Monday, January 31, 2022

WWE Royal Rumble 2022 Review: Junk Food for the Brain

Ah WWE circa 2022, a company without highs or lows, where every PPV (ahem, premium live event, a phrase no real human being will ever use in actual conversation) is steeped in mediocrity and there's no reason to get invested in anything because the company will just screw it up anyway.

The 2022 Royal Rumble fits the above description to a tee.  A bunch of just-okay matches, in one ear, out the other, the details of which will all be forgotten by WrestleMania.  No one gets over except the one or two established stars the company wants to push, thus both Rumbles felt like everyone involved was just killing time.  Was it a reasonably entertaining way to spend four hours?  Sure.  Was anything here even close to being a great match or having any historical significance?  Nope.  Even the first-time WWE Title match with a big-fight feel was more of the same ol' shit with repetitious action and a bad finish.  WWE could fuck up a can of Pringles.

Speaking of bad finishes, the show started with Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins, in a very well-worked Universal Title bout where Seth, dressed in his old Shield gear and entering through the crowd to the group's classic theme, resided fully in Roman's head.  No matter how badly Roman beat him down, Seth kept smiling and asking for a fist bump.  Roman couldn't stay on his game and Seth dominated much of the bout.  They did the old spot from 2016 where Roman went for a spear and Seth countered into a Pedigree for a near fall.  This was a very good match.  And then the finish happened.  Roman locked in a guillotine choke, Seth struggled to get to the ropes but fell short and went limp.  The referee lifted Seth's arm for one, two, and on the third drop, Seth's hand fell on the bottom rope.  Yes, the referee inadvertently put Seth's hand on the rope, and then demanded Roman break the hold.  Ummm, what?  How can that be a rope break if the referee is the one who put his hand there?  Roman, the heel, rightly refused to break the choke and was disqualified.  Oh super.  So Seth got legitimatelybeaten and Roman did something stupid to cost himself a sure victory.  Who was this designed to get over?  This was yet another very good WWE match ruined by stupid WWE booking.  And sadly it was the best thing on the show.  ***1/2

Friday, January 28, 2022

WWE Royal Rumble 2022 Preview & Predictions

This Sunday Saturday! is the 2022 WWE Royal Rumble, and the company seems to be fixin' to shake things up a little.  Maybe we'll see some exciting things for a change....

Well all signs point to the third Roman Reigns-Brock Lesnar meeting at a WrestleMania (Jeezus H.), so this Rumble lineup looks a might different than I'm sure the company planned on a month ago.  But the good news is there are two big title matches that should both be entertaining, and it leaves the men's Rumble match a bit less predictable than it probably would've been.  But before we get to the fun stuff, let's look at some of the undercard drivel....

RAW Women's Championship: Becky Lynch vs. Doudrop

Becky is keeping busy with another babyface no one buys as a legitimate threat, and thus no one wants to boo Becky, and thus her segments are devoid of real heat.  Can we cut our losses with this heel turn experiment already?  Actually what with the rumors abound the last few days that may just happen.  But more on that later.  Becky isn't losing here.

Pick: Becky retains

Edge & Beth Phoenix vs. The Miz & Maryse

Christ, we're still doing this dumbass mixed feud?  What a difference a year makes, huh?  Edge went from running the table in the 2021 Rumble and headlining WrestleMania to attempting to answer AEW's Punk-MJF feud to attempting to answer the WWF's Dusty/Sapphire-Savage/Sherri feud.  This is weak sauce and I don't care about it in the slightest.

Pick: Edge & Beth

Thursday, January 6, 2022

NJPW WrestleKingdom 16, Night 2 Review: Okada and Ospreay Tear the House Down

Well, WrestleKingdom 16 Night 2 was a slight step up from Night 1.  As with Night 1 it felt overall like just another New Japan PPV (great main event, one or two other very good matches, the rest skippable), but unlike Night 1 it featured a Match of the Year shortlist candidate and nothing offensive.

This show strangely had three pre-show bouts, but things kicked off in earnest with the Jr. Heavyweight Tag Titles, as Robbie Eagles & Tiger Mask defended against El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori, and Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi.  This was a lighter echo of the Jr. Tag 4-ways of old, with fast, nonstop action and loads of quick tags.  But things took a turn for the stupid when the babyfaces ganged up on El Phantasmo and took off his shoe to reveal the metal plate he's been using for months to win matches.  Nevermind that a plate sculpted around a person's heel, inside a padded boot, would hurt the wearer more than anyone he happened to kick with it.  The referee was appalled and disqualified ELP and Ishimori, leaving the two babyface teams to finish the bout.  Eagles put Romero in the Ron Miller special (a pretty not-painful-looking leglock) for the tapout win.  This was hurt by the dumb North American wrestling tropes.  **1/2

Next up was the featured Stardom match, as Mayu Iwatani & Starlight Kid faced Tam Nakano & Saya Kamitani.  This was nine minutes of wildly quick action that blew away the previous match.  Highlights included Starlight diving off Iwatani's shoulders for a cross-body as the latter stood on the second rope, numerous dives to the outside, a sequence where each woman tried to pin an opponent with a rollup, and finally Kamitani hitting a crisp Phoenix Splash on Starlight for the win.  A very fun undercard match that gave everyone time to shine.  ***1/2

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

AEW Dynamite on TBS Preview & Predictions

Right in the middle of one of the busiest wrestling weeks in recent memory we have what might end up the highlight.  It's AEW Dynamite's debut on TBS!

We're about to enter a new era, as Dynamite premieres on its new network, and they've lined up a stacked lineup to kick things off right.  A huge AEW Title rematch, a Tag Title contest, and the finals of the TBS Title tournament, just to name a few.  It should be a helluva premiere.  Let's get to it.


MJF is on a collision course with CM Punk at some point, but lately it seems like he'll have to contend with his buddy Wardlow first.  The monstrous Pinnacle bodyguard has been on a tear lately, polishing off jobbers left and right in short order.  So now it seems to be MJF's turn to do the same.  No word on who the opponent will be, but since this match is billed as "MJF in action," it's safe to assume it'll be another local guy there to get squashed.  The question is whether the MJF-Wardlow or MJF-Punk feuds will be escalated somehow.

Pick: MJF

Malakai Black vs. Brian Pillman Jr.

After Pillman and Griff Garrison's friend Julia Hart was sprayed with the black mist, an outraged Garrison challenged Malakai Black to a match and got dispatched quickly.  Now Pillman is stepping up to the plate and promising a new version of himself.  Whether that means he'll take on an edgier persona or even join Malakai's House of Black (at least one announced member has been teased) remains to be seen.  Black is obviously winning this.

Pick: Malakai Black

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

NJPW WrestleKingdom 16 Night 3 Preview & Predictions (by Landon Wayne)

JB Note: For Night 3 of Wrestle Kingdom 16 (I'm still not sure why they're calling this part of WK instead of making it a separate event, but whatever), I've enlisted the services of our old pal Landon Wayne, whom you may remember as an contributor from a few years back.  Landon is up on all things Pro Wrestling NOAH, so he'll be able to offer much greater insight about said promotion than I will.  Take it away Landon!

We're half a decade later but much better off for it, it's NOAH vs New Japan time, everyon1! I wanna thank Justin for letting me guest write for this night of Wrestle Kingdom, given my relative expertise on the matter. In 2020 I dropped New Japan entirely and took up being a bannerman for Pro Wrestling NOAH, so the moment this show was announced I was excited. Seeing the card, there's a lot that I wouldn't have booked but it's not a bad show, especially if this is only the first show in a series? Let's go through the matches, You ready, Justin?

Yasutaka Yano vs. Kosei Fujita

Yasutaka Yano has only been wrestling for a year and change, but he already shows greater promise than his elders Yoshiki Inamura and Kinya Okada did at this stage of their careers. In what is likely the first match of the show, he gets to make the first strike against the New Japan Roster.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Satoshi Kojima, & Yuji Nagata vs. Akitoshi Saito, King Tany & Mohammed Yone 

UNCLE FIGHT. The Third Generation of New Japan clahses with the Disco draped veterans of Pro Wrestling NOAH. The word is out on whether this will be a particularly good match, but all six men are fun to watch when they're motivated. So, will they be motivated this night? We'll find out/

NJPW WrestleKingdom 16 Night 1: The Armor is Cracking

Well.....that was underwhelming, wasn't it?  

WrestleKingdom 16 Night 1 overall was I daresay the weakest edition since 2012, with a pretty fantastic main event, a very good semi-main, a couple good matches, and some pretty not-good stuff.  Most of this show did not feel like a Tokyo Dome show to me, and while the reduced, silent crowd didn't help things, that didn't hurt last year's edition much at all.  This show was missing the magic for most of its running time, partly due to booking, partly due to the lack of Ibushi or White, partly due to the product just not being very hot right now.  Let's take a look, shall we?  

Things started off with a rare opening singles match, as former partners Sho and Yoh squared off.  This was one of three bouts hurt by lame WWE-style shenanigans and I've come to an unfortunate conclusion as a result, but more on that in a bit.  Yoh went right after Sho to start things off, and the action spilled to the outside right away, but Sho took advantage after using a ring crew member as interference.  Sho dominated much of the action but Yoh went after a leg, locking in a calf crusher variation and getting a visible tapout while the referee was distracted by Dick Togo.  Sho locked in his own Snakebite submission and almost got the win but Yoh just barely made the ropes.  Sho tried to use a wrench but Yoh sent him crashing into Togo and rolled him up for the win.  This match was good, and a solid opener, but far below my expectations.  ***1/4

Saturday, January 1, 2022

WWE Day 1 Preview & Predictions

It's 2022 folks, and this year that means it's time for some WWE predictions on the first day of the year!

Yeah so Nick Khan apparently came up with the Day 1 idea and wants to make it a huge annual event (nevermind that in the past when they've tried to cram in a January PPV before the Royal Rumble it hasn't worked out great), always on January 1st.  Which seems odd since January 1st won't always fall on a weekend.  But whatever.  The lineup looks alright I guess.  Let's get to it.

Pre-Show: Cesaro & Ricochet vs. Sheamus & Ridge Holland

Hey remember last year when it looked like they were finally gonna push Cesaro?  Gave him a big win at WrestleMania and even gave him a PPV main event against Roman?  Good times.  Now here we are and the guy can't even get on the main show of a PPV.  Don't even get me started on Ricochet - that guy needs to get the fuck outta there immediately.  Anyway I have no faith that Cesaro and Ric are coming out of this with a win.

Pick: Sheamus & Ridge

Drew McIntyre vs. Madcap Moss

What in god's name are they doing with Drew these days?  He went from being a dominant WWE Champion to losing every big PPV match and occasionally feuding with underneath guys for no reason.  I assume he'll end up getting the big WrestleMania main event against Roman, but having him beat a couple humps like Corbin and Moss doesn't exactly make him look like top contender material.

Pick: Drew