Friday, January 27, 2017

WWE Royal Rumble 2016 Review

"The Phenomenal" AJ Styles makes his WWE debut!!

WWE Royal Rumble 2016
Orlando, Florida 1/24/16

Kickoff Show

1.) Fatal Four-Way Tag Team Royal Rumble Qualifying Match - The Ascension vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Jack Swagger & Mark Henry vs. Damien Sandow & Darren Young: **1/2

One of the things that I enjoyed about the brand split is that we got to see Royal Rumble Qualifying Matches featured on RAW & SmackDown. I think having those qualifiers made the Royal Rumble Match itself feel a little more important. They seemed to go away when the brand split ended, but fortunately, we got a qualifying match here on the Kickoff Show! Essentially, the winning team gets entered into the Royal Rumble. What’s interesting here is that we have two regular tag teams, in the form of The Ascension & The Dudley Boyz, we also got two totally makeshift pairings. Jack Swagger & Mark Henry doesn’t seem quite as random, but Damien Sandow & Darren Young has got to be one of the most random tag team pairings ever. As far as the match goes, it was fine for a pre-show match. The only real item of note here is that the finish was very weird, as it seemed like someone forgot who the legal man was. Ultimately, Jack Swagger & Mark Henry got the win here to qualify for the Royal Rumble Match. Again, there’s really not much to say about this match.


1.) WWE Intercontinental Title - Last Man Standing Match - Dean Ambrose vs. Kevin Owens: ****1/4

Dean Ambrose won the Intercontinental Title from Kevin Owens back at TLC 2015. I was really looking forward to this match going into it, since both men have a wealth of experience with hardcore matches like this, but it really exceeded my expectations. I thought this was a fantastic match! This was easily the best match on the undercard, and depending on what you thought about the Royal Rumble Match, it might have been the best match on the entire show. There was great action throughout this match, and it certainly delivered as a hardcore brawl which, as I just mentioned, these two know how to do so well. The steel rings steps, kendo sticks, steel chairs, and tables were all used in this match. The crowd was really into this match, and it was definitely the best match (by far) in the series that these two have had in the months prior. The match ended in spectacular fashion, as Owens went for a moonsault, but Ambrose sent Owens to the outside through a stack of two tables!! This kept Owens down for the ten count, and Ambrose retained his title. This was an awesome match, and a great way to kick off the show!

2.) WWE Tag Team Titles - The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston with Xavier Woods) vs. The Usos: ***1/4

Of course, we get a promo from The New Day as they make their way out to the ring, though this one was more noteworthy than others. Xavier Woods introduced us to his new trombone, called Francesca 2 (The original Francesca was destroyed on an episode of RAW a few weeks prior by the returning Chris Jericho). They’re defending their WWE Tag Team Titles against The Usos here, and I thought the match was pretty solid. These two teams are both very good, so it was no surprise that this delivered. It was by no means spectacular, but for a mid-card tag team match, this was good. The match featured a combination of entertaining action, along with some comedic stuff from The New Day. A fun tag team match for sure. In the end, The New Day got the win to retain their WWE Tag Team Titles.

3.) WWE United States Title - Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto: ***
So between the last PPV and this PPV, the United States Title turned into a hot potato. Kalisto won the title Alberto Del Rio on the January 11th edition of RAW, but won the title back on the January 14th edition of SmackDown. I’m all for Kalisto getting a singles push in the mid-card, but I’m not sure if swapping the title back & forth like this is doing any good. As far as this match goes, I liked it as a whole, but to say it was rough around the edges would be an understatement. There were parts of the match that I liked, but it also featured some pretty noticeable botches that definitely hurt the match. It was still a good match (at least, in my opinion), but your enjoyment will definitely depend on how much the botches impacted your enjoyment. In the end, Kalisto was able to get the victory to regain the United States Title. It sucks that this title was such a hot potato in the first month of the year, but as I said, I’m happy that Kalisto is (at least) getting a push.

4.) WWE Diva’s Title - Charlotte (with Ric Flair) vs. Becky Lynch: ***1/2

This match has been slowly building for several weeks. It really dates back to when Ric Flair started to accompany Charlotte more regularly. She started to win matches in a more heelish manner, much to the dismay of Becky Lynch (who was part of Team PCB with Charlotte), which has led us to this title match. It was honestly one of the best stories they’ve told in the buildup to a match since the whole “Diva’s Revolution” thing started. As for the match, I thought it was very good. It was definitely a big step up from the Charlotte/Paige matches we’ve gotten on the preview two PPV’s. The wrestling was, for the most part, pretty solid, and both women played their roles well. While the action and the storytelling were good, the match was hurt by Ric Flair’s involvement. I understand why he got involved (it’s a big part of Charlotte’s heel turn), but what he did here was just so odd. At one point, he kissed Becky Lynch (which was very strange), and later, when it seemed like Lynch had the match won with the Dis-Arm-Her, Flair threw his jacket on her as a distraction. Again, another strange move from “The Nature Boy”, but it ultimately proved to be effective, as it led to Charlotte getting the win to retain the Diva’s Title.

After the match, Charlotte continued to attack Becky Lynch, but then is interrupted by Sasha Banks, who gets a huge reaction from the crowd! Banks shoved Lynch out of the ring, and had a staredown with Charlotte. For a second, they appeared to be allies (harkening back to their early days in NXT, when they were part of a stable with Summer Rae called B.F.F., or Beautiful Fierce Females), but then Banks attacked Charlotte, putting her in the Bank Statement! The segment ended with Banks standing tall. As a whole, I enjoyed this post-match segment. It finally brought Sasha Banks back into the title picture, and at just the right time, as the Road To WrestleMania had truly begun.

5.) WWE World Heavyweight Title - 2016 Royal Rumble Match: ****1/4

A lot of things happened between the previous PPV (TLC 2015) and this show. Following the brutal beating Triple H received at the hands of Roman Reigns, Vince McMahon himself got involved, in an attempt to stop Roman Reigns, but this backfired, as Reigns won the WWE World Heavyweight Title from Sheamus in a Title vs. Career Match on the December 14th edition of RAW. This led to the McMahons (Vince & Stephanie) declaring that Roman Reigns would defend the WWE World Heavyweight Title in the Royal Rumble Match itself. This isn’t the first time that the Royal Rumble Match was a title match, but unlike the critically acclaimed 1992 Royal Rumble, we have a champion defending a title in the match instead of the match deciding a new champion after the title was vacated.

I think most people, going into this match, were a little unsure of how this one was going to turn out, since the previous two Royal Rumble Matches (in 2014 & 2015) were both disasters for a variety of reasons. Fortunately, when the dust settled, this turned out to be a great Royal Rumble Match! Reigns started the match at #1 (a mandate from The McMahons), and started against Rusev, which was actually cool, since they were the last two in the Royal Rumble the year prior. Reigns made quick work of Rusev, but then, the highlight of the night (and quite possibly the biggest moment in WWE in 2016) was Entrant #3, who turned out to be “The Phenomenal” AJ Styles!!! The place exploded when Styles came out, and he was really put over as a big deal by the commentary team. It was such an amazing moment to see AJ Styles in a WWE ring. Plus, he was in there for fair amount of time, lasting nearly a half-hour. I guess the next big moment in the match was when Kevin Owens limped out to the ring, still selling the injuries from the Last Man Standing Match earliers. He ended up eliminating AJ Styles, and I think that was smart, because the crowd would’ve revolted against the match if someone like Braun Strowman or Big Show eliminated him. I think people, in the moment, were more accepting of his elimination because it was done by Kevin Owens.

What was also smart is that, almost immediately after Owens eliminated Styles, Sami Zayn came out as the next entrant, and the crowd exploded when those two went at it. I think it’s so cool that the long feud between these two was able to continue in the Royal Rumble. In the end, Zayn ended up eliminating Owens. From there, we really into the backend of this match, as The Wyatt Family filled the ring. Brock Lesnar came out, and he eliminates Erick Rowan, Luke Harper, & Braun Strowman. Unfortunately for Lesnar, The Wyatt Family ganged up on him, and they all tossed him out. From there, the big moment was the (obvious) reveal of Triple H as the 30th (and final) entrant, making his first appearance since getting destroyed by Roman Reigns at TLC 2015. The match came down to Dolph Ziggler, Bray Wyatt, Chris Jericho, Sheamus, Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose, and Triple H. They actually did a nice little tease between Bray Wyatt & Triple H before Wyatt was eliminated. Once we got down to the Final Four, Reigns eliminated Sheamus, but then Triple H eliminated Reigns, meaning it came down to Dean Ambrose & Triple H. I actually liked how it didn’t come down to Reigns vs. Triple H, and they had someone like Ambrose as the last one left to go against Triple H. In the end, Ambrose was eliminated, meaning that Triple H is your 2016 Royal Rumble Winner, and your new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. As a whole, this was a great Royal Rumble Match. Yes, the winner was pretty predictable, but there were plenty of cool moments, and they managed to tell a fun story throughout the match, giving you a ton of potential directions coming out of the show. It was honestly a fun to watch from the start to finish, and at its core, that’s what the Royal Rumble Match should be, at a bare minimum.

Overall: 8.0/10

Royal Rumble PPVs are really dependent on how the Royal Rumble Match itself goes, regardless of the quality of the undercard. The 2016 edition of the Royal Rumble Match was, fortunately, great. Thus, the card as a whole was much better as a result. The qualifying match on the Kickoff Show was the worst match of the night, but the main card didn’t really feature any bad matches. Alberto Del Rio vs. Kalisto was the worst match on the PPV itself, but despite some significant botches, it was still a fine match. The Last Man Standing Match & The Royal Rumble Match were easily the highlights of the night, and even though Triple H walked out as WWE World Heavyweight Champion, the biggest moment on the show was the debut of AJ Styles, who would go on to be a major player for WWE as 2016 progressed.

Beyond Wrestling: Hit And Run Review

Chris Hero & JT Dunn take on Biff Busick & Drew Gulak in the Main Event!

Beyond Wrestling: Hit And Run
Providence, Rhode Island 1/31/15

Before the opening match, AR Fox came out with his valet, Roxy, and with Shynron’s CLL International All-Star Title. He suffered a pretty bad concussion on an Evolve show a few weeks prior, meaning that the match he was supposed to have on this show (a Ladder Match against Shynron for the CLL International All-Star Title) was put on hold. AR Fox says that it’s heartbreaking that he can’t beat Shynron tonight, but adds that despite being injured, he wouldn’t miss a Beyond Wrestling show. He then says that he’s sorry that the fans in Providence have to sit through a less talented show, since he’s no longer on it. Shynron then comes out and confronts him. He essentially talks about the importance of the CLL International All-Star Title, and asks for his belt back. AR Fox seemed willing to do so, but wants him to shake his hand first. They get into a tug of war over the title, and this leads to Shynron chasing AR Fox off.

1.) Dave Cole vs. Davey Vega: ***

At the last show, Ends Meet, Dave Cole was in the main event in a 3/5 Falls Match with Anthony Stone. Now, he’s in the opening match taking on Davey Vega. Apparently these two wrestled each other on one of the first Beyond Wrestling events in 2009. I thought this was a pretty fun opening match. It went about six or seven minutes, but they packed a fair amount of action into this one. I enjoy watching Davey Vega, and I’ve come to like Dave Cole as I’ve watched more of him in Beyond Wrestling. In the end, Dave Cole picked up the win in this opening match.

2.) Team Create-A-Pro (John Silver & Ryan “Rush” Galeone) vs. The Gentlemen’s Club (Chuck Taylor & Orange Cassidy with The Swamp Monster): ***1/4

Similar to Dave Cole, Ryan “Rush” Galeone had a big change in terms of card placement. At Ends Meet, he teamed with Brian Myers against Chris Hero & JT Dunn, but on this show, he’s teaming with John Silver to take on The Gentlemen’s Club. I actually thought this was a really fun match. It was far from the best match on the show, but it was pretty entertaining to watch from start to finish. Chuck Taylor & Orange Cassidy do very well in these types of matches. John Silver did a nice job play along with them, while Galeone played the serious guy. It was just a fun undercard tag team match. The Gentlemen’s Club scored the win here after Taylor hit the Awful Waffle on Silver.

After the match was over, Jimmy Preston came out. Apparently he is (or was, I don’t know at this point) a YouTube sensation. He says that when he looks a Ryan “Rush” Galeone, he sees unlimited potential, but he doesn’t like him being involved in comedy matches like we just saw. Preston talks about some of the people Galeone has beaten, and (I guess) offers his services. Galeone decides to leave with Preston.

3.) Matt Cross vs. Anthony Stone: ***1/2

Anthony Stone had a big win over Dave Cole in a 3/5 Falls Match at Ends Meet. Now, he’s taking on Matt Cross, who had just started in Lucha Underground as Son of Havoc. I thought this was one of the standout matches on the first half. This was very good match that featured a lot of entertaining action. There was also some fun spots in here involving the beards of these two men. After some solid back & forth action, Anthony Stone ultimately got the win. 

4.) No DQ Match - Rickey Shane Page vs. Matt Tremont: **3/4

Matt Tremont had a rough end to 2014, losing matches to Silver Ant and Stockade, but he was able to bounce back here with a victory over Rickey Shane Page. When looking at my ratings, this was technically the worst match on the show, but it was still fine for what it was. This was billed as a No DQ Match, though if you looking for a brutal hardcore match, that’s not what we got here. They used a couple of chairs towards the end of the match, but those were the only weapons used in the match itself. Again, for what this was, I thought this was solid.

After the match was over, The M1nute Men (who are now part of the Crusade For Change) attacked Rickey Shane Page. Davey Vega came out to make the save, but then Darius Carter came out, and the Crusade For Change took out both Davey Vega & Rickey Shane Page.

5.) Da Hoodz vs. The Hooligans: ***1/4

Similar to Matt Tremont, Da Hoodz were on a bit of losing streak towards the end of 2014, but they turned their fortunes around here with a victory over The Hooligans. I thought this was a pretty fun tag team match. There was some good brawling on the outside, and some good action in the ring as well. For a mid-card tag team match that clocked in at just under nine minutes, this was enjoyable.

6.) Fire Ant vs. Shynron: ***1/4

This match came about after the card had to shuffled around a little bit due to AR Fox getting a concussion. While I was expecting this to be better than it ended up being, this was still a pretty good match. It was right around ten minutes, but they packed in a fair amount of action in that time. Shynron is always exciting to watch, and I really love seeing members of The Colony in singles matches. Both guys looked good, and (while I might come off as a broken record saying this), it was a fun match to watch. Again, it could have been better, considering who was involved, but it was still a good match. It should be noted that, AR Fox was watching this match from ringside. At one point, AR Fox pulled the referee out of the ring after Shynron hit a bottom rope 450 Splash, but the referee just punched him! That was funny. Shynron then hits a Coast-To-Coast dropkick diagonally across the ring, and finally puts Fire Ant away with a 630 Splash.

After the match, AR Fox attacks Shynron. He hits him with the CLL International All-Star Title, and then, he gets Roxy (his valet) to hit Shynron with a Canadian Destroyer! A referee tries to help Shynron to the back, but AR Fox attacks him again, and rips off his mask! The issue between these two was far from over, and I thought this was a really good segment that built well to their (eventual) Ladder Match.

7.) “Speedball” Mike Bailey vs. Silver Ant: ***3/4

Here we have another match that came about after parts of the card had to be changed due to AR Fox suffering a concussion. I was really looking forward to this match going into it, and when the dust settled, it delivered. I thought this was a very good match! Both guys were great here, and the match featured a ton of back & forth action. Similar to the prior match, you had one guy who never fails to be exciting (Mike Bailey) against a member of The Colony. Silver Ant (formerly Green Ant) has always been my favorite member of The Colony, so whenever he’s in a singles match (which is sadly a rarity outside of CHIKARA), I get excited. What I also liked about this match was that Silver Ant was playing a bit of a different role here. He wasn’t exactly a heel, but he was doing subtle things in the match that made him come across as slightly more heelish, which made sense here, since the fans were really behind Bailey. In the end, Mike Bailey was able to put Silver Ant away to score the victory. This was one of the best matches on the show, and I loved watching it. 

Almost immediately after the match ended, Team Pazuzu (minus Chris Dickinson) attacks Mike Bailey, but Team Quebec is quick to make the save! A brawl breaks out, and it looks like we’re getting a multi-man tag up next!

8.) Eight-Man Tag - Team Pazuzu (Jaka, Pinkie Sanchez, & EYFBO) vs. Team Quebec (Buxx Belmar, Franky The Mobster, & Le Tabarnak de Team): ***3/4

This was originally going to be a Ten-Man Tag with Chris Dickinson & Mike Bailey on their respective teams, but Dickinson got an opportunity on a ROH show in Dayton, Ohio, so this was changed to an Eight-Man Tag. The match started off with Team Quebec takes out Team Pazuzu initially with a series of dives, which leads to all eight men brawling outside of the ring. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this match, but when it was over, I thought this was a really good multi-man tag team match. You wouldn’t think much of this match on paper, considering some of the people involved, but all eight guys delivered here. This match was just packed with action right from the opening bell, and there honestly weren’t any dull moments. It seemed so weird to say, but again, this was just a very good match. I don’t know what it was, but everything just clicked here. Ultimately, Team Pazuzu got the win here in an Eight-Man Tag that exceeded all expectations.

9.) Kimber Lee vs. David Starr: ***1/4

These two met in a singles match on the last show, Ends Meet, which Kimber Lee won. Before the match even begins, David Starr cuts a promo saying that nobody “sucks more dick” than Kimber Lee. He makes a few more derogatory comments before Kimber Lee makes her way out to the ring. She takes out Starr immediately was streamers flood the ring. I actually liked this match a bit more than their match at Ends Meet. What I really enjoyed about this is that they were able to make this match seem different from that initial encounter. This was pretty much a brawl, as they spent a good portion of the match on the outside. The action throughout was pretty solid, and I enjoyed the match. It wasn’t the best match on the card, but it was still a fun match that continued the issues between these two. Towards the end of the match, Kimber Lee kept trying to get an armbar on Starr. He kept trying to fighting back, but finally, he has no choice but to tap out. 

After the match, Kimber Lee asks for a handshake, but Starr hugs her instead. Unfortunately, this was just a ruse, as Starr then gave her a superkick from behind. JT Dunn comes out to make the save, and the two nearly come to blows before Chris Hero comes out to separate them. Starr tries to instigate things more, and Hero responds by knocking him out with a rolling elbow. Hero then calls for Busick & Gulak to come out, and it’s time for our main event!

10.) Biff Busick & Drew Gulak vs. Chris Hero & JT Dunn: ****1/2

These two teams haven’t been together long, but they’re both formidable teams. Out of the two, Busick & Gulak was the more successful team, up to this point, as they won the Tournament For Tomorrow 3:16. I had a feeling this was going to be really good, but it definitely exceeded my expectations. I thought this was a fantastic tag team match!! It was a relatively long match, clocking in at just over thirty minutes, but I loved it. There were some great exchanges in the first few minutes, until Busick & Gulak began isolating JT Dunn which, of course, built to a hot tag to Chris Hero. All four guys worked really hard, and their efforts showed here. There was a ton of great action in this one, featuring everything from hard strikes, to submissions and grappling. I can see some people not liking this match as much, but honestly, I thought this was an awesome tag team match. Eventually, Biff Busick & Drew Gulak managed to get the win over Chris Hero & JT Dunn. Again, this match was great, and I think the result tells a pretty good story, as Hero & Dunn lose once again, despite being a team that, on paper, is really strong. 

After the match, Busick takes the mic. He calls out Team Tremendous for a match at some point in the future. They leave, while Hero & Dunn console each other following the loss. They do shake hands as the show comes to a close.

Overall: 8.25/10

This was a pretty good start to 2015 for Beyond Wrestling. The main event was fantastic, and was clearly the best match on the entire show. While no match on the undercard came close to that main event, there were a number of really good matches. “Speedball” Mike Bailey vs. Silver Ant and the Eight-Man Tag between Team Pazuzu & Team Quebec were easily the highlights of the undercard, with Matt Cross vs. Anthony Stone not that far behind. As a whole, this was a very good show from Beyond Wrestling, that was highlighted by an incredible main event.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

AAW The Chaos Theory 2015 Review

Eddie Kingston faces off against Josh Alexander as AAW returns to 115 Bourbon Street!

AAW The Chaos Theory 2015
Merrionette Park, Illinois 1/23/15

1.) Louis Lyndon vs. Davey Vega: ***1/4 

I thought this was a very solid opening match. There was some nice back & forth action throughout, and as a whole, this was an entertaining match to watch. Towards the end of the match, Vega tried to use some kind of weapon (they weren’t brass knuckles, but something similar), but Lyndon was able to avoid the attack and got Vega to tap out to a Dragon Sleeper. A perfectly good match to start off the show.

2.) Justice Jones (with Angelus Layne & Knight Wagner) vs. Tyler Thomas: *1/4

Knight Wagner, who missed the previous show, is back in the corner of Justice Jones, but this time, they also have Angelus Layne with them. This was pretty much just an extended squash match. Thomas got a few moves in, but Jones was in control for the majority of it. There was a pretty significant botch at one point, as Thomas tried to dive over the ring post and to the outside onto Jones, but he came up really short, and landed hard on the floor. That looked scary, and it’s incredible that he was able to continue the match. Shortly after that botch, Jones was able to pick up the victory. Again, this was a squash match, and the only reason to see this match is for that major botch from Tyler Thomas.

3.) AAW Heritage Title - Fatal Four-Way Match - Christian Faith (with Gregory Iron) vs. Mat Fitchett vs. Marion Fontaine vs. Dick Justice: ***

Christian Faith had been the AAW Heritage Champion, and up to this point, this was probably his biggest challenge, simply because he didn’t need to be pinned to lose his title here. Dick Justice was wearing an eyepatch, which was the result of a pepper spray attack by The Iron Curtain back at One Twisted Christmas 2014. For what it was, I found this to be an entertaining Fatal Four-Way Match. It was by no means spectacular, but it was perfectly fine match, for the most part. All four guys seemed to get a chance to shine at various points. In one particular spot, Christian Faith threw Matt Fitchett from the ring to the stage on the outside. Towards the end of the match, Dick Justice seemed to have the match, but Gregory Iron (who was out with Christian Faith) pulled the referee. This led to Justice chasing Iron to the back, and that essentially removed him from the match. Christian Faith eventually pinned Mat Fitchett to retain his AAW Heritage Title.

4.) Chris Sabin vs. Shannon Moore: ***1/4

Yes, you’re reading that correctly. Shannon Moore wrestled a match in AAW in 2015. I think the last time I saw him was during his TNA run when he was part of Ink Inc. with Jesse Neal & Christina Von Eerie. Moore was in his “Prince of Punk” attire for this show. Meanwhile, Sabin held up a fan sign that said “Sabin beats women” during his entrance (the sign referencing Sabin’s match the previous month against Heidi Lovelace). I thought this was another pretty solid match. It was on par with the opener, in my opinion. Both guys did a good job here, and considering its spot on the card, it was exactly the kind of match I was expecting. Towards the end of the mach, Sabin tried to use a chair, but the referee quickly took it away, which led a nice near fall. Then, Sabin threw the referee into Moore as a distraction, which allowed the Detroit native to pick up the win.

5.) Double Dog Collar & Chain Match - The Hooligans (with Bucky Collins) vs. Zero Gravity: ***1/2

These two teams have been feuding for a number of months. Their most recent encounter took place at Windy City Classic X, where The Hooligans defeated Zero Gravity in a Berwyn Street Fight. Now, Zero Gravity is looking to bounce back, but in a match that favors The Hooligans. I thought this was pretty entertaining Dog Collar Match. As you might have guessed, it was a brawl right from the start, and there were some fun exchanges between these two teams. They worked very well in this environment, and did a nice job using the chains at various points. While it wasn’t a bloodbath, like the Dog Collar Match that took place in AIW a few months prior between Eddie Kingston & Ethan Page, it did featured a lot more action. Eventually, Zero Gravity managed to score the victory, getting a measure of revenge against The Hooligans in the process. 

After the match, Bucky Collins & The Hooligans attacked Zero Gravity. They tied Brett Gakiya to the ropes with the two chains used in the match. Then, The Hooligans brought out a table and put CJ Esparza through it after one of them jumped off a balcony by the entranceway! That was crazy! While Zero Gravity won the match, it was The Hooligans who had the proverbial last laugh. However, after they left, Gakiya took the mic and called for a TLC Match at the next show!

Before the next match began, Gregory Iron came out with The Iron Curtain to cut a promo. He says he wakes up every morning and is thankful for his five senses, but mentions that he has no choice but to hear, smell, and see all of these people when he comes to Chicago for AAW. Iron says that he thought The Iron Curtain took care of Dick Justice last month, but it looks like they still need to finish the job. Dick Justice then comes out to interrupt them. He talks about how they took part of his sight last month, but mentions that he can smell scoundrels from a mile away. Justice says that he only needs one eye to take out Gregory Iron, but then he gets attacked from behind by Christian Faith. With The Iron Curtain holding him down, Christian Faith then pulled out a spike and went after the good eye of Dick Justice! With these specific attacks on these past few shows, I think you can probably guess what this feud is leading to.

6.) DJ Z vs. “All Ego” Ethan Page: ***1/2 

Of course, you may know DJ Z better as either Shima Xion or Zema Ion. He had been with TNA for (I believe) a few years, but joined up with The BroMans in 2014 to become their DJ, hence the name change. This wasn’t his first time in AAW, as he’s made appearances in the past. Here, he took on Ethan Page in what was a pretty good match. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a DJ Z match (since I don’t watch TNA regularly), and he looked very solid here. I feel like he’s very underrated, because you don’t exactly get to see his best work when he’s in TNA (though I think that seemed to change a bit in 2016). Page looked good here as well, and the match was fun to watch from start to finish. At one point, DJ Z got busted open, which I think occurred after he hit is face on the guardrail at ringside following a dive. In the end, Ethan Page was able to pick up the win. Again, I thought this was pretty good. Up to this point, I think the best match on the show was a tossup between this match and the Double Dog Collar & Chain Match.

7.) AAW Tag Team Titles - The Wet Bandits (Dan Lawrence & Markus Crane) vs. Ryan Boz & Paco Gonzalez: **3/4

Boz won this title opportunity after beating The Wet Bandits in a Fans Bring The Weapons Match the month before at One Twisted Christmas 2014 (which was really bad). He reveals his partner to be Paco Gonzalez, who he immediately launches at The Wet Bandits to start the match. I really wasn’t looking forward to this match going into it, but I must admit, this turned out to be a pleasant. It wasn’t exactly a good match, but it was solid for what it was. The match featured some fun moments, and I thought all four guys did a good job in their respective roles. Towards the end of the match, Knight Wagner & Angelus Layne attacked Paco Gonzalez, which distracted the referee. This allowed Justice Jones to run in. He tried to hit Boz with his finisher, but he dropped him. Jones picked him up for a second time, and successfully hit his finisher. He then killed Paco Gonzalez with a lariat, and pulled The Wet Bandits on top of Boz for the cover. Again, this match was better than what I was expecting it to be.

After The Wet Bandits left, Justice Jones took out Boz with another lariat.

8.) AAW Heavyweight Title - Eddie Kingston vs. Josh Alexander: ****

Josh Alexander scored a pinfall victory over Eddie Kingston in a tag team match back at One Twisted Christmas 2014, which led to this title match. I really like that they did that. It’s simple booking, but it’s effective. As for the match itself, I thought it was great! It was easily the best match on the show, in my opinion. While things did get off to a slow start (and that might be the main criticism of the match in general), there was some good exchanges, and they later managed to tell a good story with Alexander going after one of Kingston’s legs. Despite being in pain, Kingston fought through it, and this led to a very solid back & forth action. As I said earlier, the match was relatively slow in the first half, and the crowd seemed to be out of it a points, but looking back at the match in hindsight, I thought it built pretty well. The second half was particularly good, and featured some cool moments, and it told another story with Alexander really putting up a fight against Kingston. The finish came during a brutal striking exchange. Essentially, the two were just delivering strike after strike to each other, until Kingston finally hit the Backfist To The Future. Both men fell down, and Kingston just happened to fall on top of Alexander for the cover. Some may not like the finish, but given what they did in the match, I thought it worked very well. Alexander pushed Kingston to the limit, and the way the match ended actually makes Alexander look really good in defeat, as Kingston really didn’t defeat him in a definitive manner. He just so happened to fall on top of Alexander during that strike exchange. Again, I could see some not like this match as much as I did, but I thought it was great.

After the match, Kingston (begrudgingly) gives Alexander some props, saying that he just gave him his toughest match in three years, before focusing on Davey Richards, who he’ll be defending his title against on the next show. Kingston said that Alexander was the only person in AAW who had the heart to truly fight him. This brings out Ethan Page, followed by Mat Fitchett, Davey Vega, Brett Gakiya, Christian Faith, Chris Sabin, Marion Fontaine, and Justice Jones…..essentially a good chunk of the roster. During all of this, Sabin gets into it with Ethan Page, and this leads to a big brawl breaking out. Then, from out of nowhere, Silas Young appears and attacks Kingston with a chair!! Young had been out for the past few months with a knee injury, but he made his return to AAW in a big way. The show came to a close with Young standing over Eddie Kingston while holding AAW Heavyweight Title.

Overall: 7.5/10

I thought this was a pretty solid start to 2015 for AAW. Eddie Kingston vs. Josh Alexander for the AAW Heavyweight Title was the standout match on this show, and is worth checking out if you’re a fan of both guys. As far as the undercard goes, there was some pretty solid stuff throughout, but I wouldn’t call any of those matches “must see”. DJ Z vs. Ethan Page was very good, as was the Double Dog Collar & Chain Match between The Hooligans & Zero Gravity. As a whole, this wasn’t a spectacular show, but from start to finish, it was filled with some good matches and entertaining moments.

Friday, January 20, 2017

WWE NXT TakeOver: London Review

NXT comes to London for the final TakeOver of 2015!!

WWE NXT TakeOver: London
London, England 12/16/15

The show kicked off with Triple H standing in the center of the ring. He did mentioned what happened to him only a few days earlier at TLC 2015 at the hands of Roman Reigns, but says that he would’ve had to have been dead to miss this big event. He hypes up the crowd and finishes by getting them all to say “We Are NXT!”.

1.) Asuka vs. Emma (with Dana Brooke): ****1/4

After Dana Brooke was defeated by Asuka back at NXT TakeOver: Respect, Emma is now getting her chance to go up against “The Empress of Tomorrow”. I had a feeling that this was going to be good, but it blew away my expectations. This was a fantastic women’s match! Asuka was great, of course, but Emma more than held her own here. Obviously Asuka and The Four Horsewomen of NXT get a lot of hype (deservedly so), but I don’t think Emma gets enough recognition. She’s a great wrestlers, and is pretty underrated, if you ask me. There was some great back & forth action throughout this match, and some of the false finishes towards the end of the match were really good. Dana Brooke tried to get involved, but the interference backfired, and ultimately, Asuka scored the victory here in this fantastic opening match. I know a lot of the focus of this show going in, with regards to the women, was the NXT Women’s Title match, but this opening contest between Asuka & Emma really set the bar high here at the start of the show. This was pretty awesome!!

2.) NXT Tag Team Titles - The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) vs. Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady (with Carmella): ****

On an episode of NXT TV several weeks prior to this show, The Revival captured the NXT Tag Team Titles from The Vaudevillains. They’re making their first title defense on a TakeOver against Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady, who’ve been so close to capturing the NXT Tag Team Titles on a couple of occasions. Of course, Enzo & Cass were awesome during that entrance (their shtik never gets old), and the crowd loved them. I thought this was a great tag team match! While there wasn’t necessarily a ton of action here, what made this match work so well is the story they were able to tell. There were some really cool false finishes here, where Enzo & Cass came very close to winning the titles on a number of occasions, but The Revival just managed to stay alive. Enzo & Cass played great babyfaces, and The Revival did a fantastic job in their role as heels. If you’re someone who’s into that southern style of tag team wrestling, then I feel like this match will certainly be one you’ll enjoy. Eventually, Cass got taken out on the outside, and The Revival hit their finisher, Shatter Machine, off the top rope to retain the NXT Tag Team Titles! This show is off to an incredible start.

3.) Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin: ***

The former Uhaa Nation made his debut back at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn, and he’s had a solid first few months, but he soon got into a feud with Baron Corbin, which led us to this match. This was really the first downturn in the card, but I wouldn’t take that as a criticism, as it was still a very solid match. I think it says a lot about a show when what was the worst match on the card (by a rather big margin, in my opinion) was still relatively good. The match slowed things down a bit, but after what we saw in the first two matches, I don’t see that as a bad thing. One of the funnier highlights of this match saw Corbin unleash some hilarious banter on Apollo Crews. At one point, he yelled audibly at Crews to “go back to Ring of Honor” (which is hilarious since Crews never wrestled for ROH). It was interesting that Corbin got the win here in such a clean fashion, but in the long run, I don’t think it mattered too much, since both would end up on the main roster following WrestleMania.

4.) NXT Women’s Title - Bayley vs. Nia Jax: ***½

Nia Jax recently made her debut in NXT, and coming into this match, posed one of the biggest threats that any NXT Women’s Champion has ever faced. I think a lot of people were curious as to how this match was going to go, considering Nia Jax has just made her debut, and didn’t have a ton of experience. Fortunately, this turned out to be a pretty good match. It wasn’t close to previous matches for the NXT Women’s Title on TakeOver specials, but considering the challenger was pretty inexperienced, it turned out about as good as it could have. A lot of the credit for this one goes to Bayley. First of all, before I even talk about the match, I should say that the crowd was really into her. At one point, they sang “Hey Baby, I wanna know if you’ll be my girl”, but used Bayley’s name instead. As for the match, what made it so good was the story they were able to tell. Bayley knew that Nia Jax had a big power and size advantage, so she went with the strategy of trying to take her out with sleeper holds and guillotine choke. Jax landed some big shots of her own, nearly putting away Bayley away on a few occasions, but ultimately, it was the guillotine choke that led to Bayley successfully retaining her NXT Women’s Title. Again, this was a lot better than anyone was expecting, and most of the credit has to go to Bayley.

5.) NXT Title - Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe: ****¼

Finn Balor & Samoa Joe saw some brief success as a tag team, winning the first annual Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic at NXT TakeOver: Respect. However, that partnership didn’t last long, as Samoa Joe later turned on Finn Balor, making it clear that he wanted the NXT Title. That led us to this match. In addition to his usual demon war paint, Balor had a Jack The Ripper-inspired entrance. As far as the match goes, I thought it was an awesome main event! Both guys are so good, so it should be no surprise that this match was great. The action was very strong from start to finish. Balor was aggressive at first, and that really set the tone for the rest of the match. Joe was, of course, great here as well, as we saw a lot of what makes him such a great performer. After nearly eighteen minutes of intense back & forth action, Finn Balor was finally able to put away Samoa Joe to retain the NXT Title!! Once again, I thought this was a fantastic match!

After the match, Balor celebrated in the ring while an irate Samoa Joe looked on from the entrance way as the show came to a close.

Overall: 8.5/10

NXT TakeOver Specials always manage to deliver, and this one was no exception. Part of what made this particular show so awesome was the crowd in London. They were raucous throughout the entire show, and were into pretty much every match. Great crowds can really help shows like this, and on this occasion, they made good and great matches even better. As far as the card, the main event between Finn Balor & Samoa Joe delivered in spades, but it wasn’t the clear Match Of The Night, as Asuka & Emma delivered a fantastic opening match. Apollo Crews vs. Baron Corbin was a fine undercard match, and the other two title matches (for the NXT Tag Team Titles and the NXT Women’s Title) exceeded expectations. I don’t think I would call this the best NXT TakeOver Special ever, but with the amazing atmosphere and the great wrestling, it was definitely one of the strongest we’ve seen thus far.

WWE TLC 2015 Review

Roman Reigns challenges Sheamus for the WWE World Title in a TLC Match!

WWE TLC 2015
Boston, Massachusetts 12/13/15

Kickoff Show

1.) Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks (with Naomi & Tamina): ***1/4

Before the match began, Team B.A.D. sang their own version of “The 12 Days of Christmas”. I actually thought this was a really solid match. Obviously it was nowhere near the awesome match these two had at NXT TakeOver: Unstoppable several months prior, but for what this was, it was entertaining. There was some good back & forth action, and it featured some fun technical wrestling. This was one of the better pre-show matches we’ve gotten, and is definitely worth checking out. In the end, interference from Team B.A.D. led to Sasha Banks getting the victory. If the weren’t for the involvement of Naomi & Tamina towards the end, and we saw a clean finish, I would’ve gone ***½ on this. It was that good.


1.) WWE Tag Team Titles - Triple Threat Ladder Match - The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston with Xavier Woods) vs. The Lucha Dragons (Kalisto & Sin Cara) vs. The Usos: ****1/4

As always, we got a promo from The New Day before the match, where they made fun of their opponents. I think most of us had a feeling this was going to be good, but it turned out to be a fantastic ladder match!! The first few minutes were a tad slow, but for the most part, this was an insane match that featured plenty of exciting moments, and even some innovative things we haven’t seen before. Everyone involved worked really, really hard while also taking some serious punishment. Obviously, the big highlight of the match saw Kalisto hit one of The Usos with his finisher, The Salida Del Sol, from the top of a ladder, through another Ladder!! That was easily one of the craziest spots in a Ladder Match in a very long time. In my view, this was definitely one of the most memorable WWE ladder matches in recent memory. Eventually, Xavier Woods (who wasn’t “officially” in the match) got involved, and The New Day were able to retain their WWE Tag Team Titles!

2.) Rusev (with Lana) vs. Ryback: **¾

Both of these men are looking to bounce back after being on the losing end of feuds and title programs in the months prior. I thought this was a fun hoss division match. It only went about seven or eight minutes, but for what it was, it was a fine match. There’s really not much else to say other than that. Lana did get knocked down at one point, but she faked an injury so Rusev could take advantage. In the end, Rusev got the submission victory over Ryback after he passed out to The Accolade.

3.) WWE United States Title - Chairs Match - Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger: ***1/4

I’m glad that WWE went with these two for a brief feud. It makes sense that Jack Swagger would get involved after his former manager, Zeb Colter, aligned himself with Alberto Del Rio (as ridiculous as that pairing was). I’m not totally sure of the timeline, but I think that Zeb Colter was written off WWE TV by this point, so he wasn’t involved here. I really wasn’t that excited for this one, going into it, but when it was over, I thought it was actually very solid. Both guys seemed to work hard, and there was entertaining action throughout. The stipulation is a little silly, but they managed to do a good job with it here, as they were able to incorporate a good amount of brutality that the Chairs Match usually lacks. I thinks it’s fair to say that this match overdelivered. Ultimately, Alberto Del Rio got the win to retain his WWE United States Title.

4.) Eight-Man Elimination Tables Match - ECW Originals (The Dudley Boyz, Tommy Dreamer, & Rhyno) vs. The Wyatt Family (Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Erick Rowan, & Braun Strowman): ***

After being thoroughly beaten by The Brothers of Destruction at Survivor Series, The Wyatt Family got into a feud with The Dudley Boyz, who brought in some friends from ECW, in the form of Tommy Dreamer & Rhyno, as backup. That’s led us to this Eight-Man Elimination Tables Match. I thought this was, for the most part, a fun match. It definitely had some clunky moments, but the point of this was to make The Wyatt Family, particularly Braun Strowman, look strong, and they did. Again, this was by no means spectacular, but I thought that it was a fun brawl. Erick Rowan was eliminated first, but despite that initial disadvantage, The Wyatt Family systematically eliminated all four of the ECW Originals to ultimately win the match.

5.) WWE Intercontinental Title - Kevin Owens vs. Dean Ambrose: ***1/4

Before the match began, Owens cut a promo on his way down to the ring, making fun of Boston, before talking about Dean Ambrose. I like the fact that they used the win Dean Ambrose got over Kevin Owens in the Semi-Finals of the WWE World Heavyweight Title Tournament at Survivor Series to justify this title match. It’s always good to see some form of continuity in WWE. However, I thought that this match wasn’t quite as good as their encounter at Survivor Series. It was still a good match, don’t get me wrong, but it was just missing….something. The match was solid, but it was largely forgettable, which is unfortunate, because we all know these two are capable of more. The big news, of course, was that Ambrose defeated Kevin Owens to win the WWE Intercontinental Title. Again, this was good, but it’ll only be remembered for the title change. Ambrose celebrated his victory in the crowd after the match.

6.) WWE Diva’s Title - Charlotte (with Ric Flair) vs. Paige: **3/4

I believe this rematch was put together following the “controversial” finish to their match at Survivor Series. Since then, Ric Flair has now gotten involved, and is with Charlotte at ringside for this match. While this wasn’t necessarily a “good” match, it was an improvement over their match at Survivor Series. I thought it was fine. The only real noteworthy thing about this match is that both Charlotte and Ric Flair seemed to turn heel here, as Flair interrupted a pin attempt by Paige, which caused a distraction that allowed Charlotte to take off a turnbuckle pad. She then sent Paige into the exposed steel, which led to her getting the win. So does that mean Paige is a babyface now? I honestly don’t know….

7.) WWE World Heavyweight Title - TLC Match - Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns: ***¾

So after his first reign as WWE World Heavyweight Champion was cut short by Sheamus at Survivor Series, Roman Reigns is getting a shot to regain the title in a TLC Match. I wasn’t sure how this one was going to go, but when the dust settled, I thought this was a really good match. For me, this was the second best match on the show. There were some brutal points, and they made good  usage of all the tables, ladders, and chairs at ringside. Obviously it wasn’t the best TLC Match we’ve seen, and it certainly didn’t eclipse the Triple Threat Ladder Match from earlier, but for the most part, I enjoyed it. Of course, we did get shenanigans towards the end of the match, as Alberto Del Rio & Rusev (allies of Sheamus) came out and got involved. Reigns was ultimately able to fight them off, but in the end, Sheamus was able to successfully retrieve his title to win the match.

After the match was over, Sheamus celebrated his victory with Alberto Del Rio & Rusev, but they were soon interrupted by Roman Reigns, who delivered chair shots to all three of them. This brought out Triple H & Stephanie McMahon, along with a bunch of referees, to try to calm down Reigns. At one point, Triple H got in the ring to try to calm Reigns, and he did momentarily, but when he tried to check on Sheamus, Reigns hit Triple H with the Superman Punch! Reigns then destroyed Triple H with several chair shots while Stephanie was screaming hysterically. He then took Triple H to outside and tried to hit a powerbomb through the announcer’s table. It didn’t break on the first try, so he just got onto the other announcer’s table, and hit a big elbow drop, which did break the table. Reigns said that he knew he was getting fired, and finally stopped his attack. Triple H was helped up by referees, and they started to carry him away, but Reigns came back and nailed Triple H with a huge spear! Michael Cole then screamed that Roman Reigns was “a wildman”, as the show finally came to close. This was probably one of the most effective things they’ve done with Roman Reigns. It was one of the few times when the crowd was seriously behind him, and at the time, we thought that WWE was finally doing something right with Reigns. Obviously it didn’t last long, but still, for what this one, it was incredibly effective in trying to get Reigns over as a babyface.

Overall: 7.25/10

As a whole, this was a much better PPV outing for WWE compared to Survivor Series. The Triple Threat Ladder Match was a fantastic spectacle, and was easily the best match on the show. The TLC Match between Sheamus & Roman Reigns was actually very good as well, and despite the fact that interference led to the finish, it led to a great angle that closed the show. The rest of the undercard was relatively solid. Even the pre-show match was very good. Nothing on this show was really bad, and there were a few notable high points that made parts of this show worth watching.