For the benefit of anyone new since I haven’t posted one of these since October when I had to quit WWE for a while, an explanation of what this is.
Back when I used to use Twitter more than once in a blue moon, one of my favourite things to do there was tweet about wrestling. But since Twitter makes me hate people and I largely avoid it these days, I’m obviously not doing that anymore. So instead, I just open a Notepad file and write thoughts down as they come to me. When I feel like I have enough of them, up they go here. Simple enough, right?
And no, it’s not your imagination. Everything in here is very old. I went back and caught up on a bunch of stuff that I’d been neglecting. I watched a ton of wrestling, but it took a while to feel like there was enough to post. Apparently it’s harder to fill space when you’re not having your intelligence insulted every 10 minutes.
Ok, here we go.
If WWE is making you think you hate wrestling, I suggest going back and watching the New Japan Best of the Super Juniors tournament. I’m in the middle of night 9, and so far the whole thing is reminding me why I don’t. Well put together wrestling tournaments are generally a lot of fun to follow thanks to all of the built-in storylines, and when every show has more than one good to great match on it (several of which could perhaps be in a match of the year conversation) that doesn’t hurt either. And I mean this 100%. I am honest to god more into the story of Ren Narita losing every match than I am what they’re doing with literally anybody in WWE right now. The story of the young lion that isn’t supposed to win but puts in a solid effort every night is so simple and so effective. The crowd loves the kid, and if he actually does win one the place is going to go nuts.
And speaking of going nuts, it’s an absolute goddamn delight to hear announcers that sound like they’re enjoying themselves. When the crowd is excited, so are they. And hell if it doesn’t sound like genuine emotion. If you need an example of this during the BOSJ, watch Rocky Romero vs. El Phantasmo.
Not sure if it’s my favourite match of 2019, but Cody vs. Dustin Rhodes from Double or Nothing is definitely up there. Best brother vs. brother story I’ve seen since Bret and Owen. The kind of emotional roller coaster you rarely get in wrestling anymore.
Two things I wish AEW hadn’t borrowed from WWE for this show: The useless third announcer (Alex Marvez sticks out like a bit of a sore thumb while adding virtually nothing) and the constant talk of trending on Twitter.
I like all of the guys in Lifeblood individually, but as a stable they feel totally thrown together and it makes them hard to get behind. This has never seemed more apparent than it does right now watching Flip Gordon act like he was going to join them but then join Villain Enterprises instead. It should have been a total heel move, but the fans didn’t react that way at all and I don’t blame them. VE comes off as the much cooler group while Lifeblood is just directionless.
Watched the New Japan Southern Showdown from Melbourne. A pretty good show, thanks mostly to the awesome, nearly 35 minute Will Ospreay vs. Robbie Eagles IWGP Junior Heavyweight title match. The whole show is worth a look if you have time, but definitely check that one out.
I still don’t think they need one, but this GoldenBoy fellow that AEW got to be the third announcing wheel for Fyter Fest is so much easier to listen to than Alex Marvez was.
Line of the night goes to MJF for telling the crowd that if he wanted to know what they thought, he’d go home, turn on TLC and watch reruns of My 600 Pound life.
It’s hard to pick a match of the night because it’s like one of those Takeovers where you can make an argument for just about anything, but I’ll give it to the 3-way women’s match between Riho, Yuka Sakazaki and Nyla Rose. There were at least a couple matches that were probably better, but I’m going with this one because of how much I enjoyed it in spite of not being overly familiar with any of these girls.
There is, however, absolutely no contest for stupidest thing of the night.
I’m sure that was an accident, but sweet baby Jesus Shawn Spears about killed Cody with that chair. Good on AEW for at least getting their money’s worth out of it with all the replays, but let’s maybe not make a habit out of that, as much as it probably helped the angle.
I hope the decision was out of their hands, because if not it wasn’t very bright of New Japan not to book John Moxley on the Dallas G1 show. Not saying he’d have sold the place out by himself, but there’s no way that one of his first American post-WWE appearances wouldn’t have been a nice draw on a show that had trouble selling tickets.
Finally watched Slammiversary. If you haven’t given Impact a look in a while or if you’ve given up on it because it’s Impact, this would be a good time to reconsider. The show flew by and was at least twice as good as its name is stupid. NO, it still hasn’t grown on me even after 16 years or whatever it’s been.
The last 3 matches were particularly great. Rich Swann and Johnny Impact had the best X-Division match I’ve seen in a while, Michael Elgin and Brian Cage may have topped it for the world title and even though I’m hardly the biggest fan of the stuff, I have no complaints about Sami Callihan and Tessa Blanchard’s intergender match. It helped that Sami is such a complete dick that playing the why am I the bad guy when you all want equality card didn’t come off forced. It also helped that it was very well worked. It felt competitive enough that there were times that I thought Tessa could win, which wasn’t a feeling Lucha Underground gave me very often. In the end she didn’t, but even that wound up ok because Callihan, who has given no fucks ever, had no choice but to give her some respect instead of ending her with the baseball bat like you would expect him to.
I’ve been watching wrestling for the better part of 35 years and I still don’t exactly understand what a “relaxed rules” match is. It’s not a regular match where you have to follow all the rules to the letter, but it also isn’t a no DQ or no countout match. It’s like the referee can’t decide whether or not he wants to do his job tonight and says “ok guys, go ahead and do all the illegal stuff you want until I decide you can’t.”
I like that most of the matches in AEW have a 20 minute time limit. Makes the ones that don’t seem like a bigger deal.
I don’t think I needed an entire show made up of tag matches where the partners don’t like each other, but at least Impact was up front about what the Mash-Up Tournament was going to be and it was a creative way to name a new number 1 contender for the world title. They could have done it Lethal Lottery style, drawing names and pretending that things just happened to work out that way. As a kid I liked the concept and would use it all the time when I’d put on shows with my figures, but WCW always made too many of the draws so obviously fake. Imagine that, WCW screwing up something good.
He had his moments there, but a few matches into the G1 Kenta has looked better than I think he ever did during his years in WWE.
I’m fine with guys saying that a fight they want to have is personal and not about the titles that the people they want to fight hold, but going on to call those titles “pieces of trash” is usually a bad idea. This is especially true when the ones saying it are supposed to be the good guys, and when the entire premise of your gimmick is that you’re here to bring honour and respect back to the company, it’s even worse. Score another one for Lifeblood. These poor guys need all the help they can get, and that sure wasn’t help.
I don’t have many gripes about New Japan, but I really don’t like the way they treat their referees. Why are guys allowed to constantly attack and manhandle them without repercussions, and why do they hardly ever call even the most blatant interference? It makes it hard to take the rules seriously or to get upset about guys who cheat all the time. If you want me to get upset about heels being heels, start dishing out disqualifications, fines and suspensions left and right and then slip something by them maybe 1% of the time.
Maybe it has something to do with me only being a fairly serious New Japan fan for the last couple years or so, but I don’t really understand the point of all the factions. The members of Chaos, for example, wrestle against each other so often that it’s not clear why they’re a group. For the most part the whole system just seems to be a way to stick random guys somewhere so that maybe they’ll have a little more to do. It comes off as something that used to be important but has lost something and they just can’t decide whether they want to revitalize it or get rid of it.
One thing that always amazes me especially about the New Japan guys is that they can have these long, intense, fast-paced matches and then still have enough wind to celebrate and cut excited promos at the end like it’s no big thing. Maybe it’s my fat guy talking, but that’s impossible cardio.
I don’t like the way they’ve been structuring ROH TV the last few weeks. I want my wrestling TV shows to feel like they’re flowing in a way that I could believe they were live, so this stuff with Quinn McKay and Ian Riccaboni throwing it to random matches and highlights really isn’t working for me. It’s quickly making me much less interested in watching it, honestly.
He’s never been my favourite wrestler or character, but there’s no one else in wrestling right now who is as consistently good as Cody Rhodes at making me want to see his big matches and then delivering on them. The Dustin match is still one of my favourites of 2019, and while not at that level, I quite enjoyed the Shawn Spears match at All Out. The Cody and Dustin tag against the Young Bucks I thought was overly long and had trouble holding my interest, but he still got me excited for a Bucks match, and there’s something to be said for that. I don’t hate those guys by any means, but they’ve always been in the category of good wrestlers that I usually don’t enjoy watching even though I very much respect their abilities and the things they’ve managed to accomplish.
I rarely watch NXT UK, but I made sure to catch Takeover Cardiff because I kept hearing how awesome the WALTER vs. Tyler Bate match was. For the record, everyone who said that is correct. I’d go as far as to say that it’s one of the best little man vs. big man matches I’ve seen in forever. WALTER is such a big, scary bastard that in a couple of spots I was legitimately fearing for Tyler’s life (dear god that post powerbomb), but he was so great at showing fire and heart that I thought maybe WALTER might actually be beatable. When you know the result of a match ahead of time and a couple of the near falls still get you, that’s a high compliment.
The rest of the show was also extremely enjoyable. Not a bad match in the bunch and it never felt like it was going to over stay its welcome. I like the simple, easy to grasp stories that don’t make you feel like you’re totally missing out if you aren’t a regular viewer. The hometown team having to earn their way into the tag title match and then actually winning in the end is something we can all understand and get behind, for instance.
Oh, and any show with Ilja Dragunov’s theme music on it gets an automatic extra star. Don’t argue with me.
If the idea is supposed to be that Tenille Dashwood is coming into Impact as a big star and immediate top contender, why is she making her debut in a nearly 10 minute long, very average back and forth match with Kiera Hogan instead of easily dispatching someone in order to look impressive and establish herself to people who might not know who she is? I get that you don’t want to have her mow through Kiera since she’s in a storyline, but then don’t book the match. If you don’t want Tenille straight up squashing nobodies for some reason that’s also fine, but then you need to put her in with somebody who has a bit of a name but who isn’t so important to the product that you can’t make Tenille’s win look fairly easy.
So is the story supposed to be that Alisha Edwards doesn’t watch Impact and that none of her friends do either? Ace Austin has said right on camera that his goal is to have sex with her because she’s married (a fact the announcers have also mentioned) plus he’s blatantly set up situations that make himself look good and Eddie Edwards look bad, and yet here she is, totally oblivious to it all. Maybe there’s a third option that I’m missing that will make sense of all this, but right now it’s either she doesn’t watch the show or it’s all a Vince Russo style swerve, and I’m not feeling either one of those.
Ok, so even though I liked the Slammiversary match, I’m about half past over this Tessa Blanchard wrestling dudes stuff. Why couldn’t the Callihan feud have ended with the grudging respect? I really don’t need the never ending series of tag matches and street fights and whatever the hell else. It feels like it isn’t going anywhere, and honestly, it’s starting to get to the point where if the rest of the show wasn’t as enjoyable as it usually is I’d give up and watch something else the way I eventually did with Lucha Underground.
ROH doesn’t have a ton of interesting storylines these days, but I’m curious about where this Kenny King and Rhett Titus stuff might be going.
I’m hoping it ultimately winds up with the reformation of the All Night Express. I think time has shown that the 2 of them are better off together. Plus it would mean we’d get their sweet theme back.
Seriously, it’s great. The perfect tempo for a hot crowd to clap along to, plus there’s something about the way it chugs along that just says ok, time to throw down.
NO matter what AEW ultimately becomes and no matter the mistakes they make or the things they get right as they go, sitting here watching the first episode of Dynamite, one thing is perfectly clear. We needed this. Wrestling needed this. There’s an energy to this show that hasn’t existed on televised wrestling since I don’t even know. It’s fantastic. I’m actually excited about adding a couple of extra hours of wrestling to my week, as crazy as that sounds.