The Importance of Continuity and Matches Telling a Story

Think about this, Imagine six men spend an hour to try to tell the story of “earning a United States championship opportunity”. Now Imagine, they spend that hour performing that match only to be told, it means nothing and someone who wasn’t even in the match is getting the opportunity they were fighting for, by doing nothing. Well guess what? You don’t even have to imagine it, it happened last night on Monday Night RAW.

R-Truth, Akira Tozowa, Matt Hardy, Ricochet, Humberto Carillo, and Andrade, had an hour long gauntlet match, and the ending saw the last participant that being Andrade, attack Carillo before he officially entered the match. So the final match in the gauntlet match was thrown out, therefore no winner being declared. While this was happening the United States Champion, Rey Mysterio, would come out during this. While Rey was in the ring Seth Rollins would come out holding the lead pipe that Rey gave to Kevin Owens. Backed up by AOP and they attacked Rey Mysterio. Later that night Seth would say he’s going to challenge Rey Mysterio next week for the United States Championship.

Now as far as continuity goes, the fact Seth is acknowledging Rey gave Owens the pipe is great storytelling. The problem, why did we just have a gauntlet match to determine a number one contender, but since there was no finish to the match, someone who wasn’t in the match can just declare he’s getting a title shot? This all made the gauntlet match very pointless. I want to care about the matches, I want to care about this three hour show weekly. How am I supposed to care about this one match taking up an hour of the show only for the result to mean nothing?

This is a three hour show, how much of it did I actually care about though? About twenty minutes. All of the Seth Rollins stuff, the Becky promo and the AJ Styles/Randy Orton match, and that’s it. Why is it so hard for WWE to make fans care about the show? Why is it so hard for WWE to put together matches that matter and stories that matter? It’s always one or the other with them. That gauntlet match was great and I was really enjoying it, until it ended, and it resulting in meaning nothing. The rest of the show saw squash matches, a tag team match that was way too long and everyone (commentary included) were confused as to whether it was a title match, a Lana/Lashley segment that dragged for what seemed like forever (that I ended up muting), and a good Asuka match, and the main event.

Also, I’ve been saying for years that the matches themselves need to tell the same story being told. The perfect example of this was this past Sunday. Bray Wyatt vs. The Miz, Miz said “I’m not going into this match as The Miz, this is the biggest match of my life because I’m defending my family”, that’s as personal as it gets. So why would he come out in his character’s ring gear? Why would he do his character’s entrance motions? Why would he sit there and let Bray turn his back on him and stand on the announce table and acknowledge the crowd? The storytelling aspect of the match is important too, if there’s a personal feud going on, if Miz is “not going in as The Miz”, he should only care about defending his family and nothing else, he shouldn’t care about anything else, that’s good storytelling. I don’t want to see rest holds in a personal feud, or a street fight, if someone has a knee injury they shouldn’t be doing dives. These all seem like common sense things to me.

All this is, is me wanting to care about three hours of RAW, or a match that is supposed to be telling the right story. As a wrestling fan, I want to care about everything that happens, but if WWE doesn’t, is it even worth it. Then you get the people on Twitter who tell me “Stop watching then”, when people say that they don’t understand what I’m saying. I’m not saying RAW is so bad that I can’t stand watching it, I’m saying RAW shouldn’t be this bad that I don’t care about everything that happens. I’m saying that’s been the problem for way too long. Now, think about that, actually enjoying the entire show.

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Sweet Freedom

Luke Harper, Sin Cara, and The Ascension, four men who broke the glass ceiling in WWE, they were released from their contracts and are actually happy about it. Now if you don’t know by now, these men all wanted to be released from their contracts because they were unhappy with their position in WWE. They all felt they could be doing more, they all felt they deserved better. The fact of the matter is, they did. Now no longer with the company after a ninety day no-compete clause, runs out they can go anywhere they want. Be happy again to be a professional wrestler.

Years ago, every year after Wrestlemania, WWE would release a short list of talent from their contracts because, they’d do it to save money, and make room for new talent. Recent years saw that stop because of the emergence of NXT, and they would just release newer talent who didn’t work out in the first place and keep all the veterans for the proverbial jobber role and nothing else. They would make people run out their contracts, and sit at home, if they are injured that time away would be added on to their contract to make up for the absent time (whether they were being used or not). The past year the reason was because of the re-emergence of actual competition, in this case New Japan Pro Wrestling and All Elite Wrestling.

So recently it’s been all of this tug and pull by WWE to keep people from going somewhere else, and prevent them from flourishing somewhere else. People like PAC (Formerly know as Neville in WWE) asked for his release and instead of getting what he wanted for the longest time he walked out and sat at home for over a year. Jon Moxley (Formerly know as Dean Ambrose in WWE) rode out his contract and didn’t sign a new one, the least messy of ways to get out of WWE, he did what he signed up for and left on his own terms. So if WWE is finally giving talent the opportunity to actually not feel like a hostage, and get to work somewhere else (after the no compete clause runs out), why not continue to do so?

Their’s a long list of unhappy talent, and some of them WWE probably won’t give a release to because of their star power, like The Revival who are probably gonna go the same route of Jon Moxley at this rate. People like Primo and Epico who haven’t been on TV in like two years, and are probably chomping at the bit to get out. Also why keep people your not even using, let them actually make the living they wanted to make doing what they love doing. Rumors are running more and more of people being unhappy because of their position in the company.

WWE needs to stop holding down talent for numerous reasons, one, if they don’t want to be there why are you holding them hostage basically? Two, why keep talent around you have zero plans for just to do jobs, when you can use local independent talent for that exact thing. Lastly, your basically over crowding your roster, to hurt other companies, when those other companies should give you all the incentive in the world to put on a good show. Stop looking at it from a glass half empty mentality and look at all of this as a good thing.

Hopefully more people who are unhappy get what they want so they can flourish elsewhere and WWE sees that only good can come from that, for all parties involved. These things don’t have to get ugly by WWE stroking their own ego to make a point, that isn’t how peoples lives and well being should be handled, ever.

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The Double Title Situation

Hello, graps fans! We’re just a ferw weeks out from the event that will kick off 2020 in style — Wrestle Kingdom 14.

This year’s event is a little different than years past. Rather than have one jam-packed, seven-hour show on Jan. 4, this year New Japan has expanded WrestleKingdom to two nights, Jan. 4-5. We’ll get two nights of action, highlighted by the exploits of four men.

Tetsuya Naito. Jay White. Kota Ibushi. Kazuchika Okada.

Yes, there are plenty of other standout matches across both nights, but these four men have undoubtedly seized center stage.

At the middle of it all? The IWGP Intercontinental and Heavyweight championships. One of these four men will be walking out with both belts.

On Night One, it will be Naito taking on IC Champ White, while in the main event, G1 winner Ibushi will square off with heavyweight champ Okada for the top prize in the land.

But the fun doesn’t stop there.

On Night Two, the winners of these respective matches will do battle to see who the real undisputed champion of New Japan is, and to see who will be crowned the first “double champion” in NJPW.

The beautiful thing about all this is that there is no definitive, clear-cut front-runner to win the whole enchilada here. In fact, all four men have very viable claims to being the first double champ.

We’ve been waiting for Tetsuya Naito’s coronation as top guy for years now. Jay White is already a former heavyweight champ, and as the youngest of the four, has the most in front of him. Kota Ibushi is one of the top wrestlers in the world, and seemingly has the most momentum behind him. And there’s no counting out the Rainmaker, New Japan’s golden boy who seems like the perfect candidate to hold both belts.

So who’s it going to be? What’s the main event of Jan. 5 going to be? Who will ultimately eat two pins on New Japan’s greatest stage?

Here’s my plan.

First off, Tetsuya Naito beats Jay White in the first of the two title matches on Night One. Naito is my favorite wrestler in New Japan, so you might have an idea of where this is going. Plus, I hate that dastardly Jay White. He’s got light years ahead of him, though, so I wouldn’t be too worried about him losing the IC belt here if I was a Switchblade fan.

These two had a great match on the Destruction tour, and I expect it to get even better on the sport’s biggest Japanese stage. 

The IWGP heavyweight title match is a bit trickier for me. I think both guys could afford a loss, but I ultimately see Kazuchika Okada advancing to Night Two with the belt in tow. It just wouldn’t make any sense to book this huge double title picture without the golden boy of New Japan. Gedo wouldn’t do that.

So it will be Naito-Okada for all the marbles on Night Two, and Ibushi-White in a rematch of the G1 finals that Ibushi won.

As much as I hate to say it and see it, I think White gets his win back here. With a victory, White will have beaten Omega, Okada, Tanahashi, Naito, and Ibushi in just over two years. The dude is only 25, I think. That’s nuts.

Ibushi will be the one to take two losses, but he’ll be okay, and probably a world champion before the year 2020 is over. White won’t have any championships to show for it, but it will be a nice feather in his cap and a solid start to the new year.

Naito-Okada. The big one. The rematch from WK12, WK8, Invasion Attack 2016, you name it. This is a feud that’s been building, literally, for six years. Okada’s had Naito’s number, most recently at WK12 where he beat Naito in the main event.

Not this time, Rainmaker.

Tetsuya Naito will emerge victorious, win both belts and take his rightful place at the top of the New Japan mountain. It’s written in the stars for the Stardust Genius.

Tables, Ladders and Chairs: Oh My!

What’s popping, everybody? It’s Kevin here, alongside a few members of the Daily Chinlock team, Mike @mikejc821, Paul @Paul_Skivers and Bob @wrestlingbob.

We’re just a few short days away from TLC 2019, the last pay-per-view of the decade! We’re here to provide our expert predictions as to who’s going to be walking out of the show with their hands held high in victory.

Let’s get to it!

Roman Reigns vs. King Corbin — TLC Match

Kevin: This feud has been, well…polarizing. I find myself on the fence about it; I don’t hate it but I don’t particularly care about it, either. What isn’t polarizing is the expected match result. If Roman Reigns doesn’t walk out of here with the victory, something’s seriously wrong.

Pick: Roman Reigns

Mike: Seems pretty obvious to me whose gonna win here, this has kind of been obvious booking from the get-go to me, Corbin trying to humiliate Roman and saying he’s not “The Big Dog” anymore, but they made it obvious that he is by him being the soul survivor in the brand supremacy elimination match.  Roman Wins time for him to move on.  Let me just add how much I hate TLC matches without a prize, might as well just make a No DQ match, waste of a stipulation that we only see in December.

Pick: Roman Reigns

Paul: This will likely end the angle for this feud and Roman will get a push towards Wrestlemania in April.

Pick: Roman Reigns

Bob: Hopefully on SmackDown we get some more build for this match I’m not expecting much from this match. Hopefully no more dog food either is involved. Roman Reigns shouldn’t be losing this one he is the better wrestler of the 2 and should be challenging for the title again in the future.

Pick: Roman Reigns

Bray Wyatt vs. The Miz

Kevin: I have a theory here. Since Bray Wyatt is ostensibly wrestling as himself and not as the Fiend…why not have him lose? It shows that the mortal Wyatt is very much beatable, while making the Fiend seem even more unstoppable as a result.

Pick: The Miz

Mike: As far as we are aware this is a non-title match, and it won’t be “The Fiend” in this match it will be Fire Fly Funhouse Bray.  That’s different but, this is a pointless placeholder match, especially if it’s not for the title.  They are saving the Daniel Bryan vs The Fiend rematch, I’m assuming for Royal Rumble.  So this match with The Miz will be a one and done, that Bray will win, because whether it’s The Fiend or not he shouldn’t lose for a while.

Pick: Bray Wyatt

Paul: Wyatt is too hot of a commodity right now to lose to a mid-carder like the Miz at this point.

Pick: Bray Wyatt

Bob: Could see this match going either way we could see Daniel Bryan interfere and cost Bray Wyatt the match or Bray could go In there and just dominate The Miz. I’m expecting the latter it isn’t the time for Bray Wyatt to lose yet and he should look dominant here against The Miz and get the win.

Pick: Bray Wyatt

New Day vs. The Revival — Smackdown Tag Team Title Match

Kevin: No matter how many times we see this match, I still manage to find some level of excitement for it. That said, we realllllly gotta start finding new challengers for the New Day. Look for the Power of Positivity to shine through here.

Pick: New Day

Mike: As far as I know this was a last minute change, and it was supposed to be Ziggler and Roode getting the title shot.  With that said this is a last minute put together match, and since it isn’t Heavy Machinery and it should have been, So New Day will win, wouldn’t make much sense to give the titles right back to The Revival after a month and they didn’t get their shot at Survivor Series.

Pick: New Day

Bob: New Champs here I’m predicting big fan of The Revival and would love to see them have a decent run with the titles. Should be a decent match this one.

Pick: The Revival

Aleister Black vs. Buddy Murphy

Kevin: This has every bit of a chance to be your Match of the Night…if given the chance to succeed. More likely, this will be short and sweet, with Aleister Black putting Murphy to sleep with the Black Mass.

Pick: Aleister Black

Mike: This is gonna be a straight up wrestling match and I’m super excited to see it.  This is the first time since they’ve been doing this “knock on my door and pick a fight with me” gimmick that has resulted in actually story building in a way.  I hope they stop that after this but, this is gonna be a hell of a match, and Aleister will win but both guys will have a great showing.

Pick: Aleister Black

Paul: A solid match for the card and another win for Aleister.

Pick: Aleister Black

Bob: I’m predicting this to be the match of the night both guys have some serious talent and if they get time to show it we could see a cracker here. Aleister Black will be too much for Buddy Murphy though and the Black Mass will be enough to finish him off.

Pick: Aleister Black

Viking Raiders vs. TBA — RAW Tag Team Titles

Kevin: It’s gotta be the Usos, right? Either way, whether it’s them or the Street Profits, I think this win will be a nice little feather in the cap of Erik and Ivar.

Pick: Viking Raiders

Mike: If the open challenge is answered by AOP, then they need to win because this is the best AOP has looked ever, and now they are backing up Seth who is sure to be a top heel now, simple as that.  If the opponent is anyone else and if it is, my guess would be Gallows and Anderson, Viking Raider would have to retain to build to an eventual AOP collision. 

Pick: AoP

Rusev vs. Bobby Lashley — Tables Match

Kevin: I’ve fully embraced how wacky, bizarre and downright stupid this feud has been. Rusev is crazy over right now, largely in part because he realizes how silly this all is and is leaning into the chaos of it all. He’ll win here, and something tells me that this isn’t the end of this story.

Pick: Rusev

Mike: Rusev needs to win this match so this feud can end, because it’s very obvious to me that it will not be over if Lashley wins, and that’s all I care about is this ending and never being acknowledged ever again.  Time for Rusev to move on to bigger and better things.

Pick: Rusev

Paul: Rusev Day is over with the fans again and it makes sense for Rusev to get revenge on Lashley in this feud.

Pick: Rusev

Bob: Let’s get this feud over with I’m not a fan of this feud so let’s hopefully move on Rusev for the win with Lana potentially costing Lashley the match.

Pick: Rusev

Kabuki Warriors vs. Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair — TLC Match for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles

Kevin: The rightful main event of the evening, I think the smart money is on Becky and Charlotte here. HOWEVER, no one’s ever accused the Last Blogger Standing of being smart. Kabuki Warriors for the win!

Pick: Kabuki Warriors

Mike: This is the perfect match for Charlotte and Becky to lose because they don’t look weak because neither is getting pinned or submitted, I think it’s pretty obvious they are gonna build to an Asuka vs. Becky Singles match and continue with Asuka having Becky’s number in big matches, leading to Becky finally get a win over Asuka clean and her moving on to whoever wins the Rumble, should be a great match regardless.

Pick: Kabuki Warriors

Paul: Match of the Night and a surprise win for the Warriors.

Pick: Kabuki Warriors

Bob: Can see new Tag champs here WWE like to put 2 people who feud against each other as Tag Champs then lose the titles blame each other then carry on with there feud. All 4 wrestlers are all very good and I’m hoping for a decent match here. Can definitely see this match ending by submission and new Womens Tag Champions.

Pick: Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair

The Deadline for AEW?

Paul ” The Nitro” Skivers

On the most recent edition of the Jim Cornette Experience podcast, Jim gave a deadline of April 15, 2020 for AEW to get their act together or he feels that TNT will not carry their show anymore and that they may be done. It is interesting that Jim gives this deadline and I am holding him to this deadline , however it is for a different reason.

AEW started out hot out of the gates with all the hype that it could muster with their television deal with TNT. However, with a lack of reason in some of their story lines, talent that is either misplaced on the card or should not even be in the ring and an overall over the top presentation that may burn itself out before the promotion has a chance to succeed for the long term.

As far as Jim’s deadline goes, his consequence for the deadline not being meant is that their may not be an alternative to the WWE if AEW does not work out. I feel that this is the perfect opportunity for another promotion that Jim has not yet mentioned that in my eyes has what it takes to be the alternative for the long term: New Japan Pro Wrestling.

When you look at New Japan Pro Wrestling, it offers a true alternative to Wrestling fans. It treats Pro Wrestling as a sport and places high emphasis on athleticism, solid work rate and common logic during the match that keeps fans interested in the match. Also, New Japan has a great television partnership with AXS TV, a cable channel that successfully combines music and sports that does not insult the intelligence of the audience.

Most importantly, the stars of New Japan are compelling and put in maximum effort to make the audience believe in the character, such as Kazuchika Okada, Hiroshi Tanahashi, Naito, Evil, Sanada and Minoru Suzuki. Finally, new japan is doing pretty well in the United States with live events and had a successful first day in the G1 Tournament in Dallas, Texas.

In closing, New Japan will become the number 2 promotion in the world if AEW does not get its act together and make the necessary changes needed to compete not just with the WWE, but with other promotions around the world. The clock is ticking towards the deadline. How AEW will respond will be on the minds of wrestling fans for the immediate future.

The Power and Importance of Intergender Wrestling

Yes, Triple H, this is aimed at you.

In the wake of your recent comments about intergender wrestling, dismissing it as merely “shock value,” you rightfully received a fair amount of heat, and now it’s my turn to keep the fire burning.

I’m shocked that these comments would come out of the mouth of a man who has been almost universally praised for his work in NXT and for being a visionary and the future of the WWE. People are clamoring for Vince McMahon to step down and hand over the keys to the kingdom to his son-in-law, who does deserve respect for the work he’s done in his corporate role within the company.

But even great men make missteps, and Triple H may have taken a big one with these tone-deaf comments about intergender wrestling, especially in the year 2018 where some of the most talented wrestlers are in the world are female, and routinely wrestle circles around their male competitors.

So I have more than a few issues with The Cerebral Assassin’s less-than-cerebral comments, starting with the easiest bone to pick at: Triple H is no stranger to shock value himself, taking part in some of the most notorious angles in WWE history (google “Katie Vick” if you’re unsure of my meaning). He also married a passed-out Stephanie McMahon, and dumped human excrement on the McMahon’s and the Spirit Squad, just to name a few.

So for a man who has made a great deal of money by shocking WWE audiences, is this really such a big deal? The WWE used to routinely feature men-on-women violence, and people gleefully ate it up. That was portrayed as borderline domestic violence; today’s action is presented as an actual wrestling match, athletic competition between two wrestlers who just happen to be different genders.

Then there’s the realism angle, which numerous fans seem to love to bring up whenever Toni Storm or any of the other impeccably talented female competitors across the land pick up victories over their male counterparts. “That would never actually happen!” they cry. “It’s not realistic!”

Well, here’s a big ol’ newsflash for ya, keyboard warriors: WRESTLING ISN’T REAL. That’s a debate for a different day, but I think we could all agree that realism isn’t exactly a linchpin element of professional wrestling, although maybe a bit more so in 2018 than in the Attitude Era days.

So why does anybody care about realism in the product? We as fans have long since conceded the fact that we watch a scripted form of entertainment, so why all of a sudden does it matter if Tessa Blanchard picks up a victory over, I don’t know, let’s say Robbie Eagles, or if Mia Yim defeats Keith Lee?

It’s not a real fight, it’s not going to end with a closed-fist knockout or some other street-fightig maneuver, it’s a wrestling match. I think we’ve got more than enough proof that women could WRESTLE just as well as men can at this point, so why does gender matter in a scripted WRESTLING match?

If the story makes sense and the two workers could put on a show, I don’t care if it’s intergender, interspecies, or intergalactic. I’m here to watch good wrestling, and good wrestlers are NOT defined by their gender. They’re defined by work ethic and heart, something that, last I checked, was something to be held by both men and women.

And let’s not make a big secret out of it: women have been treated like shit in wrestling for far too long. Bra & Panties matches, while no doubt entertaining to an audience, are not wrestling matches. Pillow Fights are not wrestling matches. Being forced to strip down and bark like a dog is not a wrestling match. And yet, for the longest time, that was what you got if you wanted to see female competitors face off in the squared circle. In hindsight, WWE (and other companies, this isn’t strictly a WWE issue) offered a despicable showcase of their women’s roster, turning women’s wrestling into a joke.

I don’t mind utilizing sex appeal to sell tickets if you’re going to make it a part of what you offer your female wrestlers. Sex sells, there’s a long track record of that, it’s undeniable. But now that WWE’s found that mix of sexy and talented, and has actually let their women spread their wings and wrestle some incredible matches, it’s kinda sad to look back on what the women’s division used to be, all sex appeal and no attention paid to in-ring competition, with some exceptions (Lita and Trish Stratus, mainly, but there were others.)

So now Triple H has a front-row seat to see how far women’s wrestling has come since his own days of berating and assaulting Steph McMahon. So why does he have an issue with women wrestling men?

To me, intergender wrestling is the ultimate affirmation that women’s wrestling has changed for the better. It’s a seal of respect and trust from promoters all over the world when they book intergender cards, and put titles originally thought to be exclusive to men on women who’ve earned them.

When Sexy Star (who is problematic but the best example here) won the Lucha Underground championship, it didn’t feel cheap. It felt like the culmination of hard work and a deserved honor. There are multiple women all across the globe who have achieved similar championship success, and it just feels like part of the game now.

So why isn’t it part of Triple H’s gameplan? You have women on the roster who have not only competed with men, but have kicked some serious ass on the indies, women like Candace LeRae and Toni Storm. There’s a mountain of proof that these matches can succeed, and I have a strong suspicion that the WWE could make some cash off them.

Remember when Smackdown booked Becky Lynch vs. James Ellsworth? People were fired up for it, because Ellsworth was a despicable, slimy human being and he deserved his comeuppance. Becky dished it out, and that was the story. Becky didn’t win she was a woman, she won because she’s a badass who took out weeks of pent-up frustration. It was fun, it got people’s attention, and it didn’t feel hokey at all.

So I really hope that Triple H hears what the people are saying, because he has a responsibility to do so. The main goal of wrestling promoters is to make money by putting together the best matches possible. IS there money in Jinder Mahal? Do people want to buy tickets to see Baron Corbin and Finn Balor for the 30th time? I’d say not.

But a Charlotte Flair-AJ Styles match? Or Asuka taking on Shinsuke Nakamura, or really any male athlete on the roster? THAT’s gonna draw eyes, and eyes come attached to hands, hands that have money in them. It looks like Triple H may have to start playing a different game, or else the outcry will just get louder and louder.

In short, HHH may be right about one thing: Women don’t need men to make them successful. Women could do just fine and be just as popular, just as talented and renowned wrestling amongst themselves and not mixing it up with men. But that damn sure doesn’t mean that they can’t.

THE PWI Achievement Awards Wrestler of the Year for 2019: Emotion vs. Accomplishment

Paul “The Nitro” Skivers

In the most recent issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated(February 2020), the ballot for the 2019 Achievement Awards was released(ballots are due on December 15th) and I was looking at the nominees for the Wrestler of the Year Award and I found an interesting debate. When deciding who deserves to be wrestler of the year, the conflict of the emotion vs. sheer accomplishments comes up rather loudly. Among the candidates, their are 4 candidates who fit this prime example. Let me explain by giving you those four candidates and why this debate is evident. I will start with the two candidates that would probably fit under the emotion side of the debate:

  1. Kofi Kingston- Their is no doubt that being the first Ghana native to win the WWE World Championship is going to evoke emotion in those that are African- American and more importantly, being the first African-American to win the WWE World Title is significant. But, you cannot discount the fact that Kofi has also worked hard through the ranks to get to where he is at today. From his debut, to winning the Intercontinental Title and feuding to Randy Orton and finally being a key member of the New Day has evoked a level of respect for the hard work that Kofi has put in his career and should be respected and admired.
  2. Roman Reigns – Making a comeback from his bout with Leukemia to being the locker room leader of Smackdown is a feat that will bring inspiration to anyone battling this disease and beating it. Roman has set a positive example that has elevated him to where he is at today and in 2019, where he won as captain of Team Smackdown at the Survivor Series is a great example. In essence, Roman has had a memorable and exciting year in his life and in his career.

Now, let us take a look at two candidates that would be on the accomplishment side of the argument:

  1. Seth Rollins- Seth winning the WWE Universal Title from Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania is a huge accomplishment. Brock Lesnar had not lost the title since defeating Goldberg at Wrestlemania last year(even though he may very few title defenses). Seth was not the favorite to win the title, but somehow pulled it out and became a two time Universal Champion. Also, the mere thought of beating Brock Lesnar twice to win that title is an even bigger accomplishment in his career.
  2. Chris Jericho- Becoming the first AEW World Champion at this stage of his career is a major deal for the pain maker and his great matches with Kazuchika Okada for the IWGP World Title proves that Chris is still a major player in pro wrestling.

By showing these distinct examples, this selection for Wrestler of the Year will be tougher than any other year of these awards. Will the winner be based on emotion-like Roman Reigns beating Leukemia and being the Smackdown locker room leader or will it be the accomplishment- like Chris Jericho winning the AEW World Title? It will certainly be an interesting decision when the year-end issue comes out and we find out who is the Wrestler of the Year.

From WK13 to WK14: Where Are They Now?

Ladies and gentlemen…we are just one month away from the Granddaddy of ‘Em All, the Show of Shows….no, I’m not talking about WrestleMania.

You see, over in Japan, every Jan. 4 is a holiday of sorts for the wrestling fan. IT’s the day of New Japan Professional Wrestling’s annual Tokyo Dome show, now known as Wrestle Kingdom.

We are up to the`14th installment of WrestleKingdom on the 4th in 2020, so I thought it would be as good a time as any to take a look back to last year’s event and see how everyone’s 2019 went.

For some, 2019 was a year of great success. For others, 2019 represented a downward spiral from a former place of glory.

I’m going to go match by match and break it down, as best as I can.

Let’s get started!

Preshow Gauntlet Match — Toru Yano, Togi Makabe and Ryusuke Taguchi def. Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Lance Archer and Davey Boy Smith, Jr.), CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Beretta and Chuckie T), Yuji Nagata, David Finlay and Jeff Cobb and The Elite (Hangman Page, Marty Scurll and Yujiro Takahashi)

New Japan threw out one of my favorite traditions, the New Japan Rumble, in favor of a gauntlet match where the winner would receive a shot at the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Titles.

I’m still bitter about it, but I digress. This match wasn’t spectacular, but it featured some fun moments, and the team of Yano, Makabe and Taguchi went on to win and then capture the NEVER belts later that month from the Bullet Club.

Let’s go team-by-team for this one.

Makabe, Yano and Taguchi — Amazingly, these three guys have been champs the entire year, never relinquishing the belts they won on Jan. 30. The NEVER 6-Man belts don’t exactly have much shine to them, however, so it’s not like these guys have been assigned immaculate places on the card.

In fact, in over 300 days they’ve only defended the belts 4 times, which is still good enough for a record-setting NEVER 6-Man reign.

Individually? Makabe was out first round of the New Japan Cup at the hands of Colt Cabana, missed out on the G1 this year and probably will be done with the tournament for good. He hasn’t done much to talk about this year, but he IS a champion, and that’s better than most.

Yano also fell to Cabana in the New Japan Cup, but had himself a nice little G1, finishing with 8 points and a signature win over Tetsuya Naito.

As for Taguchi, whom I hate with a fiery passion? He snuck his way into the New Japan Cup as a replacement for an injured David Finlay, where he lost in the second round after defeating Hiroyoshi Tenzan. He competed in the Best of the Super Juniors (finishing with 12 points, good for second in the block) as well as the Super J Cup (lost in the second round to Dragon Lee), where he was unsuccessful in his attempts to win both.

Suzuki-Gun (Lance Archer, Davey Boy Smith, Jr. and Minoru Suzuki)

The bad boys of professional wrestling each took very different paths through 2019.

Let’s get Davey Boy out of the way first, because hell, he isn’t even with the company anymore after what seemed to be a relatively messy split in June. He took on Yano in the New Japan Cup and lost, and that was really it for the son of the late, great British Bulldog. You could catch him in Major League Wrestling at the moment, where he is a one-time MLW Tag Team Champion.

Lance Archer had himself one heck of a 2019, that’s hardly even an opinion, just a cold hard truth. He was defeated by Will Ospreay in the New Japan Cup, but really began to open eyes with his star-making performance in the G1. Although he only finished with six points, Archer had great matches with the likes of Ospreay, Okada and Ibushi, and earned himself a spot higher up on the card. At Power Struggle, Archer would win his first singles gold in NJPW by defeating Juice Robinson for the IWGP United States Championship.

One would imagine that Archer would make his first scheduled defense of the belt at WrestleKingdom, so we’ll all have to stay tuned on that.

The leader of the Suzuki-gun stable, Minoru Suzuki, was part of a big storyline this summer with his exclusion from the G1. He did earn a title shot against Kazuchika Okada at Royal Quest which he lost, albeit in a fantastic match. He’ll be squaring off with Shingo Takagi on Jan. 4 (or 5th).

CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Beretta and Chuckie T)

Well, there’s not much to say about the Best Friends, since they’ve departed for greener pastures in AEW, not too long after WrestleKingdom 13.

So let’s focus on Goto. If you go back to WK12, Goto was involved, as he seemingly always is, with the NEVER Openweight title, defeating Minoru Suzuki in a Hair vs. Hair match that was, in my opinion, the best match on that card.

From 12 to 13, it was a disappointing run for Goto, leading to him being left off the main card and on the preshow of 13.

But Goto has enjoyed a resurgent 2019, coming pretty damn close to advancing out of the B Block of the G1, feuded with Jay White over the Intercontinental Title and will square off with KENTA for the NEVER title at WrestleKingdom, a bout which I fully expect him to win.

Yuji Nagata, David Finlay and Jeff Cobb

Not a lot to say here. Nagata is one of the grumpy old dudes that New Japan fans seem to love; I get that he’s a former star and a former heavyweight champ and one of the greats, but trotting him out well past his prime doesn’t seem to do anyone any favors.

David Finlay missed a good chunk of 2019 with an injury, making his return at King of Pro Wrestling to help his good buddy Juice Robinson (more on him later). Juice and FInlay are currently entered in the World Tag League, where they are one of three teams left with a chance of winning and challenging for the IWGP Tag Titles at WrestleKingdom.

Jeff Cobb is more of a Ring of Honor competitor than a New Japan one, but he did have an eye-opening G1 Climax, including a phenomenal bout with Tomohiro Ishii that was one of the best of the whole tournament. I imagine these three will make it onto the card in a similar role this year.

The Elite (Hangman Page, Yujiro Takahashi and Marty Scurll)

Hangman’s in AEW, Marty’s in ROH but rumored to be leaving, and Yujiro is just Yujiro. Let’s move on.

Will Ospreay def. Kota Ibushi — NEVER Openweight Title

It seems impossible that two of the top stars in all of professional wrestling will actually be in better positions on the card for WrestleKingdom 14, but it’s true.

This match was arguably as valuable as it gets for the NEVER belt, a midcard belt if ever there was one. Ospreay won the belt, competed with it in the New Japan Cup, where he made quite the strong showing, defeating giants Bad Luck Fale and Lance Archer before falling to eventual winner Kazuchika Okada.

Ospreay would next tackle the Best of the Super Juniors, which he won by defeating Shingo Takagi in an absolute barn-burner of a match, one of my top two matches of the year. HE won the IWGP Junior Hwt. Title from Dragon Lee at Dominion in another classic.

But Ospreay wasn’t content with just junior heavyweight success. He wanted a bigger challenge, and entered the G1 Climax.

While he didn’t win much, he did have the Match of the Year with Okada, as well as barn-burners with KENTA and Lance Archer, and actually, everyone else he competed against.

For the rest of 2019, Ospreay and his tag partner Robbie Eagles were embroiled in a feud with Bullet Clubbers Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo, unsuccessfully challenging the duo for the IWGP Jr. Tag Titles. He will defend his IWGP Junior Hwt. Title against the returning Hiromu Takahashi at WrestleKingdom 14.

Ibushi missed a short stint of time after his WK13 clash with Ospreay, but was back in time for the New Japan Cup, where he lost to Zack Sabre Jr. in the second round.

But the real story of Ibushi’s 2019 stemmed from the match he won in the first round of the Cup, against Tetsuya Naito.

They would embark in a bitter, dangerous feud over Naito’s IWGP Intercontinental Championship throughout the summer, with Ibushi winning the belt at G1 Supercard only to lose it back at Dominion.

Then Ibushi took on the G1 Climax. How did he do? Oh, he only defeated Kazuchika Okada in the final night of Block A action, then knocked off Jay White to win the whole damn thing.

He’s defended the briefcase against EVIL and KENTA, and will look to become the first double champion in NJPW’s history when he takes on Okada on Night One of WK14, with the winner of that match advancing to take on the winner of Naito-White on Night Two.

Los Ingobernables de Japon (Shingo Takagi and BUSHI) def. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) and Roppongi 3K (Sho and Yoh) — IWGP Junior Hwt. Tag Titles

The Ungovernable Ones took the IWGP junior tag titles from defending champs Suzuki-gun in a match that also involved Super Junior Tag Tournament winners Roppongi 3K.

The boys from Roppongi would capture the titles once again at the Mar. 6 anniversary show, dropping them to Taiji Ishimori and El Phantasmo at Kizuna Road.

They received a title shot at the Guerrillas of Destiny’s IWGP Heavyweight Tag Titles, but were unsuccessful in capturing them at Fighting Spirit Unleashed.

Sho and Yoh then went on to capture their third consecutive Super Junior tag tourney, and they’ll take on Ishimori and El Phantasmo at WK14.

El Desperado missed an extended period of time with a jaw injury, but made his return late in 2019. Kanemaru is irrelevant.

BUSHI’s had a quiet year, with one notable exception: a shot at Will Ospreay’s IWGP Junior Hwt. Title at Power Struggle, which he came up short in.

But Shingo? Shingo has opened the hell out of my eyes. After he and BUSHI dropped the tag titles to Roppongi 3K, Takagi went on an undefeated streak through the Best of the Super Juniors, winning all nine of his block matches before falling to Ospreay in the final.

He took on Satoshi Kojima at Dominion in his first taste of heavyweight action, defeating the veteran. Like Ospreay, he also declared his entrance into the G1, enjoying a great deal of success during the tournament.

Shingo is poised to take on Minoru Suzuki at WrestleKingdom 14, in what will inevitably be the biggest win of his career. (Yes, that’s a prediction.)

Zack Sabre Jr. def. Tomohiro Ishii — British Heavyweight Championship

Two of my favorite superstars clashed over one of my favorite-named championships at WrestleKingdom 13, with Sabre Jr. walking away with RevPro’s British Heavyweight title.

Sabre’s year has been up and down, dropping and regaining the British belt a couple of times, notably to Hiroshi Tanahashi at Royal Quest.

He had a disappointing G1, losing a lot of high-profile matches early before finishing on somewhat of a winning streak, although it was too little, too late.

He’s in the World Tag League at the moment for Taichi, but he’s already been eliminated. It’s tough to see where ZSJ figures into the WK14 picture. Maybe a run at the NEVER 6-Man belts with Archer and Taichi?

Ishii’s another one where I’m not exactly sure of his status heading into WK14. He’s had a hell of a 2019, impressing all over the board, especially in the G1. His match with Juice Robinson has to be the underrated match of the year, and that was just one of a few classics he had in his run. He also won the NEVER Openweight title from Taichi, and dropped it to KENTA at Royal Quest.

Just eliminated from World Tag League action alongside YOSHI-HASHI, he doesn’t have a clear path to the Tokyo Dome. But one thing’s for sure, you can’t leave the new Best Bout Machine off the card.

EVIL and SANADA def. Young Bucks and Guerrilas of Destiny — IWGP Tag Team Titles

A big night for LIJ continued when World Tag League 2018 winners EVIL and SANADA knocked off the champs G.O.D. and the Young Bucks to capture the IWGP tag titles.

EVIL and SANADA would drop the titles back to G.O.D. at Honor Rising. They both competed in the New Japan Cup, where SANADA was the runner-up. EVIL scored a huge victory over Kota Ibushi in the G1, while SANADA scored an even bigger win over Kazuchika Okada.

SANADA and EVIL would go on to lose their matches for the IWGP Heavyweight Title and G1 briefcase respectively, and are currently sitting in pole position in the World Tag League, and appear primed to head back to WrestleKingdom for a rematch with the Guerrilas.

Speaking of the Guerrilas, they had a remarkable year in tag team action, regaining the IWGP tag belts and winning the ROH tag belts at G1 Supercard. They dropped the ROH belts back to the Briscoes, but have kept a stranglehold on the IWGP tag titles, holding the belts for almost 300 days (it will be 300 assuming they don’t drop them before WK14) and defending them an impressive 7 times.

The Young Bucks work somewhere else now. Not sure where.

Juice Robinson def. Cody — IWGP United States Title

The Juice was loose on Jan. 4, 2019 as the former CJ Parker won back a belt that he should never have lost by defeating Cody despite outside interference from Brandi Rhodes to regain the IWGP US championship.

Cody exited the company not too long after to focus on his own company, All Elite Wrestling. He presumably will not be competing at WK14, but you really never know in wrestling these days.

Juice has had an intriguing year, teasing a character shift after dropping the IWGP US title to a debuting Jon Moxley at the Best of the Super Junior final in June. He would compete in the G1, having an aforementioned banger with Tomohiro Ishii, but failed to advance out of the block.

He fought Lance Archer for the US Title at King of Pro-Wrestling, but lost to the American Psycho in a hard-fought No Disqualifications match, a rarity for New Japan.

Juice and his tag partner David Finlay are currently one of three teams still hoping to win the World Tag League and advance to WrestleKingdom 14.

Taiji Ishimori def. Kushida — IWGP Junior Heavyweight Title

Ishimori won his first championship in New Japan by knocking off the Time Splitter Kushida at WrestleKingdom 13.

From there, it was a bit of a downturn for Ishimori, who would drop the belt to Dragon Lee at G1 Supercard. He spent the majority of the year competing in tag action alongside El Phantsmo, winning the Junior Tag Titles at Kizuna Road in June. They’ve held the belts ever since, turning away a challenge from the Birds of Prey. They’ll defend the belts at WK14 against Roppongi 3K.

Kushida would leave the promotion soon after, heading to NXT where he’s had high-profile matches with the likes of WALTER.

Jay White def. Kazuchika Okada

What a dastardly villain that Jay White is! With help from Gedo, the Switchblade defeated the Rainmaker at WK13 to solidify himself as a top guy in NJPW.

He would take it one step further at the New Beginning in February, defeating Hiroshi Tanahashi for the IWGP Heavyweight Champioship at the tender old age of 26. He dropped the belt to old for Okada at the G1 Supercard.

He was the runner-up in the G1, winning six matches in a row to go from worst to first in B Block. He dropped the final to Kota Ibushi before setting his sights on the Intercontinental Title, viewing it as his ticket to becoming a double champ at WK14. He defeated Tetsuya Naito for the strap at Destruction in Kobe, and defended the belt against Hirooki Goto later in the year.

Now, he’s got Naito in a rematch for the IC belt at WK14, with the winner advancing to the winner-take-all double title match on Night Two. Not bad for the young gun, eh?

Okada would rebound from his loss to White, winning the New Japan Cup and defeating White, as previously mentioned, at G1 Supercard. He came within an eyelash of advancing out of A Block at the G1, losing to Kota Ibushi on the final night of block action. He’s defended the belt against SANADA and Minoru Suzuki, as well as Chris Jericho.

He’ll also look to become a double champ at WrestleKingdom, taking on Ibushi for the IWGP Heavyweight Championship.

Tetsuya Naito def. Chris Jericho — IWGP Intercontinental Championship

I will never get the visual of Jericho spiking Naito on the top of his head on the announce desk out of my head. Naito won a hellacious match to regain the title he’s never cared about, yet seems to win a lot, the IWGP Intercontinental Championship.

Jericho would rebound in AEW, defeating Kenny Omega in a WK12 rematch at Double or Nothing and then winning the new company’s top prize at All Out, defeating Hangman Page. He’ll be back in New Japan on Jan. 5.

Naito dropped the belt to Kota Ibushi at G1 Supercard after losing to him at the NJ Cup, then won it back at Dominion in a match that actually frightened many viewers. He failed to advance out of B Block, then dropped the IC belt to Jay White on the Destruction tour.

He’s taking on White for the belt on Jan. 4 at the Tokyo Dome, with the goal in mind to become a double champion, same as Ibushi, Okada and White.

Hiroshi Tanahashi def. Kenny Omega — IWGP Heavyweight Championship

Kenny Omega’s reign as IWGP champ came to an end at the hands of the Ace at WK13 after Tanahashi won the G1 and a guaranteed title match.

Omega would move on, after some teasing and indecision, to AEW, where he has yet to really find the momentum that made him a major star in Japan. I actually think that there’s a chance he shows up on Jan 4., if Harold Meji’s comments about a possible working relationship between AEW and NJPW carry any weight.

Tana’s slipped down the card slowly but surely since losing the IWGP title to Jay White in February. He lost in the NJ Cup, defeated but then dropped the British Heavyweight Title to Zack Sabre Jr. and never felt like a serious contender to win the G1, especially in a block as stacked as A Block was.

Tana’s spirit still fights on, and he’s due for a match that could go either very well or very poorly — a date with Chris Jericho on Jan. 5 at WK14, Night Two. I personally have very high hopes for this match; I think it could be a storytelling masterpiece, even if the two competitors are both well past their prime. (Well, Jericho’s an interesting case. Is he past his prime? Has he just simply evolved? Too hard to tell.)

Some other superstars that weren’t here at WK13 that appear primed to figure into WK14: KENTA and Jon Moxley. KENTA is defending the NEVER belt against Hirooki Goto after winning it from Tomohiro Ishii at Royal Quest, and Moxley is, as always, a big question mark. Will he even be there? We don’t know.

We’re a month out. Strap in, ladies and gentlemen. Strap in.

Destined For Greatness, Somewhere Else?

So if you’ve watched WWE in the last few months, you’ve seen the “saga” if you can even call it one between Rusev, Lana, and Bobby Lashley. I think I can speak for every true die hard wrestling fan when I say, this storyline isn’t for anyone. A lot of times there’s storylines that attract a certain demographic, or keep a certain demographic entertained etc. but I’m convinced that this storyline isn’t for anyone. Except one man, Vince McMahon.

Vince thinks we care about these stupid drama filled storylines of relationships falling apart, but he forgets that in this age of social media, it’s very hard to tell a story like this when we know that Rusev and Lana are married, have been for a while, and that Lana herself didn’t want to do this. Let’s not forget they tried this in 2015, with the roles reversed, and Dolph Ziggler instead of Bobby Lashley, but even back then we knew, all that we know now. The storyline was thrown away when Rusev and Lana got engaged for real, and I’m literally begging for something like that to happen again. I’d even accept it being thrown away and not talked about ever again with no explanation.

It’s soap opera bullshit and it doesn’t get over anymore, when the fans are too smart to care whether “Lashley is getting it” from Lana. We all know he isn’t. Lana on the mic is either really good or really, really bad, Lashley is literally just there, and Rusev, he’s being wasted to an even bigger level. Now you can argue he’s on TV because of this and he wasn’t before, but let me add that when everyone hates what your doing are you really doing good? Sure financially I’m sure Rusev is doing fine, but that isn’t what brings fans to the party, that isn’t what makes us want to see him.

I don’t think I need to discuss what Rusev has been through to this point everyone knows, how he should have went over John Cena, or how all they’ve done since then was hold him back. Whenever something organically happens, WWE doesn’t capitalize. Rusev Day, was an accident, just because he was feuding with the New Day. It was arguably the best thing to happen to him in WWE, and they ruined that too. Now obviously this happens a lot to talent that aren’t on the radar of Vince McMahon, and you can argue if Rusev went back to NXT it would be good for him, like most guys, but it shouldn’t be an option. That’s how good Rusev is, he’s an all around talent, who deserves to be on the same level as a Seth Rollins for example.

So what is it going to take? I’ll tell you what, he needs to leave. Your probably thinking though, “Why would Rusev leave when he should be happy just making money?” My answer to that will always be, why don’t you ask Cody, or Jon Moxley, Moxley in particular can attest for the money he makes now and not missing the creative handicaps he faced. WWE didn’t realize what they had with them, and look at them now. Creatively stifled to the nth degree, with no sign of improvement. It’s more then that though for Rusev, he doesn’t get any opportunities, and when he does, WWE doesn’t know how to handle it correctly. Rusev needs to go to AEW or New Japan, and build a name for himself on his own, without a monopoly holding him back because “Vince doesn’t feel like it.” The man is too good to be wasted, and this can be said for a lot of people, there’s a ton of talent with upside in WWE in the same boat. Not all of them are gonna get this opportunity. I don’t know Rusev’s contract situation, but if I were him I’d do exactly what Moxley did, let his wife stay in WWE, and he can go out on his own, and make WWE regret their misuse of him.

When everyone who leaves makes it, WWE will have to see the error of their ways right? Or will talent continue to get misused and mistreated until they can’t take it anymore and it’s a never ending cycle of unhappiness. I hope it’s not the latter, because WWE is gonna be in a rough way in ten years if that’s the case. Let’s not forget the over reliance on part time talent that also make it impossible for full time talent to get over and make it. Let’s all hope this all changes soon, but as for Rusev, if he’s smart, he will definitely look to make it on his own instead of being comfortable with where he is now and what he’s doing.

Follow me on Twitter for more opinions a lot like these, @MikeJC821

Also check out my personal blog

As well as keeping it here on Daily Chinlock for more from me and others!

Down Under Wonder

The world of blogging is truely wonderful. I feel truely honoured and blessed that the amazing and talented Kevin Carroll has asked me to join him as a member of The Daily Chinlock team.

I plan on bringing eyes to Australian wrestling and giving a different perspective that can’t be seen anywhere else around the world. The talent down under is amazing and deserves more recognition then it receives

The AussieVerse was born from what started as the Australian wrestling revolution also known as Aussielution. It all started many moons ago with a former WWE superstar know as Emma.

When Emma joined the main roster she started her own trend with #EMMAlution and that was the inspiration to create the #AUSSIElution.

Through this journey alongside Kevin and many others, I hope to create something truely wonderful and expand everyone’s knowledge on the Australian Independent Scene.

It’s time to lock and load. The Aussie perspective is here and the revolution has begun. The #AUSSIElution has been REBORN.

– BJ

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