Monday, January 31, 2022

Ruthless Aggression Era Project: WWE Smackdown Review - May 15th, 2003

WWE Smackdown
May 15th, 2003
Baltimore, Maryland 

WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar (since 3/30/03)
WWE Tag Team Champions: Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas (since 2/6/03)
WWE Cruserweight Champion: Matt Hardy (since 2/23/03)

Commentators: Michael Cole & Tazz

Vince McMahon opens the show. He isn’t gonna lay hands on Hogan tonight, but someone else will because there’s an open contract to castrate him at Judgement Day and beat him down into a pool of his own feces. Well well Vince. This leads to the FBI coming out. Nunzio shows a highlight video of their best work, including locking Brock in that room last week with the forklift. Stamboli says they will be on Hogan like baked on ziti if Vince allows them to take the open contract. Vince is confused, but seemed impressed by the video and offers to go to his office and discuss things with them. 

1) Rikishi vs. Chuck Palumbo (w/ Johnny Stamboli) 

Sunday, January 30, 2022

Ruthless Aggression Era Project: WWE Monday Night Raw Review - May 12th, 2003

May 12th, 2003
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Commentators: Jerry Lawler & Jim Ross  

World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H (since 12/15/02)
World Tag Team Champions: Rob Van Dam & Kane (3/31/03)
WWE Women's Champion: Jazz (since 4/27/03)

The show opens with Christian standing inside the Steel Cage that’s set up for his match with Goldberg. Christian is explaining to Stone Cold why this match shouldn’t happen and OUT COMES AUSTIN. Austin basically says Christian is stupid because 1) the match is later and not right now and 2) there’s no way he’s getting out of being in the match. Christian says Austin passed him in the back earlier and pointed a finger at him so he thought that meant he was up first.. turns out Austin was flipping him the bird LMAO. Hilarious dumb shit with Austin explaining that. This turns into RVD and Kane coming out to talk about the IC Title Battle Royal coming up at Judgement Day on Sunday because Austin threatened to kick Christian out of the match. RVD says he will win the match so Kane comes out and tension gets started between them. Austin breaks up the tension and says a BEER BASH will help with it. Before he can get it going, Eric Bischoff comes out. Lord I miss these ignorant Raw opening segments with an assload of people showing up. Bischoff says no beer bash will be happening tonight, but he is here to raise the bar exactly like he said he would last week. Ironically, it pertains to RVD & Kane because he has a special team they’ve never faced before that they will defend their tag titles against.. right now!

1) Rob Van Dam & Kane (c) vs. Legion of Doom (Road Warrior Hawk & Animal) - World Tag Team Title Match 

Saturday, January 29, 2022

2021 Pro Wrestling Truth Year End Awards

2021 Pro Wrestling Truth Year End Awards PART ONE

Hello hello. It’s Ethan and I am back with more bullshit. The end of the year is my favorite time of the year as I get to compile all the lists, stats, and thoughts from the past 365 days and archive it all. Admittedly, I still have a decent bit of Japan stuff to watch so my Match Rating Archive will definitely see some additions and who knows, maybe even my Wrestlers/Matches of the Year lists here will too. 

I’m trying to stay on track heading toward 2022 and in effort not to fall behind I am releasing this in two parts. This first part features my Top 10 wrestlers of the year list and Top 10 matches of the year list. Part two will feature the full ELITE 80 Wrestlers of the Year list and a few other random small awards & mentions. 

Before we dive in, for those interested, I’ve done this year end awards compilation thing in various fashions for the following years: 2014, 2015, & 2020. All of which can be found by clicking the year that you’re interested in. I am still planning to go back and fill in the gaps for the years I haven’t covered so ignore those gaps for now and make sure to keep tabs by either checking the blog periodically or following me on Twitter @ThePWTruth. Also, each year, I keep a list of all the matches that made my virtual notebook. Anything ***1/4+ or so. Stuff that’s good enough to be noted and of course all the ****+ MOTY quality bangers. I call these my Match Rating Archive's - they are also organized by year and my 2021 Match Rating Archive can be found here.. I updated these periodically as I watch more stuff because there’s simply too much wrestling out there for me to definitively say I’ve seen everything. SO YEAH. 

And last but not least, my friends and I on the Up & Over Podcast did a Year End Awards show on our YouTube a few weeks ago where you can get other opinions on the best of 2021 and also hear me explain some of mine in a little more detail. That can be found here!

Now that all that’s out of the way, let’s dive in. Thanks for reading. 

Top 10 Wrestlers of the Year: 

1) Bryan Danielson (WWE, AEW) 

Previous ranking: #33 in 2020, #66 in 2015

2022 Match Rating Archive / MOTY Tracker


Katsuhiko Nakajima (c) vs. Go Shiozaki - GHC Heavyweight Title Match - NOAH: The New Year - 1/1/22 - ***3/4

#1 Contender’s Rumble - GCW: Die For This - 1/1/22 - ***

Alex Colon (c) vs. John Wayne Murdoch - GCW: Die for This - 1/1/22 - ***1/2

Big E (c) vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins - WWE Title Match - WWE: DAY 1 - 1/1/22 - ***1/2

Katsuyori Shibata vs. Ren Narita - NJPW: Wrestle Kingdom 16 - 1/4/22 - ***1/2

El Desperado (c) vs. Taiji Ishimori - IWGP Jr Heavyweight Title Match - NJPW: WK 16 Night One - 1/4/22 - ***1/4

Shingo Takagi (c) vs. Kazuchika Okada - IWGP World Title Match - NJPW: WK 16 Night One - 1/4/22 - ****1/2

Go Shiozaki vs. Kaita Kiyomiya - NOAH: New Sunrise - 1/4/22 - ***1/2

KENTA (c) vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi - No DQ Match for the IWGP US Title - NJPW: WK16 Night Two - 1/5/22 - ****

Saturday, January 15, 2022

IMPACT Wrestling Review - January 13th, 2022

Impact on AXS TV
January 13th, 2022
Dallas, Texas 

Commentators: Tom Hannifan & D-Lo Brown

Well, y’all, I didn’t anticipate to be here, but I am. I watched half of Hard to Kill and the first four matches were so good that I decided to check out Impact itself this week. Let’s see if I even finish this, much less make it to next week. It seems like I have tried to try out Impact once every year for the past 5 and never get hooked, Hard to Kill hooked more than anything has so maybe this time will be different!

The show opens with W. Morrissey heading to the ring to call out Moose. He says he got screwed at Hard to Kill and wants a rematch. Moose doesn’t come out, but instead pops up on screen. He says there will be a title match tonight, but it’s not against Morrissey and that he won’t be getting one at all. Morrissey vows to make sure Moose doesn’t make it to his title defense tonight and charges to the back to look for him. He runs into Scott D’Amore who tells him to calm down and he won’t be messing with the title match. BUT HOLD ON. SOMETHINS HAPPENIN IN THE ARENA~~

At ringside, the ROH invaders from Hard to Kill show up again. Matt Taven takes D-Lo Brown’s headset and they start to rough him up. This ends with PCO hitting two dives on D-Lo on a table. The first didn’t break the table so he does a second one that destroys it. PCO is a maniac. 

1) Chris Bey vs. Laredo Kid 

AEW: Rampage Review - January 14th, 2022

AEW Rampage 
January 14th, 2022
Raleigh, North Carolina

Commentators: Excalibur, Tazz, Chris Jericho & Ricky Starks 

1) Adam Cole (w/ Britt Baker, The Young Bucks, Brandon Cutler, & ReDragon) vs. Trent? Beretta (w/ Chuck Taylor, Orange Cassidy, Kris Statlander, & Wheeler Yuta) 

Dear god there are so many people ringside for this. It makes sense given the feud, but it’s just wild. It’s worth noting Nick Jackson is wearing a mesh top.. foreshadowing Jeff Hardy, are we? None the less, match itself here goes about how you’d expect. Cole gets the advantage early off distractions from his unit at ringside. This pairing is one we saw a decent bit in PWG so we know they have chemistry. Cole goes for a Panama Sunrise on the floor and eats a backdrop for his troubles. Trent charges Cole, but ends up going head first into the railing. Bump looked sick. This sends us to commercial. Back from commercial and they trade big moves for 5 minutes or so before The Last Shot from Cole ends it. I’m just not into the majority of the matches this Best Friends/Super Kliq-Adam Cole unit has delivered. I didn’t care for the trios match on the last Dynamite of December and this match felt about the same for me. Just.. stuff. I think Cole/Cassidy and Bucks/ReDragon will be great, but the road to it has been very dull match quality wise. Nothing wrong with this, just nothing all that great either. Best thing for me was seeing Trent back and throwing suplexes. Hell yeah. He is so underrated in singles and it’s honestly where I prefer him. Get him out of this feud and run him a TNT Title match and reign. Would be a blast. 

Match rating - **1/2

2) Shawn Spears vs. Andrew Everett

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

AEW: Dynamite Review - January 12th, 2022

AEW Dynamite
January 12th, 2022
Raleigh, North Carolina

Commentators: Excalibur, Jim Ross, & Tony Schiavone

The show opens with Adam Cole, Kyle O'Reilly, & Bobby Fish making their way to the ring. Cole says 2021 was a good year for he and the boys, but 2022 will be even bigger. He reminds everyone that he is undefeated in AEW and that the boys are here. Cole says this is a new era in AEW. The Young Bucks come out and remind O’Reilly & Fish that this is their company and they’re the longest reigning tag team champions in company history and their 2022 resolution? To get the belts back. O’Reilly says he & Fish have the same resolution. Cole breaks this up before it gets too intense and says he’s all for some friendly competition and that’s what makes them the best “stable” in AEW unlike a group like the Best Friends who—- CUE BEST FRIENDS. LETS GO BABY. CHUCKIE ORANGE GREG AND YUTA!!!! Cole asks Orange what is one thing he has to say that means anything and ORANGE SPEARS DOWN COLE AND A BRAWL BREAKS OUT YES!! Yes!!! This rules. The SuperKliq/UE crew lays everyone out. Kris Statlander shows up and goes face to face with Cole AND OUT COMES BRITT BAKER!!! BRITT CURBSTOMPS KRIS AND KISSES HER REAL LIFE BOYFRIEND ADAM COLE. Beautiful, just beautiful. Been waiting on Cole & Britt to finally be together on screen. At points, I wondered if it would even happen, well, it has and it’s just as perfect as I anticipated. This Best Friends/Superkliq feud seems to have regained a fire it didn’t have coming off that terrible trios match to close out the last Dynamite of 2021. 

1) CM Punk vs. Wardlow (w/ MJF)

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Ruthless Aggression Era Project: WWE Monday Night Raw Review - May 5th, 2003

May 5th, 2003
Halifax, Nova Scotia 

World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H (since 12/15/02)
World Tag Team Champions: Rob Van Dam & Kane (3/31/03)
WWE Women's Champion: Jazz (since 4/27/03)
Commentators: Jerry Lawler & Jonathan Coachman 

RIP Miss Elizabeth 

Show begins with a replay of last week where Linda McMahon brought in Stone Cold Steve Austin as Eric Bischoff’s co general manager. 

And aptly so, Stone Cold kicks off the show. He immediately says he’s gonna make some changes to Raw with the first being that he’s bringing back the IC Title and there will be a Battle Royal at Judgement Day to determine the champion. Eric Bischoff comes out and says that these decisions have to be approved through because they are CO GM’s. Bischoff says luckily he likes the idea so it’s fine. Bischoff has an idea of his own.. the main event of Judgement Day will be Triple H vs. Kevin Nash. Austin likes the idea. It seems like they are gonna get along until Austin makes another announcement.. he’s bringing back Jim Ross. JR comes out and Bischoff immediately shuts it down because he doesn’t approve so Austin proposes a match to determine if JR stays or goes. Austin wants Bischoff one on one but Bischoff says per Linda McMahon they can’t lay hands on one another. Soooo Chief Morley volunteers to fight for Bischoff and Jerry Lawler steps up to fight for JR and god damn if I don’t hate Lawler but this warmed my heart!!!

1) Jerry Lawler (w/ Jim Ross & Stone Cold) vs. Chief Sean Morley (w/ Eric Bischoff) 

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Ruthless Aggression Era Project: WWE Smackdown Review - May 1st, 2003

WWE Smackdown 
May 1st, 2003
Manchester, New Hampshire
Commentators: Michael Cole & Tazz

WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar (since 3/30/03)
WWE Tag Team Champions: Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas (since 2/6/03)
WWE Cruserweight Champion: Matt Hardy (since 2/23/03)

LATER TONIGHT: Mr. McMahon confronts Mr. America in Piper's Pit

Backlash replays air to start the broadcast. 

1) Eddie & Chavo Guerrero vs. Matt Hardy & Shannon Moore 

Saturday, January 8, 2022

AEW: Rampage Review - January 7th, 2022

AEW Rampage 
January 7th, 2022
Newark, New Jersey 
Commentators: Excalibur, Chris Jericho, & Ricky Starks 

1) Adam Cole vs. Jake Atlas 

Happy to be back reviewing Rampage after missing a week but yeah!! Jake Atlas has signed with AEW and what a first match for him to have. Atlas is someone I’ve liked for a long time. I saw his once to be believed final match against Effy live in Chicago during All Out weekend so the fact that Tony Khan talked him out of retirement and we are getting him here has me grinning from ear to ear. These two have came so close to crossing paths on many occasions but never got the chance to lock up so it’s cool to finally see. This worked well with Atlas getting multiple hope spots, but Cole controlling most of it and looking strong. Atlas’ spots were awesome and he hit a big move at the end that got him a great near fall. Unfortunately, Atlas gets injured right before the Panama Sunrise finish and is unable to take the move forcing them to call an audible as Cole puts him in a leg lock and Atlas taps. Damn that sucks for Atlas. Truly happened at the worst time, but hopefully it’s nothing too serious. He had a good showing here regardless. But man.. this was a bad night for injuries.

Match rating - **1/2

After the match, O’Reilly & Fish come down and they tease a further beatdown on Atlas, but Orange Cassidy shows up with a chain and runs them off.

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

AEW: Dynamite Review - January 5th, 2022

AEW Dynamite
January 5th, 2022
Newark, New Jersey


Commentators: Excalibur, Jim Ross, & Tony Schiavone 

1) “Hangman” Adam Page (c) vs. Bryan Danielson - AEW World Title Match 

This was just absolutely incredible. After the 60 minute draw they had on 12/15, they really had a lot to live up to and somehow they did it. Not that I ever doubted them. I knew this would rock. I did not know it would be this brutal nor did I think Danielson AND Page would be gushing. But boy, they were and it was fucking nuts. They really worked this perfectly. Early on, Danielson did all the stuff he did in the first match. The running and jumping jacks. Page doesn’t hesitate, he goes hard after Danielson and has an awesome flurry. My favorite part about the opening tid bits is that Page does the jumping jacks and shit later on once he busts Danielson open. A lot of awesome callbacks like that hidden in here. Too many to name, honestly. This match really was the perfect counterpart to their first encounter and on top of that, they wrestled this match with a brutality & stiffness that I don’t think will be matched anytime soon. A truly extreme and stellar performance from both guys. Danielson goes after the arm early to try to eliminate the buckshot. Page fights through and they end up on the outside and he’s able to send Danielson in the post and bust him open the same way Danielson did to him in their first match. Things really turn up to a new level here and words can’t even describe the intensity of the final 10 minutes. When all is said and done, Hangman finally is able to hit the Buckshot lariat and retain his World Championship after another classic match with Danielson. Wow. That was the only word I could muster when this was over. Good luck to whoever tries to top this and have a better match in the next 11 and a half months. 

Match rating - ***** (updated from 4.75 to 5 stars on re-watch 1/29/22) YEAH MAN

Pre-tape from The Acclaimed. They go off about Darby Allin.& Sting and say they have a music video for them next week. Oh mannnn. 

2) MJF vs. “Captain” Shawn Dean

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

NJPW: Wrestle Kingdom 16 Night One Review - January 4th, 2022

New Japan Pro Wrestling
Wrestle Kingdom 16 - Night One
January 4th, 2022
Tokyo, Japan

1) Sho (w/ Dick Togo) (BULLET CLUB) vs. YOH (CHAOS)

This is a story that I missed unfolding for the most part. Sho turned heel on his Roppongi 3k partner because he felt like Yoh wasn’t pulling his weight. Yoh made it to the Best of the Super Juniors finals late last year which really proved that point wrong. Sho obviously is pissed about this which adds to the heat of this one. This opens the show which is a nice change of pace because most WK’s I’ve watched in recent years have opened with a tag of some sort so getting a nice little juniors grudge match was a fun change of pace. It’s really a simply worked match, nothing crazy, but good for what it is. Sho works super well as the heel aggressor and Yoh sells his ass off underneath. The finish is really well done with YOH selling the fuck out of SHO’s submission, looking like he’s about to go out, only to escape and score a flash pin for the victory. Good likeable babyface shit using some sly tactics to outsmart the sneaky heel. 

Match rating - **3/4

2) Hiroshi Tanahashi, Rocky Romero, & Ryusuke Taguchi vs. KENTA, El Phantasmo, & Taiji Ishimori (BULLET CLUB)

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Random Match Review: CM Punk, Sting, & Darby Allin vs. MJF & FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood) - AEW: Dynamite - December 22nd, 2021

CM Punk, Sting, & Darby Allin vs. MJF & FTR (Cash Wheeler & Dax Harwood) - AEW: Dynamite - 12/22/21

Alright y’all, I have to be honest. I just did not have the energy or time to write up a full review of Dynamite on this night. I’ve covered almost every episode this year outside of a select two or three so cut me some slack :) 

Work and life have had me very busy and tired, especially with it being the holidays. With this in mind, I went into this show very tired and close to dozing off. However, this match here brought me completely back to life and honestly gave me the energy to power through the Up and Over Podcast episode we recorded immediately after (which can be found here.) 

I knew this match would be special. It’s Sting in the Greensboro Coliseum for the first time in god knows when. I’m not a huge stats guy so go find that somewhere else but this was huge for that reason alone. Then you factor in the fact that this babyface team is like.. the most star studded babyface team in wrestling today. These aren’t just top guys, these are larger than life superstars. Punk and Sting are legends from different generations and seeing them tag together is a treat on it’s own. Pair them with a young star like Darby and you’ve got a fuckin vibe pal. 

So, yeah, I knew this would be special, but as soon as I saw Sting come out with the CM Punk inspired face-paint, I was hooked and on my feet. Then Punk did the same, coming out looking like Surfer Sting. This was just so much fun. The type of stuff that makes you feel like a kid again.

The trio of Punk, Sting, & Darby are such huge babyfaces that they honestly just felt like superheroes here. And I’m not a movie or comic guy, so I think it says a lot that I would make that comparison. This felt more like superheroes vs. villains than just good wrestling guys vs. bad wrestling guys. I HOPE THAT MAKES SENSE. 

MJF & FTR were the perfect shit head villains to counteract the super human like trio they were facing and I think their styles complimented that of Sting & Punk better than almost anyone Sting & Punk have faced in their time in AEW. FTR is a classic old school tag team and there probably aren’t two wrestlers in AEW more old school stylistically than Punk and Sting. So yes, this was everything it needed to be and then a little more.

You got the face in peril segments. You got the isolation and cutting off the ring from the heels. You got all the hot tags you could’ve asked for. Sting did a dive or two, Darby did some insane ones, of course, and Punk, despite some missteps here or there turned up the energy himself. Shit, MJF even got a little nutty and landed right on his neck on the outside when shit broke down. 

This just ruled and might be my favorite trios match of the year so I had to review it. Can’t wait to watch this again and again in the months and years to come. 

Match rating - ****

Ruthless Aggression Era Project: WWE Monday Night Raw Review - April 28th, 2003

WWE Raw 
April 28th, 2003
Boston, Massachusetts 

World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H (since 12/15/02)
World Tag Team Champions: Rob Van Dam & Kane (3/31/03)
WWE Women's Champion: Jazz (since 4/27/03)
Commentators: Jerry Lawler & Jonathan Coachman 

Chris Jericho kicks off the show. He’s starting to grow a little goatee out. Uh oh. Highlight reel starting the show it seems and he talks a bunch of shit about Roddy Piper and basically how seeing his ugly ass made him realize there need to be a Highlight Reel tonight… wait this is the debut episode of it!!! Didn’t even realize this! Ok hell yeah! The graphic and music for it sucks, but Jericho says he has a huge guest tonight to kick off this show.. an old friend from WCW.. GOLDBERG. Jericho says Goldberg would never wrestle him in WCW. Goldberg says since this is a new beginning, he’d love to kick his ass. Well.. this escalated quickly. Jericho starts antagonizing Goldberg about his personal life and why he came to WWE. Goldberg is about to tell him and here comes CHRIIISTIAN. Christian adds onto Jericho’s antagonizing by asking how it felt to Goldberg when he got booed when he showed up to WWE. Goldberg says he’s gonna spear Christian. Jericho says no one is gonna get speared tonight on the Highlight Reel. Christian brings out Steven Richards, Victoria, Rosey, Jamal and some others and says he isn’t the only one who doesn’t want Goldberg here in WWE, they don’t either. Goldberg says it’s simple, if they have a problem, come down to the ring. Stevie Richards of all people leads the charge and everyone leaves him when they get to the ring so yeahhh, Richards gets speared to hell. Goldberg’s music plays as the rest of the heels retreat. 

1) The Hurricane vs. Chief Morley 

Ruthless Aggression Era Project: WWE Backlash 2003 Review - April 27th, 2003

WWE Backlash 
April 27th, 2003 
Worcester, MA

WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar (since 3/30/03)
WWE Tag Team Champions: Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas (since 2/6/03)
WWE Cruserweight Champion: Matt Hardy (since 2/23/03)
World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H (since 12/15/02)
World Tag Team Champions: Rob Van Dam & Kane (3/31/03)
WWE Women's Champion: Trish Stratus (since 3/30/03)

THEME SONG: "Remedy" by Cold

Little pre-show note. I' m having to GIF this shit off YouTube now because Peacock won't allow you too :/ fuckin dorks. Anyways ... LEGGO

1) Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas (c) vs. Los Guerreros (Eddie & Chavo Guerrero) - WWE Tag Team Title Match 

Ruthless Aggression Era Project: WWE Smackdown Review - April 24th, 2003

WWE: Smackdown 
April 24th, 2003
Nashville, TN

WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar (since 3/30/03)
WWE Tag Team Champions: Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas (since 2/6/03)
WWE Cruserweight Champion: Matt Hardy (since 2/23/03)

Commentators - Michael Cole & Tazz

TONIGHT: Piper vs. Rikishi, Sable invitational, & more. 

The new #1 contender to the WWE Championship, John Cena opens up the show. He says he is here to give everyone cliff notes on the life & times of John Cena. He reminds everyone of who he’s beaten in the last few weeks and rants a bit about Lesnar not deserving to be champion before his opponent for the night hits the ring.

1) John Cena vs. Rhyno