Monday, July 25, 2016

WWE Monday Night Raw Review - July 25th, 2016

A new era has begun. This is the first Monday Night Raw since the brand split took place. The draft was last week, Battleground was last night, and now we write the first chapter in this era of Raw. There's a new arena set up with the commentary booth being placed back at the entrance area like the old days of the Ruthless Aggression era. Corey Graves joins Michael Cole and Byron Saxton on commentary going forward. Let's party.

Mick Foley and Stephanie McMahon are in the ring to start the show. They announce the creation of Raw's new World Championship since Dean Ambrose retained last night and is on Smackdown. It will be called the WWE Universal Championship. Eh on the name, but it will become a household term soon enough because after all, it's WWE and they market better than anyone. None the less, they introduce the roster and announce how they are going to determine a new champion. Tonight we will have two fatal fourway matches and the winners of those will face off in the main event. The winner of that match faces Seth Rollins at SummerSlam to crown the first ever WWE Universal Champion. The competitors for the four way matches are introduced and Finn Balor gets the biggest pop of them all. Chills.

1) Kevin Owens vs. Cesaro vs. Rusev vs. Finn Balor
This ruled. It felt like everyone had a legit chance to win this aside from Rusev. Owens & Cesaro both had believable flurries. There were a number of awesome exchanges as you'd expect from these four. Rusev & Owens worked together to target Cesaro & Balor before shit broke down. Balor got a huge dive in on all three of the other competitors. Cesaro & Owens both have flurries where it looks like they could pick up the win. Balor even hit one of his finisher's early in the second half only for a two count which led to suspicion around whether or not he would win this thing. This made for an awesome burst of energy when Balor ran in out of nowhere following a Cesaro uppercut extravaganza and started cleaning house with a flying dropkick that sent Owens back into Rusev in the corner. It's all about The Demon from here on out. Balor is headed to the main event to fight for a world title shot. Unreal. Awesome match.

Match rating - ****

2) Roman Reigns vs. Sami Zayn vs. Sheamus vs. Chris Jericho
Broooo this was too good. Every bit as high quality as the first four way of the night. Great, I mean, GREAT stuff between Reigns & Zayn here. Reigns lifted up that young man into Razor's Edge position and planted his ass into the mat with a powerbomb outta hell. BAH GAWD. I need a Reigns/Zayn feud after this. The crowd popped so hard for Zayn hitting the blue thunder on Reigns. I get riled up just thinking about it. That shit was electric. The only negative thing about this was the predictability. Virtually no one in this match would be a better match up for Balor than Reigns and I didn't see WWE choosing anyone else so I was always expecting Reigns to put this away at any moment. It was still quality stuff, though. Reigns faces Balor tonight.

Match rating - ***3/4

So, New Day have been tag team champions for over a year now. Tonight, they celebrate. They bring a fan into the ring for the special occassion and air a hilarious highlight video. This is easily the best thing all three men have done. It's all fun & games until Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson run in to crash the party and even confront the fan at ringside. Stoked for Guns n Gallows/New Day!

3) Curtis Axel vs. Neville
Neville is back and DAT BOI still got it. He also has a beard. But yeah, Axel has on some weird shorts and is made that he got picked last in the draft, but he's staying positive. Too bad he loses this prolonged squash. Neville is the man.

Match rating - **

4) Charlotte (c) vs. Sasha Banks - Women's Championship Match
This completely blew my mind. It's been built as a big clash however the Divas division on the main roster, even since the "revolution" has been hit or miss so I've been kinda hesistant to get invested. Well, needless to say, Charlotte & Sasha brought me fully into this tonight. They completely went balls to the wall in every department and delivered a stellar match. I really can't say much more. There was emotion, there was storytelling, and there was jaw dropping action. Sasha ate shit on a dive reminiscent of Lita's back in 2004. Charlotte showed her desperation by hitting a moonsault off the top turnbuckle TO THE FLOOR. It was bonkers. Speaking of Charlotte, she really won me over here. Not just because of that spot, but also with the way she carried herself and all the emotion shown. Her yelling "YOU WILL NEVER BEAT ME!" after she escaped the bank statement for a near finish only to be wrapped right back into it again was brilliance. Sasha taps Charlotte out to finally become the Women's Champion. Huge pop, huge moment, amazing match. Long time coming for Sasha and her post match interview just adds to it. I now have hope for the main roster women's division. God help Reigns & Balor if they try to top this. One of my favorite matches this year.

Match rating - ****1/4

5) Braun Strowman vs. A RANDOM JOBBER
They interview the jobber and it's hilarious. Strowman come downs and kills him. The end.

6) Enzo & Big Cass vs. Primo & Epico
I know, I know. Primo & Epico don't go by those names anymore, I don't think. I'm too lazy to remember or look to see, I do know they had a gimmick change or something. Anyways, Enzo & Big Cass is what it's about here. They do their thing and it's awesome. R-Truth wanders into the ring trying to find Pokemon on his phone. Goldust chases after him and it's hilarious because the Golden Truth is golden. This ends up costing Enzo & Cass the match though so boo :/

7) Roman Reigns vs. Finn Balor
This one's for all the marbles. With everything we've seen tonight, it'd almost be silly for these dudes to try and one up it all so they just went out and had a perfectly solid ass main event. It's got all the action you could ask for from these guys. Balor hits a double stomp on the apron at one point and even counters the spear with a slingblade in mid-air. Great exchanges & counters that make Balor look really good. Reigns still looks ace as well, though, with how threw Balor around at the start of the match. And I mean LITERALLY, he threw him around. It was a sick visual. In the end, after several exchanges of momentum, Balor plants Reigns with the Coupe De Grace for the victory. It's BALOR VS ROLLINS AT SUMMERSLAM. I don't think my heart can take it, lads!

Match rating - ***1/2

Sunday, July 24, 2016

ROH TV Review - July 24th, 2016: A Must See Show

So, this review is gonna be way different than my usual way of doing things. For one, because I didn't catch the whole show, and two, because I have A LOT to say about the second half of the show which I did catch. As many of you know, I've been pretty out of the loop with wrestling in the past few months. I went from writing multiple blog posts a week on pro wres to barely even doing one a month. This is partially due to so much happening in my personal life that has been keeping me busy such as music, but it's also because I simply fell into a wrestling slump. I wanted to watch and keep up with everything like I used to however I couldn't push myself to do it. I wanted to be conversing on Twitter with all my homies like the good old days, but I just wasn't feeling it.

I say all this to say that today, I think that has changed and Kyle O'Reilly, Jay Lethal, and everyone involved in the final half of this week's ROH TV are to thank for that, if so.

I walked into the house a few hours ago and ROH TV was in the middle of it's airing for the week. In recent months, I would sit down and try to watch it only to get up to do something else or play with my phone the whole time. At first, I did the same. I pulled out my computer and was browsing then I heard Kevin Kelly explaining the story at hand. Kyle O'Reilly had a shoulder/arm injury that was given to him at the hands of the Bullet Club. He was supposed to face Jay Lethal in the main event tonight for the ROH World Title, but he's clearly too hurt to do so. Nigel McGuinness went to check on him and despite the injury, O'Reilly still vows to fight. This immediately peaked my interest. ROH has been known for a lot of dumb overbooking lately, though, so my hopes didn't get completely up however with O'Reilly & Lethal being two of my favorite wrestlers in recent years, I planned to stick around to see what happened because it was honestly pretty unpredictable although I had my doubts on whether the outcome would be logical or not.

The bell rings and the match gets going. I'm giving it 50/50 attention. A few minutes into it, a few seconds away, and so on. Soon, however, I was reeled in completely unbeknownst to me. The first thing that drew me in was the storytelling. With the amount of wrestling I've binged on in the past few years, I've grew tired of move fests and only certain wrestlers have the drawing power to keep me invested for an entire match. It probably helps that I love the style of O'Reilly and the characterization of Lethal, but both men stepped it up a notch here and truly displayed themselves as world class professional wrestlers.

For the first time in years, Jay Lethal began showing signs of remorse, almost baby face like as he tried to convince Kyle, Nigel, & Todd Sinclair to cancel the match because he didn't want to risk injuring Kyle further. At first, I was like, NO! Lethal is a phenomenal heel champion similar to an old school character like Ric Flair, but by the end of this match, I was entirely sold on the brilliance of what I just witnessed. Lethal's facial expressions and ring presence made this so fucking good. Seeing someone who's been built as the cocky champion who will take the easy way out actually show some emotion and regret was unreal.

O'Reilly delivered in this same department as well, though. Just on an entirely different level. Lethal displayed the character shift which will be looked upon as a huge moment in his career, whereas O'Reilly played the victim. He was hurt, but resilient. He garnered sympathy and got a crowd who was already largely into him, even more fired up than they normally are. Lethal threw shot after shot at O'Reilly, but the challenger fought like hell from underneath playing the perfect underdog. He came back from everything and would not quit. The final few minutes were the nail in the coffin to this being a fantastic match. Lethal has O'Reilly set up for the Lethal Injection yet again however Kyle can hardly stand. Lethal looks back and shows so much regret and disgust with himself for being a part of this. This gives O'Reilly time to stand up as Lethal is trying to convince the ref to stop the match. O'Reilly tells the ref not to and ags Lethal on. SLUGFEST ENSUES and it is fucking electric in that place. O'Reilly's final shot at glory and he's firing away only to catch the short end of the stick and LETHAL INJECTION puts him down for the three count after an epic battle. Lethal scats out of the ring still displaying signs of shame for fighting an injured man.

Now, on it's own, this match was perfect. The in-ring work was flawless, from the action to the storytelling, and there was no outside interference which is rare for ROH and both men involved recently so it felt even more special. So, yeah, I left this saying, damn, Ring of Honor may be back on track, that ruled, and will probably go down as one of my favorite matches this year. THEN, post match stuff happened and it combined with that match totally made me fall back for pro wrestling once again.

The Young Bucks & Adam Cole hit the ring and begin assaulting O'Reilly. On it's own, this would be looked at as a good assault by a heel supergroup. But with Kevin Kelly shouting like crazy on commentary, this became a monumental moment. Now, that probably sounds weird coming from me considering I've never been a fan of Kevin Kelly, but I'll be damned if he can't deliver when he needs to and when he does it's absolutely awesome. He made this feel so huge. His call with the crowd's reaction and the delivery of the Meltzer Driver on O'Reilly on a steel chair gave me chills. Jay Lethal hit the ring followed by O'Reilly's partner Bobby Fish to make the save. Nigel McGuiness is pissed and raising hell and declares that Cole will never get a World Title shot again because of Bullet Club's actions tonight. Everyone is showing so much emotion. This is pro wrestling.

If you missed this show, please watch it, because it very well may have made me fall back in love with wrasslin all over again. It was brilliant and easily one of my favorite moments & matches in wrestling this year.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

NJPW: Best of the Super Juniors Day 1 Review


Night One - May 21st, 2016

1) Tomohiro Ishii, Will Ospreay, & Beretta vs. Satoshi Kojima, Bobby Fish, & Volador Jr
This was a lot of fun which is what an opener should be so yee. Ospreay & Volador ruled in their exchanges. Ishii & Kojima were at each other's throats the whole time and that's kind of what the match was built around. Volador got fired up for a few moments and even took his own mask off at one point. I'm not sure if that's a regular occurence for him during matches, but if it's not then what the fuck, haha. Volador snags the pin on Beretta following a hurricanrana off the top turnbuckle.

Match rating - **3/4

2) Yuji Nagata, Jushin Liger, & Tiger Mask vs. Katsuyori Shibata, Jay White, & Juice Robinson
Shibata and Nagata have a great staredown early on before the bell rings. They have the main issue here thus they have the best exchanges of the match. Jay White gets a nice flurry and battles with Nagata in the closing moments before he gets put away with a saito suplex that dropped right on his dome. Fine enough sprint.

Match rating - **1/2

3) Hiroshi Tanahashi, Ricochet, Yoshitatsu, & Captain New Japan vs. Kenny Omega, Chase Owens, Yujiro Takahashi, & Bad Luck Fale
Another decent multi-man with no real complains other than I'm ready for the tourney matches to begin. BC takes the cheap route every chance they get per usual. Ricochet got a nice hot run. Bad Luck Fale shuts the babyfaces comeback down and plants Captain New Japan with a chokeslam to end it. Post match, Kenny Omega snaps and the BC assaults CNJ some more. Omega then targets Tanahashi with a ladder and lays a beating on him. They carry off Tanahashi on a stretcher following the beatdown.

Match rating - **1/4

4) Kazuchika Okada, Hirooki Goto, & YOSHI HASHI vs. Tetsuya Naito, Sanada, & EVIL