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

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

Io Shirai HEEL promo

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

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

Velveteen Dream press conference promo 

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

Damian Priest defeated Blanco Loco 

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

Killian Dain ‘Coming Soon’ promo package 

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

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

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

NXT Breakout Tournament: Round 1 – Jordan Myles defeated Boa 

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

NXT Women’s Champions Shayna Baszler promo

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

Keith Lee video package 

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

NXT General Manager William Regal announcement 

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

Also…

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

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

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

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

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

Josh. 

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

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

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

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

Mia Yim defeated Aliyah (with Vanessa Borne) 

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

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

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

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

Adam Cole Bay Bay Championship Celebration Tour Part 2 

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

Kushida defeated Jeff Parker 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bianca Belair defeated Priscilla Zuniga

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

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

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

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

Roderick Strong defeated Tyler Breeze 

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

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

Josh. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

NXT Breakout Tournament Round One: Angel Garza defeated Joaquin Wilde 

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

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

**1/2 

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

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

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

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

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

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

N/A

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

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

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

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

Keith Lee defeated Nykos Rikos

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

N/A

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

****

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

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

As always… thank u, NXT!

Josh. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Okada Vs Omega 4 – Review (1 Year On)

Image result for omega vs okada 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1-0 Okada 

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

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

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

1-1

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

Image result for omega video vs okada 4

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

Josh.

All Elite Wrestling: Double or Nothing – Review

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

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

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

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

***3/4

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

Kip Sabian defeated Sammy Guevara 

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

***1/4

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

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

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

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

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

***3/4

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

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

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

***3/4 

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

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

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

****

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

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

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

****

Cody with Brandi Rhodes defeated Dustin Rhodes

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

****3/4

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

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

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

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

****1/2

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

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

****1/2 

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

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

Josh. 

 

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

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

Big Daddy defeated Giant Haystacks in a ‘Knockout Match’ 

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

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

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

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

1/4* (0.25) 

Josh.

All Elite Wrestling: Double or Nothing – Preview

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

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

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

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

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

“Hangman” Adam Page defeated PAC by Disqualification 

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

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

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

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

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

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

****1/4 

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

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

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

Prediction: Sammy Guevara 

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

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

Prediction: MJF 

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

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

Prediction: Kong/Sakazaki/Sakura 

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

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

Prediction: Strong Hearts 

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

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

Prediction: Best Friends 

Dr Britt Baker V Nyla Rose V Kylie Rae

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

Prediction: Kylie Rae 

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

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

Prediction: The Lucha Bros

Cody V Dustin Rhodes

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

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

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

Prediction: Cody 

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

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

Prediction: Chris Jericho 

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

Josh.

 

A Beginner’s Guide to All Elite Wrestling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MAIN STAFF:

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

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

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

Chief Brand(i) Officer: Brandi Rhodes

Head of Talent Relations: Christopher Daniels

ROSTER:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Josh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WRESTLEMANIA 35 Preview and Predictions

I can already tell WrestleMania 35 is going to be one of the most memorable events in all of wrestling history. There is so much that COULD happen that has huge historical significance; from the women in the main event, to Kofi Kingston being in the biggest match of his career,  and the 10000th possible last WWE match for Brock Lesnar. I’ll be in a sports bar with friends and lots of wrestling fans with drinks and food a-plenty so I’ll have a great time regardless. But looking at it now, stone-cold sober, objectively I see this card at it tells me two things; this show is going to be LONG but it’s going to be BIG! Some years WrestleMania has some matches that you don’t really feel are worthy of the biggest if stages, but there’s not too many if any this year. So without further or due here is my predictions for WrestleMania 35!!!

John Cena 

YOU CAN’T SEE HIM on the ‘official’ line up for WrestleMania, but be it some form of involvement in the Angle match, interrupting Elias or something else I think he will appear. Be it in a segment or a match he WILL be at WrestleMania… I think…

Prediction: you CAN see him 

WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal 

AKA ‘the we don’t know what to do with you lot so here’s your Mania spot’ match. You really can’t get everyone on the card, but is it not a really sad side of our main event that the result of ‘Winner Takes All’ is ASUKA is in the throwaway Battle Royal… but is what it is I guess… As previous years have shown this match could really be won by ANYONE! I could say one of any of the names really; Alexa Bliss, Lacey Evans, Mandy Rose, Nikki Cross, Naomi again, someone from NXT… but given the recent fan uproar at her sheer inclusion in this match I’m unsure if anything but a win here for her will satisfy the crowd… or most watching I feel.

Prediction: Asuka to win 

Cruserweight Championship: Tony Nese V Buddy Murphy (C) 

This match will be good, and as good as time they give it. I’ve not much more to say about this than I have any of the previous good Murphy PPV showcases for 205 Live. I’m surprised Nese is in the spot for Mania, not saying he isn’t really good in-ring but I’d have thought they’d have gone for someone new. I’m taking ti as a given Murphy wins here, it isn’t because it’s WrestleMania and if you were going to end such a great title run then here is the place to do it. I’m just unsure if Nese is the right guy to do that. I see it as Murphy wins here in a really fun and good match, and then a new challenger emerges after WrestleMania. Be that someone from NXT (ISTG if that’s a certain Mr Wrestling I give up on WWE), possibly incoming signing KUSHIDA from New Japan Pro Wrestling. But who knows? If you like good wrestling then this is the match for you.

Prediction: Buddy Murphy to retain 

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) (C) V The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) V Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev with Lana V Ricochet & Aleister Black in a Fatal 4 Way Tag Team Match

I see no reason given who is involved as to why this match shouldn’t be great. I certainly think it’ll be the best 4 way tag match on this show… Admittedly it has been a bit thrown together and with no real storyline, but it has got Ricochet and Black on the Mania card, so that’s certainly a great great thing. They haven’t pinned Black or Ricochet since they came up to the main roster and I don’t think they will here. BUT the 4 way nature means they don’t have to pin them if they don’t want to have the titles on them. So by process of elimination I don’t see The Bar winning the titles again, nor do I see enough momentum behind Nakamura & Rusev, so it has to be The Usos retaining or the two NXT alumni taking the belts home. I’ve done this a lot for this show but I’m going for the big babyface pop and so for the new champions to be Black and Ricochet.

Prediction: Ricochet & Aleister Black to win and become the NEW Smackdown Tag Team Champions

Raw Tag Team Championship: Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder V The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) (C) 

It seemed we were set for this a fair few weeks back now, and then it disappeared to allow for Gable and Roode and then Ricochet and Aleister Black to play challenger to The Revival. But then just before Mania on a WWE.COM VIDEO of all things it appears we’re on course for this match and THREE NIGHTS (UK time) it was announced with absolutely zero TV build for pretty much months. But I called it a while ago and I think given Ryder and Hawkins are Jersey natives, and of course with the losing streak still (just about) a storyline I think it’d be an easy babyface pop to have Hawkins end his losing streak here and for him and Ryder to have a Mania moment

Prediction: Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins to win and become the NEW Raw Tag Team champions

United States Championship: Rey Mysterio V Samoa Joe (C) 

I think this match will be great in-ring wise, and Joe is one of the best characters in the company when in full flow, but I just don’;t see this as a match… it makes me think something odd is going to happen in it. Be it Dominic, Rey’s son who has appeared on Smackdown recently, getting involved somehow, or maybe a quick win for Rey to win a title he has yet to win and to become the latest grand slam champion? MAYBE Joe beats up Rey and then calls out someone and out comes Cena? Maybe Rey doesn’t even make the match given his recent ‘injury’ and we go straight to Joe Vs Cena or someone else? Maybe they’ll just have a match and it’ll be good. I’m going to predict Joe to win simply as I have a fair few babyface wins elsewhere on the show and I don’t think WWE will give us too much of a good thing.

Prediction: Samoa Joe to retain 

Intercontinental Championship: “The All Mighty” Bobby Lashley (C) with Lio Rush V ‘Demon’ Finn Balor

“The All Mighty”… behave yourself. DEMON BALOR? Yeah… you know the score here… surely??? …

Prediction: ‘Demon’ Finn Balor to win and become the NEW Intercontinental Champion 

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship: Nia Jax & Tamina V Natalya & Beth Phoenix V The IIconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) V The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection (Sasha Banks & Bayley) (C) in a Fatal 4 Way Tag Team Match 

I do feel it a tad harsh on these women for WWE to put another 4 way tag match on the same show that I personally think will be better. But for historical purposes I think this will be the more memorable of the two. Looking at each of the four teams we have Nia and Tamina who are… there… , The IICONICS who I personally really like but know many do not… they may not be the best in the ring but they are one of the original female tag teams before female tag teams was the in-thing so for that they deserve this spot, the ‘Divas of Doom’ Natalya and the recently returned Beth Phoenix I feel will be the glue that holds this match together, and finally our champions and presumable big favorites Sasha and Bayley. Banks and Bayley are a great team to carry the titles and establish them as a big deal, but if you want to do a big title change then is there any better place than Mania? I certainly wouldn’t be astonished if they did do a switch here, but as far as a prediction goes I’ll go with the titles staying exactly where they are here.

Prediction: Sasha Banks & Bayley to retain 

Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal 

Is there any point saying much about this one? Of course the only real story is with Braun and the two SNL guys in this match, but that almost makes me wonder if that’ll be the sideshow and the winner will take advantage of it? I’ll go Braun, but I kind of hope he doesn’t and they give someone like an Ali or Andrade a big-ish Mania moment that can be a springboard to post-Mania stardom…

Prediction: Braun Strowman to win 

AJ Styles V Randy Orton 

Considering there’s nothing officially on the line here they’ve done a really good job of making this in to a very personal affair. The promos back-and-forth the two have cut on one another, particularly when they’ve highlighted each of their very different career paths, has been really great to watch. And anytime they’ve had any physical altercations their styles (no pun intended) have mixed really really well. This will be really good I think and could go either way result wise. But for no real logical reason aide from it being the WWE and it being Randy Orton and it being WrestleMania I’ll go for The viper to win, and it to involve some form of wild counter in to an RKO.

Prediction: Randy Orton to win 

Roman Reigns V Drew McIntyre 

Not even the WWE would beat a guy that had Cancer in his first singles match back would they? … Would they? No to be honest if they were going to give such a spot to anyone I’m so happy they’ve gone with Drew. And even if McIntyre does take the L here it’s still a massive match for him to even be involved in given who and where. Reigns has been beaten down at every stage in the build up, I presume to set us and the crowd to give him a huge ovation when he gets his won back on Drew in the match. I’d say this wouldn’t be a bad way to open the main show with Roman getting a heroes ovation, which given his recent WrestleMania receptions would be ironic. Roman has to win. You could even have Drew get it back later, but it’s his first match back for God sake…

Prediction: Roman Reigns to win 

Shane McMahon V The Miz in a Falls Count Anywhere Match 

Oh boy… lets leave talking about the match for a second and let me admit that the build has been fun. Shane has made himself hated and that’s good, and as much as Miz has been somewhat booked WAY to strong fending off multiple heels at the same time in recent weeks, his promos on his family and his road to get to where he is have been very believable and really makes you want to cheer him. So credit to them both for that. The stipulation here could make it all OK, as I think now they have free reign to do what they want. I know it’s going to happen but for god sake I hope neither of these two do anything crazy, or do I secretly want them to do a mad stunt? You decide that for yourself…  The right result is Miz winning because he could benefit so much from it, but if WWE see it like that is an entirely different thing.

Prediction: The Miz to win 

Kurt Angle V Baron Corbin in Kurt Angle’s Farewell Match 

GOD I hope this is short. Kurt really does look physically DONE as a wrestler. Yeah sure Corbin could do great saying he retired Angle, and I guess everyone loses their last match right? If this really is going to be simply a straight up singles match with no interruptions or anything else then keep this SHORT. I really would like Angle to win, I don’t know if he will. I’ll go heart again here. I hate Corbin as a character, but does that mean he’s good at his job as a heel???

Prediction: Kurt Angle to win

Triple H V Batista in a No Holds Barred Match (if Triple H loses he must retire from in-ring competition) 

Triple H isn’t retiring is he? I know he’s going in to the Hall Of Fame this weekend and it is against his Batista… but he has more miles in him I feel… Finn Balor V Triple H… Triple H at an NXT Takeover… and lets be honest there’s many more Saudi shows to come… there’s much more Triple H can do in the ring so I just can’t see him losing here… The build up has honestly been really good. Beginning of course at Smackdown 1000, and even with the match seemingly in doubt when Triple H got hurt it was kicked back into life in a HUGE way when Batista attacked Ric Flair during what was supposed to be his 70th Birthday celebratory night. Triple H has been his awesome self in promos leading up, and Batista on the go-home Raw cut maybe the promo of his life simply by cutting to a video package of him beating up The Game down the years before simply saying “Hunter… Kiss My ASS”! His very specific and methodical actions as well just made him seem the coolest and baddest guy around, and given it was in Batista’s hometown it was perhaps wise not to have Triple H appear given he’s supposed to be the babyface. One interesting thing will be seeing how the crowd take to each superstar here. I hope it’s action packed, not too long that it gets boring (which is a fear for sure). Batista has always stated he wanted to end his career at a WrestleMania against Triple H and hopefully he doesn’t have too much ring rust in doing so. Fingers crossed.

Prediction: Triple H to win 

WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston with Big E & Xavier Woods V ‘The New’ Daniel Bryan (C) with Rowan 

I think we are all going to be on the edge of our seats for this one. It really could, given the level of crowd noise and interest in it, be an all-time classic. The naturally evolving story that has lead us to KOFImania has been incredible to see unfold. I was in no doubt Bryan would win a month or so ago, but the momentum behind Kingston is so much now SURELY he has to do it? i’d advise WWE to be very careful where they put this on the card because if Kofi loses it could kill the crowd for a long time after and possibly for the rest of the show. If anyone aside from Becky is more over with the crowd all show than Kofi I’ll be shocked. And the amount of love he has received from the fans in recent weeks in the build is the main reason I see him winning this. Sure I don’t think he will be champion long after, but for that MOMENT would it not be spectacular? Bryan has been doing the best work of his whole career since he turned heel and won the title, and this could be his masterpiece such is his absolutely sensational heel character work. PLEASE WWE have Kofi win… PLEASE?!

Prediction: Kofi Kingston to win and become the NEW WWE Champion 

Universal Championship: Seth Rollins V Brock Lesnar (C) with Paul Heyman

Don’t get me wrong, I REALLY REALLY REALLY want Seth to win… but I’ve got the most terrible feeling he wont. I’ve long been of the thought process that only two of the big three babyfaces challenging for title at Mania (Seth, Kofi and Becky) will win. Because WWE don’t often let us have too much of a nice thing? Maybe it would be overkill, but if I offered you all 3 winning for definite NOW you’d take it right? I know I’d snap your hand off and not even think about it. The segment on Raw this past week was fascinating; according to reports it was changed… what we all saw was Rollins lay out Lesnar and end it holding the belt up high… but what was planned was Brock to destroy Seth again UNTIL Vince changed his mind last minute and made the switch. Which yes it was cool BUT… why did he change it? Was it to give Seth SOMETHING going in only for him to lose anyway? Who knows how Vince thinks… But with MASSIVE sadness I predict the reign of terror of The Beast will continue. And I really hope I’m wrong.

Prediction: Brock Lesnar to retain 

WWE Raw Women’s Championship AND WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship, WINNER TAKES ALL: Charlotte Flair (C) V Becky Lynch V Ronda Rousey (C) 

I almost can’t believe we are finally nearly here. Women in the main event of WrestleMania, and it’s for BOTH Women’s championships! I don’t think much more needs to be said about this that hasn’t already. But it’s Becky Mania surely??? This is going to be one of the most memorable WrestleMania main events of all-time. I hope and do actually believe these three women will put on a great match. But anything but a Lynch win I do fear will see us end what should be an amazing occasion with a chorus of boos once again. We finally have a chance after years of Mania ending on a sour note to have a big, happy moment here. Lets hope we get it…

Prediction: Becky Lynch wins to become the NEW Raw Women’s Champion AND Smackdown Women’s Champion 

Josh. 

 

NXT Takeover: New York – Preview and Predictions

NXT Takeovers usually have a good line up, but this card is INCREDIBLE! It could well be their best ever. The Takeover that opened WrestleMania weekend last year was one of the best shows in WWE or NXT history so this year’s has a lot to live up to. We return to the spiritual home of NXT Takeover in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn New York, so the atmosphere should be excellent. It’s amazing that even with the recent injury to Tomasso Ciampa that forced him to vacate the NXT Championship and deny us the big blow-off match between him and long term tag partner turned bitter rival turned tag partner again turned rival again Johnny Gargano we STILL have one hell of a show coming up on Friday night. So without further or due, here is my preview and predictions for NXT Takeover: New York!

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

With Black and Ricochet recently stating after their Dusty Rhodes Classic win was taped that it was their final night competing at Full Sail, and with their recent call-up to the main roster and their impending main roster tag title shot at WrestleMania, it seems the result here is very obvious. BUT… these are 4 excellent in-ring performers who never disappoint on the Takeover stage, so we should get a great match here. Aleister Black has to go down (presuming this is his last NXT appearance) as one of the all-time great NXT stars, and in a year since his NXT debut Ricochet has been everything we all hoped he would be in WWE so will be sure to put on another spellbinding showcase here. As for the War Raiders appearances can very much be deceiving for these two Vikings, as their amazing athleticism considering their size makes them an incredible tag team to see perform. The tag team title matches on Takeover shows have consistently been good-great in the last two years or so and I expect nothing different here.

Prediction: War Raiders retain 

NXT North American Championship: Matt Riddle V Velveteen Dream (C) 

If you like showmanship, extravagance, taunts, crowd interaction, big and wacky entrances then THIS is the match for you. Two of the potential future stars of the entire WWE taking on one another on the big stage, this is going to be super fun. Matt Riddle just oozes star power and is about as likeable a character as you could get. On the other side our current NXT North American Champion in the past year has had a consistent great run of Takeover showings and his potential continues to rise and rise. When I first heard about this match I was excited of course, but unsure and a tad nervous about how they would mesh in a match together. BUT by all accounts their matches on NXT Live shows against one another have been really great, so hopefully they have a great match on the Takeover stage. Result wise I’m really unsure, it seems everytime we get a big Takeover we here that Dream is getting a call up, then he doesn’t… so it’s clear they think highly of him that I could see Dream winning in a screwy way to look after Riddle. But they haven’t pinned Riddle yet, and although I wouldn’t know how they would eventually get there I see him as a future challenger to the NXT Championship either at the June or August Takeover shows. So I will say Riddle to win, with low levels of confidence.

Prediction: Matt Riddle to win and become the NEW NXT North American Champion 

WWE United Kingdom Championship: WALTER V Pete Dunne (C) 

I predict this will be the best match all weekend. I was privileged enough to sit front row at the recent NXT UK Tapings in Coventry and witnessed this match being made official, a call I correctly predicted when I was on the way to the show…

I also got to see the official contract signing between the two and the crowd were absolutely electric in anticipation for it. These two haven’t touched physically at all in the build up so they’ve been really leaving it all until the match, which excites me greatly. WALTER has been top of the ‘WANTED’ list for WWE/NXT fans like myself for a long time, and when he made his debut to confront Dunne at the end of the NXT UK Takeover in Blackpool in January the crowd went wild, and it laid the ground work for where we are today with an NXT UK match getting the big Takeover stage, and in New York, in the Barclays Center, two nights before WrestleMania. I can’t really quantify in words how great I think and hope this match is. Even though we are in the midst of Pete Dunne’s record breaking title reign of over 680 days, I think now is the time to end it. And less now I just think if anyone is and has ever been the perfect opponent to finally conquer The Bruserweight, it HAS to be WALTER. I’d even say there’s an outside chance Pete Dunne goes to the main roster as part of the ‘INTERNATIONAL superstar shakeup’ in a couple of weeks. Expect stiff strikes, grimacing submission holds, and just all-round tremendous professional wrestling. And quite possibly the end of the longest title reign in modern WWE history.

Prediction: WALTER to win and become the NEW WWE United Kingdom Champion

NXT Women’s Championship: Kairi Sane V Bianca Belair V Io Shirai V Shayna Baszler (C) with Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir 

I see few reasons why this wont be great as well, other than if they give it little time (which they don’t tend to on Takeover shows) or maybe it’ll be hurt by being sandwiched by two classics… which I have it as on my card but I trust the crowd to be hot all night so they should be fine. This match has 4 of the best female in-ring workers in the WWE and I think their alternative styles will mix really well. And the fact we might get some offence between The Sky Pirates Sane and Shirai excites me greatly. I think the thing here will be if you think Shayna is going to the main roster and that’ll decide the result. And I personally DO! Kairi has had her run and is SOOOOO good I don’t think she needs the championship and could be one of the very best on either Raw or Smackdown tomorrow if needs be, Bianca is the future and lost her singles shot at the title before, so to me it seems clear that it’s Io’s time. She’s exceptional she really is and would be a brilliant person to be champion. This will be fun. Hopefully Jessamyn and Marina don’t get too involved that it takes away from the match but I could definitely see some form of mini 6 woman’s tag, even if Bianca has showed more heel tendencies recently. So yes a really fun match ahead, and Shirai to win.

Prediction: Io Shirai to win and become the NEW NXT Women’s Champion 

NXT Championship: Adam Cole V Johnny Gargano – 2 Out Of 3 Falls Match 

WOW OH WOW OH WOW. If there was ANYTHING that could come close to making up for no Ciampa in the main event, it’s replacing him with Adam Cole… BAY BAY! So it looks to me like Gargano was gonna beat Ciampa and then feud with Cole after for the title, which would have been great, but it wasn’t to be. But Adam Cole is one of the best all rounders in NXT and the whole of WWE so he’s a more than adequate replacement. If anything the lack of Ciampa makes this match nearly impossible to predict, as it previously seemed obvious their incredible story would culminate with Gargano finally winning the championship from Ciampa on NXT’s biggest stage. So will they stick with the originally laid out match AND result of Gargano FINALLY becoming the NXT Champion? Or will they skip and go right ahead to Cole? It’s a really intriguing thing to see unfold, and it just makes a great match even more exciting. And I’m delighted to be able to say I really don’t mind who wins, heart says Cole, head says Gargano for the big babyface finale… hmm… I’ll go with my HEART.

Prediction: Adam Cole to win and become the NEW NXT Champion 

Takeover before Mania 3 years ago was in Dallas and was incredible (see my NXT Takeover: Dallas review blog). Takeover Orlando the night before Mania 33 2 years back included the debut of Aleister Black and the announcement Drew McIntyre had returned to WWE. And Takeover: New Orleans last year was the best Takeover of all time. So who on earth knows what Triple H and co will come up for us this year to open WrestleMania weekend? One thing is for sure though is that it’ll be really, really, REALLY good!

Josh.