Wednesday, April 17, 2019

WXW: 16 Carat Gold Tournament 2019 - Night One Review

WXW 16 Carat Gold Tournament - Night One
March 8th, 2019

I haven't ever watched a full WXW show. Only one-off matches and comps for reviewing purposes. So, this is a totally new venture and I'm stoked on it. This tournament is a yearly thing that everyone from El Generico (Sami Zayn) to Shingo Takagi to Chris Hero to Zack Sabre Jr has won and this year is equally stacked with big names. You've got WALTER, who has been a staple in WXW for a long time and is currently working there along with WWE's NXT UK camp. You've got a Japan all-star Daisuke Sekimoto. Lucha standouts Pentagon Jr, Fenix, and Rey Horus. The list goes on and on so let's get right into it.

1) Axel Dieter Jr vs. Marius Al-Ani - First Round Match

Axel Dieter Jr is another talent pulling double duty as he also competes for NXT. This is his first singles match in WXW since 2017 so it's a pretty big deal. With that in mind, the crowd was hot for this opening match and it got the show off to a good start with Axel picking up the win and starting his march towards one of the things he never achieved - a 16 Carat tournament victory.

Match rating - ***

2) Fenix vs. Rey Horus - First Round Match

You may expect these two to go all out since that has become their staple, but they don't here. That is not a bad thing, though because they still killed it. Just in a sprint fashion rather than trying to have a blow out match two matches into a tournament. You get what you want from a match involving these two including a number of breathtaking exchanges, but they leave you wanting more and with Fenix advancing, I'm sure we will get some more in-depth craziness later down the line. 

Match rating - ***1/4

3) Shigehero Irie vs. Chris Brookes - First Round Match

IRIE IS A MONSTER. And he killed it here. Brookes played his part pretty well, but things never really got kicked into a super high gear. I don't think that was really their end game, though. This was more of a display for Irie and it worked just fine. 

Match rating - **3/4

4) Timothy Thatcher vs. Lucky Kid - First Round Match

Pre-match video package with a gruff looking Thatcher hitting us with the tag line - "I'd rather be forgotten than remembered for giving in." Thatcher feels left behind by Axel & WALTER, his former partners. He didn't get signed. He's still independent and grinding it out and this year, it's all about him and he's taking the 16 carat trophy. So, into this match he goes, brutalizing a vastly smaller opponent in Lucky Kid. Lucky tries everything from comedy to speed to get ahead but is shut down, until he catches Thatcher off guard and reverses out of a chokehold into a pinning combo for the shocking victory. The grief on Thatcher's face is insane. 

Match rating - ***1/2

5) Avalanche vs. Jurn Simmons - Falls Count Anywhere - First Round Match

Thanks to WXW's excellent video work, I got caught up on the backstory that led to this contest that saw Avalanche & Simmons battle through the catacombs of the building this event was held in. This felt like an old school Raw Falls Count Anywhere match. There's no *BIG* spots, but the finish is pretty cool. 

Match rating - **1/2

6) Pentagon Jr vs. Mark Davis - First Round Match

Love Penta and heard good things about Davis, but this sorta flopped. Not that it's bad, it just never kicked out of low gear and catch my attention til the last minute or two. Penta wins.

Match rating - **

7) Daisuke Sekimoto vs. Ilja Dragunov - First Round Match

Sekimotooooooooo. I'm a mark for him so I'm stoked for this. Dragunov & he have had killer matches before so this was solid. It's nothing crazy and really just a basic match from the two however it's their thing so it was good. Lariats and head drops in between various power struggles and holds. Dragunov puts out Sekimoto when all is said and done and I am sad :-(

Match rating - ***

8) WALTER vs. David Starr - First Round Match

In 2019, David Starr is my favorite promo. From the ROH video that got pulled to this heart wrenching plea/declaration about his desire to defeat WALTER and how it keeps him up at night because he's never done it despite having 10-20 times to do so. David Starr is up fucking next. I remember first seeing him in Beyond Wrestling years ago and he was good then, but this is next level and so is this match. He rushes WALTER from the bell and keeps that fire & desperation throughout the match. WALTER remains all business, cold, and ruthless. You can tell it just gets under his skin that Starr won't just take his beating. There was good drama here and a lot of moments where you thought it was about to be over. The outcome isn't what anyone wanted, but it leaves the door open for another match in the future and paired with Starr's post match rant where he appeared mental, I'm dying to see what happens next. AWESOME match here. My favorite Indie contest I've seen so far in 2019. Watch this.

Match rating - ****

Monday, April 15, 2019

WWE Monday Night Raw Review - April 15th, 2019

It's Superstar Shakeup (aka draft) time!!

Stephanie McMahon opened the show to hype tonight being the superstar shakeup. Shane McMahon comes down and he makes sure to show photos of him embarassing The Miz and his father from the past few months which leads to the first ~shake up~ of the night as The Miz makes his Raw return attacking Shane from behind and holy shit I'm not even gonna hide how much I love this feud. It feels so *not* PG Era if that makes sense. Like the Mania match felt like we teleported back to the late 90's/early 2000's and now they're brawling on Raw and Miz stares Shane down from the ring with blood pouring out of the top of his head. Time for Shane-O and Miz to carry Raw with this badass feud.

1) Zack Ryder, Curt Hawkins, Ricochet & Aleister Black vs. The Revival & The Viking Experience

So, they decided to call the War Raiders up and change their name to... The Viking Experience. I'm sure you've already seen my bitching on Twitter about this along with pretty much everyone else, but I can't believe they changed the current NXT Tag Team Title holders names in the midst of such a great run. I can only imagine this was a Vince decision mid-day when they decided to call them up. None the less, despite the cringy name changes, this absolutely ruled. You could tell WWE wanted to showcase the tag division with Ricochet & Black also being announced as exclusive members of the Raw roster and they gave them a good 10-15 minutes to work and it was great. Everyone looked strong and the Viking Experience picked up a pin on the tag champs, Hawkins & Ryder.

Match rating - ***

2) Finn Balor vs. Andrade (w/ Zelina Vega)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

NJPW/ROH: G1 Supercard 2019 Review (Partial)

So, I missed the first half of the card which just so happened to mainly be ROH garbage. I went back and re-watched Cobb/Ospreay, but other than that I don't have the energy to sift through anything Ring of Honor related, especially after the clusterfuck they delivered as a whole on this night.

Jeff Cobb (c) vs. Will Ospreay (c) - ROH Television and NEVER Openweight Championship Match

This opened the card and was super high stakes with two titles being on the line. It was the perfect match to kick off the show. Short, sweet and played to both Cobb & Ospreay's strengths. Both men got their shit in and got the crowd rowdy. Cobb hit an avalanche tour of the islands off the second rope followed by a normal one for the victory. Good stuff.

Match rating - ***1/2

Flip Gordon, Mark Haskins, & Juice Robinson vs. Bully Ray, Silas Young, & Shane Taylor - New York City Street Fight

Tuned in just in time for this mess. It's a decent mess though. Bully Ray attacks the rapper who came out to perform before the match which leads to everybody else involved in this running to the ring and the match starting off. It was a good basic brawl with kendo sticks, tables, and an array of different weapons. Flip Gordon got FUKT up by a kendo stick early on. Felt like this got way too much time as a whole, but the faces win and onward we go.

Match rating - ***

Taiji Ishimori (c) vs. Dragon Lee vs. Bandido - IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title Match

This is one of the matches that I was most excited for and although it ended before it could turn into the MOTY contender that I feel like it could've been, it still ruled. And on top of that, I'm sure everyone left satisfied. Bandido had a real coming out party here, getting the best reaction from his spots of the three. Dragon Lee gets the pin on him, though, to take the belt and set up a match between himself and the champion that never got pinned at Wrestling Dontaku in May.

Match rating - ***3/4

GOD (Tama Tonga & Tonga Loa) (c) vs. Brody King & PCO (c) vs. The Briscoes vs. EVIL & Sanada - ROH/IWGP Tag Title Match (Winners Take All)

This was absolutely nuts. From PCO getting powerbombed over the top rope to the damn floor to the post match ringside ~worked shoot?~ attack from Enzo & Big Cass. This was just chaos all around and whether you think the booking was dumb or not, this was super fun to watch. Hated seeing the Tongans retain AND gain a new title, but so it goes. Crazy match.

Match rating - ***3/4

Zack Sabre Jr (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi - RevPro British Heavyweight Title Match

Re-match from the quarter-finals of the NJ Cup. Tana took that victory which earned him a shot at Zack's RevPro title here. These two had a match different from anything else in the night. Tana worked the leg of Zack and Zack was working over Tanahashi in general in prep for what would be the finish as he locked in Napalm Death and Tana had nowhere at all to go. Sabre retains in a good match because these two can't have a bad one.

Match rating - ***1/4

Tetsuya Naito (c) vs. Kota Ibushi - IWGP Intercontinental Championship Match

Fucking hell. These two can't not have an amazing, breathtaking match. Up front I will go ahead and say these two outright stole the show. They are known for bringing out the best in each other and they told that story with another war over the IWGP Intercontinental Title. It's hard to say whether or not they topped their match from the Cup a few weeks ago, but with this ending up being Ibushi's first big heavyweight division title win, I tend to say it did because as a massive fan of his, it was a special moment to witness following an absolute bonkers match that had me screaming from the couch.

Match rating - ****1/2

Jay Lethal (c) vs. Marty Scurll vs. Matt Taven - Ladder Match for the ROH World Championship 

A lot of people shit on this because fuck ROH (a sentiment I agree with) however I thought this was an awesome ladder match, booking decision aside. Jay Lethal is fantastic in his role and Taven & Scurll can do spots, plus the crowd was hot and the outcome was pretty up in the air which made for a lot of anticipation throughout. A number of crazy spots that I will undoubtedly want to look back on at some point. Taven takes the W which I don't fuck with, but it was a sick ride to that outcome.

Match rating - ****

Jay White (c) vs. Kazuchika Okada - IWGP Heavyweight Title Match

I wanted this to be a classic. To the short, it wasn't. The crowd wasn't completely invested in White and frankly, I wasn't either, I never fully have been. So this made the first half sort of dreadful, esp since Okada matches tend to be somewhat repetitive in that regard. If they could've trimmed some off this, it could've been up there as one of the best matches of the weekend. None the less, the final half rocked and Okada saved this thing in a fashion that only the Rainmaker can and THUS we have a new IWGP Heavyweight Champion. All hail the Rainmaker.

Match rating - ****

WWE NXT Takeover Brooklyn 2019 Review

April 5th, 2019

1) War Raiders (c) vs. Aleister Black & Ricochet - NXT Tag Team Title Match

Tag Title openers at Takeover always rule and this was no different. A red hot crowd and balls to the wall action. It was one hell of a way to send off Black & Ricochet and also give the War Raiders a huge win over a team that features two former NXT singles champions. Awesome stuff and a blazing way to kick off the show.

Match rating - ****

2) Velveteen Dream (c) vs. Matt Riddle - NXT North American Title Match

Despite both of these men having vibrant personalities, stylistically these two are polar opposites and it made for a perfect clash. Riddle came in hard and no non-sense right out of the gate and never let up. It stunned the champion and they played off with Riddle shaking off every little bout of offense Dream tried to throw. Dream fought from under for a while which led to him firing up and getting a huge pop. Riddle keeps hammering him with a fucking second rope deadlift suplex from the apron to the inside of the ring and it RULES. The finish with Riddle locking in the bro-mission and Dream flipping around into a pinning combo to win caught me by surprise, but really was a fitting end to an awesome match and in my opinion, sets the stage for another match between the two since it wasn't a ~definitive~ win for Dream and you know Riddle is gonna have something to say about that. Another banger here.

Match rating - ****

3) Pete Dunne (c) vs. WALTER - NXT United Kingdom Title Match

The Bruserweight has been champion for over 600 days and undoubtedly made his mark in WWE and established himself as an NXT legend. Enter WALTER. The new giant on the block and someone who I've been watching for years. Seeing him get this platform and a push to a title match immediately is so sick so there's a lot of hype for this in every aspect. Dunne & WALTER responded to the hype by delivering just as stiff of a match as you would expect that had a slow, steady build and never stopped thumping. I wasn't as ~blown away~ by this as most, but it was a great match. As I said to Mike post-match, I was hoping for WALTER dominance and more desperation from Dunne. Those two emotional bits could have sent this over the top, but then again these two are fighters so maybe that would've been out of character. Either way, this was a straight brawl and it ruled.

Match rating - ***3/4

4) Shayna Basler (c) vs. Io Shirai vs. Kairi Sane vs. Bianca Belair - NXT Women's Championship Match

Good little four-way here. I love Shirai and Sane so much, all their exchanges here ruled. They teamed up at first then ended up breaking up each other's pins and it broke down. Bianca got her spots in which included a DOUBLE KOD on Shirai AND Sane. Basler locked Bianca in a choke right after and she SOLD IT LIKE A QUEEN. HOLY FK. The heat on Basler was nuts too as Bianca tapped out.

Match rating - ***1/4

5) Johnny Gargano vs. Adam Cole - 2/3 Falls Match for the Vacant NXT Championship

This one is gonna draw super mixed reviews. And it even took me a while to decide how I was gonna go with this one because there's so many thoughts. But to me, the bottom line is they had this crowd in the palm of their hand the entire time and the biggest thing to note is how they took it from being a split crowd to being fully 100% behind Gargano. This could've been a huge letdown due to the split in the audience recently with a lot of people feeling they overkilled Gargano and Ciampa and that whole thing (myself included), however, they pulled this shit off phenomenally. I can only imagine what it was like to witness this live. I felt the electricity through my computer screen. So much drama and storytelling in the final 10-15 minutes. Such a battle for Johnny to finally get the NXT Championship. Amazing final chapter to this story, hands down. Candice coming out to celebrate followed by Ciampa was the icing on the cake and enough to get the tears swelling in my eyes. BAD ASS.

Match rating - ****1/2

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

WWE Smackdown Live Review - April 2nd, 2019

WWE Smackdown Live Review - April 2nd, 2019

The Kevin Owens show w/ AJ Styles & Randy Orton

I haven't seen anything from this feud until now, but this RULED. They went straight for the verbal kill. Orton namedropping independent wrestling and shitting on AJ's legacy. Styles responded talking about Orton failing drug tests and getting suspended. Owens gets up and leaves as the conversation intensifies. Orton & Styles get to their feet and the crowd follows suit. They start brawling and it ends with AJ going for the flying fore arm only to catch an RKO in mid-air. Short, sweet, and to the point. I hope the match at Mania matches the intensity of this segment.

1) The Usos, Ricochet, & Aleister Black vs. Sheamus, Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura, & Rusev

Monday, April 1, 2019

WWE Monday Night Raw Review - April 1st, 2019: The Final Raw Before WrestleMania 35

WWE Monday Night Raw Review - April 1st, 2019

First time I've watched an entire Raw and reviewed it in ages. All in the honor of WrestleMania week. Pray I make it through this.

Seth Rollins and WWE Champion Brock Lesnar opened the show. This entire feud has been your basic Brock-WrestleMania build that we've gotten the past several years so everyone is more or less used to this formula so it's been nothing special. The crowd is super into Rollins, though, so this segment went over well with Rollins & Lesnar breaking down into a brawl and the "Beast Slayer" coming out on top using a low blow to get the advantage and following it up with a curb stomp.

1) Sasha Banks, Bayley, Natalya, & Beth Phoenix vs. Nia Jax, Tamina, Billie Kay, & Peyton Royce

This was actually solid aside from a few hiccups early. It didn't overstay it's welcome and accomplished what it set out to in good fashion. Beth got re-established and had a nice spot where she speared Nia through the barricade which got a "you killed Nia" chant. This made her & Natalya look like a legit threat to Sasha & Bayley and even though that move & moment led to Beth getting the win for her team which included Sasha & Bayley - you could see the frustration they had over it. Fun stuff. Hopefully the four-way tag at Mania is like this and doesn't turn into a complete cluster fuck.

Match rating - **1/2

BATISTA is in the house. He comes out to a mixed reaction in his hometown. He points to the screen and a video package hyping the fact that H has never beat him airs. Dave then says "Hunter - kiss my ass" and leaves. Let's rock. I'm honestly excited for the Mania match with the stipulations and everything.

2) Apollo Crews vs. Jinder Mahal