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This week’s matches of the week come from NJPW, ROH, PROGRESS and WWE’s Clash of Champions.
NJPW Destruction in Kobe
Tetsuya Naito vs Michael Elgin (C)
IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Robbie Radford: Watch this match! The pair produced a stunning match during the 2016 G1 tournament, and this match was no different. The Canadian Boulder vs. the Leader of The Los Ingobernables was spectacular and while it felt a little overbooked due to the inevitable interference from the rest of Los Ingobernables, the whole match was fantastic.
The match was a powerful back and forth contest, the speed and wit of Tetsuya Naito squared off against the raw power of Michael Elgin, and it produced one of the best main events of the year. Similar to the G1 match, Naito targeted the knees of Elgin while the Intercontinental Champion targeted the back of Naito.
Red Shoes got knocked down, and Los Ingobernables took advantage, coming out in full force to decimate Elgin until KUSHIDA and Tanahashi came to the rescue, sort of. The pair took a beating as well as Elgin until the champion cleared the ring, only for Naito to hit a Destino which only managed a near fall.
Out of nowhere, Elgin summoned his inner raw power to nail Naito with two huge lariats to flatten Naito. However it could only do so much as the ever intelligent Naito reversed an Elgin Bomb into a Destino which caused the Kobe crowd to lose their damn minds. Naito then followed this up with another Destino to win the Intercontinental Championship, much to the delight of the Kobe crowd, and myself admittedly.
PROGRESS Chapter 36
Tommaso Ciampa vs Zack Sabre Jr
Elliott Troop: This was an excellent showcase of technical wrestling, striking and nuance. Although the pace was initially slow, perhaps even laboured, they built to a crescendo for the final fall. The first fall came after Sabre attempted the European Clutch before Ciampa rolled back, which resulted in a double pin to make the score 1-1. 2/3 falls matches are usually restrainingly formulaic, but the double pinall for the first fall is a seldom seen divergence from the norm. Once more, Zack Sabre Jr was sporadically booed as he delivered his signature offence. I think this was more a case of people wishing to see Ciampa win rather than an expression of dislike aimed and Sabre. Ciampa and Sabre traded near falls and reversals at a frenetic pace before Zack Sabre Jr gained the victory via verbal submission after applying an octopus stretch. From a pure wrestling perspective, this was the best match on the show.
Chants of “you deserve it” and “thank you Ciampa” reverberated around Brixton Academy to mark his final independent wrestling appearance before joining WWE full time. Ciampa’s appearances in WWE have made him a star: having been given the opportunity that he was never truly given in ROH, Ciampa has taken it with both hands and become one of the best wrestlers of 2016.
WWE Clash of Champions
Cesaro vs. Sheamus
Robbie Radford: The Swiss Superman cut a pretty good promo to hype up the final match before we got a list of the previous results which indicated that neither man was going to win the series in dominating fashion, considering it’s gone down to the final match to determine the victor.
In similar fashion to the previous bouts so far this evening, the match got off to an intense start. Both men took the fight to each other straight away, with Cesaro utilizing his impressive repertoire to temporarily gain the advantage, only for Sheamus to slow down the former United States Champion by targeting the injured back.
The Swiss Superman looked more like Clark Kent as he struggled to get into the bout for a long period until he Irish whipped the Celtic Warrior into the ring post which ignited the beginning of the uppercut train, which was followed up with a tornado DDT to only get a two count. Cesaro nailed a 619 and a crossbody to get the dominant upper hand in the bout, only for Sheamus to deliver an Irish Curse Backbreaker to slow things down to his pace once more.
Cesaro somehow summoned his remaining energy to pull off a Cesaro Swing and a Sharpshooter, which was followed up with an awful tope suicida. Cesaro literally landed on his head, which did more damage than good as a Brogue Kick grounded him. In what was an incredible turn of events, Cesaro reversed Sheamus’ fightback into a Neutralizer, only to get a two count, prompting “This is Awesome” chants from the Indiana crowd. Sheamus then hit a white noise outside the ring, only for Cesaro to clothesline Sheamus over the barrier. This resulted in a No-Contest as both men were injured, instantly losing credibility as the fans chanted “Bullshit” and jeered. Sheamus was helped/forced to the back with Cesaro goading Sheamus to come back and fight him. Bad finish to a spectacular match.
ROH All Star Extravaganza VIII
Dragon Lee vs. Kamaitachi
Drew Ortman: If you have ever seen one of the many matches between these, you know how great they are, and if not, you were in for a treat this evening. These two did not disappoint in the slightest with a fantastic match that had the crowd going nuts for two guys a lot of them have probably never seen. I know these two have probably had been matches a few times over, but as far as being in the United States at an ROH show goes, they hit a pretty high mark here. Any play by play of this one would never do it justice. This is one of those times where I put my stamp on it to watch this as soon as you have the chance. Great in ring action, stunt like flying in the ring, out of the ring and into the crowd. In the end, Lee picked up the win with a Phoenix Plex. Kamaitachi has been a regular of ROH lately, but I hope to see more Dragon Lee on the show in the future.
ROH All Star Extravaganza VIII
Ladder War for the ROH World Tag Team Championship
The Addiction (c) vs. The Young Bucks vs. The Motor City Machine Guns
Drew Ortman: We knew heading into this main event, tag team championship ladder war match that it was a sure bet to be madness. Well, it did not disappoint with bell to bell chaos that kept me fairly entertained while cringing at the same time. All three teams started brawling at the bell and with six men involved (eight at one point) the action never let up aside from everyone being laid out from the carnage. There were at least a dozen tables destroyed, multiple chairs involved and a few ladders that become twisted metal. By the end, multiple men were bleeding, the most being Christopher Daniel who was sporting the proverbial crimson mask. There were many times in this match where I found myself waiting for doctors rushing to ringside after a spot that had me grabbing the edge of the couch. The Motor City Machine Guns probably played the least significant role in the match spending much of their time recovering on the outside. The Young Bucks did what they do best making sure this wild main event was a spot fest deluxe with a superkick party worked in. While those two teams did their job, the real MVP’s of the match were the veterans, Frankie Kazarian and Christopher Daniels. These two not only took the most punishment but also were involved in the best spots in the match. Kamaitachi and Jay White were also involved briefly but were both taken out quickly. In the end, The Young Bucks hit a Meltzer Driver on Frankie Kazarian off the ladder and through a table to become the new ROH Tag Team Champions. I’m not sure where the tag division is heading from here, but this was one hell of a stop along the way.