Monday, July 6, 2015

June 2015 - Month In Review

WWE Star of the Month - John Cena
 2015 has been one of the best years in John Cena's career. He's been as consistent as ever and has raised the prestige of the United States Championship tremendously. Surprisingly, this is his first time winning the WWE Star of the Month award this year. In June, there was no one better in WWE than John Cena. He continued his awesome feud with Kevin Owens and regained a victory over him after falling in defeat last month. The rivalry between the two has arguably been the only thing worth watching in WWE during the last two months which can be supported by the fact that Owens won this award last month and Cena took it this month. Beyond, the match with Owens that some are calling a MOTY candidate, Cena had one of the best TV matches of the year on Raw on June 29th with Cesaro which solidified his place as the WWE Superstar of the Month. If you had to rewatch one person's performance in WWE this month, it'd have to be John Cena.

Tag Team of the Month - The Young Bucks:
The reigning IWGP Tag Team Champions had another stellar month that helped them pull even further ahead in the tag team rankings for this year. They teamed up with AJ Styles yet again for an insane six man tag live on PPV for ROH against The Kingdom. They also made their return home to PWG after a few months away and reclaimed their throne by defeating Trevor Lee & Andrew Everett to become the new PWG Tag Team Champions. They did so with help from Roderick Strong which led to an unforgettable moment that has to be seen to be believed as Super Dragon returned and helped The Bucks & Roddy destroy everyone from Candice LeRae & Joey Ryan to Excalibur & Rick Knox to Biff Busick & Mike Bailey.
Mount Rushmore 2.0 was born this month and my mind is still blown from reading of what took place. I completely marked out when I saw the video as it's something I never expected to see. Super Dragon is in the best shape he's been in in a long time, Roderick Strong is in the midst of the best year of his career, and The Young Bucks are well, The Young Bucks. It's arguably the four best in PWG history barring Kevin Steen & El Generico who have moved onto other things. I loved how they meshed the angle from Steen Wolf in 2011 with the 2013 Battle of Los Angeles Mount Rushmore angle. It was a controversial, shocking occurence that left everyone talking just like nearly everything The Young Bucks are involved in these days.

Independent Wrestler of the Month - Roderick Strong

The talk of Mount Rushmore 2.0 continues with Roderick Strong being the Independent Wrestler of the Month. His PWG title defense against Mike Bailey and joining up with Super Dragon & The Young Bucks aren't the only things that earned him this award however. Roddy continued on the road towards reclaiming his prestige in ROH by defeating Michael Elgin & Moose on live PPV at Best in the World to become the #1 Contender to the ROH World Championship. Could Roddy become a double champion? It looks like he's going to try as he will be missing PWG's anniversary event to challenge Jay Lethal for the ROH World Title on July 24th at Death Before Dishonor. This would be the icing on the cake for what has been a phenomenal year for the elite athlete.

Moment of the Month - Jay Lethal winning the ROH World Title:
Jay Lethal has come a long way. From his days as Hydra to being Samoa Joe's young boy to Black Machismo to the greatest TV Champion in ROH history to being ROH World Champion. Not to mention that he ended Jay Briscoe's two year undefeated streak and became a double champion in the process of doing so. The self proclaimed "Greatest First Generation Wrestler" showed everyone that it's more than just a moniker this month. As a long time fan of Lethal, it was an amazing moment considering how far he's come and you could tell it meant a lot to him. However, I didn't choose to award this moment because of personal preference, I did also because of the historical significance of it in Ring of Honor. This was one of the biggest matches in ROH history as the ROH World Champion and man who had been undefeated for two long years, Jay Briscoe, battled Jay Lethal who was over a year into his reign as ROH TV Champion. It was a perfect clash on paper and translated to an epic encounter in front of a hot crowd. The lasting image we saw on that night was Jay Lethal solidifying himself as one of the all time greats and it's something fans will never forget.

Elite 80 Rankings Update - As of July 1st, 2015:
We're officially mid way through the year and it's been a horse race between Roderick Strong, John Cena, Kota Ibushi, AJ Styles, & Seth Rollins for the top spot over the past few months. At the official mid-way point however, Roddy takes his first crack at the #1 spot and also was the first person to break 100 points as his PWG title defense this month pushed him over that mark. Roddy isn't the sole #1 though, Kota Ibushi is tied for that slot as of July 1st. The rankings at the end of this month perfectly showcases how this year has been as Roderick Strong & Kota Ibushi have been lighting it up in their respective parts of their world and considering how tight the race between the two is right now, I have no clue who's going to pull ahead come December. Those two are many people's pick as wrestler(s) of the year thus far and our points system reflects that which shows me that it's doing exactly what I designed it to do.

In case you missed it, last month, I explained the how the points system worked. Wrestler's get awarded for everything from quality matches to title wins/defenses to memorable moments & notable achievements. They also get points for winning a Star or Match of the Month award.

With all this considered, it's going to be interesting to see how things shake out in the remainder of the year. The Top 5 guys have been trading spots alot throughout the past few months as I mentioned before with all of them claiming the #1 ranking at some point in time.  Now, it seems as if the Top 3 are pulling away from the back though as there's only a 2 point difference between Roddy, Ibushi, & Cena where as there's a 13 point gap between third place Cena & fourth place Styles. I'm not counting Styles or fifth place Rollins out by any means because they are still easily capable of hopping back in the top tier considering they have big title defenses coming up.

However, the next gap is even bigger as the bridge from 5th place Rollins to 6th place Kevin Owens is 17 points. Owens is someone who was barely in the Top 20 if I remember correctly, in May so he's been making huge leaps thanks to his main roster debut so he's definitely someone to look out for in the second half of this year.

With it being the mid-way point in the year, we've reached a critical point in the rankings. If someone is going to get in the running for the #1 spot/Wrestler of the Year award, they're going to have do it in July. Guys like Akira Tozawa, Kyle O'Reilly, Dean Ambrose, & Hirooki Goto who round out the Top 10 have a shy chance of earning that award however I believe it's really come down to the top 6 at this point. I don't think anyone is going to be able outdo any of them at this point, especially the Top 3. They're just too far ahead. None the less, here are the rankings as of July 1st, 2015:

1) Roderick Strong - 103 points
Last month: #4
2) Kota Ibushi - 103 points
Last month: #1
3) John Cena - 101 points
Last month: #2
4) AJ Styles - 88 points
Last month: #5
5) Seth Rollins - 87 points
Last month: #3
6) Kevin Owens - 70
Last month: N/R in the Top 10
7) Akira Tozawa - 66
Last month: #6
8) Hirooki Goto - 62
Last month: #9
9) Kyle O'Reilly - 61
Last month: N/R in the Top 10
10) Dean Ambrose - 61 points
Last month: #7

Must See Matches of the Month:
1) KUSHIDA vs. Kyle O'Reilly - NJPW: BOSJ Finals
2) Matt Sydal vs. Will Ospreay - 2/3 Falls Match - Rev Pro: Summer Sizzler
3) Jay Briscoe vs. Jay Lethal - ROH World & TV Title Match - ROH: Best in the World
4) John Cena vs. Kevin Owens - WWE: Money in The Bank
5) Prince Puma vs. Johnny Mundo - Iron Man Match - Lucha Underground - 6/17/15
6) John Cena vs. Cesaro - WWE: Monday Night Raw - 6/29/15
7) Kairi Hojo vs. Meiko Satomura - World of Stardom Title Match - Stardom: Galaxy Stars - 6/14/15
8) Yukio Sakaguchi vs. Konosuke Takeshita - DDT: King of DDT Finals - 6/28/15
9) Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii, Toru Yano, Kazushi Sakuraba & Yoshi Hashi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi, Hirooki Goto, Togi Makabe, Katsuyori Shibata & Tomoaki Honma - NJPW: Road to Dominion - 6/28/15
10) Twin Towers & Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Okabayashi, Kawakami, & Kamitani - Big Japan - 6/22/15

Final thoughts: This month continued the trend of 2015 being one of the greatest years in wrestling history despite not being as star studded and packed as previous months. You had the epic Champion vs Champion Match in ROH, a phenomenal BOSJ finals bout, more quality pro wres from the UK, and a shocking development in PWG. The match quality was high this month although it did feel like the calm before the storm as it didn't leave us with as much to talk about as other months in the year thus far. I think "Calm Before The Storm" is the best way to describe this month because I feel like things are getting ready to explode with the G1 & BOLA on the horizon. There's certainly alot of occurences from June that are worth checking out though and I hope this post helped narrow it down for you! Enjoy! And as always, be sure to follow myself on Twitter @EthanPWT along with this blog @ThePWTruth!

Archive of June columns/reviews:
WWE Monday Night Raw Review - June 1st
ROH TV Review - June 3rd
Lucha Underground Review - June 3rd
WWE Monday Night Raw Review - June 8th
ROH TV Review - June 10th
TNA Impact Wrestling: Destination X Review - June 10th
2015 New Japan Mid-Year Round Up
Beyond Wrestling: Scorned Review (from April)
Beyond Wrestling: When Satan Rules His World Review (From April)
WWE Monday Night Raw Review - June 15th
Lucha Underground Review - June 18th (All Night Long)
WWE Monday Night Raw Review - June 22nd
ROH TV Review - June 24th 
Lucha Underground Review - June 24th
TNA Impact Wrestling Review - June 24th 

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