Full Sail University (Winter Park, Florida)
The main event of the May NXT special was lost in the all of the – very well deserved – talk about the women’s title match and number one contender match. At the end of the day, however, it might have been the best of the bunch from a pure quality-wrestling standpoint.
There is a slow build and then there is what might be referred to as a fast-paced slow build. It is a borderline oxymoron but an appropriate description in this case. Kidd and Neville run through quick back-and-forth exchanges, standoffs, and hold exchanges but in the big picture of modern wrestling it qualifies as a slow build. They didn’t get right into the body of the match. They used those quick exchanges to lay the foundation for the body that came minutes later. The opening minutes of the match might have been the best part of the bout since they expertly established the roles (Kidd as the de facto heel and veteran; Neville as the flashy, younger champion) while setting up the latter stages of the match.
The two wrestlers were able to produce a few upper echelon near falls that might have outdone those in the number one contender’s match. Neville hits all of his high flying and high impact moves in a really visually-pleasing manner but I am not sure if they are altogether spectacular enough that he will be able to survive on them alone. Kidd is criminally under utilized in the WWE. His high profile run on NXT and Total Divas could serve as a prelude to a role on the main roster and it really should. He is at the point in his career where he understands the finer workings of constructing a match but still young enough that he comes off as athletically impressive and relevant. Hopefully this will indeed lead to an expanded roe for him in WWE.
Out of the two NXT specials, this might standout as the best of the bunch but there are about a half-a-dozen choices that you cannot go wrong with.
Juniors | Worthwhile | Quality
New Japan Pro Wrestling
Korakuen Hall (Tokyo, Japan)
This match was part of the first leg of NJPW’s Road to The New Beginnings tour and only one on iPPV before the actual The New Beginnings shows next week. As such, it is less of a standalone PPV and more of hype-show for the big events. The goal it would seem then is to influence the viewer to purchase the big shows or at least (if their purchase is already guaranteed) to build excitement for the matches on the 2/9 and 2/11 cards.
To that end, this six-man was a rousing success to me personally. I had little interest in the Anderson/Gallows vs. Archer/Smith Jr. IWGP Heavyweight Tag Title match before watching this, but based on the work here I am now looking forward to it.
I thought DBS Jr. and Gallows looked the best amongst the six wrestlers, although everyone was fine. Archer plays fired up better than I would have expected. It also helped that the Korakuen crowd was into the match. They were on the Bullet Club’s case and firmly behind Suzuki and team, providing good heat to a solid match. Devitt and the other Bullet Club members stayed in the back with their match up next, which helped keep the match uncluttered by the usual Bullet Club interference and shenanigans. At 10 minutes long, it was also the perfect length and a good start to the second half of the show.
Trios | Worthwhile | Quality
Korakuen Hall (Toyko, Japan)
As expected, Rush and Nakamura produced a hard-hitting match that was possibly a step below their match from last June in Mexico. Stylistically, these two are a good fit so an enjoyable match every time they meet is a safe bet which is exactly what they delivered on this night.
The crowd did not seem totally into this for whatever reason. The crowd was into Nakamura and not so much Rush despite Rush being the tecnico so maybe that played a role in the rather muted reaction. On three occasions, Nakamura avoided the Rush driver. He eventually hit the Boma Ye knee strike to pick up the win in a somewhat flat fashion.
High Impact | Watchable | Quality
Bodymaker Coliseum (Osaka, Japan)
The first show of the tour features arguably New Japan’s top two stars opposite each other. The original Mistico got over big in Japan wrestling for NJPW several years back so nuevo Mistico carries some cache as well. He is scheduled to wrestle Mephisto for the Mexican National Light Heavyweight Championship in the headliner of the tour’s penultimate event, hence Mephisto’s inclusion here. El Desperado gets some rub as they continue his initial push and Escorpion is the rudo needed to even the two sides out.
I guess Desparado is not necessarily a heel, despite surely acting as such in his debut match on the 5th. Here he is in full on tecnico/baby face mode. I suppose that maybe he just as an issue with Ibushi.
The trios main event was the best match on the kickoff Fantasticamania show. Mistico hit everything cleanly. Tanahashi and Okada looked just fine working a slightly-more Lucha style. Mistico picked up the win and was put over big post-match – and during the entire event for that matter. Both CMLL and NJPW are clearly positioning him as the CMLL star of this tour. If I am Mephisto, I would start saying goodbye to my Mexican National Light Heavyweight title right now.
Trios | Watchable | Quality
Arena Naucalpan (Naucalpan de Juarez, Mexico)
Best 2 out of 3 falls
Going into 2014, there is little doubt that Mexico is the richest country in the world when it comes to pro wrestling talent. CMLL boasts arguably the deepest roster of any single promotion in the world and AAA has a solid core. However, one really gets a taste of the depth of Mexico’s wrestling talent when coming across a very good match – such as this one – from the third largest promotion in Mexico, IWRG.
The technicos are the newly turned and newly mask-less Alan Extreme, the high-flying Golden Magic, and the comical Veneno. All of the technicos carried IWRG championships into the match, with Magic holding the Intercontinental Welterweight Championship and the team of Alan Extreme & Veneno entering the year as Intercontinental Tag Team Champions.
The star of this match, however, is Canis Lupis over on the rudo side. Lupis destroys his opponents throughout the three fall match with a pair of brutal big boots in the 1st and 3rd falls, as well as a flurry of other stiff kicks and strikes throughout. Lupis would not at all look at out of place brawling with Negro Casas or Rush over in CMLL.
The match was a nice amalgamation of styles. The Panama-born Veneno brings some comedy. The stocky Alan Extreme hits a really nice tope and there are several dives right into the unprotected audience (as is the case on all IWRG shows, there are no guardrails or barriers separating the fans from the ringside area). As previously mentioned Lupis beats people up and some nice lucha submissions go for near falls. The third fall becomes a bit aimless towards the end, but it is a small complaint. This six-man serves as a nice example of the quality IWRG can sometimes present and the depth of wrestling talent in modern day Lucha.
Lucha Trios | Watchable | Quality