Sunday, June 19, 2016

Money in the Bank Predictions

Late card addition predictions: Golden Truth over Breezeango; Dudley Boyz over Lucha Dragons

Why is this happening again? Is their new thing for Dolph Ziggler to put him in feuds that get dragged out for too long? The same thing happened with Rusev. I fully think this match will be about as good as their last two PPV outings. Solid but very unspectacular. The whole point of this feud should be to get Baron Corbin over and he should go over in the rubber match. That being said, WWE will probably put Dolph over considering a lot of their booking this year. Still, I'm gonna go with Baron.

Winner: Baron Corbin

HE GOT A BALD HEAD! That's pretty much my character synopsis for Apollo Crews at this point. Sheamus was WWE Champion less than six months ago and is now relegated to Kickoff Show duty. Part of thinks this is where Crews gets his first big win but Sheamus is still a bit of a name. I predict he wins here to give Crews his first setback. Crews may come back and win the eventual rematch or he may fall back to Superstars and Main Event status.

Winner: Sheamus

God, the women's division is a big steaming pile of shit lately. Charlotte is good in the ring, but is one of the company's worst in the selling department and is quite possibly the absolute worst on the microphone. This entire Natalya stuff has been a total drag to get through. It all just feels like massive filler until something better and more important happens. I badly want that to be Sasha Banks saving us from this, but whatever it is, I'll take it. Give the faces the win here to drive some "drama" between Charlotte and Dana.

Winners: Becky Lynch and Natalya

Tough call here. This would be a good place for the WWE to have New Day drop the straps without really taking the pinfall. However, I think they retain here. The Club is a good choice but they don't really need the belts just yet. The Vaudevillains aren't a team I see winning the belts anytime soon. Enzo and Cass are the next big tag team, but having them win here seems to soon. New Day should retain and then drop the titles at the one year mark at SummerSlam to the Club. From there, have Enzo and Cass dethrone them.

Winners: The New Day

The other match on this card that feels like filler. Titus O'Neil is a good guy to have around, but his best use is part of a tag team. Instead of keeping the Prime Time Players together, they insist on splitting them for no real reason. Titus gets plugged as a big celebrity father and not much else. Rusev needs to plow over him because Tong Po continues to be one of the best things going in the WWE.

Winner: Rusev

These are usually hard to pick but this one is especially tough. Almost everyone has a shot. Yes, even Alberto Del Rio since the WWE loves to add up his accolades total. Jericho could get one final run since his current character has been very fun. Sami Zayn has the outside chance but I doubt it. Same goes for Cesaro since he's just seemingly going to be used for good matches only. It really comes down to Dean Ambrose and Kevin Owens. On the one hand, Ambrose perfectly fits into the current Shield Title picture. On the other, he doesn't seem to win often. I'm going with Owens. He's the perfect heel character to hold the briefcase and could make for great TV.

Winner: Kevin Owens

This is one time that the WWE has gotten the "dream match" tag right, though it hasn't been 15 years in the making. As long as this isn't an overbooked mess like the Reigns/Styles matches, this has MOTY potential. John Cena steps up in big matches like this (Punk, Bryan, Owens, etc.) and AJ Styles always delivers. I could see Cena winning his first PPV return but I have a hunch this goes the way of Rusev and Owens. Cena loses the first match before reeling off two or three in a row. I also could see this finally being the debut of Finn Balor, helping AJ win. Then, towards the end of the year, Balor turns on AJ to take over "The Club", setting up a feud between them. Or not. I don't know.

Winner: AJ Styles

They keep hyping this as the "greatest Money in the Bank" ever, though only the top three matches really feel like a big deal. I've been waiting for this singles match since Survivor Series last year and it should deliver. Reigns is great when he's being led by a superior worker and that's what he has here. I badly want Seth Rollins to win back the title and regain his rightful spot as the man. However, I'm not betting against Reigns until he starts to look human in matches. I pick Reigns to retain and solidify his spot as the top guy.

Winner: Roman Reigns

2016 Prediction Record: 26-14
2015 Prediction Record: 60-35

NJPW Dominion Review

NJPW Dominion
June 19th, 2016| Osaka Jo Hall in Osaka, Japan

It’s New Japan’s second biggest show of the year. Though the card isn’t as loaded as last year’s show, it should still be good. It’s everything you expect from NJPW on a big show. A clusterfuck Jr. Tag Title match, Okada in the main event and gaijins everywhere.

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi and Satoshi Kojima def. David Finlay, Jay White and Juice Robinson in 7:53
This was Jay White’s last match with NJPW before leaving for an excursion in ROH. It’s also great to see the New Japan dads on Father’s Day. White and Finlay impressed as always, while Tenkoji were their usual selves. We got more of the tiny rivalry between Nakanishi and Robinson. He always goes at Manabu with such force but it never works. Nakanishi even busted out a flying cross body off of the top. Following some fun back and forth, and a spirited effort from White, he tapped out to the Anaconda Vice. Everyone gave White a hand and stood atop the aisle to allow him to say goodbye, which he did in mostly Japanese. While it was technically a dark match, it aired and was a fun little match. Can’t complain and hope to see White do well in ROH. ***

Bad Luck Fale, Hangman Page and Yujiro Takahashi def. Captain New Japan, Togi Makabe and Yoshitatsu in 7:05
Oh man, it’s the Bullet Club B Team. Which is really bad since the A Team isn’t that good either. It’s honestly hard to care less about this match. Page had a rope with him and chocked Yoshitatsu. BECAUSE’S HANGMAN NOW. GET IT? CLEVER! There was a lot of brawling in this, including Makabe and Fale taking their brawling outside and into the crowd. In the end, the Captain hit a headbutt for two. He then ran into a kick and took Page’s Rite of Passage for the finish. After the match, Page hung CNJ over the top rope. GET IT? Anyway, this was inoffensive, but nothing you ever need to watch. 

Tomohiro Ishii and YOSHI-HASHI def. BUSHI and SANADA in 7:54
The war between Chaos and Los Ingobernables continues. BUSHI had some early fun but things got serious when the SANADA/YOSHI battle got going. They’ve had some serious altercations in recent weeks. These four guys went out and had a really solid hard hitting match. I thought it was cool to see BUSHI, a junior heavyweight, mix it up with Ishii as they brawled outside. He did a good job of holding his own. They teased YOSHI-HASHI making SANADA submit but BUSHI made the save. However Ishii came in and put him in a choke, leading to SANADA giving up. Hopefully, we get the SANADA/YOSHI singles match soon, where SANADA wins. Like most stuff between these stables, this was damn good stuff. ***¼

Hirooki Goto def. EVIL in 9:51
EVIL bested Goto at Wrestling Dontaku last month. They went right at each other from the bell and within minutes, EVIL brought chairs into play. This felt similar to their Wrestling Dontaku match as it was stiff and aggressive. It would have fit in with a NEVER Title match or something along those lines. We got a massive double lariat spot where Goto was turned inside out. The closing stretch was awesome and saw both guys counter and block each other, while throwing in heavy shots and headbutts in between. Goto nailed a big neckbreaker before putting EVIL away with the GTR. These two have pretty much mastered the ten minute match format. This was another good outing from them and we may even get another in the G1. ***½

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Tag Team Championship: The Young Bucks def. Matt Sydal and Ricochet (c), reDRagon and Roppongi Vice in 17:25
Stop me if you’ve heard this before. Yea, this is the exact match we got at Wrestle Kingdom and the exact four teams that the division has centered around for a while, expect now its elimination rules. Oh boy. Look, I loathe the booking of this division because there is potential to do more. With the right handling and the right juniors, this division could be awesome. Instead, it’s the same repeated cycle. These guys could go out and kill it but it’s nearly impossible to give a fuck about anything they do. One of the ways to get eliminated was via over the top means, so they teased that a bit. Roppongi Vice were first out by getting dumped over the top. The Bucks held on shortly before reDRagon was sent over. The pissed off reDRagon came back in and attacked the champions. The last two teams did stuff and the Bucks regained the straps with a Meltzer Driver. Yawn. I’m sure this will lead to Bucks/Ricochet and Sydal matches that Meltzer will ****1/2 all over. For me, this was about the same as their WK match. **¼

IWGP Jr. Heavyweight Championship: KUSHIDA (c) def. Will Ospreay in 14:41
These two had an incredible match at Invasion Attack back in April. Ospreay is fresh off of winning the Best of the Super Juniors Tournament. They had a feeling out process that was great. They tried gaining the advantage but played off their previous encounter and showed how well they knew each other. Knowing that it worked last time, KUSHIDA went after the arm of the challenger. Again, Ospreay was smart enough to avoid using the arm for some of his trademark offense. Each guy seemed to have an answer for everything. If Ospreay got his aerial stuff going, KUSHIDA would go back to the arm. Ospreay came close a few times but they were so ready for all of the other one’s offense. KUSHIDA dodged the Oscutter, Will got a foot up on the fastball punch and then, in a great moment, KUSHIDA countered the C4 into an armbar! After surviving that though, KUSHIDA caught the Oscutter into the Hoverboard Lock and made Ospreay submit. Easily out match of the night so far. Their first match saw them try to figure each other out but here, they were more ready for one another. KUSHIDA just happened to be better prepared and had his challenger scouted perfectly. While it never quite reached the level of their Invasion Attack outing, it told a different story and was a worthy sequel. Ospreay lost nothing in defeat and KUSHIDA continues to be one of the very best wrestlers on the planet. ****

IWGP Tag Team Championship: The Briscoes def. The Guerillas of Destiny (c) in 14:09
The Jr. Tag division has talent but horrible booking. The heavyweight division doesn’t have much talent. It’s G.O.D. and sometimes Makabe and Honma. That’s about it until SANADA and EVIL formed an actual team. Bringing in the Briscoes makes sense considering the partnership with ROH. I like Tama Tonga but their title reign has produced some mediocre at best matches. All this match needed was the Dudleys and the camo pants trifecta would be complete. Meng’s kids played fine heels, using the outside area to their advantage. Roa powerbombed Jay onto the apron. Watching Jay and Tama go toe to toe was pretty fun for a bit. The Briscoes won the belts for the first time via Doomsday Device. The final few minutes were pretty good but most of the stuff before it was pretty dull. I wonder if this means the Briscoes get into the G1 like previous tag champions. Nice to see ROH guys actually go over NJPW ones. **½

Their celebration was cut short by an attack from Hangman Page and Yujiro Takahashi. Hangman hung Mark and it looks like we have our next challengers. That honestly sounds atrocious. This tag team division is in shambles.

NEVER Openweight Championship: Katsuyori Shibata def. Yuji Nagata (c) w/ Manabu Nakanishi and Tencozy in 14:56
The pre-match video package was top notch. Shibata looked to take Nagata to the mat early and often. However, once we moved past that and got into the strikes, this kicked into the next gear. Nagata lit into Shibata with kicks but Shibata manned up and demanded he bring it harder. They just beat the shit out of each other. Nagata ended up in the sleeper hold and his eyes rolled back like they do when he has the armbar applied, which he then did shortly after. Both guys shoved away the referee at times to continue the fight. Shibata kicked out of the Backdrop Driver, so Nagata went to more strikes until he ended up in the sleeper again. Shibata held it for a long time before winning back his title with the Penalty Kick. An excellent match that told a great story, had all of the emotion from the performers and fans and the right guy went over. Just a tremendous effort from everyone. ****¼

Post-match, Shibata showed respect finally and bowed to Nagata, who responded by embracing him. The other New Japan Dads also congratulated Shibata and even the commentator was in tears. Just a fantastic moment.

IWGP Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Michael Elgin def. Kenny Omega (c) in 33:38
The video package to explain the ladder match was all kinds of amazing. Red Shoes went under the ring before the bell and found the Young Bucks so he ejected them. Omega attacked quickly and took control with a dive outside. He called for help, bringing Page and Takahashi to the screen again. Elgin fought them off and went after Omega’s leg a bit. When the Bullet Club tried to get involved again, Elgin greeted them with his own dive outside. They made sure to include plenty of spots involving the ladder itself. I’m not going to mention each of them here, but I do think that Tanahashi having to miss this match was good. It would have been a lot for his body to take. They tried a powerbomb off a ladder through two tables, but the tables didn’t break. Instead, Omega took an ugly bounce off of them. Just as Elgin got close, the Bucks showed up to spray him in the eyes. Sydal and Ricochet showed up to even the odds a bit. Elgin was cuffed or tied to the corner but broke free and knocked Omega off the ladder. He then climbed himself to win his first major singles title in Japan. The match was too long for my taste considering what they did. If you cut like, ten minutes off, this could have been great. A solid ladder match that was incredibly Americanized. Not quite as good as their first IC Title match. I did like the feeling of success as the good guy overcame the odds. ***½

IWGP Heavyweight Championship: Kazuchika Okada def. Tetsuya Naito (c) in 29:03
It was at this event a year ago that Okada dethroned AJ Styles for this title. No Gedo with Okada tonight as he’s here to do it on his own. There were Naito chants during his entrance, dude is insanely over. Okada wanted a one on one match and Naito surprisingly agreed, sending the rest of LIDJ to the back. At the end of their first exchange, Naito chose to lay down and pose rather than get to his feet, proving once again that he’s awesome. They fought on the aisle, where Naito delivered a gorgeous leaping dropkick. After wearing down Okada a bit, he seemed to want to try the aisle dropkick again. However, he took too much time spitting at the fans, allowing Okada to catch up and dropkick him instead. There were several close calls inside as Naito even nearly won via submission at one point. They were well prepared with counters to their big moves. The best was Okada reversing Destino into a Tombstone. However, Naito kicked out of the Rainmaker, which I believe I’ve only seen Tanahashi do. It worked as a fantastic near fall. Okada again countered Destino and followed with three more Rainmakers to regain the gold. While the match started slow, the back third was spectacular, making it your typical Okada main event. I also 1000% disagree with the title change here, even if Naito wins the G1. The only advantage to this is that Okada won’t be winning the G1 this year. One on one, they made it seem like Naito couldn’t beat Okada, which kind of makes sense since he’s the ace. Only Tanahashi has beaten him cleanly. ****

Overall: 8/10. Another really good show from New Japan from an in-ring standpoint. Only the second six man tag sucked. The Jay White opener was fun as were the Chaos/LIDJ matches early on. The two Tag Title matches were decent enough, but mostly lackluster. Everything else more than delivered. The IC Title match was as good as expected, KUSHIDA/Ospreay was only a disappointment because of the extremely high bar they set, the main event was great and Shibata/Nagata stole the show with an emotional, physical matchup.