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Found 103 results

  1. Coffey

    WWE Clash of Champions

    I'm making this thread because, on paper, I actually think this looks like it could be a pretty good show. In addition, I'm also actually watching the Pay-Per-View tonight because I don't have to work & have not watched a lot of wrestling lately. I think the last show I watched was AEW All Out. So I have an itch that needs to be scratched. I also, miraculously, talked my girlfriend into watching with me. She's not watched a show with me since Asuka was still in NXT (she loved Asuka, so her not being used on the main roster is a big deal to her viewing interest). Despite the fact that Seth Rollins is wrestling twice on the show - meanwhile talent like Rusev can't even make a show - is a bit disheartening, but I'm still optimistic. Let's see if this thread can be more active & lively tonight! THE CARD: Universal Champion Seth Rollins vs. Braun Strowman Raw Women’s Champion Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks WWE Champion Kofi Kingston vs. Randy Orton Roman Reigns vs. Erick Rowan (No Disqualification Match) SmackDown Women’s Champion Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair Raw Tag Team Champions Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman vs. Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross vs. Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville SmackDown Tag Team Champions Big E & Xavier Woods vs. The Revival Intercontinental Champion Shinsuke Nakamura vs. The Miz United States Champion AJ Styles vs. Cedric Alexander WWE Cruiserweight Champion Drew Gulak vs. Humberto Carrillo vs. Lince Dorado ===== ***** ===== I think that Nakamura/Miz will probably disappoint my expectations, as that's how I've felt about Shinsuke's entire WWE run. Styles/Alexander should be good. New Day/Revival will probably be pretty good. Both women's title matches could be good. The Cruiserweight match will probably end up being on the preshow but it could be decent. I do like Gulak. I think Rose/Deville have both improved lately, especially Sonya, but I don't expect anything from that match. I don't care about either Seth matches, especially the tag match which somehow managed to put four of the most boring motherfuckers on the entire goddamn roster into one match. Good lord. Still don't know why WWE ever signed Bobby Roode or re-signed Dolph Ziggler. Two Seth matches on one card is brutal, but it is what it is. I've liked what they've been doing with Rowan lately but I don't think that match will be anything. Just Rowan doing some no DQ stuff with chair/steps & then losing clean to a Spear most likely. The Kofi/Orton match is the biggest question mark to me. I don't know what to expect from that one. This Kofi reign has been boring & forgettable & I'm ready for it to be over. On the other hand, Randy Orton is boring & forgettable & the last thing he needs is another title run. The feud doesn't make sense of why it's even happening. They need to get the belt off of Kofi but they need to start making new guys, especially if they're going to try to hit FOX running when Smackdown moves over there. If they just try to go back to same old shit, Roman, Charlotte, etc. I don't think people are going to care. ...where's Brock?
  2. This was so, so much better than the Wrestlemania match and still had some big flaws. The moves actually MEANT something here, even though that they did resort to finishers right out the gate - 4 German Suplexes and 1 F-5, to be precise. Brock bumping for the Superman Punch was indeed good, and so was Heyman actually interfering in the match when Reigns seemed to have things done. The steel chair beatdown was also cool, and for the first time in this whole feud, Roman FINALLY looked like a contender. It's a shame they made that nearly meaningless. However, things like Roman being the first one trying to escape is some baffling booking. It's not really hard to book him as the guy who would keep things in the ring and would not escape until way later into the match. The cherry on the top was the finish, though. While this whole event felt like a house-show, which meant it was going to be inconsequential, this one match was the one that actually mattered, according to the build WWE made after Wrestlemania. And then... it didn't matter. It was a fuck finish that one would expect in a house show, indeed, but it did not have to be. Roman fails yet again even though his feet touched the floor first. He's done at the moment. Overall, an actually good house show match hurt by its own build. Maybe we were expecting a more "legit" treatment, and were therefore setting our expectations too high. Maybe they did build it as legit and failed to book it as such.
  3. This match for the WWE Heavyweight Championship made me a little bit sad. The story going in is that the Authority wants to screw Cena out of the title by pitting him against 3 other guys - the typical situation where he doesn't even have to take the fall in order to lose the belts. Orton and Kane work together early on, with the latter making sure the former's pinfall attempts go without interruption. However, the crowd doesn't really care, because while the heels get their heat on Cena, they are chanting for Roman Reigns. They are hot for the interactions between Cena and Roman, and they teased them duking it out twice in the match before it finally happened. And well, what can I say other than Reigns is clearly the MVP in this match? During a stretch later in the match where he takes on the other 3 competitors, the crowd is pleading for Roman to win this. But in the end, it's an AA from Cena to Orton (with Kane being the landing spot) that seals the deal. He outsmarted everyone and retained the titles. It's sad. Roman was clearly one of the most over people in the company at that point. And now...
  4. So the WWE decided that this week, they're gonna put together close to two hours of just real good solid wrestling and what a shock, it was awesome! Seth and Roman start the match, getting some good exchanges going with Roman really bringing the tightness and stiffness to the match. Roman's timing and character work really is something else. Something as simple as standing up to a charging Rollins says so much and really creates a very heated moment that ups the intensity of the match. Exciting and hot finishing stretch that protects both guys but does a lot to help out Seth Rollins. Seth takes on John Cena next. Seth jumps Cena to start forcing Cena to work the opening minutes in his neon green shirt. Cena comes with methodical heel-esque Cena. I like this iteration of Cena personally. The guy's been on top for over a decade and he shows it. He saves energy by really picking his spots against Rollins and even taunting Rollins, giving Rollins a good heel character to play off of. They show a lot of chemistry in the finishing stretch as they exchange big moves and let Rollins get a clean win on Cena. The crowd is all the way behind Rollins at this point. Elias rushes in to charge Rollins and goes after the bad leg allowing him to pick up the pretty quick win over Rollins. At around this point, the match starts to dip as we get some in picture simultaneous promos to the competitors who've just finished. I didn't mind it so much as it was a nice way to fill the time as the highlights of the match were pretty much done. Balor comes in and him and Elias have some decent exhanges. Elias is just a very good wrestler with his basics. Snug strikes and good energy. Here's hoping he goes a long way. Balor able to get to the win until Miz comes out and picks the bones and uses The Miztourage to get the win. Miz with some amazing facial reactions when he realizes Strowman is last and then we get the Braun Strowman Murder Hour. Always a good time. That standing dropkick is ridiculous. This was just very good television all the way through with two incredibly great matches to open and an all-time performance by Seth Rollins. ****1/2
  5. For the most part, this is an ok match with Roman and Miz and the Miztourage doing more or less what you would expect, which are all things I like. It's noteworthy, though, because heels cheating is basically always done in dramatic irony these days, with the ref and/or opponent blind but the audience in on it and protesting loudly. So, while I know that the finish here, where nobody realizes that the cheating happened until afterwards, is for sure not the first of its kind, it really feels fresh and elevates this match to something easily recommendable. ***1/2
  6. What a good match to have in your first day of the year. Samoa Joe is interesting because his pacing is very different than from most wrestlers in WWE, but he compensates by having the presence. Roman, as usual, also brings the fire and the selling, and the stipulation added to the match no only brought some suspense and nice spots, but it kept things fresh. After avoiding the Coquina Clutch, Reigns gets the win - his first one against Samoa Joe - after hitting the Spear. Great stuff.
  7. Great showing by Jordan, and a great story about the spoiled brat being taught a lesson by a more experienced wrestler. What I love one those IC matches is that Roman is just finding different stuff to do according to the match and it enhances so much the experience. Jordan has a bad knee going to the match, and it's amazing how a single leg crab managed to get people on their toes. Great selling by both, specially by JJ.
  8. Superb match. Those two had a great singles match prior to Survivor Series '15, and this one managed to surpass that. Cesaro as a heel is much more intense and ruthless, and combined with Roman's usually great selling, makes for a very strong showing for both parts. Loved Reigns using stuff like Magistral Cradles because he couldn't rely as much on his power moves due to the arm work, or how that 1st Superman Punch looked not as effective. Roman is one of the most consistent workers WWE has seen in a while.
  9. TLC 2015 - Sheamus vs. Roman Reigns - WWE Title TLC Match For a match that I've yet to hear any real hype for, this match came out of nowhere and really blew me away. Right off the bat Reigns just tattoos Sheamus with a right to the face and it never lets up from there. I don't expect much in terms of layered psychology from a TLC match but at the least I appreciate when the work is rooted in some form of logic, and the logic here is that both guys were going to beat the tar out of each other. I don't think they attempted to climb the ladder until at least the mid-way point, and that wasn't because they were too busy setting up cute table spots on the outside. Tag team ladder/TLC matches almost always seem to come off better their singles counterparts, however due to neither guy being a high flier, they did away with the usual set-pieces and the match is so much better for it - highlighting Sheamus and Reigns' strengths, which both include having a bevy of stuff that looks effective. They brawl down the aisle and Sheamus gets flung across a table covered in chairs before going for the ride a second time, crashing through the tables set up near the entrance. There is something aberrant in seeing a guy of Sheamus' size being tossed around, and Reigns channeling his most arrogant side, dumping chairs on a prone Sheamus, just makes it all the better. For brevity the list of notable moments that follow are: - Sheamus suplexing Reigns through a table in the aisle - Roman deadlift powerbombing Sheamus onto a ladder - A Superman Punch variant off the steps - just with Reigns holding a goddamn chair - A Samoan Drop off the apron through a ladder - White Noise off the steps through a table!!! The finish with the League of Nations interfering was a major blight on the match, and seems only to have been included to allow the rematch the following night where Roman decks Vince, which we all know did wonders to get Roman over., but anybody who reveres the Brock/Roman match from Mania ought to give this a (re)watch because, booking aside, there's not many matches from this company that so thoroughly entertained me from bell to bell and incorporated this level of violence. This match has firmly entrenched itself as my no. 5 WWE MOTY behind the aforementioned Mania main event, the two Bayley/Sasha matches from NXT, and Roman and Bryan from Fastlane. EXCELLENT (4.25-4.75*)
  10. This was a weird match. The beginning was worth like they were building a proper match with a narrative and proper control segments, with Reigns just dominating Cena, working at a slower pace while Cena was too focused on playing to the crowd and got cut off over and over again. Eventually it just turned into a WWE workrate wankfest, as predictable as ever. If you’ve seen Cena matches like this before you could basically call half the spots, the Diving Legdrop into the Powerbomb, the Five Knuckle Shuffle cut-off followed by a proper one later in the match where Cena does a Fist Drop straight away instead of running the ropes and a billion finishers. To met these Cena matches are in the same vein as the Omega/Okada matches that have been getting a bunch of buzz-I don’t really think the *wrestling* in them is very good, but they do offer something in the flash, big spots and buzz they generate. I did like the executions of many of the spots like the Shoulder Tackle>Punch counter and Reigns was really good at convincing you he was gonna hit a Clothesline, punch or whatever and was not just setting up for an AA or whatever. And I loved the finish, Reigns just hitting a quick 1-2 combo was masterful. Still, for a workrate match like this to be anything more than an itsy bitsy fun watch while you grab a snack you’d want it to not just be spamming big moves and sequences in predictable fashion (is there anyone who didn’t see Reigns hitting a Spear once Cena cleared both tables? or the AA counter to the Spear? or the last ten matches where the same “Big Match” structure has been beaten to death so much), that’s sub-1998 All Japan guys sleepwalking through a Korauken 6 man tag effort. ***
  11. BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN. Sheer spectacle. That's what this was and I loved it. I really did. Braun has been on a tear in 2017 and he just keeps making the absolute most of every single opportunity that he's been given. He went out there tonight and just showed why he is an absolute monster. The dominance of putting Brock through two tables and throwing an office chair in the faces of both Reigns and Joe. Add to that one of Lesnar's best sell jobs bumping like a nut for Braun and selling his ass off for Reigns. Sure, Joe was just a bit of an afterthought and that's a shame, but man when this match was on it was ON. I'm honestly unsure how to rate this right now. The first few moments with Braun killing everyone dead was five star material easily. Things do slow down once Lesnar comes back from his stretcher spot but even then you get great moments like Braun kicking out and shoving Reigns to his feet and Lesnar eating three Superman Punches.This is a shade under five for me, because the second half just doesn't maintain the momentum but what a showcase for these guys. ****3/4
  12. This Raw monster division has really been something else this year, and it looks like it might be getting even crazier going into Summerslam. I wish we got this without the commercial breaks, but still, I really enjoyed it. Both Roman and Joe are wonderful at looking like huge, incredibly dangerous monsters while selling for each other's monster-ness. Roman does it with an "I don't know how I'm gonna continue" look; Joe looks more angry than anything, but it works for both of them. In addition to their usual spots we get a Roman trying to put his shoe through Joe's face and Joe cutting off a Drive By with a great clothesline. But this isn't actually just a Reigns/Joe match, as BRAUN comes through to wreck shit and we don't just get a regular beatdown, but the start of a three way thing. It makes sense that Braun comes out on top, because the Samoans have been beating the shit out of each other, but both Joe and Reigns get shots in, and Joe even has him on his way down in the Coquina before Reigns goes for the Superman Punch and interrupts. I love it all. ****
  13. YES. Just yes? I'm sorry, that's all there is. Rough, stiff violence from both guys. They constantly upped the intensity and made believable transitions that got you to buy into Roman potentially winning. You had the classic ringpost transition which works particularly well after the Tag Title match early in the night. Roman Reigns sells his ass off (again) but really, did we expect anything else? Then you had monster among men Braun Strowman putting in a fairly decent sell job on his arm...before turning it around into one of the greatest heel comebacks possible. The violence on the stage area was stiff, going through the screen was a wonderful visual. Then, that glorious post-match angle. i don't care if it's a double turn or what it is. It's fucking awesome. Best ambulance match ever? Easy MOTYC and another amazing chapter in what's turning out to be a classic feud. ****1/2
  14. I would honestly call this match a carryjob from Reigns, and hot damn, best carryjob I've seen all year long. What a terrific performance by the Big Dog - Finn's offense looked super weak, I did like the idea of him going after Reigns' injury, but as I said, the offense looked weak - what made it work extremely well though is that Roman f'n Reigns sold his ass off for him. He sold Finn's weak offense like death. And of course Reigns' offense looked killer, as usual. What a fantastic professional wrestler he is. Great match & an amazing performance by Reigns. ****1/4
  15. Their Fastlane match disappointed me greatly, but holy shit that is all forgotten now after this instant classic. The look on Braun's face while Reigns was staring him down from the ringside was priceless. LOVED the beginning with Reigns going straight to punch Braun - now that is how you sell a personal feud, Owens & Jericho! That stunned Braun & Reigns got a great shine in. That shine ended quickly as Braun grabbed Reigns while he was going for that drive by apron dropkick. My goodness that was awesome. Braun was now on full control, he destroys Reigns & Reigns displayed that world class selling of his - oh man he is such a phenomenal seller & this might have been his finest selling performance yet. Reigns' big eventual comeback was fantastic - now that is how you do a high energy, hard hitting, badass comeback while still selling your injuries perfectly; hope Rollins took some notes. Braun got the control quickly again & dominated, Reigns got just enough hope spots in, only for him to fall down to the ultimate monster that is BRAUN. What a goddamn match. Gave me some Umaga vs. Cena vibes. Roman Reigns is the fucking man & Braun Strowman is the best monster WWE has had in a looooong time. ****3/4
  16. Things seem to be going on the usual TV match route when those two guys lock up. Roman pushes Jinder to the corner, and when the ref tries to split them apart, Jinder uses this break for a cheap shot, and then gives Reigns a god damn potato. What a fucking loud punch, Jesus Christ. That was actually a blessing for the match. Roman working as an angry beast added a layer of aggressivity that kinda made things more personal. Undertaker mind games make Mahal get the upper hand again and holy shit he just beats the shit out of Roman with a basement dropkick. Roman finishes Jinder with two Superman Punches, looking extremely pissed with that many potatoes. An actually very enjoyable, sub 5 minute match that brings out some (unnecessary, maybe) stiffness at times. *** 1/2
  17. I usually don't review stuff when I watch it live at 5/6AM, and this probably deserves a rewatch, but I have some thoughts on it that I want to get out. My first impression was that it was a great match. The opening wasn't much but as soon as they found focus it became awesome, usually Undertaker's strikes are just a shallow gimmick that feel like a nod to his ego so he feels better about the MMA classes he takes, but here they actually looked good for a change AND had a build that made them feel important. It's not like every punch Undertaker threw was suddenly Sangre Chicana level but when it mattered (the apron counter and the sudden jab) they made for huge momentum shifts and looked great. Reigns is no stranger to ramping up the violence levels, and the no holds barred rules and Undertaker's sheer age made this really feel like a spectacle, you have a jacked man in his prime conditioned destroying a fifty year old man with chairshots, the visual is just so much stronger when it's two guys who looks identical doing the same. Even when you could see the spots coming (like when Undertaker got Reigns on the table) the execution was so good it hardly mattered or the set up was so phenomenal they made you want to see the spot you know was coming (Reign's consecutive punches to Undertaker and the way he got in his face before the Last Ride). And for matches that have a lot of nearfalls I think this one really got it, doing what RINGS and the high end juniors matches do in that it set up an ongoing narrative and then had the final spot be something extra that really made you think ok, THAT'S it and it should be and it was. And Reigns punching Undertaker out before running the ropes five times and spearing him was exactly that. I would have had it around ****. I've seen some people complaing about the post-match, but I don't really know what they were expecting. I think it perfectly fit into the match, Undertaker failing to kip-up was an amazing spot and his character ends his journey on a more humanizing note with embracing his wife and going out. Maybe some would have liked to see some mystical transformation into the ether with only Undertaker's hat remaining in the ring, but I don't think that would have complimented the match as well.
  18. Reigns was my most awaited main roster opponent for Joe, and I thought that their first meeting truly delivered. Physical, Joe looked fantastic when he was working the heat on Reigns w/ his killer offense, and Reigns did some really great selling, and I loved every hope spots of his, and the big comeback towards the end was great, too. These 2 have a classic ****1/2+ PPV match in them. ****
  19. I hesitated making a thread on this but fuck it I enjoyed this way too much. Even if I don't think it rises above "fun." Basically Regins gives us an entertaining 2015 Kane match centered around his strikes and selling. It's mainly a slugfest but when you have Reigns making me buy Kane's offense as actually doing damage, you're doing something right. Thought him seeming to just be going on instinct on the finish was great, too.
  20. Saw some gifs on my twitter timeline of Braun throwing Ambrose around from a year ago and I checked that out but saw this in related vids and found it more interesting. Think the biggest growth from Strowman since this time has been how he emits his presence/aura and what to do when he's in control during his beatdowns. Compare this to the Zayn demolition from this Monday and it's night and day with how he moves and how he lays in his shots. I think Reigns' selling is the best part of this along with how he tries to figure out how to get on offense. Strowman taking Reigns' head off on the second apron dropkick ruled, though. Hope they have a program down the line.
  21. RECOMMENDATION: READ THIS VIA MOBILE APP OR MOBILE SITE DUE TO NUMEROUS LINKED YOUTUBE VIDEOS. The Road to WrestleMania XXX: The Good Shit - http://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?/topic/33558-the-road-to-wrestlemania-xxx-the-good-shit/ The Road to WrestleMania 31: The Good Shit - http://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?/topic/33559-the-road-to-wrestlemania-31-the-good-shit/ The Road to Takeover: Dallas & WrestleMania 32: The Good Shit - http://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?/topic/33560-the-road-to-takeover-dallas-wrestlemania-32-the-good-shit/ NXT Takeover: Dallas – April 1, 2016 Live from Dallas, TX NXT Tag Titles Match The Revival vs. American Alpha The excellent, obvious choice for the opener since a title change was very apparent. Rather than modify their game plan, the champs intensified their underhanded tactics in an attempt to overcome the mat wrestling and suplex arsenal of the challengers. That ultimately proved to be the end of their title reign. Whether it was mind games, attempts to cut the ring in half, manipulating the ref with false illegal tag attempts to get a cheap shot, the champs were never able to get a lengthy, momentous advantage on either Chad Gable or Jason Jordan. While the ring was cut in half at times, it was never for very long. In particular, Gable drilling Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder simultaneously with DDTs told the story of the match; no matter what, the Revival couldn’t crush the focus and heart of American Alpha. Not with slaps to the face. Not by cutting off a hot tag by climbing under the ring. Not even bailing each other out from certain punishment. This night belonged to many names, and among them were American Alpha. They were not to be denied. The best part was the finishing stretch as Dawson and Gable exchanged near-falls that got the crowd rocking. At this point the match beautifully had the Dallas crowd guessing, even with the booking and match placement making the end result crystal-clear. Once the near-falls got out of the way, the challengers double-teamed Dawson, leaving him prone to the Grand Amplitude and title change, with Wilder being a non-factor as Jordan cut him off. A tremendous opener as expected. **** KOTA FUCKING IBUSHI, one half of the reigning Wrestling Observer Newsletter Match of the Year Award, is sitting at ringside. Per Corey Graves on commentary, there will be a “global cruiserweight tournament” coming as well. OH FUCK YES~! The WWE Debut Match of Austin Aries Baron Corbin vs. Austin Aries Not the most ideal debut for Aries as this got quite tedious when Corbin was in control, although I could still appreciate the story being attempted. Simply put, the storyline of the match was that Aries did his homework, while Corbin didn’t. It was absolutely foolish for the former NFL player not to hit the film room and respect that Aries had been successful against much larger men throughout his career. There’s of course one of his career-defining moments in dethroning peak Samoa Joe at ROH’s Final Battle 2004, but also his participation in Generation Next thwarting off the monstrous Abyss and the rest of the Embassy, humbling Bubba Dudley in TNA, and taking Takeshi Morishima to the limit. This cockiness and disrespect was all the advantage Aries needed to embarrass Corbin. That wasn’t the only thing that hurt Corbin in his failure to study Aries. While he got an advantage in targeting the right shoulder of Aries, it still allowed the southpaw Aries to make a successful comeback with his left hand. Knowing something as simple as which dominant hand Aries possesses could’ve helped Corbin’s youth and size become too overwhelming for the mileage and experience of Aries, who perfectly scouted an End of Days attempt to get a roll-up victory. Roman Reigns would never get this embarrassed, as his frequent counters of big moves prove that unlike his fellow former gridiron colleague, he actually hits the film room. Stepping away from the actual fictional storyline, it was another brilliant piece of booking for Aries to win his LONG, LONG, LONG overdue debut. Dream Match and Shinsuke Nakamura’s WWE Debut Sami Zayn vs. Shinsuke Nakamura Prior to April 1, 2016, I had seen one match involving Nakamura, and it was before his breakout persona that ultimately led to his Wrestling Observer Newsletter Hall of Fame induction as well as his departure from NJPW to WWE. It was an absolutely FANTASTIC ****1/2 level tag match on March 1, 2009 in NOAH, with Nakamura & Milano Collection AT being total cunts in a brutal collision against Go Shiozaki & Takashi Sugiura. While I am absolutely aware of his legendary status and current star power, I know damn well just from that one match during his “so-so” period as a personality that he is an elite performer. Without question, Nakamura has already stood out from the majority of other outsider debuts for WWE, displaying perfect charisma and personality just during his entrance, completely in tune with WWE's style of production. Amazing how that happens when WWE caters to the talent’s natural habits instead of forcing a playbook on that talent. The pre-match and early off-the-charts atmosphere that I recall experiencing in person translate masterfully to the broadcast version, displaying what a truly historic match this is. The bell hasn’t been rung yet and this is already the 2010s decade version of the Samoa Joe vs. Kenta Kobashi epic. Nakamura's mind games are immediately on display, showcasing just fantastic psychology and even more personality, but Zayn has done his homework, evading Nakamura's deadly stomps and kicks. Nakamura looks like he may not have done as much studying as he should have, getting placed in arm twists and arm drags while Zayn returned the taunting from minutes earlier. The Hall of Famer seems to know he did himself a disservice, getting vicious with surprise knees to Zayn's gut and then targeting the left arm. He cuts off Zayn's comeback attempt with an Enziguri-style knee to the face, then cuts off the former NXT Champ with a spinning heel kick. Zayn finally cuts Nakamura off via a snap suplex, then unleashes standard offense to wear down the company's newest top free agent signing. They exchange forearm strikes in the corner, causing Nakamura to topple to the outside. Rather than get aggressive, Zayn lets Nakamura get on the apron, leaving him prone to a kick to the face and follow-up knees to the skull. This gets a wonderful reaction as the action gets back into the ring, triggering dueling chants in the process. Zayn's attempted counters to the swaggering Nakamura's corner knees are for naught, as he gets placed on the top rope and eats one anyway. Moments later, Zayn outsmarts the overzealous Nakamura, causing him to dive to the outside. This time, Zayn wastes no time with a Pescado on the outside, and then a crossbody inside the ring for a near-fall. Nakamura blocks a suplex attempt with a knee to the skull, then follows that up with some more as well. He runs the ropes which is a mistake, as it allows Zayn to block him and hit a deadly Michinoku Driver. They then have a mid-ring forearm exchange that has Dallas rocking, and Nakamura's nose is now bleeding. Both are running on fumes at this point as the crowd gives the continued exchange a standing ovation. Zayn tries bouncing off the ropes for balance and momentum, leaving him prone to Nakamura forearms, knees, stomps, and kicks. Nakamura seems to get cocky when he runs the ropes, for Zayn hits a lariat and then a clothesline; a second clotheslines attempt puts Zayn in position to get locked into a cross armbar submission, but Zayn clasps his hands to block it, so Nakamura goes for a Triangle Choke. Zayn twists a bit so that he can stomp on Nakamura's head and get the hold broken. Zayn returns the favor from earlier with stomps to the head, then scouts Nakamura's forearms with a counter into the Reverse STO and follow-up Koji Clutch. Nakamura turns his positioning for a near-fall, then cuts off Zayn with another Enziguri to daze Zayn. At this point the crowd breaks into a "Fight Forever!" chant, a true display of respect and admiration from the audience. Zayn blocks an Inverted Exploder attempt, only to eat more knees. Nakamura goes into the corner for my favorite moment of the match, proving that indeed, he did his homework by blocking Zayn's Yakuza kick. With Zayn's leg stuck on the top turnbuckle, Nakamura takes advantage with a successful Inverted Exploder, but Zayn shows he did his homework by avoiding the Bomaye, then hits a Blue Thunder Bomb for an off-the-charts near-fall, bringing the crowd to a frenzy. Considering I can't think of one time that move has actually finished a match for Zayn, it's a testament to these two that they had us biting. Nakamura lands a high kick counter when Zayn goes for his through-the-ropes Tornado DDT in yet another highlight. Both are highly fatigued and Nakamura can't hit whatever he has in mind off the top rope, so Zayn goes for what I assume is a Top Rope Brainbuster, but Nakamura blocks it. Zayn tries to hit a Corner Exploder on a running Nakamura, but that's blocked with elbows to the head, then gets followed with a knee to the back of the head, then it finally ends with the Bomaye Knee, bringing this work of art to its masterful conclusion, and not just for this match, but for Zayn's NXT tenure. Post-match, both show the obvious respect that only grew even more after this all-time classic as the crowd thanks Zayn, knowing this is his NXT swan song. Zayn is left alone to get the standing ovation he earned, marking the end of an era. In one night, Nakamura proved he was ready to do whatever WWE needed him to do, be it the face of a brand, a solid hand on the undercard, a workhorse groomer for other future main-eventers, or maybe even a tippy-top star. Everything he did was on point from the moment he stepped through the curtain both before and after the match. His entrance, his mannerisms, his offense, his psychology, all of it was just flawless. For Zayn, this match was critical in showing he still had elite workrate capabilities in him, which seemed to possibly no longer be the case since his return from shoulder surgery a few months earlier. For one man, it was the perfect beginning, for the other, the perfect finale. The only way to have made this even better would’ve been to have this close the event, and Zayn’s post-match goodbye to be interrupted by Kevin Owens. It’d had fit everyone’s characters and only further given last-minute extra heat to their ladder match coming less than 48 hours later at WrestleMania 32. This is simply the best match I saw all weekend this past April in Dallas, better than any of the spectacular and genuinely great shit involving the likes of Owens, the Revival, Chris Hero, Will Ospreay, Fred Yehi, Ricochet, AJ Styles, Marty Scurll, Zack Sabre, Jr. and others to come later on this same card. This truly felt like a historic match in person, and on the broadcast I felt that I was watching an all-time important mega match on par with The Rock vs. Triple H at SummerSlam 1998, Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 21, and Edge vs. John Cena at TLC 2006. The electricity in the building was absolutely undeniable and added to what would've already been a fantastic match just based on the ring work of both performers. Even further, this surpasses the Undertaker vs. Triple H "End of an Era" Hell in a Cell masterpiece from WrestleMania XXVIII as the second-greatest match I've ever witnessed in person. So with that in mind, I will add this quote from my review of the only match I have ranked above it on this list, that being Bryan Danielson vs. Roderick Strong from ROH's Vendetta: This is a match stockpiled with moments that I'll remember for the rest of my life, and serves as a reminder that despite current financial difficulties, if I can find the money to end up being in Orlando this spring and override my recent cancellation of it (a certain Phenomenal main event would be enough to convince me), then I'll be there. I will cherish this match forever, a match that surpasses Sasha Banks vs. Bayley from Takeover: Brooklyn as the greatest match in NXT history. Last but not least: if this does not end up being The Road to Takeover: Orlando & WrestleMania 33 Match of the Year, then holy motherfucking shit are we in for an historic year of workrate from WWE. ***** NXT Women’s Title Match Bayley vs. Asuka An early submission exchange gets broken when Asuka strikes Bayley's face, which is a nice message to send. This isn't gonna be a monster heel or arrogant opponent trying to keep Bayley down; Asuka will just come right for the fucking throat. This is further proven when Asuka lands kicks, but Bayley tries to show she can strike to, although Asuka has the ultimate advantage early. Bayley scouts a running butt-butt after having just experienced one seconds earlier, allowing hereto get the advantage. After various attacks, a clotheslines attempt is turned into an arm submission by Asuka. Bayley quickly regains the heat by ducking corner roundhouse kicks. She puts Asuka in the Tree of Woe, allowing for an elbow drop. Asuka ends up on a turnbuckle and eats a Hurricanrana, then gets placed in the guillotine choke. Unlike Nia Jax, Asuka doesn't fall to this, instead positioning it into an ankle lock submission. Bayley throws her out of the ring, but the left ankle damage is done. Despite the damage, Bayley hits a head-scissors on the outside before bringing Asuka back in the ring. Asuka gets fighting spirit from Bayley's strikes and uses that to regain the heat with various attacks, including numerous kicks. Bayley finally scouts the kicks by blocking one and hitting a forearm, only to eat a knee strike to the head and then a Shining Wizard for a near-fall. Bayley scouts another butt-butt and turns it into a backdrop suplex after Asuka attempts to block it. After ducking an Enziguri, Bayley eats an immediate follow-up kick to the face, and both go down sour and fatigued. After a brief stalemate, they have a strike exchange which would seem to favor Asuka, only for Bayley to catch a kick and turn it into an ankle lock submission of her own, then drives Asuka's right knee onto the mat. She then targets Asuka's left leg, which is perfect to fuck up the base and kicking abilities. That's for naught, as Asuka catches Bayley's arm for a cross arm bar submission. Asuka even gets into position for a hyperextension, but Bayley escapes for a couple near-fall pin attempts. Asuka goes for the Asuka Lock, but Bayley has that scouted. She follows up with more signature attacks, then hyper-extended Asuka's shoulders in a submission that won her the Iron Man match against Sasha Banks. That's turned into a pin attempt, so the champ goes for the belly-to-belly suplex, which is blocked of course. Asuka ducks a clothesline, hits a roundhouse kick, a snap suplex, and then locks in the cross arm bar submission again. Asuka's attempt at the Asuka Lock again is almost broken by a rope grab, but the challenger drags her down on the mat in the middle of the ring. The champ won't give up, but Asuka gets her back down on the mat, and there's no escape, as Bayley passes out for this historic title change. This was definitely a great match with a terrific story of Bayley being resilient but outmatched, while obviously hurt by following Zayn vs. Nakamura, further evidence that the match placement on this card was flawed. The finish was perfect, as it makes Asuka even more of a juggernaut while making Bayley even more deserving of an inevitable rematch. This could've possibly been a MOTYC had it not followed Nakamura's epic debut. **** NXT Title Match Finn Balor vs. Samoa Joe Former TNA Champion BOBBY FUCKING ROODE is sitting front row. OH FUCK YES~! Balor uses a Texas Chainsaw Massacre gimmick as part of his entrance; such a novelty would be the entrance of the evening on a normal night. Joe came into this one seemingly with the dominant strategy that would indicate a title change in storyline. However the early bleeding on his face early was enough to keep this even and allow Balor to avoid any sustained disadvantage. Even with Joe scouting some of Balor’s signature moves, the blood loss clearly affected Joe’s ability to relentlessly deliver his standard punishment from his prime a decade or so earlier. The crowd of course got fucking irritated with the match being paused at points to fix Joe’s bleeding face, breaking out in chants of “Let Joe bleed!” and “Fuck PG!” Wrestling fans really are as low on the intellectual totem pole as stereotyped; if were truly creative and zesty with displaying our sense of entitlement, we’d have screamed shit such as “Let him gush blood!” and “Fuck these doctors!” and “Fuck your sponsors!” and “Fuck his safety!” Joe did himself no favors in storyline with the WWE clichéd shocked facial expression after Balor kicked out of the musclebuster. This was time wasted in which Joe could’ve delivered additional punishment on the NXT brand’s absolute best competitor, and it allowed Balor to make an easy comeback and win the match with by countering the Coquina Clutch with the same finish Bret Hart used at WrestleMania VIII and Survivor Series 1996. At least the finishing moments were red-hot, a sign that this match had the potential to be a MOTYC even after a far hotter, more newsworthy piece of history earlier on the card. Even had Joe not been busted open early, it was a clear mistake to close with this match. Here’s why: as soon as the bookers got cold feet on a title change, then the crystal-clear peak of the show was going to be Nakamura’s live debut, along with the fact that everyone with common sense knew this was Zayn’s final night on the brand. Having Zayn vs. Nakamura close the evening allows for the anticipation of that historic dream match to continue building just a bit longer, and having Owens ruin the Zayn’s post-match swan song ceremony closes out the event with more buzz for WrestleMania 32, which is supposed to be the grandest event EVER in company history due to Jerry World’s attendance size. By doing this, the crowd also isn’t quite as drained for Bayley vs. Asuka, and that title change is therefore more impactful for those in attendance. As is, this is a very good match that wasn’t just handicapped by Joe’s blood loss, but by flawed match order on the card. ***3/4 Easily the North American show of the year that I’d sentimentally put on par with Punk: The Final Chapter. Like that show, the reasons are obvious here. This was worth every penny spent on the vacation I took in Texas…easily. NXT @ WrestleMania 32 Axxess – April 2, 2016 Taped from Dallas, TX The following aired on April 13, 2016: NXT Champion Finn Balor knows that Shinsuke Nakamura’s ultimate goal in NXT is the obvious, which will be to become NXT Champion. This would seem to indicate that either Nakamura will be gunning for it VERY, VERY soon, or he’s gonna be exclusive to NXT for a lengthy period of time. Earlier in the day, NXT Tag Champions American Alpha bask in an empty Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center. Colin Cassady & Enzo Amore arrive to congratulate and make the challenge for the NXT dream tag match, even if it’s non-title. Bayley vows to reclaim the NXT Women’s Title in the future, and that the defeat to Asuka will not break her. American Alpha vs. Cassady & Amore is next week in a non-title match, as is Samoa Joe vs. Apollo Crews in a first time ever matchup. The following aired on April 20, 2016: American Alpha vs. Colin Cassady & Enzo Amore – *** No Way Jose makes his debut after a few weeks of hype videos. Seems fun and energetic, and upon first impression doesn’t give off a big money vibe, more of a curtain-jerker to make the crowd feel welcome on the card. Who knows, maybe he’ll be more than that, after all, Colt Cabana went on to headline the greatest ROH show ever in a violent feud-ender against Homicide. Samoa Joe vs. Apollo Crews – *** The following aired on April 27, 2016: NXT Women’s Champion Asuka has a stare down with Nia Jax, which would seem to indicate the next Takeover direction for that division. This follows up on the tease at Takeover: London, and Asuka vs. Bayley II makes far more sense for Takeover: Brooklyn II. The Revival mince no words in stating they’re aiming to reclaim the NXT Tag Titles.
  22. There seems to be some resemblance of hype around a WWE show for the first time in forever so I guess I'll cherry pick my way through it. Lacerated can't be a world real people say in normal conversations. Rusev's strikes have improved-Reigns' are still better but that's expectable. I liked that the match felt like a hate filled brawl inside a cell instead of them just working the prototype HIAC match just for the sake of doing so-mainly consisting of them shoving one another into the cell, onto the steps etc. instead of elaborate gimmick stuff. And when they went for the more elaborate weapons by searching for them under the ring like the table and the kendo stick they quickly cut each other off. Rusev breaking the kendo stick when the crowd was ready to chant with him for the ten count was perfect heeling and the visual of the steel steps flying off after Reigns smashes into them was great. Stilll for a match that was worked with so many many exchanges of control segments, with the crowd heat being what it was and the brawling and violence not being on the level that a great match of this type should have, it could only go so far. You could tell the counter for the Spear, the Camel Clutch counter and the Spear off the stairs were coming, but they all looked cool enough that it didn't really bother me. ***1/4
  23. Vince really likes that spot where Reigns runs down the ramp and Spears someone near the ring doesn't he? And now the creative team has to think of ways to get it in regardless of how little sense it makes. The brawl itself was fun and Reigns' screaming fangirl was more amusing than any of the "smart" chants but the way they went about it just made no sense whatsoever, especially when Reigns wasn't even trying to get pas referees who weren't even trying to really stop him from attacking Rusev.
  24. I liked how this was structured a lot more than the previous fatal 4 way, everyone going after Reigns in the beginning made for an interesting dynamic, only problem was that I don't think anyone in this match other than Reigns is a consistently good wrestler in 2016. What this match did give us was some interesting cut-offs, Jericho breaking up Sheamus' 10 punch combo with a Springboard Dropkick, Sheamus using the Brogue Kick to break up Jericho's Boston Crab and to cut off Reigns while he was cleaning house, Jericho countering Zayn's Springboard DDT by just pulling him down, all really cool ideas that were executed well. Reigns not allowing Jericho's midlife crisis cover to get even a one count was amusing and the finish was reminiscent of a 2013 Shield six man tag, Roman was on fire, unfortunately old man Jericho botched a big spot but Reigns recovered well enough by just picking him back up and punching him in the face again. **3/4
  25. One of the 3-5 best matches in the history of the company. Shockingly violent and stiff with top notch action and a great build to Reign's comeback. I know sometimes Brock is perceived as an offense machine but his character work, mannerisms and selling can be as good as anyone's. If only this had a proper finish. Screwy finishes in things like Shawn/Foley or Fujinami/Maeda don't usually hurt the matches but here the match felt incomplete because of the run-in. Still this is fantastic. ****3/4
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