My NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 24 Diary, Days 5 & 6

Day 5, May 22

Might as well address the elephant in the room, Jinder Mahal is the WWE Champion.

As I watched Backlash, I just couldn’t fathom that it had happened. I couldn’t really fathom him making it to the final two in the Wrestlemania Pre-Show Battle Royal, and I definitely couldn’t fathom him becoming #1 contender, but here we are waking up in the Maharaja era. It’s mad that guys like Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jake The Snake Roberts and William Regal were never world champion and now the worst guy from 3MB is. It’s even more distasteful when you consider that it’s a pretty cynical ploy to push WWE Network subscriptions in India. The mountain of steroids he’s done isn’t helping either, guy looks like his skin doesn’t fit him.

But, having slept on it, I’ve decided to roll with it. It’s happened now, Jinder is champion, that can’t be changed. So, let’s make something of it. If he drops the title back to Randy in a month, then WWE are basically admitting it was a joke. Give Jinder a solid run and hope that he’s up to the challenge.

Let’s move onto some actual wrestling:

desperado v taguchi

Oh, for fu…

Yep, pretty sure that’s El Desperado sexually assaulting Ryusuke Taguchi, just sticking a pen up Taguchi’s funky weapon. Another HR shitstorm is heading Despy’s way. The crowd loves Taguchi’s humour wherever he goes, though. It mostly translates too because it’s universal stuff like hitting people with his arse, arses are funny in any language. I have no idea why the crowd laughs so much when he fist bumps the ref at the start of a match, though I suppose I wouldn’t be able to explain to a Japanese person why Fandango saying day one is H is so funny.

Despy gets the win with some banter of his own, unmasking himself and framing Taguchi. As Taguchi plead his innocence, Despy slipped on another mask and stole the win.

Suzuki-gun’s nefarious ways were on display again as Yoshinobu Kanemaru beat Volador Jr. with the assistance of a bottle of whiskey. ACH v. Tiger Mask was good fun right from Tiger’s Kill Bill entrance music to the reversal sequence finish. The highlight had to be ACH’s four consecutive tope suicidas (somewhere Mauro Ranallo is shouting MAMMA MIA) all while the fans in the front row sat politely as Tiger was sent crashing into them again and again. Finally, Block B’s whipping boys Bushi and Kushida met. It was Kushida who finally won one, ending the match in style as he weakened the masked man with a lengthy Hoverboard Lock and rolling through beautifully into a God’s Last Gift, the former calling card of one Tyler Black. Whatever happened to him?

Day 6, May 23

So. Much. Wrestling. How do people watch more than three promotions at once?

ospreay v liger

Judging by the banners on display at today’s venue, the show appears to be taking place in Pro Evolution Soccer. Think I once signed a guy named Juice Robinson in Master League.

Will Ospreay v. Jushin Thunder Liger was almost a little sad to watch. Ospreay clearly holds a lot of respect for Liger and he took no pleasure in putting the old dog down. It was like Liger realised he was being surpassed by a guy half his age. I’ve bought into the campness of Taichi’s act so far, but his match with Hiromu Takahashi highlighted why he’s not everyone’s favourite. The match went on far too long, Taichi spent most of it using weapons instead of wrestling and worst of all, it dragged Hiromu down a level. Even the Timebomb finish was flubbed, but I couldn’t really tell whose fault it was given the lack of camera angles. Hey, at least Hiromu won. Elsewhere, Marty Scurll went to 3-1 with a win over Taka Michinoku and Dragon Lee beat Ricochet with the Alberto Del Rio double stomp, except if it was Del Rio he’d still be setting it up now.

My NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 24 Diary, Days 3 & 4

Day 3, May 20

Well, this is weird. Today’s matches took place at a house show, so we’ve got hard-cam only. It’s an interesting perspective, sort of like being in the crowd due to the lack of camera cuts and slick presentation. Also, the venue looks like the sort that turns up on Botchamania. Just waiting for a guy to land on his head attempting a moonsault off the stage. 


Match of the day goes to Bushi and El Desperado. I’m really enjoying Desperado so far, guy is just an unapologetic dickhead, easy to see why he’s Minoru Suzuki’s right-hand man. Desperado is such a prick that manages to get sympathy for Bushi, who’s normally spitting poison mist in people’s faces. He steals the win by ripping off Bushi’s mask and smothering him with a pin. Cue the Young Lions whipping off their shirts to cover Bushi’s head, guys couldn’t get in there quick enough. A luchador ripping off another luchador’s mask, I feel like there would be something in the code of conduct against that. Pam in HR is probably going apeshit. Desperado signs off by flipping off the crowd, what a man.

Elsewhere, ACH was beaten by Yoshinobu Kanemaru, the most notable moment being when Aceyaitchy was hilariously manhandled to the back by the huge Young Lion. Ryusuke Taguchi chanelled the spirit of Shinsuke Nakamura to defeat Volador Jr, hitting a Bomaye/Kinshasa en route to another win. He even did the pose. Finally, Kushida continued his one-man mission to blow my bracket as he lost to Tiger Mask. I suppose I should be thankful the tournament is throwing up surprises. 

NXT Takeover Chicago tonight. Why is all the good wrestling happening at once?

Day 4, May 21

How am I supposed to do this after what happened in Chicago last night? Tommaso Ciampa tore out our collective hearts and gave them a Project Ciampa through a table. How could you destroy something so beautiful, Tommaso? 

On the plus side, I am so ready for the #DIY blood feud, complete with Johnny Gargano as the scrappiest babyface that ever scrapped. On the whole, Takeover was a hell of a show right up until Tommaso Bastard Fuckface took a shit on my feelings. Tyler Bate and Pete Dunne put on an extraordinary performance while Hideo Itami v. Bobby Roode was excellent, too.

I think the only true friendship left in wrestling is Hiromu Takahashi and Mr. Belt.


Speaking of Hiromu, he’s lost his way. Unbeaten since returning to NJPW at the start of BOSJ, but he’s suffered two losses in three matches. The curse of being backed by me. Ricochet beat him this time with Kings Landing, avenging his loss from their cracker at Sakura Genesis. This one wasn’t quite at that level, as you’d expect from a house show, but it’s still the good stuff Ricochet and Hiromu are capable of. 

Judging by the crowd’s reaction to Taka Michinoku v. Will Ospreay, we were in Japan’s smark town. They were loving Taka’s methods of poking eyes and there was a big laugh for his attempt to nick a countout win by keeping Ospreay in a facelock, miles outside the ring, then running back to beat the count. It was Ospreay who got the points though, thanks to an Oscutter.

NJPW World translates Jushin to Beast God, so Marty Scurll had a challenge on his hands against Beast God Thunder Liger. I thought it was a really impressive showing by Scurll, and making a legend like Liger tap to the Chickenwing is a hell of a statement. Liger’s in trouble now, with three straight defeats. Thought he might bow out strongly considering it’s supposed to be his last BOSJ, but it looks like the young’uns have surpassed him.

Finally, Taichi tore off those pants and powerbombed Dragon Lee into oblivion. Taichimania is running wild, brother!

My NJPW Best of the Super Juniors 24 Diary, Days 1 & 2

In the aftermath of Wrestle Kingdom 11, Kazuchika Okada and Kenny Omega were showered with praise for having, what some called, the greatest match in professional wrestling history. I had to see what all the fuss was about so I watched it and I loved it. I gave the rest of the show a watch and decided it was probably time for me to take the plunge into New Japan Pro Wrestling.

It’s proven to be a good decision.

I’m now armed with a subscription to NJPW World and to commemorate my first Best of the Super Juniors, I keeping a diary throughout the tournament. 

Day 1, May 17

The opening day, then. I’ve been looking forward to this because, simply put, I love tournaments, every match has meaning and they’re much harder to predict. Speaking of predictions, my pick is Hiromu Takahashi, mainly because he’s my favourite thing about NJPW.


Him and Mr. Belt make such a nice couple. He’s also looked pretty much unstoppable in recent months and I feel like any defeat would be a surprise. Block A is absolutely stacked though, whoever progresses is going to have take some big scalps. Block B seems a bit more straightforward though, I’d be surprised if Kushida didn’t make the final. 

All 16 contenders are in action today. See you on the other side.


First things first, I’ve got to say I love Korakuen Hall. It’s so intimate and there’s something funny about the Japanese crowd politely sitting down as someone lands a tope four inches away from them. 

Opening the tournament, it’s Jushin Thunder Liger v. Taka Michinoku. To an NJPW rookie like myself, this is a battle between a former NXT Takeover curtain-jerker and a comedy jobber from the Attitude Era. I’m joking, please put down the tomatoes. Taka seems to have gotten a bit darker, anyway.


Indeed.
It’s fun start to proceedings from the two veterans, with Taka winning after he ties up Liger in a pin combination, which Wiki informs me is called Heavy Killer #1, which is an intense name for a clever little move. I have two main takeaways, firstly I have no understanding of what constitues a DQ in New Japan. Liger straight up whacks Taka with a chair during the match and gets away with it. Meanwhile, other guys make sure the ref is distracted when they use a foreign object. Perks of being Jushin Liger, I guess. Secondly, is mad hair a prerequisite for Suzuki-gun membership? Taka’s bad dye-job and pointy fringe fits in nicely with Minoru Susuki’s crazy patterns and whatever Taichi’s do is.

Next up is Volador Jr. v. Tiger Mask. It’s my first time ever seeing Volador so I’m curious to see what he’s got. Surprisingly, at least to me, Volador spends most of the match getting his arse kicked so we don’t really see how good he is. However, he does get the win with a crazy Spanish Fly off the top, hopefully a sign of what’s still to come. 

Man, people seem to really hate Taichi. It’s obviously a cheesy act, but it’s so naff that I’m sort of into it. He’s taking about two minutes longer than anyone else to get to the ring in a tiny venue, parading the beautiful Miho Abe around, all while he’s dressed up like an Orlesian on his way to a ball at Halamshiral. Besides, as naff as Taichi is, nothing he does is as bad as that crown Ricochet wears. Seriously mate, can you not get a better one than that school play prop? That’s my only sleight on Ricochet, though, guy is absolutely bananas in the ring. Taichi knows it too and spends most of the match running away and using Miho as a distraction. Rico finally gets his hands on Taichi and ends him with a Benadryller and a Shooting Star Press to die for.

Haven’t seen much of ACH (or Aceyaitchy as the Japanese seem to call him) but I was surprised to see him as a junior heavyweight. Watching him come to the ring, I’m still surprised he’s a junior. I’m assuming he’s the Cedric Alexander of the piece, and makes the weight simply by having 0% body fat. Wonder who will be his Kota Ibushi? It won’t be Bushi, though, as Aceyaitchy takes him out with a decaptitating lariato and the Midnight Driver. I can’t help but think if ACH was in WWE, the commentators would be in overdrive telling us how he just loves to have fun.

El Desperado is a big cheating bastard but as plans go, wrecking Kushida in his first match to blow Block B wide open ain’t a bad one. He attacks before the bell, chucks him through five rows of chairs and grinds his head with a piece of metal. Kushida’s response is smart as he targets Despy’s arm, working it with a brutal armbar off the top and the Hoverboard Lock, actually making Despy tap, but only after a ref bump. With a bit of assisstance from Kushida’s ROH TV Championsip belt, Desperado gets an opening and gets the win with Guitarra de Angel. That’s what I get for saying Kushida is favourite for Block B.


WOOP WOOP

Great to see Marty Scurll in NJPW. He’s here to break fingers and cure plagues. A Battle of Britain is the perfect way to debut him, and while I should get behind my countrymen for the tourney, I struggle to warm to Will Ospreay. I can’t quite put my finger on it, he’s got bucketloads of talent but he rubs me the wrong way. Is it because he’s an Essex boy? Is it his face? It didn’t help that he was going on about how he had to spend 10 grand on ring gear last year. No one’s forcing you to soend money on another set of gaudy Assassin’s Creed-themed gear, chief. Ass Creed went off a cliff after Revelations anyway, with Black Flag being the only exception, and that was only because it was a pirate game. See, Ospreay’s made me go off topic. No wonder I don’t like him.


I really enjoyed how the crowd instantly took to The Villain. They loved doing the woop woops, and Marty’s always good for a creative way to poke an eye and yank a nose. Moment of the match went to young William, though, with his superb topical take on Randy Orton’s snek taunt …..trolling. The finish was a thing of beauty as Marty turned an Oscutter attempt into the Chickenwing and made him submit. Great match, as you’d expect from two of Britain’s finest. 

I’m a big fan of football manager Ryusuke Taguchi, he’s even got the inflated sense of “the world is against me” that all the best managers exude in interviews. Observe:


Meh, I’d still rather have him than David Moyes.

Taguchi matches feature so many close-ups of his arse, it’s like that video WWE put out to discredit CM Punk. Taguchi hasn’t reported a staph infection recently, has he? His match with Yoshinobi Kanemaru is the comic relief for the day. Low blows are always funny, but Taguchi manages to breathe new life into the classic man gets in the groin genre. He takes one in the balls from Kanemaru but as he falls in pain, he inadvertently plants a boot between Kanemaru’s legs and small packages him for the win. The lulz don’t stop though as we’re treated to the wonderful visual of a Young Lion icing Taguchi’s junk. 


And we’ve still got a Dragon Lee v. Hiromu Takahashi to come. Hiromu seems to be proper mad, he’s got this insane fighting spirit mixed with the mind of a child. He strolls out with a comically large scrapbook he’s put together on his opponents and jumps straight into an exchange of about 20 open-hand chops with Dragon. Makes me wonder how they portray crazy in Japan, all I can think of is a Japanese JBL undermining everything but shouting: “He’s a lunatic, Maggle-san! I love it!”


Hiromu and Dragon beat each other stupid in a match reminiscent of their previous at New Beginning. Dragon seizes the initiative by using Hiromu’s madness against him, namely murdering him with Hiromu’s own fireman carry bucklebomb and Dragon wraps it up with a Phoenixplex. Good God, I’m never predicting anything again.

That’s the first night done, then. I think we witnessed about four deaths. No idea how anyone makes it to the end.

Day 2, May 18

The only way to start is by paying tribute to that mesmerising classic. What a show from two world-class athletes. But that’s enough about Taichi and Taka.


Ricochet and Will Ospreay just laid down a challenge to the other 14 wrestlers in this tournament, as well as the entire wrestling world. After all the feelings stirred up by the ….dive debate, this was the perfect response. These two men put on a bombastic display of barious styles of pro wrestling. They started out grappling, reverted to their usual flippy stuff until they had little choice but to fight. The longer it went, the better it got and as the minutes ticked by, I thought we were heading for a time limit draw. It was Ospreay who took it though as he finally caught his rival with the Oscutter. Oh Christ, what about that Dragonrana? I just had to laugh at how extraordinary that was. 

Last year, Ricochet and Ospreay’s BOSJ match caused a bunch of old pros to get their knickers in a twist ’cause things ain’t like they used to be. This year, they went and topped it. To me, this was pro wrestling at its best, but it doesn’t matter if it’s Ospreay, Ricochet, The Revival, Shibata, John Cena… it’s all wrestling at the end of the day. Let’s stop arguing over bullshit and enjoy the show. 

Elsewhere, the aforementioned Taichi v. Taka classic actually saw them touch each other once in over five minutes. I was wondering how match between stablemates would go down and it turns out they piss about like mates. It was almost heartwarming to see the members of Suzuki-gun share a laugh at the end, you know, if they weren’t part of a group of bastards led by a genuine maniac.

Dragon Lee made it two from two with a win over Marty Scurll. Despite Marty tying Dragon’s mask to the ropes and snapping his fingers twice, Dragon won with the Alberto Del Rio memorial protracted double stomp.

Poor Hiromu had a battle with Dragon Lee yesterday and today he was getting brainbustered on the floor by Jushin Liger. He survived another brainbuster and a Liger Bomb before taking his chance to hit the Timebooooomb to get some points on the board. Do any Hiromu matches not end in carnage? Every one seems to end with bodies strewn across the ring. I’m convinced he doesn’t feel pain. Enjoy some rest, Hiromu. *Checks schedule* bloody hell, he’s got Ricochet on Sunday.

By the way, I’m mostly skipping the undercard tag matches because I don’t want to go blind. I did see Kushida lose again, though. Knew I should have backed Taguchi for Block B. Oh, and Naito broke the Intercontinental Championship. It’s just as well Mr. Intercontinental likes it rough.

WWE NXT Classic: NXT Redemption Episode 6

William Regal is on a one-man mission to make this show watchable. Watch the April 12 2011 edition of NXT Redemption right here.

striker checks out maryse

Striking Out

This week’s episode started with a video package highlighting all the drama that is the Maryse love square. The monkeys in the truck are well-known for their ability to knock out a top class video package but even they can’t polish this turd. To be fair, they weren’t given much to work with. Lucky Cannon, Yoshi Tatsu and Ted DiBiase Jr make Vin Diesel look like Mads Mikkelsen.

The big question is whether Maryse has chosen Ted or NXT. Surprisingly they get this out of the way immediately. Matt Striker asked for her decision, to which she said “look at me”. In an absolutely vintage Striker moment, he took this literally and proceeded to check her out. What she meant was look at me, I can get any man I want, see ya never Ted. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a relationship in WWE end with such little fanfare, Ted doesn’t even show up to dispute her answer.

Besides, why have one charisma vacuum when you can have six?

wheres the charasma

The rookies assembled for this week’s challenge, The Power of the Punch. Sadly, it wasn’t Regal putting his brass knuckles on and decking everyone. Simply put, it was one of those test your strength punchbags from a funfair. Each rookie got one punch, rookie with the highest score won. Byron Saxton got us underway and set the tone with a score of 649. The crowd booed. Jacob Novak went next and absolutely whiffed it, scoring just 456. This was Maryse’s reaction:

rice pudding

“Couldn’t break the skin of a rice pudding, that lad,” said William Regal, barely containing his disgust. The booing intensified. Up next was Darren Young, who barely beat Jacob with 469. Maryse insisted she could do better. Conor O’Brian took the lead with 770 but was immediately trumped by Titus O’Neil who smashed it with 801. It was down to Lucky Cannon but instead of taking a swing, he insisted he was above it. He’s here to win championships, which is fair enough in my opinion. However, they don’t take kindly to that sort of talk on this embarrassing talent show that no one is watching and Lucky got a DQ.

That meant Titus won! He took the four redemption points. I think you get two magic beans to the redemption point.

Lucky took out his frustration at being forced to partake in this wheelie bin fire of a show on Maryse, but Yoshi came out to defend her honour or something. Lucky laid out the challenge to his love rival and Yoshi accepted. An epic main event awaited.

orton film

I Am What I Am

WWE love to flog their films on NXT Redemption and this week’s shill slot was given to That’s What I Am, which I’ve never heard of but am now fascinated by after seeing this trailer. It’s set in the 60s and follows this geek at school as he falls for a girl, but he then has to work with an even bigger geek for a project and you can tell he’s a bigger geek because he’s ginger and wearing big fake ears and Ed Harris is a teacher but he might be a paedo and Randy Orton is threatening to go to the papers. It’s like four films in one and none of them sound any good. Incredibly, it has a rating of 7.1 on IMDb.

darren gets horny

Titus O’Neil v. Darren Young

It’s interesting to see the humble beginnings of Titus and Darren before their legendary battles in 2016. I still get chills when I think of this seminal promo from Titus, it’s the Cane Dewey of this generation.

Back to reality and Darren cut a promo on his way to the ring about how Hornswoggle is a “pint-sized joke”. In a fantastic bit of Randy Orton-esque over-explaining, Darren then pointed at Hornswoggle and said “you’re a joke.” Glad he cleared that up, I suppose he could have been talking about the 6’6 Titus. Todd Grisham pointed out this is height discrimination and he won’t stand for it. He didn’t even crack up as he said it, fair play.

It’s only the sixth episode but it’s already the third time Titus and Darren have been in the ring together. It’s probably because they’re the best the show has to offer in-ring wise, but that says a lot about the quality of the show. The match was par for the course, just a few minutes long and ended when Darren was distracted by Hornswoggle, allowing Titus to roll him up. Strong as an ox 6’6 guy wins with a distraction roll-up.

After the match, Darren attacked Titus and grabbed Hornswoggle, but was talked out of beating him down by his pro, Chavo Guerrero. Like I could believe that, if anyone on this show is going to beat up a dwarf, it’s Chavo Guerrero.

headcrack novak

Pretty Fly For A White Guy

Last week, JTG wagered with Vladimir Kozlov that he could make Jacob cool. So, this week JTG introduced Headcrack Novak and well, the result is above. Look at the sheer boredom on the faces of those kids. This is what William Regal made of it all:

regal disbelief

“I feel so sorry for this show.”

Headcrack heard all of Regal’s comments about him being a terrible excuse of a pro wrestler and he wouldn’t stand for it any longer. Regal sat in silence the entire time, watching Novak, infuriating him further until he appeared to challenge Regal. Only then, did Regal speak: “the last thing that lad wants is me turning him into a bloody vegetable.” It’s certainly not the last thing I want.

novak big boot

Jacob Novak v. Byron Saxton

The match was nothing, but Regal cut a brilliant promo on commentary about being an old pro. The sort you’ll be familiar with is you seen his spell as final boss on NXT. He goes into detail about what the ring means to him, why he wipes his feet before a match and his struggle to put his past behind him and reinvent himself in a new role.

silvio

Jacob bounced Byron off the top rope, followed up with two kicks and finished Byron with the softest big boot ever. It was similar to how you’d push open a door when your hands are full. The crowd couldn’t even be arsed to boo anymore.

edge retirement

Rated-R Feels

This show wasn’t even the worst thing to happen to wrestling that week. It took place a few days after Edge retired. His retirement speech is replayed in full and it’s a strange thing to watch. It’s so sudden that no one, Edge included, seems to know how to react. There’s total disbelief on the faces of some fans. There’s some nice nods to those with the benefit of flash photography, The Brood and even the live sex celebration. Edge was one of my favourites as a kid and I still remember reading his blogs on wwe.com when he was recovering from a broken neck. It’s good to see he’s settled into a life outside WWE now, having children and giving them mad celebrity names like Lyric.

luckys reaction when

Lucky Cannon v. Yoshi Tatsu

Here we are then, the battle for Maryse even though she doesn’t want either of them. She sat in on commentary and buried both of them, twice comparing Yoshi to a five-year-old before going on a remarkable tangent about how Lucky’s “Da Lish” nickname reminds her of a French dish of fried potatoes, gravy and cheese. I googled this and it turns out she was talking about Poutine. I am pretty confident Maryse has never eaten Poutine in her life. Not that I will either. Why ruin some chips and gravy with cheese? What is wrong with Quebecers?

This battle for the ages went a whole four minutes before Yoshi won with a diving spinning heel kick that almost made contact. The King of Kings was victorious and even got a kiss from Maryse for his trouble.

maryse and yoshi kiss

It’s pretty obvious she did it just to spite Lucky but who’s got the heart to tell him? He was made up, bless him.

WWE NXT Classic: NXT Redemption Episode 5

Straight from the depths of hell, NXT Redemption classic reviews have been revived. Essentially, it’s a lot more fun to write about terrible wrestling. Terrible wrestling is timeless, it’s why Botchamania is so popular.

This is where we left off way back when. Let’s get back to it with episode 5 from April 5 2011, watch it here if you dare.

as it stands

No, you did enjoy Wrestlemania

Previous episodes were hindered by the upcoming Wrestlemania 27, not that the show needs help hindering itself. Episode 4 was largely a 30 minute plug for Mania with a six-man tag slapped on the end. But now, with Mania out of the way, you’d think it’s time to focus on NXT. Well, you’d be wrong! Todd Grisham opens the show by saying it’s been two days since one of the greatest Wrestlemanias ever. Now thankfully I’ve never seen WM27, it happened exactly a year before I started watching wrestling again, but I do know that it was generally regarded as a stinker with one of the worst main events to ever take place at Mania. Basically, your opinion is invalid in the eyes of WWE.

That’s not it with regards to the showcase of the immortals, as the show starts with a Wrestlemania trivia challenge. The rookies simply have to take it in turns to name a winner from Wrestlemania 27, the show that took place two days ago. Piece of piss, right? Well, Darren Young goes first and says Bret Hart. It’s a wrong answer. ANYONE, Darren. You could have said any one of the winners from the show that was happening 48 hours ago. Byron Saxton & Jacob Novak get us on track with The Undertaker & Randy Orton, before Conor O’Brian goes with Snooki. Showcase of the immortals. Now, Lucky Cannon had been surprisingly decent in the last two shows. It was bog-standard stuff like local sports team heat but at least he was acting like something resembling a professional wrestler. But this week it’s a swing and a miss. Instead of answering he asks Matt Striker if he knows where his girlfriend was last night because he does. It’s like he had prepared the line and was going to say it no matter what. William Regal points out the other flaw with Lucky’s statement, Matt Striker doesn’t have a girlfriend. Lucky should know Striker is more of a Craigslist kind of guy anyway.

Titus O’Neil, Byron & Jacob all answer correctly but Conor comes up blank and gets eliminated. The topic switches to Hall of Fame 2011 inductees. We get through five answers until Jacob fails to come up with anything. Byron & Titus are the final two and have to name NXT rookies. They both open with themselves and after going back and forth for a bit, Titus says Byron. It’s an invalid answer so Byron takes the victory and the four crucial Redemption points, whatever they do.

conor roll up

Conor O’Brian v. Jacob Novak

It’s revealed on commentary that Jacob has switched from white trunks to gold because he actually took Byron’s diapers comment to heart. I was right! I was just joking and thought I was over-analysing a six-year-old bad wrestling show. What other subtleties have I been missing?

The main take away from these old shows is how good William Regal was on commentary. There’s about ten things from this episode alone I could quote. It’s more entertaining than what’s going on in the ring, that’s for sure. Todd tells us Conor has two dogs called Princess & Diva and asks Bill what this tells us about Conor. Regal’s response is: “Not a lot. I don’t like dogs.” He then switches flawlessly to analysing a wristlock. This show really isn’t worthy of his aloof charm.

Conor gets the win by ducking Jacob’s attempted Helluva Kick and rolling him up for the three. Hang on, I think we need to take a moment to absorb the news that Konnor from The Ascension called his dogs Princess & Diva. I wouldn’t have thought the wasteland was a good place to raise dogs.

maryse steps over yoshi

The Original (Sh)It Couple

In the latest chapter in Yoshi Tatsu’s quest to win Maryse’s affection, he is duped by the dastardly Lucky Cannon. Lucky apologises to Yoshi for interfering with his attempts and lies that he heard Maryse likes him too. Poor Yoshi takes the bait and goes to ask Maryse out. Now before The Miz, came Ted DiBiase Jr. Ted denies Yoshi on her behalf and beats him up for good measure. Yoshi’s misery is compounded when Maryse steps over him like he’s a puddle.

At this stage, Maryse is still a bit ropey but there’s moments where you see 2017 Maryse trying to burst out. Returning as Miz’s overly protective wife has been the making of her, Miz too. Those hilarious Total Bellas spoofs cemented them as one of WWE’s top acts.

maryse bella

You know whaaaaaaaaat? Perfect.

darren test of strength

Titus O’Neil & Hornswoggle v. Darren Young & Chavo Guerrero

Titus is wearing an Omega logo on his gear. It made me realise what this show needs is for Kenny Omega to fully embrace his Terminator theme from Wrestle Kingdom and time travel back to 2011 and V-Trigger everyone in sight. Anything that means I don’t have to watch a Hornswoggle match would suffice.

The referees seem to take a very lax view of the rules during tag matches on this show. This week takes that to the next level when Mike Chioda allows a blatant Hornswoggle low-blow. Darren gets on his knees for a test of strength with Horny and midget jokes ensue. In response, Hornswoggle boots Darren in the balls in full sight of the ref. Straight-up kicks him the daddybags. Chioda gestures that it’s a gut kick even though Darren is selling a kick in the swingers. I don’t think anyone cares at this point.

It doesn’t get any better as Chavo goes to the top rope but gets hampered by Swoggle biting his ankle. Chavo sells the bite despite the fact he’s wearing wrestling boots and wouldn’t feel a thing. The match ends with a member of the Guerrero family chasing a dwarf under the ring as Titus gives his future tag partner a Clash of the Titus for a merciful end.

ted ultimatum

Ted DiBiase Jr. v. Yoshi Tatsu

It’s obvious that nothing matters on this show but this match was preceded by a Raw recap that showed a John Cena/Rock promo in full. Wrestlemania 27 might be over but we need to start that build for 28, it’s only 51-and-a-half weeks away.

The main event of a show designed to find the next breakout star in WWE features one of the pros and a guy who isn’t even meant to be on the show fighting for the host’s love. The Game Yoshi Tatsu heads to the ring full of purpose but gets boringly stomped on for a couple of minutes before Ted gets disqualified for winning too well or some shit. All I can say is woof, Ted DiBiase Jr. It’s like they took one of the failed Randy Orton clones from the lab and thought sod it, he’ll do.

Maryse gets a pang of guilt and orders Ted to stop beating down Yoshi. Ted hilariously seems to think NXT is leading Maryse astray and sets her an ultimatum, somehow doing so with even less charasma than John Johnson. It’s either Ted or NXT. Maryse has one week to decide.

Tune in next time for her answer. The suspense is killing me.

WWE NXT Takeover Orlando Review: Revive It Yourself

Say what you like about the build-up, but Takeover delivered once again.

revive it yourself

We simply have to start with the Tag Team Championship match. Last year, NXT belonged to the tag teams and going by what we’ve seen in 2017 so far, it still does.

When #DIY and The Revival get in the ring together, magic happens. We all know what happened in Toronto last year and my favourite NXT match of 2017 so far was their title match back in January. Well, it was my favourite until last night because #DIY, The Revival and The Authors of Pain may have just put on the best NXT tag team match ever. I was absolutely blown away by what these three teams achieved on Saturday. This match was perfect in showcasing what these three teams are all about. #DIY are the best babyfaces in NXT and they got scrap around, punch above their weight and have love reigned down on them. The Revival continued to be a match of the year factory and the absolute best tag team on this planet. Meanwhile, AOP really turned up to the tag team party and they emerged looking like monsters. They rode out the 4-on-2 attack to eliminate both of NXT’s top teams. They actually got heat for it too, granted they were booed simply because they weren’t #DIY or The Revival, but take it where you can get it.

The story of the match was that #DIY and The Revival realised they needed to work together to eliminate AOP so they could take their chances with one another. However, they dislike each other so much that couldn’t co-exist for long enough to get the job done. They immediately teamed up to attack the champs but instead of going for the elimination, they ended up fighting each other. But whichever combination was in the ring, great things were happening.

dawson superplex

When the challengers finally got back on the same page, it was exhilarating. DIY tried to powerbomb Rezar through the table that had been set-up in the rapid opening, but it wasn’t until Dash & Dawson joined in that they could finally drive the big Albanian through the table. I’d have thought that would be a DQ, but I suppose they got away with it considering it took all four to drop Rezar. Before the match, I thought AOP would retain, but suddenly I was sure they were losing, Rezar was laid out and Scott Dawson locked Akam in an inverted figure-four. Johnny Gargano ran in to slap on the Gargano escape to ramp up the pain, Tommaso Ciampa & Dash Wilder egged them on and Orlando bayed for Akam to tap. It was an incredible sight and there were such disappointment when Rezar powered through to break it up. But the match kicked up another level when Dawson & Gargano combined to hit #DIY’s superkick/knee strike combo and then we got a Shatter Machine courtesy of Ciampa & Wilder. There’s few things in wrestling that get me more pumped than someone using an opponent’s finisher out of nowhere, and the half-and-half we got last night was a nice riff on the old trick. I think it was a nod to their Toronto classic too, when The Revival cocked up #DIY’s finish only to walk into a Shatter Machine courtesy of Johnny & Tom, my favourite part of that match.

Dawson attempted a desperate last-ditch effort with an insane superplex onto the crowd of bodies on the floor, but it even that wasn’t enough. AOP took out #DIY with the Last Chapter on Ciampa, leaving The Revival all alone. Despite Wilder heroically sacrificing himself to save Dawson from the Last Chapter, it was too much for Dash & Dawson and AOP ended it with the Supercollider.

aop new titles

An absolutely outrageous match. I don’t believe in giving out star ratings or assigning arbitrary numbers to indicate the quality of a match, but this was wrestling at its best.

roode new title

 

Main eventing the show, at least on paper, was Shinsuke Nakamura v. Bobby Roode for the NXT Championship. At Takeover San Antonio, Roode captured the title from Nakamura in a very good match, with a brilliant finale. It was the best NXT title match in over a year, but helped as it wasn’t preceded by anything truly great. That’s been the problem for the NXT Championship, by the time the main event rolled around, the crowd had already been blown away by the women or the tag teams. It was a tough act to follow, and last night it was the same. I pity anything having to follow that triple threat tag match, but Nakamura v. Roode II just didn’t quite stand out. It was a solid, perfectly watchable wrestling match that I will probably have no memory of in a few months. That’s not to say there wasn’t anything good about it. The match told a logical story and had the right conclusion.

Essentially, Bobby Roode is an intelligent wrestler that pays attention. The pre-match vignette showed him watching their previous match, when Nakamura buckled his knee and insisted on using it to hit a Kinshasa. Bobby knows Kinshasa is Nakamura’s best weapon because he felt the full force of it. In San Antonio, he was out for the count but survived because Nakamura was in horrible pain and couldn’t pin him quick enough. So here he spends most of the match working Nakamura’s dodgy knee and doing his damnedest to avoid Kinshasa. The first time he avoided it, he chop blocked the shit out of Nakamura’s knee and applied a figure-four. Shout out to Nigel McGuiness for implying the figure-four is 10x worse than childbirth, more on poor Nigel later. Bobby escaped the ring later backing off from a Kinshasa and turned another attempt into a lovely spinebuster. The first Glorious DDT wasn’t enough to put the King of Strong Style down but a beautiful tornado Glorious DDT did the trick.

glorious ddt

I had some fears we’d end up with three-time champion Nakamura. Not out of dislike or anything, it just wouldn’t have been a good use of him. Hopefully now he can move on up to Smackdown or Raw and we can get some fresh faces in the title picture. Roode might have a new challenger already:

drew mcintyre nxt

WHAT’S DREW MCINTYRE DOING IN THE NXT ZONE?!?!?!11!?1ONE!

I’m thrilled to see Drew back in WWE. I thought getting rid of him was a mistake anyway, but the time away has done Drew the world of good. I’ve seen Drew live a few times since he hit the indies and it’s clear to me that he’s one of the best in the world. Every time I left a show that Drew performed on, all I could think was how is this guy not a WWE main-eventer? The size of a wrestler is often exaggerated, but I actually think Drew’s size is downplayed. The guy is a giant and always seems to tower over his opponents, something something indie vanilla midgets etc.

The question is why NXT? While I could easily see Drew as WWE’s first British world champion, Drew in NXT can definitely be mutually beneficial. The last time a casual WWE fan saw Drew, he was a comedy jobber in a pretend rock band. The last thing he needs is a Raw crowd chanting 3MB or What or CM Punk at him. Muttonheads. But in NXT he can re-establish Drew McIntyre. Show everyone why he was “the chosen one”.

Welcome back Drew. NXT roster… You. Are. Fucked.

no eclipse

It was a battle of the streaks as Asuka put her NXT Women’s Championship on the line against Ember Moon. This is a match I’ve been looking forward to for a while, NXT’s top two women and a realistic challenger for Asuka. Initially, I thought this could be the end for Asuka but the clunky build-up quickly had me reconsidering. The foundations are there but I think this match came too soon. Holding Takeovers before the Big 4 PPVs presents scheduling issues. There were only nine shows between San Antonio & Orlando and one of those was pre-recorded before San Antonio, so that’s 8 hours to build to a show on the biggest weekend of the year, it’s not enough. The main story was that Ember Moon possesses a devastating move that could feasibly beat Asuka. Unfortunately, they beat us over the head with how deadly the Eclipse is. There was no subtlety, it was plainly THE ECLIPSE IS REALLY DANGEROUS, YOU GUYS. Honestly, I’m a bit surprised Asuka didn’t eat an Eclipse and kick out because of how silly the build-up was.

However, I liked what they did with the match. It’s always best to leave it to the professionals in the ring. Asuka hasn’t lost since arriving in NXT, she’s been champion for a year and she’s spent her entire tenure blitzing everyone who’s dared to face her. She doesn’t see how anyone can top her, so she hasn’t taken Ember seriously at all. After San Antonio, she didn’t even know Ember Moon worked at NXT. Asuka expected another geek like Liv Morgan or Billie Kay. But Ember is better than that and rocked Asuka. She threw some tasty forearm smashes, tossed Asuka with a couple of suplexes and resisted the Asuka Lock. Asuka was complacent and got spooked when Ember fought back, so much so that the champion resorted to cheating. When Ember went up top for the Eclipse, Asuka panicked and chucked the ref into the ropes, Ember crashed and burned, Asuka kicked her head in for the win.

asuka new title

This leaves us with several interesting options. Asuka has leaned towards being a heel in recent months but this is the first time she has outright cheated. I’d definitely be curious to see her go full Skull Reaper, she won’t get booed because it’s impossible to boo someone who looks this good in a sundress:

asuka sundress

I got distracted, where we were? Options, right. Clearly, Asuka wanted nothing to do with it last night and thought as long as she avoided it, she had Ember under control. This, of course, was true but she probably never planned for Ember to even make it to the top rope. There’s an insecurity there and a chink in Asuka’s previously impervious armour. Ember can learn from her experience of facing Asuka once and exploit Asuka’s fears over the Eclipse. There’s a long time until the next Takeover, which gives us plenty of time to sufficiently hype Asuka v. Ember II.

aleister black debut

Takeover marked the official debut of Aleister Black, and I’m very excited to see what he’s got in store. Tommy End was one of those wrestlers I always wanted to see in-person on the indies and while I was never fortunate enough, I’ll settle for seeing him on TV every week. He looks fantastic, he’s totally unique (especially for WWE), and he immediately looked like a big deal. His entrance was full of mystery and all eyes were on him.

It was good debut from in-ring perspective, Black and Andrade Cien Almas worked well together, apart from one dodgy pin. Black throws his strikes with real malice and it’s always good to see someone who makes it look legit. The way he lifted Almas by the chin using his foot was badass and he put him back down with the Black Mass spin kick.

ingobernable

While it was Black’s night, how good is Almas? I say get this man a championship ASAP, but I think it’s a little way off sadly. At the moment he’s stuck in the Tyler Breeze/CJ Parker role of making the new guy look good. Clearly, there’s a lot of trust in Almas to do this role but I think he could be so much more. I had little knowledge of La Sombra and his introduction to NXT was underwhelming but since turning he’s been a highlight of NXT. There’s a real intensity to his work and he’s starting to put together a good collection of work in NXT. Him and Oney Lorcan have had a couple of good fights and his match with Roddy Strong in San Antonio was arguably match of the night. There should be great things on the horizon for El Idolo. Dare I say he should recruit some Ungovernables, perhaps?

Also, Nigel called NXT Ring of Honor. Incorrectly referring to ROH, who does he think he is, Baron Corbin?

dillinger dream team

I have to pick fault with Sanity’s tactics. At Axxess, they took out No Way Jose, ruling him out of action. Tye Dillinger’s dream team were allowed to replace him and got a serious upgrade in Kassius Ohno. From Sanity’s point of view, why take out the weakest member of Tye’s team. Obviously, they wanted to punish Tye in the match so he wasn’t an option, but why not take out the team’s best wrestler in Roderick Strong? Attacking Ruby Riot was an option too, who would they have replaced her with, Aliyah? Deonna Purrazzo? As it happens, it didn’t matter too much as Sanity put on their best showing to date, getting the win, but they probably could’ve made it easier for themselves.

dain orlando

In all seriousness, the opener was a lot of chaotic fun. There was action happening all over the place, the sort of multi-man tag that WWE does really well. In amidst the madness, Killian Dain got the win for his team with an Ulster Plantation on Dillinger. I really do love Big Daino, I’m barely used to his new name and seeing him in NXT but on Sunday I was watching him at Wrestlemania. Surreal stuff. Back in October, I watched him face Joe Coffey in a small room in a university in front of about 400 people. Last night, he was performing for 70,000 people. Really happy for him. Bonus points for his new berserker look.

Sanity’s success comes at the expense of Tye Dillinger, though. Not only was he on the losing side, he ate the pin, too. I have no problem with Sanity winning, the dedicated unit should beat the thrown together individuals, but where does Dillinger go from here? I don’t see him as future world champion or anything like that, but he’s consistently getting huge reactions from the crowd, it’s hard to ignore.

We didn’t see a lot of Ruby Riot in her first match, she and Nikki Cross just ended up brawling whenever they locked eyes. I’ll confess that I’ve seen next to nothing of her work as Heidi Lovelace but I enjoyed her promo that was on Youtube after her debut, my only problem is that I keep calling her Ruby Rose. With regards to Nikki, she’s playing her role well but I would like to see her actually wrestle. There’s a reason why Nikki Storm was called the Best In The Galaxy, and I think she’s a bit better than what she’s been allowed to show so far. Hopefully we’ll get to see a bit more in her inevitable singles match with Ruby.

Final thought, Roddy Strong is really winning me over. The guy is a hell of a wrestler and posesses a fantastic moveset. He’s still garbage on the mic but as long as he’s breaking backs, I’ll look forward to his matches.

*

Another Takeover in the books, then. I’m already excited for the next NXT Tag Team Championship match.

WWE NXT February 2017 Review: I’m Still Whacking It With A Shoe

Oh no

kassius-throws-shoe

That’s right, Kassius Ohno is finally back on TV. After appearing in the post-Takeover episode comforting Shinsuke Nakamura which was bizarrely not acknowledged, Ohno’s “official” re-debut saw him confront NXT Champion Bobby Roode. KO wants the title and to right the wrongs of his first NXT run. Naturally, Roode’s reaction was to pretend cry at Kassius’ touching story and ask if Ohno was his real name. Anyway, they came to blows and Ohno managed to fight off Roode while wearing only one shoe. Show-off. He went one better though by actually throwing the shoe at the champ. Top marks.

While it’s great to have Kassius Ohno back in NXT, I am really not excited about another NXT Championship storyline revolving around the hottest free agent showing up wanting the title because of the buzz around NXT or whatever. Maybe they should ask Kenny Omega what he thinks of NXT’s buzz. There’s a reason why the NXT title picture has been overshadowed by the women and the tag teams for the past two years. NXT really needs a story where someone rises up to challenge the champion. Since Kevin Owens won the title, each title change has involved some hot new thing coming in and almost instantly inserting themselves in the title picture. NXT was at its best when Neville & Sami Zayn gradually worked their way to the top.

sanity-entrance

Sanity continue to show a lot of promise, the February 8 episode belonged to them. It sucks for Sawyer Fulton that he got injured when he did but what an upgrade Sanity got in Killian Dain. I’ve been a fan of Big Damo (suppose we’ll call him Big Daino, now) since I first seen him at an ICW show back in 2014. When he came out, I assumed he was the sideshow novelty act, the fat guy, but he went on to have a great triple threat with Jack Jester & Liam Thomson. He even did a Van Terminator. It soon became clear to me that he was the best big man working in British wrestling. It’s great to see him get his chance in NXT and Sanity provides him with a great platform.

big-daino

His first victims were the Bollywood Boyz. Herp & Derp Sihra weigh 303 lbs combined, that’s probably less than Dain on his own. Hell, Nikki Cross could probably beat those jokers on her own and it inevitably proved to be a mismatch as Dain destroyed the pair single-handedly, finishing it with the Ulster Plantation. Alexander Wolfe wasn’t even needed, he just enjoyed the show from the apron. Of course, all the Full Sail mutants could do in response was chant shave your back. How about he shaves his back once you lot shave your necks?

Sanity later attacked Tye Dillinger when he again refused to join the crew. To be fair, Tye was holding his own until he got Dainoed, but support arrived in the form of No Way Jose & Roderick Strong. An odd duo, I can see why Jose helped, he’s had issues with Sanity, but Roddy? I’m going with a mutual respect earned during the fatal-4-way from a few months back. I’m probably giving the writers too much credit. Regardless, Sanity were back in action in the main event against Tye and his new pals. Sanity won when Dain took out Roddy with that running crossbody that looks like it could kill someone. This was the first Sanity six-man tag we’ve seen on NXT and I’m hoping it’s the first of many. One of the great things about The Shield is that they would regularly take on dream teams, but they usually won because they were a unit. I’d like to see something similar happen with Sanity, they should be unbeatable in six-mans for a while until a new faction rises or a mega-babyface comes along. The Shield only lost when they came up against Daniel Bryan as he was catching fire and looking like the best wrestler of all time, build up Sanity right and it could be a huge moment when someone does get the better of them.

nikki-cross-sulk

My only problem with Sanity at the moment is Nikki Cross’ role. It’s nothing to do with Nikki herself really, more WWE’s view of intergender wrestling. Nikki is obviously batshit and wants to fight whoever she can. She’ll fight a bloke, she doesn’t care, she took out Dillinger with a rana during the six-man. The problem is that the men can’t fight back, which hamstrings the storytelling a bit. They don’t need to resort to the sort of intergender violence you’d see at a bad indie show, like beating her with chairs or having her take a ridiculous bump, but someone should be able to lamp her.

iconic-duo-beat-liv

In the women’s division, the latest sacrifice, sorry, challenger, for Asuka has been found but they took the long route getting there. First of all, Liv Morgan defeated Billie Kay despite Peyton Royce’s attempts to interfere. The Iconic Duo then went to William Regal demanding another match with Liv. He made a tag match allowing Liv to pick a partner. Just when you expect Billie & Peyton to remonstrate with the decision, they simultaneously laugh and joyfully declare “She doesn’t have any friends!” and BOUNCE OFF THE SCREEN TOGETHER. Wonderful.

iconic-bounce

Liv did find a friend in the form of Ember Moon, but the Aussies managed to subdue the undefeated Ember and took out Liv with a double team knee smash. Billie pinned Liv and this where things get confusing. Regal decided to make a triple threat #1 contender match between Peyton, Ember & Liv. That’s right, everyone except the woman who got the pin gets a shot becoming #1 contender.

toru-yano-shrug

Same.

Anyway, I thought the triple threat was well done. Everyone probably expected Ember to wreck shit and set up that match with Asuka that I’m sure we’d all like to see. Instead, Ember spent 90% of the match on the floor. She was thrown into the steps early on and every time she tried to make an impact on the match, she ended up being tossed out again. The crowd get frustrated as the best wrestler in the match is a non-factor and they have to watch Liv Morgan work what is essentially a singles match. Getting genuine heat isn’t easy these days so congrats on that. Billie Kay tried to get involved on behalf of her good friend but got Eclipsed by Ember. Just when you thought Ember had arrived, Liv then throws her out, but turns into a knee lift and a lovely Northern Lights Suplex from Peyton. Match over. Peyton Royce is #1 contender.

peyton-1-contender

Now, it’s kind of hard to picture Peyton being any sort of threat to Asuka when you consider what happened in San Antonio. After Nikki Cross had been indisposed, Asuka pretty much had to face the Iconic Duo in a handicap match. Asuka’s response was to kick them both in the face and win anyway. Can’t see next week’s match being any different, but it’s a nice distraction on the road to Orlando. Well, they’re in Orlando already but you get the picture.

aop-n-paul

The tag team division feels a little weird at the moment but there’s still some good stuff coming out of it. The problem is that there’s only three established duos: Authors of Pain, #DIY & The Revival, and you wouldn’t be surprised if the latter turned up on Raw soon. Heavy Machinery are starting to become a thing so you might be able to add them soon and you could always throw two of Sanity into the mix, but until then it’s down to three. The lack of numbers mean the three teams are standing around daring each other to strike, ultimately to kill time. It feels like we’re heading towards AOP v. The Revival at Takeover, though I wouldn’t mind if they threw #DIY in there for a triple threat. Whatever happens, I think AOP will remain champions for a while yet.

moustache-mountain

The showcase of WWE UK turned out to be one of the best parts of NXT last month. I think they rushed their way to the UK tournament, as good as it turned out to be, but until they sort out what they want to do with the UK Championship long-term then NXT is a good home for it. The first title defense saw Moustache Mountain collide as champion Tyler Bate faced Trent Seven. We got a very good match, probably the best in NXT in February, that showcased the best of British Strong Style and some sexual moustache twirling, as disturbing as that is given Trent is essentially Tyler’s dad. Tyler survived a Seven Stars lariato and delivered the Tyler Driver 97 for his first title defense. Wrestling is all kinds of weird in 2017, a few months ago I was buying a t-shirt from these two guys after a WCPW show, now they’re fighting for a championship in WWE, and will likely go back to competing in warehouses until WWE needs them again.

bruiserweight

Also representing Britannia were Mark Andrews and British wrestling’s favourite piece of shit, Pete Dunne. The Bruiserweight probably emerged from that tourney with the highest share price out of anyone, catching the eye of Uncle Trips himself. Pete travels the world collecting titles and breaking fingers, the Brummie prick is living the dream. Dunne v. Andrews was very entertaining, which isn’t surprising given their semi-final match was the best of the UK Tournament for my money. This one wasn’t quite at that level but it’s clear these two have a lot of chemistry together and both have big futures.

Until Takeover, try to resist the temptation to desecrate a grave and burn down your mate’s backwoods compound.