Cole was backstage interviewing The Hardy’s and their valet Terri Runnels. They cut a promo on the Dudleys. Terri was warned off coming out their for the match by Jeff, and Matt says they weren’t meant to be in the WWF, but they are here, and tonight they were gonna put the Dudleys through tables, or they will die trying.

The Hardy Boyz (Matt Hardy & Jeff Hardy) defeated The Dudley Boyz (D-Von Dudley & Bubba Ray Dudley) in a Tables Match 

Bubba Ray cut a promo beforehand, stutter and all… he talked about the New York people cheering for The Hardy Boyz and made a baseball reference than I personally didn’t understand, but the people seemed fairly riled up by it. This was everything you’d think it would be, lots of brawling, lots of crazy high spots, and lots and lots of teases of table spots, and some horrible crash and burn table spots. It went just over ten minutes but it was fun whilst it lasted. Bubba was eliminated via a leg drop by Matt off of a Ladder (because, of course there were ladders involved…). At one stage the Hardys put D-Von on a table and Matt went for a leg drop, only for D-Von to move out the way and Matt went crashing through the table. And just after Jeff went for a suicide dive or something like that (?) but crashed through a table on the outside… but bizarrely Lawler on commentary questioned if the match was over?, Jim Ross pointed out that “absolutely not” and The King cleared up that it had to be an offensive move [that caused someone to go through a table] in order for an elimination to count… ok then, once again WWF/E changing the rules for when it suits them. LOL. ANYWAY… in a great spot Bubba Ray powerbombed Matt through a table balanced on two sets of steps, so if you were keeping score it was currently 1-1. Both teams later brawled into the entrance way at the top of the aisle, Bubba hitting Matt right in the face with a chair, before setting up two tables… and I knew immediately what famous spot was coming up later… The Dudleys put Matt on the tables and as Jeff made the save it was Bubba who used a chair on Jeff, Bubba and Jeff then brawled into the crowd and ended up on a balcony above the start of the entrance way, Jeff hit a low blow and then two chair shots and this led Bubba to fall through the tables below… OUCH… Matt (who was below) but D-Von on a table and Jeff then took his shirt off, posed and then hit a huge Swanton Bomb from the balcony and crashed though D-Von on the table below. This was an all-time iconic spot. The Hardys get the win in a fun match… if you can call it a ‘match’… but it had all the hardcore type stuff you’d want and expect from a match between these two teams. The Dudleys selling after the match was really good.

**3/4 

Kurt Angle was backstage being checked on by medical officials. He was still dazed and confused, but had time to say that if he was choked out he was still undefeated…

Oh boy… right I’m going to keep this next bit brief because it was… yeah… it was very much ‘of the time’ shall we say…

We had the ‘Miss Royal Rumble 2000’ contest. Sgt. Slaughter, Tony Gorea, Fabulous Moolah, Johhny Valiant, Freddie Blassie and some guy from the Conan O’Brien Show were the judges, and Lawler was the master of ceremonies. Basically one by one we had Ivory, Terri, Jacqueline, B.B., Luna and the WWF WOMENS CHAMPION The Kat come out in their own swimsuit outfits and they danced and posed for the crowd and the judges… and then MAE YOUNG came out and revealed her own swimsuit… and then she… well she eventually pulled her top down and although they were censored on TV, everyone in MSG that night saw Mae’s boobs… the crowd were… well they made noise put it that way… thank GOD for Mark Henry coming out to cover Mae up and make the save for us ALL! It was revealed in the end that Mae won the contest…

Mae Young was 77 years old in 2000.

In 2020, and I’m sure in 2000 it would be the same, this was horrible to watch as a segment. Jim Ross noted on commentary that Ivory found this whole thing demeaning… YOU DON’T FUCKING SAY!!!

The Attitude Era Ladies and Gentleman…

I kind of coasted through the rest of the show before the two main matches, That segment took the life out of me. and NOT in the way it was meant to!

A VERY young looking Jonathan Coachman was at WWF New York with some very wild fans.

The Co-Intercontinental Champions Chris Jericho and Chyna were backstage talking about who should wear the belt to the ring, Earl Hebner eventually came into shot and took the belt from them and said we would find out who is the Undisputed Intercontinental Champion.

Chris Jericho (C) defeated Hardcore Holly and Chyna (C) in a triple threat match to become the Undisputed Intercontinental Champion 

Jericho was by a mile the most over of the three with the crowd. I’m so over three ways at this stage in WWE as they all seem the same to me and this was nothing different. One guy on the outside as the other two brawled and did spots… Holly was fine, Chyna was… Chyna… and Jericho worked very hard in this match and was good. One good spot from Chyna was a handspring Elbow into the corner followed by a DDT to Jericho which got her a 2 count nearfall until Holly broke it up. Later Hardcore Holly tried to hit Chyna with a chair but Jericho distracted him, and this allowed Chyna to dropkick the chair into Holly’s face. Chyna and Jericho later both came off the top rope onto Holly and both went for the cover, but Holly still kicked out in time. Chyna and Jericho then brawled, she then hit him with a low blow and then hit a Pedigree on Holly for a 2 count. There was some bizarre 3 way spot where they all came off the top rope, it ended with Jericho hitting a crossbody on Chyna for a nearfall. Chyna would later hit Holly with a chair as the ref had his back turned, and she followed this with a Boston Crab submission… until Jericho came in and hit her with a bulldog and then the Lionsault off the ring ropes. He then covered her for the 1, 2, 3 and the win. Chris Jericho is your Undisputed Intercontinental Champion, to the delight of the MSG crowd. This was… alright I guess… but at least the most popular performer with the crowd got the win here…

**1/2

Michael Cole was backstage interviewing The Rock… The ROCK was really over with the crowd… … …Rock said he was ‘concerned’ with Crash Holly and Headbanger Mosh in the rumble, and that if he can get past them, then he was in with a shot of winning the Royal Rumble. This was legitimately hilarious. Cole asked if he should be more concerned with Big Show, Rock said he should be more concerned with Shuttup Juice! Rock then cut a classic promo on the Big Show. This was pretty standard Rock stuff, which means it was exceptional.

The New Age Outlaws (Billy Gunn & Road Dogg) (C) defeated The Acolytes (Bradshaw & Faarooq)

Jim Ross said on commentary that “many consider this team [talking about the new age outlaws] to be the greatest WWF Tag Team Champions in history”… WHO THE FUCK are these people JR?????? Anyway as a match this was… well it existed, but as a feud and as a story it bored me a little (it was pretty much just about who the better team were, kinda like the recent Gable&Roode vs The Revival from a few months ago on Raw). For the record Bradshaw hit the Clothesline from Hell on Billy Gunn, as Faarooq hit a Spinebuster on Road Dogg. But then as Faarooq went for the cover it was Gunn who pulled the ref from the ring, only for Bradshaw to knock the ref and Gunn down. This allowed for X-Pac to come out and hit a spinning heel kick to Bradshaw, Gunn then hit his finisher the Fam-ASS-er to Bradshaw to retain the tag titles. This was about as average as average can be not going to lie, and it went literally a couple of minutes. Boring.

1/2* (0.5)

and now… what we all came for…

Triple H (C) defeated Cactus Jack in a Street Fight to retain the WWF Championship 

There was an exceptional video before the match; it told the story: Triple H as champion, the McMahon-Helmsley era in full force, them firing Mick Foley, them mocking Foley, The Rock leading a revolt of WWF superstars ready to walk out if Foley wasn’t brought back, Foley returning and challenging Triple H for the Rumble, Triple H accepting the challenge but then destroying Mankind, and this leading Mankind to transform into the even more psychotic and maniacal Cactus Jack persona. Cactus came out to a huge pop, and aside from The Rock he was the most over person on the whole show. HHH came out to his iconic ‘My Time’ music which is always a treat. Stephanie came out with him but was ushered to the back by her husband in order to shield her from the chaos that was to come. They brawled to start. HHH used the ring bell, then hit a huge chair shot… only for Cactus to sit back up! Later as they brawled to the outside HHH was dropped onto some wooden pallets (this caused a GIANT gash from Triple H’s leg that bled a disgusting amount). They went back and forth some more until Cactus brought his signature barbed wire bat into play. Only for Triple H to hit the low blow onto Cactus and then he hit him with the bat himself a total of FOUR times!!! Cactus though was able to block a fifth attempt, and then used the bat himself before his ddt type finisher that got a 2 count. There was then a really fun spot; so Cactus Jack wanted the barbed wire bat again, but by now the ref had hidden it for the safety of both men I’m presuming… so Cactus intimidated the ref into telling him where he’d put it… it was with the Spanish commentators for some reason… so, Cactus went to them and got it back. He then proceeded to hit Triple H in the face with it a couple of times for a nearfall. Triple H was bleeding horribly by this point and it was all over his entire face. Cactus then raked Triple H’s face with the bat. Cactus Jack later tried a Piledriver on the table but Triple H instead backdropped him through (kind of) the other announce table, and at this point Triple H looked an absolute mess with blood ALL OVER his face. Triple H was later dropped face first onto the barbed wire bat, this again got a 2 count for Cactus Jack. The action then began to get really quite graphic (as if what we had seen so far wasn’t bad enough) … Triple H tried to handcuff Cactus Jack, as a call back to the previous year’s rumble event when The Rock obliterated Foley with a steel chair, but this time as Triple H rained down punches Cactus was then able to counter when Triple H tried to smash him with steel steps, Cactus Jack was able to utilise a drop toe hold and this caused Triple H to go face first into the steps. As they brawled in the entrance way THE ROCK came out to support his ally Cactus Jack, he hit Triple H with a chair to a giant reaction from the crowd. As both men were down a random police officer appeared and uncuffed Cactus Jack! And now it was on! They brawled which led to Cactus Jack finally hitting his Piledriver onto the announce table, before dragging HHH back into the ring… and then… Cactus Jack went under the ring and pulled out a bag… he then emptied the contents of the bag in the ring… it was THUMBTACKS! Stephanie McMahon came down to ringside to try and stop the match, but as Cactus Jack ran at Triple H it was HHH who lifted his challenger over his head and backdropped him onto the Tacs… so there were many many MANY tacs now puncturing Cactus Jack’s whole body. It looked HORRIFIC. Triple H then hit a Pedigree… but by some act of either God or the Devil depending on your point of view Cactus Jack kicked out at 2! This got a giant pop. What followed was even more barbaric… Triple H then hit another Pedigree but right onto the pile of Tacs. This made me properly grimace and turn away it looked that horrid. This was mercifully enough to get the win for Triple H to retain the title. After the match it was Triple H who was the one who needed to be stretchered away… but Cactus Jack soon ran after him and pushed him back to the ring. Cactus would then hit Triple H again with the barbed wire bat to the face once more. They then played his music so he would end it stood tall, despite not winning the title. This feud would go onto the next PPV and a certain Hell in a Cell Match… which if enough people want to hear about it I may try and review…

This was an all time classic and iconic match. But the amount the tacs was used and the vile nature of what happened with them, and how horrific some of the bumps looked, I cannot award it the perfect score. But it was very close to exceptional as a match.

****3/4 

Jonathan Coachman was again at WWF New York. He this time spoke to Linda McMahon and she said that her, Vince and Shane were very dissapointed at the way Triple H and Stephanie were running things, but ensured they would soon be doing things The McMahon way!  This was obviously the set up for the eventual ‘McMahon in every corner’ debacle for the main event of WrestleMania that year.

The Rock won the 2000 Royal Rumble Match 

Number 1 was D Lo Brown and Number 2 was Grandmaster Sexay. Number 3 was Headbanger Mosh (who looked… weird)… Number 4 was Christian. And Number 5 was Rikishi, who got a huge reaction coming out. This is where it really kicked on. He quickly eliminated Mosh, Christian and Brown, before it was just him face to face with his fellow ‘Too Cool’ member Grandmaster Sexay. A face off with Sexay looking fearful and Rikishi looking ready for business was ended when Number 6 came out… it was the other Too Cool member Scotty 2 Hotty… Scotty put a stop to this… and what followed was an all time CLASSIC moment… just right now, stop what you are doing, go on youtube, and type in ‘Too Cool Dance Royal Rumble 2000′ or something like that… and just enjoy… so… after whatever that was ended with both Scotty and Grandmaster being thrown out, number 7 was the much less fun Steve Blackman, but he was eliminated quickly by Rikishi. Number 8 was Viscera (looking HUGE by the way and I don’t mean muscular)…. he did a fair few moves interacting with Rikishi but given both men’s size this was a sight to behold. Big Boss Man was number 9 but was very reluctant to get into the ring and instead just walked around the outside, so as not to have to go up against Rikishi on his own. Number 10 was Test who got a decent pop from the crowd, he went right after Boss Man, leading both into the ring. British Bulldog was 11, Gangrel was 12, we then had our first run in from disgruntled WWF superstars who weren’t in the rumble… this time was the incomparable Funaki & Taka Michonoku… they were quickly disposed of again… anyway… Number 13 was a very young and very popular Edge, number 14 was of all people… BOB BACKLUND! The returning MSG Legend got a giant ovation, he quickly helped Big Boss Man,  Edge, Gangrel, Test & British Bulldog work together to eliminate Rikishi (who ended with an impressive 7 eliminations to his name). Chris Jericho was number 15 and got a big pop coming out, he quickly got rid of Bob Backlund who proceeded to make his way through the crowd (Jim Ross joked he was looking for registered votes, as Backlund was attempting to run for political office in Connecticut at the time). Crash Holly was number 16 and CHYNA was number 17, a year on from making history as the first woman ever in a rumble, she was here for a 2nd year in a row. She went right after her IC Title rival Chris Jericho and managed to eliminate him,before herself being knocked off the ring apron and to the floor by Big Boss Man. 18 was Faarooq whom was quickly set upon by a run in from the Mean Street Posse, although after he got rid of them he was then thrown out by Big Boss Man. 19 was Road Dogg and 20 was Al Snow. British Bulldog was eliminated by Road Dogg. 21 was Val Venis, 22 was Prince Albert, 23 was Hardcore Holly. Val Venis worked with Al Snow to eliminate Edge, there was a storyline at the time where Edge was dating Val’s sister. And then… the whole complexion of the Rumble changed… after many crowd chants and constant wishful thinking on commentary by Jerry Lawler… Number 24 was… THE ROCK!!! He got a giant pop as you can imagine, and he eliminated Big Boss Man. 25 was Billy Gunn as The Rock eliminated Crash Holly. The game changed once more when number 26 was Big Show! Big show eliminated Test and then Gangrel. Bradshaw was 27 but after another Mean Street Posse run in, Bradshaw was thrown out by both of the New Age Outlaws, before Faarooq returned as the Posse and the Acolytes brawled outside. 28 was Royal Rumble legend KANE. Kane eliminated Val Venis and Prince Albert. Number 29 was The Godfather… and of course… he took his time coming to the ring as he enjoyed his company of his hoes… and finally at Number 30, as was known beforehand, was X-Pac. Then came a series of eliminations: Hardcore Holly was eliminated by Al Snow, Godfather was eliminated by Big Show, Road Dogg out by his tag partner Billy Gunn, Gunn was out via Kane whom was then taken under the ropes and attacked by the Outlaws. X-Pac looked to be eliminated by The Rock, but the refs were busy dealing with Kane and the Outlaws brawling on the outside, so X-Pac crept back into the match! X-Pac then made the most of this and hit a spinning heel kick to eliminate Kane. Big Show eliminated X-Pac, this left us with Show and The Rock as the final 2. As the crowd were hugely behind The Rock he hit a spinebuster and then the People’s Elbow, Show deflated them by hitting Rock with a huge Chokeslam. He then picked Rock up and looked to throw him over the ropes, however Rock looked to have used Show’s own momentum to pull the Big Show over the ropes and Big Show went flying out. It was one heck of a moment. Jim Ross’ amazing commentary “…OH THE BIG SHOW’S OVER, THE ROCK, THE ROCK, HAS WON THE ROYAL RUMBLE” as the crowd in Madison Square Garden went absolutely wild! Rock tried to cut a promo after the match but Show came back out to attack him, and he threw The Rock over the top rope to give him a symbolic win. The two starred off as the show closed, but nonetheless for NOW at least, the winner of the 2000 Royal Rumble Match was The Rock!

***1/2 

Overall this was a fun show. It summed up everything about the Attitude Era in a nutshell really. It was under 3 hours too which was a blessing compared to modern day Pay Per Views. And as much as it should be all about the Royal Rumble Match itself, this show will go down in history for the now legendary street fight. Amazing to think this was TWENTY years ago… If this Sunday’s Royal Rumble is as historic, we are in for a classic show for the ages.

Josh. 

 

WWE In 2019 – A Year In Review

(I DO NOT OWN ANY OF THE IMAGES OR VIDEOS USED IN THIS BLOG. THEY ARE MERELY USED TO ENHANCE PEOPLE’S ENJOYMENT OF MY BLOG. I DON’T MAKE NAY MONEY FORM IT ANYWAY. THANKS. PLEASE DON’T CANCEL ME) 

If you are looking for notable years in the history of professional wrestling, then 2019 will be remembered as one for the ages. Outside of the WWE; we have seen the continual excellence of the in-ring product from New Japan Pro Wrestling. This was no more evident than during the annual G1 Climax tournament over the summer, which was just the most amazing collection of the most incredibly great pro wrestling matches. I’ve never seen that many great matches in such a short space of time, it changed my entire outlook on the business and raised the game to new heights. We’ve also had the re-emergence (for real this time) of Impact Wrestling as a credible company. And of course, above all else 2019 will be remembered as the year that All Elite Wrestling began and immediately became the biggest competitor for WWE since the death of WCW. Putting together a roster of the best of everyone WWE couldn’t get, AEW has presented themselves as an alternative for those fans disillusioned with WWE and those in need of ‘something different’ with their wrestling. Very quickly with the likes of the Young Bucks, Cody, Kenny Omega and their inaugural World Champion Chris Jericho we’ve seen AEW put together a very impressive roster. And following on from a fantastic first show at Double Or Nothing in May which concluded with the debut emergence of Jon Moxley (in what was maybe the best wrestling moment of the year outside of WWE in 2019) they were off to the races. And they haven’t looked back!

As for WWE… I thought a year ago writing a review of 2018 that you couldn’t get a more eventful year to follow if you tried. But 2019 has simply been incredible for good and bad, but always eventful. So in case you have been living under a rock here’s a quick summary: January: Becky and Seth won the rumble matches to set up Mania against Ronda and Brock, February: After an injury to Ali, the road to KOFImania began as he fell breathtakingly short of winning the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber, March: After Roman Reigns return from battling Leukemia The Shield reunited (again), April: WrestleMania was one of the most eventful WWE shows of all time as Seth Rollins, Kofi Kingston and Becky Lynch (winning both women’s titles in the main event no less) were all big winners, and two nights before we had NXT TakeOver: New York which was widely regarded as the best WWE show of all time for the quality of matches, May: Brock Lesnar returned and won the Money in the Bank Ladder match, June: Super ShowDown in Saudi Arabia was the worst WWE show of all time featuring a beyond belief bad match between The Undertaker and Goldberg, July: Brock cashed in and won back the Universal title, August: Summerslam was a brilliant WWE PPV and one of the best from the main roster for a long long time featuring Seth Rollins winning back the Universal title, a redemption for Goldberg in a brilliant squash win over Dolph Ziggler and the debut match of The Fiend, September: Sasha Banks returned with blue hair as a heel after being gone since WrestleMania, October: Seth Rollins somehow became public enemy number 1 to the IWC whilst having a terrible HIAC match against The Fiend before losing the Universal title to him in Saudi Arabia, SmackDown moved to Fox, Brock Lesnar ended KOFImania in 7 seconds, we had another WWE Draft, NXT went to two hours and the Wednesday night war began, November: NXT invaded Raw and SmackDown… and WON, December: we had TLC… . And that’s not even the half of it all, 2019 in WWE has been WILD!

So last year in my blog reviewing 2018 in WWE I tipped 5 WWE superstars for big things in the year ahead. So how did I do you ask? … Matt Riddle, Kacy Cantanzaro, Mustafa Ali, WALTER and Io Shirai.

  • Matt Riddle: With his natural charisma and unique style The Original Bro continued to evolve as a MEGAstar. He had a great match with Velveteen Dream at TakeOver: New York before a feud with Killian Dain led his to an unsuccessful challenge to Adam Cole for the NXT Championship to kick off the first full hour NXT on USA Network. He was then a key part of the NXT invasion angle for Survivor Series as well as having a great match with Finn Balor at TakeOver: War Games. A good year for Matt Riddle, BRO!
  • Kacy Cantanzaro: After an eye-catching cameo in the Women’s Royal Rumble match it seemed the very popular acrobat was finally set to become a star in NXT’s blossoming women’s division. However in the months since Kacy has only been seen a handful of times on TV and pretty much all of those have been in losing efforts and/or being squashed. And in recent months rumours have been a plenty that Cantanzaro was in fact leaving or wanting to leave the company altogether, due to or in part as a result of an ongoing injury. So whilst the potential is there as it always has been, the future for the former Ninja warrior competitor is a totally mystery.
  • Mustafa Ali: At the start of the year (the then Mustafa) Ali looked to be well on his way to at least becoming a leading contender for the WWE Championship. But where one door closes another opens and after an injury robbed him of a spot in the Elimination Chamber, which in-turn led to the rise of Kofi Kingston, the momentum and fan desire behind Ali never quite reached the same levels. Although he did get his title shot along the way he had gone back down to being just an impressive in-ring performer, but behind many on the ladder. Although just by being that he always has the potential to break out again. Certainly if I’m booking Smackdown he’d be on my list of possible babyface heroes to conquer The Fiend… perhaps…
  • WALTER: Not going to mess about, I got this one SPOT ON. WALTER came in to WWE to confront then UK Champion Pete Dunne, won the title in a classic at Takeover: New York, remains undefeated, is the leader of Imperium, had ANOTHER all-time classic with Tyler Bate in defending his UK title, and is quite simply a freaking monster. An awesome first year in WWE for the Ring General. He’s capable of accomplishing absolutely anything the WWE and he want to accomplish.
  • Io Shirai: The ability to work effectively as both a babyface and a heel is not something many in pro wrestling can master. After beginning the year as one of the mos tendering good guys in the company, Io Shirai’s heel turn on her then friend Candice LeRae has seen her raise her game to an even higher level. Probably the mos talented in-ring female performer in the company has only got better and better as a character since she went bad. Her awesome strobe lighting entrance combined with a more aggressive in-ring style all adds up to a simply incredible professional wrestler. I can only predict continual great matches and great character performances for Io in 2020, and maybe even a nice shiny belt to go with it…?

So with the 5 I picked out last year for stardom looked at, why don’t we get cracking with reviewing the year of 2019 in WWE overall shall we? I’ll be listing the best matches, moments and superstars in the company in what really has been an incredible year for WWE as a whole.


TOP 20 WWE MATCHES OF THE YEAR 2019 

Once again in 2019 we have seem some absolutely exceptional matches across the board in WWE. Picking just the 20 was very very hard but I’ve done my best to rank the absolute elite of in-ring competition shown across Raw, SmackDown, NXT and PPVs & TakeOver shows this past year. Go back and watch every single one of these matches ASAP…!!!

20. Roman Reigns vs Buddy Murphy – SmackDown 13th August – ****1/2 

The so-called ‘best kept secret’ had a real breakout performance against WWE’s top dog. Anyone ever shits on Roman’s in-ring ability should watch this match. A really good watch.

19. The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins & … somebody else…) vs Baron Corbin, Bobby Lashley & Drew McIntyre – Fastlane – ****1/2 

This for a couple of reasons was always going to be memorable, but as a match it was actually really good. They built to the involvement of the returning Reigns very well, and the good guys got the job done to send the fans home happy. Good work all round.

18. Andrade with Zelina Vega vs Rey Mysterio – SmackDown 15th January – ****1/2 

This was quite simply one of the best regular weekly TV WWE matches I have seen on a Raw or SmackDown for a LONG time. Unlike any WWE TV match I’ve seen, this was two of Mexico’s finest ever putting on a hard hitting yet Lucha filled clinic.

17. Io Shirai vs Candice LeRae – NXT TakeOver: Toronto – ****1/2 

The best WWE women’s singles match of the year and it wasn’t even close. Expectations were high for this one given the in-ring ability of the competitors, but these two women did not disappoint.

16. Adam Cole (C) vs Daniel Bryan for the NXT Championship – SmackDown 1st November – ****1/2 

The build to Survivor Series this year gave us plenty of dream matches, and this was the first of them. And it was awesome. Two of THE best wrestlers on the planet had a great TV main event here, and Adam Cole added another feather to his incredible cap of victories in 2019.

15. Daniel Bryan (C) vs Kofi Kingston vs Randy Orton vs Samoa Joe vs Jeff Hardy vs AJ Styles in an Elimination Chamber match for the WWE Championship – Elimination Chamber – ****1/2 

This was one of the best chamber matches there’s ever been. 6 very talented in-ring performers put on a classic, and the story of Kofi Kingston had its most heartbreaking of nights. The image of the New Day to close the show consoling one another is one that will be etched in minds of fans around the world for a long long time to come.

14. At Styles vs Seth Rollins (C) for the Universal Championship – Money In the Bank – ****3/4 

It was Seth Rollins vs AJ Styles on a PPV for the world title. Need I say anymore?

13. Adam Cole (C) vs Johnny Gargano in a 2/3 falls Match (first fall was a singles match, 2nd fall was a street fight and 3rd fall was a barbed wire steel cage) for the NXT Championship – NXT TakeOver: Toronto – ****3/4 

This match had an impossible task of being a blow off match in a trilogy that had previously produced two of the best matches in the history of the company, so it was always going to be tough. But with the added stipulations this match was absolutely WILD!

12. Team Ciampa (Tomasso Ciampa, Kevin Owens, Keith Lee & Dominik Dijakovic) vs Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) in a War Games Match – NXT TakeOver: War Games – ****3/4 

We’ve seen some pretty spectacular War Games matches in NXT and this was no different. With the added element of the mystery 4th member of Team Ciampa, that was eventually revealed as former NXT Champion Kevin Owens this was a fantastic match full of brutality, great storytelling and an amazing finishing sequence that concluded with Ciampa sending Cole flying off the top of the cage and crashing through a table below. A finish worthy of such an amazing spectacle.

11. Team Ripley (Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae, Tegan Nox & Dakota Kai) vs Team Baszler (Shayna Baszler, Bianca Belair, Io Shirai & Kay Lee Ray) in a War Games Match – NXT TakeOver: War Games – ****3/4 

The women outshone their male counterparts inside NXT’s two cage structure this year, as the Rhea Ripley show rolled through War Games. In what was a super fun match to watch in which all participants got their own chance to shine, particularly Io Shirai, as well as the heel turn angle with Dakota Kai. But in the end it was captain Rhea who pinned Baszler for the win. The best women’s match in WWE of 2019, but that’s hardly a shock is it?

10. Velveteen Dream, Ricochet & Aleister Black vs Tomasso Ciampa, Johnny Gargano – Halftime Heat – ****3/4 

So as you may be able to guess, this was a special one match show put on directly opposite the Superbowl halftime show, and broadcast live on the WWE Network. And the result was a tremendously fun 6 man tag showcase featuring 6 of NXT’s top stars. It was as good as you’d think given those taking part, in fact such was its success that one Vincent K McMahon pretty much immediately commissioned for Ciampa, Gargano, Black and Ricochet to begin making appearances on Raw and SmackDown to capitalise on their stardom and newly found fame. A really fun watch with some guy called Shawn Michaels doing colour commentary too, and losing his mind like a fan watching made it all the more special.

9. Daniel Bryan (C) with Rowan vs Kofi Kingston with Big E & Xavier Woods for the WWE Championship – WrestleMania – ****3/4 

Of course everyone knows the story of KOFImania, and we all know how incredible a moment the finish was, but the match itself was pretty great too, in fact one of the better non NXT WWE matches of the year. The story told by the ultra-babyface challenger and the hated heel champion made for a masterclass of sports entertainment at its finest.

8. Ricochet (C) vs Johnny Gargano for the NXT North American Championship – NXT TakeOver: Phoenix – ****3/4 

WHAT A MATCH!!! The brief heel run of Gargano earlier this year led him to finally become Johnny Champion, and he did so with yet another classic match on the TakeOver stage. This was at times brutal, and at times spectacular beyond belief. Go out of your way to watch this one, you will not be disappointed.

7. War Raiders (Hanson & Rowe) (C) vs Ricochet & Aleister Black for the NXT Tag Team Championship – NXT TakeOver: New York – ****3/4 

The best NXT TakeOver show of all time began with the best tag match we’ve seen in WWE this year. It’s very rare you get a double babyface tag match on such a big stage, but this was truly exceptional stuff. The contrasting styles of the 4 participants made for some awesome sequences in front of a raucous New York crowd. It was a fitting NXT farewell to two legends of the brand as Black and Ricochet went out with a bang.

6. Matt Riddle vs Velveteen Dream (C) for the NXT North American Championship – NXT TakeOver: New York – ****3/4 

A match between two men who I’m sure will one day both be world champions. The amount of crowd investment into this match between two of the most charismatic stars in the whole company was awesome to watch. Riddle entering in Yankee coloured pin-stripped gear, Dream coming as a Statue of Liberty tribute, the crowd being 80% behind Dream, and then losing their minds when Dream did a Hogan type ‘Hulking up’ spot. This was so much fun, and the match were it was clear that both guys were among the best in the world, Dream as a star and Riddle as one of the best wrestlers on the planet.

5. Pete Dunne (C) vs Walter for the WWE United Kingdom Championship – NXT TakeOver: New York – ****3/4 

This was just an all out WAR. A proper brutal old school wrasslin FIGHT! This was just everything I hoped it would be and more. It marked the end of one of the most historic title reigns of the modern era, and the beginning of one that may well last as long if not longer…

4. Seth Rollins vs Brock Lesnar (C) with Paul Heyman for the Universal Championship – SummerSlam – ****3/4 

The first match of this trilogy was the memorable opener of Mania, the second was the squash win as Lesnar cashed in to get his belt back, and then… THIS MATCH… was a classic!!! 20 odd minutes of just pure mayhem, and perhaps the best compliment you can give it is the fact that public enemy number 1 Seth Rollins was booed walking in, yet by the end of it was cheered as the conquering hero by the Toronto crowd. A great way to end the best main roster PPV of the year.

3. Walter (C) vs Tyler Bate for the WWE United Kingdom Championship – NXT UK TakeOver: Cardiff – *****

FORTY. TWO. MINUTES… I’ve never been left so spellbound by a match that was this long. It absolutely flew by. The ultimate David vs Goliath match-up delivered on every level… and then some!!! An ALL TIME classic.

2. Adam Cole vs Johnny Gargano (C) for the NXT Championship – NXT TakeOver: 25 – ***** 

Probably the hardest choice I had to make in putting this blog together was which one of the first two matches in this most amazing of trilogy’s would be my WWE match of the year. As long as you said it was one of these two I wouldn’t complain, or even Bate vs Walter for that matter. Adam Cole winning the NXT title after a masterclass of a match was amongst the most fun I’ve had watching wrestling in a long long time. You’ll struggle to find a better regular singles match anywhere in pro wrestling history.

1. Johnny Gargano vs Adam Cole in a 2/3 falls match for the vacant NXT Championship – NXT TakeOver: New York – *****

Just like last year, Johnny Gargano (who may be the best wrestler in WWE history in terms of average rating of his big matches) puts on the match of the year in the main event of the pre-WrestleMania TakeOver show. This time against a different opponent. And this time ending it by claiming the holy grail at long last. What’s funny is at the start of this match the crowd were maybe 80-20 in favour of Cole… by the time Cole was frantically tapping out for the second time the crowd would’ve probably rioted had anyone but Gargano won the title. Not even during the Ciampa – Gargano series from last year have I EVER seen a better story told in one match. Just an absolute masterpiece. It was a fitting ending (the best NXT match in history) to close out the best TakeOver of all time.


Top 10 WWE Moments of the Year 2019

Special mention: “I’m in remission Y’all”

I’ve made the decision to remove from the running Roman Reigns telling the world he had beaten Leukemia again. It felt not right to include something like that in a list of profession wrestling moments. That was so much more than wrestling, it was obviously the highlight of the year by a million miles.

I should also mention Kevin Owens being revealed as the surprise 4th member of Team Ciampa in the men’s War Games Match. This moment, up until Rhea Ripley won the title, was in my top 10, and was yet the latest reminder of just how cool WWE can be when they really want to be. We ALL wanted it to be KO, and it was KO, and it was awesome. But with that said let’s now look back at the ten most special, most spine tingling and all round most memorable moments from the mad year of WWE in 2019… imo…

10. Balor is NXT

We all had a good idea that NXT would come flying out the blocks once they went head to head with… THEM… but to not only open the show with Riddle vs Cole for the NXT title, but to reveal that the longest reigning NXT Champion of all time was returning to the brand was a HUGE move. Just listen to the noise Full Sail makes when that music hits. An awesome moment… yet as good as it was it wasn’t even the highlight of that same show…

9. The Queen is dead. Long reign the Queen

Rhea Ripley’s rise to the top of the NXT Women’s division was one of the better organic storylines in NXT for some time. She began the year losing the NXT UK women’s belt, then showed up and challenged the seemingly unbeatable Baszler… and then at long last on the final live NXT of the year she got her match. And the match was great. But the finish, the pop, the emotion and the post match celebration and hysteria made up for an amazing babyface moment. Everything just clicked. It took a top Rope Riptide for Ripley to get the 1,2,3… and the crowd really did go absolutely WILD!

8. There’s a Dr. in the house!

WrestleMania 35 was one of the most eventful shows in history. And as it was 2734746 hours long it’s easy to overlook many of the happenings on the show… but the segment with Elias that saw him be interrupted by Doctor of Thuganomics John Cena was one of the coolest moments of the show. For anyone who witnessed that incarnation of Cena it was a proper treat. And the way they did it with the weird Babe Ruth video before the big reveal caught everyone off guard. And Cena showed he still had the rhymes too. A proper great WrestleMania moment if ever there was one.

7. Daddy’s Home

After his successful NXT title defence to kick off the show, Adam Cole thought he had Finn Balor to cope with… by the end of the show his potential challengers just got a whole lot more vengeful… Daddy was home… and he was back to claim his Goldie. As NXT Champion Cole came out to proudly celebrate Undisputed Era finally being fully drapped in Gold, Cole was greeted on the entrance ramp by the returning former NXT Champion Tomasso Ciampa. Ciampa, out of action since just before WrestleMania weekend, walked out to an absolutely thunderous ovation from the Full Sail crowd. The best heel in the business in his previous run had returned as the most beloved of babyfaces. Daddy was home. And all was right again in the NXT world.

6. Rollins slays the Beast to open WrestleMania 

He told us he would do it. We didn’t believe him. We hoped and prayed he would, but we’d been here before (and unbeknown to us at the time, we would go there again… and again…)… but to the absolute shock of everyone not only did Brock Lesnar defending the Universal title against the Men’s Royal Rumble winner OPEN WrestleMania, but… after taking an absolute beating early on… one ref bump, a low blow and THREE Curb Stomps later… and suddenly the BeastSlayer had fulfilled his destiny and was swirling the Universal Championship around his head at the top of the huge WrestleMania entrance ramp. A quite superb moment of the year… For me it tops the moment that ended the great SummerSlam match the two had because it was Mania… and because of the manner of Rollins win. Regardless of what the majority of fans think of Seth right now, nobody can deny the magnitude of the moment of his Mania victory.

5. Johnny CHAMPION  

NXT TakeOver: New York. The greatest NXT TakeOver of all time. Main evented by the greatest match in NXT history. The conclusion of which was the pinnacle of a story of quite simply the ultimate babyface underdog story… Mr NXT, Mr Wrestling himself Johnny Gargano FINALLY capturing his ultimate prize. I’ve mentioned the match itself already but the shear joy from the New York crowd, his wife Candice joining the celebrations, and then being joined by his injured brother in war Tomasso Ciampa on stage at the end certainly bought a tear to the eye of this NXT fan for sure.

4. FINALLY… The Rock, has come back… … Home… 

For the first SmackDown on Fox to be the biggest success it could be, to gain as much main stream attention as it could get, they needed one guy. One name that was synonymous with the show SmackDown. And just a few days before the show aired… it was announced, they’d got him. But when he came out to aide Becky Lynch in her verbal battle with King Corbin to open the show he wasn’t Dwayne Johnson, he wasn’t the Hollywood megastar, he was The Rock, he was our Rock and he had come home. The reaction from the adoring crowd was incredible, the promo cut in the segment with Lynch and Corbin was fun for sure, but it had all the hallmarks you would want form a classic Rock promo. For sure one of the highlights of the year was the return of The Rock on the SmackDown on Fox premier show.

3. The Man is going to WrestleMANia 

I don’t like to say I told you so, but to every single person who was in the Warehouse sports bar in Huddersfield with me during the 2019 Royal Rumble show, and to everyone but me and our friend Lorraine who were the only two unhappy that Asuka had beaten Becky Lynch to retain the SmackDown women’s title, and to everyone who I told that it would ALL be fine, because Becky would somehow find her way into and WIN the Rumble later that same night… I TOLD YOU SO!!! The way they got her in to the match replacing an injured Lana, the HUGE reaction when she was finally allowed into the match, and the amazing crowd response when she Charlotte Flair fell to the floor outside the ring to crown Becky the winner. Just a brilliant babyface moment. The Man was going to WrestleMANia… and she’s never looked back since!!!

2. SummerSlam Lets In The Fiend 

The expectations for the debut of The Fiend were high. I’m not quite sure even the biggest of Bray Wyatt fans, aka ME, quite expected what we got at SummerSlam… and that was just during the entrance. I was stunned into silence, partly down to emotion, partly in shock and awe at what I was seeing. This monster brought to life made his way to the ring, old-Bray headlight in hand, the spotlight, the fireflies in the crowd, the Code Orange remix of his old song. It was absolutely beyond perfect. You can only make one first impression, and the entrance of The Fiend before his debut match at SummerSlam over Finn Balor was something I and every other WWE fan will never forget.

1. Kofi Did It!!! 

The story of Kofi Kingston’s chase of the WWE Championship was one of the best, if not the best, storylines of the year in WWE. I can’t quite recall the last time there was this much crowd support in favour of one result in a match. The match itself was just as good as the story told in the build up… but never will I forget the sheer overwhelming joy I felt when Kofi hit the Trouble In Paradise, pinned Daniel Bryan and at long last was able to hold the WWE Championship high into the WrestleMania sky. BY A MILE, my top WWE Moment of 2019 was Kofi Kingston winning the WWE Championship at WrestleMania.


Top 20 WWE Superstars of the Year 2019

Here we go, the big one! Now for arguments sake let me just point out now that for the interest of fairness I have decided to include in this last tag teams and factions as one single entrant, as a way of rewarding the merits of a tag teams year on the same level as a singles star. This, as you may see, will certainly do no harm for the likes of Adam Cole and Kofi Kingston’s placement on my list. I guess the key thing to mention here is that my top 20 is based on the entire year of 2019, not just right now or the recent past. With that in mind I should mention a notable omission from my list, a woman who had this list be based on November and December she could well be at the very top… Rhea Ripley.

For obvious reasons I’ve also chosen not to include Roman Reigns in my top 20. He beat Leukemia. He’d be top of any normal list base don that alone of course.

So without wasting anymore time, here is my full countdown of the top 20 superstars in WWE for the year of 2019!!!

20. Pete Dunne 

Although his record-breaking reign as United Kingdom champion came to an end, 2019 was one hell of a year for The Bruiserweight in WWE. After beating Joe Coffey to close the first UK TakeOver show, he was met by Walter, the man whom he would lose his title to in New York in one of the matches of the year. His move to the US NXT roster after that would see multiple great TakeOver showings as well as an NXT Title match at Survivor Series. Another stellar year for Birmingham’s finest.

19. AJ Styles 

It says all you need to know when an average AJ Styles year still sees him in the top 20 superstars of the last 12 months. A couple of US title reigns, a great world title match with Rollins, and a heel turn that came with a reunion with his good brothers Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson. Going in to 2020 Styles is again feuding with his Mania opponent form earlier this year, Randy Orton, so hopefully the good times will continue for the Phenomenal One.

18. Velveteen Dream 

I LOVE me some Vel-Ve-Teen!!! Sadly an injury cut short his year just before the NXT invasion angle began of which I’m sure he would of been a star of. But nonetheless it was still a great year for the former NXT North American Champion. And I can already feel the hype for his eventual return… where maybe he can make a proper RUMBLE of things…

17. Matt Riddle

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16. Kevin Owens 

Missed the first two months of the year. Comes back a face. Then goes heel. Misses Mania. Feuds with Kofi. Turns face. Gets tired of Shane O’Mac. Beats Shane in Toronto. Banishes Shane from WWE. Goes to Raw. Hates on Rollins. Becomes Raw’s top babyface. Makes a cameo back in NXT. Feuds with heel Rollins. Goes in to 202 as a possible (and many people’s dream choice) to challenge Lesnar at Mania. if 2020 goes better than 2019 for Kevin Owens things are looking very exciting indeed!

15. Io Shirai 

I think in 2020 if Io isn’t NXT Women’s Champion at some stage she’s either gone to Raw or SmackDown or she’s been injured… Her heel turn has only emphasized her incredible talent. An outstanding all-round performer who just has all you could need to be a star. She has that unique ability to make me put down whatever I am doing when she is on the screen. 2020 also saw her have the best women’s singles match of the year against friend turned rival Candice LeRae at TakeOver: Toronto followed by star making performances in the women’s War Games and Survivor Series 5v5v5 women’s matches.

14. The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane) 

The Women’s tag titles had quickly drifted into a being an afterthought, yet to be on a team that could really make them mean something. By the end of the year they were on the line in a TLC match and MAIN EVENTING the final PPV of the year. ALL of that down to the work of The Kabuki Warriors. Two of the most endearing babyfaces have since gone all dark and heelish and it has only elevated them as a team to another level. Kairi finally has her much deserved main roster spotlight, and going in to 2020 Asuka looks set to once again face off against The Man Becky Lynch at next month’s Royal Rumble event.

13. Bayley 

One heck of an eventful year for Bayley. Her and Sasha as the lovable fighting babyfaces finally won the inaugural women’s tag titles in the Elimination Chamber… and then quickly lost them before their reign even got started at Mania… but as The Boss took her ball and went home, Bayley was busy winning and then successfully cashing in the Money in the Bank contract to become SmackDown Women’s Champion… only to lose it back to Charlotte… and THEN… AT LONG LONG LAST… with her new hair and new gear and new music… BAY LEY TURNED HEEL!!! AND SHE WAS OFF TO THE RACES READY TO PRINT WWE MONEY!!! Now as champion once again and with her blue-haired best friend back by her side The not-so huggable one goes in to 2020 as champion… for now at least…

12. Tomasso Ciampa 

Had he not had his dream match with Johnny Gargano tragically taken from him as the result of a serious neck injury, the former holder of his precious Goldie may have been much higher on this list. But from the moment the best heel of 2018 returned as maybe the most popular babyface in NXT to conclude the first 2 hours NXT on USA, he was back to his best. Daddy was indeed home, and if his performances across TakeOver: War Games/Survivor Series weekend are anything to go by, then 2020 will surely be the year when Goldie comes back home… mark your calendar for NXT TakeOver over WrestleMania weekend I’d say…

11. Charlotte Flair 

She was runner up in the Royal Rumble. She had multiple reigns as SmackDown Women’s Champion. SHE MAIN EVENTED WRESTLEMANIA!!! And yet STILL people say 2019 was an underwhelming year for The Queen???????? Just shows her lofty standards I guess…

10. Walter 

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He arrived. He battered lots of people. He won a big shiny belt. He continued to batter lots of people. 2019 was the year WALTER finally arrived in WWE, and he hasn’t disappointed one bit.

9. Shayna Baszler 

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You may think 9th is a bit harsh for a woman who was NXT Women’s Champion for about 11 3/4 months of the year, but it’s still been a stellar year for the Queen of Spades. Multiple good TakeOver matches with a variety of opponents, a win in the main event of Survivor Series in the Women’s Champion three way… and as we move in to 2020 she is many people’s (me included) favorite to win the Women’s Rumble and take on a certain MAN at WrestleMania…

8. Daniel Bryan 

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Daniel Bryan is and always have been one of THE best wrestlers in the world. He may well be the best overall WWE wrestler of the decade… even with a few years in retirement in between! In 2019 alone he made his own WWE title belt, was part of a huge title match with Kofi at Mania, won and lost and the broke up with his former tag champion friend Rowan, and then of ALL PEOPLE he decided to pick a fight with a Fiend… and literally had his head torn out over it. Now a clean shaven and freshly cut Bryan Danielson looking fella goes on to the Royal Rumble and in to 2020 willing letting in The Fiend… if 2019 showed one thing its that 2020 is going to be something special for the yes Movement general!

7. Johnny Gargano 

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So… its once again been an incredible year of amazing matches for arguably the best big match wrestler in company history. But with his long term health being constantly monitored we don’t get to see Johnny Wrestling as much as we’d like, so that hampers his placement on this list slightly. Although how could you not mention someone who had two of the best matches in WWE NXT history, won both the North American and NXT titles, and personified the name Mr Wrestling about as well as anyone possibly could. A destined showdown with Finn Balor at the February TakeOver looks already to set up 2020 to be another amazing year for Johnny Gargano.

6. Brock Lesnar

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Oh boy, this is where I get hate. Yes Brock Lesnar is this high on my list. He begins the year with a good match with Finn Balor, he was a part of an amazing Mania moment with Rollins, he came in as a very very late entrant on his way to winning the Money In The Bank ladder match, he won the Universal title back the next month, he had one of the matches of the year at SummerSlam against Rollins, he went to SmackDown and ended KofiMania in seconds, he packed off Cain Velasquez back to MMA, and to top it off he had a super fun Survivor Series match with Rey, and Dominik, Mysterio. When Brock Lesnar wrestles, people match, and more often than not when he has a proper match it’s really fucking good. And for all you moaning about Lesnar and how he is booked, stop hating on him so much, cause you’re only adding to his allure and his gimmick. The only question is for 2020 is who Brock makes in to a star next? Oh and Brock Lesnar… best seller in WWE. FACT.

5. Seth Rollins 

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Wow… where to even begin to talk about the year of Seth Rollins. Maybe just watch the 365 Documentary of Rollins they put on the WWE Network recently, that does a much better job than I could talking about the absolute wild 2019 for the BeastSlayer in WWE. But to win the Rumble, be the top babyface, win the Universal title twice, become public enemy number one and turn heel all in the space of the year. It’s been a madness, and who knows where 2020 will take the future Mr Lynch… 😉

4. The New Day 

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Hall of famers probably before 2019 even began, but my god they should go in one day based on the 2019 alone of The New Day. Kofi taking over the company en route to the ultimate title win at WrestleMania, a couple of SmackDown Tag title wins spread across the year, all whilst dancing and laughing and entertaining all of us along the way. Sadly they are down a member going in to 2020, with Xavier Woods on the shelf long term, but Big E and Kingston are still flying the flag for the Power of Positivity as the current SmackDown Tag Team Champions.

3. ‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt 

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If you called BRAY WYATT being one of the absolute, if not the number 1, star of the company this time one year ago you’re simply a liar. Ever since the very first vignette teasing his return to TV aired the night after WrestleMania 2019 has been the year WWE Let In The Fiend. A monster like no other we’ve seen before he has captured the imagination of the wrestling world, and goes into 2020 as the champion of the A show of the company. Simply incredible.

2. Becky Lynch 

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The Man well and truly came around in WWE in 2019. She OWNED the whole damn company. Won the Royal Rumble. Became Becky2Belts in winning the main event of WrestleMANia, and has been Raw Women’s Champion ever since. She really is the star of the company event a year since her rise to stardom really began. Maybe… just maybe… her starpower could get EVEN BIGGER in 2020 if she found an opponent who was… hmmm.. maybe a little…ROWDY…???

1. Undisputed Era

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As we go in to 2020; Adam Cole is NXT Champion, Roderick Strong is the NXT North American Champion and Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly are the NXT Tag Team Champions. Adam Cole had the best two matches of the year as was the most entertaining superstar in the company, Strong won a triple threat against Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles at Survivor Series, and the formerly known as ReDragon proved time and time again why they may well be the best tag team in the world. It was well and truly proven once again, just like it was in 2018, that WWE and NXT are well and truly… UNDISPUTED!!!


So as you may be able to tell, 2019 was one heck of a year in WWE. We saw some of the most memorable matches and moments we may ever see, and 2020 looks set to be just as exciting. In particular keep an eye out for Ricochet (who I hope and pray they push as a TOP star of Raw at some stage), Damien Priest in NXT (who I think could be the next top heel of the brand), Tegan Nox (who I hope they mold into the top women’s star of NXT at long last), Austin Theory (the former Evolve champion at the very beginning of his NXT WWE Career, expect him to build on his recent TV North American title match with Roderick Strong and continue to impress) and the women’s tag team self-titled as ‘VXT’ in Deonna Purrazzo and Chelsea Green (both of whom I’ve long tipped to be big stars in NXT and I hope they can follow up their recent cameos on Monday Night Raw by making a big impact in their future TV appearances).

Thanks for reading my Review of 2019 in WWE. All the best for 2020.

Happy New Year.

Josh. 

 

Andy Ruiz Jr v Anthony Joshua 2 – Preview

 

Picture via Andy Ruiz’s Instagram.

So as you may be able to tell from the title of this post, I have decided to try something different with nobodyisready.com. This will be my first ever blog post NOT about wrestling, instead I’ve decided to talk about another of my loves… boxing. It’s a sport I’ve fell in love with over the years, ever since I saw a young Amir Khan win his silver medal in Athens, and Ricky Hatton becoming a cult-hero I was hooked. Down the years I’ve followed the likes of David Haye, Floyd Mayweather, Carl Froch to name a few… and then in the London 2012 Olympics I saw a colossus of a man win a gold medal. Since then I watched all 22 of his professional fights with glee as he won every time, and beat the likes of Dillian Whyte, Charles Martin, Wladimir Klitschko, Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin. On his way he collected an astonishing  record of 21 wins by knockout, with only former world champion Parker taking him to a decision victory, as AJ collected 3 of the 4 world heavyweight belts. On June 1st 2019 with talk already abound of a World title unification fight with Deontay Wilder, AJ was set for his American debut at Madison Square Garden defending his heavyweight title belts against loud-mouth challenger Jarrell Miller. The usually ultra-cool AJ had finally met an opponent who seemed to rile him, there was a real dislike from Joshua towards his would-be challenger and I certainly felt as a fan of his that he seriously had to control himself in the fight to avoid his personal feelings towards Miller getting in the way of his gameplan for victory. But on April 17th 2019, a matter of around 6 weeks before the fight, it was confirmed by the Voluntary Anti Doping Association that the camps of both fighters were informed that Miller had tested positive for a banned substance. Miller was out. And after a scramble by Joshua’s promoter Eddie Hearn to find a replacement challenger it was Andy Ruiz Jr who was brought in to take up the challenge of trying to take the belts from a real life fighting machine.

Picture from the Irish Mirror.

The build up was pretty extraordinary. At one press conference we had AJ let Ruiz pose with HIS world title belts! It was pretty incredible. Little did we know the fight itself would be one of the most amazing fights in boxing history. As it turned out June 1st 2019 was an amazing day for me. In the early evening me and my friend James went to a bar in Leicester town centre to watch the Champions League Final between Liverpool and Tottenham. Later I came home and watched NXT TakeOver: 25 which was an excellent wrestling show featuring one of the best matches in WWE history in the main event between Adam Cole and Johnny Gargano. My mammoth day of sport was completed by staying up until the very early hours of the next morning to watch my favourite boxer continue his march towards the ultimate goal of being the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. This was a formality we ALL thought, and if anybody tells you they had even the slightest of doubts that Anthony Joshua would defeat Andy Ruiz Jr they’re simply a liar. 

Picture via Sky Sports Boxing YouTube.

What was the main thing from Andy Ruiz Jr was just how absolute polar opposite physique wise the challenger was to the champion. Joshua with the physique of a God, Ruiz with twice the body fat that AJ has muscle. But MSG and the eyes of the world hadn’t come to see the fatman done good, they had come for the AJ show. But… signs that something was not right soon became apparent. AJ comes across to me as somewhat of an iceman, completely unflappable and not one to be stressed out by anything he faces. But I looked at a fighter I had seen 22 times in a pro ring, and I hadn’t seen him look like this. He looked stood in the ring before the fight like he was about to nod off, he didn’t seem relaxed, he seemed almost lethargic. At the time I remember thinking to myself that he seemed different to normal, not as alive to the situation and the bright lights that were on him. This was not someone making his pro debut for god sake, this was the heavyweight champion of the world?!?! Early on the fight was fairly uneventful, with Ruiz showing faint signs he had good punch power, but Joshua seemed to be feeling his way through the first couple of rounds, and AJ even catching Ruiz with a huge shot that sent Ruiz to the canvas in round 3 with a fierce combination of punches, this was the first time Ruiz had been down in his career. Ruiz had shown to be a good challenge but it looked to be going the same way as most of the others had gone before… and then… it all began to go wrong… an incredible exchange between both ended in amazing fashion as Joshua himself was put on the ring floor! The crowd roared in astonishment as Joshua looked on as the ref got to a count of 6 before he rose to his feet again and continued. AJ was back up, but this was an almighty shock to everyone’s system. 

Picture via Sky Sports Boxing YouTube.

Ruiz looked to blast AJ out of there in Round 3, and towards the end of the round another combination of shots sent a wobbly Joshua down again! Yet somehow AJ got up and made it to his stool despite his legs looking very very shaky. I cannot explain the panic I felt as a loyal AJ fan watching at this point. Never in my worst nightmares before this fight did I even fathom a situation like this. Round 4 saw Ruiz really try and gain the most amazing win by flying out the blocks and backing AJ up, and then something happened which really alarmed me as an AJ fan… Early on in Round 4 AJ hit Ruiz with the sort of shot I’ve seen finish many of his prior opponents… yet this time as Sky Boxing commentator Adam Smith rightly said the shot on Ruiz “bounced off his chin” as if it was a measly jab and barely seemed to hurt Ruiz. What on earth was I watching I thought? Round 4 went by with a bit of a stalemate… but Ruiz Jr now was firmly the favourite to pull off the biggest of upsets. After Round 4 AJ is on his stool with his trainer Rob McCkracken giving him instructions, when Joshua asked “what shot was it?” that took him down… he didn’t even see the shot coming… “Jab, Jab, Right hand” his trainer told him to get him back in the game, seemingly the plan now was for AJ to go back to basics… Round 5 saw the crowd really get behind the champion, and AJ would respond with a big left hook that saw Ruiz back away quickly out of trouble, but he was soon backing the champion up again and taking the fight to him. The talk in the AJ corner after the round was again alarming to me as a fan, with McCracken telling Joshua again to go jab, jab, right hand as AJ had a bloody nose treated too, and that he simply had to win these rounds now. When you have to give the heavyweight champion this sort of basic level advice you really are desperate in my opinion. This was a new one for the untouchable Joshua… little did we know it would get even worse… Round 6 was a real dog fight from both at the start, the sky commentators between them had Ruiz one up and another had it level. Me personally, for what it’s worth, also had Ruiz a round up at this stage in the fight… as Round 6 went on Joshua had blood coming from his nose but it was fairly even with neither guy looking to hit that BIG shot… until Ruiz hit a couple of decent shots with 40 seconds left of the round and a couple more less than 30 left… Ruiz missed a big shot that AJ ducked under that I’m certain would’ve floored Joshua had he not dodged it, but another round had passed. Ruiz two rounds up in my books with another 6 still scheduled, this was NOT something we expected and certainly not to have seen two of the three knockdowns come from the challenger. At the stool again at the end of the round, the quote that has gone round and around ever since… 

Picture via Sky Sports Boxing YouTube.

“Why am I feeling like this?” 

That was a direct quote from the then heavyweight champion of the world, half way through a fight. I froze as a fan watching. He was lost, he was gone, the end was surely near I thought. Mentally the indestructible force had been tagged… and Round 7… well… 

Picture via Sky Sports Boxing YouTube.

AJ look determined but Ruiz wasn’t phased, at around the 2.30 remaining stage Ruiz hit the most amazing combo of shots that absolutely destroyed Joshua as he was sent down AGAIN… he got up quickly, but Ruiz was prancing around in the opposite corner as the ref told him to back off whilst he checked on Joshua… AJ backed into the corner as the ref continued his count… he got his hands up after the ref’s command with the count stopped at 8… Joshua even rose a grin as he went back in to the fire… at this stage it would be a miracle if Joshua survived this round let alone the rest of the fight… and so again not long after Ruiz got Joshua to take a knee after more shots… with AJ spitting out his gum shield to buy him some more time to try and recover… He just about beat the count and went back to the corner… but after a short delay the referee had seen enough and waved the fight off… 

Picture via Sky Sports Boxing YouTube.

Andy Ruiz Jr had done the impossible. For many years people talked about when Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson, this would be just that for another generation and more. On around 6 weeks notice the overwhelming underdog had come in and stopped the previously undefeated AJ and became Mexico’s first ever world heavyweight champion of the sport of Boxing. I have watched a lot of sport in my time, and I’m a very passionate man and sports fan, I’ve not felt as much utter devastation at watching a sporting event as when I watched the end of this fight. 

Picture via Sky Sports Boxing YouTube.

So flash forward around 6 months later. And we have Joshua’s chance at redemption. In the unusual surroundings of the Saudi Arabian desert, these two titans will clash again in possibly the most important fight in recent memory. Purely for everything that could happen depending on how this fight goes. I’ve thought for a long time that once again we would get to a point where we would again have an undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. Right now we have Andy Ruiz Jr in possession of the WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO belts, Deontay Wilder with the WBC belt, as well as the undefeated Tyson Fury as the lineal champion (google it please it’d take me a long time to explain). We have Ruiz vs AJ 2 now, and Wilder vs Fury in their rematch this coming February following a draw in their first meeting. So logic would suggest we get the two winners of those fights go at it for all the gold? Well yes, but boxing is subject to a lot of bollocks. Different promoters and broadcasters can often get in the way of making certain fights. But I’ve always, maybe naively, thought that the likes of Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren and Lou DiBella would realise that if they worked together and got the SUPER fights made it’d make the eventual King even greater and make them ALL more millions upon millions along the way? Who knows what combo we have to do before we get to ONE champion; maybe Ruiz wins again and wants Wilder or Fury, maybe Joshua gets his revenge but they have to go again for a trilogy fight, maybe Fury beats Wilder but they want a third fight, but regardless I see it all ending with one true heavyweight champion. Exactly how it should be. Maybe just wishful thinking from me as a fan, but I live in hope. 

Picture via Sky Sports Boxing YouTube.

Now… the big question I’m sure you all have for me is, who wins? Well, as many of you will know my favourite boxer and possible favourite sportsman full stop is Anthony Joshua. I’m a very loyal person and that goes on to who I follow in sports. I have been more confident than not ahead of every one of AJ’s fights before. This is the first time I’m not sure. I’m not saying I think Joshua will lose, I’m just not totally confident he will win. Ruiz has somewhat altered his ‘fat-man’ gimmick by trimming down a fair bit so it will be interesting to see how that affects him this time around. It will be interesting to see how he handles the fight and the occasion this time around now he is the man, now HE is the champion, as much as it will be interesting to see how Joshua comes out for the first time no longer being the undefeated would-be king. 

Picture via Sky Sports Boxing YouTube.

The Gloves Are Off is an exceptional series that is hosted by Sky boxing’s and former champion Johnny Nelson. Essentially he sits in between two boxers ahead of a big fight and they talk about the upcoming clash. The one for Ruiz v Joshua 2 was fascinating viewing, as was the analysis special show that had Nelson host a discussion betwen Carl Froch, Tony Bellew, David Haye and Paulie Malignaggi about the huge upcoming fight. In the one between both the fighters themselves though, both guys seemed relaxed and happy enough and showed one another great respect, even swapping jokes and laughs along the way. But the big talking point of the show was when Nelson asked Ruiz about the finish of the first fight, and if he thought AJ had quit in fight number 1 (9.48 in the YouTube video of the show if you were wondering)? Joshua looked on and to me at least seemed fuming, Ruiz calmly said “erm… a little bit, I feel like he quit because of the way it was going…” 

WOW I thought. You’ve just told a PROUD fighter and man like Anthony Joshua that he QUIT. Now of course, only Joshua knows if he quit, but the fact is Ruiz believes or at least said he thought AJ QUIT. If that isn’t a personal shot at the man and character that Anthony Joshua is, I don’t know what is. 

So who will win? Well the sport of boxing is maybe the most illogical sport there is, anybody really can beat anybody as the first fight showed, we’ve all heard the phrase ‘a fighting chance’ or a ‘puncher’s chance’. But what’s funny to me is Andy Ruiz Jr has a professional boxing record of 33 wins from 34 fights. His only defeat being a split decision loss to former heavyweight champion Joseph Parker. Joseph Parker lost his title to Anthony Joshua, and since then Joseph Parker has been beaten once more this time by Dillian Whyte. Dillian Whyte’s only pro loss to date came against… Anthony Joshua. And of course Anthony Joshua’s only defeat as a pro came against Andy Ruiz Jr! All that make sense??? Pretty crazy sport Boxing isn’t it? And that was none more so evident that in the first fight. 

Second time around… My heart as always is with Joshua. My head says Ruiz shocks the world AGAIN. And although boxing is often THE hardest sport to predict, something tells me this fight will not last very long. 

Josh. 

Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr 1 – FULL FIGHT

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE GLOVES ARE OFF – Andy Ruiz Jr vs Anthony Joshua 2

 

 

 

 

THE GLOVES ARE OFF – Analysing Andy Ruiz Jr vs Anthony Joshua 2

 

 

WWE Survivor Series 2019 – Review

On the whole I really enjoyed Survivor Series 2019. Sure it wasn’t perfect but it was a star-making night for a few people, we had some pretty decent wrestling and a lot of potential future stories they could now tell. So without wasting anymore time let me get into reviewing the show!!!

KICK OFF SHOW

So… basically I watched the show in a sports bar with some friends, and we only caught bits of the kick off show on our phones. Aside from the three matches the big news to come from the TWO HOUR pre-cursor to the main show, was the announcement by Shawn Michaels of who would make up Team NXT for the men’s 5v5v5 match later in the night… that team was comprised of: Tomasso Ciampa, Keith Lee, Matt Riddle, Damien Priest… and the current United Kingdom WALTER!!!!!!!!!! Absolute scenes!!! And for the record here’s a brief summary of the three matches that took place before the main card got underway:

Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode (SmackDown) defeated The Forgotten Sons (Steve Cutler and Wesley Blake) (NXT), Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado) (SmackDown), Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder (Raw), Imperium (Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel) (NXT), Heavy Machinery (Otis and Tucker) (SmackDown), Breezango (Fandango and Tyler Breeze) (NXT), The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson) (SmackDown), The O.C. (Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows) (Raw) and Street Profits (Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins) (Raw) in a 10 team Interbrand Tag Team Battle Royal = SmackDown 1 – Raw 0 – NXT 0 

The order I’ve listed the teams were the order they were eliminated in. Don’t ask me why this took place. Other than for the sake of it, to get the tag teams on the show, and to get SmackDown a win on the kick off show… Looked fine enough a match for me for what it was… But it was a pre-show battle royal so was never going to be a classic match was it? … For the finish the final team to be eliminated were Street Profits after Montez Ford hit a frog splash on Dolph, but then Roode came and threw Ford out for the win. Expect ROO-DOLPH to challenge The New Day some time soon.

**1/4

Lio Rush (c) (NXT) defeated Kalisto (SmackDown) and Akira Tozawa (Raw) in a triple threat match to retain the NXT Cruiserweight Championship = NXT 1 – SmackDown 1 – Raw 0 

I liked how they had their token Cruiserweight match but still were able to do it tri-branded. Didn’t see much of this one at all but it went about 8 minutes and was alright in-ring wise without much crowd heat, so just like all the previous Cruiserweight PPV matches then… Rush retained by pinning Kalisto after a big splash.

Viking Raiders (Erik and Ivar) (Raw Tag Team Champions) defeated New Day (Big E and Kofi Kingston) (SmackDown Tag Team Champions) and Undisputed Era (Bobby Fish and Kyle O’Reilly) (NXT Tag Team Champions) in a Triple Threat Tag Team match = Raw 1 – NXT 1 – SmackDown 1 

All tied up scorewise going into the main show… obviously… the vikings won hitting their finish on Kyle O’Reilly onto Bobby Fish and then Ivar pinned Fish. Kingston was taken out after hitting Trouble in Paradise on a ringpost, and Big E was taken OOA via a double team move from Viking Raiders.


Team NXT (Rhea Ripley, Bianca Belair, Candice LeRae, Io Shirai and Toni Storm) defeated Team Raw (Charlotte Flair, Natalya, Asuka, Kairi Sane and Sarah Logan) and Team SmackDown (Sasha Banks, Carmella, Dana Brooke, Lacey Evans and Nikki Cross) in a 5v5v5 Women’s Survivor Series Triple Threat elimination match = NXT 2 – Raw 1 – SmackDown 1

It became very clear very quickly that this was a pro NXT crowd, and this was a theme for the evening. Rhea Ripley was a megastar to these fans and this match only solidified this. In fact I now think WWE need to have Rhea not just win the NXT Women’s title from Shayna but have her lose it somehow before the Royal Rumble, WIN the Royal Rumble, and have her win the title on WWE’s A show of SmackDown. Put you best foot forward WWE and right now the success story of this whole tri-brand invasion thing is Rhea Ripley.

I should mention also that they had the theme in the matches of having it be a three way at all times, so there was always a legal participant from Raw, SmackDown and NXT at all times to it really was a triple threat match. In parts this match was fun and had some really cool spots and mini matches, but naturally given it had FIFTEEN participants it was a bit messy and a bit of a clusterfuck at times. I did enjoy it though. Fairly early on they did a spot where both Io Shirai and Candice LeRae were taken out ‘injured’ meaning Team NXT had to fight from underneath. I’ll run you through the eliminations: Bianca rolled up Nikki Cross whilst having Ripley pull Belair’s feet onto the ropes for extra leverage, Bianca pinned Sarah Logan after a 450 splash that looked awesome, Charlotte pinned Carmella, Sasha eliminated Kairi, Asuka pinned Dana Brooke, Asuka and Charlotte both of Team Raw seemed to argue and this led Asuka to blow her green mist into her own team captain’s eyes (this is part of the build to an apparent women’s tag title match at TLC between the Kabuki Warriors and Charlotte and Becky), Lacey hit Charlotte with the Women’s Right to pin her, Natalya pinned Lacey, in a really cool spot that protected Toni Storm loads she tapped out whilst having Natalya have her in the sharpshooter and Banks have the Bank Statement locked in at the same time, Raw’s Natalya and SmackDown’s Banks teamed up to eliminate Bianca Belair, but Banks then turned on Natalya and eliminated her. This left Rhea Ripley of NXT and Sasha Banks of SmackDown… or so we thought… Sasha looked at one stage as if she would disappoint the crowd as she had Rhea in the Bank Statement… but Io and Candice came back out, LeRae was able to distract the ref and this allowed for Io Shirai to do a springboard dropkick on Sasha and then Ripley followed that by hitting the Riptide FOR THE WIN! What an amazing few days for Rhea Ripley. A STAR has been born. And I could not be happier about it.

***

There was a really fun backstage segment where Kevin Owens appeared on the screen (he was super over with the crowd), and he was approached by Raw team captain Seth Rollins (he was not super over with the crowd, let me just put it like that). Rollins basically addressed how Owens helped Team Ciampa in the War Games match the previous night and where his loyalties lay tonight? Owens said he loves NXT but tonight Raw needs him so Rollins shouldn’t worry. He then asked how Rollins could possibly question anyone’s history and loyalty, and then did the Shield fist pose. This was great.

Roderick Strong (NXT North American Champion) defeated Raw’s AJ Styles (United States Champion) and SmackDown’s Shinsuke Nakamura (Intercontinental Champion) with Sami Zayn in a Triple Threat match = NXT 3 – Raw 1 – SmackDown 1 

Good match but you knew that already surely? Strong got his entrance cut short which the crowd didn’t like at all. Yeah this was just really really good stuff. Solid in ring work all round as you’d expect, but the crowd was semi-flat given all the shenanigans of the previous match. Strong won after AJ hit the Phenomenal Forearm on Nakamura and Strong came in and chucked AJ out the ring to get the pin for himself. I cheered very loudly as did my friends. The one Shinsuke Nakamura fan in the bar did not… HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!

****

Daniel Bryan was backstage when The Miz came into shot. Miz tried to give Bryan a pep talk about how he had to be the one to stop The Fiend. With one line DBryan basically told Miz to get out of his face. Both guys were great here.

Adam Cole (C) defeated Pete Dunne to retain the NXT Championship

Really good good match for the time they had. Wasn’t like a blowaway TakeOver main event level match but definitely a top NXT TV show main event for sure. Pete Dunne was really over in Chicago, and of course so was Cole. Both hit all their big moves on eachother and there were a lot of nearfalls. Pete Dunne tried his finger break spot and attempted for the Bitter End after, but Cole was able to turn it into a Panama Sunrise and then hit the Last Shot knee for the win. What an insane run of matches this has been for Adam Cole recently.

****1/4

‘The Fiend’ Bray Wyatt (C) defeated Daniel Bryan to retain the Universal Championship

Now this is LOW praise of course, coming from me Bray Wyatt’s number 1 fan, but this was by a country mile the best match of The Fiend so far. They still did the red lighting thing, but as they didn’t have a giant cell around the ring and they didn’t move around the arena, this was a lot lot easier to follow the action still. Although as we discussed amongst the friends I was with it must be an absolute nightmare to follow the match if you’re in the arena… although they did this time have the match on the big screen. The Fiend wore the belt around his neck on the way to the ring. The story of the match was Bryan tried and tried to beatdown The Fiend but Wyatt just kept getting up. Bryan even summoned on the power of the YES Movement after his reluctance in recent weeks… and even hit the big running knee finish… but eventually succumb the Wyatt’s Mandible Claw to give The Fiend the win in about 10 minutes. I thought this was FINE.

***3/4

Rey Mysterio cut a good babyface promo, he was holding a metal pipe and said he was going to take out Lesnar’s knees and he hoped his son Dominick was watching closely on.

Team SmackDown (Roman Reigns, King Corbin & Shorty G & Mustafa Ali & Braun Strowman) defeated Team NXT (Keith Lee, Tomasso Ciampa, Matt Riddle, Damien Priest & Walter) and Team Raw (Seth Rollins, Drew McIntyre, Ricochet, Randy Orton & Kevin Owens) in 5v5v5 Men’s Survivor Series Triple Threat Elimination match = NXT 3 – SmackDown 2 – Raw 1

This had a few really cool moments, a few moments that were such typical of the worse parts of WWE booking it was incredibly irritating, but overall I enjoyed it. Sure it was a little messy in parts but again 15 guys in one match isn’t all going to run smoothly is it? Anyway… Walter was by a long way the most popular guy with the crowd at the beginning. His chopping exchange with Drew was incredible… and then McIntyre hit the Claymore and pinned Walter. The most over guy out first. Crowd hated it. Ffs. KO eliminated the former Chad Gable (who had a really fun exchange with Riddle), playing off the War Games match the night before… Tomasso Ciampa hit the draping DDT on Owens and eliminated him. Randy Orton pinned Damien Priest after an RKO. Matt Riddle eliminated Orton after a roll up pin which was super super cool. Not long after King Corbin eliminated Riddle which was super super NOT cool. Braun Strowman did his “run around the outside of the ring and take everyone out” thing twice and people loved it, but he got caught by Drew with the Claymore kick. This was enough to keep Strowman out the ring for the 10 count and he was out. Corbin pinned Ricochet, Rolins pinned Ali, Reigns pinned McIntyre after a big Spear. Then after some in-fighting between Corbin and Reigns that saw Roman hit Corbin with a Spear, Tomasso Ciampa took advantage and eliminated Corbin. Then they had public enemy number 1 Seth Rollins eliminate Ciampa after a curb stomp and a Roman Spear before that. Then it was basically the Keith Lee show. And it was awesome. So one guy left for each team. And 300plus pound Keith Lee has Chicago well and truly basking in his glory. Lee hit a jackhammer and then eliminated Rollins to a huge pop. The final exchange between Reigns and Lee was awesome. Everyone was desperate for Lee to win and he nearly did with a spirit bomb for a very very close nearfall. But it was Roman who got the win for his team with a Spear. Roman showed respect for Keith Lee after. Even in defeat this was a star making performance for Keith Lee.

I think Roman might win the rumble and face The Fiend…

****

Becky cut a really good promo to the camera.

Brock Lesnar (c) with Paul Heyman defeated Rey Mysterio in a No Holds Barred match to retain the WWE Championship

Fun for what it was. Brock dominated and stood on Rey’s metal pipe so he couldn’t use it as a weapon. Eventually Rey’s son Dominick came out to try and help his Dad, he even went to throw in the towel but Lesnar stopped that. Eventually Rey and then Dominick both have Brock lo blows to huge pops. And they then hit a double 619, and each hit a frog splash (must say that Dominick’s splash looked really great). Brock got out of the pin despite both guys jumping on him. Dominick got laughed off the top rope with a German by Brock, and Rey got caught from the top rope and hit with a big F5 for Lesnar to retain. I liked this.

***1/2

NXT Women’s Champion Shayna Baszler defeated SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley and Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch in a triple threat match

This was an alright match. It was very much your classic three way match in that it always seemed to be two people in the ring and one out of it and they’d rotate. For the finish Shayna threw Becky over the announcers table on the outside and then back in the ring Bayley came off the top rope looking for the elbow drop on out for Baszler to catch her in the kirafuda cltuch for the win. NXT WINS SURVIVOR SERIES!!! Praise the Lord!!! The after match stuff was interesting for me; Lynch got a takedown on Shayna and threw her over an announce table, then jumped off a barricade with a “butt splash” which put Baszler threw the table. Commentary made a point of saying that although Shayna won, she didn’t beat Becky. The long term booker in me now thinks Becky vs Shayna could be a big time WrestleMania match perhaps if a certain someone else doesn’t come back after all……..

***

FINAL SCORE:

NXT 4

SmackDown 2

Raw 2

NXT WON!!!!!!!!!!!!

NXT WON!!!!!!!!!!!!

NXT WON!!!!!!!!!!!!

That’s all. 😁

Josh.

NXT TakeOver: War Games 2019 – Review

Well then… that was something else wasn’t it…

We got the first TakeOver show of the NXT is now the main roster too era… and boy oh boy did it deliver. A typically great NXT big show that went exactly 2 and a half hours for the main show and three hours overall. Excellent. 5 good – great matches and lots and lots to talk about and celebrate.

The slightly different to usual TakeOver pre-show saw Charly, Sam (who was his usual asshole, heel-character self) and Pat (who was his usual short-wearing, man of the people, funny as heck self) stand at the top of the entrance ramp to present. We were told that just before we came on air Mia Yim was jumped from behind and was now not in the women’s War Games match (that would open the main show).

Angel Garza defeated Isaiah ‘Swerve’ Scott 

Good faced paced match. More exciting than the average WWE pre-show match. Really fun spots, highlights being Garza doing his ‘rip off his pants’ spot and then superkick Scott for a nearfall, (crowd was a little dead, but also the ref was audible shouting instructions like ‘stay down’ and ‘hard cam’ to help these guys along which really didn’t help my enjoyment of what was an alright match. A fun spot was when Scott did a jumping backheel kick to Garza, and finally in the finish where Scott blocked an attempted low blow from Garza, but Garza countered into a… well… I don’t know quite what it was but he locked a double underhook and then hit a sort-of sit out powerbomb type move and got the pin. This was fine, but heavily led by the ref.

**1/2 

They played a hype package for Riddle vs Balor. Sam Roberts shat on Riddle in NXT which came across as all Roberts’ pre-show comments now do, as BS and forced.

We saw the beaten Mia Yim being carried into an Ambulance led by Ripley, Candice and Tegan. Dakota Kai was hanging around too. Ripley then picked a reluctant Kai to be Yim’s replacement. The plot thickens…

They played a hype video for the men’s War Games match. Before Pat McAfee got the crowd hyped up before the main TakeOver show started.


Rhea Ripley & Candice LeRae, Tegan Nox and Dakota Kai defeated Shayna Baszler, Io Shirai, Bianca Belair and Kay Lee Ray in a War Games Match

Ripley entered first up to a huge ovation. Everyone else got ok pops, Io Shirai was the other where the crowd reaction upon her coming out was notably loud. The wrestling itself in the early stages was really good, and that kept up all match pretty much. To follow on from there great singles match from the previous NXT TakeOver it was Candice and Io who started off the match for their teams. The crowd was split as the two women had a really fun mini-match, with Io at one point smashing LeRae’s face into the cage wall with her knee. Eventually after a slight fuck up with the countdown clock it was Bianca Belair who came into the match next and the former college athlete pretty quickly hit an awesome looking shooting star press onto a prone Candice. LeRae tried to mount a comeback but Belair, like an early 2000s Brock Lesnar, hit two consecutive lift up powerbombs and then another that sent Candice crashing into the War Games cage wall! Io Shirai then ran at the ropes back and forth a number of times before hitting a Dropkick. Next to enter to even the odds was Rhea Ripley who got a big reaction. The crowd ate it up when she went under the ring to bring out some weapons (trash cans and lids and kendo sticks, chairs as well but not tables that the crowd seemed desperate for). Ripley launches Belair onto one of the trash cans she had pulled out which looked a horrible bump to endure. NXT UK Women’s Champion Kay Lee Ray entered the match next. She also bought in a number of chairs from under the ring. She went to grab a table, but then didn’t just to annoy the crowd. There was an awesome spot where it looked like the heels were going to launch Candice onto a pile of chairs below, only for Ripley to come underneath all of them and launch everyone off the top in a tower of doom spot. The late replacement in the match Dakota Kai was next to enter… but just as she looked fired up to finally get into the match, she turned around and attacked her best friend and teammate Tegan Nox! Kai really went in wirh her attack as a a number of officials came out to try and stop it, including NXT GM William Regal who Kai even pushed away! In a really great heel move Kai used the cage door to repeatedly smash Tegan Nox’s surgically repaired knee. This was an awesome heel turn and made Kai into a bigger star immediately. Many, myself included saw it coming but the timing of it caught me off guard and it was executed really well. It was just what Kai’s character needed. Team Captain Shayna Baszler was the final person from her team to enter the match and looked to take great enjoyment from what had happened. With Kai turning on and abandoning her team and Tegan Nox now injured the match would now continue and begin officially 4vs2 in favour of the heel team. The heels dominated for a little bit until Candice stopped Belair hitting Ripley with her long ponytail by attacking her with a kendo stick. Io Shirai went up to the top of the cage and Candice followed, Kay Lee Ray tried to go after her but LeRae got her with a reverse Frankensteiner off the top for a nearfall. And then in the spot that I personally and I’m sure most watching dreamed of going into this match, Io Shirai hit her signatures moonsault OFF THE TOP OF THE WAR GAMES CAGE onto both Candice and Bianca below!!! This looked as spectacular as hoped. In a really cool spot Kay Lee Ray tried to jump off the top rope onto Ripley only for Rhea to smash her in mid air with a trash can! With Ripley pre occupied Shayna Baszler cane from behind and tried for the Kirifuda Clutch submission, it was locked in seemingly until Rhea Ripley appeared to handcuff herself to Baszler! She then kneed her in the face and with Shayna stunned she hit her Riptide slam-type move onto a couple of unfolded steel chairs that were in the ring for the pin fall and the win.

This was an exceptional match and for me at least the best War Games match in NXT so far. Every woman in this match individually was good to great. And the finish did exactly what I had hoped. Rhea Ripley, who comes off pinning Charlotte Flair on SmackDown now heads to Survivor Series having pinned Shayna here. Ripley was a star before this but she is absolutely a made woman now and this sets up a a HUGE NXT Women’s title match around the corner surely. A great great great match that I absolutely loved, and both myself and my mate Dan who I watched it with thought it absolutely flew by time wise whilst watching, which is maybe the best compliment you can give a match. This was absolutely brilliant and surpassed all the lofty expectations it had going in.

****3/4

Pete Dunne defeated Killian Dain & Damian Priest to earn an NXT Championship match against Adam Cole at Survivor Series 

In a contrast to usual TakeOver match order it was the men who had the un-enviable task of following a great match by the women. Dunne was by far the crowd favoruite. This was a really fun three way where all 3 guys got chances to shine. Unsurprisingly given the participants it was a really hard-hitting affair that suffered a little from coming after a War Games match, in terms of crowd investment. But it was good nonetheless. Highlights of the match included Dain (who for me was the MVP of the match) hit a fallaway slam/Samoan drop combo to both Dunne and Priest at the same time! Later on Priest hit Dunne with a Razors Edge onto the Spanish announce table which did not look like fun to take at all. Killian Dain, the absolute madman, then came flying through the ropes with a Tope onto Priest, and not long after hit a rolling senton onto Priest that sent them both through the barricade. Towards the end Dunne cracked both his opponents fingers and then hit a superplex on Dain, he followed with a Bitter End for Priest for a two count. For the finish Dunne had Dain in a sleeper hold but Dain fought off with a Samoan drop that saw both guys land on Priest (who was on the floor). This allowed Pete Dunne to take advantage by pushing Dain out the way and he pinned Priest for the win! I really liked this finish as it protected both the larger guys and was logical for the scheming and frankly much smaller Dunne to get a realistic win. The crowd popped huge for Pete Dunne, he faces Cole for the NXT Title tomorrow night now. That’s if Cole makes it that is… more on that later…

This was a fun and good enough match that suffered a little due to lack of crowd investment towards the later half after such a fast start and the match that came before this. Nonetheless for what it was it was perfectly fine a match.

***3/4

Finn Balor defeated Matt Riddle

The video package before this dream match was really good. Riddle came out in Black and Red attire, which I think is some form of reference to a Chicago based sports team??? When the now heel Finn Balor came out the spotlight for his entrance was solely on him, and his gear was all black. Sometimes its the subtle things that impress me the most. The fans chanted “RIIIIDDLE” in reference to his public “rival” Goldberg. The match itself was very mat-Wrestling heavy which I think we all needed at that stage of the show. Balor was in charge early and hit a Dropkick to Riddle through the ropes and caught him right in the face with his foot (it looked horrid and even worse on replay). They went back and forth after in the ring with strikes and Riddle got a near fall with a knee strike and a German Suplex. Riddle went for another knee and tried to follow with a power bomb but Balor hit back with a double foot stomp and a slingblade. And then in a spot me and Dan and I’m sure everyone else watching found absolutely hilarious; Riddle hit a Spear and then a Jackhammer for a nearfall on Balor. Matt Riddle uses the ultra protected finishers of Bill Goldberg as just another couple of regular moves. Fantastic. He then hit the “Bro 2 Sleep” (which for obvious reasons in Chicago got a big pop as the finisher of a certain someone). Riddle went for the Floating Bro but Balor got his knees up and then dropkicked Riddle into the corner. Finn went for the Coupe de Grace but Riddle moved, and then locked in the Bro-mission. Balor somehow rolled his way out of it and then followed with his old 1916 DDT for the finish and the win.

This was absolutely as good as you’d expect from these two. Both guys looked so good here. I can’t imagine there’s many guys as happy with their job in WWE right now than Balor. This was brilliant. On any other show match of the night but somehow only the 3rd best on this show.

****1/2

Tomasso Ciampa, Kevin Owens, Keith Lee & Dominik Dijakovic defeated Undisputed Era (Adam Cole, Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly & Bobby Fish) in a War Games match 

Shockingly enough… this was fucking fantastic stuff as well!!! Era coming out draped in all their gold really did make them look like a million dollars. Ciampa came out wearing his Psycho Killer mask from his indie days and also had face war-paint on. His camo-inspired gear and signature crutch too pleased me highly, again it’s the subtle things. Team captain Ciampa marched to the ring to start the match, and it was Roderick Strong who volunteered to start for Era. They had a fun brawl until O’Reilly entered and they ganged up on Ciampa. Dijakovic was next in and went on a tear. Bobby Fish was next in. Era were really in control now, Roderick Strong hilariously took the piss out of Dijakovic’s catchphrase by saying “feast your eyes DORK” which I found hilarious at the time. Keith Lee then entered at full speed to the delight of the crowd and looked really ready to go. He went at O’Reilly and Fish, he LEAPFROGGED over one guy (yes the 300pound plus Lee leapt over someone) and hit a crossbody after… I love me some Keith Lee!!! After Strong had hit Lee with a Dropkick Ciampa tried to make the save only to be outnumbered and beat on. Finally Adam Cole entered for Undisputed Era, and he took some tables from under the ring beforehand to the delight of the Chicago crowd. After sliding some tables in the ring he set one up leant against the barricade, but was then shoved from the ring steps by Ciampa as he went to go into the cage and Cole went crashing through the aforementioned table he’d just set up. It looked great. With the 7 pre announced participants now in the match we had the four Undisputed Era members in one ring and the three babyfaces of Team Ciampa stood tall in the other. They walked towards their downed opponents like Lions about to attack their prey… it led to a great mini brawl. Bobby Fish hit a low blow to Keith Lee before he could attack and Era seemed to gain the upperhand. This coincided with the countdown to the final entrant in the match, the mystery 4th member of Team Ciampa… the clock counted down and the crowd with it to zero… nobody came out for a few seconds… and THEN… KEVIN OWENS MUSIC PLAYED AND THE CROWD WENT APE SHIT!!! And out came the former NXT Champion sporting his old KO-NXT shirt as well!!! This was an awesome choice. The look on Adam Cole’s face was priceless. “HOLY BLEEP, HOLY BLEEP” Mauro called on commentary. And once again “Mystic Dan” called this spot on… anyway Owens came in like a house on fire and hit all the Era members with moves, Cole tried to get his irl friend to do the Undisputed Era sign… but after a mini tease Owens gave Cole a “suck it” and hit him with a Stunner (which Cole sold great by the way) and for a nearfall. Not long after Lee and Dijakovic threw Strong from one ring into the other but he kind of got caught in the ropes so didn’t quite make it fully. Kevin Owens seemed really fired up and shook the cage in excitement. Tables were set up everywhere. Keith Lee hit a huge crossbody onto everyone which looked great. Lee then really took a beating as Strong hit an Angle Slam on him from the top rope, and then Fish and O’Reilly hammered him with knee strikes. Meanwhile Cole and Owens went back and forth on the metal bit between the two rings. Owens looked to try a package piledriver onto the metal plate which the crowd were hot for in anticipation. But somehow Cole just about reversed it into a Panama Sunrise which the crowd gave a “holy shit” chant for. Tomasso Ciampa went on rampage after hitting knee strikes to Fish and O’Reilly and then Cole too. And then we came towards the finish which as it played out just got better and better and visually more spectacular each spot… so first of all Dominik Dijakovic sent Bobby Fish through a table with a chokeslam to take him out, he tried to do the same to Kyle O’Reilly but he got out of trouble with a triangle choke using another table to lean his back on for leverage… only for Kevin Owens to take the opportunity to climb to a nearby top turnbuckle and hit a frog splash to send O’Reilly through the table. Next it was Roddy Strong’s turn as Keith Lee hit a sit-out powerbomb onto Strong off the top rope through another table to take him out. Meanwhile… across the side of the other ring the two team captains were about to top the lot of them with a table spot of their own… and one for the ages… so by this stage both Ciampa and Cole had made their way to the top of the cage in the far corner, with two tables set up below… and after a brief back and forth of jostling for position (and Ciampa steadying his footing) Tomasso picked Adam Cole up and hit a Air Raid Crash from the TOP OF THE FUCKING WAR GAMES CAGE THROUGH THE TWO TABLES SET UP BELOW!!! The crowd went wild for this bump and it was of course enough to get the pin fall and the win for Ciampa. Immediately after of ALL PEOPLE the camera cut to Adam Cole’s girlfriend in the crowd who looked mortified. She was mentioned by name on commentary, Britt Baker (that’s AEW wrestler Britt Baker by the way). This was an amazing spot to end a brilliant match. My immediate thought was I hoped Ciampa was ok, but thankfully Keith Lee went to him to offer him a hand up and the babyface team celebrated to close the show.

This was another spectacular match. Ciampa was unreal levels of good in particular but everyone involved was great here. A brilliant match.

****3/4

And THAT was TakeOver! Another great NXT show as they always seem to be. So much set up for the future too; Ripley as a certified MEGAstar and the next contender to Shayna, Dakota Kai as a new heel and potential singles matches with all 4 members of team Ripley, You have Pete Dunne vs Adam Cole for the title at Survivor Series now (providing Cole survived that table bump that is) which really could steel the show, Finn Balor looked as big a star as he has done for years in a great match with Matt Riddle who wasn’t at all damaged even in defeat, and the main event sees Ciampa go even further up the ladder on his quest to bring his beloved Goldie back to Daddy by pinning the NXT Champion. And the big reveal of Kevin Owens came off great. What that means for Survivor Series with Owens as a member of Team Raw in the men’s 5v5v5, bearing in mind we still don’t have a reveal of Team NXT for that match remains to be seen.

Speaking of Survivor Series… it was revealed by Rhea Ripley on the usual post-TakeOver Facebook live chat with Triple H, hosted by Cathey Kelly, that the women’s NXT team for their 5v5v5 would be Rhea Ripley as team captain, Candice LeRae, Io Shirai, Bianca Belair and former NXT UK Women’s Champion Toni Storm!!!

One other bit of news from the show was the announcement that there will be another NXT TakeOver show coming from Portland, Oregon on Sunday February 16th 2020. There is no TakeOver over a Royal Rumble weekend (we’ve a Worlds Collide tournament instead, whatever that’ll look like). But if that TakeOver is anything near as good as this one was we are in for an absolute treat.

This was another really good NXT TakeOver show and one where all the big moments came off as huge as intended. And the wrestling and big spots were brilliant throughout the whole show. The main show went exactly 2 1/2 hours which is an absolute dream for us fans used to 4-5 hour main PPVs (another which we will likely get Sunday night as well) but it absolutely flew by. Another triumph. Bravo NXT. I love you so much and will be firmly in your corner for Survivor Series.

Josh.

 

Top 10 CM Punk WWE matches

We thought it would never happen. But last week it did… kind of… So to mark the unofficial WWE return of CM Punk, and given that Survivor Series weekend is coming at you from Punk’s home of Chicago this weekend, I thought now was as good a time as ever to bring back one of the signature post types of my blog. Sure a lot of you will know of the pipebomb, his cult-hero status and his acrimonious departure from WWE. But lost amongst some of that is how good a wrestler Punk was. It’s funny that you maybe wouldn’t say he was the GOAT at any one particular aspect of the in-ring stuff, but he was a solid 7-9/10 at all the little bits that make up a great wrestler. So join me as a I countdown the 10 times CM Punk showed how good he was between the ropes. Here is my run down of the 10 best WWE matches of CM Punk.

10. CM Punk vs Randy Orton in a Last Man Standing Match – Extreme Rules 2011

This was a match from the period I wasn’t really following the product. But in my research for this list it was certainly a pleasant surprise when I did watch it. It’s another example of when Randy Orton is motivated to put on a show, he’s one of the greats. As you can expect given the stipulation they both used all sorts of weapons in this one and there was so much to recap I’ll try and tell you the highlights in note form: match began with Punk smashing Orton’s body with a kendo stick, Orton launching Punk into a chair he had placed between the ropes in the corner and Punk went absolutely flying into the chair and went through the chair almost onto the floor (it looked horrid to take as a bump), Punk hitting a GTS for a 9 count, Orton hitting an RKO for a 9 himself, Punk placing Orton’s head into a chair and throwing him into the ringpost. Later Punk would try another GTS on the announce table, but Randy hit an RKO that Punk got up from at 9 but stumbled back down. Orton then set up for the Punt Kick, but Punk got out the way and dropped Orton down onto the ring steps. For the finish Punk went to the top rope, but Randy hit him with a load of shots with a kendo stick to Punk’s back, and then hit an RKO off the middle rope. And this was enough to keep Punk down for the 10 count and end this feud with a bang. And this was just the opener of that PPV! Good stuff.

****1/2 

9. CM Punk (C) vs Daniel Bryan in a No Disqualification match for the WWE Championship with special guest referee AJ Lee – Money In The Bank 2012

So by this point AJ Lee had chosen the affections of Punk over former boyfriend Daniel Bryan, and she then found herself here refereeing a match between the two for the WWE Championship. Naturally once again with these two guys, they put on a really good match. Despite the fact it really was a lot about AJ Lee it was still really great to watch, Lee got took out a few minutes in and replaced by Mike Chioda, Punk and Bryan brawled and fought in the meantime, such as a trade of kendo stick shots before Bryan hit Punk with a tonne of kendo shots to the back. Eventually AJ Lee came back to referee, the story seemed to be AJ wanting to decide who was going to win herself at various points, she dropped a chair in the middle of the ring and had both men try and crawl to it first, Bryan and AJ argued at different points and at another point CM Punk went to launch Daniel Bryan into a chair in the corner he had set up, but AJ Lee stepped in so he couldn’t do it. In a great-looking spot Daniel Bryan used a kendo stick to help him add pressure and force to the Yes Lock as AJ Lee smiled on… Punk escaped though and threw Bryan into the corner. CM punk would later hit his GTS but took so long to go for the pin as he was hurt that it was enough time for Bryan to kick out, this made Punk get mad at AJ Lee. To win the match Punk used a table and placed Bryan on it, and after a brief brawl Punk hit a back superplex to send Bryan through the table and then got the pin. AJ Lee counted it but wasn’t happy, with the idea that she wanted to be the deciding factor in the win and she wasn’t. It was a silly story but regardless the match was really good.

****1/2 

8. CM Punk with Paul Heyman defeated Chris Jericho – Payback 2013

This show is more remembered by those who know for being the show WWE asked an injured and beat up CM Punk to come in for, because it was in Chicago and they needed him. And he did. Unsurprisingly the live crowd were super hot for this and it only added to the big match occasion. Punk was the ultimate babyface to the crowd and Jericho was hated. This was another occasion where CM Punk and a top star just went out and put on a BANGER of a professional wrestling match. They went back and forth all match and you really didn’t have any idea who was going to win as it went on. There were a few great nearfall spots; Punk coming off the ropes for a springboard only for Jericho to catch him with a Codebreaker, Punk turning a Walls of Jericho into a nearfall via a small package and later Punk trying to hit a huracanrana only for Chris Jericho to block the attempt and again hit the Walls of Jericho. The finish came when Punk got out of a half-crab by hitting a series of strikes to Jericho’s head, he followed up with a GTS, and then as Jericho stumbled to the corner of the ring Punk would hit a second GTS for the 1, 2, 3. Great stuff.

****1/2 

7. CM Punk (C) vs Daniel Bryan for the WWE Championship – Over The Limit 2012

This came across to me as the least WWE match I’ve seen for some time. These two wrestlers had a ‘rasslin match and it was great. Submission holds, various strike-based moves and the whole time the crowd were chanting loudly for both guys (interesting point to me was the younger members of the audience seemed to shout for Punk, with the adult male voices seeming to be behind Bryan). Maybe it was juts me but it looked like these two guys were having the time of their lives wrestling one another, and whilst the story of AJ Lee and the upcoming love-triangle of sorts was still to come it made a nice change to just see two great wrestlers wrestling for the WWE Championship. A lot of wrestling is about the storylines sure (as many of this list are), but a good match is a good match and this was good, would’ve been great but the finish was odd to me. Daniel Bryan had the Yes Lock applied , only for CM Punk to roll over Brayn and pin his hsoulders to the mat for the win and to retain his title, however as the ref slapped the mat for the third time Punk began to tap, but the refs hand hit first so Punk got the win just in time before he had to give up. Bryan was annoyed as Punk celebrated, and it did lead to a three way involving Kane (who had attacked Punk the Raw prior to this show) at the next PPV, but it was a minor annoyance on what was otherwise a really good match. CM Punk vs Daniel Bray was very good… I know, you’re shocked aren’t you…

****1/2 

6. CM Punk (with Paul Heyman) (C) vs The Rock for the WWE Championship – Royal Rumble 2013

Come on now, CM PUNK defended the WWE CHAMPIONSHIP against THE ROCK… I couldn’t do a CM Punk best matches list and not have this in there could I? This was a great spin on a classic wrestling tale; CM Punk as the evil long reigning champion against literally the People’s Champion, the returning hero The Rock. For all the hype it had, and yes it was the match that led to TWICE in a lifetime at that year’s Mania and long term was maybe the result that led CM Punk to leave the company and denied him of his WrestleMania main event spot he craved so badly… but this match was everything you could want in a professional wrestling bout. Great drama, a hot crowd to go with it, and a great story in the match itself of Punk using every trick in the book to try and combat the valiant challenger. The finish here was excellent; to get around the pre-match stipulation set by Mr McMahon banning The Shield from getting involved, just as Rock was about to hit the People’s Elbow the lights went out… and in the darkness The Shield put Rock through an announce table and had vanished when the lights came back on… the genius plan from Heyman and Punk seemed to have ruined the dream of The Rock as Punk pinned him not long after to retain. But then… Vince came out and told Punk that he saw through his plan and was about to strip Punk of the title, until The Rock (still battered and exhausted at ringside following the attack) said he didn’t want it that way, and asked for the match to be restarted. Vince agreed and the match was back underway… and eventually The Rock DID hit the People’s Elbow, and he DID pin Punk to end his 434 day reign. The Rock was the WWE Champion, and the moment was made even greater by the false ending from before so just made the eventual Rock win even more special. A classic in how to draw a crowd in and get them to pop even louder. Great stuff all round here, aside from Punk not getting that Mania main event he and his title run deserved.

****1/2 

5. CM Punk with Paul Heyman vs The Undertaker – WrestleMania 29

Of all the matches on this list, this is maybe the one I’m most familiar with. So as Punk didn’t get to defend the WWE Championship in the main event of WrestleMania, he did get the next best thing; The Undertaker match. Following the death of Paul Bearer it was Punk and Heyman who mocked the passing in challenging Taker for his then WrestleMania undefeated streak, and also took possession of Taker’s coveted Urn. The match itself was great, Punk helped take Undertaker to maybe one of the last great matches of his long and illustrious career. They went just over 22 minutes, told an exceptional story, had a tonne of nearfalls with big move after big move from both guys, and the finish was great too; with the ref down Punk hit Taker with the urn and then did Undertaker’s traditional pin, only for Undertaker to kick out. They both then traded nearly hitting their finish with the crowd at fever pitch, until finally Taker hit the Tombstone for the win. Taker’s streak was up to 21-0, he had the urn back, and all was right in The Undertaker’s world… for another year at least…

****1/2 

4. CM Punk vs Jeff Hardy (C) in a TLC Match for the World Heavyweight Championship – SummerSlam 2009

It was pretty notable when you look back at the fact that Jeff Hardy and CM punk had a series of matches for the world title in WWE, and the fact this match main evented this PPV ahead of a John Cena vs Randy Orton WWE Championship match.  Chances are if you liked CM Punk you liked Jeff Hardy so this was somewhat of a dream for fans at this time. Of all their matches this one is the best of them for me. Jeff Hardy of course is no stranger to these type of matches, and he didn’t disappoint here either, and neither did CM Punk. They used all the Tables, Ladder and Chairs to try and beat down eachother as Punk looked to make good on his pre-match promise to ‘end’ Jeff Hardy. This all the hallmarks of a classic TLC match, in that it was not one for the squeamish as both guys came crashing onto ladders and through tables and colliding with chairs in what was a brutal test of will and desire that went just over 20 minutes. In the most amazing spot Jeff Hardy climbed to the top of the tallest ladder I think I’ve ever seen, and hit a prone CM Punk with a Swanton Bomb through the announce table. It was a pretty spectacular visual but one I’m sure left both men feeling the consequences. They did the stretcher job for both guys and even put Jeff in a neck brace, as much as he tried to get off and back into the match. Punk crawled to the ladder only for Jeff to jump back into life to stop him… The finish of the match though was one of heartbreak for the LA crowd, as  Punk desperately climbed the ladder and Jeff followed and tried to fight Punk off, the challenger hit Hardy with a stiff kick to his injured ribs that sent him crashing to the floor below, and CM Punk pulled down his newly won World Heavyweight Championship belt. A GREAT TLC match that Jim Ross rightfully called a ‘thrill ride for the ages’. The crowd in the arena did though go from stunned silence to jubilation as a returning Undertaker then appeared to confront the new world champion, but this was another night where CM Punk captured gold from a top babyface in a really good match.

****3/4 

3. CM Punk vs John Cena in a Number 1 Contenders Match for the WWE Championship – Raw February 25th 2013

So the idea here was that this was to decide who would face The Rock at WrestleMania for the title, so we all knew who was going to win of course… but I don’t think we expected them to put on a match, on regular weekly WWE TV no less, that was this compelling. The quote from the Bleacher Report recap of the match said “This wasn’t just the best match on Raw in years. It was one of the best WWE matches I’ve ever seen period.”. It was big move after big move, and was fitting given what was at stake. I really want you all to go and watch this because this was just a really really great wrestling match and if you don’t enjoy this match I don’t think you’re watching the right thing to be honest. There was a moment of controversy towards the end of the match; John Cena got hit by Punk with a Piledriver. That form of the move was outlawed in WWE and thus Vince McMahon was furious. Cena, given he was the top guy, took the heat for it. Cena kicked out of the piledriver, Punk later went for the big elbow drop but then bizzarely Cena did a move I don’t think I’ve seen him do before or since, a Huracanrana! It was an odd-looking one but still was just a shock to see Cena do that move… he then hit the AA for the win to set up TWICE in a lifetime at that year’s WrestleMania. The Wrestling Observer Newsletter review of the match called it “among the best matches in Raw TV history”. This was a classic.

****3/4 

2. CM Punk vs Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman in a No Disqualifications Match – SummerSlam 2013

Billed as ‘The Best vs The Beast’ this was a match that came about following Punk’s former manager and long-term friend Paul Heyman turning on his former charge and choose to back the rather larger horse of Brock Lesnar. There was a lot of emotion going into this and expectations were high. It did not disappoint. We are used to in 2018-19 Lesnar having classics with guys smaller than him (Styles/Bryan/Rollins) and it began here against CM Punk. Lesnar rag-dolled and beat on Punk early on as the crowd tried to roar their hero back into it, Punk eventually getting Lesnar to the outside as the momentum began to shift. It wouldn’t last all that long as Lesnar beat on Punk and squashed every comeback The Best In The World would try. and then in the second half of the match, it went from good… to GREAT! Punk and Lesnar went back and forth with big move after big move in a classic sign of a Paul Heyman match, and from then on out the crowd were electric trying to will Punk to a miracle. At long last though CM Punk finally got his hands on his former ally, eventually putting Heyman in the Anaconda Vice submission and making him tap furiously… until Brock hit a few huge chair shots and then the F5 onto the chair for the win. This was a classic that if CM Punk had of win I’d have had down as about as perfect as this match could of been.

****3/4 

1. CM Punk vs John Cena (C) for the WWE Championship – Money In The Bank 2011 (if CM Punk won the WWE Championship, John Cena would be fired)

Often on his various podcasts, Conrad Thompson will tell his listeners to ‘go out of you way to watch this match’. Well… I’m telling you right now to go out of you way to watch this match. You’ve heard of the pipebomb from Punk right? Well this was the match that the pipebomb was leading to. The story here was essentially CM Punk’s contract with WWE was legitimately expiring, he was holding WWE ransom wanting his demands to be met, and so they made a story out of it. CM Punk was leaving WWE and wanted to hit them where it hurt the most, by beating their top guy on the way out and taking the holy grail of the WWE Championship with him. As a result a match for Punk was set up against WWE Champion John Cena, and the pre-match stipulation set by Vince McMahon was made that, given what was at stake and the possible disaster that could happen, it was announced if Punk won, Cena would be fired. Oh… and for good measure the match was in CM Punk’s hometown of Chicago. There about as much hype for this one as was humanely possible. What we got was absolutely extraordinary. CM Punk, the top heel in the company, got about as loud a babyface reaction as you’ve ever heard. John Cena, the biggest star and top babyface champion, got one of the most incredible heel reactions of boos from the crowd you’ve ever heard. The match itself was absolutely fantastic, and sure it’s the popular thing to hate on John Cena but who the fuck was the idiots chanting ‘you can’t wrestle’ to John Cena. This absolutely dispelled that myth once and for all. I don’t really want to talk about the move for move details of the match, just go out of you way to go and watch it. They went just over 33 minutes. And it was great great great stuff. The finish of the match was about as incredible as you could have had… In a clear call-back to “the incident in Montreal” When Cena had Punk in his STF submission Vince McMahon and John Laurinaitis tried to get the bell rung to end the match and to screw Punk, but valiant superhero Cena went out of the ring and hit Johnny Ace, and told Vince that he wasn’t going to win that way, and Vince couldn’t get his dream result to be rid of Punk and to keep his company’s championship in house… but Cena got back in the ring, CM Punk picked him up, he hit the GTS, and he pinned John Cena in the middle of the ring 1, 2, 3. Vince’s worst nightmare had come true and his disgust was clear to see. CM Punk had won the WWE Championship to a thunderous reaction from a raucous Chicago crowd. Even Vince’s panic of trying to get Alberto Del Rio to cash in his Money In The Bank contract he had won that same night didn’t work as Punk just kicked him in the head. And then just as he claimed he would, CM Punk looked Vince in the eye, blew him a kiss, and then ran through the crowd with the WWE Championship in hand… This match well and truly lived up to the most hype a WWE match has had for many, many years. An all-time CLASSIC. A masterpiece and by a long way the best WWE match of CM Punk’s career.

*****

and we never saw or heard from CM Punk in WWE ever again…

😉

 

Josh.