Io Shirai heading to WWE. Now if only WWE knew how to book well.
NJPW just posted this absolute monster of a match.
Finished the Final of the Best of the Super Junior tournament. Holy crap that final match. I already was really impressed with the final day of the tournament blocks which was yesterday and some great matches between Ospreay and Flip Gordon, Ishimori and YOH as well as Kushida vs. Hiromu. There are even a couple of hidden gems in the tournament proper such as the always entertaining rivalry between Dragon Lee and Hiromu. Unfortunately the fact that NJPW doesn’t put a great lot of production effort into those shows is doing the whole thing a disservice, as the matches being shown almost exclusively from an unmoving hardcam shot and with no commentary whatsoever, neither english nor japenese. But with NJPW growing hopefully by next year they will have full production behind the tournament.
In the end it came down to my expected final between the new arrival Taiji Ishimori, and the future star of the division Hiromu Takahashi. I always expected Ishimori to win, particularly after his nasty introduction with the new gimmick and immediately going after Ospreay. However, thankfully the guy I really wanted to win prevailed with Hiromu. The guy is just crazy and crazy good. Particularly the tumble he took down the stairs of Korakuen Hall in the final just underlines that. Ishimori still did great and I kind of warmed to him over the course of the tournament. Good heel addition to the scene.
END OF SPOILERS
Can’t wait for Dominion on Saturday. Even besides the high expectations of Okada vs. Omega IV, the card looks absolutely stacked. With Ospreay vs. the BOSJ winner, Naito vs. Jericho, a three way match between Hiroshi Tanahashi, Jushin Thunder Liger and Marty Scurll, the Young Bucks challenging EVIL and SANADA for the Heavyweight tag belts and Rey Mysterio Jr. against an as of yet unannounced opponent, Dominion 6.9 will be very, very nice.
Edit: Apparently there was a bit lost in translation with the Liger/Tana/Scurll situation. There will be a three way match with Liger, Tanahashi and Rey Mysterio Jr. vs. Marty Scurll, Cody and Hangman Page.
Card is stacked, but it is weird that KUSHIDA, Ishimori and Ibushi all missing from the event.
I might write down my full thoughts on Dominion later on, but regardless of that: Holy hell that fucking main event.
I just got turbo spoiled, but rather than ruin the thing for me I’m super excited to sit down and watch it, this opens so many delicious cans of worms.
Yeah being a wrestling fan on the internet and wanting to watch this match on tape delay will basically be impossible today.
I didn’t actively watch most of the undercard because I was doing other things on the side, though I still had the broadcast on. First I was surprised that they let the Suzuki-gun team keep the jr. tag belts. In all honesty RPG3k should be the champs on that, but there are two reasons I see why they’re doing this. One I will write about further down, the other is that the team is basically following the same trajectory as Hiromu, where they were hotshotted to the title, then lost it and have to work back up to get it.
Robinson picking up the win is not unexpected in his match. It is however surprising that it was White getting pinned, not CHAOS’s own pin-eater Yoshi-Hashi. This of course is meant to up the stakes for the upcoming title match between Robinson and White, but it also kind of dooms Juice. It also does not a whole lot for White, who really feels kind of booked like WWE now. Hot acquisition/NXT call-up who basically does nothing and gets buried in the undercard after being abandoned by management. I guess the US title is an undercard belt, but it should still be above the NEVER Title for example.
Suzuki-gun defeating Yano and Ishii was so-so, though it is kind of indicative of a big match between Ishii and Suzuki coming up. Speaking of which, Elgin getting that belt surprised me, mostly because of the shit that come out about him in the last year or so, really didn’t think he deserves it.
Bucks making a mark by taking the Heavyweight tag titles off LIJ. Bucks might be a good fresh shot in the arm of the tag division, but it is also might be a bit of a punishment for SANADA, whom I like but doesn’t seem all that interested in wrestling as of recently, and rumor has it that isn’t just his character.
Bullet Club vs. the legends trio also seemed more like an interstitial, and they could have done more with Mysterio.
But now to the true meat of the show.
Hiromu vs. Ospreay was very good, though I think they were holding back a bit. I mean both still went very far out with their honestly crazy wrestling styles, but I thoroughly expected one to kick out of the other’s finisher, my money being on the Oscutter as Ospreay picked up a new finisher as his main, though Hiromu relying more on his new triangle choke submission also had me worry about the Time Bomb. I guess they’re saving that bullet for a rematch. In any case, Hiromu finally gets his title back after a year ago at the same event and I am very happy for him.
Jericho vs. Naito started with a big brawl outside before Naito could even take his suit off, let alone the bell could be rung. Jericho’s NJPW persona is really cooky and it appears his matches there will be full of outside brawls and foreign (haha) objects. He put Naito through the wringer as evidenced by multiple cuts on Naito’s face, especially one under his eye in a sick twist of the LIJ logo and his own taunt gesture. Naito was able to turn things around for a bit, inflicting similar damage, but just as it looked like he was about to sew things up with another Destino, Jericho caused a distraction, mule-kick-low-blow followed by a Codebreaker. Suddenly Jericho is IWGP Intercontinental Champion, adding to his 9 reigns as WWE Intercontinental Champion. Still not sure what that means, perhaps just another PPV appearance but maybe Jericho in the G1? Would be nuts. Not sure though if Jericho would/could even do that with his other stuff going on. He also looked kind of pudgy in this one. Should do more DDP Yoga.
And then the main event, 2-out-of-3-falls match between Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega to finally settle their feud currently at 1-1-1. This match had basically everything and even escalated things from their series of matches last year. In a very good first match Kenny looked like he was slowly but surely gaining the upper hand when suddenly Okada countered a move into a cradle and picked up the first fall. No finisher, no nothing, just a surprise pin that caught Kenny off guard.
Second match starts and they continue basically where they left off with strong wrestling that occasionally spills to the outside. At some point Kenny picks up a table from the timekeepers area and sets it up right next to the guard rail. Later there is a sequence where Kenny threatens to suplex Okada off the apron through the table, similar to how he did to Ishii in the G1 special last year, but this is somehow avoided. After an exhausting second match they move it back in the ring Kenny finally manages to hit the One-Winged Angel and pin Okada, who looked threatening throughout, including almost picking up the second fall in the same manner as the first.
Third match starts with Okada still prone on the canvas from the OWA. Kenny tries to immediately hit another but Okada fights out of it. Both are completely exhausted at this point, but make due with fits and starts of energy. Okada even crumbles while trying to hit a Rainmaker, in a twisted mirror to their match at Dominion last year. After a grueling final match Omega, in which Omega hits Okada with a Styles Clash and missed with Kota Ibushi’s Phoenix Splash, Omega finally gets another OWA and pins Okada. And weirdly the table on the outside is still enough
Your new IWGP Heavyweight Champion is Kenny Omega. And quite honestly the absolutely right decision. Okada has basically accomplished everything as champion that he could possibly do, and has also run out of worthwhile challengers. With Omega at the head we can finally see some new combinations in the main event, and Omega has the presence and cache to keep the Legacy of this amazing reign alive. Kenny being rewarded is also great and pays off his personal storyline as well. The Young Bucks also came out and The Elite seems to have patched things up as Kenny congratulated them and called them and Kota his friends in the post match address. Cody also showed up on the ramp, but he quickly recognized he wasn’t welcome and slinked back up the ramp.
What is however very surprising is just how badly Okada really lost. He could not get a successful pin off a Rainmaker, and his attempts at the Cobra Clutch were easily thwarted. He fought out off some attempts at the OWA, but was completely destroyed when it landed. The fall he picked up seems, in retrospect, more like luck than savvy, champion-like maneuver.
What’s more is how absolutely crushed the CHAOS faction was in this event. Quite honestly it was also overdue, as all of the singles title (with exception for the IC title) were collected in that faction. They went 0-for-6 on the night, losing all the belts they defended. The only one who managed to keep his was Jay White, but even he was pinned by his upcoming challenger. I could see this now going in one of two ways: Either the faction is breaking up, perhaps because White is trying to grab power, or the more likely scenario that a major redemption arc is coming, at the very least for Okada who is on both kayfabe and meta levels now the absolute favorite to win the G1 this year, very likely while showcasing a new finisher.
I really hope they take their time before Okada regains the championship, Let Kenny get his reign and then have someone else take it from him. Although I suspect putting the belts on gaijin is all to start making a bigger push in the US, so Kenny might have the title for a while.
If you are looking for the “modern interpretation of Memphis wrestling” MLW is now putting their shows online for you to follow along. This is the playlist link since it will contain everything.
O SHIT, this is good shit.
Too bad the WWE machine is in full monopoly mode with MLW, it’s such a shitty move.
Lol, Good grief, Punk. You tried, I’ll give you that much.
Welp, there’s nothing that WWE can do at Money in the Bank to top Takeover: Brooklyn tonight. That is all.
Lots of things happening this weekend.
Takeover Chicago II was very good, as all Takeover shows are, though I think it was overall one of the weaker TakeOvers. No big surprises, no real changes to the roster, and none of the challengers for the titles seemed all that much like one the company would trust to carry the belt(s). I was also a bit disappointed that there was no North American championship match on the card. Gargano vs. Ciampa II was also fine, though due to the stipulation it all felt a bit like a rehash from their previous match. Some nice callbacks though. My favorite match was Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream, because both are great wrestlers and they put on a very good match that told a great story.
Meanwhile in Japan, Io Shirai had her final match in Stardom. She is headed to WWE and she should be an immediate threat to any of the three women’s titles. My initial guess is that they are putting her in NXT first, simply because it’s the “open” slot, as I expect Asuka and Rousey to hold the main titles by Monday morning, and both Asuka and Kairi had to go there first. I have no idea what that means for Kairi though, who I believe is a bit underutilized after winning the Mae Young Classic last year.
Participants for the G1 were also announce. Of course all the mainstays are there including Omega, Okada, Naito, Tanahashi, Suzuki, White, Ishii, Juice, Fale, Tama Tonga, EVIL, SANADA, Goto and Ibushi. Yano Toru and Yoshi-Hashi are also in there who I think could have been replaced and I find it weird that both got a slot ahead of freshly minted heavyweight Taichi. Togi Makabe gets the “vet slot” similar to how Nagata and Kojima got last year. The real surprise entrant is Hangman Page as representative of the american portion of Bullet Club, who I find odd to get a crack at the G1 before Cody does, though I guess Cody is occupied with other commitments.
What I feel breaks a bit of tradition is the fact that the IWGP Intercontinental Champion Chris Jericho and the Young Bucks who are currently holding the IWGP Heavyweight Tag Team Championship are not here. Sure, outside of kayfabe you of course know that they are occupied with other stuff, but in kayfabe that fact makes very little sense and breaks a lot of tradition and purpose of the tournament. First time the IC champion is absent from the tournament.
Anyway, blocks will be announced tomorrow, and the schedule the day after. There will also be live english commentary for all G1 Climax shows this year, which is awesome!
I hope they stay away from another Omega Okada match, to be honest, those need time to breath. My prediction for the G1 is going to be Ibushi Vs. Okada in the finals with Ibushi winning at the G1. Also, that match would be an absolute barnburner, so I want to see it.
I think Io Shirai moving out of startdom can be a bit eh, I don’t know what will happen to her. HOWEVER, she has said that she was working hard to get into wwe after seeing Kairi there, so that’ll atleast bring Kairi back into the spotlight as they use that as a springboard feud.
The Carmella Asuka match hurt me physically.
Money in the bank had some good matches and some really awful stuff. The bad thing is that even the good matches had terribly booked outcomes.
We start things off with Big Cass vs. Daniel Bryan, and this match was surprisingly decent for a relatively bad feud. The next match between Sami Zayn and Bobby Lashley however was absolutely stinker capping an equally terrible build-up that was solely buoyed by Zayn’s character acting making the most of absolute garbage material. It is also a crime against humanity to have a MITB PPV without Zayn in the titular match. At least Rollins vs. Elias was pretty decent. Roman Reigns vs. Jinder Mahal later on was entirely forgettable.
Next the Women’s MITB match, which was actually pretty good. However, the result is idiotic. MITB should usually be won by heels, or at least opportunistic faces who would be a threat to cash in at any time. This is of course not necessarily a requirement but it is what you expect. My hope was that Sasha Banks would get it because she could carry that briefcase “like a Boss” if you want. Unfortunately my brain won out as Alexa Bliss, who basically did nothing throughout the whole match, took the briefcase down. Could have been used to elevate a new talent such as Ember Moon, or giving people like Banks or Becky Lynch who had been floundering a bit a new direction. Nope, gotta give it to the woman who has been champion for more than 50% of her time on the main roster.
At least they tore that band aid off almost immediately, as Bliss cashed in later that night after causing a DQ in the match between Ronda Rousey and Nia Jax. And Bliss is champion again. Ugh.
Unfortunately that wasn’t even the worst result in the women’s division that night as Asuka was basically tearing Carmella new one when suddenly a figure in one of Asuka’s Noh masks appears at ringside. After Asuka stares at it for a solid minute, moth agape, the mask is taken off and underneath is James Ellsworth. Carmella hits Asuka with a super-kick and pins her. Just WTF. Way to flush two-years of build-up down the drain.
Styles and Nakamura finally had a pretty good match, though the “Last Man Standing” stipulation was kind of bothersome with the constant counting. It is also still a far cry from their WK10 match. The result is also kind of 50/50. I mean Styles is a great champion and deserves to hold the belt, but boy is it ever a waste to make a turn and not have it result in success.
Finally the Men’s MITB match. Of course these things are always spotfests, but they are fun. Most people had some decent turns, though Bobby Roode was kind of hardly to be seen. Not even sure he climbed a ladder, though I thought he would make the most sense from the standpoint explained above. Worst bump was taken by Owens who got thrown of a 8 meter ladder through some tables. In the end I was really hoping for Kofi to get it because he most deserves it. Unfortunately WWE decides to give the briefcase to Strowman, who absolutely 100% does not need it.
A far better match happened about 8 hours later when Hiromu Takhashi fought El Desperado to defend his IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship. For the uninitiated, Desperado’s real name is Kyousuke Mikami and he was Hiromu’s senpai when they were Young Lions. In Kayfabe Hiromu seems to know Despy’s real identity, though it is not known to the general public. Hiromu has never beaten him in a 1-on-1 match, a 20-0 record in favor of Desperado including a win during the BOSJ last month. Besides this great long term aspect, this match had pretty much everything a wrestling fan could want. I particularly liked a spot where Hiromu ripped off the mask, only for Despy to proceed to not give a shit, hit Hiromu in the face, then nonchalantly put his mask back on.
I haven’t watched WWE since Fast Lane. No NXT, no Mania, nothing. Part of that was Mania weekend also being PAX East weekend, but my interest is at an all time low. I have no faith in the booking on the main roster, and one of my favorite wrestlers, Chris Hero/Kassius Ohno, is a jobber in NXT. I’m cancelling my Network subscription, and I’m giving serious thought to getting either the Global Wrestling Network because I have nostalgia for old TNA or the new Powerslam Network that Pivotshare is putting together.
After getting booted off of YouTube through copyright claims (most likely by TV Asahi), Showbuckle has migrated his content to Vimeo. He also has a new video out on Prince Devitt’s run in NJPW, the founding of Bullet Club, and the creation of his Demon persona. Devitt is now of course known as Finn Balor in WWE.
So the latest season of Lucha Underground started and no one told me. It’s still Lucha Underground.
Oh shit three episodes already.