Thursday, December 1, 2016

Rassle Tribune #4: Things Are Weird

So I didn't give a shit this month. I can't lie to anyone, it was very difficult for me to pump this issue out because of various factors. The main one being my “real” job increasing in workload and obviously that affects my wrestling dorking out activities. Also, I just didn't feel like watching shitty WWE stuff. I had heard through the grapevine that RAW was only good for Goldberg's return and that SmackDown was just more of the same mixed bag of bullshit in its own right. So, I was a slacking bastard for quite some time and focused on other wrestling studies. THESE BE THOSE!

Samoa Joe vs AJ Styles(c) for the TNA X-Division Championship, Turning Point 2005
Don't let anyone fool you people, Samoa Joe was the fucking man a decade ago. AJ Styles ruled too but he always has. Joe brings all that vicious goodness that we've come to love from him using mean kicks and elbows. Not to mention his insane, aerial repertoire. AJ starts this match hot as hell backing Joe in the corner but he eats a mean beating quickly. This is one of the classic beat downs in wrestling history and it is exactly what should have happened. Joe had only been in TNA a few months and undefeated, he'd been built towards this match as being the unstoppable killer against the man that created the X-Division; AJ Styles. So this is the amazing story of the king of the castle being embarrassed in front of his people. Joe unleashes a facewashing boot into the corner that sends AJ's facial expression into the front row and said front row LOSES THEIR MINDS as if they saw a shooting. It was glorious. AJ sells like a damn beast here and I suddenly realize he doesn't get enough love for this. While I can't say this is perfect, it is pretty goddamn great though. I almost love this match more because it isn't technically flawless, it feels like a complete struggle for both men at the end. While Joe dominates most of the match, when AJ fires up he does so in big ways that make you believe he has the monster Joe hurt. We get an early showing of AJ's insane high jump plancha and he hits Joe perfectly. Joe crumbles like a sack of shit and AJ gives him a “Phenomenal Forearm” to the back of the neck like a real douchebag yet the man will not die. Simply put, these men wrestle like they hate each other and it is really great to see. This re-watch saddens me that neither man was in WWE at this point in their careers because they were world class, not that they aren't now they are just older. AJ has his mouth destroyed and he bleeds like a motherfucker. AJ somehow manages to hoss up big Joe for a powerbomb but again, he will not stay down. Joe turns AJ completely inside out with a clothesline. Then he throws out more wacky moves and AJ no-sells because suddenly the Impact Zone becomes the Tokyo Dome. It is still really choice. AJ answers with his famous Pele Kick. Things look like they're going his way but it isn't long until Joe makes AJ suffer for his previous sins. This is highly recommended in every way. ****1/2

FloSports has announced that they have agreed to a five year deal with EVOLVE Wrestling, as well as other sister companies of EVOLVE including SHINE, Dragon Gate USA's vault, and FIP. The deal is set to start with the next SHINE event on November 4th. The deal begins a new venture for FloSports, FloSlam and the talks are reportedly not ending with the EVOLVE deal. This comes completely by surprise considering that WWE has been rumored negotiating internally on a tier system for the WWE Network that would include independent wrestling content. This adds a lot of intrigue into where the business is going television wise not just for indies, because honestly indies aren't really ever going to get a good TV deal let alone any TV deal at all, but for everyone. It is no secret that WWE's TV viewership is declining and no one else in the wrestling world even comes near them in terms of that. WWE has invested more and more money into their network also, which would indicate that at least someone with power in the company knows that TV is not going to be as viable going forward with viewership not being addressed in some way. When Goldberg's massive return draws a 3.0 approximate rating, it is clear that TV just isn't what it once was for wrestling. Even during the worst days of WCW, they would regularly draw 2.5's. Now RAW dances around that number often and SmackDown Live is much less. I don't think that this kind of thing is in need of a widespread panic yet I do think WWE needs to address how their product is put on said TV. When your product looks exactly like it has for nearly 20 years, why would anyone think there's something to pay attention to? When Austin got huge in the late 90's, the whole WWF production evolved around him and there was an enhanced feeling that this was a new era. It was, and in turn things LOOKED different to fit that changing era and the fans ate it up. Sure, sets have changed and a few ropes changed colors but that isn't enough. There needs to be a different approach to where they go, and I'm not the Einstein here to give that solution. If you've got all these great minds in wrestling history at your disposal on a given day, I'd sure hope that they could come up with something themselves.

Being desensitized to the wrestling business today is very easy to do. Despite having arguably the highest level of in-ring talent that the world has ever seen, the booking and “vision” that is present all across the world is quite dim for the most part. This ongoing TNA saga only gets bleaker by the day, now with court documents being released showing the world just how low rent and disastrous TNA has become to themselves and sadly their talent. New Japan is riding high at the moment going towards their annual Wrestle Kingdom in January but one can't help but notice that there's a desperate need for more young talent that can be a stable part of the promotion rather than a passer-by. Ring of Honor seems to be finding their groove in their working relationship with said New Japan, all the while trying to carve their own niche here in the States on TV but the TV wrestling business is very bad, even for the mighty WWE.

WWE's ratings are at all-time low levels as of late and things don't seem to be rising any time soon. So much can be blamed for this and least of all would be the talents themselves. There are so many talents across the board that put their all into the product and have really good, sometimes even great, matches but when your booking is as stormy as the stock market you can't really keep a foothold as a big star. Few have managed to slip through the filter that WWE has today with completely scripted, bullshit television that seems to lead in a big circle. A snake eating itself for eternity, or at least until Vince McMahon dies or realizes that wrestling just isn't the same cash cow it has been in the past.

WWE RAW 10-17-16

First and foremost, Owens got a BIG pop to open the show as he walked to the ring along with his friend Chris Jericho. These two are goddamn money and it is that simple. Just as I'm loving Owens' pop, we get a huge Y2J chant and Owens, the master, tells them to shut up so he can talk. Owens says he knows for certain that Foley hates him and that's why he made his title match a Hell in a Cell match. Denver is AWESOME tonight and right off the bat! Jericho regales us with his amazing “quiet” mantra and I die. This man has written the book on how to stay over forever. Jericho proceeds to put over HIAC, talking about how fucked up it is to make these men even compete in it. Owens says he is the thinking man's champion and so he isn't worried about Hell in a Cell scarring him. Owens fires up about how he's going to maul Rollins. Let these men beat each other to smithereens! Jericho then goes into how he was robbed out of making the HIAC a triple threat. Jericho then reminds us of all his big World title wins and at one point says he “bet we forgot about that one”. Interesting. Jericho finally tells us that the official is ON THE LIST! This gets the pop of the early night. Owens then finishes things up stating he will retire Rollins, who somehow finds his way to the ring. The fans love him in Denver. The crowd erupts in a Rollins chant that actually makes Seth stop his promo before it even can start. Rollins mentions that Jericho needs to add his terrible scarf on The List, as well as his tattoos, creepy moustache, and his tights, then calling him Sparkle Crotch. Oh god. The fans of course turn this absurd shit into a chant. Jericho warns Rollins that while he isn't on the list, he WILL be! Rollins runs down Jericho and Owens' friendship and mentions that Owens let Jericho get laid out. Owens says that it isn't the case and simply, Rollins has no friends. Owens states that they both agreed that Owens would stay strong and Rollins uses that to pick at Jericho. This is a good segment, two big thumbs upward. Rollins says REMATCH FROM THE LAST 9393 WEEKS and before that, Rollins asks what Owens will do; stay or leave. Jericho is thinking leave, yet Owens wants to stay. Both men bicker and Jericho tries to smarten this young'n up. Jericho says he has to remind everyone how badass he is so he wants to go it alone. Owens says he'll be there in spirit and we get hugging.

Seth Rollins vs Chris Jericho
Cole conveniently tells us that Foley happened to have already made this match. This is your usual Rollins vs Jericho match which just means it is good but not great. Jericho is fantastic for a guy his age and Rollins is just plain fantastic. How some people look at Jericho as broken down and useless is fucking insane to me. Then again those are probably workrate drones so it doesn't really matter anyways. Either way this is a strong anchor for the first hour work wise. Rollins using the Blockbuster is so fucking great to me, it always forces me to recall Buff Bagwell in all his silly glory. Shitty roll ups remind me of Jericho and yet Jericho always redeems himself. This is pretty much the exact same match they've had for months now. As things seem sealed for Rollins, Owens' music plays and as Rollins watches Owens come to the ring, he decides to go ahead and murder Jericho with a plancha off the top followed by a springboard knee lift. He looks to have things wrapped up but Jericho reverses his Pedigree into the Walls of Jericho! Rollins tries all he can to get to the ropes and the fans will him on yet Owens pulls the rope away from him and the ref catches him. Jericho is forced to break his hold and he's angry. Rollins rolls him through and we get a counter fest. Rollins counters a Codebreaker into a Pedigree for the win. ***

Lita sits down with both Charlotte and Sasha Banks, starting with Charlotte first. Lita puts over the history of this first ever women's Hell in a Cell and asks Charlotte how she will prepare. Charlotte says she isn't preparing, she was born to succeed and she also adds that the reason she's one of the first women in this kind of match is simply because she's Charlotte Flair. Awesome. Charlotte says she's one of the best superstars regardless of gender in WWE and Lita goes into how Charlotte was a bitch to Sasha. Charlotte says she's durable and Sasha isn't, she's not good enough to get the upper hand on her. Charlotte is asked about Sasha being in her hometown for the match and Charlotte says she doesn't need any fans to cheer her on. She is simply superior and that is all she needs. Solid heel promo by Charlotte, who's promos just months ago were god awful.

Shining Stars and Titus O'Neil vs The Golden Truth and Mark Henry
This is the epitome of a pointless match. Neither guy in this match is necessarily important in any way, and in fact guys like Goldust and Henry are just there to teach which is good considering that Titus is fucking horrid. Primo and Epico are good in the ring, they just have NO HEAT and never seem to get a good gimmick to work with. Goldust takes the heat from all of his opponents and is awesome. R-Truth takes the hot tag and comes in like dynamite on Titus. It's really great and in come the Shining Stars simply to take bumps from all the people in Denver. Titus stumbles around a while and finally eats a World's Strongest Slam for the win. *

Owens and Jericho are backstage arguing. Jericho yells at Owens, almost calling him a stupid idiot but stops his statement. They keep yelling and Stephanie breaks it up. Stephanie tries to get them focused on beating Rollins, and most of all beating Shane on SmackDown at Survivor Series. She makes the statement that Jericho and Owens are her “two generals” in the big match against SmackDown. Great way to build towards that.

Sheamus does his usual entrance and Cesaro is behind him on Facebook Live. This is such a fucking great gimmick because they hate each other. The New Day gets a MEGA POP from Denver and why wouldn't they? THESE MEN! Denver thinks New Day Rocks apparently and again, doesn't everyone? I'm sure there are a few brain dead people though. Big E says Sheamus must be a mile high if he thinks he will beat him tonight. Great move. Xavier then says Trump and Clinton get along better than Sheamus and Cesaro. New Day puts over Cesaro, then Kofi mentions that he is still better than Cesaro anyways. We get a shame chant which is great. Xavier then states that for 420 days, they have LEGALLY been the WWE World Tag Team Champions and I DIE! These men!

Sheamus vs Big E
This is an old fashioned hoss battle. There's not a whole lot more to say other than that. They hit each other super hard and it is very fun to watch. Sheamus is one of those guys that is underrated simply because of booking and a lack of a strong character to build upon. That's not a good thing to say about a former multi-time World Champion. This gets good marks from me. The only strange thing about this was Cesaro trying all he could to distract his partner by jumping into the crowd and shit. Sheamus mostly ignored him until the end of the match when Cesaro's bullshit caught up with him. He stole Cesaro's phone and walked to the ring and Cesaro wouldn't take it. Sheamus is rolled up and beaten and Cesaro smirks on. **1/2

We get a vignette of Goldberg's title win against Hogan from the Georgia Dome in 1998. God, why can't we have that kind of hype around wrestling again? Oh yeah because TV isn't what it used to be and neither is wrestling. Fuck.

Bo Dallas vs Neville
We get two former NXT Champions COLLIDING! Bo whips on Neville early while Curtis Axel is on the outside being a dick. The fans naturally don't really care about this at all and with Neville it is a shame. It's all Bo in this one, who used shitty back elbows for most of his heat. Neville finally takes over with rapid kicks to the mid-section. Bo couldn't find an answer and set himself up for Neville scaling up to the top. Bo smartly rolls to the floor and he eats an Asai Moonsault for his troubles. Bo continues to run away like a bitch. Neville continues to do tons of flips. This was a pretty good midcard match that Bo shockingly wins. What the fuck is going on in the WWE midcard? **

Bo attacks dumb Axel and that doesn't mean a damn thing. I guess I should be happy they're at least trying something with these two but especially with Axel, perhaps they're long gone.

Bayley vs Dana Brooke
The saga continues! This RAW women's is not much better than SmackDown in terms of depth and this match proves it. Bayley is amazing in about every way, especially selling but Dana Brooke is far from being in her league. Dana seems to really try but she just isn't good in the ring. She looks very wooden and lacking any real emotion. They do a really camp spot with Dana taking a turnbuckle to her face and she flails around like a moron. Bayley decides to sell like a beast and thank god because Dana's offense isn't good at all. Dana gives us a chinlock of DOOM and I sigh in boredom. Thank god Bayley fights and makes it mean something but it isn't long until Dana has yet another dreaded chinlock on. Bayley yet again fights it and we get some horrible corner work, complete with a completely pointless handstand...hamstring flail? Dana is awful. Bayley tries to make this matter but it isn't going to happen. The finish is really fucking dull and out of nowhere. It seems this is due to an injury to Bayley's shoulder and god is this bad. Please give Bayley someone better to work with pronto. *

Paul Heyman comes in via satellite to talk about Goldberg's return. He does his usual mocking promo, going into his also usual Lesnar hype. Again we're told that Goldberg is out of his league. Heyman's great but fuck he has nothing to work with anymore it seems.

The Rusev and Lana segment was, as the usual fare amazing. They went into Rusev's family, complete with photos along with Denver! Rusev did this because he was upset by Roman's constant talking about his Samoan people. He went on with some racial stereotypes, then ended by saying they're stupid. SIMPLE AWESOME HEEL STUFF. Love it. We need The Rusevs as a sitcom. Denver booing the shit out of Rusev's family was so great and his reactions were godly. Papa Rusev is shown in obviously Soviet regalia and it is great. He talks about how great his dad was in the Army, FUCKIN' COMMIE BASTARD. So awesome. JOSEF STALIN MUSTACHE ON DAD! This made me love Rusev so much more, and then of course Roman Reigns had to interrupt. Of course he gets booed like hell. Roman rattles on about his Roman Empire...oh god. More waxing on unpoetical about fucking nothing. This segment went from good to bullshit because Roman is just NOT genuine as a character for me. Rusev is told that the only person he will be calling is 911. CLEVER ROMAN. Lana bows up to him and slaps his jaw off before Rusev comes from the side with a head kick. Proceed with the heat. Roman gets thrown around like a bitch on the floor, into the steps, and then some. Roman gets creamed by the steps and Cole is nice enough to tell us it'll all happen inside the cell. Yeah because steps aren't around the ring all the time. Roman has to get his little hope spot in but Rusev fucks him up. This was a roller coaster of good, bullshit, and back to alright again. I still doubt these two are going to have a really good HIAC.

Another Goldberg vignette. This time it is covering his debut in WWE when he interrupted The Rock after WrestleMania 19. Cool.

Emmalina hype follows as well. Emmalina is not a bad worker but they just never seem to give her anything that will work. Her most recent heel work was alright but her back injury derailed everything obviously. I hope she comes back better than ever but sadly. WWE has made me shell shocked.

Speaking of being completely numb to shit, Gallows and Anderson make their way to the ring. These guys are awesome but jesus they're nobodies. They have been beaten into powder week after week and now they're just another couple of guys. Enzo and Cass aren't just two guys as of now though and apparently WWE thinks there's magic between these four. I sure hope so, or I feel like Gallows and Anderson are fucked.

Karl Anderson vs Big Cass
This is yet another classic big man vs little man battle. Cass starts off hot with Anderson cornered and taking shots. We get a fallaway slam like this is some Razor Ramon shit by Cass and I pop as a 90's dork. Enzo is launched into Gallows and Gallows takes a bump like a goof. Anderson tries to catch Cass sleeping but fails. Go figure. Of course he takes Cass' finish and loses in a couple of minutes. TOTAL BULLSHIT. 0 *

We get another dumb backstage thing with Perkins and Kendrick. Meh.

Then it is Sasha's turn to have a sitdown with Lita. Sasha says she is ready and feels great about this big Hell in a Cell. Sasha talks about NXT and growing into where both Charlotte and herself are at now. Sasha says she will prove that she is the best and it will be proven inside Hell in a Cell. Sasha talks about being in Boston for Hell in a Cell and how that will be a big motivator for her. Sasha says it all feels so surreal but she won't let it get in her way. Sasha is asked about SummerSlam and she shows a hint of annoyance at that. She says it is the past and that she will be completely healthy for the big match in Boston. Then Sasha is asked if she is afraid and she pours on the babyface goodness. She gets emotional and says she wouldn't say she is afraid because fear is no option. Sasha then says she will make history and win. Really strong promo for her.

Cedric Alexander, Rich Swann, and TJ Perkins vs Brian Kendrick, Drew Gulak, and Tony Nese
There's a very mocking handshake to start and it is Gulak and Swann to begin. Gulak slaps the taste out of poor Swann's mouth and takes him down. Gulak's awesome on the mat. Swann is quick as hell as he does his somersault into a dropkick. Cedric comes in now and Nese follows. Cedric dropkicks Nese out of his boots and holy damn is this a fast one. Perkins is in with Nese now and he is caught trying a tornado DDT and is dropped into a vertical suplex. In comes Kendrick now as Perkins is down but immediately Kendrick is caught in Perkins' submission. Kendrick sells like his leg was being sawed off. Gulak and Cedric become legal and Gulak's head gets kicked off. In comes Kendrick yet again though and he's caught by Cedric. This one is too fast to call at times and all you need to know is that there were lots of moves that were very good. The crowd was hot for this match much more than they have been for the previous cruiserweight matches. Perkins murdered himself doing a dropkick to the floor when he bumped on his back on the apron. Kendrick takes the win on Swann with the Captain's Hook. Perkins claws at Kendrick to try and break the submission but is held back and Swann taps out. Good match. **3/4

Stephanie and Foley have an absolutely silly backstage segment announcing next week's main event, which is Rollins vs Owens vs Jericho. Oh so we end up with that three way anyways? Great booking.

The Goldberg promo was surreal. The man was cheered like Babe Ruth came from the grave and walked into Yankee Stadium. I will say that having the whole roster cheer him on as he walked to the ring was fucking pointless but that's this company for you. Denver still marked out huge for him so who cares I guess? Hey, as a kid that grew up during the heyday of WCW this was a mark out moment I won't lie. When the sparks erupted, this crowd lost their shit and it was uphill from there. I've never seen such a babyface it was incredible how this dude who had been gone for over ten years could win the WWE audience over immediately. Especially a guy that left the way he did from WWE Goldberg got obviously emotional when he got in the ring and the ovation kept going for minutes. Especially a guy that left the way he did from WWE, almost out of thin air after a horrible year. This was as organic of a promo as you'll ever see as Goldberg talked about his family and how he'd always imagined what it would be like for them to witness him in the ring one more time. He put over 2K and the whole video game process, saying it really humbled him. I think Goldberg might be the only man in history to leave the business a pretty bad promo and come back over a decade later a fucking PHENOMENAL PROMO. Goldberg mentioned that he missed being a superhero for all the kids in the world and in 2016, he got a pop for that. In an age when most people are jaded douchebags, this man hit heart strings and felt REAL. He wasn't some scripted douche, this man was three-dimensional and showed us what we should have been introduced to back in the late 90's perhaps. Goldberg did a great job of teasing that he wouldn't take the challenge, that maybe he would just keep this whole 2K experience in a video game. Then in a second, he changed gears and stated that Brock had no balls and had to have Heyman challenge him. Goldberg then asked the crowd what would they do? We got a yes chant. Goldberg finally said that maybe he has one last asskicking left in him, one last spear left in him, and maybe one last Jackhammer inside of him to unleash on Brock Lesnar. Goldberg then finally said that Brock Lesnar is next, as well as last. This was promo of the year perhaps. FUCKING A PLUS.

Hell in a Cell 2016

I believe this show was the glaring example of what kind of bullshit these two pay-per-view months could churn out. The build for almost every single match on this card felt rushed and incomplete, with perhaps an exception for the Rollins vs Owens match. Charlotte vs Sasha, while always a very strong match in the ring, didn't feel like a main event level match until a week or two prior to the show. It just felt like another match in a long line of a seemingly endless series for both women. The New Day have dominated the tag division for well over a year but that's an easy achievement these days with the likes of The Shining Stars given some time on the RAW shows. Cesaro and Sheamus were just murdering each other every week and now they're supposed to be tag title contenders and yet, this might have been second to Owens vs Rollins as a story that meant at least SOMETHING. Everything else felt incredibly pointless. Roman vs Rusev has lost its luster because of the constant dominance by Roman that makes no one give a shit about Rusev as any kind of a serious competitor. Now with Goldberg and Brock Lesnar's build in full force, Survivor Series is the dark cloud hanging around this festival anyways. A prime example of Vince and his minions looking at the trees and missing the forest going forward.

Roman Reigns(c) vs Rusev in a Hell in a Cell match for the United States Championship
THE HOSS BATTLE OF ALL HOSS BATTLES IN WWE. These guys are really good together. These guys whip each other's asses early on, mainly Roman taking the heat. This is the normal, basic structure that most of their matches follow but complete with more violence which makes it much better in my view. Rusev takes a really nasty bump into the cell early and dies on the floor. Roman uses this as a chance to toss him around like a bitch into the cell again and again. Roman goes for his dumb flying shotgun dropkick on the apron but gets smacked in the mouth by Rusev! He pays the price for a while himself because the heat is REAL. Rusev isn't in control long though until Roman makes him pay heavy into the cage. Both guys do stuff, mainly throwing each other into the cell again and again. Roman beats Rusev in the back with the singapore cane which is always an easy reaction for live crowds with the sound and such. Rusev ends up with the cane, beating Roman while he is locked in the ropes before snaping the cane in half like a very mean man. Roman of course no sells this and levels him with a clothesline. Both men fight to their feet and exchange right hands in the signature “we're making you realize this is the closing part of our match” spot. More back and forth stuff until Roman hits a very cool Superman Punch for a near fall. Rusev counters Roman and drives him into a pre-positioned part of the ring steps that was leaning on the top rope in a pretty cool visual. Rusev can't get the finish though and feigns despair with a GREAT EXPRESSION. Rusev teases for his finish and locks on The Accolade! Can Roman find a way tho? HE DOES OF COURSE. Rusev rolls out to the floor and reveals a logging chain, and in response to this discovery he bites it and makes a wild face before getting beat up by Roman. Great way to make Rusev look awesome and kill him instantly but hey. So Roman has Rusev on his heels and Rusev drives the chain down onto Roman and into his gut. Rusev whips him like a damn dog and this is fantastic. I can't think of a more perfect example of why wrestling is awesome than this image. Huge, bulking heel just murdering a babyface. Set it in Boston and this is great. Rusev props up the steps sideways which is strange. Roman's bounced off them a bit and gets a superkick for his troubles for a near fall! Boston is falling in love with Rusev, how am I not surprised? Rusev has had enough and decides the best course of action is to prop up Roman on those said steps and put an Accolade on...WITH THE LOGGING CHAIN ACROSS HIS MOUTH! Bravo guys this was really fun. This image is immediately soiled by Roman “Hulking” out of this and hitting a Samoan Drop on the steps. Rusev's shocked face almost redeems this bullshit. Rusev gets up, feeding on the steps for a huge Spear for the finish. This is really good, much better than I expected yet still lacking quite a bit for me. ***

Owens cuts a promo along with Tom, John, Issac, Rick, Darrell, James, Chris, Fergal, and Brent Phillips. He says the usual about being mean and how he's going to show the world how mean he is in the cell with Rollins tonight. Not bad, not profound.

Kevin Owens(c) vs Seth Rollins for the WWE Universal Championship in a Hell in a Cell match
Rollins smartly starts this match like a house of fire on Owens and they brawl on the floor. Owens takes the cell to the back early and rolls into the ring, logically telling us that he isn't a moron. Rollins gives Owens the slingblade in the ring and it is clear early that Rollins is focused despite clearly having a bad back. I can agree with a story any day in this fucked up business. I might have liked a little more plunder early, kind of putting over how truly pissed about being fucked over Rollins was but it wasn't bad. They went the “build towards the plunder” route that I usually agree with anyways. We yet again get the Buff Bagwell Blockbuster that I love so much. Just as I begin to wish for plunder, Rollins pulls out a table and sets it up on the floor. Owens runs away YES! I love Owens for being the heel to the end despite talking a huge game. Sickening senton on Rollins' back again and again. Owens rips off Rollins' back tape and starts racking him into the cage. Owens is trying to put over he's a crazed man as he continues to throw Rollins around. Rollins' back becomes the focus of Owens' hatred and he is throwing mean kicks and general douchebag tactics. The zenith for me is when Rollins is tossed like a sack of shit from the ring, through the ropes, and head first into the cell. Holy fucking shit that was top notch. Owens continues to throw Rollins around and measures him up in the ring for the end. Owens takes his sweet time like a cocky heel before he does his cannonball into the corner and wrecks Rollins. Rollins rolls to the floor, cowers into the corner of the cell and eats another cannonball on the floor! That was pretty insane. Owens tries for the Pop-Up Powerbomb but Rollins reverses into a Pedigree attempt and let the counter fest begin! Each guy goes and misses a move like this is Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon before Owens puts Rollins down with a huge clothesline. Owens goes back out to the floor and we get another table! This time Owens notices that the other table is still there. He ponders things before setting the table up at an angle OVER the other table. Very odd structure there. The fans definitely love this and Owens gets a knee for his stalling. THEN A FALCON ARROW ON THE GODDAMNED APRON. Christ these men hate themselves. Rollins stumbles back into the ring and hits his suicida on Owens twice in a row. Owens collapses into the ring and Rollins is rolling now, going for his springboard knee but Owens again is rolling to the floor. He gets a fire extinguisher and drives it into Rollins' stomach before setting it off into the ref's eyes! This is classic and there is a second ref there magically to help out. I never saw that fuck. Rollins is rolled back into the ring and the cell is opened, allowing Jericho to run in! The fans love this as he locks himself in. Owens is pleased, running the ref away as Jericho reveals that he has the only key. Jericho takes a bump into the cell by Rollins but Owens makes him pay with a Package Driver thing for a near fall. Owens goes to the top, yet Rollins leaps up and they both tease moves until dropping down and Rollins finally hits his springboard knee. Rollins tries a Pedigree but Jericho jumps in and eats a Pedigree of his own! Owens uses this distraction to try for a powerbomb into the tables of death. Rollins tries to hoss up Owens and fails miserably but Rollins fucking deadlifts him up AND TOSSES HIM OVER THE TOP INTO THE TABLES. Very cool spot that is way too dangerous. Owens is snagged and Rollins, not going for a pin instead goes up top for the frog splash. He does hit it but Jericho is there to pull the ref out of the ring! Rollins is both saddened and pissed now. Rollins makes Jericho his bitch throwing him all over the damn place, even into the rubble that the tables created. Owens as this happens, is in the ring dead. Jericho takes a powerbomb back first into the cell and Rollins takes just too much time. Owens hits a superkick and his Pop-Up Powerbomb FOR A NEAR FALL. Very awesome false finish. Owens looks completely empty now. Owens finally looks to have snapped, ground and pounding Rollins in the ring as Jericho comes back with a chair. He hands it to Rollins and beats on Rollins himself. Owens pulls him back and unloads multiple chairshots to Rolllins' back. Jericho gets a chair of his own and Rollins fights up somehow, takes a chair and lays out both guys for a while before being cut off and DDT'd onto a chair! He looked impaled in the mat on that one. Owens sets up both chairs facing each other, and drives Rollins spine first into the chairs with a powerbomb for the win. I liked this match much more than many, yet I have to admit there were some definite flaws. ***3/4
TJ Perkins(c) vs Brian Kendrick for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship
TJ Perkins blows at promos but he's pretty good in the ring. Kendrick is just fucking fantastic. This match actually does begin with a handshake, the catalyst to this whole feud. Then it gets fast and furious with really good chain wrestling. If you want to learn technique, watch these two. Test of strength is used by Kendrick to bring down Perkins but Perkins monkey flips his way out. Kendrick does the same yet Perkins lands on his feet! Corkscrew into a sunset flip from the corner by Kendrick only gets a two count. This is very awesome. Kendrick finally begins to get frustrated by Perkins out wrestling him. Shoves are exchanged and we go back into wild spots everywhere. Kendrick somehow manages to get ahold of Perkins and ties his wrist tape to the bottom rope from the floor! This man can do no wrong it seems. Kendrick naturally gives him the business with stomps before tearing him from the rope just to suplex him around like a dick. We get a crevate by Kendrick as a rest spot which is so great to see in a WWE ring. Chris Hero from 2003 is really mad somewhere. Perkins fights out though and we get more wild moves. Perkins dropkicks Kendrick's knee out and rushes into the corner, butts him in the ribs and springboard dropkicks him to the floor and nails a corkscrew plancha on Kendrick to the floor! Perkins hits a vertical suplex float-over into a back suplex to set up a move off the top but he's caught in mid air with a dropkick by Kendrick! Kendrick doesn't get the pin though and he is grasping for straws at this point in the sprint. Headkick by Perkins is answered with a yakuza kick. Perkins nails his wild fireman's carry into a pele kick for a near fall! Perkins tries for a wheelbarrow bulldog but is countered with a Regal Plex for a near fall! I love that move so much. Kendrick tries for something out of a torture rack and he's countered but finds himself locking on a Captain's Hook! Perkins is sliding around towards the ropes, eventually breaking the hold when he tries for a quick pin but doesn't succeed. Perkins suddenly bursts into his submission hold but Kendrick quickly gets to the ropes. Kendrick goes for his Sliced Bread #2 but Perkins counters, yet Kendrick looks to have hurt his knee. Perkins looks concerned, and the ref continues to check on him. Perkins sits in the corner looking very upset, thinking this man was hurt against him. He consoles Kendrick and takes a fucking headbutt for his troubles and the Captain's Hook! Perkins can't takes it and submits! So happy with this outcome and what a match. ***3/4

WWE is in a very dangerous situation in regards to the booking direction that is being reported as their future plans. RAW's December “network exclusive”, Roadblock will feature a WWE Universal Championship match between Kevin Owens and the United States Champion Roman Reigns. Naturally, the internet wrestling world has lost their collective minds over this idea because of the very well publicized failures in pushing Roman to the next level in the past. Add on the fact that Owens hasn't been bad as champion despite in some cases being second fiddle to Chris Jericho's odd career resurgence. He's been very good in the ring and even though his feud with Seth Rollins has lacked any true meaning in any way he's done what he could in critical situations. Their Hell in a Cell encounter was strong despite being wedged in the middle of a fairly lackluster card. Roman Reigns has done decently with Rusev, but the peak was squandered in August at SummerSlam when things felt their most molten. Rusev has since become all but sympathetic in the situation, complete with Roman playing the anti-hero sort of character, making fun of Rusev and his family while still smiling to the fans as if to say; “I'm cool, right?” Wrong. He's come across as wooden and unable to find relatable in any way, shape, or form. His respective Hell in a Cell match with Rusev was a prime example of a good match wasted with a bullshit finish. Roman took a beating that was awesome, just to no sell things and beat Rusev within a matter of moments making the several minute battle seem pointless. It didn't make Roman look better, and in fact by the end Boston was loving Rusev like he was Irish. The fact is that Roman needs way more rebuilding before he needs to be in the big picture, and having him within the confines of the upper-midcard level has done him wonders even if his feud with Rusev has ran it's course. Then again, I'm sure Vince and others in the back are still reeling from their shit luck with Finn Balor's injury and see the tanking ratings as a sign that things need to change. What they need to understand is that what needs to change is the entire format of wrestling, and how that happens takes a visionary to figure out. Owens being champion or not isn't going to change the true issues with WWE and anyone that knows wrestling at even the most basic level could tell you that. Having a product that looks and feels antiquated in many respects makes things feel meaningless when they should mean at least SOMETHING. Football has evolved into a media circus with some guys in pads, and yet wrestling hasn't jumped over that bullshit Vince Russo hump of the Attitude Era haze. It's like Vince forgot that things could change after 2000. We've always had small glimmers of hope in change, but they always seem to rewind back to the way things were before. Hence the muscle-bound hero being the focal point for a McMahon-owned wrestling company yet again.

CMLL Domingo Dia De Muertos

Not a whole lot here to say other than this is one of the coolest looking shows of the year anywhere in the world. Much of the card was contested under blacklights with combatants wearing elaborate, sugar skull paint and glowing outfits. Everyone, including the referees, the ring announcer, and commentators were painted up as well as some of the crowd. It was your usual, bizarre lucha fare but man I love that they go outside the box this time of year to put on a really cool show that works instead of a Trick or Street Fight like we saw on RAW for Halloween.

Ultimo Guerrero vs Rush
These two are awesome and they were awesome here. Rush is such a badass with an aura that is hard to match in this day and age. These guys didn't reinvent the wheel or anything, and they certainly weren't performing in a crisp, more Americanized style either. This was a lot of lucha brawling, slow spots, and stuff. BUT THAT IS WHAT MADE IT GREAT. Ultimo got the big win 2-1 and the world rejoiced! ***1/2

NJPW Power Struggle 2016 Thoughts:

First off, New Japan is one of the most enjoyable promotions in the world today not only because of their high workrate but also their production. They make people feel important even by first glance and that is such a tough thing to portray.

I won't review every single match simply because some of the matches were just decent matches that nothing really special happened in. I mainly want to highlight the matches that are either title matches or matches with high significance.

The Guerillas of Destiny(Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa)(c) vs Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI for the IWGP Tag Team Championships
This was much better than I expected. It was very bare bones with The Guerillas pummeling YOSHI like a damn fool while Ishii gets the occasional tag to beat the living shit out of the bad guys. Ishii takes his usually insane bumps now and then but other than that, he was really good here at being in the right place at the right time. YOSHI might be the most improved Japanese worker in New Japan today because it wasn't that long ago that I despised his matches but this is really good from him. The bad guys take the win but the Ishii/HASHI team isn't dead in the water yet. ***1/2

Super Juniors Tag Team Tournament Finals
Roppongi Vice(Trent Baretta and Rocky Romero) vs ACH and Taiji Ishimori

BUSHI(c) vs KUSHIDA for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship
These guys are always really good together. BUSHI as champion has been rather strange because BUSHI hasn't really felt like a big enough deal for that honor but he's not been awful, in fact he is very good. KUSHIDA is just the man in the juniors division though and it feels wrong when someone else has the title. This is the usual fare from these two with KUSHIDA selling like hell and BUSHI brings the sneaky heel goodness. KUSHIDA's top rope cross armbreaker in mid air is fucking wild and BUSHI plays it off as if he's arm is being cut off with a band saw. He finds the ropes though and yet KUSHIDA isn't even close to done with his limb. KUSHIDA does some over-the-shoulder arm breakers but BUSHI throws hands in response. SPOTZ occur and BUSHI unleashes a fucking lucharific suicida through the ropes and nails KUSHIDA with a headbutt. Tremendous. KUSHIDA is dead in the corner and takes the Rush running knees but isn't gonna lay down. These guys are insanely skilled and they go into a quick flurry of reversals and holds, with BUSHI locking on a guillotine with a body scissors and KUSHIDA looks done for. KUSHIDA is the mega babyface of the juniors though! KUSHIDA slow builds his comeback from this and yet he still takes more punishment and survives. BUSHI nails a Codebreaker that fails him and he's starting to look pretty pissed off. BUSHI ups the ante with a jumping Codebreaker from the turnbuckles but that also fails. Now he's going up high to end this fucking thing but he takes his sweet time, the enemy of many a bad man in wrestling. KUSHIDA responds with elbow hatred. He then goes after the mask and things get heated. Canadian Destroyer by BUSHI! Christ and it isn't even the finish? Brilliantly BUSHI's own jumping Codebreaker is countered with KUSHIDA nailing one of his own. Smart move I'd say. BUSHI lands on his head from a sunset flip spot so that isn't cool. KUSHIDA just stares at him and immediately goes for his Kimura Lock and they go into the final leg of this thing. BUSHI fights like hell in the hold for some time and they roll in and out of it for a spell. In the end, it is just too much and I really liked this match a lot. ***3/4

As KUSHIDA celebrates, the Time Bomb countdown finally reaches it's end. The lights come down and go red. An oddly similar video to the original Chris Jericho titantron plays, with images of nuclear holocaust and mangled flags. Out comes Kaimaitachi, who is now going by his real name Hiromu Takahashi. He comes down to the ring looking like a deranged drug addict and gets face to face with the new champion just to avoid him and taunt to the crowd. What charisma this weird fucker has. KUSHIDA looks like he is done with this night's bullshit and that's when Takahashi takes the mic and cuts a promo. Obviously I don't know what he said but he gestures towards the title so that makes it obvious he's wanting KUSHIDA's title. KUSHIDA responds in babyface form getting intense. I need this match! Perhaps this will be reserved for Wrestle Kingdom in January? We shall see.

The Dream Team(Adam Cole, Kenny Omega, and The Young Bucks) vs Chaos(Hirooki Goto, Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, and Gedo)
Faction war is a huge part of New Japan for those uninitiated and the Bullet Club vs Chaos feud has been part of the last 3 years of their whole vision. Clearly, that vision has paid off quite a bit. Omega is the fucking man right now but his three teammates aren't to be ignored either. This is Adam Cole's coming out party in Japan on this tour, he's been really solid as of late. This match is really a snapshot of the big power brokers in New Japan mixed with the next big stars that are ready to come up for them. Gedo is well known as the booker of New Japan, Okada is the IWGP Champion, Omega is the holder of the G1 which means he gets the main event spot for the title at Wrestle Kingdom, and Ospreay as well as The Bucks are simply amazing in the ring. Goto's the perennial...guy in NewJapan. He gets big matches and pushes but ultimately he is just kind of there.

Ospreay elects to start for Chaos and Nick Jackson does the same for The Dream Team. They do the usual, quick junior style feeling out stuff with arm wringers and reversals using rolls and such. Ospreay reverses an arm wringer by doing about 11 kip ups and an arm drag. They do leap frogs and back and forths, tons of White Boy Lucha but it is at a high level so it looks snazzy. In comes Matt for the big double team but it backfires. Ospreay feigns a dive and poses, The Bucks are pissed! Nick does the “I tripped going in the ring” spot and finally Omega gets a tag. Ospreay vs Omega yes! Okada wants a tag though! Oh shit it got real. Omega plays the great heel and tags out to Cole. How did I not know I wanted this match? Omega blindsides Okada before the lock up though and Cole takes out the rest of the team on the apron. Cole and Omega try to double team but they are outsmarted by Okada. We get an awesome Guerrero senton from the apron on Cole. Omega is thrown onto a downed Cole and The Dream Team is in trouble. Goto is tagged in and he slings poor Cole around. Gedo ends up tagged in and he's a victim to the dastardly heels. Cole is neutralized though with a kneeling superkick but this just brings in The Bucks to unleash a flury of superkicks and moves. Omega comes in to join in on the fun and puts down Ospreay. TERMINATOR DIVE SPOTS! All four men do stereo suicidas to the floor and it was so awesome to see. Cole rolls in Gedo, and throws him into The Dream Team corner. Nick tags in and knees Gedo's face off in the corner. Omega comes back in and tortures the vet Gedo. He uses Gedo's beard against him and tags in Nick who does an axe handle on the beard! These men are great. The Dream Team continues the beard violence on Gedo for a time as part of the heat segment, along with a Cole chinlock. Gedo fights his ass off though and young Cole cuts off his corner. Things break down and Omega ends up coming in and eating a Flatliner by Gedo and Goto gets the hot tag. Goto does his corner spinning heel kick on Cole as well as a Saito Suplex for a near fall. Cole takes a WICKED lariat that drops him right on his neck, yeeesh. The Bucks come in for the double Superkick on Goto but Ospreay comes in with the handspring, rebound double pele kick on all men involved and a dive to follow. In comes Goto for the fireman's carry neckbreaker on the knee. Okada and Omega are finally paired up! Okada nails his Schwein neckbreaker and as things look great for him, Matt Jackson sprays canned air into his eyes. Matt almost eats a move from Goto but spreays him as well but still takes a bump in great comedy. Ospreay nails Cole with a wild Osaka Street Cutter. Omega and Ospreay then pair off and Ospreay nails a standing Spanish Fly on Omega, yet again following up with a dive on the rest of Dream Team. Okada is back to go for The Rainmaker but The Bucks save the day! All four Dream Team members nails Okada with a four man superkick but it is broken up by Gedo, Okada's mentor! He turns around and like an old badass, shows no fear against all four men and THROWS HANDS! This man is great. Of course he dies after a four man superkick but hey. Omega goes for his finish but Okada counters. Omega counters and again and again they go. Awesome dropkick by Okada ends the sequence.Rainmaker is counter with a vicious knee to the face followed by a reverse rana. Goddamn Omega is scary good. Rushing knee into the ropes and Omega finally hits his finish for the win. This one was FUN, FUN, FUN. ****

Katsuyori Shibata(c) vs EVIL for the NEVER Openweight Championship
EVIL must be lumped into that “most improved Japanese worker” camp for this company along with HASHI because this most recent EVIL run has been pretty damn good. Shibata is a madman traditionalist sort of wrestler where he doesn't say a single word, he just kills you. Much like a prime Dean Malenko but with kicks. Lots of kicks. Lecherous kicks.

The early going isn't anything necessarily special, yet not bad at all. Just the usual feeling out stuff, with moves really going nowhere in a measured attempt to make the proceeding moves mean more. Psychology? No way. Shibata locks on a head triangle from the back and EVIL gets to the ropes. Just to let us know that he's a really great wrestler that EVIL will have to out smart. Then, Shibata just rushes him and boots his sorry ass into the barricade from the apron. EVIL responds as Shibata gets in the ring with a lariat that sends him crashing to the floor. EVIL comes out and irish whips Shibata hard into the barricade while then working on his back right arm. Glorious mean stuff. EVIL has a chair now and traps said bad arm inside it and bashes him into the post! Shibata sells while the chair is still trapping his arm and he works that goddamn chair for what seems like ages as the count gets longer and longer and finally he breaks free and gets in the ring. That was some amazing work by Shibata. EVIL is on him though and Shibata is stomped all to shit. Big back senton by EVIL isn't enough to win but Shibata sells like he's dying big time. EVIL does all he can do to fuck that right arm up. Shibata starts in with his “I'm blocking the pain and challenge you to kill me more” segment and he simply gets to his feet taking hard shots and hits one elbow that brings EVIL nearly to his knees. Shibata then slings him from pillar to post, kicking his face off in between the traffic. Mean missle dropkick into the corner on EVIL. He looks completely done. He's not though and we get MORE VIOLENCE. This is just plain awesome, hard hitting pro 'rasslin at it's best. Shibata locks on an abdominal stretch and it isn't bullshit. EVIL gets tired of taking the shine so he starts going nuts, slinging the ref out of the way as he stomps Shibata in. This starts our back-and-forth stiffness exchange complete with elbows, big boots, and other assorted nasty looking shit. EVIL uses an elbow strike as a near fall. EVIL then hits his very nifty death valley driver into a powerbomb for a very close near fall! That was good stuff. He tries for his STO finish but Shibata counters with a STO of his own! Both men lie dead. Both men end up on their feet and we get even more strike exchanging. It is some great stuff though and Shibata slaps the ever loving FUCK out of EVIL and slaps on a sleeper. This must be seen because my god he kills him with the slap. EVIL fights out and tries for an arm breaker on Shibata but Shibata locks the sleeper in hard before dropping him back on his head with a suplex! I used to love that move when I played with toys but my god that is suicide as a real spot. The replay reveals he actually traps one arm before throwing him over. EVIL tries staying away because he's dead but Shibata isn't happy until he kills this young man and wins! The ref takes a bump and EVIL uses the momentary distraction to neutralize Shibata on the floor before rolling him in the ring and bringing chairs into the ring. Shibata's head is now trapped in a chair and EVIL smashes the chair with another chair, crushing his neck LIKE A TOOTHPICK!!! EVIL adds more violence to the proceedings with a fisherman's buster on a chair that puts Shibata on his neck. The ref slides in to count but Shibata is ALIVE! An STO by EVIL doesn't let that go on long and this was PHENOMENAL. Biggest win of EVIL's career and I'd say his best performance as well. ****1/2

SANADA vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
This is a highly intriguing match, the New Japan longtime ace against the longtime protege of Keiji Mutoh. SANADA as a heel has been super awesome and putting him against perhaps NJ's biggest face is such a great move.

These two throw out some really awesome chain wrestling early on, all kinds of bridges and switches. They put over early that they're equals, which is huge with Tanahashi since he's a big star and SANADA has been mostly part of a lower promotion with Wrestle-1. Both men tease a handshake but also both try to kick each other and we get a hilarious spot with both men negotiating a cease fire of sorts but SANADA just beats him up. Tanahashi counters with a flurry of offense and SANADA runs to the floor to regroup. SANADA just walks around leisurely and Tanahashi offers to help him through the ropes but SANADA leaps over them and we get a wild flurry yet again with SANADA dropkicking Tanahashi to the floor and hitting a slingshot body press over the top to the floor. SANADA walks Tanahashi all the way up the ramp and tries something but Tanahashi counters for a bit until SANADA hits a hurricanrana on the ramp! Tanahashi is selling as the count reaches closer and closer to 20. SANADA just walks to the ring like no big deal as Tanahashi literally rolls all the way down the ramp and crawls into the ring. What an awesome moment. SANADA tries for a standing moonsault but Tanahashi rolls away, SANADA still lands on his feet and dropkicks him in the back. Tanahashi tries for a comeback but finds himself in an armbar variation by SANADA. Tanahashi fights like hell to escape but SANADA won't let go. Tanahashi finally fights into the ropes to break the hold. Tanahashi gets a second wind and throws strikes at SANADA but he doesn't have enough and is cornered. Tanahashi keeps firing up though and both men go back and forth in the corner with striking. European uppercuts level Tanahashi, who slumps down on his ass in the corner. SANADA whips him across but Tanahashi counters with a running elbow strike. We get a wild flurry of offense, an elbow as well as a rolling senton by Tanahashi. Tanahashi goes for something from the top but is knocked down yet he maneuvers himself back into the ring just to be leveled by SANADA. Tanahashi catches him trying a kick through the ropes and hits a dragon screw onto the second rope followed by a slingblade on the apron. Tanahashi busts out a wild frog-splash kind of plancha from the top to the floor that looks like it kills SANADA because Tanahashi lands very high and crushes SANADA's face. SANADA is somehow ok and he is outsmarting Tanahashi rather quickly, hitting a great sprinboard dropkick like his mentor Mutoh. More back and forth countering. SANADA looks to tweak his knee yet he still hits a TKO on Tanahashi for a near fall. Tiger Suplex also follows that is really crisp yet Tanahashi perseveres. SANADA locks in a Dragon Clutch though and tries putting Tanahashi out but SANADA makes the mistake of letting go of the hold and missing a moonsault. Tanahashi tries to go for his frog splash but misses as well. SANADA again goes for a moonsault but his knee gives and SANADA begins selling it majorly. The referee checks on him as Tanahashi gets to his feet and he looks very angry. SANADA tries for a kick to the stomach but Tanahashi goes after his bad knee. He works the knee and quickly locks in a cloverleaf. SANADA fights it and gets to the ropes. Tanahashi doesn't give two fucks though and goes after the knee more and more with repeated dragon screw leg whips and again, he goes for the frog splash but takes SANADA's knees to the ribs. SANADA still sells his knee though and can't take advantage of Tanahashi's error. Both men get to their knees and start throwing elbows as they get to their feet. They stumble around after every shot and they seem to crescendo into yet another Dragon Clutch hold but Tanahashi slides out into a small package for a two count. SANADA gets the Dragon Sleeper locked but Tanahashi counters. More countering occurs until Tanahashi hits some kind of swinging neckbreaker out of a headlock it seemed. More wild offense and a slingblade by Tanahashi slow things down. Tanahashi hits a Dragon Suplex for a near fall and again, he's going for broke with the frog splash and nails SANADA who's on his stomach. Tanahashi goes back up top and hits a normal frog splash for the win. Things got rather sloppy and I'm not sure if it is because of a real knee injury on SANADA but both guys did well despite the errors. ***1/2

Tetsuya Naito(c) vs Jay Lethal for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship
These men had an incredible match on one of the more recent ROH pay-per-views so being able to see these guys in a high level Japanese main event makes me very pleased. Naito is just the ultimate, sloth-like heel of all time. Despite being a great athlete, he so often uses laziness as a spot to get heat. It's great and very original. Lethal is a force of nature that has been overlooked all too often in his career but this match is a chance for him to show the world how great he can be.
Naito takes his sweet time getting out of his entrance suit and Lethal even feigns looking at his watch. Finally we get the bell and both men simply stand and stare for a spell. The fans react and they circle each other and seem to be in no hurry. Naito avoids the lock up and tells the crowd to just calm down. WHAT A MAN! We get even more avoidance by Naito and finally Lethal nails a superkick and immediately hits a series of dives through the ropes into Naito and the barricade. Three to be exact and then he does Naito's famous taunting on the apron. Naito's thrown into the ring and Lethal's on him like crazy. Naito goes after Lethal's eyes but it doesn't do much good because he's arm dragged and dropkicked in the face for it. Lethal beats on Naito all around the ring but he is dropped nuts first on the top rope quickly and sent to the floor. Naito fucks with the crowd and feigns a dive, just to do his usual posing in the ring like a model. Awesome! Lethal sells his junk on the floor for all he's worth and Naito goes after him with stomps. Naito lays down in the ring as if to take a quick nap before going back to the floor and throwing Lethal into the barricade back first again and again. Lethal finally rolls into the ring favoring his ribs. Lethal still shows heart, fighting back while Naito needles him. He hits an enzugiri that looks to rock Naito but again, Naito goes after the eyes like a true douchebag. Naito throws all the moves in the world at Lethal but doesn't seem worried about beating him yet. A chinlock is slapped on Lethal and Naito stares down Togi Makabe who is doing commentary. I wonder who he'll work next? Lethal fights to his feet and manages to hit an ace crusher to neutralize the playing field for a moment. Lethal is on Naito as they both get to their feet and he's throwing out all the babyface shine stuff; dropkicks, back elbows, and all kinds of fire. Spinebuster on Naito only gets a two count. Naito spits up and sells like his lungs deflated. Again, GREAT! Naito yet again gets the upper hand however and makes Lethal pay for his damages. Lethal fights out of the corner and tries for a powerbomb but Naito counters with a flatliner into a Koji Clutch but Lethal quickly gets the rope break. Naito seems to just laugh it off and goes back to work but Lethal still has more in the gas tank. Lethal Combination puts Naito down out of nowhere and he's rolling in pain. Lethal still looks all kinds of fucked up though so he can't take control. Finally Lethal gets to his feet, trying for a vertical suplex but Naito fights out and tries for a tornado DDT yet he's hit with a death valley driver instead. This isn't enough for Lethal to win though and he's getting increasingly frustrated. He then responds with a back suplex chain sequence but Naito fights out until he's crotched on the turnbuckle. Lethal tries for what looks to be a back suplex but Naito again fights out and Lethal plunges to the canvas. He regroups and hits a dropkick though on Naito as he positions up high and hits a big superplex from the top. Naito barely kicks out and Lethal is showing absolute despair at this point. The Handspring is parried and Naito hits his tornado DDT after all and again, both men are down and hurt. Naito recovers quickly though and he's looking to springboard from the apron and hits a missile dropkick. Frankensteiner from the second by Naito followed by his wild reverse DDT variation for a near fall. Lethal fights on though and levels Naito with a sloppy clothesline. Both men are up though and they're throwing forearms back and forth. Naito ends it with a vertical suplex and yet Lethal fights up to hit a wild reverse Finlay roll into a crossface! Naito is in trouble and he slides to the ropes. Lethal goes for a german suplex to Naito on the apron but ends up settling for a vertical suplex that looks NASTY! Lethal hits a buckle bomb into a sit-out powerbomb for a near fall. Naito hits an enzugiri though and follows up with an elbow strike. Naito tries for his reverse DDT variation but Lethal counters and tries for his handspring cutter, and eats the Naito DDT out of nowhere for the finish. Really good match that made both men look strong so bravo! ****

After the match, Tanahashi walks to the ring and grabs the mic behind Naito. I'm again assuming this is build towards the Wrestle Kingdom show, and I really think both these guys can have a great match.

Sasha Banks(c) vs Charlotte for the RAW Women's Championship in a Hell in a Cell match
Of course the huge narrative of this is that it is the first ever all women's main event in WWE pay-per-view history but the angle coming in has been highly infamous as something of a lackluster story. Sure, Sasha won the title twice this year on RAW against Charlotte and yet Charlotte has been afforded the undefeated streak on pay-per-view this year. That isn't a bad angle but the way the booking has flipped and flopped so frequently has made this feel flat.

All the talk didn't matter when Boston erupted into a “We Want Sasha” chant and absolutely lost it when she came to the ring in an Escalade. I have to give WWE credit on the flamboyant entrances, Charlotte came in on a throne carried by regal musclemen. It goes without saying but both of these ladies are big stars, weak creative aside. I really liked the touch of having the cell lower down after all the introductions, and having both women really sell panic as it came down over them. This is something I hope they keep down the road. Charlotte blindsides Sasha and she rolls outside under the cell! There's a weird moment of confusion and both women finally escape outside to the floor by the announce tables. Sasha launches Charlotte into the crowd and they start to fight in the crowd. This looks like a total war between two drunk girls in the club which makes it excellent! They go back to ringside and Sasha sets up one of the announce tables for destruction, yet Charlotte teases going up top and the fans respond big time. Sasha follows her as both women scale the side of the cage and Boston is losing their shit! Charlotte falls on her own and Sasha drops down into a powerbomb and is sent crashing through the announce table, taking a NASTY bump high on her shoulders on the floor. This is some wild shit. Charlotte acts possessed and goes after Sasha but the ref hulks up to her and demands she let him and another ref check on Sasha. They do so, and the crowd kinda dies. Sasha finally moves around though and the crowd comes back with wild cheers for her. Charlotte taunts Sasha like a total bitch, and Sasha stumbles around like her back is destroyed. Awesome touch. This is a really smart way to make every bump mean something, even if it makes the action slow down quite a bit. Perhaps as fans all too many of us forget that less is more. Especially when it comes to these highly risky gimmick matches. Sasha collapses again and again, finally crumpling and sobing on the floor as the ref calls for EMTs. The fans really feel like they're getting fucked as this slowly goes on and Charlotte continues to work asking for her title. Just as the ref is about to announce that Sasha has to forfeit, she fucking HULKS UP HUGE AND NAILS AN EMT! Boston loses their minds and the match is on! Charlotte starts getting thrown around like a ragdoll into the cell and all around, taking some shots on the mat as well as she runs away for safety. Awesome open hand chop by Sasha that murders, along with a knife-edged for her papa. Sasha eats the post though hard and sudden the mood changes again. A MONKEY FLIP BY CHARLOTTE ON SASHA INTO THE CELL! What a damn spot, that was great. Charlotte continues to work Sasha's back when they come back into the ring. Sasha is suplexed back first into the corner now for a two count. Sasha is taking some absolutely wicked bumps as always. Sasha quickly gets the backcracker into the Bank Statement! Charlotte muscles her up though and sends her over the top onto the apron! Jesus these women are killing each other here. Charlotte goes under the ring and begins to bring out some plunder, starting with a chair. Sasha gives her a baseball slide twice and then a fucking INSANE suicide plancha through the ropes into the cell which looked fucking awful for all involved. This woman has no fear at all. The match is back in the ring and now Sasha sets a chair up in the center of the ring. Both women fight for the advantage until Charlotte takes way too much time in a weird moment taunting in the corner until Sasha finally gets a drop toe-hold face first into the chair for Charlotte. Then Charlotte does the dastardly backbreaker onto the open chair spot and Boston gasps in sadness. Charlotte then bends Sasha over the post in a very sickening manner. Charlotte takes a fucking awesome dropkick to the back and goes face first into the cell, Sasha then goes after Charlotte and is throw up onto the cell yet she catches herself and twists in mid air to nail Charlotte with her double knees onto the floor. Great spot. The replay shows that in fact it was a left knee right to the face. Charlotte takes more of a beating after this, and she sells like she's dying. Sasha unleashes double knees again and again, driving Charlotte into the cell. Sasha nails a frog splash for a great near fall. Sasha then sinks in the Bank Statement but Charlotte wiggles out to the floor to escape and gets onto the apron, beating on Sasha as she tries to get back in. Sasha catches her and sets her up for the ropes-assisted double knees but before she does it, she places the chair from earlier under her and drives Charlotte down hard into the wreckage. Charlotte will not die though and doesn't stay down. Charlotte pulls Sasha through the ropes and to the floor, driving her face first into the steps and Sasha tumbles viciously to the floor. Charlotte pauses, then goes back under the ring and brings out a table to a positive roar from the crowd. The table is set up on the floor and Charlotte tries for a superplex through it, yet Sasha fights high up top. Charlotte falls and Sasha boots her down in a sloppy table spot and the crowd sort of dies again. Sasha gets down and grabs Charlotte to toss her back into the ring for a near fall. Sasha goes back under the ring and gets out another table and Boston roars yet again, wanting a good table spot to cleanse their pallets. Sasha is wedged between the edge of the table and the cell by Charlotte who gouges her as she tries sliding it into the ring. Charlotte then sets the table up in the ring by a turnbuckle as Sasha tries to regain her composure and get back in the ring. Sasha leaps off the table but gets caught by Charlotte with the big boot and a figure four gets locked on, and as the figure eight is put on Sasha drills her with a chair in the ribs and hip to break the hold. Both men then stumble to their feet and they start to trade forearms back and forth and they are packing heat. Sasha twirls around Charlotte and tries for her Bank Statement but is caught by Charlotte who wrecks her back with a series of backbreakers but there is only a two count again. Charlotte slowly begins to look deranged and distraught, muttering to herself it seems as it goes longer and longer. Charlotte props Sasha up onto the table and she goes up top but Sasha immediately is up and countering. Sasha strangely moves the table to the whole other corner of the ring and then suddenly she brings her up for a running powerbomb but her back looks to go out. Charlotte responds by slinging Sasha into the table twice, yet the table never gives before hitting Natural Selection for the win. This was a really flat finish and Boston looked super confused and bummed out. I have to give this high marks for being a really good match but the finish was way too flat. The finally two bumps Sasha took into the table were really disturbing in my book. ***1/2

WWE SmackDown Live 10-18-2016

Randy Orton came out and cut a promo that was cryptic but pretty dumb. This seems to be a standard for young Randall.

Randy Orton vs Luke Harper
Harper deserves so much more in this business. He goes for a dive and takes a wicked cut off bump from Orton. They fight up high in the corner for a while until Orton finally hits a superplex and Harper sells like his back is broken. Wyatt's usual darkness suddenly hits the arena and out come the cell phone lights. We see druids with black sheep masks rolling Bray down in an open casket. Yes, an open fucking casket. Bray is smiling and laughing as he is carried to ringside and Orton stares at him blankly. A commercial break comes and suddenly Orton is down and out on the floor with Wyatt out of the casket stalking him. The referee counts Randy nearly out but he makes it back in the ring and Harper brings more punishment. Harper hits a nice sit out slam for a two count and Wyatt opens the casket and teases Harper rolling him in it, and Harper begins to do some gator rolls on top of that to add greatness. Orton slowly gets up and fights out of a headlock, sending Harper dangerously close to going inside the casket setting up for his usual comeback. Clotheslines, his powerslam, and the DDT are set up but Bray comes from behind for the DQ but Harper and Wyatt are happy to whip some ass. Totally not a bad match but just a storyline progression rather than a good match. Kane is suddenly in the casket as things seem dire for Orton, and he grabs Bray before beating on Harper as well. Great, I love a 50 year old beating up the young buys. The heroes conquer and yet again the lights go out and it is just Orton and Kane alone. There's weird confusion and Kane hits his fire, Orton looks perplexed. Meh. **1/2

AJ Styles is in the back cutting his usual, dickhead promo about how awesome he is and how lame Ellsworth is. He calls Ellsworth a “fat, skinny turd”. That's a Triple H go-to insult as we all know.

Alexa Bliss vs Naomi
This is a total placeholder match before Alexa gets her big title match on November 8th. Alexa is in her Freddy Krueger gear which is pretty awesome. Naomi is also fucking awesome with her wild entrance. Both women get into a shoving match in the early going until Naomi gets sick of Alexa's shit yet Alexa cowers into the ropes like a coward. Naomi takes her down and starts peppering her with shots but Alexa takes control quickly. Naomi throws out some rapid-fire kicks and Alexa is in trouble. A springboard body press only gets a two count for Naomi. Alexa finds herself in control for a bit but Naomi makes her eat the turnbuckle, pulling her hard into the corner. Alexa gains control we see with a rake to the eyes and now she works a crevate hold. What an awesome sight to see on WWE TV in this day and age! Alexa has her total bitch face on in full force. Naomi starts up an inspired comeback to run into the finish. These two are good, Alexa much better than Naomi in my opinion and this was a good showing for them. Twisted Bliss is a great finisher. **3/4

Alexa cuts a promo after the match with Renee Young about her title match against Becky Lynch in Scotland. It was the usual, bitchy affair that I give two thumbs up to.

Curt Hawkins came out and cut a fucking HORRID promo, complete with over-exaggerated pandering to the camera as is usual with this goofy gimmick. He shits on Apollo Crews and refuses to wrestle, gets beat up like a dork and runs off. Someone hates this man.

Speaking of horrid promos, out comes Carmella to talk like an idiot and act like a 13 year old. She bitches about Nikki Bella, and shockingly out comes NIKKI BELLA. She stomps her way down to cut another pointless promo and god, why is this still going on?

James Ellsworth is backstage with Renee and he cuts the typical babyface promo about having this huge World title match tonight and how special he knows it is. He gets visually emotional and it is so great. Learn from this goof people.

Dolph Ziggler, Heath Slater, and Rhyno vs Mike Mondo, Ken Doane, and The Miz
This is a wacky, fun six man. I think this is a great way to try and get a lot of guys over at once but the problem is that a few of these guys are just not important. Slater and Rhyno were fun at first but they're starting to get old fast. The Spirit Squad to me was a one-off for No Mercy that has stuck around far too long for me. The heroes beat on the bad guys for a while until they were overwhelmed , and were forced to fight from underneath. Basic, to the point and not full of bullshit over booking so I can't hate it. Miz and Ziggler continue to have magic together. Heath Slater took a really mean hot tag that got a huge response. Slater is one of the more underrated guys in WWE by far. Doane took the pin when Miz hit Slater behind the ref's back. Much better than I expected. ***

Natalya and Daniel Bryan have a backstage segment. That's all there is to say.

Jack Swagger vs Baron Corbin
These two are not good together at all. Why does this series keep going on? HAVE MERCY ON OUR SOULS MY GOD!

Corbin beats the ever loving shit out of Swagger on the floor for a while. Then he beats him up in the ring. Swagger sold badly. Corbin thankfully beat him in quick fashion. Please let this be the end. **

AJ Styles(c) vs James Ellsworth for the WWE World Championship
They did an angle with Ambrose who tried politicking into being ref for this match and Daniel Bryan wasn't down for that. Instead, he made him ring announcer and timekeeper apparently. Ambrose comes into the ring with a mic and works as ring announcer, as well as doing a fucking stupid dance for a minute. Why do they make Ambrose a goof? Then again, why do they make AJ a goof? I guess everyone in WWE nowadays has to be a moron to be a star. Ellsworth tries for the early advantage but gets locked in an abdominal stretch. Ambrose distracts AJ by getting on the mic, AJ gets mad and turns his back on Ellsworth but still beats him up because he's a goof. AJ beats the fuck out of Ellsworth and Ellsworth tries to find willpower all the while Ambrose shows an ad for the Ellsworth shirt. The fans are not really down with all the silliness here I don't believe. More AJ abuse on Ellsworth that is just great. AJ looks to have dropkicked Ellsworth's face off and jesus it is glorious. AJ totally turned this match into a way to get over despite being thrown in this mini-feud with a nobody. That proves how great he is these days. Ellsworth is given a vertical suplex back first into the corner and AJ fires up, rolling out to the floor and screaming at Ambrose. This is fantastic work. AJ goes up top for a superplex but again, Ambrose distracts him on the mic with more silly shit. Ellsworth tries for a cross body but AJ moves and he crashes and burns. AJ kicks his lungs out with a shin kick to the chest and stomps the shit out of him. In a great touch, one of Ellsworth's boots starts to come lose further making him look like a moron that can't do shit. He keeps being thrown in and out of the ring by AJ and Ambrose both. AJ doing so to try and win by countout and Ambrose not wanting that to happen. What I don't get is why didn't AJ just hit his finish and win, avoiding even fucking with a countout? Come on creative. Ellsworth hits a really awesome superkick out of NOWHERE and gets a great near fall! Think about this; AJ Styles and company managed to get a false finish with JAMES GODDAMN ELLSWORTH. The fans start to lose it as Ellsworth wills himself to try and take advantage but AJ is quick to squash him into the canvas with a spinebuster. More heinous beating on Ellsworth. AJ keeps pounding away on Ellsworth who is in the ropes so the referee calls for the DQ and Ellsworth gets a technical win despite being destroyed. Ambrose happily announces AJ as the loser, and AJ suddenly sells like he was out smarted. Ambrose gets in the ring, AJ rushes him and is suckered into Dirty Deeds like a true moron. This was a mixed bag for me. ***

NXT Takeover Toronto 11-19-2016

THIS IS A FUCKING WRESTLING SHOW KIDS! It is no secret that there are a lot of us “online fans” that love the NXT product and I will say that sometimes I get lost. This show though is what I needed to get the fix back in my bloodstream! LET US BEGIN

Bobby Roode had the most goddamn epic entrance in history. Fuck any others. Toronto naturally loved their native son. GOOSEBUMPS. Tye came out and got a HUGE reaction also. This is what makes wrestling awesome, two super over dudes going at it for our enjoyment without any kind of complex bullshit; just making it about who the MAN really is. Not Seth Rollins this time.

Bobby Roode vs Tye Dillinger
These two are such awesome, unsung workers and they did a fantastic job of showing off their wares here. Roode is clearly ripping Flair's swag but you know what? HE MAKES IT WORK AND A LITTLE DIFFERENT. Take notes 'rasslin rookies. Tye is great though man, his whole Perfect 10 schtick is so great. Tom Phillips and Corey Graves are a great commentary team that I need in my life many times over. Phillips has really improved drastically since being the fucking idiot on NXT tapings. ANYWAYS THE WORK!

So Roode looks pissed off that Toronto liked Tye a smidgen as much as they did him so he decides that SHIT IS ON. Roode circles Tye like a dog squaring up a cat in their yard and we immediately get a “this is awesome” chant. I love you, Toronto. Roode literally just stares at Tye for 45 seconds or so and finally Tye whips his ass. Tye gets an upper hand and Roode is trying to find any advantage possible while also bouncing around the floor like a superball. Tye really looked great here, putting over hatred for his former partner while also not compromising his fun babyface gimmick. Toronto remains split between these two throughout and man, it made this feel special. I get that NXT crowds generally are sterile in terms of simply marking for the sake of it rather than really buying things and being a measure of business yet this crowd truly felt INTO everything. This is a very bare bones match in the best possible way. There aren't a lot of huge spots or anything, just old school pro wrestling with crowd work and simplistic psychology, proof that the art is very much alive and well in some corners of this globe. Just don't sniff around any warehouses addressed to the Carter family. Roode puts the heat on Tye like his name rhymes with Pixie Barter and Tye rolls around like a wounded animal. While Roode tries for a Rude Awakening of all things, A Perfect 10 chant throws him off to lead into a comeback that is quickly thwarted by said neckbreaker that was made famous by a man with fantastic ring gear. Roode is really a master of heel work, giving the right look and movement to just make you want his death filmed for your viewing. Tye hulks up like the babyface killer he is and gives Roode a run for his money. Toronto lets us know repeatedly that both these guys are great. Thanks for the breaking news guys. This is fucking awesome and the perfect opener for this show. I'm not giving you a peak of the finish because it is really good and you gotta eat your vegetables before you get to know the outcome! ***3/4

The Authors of Pain vs TM61 in the Finals of the Second Annual Dusty Rhodes Classic with Paul Ellering hanging above the ring in a cage
This is a great example of a gimmick match having a REASON for it. It's the old school manager equalizer while saving a true cage match stipulation for something else. I'm quite interested in how this whole tournament fell and why but that's the beauty of this great business; you just really never know. In any event, this match is a huge test for both teams and a challenge to see how good they really are on a large show.

Interestingly Toronto really didn't care about TM61 and gave the bad guys a better reaction coming out. The “Crash Cage” contraption they used for Ellering was quite cheesy I would say and the production they made of him getting in the thing was also over the top but hey, this shit happens in wrestling all the time. I'd say it was very low on the list of the most corny stuff ever so it wasn't a huge detriment. The match itself was fairly simple with TM61 playing the smaller, more agile faces to the Authors massive, brutish heel tactics. Immediately Razar puts Thorne up on his shoulders and vaults him up onto the Crash Cage set up and does a fucking SOMERSAULT DIVE ONTO HIS OPPONENTS. That man hates life. Thorne doesn't have the advantage long, he takes a beating thanks to the Authors being much more devious than he is. This match was good but the crowd didn't really care much. I don't know if this is because of this having poor build or just simply that this match happened to be the weakest link of this card. All four guys did well though and TM61 are going to fuck around and cripple themselves in a matter of months if they keep up their pace. This match however felt like one of those cringy Jim Herd gimmick ideas that failed though so it hurt this whole thing a lot. The constant bullshit camera angles that were clearly used to attempt to make this whole idea seem revolutionary and clever. It wasn't either. At least this wasn't the Chamber of Horrors or the Triple Cage so Hunter isn't all the way nuts. The crowd ended up getting into this late into the match thanks to some good spots. Then Thorne totally killed his partner Miller with another stupid dive and looks to hurt himself. Ellering uses this moment to drop a chain down and his man tries for a chain shot and Thorne blocks, sending the chain FLYING INTO THE CROWD! I don't believe anyone was hurt. It wasn't long until the finish happened and everyone rejoiced. **3/4

#DIY vs The Revival(c) in a 2 out of 3 Falls match for the NXT Tag Team Championship
These four men are magical together. Then again they're just magical in general. You have The Revival who might be the best duo in wrestling not named Nick and Matt, while #DIY is the great result of two phenomenal singles workers coming together to forge something different for themselves. The Revival are also GREAT heels and god do the fans hate their asses most of the time when they aren't trying to get themselves over. This match is so damn great because they all were at their absolute best. From the beginning, everyone was in the perfect place. There was a beautiful stereo dropkick spot by #DIY that is a must see in and of itself. The Revival put the heat on Ciampa during the first fall, beating the everloving shit out of him with forearms and such. Wilder hits like a mule, thudding his huge forearms off Ciampa. I love Dawson's scowl. Ciampa was the perfect babyface taking the heat also, never just fully dying and always working to fight up and eventually we get an early hot tag to Gargano who cleans up the ring. Gargano is so fluid in everything he does, and he's a guy that makes this very difficult sport seem easy. He gets crossed up though and takes The Machine for the end of the first fall. Great booking here, the heels have the advantage and early nearly silencing the crowd. Gargano writhes in pain and Ciampa is neurotic on the apron pleading for the tag as the ref checks on his broken body. We get the start of the first fall and Gargano nearly gets a flash pin but shit just isn't that simple. The Revival use the ref's lack of eyes behind him skull and keep Gargano hurting. I LOVE THESE TEAMS. Gargano is just as perfect of a face as Ciampa is, throwing shots when he needs to as he is pummeled. The Revival use the heat as a chance to show off various double teams while never getting the easy win. Dawson uses a Gory Special during the heat and I am so happy. Gargano quickly fires up and takes out both of his opponents with a great enzugiri/tornado DDT combo. Wilder crawls under the ring and interrupts a tag for Ciampa and Gargano gets mauled in the corner before Ciampa loses his shit. Hart Attack on Gargano isn't enough for two falls though and Dawson is clearly amazed by this. Gargano counters an avalanche belly to back into a body press before getting the big hot tag for Ciampa and Ciampa brings the fire! Dawson tries to cross things up but eats a reverse Rough Ryder for a near fall. Really cool move there. The Revival are constantly trying to work in a distraction but it works sporadically at best in this second fall. Ciampa also can't find a win despite throwing his best at Dawson and now both sides are giving that “how can we do this?” vibe. Ciampa gets caught sleeping and Gargano is drug into the ring to be executed yet Ciampa comes to save the day yet can't get them a fall. The distraction ends up working in #DIY's favor and it is all tied up after fall two! Great pacing, and now we get the tercera caida! Wilder and Ciampa have a really fun strike exchange early and it isn't long until Dawson is added to the party. Great false finishes back and forth for a bit, always building bigger each time. Gargano as the desperate hero is ALL MONEY! More amazing heel work by Revival. More great, last minute saving by Ciampa. In a really great callback to the August show, Gargano finds himself locked in Dawson's Indian Death Lock yet this time he finds a rope break and Toronto pleads for Johnny Wrestling. Wilder is tagged in and Revival tease for #DIY's finish and instead, Wilder is caught with Revival's own MACHINE! IT ISN'T ENOUGH! MY GOD WHAT A BUILD! Dawson tries to pull a fast one but the ref catches him pulling tights which could have bombed but Toronto ATE IT UP. Very interesting spot there. Chaos ensues and Wilder clips Gargano's knee and tries for a leglock but we get a series of roll ups back and forth until Gargano locks on the Garga-No Escape and Ciampa stops a Dawson save with his armbar! DOUBLE SUBMISSION AND DOUBLE TAP OUT! Goddamn what a match! This is hands down the tag match of the year by a landslide and in an era with The Young Bucks that is a huge statement. Bravo men! ****3/4

This crowd ate this match up like poutine and never waned in any bad way. This felt like an example of a re-education of tag team wrestling by Hunter and NXT to the world; it isn't about mixed bag tag teams, it is about logical work using tag teams as the gimmick match is was originated as. Tag wrestling is only as good as it's teams and NXT's division is rather deep right now.

In an interesting moment, we get a shot of Jim Ross in the crowd. Ross has recently been part of the World of Sport revamp in the UK oddly enough, as well as his New Japan announcing on AXS TV. Perhaps a working agreement in the future somewhere? You never know these days.

Asuka(c) vs Mickie James for the NXT Women's Championship

They really put over Asuka with testimonials by former NXT women talking about how they were murdered by her. Tons of talk about her kicks which are obviously pretty stiff. Cut to Mickie James love also, and I'm wondering how and why WWE lost this very simple trait of building up a logical story towards a intelligent and enjoyable ending. Then again we do have a show coming up that could change that. Mickie looked phenomenal for someone that has taken a long hiatus from the business. Asuka looked like a beautiful serial killer. Also, she is OVER.

I quickly made a connection between the swagger of both Asuka and one Tetsuya Naito. I think it is that nonchalant way they glare at their “prey” as it were. Toronto believed Mickie would perish, and I bet some of her blood vessels did after Asuka's mean strikes. Both ladies try to “out-crazy” each other and believe me, Asuka will win that battle against any of these NXT ladies. Nikki Cross probably disagrees but I feel like she'll have a chance to prove herself shortly. Asuka proves that when you wrench on someone's arm like a doorknob it hurts. Mickie proves she still has skills. Mickie holds open the ropes for Asuka who was on the floor and Asuka thanks her, and instead comes in under the ropes to spite her. Then we get some switches grappling back and forth. Mickie mistakenly trades kicks with Asuka and fails. She also finds herself on the outside and now Asuka holds open the ropes in jest. Mickie blows a kiss at her and Asuka is pissed. ASS TO THE FACE! That was great. Asuka is fired up, missed another hip attack and takes a hurricanrana on the floor for her troubles. Ankle Lock into a mental German Suplex on the FLOOR by Asuka. Mickie breaks a 10 count but takes a whipping for it. Asuka argues with Drake in Japanese in another classic moment in this match. Asuka kicks Mickie's lungs in and christ was it glorious. Mickie answered with a lackluster single legged crab but Toronto still approved. A shocking Muta Lock by Mickie pops me big time. Asuka made a horrendous sound while selling the move and it both disturbed and impressed me. Mickie fucks up and slaps Asuka, and while it did lead to a comeback it also lead to Mickie's later demise. This was GREAT! ****

Pat Patterson is in attendance and he is a gem.

Samoa Joe vs Shinsuke Nakamura(c) for the NXT Championship
These two are in the upper echelon of workers. I absolutely loved the build to these, with Joe losing his mind and forcing his rematch on Shinsuke with furious violence. Joe really is a fantastic monster heel, something that Pixie Barter and her goofs could never really grasp. In the same vain, Shinsuke has an aura second to none. Not to mention some next level psychology. Despite being a heel, Joe gets a THUNDEROUS Joe chant. You can't deny respect. The image of Joe staring menacingly into the hard camera is a visual to defy all time. Shinsuke's full orchestral entrance is also something to never forget, and that fucking crowd chanting to his theme always gets me. GIVE THIS MAN EVERY WWE THAT HAS EVER EXISTED! I love that Shinsuke has made a career out of having great matches while having the most unattractive faces ever, the man is living the dream. This fucking city chanted Shinsuke's theme AFTER IT STOPPED. I don't know if I've ever seen anything like that before. Then they chanted NXT, when it should have been Shinsuke! You fools! After Shinsuke came to the ring, Toronto turned on Joe and this got HEATED. Toronto made me look dumb and start a Nakamura chant. The match starts with vicious hatred all around. This crowd made this feel like UFC 205 or something with the energy they gave. This was worked very much like a UWF fight from Japan or something before it broke down into the usual WWE style but man was it cool. To state the obvious, these men hit HARD. They do some crowd brawling for a while throwing taters all over the place. Joe throws a dickish enzugiri and it looks great. So this naturally becomes a test of wills between two killers that are equals. Joe slings Shinsuke around like nothing and Shinsuke answers with mean knees from deep down. This felt like a BATTLE, something wrestling hasn't had on a larger scale in far too long it seems. Much of that is due to a lack of strong direction and vision, which NXT has. Joe does a really odd kneebreaker move that I've never seen in my damn life and Toronto didn't know how to take it really. Joe rolls into a fucking sick kneebar and Shinsuke survives only by a slight margin. Joe does a great job of working the bad knee. Joe's elbow suicida will never get old and Shinsuke sells like he was hit by a bullet train. Joe tries for a uranage on the steps, the same move that started the hatred after all yet Shinsuke narrowly avoids it and still can't fire up. Shinsuke finds an opening after a long beating and seems to rattle the monster with kicks and knees. Shinsuke's knees to the ribs were especially brutal looking. We get a powerbomb/boston crab/STF combo by Joe, which is transitioned into a crossface that has Shinsuke hurt bad. Shinsuke tries for a counter but we get a stalemate that leads into Joe's awesome powerslam for a near fall. Shinsuke perseveres and lands a nasty second rope knee strike on Joe and things are bad to zero. Man I love how these guys paced this, and made everything feel important even if it wasn't necessarily spectacular. These guys didn't reinvent the wheel, they just presented it with different angles. Joe landed at a very bad angle on a Shinsuke German suplex that made us all hope for more but we got a very disturbing rolling sweep bump by Shinsuke who lands high on his back. Shinsuke manages to hit Kinshasa but it isn't enough! Joe looks absolutely fucked up as Shinsuke measures for another and is caught in a Coquina Clutch! Shinsuke fights Joe into the corner again and again to try and break the hold but he takes a combination german/dragon/straight jacket german suplex and it isn't enough either! Lovely stuff. Joe is apparently cut and I realize that this poor guy has been hurt like every Takeover he's been on. At least they haven't been really bad injuries but god. Kinshasa to the back of the head in the ropes! Joe rolls outside and looks dead. Shinsuke rushes Joe and takes a low blow behind the ref's back before being slung with the uranage on the steps followed by a Muscle Buster for the win! Shocking finish for many but I think that will lead us down to a Shinsuke reclamation. Still, this was a fantastic match with a really strong finish that leaves more to be desired. Tom Phillips tells us that Joe is now the first two-time NXT Champion and my heart flutters, recalling my Joe fanboy days going as far back as 2005. Boy, I love this business sometimes. ****1/2

This show has to be on the shortlist of top cards of the entire year anywhere in the world. This had great wrestling everywhere and even a bad gimmick match had good in-ring stuff involved. The booking was solid throughout and in every instance things felt both logical and a progression towards a larger ending to things. Massive kudos!

In the coming days will be a write up of Survivor Series, and a more generalized viewpoint on pro wrestling today in editorial form. Again, I've come to a point where simply reviewing matches has gotten old to me and I've got to spice this sucker up! 

  

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