Let’s continue our discussion from the previous forum about sweaty men and women hitting each other and throwing themselves off of tall objects for our amusement.
WWE has released its list of the top 25 matches of the year. Not much I disagree with on that list except that I would put Styles vs. Cena from SummerSlam in the top 5. If you want to watch some great wrestling this is definitely a good list to look at.
However, what is surprising is the matches that the top of the list consists off. Not that they aren’t good but it is odd to see where exactly the best wrestling this year happened. #1, #2, #13 and #20 are matches from NXT Takeover specials. #5 and #11 are from the Cruiserweight Classic. And #3, #8, #15 and #20 are all women’s division matches just showing how much that division has improved.
I am also very happy about my favorite wrestler Sami Zayn who is in four matches on the list, having great group matches with the Money in the Bank Ladder Match and a Fatal Four-Way for the Intercontinental title, but also the two best men’s singles matches on the list: His feud-ending match against Kevin Owens at Battleground at #4 and the barn-burner he put on with Shinsuke Nakamura in Nakamura’s debut at Takeover: Dallas at #2. It is pretty criminal how little they give Sami to do but everything he does is fucking gold.
Someone in the old thread was asking for references getting ready for Wrestle Kingdom. One thing that New Japan is really good at is summarizing storylines in the built up videos before each match. That should give you enough of the general context to understand what’s going on. New Japan stories aren’t like WWE stories, they’re more sports style.
Wrestle Kingdom 11
As explained previously, japanese wrestling is kind of weird to watch when you are used to american wrestling because the setup is weird. Maybe its just the venue here though. The crowd is much farther away from the ring with the ring being boxed in by fences which is what the wrestlers run into during moves “on the outside”. The ring itself is also a lot different with the just a straight turnbuckle pad and a much wider ring apron. Plus a very fast count to twenty for countouts that is announced over the PA system as well as by the ref, and a time-limit. The time-limit didn’t come into play but it is still weird to hear someone announce “ten minutes passed” during the match. Also very surprising was the ridiculous amount of audible swearing from the competitors.
Much of this event was framed as a fight between three different major factions: Bullet Club, Los Ingobernables de Japon and Chaos, all of which can be kind of heelish though I guess of the three Chaos is the most face.
The event also had 11 matches, 8 of them for belts as both NJPW and ROH had championship matches.
Pre-Show had a Rumble match with a bunch of old favorites even I know about, like Jushin Thunder Liger, Tiger Mask and Billy Gunn. It was fine but it is kind of weird that in this Rumble you could also eliminate someone by pinning them or submission, which actually happened a couple of times including the end where Michael Elgin (who entered as #1) binned a Ring of Honor guy named Cheeseburger, who is tiny by wrestling standards.
Main show started with kind of a show match that ties into the Tiger Mask W anime series, with both guys wearing the masks from the show. It was pretty decent though nothing special.
Then there was the first of eight title matches with The Young Bucks defending against Roppongi Vice. The Young Bucks had a nice bit of pageantry when they showed up wearing a gold outfit and a total of four sets of tag-team belts including one they just made up. The match was very good with The Young bucks doing some great heel tag-team wrestling but they had a bunch of miscommunications where they hit each other at least three times which is a bit much. Their endless use of Superkicks also become kind of annoying after a while. The match ended a bit weird with a simple rollup by RPG Vice who took one set of titles off the shoulders of the Young Bucks.
Next was a six-man tag team gauntlet match which started with The Bullet Club against Chaos. In direct contrast to the first, kids-friendly match with quasi-anime characters fighting each other, The Bullet Club showed up leading what I can only describe as a Ho Train including a BDSM easter bunny girl. Sex Sells I guess. The match however was really good I was particularly impressed by Will Ospreay and all his crazy flippy shit he pulled including several standing shooting star presses. Unfortuantely Chaos lost regardless. Next out were Daryl Surat’s favorites: Los Ingobernables de Japon. And I can see why just by looking at Sanada who looks like he was ripped straight out of a Final Fight game. After a cool chair spot LIJ took out The Bullet Club and advanced to face the Champions David Finlay, Ricochet and Satoshi Kojima, whom they dispatched after some more foul play by spitting “a mist” into Kojima’s eyes.
“The American Nightmare” Cody (Rhodes) vs. Juice Robinson. Cody is of course the son of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes and brother of Goldust and wrestled for a long time in WWE as Stardust, a character that he hated and so he just quit last year. Cody has since been touring the independent circuit and has according to everything I read reinvented and established himself as a top notch wrestler who was completely underused before. In this match he fights for Bullet Club. Robinson was also in WWE but mostly as a jobber in FCW/NXT where he played an holier than thou eco warrior character named CJ Parker, as his big dreadlocks dictate. The two put together a good show and Cody also really impressed. And then Cody antagonized the american commentary team in a great heel move.
Adam Cole Bay Bay vs. Kyle O’Reilly. O’Reilly has a strong striking style which just looks impressive and reminds me a lot of Daniel Bryan, though he is a bit larger. It doesn’t surprise me that he is ROH World champion going in. Adam Cole also had some nice strikes and his Last Shot finisher looks great. It however took three of them to put away O’Reilly but he did. Also happy that the american commentators were drawing comparisons to hockey.
G.B.H. vs. Guerrillas of Destiny vs. Chaos in a three way tag team match. This is the kind of stipulation match I don’t really like because it basically means only two of the three teams has an active person in a match and basically the third team must either get tagged in by someone else or try to tag itself in. It hardly works as a concept and always devolves into a spot-fest as it did here. Still looks great though. Also no match had more swearing it in this one and the american commentary team laughed its ass off because of it. Chaos took the championship here after a double low-blow followed by a double lariat on the Guerrillas (who btw look really great in their ring outfit).
Kushida vs. Hiromu Takahashi. Takahashi is a member of LIJ, while Kushida showed up dressed like Marty McFly. Really weird attire with a jeans shirt and an orange plastic vest. I guess that’s the gimmick of his tag team though since they are called “Time Splitters”, though its quite on the nose with it to the point where it’s a bit ridiculous. The match opened with a big flying spot to the outside which repeated during the match with the roles reversed. Very strong performance by both in this particularly during Takahashi’s attempts to get out of Kushida’s “Hoverboard Lock”. Takahashi wins the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship after a rather grueling match with his finisher the Time Bomb which is rather crazy as a Fireman’s carry spun out into a sit-down brainbuster variant.
Hirooki Goto vs, Katsuyori Shibata. As pointed out by the commentary team, the best way to describe this match is “stubborn”. Both guys just hit each other with their best shots constantly with little defence. You either take it and stand back up, or you lose. Tons of headbutts and Goto wins after a GTR.
Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi. Lots of “ring psychology” in this one with Naito working on Tanahashi’s knee and then Tanahashi paying it back. Plus Naito constantly spitting. Just really good textbook wrestling in this one. This is the kind of match that makes fans. Not based on gimmick or big spots, just great wrestling.
And the main event: Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega. The match opened with a really cheesy Terminator ripoff intro video for Omega. Omega then comes to the ring in a leather jacket with a shotgun and a crappy half-mask giving him terminator-face. Also funny when The Young Bucks at ringside then start drumming the Terminator theme on the apron. Okada on the other hand has a more traditional entrace though his robe is also quite fabulous.
Just like Naito vs. Tanahashi, this is just great textbook wrestling, here with a bit more outside work and throwing guys into barricades. Particularly Omega’s springboard moonsault over the guard rail was great. He then also paid the prize later with a backdrop over the top rope through a table. And despite both competitors having a small entourage at ringside, neither side got involved.
Huge dropkicks by Okada, a dragon suplex off the top rope and a bunch of stiff knees by Omega, a Tombstone piledriver by Okada followed by his Rainmaker finisher. This match was crazy good. It took like five Rainmaker’s by Okada to retain his title but he did, mostly because Omega could not land his own finisher.
TL;DR Wrestle Kingdom 11 is really long and really, really great. Watch it if you can.
I just watched the Main Event of WK11 myself. I had seen some Okada stuff before, though this was my first exposure to Kenny Omega, but I still got very invested very quickly. I shrieked out loud when Omega went through the table, and I legit started giggling to myself from sheer nerves when he kicked out of the first Rainmaker. That match reminded me why I’m a wrestling fan.
WWE United Kingdom Championship Tournament.
Just like the Cruiserweight Classic this is an elimination tournament showcasing various wrestlers from the indie scenes, here with all of them coming from parts of the british isles 12 englishmen and one wrestler each from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland for 16 competitors in total. The tournament was held last weekend over two days, with the first round on day one and the rest of the matches on the second day, meaning that the finalists had to wrestles three matches in a day.
This was really good. Some very good and pure wrestling here with a variety of interesting characters and styles. Unlike the Cruiserweight Classic which had no storylines whatsoever, here they actually added a little bit to make it more interesting. The brunt of this was carried by the main heel, Pete Dunne attacking people after the end of matches, and his second round opponent at the end of day one, and ambushing his opponent for the final. He is also easy to hate based on his ring gear with an ugly grin through a mouth guard, and his rather sadistic wrestling style. His move of propping up a guys arm, then stomping on the elbow had me rather grossed out. He seems weirdly popular though with his nickname of “Bruiserweight” being chanted during his matches (with a rather deep emphasis though). All of this built toward the final where a clear, injured underdog overcomes a dastardly, evil villain. Classic Wrestling storytelling.
My favorite wrestler of the tournament was Mark Andrews. His entrance music was a bit too pop-punk for my taste, but his suplex-counter-stunner move and his general high flying style was just beautiful to watch. He also had a fantastic match against the aforementioned Dunne in the Semis. My favorite match of the first day and of the tournament really was the barn-burner between Tucker and the eventual winner of the tournament Tyler Bate which went on last.
The crowd was ridiculously motivated both days adding a lot to the atmosphere, though also quite smarky. The venue was also quite beautiful, set in an old ballroom. And the title belt looks just amazing. And finally there was a special break-filler in between the semis and the final with Neville cutting a promo and extending his heel persona of being pissed off as the man everyone forgot and having not been included in the tournament (though the crowd cheered him). Then dutch wrestler and new NXT arrival Tommy End interrupts him, doesn’t say a word and they have a match.
If you like wrestling, this is definitely worth the four hours it takes to watch it and the 10 bucks for the network.
Watching the Go-Home RAW for the Royal Rumble. I’m really excited for the Rumble with some great title matches on the card plus the Rumble itself which is always fun, but for now the Rumble looks extremely RAW centric with five of the 7 matches announced so far being from the RAW roster and only the WWE Championship match being from smackdown. Considering that the midcard of Smackdown is also basically entirely in the Rumble there is little that could be added there except maybe a women’s title match (hopefully) and a Tag-Team Title match, though that would be at most put on the preshow considering American Alpha doesn’t really have any opponents right now (though I fully expect The Revival to debut on Smackdown next week and it will be amazing).
Anyhow, on tonights RAW there was a match between Sami Zayn and Seth Rollins for entry into the Rumble because Steph said so, which is of course a terrible reason. Regardless of that, the two put on a freaking clinic with a great match and some amazing spots. All looks lost for Sami after eating a Pedigree on the apron when suddenly the RAW writers decide to fuck things up. Triple H’s music hits and because every wrestler has the attention span of a bumblebee Rollins is completely distracted and “forgets” to pin Zayn. When it becomes obvious that this is just a distraction, Zayn rolls up Rollins and gets the three count. So instead of a clean finish and an earned victory of two faces clashing and perhaps a chance to elevate Zayn (which he most assuredly deserves), we get a shitty finish that makes Rollins look like an idiot and a braggard with his talk about winning the Rumble and headlining Wrestlemania, and makes Zayn look weak and like he stole his participation in the Rumble from someone better and more deserving.
A great match marred by an idiotic finish that makes both participants look bad, and made worse that the match had no reason to exist in the first place and removed one of the best wrestlers in the company from the Royal Rumble when both men should be in there from the very start.
Decided to watch NXT TakeOver: San Antonio live tonight and it just ended SPOILERS Ahead.
Show starts with “The Perfect Ten” Tye Dillinger vs. Eric Young, the Leader of SAnitY. SAnitY is an interesting faction as hardcore anarchists and Young showed up with the other two male members of the group. The only thing I don’t like about the way they look is that each member is wearing a patch with the flag of their country on their jackets which I don’t think SAnitY should care about. Anyhow, the match was pretty good but as expected Dillinger lost again. Hopefully this will finally mean that Dillinger gets up to the main roster. Despite never reaching the biggest heights in NXT he is incredibly over with the fans to the point where the entire arena always shouts “ten” instead of whatever the ref is counting when he is on the card. And of course it would just be perfect if he showed up as #10 in tomorrows rumble.
Roderick Strong vs. Andre “Cien” Almas was also very good. I thought Almas was going to win because he kind of needs to be legitimized as a thread, but it appears that Strong is being built as the next big babyface in NXT. I am somewhat more ambivalent about him. He isn’t bad by any means but he doesn’t entice me.
Authors of Pain vs. #DIY. It was easy to guess the outcome of this match. AOP is being built as basically a monster heel tag team with their physique and Paul Ellering in their corner. In Toronto they won the Tag Team Classic and were defacto the #1 contenders after The Revival lost their rematch. #DIY on the hand are a great team but they kind of need to be the underdogs. The match had some great spots though with the AOPs Neckbreaker/Powerbomb combo, Psycho Killer Tomaso Ciampa going berserk, and the amazing spot where #DIY has both members of AOP in submission holds the same way they won the title off The Revival, then one member of AOP picks up Gargano, and throws him on top of Ciampa to break the submission on the legal member. This also basically sealed how this match was going to end. Fine match but not quite as good as either match against The Revival.
Women’s Fatal 4-Way between Asuka, Billie Kay, Peyton Royce, and Nikki Cross (the fourth member of SAnitY). This was probably the most disappointing match. First of all the match really didn’t make that much sense because Kay and Royce are more or less a tag-team. I thought it would end in one betraying the other but that didn’t happen and most of the time they stayed outside and picked their spots together. Nikki Cross’s gimmick is basically a rabid insane person and I think she will be eventually the one Asuka drops the title to, but it wasn’t going to happen here. The second best spot of the night was when Billy Kay and Peyton Royce dropped Cross through a table which basically took here out of the match.
When they then got around to Asuka they got some offense in, but Asuka powered through and retained. And I think this is a bit bad. Asuka is being billed as this indomitable force in the women’s division, but she has never had a really dominant showing at a TakeOver for over a year. It is understandable that she wouldn’t be just kicking the butt of Bayley or Nia Jax, but I think in her match against Mickie James she got way too little offense and here it would have been a prime opportunity to just sweep the floor with both Billie Kay and Peyton Royce and establish her has the powerhouse with no equal. Instead this continues the string of Asuka being booked like a sports manga (e.g. Eyeshield 21) where the protagonist falls behind but comes through in the clutch. This isn’t necessarily bad but it completely clashes with the “no competition for Asuka in the women’s division” narrative.
And finally the Glorious Bobby Roode vs. Shinsuke Nakamura. If you were wondering, Nakamura regained the title in NXT’s pacific tour in Japan against Samoa Joe and retained it in a steel cage match in Austrialia. And this match was really good too as both are veterans with fantastic in-ring ability who basically should be on the main roster but aren’t. It was however not really amazing as the certain something was missing. I fully expected Nakamura to retain and a rematch happening at the Wrestlemania weekend with Roode winning then. This was upset when in a spot on the apron Nakamura injured his knee (which had me guessing at times whether it was legit). Nakamura still landed the Kinshasa but was unable to cover Roode. Doctor’s come out but Nakamura insists he can go on and immediately eats a Glorious DDT. He still kicks out. Roode then puts him then in a half crab on the injured knee and Nakamura narrowly makes it to the ropes. Another Glorious DDT then ended it.
I guess the rematch will be at Wrestlemania and you have to wonder what the outcome will be then because I could see either to go up to the main roster after that. Some even speculated for Nakamura to be in the Rumble but the knee injury prevents that.
Oh yeah, and before the women’s match Seth Rollins showed up out of nowhere demanding that Triple H come out to the ring. This of course ties into the RAW Storyline where Seth is after Triple H for his betrayal, losing the Universal Championship, and, as explained above, being more or less responsible for being out of the Rumble. I think this is a neat way and makes perfect sense with Triple H being the chief executive of NXT, thought it came out of nowhere and was a nice surprise. Triple H eventually shows up, but only to gesture for Security to remove Rollins which they eventually manage to. I just hope this isn’t the only thing Rollins gets to do this weekend. All of this obviously builds towards a match between Triple H and Rollins at 'mania.
Because I’m a madman I watched the Royal Rumble 2017 live, including the preshow. Thankfully I took the morning off tomorrow/today.
Preshow starts with a 3-on-3 women’s match from Smackdown with Becky Lynch, Naomi and Nikki Bella against champion Alexa Bliss, Natalya, and a returning Mickie James. Everyone thought Mickie would pick up the win for the heels. Instead we got a nice surprise with Naomi pinning Alexa, legitimizing her as a top contender.
Next was the RAW tag team title match which was also relegated to the preshow. It was a pretty good match but it was a shock when Gallows & Anderson actually picked up the victory to finally claim gold. Very unexpected that the title would change hands on the preshow. I thought they’d put this on the next RAW PPV. Not sure what this means for Cesaro and Shaemus, and I think it was slightly too early for G&A after creative basically tanked their credibility last year and it not entirely having been rebuilt yet, but maybe this is just the thing they needed.
Last preshow match was Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks. I missed the start of it because I was in the kitchen. Nia picked up a relatively easy win which can be excused on Sasha being slightly injured. Whether this is building credibility for Nia or burying Sasha can be debated.
Main show opens with the women’s match between Bayley and Charlotte. Probably the weakest match on the entire card after Sasha and Nia. It was pretty clear that they were holding back a bit. Charlotte remains undefeated at PPV and adding to her streak after a Natural Selection on the apron. My guess is that the streak will finally be broken by Bayley at Wrestlemania.
Next the Universal title no-DQ match between Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens with Chris Jericho suspended in a shark cage. This was very entertaining even if Reigns moveset still sucks. Lots of chairs and tables being broken and some brass knuckles also involved. Roman almost looks like he comes out on top after a grueling match when suddenly out of nowhere Braun Strowman shows up, bounces him off the announce table and smashes him through a regular table set up in the ring, allowing Owens to make the pin.
Cruiserweight match was almost a showstealer. Very well fought and both Neville and Rich Swann showed that the Cruiserweight division can produce legitimate gems. Neville takes the victory after a superplex and his new submission maneuver which just looks brutal, finally crowning him King of the Cruiserweights for real. Very excited where it goes from there.
And now for the actual showstealer as John Cena and AJ Styles put on a regular classic. It reminded me a lot of their match against each other at Summerslam with there basically being a break in the middle of the match turning into matt-based submission exchanges. They upped the ante though when they started using moves that they either haven’t done in a long time or never done before, like Cena with a Figure 4, Styles with a fireman’s carry neckbreaker and them trying to steal each other’s finishers (Styles actually applied the STF while Cena tried to do the Styles Clash). After about three AAs in a row, including one from the middle ropes, Cena picked up the 3 count, tying him with Rick Flair. Normally I’d be kind of mad at this, but the match was so great that I didn’t mind the outcome at all.
And finally the Rumble itself. As always the match had its ebbs and flows with the ring filling up and clearing out. First one in was Big Cass who got the full entrance with Enzo. First one to go was Cruiserweight Jack Gallagher, the only entrant from the 205 live crew, who brought an umbrella and more or less was a comedy act here. Braun Strowman shows up an basically flattens the ring. At 10 the WWE did, surprisingly, what everyone wanted: Tye Dillinger. Though he got some moves in he was eventually also eliminated by Strowman. Strowman finally bit the dust when he ate a Helluva Kick by Sami Zayn and then was pushed out by Baron Corbin, legitimizing Corbin a bit. Strowman took out 7 people though.
After this the ring fills up again to the point where Shaemus and Cesaro, the entirety of New Day and the entire Wyatt Family are in the ring. 12 men are in the match simultaneously. Shaemus and Cesaro eliminate all three members of The New Day simultaneously, only for Shaemus to betray Cesaro and both get eliminated by Jericho. Meanwhile we have a full breaking off the Wyatt Family as Luke Harper attempts Sister Abigail on Bray Wyatt, but he eats an RKO for his troubles. Lesnar shows up, eliminates three people off the bat and puts the rest of the ring on mat. Next is Enzo who gets clobbered by Lesnar and immediately eliminated. Goldberg comes out its basically a repeat of Survivor Series as he spears Lesnar out of his socks and then eliminates him.
Finally at 29 The Undertaker comes out and puts people in holes, including Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin, The Miz (who I had pegged to win this thing after Cena won the title) and Goldberg. Then #30 and this is where the WWE lost me because it was Roman Reigns. Reigns starts punching people and starts eliminating and each and every elimination is like stab into my heart. It doesn’t help that he started with The Undertaker. The Final four are Reigns, Jericho, Wyatt and Orton and I thought “here we go again”. Reigns eliminates Jericho, then gets the better of Wyatt but an RKO out of nowhere and Orton wins. At least they didn’t fuck it up completely.
Maybe I psyched myself up too much after expecting he’d be in it, showing up in plain clothes last night at the TakeOver and not having wrestled in NXT for over a month, but you know who should have been #30? Samoa Joe. He would have been an instant threat and it would have been fantastic had he won the whole thing. Now we get another Cena v. Orton feud as it seems. I’m just wondering what it means for the Wyatt family’s future.
Overall a great show actually with tons of surprises. But where the fuck was Seth Rollins? Anyhow, sleep now.
From Kenny Omega:
Tweet from @KennyOmegamanX: https://twitter.com/KennyOmegamanX/status/826442521576370176
“MOTY”,“good”,“average”,“horrible”… Regardless of the word you’d use to describe the match, it’s FREE for 1 week! twitter.com/njpwworld/stat…
For all those wanting to get into Lucha Underground but didn’t want the hassle of traversing the high seas to pirate it. There is no excuse now.
First two seasons for now, which is enough to wet your appetite.
I’ve been watching a ton of wrestling in the last couple of days because due to other things I probably won’t be able to watch a lot in the next couple of weeks. I’ll try to make these kinds of post shorter in the future though:
The New Beginning in Sapporo/The New Beginning in Osaka
After WrestleKingdom 10 I decided to keep a little bit of a closer eye on NJPW and what can I say: they just make a really good product. The New Beginning Tour is essentially the start of the “season” (as opposed to WrestleKingdom being finale). Some smaller houseshow type events with the two bigger ones on consecutive weekends.
The current big story in NJPW is the return of Suzuki-Gun (Suzuki Army), a villainous faction that had invaded another japanese promotion and is now back (the behind the scenes reason is that the contract that loaned the wrestlers to that promotion ran out). They essentially have taken the place of Bullet Club, who have gone somewhat AWOL after having a bad run at WrestleKingdom. Suzuki-Gun is pretty nuts. The leader, Minoru Suzuki, is an absolutely menacing and vicious wrestler, their tag team Killer Elite Squad is a threat wherever they go and then they have the complete crazy person of Takashi Iizuka who has to be held back on a leash and likes to attack the announcers when he is off it. Unfortunately one member of KES suffered an injury in between the events.
Both events were pretty good though though Osaka was better IMHO due to the presence of more one-on-one matches. Shibata vs. Will Ospreay, Hiromu Takahashi vs. his old nemesis from CMLL Dragon Lee and Michael Elgin vs. Tetsuya Naito. Sapporo had the best match though with the classic of Okada vs. Suzuki.
This was an iPPV put on by WCPW, a promotion run by british media house What Culture who have a very successful YouTube channel with a special place for wrestling. They are however somewhat controversial due to some clickbaity content and some disagreeable personalities (particularly King Ross who I just try to ignore). The card was rather stacked though.
The show started (after a rather weak preshow match) with an organizational nightmare: two minutes into the first real bout the top rope broke off the one of the posts. What’s worse was that it was in the opening match between Ricochet and Will Ospreay, two fantastic high-flyers who are very dependent on the ropes. They did some great stuff with what they had left though after pulling off the top rope from the rest of the posts. Ospreay particularly should be commended after flying in from Osaka as he had been in an event there on Saturday as mentioned above.
And Ospreay’s night wasn’t even done as later on he would participate in a four tag-team ladder match as parts of the Swords of Essex. That ladder match was fantastic btw and if you can find it you should check it out as that match had tons of great moments and was particularly comedic at moments, which is rare these days.
The show closed with a “fantasy bout” with Alberto el Patron (formerly Alberto Del Rio) against Kurt Angle in Angle’s advertised final booking in the United Kingdom. WCPW is kind of notorious for booking a lot of former big name wrestlers who are now touring the indie circuits and putting them into these fantasy bouts. The match was fine but not really outstanding. I never really liked Alberto and Angle is just really old now.
First of all the WWE has to be commended as it is rare nowadays for a major promotion to put three women’s bouts on the main card of a major PPV. Somewhat this was out of necessity as a lot of the larger names from the males were put into the namesake match but still. Unfortunately one of these matches was a bit of a stinker in the “Divas” match between Natalya and Nikki Bella which even worse ended in a double countout and did absolutely nothing to further the storyline. However, the opening match between Mickie James as well as the championship match between Naomi and Alexa Bliss were very good.
Then a shout out to the match between Randy Orton and Luke Harper, somewhat of a blowoff match between the two as Orton was included in the Wyatt Family and subsequently Harper was cast out. It was kind of a foregone conclusion that Orton would win this as he is pretty obviously the better wrestler and they wouldn’t have him lose on the PPV in between his Royal Rumble win and Wrestlemania. However, they really had me believe for a moment that Harper could win this. It was a really good example of how to book someone to look strong in defeat.
And finally the main event: The Elimination Chamber Match. The WWE actually created a new Elimination Chamber in a more octagonal shape with long sides along the ring and short plexiglass panels behind the “pods” in which the wrestlers who join the match reside. The plexiglass panels also extend above the pods to the central point. The other sides remain in these weird chain fences which was routinely used to climb up on with multiple leaping spots off the roofs of the pods. The structure is also considerably taller now, allowing the wrestlers some standing room an top of the pots. In one spot Ambrose and Styles were both standing on the roof of one of the pods and Ambrose just smashed Styles into the pexiglass.
AJ Styles and John Cena started and they did their usual great stuff with some use of the structure thrown in. Ambrose would join first and immediately go to town. Bray Wyatt and Baron Corbin joined as well and everybody got some good stuff in. Then the final pod with The Miz unlocks. I haven’t seen all Elimination Chamber matches, but this is the first I’ve seen where all six competitors were legal at the same time.
However this was short lived. When the Miz’s pod unlocks, Corbin, who had just put everybody else on the floor, just stares at him and beckons him to come out and get the same treatment. This allows Ambrose to roll up Corbin and get the 1-2-3 on the still somewhat green wolf. Corbin is of course incensed about this and proceeds to completely demolish Ambrose. This includes throwing Ambrose through the plexiglass panels of one of the pods. Only when the refs finally manage to get Corbin out of the chamber, The Miz leaves his pod and pins Ambrose like the sniveling little shit heel that he is. Just excellent booking.
From there The Miz gets a bunch of offense in as he is the freshest, but he is ultimately destroyed by Cena after Cena more or less rolls through a cross body and then executes the AA. Cena then almost does the same to Wyatt and Styles but the two team up. Wyatt then manages to counter the setup to the AA and put Sister Abigail on Cena and eliminates him, ending Cena’s title reign after only two weeks.
Styles and Wyatt proceed to do their stuff and the match is really good from there on out, with Wyatt eventually proving to be the winner after catching the Phenomenal Forearm and immediately hitting Sister Abigail. Many people predicted this to happen with the final end of the Orton and Wyatt storyline at Wrestlemania with Orton holding the rumble win to challenge the now title-holder of Bray Wyatt. However, this finally gets Wyatt the title he should have held a long time ago and finally legitimizes his claim as a top heel after a long string of just terrible booking decisions that buried him for a long time. Just a fantastic match all around. The show ends with Orton on the entrance ramp, staring at Wyatt celebrating inside the Chamber.
In the above post I said I wanted to concentrate on some other stuff and less wrestling. And of course this morning my twitter was all abuzz about yesterday’s episode of RAW and particularly the Festival of Friendship with Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho. Holy crap what a segment. Jericho just continues his tour de force. Just watch this segment, it’s absolutely glorious.
The rest of the show was also pretty nice actually with some new rivalries set up. Best RAW in a long time. Only bad segment I think was the opening with a consistently inconsistent Steph and a senseless handicap match between Roman and the tag-team champs Gallows & Anderson.
That Festival of Friendship segment was the best segment I’ve seen on WWE TV in years. It really speaks to the fact that Jericho truly is the Greatest Of All Time. He has this uncanny ability to continually find ways to get booed, but then makes it so entertaining that he will invariably start getting cheers for the same things.
That moment when he realized that his name was on KO’s List was really right out of the Simpsons, “You can actually pinpoint the second when his heart rips in half.”
I admit that I only noticed it after someone else pointed it out, but I think the best thing is that Friendship was put on the list. Also the “you’re gonna get (commercial break) it”.
I am set for Wrestlemania Weekend. I’m flying down to Orlando on Friday morning, going to the Hall of Fame ceremony on Friday night, then NXT Takeover on Saturday, then Mania on Sunday, then Raw on Monday, then Smackdown on Tuesday, then flying home Wednesday morning. Phew!
… And I just found out that Smackdown will be in Boston the following week, so there’s a chance I may go to 2 Smackdowns in a row.
… And Smackdown is at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut 2 weeks before Mania, so if I really wanted to, I could go to 3 Smackdowns in 4 weeks.
Damn that is a loaded weekend for you. Also if you are going down to Wrestlemania weekend do a little research on the other side events that are not WWE. Tons of indie shows to check out plus special talks you can go to. I know of Walemania where its a mix of a wrestling podcast and Wale concert or live meet and greets with old Wrestling legends. You can book yourself full and not miss any shows since they purposely make sure you get to the main attractions on time.
Follow the Buzzards!