2018 Match of the Year (Top 10 Matches of 2018) NJPW, NXT & WWE

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2018 was a great year for professional wrestling if you ignore the industry giant. Everything but the WWE was remarkable this year, this was my first year watching New Japan Pro Wrestling, I started on January 4th, 2018 with Wrestle Kingdom because I watched the Showbuckle video on Naito, and ever since I’ve never looked back, I believe I watched every single event this year and that influence is definitely reflected on this list. So now let’s countdown the 10 best Pro Wrestling Matches of 2018 and reveal what my Match of the Year selection is:

  1. Zack Sabre Jr. vs Yano Toru – G1 Climax Day 4

Your favourite match might not be on this list, but Toru Yano is, and deservedly so. Who would have assumed that Yano would have maybe the most interesting and different story throughout the G1? Toru Yano is a notorious comedy character whose G1 matches are usually one to watch because every year he upsets at least one of the major players in his block, usually preventing them from going all the way. He’s beaten Kenny Omega and Minoru Suzuki is past tournaments and this year he even beat eventual block winner and G1 finalist Kota Ibushi. But the story going into the 2018 G1 is that Yano had sworn off cheating and underhanded tactics and was going to win his matches with his previously forgotten wrestling expertise. Kevin Kelly would commonly remind us about a story of Yano beating up a tree or something. In his first tournament match against Ishii he presented this forgotten knowledge and we were all collectively impressed but in his second match here with the pro wrestling master Zack Sabre Jr.

This match is more than anything else, incredibly fun. The Korakuen Hall crowd make this match, their like New Japan’s Full Sail without the pretension and they eat up everything in this match. From Zack Sabre Jr’s innovative use of the count out rule, where he tied Yano up and put a submission on him and making a run for the ring when the count was 18, something I’m sure we all thought of as kids to Yano’s counters to Zack’s pure wrestling. The crowd comes alive every time Yano successfully counters a move and especially when he comes close to winning after throwing Zack into an exposed turnbuckle multiple times. The uniqueness of this match is what granted it a slot on this list when your favourite match didn’t. Come matches end the correct decision was made and Zack Sabre Jr overcame Yano’s advances, getting the two points. But damn me if everyone watching wasn’t impressed with Yano’s standout performance.

  1. Woman’s Money in the Bank – Money in the Bank 2018

The second ever Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match stands out to me as the greatest main roster outing this year. The Chicago crowd was electric for this match and it’s interesting to go back and watch babyface Becky Lynch getting a massive crowd reaction and losing, with what we know will come later. The commentators mentioned an interesting fact about Ember Moon and that her being in this match makes her the quickest superstar to ever be in a Money in the Bank ladder match in relation to being called up to the main roster. The unpredictability of the match at the time is reflected in the crowd reactions for the different possibilities. Becky Lynch was the clear crowd favourite here, every time she would climb the ladder and especially the spot where she climbed up the side of a ladder that was held up by two girls on the ground, the crowd exploded with excitement. Ember Moon had a spot where it looked like her winning was possible and the crowd reciprocated wanting a fresh face in the title picture. Alternatively, when Charlotte and Sasha Banks looked to be winning the crowd was vocal about their disappointment, freshness was needed in the title picture. However, when Alexa Bliss who was only two months removed from her last title reign won the match the crowd exploded, because everyone likes Alexa Bliss. This match was creative in its spot’s, Sasha nearly killed herself multiple times and especially when Ember Moon cross-bodied her onto a ladder. Great match and for me be the best main roster match of the year.

  1. Aleister Black vs Andrade “Cein” Almas – NXT Takeover New Orleans

The Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match was the best main roster WWE match of the year, but the best NXT match of the year was Aleister Black defeating Andrade ‘Cein’ Almas for the NXT Championship. This match narrowly edges out Andrade’s first Takeover outing against Johnny Gargano, which I believe will be an unpopular decision, but this match was far more enjoyable from start to finish. The Gargano match was great the first time but when I rewatched it, but when I rewatched it for this video its length really effected the overall enjoyment factor of the match. Long matches usually aren’t my favourite, despite the hour and 10-minute match further down on the list, usually the beginning isn’t engaging, and I find myself wanting to do something else, especially on rewatches. But on said rewatch of this match I found myself entirely engaged. Almas is so unbelievably good with move combinations, like his former tag team partner Tetsuya Naito, that watching him move alone is exciting. Black has the best looking striking in professional wrestling and his long build only highlights this. Additionally, the Zelina Vega element on the outside keeps the match fresh when it’s at its slower point, she’s a third performer the audience can watch. Her inclusion in the finish just brings the whole match full circle and the finish caught the fans in New Orleans entirely off guard because they exploded possibly louder than any other Takeover crowd ever when Black hit the kick and got the three-count. This was an excellent showing for all three of the people involved and now with the context that Aleister Black were likely dating at the time of the match, since they recently got married, adds another layer to this match.

If the opening sentence of this entry in the list didn’t register, from here on out we are exclusively talking New Japan Pro Wrestling.

  1. Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll – Sakura Genesis 2018

Will Ospreay and Marty Scurll possibly put on the scariest match of 2018 at Sakura Genesis. This match was masterfully brutal, I think we all collectively thought Ospreay was dead after the bump on the apron. Besides the Psycho Sid botch that might be the scariest wrestling footage to watch in slow motion. But this match like our number 1 entry on this list owes its placement somewhat to a botched spot. Ospreay’s head was cut open and the imagery of the scarlet read patch in his hair was breathtaking. If Ospreay hadn’t become a superhero in the final NJPW match of 2018 this would have been my favourite image in New Japan this year. But the rest of the match following the spot continued the brutality with Scurll relentlessly pulverising Ospreay with stomps to the back of the head and moves making him land on his head. The Ryogoku audience also made this match, their sympathy with Ospreay and their surprise at his resilience made the match what it was. These two truly did a great job at convincing us that Ospreay was dead, and for him to them come back and win the match was the feel-good moment we needed to conclude the match. Ultimately, everything planned and unplanned came together brilliantly in this match resulting in one of the best matches of the entire year.

  1. Naito Tetsuya vs Kenny Omega – G1 Climax Day 2

Now this match may not have superseded their five star plus effort in last year’s G1 final, but whenever these two touch something magical happens. Kenny Omega and Tetsuya Naito are fantastic wrestler, I think we are all aware of that, but whenever they meet they are trying to show each other just how good they are. But Naito brings something to high intensity matches that his top 5 contemporaries lack and that’s personality in the spots, there is no one funner to watch fuck around in a match then Tetsuya Naito. This is made blatantly evident in the beginning of this match where they trade back and forth shots and they attempt to out-trick each other but will also be blatant on a match later down on the list. But the final 10 minutes of this match might be the best 10 minutes of NJPW this year, it was a tossup going in on who would win the match and they heavily played into the drama here, the crowd was clearly more Naito then Omega, but Omega wasn’t an out right heel and the crowd came alive during the final stretch. WWE crowds maybe livelier throughout big matches but the confused screaming from a New Japan crowd when they can tell the next big move might be the last is an unmatched atmosphere and this match capitalised on this factor entirely. Ultimately, Omega came out the victor but not ever I the biggest of big Naito fans could remain disappointed due to the performance I had just witnessed.

  1. Will Ospreay vs Marty Scurll – Fighting Spirit Unleashed

Marty Scurll may have been the most slept on wrestler in all of 2018, not only did he have repeat match of the year contenders with long-time rival Will Ospreay, landing these two the only repeat match on this list but also with outstanding outings against Okada at All In and the match with Kushida at King of Pro Wrestling, its robbery that he isn’t being mentioned in the wrestler of the year conversation. On an earlier draft of this script the two entries of Ospreay and Scurll were swapped but evidently, I opted to switch the two of the them for one reason, this match doesn’t waste time. Immediately the match starts off hot with Ospreay attempting and successfully catching everyone off guard by his instantaneous attack. It brought the live crowd immediately back into the show after the unnecessary intermission and nearly had me believing he beat Marty in seconds. It was reminiscent of the Shibata and Ishii opening from their classic G1 match. The match never really slowed down they continued to go as hard as possible, doing all their grandeurs spots and eventually had a surprising winner, and a feel-good moment for us Marty Scurll fans. Maybe the only reason this match is ranked better than the Sakura Genesis match is because my guy one, but that doesn’t matter because bias is inherit in these lists. Additionally, I really liked the commentary performance here, Kevin Kelly and Jim Ross’ combination shun most brightly during this match. Kevin Kelly gave the necessarily background and history for uninformed fans and Ross gave the match an unmatchable big fight feel. And all this was crammed into a concise 15-minute package whereas the Sakura Genesis match went double that time.

  1. Kenny Omega vs Kazuchika Okada – Dominion 6.9

Say what you want about the lack of build to this match storyline wise, this match was inevitable, and this was the right time. Dominion a year later and I think everyone understood that Omega was winning this match, but a New Japan without Okada on top is something we hadn’t seen in years, and some of us may have even forgotten is that was possible. But the matches 1 hour and 10-minute length was all building to the moment that everyone anticipated seeing and that was Omega holding up the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. This match was grand in scale, the crowd was clearly on Kenny’s side they understood what they were about to see and only added to the festivities, and props to Osaka for the AJ Styles chant after Omega broke out the Styles Clash. Don Callis was another outside factor that only added to my enjoyment of the match, it was a Bobby Heenan watching Ric Flair in the Rumble esk performance from him. His freak-out at the conclusion when Omega one was a vicarious one for many us I’m sure. But the match itself stood out to me on the rewatch. I mentioned previously that long matches usually aren’t my favourite because they are slow and hard to rewatch, but this match told a progressing story for an hour and 10-minutes that had me engaged the entire time, everything built perfectly to the grand Omega victory. This was the climactic moment of over a year and a half of booking and it all paid off excellently for New Japan and the fans through this match.

 

  1. Hiromu Takahashi vs Taiji Ishimori – Best of the Super Juniors Final

This match was the most surprising to me, I was 100% sure that Ishimori was going all the way in the Best of the Super Juniors Tournament. He’d just returned to New Japan Pro Wrestling with a new character and a new look, in a new faction and he had destroyed everyone in his block including the current IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion, Will Ospreay, he seemed destined to travel all the way to Dominion and collect his prize and this very well may have been New Japan’s initial plan, but Hiromu Takahashi stood in his way. Now that Hiromu is injured I think everyone has forgotten just how over Hiromu was for the first half of the year, he wasn’t only seconded to Naito in L.I.J but second to Naito is overall popularity. If you go back and watch the Bushi and Hiromu vs Suzuki Gun match the crowd chants Hiromu like he’s their God, and this popularity was only made clearer throughout the Best of the Super Junior’s tournament and that’s why it was imperative that he went over in this match, which thankfully and against all odds, he did. Not only was the match great because the right man won but because it was chaotic. From the infamous hurracarrana down the flight of stairs, to the area length running drop kick to the dualistic spike-rrana’s, this match has everything. Ultimately, Hiromu proved why he has the undying respect from the audience and proved why it was he that deserved to go on to Dominion to dethrone Ospreay, even more than the up-and-coming hot, new prospect Taiji Ishimori. But as we contemporarily look forward to Wrestle Kingdom 13, it seems Ishimori will be getting the last laugh and that IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship.

  1. Naito Tetsuya vs Tomohiro Ishii – G1 Climax Day 4

There are no two men I enjoy watching wrestle then Tetsuya Naito and Tomohiro Ishii, and in this match, they proved why they deserve this stop on the list. The action is great, and the clash of personalities is even better. Watching these two stubbornly smack each other for 20 minutes is so enjoyable. These two have an intertwined past and in Kayfabe hate each other, Ishii was the only person Naito ever successfully defended the IWGP Heavyweight Championship against in his short title reign and Ishii has beaten Naito for other championships in the past. The rivalry is there for every match these two have to be an anticipated event. The counters to each other’s moves throughout the match are so inventive and subversive, just everything about this match is everything I want from a professional wrestling match. This match and its inclusion so far up on this list just reflects the inherit bias in these lists, I doubt this is many people’s second favourite match of the year, when the match first happened everyone loved it, but for many this was overshadowed by other matches in the G1, but for me this match remained the uncompromised benchmark for the tournament and I loved it. Plus, in this one Naito actually won.

  1. Juice Robinson vs Jay White – G1 Special

This match was somehow more chaotic than the Best of the Super Juniors final, had a better feel good moment than the Dominion main event and was more fun to watch then Ishii vs Naito. Who would have predicted Jay White and Juice Robinson to have the match of the year, at the beginning of 2018? They have improved experientially over this calendar year to becoming easily to me the best heel and best babyface in wrestling. Jay White has revolutionised Bullet Club and was recently officially made leader and Juice continues to prove through his incredibly speaking ability that he is the best talker in the wrestling business today. All this potential and all this excellence as well as an incredibly timed botch was fully on display in this roller-coaster ride of a wrestling match.

The crowd is another element this match had going for it, the Cow Palace was electric for this match, they were entirely behind Juice and despised Jay White. This build up would pay off in the eventual 3-count wherein the crowd exploded when Juice beat Jay. But the unforeseen and possibly most engaging element in the match was apparently not planned like I had assumed upon seeing how perfectly it seemed to fit in the story of the match. Jay and Juice where throwing each other into the guardrails so hard they were making Suzuki jealous, the guardrails were flying off everywhere literally creating sparks because of the impact, this created some incredible visuals. Eventually Jay White would suplex Juice into the announce desk and sent Jim Ross flying and prompted a run-in from Josh Barnett, that was apparently a shoot. This bump from JR and subsequent run-in from Barnett heightened the already rampant drama of this match and this all culminated in Juice’s victory and subsequent celebration. This match was an experience and easily was my favourite match in professional wrestling this year.

 

Honourable Mentions:

– Kazuchika Okada vs Tetsuya Naito – Wrestle Kingdom 12

– Chris Jericho vs Kenny Omega – Wrestle Kingdom 12

– Andrade “Cein” Almas vs Johnny Gargano – NXT Takeover Philadelphia

– Adam Cole vs Aleister Black – NXT Takeover Philadelphia

– Men’s Royal Rumble – Royal Rumble 2018

– Women’s Royal Rumble – Royal Rumble 2018

– Asuka vs Sasha Banks – Raw, Jan 29, 2018

– Kazuchika Okada vs Sanada – New Beginning in Osaka 2018

– 6 Man Ladder Match – NXT Takeover New Orleans

– Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle vs Triple H and Stephanie McMahon – WrestleMania 34

– Kazuchika Okada vs Zack Sabre Jr. – Sakura Genesis 2018

– Juice Robison vs Hiroki Goto – Road to Wrestling Dontaku

– Ronda Rousey vs Nia Jax – Money in the Bank 2018

– Young Bucks vs Sanada and Evil – G1 Special

– Kota Ibushi vs Hiroshi Tanahashi – G1 Climax Final

– Kairi Sane vs Shayna Baszler – NXT Takeover Brooklyn 4

– Marty Scurll vs Kazuchika Okada – All In

– Guerrillas of Destiny vs The Young Bucks – Fighting Spirit Unleashed

– Kenny Omega vs Kota Ibushi vs Cody – King of Pro Wrestling 2018

– Shayna Baszler vs Kairi Sane – NXT Takeover WarGames 2018

– Aleister Black vs Johnny Gargano – NXT Takeover WarGames 2018

– Tommaso Ciampa vs Velveteen Dream – NXT Takeover WarGames 2018

– Pete Dunne, Ricochet and War Raider vs The Undisputed Era – NXT Takeover WarGames 2018

– Becky Lynch vs Charlotte – WWE Evolution

– Becky Lynch vs Charlotte vs Asuka – TLC 2018

 

 

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Media Consumption Month #1 (August 2018)

Welcome to the first monthly edition of Media Consumption, the post where I reflect on all the noteworthy media I consumed the previous month. Originally this series was going to be weekly, but I didn’t consume enough media to write articles every week to make these posts interesting. I welcome you to argue with me about anything or leave constructive criticism in the comments below: (You Don’t have to have an account!)

Attack on Titan Season 3:

Attack on Titan Season 3 has continued to develop, and now pages inscribed into my mind in only black ink are being fully-realised in animation, and it’s a fantastic experience. Attack on Titan is responsible for my current level of anime fandom, it brought me into the fold in 2014 and once I caught up on the manga later that year. At that time the manga was in the middle of this arc and so this adaptation is a great sense of nostalgia personally. Episode 2 stood out for expanding on the Levi chase scene and creating an action spectacle out of it with insanely, impressive animation. The People vs People arc is something I’ve been defending for years and the backlash from anime only watches has been surprisingly largely non-existent, which is reassuring. A heavily criticised element of Season 3 has been the OP, which is admittedly tonally more cognisant of the initial half of Season 3, but still incredibly lame and uninteresting. The ending theme however sounds like the birthchild of Season 2’s Opening and Ending, it is fucking outstanding. The aesthetic is unique and awesome, and the music brilliantly reflects Historia as a focal character. All in all, I’m eagerly anticipating the continuation of Season 3.

Steins; Gate 0:

Steins; Gate 0 is making me internally conflicted. Binge watching the first 12 episodes of the series, to catch-up, was so fun but the week to week wait with these episodes is poison to the shows pacing. It’s hard to re-immerse yourself in this complex story every week. Sometimes I’ve completely forgotten how we ended last week, so I think ultimately to get a proper view on the series I’ll have to re-watch the entire thing once the Dub is finished. But honestly the most annoying aspect of the show in these previous few episodes is the Steins; Gate 0 original character Kagari. She sucks, she terrible, I don’t care about her at all and she seems to be the motivation for the plot progression and recently and her voice actor is terrible. If I hear her scream mommy again I’m going to have a brain aneurysm. This show is currently on a wait and see basis, hopefully the show pulls through with a widely satisfying conclusion.

My Hero Academia Season 3: 

Filler is one thing, but a filler episode that’s just an advertisement for an inconsequential film that I’m going to force myself to watch, is an entirely different scenario. My Hero Academia double-decker fucked us with the latest episode and this filler garbage is pissing me off. I’m already significantly less interested in this arc in comparison to the first arc of this season and this shit isn’t helping. The most interesting arcs in My Hero are either tournaments or villain battles, whenever they focus on becoming a ‘hero,’ it bores me to tears, I don’t give a fuck about Superhero ideals just play with the characters we like. But if my speculation is correct things may get much more interesting when ‘she’ reveals herself in the coming episodes.

Devilman:

I read the first chapter of Devilman on a whim because I wanted to see the character designs and   how they differ from Devilman Crybaby (the only Devilman content I’ve seen). Little did I know the first chapter was about the weird and rushed dinosaur element from the end of Devilman Crybaby; and now I’m completely intrigued so I’ll be reading the original manga for the foreseeable future. It makes complete structural sense for this to be the opening chapter and I can’t comprehend why it was shoehorned into the final episode of the Netflix adaptation. The second chapter introduces the main characters and they are all largely like their 2018 counterparts, but the manga clearly is establishing a much slower pace, that I’m totally in favour of. Devilman Crybaby was an incredibly enjoyable clusterfuck, but at times it was hard to reconcile the character motivations and plot developments from episode to episode with the insane speed the show was running in. This manga however, seems to be explaining things much more clearly and I’m hooked.

Cowboy Bebop:  

I am forcing myself through this show… it’s just so boring! I’ve reached Episode 11, (the weird alien spoof) and I think the disconnect I have with this show comes down to my hatred of episodic media and my disinterest in anything to do with Space. I feel like I’m wasting my time largely while watching this show, there’s nothing we are building to, nothing to look forward to in anticipation, just more inconsequential characters dicking around. It’s a shame because Episode 5 is evidently a masterpiece, I would rather re-watch that 26 times than continue, but we’ve come this far so we can’t give up here, and maybe I’ll understand by the end. It’s certainly not all bad; the cinematography a times is impeccable, Ed is an excellent character and Faye is easily the hottest anime bitch ever, but I’m constantly watching Spike and Jet dicking around being entirely uninteresting. You can check in next month to see if my overall opinion on this show is any different.

Vinland Saga:

Vinland Saga is about to be the Anime of the Year in 2019, I’ve finished the prologue and next year’s anime adaptation is definitely ending here and when it does, I dare someone to try and challenge it. This was a text-book example of how to fantastically build and payoff a climax within a section (arc) of a story. Real progression with the plot and characters, genuine intrigue for how the story develops going forward, and self-contain, effective and memorable characters. I was completely blow away by the way Vinland Saga just surprised me and cemented itself onto my favourites list. That final chapter was so great; Askeland’s ultimate noble sacrifice and redemption that directly feeds into the development of Canute and Thorfinn was gripping. The last page and Thorfinn’s big, “WHAT NOW?” moment was exhilarating, and I get extremely excited when imagining that moment in animation. Everything came together so cohesively, and it felt like none of my time was wasted and all of my time was well spent investing in Vinland Saga… Thank You Mr. Makoto Yukimura.

The Vision of Escaflowne:

Escaflowne is the only of the four new shows that I watched the second episode of, because the first episode made such an impression. The art style is quite unique in this show, the texture on the dragon’s skin and the weirdly, good-looking over-sized noses all differentiate this show from anything I’ve ever seen. I like that both episodes had seemingly our two main characters both taking the role of the fish out of water in each other’s world and allowed us establishing moments of each respectively. It’ll be interesting if we keep switching between Earth and the ancient sci-fi world that’s name escapes me currently. The Dub in this show isn’t distracting and the main girls voice gives me odd nostalgic feelings, but I can’t place what other projects the voice actress has appeared in, that I’m familiar with. I’m interested to see how this plot, above the others, will progress going forward. All the other shows have a direction and a set tone already but this one seems to be the most dynamic and the one I’m most interested to see develop, even if Serial Experiments Lain was my personal favourite of the 4 new shows.

Revolutionary Girl Utena:

For this show choosing the Dub made for an incredibly unpleasant experience. The voice acting wasn’t remarkably terrible, though it wasn’t any good either, but the voice lines were out of sync with the mouths. This is some basic, fundamental shit that I believe would be difficult to fuck up this badly. The plot didn’t exactly interest me; I watched the first episode only and that was 2 weeks ago now and all I recall is she wants to be a prince to those in need because of her backstory and that she beat some prick in top of a floating castle above the school. It wasn’t all bad, I see the potential in the aesthetic and I love weird, unique shit and this definitively qualifies. Ultimately, this was my least favourite out of the 4 new shows I checked out this month, but I’m not dropping it and will likely be watching the sub going forward.

Serial Experiments Lain:

Serial Experiments Lain was fucking awesome. Unfortunately, I have only seen the first episode, but the entire show worked cohesively so effectively, that I was salivating by the end. The imagery and aesthetic are so visually compelling and striking that the scenes of the initial suicide and the distracted father with the multiple computers, are burned into my subconscious. What a fascinating show; from the aesthetic to the chilling music, to the arthouse elements, to just the way the characters deliver dialogue, everything directly speaks to me. I watched this show, as I did all others in the English Dub and this was easily the standout one of the bunch. Even the 13 Episode length excites me, and this is a show I’m deeply interested in continuing next month and watching develop further.

RahXephon:

RahXephon is intriguing. The obvious Evangelion inspirations and obvious, and I love it. It’s also been about two weeks since I watched episode 1 of this show, so I don’t remember everything (and likely will have to re-watch it) but I was intrigued. Seeing all the Evangelion elements slightly altered in a different team’s vision is a unique and fun experience. I identified the NERVE like military organisation, the Rei parallel character is self-evident and that woman that saved him in the abandoned train station is our Misato. This is one I’ll have to re-watch to remember all the little details that will become important later, but I’ll certainly be continuing this next month.

B Gata H Kei:

Whenever I would look back at my limited anime catalogue, one show stands as a flashing outlier. One of these things are not the same, and Yamada’s First Time or B Geta H Kei, was that outlier. It was a show I watched in Grade 8 for obvious reasons, but I remember liking it way too much. I began watching it in the Summer holidays (December where I live) and my family was on a vacation living in this rental house on limited internet and all I can remember thinking about the entire week of vacation was that I wanted to get home and continue watching this show. It’s a lot of what I thought about that entire week, and I couldn’t watch it while I was there because if KissAnime used up a huge amount of the data people would start asking questions and I didn’t want to have to explain what the show was to them. So, it was a constant internal struggle to pull myself away from the Safari tab on my iPad.

So now, a few years removed, I was fascinated to re-watch this show and try to understand my plight with this show, and this show is deceptively fun. The premise of the show is awesome, and I’m shocked at the overwhelming charm of all the characters. This show brings out something I like to call, ‘forgotten nostalgia,’ which is infinitely more powerful than your ordinary, run of the mill, nostalgia. As I gradually recalled elements of this show it transported me to a different time and the feelings of forgotten nostalgia were so strong. I got a similar feeling when I watched some old Looney Tone Cartoons on YouTube recently and remember the little jingles Daffy would sing to himself and how intrench into my very being they were. Re-hearing the Opening Theme and more importantly the Ending Theme after all this time shocked the nostalgia meter. Something I hadn’t thought about in years yet it all felt so near and familiar. Re-watching this show is a remarkable experience and I can’t wait to continue my journey past episode 3 next month.

G1 Climax:

The G1 Climax wrapped up in early August, and what a trip it’s been. 4 weeks of constant 3-hour professional wrestling shows definitely had me at my limit, but it was all undeniably fantastic, even if I was extremely salty about the conclusion. Before we get into specifics I would like to shout-out a retrospective lookback that New Japan has realised on their Japanese YouTube page that summarises the tournament, with some additional unseen footage of interviews with reoccurring and one-time audience members and shots of the behind the scene actions of the wrestlers. Even if you haven’t been following the tournament as closely as I have, it’s a must watch.

The G1 ended weirdly this year. I predicted going into the tournament that the finals would be a Wrestle Kingdom Main Event rematch with Naito finally beating Okada in a big match scenario. Evidently the finals didn’t feature either of them, instead Tanahashi defeated Kota Ibsuhi in the finals. Okada was eliminated due to his time limit draw with Tanahashi on the first night in Budokan, which was incredibly exciting and a nice feel good moment for the long time New Japan audience that adore Tanahashi, and this decision was fine with me because Naito beating Tanahashi again, this time in the finals would have fitted into the Naito storyline quite well. But that wasn’t to be because Naito lost to Zack Sabre Jr and Omega lost to Ibushi, and therefore the B Block ended in a 4-Way tie with each man having 12 points, but because of previous match-ups Ibushi, who had beaten all the other contenders, proceeded to the finals. Now Zack ending on 12 points is amazing to me, Zack is my second favourite wrestler in New Japan, but my most favourite is Naito and I was furious when Zack pinned him. Naito fans have been waiting for his big moment for years and we were denied it at Wrestle Kingdom and so this G1 was his to win. But ZSJ fucked it all up…

So, I went into the final night quite pissed and disinterested, but Shibata showed up and Tanahashi and Ibushi had one hell of a match. The final Tanahashi run was inevitable and I’m fine with it, he obviously deserves it and Kenny Omega vs Hiroshi Tanahashi is a mega-match. That along with the likely Chris Jericho vs Kazuchika Okada for the Intercontinental Championship have me very excited for January 4th. I have no idea what Naito will be doing until January, and Juice Robinson vs Cody is going to yield some phenomenal promos. Ultimately, I’m incredibly thankful that New Japan gives us a month break until the Destruction tour, because I desperately need it.

NXT Takeover Brooklyn 4:

NXT Takeover this go around was underwhelming to me; my favourite match was the NXT Woman’s Championship between Kairi Sane and Shayna Baszler and that match withstanding, I didn’t care for anything else on this show. Nothing on this show was bad in terms of match quality or storytelling but nothing stood out to me. The Main Event felt like we were walking old ground, only to have a terrible finish. Adam Cole and Ricochet just didn’t inspire anything in me. The opener was meaningless, there were no stakes because everyone understood exactly how the match was going to play out. Velveteen Dream and EC3 was sloppy and all over the place and the whole show just felt unremarkable. The Kairi Sane match had something these matches lacked; I cared that Kairi won that belt. I’m a Kairi Sane fan and her beating Baszler told a simplistic story that kept me caring. All these other matches felt like the outcomes didn’t matter and they were just on the card to be good wrestling matches; and if there’s something I particularly don’t give a fuck about its good wrestling. With Kairi winning the championship I believe the Main Event for Survivor Series’ accompanying Takeover is evident; Kairi and Io Shari should tear the house down and show everyone what Japanese Woman’s wrestling is.

SummerSlam 2018:

Overall, as blasphemous as a statement like this usually is, I think SummerSlam handily impressed more than NXT Takeover. Nothing was as exciting as Samoa Joe and AJ Styles, nothing got the reaction that Becky Lynch’s turn got, and nothing was as clever as that Main Event. The opener however, was not a highlight of the night, the only person involved in this boring feud that I’m remotely interested in is Drew McIntyre. I have little interest in a babyface Dean Ambrose, I have even less interest in Seth Rollins currently and no amount of rehab will ever have me invested in anything Dolph Ziggler does. To boot this match was boring as fuck. New Day and The Bludgeon Brothers was enjoyable; retrospectively the New Day absolutely should have won the belts here, but hindsight is 20-20 and Eric Rowan couldn’t have picked a worse time to tear his bicep, and Harper should just continue killing dudes in his stead. Braun Stroman squashing Kevin Owens was fucking awesome, and incredibly ballsy for the WWE to do in front of this audience. There seemingly is a payoff coming from this squash with Kevin quitting recently on Raw, so he’ll be fine, and this got Braun to the exact point necessary for later in night. I love short matches that don’t fuck around, and this was a perfect example of one.

The two biggest matches for SmackDown were next and they both were remarkable. Becky Lynch may have been the most over wrestler on the entire show and it was fun to watch. The story in this match was executed with pin-point accuracy; it was necessary for them to get the belt off Carmella, she’s a bigger star coming off this run, they played into the audiences’ fatigue with Charlotte being rammed down their throats and paid off the audiences’ frustrations with Becky being repeatedly being walked over. If you’re a Becky Lynch fan this heel turn should be the best possible outcome for you, because now Becky’s going to be booked strong instead of being positioned as the moronic babyface and will only get over even more. You must be a heel, or AJ Styles, contemporarily to get over in WWE. Speaking of which this was the greatest fuck finish I think I’ve ever seen; AJ Styles and Samoa Joe probably could have had a basic storyline and had a barn-burner of a match but instead this entire feud is being dominated by an unbelievably well written (mostly well performed) storyline. Samoa Joe is the best promo in this company, he and Kevin Owens have a way to give their terribly written dialogue without sounding like absolute geeks; they are great in spite of the material they are given instead of being great because of the material they are given. Joe notably kicked out of the Styles Clash, and this may be an indication of his much-needed victory at Hell in a Cell. If WWE are ever going to go with Joe as a world champion this is the time. The follow up on SmackDown was also great, AJ told him to not do something and then Joe said FUCK YOU, beat him up and did it anyway like he was Stone Cold Steve Austin. There is no reason not to vicariously love Samoa Joe right now.

Daniel Bryan and Miz was fucking awful. It was way too long and after the previous two thrilling segments the crowd didn’t care at all. WWE has butchered Daniel Bryan’s comeback so terribly that Brooklyn couldn’t remember why they ever cared about him. The crowd was left in a bored hazed following that snore fest and hearing Baron Corbin’s music definitely didn’t wake them up. But WWE in another great decision had a surprise appearance from the Demon, and another fantastically refreshing squash match. Finn Balor desperately needed to remind any of us why we cared about him and he did exactly that with this performance, he’s a hot commodity again and I’m excited for what’s next. Shinsuke Nakamura and Jeff Hardy calmed the crowd down again, these boys really couldn’t do anything in this position. Jeff definitely tried by killing himself with that Swanton spot on the apron, but the crowd was largely disinterested and now we can move on to Randy Orton and Jeff which I’m at least vaguely interested in.

To end the night, we got back-to-back viewings of Raw’s Main Events; and again, both matches delivered. Alexa Bliss and Ronda Rousey did what it set out to do, introduce the Bella’s for our inevitably depressing Evolution Main Event and put Ronda over as a monster. But most interestingly Roman Resigns and Brock Lesnar was a captivating finale to an entertaining night. You’ve got to respect the clever way WWE constructed this Main Event, from the Stroman inclusion to Brock’s continued rampage, to Roman finally pinning Brock Lesnar after 3 years of build. No one booed with disinterest like at WrestleMania, instead 15 thousand people were on the edge of their seats for the entirety and they were all worked into caring about Roman’s 15th big moment. Well done WWE, SummerSlam was pretty cool.

Denzel Curry – Taboo:

This album is unbelievably great. Denzel Curry’s new album Taboo is his best work yet and has permeated my ears ubiquitously over this past month. While I don’t believe any single song from the album compares to Imperial’s best song, This Life, but Taboo is exceedingly more consistent than Imperial or Nostalgic 64. Taboo (the song) is a melancholic, smooth opening that establishes the tone of the project and immediately prepares the listener, then Black Balloons follows and is a different sound than Curry usually puts forth. That obscurity is continued with Cash Maniac which are both smooth, memorable and almost relaxing songs, but this is entirely juxtaposed by the following track, Sumo, which is loud, intensive Denzel at his best. Reference to Chowder, references to Rikishi (which obviously popped me) and references to obscure PS2 platformers all combine into an energetic bridge to the second part of the album.

Super Saiyan Superman continues this energy with a quick track, that’s name itself is enough for successful song, even if it is weird Superman isn’t mentioned at all in the song. (I believe.) Switch it Up and Mad I Got It are the least memorable to me, I still enjoy them when they play but I haven’t yet sought them out specifically, but Siren’s was my favourite song from the album for a time. This is easily the smartest track on the album, there’s some fantastic wordplay from JID (especially the National Anthem section) in what I believe is his best performance to date, and the haunting final soliloquy makes for a smooth track, that’s definitely the most substantive on the album. Clout Cobain is next, and it’s been overplayed by me personally so now it’s not my favourite, but it very well may make a return to my favourites list from the album. The music video almost overshadows the simplistic song in some regards and I find they make a must more palatable combination, whereas the song separately is slightly repetitive.

The Blackest Balloon is another slightly repetitive track that benefits from its short runtime, but the chorus maintains a place in my head at least once a day. Percs is the song I’ve listened to the least on this song, only because I forgot to download it, so I’m too unfamiliar with the track to give an informed opinion on it. Finally, the album closes on Vengeance and Black Metal Terrorist, which both are heavy favourites of mine. They both maintain the high energy Denzel is known for and evolves them in two distinctly different directions. Vengeance is entirely stolen by JPEGmafia’s hilariously brutal feature, with the standout line of the album, “If he dies, he dies, Pussy meet the Sky!” Black Metal Terrorist is the ending of the album and it drills home the entire project with madness and high energy, fast verses. Overall this album is a definitive Album of the Year contender.

 

NXT 122 June 20, 2012 Review

This review of NXT 122 will be the first of hopefully many reviews in this NXT review series that will cover all the episodes of the show that follow episode 122. This was the first episode of NXT from Full Sail University and was the first to resemble what we currently know, as NXT. Finally now that they’ve uploaded all the ‘real’ NXT episodes to the WWE Network, why not relive all the greatest NXT moments from over the years and give some of my opinions. Another key, important note that I should mention is that I have seen some random episodes from 2013 through 2014 before the show was a network exclusive and aired on free TV. However because I didn’t immediately purchase the network I didn’t jump back onto the NXT bandwagon until the NXT Takeover Unstoppable show. But I honestly don’t remember the specifics of any of the 2013 through 2014 episodes, so a majority of these episodes I am unfamiliar with and will be seeing for the first time. Another reason I have for wanting to do this review series is to see how certain characters evolve over time and how they eventually end up on the main roster as well as, gain a previously unknown perspective on some of the talents that currently populate a majority of the 2017 WWE main roster. With that being said why don’t we jump right into the first episode of the real NXT?

Bo Dallas NXT 122

Throughout this show we saw the beginnings of many modern day talents, first of all we were introduced to a young Bo Dallas. It’s plain to see that NXT was originally intended to spotlight Dallas: he’s the first character we are introduced to and we get an impressive video package for him. Then there was a match between Dallas and Rick Victor, who would later go onto fame (if you want to call it that) with The Ascension. This match was designed to highlight Bo and it was successful in that sense. The promo package for Bo pre-match was eye opening to see that he could cut a pretty great promo and was seemingly quick witted. This all but confirms that the main rosters over-production of these guys drains them of all creative influence, because we could seriously use some of this Bo Dallas on the main roster in 2017. Almost more interesting than that however, is that we see Victor here before he was transitioned into The Ascension with Konor? This wasn’t too big of a surprise to me because I knew that he wasn’t the original second half of that tag team. Eventually the other member must be transitioned out and the team scrapped all together because back in the 2013 through 2014 period that I remember watching, I specifically remember Konor feuding with the than NXT Champion Big E, in a singles feud, so I’m interested to see all of that develop over the upcoming episodes of this show.

The Ascention NXT 122

Next we had the previously mentioned original team of The Ascension taking on and effectively squashing a young Tyler Breeze and a young CJ Parker, who both wrestled under different generic wrestling names. It was interesting to see both these guys at this point in their careers. They are another two people I’m excited to witness develop over the upcoming episodes. Another noticeable difference in this match from today is how much better shape Konor was in back then in regards to now. Maybe if he still looked like the monster he does in these old NXT episodes, The Ascension wouldn’t be in the deep, dark grave they are buried in today. The match did everything it needed to do and established The Ascension as the predominant tag team in the NXT tag team division. Following that was our main event which closed out the show with a pretty great match between two rejected main roster hopefuls, in Tyson Kidd and Curtis Axel, who wrestled under a different name as well. The match was exciting and entertaining, more so than it had any business being because no one cared about the story going into the match. However they worked hard and the crowd full bought into the match by its conclusion.

Tyson Kidd NXT 122

5NXT 122 overall gets a 5. This is because the show wasn’t anything I would recommend people watch unless they are following along with these reviews. Throughout the night we also got further teases of other characters showing up in the coming weeks including both Seth Rollins and Bray Wyatt, so I’m looking forward to seeing there introductions into this environment. Also as another minor complaint the ring announcer probably should have been fired instantaneously following this show he was awful. Thank you for reading and hope to see you back when we discuss the 123rd episode of NXT.

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NXT Takeover Chicago Review

Roderick Strong defeated Eric Young

6NXT Takeover Chicago began with a brilliantly built up Rodrick Strong defeating Sanity’s Eric Young. Notably Strong got a massive pop, demonstrating that these vignettes they have been playing about, him being a husband and a father have worked properly. Who would figure that if you actually develop a character the audience will relate and react to them, novel concept am I right? But the massive pop also drew my attention to the theme itself, and I have never noticed just how awesome it is. There’s something about the piano that gets me, I don’t know why. The match itself did what it needed to do, and the constant interference kept the audience engaged in moments where the match could have died in the middle. I’m pretty sure going forward we might have Roderick Strong as our NXT Champion and I think this was the first step in achieving that goal.

United Kingdome Title Match.PNG

Pete Dunne defeated Tyler Bate to win the United Kingdome Championship

7This match since Takeover, has become horribly overrated, don’t get me wrong it was a fun match but I didn’t think it was a stand-out classic or anything. This could be because this was the only United Kingdome match I have watched that wasn’t a throw-away match on NXT TV, so I don’t have very much attachment to these characters. That being said towards the end of the match Tyler Bate did have me on his side, I was emotionally invested by the end and that’s more than I can say for a majority of main roster matches this company spits out. I do think this was a good match but I don’t think it was revolutionary, there’s no real significance to this match going forward. I also think there we too many near falls towards the end and the title changing hands before the title even means anything, isn’t the best. That being said I am excited to see were these guys and the entire division go from here.

 

Asuka defeated Nikki Cross and Ruby Riot to retain the NXT Women’s Championship (6)

6This match overall was decent, but Nikki Cross especially stood out to me in this match as well as in the build up to the match on NXT TV in the previous weeks. Her character work established through her promos in recent week has been great, her creepily calling for ‘Ruby’ is awesome and hopefully they have a street fight or something at the next Takeover to blow off there feud. But this match was half ruined for me by the finish. Not only was the finish itself sort of botched and looked sloppy but the referees actions afterwards were incredibly wired and at some points I seriously thought they were going to do some sort of wired finish were Nikki Cross’s arm was covering Ruby and she won. But sadly the ref was just acting like an idiot for no reason, seriously go back and watch him after he counts the 3. Hopefully now that Asuka has broken Goldberg’s fake record with her fake record they can finally put the belt on Ember Moon after she’s recovered from her fake injury.

Bobby Roode defeated Hideo Itami to retain the NXT Championship

7The reason this match is as highly rated as both other standout matches on this card, is because this match had me emotionally invested and manipulated. This is evident because I am one of the biggest Bobby Roode fan on this planet, but the story and the match itself had me entirely behind Hideo Itami and I was legitimately pissed off when he lost. The finish was surprisingly awesome with the double DDT spot and I was slightly surprised that Roode won clean also. Going forward it seems Hideo is turning absolutely heel or maybe going down the tweener route. Personally I believe they should just throw him in the Cruiserweight division to try and inject life into that division, somehow. As mentioned previous the Roode/Strong pathway is the one I would like us all to walk down.

 DIY vs AoP.PNG

The Authors of Pain defeated DIY in a Ladder Match to retain the NXT Tag Team Championships

7The Tommaso Ciampa heel turn is something I have been anticipating for around a year now, and boy was it worth the wait. This was the right path to travel down in every possible scenario. This makes NXT TV more interesting going forward and hopefully the feud is eventually for the belt, seeing that they are both injured for the foreseeable future. Whichever one returns first should win the championship for whomever may have it. This feud needs to be the centre of attention on NXT, whenever the blood-feud kicks-off. The match itself was fine but honestly the match doesn’t matter, the only thing looking back on this show that people will remember is a good United Kingdome Championship contest and this turn at the conclusion of the show. The only possible fault I can think of about this was that if the Tag Titles were going to main event I would have felt much more important if they had built this up like they did when the woman main evented.

7Overall this Takeover was superior to the other Takeovers of this year and it gets a 7. Hopefully NXT can get back into the swing of things with the next Takeover show, with a seemingly obvious Cross vs Riot gimmick match and a women’s title change.

Booking From the Superstar Shakeup through to SummerSlam

The roster as they stand at this point in time:

Raw: Roman Resigns, Brock Lesnar, Braun Strowman, Bayley, Sasha Banks, Chris Jericho, Finn Balor, Bray Wyatt, Big Show, Dean Ambrose, The Miz, Matt Hardy, Jeff Hardy, Enzo Amore, Big Cass, Nia Jax, Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, Apollo Crews, Bo Dallas, Cesaro, Sheamus, Seth Rollins, Samoa Joe, Scott Dawson, Dash Wilder, Rhyno, Heath Slater, Titus O’Neil, R-Truth, Mark Henry, Luke Gallows, Karl Anderson, Goldust, Elias Samson, Darren Young, Curtis Axel, Kalisto, Neville, TJ Perkins, Akira Tozawa, Austin Aries, Brian Kendrick, Cedric Alexander, Ariya Divari, Drew Gulak, Jack Gallagher, Lince Dorado, Mustafa Ali, Noam Dar, Rich Swann, Tony Nese, Dana Brooke, Emma and Alicia Fox

Smackdown: Randy Orton, AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Baron Corbin, John Cena, Shinsuke Nakamura, Dolph Ziggler, Chad Gable, Jason Jordan, Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, Big E, Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, Tye Dillinger, Charlotte, Becky Lynch, Naomi, Natalya, Luke Harper, Eric Rowan, Aiden English, Epico, Primo, Fandango, Tyler Breeze, James Ellsworth, Carmella, Tamina, Mojo Rawley, Kane, Jinder Mahal, Konor, Viktor, Rusev, Lana, Zack Ryder and Sin Cara

Payback: (Raw Exclusive PPV)

Preshow-                                                                                                                                      Emma defeated Dana Brooke in a singles match                                                                        Akira Tozawa defeated Brian Kendrick in a singles match

Main Show                                                                                                                                      Kevin Owens defeated Chris Jericho to retain the United States Championship                      Alexa Bliss defeated Sasha Banks in a singles match                                                                      Dean Ambrose defeated The Miz to retain the Intercontinental championship                      The Hardy Boyz defeated Sheamus and Cesaro to retain the Raw Tag Team    Championships                                                                                                                                      Samoa Joe defeated Seth Rollins in a singles match                                                                      Neville defeated Austin Aries to retain the Cruiserweight Championship                                Randy Orton defeated Bray Wyatt in a House of Horrors match to retain the WWE  Championship                                                                                                                                        Bayley defeated Nia Jax to retain the Women’s Championship                                                    Braun Strowman defeated Roman Resigns in a Falls Count Anywhere match

Backlash: (Smackdown Exclusive PPV)

Preshow-

Tye Dillinger defeated Jinder Mahal in a singles match                                                                 American Alpha defeated The Shining Stars in a Tag Team match

Main Show-

Shinsuke Nakamura defeated Dolph Ziggler in a singles match                                                 Luke Harper defeated Eric Rowan in a singles match                                                                   Becky Lynch defeated Carmella in a singles match                                                                       The Usos defeated The New Day to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championships           Kane defeated Sami Zayn in a singles match                                                                         Naomi defeated Charlotte to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship                     AJ Styles defeated Kevin Owens to win the United States Championship                                 Randy Orton defeated Baron Corbin to retain the WWE Championship

Extreme Rules: (Raw Exclusive PPV)

Preshow-

The Club defeated Heath Slater and Rhyno in a tag team match                                                 Elias Samson defeated R-Truth in a singles match

Main Show-

Bayley defeated Emma to retain the Raw Women’s Championship                                 Samoa Joe defeated Seth Rollins in a singles match                                                                       TJ Perkins defeated Austin Aries in a singles match                                                                       Sasha Banks defeated Alexa Bliss in a Steel Cage match                                                               Neville defeated Kalisto to retain the Cruiserweight Championship                                           The Hardy Boyz defeated The Revival to retain the Raw Tag Team Championships             Bray Wyatt defeated Finn Balor in an Extreme Rules match

Money in the Bank: (Smackdown Exclusive PPV)

Preshow-

American Alpha defeated Breezango in a tag team match                                                           Zack Ryder defeated Jinder Mahal in a singles match

Main Show-

Becky Lynch defeated Naomi, Charlotte, Natalya, Tamina, Carmella and Lana to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship in a Money in the Bank Ladder match                         Rusev defeated Mojo Rawley in a singles match                                                                             Randy Orton defeated Kevin Owens to retain the WWE Championship                                    Kane defeated AJ Styles to win the United States championship                                                Eric Rowan and Luke Harper defeated the Usos to win the Smackdown Tag Team Championships                                                                                                                               Sami Zayn defeated Baron Corbin, Shinsuke Nakamura, Dolph Ziggler, Tye Dillinger, Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods to win the Money in the Bank Ladder match

 

 

Bad Blood: (Raw Exclusive PPV)

Preshow-

Mickie James defeated Emma in a singles match                                                                           Elias Samson defeated Goldust in a singles match

Main Show-

Cedric Alexander defeated TJ Perkins, Austin Aries, Rich Swann, Jack Gallagher, Akira Tozawa, Brian Kendrick, Mustafa Ali, Noam Dar and Kalisto in a Ladder match to become the number 1 contender to the Cruiserweight Championship                                     Enzo and Cass defeated The Club in a tag team match                                                                 Bray Wyatt defeated The Miz in a singles match                                                                             The Revival defeated The Hardy Boyz to win the aw Tag Team Championships                     Samoa Joe defeated Sheamus and Cesaro in a 2 on 1 handicap match                                       Roman Resigns defeated Finn Balor in a singles match                                                     Bayley defeated Sasha Banks, Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss to retain the Raw Women’s Championship in a Fatal 4-Way match                                                                                   Braun Strowman defeated Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose in a triple treat match to retain the Intercontinental Championship

Battleground: (Smackdown Exclusive PPV)

Preshow-

Mojo Rawley, Zack Ryder ad Sin Cara defeated The Ascension and Aiden English in a 6-Man Tag Team match

Main Show-

Becky Lynch defeated Naomi to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship                 American Alpha defeated The Usos in a tag team match                                                               Shinsuke Nakamura defeated James Ellsworth in a singles match                                             Kane defeated Kevin Owens to retain the United States Championship                                     Rusev defeated Tye Dillinger in a singles match                                                             Charlotte defeated Carmella in a singles match                                                                               Baron Corbin defeated Sami Zayn in a singles match                                                                   Eric Rowan and Luke Harper defeated The New Day to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championships                                                                                                                                       AJ Styles defeated Randy Orton to win the WWE Championship

SummerSlam: (Dual Brand PPV)

Preshow-

Tye Dillinger defeated Tyler Breeze in a singles match                                                                                                                     Alexa Bliss defeated Emma in a singles match

 

Main Show-

Cedric Alexander defeated Neville to win the Cruiserweight Championship                         The Revival defeated The Hardy Boyz to retain the Raw Tag Team Championships in a Ladder match                                                                                                                                 Becky Lynch defeated Charlotte to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship             John Cena defeated Shinsuke Nakamura in a singles match                                                         Bray Wyatt and Sister Abigail defeated The Miz and Maryse in an Intergender tag team match                                                                                                                                                         Finn Balor defeated Kane in a singles match                                                                         Sasha Banks defeated Bayley to win the Raw Women’s Championship                                     The Shield defeated The New Day in a 6 Man tag team match                                                   Samoa Joe defeated Triple H in a Street Fight                                                                                 Cesaro defeated Sheamus in a singles match                                                                                   AJ Styles defeated Baron Corbin, Randy Orton, Rusev, Dolph Ziggler and Kevin Owens to retain the WWE Championship in an Elimination Chamber match                                           Eric Rowan and Luke Harper defeated American Alpha to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championships                                                                                                                   Brock Lesnar defeated Braun Strowman to retain the Universal Championship

Call Ups from NXT:

Raw:

Hideo Itami (Cruiserweight)                                                                                                                 Bobby Roode

Smackdown:

DIY                                                                                                                                                         Asuka

Thank You!

If you have any questions or want elaboration about anything about the Booking in this post Tweet me: @nationofenter

NXT Takeover Orlando Review

SAnitY defeated Tye Dillinger, Rodrick Strong, Kassius Ohno and Ruby Riot in an 8 Man Intergender Tag Team Match: (5)

5NXT Takeover this go-round kicked the night off with the first ever match with SAnitY participating as a fully unified group, when they defeated Tye Dillinger and co. The match was a fine opener and served its purpose of making SAnitY look unbeatable and possibly set them up later down the line to challenge for every available championship in NXT. There were only two glaring issues I had with the match and that was the fact that Dillinger took the final fall when this match should have been designed to protect him, and the underwhelming women’s element in the match. As for the first issue I think it’s mostly self-explanatory and the only possible reason I can think of for Tye to be pinned is that he’s moving to the main roster on Monday or Tuesday. A majority of the time when a talent is making their move to the main roster they are jobbed out and it happened to Tye and Shinsuke (possibly others) at Takeover so I wouldn’t rule out a Tye Dillinger call up later this week. As for the women critique it mostly because they really didn’t get any time to do anything and on ruby Riot’s debut she didn’t make much of an impact.

Aleister Black defeated Andrade “Cien” Almas: (5)

5Ruby Riot was not the only debut at Takeover Orlando, the audience was also treated to the debut of Aleister Black, formally known as Tommy End on the Indies. Aleister and Almas, I felt, didn’t entirely know what they wanted this match to be, at times it felt like it was a squash match intended to show the unfamiliar audience such as myself what the newcomer could do; but in other parts it felt like they were having a competitive match. There was one moment on commentary when one of the announcers said that Almas had a favorable win/lose record which I found laughable. I really have no idea what the future of either one of these guy are. Aleister didn’t show me anything too impressive or outstanding in-ring wise or character wise in this match but I will give him more time to impress both me and the audience. As for Almas’ future I have no idea what going to be done with him. I know Dave Meltzer plugged Almas as an after WrestleMania call up but we now know that’s not happening, which I’m glad about because he is nowhere near ready. But we will all have to wait in anticipation to see if he gets ‘future endeavored’. Also I would like to do into a side rant about the ‘look’ of many wrestlers on NXT and coming up through the indies in today’s wrestling world. To me at least these guys bodies are not up to par, professional wrestling is supposed to be simulated combat were larger than life character clash in an action packed thrill ride with a conclusive winner and loser, but it’s a big hard to take seriously when theirs a bunch of overweight and out-of-shape guys at the top stage. People like Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, both guys in this match and even Shinsuke Nakamura should really lose weight or tighten their looks if they want any sort of credibility with a mainstream audience.

The Authors of Pain (with Paul Ellering) defeated DIY and the Revival in a triple threat elimination tag team match to retain the NXT Championships: (8)

8Easily the most enjoyable match of the night came directly I the middle of the card with the match for the tag team championships. This match had moment after moment of fan service and told one of the oldest and most simple stories in wrestling. Everything about this match just worked, with the exception of the last 5 minutes, after DIY was eliminated. The Authors of Pain showed in this match that they do belong in the spot they have and that they are capable of having great matches on takeover shows. Sadly I think this does spark the end of the tag team division’s reign over NXT. With the first few takeover show we really saw the NXT championship take center stage and then around Takeover Rival through Respect we had the women reign over NXT and the main attraction and from Takeover London until now we have had the tag team division take center stage. But now with the Revival’s well deserved and epic main roster debut this past week on Raw the tag team division will probably not continuously be the match of the show from now on, on Takeovers. But the most interesting question, to me, coming out of this match is were DIY goes from here? I was hoping to see them pop up on Smackdown this week but that didn’t happen so they seemingly have no direction. However I have thought of a few possibilities. The first one is you have them vs The Authors of Pain again and have it be their last chance at the titles, have them lose and then do a turn with either of them and go further on with a singles feud. I do like this option because both of these guys can be ‘top guys’ in NXT as singles stars. Or they go up to the main roster after putting over a new tag team or even TM61 is there healthy enough any time soon. But I do think if they do not break up a main roster call up will be imminent. As for the champions and who their next opponents are I could be DIY again as previously discussed or Heavy Machinery but I don’t like that option because neither team can afford a loss quite yet and Heavy Machinery should take the titles from them at some point, most likely on SummerSlam weekend. The only other option I see is for the Ascension to have the obligatory match with the new top guys in the tag team division which they seem to have annually. You could do an interesting story with the Ascension and maybe rebuild some credibility with them. All we can do is watch and see where things are going from here.

Asuka defeated Ember Moon to retain the NXT women’s championship: (5)  

5This entire match to me can be summed up in one word: ‘Why?’ Why did Asuka unnecessarily turn heel when she is massively over? Why did Ember Moon not shock the world a beat the undefeated monster in her last match in NXT? Why did Asuka not debut on Raw or Smackdown this week? Why does Asuka continuously win with the weakest kick in wrestling instead of one of her other unique cool moves? Some many questions coming out of what I perceived as a disappointing match. I was predicting and hoping for this match to be the match that put the NXT women’s division back on top but they had to have the match go 5 minutes to short and have a lame finish turning Asuka heel. The women on NXT really haven’t had a great match on a takeover show since Sasha left and this match should have been near that level. I have seen in person and in video these two have this exact match at a high level. This match really did make Ember Moon look weak when she is a rising badass on this show. This match really left a bad taste in my mouth and I’m just hoping that they turn this angle into something worth-while.

Bobby Roode defeated Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the NXT Championship: (6)

6The main event of the evening was a surprisingly good clash between Bobby Roode and the soon to depart NXT Shinsuke Nakamura. Often a NXT feud lasts two Takeover show and usually the second match is overshadowed by the first but in this match defiantly exceeded the first one and had a lasting impression on me. Sure the match was 10 minutes to long but hey really had me convinced in certain parts that Nakamura was going over and then swerved me with a clean Roode win which I was sure I wasn’t going to see. This is my favorite Takeover main event since (once again) Sasha left and I have great respect for both these guys, more so then I did coming into the match. As seen on Smackdown Shinsuke moved up to the main roster seemingly on Smackdown but I wouldn’t be surprised if WWE change their minds and move him to Raw in the draft coming up on Monday. However I hope they keep him on Smackdown and have him feud with the Miz. He is often a great first feud for NXT stars coming up because he is an established name and his feuds consistently get enough screen time. Hopefully the next feud for Roode is a returning Hideo Itami because there is really are no other options, now that Tye Dillinger has moved up to the main roster. This match rally was a loser moves to Raw or Smackdown, which is really were they both belong. But I’m excited for both Nakamura and Roode going forward.

6Overall this event gets a 6/10 from me, which is a ‘good’ rating. The tag title match was clearly the stand out performance of the night and the main event was solid but a lackluster women’s championship match and the two opener matches being mediocre really stop this show from standing out as a great Takeover worthy of being remember. This show was definitely watchable and I would recommend it but it was overshadowed by what was to come the following night.