Wednesday, August 14, 2019

G1 Climax Collect: Final Edition

The Knee That Won the Tournament
Photo Credit: NJPW1972.com
The 2019 G1 Climax Tournament has concluded with a reasonable winner, 91 matches ranging from disastrous to incredible, and a final show that saw both betrayal and hope before the finals bell first rung. The road to the Tokyo Dome is ahead of New Japan Pro Wrestling.

Winnah! - At various points during the G1 Climax, it looked like any number of wrestlers might win. Kazuchika Okada and Jon Moxley seemed on a collision course early on with KENTA on the fringes. Then as the tournament played out, Kota Ibushi started sneaking up in the A-block with EVIL not far behind. Moxley started losing matches and opening the door for an array of wrestlers to come on up. Most fans hoped it would be Tetsuya Naito, but they feared it would be "Switchblade" Jay White. Then the final two block shows saw winner-take-all matches with berths in the final on the line. Hey, it's almost like this stuff is a work, eh.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

On Katsuyori Shibata, Health, and Concern

How should you feel about Shibata potentially returning? I can't tell you.
Photo Credit: NJPW1972.com
Katsuyori Shibata never really left New Japan Pro Wrestling. Although his last match with the company was an IWGP World Heavyweight Championship opportunity where he suffered a subdural hematoma on a headbutt to then-(and now)-Champion Kazuchika Okada on April 9, 2017, he still was in the orbit during his recovery. He announced that he was "back" although not in a wrestling capacity last year at the G1, and he's taken a sentry position as the head trainer at the Los Angeles Dojo. The way he figured into the G1 this year, both as the guy who brought in KENTA and who whipped Hirooki Goto into shape, it probably should not have been shocking to see him physically involved. That being said, when he fought back against a KENTA who betrayed him by joining Bullet Club, it was further involved than most people would've expected. Watching him do the bombs-away corner dropkick again brought waves of euphoria to a group of fans, myself included, who missed the hell out of seeing him in the ring.

The Rest of the Battle of Los Angeles Field Has Been Announced

Sekimoto takes Los Angeles
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Pro Wrestling Guerrilla has finished announcing wrestlers for the Battle of Los Angeles tournament. When I left off reporting on them, they were up to 15 and only two of them were cavemen. Both of those numbers have grown since then. I will start running down the final nine competitors in this absolutely packed tournament:

Monday, August 12, 2019

The Wrestling Blog's OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings for August 12, 2019

Winner!
Photo Credit: Red Shoes Unno
Welcome to a feature I like to call "Best in the World" rankings. They're not traditional power rankings per se, but they're rankings to see who is really the best in the world, a term bandied about like it's bottled water or something else really common. They're rankings decided by me, and don't you dare call them arbitrary lest I smack the taste out of your mouth. Without further ado, here's this week's list:

1. Kota Ibushi (Last Week: Not Ranked) - Hey, he won the G1 Classic after starting 0-2, and he (presumably, I haven't seen his last two matches yet) didn't have to kill himself to do it! He also spared us the pain of having to see the Knife Pervert headline The Dome. I mean, Jay White is a good heel and all, but if I want an opponent for the presumable IWGP Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada on January 4, I want one who can keep up with him.

2. Simone Biles (Last Week: Not Ranked) - She pulled off a triple-double, which is more impressive in gymnastics than the basketball item of that name. Biles won her sixth straight gymnastics all-around Championship. Will she help the US bring home gold in Tokyo? Only if she doesn't get sidetracked and sign with STARDOM first.

3. Orange Cassidy (Last Week: 5) - Hey, no big deal, but he signed with All Elite Wrestling today. Whoa.

Breaking the WWE Roster Out

Imagine Reigns working the G1
Photo Credit: WWE.com
WWE is a weird company because it has perhaps the most talented roster in not only its history, but maybe in all of American wrestling history. It's hard to compare it to other historical Japanese companies and lucha promotions without being immersive in their history. That being said, the sheer number of preternaturally abled wrestlers on its roster, from the top of the main show all the way down to recent Performance Center signees, is staggering. That's why the company's malaise is so disappointing for people who are still holding on hope by watching whether monthly at the pay-per-views, weekly only for boutique shows like 205 Live and NXT, or for the brave souls who still watch RAW and Smackdown.

NXT In 60 Seconds for August 7, 2019

It wasn't just all video packages!
Photo Credit: WWE.com

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

The Crucible Has Entered a Second Team in King of Trios

Ophidian has reinforcements
Graphics via ChikaraPro.com
King of Trios 2010 was a wild time in Chikara's history. The Bruderschaft des Kreuzes had just formed four months earlier, steamrolling through the roster in its early stages. They entered two teams into the tournament: Claudio Castagnoli, Ares, and Tursas; and Tim Donst, Pinkie Sanchez, and Lince Dorado. The Colony of Fire, Soldier, and Green Ants gave the group its first pinfall loss by defeating the latter team in the final quarterfinal on Night Two. They were on their way to defeating the main team if not for some shenanigans from referee Derek Sabato, who relieved a knocked-out Bryce Remsburg and revealed himself to be the BDK's personal referee. History always has a way of repeating itself.

Who's the Next Wave for Pro Wrestling Guerrilla?

Garrini is one of the many who could help combat PWG's talent drain
Photo Credit: Scott Finkelstein
Tonight, the final entrant in the Battle of Los Angeles will be announced. Pro Wrestling Guerrilla's annual tournament is once again packed with the best talent from the indies and Mexico, but this year's event is a farewell for several wrestlers. All Elite Wrestling will be taking several regulars into its fold with exclusivity when their television show starts on October 2. Of the field announced so far, Darby Allin, Joey Janela, Feníx, Pentagón, Jr., Laredo Kid, and Jungle Boy will all be headed to AEW. Throw in PWG legend Chuck Taylor who has not been announced for the tourney (yet), and the talent drain is even more severe. Perhaps the three Mexican wrestlers might have some leverage given they're all AAA regulars and thus may have more leeway. That being said, Allin and Janela are huge losses because their feud was perhaps the landmark for the promotion in the last few years. Additionally, Jungle Boy was their signature SoCal guy.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

RESPEK DA BIZ, or Matt Riddle Is Right, Nerds

Honestly, the dogpile on Riddle is systemic of a greater problem
Photo Credit: WWE.com
One of the constants of pro wrestling is that no matter how much the style changes or how much more spots get escalated, people inside the biz have to pay dues to the people who came before them. Whether it's shaking hands in the locker room, doing pointless and meaningless gruntwork, or never speaking bad about anyone older than you, you gotta respect your elders or else they'll all gang up on you and try to blackball you from any promotion in which they have influence. It doesn't matter how much they drew or how good they were. If they're old, they're worth something, or so the common logic states.

Monday, August 5, 2019

The Wrestling Blog's OFFICIAL Best in the World Rankings for August 5, 2019

A fitting winner.
Photo via @SCITournament
Welcome to a feature I like to call "Best in the World" rankings. They're not traditional power rankings per se, but they're rankings to see who is really the best in the world, a term bandied about like it's bottled water or something else really common. They're rankings decided by me, and don't you dare call them arbitrary lest I smack the taste out of your mouth. Without further ado, here's this week's list:

1. Daniel Makabe (Last Week: Not Ranked) - He won the fifth annual Scenic City Invitational, joining an elite class with Jimmy Rave, Joey Lynch, Matt Riddle, and, uh, well, let's not talk about the other guy to win, okay? I should've seen it coming, actually, but he's a deserving winner no less. They don't call him the Wrestling Genius for nothing. I haven't been able to watch the SCI yet, although I will make it a priority with my shiny IWTV sub. However, I've heard that his first round match with Tony Deppen was no less than a slapper. I'd seek that one out first if you don't have the time to watch the whole thing.

2. 30-50 Feral Hogs (Last Week: Not Ranked) - I am not debating Willie McNabb's claims that wild pigs overrun his yard within five minutes of his children going out to play. I just think it's funny.

3. Big Mami (Last Week: Not Ranked) - Personally, if the lady who was trying to play with my man's heartstrings womped him in the nutsac and a rudo official counted her pinfall on him instead of mine on her partner, I'd have kicked everyone's asses involved. Big Mami is more restrained than I am, which I respect.

G1 Climax Collect: Nights 11-14

Two titans of the industry did great battle in Fukuoka
Photo Credit: NJPW1972.com
So, no one in either block is undefeated anymore, the B-Block leader is in real danger of not winning it anymore, and the MATCH OF THE CENTURY occurred. This is your rundown of the last four nights of the G1 Climax.

The Picture So Far - Both Jon Moxley and Kazuchika Okada suffered their first defeats in the tournament over the last week. Okada only dropped one match, to Sanada, with ten seconds left on the clock. The match didn't feel like a half-hour except for the few parts where they were laying about in a blatant attempt to get close to the time limit. I get why they did it; I just wish they had gone another route. Still, it was the most compelling match Sanada has had the whole tournament. He's so weird. He can go from match-of-the-night stuff one night to being a total stinker the next. Still though, while he's eliminated from contention, he opened things up in A-block for a few wrestlers, namely Kota Ibushi and EVIL.

Some Thoughts on AAA TripleMania XXVII from an Outsider

It was a bloodbath, but one you need to see.
Graphics via AAA Website
I watched TripleMania XXIII in 2015. It was my first exposure to lucha libre (outside of that janky Lucha Libre USA show) in earnest, but it left a bad impression. Literally the only two good matches on the show were the last two, Alberto el Patron vs. Brian Cage and Rey Mysterio vs. Myzteziz (Mistico/Sin Cara). I knew it wasn't a true representation of all of lucha libre, probably not even of AAA, but having to sit through the Villanos/Clowns match may have set my interest in lucha back for years. Why am I sharing this tidbit for a show that happened four years later? Because TripleMania XXVII was the complete opposite of the disaster that was XXIII. No match was worse than "good," and the "worst" match on the card, the Cain Velasquez trios match, still contained cool stuff and would've been the best match on the XXIII card.

Friday, August 2, 2019

NXT In 60 Seconds for July 31, 2019

Get here faster, next Saturday
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Tyler Breeze: comes out to a decent pop
Jaxson Ryker: is proof the atheists are right and throws Tyler around a few times Uranage! Bret backbreakers!
Breeze: Leaping knee! Dropkick!
Steve Cutler: Hey! You can't
Breeze: Short range victory roll!
Referee: Winner!
Forgotten Sons: dafuq Swarm Breeze
Faaaan daaaan go: runs in for the save, seriously
Fashion Po Po: double superkick, hug
Full Sailors: do the dance

RIP Harley Race, Legend

RIP to a King
Photo Credit: WWE.com
Harley Race, one of the greatest competitors and Champions the sport has ever seen, passed away yesterday at the age of 76. He was diagnosed with lung cancer earlier this year, and the disease was what claimed him. Race leaves behind a titanic legacy, not just of in-ring competition, but of stewardship of wrestling, especially in his home state of Missouri. He is on a short list for candidates for the best wrestler of all-time, and he may very well be the greatest Champion in National Wrestling Alliance history.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Twitter Request Line, Vol. 270

Pictured: A Burger Man
Photo Credit: TH
It's Twitter Request Line time, everyone! I take to Twitter to get questions about issues in wrestling, past and present, and answer them on here because 280 characters can't restrain me, fool! If you don't know already, follow me @tholzerman, and wait for the call on Wednesday to ask your questions. Hash-tag your questions #TweetBag, and look for the bag to drop Thursday afternoon (most of the time). Without further ado, here are your questions and my answers:

I'm a burger man, so I like a lot of different variations and combinations of roll, meat, cheese, topping, and cooking method. For the cooking, the best method is grilling. Griddles and cast iron pans are good, but nothing says summer like a grilled patty over open flame. I prefer American cheese, although it's a closer race than one might expect. It melts just right and has the right amount of salt. Muenster cheese is a fine and close second. For a bun, I prefer a hamburger bun that you get in the eight-packs at the store, toasted lightly. Toppings, it's caramelized onions and Nance's sharp and creamy mustard. In absence of the latter, a dijon mustard does the trick. Obviously, I eat mostly any burger put in front of me: bacon cheeseburgers, burgers with an egg on top, burgers that are made with black beans and not beef, burgers with guacamole, whatever. But the burger I described above has a certain comfort to it.