Monday, May 4, 2015

April 2015 - Month in Review

 WWE Superstar of the Month - Neville
There really wasn't that big of a race when it came to who was the most outstanding wrestler in WWE in April. Only two names stood above the rest. Those being Neville & Roman Reigns. I came extremely close to giving Reigns his second Superstar of the Month award this year however I don't think he made quite the impact that "The Man That Gravity Forgot" did. It's been awhile since a debuting talent had as huge of a first month as Neville did on the main roster. I'd even venture to say that he's the first person since The Shield to be brought up from NXT and actually used correctly. Neville debuted on the night after WrestleMania to close out March and left us all with the question of what was next? Well, what was next was a series of high profile matches in which Neville blew the minds of audiences across the world. From his match with Seth Rollins to his bout with Dolph Ziggler to his battle with Luke Harper, Neville was a spectacle to see on every single episode of Raw & Smackdown that he was on. To top that off, he defeated Luke Harper & Sheamus to advance to the finals of the King of the Ring tournament which was HUGE for him despite not winning the entire tournament. If Neville continues at this pace, I see him with gold around his waist soon as well as a Top 20 spot in our Elite 80 at the end of the year.

Last month's winner: Seth Rollins

Independent Wrestler of the Month - Mike Bailey (PWG, CZW, C4, Beyond Wrestling)

Last winter, I had the pleasure of discovering Speedball Mike Bailey for the first time as I watched a Best of C4 Wrestling compilation. I was blown away by his matches in recent years against the likes of El Generico & Michael Elgin. Then when his match with Kevin Steen aired during the #Rawlternative program in January and the reaction was big, I knew 2015 was going to be his breakout year however I'm not sure anyone expected it to be as big as it has. This month in particular was absolutely owned by Speedball. He started the month out back in Reseda for his 2nd PWG appearance where he created his first memorable moment of the month by delivering a reverse frankensteiner to Trevor Lee on the ring apron. This clip soon spread around the web in GIF form and garnered upwards of 50k views after PWG released the preview video. Following that epic moment, Bailey headed back up to the Combat Zone to compete in the star studded Best of the Best tournament where he outlasted last month's Indie Star of the Month Tommy End as well as Andrew Everett, Trevor Lee, former NXT star CJ Parker, and quite possibly the most underrated man on the scene today, Jonathan Gresham to win the entire tournament. While many frown on CZW due to unfair stereotypes of it being garbage running rampant on the web, the Best of the Best tournament is a prestigious event with past winners including current WWE NXT star Solomon Crowe (Sami Callihan) and referee Drake Younger, now known as Drake Wuertz. Winning BOTB was undoubtedly Bailey's biggest victory of the month however he wasn't done tearing the house down as he competed for Beyond Wrestling's double header to close out the month where he faced AR Fox and then teamed with Shynron as the Ninjas with Attitude to face The Young Bucks in a showstealing main event, all in the same day. I've been singing the praises of Mike Bailey for several months and I'll continue to because he continues to remind me of why I'm a fan with every match. The year looks to only get bigger for him from here as he will be returning to PWG again to face Johnny Gargano on May 22nd and will also be debuting for Evolve. Bailey could very well be in the running for Indie wrestler of the year when all is said and done! Follow him on Twitter @SpeedballBailey!

Last month's winner: Tommy End (PWG, WXW, Evolve)

Puroresu Star of the Month - Kota Ibushi (3x Winner) (NJPW, DDT)

I may as well rename this award "The Ibushi Award" because this is his THIRD time winning it this year. If you keep up with the top puro organizations, you'll understand why because he's simply on another level at the moment. He began the month with the biggest match of his career against AJ Styles for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Ibushi didn't win however he certainly tore the house down with the Phenomenal One and once again proved, much like he did at WK9, that he belonged in the heavyweight division of New Japan. Ibushi wasn't done after this though as he would return to his home promotion DDT to deliver another jaw dropping performance against rival HARISHIMA for the Open Weight Title. It was the second match in their series and is being hailed as a classic by many. You may be wondering how I could choose someone who lost his two biggest matches this month however the point is that Ibushi is quite possibly the hardest worker in Japan at the moment. Not many people have a split contract between two top promotions. And beyond that, not many would be able to deliver on that level that Ibushi continues to deliver on every single time he steps in the ring. Therefore, I can't bring myself to give this award to someone who's winning yet delivering only half the work that Ibushi is. 2015 continues to be the year of Ibushi when it comes to the world of Puro. However, names like Daisuke Sekimoto are hot on his tail despite not earning this award yet. Ibushi has almost confirmed himself a spot in the Top 10 of the Elite 80 at the end of this year so unless something changes, we may seem him achieve his highest ranking yet! But more importantly, I think we will see him pick up some major victories in the remainder of 2015 which is the only thing he's been lacking thus far.

Tag Team of the Month - Son of Havoc, Angelico, & Ivelisse (Lucha Underground)

For the first time ever, a trios team wins the tag team of the month award and I can't think of a better group of individuals to do so despite them being an unlikely success. Lucha Underground has been lighting things up in 2015 and they continued that trend by delivering a phenomenal tournament to crown the first ever trios champions. With notable names like Johnny Mundo (John Morrison), Prince Puma (Ricochet), Cage (Brian Cage), and many others involved in the thick of things, it comes as even more of a surprise that this trio who have had visible problems thus far in 2015 managed to win the entire tourney. The whole story of these three overcoming the differences to band together, make history, and put championships around their waists is one that every wrestling fan should go back and watch unfold. Angelico's sensational dive in the midst of the impromptu match with The Crew in the finals of the tournament really signifies just how epic this entire story was and I think you owe it to yourself to check out. So, congratulations to Son of Havoc, Angelico, & Ivelisse, the Trios Titles are certainly well deserved for three hard working individuals like yourselves!

Last month's winner: The Young Bucks

Top 10 Matches of the Month
I decided to try out a new idea for this section of the column this month. Although I didn't get to put it into full effect, I did get some awesome input from two of the best reviewers around and friends of mine, Running Enzuguiri's Mark Anthony (@AnsoniiSan) and Phoenix Plex's Dylan (@afutureshock). With that being said, here's the list that I came up with based off their opinions as well as mine. I think it's safe to say that these are the matches that are must see from the month of April.

1) Kota Ibushi vs. HARASHIMA - DDT: Max Bump 2015

2) Roderick Strong vs. Zack Sabre Jr - PWG World Title Match - PWG: Don't Sweat The Technique

3) Son of Havoc, Angelico, & Ivelisse vs. Cage, King Cuerno, & Texano Jr vs. Big Ryck, The Mack, & Killshot vs. The Crew - Trios Title Match - Lucha Underground - 4/22/15

4) Johnny Mundo, Prince Puma & Hernandez vs. Cage, King Cuerno, & Texano Jr - Lucha Underground: 4/15/15

5) Chris Hero vs. Tommy End - PWG: Don't Sweat The Technique

6) Roman Reigns vs. The Big Show - Last Man Standing Match - WWE: Extreme Rules

7) Tommy End vs. Drew Galloway - ICW - 4/26/15

8) AJ Styles vs. Kota Ibushi - NJPW: Invasion Attack

9) Tomohiro Ishii vs. Togi Makabe - NEVER Title Match - NJPW: Road To Dontaku

10) Jonathan Gresham vs. Mike Bailey - CZW: Best of the Best

11) TJ Perkins vs. Biff Busick - Evolve 41

12) Cesaro & Tyson Kidd vs. New Day - WWE: Extreme Rules

13) KAI vs. Hideo Suzuki - Wrestle-1

14) Dangan Yankees vs. TMDK - NOAH: Global Tag League Day 1

15) Strong BJ vs. Keisuke Ishii & Shigehiro Irie - DDT: Max Bump 2015

May is a loaded month for pro wrestling and as I'm writing this, we're only a few days into the month and many big things have already taken place. Josh Alexander defeated Samoa Joe & Eddie Kingston become the new AAW Champion on the 1st and Trevor Lee won the OMEGA Championship that Jeff Hardy vacated on the 2nd. With this HUGE victory and he & partner Ethan Page being favorites to win PWG's DDT4 Tournament, Alexander could be looking at this second Indy Wrestler of the Month award in May. As for Trevor Lee, he also has the same opportunity as he & Andrew Everett are entered into the DDT4 Tournament as well. These two men are certainly early front-runners in next month's race.

As for everything else, I don't even know where to start. You have the ROH/NJPW shows in the middle of the month, WWE's Payback PPV event, the Best of the Super Juniors tournament starting on the 22nd along with PWG's DDT4 Tag Team Tournament, an NXT special, the second #Rawlternative broadcast on the 18th, CZW's Proving Grounds event, then the month closes out with two Evolve events and Beyond Wrestling on the 31st.

It's a packed month for pro-wrestling which means it's a packed month for reviewers and enthusiasts like myself. Speaking of that, I'd like to discuss some of the things that I have in the works for this month. Firstly, I have a DDT4 Preview article coming on my newest project, Team PWG/Guerrilla Fanfare, which you can find here. It will include an inside look at all the teams involved as well as a predictions panel featuring opinions from myself & several others on who we think will come out on top. Plus as usual, I will be doing my best to keep up with everything happening. There's just so much going on and so little time that it's hard to stay up to date. My internet being lousy doesn't help either. None the less, I'll keep at work on what I can and hope you enjoy the content.

Beyond staying up to date with all the current happenings, I'm still working my way through CHIKARA's catalog so expect more reviews from them in the coming month, particulary the Best of 2006 & 2008 sets. It's seven discs in total and I'm stoked to get to it. I'm also planning to get a few new PWG reviews out, most notably, their latest show "Don't Sweat The Technique". I also have an announcement coming soon about a massive on-going project that I've been working on since the new year began. If you like year in reviews, pro wrestling history, rankings, & lists - you'll love this!

And last but not least, I'd just like to thank everyone for supporting this blog. I've officially been doing this here for over a year now and I never expected it to go this long and it wouldn't have done so without your support. On top of that, the Twitter account that I made a mere six months ago has reached 1,000 followers thanks to you guys! Keep spreading the word about this blog and get your wrestling obsessed friends to follow us on Twitter @ThePWTruth! Thanks for reading!

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