Monday, February 1, 2016

Fave Five 1/25/16-1/31/16

1) Shinsuke Nakamura: Nobody made more headlines this week than Shinsuke Nakamura. First, news broke that Nakamura was officially joining NXT and the match that was announced for NXT TakeOver: Dallas sounds all kinds of amazing. Then, he had to have his final match in New Japan Pro Wrestling. The show was focused on him, with multiple guys giving him small tributes throughout the evening. In the main event, Nakamura teamed with his Chaos buddies Kazuchika Okada and Tomohiro Ishii to defeat Hiroshi Tanahashi, Katsuyori Shibata and Hirooki Goto in a great six man tag. Nakamura got an emotional sendoff and was carried out of Korakuen Hall on Okada's shoulders in a really cool moment.

                          2) Takashi Sugiura: Before a classic match against Minoru Suzuki last year, I had never seen any of Takahashi Sugiura. He just so happened to rack up the biggest win of the week, when he captured the GHC Heavyweight Championship from Naomichi Marufuji. For those that don't remember, Marufuji just won the belt from Suzuki-Gun leader Minoru Suzuki at the end of December. Sugiura, who had a classic with Suzuki earlier in the year, turned heel and joined the Suzuki-Gun stable. Sugiura was able to dethrone Marufuji and shift the balance back to Suzuki-Gun, who dominated throughout 2015. Things certainly look interesting for NOAH in 2016. Part of me is pretty sad about this. I selfishly would like to see Suzuki-Gun, mainly Minoru, work in the G1 Climax later this year. I don't know if that happens now since Suzuki-Gun is back atop the world of NOAH. One has to now wonder where this endgame leads to. I don't think Marufuji wins the belt again and I can't think of many other top faces in NOAH. Maybe Nakajima gets some shine?

3) King Cuerno: Of everything that happened in wrestling this week, my favorite was the return of Lucha Underground. LU was my pick for the best promotion in 2015. They always put on a fun show and it's so different from everything else. The season two premiere was absolutely fantastic and kicked off with a great match. Fenix, the holder of the Gift of the God's Championship, wad made to defend his belt by order of Catrina. His opponent was one of the guys I felt was a bit overlooked in season one, King Cuerno. After a really good, fast paced match, Cuerno put down Fenix to win the title. He now holds a title shot at the Lucha Underground Championship whenever he wants, but he does seem to have a deal with Catrina to not use his shot. It'll be interesting to see this play out.

4) AJ Styles: After making a splash by debuting at the Royal Rumble, AJ Styles had to keep up the momentum. It started on Raw, when AJ Styles was put in what many called a dream match. Styles' official Raw debut came against Chris Jericho. While the match they had wasn't great, it was certainly a really good showing from both man and Styles was able to win with a rollup. They teased some heel stuff from Jericho, making me think this might become a program. Then, AJ Styles made his Smackdown debut. At the Royal Rumble, he eliminated Curtis Axel, who was in the Rumble for over a year in his mind. Axel and the Social Outcasts tried to hand Styles his first loss, but AJ nailed the Styles Clash for the first time on WWE TV and defeated Axel. Hopefully the wins keep piling up for AJ and he gets to play a prominent role heading into WrestleMania.

5) Ivelisse: As noted in my write up for King Cuerno, Lucha Underground returning this week was so great. I was very close to picking Lucha Underground Champion Mil Muertes here but I went with Ivelisse in the end. First of all, Ivelisse faced her partners Angelico and Son of Havoc in a three way match. This was a fun showing that Ivelisse managed to win. I was very happy that my favorite team in LU got some shine on the first episode. It didn't end there though. Ivelisse now had a shot at the title against the monster that is Muertes. They built and booked this expertly. Ivelisse was obviously no match for Muertes, but they made sure we all bought into her hope spots. It was a great performance from everyone involved and Ivelisse came out looking great. Here's hoping she wins more gold this season.