Disclaimer: I was in a bad mood when I wrote this so reader discretion advised. Read at your own risk.
Our constant readers may have noticed that the F2H family failed to post their usual live review articles about Smackdown Live’s No Mercy and last night’s Monday Night Raw. Have we lost faith in Vince McMahon’s promotion? Are we bored with the product? I’ll answer your question with a question: does a bear shit in the woods? In this instance, the bear is Sean Waltman and the woods is Rena Lesnar’s luggage; and the answer is an emphatic yes.
While on the surface the No Mercy pay-per-view seemed like a solid venture, when you scrutinize it even a little bit, the entire show folds like a wet house of cards. Here is a short list of some of the more cringe-worthy moments of the show. The pre-show featured Jerry Lawler awkwardly flirting and eye-fucking Nikki Bella, a 4-team tag match (overkill in any scenario) that included The Acesnsion, and Curt Hawkins big debut that was only a declaration by him that he would have a match on Tuesday.
Prior to the show, WWE announced the “main event” triple-threat would go on first to start the show, essentially confirming WWE’s lack of confidence in their own product, being fearful that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would pull viewers and bomb their PPV. Although the triple-threat was a decent match, it still featured yet another John Cena title attempt, grasping for the coveted Ric Flair record; and Dean Ambrose in the main event picture, a man with no charism, character evolution, or ability to carry a promotion as either a heel or babyface. And while AJ Styles put on a great outing, I am still watching him on NJPW every week on AXS-TV and his crimped style with WWE is nowhere near his best work in a ring.
No Mercy also featured Nikki Bella utilizing the antiquated 50/50 booking style of WWE in order to beat Carmella. Speaking of the women, Becky Lynch was suddenly injured and not competing. So we saw Naomi not only wrestle but defeat Alexa Bliss. Both finishes were weak and did nothing at all for the losers while barely giving a boost to the winners. The third women’s match of the night was between Jack Swagger and Baron Corbin. Yeah, I said it. Why is this on a pay-per-view? Nobody cares!
The highlight of the night was Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. This was an excellent match and the best on the entire card. Nothing to complain about here. The main event was Randy Orton taking on Bray Wyatt. Oh great, two of the weakest in-between heel/face chimeras in the entire company. Wyatt has strewn together infinitely more losses than wins. And Orton has been a watered down version of himself ever since returning from injury. The build to this match was terribly dis-interesting. And the big “twist” finish was a Luke Harper run in. This ended a pay-per-view in 2016.
Skip ahead to Monday Night Raw and now we’re really swimming out to the deep end with no life preservers. We’re talking about a show that surprisingly opened with Sasha Banks and Charlotte declaring they were having a rematch INSIDE Hell in a Cell. This was a groundbreaking moment…that was immediately cut short by Rusev interrupting. He insults both of them, along with all women’s wrestling (as does Lana) and hijacks what should have been an epic segment. Then Roman Reigns comes out and further buries the angle. Then, in all of Stephanie McMahon and Mick Foley’s jaded wisdom, they put Charlotte on a team with Rusev against the team of Banks and Reigns. Despite Rusev belittling Charlotte, she now gets the “honor” of being his tag team partner.
Do you know why this segment happened? Because Kevin Dunn (a guy that probably has twenty Donald Trump signs in his yard) objectifies women and probably doesn’t think they can carry a moment on their own. They needed big, strong men to come out and bolster their credibility. “Nobody is going to buy women in the Cell! We need men to put it over!” Nevermind the fact that when you have a match with Roman Reigns, Rusev, Charlotte, Lana, and Sasha Banks, the only goddamn babyface in the entire thing is Banks. Reigns is not a face! But WWE continues to try and pair him with any one in order to try and persuade the crowd to oh and ah over him.
Then we have a match between Kofi Kingston and Cesaro. The big angle here is Sheamus sits ringside and tweets during the match. Oh, just brilliant fucking television. Really helps sell Cesaro and Sheamus as a team and absolutely helps make New Day look strong. *vomits in mouth, down onto Ultimate Warrior t-shirt*
Bayley comes out and wrestles Cami Fields. Who? Exactly. She beats a jobber and then gets attacked from behind by Dana Brooke (wearing a way-too-tight outfit) and then Brooke just stands there awkwardly like Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights when he doesn’t know what to do with his hands. Brilliant. There were four horsewomen in NXT. Becky has the Smackdown Women’s Title. Sasha and Charlotte are breaking new ground fighting for the Raw Women’s Title. Meanwhile, Bayley is given about two minutes against someone named Cami Fields. Just a real career booster for her. Good job, Vince!
The newly formed Cruiserweight Division continues to get its legs cut out from underneath it as WWE, despite having three hours of television, just keeps hitting us with Cruiserweight tag-team matches. We get Tony Nese and Drew Gulak against Sin Cara and Lince Dorado. Without fanfare, Sin Cara is now suddenly in the division. Dorado spends the whole match carrying Sin Cara before picking up the win. According to Kevin Dunn and Vince McMahon, there are only two Cruiserweights named T.J. Perkins and Brian Kendrick. Anybody who isn’t them will just be the bathroom break match on Raw.
Then we come back from commercial to find Curtis Axel and Bo Dallas in the ring. Oh boy! That’ll really boost the ratings! Luckily we are saved by Enzo Amore and Big Cass. But before we can even see them wrestle, they are attacked by The Club. So let me get this straight. Cesaro and Sheamus, a team thrown together two weeks ago get to face New Day, but two of the top three tag teams on Raw have a segment with Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel? Then WWE hits us with a bullshit 4-team tag at a PPV the night before? Why not save the multi-team matches for actual talent? I’d definitely watch New Day vs Enzo and Cass vs The Club any day.
Oh, but that segment isn’t even over. After The Club and Enzo and Cass leave, Axel and Dallas are still competing! They demand a team! So we have to suffer through not only them in a match, but a hastily thrown together Sami Zayn and Neville tag-team. Is Teddy Long running creative all of a sudden? We’ve had five matches so far and four of them have featured tag teams! Brilliant! I’m just as baffled as Vince as to why the ratings continue to tank. Fuck you, McMahon.
As if things couldn’t get any worse, we then are “treated” to a match between R-Truth and Titus O’Neal thrown together, on the premise, and I shit you not, of Truth trying to give O’Neal’s favorite candy bar to another wrestler. Now, while I can appreciate both men as they have skill and could be great if pushed properly (yeah right, as if that would ever happen), they certainly should not be in a match facing each other. Why, you might ask? Because they have a combined age of fucking 83. R-Truth is in his mid-forties and Titus is 39. This is not a live-TV match. This is not something you expose people to and then try to laugh off the sliding ratings to the board of directors. In simple terms, this is not a match you put on TV if you want people to take what you do seriously.
Backstage segment with Perkins and Kendrick showcasing the 50/50 booking again. I won’t even elaborate on any of that. Braun Strowman then squashes the “Splash Brothers” (who look like a Sheamus and Xavier Woods cosplay couple) and then asks Foley for stronger competition. If only Braun could be what he’s asking for: better talent. He has become a spectacle much like Big Show, Kane, and The Great Kahli before him. Vince will take a giant, twist and contort them, and turn them into a traveling freakshow.
And then the inter-gender match. Holy shit what a waste of time. Rusev and Charlotte against Reigns and Banks. The big creative ending here was Sasha making Charlotte tap to the Bank Statement timed perfectly with Reigns hitting Rusev with a spear. Been there, done that, played all the way out. Then Reigns and Banks stand with their arms in the air, smiling. As if Reigns was suddenly a good guy. Then T.J. Perkins defeated Jinder Mahal. Oh wait, that was Ariya Daivari. Another useless squash match doing nothing for anybody, including the viewers.
The main event was Seth Rollins versus Chris Jericho. Alright, I really can’t complain about this if I’m being fair and unbiased. It was a great match, highlight of the night for me. My only real gripe is that Jericho has main-evented a shit ton of Raw’s this year and did so again last night. Yes, Jericho is awesome. And his work these past few weeks with Kevin Owens has really been the crutch that has saved Raw from swirling into a black hole from wince there is no return. That being said, Jericho is older than both R-Truth and Titus O’Neal. Is the best WWE can do is to have a 45-year-old in the main event? Does that sound bonkers to anyone else? It says a lot about how incredibly talented and what great shape Y2J is in; but it also speaks volumes about how weak WWE thinks their own product is.
They don’t trust their youngers guys to do the job. They don’t have faith or confidence in their roster. And this is true across the board. Both Raw and Smackdown suffer from this inability to pull the trigger on younger talent. The result is getting a 39-year-old John Cena in a main event trying to get another world title. When is WWE going to move on? They speak of a new era and yet continue hitting us with out-to-pasture talent. Now the big hyped up sell is a potential match between Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg, a match about fifteen years too late between two men with a combined age of 88. Granted, both men are genetic anomalies (Lesnar more so on the chemically enhanced side) and will probably look great. But the point being is that WWE continues to live in the past. And the WWE Universe seems nostalgic to days gone by.
That’s why Sasha Banks gets a pop for mentioning Eddie Guerrero. That’s why Charlotte gets a “Woooooooooo!” every single time she mentions her dad. WWE doesn’t do anything to make their current talent relevant. They are censored and limited and forced to get over by mentioning long since retired or dead Superstars. It’s a vicious cycle all the way around. Fear, uncertainty, doubt; it all mixes together to make WWE unsure of their talent, the talent unsure of their place, and the fans unsure of why they should even give two shits about any of it. There are so many problems to list but I’m just one man and this article is already absurdly long. I have a love/hate relationship with WWE. It’s a frustrating partnership because I see the potential of what this company could be. As a kid I watched wrestling. Then I grew up. But wrestling never did. It plateaued and in some instances took a step back.
You can blame the break of kayfabe. You can blame the dirt sheets. You can blame the internet. You can even blame Vince for bringing too many promotions together and “killing the biz.” It doesn’t matter what the cause was. The effect is what truly matters, and in this case the effect is mediocre, unfulfilling, lazy, and often boring professional wrestling. CM Punk said it best: “Vince McMahon is a millionaire who should be a billionaire.” The reason why he isn’t is that the wrestling experience he presents is no longer thrilling to a certain extent. We demand more but WWE keeps coming up short. Smackdown Live is on tonight and we won’t be doing a live review for that either. If they want us to write something, they need to give us something worthwhile to write about. Until then, let the onslaught begin.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
We reviewed Part 1 of Wrestle Kingdom 10 earlier this week. Last night, AXSTV and New Japan Pro Wrestling brought us Part 2 of the January 4, 2016 matches from the Tokyo Dome in Japan. The first broadcast was amazing and so this one is expected to be just as good.
The first bout is the first ever Never Openweight 6-Man Tag Championship featuring Toru Yano, Jay Briscoe, and Mark Briscoe against Bad Luck Fale, Yujiro Takahashi, and Tama Tonga. Before the match starts Yano spits and throws water on his opponents and all six men start brawling with each other. It’s chaos in the early going as The Briscoes double team Takahashi outside the ring. Yano and Tonga finally slow things down as the legal men fighting in the ring with their respective teammates on the apron. Yano is isolated in the corner and Bad Luck Fale is tagged in. He sits on Yano’s chest to try and get the pin, but he kicks out at two. All three Bullet Club members get in the ring and triple-team Yano after taking out The Briscoes. Fale squashes him in the corner and Yano desperately needs to make a tag.
Mark Briscoe gets the tag against Takahashi and puts on a nice series of offense. Takahashi counters with a fisherman’s buster and then tags Tonga in. Jay Briscoe gets the tag and plants Tonga, cover but kick out. Huge neckbreaker by Jay but Tonga again kicks out. Jim Ross and Josh Barnett question the slow count by the ref. Tonga takes control for a moment but Jay battles back. Jay gets Tonga up on his shoulder trying to slam him down, but Tonga holds on to the top rope for dear life. Yano runs over with a steel chair and smashes it down on Tonga’s hands, forcing him to let go. Mark leaps off the top rope and hits Doomsday Device with his brother, planting Tonga. Jay covers for the three count and the team of Jay and Mark Briscoe and Yano are the first ever Never Openweight 6-Man Tag Champions!
The second match of the night is Los Ingobernables de Japon member and villainous heel Tetsuya Naito taking on Hirooki Goto. His fellow Los Ingobernables members, Bushi and EVIL, accompany Naito to the ring which is not good news for his opponent, Goto, who comes out all alone. Naito attacks a camera man before the match for getting too close to him. Before the match starts EVIL and Bushi attack Goto from behind. Naito rolls in and starts fighting Goto as the bell rings. But Goto isn’t staying down for long, he forces Naito to roll out of the ring with his attack. As Goto starts fighting Naito, EVIL attacks from behind and viciously throws Goto into the steel guard rail. Ouch.
EVIL puts a chair on Gotos neck and then whacks it with another chair. Naito sets up a table and gets Goto up on the apron. Naito hits a neckbreaker into the table on Goto. Back in the ring, Goto hits a sunset flip powerbomb off the top rope which is really amazing. He covers, but Naito miraculously kicks out at two and we head to commercial. When we return, Naito and Goto battle in the center of the ring. Naito hits a hurricanrana off the top rope and gets a near fall on Goto. The two trade forearms in the middle and work the crowd into a frenzy. Goto picks up Naito and hits a neckbreaker, driving Naito down onto his knee. Goto tries to kick Naito, but Naito grabs his foot and swings it into the ref, knocking him to the mat. Doesn’t take long for EVIL to come in and hold Goto as Bushi spits mist at him.
But Goto moves and the mist hits EVIL. Goto plants Bushi and turns to face Naito. Naito kicks Goto in the groan and covers. The ref has recovered, he counts but only a two count. Goto lifts Naito and hits his Shouten Kai suplex finisher. He covers and that’s the ball game. Goto wins an incredible match! Nice final couple of minutes at the end of that one with lovely back and forth with everyone setting up a strong finish. Really enjoyed that one. Goto stands alone and overcomes incredible odds. After the match, he is interviewed backstage and asked about his victory. He says it was sort of a hollow victory because he was fighting Naito and it wasn’t for a title. He also says he has never wrestled in the main event of Wrestle Kingdom. He says this year he will become the face of New Japan Pro Wrestling.
The final match of the night was for the IWGP Tag Team Championship with champs Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows being challenged by Togi Makabe and Tomoaki Honma. Anderson and Honma start things off. Anderson rakes the eyes of Honma and then moves out of the way of Honma’s falling headbutt. Gallows tagged in and he punches Honma in the corner. Anderson gets back in and misses with a running senton. Honma tags in Makabe. He makes easy work of Anderson, forcing him to roll out of the ring and regroup. Honma and Makabe double team Gallows, knocking him outside the ring as well. All four men fight out on the floor. Gallows throws Makabe into the guard rail and then clocks him with a chain, as Anderson distracts the ref.
Back in the ring, Anderson clobbers Makabe with strikes. Gallows tags in and continues attacking Makabe. Honma is outside the ring with blood on the back of his head. Hasn’t stirred much for a few moments. Gallows and Anderson double team Makabe. Anderson covers three times, but Makabe kicks out each time. Makabe with a hard clothesline on Anderson and finally Honma has recovered. Makabe tags him in and he slams Gallows then drops a headbutt on Anderson. Honma chops Anderson in the corner, whips him to the other but Anderson recovers and kicks him away. Gallows trips Honma up and then gets in the ring to help Anderson hit a couple of moves into a cover. Makabe interrupts the count and keeps his team alive.
Gallows and Anderson set up Honma for the Magic Killer but Makabe breaks it up and knocks Gallows out of the ring. Headbutt on Anderson by Honma. He slams Anderson and then hits the top rope. Unfortunately, Gallows runs in and punches him, stunning Honma. Anderson tries to get a Gun Stun off the top rope, but Honma jumps down onto the apron. Back in the ring, Anderson hits a brutal running powerbomb on Honma but the small man kicks out at two and three-quarters. Honma counters two Gun Stuns in the ring and then headbutts Anderson. Both men are down. Both Gallows and Makabe are tagged in. Nelson Powerslam on Makabe and Gallows covers, but only a near fall. Anderson and Gallows try to tag team Makabe, but he knocks them both down with a double clothesline.
Makebe and Gallows collide with each other and Makabe wins that exchange with a clothesline. Makabe and Honma set up Anderson for a Headbutt Doomsday Device off the top rope. Honma slams Gallows and then hits a falling headbutt. Makabe climbs the top rope and hits a King Kong Knee Drop and covers. One. Two. Three! Honma and Makabe win! This is the 39-year-old Honma’s first ever championship in the company! What a moment. Wow, fantastic match. After the match, Honma says it is a dream come true. He thanks Makabe and says this is all because of him. The DVR shows another new episode next Friday so you know we’ll be here with coverage. Maybe some Wrestle Kingdom 10 Part 3?? We can only hope. Just a wonderful program with three great matches.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Just when you think the rumors are over about WWE purchasing TNA, they start up all over again. Prior to Bound for Glory on October 2nd, there was a large group of people who assumed that if WWE didn’t bite the bullet and buy out TNA, the BFG PPV would have to be cancelled. Obviously, neither of those things ended up happening. Now, the rumor is that WWE is looking to buy out TNA’s video library. It’s said that it may be about to happen or has already happened and simply hasn’t been announced yet.
It’s no secret that Impact Wrestling has seen quite a few ups and downs over the years. It seems that the threat of running out of money and, to quote Matt Hardy, becoming obsolete is always hanging over their heads. It doesn’t help that Bobby Roode and Samoa Joe are a big part of NXT right now, involved in major storylines. Eric Young will be debuting soon, Austin Aries has been having stellar matches for months, and AJ Styles is the WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Those were five big names in TNA who are now wrestling with the enemy.
On the flipside of that, you could argue that TNA has been able to pick up some of WWE’s talent as well, which wouldn’t happen if they were truly circling the drain. WWE’s Brodus Clay made the jump to TNA after his release, debuting as Tyrus and being featured alongside Ethan Carter III as a bodyguard. He’s now solo and in a new gimmick as The Fixer. Damien Sandow was released after creating comedy gold as The Miz’s stunt double. He debuted on TNA as Aron Rex and is now the current and inaugural Impact Grand Champion. Cody Rhodes requested his release from WWE after growing tired of the Stardust gimmick, and his wife Brandi Rhodes (ring announcer Eden Stiles) followed suit. Now known as simply “Cody,” he made his TNA debut at Bound For Glory alongside his wife by confronting Mike Bennett and wife Maria to begin a feud between the couples.
TNA also currently has one of the most successful factions and greatest stories currently going on in any company. Jeff Hardy threw his brother Matt from a staircase in the Impact Zone and “broke” him. Matt returned as Broken Matt Hardy, a blond streak in his now frizzy hair, an insane accent, and aspirations to DELETE DELETE DELETE! We got The Final Deletion, Delete or Decay, and The Great War; three battles that are beyond epic, overly dramatic, and definite masterpieces. WWE has tried to capitalize on the success of the Broken Hardys by enlisting Bray Wyatt and company. They tried to recreate their version of The Final Deletion by pitting The Wyatt Family against The New Day in an outdoor brawl. Now they have Bray Wyatt torturing Randy Orton, who he is calling “damaged.” Try as they might, they can’t match the broken brilliance of the Hardys.
One thing that hurts TNA is their need to tape multiple shows within a very short period of time, then show those tapings over weeks or months. TNA reportedly has already finished filming enough to carry them to the end of the year. Thanks to the internet, I already know about a major title change, and I wasn’t even searching for anything related to that. There are us fans who avoid spoilers like the plague, and then there are those fans who adore being the first to know and try to share their “knowledge” with anyone who will listen. I’m still going to be tuning in every week, but I can understand how a casual fan would just say to hell with watching after finding out about this title change.
2017 could be TNA’s year though. With Billy Corgan edging out Dixie Carter as TNA President, big changes are in store. If WWE does buy out the library, that would give Corgan more money to use for improvements; new talent, more live tapings, and more opportunity to travel and play to different cities. There is also the idea of Corgan changing the company’s name, rebranding and starting fresh. No more TNA, no more Impact Zone. A name is just a name, but because “TNA” carries so much negativity to so many people (not to mention makes people think “tits and ass” instead of wrestling), a name change brings about a new beginning.
Even if you’re not a fan of TNA wrestling, preferring the company of others, its existence is important. WWE is top dog, but it doesn’t thrive without TNA, NJPW, ROH, AAA, the companies that were left in the past and those that will come in the future. Your favorite wrestlers don’t get to where they are now without the independent circuits, trials and failures in other companies, and competition. TNA needs these other companies, but they also need TNA. All rumors aside, I am cheering for TNA to succeed, and if you’re a true wrestling fan, then you should be too.
Article by Mrs Jamie Baker
Shelton Benjamin was scheduled to return back to the WWE ring in August. Unfortunately for him, and wrestling fans, he is now on the injured list after the discovery of a tear in his rotator cuff.
He recently spoke on the Jim Ross Report podcast and stated he has been wrestling actively with the tear for more than two months. After taking an awkward Suplex in a New Japan Pro match, Benjamin landed squarely on his shoulder, taking his and his opponents weight full on it. He continued to wrestle and felt soreness but did not realize the full extent of his injury.
Benjamin was signed in July, and was teased with a vignette on Smackdown Live. However, once the injury was fully explored it was determined he was not medically cleared to wrestle after his full physical examination. He is slated for surgery sometime in the near future and the date to his return to action is currently unknown. Shelton Benjamin is a former WWE United States, Intercontinental, and Tag Team Champion. It’s a shame he was put on the back burner, but WWE has wonderful doctors and there will no doubt be a triumphant return for The Gold Standard.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Greetings, pro-wrestling fans! This has been a very interesting week in the world of sports entertainment! We shit the bed on Monday and Tuesday and missed our weekly Raw and Smackdown Live episodes. Our sincere apologies. Our laptop bit the bullet and left us stranded. We had to improvise most of the week but we are finally back and better than ever! So here’s what you may have missed this week in wrestling.
— The late, great Mr. Fuji got his own Collection added to the WWE Network featuring his work as a solo competitor, tag partner, and manager. Alberto Del Rio officially got released by the WWE. Fans around the world were left wondering if his girlfriend, WWE Superstar Paige, was transitioning out of the company as well. The beloved fan favorites American Alpha took their tag team antics to Sportscenter’s Off The Top Rope Wednesday night to discuss their start as partners, amateur careers, and future as a team. The Coach kept it light and it was just a likable interview for the pair of future Smackdown Tag Team Champions.
— Wednesday night gave us some serious wrestling action as NXT saw four matches during the hour long broadcast including: Shinsuke Nakamura, Austin Aries, Ember Moon, and TM61. It was a fun show and the Full Sail Crowd was lively. Read all about it HERE. Following NXT, the WWE Network gave us the final round of quarter-final matches for the Cruiserweight Classic. Zack Sabre Jr. took on Noam Dar and T.J. Perkins wrestled Rich Swann. It was two more classic matches for the CWC and set the stage for next week’s live two hour finale. See who made the Final Four in our full review.
— Thursday Night! I knew you’d come! Yes, TNA brought us a brand new episode of Impact Wrestling. And yes, Broken Matt Hardy treated the entire world to another fantastically epic moment in pro-wrestling history. Decay (Rosemary, Abyss, Crazzy Steve) invaded Cameron, North Carolina and tried to steal King Maxell. It was one for the history books as Decay or Delete gave us more fireworks, more green mist, and more insane Hardy moments than ever before. And if that wasn’t enough, Gail Kim tagged with Jade, the King of the Mountain Championship was retired, and The Miracle got an opponent for Bound For Glory. Don’t hesitate to read all about #ImpactOnPOP!
— AXSTV brought us some killer tag team action on Friday’s new episode of New Japan Pro Wrestling. It was worth watching and featured some of Japan’s biggest names. Read all about the phenomenal hour long broadcast HERE. We don’t typically cover UFC on here, but we did this past Saturday as UFC 203 saw the debut of former WWE World Champion CM Punk in the octagon. Unfortunately it was a brutal first fight. Mickey Gall tapped Punk out in the first round. We covered the event briefly HERE.
— And of course, last night Smackdown Live presented the 2016 Backlash pay-per-view. It was a premiere event and was arguably one of the best live WWE Network shows put on so far this year. We crowned a first time ever Smackdown Women’s Champion, first time ever Smackdown Tag Team Champions, and both the Intercontinental and World titles were defended. Who won? Who retained? Well, you don’t think we’re gonna give that information away here do ya?! You have to go read our article with full match results and feedback. That’s all for now. See you tonight for Monday Night Raw!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Friday’s episode featured two tag team matches from November 21, 2015 in Korakuen Hall. Both matches are in the World Tag League 2015 Tournament. Big time players in this one, so without further delay let’s review.
The first match is a Block B Official Match featuring Tatsuya Naito and EVIL taking on Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows. EVIL comes to the ring wearing a purple and black cloak and hood, carrying a plastic scythe. Naito comes out wearing his silver skull mask. He gets to the ring and takes the mask off. Instead of Naito, it’s the masked wrestler Bushi. Crowd cheers despite Bushi having apparently now joined Los Ingobernables. Anderson and Gallows of The Bulletclub come out flying solo. Before the bell rings, all four men attack one another in an all out brawl. The bell rings and Anderson and Gallows isolate EVIL, getting him out of the ring. Then Naito gets attacked and dumped outside as well. In front of Bushi, Gallows throws EVIL into the guard rail.
In the crowd, Anderson puts a hurting on Naito. Crowd in a rare frenzy. Anderson throws Naito out of the steel exit door and then joins Gallows ringside, who is beating EVIL with a chair. They get EVIL in the ring and Anderson takes control. Gallows goes to his tag corner. Naito is shown making his way slowly through the crowd. They spill outside the ring. EVIL puts a chair around the neck of Anderson and throws him into the steel post. Back in the ring, EVIL starts biting Anderson. This one is less of a wrestling match and more of a free-for-all. Ref is really letting them get away with everything but murder here.
After a commercial break, EVIL and Anderson are actually wrestling in the ring. Spine buster by Anderson and he crawls towards Gallows for the tag. Gallows knocks Naito off the apron and kicks EVIL to the mat. Naito gets the tag and drops Gallows. EVIL comes in and they tag team Gallows into a cover after knocking Anderson off the apron. Two count. Naito attacks the ref in the corner. EVIL is down. Gallows and Anderson tag team Naito. Huge powerbomb by Gallows and a cover. EVIL breaks it up before the three count. Gallows and Anderson get EVIL out of the ring and continue double-teaming Naito. Gallows and Anderson try a Gun Stun. EVIL breaks it up. Kick by Naito on Gallows and then Bushi mists him on the apron. Gallows gets hit with a Tranquilo and Destino by Naito (try saying that five times fast) and Naito covers for the win. Interview afterwards shows EVIL and he says, “Everything is evil.” Bushi says he has decided to follow Naito.
The second match is from Block A of the tournament. The team of Hiroshi Tanahashi and Michael Elgin go up against Kazuchika Okada and Yoshi-Hashi. Elgin and Yoshi-Hashi kick off the bout. Elgin throws Yoshi-Hashi across the ring and flexes his bicep. Yoshi-Hashi against the ropes, tries a shoulder tackle but Elgin doesn’t move. He slams Yoshi-Hashi and then drops him with a gorilla press. Vertical suplex and Yoshi-Hashi is reeling. Cover by Elgin, but a kick out. Tanahashi tags in and calls out Okada. Yoshi-Hashi tags him in and they go at it, eventually spilling out of the ring an into the crowd. Ref starts a 20 count. Both get back to the ring at 18. Okada tags Yoshi-Hashi in and he plants Tanahashi, who seems to be singularly focused on Okada. Tanahashi fights back and gets Elgin tagged in. He punches Yoshi-Hashi multiple times and slams him into a cover. Kick out at two. Yoshi-Hashi blocks a powerbomb attempt and tags in Okada. Okada goes to work on Elgin but he manages to tag in Tanahashi who puts Okada down and locks in a cloverleaf submission. Okada fights out and the two keep battling as we head to a commercial break.
When we return, Yoshi-Hashi and Elgin are fighting. Yoshi-Hashi gets a quick cover on Elgin but he kicks out early. Okada and Yoshi-Hashi tag team Elgin. They plant Elgin and Yoshi-Hashi tries another cover, but Elgin kicks out. He turns the tables and picks up both men. He slams them both and the crowd applauds. That was a really great spot. The crowd starts a chant for Elgin. Elgin then powerbombs Yoshi-Hashi off the top rope. Cover, but Okada breaks it up before the ref can count to three. Yoshi-Hashi rolls up Elgin and almost gets a pinfall. Yoshi-Hashi hits a reverse DDT and then climbs the top rope. He tries a dive off, but Elgin rolls out of the way and Yoshi-Hashi hits the mat hard. Multiple kicks by Yoshi-Hashi and he puts Elgin down for another near fall. Elgin and Tanahashi team together to put Okada down. Elgin powerbombs Yoshi-Hashi into a cover and gets the three count. After the match, Okada and Tanahashi stare each other down. Tanahashi gets on the mic and says Elgin is an amazing partner.
Very fun episode of New Japan Pro Wrestling. When you see really good tag team action, it makes you remember how weak some other promotions tag divisions are. Tanahashi and Elgin, although fighting their first match as a team, really put on a great show. They are a good duo. Both matches were entertaining and told excellent stories. Thanks once again to Jim Ross and Josh Barnett for their wonderful commentary that only adds to the program. As of right now, my DVR shows another new episode will be on next Friday. We’ll see you then.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
–Monday Night Raw kicked off with the shocking news that Finn Balor had gotten injured at SummerSlam and would be vacating the title. Balor had to relinquish the title to Raw General Manager, Mick Foley. He had successful surgery on Wednesday and started Day 1 of his comeback on Thursday. We wish him a speedy recovery. Meanwhile, Mick and Stephanie McMahon had a tournament to come up with four competitors next week for a Fatal-4-Way to crown a new Universal Champion. The four participants will be Seth Rollins, Roman Reigns, Big Cass, and Kevin Owens. After some okay matches, and some pretty weak programming, Vince gave us yet another disappointing Raw to start the week. Read our full review and all match results HERE. We’ll find out who the second all time Universal Champion is next week. Face To Heel has all their money bet on Kevin Owens.
–Meanwhile on Smackdown Live, they kicked Raw’s teeth in. To start the show Smackdown General Manager, Daniel Bryan, and Shane McMahon had all the tag teams in the ring along with all the women. They unveiled Smackdown Tag Team Championships and a Smackdown Women’s Championship that people can’t stop bitching about. Heath Slater got a tag teammate and another opportunity to try and earn a contract. The Lunatic Fringe, Dean Ambrose, got a new opponent at the Backlash pay-per-view. The show was lit and got us pretty excited for the Smackdown exclusive show on the WWE Network in a few weeks. Read our full review HERE. After the show, The Miz was on Talking Smack and ripped Daniel Bryan a new one. D-Bry called him soft and said he wrestled weak, even going so far as to call Miz a coward. What happened next, set Miz up for a career booster.
–Wednesday night gave us a pretty hollow episode of NXT. It piggy-backed off the Takeover Brooklyn show so there was a lot of recaps and only two matches. The matches themselves were decent. Here’s our full review. After NXT, however, we got yet another fantastic episode of the Cruiserweight Classic. Rich Swann fought Lince Dorado, Zack Sabre Jr took on Drew Gulak, and T.J. Perkins took on Johnny Gargano. All three matches wrapped up the quarter-finals. It was a great broadcast. You can read all about it HERE.
–Dixie Carter did it again this past Thursday with another entertaining TNA Impact Wrestling episode. We had a battle royal to get an opponent for Lashley next week, Broken Jeff Hardy fought Abyss (and Broken Matt bit somebody, naturally), we crowned a new Knockouts Champion, and Ethan Carter III took on Drew Galloway in the main event to determine the #1 Contender for the world title at Bound For Glory. Aron Rex was the special guest referee. Read all bout this great show HERE.
–And AXSTV rounded out the week with a new broadcast of NJPW. Only two matches on the card but they were terrific to watch. Karl Anderson challenged Shinsuke Nakamura for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Later, Tomohiro Ishii and Tomoaki Honma battled for the NEVER Openweight Championship. It was a fun show and Jim Ross and Josh Barnett did wonderful on commentary, as per usual. Read all about the epic title matches HERE.
That’s all for this week. See you all tomorrow night for RAW! If you have a moment, please check out a Go Fund Me page for a woman suffering from fibromyalgia. She could use your help, donations, and a share on social media to spread the word.
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
Please take a moment to visit the Go Fund Me page of the folks who run Face To Heel. They are in a bad way and could use your donations. Thank You.
AXSTV hit us up with another broadcast from The Land of the Rising Sun on Friday, with a new episode of New Japan Pro Wrestling. The episode features two matches from November 7th, 2015 out of Namba, Osaka, Japan from the Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium.
Our first match of the night features Bullet Club member Karl Anderson challenging Shinsuke Nakamura for his IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Anderson comes to the ring with six other members of the Bullet Club. Crowd goes wild for the beloved Nakamura as he enters solo. Grappling against the ropes to start. Then a forearm by Nakamura and a knee by Anderson. The two work into a frenzy just coming straight for each other. They finally separate and crowd applauds. Nakamura drops Anderson to the mat with an ankle submission. Knees to Anderson from the ground. Anderson kicks Nakamura in the head and he rolls onto the apron. Anderson tries to pull him up but Nakamura kicks him. Interference as the ref is distracted and Doc Gallows tosses Nakamura off the apron onto the steel guardrail. Ref starts a twenty count. Nakamura gets on the apron and Anderson hits him with a Gun Stunner, then dropkicks him back out onto the floor. Ref starts another twenty count. Anderson leaves the ring and powerbombs Nakamura onto the apron. Commercial break. Great match so far.
When we return, Anderson is punching Nakamura in the center of the ring, then he hits a reverse neckbreaker. Running powerbomb into a cover. Nakamura kicks out. Nakamura fights back and puts a headlock sleeper on Anderson as they lay on the mat, wrapping his legs around him. They stand and before Anderson can separate Nakamura hits him with a reverse powerslam. Huge spinebuster out of no where by Anderson and Nakamura is down again. Forearm by Nakamura. Forearm by Anderson. Another by Nakamura. Chop by Anderson, kick by Nakamura. Then they trade blows until Nakamura drops Anderson with an elbow. Scissors kick and then a running knee. He covers, but Anderson narrowly kicks out. Nakamura leaps onto the top rope, but as he leaps off, Anderson catches him with a Gun Stunner. Nakamura rolls out onto the apron. Anderson pulls him up by his hair and lifts him to the top rope. Firemen carry into a slam. Cover, but Nakamura kicks out. Anderson goes for a Gun Stunner, Nakamura reverses it into a landslide. Good action as we head into another commercial break.
Clothesline by Anderson into a cover when we come back. Kick out. Bernard Driver by Anderson. Another false finish. Nakamura refuses to quit. Cross arm breaker counter by Nakamura. Anderson rolls him over into a cover and Nakamura has to let go. Bomaye by Nakamura, covers and that’s it. Nakamura retains. Great stuff. I enjoyed that match immensely. Just enough Bullet Club interference to make it interesting and not annoying. And both guys really put the moves on. After the match, AJ Styles comes in and he and Nakamura stand forehead to forehead. Styles points a finger gun at Nakamura. Crowd oh’s and ah’s. Styles takes the IWGP IC belt from Red Shoes and hands it to Nakamura. He points to it and says, “I’m taking it.” Crowd cheers. This is a match any wrestling fan wants to see. Nakamura gets on the mic and says he’s been waiting for Styles and he’ll see him at the Tokyo Dome. YEAOH!
The second match of the night is Tomohiro Ishii defending his NEVER Openweight Championship against Tomoaki Honma. Middle of the ring grapple to start as the two lock up. Headlock by Honma, but Ishii tosses him against the rope. He tries a shoulder tackle but Honma doesn’t go down. Then the two trade several forearms as the crowd cheers. Ishii off the ropes and Honma plants him with a shoulder tackle. Running headbutt but Honma misses and Ishii elbows him in the back of the head. Big chop and Honma is down. Another chop. And another sending Honma in the corner where he takes multiple chops and forearms. Running slam from Ishii. Headbutt by Ishii. Chop by Honma, headbutt by Ishii. Nobody is pulling punches here. This is strong style all the way. Half crab submission hold by Ishii. Honma makes it to the ropes to break. A bunch of strikes near the throat by Honma, drops Ishii and tries the headbutt again but misses. Honma picks up the much bigger Ishii and slams him with a vertical suplex. Crowd is mesmerized, as am I. That was an impressive feat of strength. Honma finally lands a diving headbutt. He then hits a blockbuster off the second rope and covers. Ishii kicks out at two. Bunch of shots and a headbutt by Ishii drops Honma. He whips Honma into the corner who then explodes out and punches Ishii in the back of the head over and over. Massive elbow by Ishii puts Honma down again. Ishii lifts Honma up to the top rope and vertical suplexs him all the way to the mat. Honma somehow manages to kick out at two. Honma plants the champ with a DDT. Both men down.
Honma kicks Ishii onto the apron. Jumping headbutt knocks Ishii onto the floor. Honma climbs to the top rope. Honma just falls off the top rope all the way to the floor and hits Ishii on the shoulder with a headbutt. Red Shoes starts a double countout. Honma throws Ishii back into the ring. Honam slaps Ishii and then clotheslines him into a pin. Ishii kicks out, dazed. Back suplex by Ishii, but Honma pops right up and hits two diving headbutts on Ishii. Cover, and again a kick out at two. Brain buster by Honma, but Ishii headbutts him and both men collapse to the mat. The pair trade headbutts. It’s brutal to watch. Powerbomb by Ishii and a cover, but Honma holds on. Sliding clothesline and another kick out at two. Headbutt by Honma. Headbutt off the second rope. The champ manages to kick out at two. Bunch more headbutts by Honma. They are getting a little old now, if I’m being honest. A diving headbutt off the top rope into the back of Ishii. Spinning heel kick by Ishii, running clothesline and a cover. Honma kicks out. Honma tries one too many headbutts and Ishii catches him mid-air with a punch. Clothesline and a cover, but Honma again kicks out. Crowd in a frenzy. Brain buster by Ishii and finally Honma stays down. Ishii retains in a brutal hoss match.
Two amazing title matches from NJPW. Could have used four to five more minutes of Nakamura and Anderson. Ishii and Honma was exciting to watch but the headbutts got old after awhile. Still, another action packed 60 minutes from NJPW. Thanks to AXSTV for putting this on the air. My DVR doesn’t have a new episode scheduled for next Friday, so as usual we’ll cover them whenever they come back. Have a good week everyone!
Article by Jamie Curtis Baker
This article is going to be a long one. So much happened in pro-wrestling this week! We’ll start with the rumors and news first. TNA Impact Wrestling original, The Cowboy, James Storm reportedly is unhappy with his place in the company. He’s been seemingly agitated because all his friends are leaving for greener pastures and he’s stuck dealing with Dixie Carter and company. We reported earlier this week that he might be leaving TNA in the very near future.
–WWE saw the suspension of three of its Superstars during this past week. All Red Everything, Eva Marie, was suspended after reportedly testing positive for Adderall, a controlled susbtance used for the treatment of ADHD. WWE also suspended Alberto Del Rio and Paige for both testing positive for different substances after a night of partying. Our article on that suspension can be read HERE.
–Monday Night Raw kicked off the week, with their go-home programming. It was uneventful to say the least and really didn’t help garner excitement for SummerSlam. Most notably, it completely burned Finn Balor’s Demon King entrance on a free show instead of waiting for Sunday. Brock Lesnar got an interesting opponent, but otherwise, rough night. Check out our full review HERE.
–Tuesday’s Smackdown Live didn’t go much better. Featuring 12-man tag match that would happen again at SummerSlam. Eva Marie failed to wrestle, again. And John Cena takes on Alberto Del Rio for about the 500th time. Check out the full review HERE.
–As usual, business really picked up on Wednesday as NXT set the stage for Takeover: Brooklyn 2. Hideo Itami was in action, as well as six women in tag action. Samoa Joe and Shinsuke Nakamura sat down backstage in an interview with William Regal. Our article about the episode can be read HERE.
–The second round of the Cruiserweight Classic continued afterwards with another set of amazing matches. Japan’s Akira Tozawa took on England’s Jack Gallagher in one of the best bouts of the tournament so far. Later, Brian Kendrick and Tony Nese (both from the United States) put on an absolute clinic wrestling match. It had it all; brutality, story-telling, cheating, heel work, high-fly moves, and everything in between. Read all about it HERE.
–Dixe Carter gave us yet another excellent TNA Impact Wrestling broadcast on Thursday. We saw an Ascension to Hell tag team ladder match. Moose and Eddie Edwards went one on one. Ethan Carter III and Drew Galloway got a surprise guest ref. And Billy Corgan suspended somebody! Check out all the action right over HERE.
–Friday night was jam packed with NJPW action. AXSTV gave us a new episode which you can read about right HERE. That same night, Ring of Honor presented Death Before Dishonor XIV, featuring their own roster taking on NJPW legends in what was an epic start to the weekend. Jay Lethal put his title on the line against Adam Cole, Dalton Castle went toe-to-toe with Kazuchika Okada, and The Briscoes each gave us an epic battle in singles competition. It was one for the record books and was a wonderful show. Read all about it HERE.
–The WWE Network gave us NXT Takeover: Brooklyn II on Saturday night, and the atmosphere was electrified. No Way Jose took on Austin Aries, the mysterious Ember Moon had her long-awaited debut, Bobby Roode took on Andrade “Cien” Almas, Bayley tried to become the first 2-time NXT Women’s Champion, and Samoa Joe put his gold on the line against Shinsuke Nakamura in an epic slugfest. This one had it all, and if you missed it, that’s a shame. Read the full results and our review HERE.
–SummerSlam rounded out the week of programming, it what was billed as a six hour event. The preshow started at five and that had three matches before the actual pay-per-view even got started. Brock Lesnar and Randy Orton went to war, as did John Cena and AJ Styles. Seth Rollins and Finn Balor battled to be the first WWE Universal Champion. And Dean Ambrose defended his belt against Dolph Ziggler. We also saw several tag matches, and Sasha Banks taking on Charlotte. Unfortunately, for my $9.99 it just wasn’t enough and the whole program felt flat. Read ever match results as well as feedback for the entire show HERE.
That’s it for last week. Tune in tonight as we live tweet Monday Night Raw and post our feedback for that as well. Let us know in the comments below what your favorite show, match, and moment of the past week was in the comments below. Have a good day, wrestling fans!
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Article by Jamie Curtis Baker