After an all time great August in terms of consistently high match quality, this week’s matches are from PROGRESS, CWC, RAW, Kamikaze Pro and AAA make the list.
Brian Kendrick vs. Kota Ibushi
CWC Quarter Final
@drewortman: Our second and main event match of the evening saw WWE veteran, THE Brian Kendrick taking on the man a lot of people have picked to take home the tournament trophy, Kota Ibushi. A very story slight story driving match early as we have seen from Kendrick in previous rounds. He is working his heelish ways making Ibushi chase him around and blowing him a kiss to play mind games. Ibushi is having none of it delivering a big kick and hitting an early moon sault to the outside. Kendrick is selling his shoulder as he again tries to use more heel tactics to get the upper hand and an early win. It is a real back and forth battle as Kendrick looks to be trying to ground Ibushi, but Ibushi speed and powerful kicks keep him on the comeback. Some trading of shots and a near fall after Sliced Bread from Kendrick keep the crowd invested in the match and both men. Ibushi hits a big German Suplex with Kendrick on the other side of the ropes for a nearfall. After some amazing back and forth between the two, in the end, the heelish veteran didn’t have enough tricks to overcome the Japanese superstar. Kendrick goes for a choke, but Ibushi reverses into a series of kicks to the head followed by a Golden Star Power Bomb to pick up the victory. This was a great match that not only set the tone for the quarterfinals but also set the bar high.
The win for Kota Ibushi I think is something we all saw coming, but this tournament was a coming out party for the returning Brian Kendrick. Kendrick showed something with his three matches and should have a continuous spot in WWE after it all.****
Will Ospreay vs Shane Strickland
PROGRESS Chapter 35
@specficluchador: Former PROGRESS World Champion, Will Ospreay, returned to the Electric Ballroom following successive defeats to Mark Haskins at Chapter 33 and Zack Sabre Jr at Chapter 34. As Ospreay’s frustrations rose, he has exhibited an increased aggression that is seldom associated with him.
Immediately, Ospreay and Strickland both sought to gain an early advantage but could not due to their opponent’s speed. Strickland and Ospreay traded reversals at lightning fast pace until Ospreay landed a springboard handspring enziguri that sent Strickland reeling to the outside. Ospreay delivered a Sasuke Special before clutching his neck following a 450 splash. A concerned silence engulfed The Ballroom as Glen Joseph, who was on commentary, rushed to the ring to assist Ospreay. As Shane Strickland began to help Ospreay to his feet, Ospreay sprung to life, striking Strickland with a series of kicks before landing Jump Tuck Prey as vociferous boos rained down upon him. Strickland kicked out at 2.99 before scoring the victory with the JML driver.
There will be people that don’t like this match. For me, this was one of the best PROGRESS matches of the year: the flying was some of the best to ever grace The Ballroom. Outside of the exception aerial prowess, there was both the nuanced story of Ospreay’s losing streak and high drama arising from the blurring of fiction and reality with Ospreay’s injuries.
After the match, Ospreay apologised for feigning injury, citing his desire to gain his first victory at PROGRESS in 2016. Impassioned, Ospreay proceeded to give what wasn’t a goodbye speech but was a “pip pip cheerio for now” speech.
Ospreay won’t be at Brixton: he is scheduled to be on a tour in Japan. It is a shame Osperay, one of the cornerstones of PROGRESS, won’t be at Brixton. However, Ospreay has achieved all he can in PROGRESS: his future lays elsewhere.****1/2
Ryan Smile vs Pete Dunne
Kamikaze Pro: Run This Town
@hoohoowozza: Two big egos not being able to be in the same promotion: that is the story for this match. For me, this is a sad way to end a stay in a promotion as it is the fans who lose out. However, the fans lost nothing here, this match was simply outstanding. It was easy to see that these two wrestlers are simply a cut above and should be moving in higher directions as they produced a masterclass of a match. Right from the start Smile meant business as he super-kicked the ‘Bruiserweight’ three times yelling I’m not leaving! Dunne’s response was to deliver a clothesline that almost took the head off the shoulders of Smile! To say this match was intense would be an understatement, this was edge of your seat wrestling as Dunne and Smile knocked each other senseless. Smile would run and dive through the ropes onto Dunne, who stood ringside, and follow with a big flying somersault from the ring once again onto Dunne who lay on the outside. As they battled for supremacy in the ring, and their Kamikaze Pro lives, Dunne hit a pump handle DDT that got a near fall then proceeded to bite the fingers of his nemesis. This was a question of who wanted it more. Ryan Smile looked strong as he flew from the top turn buckle hitting Dunne with a big splash that saw Dunne kick out on one. That had the fans gasping! However, another two huge splashes from the ‘all day star’ saw him pin Dunne, thus ending his Kamikaze Pro career. A standing ovation for both wrestlers that even sends goosebumps down my spine as I write this. This was the most Intense match that I have ever seen live. Both Pete Dunne and Ryan Smile over performed and showed what class acts they really are. Smile, with tears in his eyes, praised his best mate Dunne and showed nothing but pure respect for him during his after match speech, before announcing that he himself will be the face of Kamikaze Pro.****
Seth Rollins vs Kevin Owens vs Big Cass vs Roman Reigns
Universal Championship Match RAW
@specficluchador: Fatal Four Way elimination match for the Universal Championship: Cass, Owens and Rollins were all heavily cheered whilst Roman Reigns was booed. Enzo Amore accompanied Cass, unleashing his customary lyrical diatribe before the match got underway. As all the participants were introduced, Cass received the biggest reaction by a long way.
-Owens immediately took a seat on the outside whilst Reigns, Rollins and Cass went at it.
-Cass dominated Rollins whilst Reigns dominated Owens. Reigns and Cass squared off, trading strikes before Cass delivered a vicious boot to send Reigns to the outside.
-As Cass, Rollins and Owens brawled on the outside, Reigns landed a huge dive to the outside which was greeted by cheers.
-Back in the ring, Owens proceeded to deliver a series of kicks to Cass’ legs in order negate Cass’ size advantage.
-Cass controlled the middle portion of the match with suplexes and power moves before Reigns landed a superman punch to halt his momentum. Rollins delivered a kick to Cass before Owens eliminated Cass following a splash. Cass was made to look real good here, particularly by Reigns’ selling of his offence, despite his early elimination.
-Reigns had the best of the triple threat, reversing a pop up powerbomb attempt into a superman punch. After Reigns speared Rollins on the outside, HHH made his return as he pedigreed Reigns. HHH rolled Reigns back into the ring to allow Rollins to score the pin.
-HHH rolled Owens back in the ring before delivering a pedigree to Seth Rollins. Perplexed, Owens scrambled over to pin Rollins to be crowned Universal Champion.
As HHH walked to the back, he stared at Stephanie before leaving alone.
This was a great match filled with high drama and intensity: each participant comes out of the match looking better for it. Everyone looked good but Roman Reigns was the glue that held this together and once again shattered the “Reigns cant wrestle narrative”. ****1/4
Johnny Mundo vs Pentagon Jr (c) (AAA Latin American Championship match)
@robbieradford: Johnny Mundo arrived to huge boos – partly due to his titantron movie featuring images of Donald Trump and his choice of theme music being ‘Born in the USA’ by Bruce Springsteen. As the crowd held their breath, the Latin American Champion then arrived to a thunderous reaction. An interesting note to detail is Taya, Mundo’s on screen lover in Lucha Underground, serves as Pentagon Jr’s valet in AAA, although it’s fairly important to state that AAA take absolutely no notice of Lucha Underground booking. The match wasted little time in getting into it, Mundo attacked the crowd favourite before he could finish saying ‘Cero Miedo.’
Mundo, arguably one of the most entertaining wrestlers on the planet, displayed his stellar heel work, heating up a muted crowd before Pentagon Jr threw caution to the wind and carried on the ‘every lucha match HAS to have a top rope spot’ trend. The fight remained on the outside as Mundo then reverted his impressive arsenal of high flying moves to ground the Latin American Champion. Although fairly passive at times, these two have very good chemistry and furthered that with some good chain grapples whilst both men constantly reversed moves. Plenty of nearfalls from both men was followed up with a huge nearfall following Pentagon’s fisherman driver. The exciting contest was followed up with Pentagon Jr having his Package Driver not counted following the referee being knocked down from a superkick from Pentagon.
A big, but predictable, swerve came when Taya turned on Pentagon Jr, delivering a vicious low blow before Mundo got the roll up victory just as the referee recovered from his daze. ***3/4