Eli Drake’s Time is Now and that’s just a Fact of Life!

Eli Drake won the GFW Title on last week’s Impact Gauntlet for Gold match and it was a thing of beauty. An unsurprising surprise, if there ever was one.

If you caught Eli Drake’s work in 2016, especially late that year, you knew you were watching something special. A natural you could place into 90s WWF, WCW, and ECW and get the exact same invested reaction from the live crowds. The moment those Facts of Life segments started rolling you knew this was no ordinary run-of-the mill heel. It’s the next game changer in the business. Worthy of being called a home-grown GFW/TNA original and more.

Drake’s talent on the mic feels reminiscent of prime WCW Chris Jericho and WWF’s Corporate Rock. A heel so-good at his job you can’t help but cheer. Even now, on the last episode of Impact, Drake shushed the crowd when they were begging to sing-a-long with the now Champ.

Eli Drake’s GFW Title Win: The Perfect Setup

It all started in pristine fashion, Eli Drake, the dodging take-the-easy way out heel comes to visit new authority figure Jim Cornette. Cornette indulges the seemingly ‘innocent’ request from Drake to change his number to something better than #1 at the Gauntlet match… If he agrees to leave him alone for the rest of the night that is! Drake of course agrees, thrilled his plan seemingly was a success.

In classic wrestling comedy, Cornette changes his number to #2. Which he tells Drake ‘is better than #1’ so there should be no problem. Drake is irate and promises retribution for the act. Foreshadowing in the back of the mind, that hey, this Drake Championship win might actually come to fruition.

We later see former TNA Champ Eddie Edwards in Cornette’s office. In a practical shoot, Cornette recalls a Ring of Honor story at NYC’s Hammerstein Ballroom where Edwards then with a cast backstage, wrestled a night after breaking his arm.

Cornette tells Edwards how proud he is of him personally, and how proud the company would be with him as Champion. The sentiment feels real and earnest. It’s also a total contrast to the way Cornette spoke to Eli Drake.

The setup is established perfectly with Eddie Edwards as #1 and Eli Drake as #2 to both start the Gauntlet for Gold and end the Gauntlet for Gold.

Then we have the newcomer, Johnny Impact, a major franchise signing for GFW Impact Wrestling. In his debut no less. It appears Johnny Impact is going to take home the gold as many outside superstars before him have upon their entrance to TNA/GFW. A believable narrative and new champion… Yet, instead he’s used brilliantly as a decoy!

Flashback to when Michaels Started the faux non-Rumble Elimnation

Johnny Impact appears to eliminate Drake when in a Shawn Michaels 1996 Royal Rumble style moment, Drake hangs on by a thread. Literally his toes on the bottom rope, his upper body on the floor on the outside.

Drake uses his strength to grab onto the bottom ropes and pull himself back into the ring. While Johnny Impact is setting Edwards up for a move on the middle rope, Drake quickly rushes to interrupt and throws Johnny Impact over the top. The crowd is fully invested now emotionally. Must see TV if you’re a wrestling fan the world over. The crowd favorite Johnny Impact manages to keep himself in the match. Struggling to hold on.

Eli Drake starts Gauntlet for Gold and Ends it with the Win

Drake notices and attempts to finish off Impact with a shoulder tackle/dive when he goes through the middle ropes himself… But it had to be over the top ropes folks! Johnny Impact delivers a kick to Edwards weakening his resilience. Then it happens! Drake pulls Johnny Impact out of the ring from the outside for a fresh take on the Rumble elimination. It’s down the final two.

The babyface whose Cornette story reestablished Edwards as just that. A true 100% face, a wrestler’s wrestler who will go the extra mile for the fans, a flag-bearer for the company… And the cool heel, the dodging, complaining mastermind always looking for the easy route. Usually backfiring in comedic fashion… But not this time! This time Drake starts off the match and closes it with a win.

Eli Drake is your new Global Force Wrestling Champion!

Drake is a true heel out there, the way a heel should be! Just look at the mannerisms in the ‘closing moments’ video above. Trying to use the ropes as a leverage in a pinfall, the shocked face when it doesn’t.

Then the moment of truth finally arrives. Drake catches Edwards off a top rope move attempt powers his way into his finisher and wins, practically cleanly. He’s done exactly what he said out to do.

Not only does this setup a fresh Champion but sets up a story between Cornette/Drake that is guaranteed to be money. Both of them gold on the mic, particularly because they pay attention to the the details. Just look right after referee Earl Hebner raises Drake’s arm to announce him the winner and he shoves him away after enjoying the moment. Those are the seconds that truly make the wrestler. Eli Drake is the real deal.

In commentator Josh Matthews own words, “The Defiant One is the Global Champion”! And that’s just a Fact of Life!

Follow me on Twitter: @nirregev


John Cena and Rusev’s Flag Match required too much Suspension of Disbelief

For the first time, one match actively reminded you of the truth of Pro Wrestling. John Cena and Rusev’s flag match at WWE Battleground was a fun concept gone wrong.

Look, everyone these days knows that pro wrestling is fixed. Yet, we fans enjoy it just the same. We don’t care and suspend our disbelief and embrace it. Like a reflex, you don’t even think about it anymore. It’s just like kicking back on the recliner with a good movie to blow off some steam after a hard day at work. The spectacle, the excitement, the hook of a great promo, the mesmerizing moves from some of the world’s greatest modern athletes.

But… There’s a limit.

A threshold that was pushed Sunday in the Rusev/John Cena flag match. Everyone has a cap to suspending their disbelief. It’s like watching a film where the plot goes off the deep end and you go from Oscar worthy to telling people to catch it on cable. What started off as a fun gimmick match quickly magnified pro wrestling’s nature when Rusev grabbed his National flag of Bulgaria… Then proceeded to gingerly climb off the ropes as slow as possible and walk briskly (read: sluggishly, 0.1 mile per hour) past John Cena.

“It’s a race!” – John Bradshaw Layfield

Rusev Gains Upper Hand on John Cena, then reminds us of booking

Rusev’s legs might as well have been in cement or had a 200 ton anchor attached to the heels. Instead of immediately sprinting or at least breaking into a jog towards the podium and placing his flag on the mantle… Rusev was forced by booking to wait for John Cena to get back up. Again, we all know this sports competition is sports entertainment as well but the match actively threw this fact to your conscious.

Instead of enjoying the show you actively were reminded of that dirty word casuals who despise pro wrestling use to denigrate it. It didn’t go much better on Cena’s side either after putting Rusev in an STF submission, having him pass out. It wasn’t that long ago such a moment elevated careers like the famous Bret Hart/Steve Austin where Hart put Austin in a Sharpshooter.

Now picture in this match John Cena leisurely heading toward the ramp way after making Rusev pass out. Then Rusev gets back up, (unselling the STF’s effectiveness to continue the match) and a brawl breaks out on the ramp. At no point does either show the obvious idea ‘Hey, I should place the opponent’s flag somewhere away from his grasp’ because they’re boxed in by booking. A time later Rusev plants two tables next to Cena and it’s obvious Rusev will eventually go through them.

The Reality Era?

Despite Rusev submitting Cena in the Accolade, he is still unable to quickly place his Bulgarian flag on the mantle… Or even remove Cena’s American flag from anywhere close to his grasp. Naturally, John Cena won as expected. The whole thing came across as contrived. A nice story for a fairy tale. However, when have wrestling fans, young or old, ever asked for nice? Nice creates apathy.

When Brock/Cena at Summerslam or Brock/Undertaker at Wrestlemania showed us truth behind Triple H calling this the reality era, this served the opposite. Would the match have been shorter if Rusev had sprinted and put his flag up? Of course. No question. Yet, in the interest of realism it would have made for a better product. Sometimes, less is more.


Asuka not included in Ronda Rousey Matchup Poll on WWE.com! Why she’s the #1 Choice

Photo Credit: Asuka’s Twitter

WWE.com recently held a poll, asking fans who they would like to see face the UFC’s Ronda Rousey if she were to compete in the squared circle. One major name was stunningly left out, none other than the Queen of Strong Style, Asuka!

You would think the undefeated Women’s NXT Champ, who holds the longest winning streak in modern day wrestling, would be choice #1. A perfect contender to lend mainstream credibility to an MMA/Pro-Wrestling crossover. Asuka’s immense technical move set born to rival Rousey’s Judo background.

Yet, Asuka’s name was left suspiciously out of the digital hat of choices. Reduced to a write-in, rather than the feature attraction she should be and already is in NXT.

WWE.com’s Poll Choices… Where is Asuka?

The choices available on WWE.com’s poll: Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Stephanie McMahon, Bayley, Lana, Nia Jax, Naomi, Natalya, Alexis Bliss, Becky Lynch.

Now there are other exceptionally talented names not listed either like Mickie James, Carmella, Paige, Emma, Dana Brooke, the list goes on. No one can take away from any of these names on the poll or not, their journeys in the WWE, and competitive drive.

However, none of the choices on the poll or otherwise outside of Asuka own an undefeated streak that’s eclipsed Goldberg’s. Asuka’s undefeated streak is a marketing machine, a story that sells itself against the formerly undefeated UFC Champ Ronda Rousey. Just think of the promo potential!

The Future is Now for Asuka!

Everything about Asuka spells one of a kind. An unteachable IT factor and natural charisma that’s been the foundation of NXT for multiple years. An exclusive mesmerizing skillset in the ring. You know a first class match awaits anytime Asuka’s involved. AJ Styles-like in this regard, the AJ Styles of the women’s division.

The Queen of Strong Style has built that reputation brick by brick with strong performance after strong performance. Her vivid colorful attire reminiscent of wrestling legend The Ultimate Warrior. Asuka’s ready for prime time, the main event, a marquee matchup. She’s ready for Ronda Rousey. Asuka’s theme song is called The Future… Well, the future is now.

Ronda Rousey Matchup is a Career Changer

Think of a Ronda Rousey matchup as a literal career lottery for the women wrestlers on the roster. A Ronda Rousey encounter can catapult a career into the stratosphere! We’re talking something even five years of solid good booking cannot replicate. A trade-in of 5 years of hard work, travel, politics, lingering injuries for a single monumental feud. The potential is limitless.

We’re talking ESPN around the clock coverage, UFC/MMA fans tuning in, Ronda’s enormous fanbase watching. Just like Mike Tyson elevated Steve Austin and Shawn Michael’s rivalry to even greater levels… So too, can Ronda Rousey do for her debut match against one lucky opponent. You can’t buy this kind of publicity. McGregor/Mayweather is proof people love two universes clashing. It’s a timeless tale.

Tweet the WWE and tell them you want to see Asuka Vs Ronda Rousey today. Create History. The Mayor of Asuka City, the Empress of Tomorrow is ready.


Talking Smack was a Poor Man’s Stone Cold Podcast… And that’s not a bad thing

The Miz and Daniel Bryan – Photo Credit: Talking Smack via WWE Network

That’s a good thing! It was the last bastion of semi-reality on 100% kayfabe programming. A last window into reality in a universe sentenced to life in fakeness throughout the mainstream. Here wrestling fans could revel in their version of Talking Dead to say, ‘Hey, we’re the same deal guys’! We’re hip to the fact we’re watching a performance, a sports spectacle, and watching the cast members discuss it not-in-character. Just like their acting counterparts. Well mostly not-in-character, as close as you’ll ever get out of current WWE programming. It equalled acceptance.

The key here again, is not-in-character. The jig is up, the business has been exposed a million times over. There’s no putting back the top to this pandora’s box. Go on Youtube or Amazon and you’ll find endless wrestling shoots, many times more popular these days than the actual programming. People are listening to the shoots and podcasts. They’re reading the dirt sheets and following TMZ Sports and dabbling in spoilers. All instead of watching the actual programs on the network (outside of the monthly PPVs and even then).

The Current State of Wrestling Fans

Recently, when the Alberto El Patron/Paige incident occurred, I saw a user (FtheOpinionated73p) on wrestling news site LOP comment “why is alberto 100x more interesting off camera than on?”. Sure, meant as a joke but a telling quote of the current state of the wrestling industry. People want real, the thirst for reality isn’t going anywhere. A mirage like Talking Smack or Raw Talk was just a sip.

Now the audience wants the whole damn ocean. Drinking at the fountain won’t suffice any longer. If we can’t have reality then in its place something as close to it as possible. Or the older audience will continue leaving in droves to the UFC once the age arrives. The reason the Stone Cold Podcast was such must-see ‘network’ television was because it felt real, sincere, and fairly no-holds barred in its questioning.

Steve Austin didn’t beat around the bush, he asked the tough questions. During the Dean Ambrose interview (rumored to have put the kibosh on the whole program on the network), Ambrose commented he thought Brock was lazy in the ring.

There’s an eyebrow raiser from a co-worker, and not just The Rock’s. The whole Chyna in the Hall of Fame question to Triple H was another one. Even AJ Styles discussing having the ‘TNA stank on him’ before going to Japan in an exceptional interview was ground breaking.

Talking Smack’s Magnum Opus

When anyone ever mentions the pinnacle of Talking Smack it’s The Miz/Daniel Bryan segment. It was gritty, brutally honest and raw. It was show time, it was magic. What McGregor/Mayweather is now to the general public.

The Miz laid out the facts of Bryan whining about being stuck in the WWE, telling him to go wrestle in front of a handful of people in the indys again. Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan told him he’ll never be anything special as a wrestler because all he could do was talk. The type of stuff you’d expect to read in a dirt sheet or see in a shoot come to life.

A few years before there was a Talking Smack there was CM Punk, and you can travel all the way back to the Monday Night Wars. Scott Hall’s originally debut promo about dubya c dubya, Hogan’s heel turn speech at Bash of the Beach about being bored and the poor reaction when he came out. Shawn Michael’s Sunny Days comment, the Montreal screwjob… These are the things people remember and will continue to remember for a lifetime.

The Reality of Talking Smack

The reason some hardcore wrestling fans are now mourning Talking Smack is more because of what it represented than what it was. In truth, nothing ever topped The Miz / Daniel Bryan segment and it seemed the show as a whole was toned down more than just a bit after the feud. It’s likely the majority of fans really did just leave the network on after the pay per views for Talking Smack (or Raw Talk) the bulk of the time.

People as a whole tend to stay loyal to one great moment and forget the rest as it washes away from shore. One day it could happen again, greatness that is. It’s the reason many fans of anything will continue watching even once a favorite program, game, past time has long lost its luster. Even relationships are mostly built on the honey moon period, and not the wedding’s. The first few months.

Vince Has a Point Too…

A good portion of fans online have taken into this idea Vince McMahon, a self made millionaire and creator of the whole WWE, is stuck in the past. Well like it or not, Vince has a point about letting fans leap too much down the rabbit hole. One episode of Talking Smack that sticks in memory is when Alexis Bliss first won the Smackdown Women’s Championship title.

Her initial appearance on Talking Smack was expressively full of genuine joy and emotion on the journey as well as having her parents attend. It was a sincere beautiful moment that made Alexis look absolutely lovable as a person. Practically a babyface.

A babyface…. Probably the reverse of what the creative team wanted at the time since Alexis was and still is a full-blown heel. Sure, Alexis quickly went back into heel mode for the rest of the interview but all it takes is a moment. Fans have no doubt continued to enjoy Alexis’ current heel run. Yet, at the same time, one could say the truth of Alexis’ personality was revealed on that episode of Talking Smack.

Studying Old Footage

It’s likely why wrestlers always stayed in character in the old days and most recently, Matt Hardy during his original Broken Matt run. Being in-character even on Chris Jericho’s podcast. The reason why Lavar Ball plays up a certain persona in interviews, even when caught off guard picking up his luggage by TMZ.

People have a difficult time separating character from reality even if they know it’s a character inside. Actor Kiefer Sutherland, once commented he gets called Jack Bauer so often on the street he’s started to turn when he hears Jack.

To put it simply, people want to believe. Jim Cornette always says the business did the strongest when fans believed in kayfabe. Lance Storm once said ‘we broke all the rules in ECW and found out why there were rules’.

Talking Smack was a compromise. Although Stone Cold’s monthly Podcast was a much better one. If you’re gonna go non-kayfabe for a show might as well go all the way. The ESPN style pre-shows of pre-booked winners/losers on the network simply can not hold the suspension of disbelief for a viewer.

The Miz/Daniel Bryan segment was based around real world happenings. A worked shoot. WCW’s staple, Vince Russo was ahead of his time on this concept. How many have forgotten Scott Steiner’s semi-shoot on Rick Flair, WCW programming as a whole, and management running Steve Austin out? Not many a wrestling fan.

Talking Smack’s Future

It appears the compromise is non-kayfabe has its place only once a month after pay per views. However, it’s already too late, you can’t put this genie back in the bottle. If fans do not get shoot level programming on the network they’ll simply continue consuming it outside the WWE’s control. And on TMZ, there is no editing/spinning with a bias in the WWE’s favor after the fact.


Jeff Hardy’s ‘Obsolete’ Line is originally from his CD, Broken Universe not Guaranteed… Yet

Jeff Hardy and Matt Hardy – Photo Credit: WWE Raw on USA

Excitement is at a fever pitch that the Broken Universe is about to once again see the light of day. Unearthed from its TNA tomb, no longer shelved and left in purgatory of the sins of Impact past. A single ‘obsolete’ reference by Jeff Hardy on Monday’s edition of WWE Raw was all it took to let imaginations run wild.

What some might not realize however, is the line “I’ll fade away and classify myself as obsolete”, is originally part of the lyrics to track 9 of Jeff’s PEROXWHY?GEN CD release ‘Within the Cygnus Rift‘. Meaning, while the Broken Universe continues to be subtly teased, the line alone does not conclusively mean an agreement regarding the gimmick (if one is necessary from the Hardy’s side) is in place. Jeff is well in his rights either way to use a lyric from his own band and album.

The Origins of Jeff Hardy’s Obsolete Line

Jeff’s band release predates the Broken universe, seeing its release in July 27, 2015. The era of Broken Matt roughly started on the May 17, 2016 edition of Impact Wrestling, sans the bleached streak of hair and accent.

Are there indeed negotiations going on behind the scenes with Anthem/GFW regarding the gimmick? Do the Hardys fully own rights? It’s difficult to say for sure. Perhaps, the WWE wanted to slowly ease newer fans into the gimmick and start off with what WWE faithful remember. If Anthem/GFW at the negotiating table is what’s shelved the gimmick the last few months then we could still be a ways off. Especially with the current Jeff Jarrett twitter feud with Matt/Reby Either way, the question is as Jim Cornette once phrased the idea ‘where does Matt Hardy end and Broken Matt begin’?

“Wrestlers are not actors that play parts, they are who they are, and when they change the way they present themselves and it gets over they become that. You can’t separate a gimmick from a guy if it’s really successful. Somebody else could have been the Undertaker right? Yeah (sarcastically).”Jim Cornette

The Moment the Broken Universe Stood Still

We’ll see in the coming weeks, maybe months, if the Broken Hardys make a grand return in the WWE. As noteworthy as the ‘obsolete’ line was, there’s still no guarantees unfortunately the Broken Universe is making its televised return… Though it lives on digitally on Matt Hardy’s Twitter.


Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks are making Wrestling Cool Again

Everybody’s got a price but there’s no price on cool. Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks are not just the Elite, they’re the future… And the future is now.

The Elite is a runaway freight train showcasing visuals once thought to be confined to video game imaginations. The equivalent of a loop-de-loop thrill ride of high spots feeding your morning cereal sugar rush. Along with their counterpart in the WWE AJ Styles, the former leader of the Bullet Club, they are turning the wrestling world on its axis… Just when it needs it the most.

Between the UFC/MMA world taking the casual fighting fan market and wrestling itself losing steam after WCW’s demise, this sport needed a Monster energy drink or two. While the hardcore fanbase remains intact, the casual crowd left the nest when wrestling shirts weren’t a public staple anymore.

Cries of ‘it’s not real’ from MMA aficionados piercing youthful interest like a Wiki page on Santa. Dismay at ‘Rated PG’ from former college Attitude era channel surfers. All roaring away many potential pairs of eyes from the coveted 18-35 target market. Well the tide is turning, now the roar is coming from the other side, the lion in NJPW’s very logo.

Hot Topic didn’t strike a deal with New Japan Pro Wrestling’s Bullet Club for no reason. Sports Illustrated isn’t routinely interviewing Kenny Omega for kicks… ESPN and Bleacher Report aren’t covering NJPW’s G1 Special in USA because there’s little interest. Consider that New Japan Pro Wrestling’s two USA Long Beach shows sold out in two hours with additional tickets released selling in a mere two minutes. It’s a product people want, nay, demand.

Kayfabe might be lost in the sands of time but cool spots are Forever

Just look at the aerial height in the photo taken by Sam Fagan at last night’s NJPW G1 Special. Will there ever be a universe in which one doesn’t wanna see the full video clip of what happened there? Not likely.

Rob Van Dam once did an YouShoot interview where he mentioned he loves working with Jeff Hardy because “they both have a similar vision of what a cool match is”. What Kenny Omega and the Young Bucks are doing out there every night can only be described as transcendent offense innovation.

“Did you see what I just did?” – Young Bucks

Moves you daydreamed about back in high school as a wrestling fan. No longer scribbles and doodles but notebook pages ripped into conscious reality. Boxed in 2D Dimensions no more.

Kenny Omega is a once in a generation level talent

Omega delievered in spades yesterday, performing picture perfect gravity-defying acrobatic moves in his Finals match against Tomohiro Ishii. His style set wouldn’t be out of place for a professional Hollywood stunt man. What separates Omega from the rest in the ring is his blistering speed and reaction time.

Setting up the chance of a counter at every turn. Outside of an eventual attempted One Winged Angel (Omega’s Finisher), the next move you might see will be just as unpredictable as the last. Unpredictability naturally lends to great entertainment. Combine that with an unteachable IT factor and selling/facial expressions that tell the whole story and you’ve got a generational talent.

Omega’s Inspiring NJPW G1 Special Ending Promo

If Kenny Omega remains in New Japan Pro Wrestling long-term, we could be seeing a Sting/WCW like-renaissance enjoyed that puts the company as the undisputed alternative to the WWE. NJPW does not carry the baggage of TNA’s run as challenger, people want to love the company. It’s new, fresh, and exciting, the designs/music are top notch. People are proud to wear Bullet Club T-Shirts because they genuinely look great. Even in a non-wrestling fan setting. They are truly what the n.W.o shirt was before it.

NJPW have even brought the best wrestling commentator in the world Jim Ross to the announcing booth along with former UFC champion Josh Barnett. You’re locking down two markets with familiar names to reign you into an unfamiliar world. Good Ole’ JR brings comfortability to returning WWE fans curious about a six star Meltzer-rated wrestler in Omega.

Mainstream Exposure for New Japan Pro Wrestling

Standup comedian and actress of 90s mega-hit comedy sitcom Roseanne Barr is watching New Japan Pro wrestling, enjoying it, and promoting it free of charge on Twitter. You can’t buy that kind of publicity, Roseanne to date has 368K followers on Twitter and countless fans around the world. Needless to say, that audience is being exposed to a product they might never have heard of otherwise…

All through word of mouth. There’s no better gold standard for the quality of a product than one that needs no extravagant marketing budget. The people are arriving in droves because the product sells itself. Notice also the @JRsBBQ tag, familiarity. People remember JR from wrestling’s golden days, they associate him with a product worth watching.

The Young Bucks’ Hot Topic Deal… Is a big deal. For them and NJPW.

When there’s a whole line of your T-Shirts at Hot Topics across malls throughout the nation… You know you’re doing something right. The Elite and the Bullet Club established the foundations of a formidable brand. One that’s indie wrestling, yet trendy, underground yet mainstream. It’s a fascinating place to be, almost ECW level in its fame without the hardcore wrestling image scaring potential business relationships.

There is no telling what the next year or two will bring us in the wrestling world but one thing is for certain. The future is now. Fans are becoming accustomed to witnessing the finest pro wrestling in the world thanks to the likes of the Elite and AJ Styles in the WWE. The bar has been set high and will continue to progress and evolve. Every spot that breaks the imagination is a new fan born. A lifetime memory.

All the buildup in the world can’t replicate the instant awe at a Jeff Hardy Swanton, a Rob Van Dam rolling Thunder/Five-Star Frog Splash, AJ Styles’ Styles Clash, Kenny Omega’s One Winged Angel, the Young Bucks’ Superkicks. It’s just plain old cool.


10 Reasons to watch Kenny Omega Vs Kazuchika Okada 2 at NJPW Dominion

Kenny Omega Vs Kazuchika Okada 2 is hyped through the roof with good reason. Here are 10 reasons why you should watch NJPW DOMINION’s sequel.

1) The first match between Kenny Omega / Kazuchika Okada at Wrestle Kingdom 11 tore the house down. Renowned wrestling journalist Dave Meltzer gave the match 6 stars (never happened before). It was an absolute spectacle featuring jaw dropping spots and a feel of true athletic competition.

2) They say the sequel is always better than the first, and while a six-star match will be difficult to top. You can bet Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada will go all out in an effort to do so. Omega has cited IWGP Heavyweight championship as the crown jewel of titles in wrestling today.

3) Every podcast, wrestling forum, message board, Facebook group, website, dirt sheet you name it had something to say about Omega / Okada at Wrestle Kingdom afterwards. From Steve Austin to Jim Cornette, it got people talking. Even John Cena posted an Instagram photo of Omega following the match. Hinting at being 2 for 2 at predications that Omega would arrive at the WWE, like Cena’s photo of AJ Styles a bit prior to the WWE. You want to stay on top of the latest and greatest in Wrestling if you’re reading this.

4) The match put NJPW and Kenny Omega on a grander stage internationally. It’s no secret Kenny Omega’s appeal overseas has lead to NJPW’s ability to now tour in the USA at Long Beach, California. LA locals who have their curiosity peaked about NJPW’s upcoming G1 Special should check Omega/Okada 2 tonight out to see what’s in store. Tickets are sold out at Ticketmaster but still available over at Stubhub.

5) Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino on English commentary helped sell Omega/ Okada 1’s surreal air of realism, it was almost like watching a classical athletic competition. Boxing-like. Quite different than mainstream wrestling overseas promotional shilling. The closest thing recently in the WWE would have to be NXT’s commentary by Jim Ross/Nigel McGuinness during the UK Championship match. Needless to say you will not be left out in the cold on commentary today with NJPW commentary staple Kevin Kelly and Don ‘Cyrus’ Callis.

6) New Japan Pro Wrestling’s audience/fanbase is quite a contrast to wrestling fans in the US. You might catch fans genuinely crying tears of joy like when Okada defeated Omega back at Wrestle Kingdom 11. The fans in the US needs an Undertaker/Lesnar Wrestlemania loss to evoke such emotion these days after years of desensitization of wrestling as sports entertainment. The Japanese fanbase appear to treat the art of wrestling in earnest sincerity.

AJ Styles has spoken about the difference before, “Just because people weren’t making a lot of noise doesn’t mean they weren’t paying attention. The Japan crowds are very different from the UK and American crowds; they’re really paying attention, watching and loving professional wrestling for what it is. ” in an interview with The Tag Rope Magazine.

7) The Bullet Club merchandise is gradually going mainstream. No longer exclusive to the indy fan, soon you’ll find Kenny ‘The Cleaner’ Omega, Young Bucks, and Bullet Club t-shirts over at Hot Topic. Along with the Club in WWE, Ring of Honor presence, NJPW USA shows and general mystique (even Hulk Hogan has spoken about joining the Bullet Club)… NJPW might be the #2 wrestling organization in the world at this rate. You want to be apart of it all as it’s beginning, when it’s cool as they say.

8) Internet streaming like on NJPW World is opening wrestling to an untapped market. Potentially going around the previous obstacle of getting major TV networks to carry a program. Fans who might never have been able to experience NJPW easily now can. Kenny Omega has made it known he is loyal to New Japan Pro Wrestling and he could be the man that takes NJPW to unprecedented status internationally. Change the whole game so to speak.

The Elite faction with the Young Bucks is only gaining popularity day by day with the young generation of fans. There is always the chance too he might entertain an offer from the WWE eventually and join AJ Styles in the WWE’s upper echelon. Omega, however, loves Japan and its culture, becoming fully fluent in the language. As mentioned before, there’s just something about being a fan who was there from the beginning and saw a career’s pages turn chapter by chapter.

9) Kenny Omega recently interviewed with Sports Illustrated regarding this second match with Okada. He mentioned ‘wanting to create a very different experience in feeling, rather than copying a ‘5 star formula’ from the Tokyo Dome match’. Wrestling fans can only imagine what Omega has in store for what will likely be another classic.

10) Okada has been IWGP Heavyweight champion since June 19, 2016 (his 4th reign) at last year’s DOMINION. Thats a long time, almost a year. Can Kenny Omega finally capture the title from Okada? Remember this title has a storied lineage of champions including AJ Styles, Brock Lesnar, Vader and Shinsuke Nakamura to name a few. The stakes couldn’t be higher over at New Japan Pro Wrestling DOMINION.


Impact Wrestling’s Time Machine: TNA Originals to Make Impact Great

The secret to Making Impact Great was apparently TNA all along… Who would have thought? It’s Back to the Future on Impact Wrestling.

Impact Wrestling is progressing backwards in time with each passing episode. Parading fun nostalgia while simultaneously sending a notion that Impact needs to be made great and wasn’t before with its new hashtag.

The Broken Hardys are gone, Karen Jarrett’s at the helm, DCC is done/finito, ‘Cowboy’ James Storm face turn, “The Blueprint” Matt Morgan and Magnus are back, LAX is back, Konnan (who’s been amazing on the mic) you name it. Even this man is back:

Is Impact Turning its Nose on 2016?

Is the point to all of this just to bring old fans back into the fold or subliminally saying 2016 is best left not spoken of? DCC was getting tremendously over during the Broken Hardys feud and the whole rivalry ended a bit too quick. DCC’s leader James Storm was a made man in the industry about to embark to greater heights with a classically formed stable. The spotlight was shining just as much on Bram and Kingston.

You saw fans in the crowds wearing the masks, it could easily have been TNA’s answer to the Wyatt Family. The gimmick was fresh and cool. Think about how much character development and potential, straight up money was left on the table. Now don’t it wrong, Kingston’s promo on ‘Cowboy’ James Storm last Impact was tremendous, and drove a stake in you could feel with every word. Storm was in his element as always with the comebacks.

Long Term Gimmick Damage to the DCC

Long term damage was dealt though. It did unquestionably trash the whole gimmick, in a way that would be pretty hard to bring back. Even Kingston referencing ‘turning that hillbilly music off’, while having Bram come out to the same music later in the show (As a member of Matthew’s team). Direct burial. It’s a memorable, excellent theme song to go along with a catchy gimmick. It kind of cemented the end of DCC for good.

TNA’s New Hats

If you’ve been watching Impact you might have noticed the recognizable red caps only with the words ‘Make Impact Great Again’. Sure, good for parody laughs although way late. However, again this kind of branding is again driving home the idea that Impact as a product has been below average recently.

Even if the ones in charge of marketing or executives in the back secretly believe it hypothetically, they should not be commenting on it themselves. WWE has a storied history of promoting every event they run like gold, down year or not, good or average card.

Decay, Allie and Braxton Most Effected by Recent Releases

Decay needed The Broken Hardys tag-team feud and Jade’s Knockout feud to continue to reach monumental heights on Impact. Allie and Braxton comparatively needed Maria and Mike Bennett to stay to keep the momentum going.

Every Hero Needs A Villain

Allie and Braxton’s mega babyface reactions have lessened a bit because their chief rivals are gone without an explanation (at least one outside of internet wrestling dirt sheets). They’re trying blatantly to transfer all the heat over to Sienna and KM’s feud with Karen Jarrett without reference to Ms. Maria. Time will tell if this move proves successful.

Without numbers Laurel Van Ness has shifted to more of a side role, a mere distraction to Allie and Braxton instead of the ultimate thorn. They say ‘hell have no fury like a woman’s scorn’, that should be Van Ness. Acting crazier by the episode, lashing out at everyone. Out for revenge Carrie style.

Laurel Van Ness should be getting prime time mic time every episode, especially a week after the wedding incident.

Decay in Limbo

Is Decay still one of the hottest tickets on Impact Wrestling? Yes. However, losing the Broken Hardys and Jade meant their biggest rivals were gone.

Outside of Rosemary, Decay appear to be caught in a bit of limbo since the Impact reboot started. They should have gotten to keep the Tag belts when the Hardys left. Just keep them together, at this rate, it almost seems like Impact would consider letting Abyss leave Decay to go back to classic Abyss (‘Cowboy’ James Storm) like. Abyss was over then, now and will be in the future either way.

However, these kind of stables elevate all the talent into immense heights. Simply put, fans love stable groups, they’re entertaining to watch, a sports team like atmosphere in wrestling. 2016 needs to not be forgotten from an Impact perspective because it was a time of desperation.

Rather it allowed talents to try new and exciting things, venture out to new storylines and develop unique characters they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. In other words it created new stars, and made current ones even better. Just like Hogan reinvented himself as a heel in the n.W.o so too, should 2016 storylines continue.

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Most Dangerous Spot in Wrestling Today: Eddie Edwards/Davey Richards

Photo Credit: Pop TV – Impact Wrestling/Anthem

Yesterday’s Impact Wrestling saw a double stomp from the top rope by Eddie Edwards to the vulnerable Davey Richards’ head facing downwards on a chair.

First off, hats off to both Wolves Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards for a terrific match, top notch. They put their bodies on the line in a multitude of high risk spots. Yet, nothing was comparable to the double stomp from the top rope delivered by Eddie Edwards. Davey Richards being willing to do the double stomp spot to the head while looking down, his head on a folding chair, shows just how much of trust he has in Edwards. Just think of how many things can go wrong in this spot. Richards has unbelievable bravery and faith in Edwards to take the chance.

The Double Stomp to End All Double Stomps

If a wrestler as much as miscalculates his landing (meant for the chair not the head with Richards holding part of the chair in place) and actually lands on the person’s head or neck with full force… You’re looking at a potential serious career ending injury or in a worst case scenario maybe even paralysis or death. You might recall Jim Cornette talking about wrestlers practically destroying their bodies with risky spots for fairly regional/minor promotions. Now, Impact Wrestling is the number #2 or at worst #3 wrestling company (Ring of Honor) in the US, although NJPW might be taking some of their thunder when they arrive in California later this year. It’s not a minor stage necessarily.

They have a respectable fan base and national televised show on Pop TV, but at the same time, it’s not Wrestlemania. We have to acknowledge this. Is it worth it to do such an ultra dangerous spot for an episode of Impact? Edwards and Richards for sure thought so, and again they deserve praise for pulling it off perfectly and an excellent match.

Sure, wrestling is a high risk profession and the talents know this going in. Edwards is a professional and as you can see from this Twitter photo, hit the move on top of the chair perfectly while Richards held the chair still, shoulders pushed up. Giving the illusion Richards head was struck in the moment.

However, imagine a less professional, less agile wrestler than Edwards attempting this spot. It literally requires precision with barely any room for error. You might just end someone’s life if you’re just a bit off.

The WWE has banned the piledriver (sans Undertaker) following what happened to Austin years ago, and most recently the curb stomp preemptively. Now obviously things are different in the indies, in NJPW for example you’ll regularly see spinning piledrivers not even as the finishing move.

The Muscle Buster seems to have been phased out of Samoa Joe’s moveset and there’s no doubt the Tyson Kidd incident has something to do with it. Recently Seth Rollins has essentially gotten rid of the running power buckle bomb following what happened to Sting and later Finn Balor outside of the ring. Should every new high risk move be banned? Of course not, done especially by the right professional talent like an Undertaker or AJ Styles (Styles Clash) you’re likely to see a move delievered perfectly safe and thrill fans.

At the same time, a double stomp like this from a top rope to another wrestler in a massively vulnerable state with his head between a folding chair… At least to the eyes looks massively dangerous. Maybe it’s all simply Wrestling magic to the untrained eye of a fan and not a worker. Yet, part of you can’t help but cringe at what might have happened if everything didn’t go exactly according to plan.

Kudos to Edwards and Richard for delivering an amazing match, this article is by no means a criticism. Richards has serious guts for taking this move. This piece is meant as discussion and concern for the safety for the talents we watch on TV every week. It’s just recently that X Division favorite DJZ got injured following a 450 splash, fainted, and was rushed into surgery. We as fans wanna be able to see all of you perform for years to come.

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Ring of Honor: Supercard of Honor XI Preview – Hardys Vs Young Bucks

Photo Credit: Ring of Honor via Twitter

The Hardys face the Young Bucks tonight for the ROH World Tag Team Championship in what else? A Ladder Match! It goes down at Supercard of Honor XI!

The Hardys match tonight against the Bucks of Youth is sure to be a modern classic. The athletic super-kicking Young Bucks first saw the Hardys in action at Ring of Honor during Manhattan Mayhem VI, where the Hardys captured the titles. It was a surprise that set the wrestling world on fire with speculation regarding both the Hardys’ future and that of the Broken universe. Reminiscent of the Outsiders first entry into WCW for a new generation. Just listen to that genuine surprise and euphoric excitement from the crowd in the video below.

The Hardys Vs The Young Bucks: The First Match’s Best Moments

In a new interview with CBS Local (3/31/17), Jeff Hardy stated they’re not currently resigning with the WWE and ‘will stay with Ring of Honor at least through the summer’. That means there is no forecast guaranteed necessarily for the Hardys to drop the titles to the Young Bucks. No, ‘oh they must be dropping the titles because they’ll be at Wrestlemania’ kind of thing.

However, there’s been discussion between the WWE and Sinclair Broadcasting recently regarding ownership of Ring of Honor, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Hardys stay part of a WWE-owned Ring of Honor.

It could also be simple deflection to get Ring of Honor fans on board with tonight’s event and protect the structural integrity of a majestic WWE surprise return. After all, how many returns are not spoiled by the internet these days? In recent times, the Hardys stand out in their unadvertised entry into Ring of Honor.

The Bullet Club’s Young Bucks are getting much-sought after exposure through this feud with the Hardys. A hidden gem in the mainstream, many wrestling fans first became acquainted with the Young Bucks after the Dave Meltzer six-star rating to Kenny Omega’s match at Wrestle Kingdom 11. WWE, TNA Impact fans tuned in on NJPW World or caught NJPW on Youtube for the first time to see what the hype was about both the match and the event. Even Steven Austin discussed tuning into NJPW for the first time in a while just because of Meltzer’s six stars.

Steve Austin Comments on Watching Omega/Okada

Even if you just heard about the hype as a fan, and watched only Omega/Okada… You caught the Young Bucks outside of the ring. Which lead to curiosity about the fellow Bullet Club members. After all, ‘too sweet’ is being flashed all around in the WWE and Impact, with AJ Styles, Gallows and Anderson (the Club) and Cody. It’s a natural curiosity, the same way you’d watch Japan’s n.W.o members in the 90s WCW days. If there’s one thing for sure, the Young Bucks impress with their spots in the ring, gaining new fans without a hitch.

We’re sure to see more than a few high spots in tonight’s ladder match with the king of high spots Jeff Hardy on board. Matt Hardy will surely be delighted to continue their Expedition of Gold by retaining ROH’s tag titles at Hardy House.

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