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  1. A fittingly brutal introduction to the Elimination Chamber concept. Rob Van Dam is the star of the opening half. With a great babyface shine really taking it to Triple H and then bumping around like crazy with great spots like the Spiderman dive and the Five Star off the pod. Jericho plays a fun chickenshit and his alliance with Triple H is a nice dimension that adds a nice wrinkle to the match. It also pays off nicely. Kane was a fun monster but he looked dumb not going for a pin after Chokeslam City. Shawn commands the last half of the match as a great underdog babyface bumping around for Y2J and HHH. He actually pulls off one of his best and most tense comebacks here as HHH tries to cut him off at every turn. Satisfying feel good finish for everybody! ****3/4
  2. The year 2002 is the only year since 1997 that I did not watch any wrestling at all during a calendar year. I was still smarting from the WCW buyout and the pathetic Invasion. Even bringing back the NWO did not get me to give a fuck about wrestling. I have gone back and watched a handful of matches from 2002, but I thought I look at the 8 or 10 best. This period of time will be crucial for how I rank Benoit, Mysterio and Guerrero for GWE. Chris Benoit vs Rey Mysterio - Smackdown! 10/3/02 This was a tremendous TV bout! It is amazing that this is pretty much their signature singles match. For all the time spent in WCW and WWE, they very rarely crossed paths in a singles setting. They had tag feuds in WCW 99 and as part of the Smackdown Six, but this match represents their most famous signature encounter. It is even more surprising because they were both signature Smackdown stars during the Brand Split era. Guess you can chock it up to them both being babyfaces for the majority of their runs. Hearing Tony Chimel's voice took me straight back to high school. That was crazy. This match needs to be shown to the entire modern day locker room. This is the blueprint for an action-packed match where storytelling and selling are still critical aspects to the match. It is clear that Benoit and Mysterio are huge influences on today's wrestling, but I think a lot of wrestlers/agents have the wrong takeaway from matches like this. Yes, there are a lot of moves and the moves are over, but the characters, context and motivation around the moves are really what gives these moves their impact. I love how all of Benoit's cool moves are counters to Rey Mysterio getting a little too cute. Rey due to his size disadvantage needs to use speed and finesse. I am not trying to demean this technical acumen, but when compared to the cold, rigidity of Benoit's straight-forward assault, these are very cute moves, but they are effective. My main point is Benoit is robbing you of seeing Mysterio hit his cool armdrag, wheel-barrow, and 619 and Benoit is countering with badass impactful moves like backbreaker, wheelbarrow suplex and shoulderbreaker. Since Benoit is robbing of these moments, he and his moves are not getting over like a babyface, but instead it is putting him over as a badass heel and Mysterio as an underdog face. Another credit to this match is the beginning. I have been all over the extinction of the babyface shine from pro wrestling. I think it is incredibly crucial in getting a crowd invested in a babyface before the heat segment. I think it is 100% essential when a wrestler is new or not that over. Nobody wants to cheer for a loser. An unestablished babyface that goes into a heat segment without a shine is an almost guaranteed death sentence. Not does Rey Rey necessarily need a shine no, but I think it is a great way to get a crowd going. I love how this shine plays out with Benoit firing all cylinders early really laying in his shit early only to have Rey use his finesse to counter and then setup 2-3 really slick high spots and I loved the somersault splash to the outside. That was a perfect punctuation on a great shine. Now when his fancy armdrag gets countered into a vicious backbreaker, I am spending the heat segment cheering to see more cool Rey offense and see his bully get his comeuppance. That is why the shine is important. The finish sequence was very nicely done. Rey was able to set up the 619, but Benoit countered into a nasty shoulderbreaker. From there, it was the typical Benoit full court press with the diving headbutt and Crippler Crossface (too close to the ropes). Rey is able to use movement to create opportunities for an awesome legdrop onto Benoit that was quickly set up and totally credible into the 619. Angle, who was Benoit's partner that did not like Benoit, interferes to set up the Latino Frankensteiner (TM Michael Buffer) for the Rey Rey win. One last point, Rey Rey's strikes were on point and he surprisingly had not problem going blow for blow with the heavy handed Benoit. One of the best TV matches I have seen in quite some time. Really well-executed. A perfect, action-based, movement-oriented match that stayed true to face, heel dynamics. ****
  3. Eddie Guerrero vs Edge - Smackdown! 9/24/02 No DQ I have watched this match twice previously and neither time to leave much of an impression. Now I am going to record my apathy so I don't have to go back and watch it again. This is one of the most blatant carry jobs I have ever seen. I am usually the worst at noticing that or think people are exaggerating, but Eddie literally set up Edge for every single one of his big spots from the monkey flip to the powerslam to the Electric Chair to final Edgecution off the ladder this was the Eddie show through and through. I loved the amount of effort Eddie gave. I love his energy. It is totally infectious. I don't know how someone wrestling fan or not could not smile when Eddie is on camera. He is so charismatic. He was doing too much in this match and nothing really stuck in your craw. Early on the fans were really restless and he thought movement was the solution, but he was doing his offense and then bumping too so there was no real sense of story or momentum. He tosses out a superplex and then here is me taking an Electric Chair. It could be also that crowd was just waiting for the weapons to be brought out. Eddie looked mean and he was laying his stuff in but just way, way too much. It would have helped if Edge could contribute something. He is so fucking bland. Edge is the definition of mediocre. The spot of the match is clearly the Sunset Flip Powerbomb off the ladder. It was so weird not hearing "This Is Awesome" to follow that spot. It would be such an obvious trigger spot. I liked the paucity of highspots after that big move, it was Edge's counter and finish that took us home. That minimalism would be perfect nowadays. Definitely one of the most overrated match in WWE canon. Finish run and Eddie's effort brings this above average. I have no idea why this considered a WWE classic. ***
  4. Shawn Michaels vs Triple H - Summerslam 2002 There may be no two more polarizing wrestlers in WWE than Shawn Michaels and HHH. It is almost entirely due to their "real life" personas (or what we know them to be from second hand accounts). I am not going to pick a dog in the race, but analyzing their matches always evokes a lot of emotion and passion. WWE pushes these two as two of the all-time great pro wrestlers in the ring. They are uttered in the same breath as Flair unlike Austin and Rock, who are usually associated with Hogan as great superstars as the WWE dictates. When HBK/HHH entered the ring for Shawn Michaels' first match in four years, it was a mere formality that this could become a part of WWE canon as one of the all-time classics. They would have had to put on a stinker the caliber of their Hell in a Cell match (I have never seen it, but it sounds atrocious) for this not go down as one of the premiere matches in company history. For hardened wrestling fans, this match is considered to be no good and vastly overrated. Where do I lie? I am closer to the WWE camp and I think this does belong best matches of WWE in 2000s, but in the greater scope of pro wrestling this can not compete. I will say I felt a lot more emotion for Kobashi's comeback match in 2007 than I did for Michaels' comeback here. I watched the Kobashi match last year and to me that was just one of most emotional matches I have ever seen. Maybe it is because I knew Michaels would eventually make a full recovery or that I have seen this before, but it did not hit me as hard this time. The beginning shine was perfectly acceptable. It was not great, but not bad. Michaels was brutally betrayed by his friend so I would have liked to seen more anger, but overall he was pressing the advantage proving to fans that he has his trademark mobility by hitting a dive over the top to the outside. HHH was fine bumping around for him. This felt like a really good standard opening to a character-driven face vs heel match, not a blood feud. It was important to me that Shawn stay on top and suffocate HHH at the very least. Loved the teased Sweet Chin Music into a backbreaker. That was straight money. HBK did a great job selling the back. HHH worked over the back like a champ. This was an incredibly strong heat segment, maybe the greatest HHH's career. The backbreaker on the chair was fucking awesome. I loved the set ups for Michaels' hope spot like using Earl and getting the sledge hammer to give time for HBk to recuperate. The low blow and Sweet Chin Music into the chair was perfect, perfect one-two combo to get Shawn back on top. After taking such a hellacious beating, he needed two quick bombs to make this even remotely credible and those were perfect. Ok, so now onto the controversy. The kip up. Yes after the awesome heat segment, he kipped up. For the rest of the match did not really sell the back (he did after a couple dives). It did not kill the match for me. I can understand the issue. There is no hard and fast rule about this at the end of the day. Sometimes, it is just going to bother certain people more than others. I still think it is a great match just not an excellent, classic one. Mostly because Shawn actually delivers one of his best comebacks of all time. Marty was usually the hot tag in the Rockers and Shawn's greatest weakness in his career was probably credible offense. I thought he was laying in some really great rights here and was really tearing into HHH. HHH tapped a gusher (one of his best qualities) and sold really well. The match did get a bit long in the tooth. For instance, I don't think he needed to dive off turnbuckle onto the table and dive off the ladder. The dive to the table got a huge pop and is a great spot. That was sufficient. Also, it get a little back-y n forth-y towards the end, but not as bad as some of the modern matches. They did a great job with the finish in relation to the rest of the match teasing each finish before HBk got the jackknife win. Yes, the match was wrestled as more of a championship bloodbath than a blood feud match. Yes, Michaels did not sell the back down the stretch. Yes, it was a bit too long. I think the match accomplished more important objectives. if this was truly a one-off, Shawn Michaels would be able to go out on his own terms unlike Wrestlemania XIV where the amount of pain he was in affected his performance. If it was not and was to lead to something more, it proved Shawn Michaels of 2002 was every bit the Shawn Michaels of 1997 and he had not lost a step. He gave one of the best comebacks of his career and I think it was much more important he looked credible on offense in this match. HHH gave him more of the beginning and end because this was Shawn's match. I know they felt the need to put Shawn in gimmick matches to hide any shortcomings he may have had upon comeback, but I think it was the wrong move as coming right out of the gate with a bloodbath is tough. I think for the match they wrestled the jacknife cover was fine because it showed Michaels had just enough to win, but left it open for rematches. It fit the theme of championship bloodbath. HHH attacking the back with the sledgehammer was a perfect post-match beatdown and particularly gruesome. Call me crazy, I liked this one. Currently my WWE 2002 match of the year, but that should change shortly. ****1/4
  5. Chris Benoit & Kurt Angle vs Edge & Rey Mysterio - No Mecy 2002 WWE Tag Team Titles Here is an early 00s classic that I have never seen before. The Survivor Series Triple Threat made a DVD, but did not seem to get as much love as this did at the time. I will say this had a double hot finish stretch that in a very weak year for the wrestling world (guess I have not seen any ROH, but this is a weak Japan year) makes this a match of the year contender. I love the Angle & Mysterio interaction early and definitely need to rewatch their Summerslam match. Angle is great as the cocky jock and the look on Rey's face when he realizes he needs to stomp on Angle's foot to break the waistlock is priceless. Mysterio was great at showing up Angle with speed and Angle was bumping and stooging for him so well. Benoit and Edge was fine. Credit where credit is due, Edge actually worked a nice, tight heel in peril based on Benoit's ribs and laid in his stuff well. They did a good job playing off some Angle interference with Benoit selling the ribs on the first one, which led to Angle getting speared off the apron, but on the third go around Angle caused enough damage to get Benoit out of there. Edge is not particularly good at any one facet of wrestling, but in his defense he is not particularly bad at anything (I guess emotion is his greatest weakness). It is annoying that with Rey right there we get an extended FIP with Edge. I forgot about Angle's lame chinlock/bodyscissors. Angle and Benoit throwing Edge was fun. I know a lot of people don't like the rolling Germans, but I always dug them. Edge could have done more in the way of hope spots. The superplex is the transition of the heat segment and Little Rock does not give a fuck. REY IS IN!!! The crowd is awake. Rey is rockin n rollin. Didn't love the set up for the leg drop while Benoit was dangling, but it was pretty sweet. Benoit counters the wheel barrow by splating Rey and then going for the Crossface. That is perfect counterwrestling. Edge saves and Rey looks 619, but Benoit counters looking for shoulderbreaker and Edge hits a nifty missile dropkick. That should have been his finisher! Zack Ryder is crying somewhere. Angle overuses that pop-up belly to belly, but when timed right in a match, it is the perfect interjection and this was one of those moments. That sets up the Rey FIP. Double Face in peril, shades of AWA! Rey is so much better at selling than Edge. Loved Angle and Benoit throwing him around. Up until this point, I would say I watched a great match and the finish stretch does a great job to kick up a notch. I can see why action-oriented fans dig this match. Edge is a decent hot tag. He has lame offense, but at least he showed some energy. Credit where it is due, he did hit one of his best spear ever on Benoit during this run. Rey was great double teaming with Edge and giving this run a bit more pep. Edge goes for the cover sees Benoit diving headbutt and lets Angle take it. I have always liked that spot in all its variations. Though nobody ever loses to the diving headbutt and nothing changes here. In the spot of the match, Benoit has Edge in the Crippler Crossface and Rey hits an awesome 619 to break it up. I popped huge for that. Edge throws Rey Rey onto Benoit, before the usual Angle Anglelock reversalfest ends with Angle on top. The Rey stuff was really awesome. He had really good chemistry with both Angle and Benoit. Edge was alright. I thought the finish stretch was hot. Needed more of a story hook to kick it into next gear for me. Still a very entertaining bout, even if a little overrated. ****1/4
  6. WWE Champion Brock Lesnar vs Undertaker - No Mercy 2002 Hell In A Cell If you described this finish of this match, most people would think you were describing a murder scene. Undertaker was drenched in his own blood and was spilling blood all over Lesnar. Brock was covered in Taker's blood by the end of it. 2002 was a pretty underwhelming year, but featured some of the all time best bladejobs in pro wrestling history. This match and the Nagata/Murakami match are the standout matches for 2002 to me. I don't yet, which I would place on the top of the heap. Violence is never been the strong suit of the WWF. Character-driven wrestling and Clash of the Titans is where Vince buttered his bread. Occasionally, he dipped into championship wrestling with Bret and out of control brawl with Austin. Austin's out of control barroom brawls are fun and entertaining, but they are not violent in the same way this is. This really feels like two men trying to maim each other very much in the vein of a southern blood feud brawl. It really is something different and something that Brock Lesnar excels at. Brock has proven to be so versatile in his criminally short first run on the the WWE roster. In this match, he plays caged animal to perfection. At first, he is discombobulated and confused by the nature of the Hell In A Cell. He is young and inexperienced. Perhaps he has even bought into The Undertaker's mythos. This is Undertaker's boneyard. He tries to fight, but also tries to escape. There is a real sense of desperation. Taker is confident, but Taker is a veteran and knows how dangerous Brock is. Brock is stronger and quicker than him. He is virtually unbeatable. How many wrestlers could say they have that dual edge on Taker. Taker has his experience, his ability to withstand punishment and brutality on his side. Throughout the match, Taker almost never gained a fair advantage on Lesnar and was always using something to sustain that advantage. I loved the duality of the cast. Undertaker's hand had been broken twice in the lead up to this match. The cast covered up a weakness for the Undertaker. Remove it and he is vulnerable. With it on, he had a weapon. It was this weapon that scored the first big blow in this war. Brock was sent reeling and was busted open. Paul E. was awesome with his shrieks of horror outside the cage. Taker laid down a savage beating on Brock using the cage, steps and cast at will. But Paul E. got to him. He just could not resist kicking Paul E.'s ass. One big boot into the cage sent Paul E. flying and he bladed. Then he got by the tie and pulled him into the cage repeatedly. I loved the spot where Brock went flying in trying to take advantage of the distraction only to eat the cage and send Paul E. flying. It was the perfect punctuation on the Taker shine. I loved that old school efficiency. You get the punctuation mark and you move on. It never lingers. Brock catapults Taker into the cage. He immediately pounces and throws Taker around. Nobody, but Brock could manhandle Taker this way. It is scary strength. My favorite spot of the match is Brock and Paul E. tying the belt around the cast hand and Brock going to town on the cast. It is so violent those swings ultimately snapping the belt. I loved the struggle over trying to rip off the cast. When he does Brock becomes cocky, he is swinging from the cell roof like Tarzan kicking Taker's ass. Without his cast, Taker pulls out another wily trick: the low blow. Again, Undertaker needed an underhanded tactic to bring Lesnar to heel. Lesnar is so great at heel selling and the style that reeks of cowering and desperation. Being more afraid to lose than you want to win. Big bumping Brock came out here with a crazy bump off a big boot from the apron into the cage. Taker hit a suicide dive, but it backfired as it took a lot out of him. Brock BLASTED him with the steps twice. I mean he fucking smoked him. Taker came out bleeding an absolute gusher. Between this and cast, I thought this a perfect example of a caged animal becoming extraordinarily violent. Up until here, the match was perfect. It does lose some points because Undertaker is able to use the bad hand to hit some rights and gain an advantage, which kinda sucks. I did like the finish run of Brock teasing a big move and Undertaker countering with a big move only to have Brock kick out. I hated the ref not counting because Brock grabbed the rope, when it was established pinfalls counted on the floor. That is shoddy. Undertaker having to level up each time to finally the Tombstone, which had the crowd going crazy was great build. I loved the tombstone reversal into Brock hositing Taker into a F5 from a totally awkward spot. One F5 and it was over. Oh how I long for this efficiency! Writing this review, I think there are enough details that marr this match to stop from being my choice for 2002 match of the year and I would have Takayama/Ogawa over it too. However, this is easily, the 2002 match of the year. It is crazy to think that Brock Lesnar in his rookie year as champion had a WWE Match of The Year where he was the dominant force in the match. What is there left to say other than BROCK ROCKS~! ****1/2
  7. I loved the early battle of strength vs speed and how AJ adapted to Reigns' offence. I preferred the way the Payback match was paced and I wasn't really big on the crowd brawling in this one which is why I think the Payback match was better. The stuff with the pre-show panel table felt novel but I don't think it was worth the time they gave that segment. Sealing the Styles Clash for the last two months was probably the best thing they could have done and they did a great job building to it here too, I loved Reigns' Uppercut counter to it. Reigns' leg injury angle wasn't overly significant in the whole scheme of the match but it did provide a valid excuse for him to sell as much as he did before Gallows and Anderson got involved. I loved the way they mixed up the counters, for example in the last match Reigns Superman Punched Reigns in the middle of his Springboard Forearm and here he did it before Styles even leaped. AJ took some disgusting bumps and the match felt a different kind of brutal. The bit with Reigns swinging him into the apron and the barricade before Powerbombing him through a table that wasn't "cleared" beforehand was just insane and Reigns breaking the barricade with a Spear also felt fresh due to it being done from a different angle. ****1/4
  8. Generally speaking, I live in a cave with my head under a rock when it comes to contemporary wrestling. I poked it out a little bit last year to see the empty seats of Smackdown for historical purposes. When the Wonder Wall was debuted, I lasted 15 minutes before I became dizzy. I took a small trip away from the cave to see Ring of Honor attempt to return to form with their Pure Title tournament. I thought it was fantastic but they squandered or scared away whatever interest that drummed up. Now with CM Punk (and perhaps Bryan Danielson) in All Elite Wrestling, I am compelled to lift the stone from my head and check it out. So I watched his return promo in Chicago and man! that's entertaining! He's still got it. I'm not going to watch anything else on purpose mind you but I wanted to see that. You know...for historical purposes. I liked Punk's speech because he explained his comments regarding wrestling when he was doing MMA/UFC. He acknowledged his time in ROH and made the distinction between that wrestling and what he was doing for almost a decade in WWE. I was confused by a few (hundred) fans booing ROH in a past life. I'd be less confused if they booed ROH in their present form. Who boos a mention of ROH from 2002-2005? Are these folks completely ignorant of the giant influence the company had on both CM Punk and the current American pro wrestling landscape? That's an aside though.What I thought of after a couple days after is more interesting than the excitement of CM Punk back in a ring. Or more interesting on the historically ignorant fans. What really stuck with me is that Punk's history is kind of not true. Now I know it may have been kayfabe but Mr. Brooks, Phil if you will, has a tendency to blur the lines between a work and a shoot when on the mic. So we can say some of this was true for Punk & Phil. But I don't think any of it was any form of an objective truth. Chick Magnet Punk says that things had run their course in ROH and then went to WWE where he didn't wrestle for almost a decade. Now that's not true because no one wrestled in ROH either. I'll defend WWE's " sports entertainment " ideology in so much that what they do isn't wrestling. Pro wrestling is more dramatized combat with melodrama than wrestling like you'd see in high school, college, the Olympics etc. That's a sport. But frankly, I could say all professional sports aren't sports either but are this sports entertainment since no one's playing in an empty gym (until last year) and people are being entertained either through TV, videos, clothing, games. There isn't intentional and planned melodrama (although it happens organically). It lacks nuance for Punk to say he left wrestling in 2005 and came back now in AEW. It is kinda not true. I've watched his stuff in ROH (as we'll see below) and all in all it wasn't that different from what he was doing in WWE. Punk never mentions UFC. I wouldn't either. What he left in 2005 was the freedom and identity that ROH and the Indy scene afforded him. He could be himself. Brooks left a community that embraced him for an opportunity to make a living and potentially make a fortune. I don't think he anticipated what it would cost. I don't think he knew it would cost him friends and fans and would embarrass himself in the process...I recall him saying if UFC had been around when he was younger he would have gone into that instead of wrestling. Man, you ever hear of karate or judo? That wasn't true when he said it. And I don't think anything he said the other night is true either. This is why I stay in my cave and keep my head beneath a boulder. He's not the same person. I just know too much about Phil Brooks to really believe CM Punk anymore. But maybe that's the state of contemporary wrestling in general? I just know too much to really believe any of it. That's all a lead in to some reviews of when Brooks or perhaps Punk was a wrestler before not being a wrestler (never was a wrestler) and becoming a sports entertainer (always was a sports entertainer) and then a mixed martial artist (a sports entertainer but STILL not a wrestler believe it or not!) and a wrestler again (still not a wrestler). vs Raven (Death Before Dishonor 2003) : This was a dog collar match and I believe the consensus is that this is their best bout. I don't know since its all I got to watch but this is very much a Raven match. If you like his style and character (which I do) then this is something that you want to watch. Its a bit on the loner side but it pretty simple in terms of execution and scope. Its violent like it needed to be. Its got some stuff ECW fans would like too...remember this is only a couple years after they closed so that wasn't as odd as you might think. Great match vs AJ Styles (Tradition Continues 2003) : This is almost a 180 from the Raven ECW style match. Instead we see Punk stay in step with the Phenomenal One. It was full of fantastic counters and reversals. The human game of chess cliche is going to be applied to this match because I'm not always very good at describing what make a good match so very good. I think something I appreciate on this viewing is the teasers they chose to do. It just felt organic and competitive and dammit I'm a fan of that. I'm going to say this is a classic match. If you're keeping track, I wouldn't put it in the top tier but its certainly overlooked because it takes place in 2003 which probably doesn't get much love. And if anyone wants to sample 2003/Year 2 ROH they'll usually go to matches of AJ, Danielson and London putting on masterpieces. But in 2021, do people even do that anymore? Other than me? W/Ace Steel (Second City Saints) vs Dan Maff & BJ Whitmer (The Prophecy) (Death Before Dishonor II 2004) : Second City Saints was an awesome name. BJ Whitmer lousy name. Here's my BJ Whitmer rant: I can't believe that he/they wanted to keep a name with a double entendre in it and not have it purposely imply that 2nd meaning. Case in point D.P. Associates in FIP was a purposeful double entendre for the sake of a bunch of 20 year old guys having a laugh. BJ Whitmer never struck me as the type of talent that had a sense of humor about his in-ring persona. That aside, this was a bananas garbage wrestling spot mtach. This was your typical overkill wrestling to show how tough you were. As a match, it stunk BUT as a violent spot driven spectacular, it was great Its a few years ahead of its time but does bite off more than it needed to in order to get the same message across. vs Jimmy Rave (Manhattan Mayhem 2005) : Here we see Punk's (Phil's) version of the dog collar match. And you know its not bad at all. Its decidedly more move oriented but with Punk and Rave in there I did not mind. Rave is such a great opponent for Punk because he can stooge when he needs to, he can get nasty when he needs to, and he can do moves when he needs to. Frankly he's much like Punk in that regard. We get a good deal of blood from Punk and we get the Embassy interfering. Its quite great to be honest. I've not seen this before but I have seen their cage match and man this was a great (probably forgotten) feud. So there you have it. A few matches from CM Punk's time wrestling/sports entertaining in ROH. As you have already figured out, I picked some unsung ones for 2021. They aren't the Joe matches or Summer of Punk ones. 3 of the 4 are quite like stuff you could see in WWE actually. Again, either he never was a "wrestler" or he never left wrestling when going to the WWE. All semantic games aside- He should have been honest in saying he made a mistake in leaving pro wrestling and its fans when going to the UFC. And if he (Phil is Punk at this stage in his career) should have said thanks for welcoming him back despite his mistakes. In my opinion, CM Punk is the best all around pro wrestler of the last 20 years. His return to the square circle is huge and his promo was exhilarating. He will do great business for AEW. However, I think his cleverness in dissing WWE hides the real hurt of his MMA phase. As great as I know him to be, I just can't trust CM Punk anymore. I have to forgive him first. I'm probably making a mountain out of a molehill. I'll be back in my cave. Thanks for reading!
  9. The beginning was actually quite interesting as you had them working a tight lock up, Cena throwing the best punches he's ever thrown (I want to say his punching style here looked Buddy Rose's but I'm not sure I've seen enough of Rose to stand by that) and Cena using irish whips as punishment spots. Then they do an apron bump and this turns into a formulaic Cena-as-PWG "superworker" match, with AJ inserted into the formula and the formula slightly adjusted to fit his moves in but not enough to make it actually novel. And you don't want to see these two do a stupid spotfest. AJ Styles isn't 25 anymore, he isn't nearly as smooth and athletically impressive as he used to be and Cena never was nor is he ever going to be the guy for that type of match. The inefficiency of their finishers has reached such an absurd level I just don't buy anything they do as a potential match ender. Cena's weird Big Ending variation was ugly, but otherwise the move they spammed looked solid and some of the sequences were kinda cool, would have made for a 6.5 GIF maybe. Still this isn't really much different from a New Japan main event and I'm not sure whether it'd be more hypocritical to praise this and shit on New Japan or do the opposite. It's also amusing to see how many Japan references they make these days. "IWGP, BUSHIDO, Goto, using a translation of 雪崩式 instead of whatever WWE buzzword they have for top rope moves etc.) **3/4
  10. A match that smoked everything else that happened during that event. Great psychology with the back, the selling was top notch and Charlotte took some brutal bumps along the way. The botched spot was ugly but ironically setup the rest of the match nicely. The Eddie-Rey dynamic was really good with Banks using her wits and speed while Charlotte used her size and strength. ***1/2
  11. Holy shit this was amazing. It's a serious best WWE match ever contender for me. I really don't get why people get so upset over the overbooking, and honestly it was fine here. I don't remember the last time a WWE match so ambitious. The early portion was PERFECT in establishing Reigns' power and AJ made himself look good in the process too because when he did overcome it it meant that much more. I loved how it was paced, it had the greatest table spot in WWE history and a plethora of neat little touches. AJ avoiding Reigns' big suicide dive and then quickly leaping on him with the diving forearm was such a neat spot that made him look great. All of the big counters looked almost shockingly organic and natural for a 2016 WWE match and the rope break nearfall made my heart stop for a second. They both took some disgusting bumps here. Another thing I loved is how AJ used the Pele Kick as a way to upgrade his striking combo after it failed to take Reigns down earlier in the match instead of using it as a counter spot like he usually does, and to that point AJ quickly hitting Reigns with a Snapmare after Reigns survived his striking combo also made him look like a smart wrestler. I want to re-watch this and I don't remember when was the last time I felt that way about a WWE match. And Reigns hitting AJ with another Superman Punch after the big counter one also put AJ over as a serious threat and was just a badass thing to do and then AJ did that awesome delayed selling instead of popping up like you'd see in the Zayn-Owens match. These two have a five star match in them. ****3/4