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Found 13 results

  1. NXT Women's Champion Charlotte vs Sasha Banks -NXT Takeover REvolution 12/11/14 It was love at first sight for me and The Boss. I could just tell from her mannerisms that she would be a Sleeze Favorite, then she called Charlotte, "generically basic" and I knew she could do no wrong. However, this Lady (She ain't ratchet!) from Titletown, USA (Home of Winners such as the New England Patriots, John Cena, and Myself, the First Ever Winner of the First Ever Pro Wrestling Trivia Internet Podcast, Brainbuster), is no slouch in the ring and most importantly is not afraid to heel it up. Whether it was getting into Charlotte's face like who ya think ya are or taunting Charlotte with Woos making me laugh like heidy heidy ha, Sasha Banks was wrestling this match like a Flair. Hell, she even had the Flair transition of using the outside and corner to your advantage. Ric Flair is perhaps the greatest corner wrestler of the time. It was in the ropes that Flair was at his most dangerous because that is a break in the steady-sate action of wrestling and he was used these transients to get one-up on his opponents. Here, we see Sasha bait Charlotte to the outside, yank hair from the corner (never turned you back on an opponent, Charlotte, love how Sasha made her pay for the lapse in focus), or the the drop toehold in the corner. The announcers were on point noting these elements of Sasha's game plans, kudos. What they missed and this where Bobby Heenan really would have shined is that Sasha Banks was not just taunting Charlotte by using the chop and the figure-4 headlock, she taught Charlotte those moves! That was one of the cruxes of the video package. Heenan would have been right on top of that and BANG! We would have gotten the will you stop from Gorilla. One last thing, I dug from Banks early on, when Charlotte looked to regain the advantage, we saw Sasha tackle her into the corner and deliver double knees in the corner. it showed a desperation and violence mixed together. It was a wrestler that knew their grasp was tenuous at best. I liked Charlotte using her natural strength to overcome Sasha. Charlotte is an interesting case. I don't if she would be better suited as a heel or face. I liked her as a heel in the Bayley match a lot, but I feel like her natural gifts and moveset would make her a babyface. I think starting off as a heel and maturing into the face is always the safest route, but I could see her going either way. Towards the match got all move trade-y and athletic and stuff. I have seen it all folks, a strike exchange in a WWE-sponsored women's match. That damn fucking sequence is going to follow me to my grave. I thought I was safe, but they went and pulled it out. Admittedly, I liked Charlotte shortening the ring up on the tackle to end the exchange. Charlotte's moonsault into a somersault senton was very, very impressive. There were a couple other spots, but I was disappointed they abandoned a great narrative to hit MOVEZ~! Certain people would say that would be the most Flair thing to do. That being said it does play into the fact that in an athletic match Charlotte would smoke Sasha so once Charlotte could set her pace and implement her gameplan it was over for The Boss, but constant move trading took away from any sort of hot crescendo. Anyways, first half of this match Sasha Banks wrestled this match Like A Boss and the best pure heel performance in a WWE ring since Stephanie McMahon at Summerslam. The second half is not bad, but it is forgettable, but the story hook is eschewed for moves. ***1/2
  2. No thread for this yet? This is one of the more universally liked matches. Fantastic clash of styles (no pun intended), killer arm work, great selling, intensity, unique spots and grit. 2014 MOTYC. ****1/4
  3. Kazuchika Okada vs Shinsuke Nakamura - NJPW G-1 Climax Finals 8/10/14 The dream match that NJPW booking has wisely put off since Okada burst onto the scene in the beginning of 2012 pits two stablemates from CHAOS against each other for the G-1 Climax Championship and pretty much a mortal lock to headline the 1/4 Tokyo Dome show. Okada has reminded me a lot of old Nakamura. From a technical execution standpoint, Okada is a great wrestler, but he seems disinterested in the outcome of a match and just is not showing passion. In this match being challenged by one of the other two top natives in NJPW, he seems hungry to assert himself as the premiere pro wrestler in the world. I want see more of that from Okada. Nakamura has been great in the matches I have seen in 2014. His new oddball persona of wearing Michael Jackson-inspired jackets and dancing like MJ is entertaining outside the ring and inside he is the last of the Strong Style workers which means a heavy emphasis on counter submission wrestling and strikes especially blows to the head. It is not fancy, but it is going to get the job and it may get it done quickly. Okada does not really have a flash submission or knockout in his arsenal so he is susceptible in his long setup times to a wrestler like Nakamura. Nakamura is what made this match dynamic. He forced Okada out of his comfort zone and to react to how he was wrestling, which made it more compelling than the Okada-style which can be mechanical at times. Early on, it was all about posturing and bravado. Psyching each other out in a macho pissing contest, Okada does his cocky clean break so Nakamura responds with stare at the belly button. Because these two have never faced off, Nakamura feels like the favorite because of his experience in big time matches. So when Nakamura is fucking around during this break, Okada immediately clamps on his a DDT. Right there, I know Okada came to play. Okada is still a cocky punk so he can't resist putting his one foot on Nakamura's chest and hitting the Rainmaker pose. We get the first strike exchange and of course the King of Strong Style wins with a knee lift. Okada has to avoid those exchanges because that is an area that Nakamura will crush him in. Nakamura just lays waste to Okada in pretty much every conceivable fashion of using a barrage of knee lifts. Now it is Nakamura's turn to get cocky and does little playful kicks to Okada. What is going to be Okada's strategy? When Tanahashi feels overwhelmed, he neutralizes his opponent by attacking the knee. What does Okada have in his arsenal to set up the Rainmaker? The answer is of course, his dropkick. Nakamura goes for a running knee one too many times and Okada is able to counter by setting him up top hitting a dropkick causing him to tumble all the way to floor. Okada presses his advantage on the outside with a Hangsman DDT. Normally, Okada would let this run for a countout, but he is not fucking around in this match and he is not going to give Nakamura a second to breathe. Big Elbow Drop! Okada really has a case for best elbow drop ever. It is fucking pretty. RAINMAKER POSE~! GEDO IS JAAAAAACCCCCKKKKEEEDDDDD! Now this is where Nakamura shines, his counterwrestling game. First it is a lungblower to buy himself time. Then when Okada goes for a submission, he walks right into the trap. Nakamura gets a rear naked choke and is looking for a cross armbreaker, but settles for a Triangle. As Okada stands to reach for the rope, Nakamura uses his long legs to force him over into a cross-armbreaker. Gedo is freaking out as Okada writhes and flops around looking for the rope. Perfect way to respect the cross-armbreaker. Nakamura buries knees deep into Okada and is looking for the Boma Ye. Okada counters with the White Noise into the Knee (not my favorite move). Okada successfully avoids Nakamura's wild roundhouse kicks and uses dropkicks to set up the Tombstone. Now it is time to Make It Rain in Seibu, FLYING CROSS ARMBREAKER OUT OF THE RAINMAKER~! Holy shit! Definitely one of the best spots of 2014! Nakamura the counterwrestler strikes again. Okada steps on his face to force the release. BOMA YE~! to the back of the head. This is treated like it levels the playing field, but i felt like Nakamura was in the driver's seat. Strike exchange ends with an Okada dropkick. Nakamura pulls one out of the Suzuki game plan and baits him into hitting dropkick again. He collapses on a rope running spot and Okada goes for the dropkick again, but Nakamura was playing possum so Okada crashes and burns and BOMA YE~! KICK OUT! Okada will not be denied tonight. Nakamura gets a running start but as we saw in the Shibata match if you can guard against that it is his downfall. Okada hits with a dropkick on the button. Nakamura blocks The Rainmaker with a knee and looks for Boma Ye, but Okada closes the gap by running towards it and grabbing the leg. Love that! Nakamura uncorks two closed fist to set up Landslide, but Okada reverses out with a backslide. When Nakamura kicks out, Okada hangs on to hit not one, not two, but three Rainmakers to win the G-1 Climax. That was the story of this match Okada was not fucking around and he was taking no chances. I loved that there were no kickouts. It was Okada ensuring his victory. Okada looked like a boss here using the dropkick liberally like a Misawa would with his elbow to set up his offense. We saw with Shibata how you can defend against Nakamura's Boma Ye and Okada executing that strategy perfectly. He survived Nakamura's counterwrestling and the Flying Cross Armbreaker out of the Rainmaker was an awesome spot. Kicking out of Boma Ye was definitely a big star-making move! You really felt like Okada wanted it more on that night. I distilled action down to its best parts but there was some fluff and overkill late paired with a lukewarm beginning that I think this is behind Styles/Suzuki and Nakamura/Tanahashi, but I would peg this no worse than a top 5 NJPW Match of the Year and Top Ten Match of the Year overall. Nakamura's counterwrestling/strikes versus Okada's dropkick & heart made for one epic story on this night. ****1/2
  4. Charlotte vs Natayla - NXT Takeover 5/29/14 Vacant NXT Women's Championship I can understand why this match is being pointed to as what the women's division can be if probably promoted, why it is being lauded as the greatest women's match in WWE canon and a turning point for women being taken seriously under WWE umberella. This is not just a match that is being trumpeted by WWE.com as a means to canonize (thanks Charles) this as a great/historic match; it finished #20 in Voices of Wrestling poll for 2014. WWE took the women seriously and in turn so did the pundits. I think that is the strength of this match more than anything than they did in the ring. This is the first women's match since Trish/Mickie/Lita that felt like it had a big fight feel. You had the Nature Boy going crazy at ringside cheering on his daughter and the stoic Hitman coaching up his niece. The announcers treated the match seriously and the crowd was fully invested in the outcome. I was at the Royal Rumble during what I thought was a really good Bellas vs Nattie/Paige tag match where you could hear a pin drop and no one gave one fuck about the match. The crowd is crucial in developing that atmosphere they wanted for this match. Honestly, this match felt like an exhibition to me. I think the cool story for a while was Nattie's submission ability against Charlotte's length. Yes, Nattie could grab the holds, but Charlotte was too damn long for Nattie to be able to hold her in those holds. Still, the match lacked quality transitions. I am a huge fan of chain wrestling that gets chippy and we get that with some nice slaps and then Charlotte smoking her with a spinning back chop. RIC FLAIR IS HYPED! He is all over the fallen Nattie, Wooing in her face after he she had that audacity earlier in the match. Then Nattie is just running the ropes and taking control. This is my next problem with the match. Women need to accentuate their positives and hide their weaknesses like any other wrestler. So just because men run the ropes, does not mean you should. Nattie with her little legs looks ridiculous when she is trying to run the ropes and Charlotte has to wait for her. This is something I noticed about the Charlotte/Banks match is that Charlotte is so athletic that she is showing up her fellow women. She can run the ropes and do convoluted sequences and look badass. Making Banks do those sequences or making Nattie try to keep up by running the ropes exposes both competitors. I like the figure-4 headlock a lot and Nattie trying to escape only to have Charlotte roll through showed how Charlotte's natural length thwarted Nattie. Then you get bullshit like Charlotte hitting a dropkick only for Nattie to hit a butterfly suplex. I liked the Charlotte Flair Flip into Nattie blasting her off the apron with a forearm. Nattie should focus on strikes, submissions and throws and forget about running. Charlotte whips her off the apron in a nasty bump. Then Charlotte misses the moonsault and Flair losing his shit. Flair should be her full-time manager, he adds a lot to this match. Nattie applies the Sharpshooter, but Charlotte reverses into the Figure-4. This was the worst figure-4 sequence I have ever seen and actively detracted from the match for me. Charlotte applied it and just because Nattie rolled through onto her back does not mean she is applying pressure. From there, they just start no-selling it and look confused. Then they trash talk and it is like somebody needs to start selling because this looks ridiculous. I am surprised they did not have Nattie properly reverse the pressure because that is actually a Sharpshooter (is just a standing reverse figure-4) and it would have been a counter that got a big pop. Anyways, Charlotte hits Bow Down to the Queen a way better name than Natural Selection to win the match. I feel like Paige/Emma had way more intensity and Charlotte/Banks had more interesting character work. Both of those matches felt like struggles. This match just felt like they were showcasing what women's wrestling could be rather than looking to win a match. ***1/2
  5. This is pretty much a squash but is probably one of the 3-5 greatest squashes ever. Cena's selling was pretty fantastic here and Lesnar's offense and character work were pitch perfect. A 15 minute+ match that felt like 3 minutes. **** 1/4
  6. Pretty decent match, very watchable. Good selling by Lawler and Steen plays his part as the obnoxious heel well. ** 1/2
  7. Great narrative of the outmatched veteran getting decimated by the younger, stronger wrestler and trying to find ways to survive. Rush's offense and rudoing were superb, Casas was as great as you would expect and the finish was awesome. Casas's resigned look in the postmatch was an amazing visual. This had all the pieces to be a MOTYC level match but the lackluster pacing and disjointed feel hinders this pretty badly and it just falls short of the great mark for me. Still, well worth checking out. *** 3/4.
  8. Apparently this Mashita guy worked Battlarts and Real Japan, it still doesn't ring a bell, I don't remember ever hearing about him. He's basically a poor man's Munenori Sawa here-nothing bad, but nothing especially good either-he throws some kicks and that's about it. Honda is still a joy to watch-the way he grinds a Headlock is a thing of beauty so watching this goof try to escape it over and over again and constantly failing was quite fun. Honda busts some of his signature submissions and pins, not many as the briefness of the match didn't allow him to. A fun and easy watch if you have four minutes to kill. ***
  9. Good little comedy match on the 2014 Mitsuharu Misawa tribute night.
  10. NXT Champion Adrian Neville vs Sami Zayn - NXT Takeover REvolution 12/11/14 NXT crowds are far from perfect, but for this match they were undoubtedly perfect. This match goes from a normal MOVEZ~! match to a great match and a star-making performance for Sami Zayn because this crowd was totally invested in the Sami Zayn character. They also proved me wrong. The past couple of years my confidence had been shaken that babyfaces could exist in this cynical, jaded wrestling climate. When Sami Zayn had the chance to blast Neville with the championship belt, they all chanted "NO!" in unison throughout the segment. They cared about how Zayn won the match and that meant a lot to me. It restored my faith that real babyfaces can still exist in this world. The pop for his victory would have been the feel good moment of the year if not for the amazing Daniel Bryan story that began the year. The match also represented something that I personally fear the growing homogenization of American and Japanese wrestling. The match felt like a very good Pro Wrestling NOAH main event circa 2009, more than a big time WWE match. You had these moves alone: Split Leg Asai Moonsault, Kawada Kicks, a convoluted Blue Thunder Bomb, Koji Clutch (called by the announcer as that!), Dragonrana, Half Nelson Suplex, and Exploder into the turnbuckles. Of course, the most telling sign was the strike exchange. It was such a barrage of moves that I felt that the humanity of the match sometimes was stripped from it. The Zayn story was sometimes lost in getting to next spot. Kudos to the crowd for never faltering and always making this about Zayn with their constant exhorting of Zayn and Ole Chants. Besides the finish, I liked the beginning of the match the most because it exploited the more interesting parts of the story: Zayn's confidence and crowd dynamics. Neville was doing all the little things to mitigate Zayn's crowd advantage and stop him from getting out of the gates hot. The chain wrestling was very entertaining and a great way to bottle Zayn up. Then he would get into his heads with the front handsprings to show him up. Neville gets too cocky is caught with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Zayn goes on that early fast break run with a split leg Asai moonsault. There is a weak transition that allows Neville to get back on top. Again, Neville is bottling Zayn's excitement up with a reverse chinlock and kneedrops to the face. Again, Neville cocky hits some playful kicks to the face before the Kawada Kicks. Zayn hits a nice swandive to the outside. I liked how Zayn was not letting Neville breathe and forced his advantage. After this, it got a little move trade-y. The setup for the Powerbomb was lifting from Japanese in a very good way. I liked how Neville had to use a forearm sledge, withstand a Zayn counter, and kick him in the head to hit the powerbomb. That is pro wrestling at its best, having to earn that move. As much as I may be complaining, I marked out for the DRANGONRANA~! I just think it would have looked even cooler if it was not surrounded with other standard big spots. The ref bumps were perfect and returned the match back to the story. The crowd was on point telling Zayn to not worry about the ref only to eat a thrust kick and the Dragonrana. The crowd was so pumped for that kick out. Then again during the aforementioned "Should I blast him with the belt or not?". The crowd pleading with Zayn not to do it only for Neville to sneak in with the roll up. These were great false finishes. Zayn winning with the Yakuza Kick was a spectacular moment after not being able to win the big one during his career. He pulled out all the spots in this one and still held himself to his moral code. It was nice to see fellow Quebecois, Kevin Steen (now Kevin Owens) and Pat Patterson celebrate with him. Even Nevilled embraced Zayn. However, just as they were going off the air, supposed best friend Kevin Owens threw Zayn down on the back of his head on the ramp and then brutally powerbombed him on the apron (that's just Indy, ). I thought these NXT shows needed a big angle to hook you into the next show and this was perfect. ****1/4
  11. Team Cena (John Cena, Dolph Ziggler, The Big Show, Ryback, Rowan) vs The Authority (Seth Rollins, Luke Harper, Rusev, Kane and Mark Henry) - WWE Survivor Series 2014 When Survivor Series Elimination Matches are done right they are hard to top. A booker can take advantage of more moving pieces in terms of the number of wrestlers in a match and the number of finishes afforded to him. It allows for more pairings and no dull moments with each tag there is a new combination. The arc follows a more traditional sports-oriented approach where there is a scoreboard and teams fall behind and have to work hard to catch back up. I think this match should go down as one of the best Survivor Series Tags of all time. The hardest thing for Survivor Series tags to overcome ususally is the stigma that they are inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. While it turned out to be true that this Survivor Series tag was just as inconsequentlal as most, at the time, this match really felt huge and meaningful to everyone in the match, outside the ring, the announcer and the live audience. I would say in terms of big match feel this ranked only behind Cena/Lesnar at Summerslam and the Bryan matches at Wrestlemania. Everyone played their roles to a T. Triple H and Stephanie just absolutely and totally rocked it on the outside. I loved HHH firing up Mark Henry and really laying it on thick only for Henry to walk into the WMD. Damn! It was the perfect start to the match. Triple H goes from all revved up to total dejection. The heels fell flat on their faces. The babyfaces start hot and the crowd is whipped into a frenzy and they never really let go. One of my biggest hang-ups watching this live was the treatment of Ryback. I am a Ryback fan. When Ryback was at nadir of his career teaming with Curtis Axel against the Dust Brothers for the umpteenth time at the Money In The Bank, I got a "Feed Me More" chant started because damnit, I was not going to let him die. They redebut him and he feels like a big deal. He is presented as the piece that will tip the scales in either team's directions. Then he is the first person pinned on Team Cena!?!?!?! Do I think that if you switch Ryback and Big Show's roles that the story, the match and the aftermath would be 1000000x better? Yes. Did I overreact and basically underrate a match because of it? Yes. I just wanted to get that out there. I love that babyfaces got a long shine by modern WWE standards. This is what Rollins brings to the table that really not other heel does right now. He can pinball bump like a muthafucka and really create energy for a babyface. Whether it is being swatted by the Big Show or Ryback tossing him up, it takes the onus off the babyface to solely get the crowd involved. To be fair to their treatment of Ryback, he does get a huge run of offense before he is eliminated. Rollins gets tossed around. Harper takes a stalling suplex. Kane comes in gets his ass kicked. Hell, Rusev looks vulnerable before in all the chaos Rollins takes advantage with a timely Curb Stomp and eliminate him. I love the heels taking advantage of a melee like that. What is interesting is I remembered that Rusev was presented as the game-changer for the heels, but that was incorrect it was always Harper. Rusev was special because any nearfall or any time he looked vulnerable triggered a big reaction, but it was Harper that actually turned the tide for the heels. Show actually looked strong against Rusev, but it was a well-timed dropkick by Harper that gave the heels their first advantage. The Big Show face in peril segment was the lull in the match, but it was to set up Dolph's first entry into the match and he was supposed to be the star of the show. Ziggler gets a quick burst of offense before Harper plants him. The Ziggler face in peril set up the in-match swerve and the finish beautifully even if it was a bit boring. Rusev busting out the knees again was awesome! After a Ziggler hope spot nearfall, a melee ensues, but this time does not benefit the heels as Rusev belly flops onto an announce table while HHH was egging him on. Triple H's frustration at Rusev not being able to make it to his feet and J & J desperately, but futilely trying to carry Rusev to the ring was the great character work that enhanced the atmosphere of this match. The babyfaces are up at this, but they are not soaring quite as high as earlier in the match. Down 4-3, Rollins took the match into his own hands and executed Shield tactics that being create havoc and always press. The curb stomp to Cena to save Kane forced Cena to tag in Rowan. I did not even notice how awesome Harper/Rowan was. Harper is fucking amazing. It was just a gnarly powerhouse fight. Again, Rollins took advantage and flew in with a knee to the side of the head so that Harper could collect the victory. This all sets up the Big Show turn beautifully. Ziggler is out on the floor from his face in peril and Cena is staggered from the Curb Stomp. It is effectively 3-on-1 and BOOM! Awesome in-match heel turn, logically sound. Triple H handshake was great and Steph doing the Yes! Chant to Cena was awesome. Loved the St. Louis crowd chanting for Randy Orton twice. A member of the main roster is actually over now that is awesome! This is the part of the match I expected to hate, but I actually thought Ziggler was really, really good in this. I expected it to be dead-fish sell and then zero to sixty, rinse, lather, repeat. I thought he did a great job actually building to climaxes and not switching shit off and on. The segment with Kane was worked beautifully. Kane looks like it is a slam dunk, Ziggler staggers and hits his KO blow to eliminate. He has life and the crowd and HHH & Steph respond accordingly. The worst part of the match is actually this Harper segment. Harper mauls him and then loses to a roll-up. It is really hard to book this middle segment. Either scratch it or they could have had Ziggler beat Harper like he did Kane and then when Kane comes in he just destroys him no selling. The Harper beating made it look too incredulous when Ziggler got the roll-up. I thought they did a great job in the Rollins segment building to everything. Rollins was on top, but Ziggler kept hitting more and more moves. Ziggler really paced his offense well and he seemed to be getting stronger with every shot. The interference was well-paced. Ziggler gets a close nearfall and here come the stooges which sends Steph into HHH. Ziggler gets the Zig Zag and HHH says fuck it and Pedigrees him. I wish it was Orton that came out and RKO'd HHH, but Sting was pretty cool. Just do not give a single fuck about Sting/HHH. The finish pretty much sucks because they had built Ziggler into a believable babyface winner over Rollins and he just needed a bit of help like an RKO to Trips, but instead it became all about HHH/Sting, which is too bad. The aftermath and the finish take a lot of wind out of the sails of this one, but for the vast majority of this match is incredibly compelling and you really did not know what would happen next. Everything felt urgent and immediate. The babyfaces were on fire early and you thought they could run away with this. Rollins using Shield tactics to create opportunities for his partners was greta heel strategy. Harper being the heel stud badass was great. The Big Show turn even if Ryback would have been better was freaking awesome. Hell, even the majority of the Ziggler run was some of the best Ziggler ever as he actually modulated his selling and bursts of offense well. Very, very entertaining and like most WWE matches wish they followed up on this better! ****1/4
  12. Kazuchika Okada vs Minoru Suzuki - NJPW G-1 Climax 8/8/14 This match takes place from the last night of the round robin portion of 2014's G-1 Climax. If Suzuki wins the match, then Okada will not go to the finals and Styles would enter the finals. For these high pressure stakes, I don't think Okada is wrestling like this at all like anything special. Minoru Suzuki is wrestling at a very high level throughout match and really carries the day. Okada disrespects early with the cocky clean break. Suzuki takes exception and takes him down with an armbar. Okada lunges for the ropes. Suzuki is relentless on the arm using the Tarantula and his big kick on the apron. Suzuki has worked the arm pretty well and Okada just blows it off with some elbows. He hits his big elbow drop early so he calls for the Rainmaker. Suzuki goes right for that arm and when Okada misses the dropkick. Suzuki rifles the arm with a kick. There is a nice progression in the armwork now with Suzuki using submission moves that could lead to a submission: Fujiwara Armbar & Cross Armbreaker. In an absolutely awesome moment, Suzuki plays possum by not being able to run the ropes so Okada looks foolish on a leapfrog and when Okada turns his back Suzuki drills him with a dropkick. Suzuki is so fucking good. Suzuki applies a sleeper and is looking for the piledriver to win, but Okada escapes with the White Noise on the Knee. We finally get the strike exchange which Okada wins with a pretty dropkick. Okada hits the weakest Tombstone ever. Suzuki blocks the Rainmaker and BIG CLOSED FIST! GO SUZUKI GO! Okada hits a pretty dropkick and the Rainmaker to win! I don't know about this Okada guy. He is just there in these matches. He is pretty, adequate at everything and has a really pretty dropkick, is he the Randy Orton of New Japan? It is just a small sampling size so we shall see. Okada could have sold more and had more emotion in this finish stretch, but still he was fine. Suzuki is so awesome in this match and is just a great showcase for him. ****
  13. At the beginning of the year, I decided to watch as much 2014 wrestling as I could and blog about it (here) using a match review format. As you can see, I stopped about mid-way through the year. I fell behind during the summer and eventually threw in the towel in terms of doing reviews. I did keep watching current wrestling at a similar pace, however. As a means of doing something tangible with all that wrestling watching, I wanted to do something at the end of the year to wrap it all up. Hopefully this thread will can serve as a helpful resource in terms of being a look at 2014 in semi-real time. I am going to do this in a couple of parts. First, I want to list out ten wrestlers that I personally feel have a strong case for “Most Outstanding Wrestler” (though on a calendar year rather than the WON Dec. – Nov. year). I am not a big fan of listing things out without providing an explanation, so for each wrestler I am going to recommend some matches that I think support their case (divided into three tiers) along with the argument for and against the wrestler being the best of 2014. I have included some links to reviews by different people (where applicable). These are reviews I thought did a strong job of capturing the positives of those matches. The ten (well, nine for now) wrestlers I am going to cover are: Rush, A.J. Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, Virus, Titan, Ricochet, Negro Casas, Tomohiro Ishii and Cavernario. Still deciding on a 10th between a few guys (Hechicero, Daniel Bryan, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Zack Sabre, ect.) I understand that the ten wrestlers I am listing are in no way a consensus top 10 (I am not sure the group even represents my top ten) but I think it provides a strong sample of wrestlers who had very good 2014’s. I also think by looking at these ten, you get a good start on potential top matches/MOTYC's from 2014. There are some wrestlers (Timothy Thatcher, Hechicero, Sami Zayn, Seth Rollins to name a few) who I can certainly see a case for, but someone other than me are probably better off arguing in support of those guys. Please feel free to add anyone you feel deserves to be hyped. “Must See” are matches I consider to be solid MOTYC’s or at least enough others did to warrant inclusion in this top tier. “Great” matches are you lower-level MOTYC’s/borderline candidates/just below MOTY-level matches. “Also Check Out” are all good matches of varying quality that I think give a good glimpse into the wrestler's year. “The Case For” is my take on why the wrestler is a strong candidate for best/most outstanding wrestler of the year. “The Case Against” includes arguments I could see being made against that particular wrestler. “Other Awards” are WON award categories (although again on a calendar year basis) that I think the wrestler could be considered for. For the second part, I plan on listing (in some format) other matches from 2014 that I think are worthy watching for one reason or another that don’t involve any of those ten wrestlers. Since the 2014 sub-forum has seemed to disappear, I thought this might act as a good starting point for 2014 year-end discussion. **************************** Rush o Must See o vs. Negro Casas – Hair vs. Hair (CMLL – 08/01 – Arena Mexico) o Great o vs. Shocker – Hair vs. Hair (CMLL – 03/21 – Arena Mexico) o w/ La Sombra vs. Negro Casas & Shocker – CMLL Tag Team Championship (CMLL – 07/26 – Arena Mexico) – A rare top notch CMLL tag team match. There is a sense of urgency in the match in the way all four guys wrestle and make saves. The match served the dual purpose of building to Rush/Casas and being a great standalone bout as well. o Also Check Out: o vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (NJPW – 01/18 – Korakuen Hall) – A glimpse of Rush in a slightly different context. o w/ Titan & La Mascara vs. Virus, Vangelis & Terrible (CMLL – 01/21 – Arena Mexico) – thought this was amongst the better CMLL trios matches of the year. Nothing mind-blowing but just a solid all-around match. o vs. Vangelis (CMLL – 02/17 – Arena Puebla) – a bit of a throw away match but serves as an example of Rush being able to work a solid, normal singles TV match against an average-ish wrestler. o vs. Ultimo Guerrero (CMLL – 10/31 – Arena Mexico) – they totally break from the usual Ultimo Guerrero formula here. This is right with the Shocker hair match from March in terms of Rush getting a more than “by the numbers” match out of a veteran who rarely strays from his usual formula. o The Case For o Quality – three top level matches o Quantity – until his injury, Rush was a regular presence on CMLL TV and as such, had plenty of average or above matches to show for it. I’d put his volume of good matches against anyone from the year. o Variety – Rush performed well in high-intensity matches that were part of big feuds (everything versus Casas; the Shocker hair match), was involved in an excellent tag match, was a standout more often than not in his trios matches, and had two of CMLL’s better non-title, non-apuesta, non-lightning singles matches (versus Vangelis & UG). He was good or better in a lot of different contexts. o Worked effectively as both a traditional tecnico and in the difficult in-between role that he, La Sombra, and La Mascara were booked into for the latter part of 2014. The second role (a technico that wrestles like a rudo) was particularly difficult to pull off and I thought he did a solid job in making it work and feel somewhat natrual. o The Case Against o The Casas hair match has been a bit divisive. Some see it as the perfect end to the feud while others see it as a bit too disjointed and one-sided to be a true MOTY-level match. o Missed the last couple of months of 2014 with an injury. o Other Awards o Feud of the Year (vs. Negro Casas) o Most Charismatic o Best Gimmick (Los Ingobernables) ********************************* A.J. Styles o Must See Matches o vs. Minoru Suzuki – G1 Climax (NJPW – 08/01 – Korakuen Hall) o Great Matches o vs. Kazuchika Okada – G1 Climax (NJPW – 07/21 - Hokkaido Sports Center) o vs. Tetsuya Naito – G1 Climax (NJPW – 07/26 – Akita Prefectural Gymnasium) o Also Check Out o vs. Cedric Alexander (PWX – 01/19 – Winston Salem, NC) o vs. Chris Hero (ROH – 03/22 – Montgomery County (Dayton) Fairgrounds) o vs. Kyle O’Reilly (ROH – 08/22 – Milwaukee) – I find O’Reilly to be pretty solid with a tendency to do much or get lost in a longer match. I thought they held it together a bit better here and came away with a strong TV match, in large part due to Styles. o vs. Adam Cole (ROH – 09/06 – Toronto) – probably have this behind the Hero match as Styles best non-NJPW match of the year. o vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (NJPW – 10/13 – Sumo Hall) – thought this was better than the two Okada title matches from earlier in the year. o The Case For o Styles wrestled a large variety of opponents in 2014 and usually squeezed out good or at least better-than-expected results. Although not all of them are listed here, I watched nearly all of his US indie matches from the first 8 months of the year. Regardless of opponent (and some were rather low quality), he almost always had at least a watchable match. When he wrestled more high quality opponents on the indies or in New Japan, he was able to work up to that level. o In addition to carrying indie guys, also got a surprisingly strong match out of Lance Archer during the G1. On a similar note, the Elgin ROH matches were much better to your run-of-the-mill Elgin matches (even if they still weren't anything I'd consider worthwhile). o A legit MOTYC versus Suzuki. o As strong of a singles match resume as any contender o The Case Against o None of the indie/ROH matches were “great,” with the possible exception of the Hero ROH Match. o The first two Okada matches were not great by any means and it did seem to take him a few matches to get comfortable with his role in New Japan (although that shouldn’t be unexpected). o Other Award Consideration o Wrestler of the Year o Best Box Office Draw (as an ROH/indies draw)