Aug 6, 2017
There's no denying it. New Japan Pro-Wrestling is absolutely on fire right now. WWE, on the other hand, is simply getting by with the same old formula. New Japan has been hot for awhile now, dating back to around the first of the three Wrestle Kingdom shows that were headlined by Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi. The promotion continues to build momentum as they ran two sold out shows in Long Beach, California and are in the midst of an epic G1 Climax Tournament. Now listen, I understand that flat out saying, "New Japan is better than WWE" is a matter of opinion and it depends on what you're into. But honestly, if you're a fan of professional wrestling as a whole and not just one particular promotion, then you know what I mean when I say that New Japan is better than WWE at the moment. Now that we have that out of the way, let's run down the reasons New Japan is outperforming WWE.
Let's face it, wins and loses don't mean a damn thing in WWE. A prime recent example is Jinder Mahal. What the hell did that guy do within the confines of the show to get an opportunity in a number one contender match? Seriously, I think he'd won two matches up until that point. WWE proved that match outcomes didn't make a difference. "But it's unpredictable," you might say. Well, that might be, but it also means that rooting for wrestlers weekly on Raw and Smackdown is a complete waste of time. Hell, Shane McMahon fought the Undertaker for control of Raw, lost, and then was in charge the next day anyway! What the hell is that?!
Booking, along with wins and loses, are focal points in New Japan. WWE is definitely hindered by the huge amount of content they have to turn out, but that doesn't mean things don't have to make sense. In New Japan, if a guy is going to get a push and some wins, they commit to it. 50/50 booking is very rare. If there's a tag-team match and a guy pins a singles champion, the result would set up a championship match. It's just a logical promotion.
WWE has a major anchor attached to all of its wrestlers. What is that anchor? Scripts, and a lot of them. Yes, there's a lot of stuff going on there and maybe it's easier to just tell people exactly what to do. The major issue with this though is it keeps people from learning via trial and error. No one can take a chance on the microphone. Characters don't develop naturally. Plus, every time I hear a scripted promo it's completely obvious that it's scripted. Stone Cold Steve Austin couldn't have had that unpredictable personality if he was scripted down to the punctuation marks. Austin drew an unfathomable amount of money taking chances and being himself. Times have changed in WWE and it's not favoring the performers.
So I'll be honest here, I don't speak Japanese. But when I hear the emotion in some of these dudes' voices, I'm convinced that I'm hearing their own words. One thing I do know is that when Karl Anderson cut a promo in New Japan, it damn sure wasn't scripted. Compare his mic work in New Japan to WWE. It's completely different. A huge reason Kenny Omega has stood out in the world of wrestling is the lack of restriction placed upon him. New Japan is creating stars by allowing them to find themselves on their own. WWE seems to believe they can create them with a keyboard. There's a certain authenticity with the top stars of New Japan and that cannot be understated.
WWE fans won't like this, but here it is anyway. New Japan Pro-Wrestling completely destroys WWE when it comes to an in-ring product. Sorry, but I firmly believe that to be a fact. AJ Styles and John Cena had some damn good matches, they really did. But New Japan has produced Hiromu Takahashi vs. Dragon Lee, Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kazuchika Okada, Omega vs. Okada, Tanahashi vs. Tetsuya Naito, and so many others in just over eight months. Again, there's a difference in the amount of content the two companies provide. The New Japan crew works more physically and less often than the WWE crew. I'd be an idiot to not also mention that this physical style can be detrimental to the longevity of a New Japan wrestler. Still, the two companies seem far apart in the quality department.
Another point of emphasis in New Japan match quality is the level of selling in a match. How many times in WWE have you seen Seth Rollins sell the knee then do a highspot? Then, right after the highspot, he sells the knee and hits the next spot. Neither company is perfect in this category, but more often than not, New Japan wrestlers sell and perform based on what they're selling. Yes, they'll go full strong-style and defy their worked injuries in an act of desperation, but not for the whole match.
Big-time New Japan matches are stuffed full of emotion as well. WWE can sometimes reach this level, but on far less of a basis. There's just something about the desperation the guys in New Japan can express through facials in the closing moments of a match. Okada vs. Omega II is a great example. The final five minutes of that match are so emotional. The fans in attendance that night were in a state of pure pandemonium. They were screaming and yelling toward the finish, not trying to be the stars of the show with some chant. The point is, the reaction from the crowd was organic, not organized and it stemmed from the emotion the two conveyed.
Something that really stands out when comparing the two promotions is the style of wrestling from performer to performer. This might be the most glaring point when it comes to match quality. In WWE, everyone largely works in the same manner. There's a reason why Brock Lesnar stands out within the WWE bubble. His matches are different. They're intense and somewhat disjointed. Everyone else seems to be stuck in the same mode. Think about it like this: when a guy is in the comeback sequence of the match, everyone knows it. It's a routine, not a desperate attempt to regain momentum and win a match. Matches in New Japan are different because everyone has a unique style within the company's collective style. WWE wrestlers also do to a certain extent, but it feels more like they're inserting their move-set into a predetermined framework. Guys like Minoru Suzuki Hiroshi Tanahashi possess unique mannerisms that differentiate them from one another. They haven't been robbed of their own originality for the sake of fitting the established mold. That's a big issue in WWE, especially for those trained at NXT from an inexperienced level. But that's a subject for another time. To put all of this simply, compare the matches between Wrestle Kingdom 11 to WrestleMania 33. There's definitely a gap.
In closing, I stand firm with my opinion. At this point in time, New Japan has WWE beat in terms of pure product. Again, if you're more into insincere promos and one way of executing a match, then WWE is the show for you. I will say this, though: When WWE is firing on all cylinders, has a feud that feels like there's real emotion within it, there's nothing better in the genre. Unfortunately for them, 2017 has been dominated by New Japan Pro-Wrestling.
Jul 1, 2017
Another Defy Wrestling show is in the books and this one did not disappoint. The absence of Pentagon Jr. and Fenix did not slow the Seattle, WA based promotion down, as they capped off a two day run that began Thursday in Tacoma. It was a fitting tribute to the late northwest wrestling legend, Buddy Wayne.
DEFY 5 GIGANTIC (Night Two)
Washington Hall - Seattle, WA
June 30, 2017
- Steve West def. Joey Ryan
- Angelina Love & Nicole Matthews def. Su Yung & Christina Von Eerie
- King Khash def. Sonico
- Davey Boy Smith Jr. def. Mike Santiago
- ReDragon (Kyle O'Reilly & Bobby Fish) def. Matt Cross & Darby Allin
- Davey Richards def. Shane Strickland (Richards becomes first Defy Champion)
Joey Ryan had another highly entertaining match at Washington Hall. He seems to have found a home away from home in Seattle. He and West had a great comedy match here, which featured all of Ryan's trademark spots.
Mike Santiago turned out another solid performance, this time against New Japan Pro Wrestling talent, Davey Boy Smith Jr. Santiago, for a relative unknown, has displayed good character work and put together very passable matches on the two occasions I saw him wrestle. Smith played the classic babyface and looked great in this independent outing.
What can I say about ReDragon vs. Matt Cross and Darby Allin? Defy was put in a tough spot with the incident that led to the Lucha Bros. pulling out of the show. With that being said, these four guys made up for it by turning out an excellent tag-team bout. Darby Allin really shined in parts, but the veterans were hard at work here. With Fish having debuted in NXT and O'Reilly seemingly on his way, you'd think the two would be slowing it down and be overly cautious. Even with that in mind, the two were fully engaged in this match and made it as exciting as it could be given the spot on the card. Loved this match.
Finally, the finals of the Defy Championship 8X Grand Prix to crown the first ever Defy Champion. Defy did their work here, having shot an attack angle from Richards on Strickland in Tacoma the previous night. Richards entered first, then Stickland's music hit. Strickland did not come out, selling the injured knee from the attack. They hit his music again and finally he turned up. Richards attacked him from behind and gave him a suplex on the floor, again putting the match in jeopardy. The story was fantastic in this one, as Strickland willed his way to his feet and fought back. They traded huge shots, pulled off incredible sequences, and overall lived up to the bill of a first-ever title match.
Davey Richards deserves a lot of credit for this match. The guy accumulated so much heat during the initial beat down. Working an angle can't be the easiest thing without the benefit of television and an announce team, but the angle really got over with the live crowd. Of course, credit to Defy as well. The match had a ton of crowd heat and finally ended with Richards coming out on top.
Though the result was not what the crowd wanted, it obviously opens the door for many more interesting possibilities. A rematch will surely be on the horizon and more great matches from Strickland on his road to getting that rematch. Defy put out the hook tonight and it seems the fans bit. Personally, I am very excited to see more. And isn't that the point?
If you are a wrestling fan and live anywhere remotely near Seattle, you must come out to a Defy Wrestling show. The quality of wrestling is incredibly high, especially as you get deeper into each card. Similar to the rise of PWG, Defy is building upon a wild fan base and an ever-growing talent pool of independent wrestlers. The northwest wrestling void has been filled over the limit in just a few short months. If you're a fan, it's time to get up, get to a Defy show, and enjoy the ride. This promotion is heating up fast. Don't miss out.
Mar 31, 2017
WrestleMania 33 is just two days away and despite what you may think about the build, there is excitement in the air. Before we get to predictions, let's discuss the road that got us here.
I'd hate to be negative, but is it just me, or has this 'Mania build been less exciting than past years? The card itself seems to feature a lot of matches designed purely to get more people on the show. From the battle royal, to the two Women's Championship matches, some matches feel too cluttered. I'm going to point the finger at the brand split. Yes, the draft last July helped many mid-card wrestlers reach greater heights within the two smaller rosters. People like Kevin Owens, The Miz, and Bray Wyatt were able to break through the pack over the year. The negative to this brand split appears to be showing itself in this year's WrestleMania card. At this point in time, Sunday is set to feature 13 matches over the span of six hours. I love professional wrestling, but even I'm a bit worried about the length of this show. 13 matches means that some bouts will be very strapped for time, meaning some may end pretty quickly leaving many of us to wonder why they happened in the first place.
That being said, there are many matches that won't disappoint, so let's go over the card.
2017 Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Slated for the pre-show, the annual battle royal hasn't had as much fanfare as the original incarnation. This appears to be the match to get many wrestlers without storylines onto the 'Mania card. The winner of the battle royal could go to Braun Strowman, the most logical choice. WWE recently added Chinese wrestler, Tian Bing, to the match. This is an interesting decision if he's not positioned to win the match. The booking of Tian should at the very least feature him eliminating many participants if he's ultimately not going to win. In any case, I'm going with Strowman purely on the basis of logic.
Cruiserweight Championship Match:
Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries
Fans should be praying to the wrestling gods that these two guys get the time to have a great match on such a large stage. Aries is by far one of the best all-around performers in the company and Neville has single handedly saved the Cruiserweight division. Neville deserves a lot of credit for rising from obscurity to dawning an excellent heel character to lead the division. This match could go either way, but I'm going to pick Neville. Arguments could be made for both, though.
SmackDown Women's Championship Six-Pack Challenge:
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Naomi vs. Mickie James vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Carmella
The women of SmackDown have made great strides since the brand split. In saying that, this isn't the best spot to have at WrestleMania. Thrown together with a lackluster stipulation, this match may be the victim of time constraints. Being nearly impossible to predict, I'm going to go with Naomi coming off her unfortunate injury that forced her to vacate the title weeks ago.
RAW Tag-Team Championship Ladder Match:
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (c) vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Cesaro & Sheamus
This is yet another example of an impulsive stipulation. Though the usual six to seven-man free-for-all ladder match seems like a better option, there should be some exciting spots in this one. Cesaro will surely wow the WrestleMania crowd with his athleticism. I'm praying that Enzo lives to see Monday. I'll predict Gallows and Anderson retain here.
Intercontinental Championship Match:
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Baron Corbin
The build for this match started decently with the forklift ordeal, but really lost steam shortly after. Capped by a barely passable Talking Smack segment, Ambrose and Corbin really have their work cut out for them at WrestleMania. WWE has made it pretty clear that they have a vision for Corbin, so look for him to beat Ambrose on Sunday. Ambrose has really fallen off the map since his match with Triple H at the first Roadblock event and it seems this trend will continue.
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
Again, the build to WrestleMania 33 wasn't very strong. Many of the matches seem to hold little importance. This match is an interesting case in that the build has been epic to say the least, yet the match itself may not be that interesting. I'm not sure how exciting the actual in-ring portion of this feud will be, but we can all agree that the road to get here was probably the best built program of WrestleMania. The Miz continues his hot streak of great promo segments and John Cena again has proven why he's still one of, if not, best promo guy in the business. With a rumored finish leading to a marriage proposal, it seems Cena and Bella will win the match. The build points to Miz and Maryse losing as well.
United States Championship Match:
Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kevin Owens
Owens and Jericho have incredible chemistry, as illustrated by their run as a tandem. They have a great chance at really stealing the show at WrestleMania. I could go on and on about how great these two are, but it's completely obvious. Owens will surely go over, considering Jericho is set to leave WWE for his latest Fozzy tour. This should be a quality bout.
RAW Women's Championship Elimination Match:
Bayley (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte vs. Nia Jax
There are a million directions WWE could go with in this match. The fact that it's not a Bayley singles match is disappointing. WWE had a chance to build up a storyline in which Bayley chased after the title all the way to WrestleMania and could've had a huge moment when she won the title. They opted to kill Charlotte's pay per view win streak at Fastlane, which can be described as a head scratcher at best. In short, this should've been the big moment when Bayley finally defeater Charlotte and her win streak. But that's in the past and lost in the black hole of WWE's short term booking direction. Banks has been due to make a heel turn, so I'm predicting that will factor into the finish of this match. With that in mind, I'm going to pick Charlotte to come out on top.
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
It's a sad state of affairs when a guy that's dominated the WWE landscape since his debut ends up in a strange situation at the biggest show of the year. AJ Style is unfortunately in that position. As of now, this match has no stipulations, which is mind blowing considering that McMahon's gimmick involves spots and situations that call for a no count out or no disqualification type of match. AJ Styles is probably the best wrestler on the planet, so if anyone can make this match work, it's him. Still though, on paper, a straight-up wrestling match with Shane McMahon seems daunting. Shane's bout with the Undertaker at WrestleMania 32 was all built around the cage fall and everything outside of that was mediocre. With all that being said, there is no other acceptable finish than AJ Styles beating Shane McMahon.
WWE Championship Match:
Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Randy Orton
This feud has spanned months and has gotten a lot of time to develop on SmackDown. The storyline hasn't really been my cup of tea, but I can understand the intrigue other fans may have. I'm leaning towards an Orton title win, but that doesn't mean that Bray can't win this thing. This program will probably continue after WrestleMania, leaving the door open for Wyatt to retain. I'm going to stick with Orton until I'm proven wrong.
Universal Championship Match:
Goldberg (c) vs. Brock Lesnar
The story of this match goes into a larger issue with WWE that I'm not going to get into. Did they need the title for this match? Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. If I thought I was going to see a 12+ minute slugfest I would be very excited. All signs point to Lesnar winning fairly quickly, though. I'm hoping for a physical bout that will keep me interested, but that probably won't happen. Lesnar goes over, unless something drastically changes with Goldberg's WWE status going forward.
Triple H vs. Seth Rollins
The build to this match was enjoyable and had its highs and lows. Triple H excelled on the mic and Seth Rollins finally started to receive the babyface crowd reactions that WWE attempted to kill upon his return last year. The non-sanctioned aspect of this match should make it quite interesting, as it seems destined to be more of a brawl than anything else. Will Somoa Joe get involved? If so, is there a certain returning superstar that could possibly even the score?.....Rollins must win, but expect this one to be exciting and different than the rest of the WrestleMania card.
The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
The only thing that could hold this match back is the condition of the Undertaker and his ability to work. So let's assume that he can do just enough to make this match exciting. As much as the Roman Reigns babyface push has been a three-year train wreck, this match will probably benefit from it. Reigns has been leaning towards some sort of heel turn, but that's a conversation that's been beaten to death. Reigns will be the most hated wrestler at WrestleMania and the dynamic of the crowd reactions between the two will be electric. It's said every year, but this could be the last we see of the Undertaker in the ring. I'm picking Reigns to win, but regardless, this match should at the very least, engage the entire audience to the highest degree. Let's all just hope that Taker has a little left in the tank to pull off one more WrestleMania classic.
There you have it, my thoughts and predictions for the biggest WWE show of 2017. Though the card seems very weak in certain spots, all can be made good if the matches with time are quality. It may not quite measure up to the standard set by New Japan Pro Wrestling's WrestleKingdom 11, but there should be moments that capture the same level of excitement. WrestleMania 33 has its work cut out, so here's to the hope that WWE will exceed many's expectations.
Jan 30, 2017
The 2017 Royal Rumble is a wrap and there's a lot of news and notes as a result. I've got a lot to say about this show both negative and positive. Let's get to it.
PLEASE NOTE: If you do not want the months leading up to WrestleMania 33 revealed to you, stop reading now!
Before I get too deep into the negative of the results, I need to say that I was very entertained by the Universal Championship match between Roman Reigns and Kevin Owens. Owens has really put it all on the line in every big match he's had in WWE, and tonight may have been one of his best. Reigns can add a third excellent singles match to his record, the first two being his bout with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31 and his classic first meeting with AJ Styles at the 2016 Extreme Rules event. Those are the three that stand out to me personally, although I'm sure someone has a different perspective. Regardless, Owens and Reigns used the no-disqualification stipulation to their advantage, which gave them an out and prevented Reigns from having to sell for a majority of the match. Owens barely escaped with the title after interference from Strowman, capping off a match that really over-delivered in my opinion. Reigns looks to be moving on to a different program, but more on that later.
AJ Styles and John Cena hit a grand slam tonight in their match for the WWE Championship. They had a classic at SummerSlam, but I think it's safe to say that this one was their best. Their last bout had drama and crowd heat that many wrestlers would kill for, but something about this match out-shined the last. Typically in Cena main events the match is built around finishers and kick-outs with not a whole lot in between. In this match, the moments and transitions between false finishes were razor sharp. They had the crowd in a frenzy and Cena's final sequence somewhat resembled a New Japan finish as he rattled off two AA's for the win. Cena became a 16-time world champion and even the smart crowd in San Antonio gave him an incredible ovation. Upon victory, referee Charles Robinson, had a conversation with him. It appeared to be very heartfelt congratulatory comment. For those that aren't aware, Robinson has been on record as being a huge fan of Ric Flair and refereed many of his matches over the years. Fitting that he officiated Cena's record tying match.
Now let's talk about the Royal Rumble match. When it was all said and done, I had the exact same feeling as I did after Triple H won it last year. I felt that the match was solid in many aspects and very exciting at times. I'm just not so intrigued with the fallout. Here's where we get to spoilers. And yes, I understand that knowing the big matches on the 'Mania 33 card probably adds to my lack of interest, but if the road seemed interesting, I'd still be interested. Regardless, Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that the plan for 'Mania 33 is for Randy Orton to face Bray Wyatt for the WWE Championship after Wyatt wins the belt at Elimination Chamber. Now, I'm not going to say that this is a terrible direction or anything like that, I'm just personally not too excited for it. The rumble seemed to be shrouded in mystery this year. Though Orton seemed like an unlikely winner, the result doesn't feel fresh. Recent rumble winners have been Batista, Roman Reigns, Triple H, and now Randy Orton. Pretty expected names in my opinion.
On the Raw side, Meltzer is reporting that Goldberg is expected to have the Universal Championship by Fastlane and defend it against Lesnar at 'Mania 33. In this situation, I see WWE's viewpoint. Goldberg and Lesnar have certainly gotten reactions over the past few months that dwarf the rest of the roster. From their perspective, I can understand why they think that the biggest stars need the championship program. You could argue the match will draw based on name value alone, but does WWE really want to overshadow a separate title program belonging to the brand that Lesnar and Goldberg largely represent? That, I understand. But it's again an illustration of WWE's major issue: the inability to create real superstars. They relied on the Rock to carry the WWE title into 'Mania 29. They put the belt on Lesnar entering 'Mania 31 and most recently on Triple H for 'Mania 32. You can argue that no one on the roster currently is a big enough draw to carry the title into the biggest show of the year. It leaves one wondering: how will you ever elevate anyone on the full-time roster to that level if you don't give them a shot? Eventually, someone is going to need the rub of a WrestleMania main event title match. Roman Reigns was the handpicked choice, but as it stands right now, the crowd still has yet to warm up to him as a babyface and it doesn't appear that they ever will. There's got to be a breaking point here. Somewhere down the line, someone is going to have to get an opportunity. Guys like the Rock, Undertaker, Lesnar, and Goldberg aren't getting any younger.
Lastly, it appears that we're looking at Roman Reigns taking on the Undertaker at 'Mania 33. There's two ways this can go, one much more likely than the other. The more likely scenario sees WWE taking yet another shot at getting Reigns over as a babyface. I'm not too certain that Reigns will beat Taker, but at this rate, he probably will. Regardless, it looks like we're about to see a similar post-match where Undertaker will endorse Reigns. Of course, this has already been tried with Reigns having received in-ring endorsements from both Daniel Bryan and the Rock. It didn't work then, it most likely won't work now, and if Reigns beats Undertaker at 'Mania, the fans will probably never forgive him.
Here's scenario two for Roman Reigns......TURN HEEL. Yeah, about two years later, I still have to bring this up. Like a broken record trying to play the most annoying song anyone's ever heard, here I go again. But seriously, a legitimate second chance to turn Reigns has surfaced and it's truly now or never. Just imagine the heat Reigns could get off of this. Lesnar's win over Taker at 'Mania 30 turned him from a damaged part-timer to an unstoppable monster. If Reigns could turn heel on the way to 'Mania or at the event itself, he could beat Undertaker taking super heat from the fans and moving on to face a babyface Universal Champion. Now, assuming Lesnar wins the Universal Title from Goldberg at 'Mania, some work would have to be done to solidify him as a babyface champion. But at the same time, does it really matter if Lesnar is a babyface? A fresh, heel Reigns taking on Brock at SummerSlam would be a huge match and the rematch we never got. Remember, Reigns/Lesnar at 'Mania 31 was great from a physical standpoint. That match was downright brutal, but in a captivating way. A second meeting would certainly be no different.
So there you have it, some news and reactions to the 2017 Royal Rumble. With the intrigue of the long-overdue Reigns heel-turn, there is some hope that 'Mania season will really heat up. Outside of that, we're set to see some interesting matches, though the results may prove to be textbook, recent WWE booking.
Jan 8, 2017
Those who tuned in during the early hours of Jan. 4, 2017 were treated to a pure showcase of professional wrestling mastery at New Japan Pro-Wrestling's annual event, Wrestle Kingdom.
Wrestle Kingdom 11 was a show fans will remember forever. The final four matches encompassed everything that professional wrestling can be when it's at its best. But the main event in particular shook the wrestling business at its core, with the reverberations being felt from the Tokyo Dome all the way to anywhere wrestling has ever taken place in the world. The floors of WWE headquarters in Stamford, Connecticut may have just stopped shaking.
The WK 11 main event of Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada was a match that had been built for months, following Omega's unprecedented victory at New Japan's G1 Climax Tournament in 2016. Until then, a foreign wrestler had never won the tournament. Okada, the IWGP Heavyweight Champion, had solidified himself as the company's number one wrestler after taking the crown from one of the decade's best talents, Hiroshi Tanahashi. The match had an unbelievable amount of hype surrounding it.
Though the pressure on the two was nearly insurmountable, the results saw Okada and Omega having what was arguably the greatest match in professional wrestling history. If WWE considers itself to be the master of storytelling in a pro-wrestling context, they should definitely take notice of the main event of WK 11.
Storytelling in pro-wrestling is undoubtedly an art. It takes years of honing your craft to perfect and truly understand it. Omega's career began early in the year 2000, while Okada's started in mid-2004. This match was the culmination of approximately 30 years combined experience between the two.
The match itself featured a opening of beautiful back and forth wrestling. The tone was set. Okada hit a crossbody on the outside, over the guardrail near some of the best seats in the house. Omega hit an enormous Golden Triangle Moonsault from the top rope, to the outside of the ring, past the guardrail. Omega was the victim of a giant back drop from inside the ring through a table on the outside. In a death-defying spot, Omega executed a dragon suplex from the top rope, putting Okada directly on his head and shoulder.
These classic spots gave the match its modern feel. But what made it so memorable was the story told in the ring.
Omega brutalized Okada's core, while slowly working his way to the neck. All of which to set up his finishing maneuver, the One Winged Angel. Every time he attempted this move, Okada escaped in a different way, as the results of the move could've proved to be the deciding factor. Okada executed his finishing move, the Rainmaker Clothesline, multiple times, but could not put Omega away. In the closing moments of the bout, Omega demolished Okada with strikes, including a Rainmaker style knee. The Tokyo Dome frantically roared as Omega went for the One Winged Angel for the final time. His efforts were futile though, as Okada again countered the move, transitioning into a jumping tombstone piledriver, and hit the Rainmaker to retain his title. Omega never hit his finisher, leaving many to ponder the result if he had.
In victory, Kazuchika Okada appears to be stronger than ever at the top of the New Japan mountain. In defeat, Kenny Omega solidified himself as the best foreign wrestler in the history of the company.
The fallout from the main event of WK 11 has garnered much praise and criticism alike from fans and critics all over the world. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter gave the match a six-star rating based on his five-star scale. This was the first time any match has received more than five stars through Meltzer's rating system. Though the match was groundbreaking in so many positive aspects, many have criticized it based on the incredible risks that were taken. But in praise and criticism, everyone is buzzing.
Much has changed in the world of professional wrestling over the past year. Independent wrestlers are flourishing in WWE, US independents are beginning to get more press, European companies are on the rise, and New Japan Pro-Wrestling is about to begin global expansion. 2017 looks poised to see pro-wrestling reach new heights. There's no telling what we will see in this new year. One thing is for certain though: Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada's match has set the tone. Now the rest of the wrestling world has to follow it.
Nov 20, 2016
Well folks, WWE's 2016 Survivor Series has come and gone. What does this mean, you ask? It means that I've finally hit my boiling point. If anyone is actually reading any of my posts, you know that I try my absolute best to keep negativity out of the blog. Well, I've had it. This show has sent me over the edge as it illustrated so many of the missteps and mind-boggling decisions WWE has made over the past year or more. So let's get right to it, shall we?
The Cruiserweight Division. Holy mother of Christ above. How did you screw this up, WWE? Somehow, in a matter of weeks, you've managed to bury a division that wasn't even established. The Cruiserweight Classic did so much to introduce characters, display incredible athleticism in many forms, and bring out emotion all at the same time. Since Brian Kendrick is important to this whole botching, I'll use him as the center of this subject. Kendrick's story in the CWC was fantastic. He was the older wrestler that only had one more shot at greatness and was willing to do whatever he had to in the name of success. When he finally lost in the tournament, he had an incredible moment with Daniel Bryan, sharing both tears and an embrace. It was great and essentially a babyface turn for Kendrick. So what did you do, WWE? You brought Kendrick up as a heel and shot him straight to the top. Now, Kendrick being on top isn't the problem. Here's where everything immediately goes off the rails. Kendrick's work style isn't as high energy or in the air as the others in the division. In my never-worked-in-wrestling opinion, why not hot-shot the division to start with fast paced matches and high-flying? Once the crowd is behind the division, then bring Kendrick in as the slower-paced methodical heel that takes the belt? Then you can have a high-energy babyface chase the title.
Fast forward to tonight. Kendrick takes on Kalisto, a guy who has done a whole pile of nothing since around WrestleMania. The division has been in shambles for weeks now, due to poor booking and slow matches (which is not what the fans probably expected from Cruiserweight matches). The match has no heat, the crowd is dead, and not even an insane Spanish Fly from the apron to the floor could wake up the crowd. The point of the match is that if Kalisto wins, the Cruisers go to SmackDown, the show they should've been on in the first place. So sadly, they have a dead match and wouldn't you know it, Baron Corbin interferes for the DQ to extend the barnburner of a feud he has with Kalisto. I could go on all year with this, but I'm going to move on.
Quickly, I'll touch on the matches outside of the main event. The New Day gets beats really early to continue their nonsensical losing streak, Sami Zayn gets screwed again, and WWE seems to be begging the fans to boo Dean Ambrose as a babyface. Main event time.
Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar has been hyped massively over the past month. Lesnar has been protected for years and for good reason. Now, logic says that you want a full-time, up and coming star to eventually beat Lesnar, thus creating an actual superstar. So what does WWE do? Goldberg beats him in under three minutes. Just like that. The beast was slain. I will say that it's a feel good story as Goldberg's son got to see his father do what made him famous in a big-time match. Great. What's sad is it seems that WWE is making us watch as they kill long-term success of their full-time roster. I hope I'm wrong and this won't hurt Brock as bad as I think it just did. But the fact is if a full-time competitor does beat him, we'll always know that Goldberg beat him in minutes and is essentially better than anyone who does it in a longer match. Why build this up to the degree that it was and have a squash match? There has to be more to this, as in, another match. If there's not, then WWE just surrendered an opportunity to create a superstar.
So there it is. That's my rant coming out of Survivor Series. In a night teasing title changes and change within WWE's two brands, nothing really happened. As fans, we want shock and unpredictability. The main event gave us that, but at what cost? Maybe my outlook will change following the conclusion of WrestleMania 33. At least that's my hope.
Oct 30, 2016
WWE's annual Hell In A Cell pay-per-view was tonight and featured three matches inside the structure. On paper, this seemed like overkill and it was in some cases. With that being said the show wasn't a complete dud and did showcase some great matches. For the sake of length, I'm going to hit the two more high-profile HIAC matches.
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins was a pretty good match and arguably the best the two have had together in WWE. The finish was what it was. There had to be a play to extend this feud and keep Rollins from winning the championship as it's expected that Rollins will eventually enter a program with Triple H. Presumably, the Universal Championship will not be involved. The highlight of the match was a giant table bump that Owens took via a Rollins powerbomb. Eventually, Jericho got into the cage and helped Owens win. Good match and was what it needed to be.
Time for the biggest story of the night.
Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte for the Women's Championship was good, maybe even great. I'll get this out of the way quick: they should not have headlined the show. Now, before you call me a jerk, see it from this perspective. I absolutely believe that the women of WWE have the capability of main eventing a big show and they did a lot to prove that at Hell In A Cell. Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer made a very solid point this week that I agree with. The point is that if the women are going to headline a pay-per-view, then use the weeks of build to that show to promote the fact that they are the main event. Make them the focal point from the beginning of the build. They didn't do that here, but luckily, the women are talented enough to get past that. So let's talk about the match.
The match opened with a quick attack by Charlotte before the bell even rang. Great idea to start as it extended the match preventing the two from spending way too much time in the cell. Sasha took a crazy table bump and was later put on a stretcher. Reminiscent of Mick Foley's career defining moment, Sasha rolled off the stretcher to meet Charlotte in the cell. They had an awesome match, even if some of their spots didn't go exactly as planned. Some of their table spots didn't exactly work, but for the two's first attempt at a gimmick match like this, they definitely succeeded considering the pressure of the evening. A great positive of this match is that though it was good, they left the door open for improvement. The women still have spots to burn in matches like this, so there is still a lot of ground to cover. The men have done some many crazy spots and taken so many different bumps that fans have come to expect that from every hardcore style match. The women just got their first run at it and it's still fresh. Basically, this means that every crazy bump or spot still means a lot more in a women's match. They still have the ability to do less and get a great reaction from the audience. The future of women's wrestling is bright as the competitors continue to make great strides with the division.
All in all, this was a decent show with some good matches. I could spend all day talking the woes of the Tag Team and Cruiserweight Divisions, but I'll save that for its own article. The shows have been thin since the brand split and Hell In A Cell was not an exception. Fortunately for the fans, tonight's highs were good enough to get this show a passing grade.