Gargano v Ciampa – The Match of Wrestlemania Weekend

Apologies to Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles, but the Johnny Gargano – Tommaso Ciampa is the match that’s gonna steal the show Wrestlemania weekend. Don’t get me wrong, Nakamura – Styles should tear the house down if AJ is anywhere near 100%. It won’t, but that match should headline Wrestlemania instead of Roman Reigns – Brock Lesnar. Gargano and Ciampa have the opportunity to have the match of the year, anywhere.

How did we get to this point where these two best friends are now enemies? Ciampa and Gargano went through a war at NXT Takeover: Chicago in a loss to the Authors of Pain in May 2017. They practically killed themselves trying to get the titles back. That was the last straw for Ciampa. He turned on Gargano and #DIY were no more. We all saw it coming, but it was still a shock the way it went down.

Tommaso Ciampa went away for a while with a knee injury. In the meantime, Johnny Gargano went on to challenge for the NXT Title and had two awesome matches with Andrade “Cien” Almas. Their second match at NXT Takeover: Philadelphia in January 2018 was epic. The match had so many ups and downs. Just when you thought the match was over, it went on for another 20 minutes. After Gargano lost that match, Ciampa finally emerged and attacked Gargano again.

Fast forward and Johnny Gargano loses another match to Almas and is forced to leave NXT. Bye Johnny Wrestling, for now. With Gargano out of the NXT picture, Tommaso Ciampa re-emerged on TV to tell his side of the story. Gargano tried to get his hands on Ciampa outside the Performance Center and even at Ciampa’s home. Good build, NXT. Why can’t the writers on the two main shows do the same thing?

Now we have an unsanctioned match between the two at NXT Takeover: New Orleans. Johnny Gargano is a madman. All he wants is to make Tommaso Ciampa pay for what he did, and all Ciampa wants is to finish what he started. This promises to be a war. These guys know each other very well. I can see this being as good or better than Gargano – Almas in Philadelphia. Johnny Gargano sells as good as anyone in the biz. You want to root for the guy. He’s got heart. He’s not big, but there’s nothing he won’t do in the ring to win. He’s got a Daniel Bryan vibe, and you know how much people love him.

Tommaso Ciampa is talented as hell. He can do pretty much anything Gargano can do, but he’s more physical. These guys are going to beat the hell out of each other and we’re going along for the ride. I don’t imagine these guys will have anything left at the end of this. Get ready for a ton of false finishes. My prediction is that these guys put on the best WWE match of the year. Gargano has to win. He didn’t win the NXT Title, but the fans will be willing him to win this.

In the end, they’ll shake hands out of respect and the past will be the past. They’ll realize that they bring out the best in each other. I don’t think this means #DIY gets back together. Johnny Gargano has done all he can in NXT. It’s time for him to move up. Smackdown would be a good place for him. I can see some nice matches between him and Nakamura/AJ Styles/Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens. If there is another shakeup, maybe Gargano could wrestle Finn Balor/Seth Rollins. My fear is that Johnny Gargano will end up in 205 Live. I know it’s a better show now, but Johnny Wrestling deserves to be on one of the main shows. Ciampa should continue in NXT, and he can be in the mix for the new NXT North American Title.

Let’s not worry too much about what happens after the match. Let’s get ready to see one crazy, emotional match. This is gonna be so much fun. Fight Forever..clap…clap…clap…clap…clap.

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Japanese Invasion

Royal Rumble
1-28-2018

It was a history making night; at least that’s what they kept telling me throughout the Royal Rumble. I witnessed history! Ok, it felt more like I watched a pretty good Royal Rumble. The Men’s Rumble match was pretty awesome, the Women’s Rumble match was good (better than I thought it would be), and the other matched were average.

Let’s talk about the four non-Rumble matches to get them out of the way. Two of these matches had the potential to steal the show and the others should’ve been very good. Not so much! WWE found a way to squander the AJ Styles vs Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn WWE Title match and the Usos vs Gable & Benjamin Smackdown Tag Team Title match. The Bar vs Rollins & Jordan RAW Tag Team Title match was fine, just as I expected. I’ll talk about the three-way later.

The thought of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens beating AJ Styles and being co-champions sounds like a whole lot of fun. At minimum, if AJ Styles won, it should at least be a great match because of the three participants involved. AJ Styles won by pinning Kevin Owens in an ok match. The big thing here is that Kevin Owens wasn’t the legal man, so AJ pinning him shouldn’t have been allowed to stand. Too bad it did. I thought Daniel Bryan was gonna come out to make things right and restart the match. In doing so, this would allow KO and Sami to win. You know Shane would’ve lost it and his tensions with Daniel Bryan could’ve gone to another level. With Nakamura winning the Royal Rumble, I can see why they kept the belt on AJ, but that doesn’t make it right.

The Smackdown Tag Team Title match was a letdown. You had The Usos, arguably the best tag team around, against Chad Gable and Shelton Benjamin, who aren’t too shabby themselves. Chad Gable is so exciting to watch. He can have a great match with anyone, or anyone can have a great match with him. This was a three falls match. Somehow, for the first time in history, the same team won the first two falls. I didn’t even know that was possible. Usos retained, but this should’ve been so much better.

The RAW Tag Team Title match came on after the men’s Royal Rumble. Bad place to be. The crowd was coming down from the Rumble, so they weren’t too into this match. Jason Jordan sold an injury for most of the match which left Seth Rollins to fend for himself. The Bar wins and take back the title. Without The Shield and with Roman Reigns being groomed to kick out of Brock Lesnar’s F-5, Seth Rollins doesn’t have much to do. I think the Jason Jordan turn will end up in Rollins fighting Jordan at Wrestlemania. Poor Seth!

Brock Lesnar pinned Kane in a three-way with Braun Strowman. Strowman did much of the heavy lifting. This match was quite physical, and maybe it was by accident. Earlier in the match, Lesnar took a knee from Braun. A legit knee but it might have been Lesnar’s fault for not taking it right. He never turned his head. Later, Brock shoot punches Braun in the side of the head. Looked solid. What a jerk! I hope Brock loses the title soon, even to Roman. I’m tired of the Universal Champion being absent most of the time.

The men’s Royal Rumble was third on the card. I was surprised when they started hyping it up. I was sure the women would go first, but Stephanie had to have her night. I’m not going to run down the list of entrants and eliminations. What you need to know is that is was probably one of the best Rumbles in a while.

Rusev came out at #1 and the crowd lost their mind and kept up their love for him throughout his run in the Rumble. A chorus of boos rang out when he was finally eliminated. Baron Corbin was not in the match very long, and I wonder if this is the beginning of the end for him. Dolph Ziggler came in at #30 and nobody cared. Andrade Cien Almas and Adam Cole (bay bay), who shouldn’t have even been able to walk, were the NXT entrants and they both put on a show, especially Almas. The biggest surprise of the night was Rey Mysterio who came in at #27. Rey looked to be in the best shape of his life. No word on if it was a one-time only deal.

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The final four was Finn Balor, Nakamura, Reigns, and John Cena. For a second I thought WWE was actually stupid enough to have Roman Reigns win in Philly again. They might have burned the place down if Reigns had won. The right guy won and an AJ Styles – Shinsuke Nakamura match at Wrestlemania should tear the house down. It should be the main event, but WWE will give Roman Reigns his Wrestlemania moment instead.

The Women’s Royal Rumble closed out the show. While it was better than I expected, Stephanie McMahon on commentary was horrendous. She didn’t seem comfortable, and all she talked about was what a historic night it was for the women in the match and all women in general in the history of time.

Asuka won the whole thing which was exactly the right decision. To be honest, I thought Nikki Bella or Stephanie McMahon were going to win. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought that. There was sloppy action in the ring, but I think lots of people expected it. This match was full of nostalgia. Except for Asuka, the stars of yesteryear got the most pops. The crowd went nuts for Lita, Trish Stratus, Torrie Wilson, Kelly Kelly, and Vickie Guerrero. If they don’t bring back the older stars, how are they gonna have a 30-women Royal Rumble in the future?

The match came down to Nikkie Bella vs Asuka. Of course, Nikki took Asuka to the limit like no ever has in the WWE because she’s Nikki Bella. What a joke. Asuka wins and while she was basking in the glow of being the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble champion, Ronda Rousey comes out to make her WWE debut. Great job, WWE. Way to ruin the moment. Rousey comes out and stinks up the joint with her bad acting and inability to naturally point at the Wrestlemania sign. Reports are that she signed a full-time deal with WWE. We’ll see how it goes.

  • Match of the night: Men’s Royal Rumble
  • Pop of the night: Rey Mysterio
  • No reaction of the night: Tamina and her white jeans and white jean jacket

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The Tournament Begins

Mixed Match Challenge 1-16-18

The Mixed Match Challenge is something I’ve been excited about. WWE has done a great job with the videos and promotion for this tournament, but it makes me wonder why they can’t treat their other shows with the same enthusiasm. The concept of a Facebook only show is very interesting, and I don’t think this will be a one-time deal. Having shows on different platforms is the future. There’s no way this company is going to evolve by just sticking to one television channel and their own network. This tournament will be a good gauge of interest in their product outside of the traditional mediums.

The first matchup of the tournament was Finn Balor and Sasha Banks vs Shinsuke Nakamura and Natalya Neidhart. I was kinda bummed that Nakamura was paired with Natalya, but they won me over with the promo videos with Nakamura acting like a cat. The match itself was very enjoyable. There was some good action between Balor and Nakamura, and Nattie and Sasha. There was also some good comedy stuff in between. At one point, Sasha was about to dive to the outside to take out Nattie, but Nakamura caught her and put back on the ring apron. She then proceeded to jump over him and take out Nattie like originally planned. That’s exactly what this tournament should be, good action with a mix of comedy. In WWE, you usually get one or the other. They try not to mix them unless Heath Slater and Rhyno are in the ring, or it unintentionally happens when Braun Strowman is going on a rampage backstage.

The match goes back and forth until Sasha pinned Natalya with the Bank Statement. Crowd popped and everyone went home happy. Actually they didn’t go home yet because 205 Live took place immediately after the match. Nice way to start the tournament. I hope they can keep it up. Next week, Asuka and The Miz vs Carmella and Big E. Asuka and The Miz are my favorites to with the whole thing.

  • Match of the night: Duh!
  • Pop of the night: When Finn Balor Too Sweet’d Nakamura after a set of back and forth holds
  • No reaction of the night: None. Crowd was hot for this.

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