This week’s matches of the week include NJPW, PROGRESS, WWE, Kamikaze Pro and Lucha Underground.
PROGRESS Chapter 38
Rampage Brown’s ATLAS Championship Open Challenge
In Manchester at Chapter 37, Rampage Brown’s ATLAS Championship got off to an inauspicious start following an at times lethargic match with Mikey Whiplash. Persisting with the Open Challenge gimmick, Chapter 38 witnessed the debut of former wXw Champion and 16 Carat Gold winner, Bad Bones. The German is severely underrated and, in his first PROGRESS match, he left quite the impression as chants of “please come back “reverberated around The Ballroom as he departed after losing. Rampage Brown and Bad Bones delivered the typical hoss match, but it had considerably more intensity than a lot of the previous matches in the ATLAS Division. This match contained customary big lad tropes such as rebounding off one another, excessive grunting, trading off power moves and generally just hitting each other tremendously hard. Rampage secured the victory following a piledriver to retain the ATLAS Championship.
WWE Hell in a Cell
Universal Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Seth Rollins
Immediately, Owens reached for a weapon straight away, and the fight spilled to the outside. Rollins hit a sling blade early on, shades of Hiroshi Tanahashi with that move. Rollins’ aggression dominated the champion for the early stages. As Owens went down inside the ring, Rollins propped up a ring on the outside. As soon as he returned inside the ring, Owens played possum before targeting the injured, taped back of Rollins, tearing the tape of Rollins’ back in the process as the fight once again spilled to the outside.
After more slow building action, Owens launched Rollins into the cell wall from inside the ring, really cool looking spot. Rollins took plenty of damage once Owens targeted the back, the contender looked noticeably weaker and slower. As Rollins laid motionless in the ring, Owens positioned another table above the other table at a different angle. Owens blinded the referee with a fire extinguisher, leaving the cell door open, which Jericho took advantage off and raced down to the ring, locking himself in the cell with Owens and Rollins.
Finding himself in somewhat of a handicap match, Rollins delivered a sweet pedigree to Jericho before launching Owens through the two tables after nearly botching the powerbomb. Rollins then took advantage by delivering a frog splash to Owens, only for Jericho to drag the referee out of the ring. Owens turned the tables after Rollins focused his attack on Jericho, hitting Rollins with a pop-up powerbomb only for Rollins to kick out at two.
Owens slammed Rollins with a steel chair countless times while Jericho looked on, bringing his own chair into the mix. Rollins fought back, only to be spiked on a steel chair with a DDT. Owens, after Jericho set up two chairs facing each other, slammed Rollins through both with a powerbomb to pick up a great victory. Fantastic match, really enjoyable.
NJPW Power Struggle
SANADA vs Hiroshi Tanahashi
As ever, the crowd were very hot for Tanahashi, the Ace of New Japan has had a string of good matches against SANADA, this was no different. Tanahashi really frustrated SANADA in the opening stages, causing SANADA to resort to those dastardly heel tactics. Tanahashi lowered the middle ring rope for SANADA to get in, only for the Los Ingobernables man to rope assisted front flip over the top rope, as cool as you like. The pair took the battle to the ramp, where SANADA delivered a hurricanrana whilst the announcers told the story of both of these competitors being Muto proteges, causing SANADA to one-up Tanahashi.
Both men hit each other with some clubbing blows as the battle waged on. After delivering a Sling Blade on the ring apron, Tanahashi then hit SANADA with a top rope crossbody to the outside. After more back and forth action, SANADA locked in the dragon sleeper, whilst the crowd willed him on to submit, he somehow worked his way out of the hold but missed with the High Fly Flow. SANADA injured his left knee landing a top rope move, which Tanahashi greatly exploited with various moves before SANADA reversed another High Fly Flow by bringing up the knees, damaging himself in the process. After reversing five Dragon Sleeper attempts, Tanahashi hit two High Fly Flows for an epic victory. Really great match.
Kamikaze Pro: Bank on it Four
TNA World Championship Match
Eddie Edwards (C) vs Dan Moloney
As the Relentless Division Champion Dan Moloney is rising to the top of the Kamikaze Pro ranks and seems to be getting a good rub of recent as he faces the biggest US stars on a regular basis. No surprise to me, Moloney is a tough guy who uses a more stronger style of wrestling and uses his body to full effect and that includes using his body to absorb any punishment that an opponent decides to inflict on him. Originally set to face the very popular EC3, Moloney stepped up as he was set face the replacement for EC3 in TNA World champion Eddie Edwards, who himself as had a charachter defining year. As a member of the Wolves tag team alongside Davy Richards, Edwards has set the stool for tag teams around the world. However, with Davy Richards getting injured in January, which I actually witnessed during TNA’s three date tour of England. Edwards was forced to fly solo for the remainder of 2016, and it is to his credit that he has taken this opportunity and after winning the X Division title continued to impress and won the biggest championship in TNA and would become a world champion, which makes you wonder how things may have turned out if Richards had not been injured, fate maybe? Moloney does not shake hands, even when the TNA world champion offers his hand. Instead Moloney grabbed the TNA belt and lunged at Edwards who ducked his advances and slapped the skin off Moloney’s chest who took to running from the ring and hung around ringside hesitating his return still feeling the effects of the slap. This match was a hard hitting match as Edwards changed his wrestling strategy to meet the strong offence of his opponent as they both slapped the hell out of each other throughout the match, whether standing, sitting on a chair, ringside both men hit each other so hard that their hands may still be numb now. I lost count of all the slaps this match produced, but all of them could be heard all around the room as this match had no shortage of aggression. Edwards did work the arm of Moloney for a time before Moloney turned to his heel ways raking the eyes of Edwards and Edwards would kiss a ring post when ringside. Edwards took a lot of punishment as Moloney got in a lot of offence which saw Edwards taking some very strong Irish whips into the turn pad that Moloney followed up with more slaps that had Edwards showing resilience and inviting Moloney to give more as Edwards turned this match around before falling victim to an off the top rope belly to belly after preventing Moloney from hitting a super plex which saw Moloney showing his own resilience. Edwards hitting a German would enable him to beat Moloney using his legs as Edwards retained the TNA world title in the match of the night, and this only adds to the credibility for both men.
Dr. Wagner Jr (with Famous B) vs Son of Havoc (with Mascarita Sagrada)
Famous B interrupted Melissa Santos, the usual ring announcer, and began berating the crowd, insisting they were all destined for mediocrity. Despite the fact he’s working on the heel team, the crowd still love Wagner, then again, who doesn’t?
As per Melissa, Dario Cueto ordered that the winner of this match was allowed to pick the stipulation for the grudge match between Famous B and Mascarita Sagrada next week.
The match got off to a flying start with an epic plancha from Son of Havoc who kept the intensity high throughout this match with his impressive lucha libre ability, igniting the Boyle Heights believers who were going crazy for their number one. As the match worked its way back inside the ring, Dr. Wagner turned the match on it’s head, Stylistically. Wagner began to utilise his powerful moves instead of trying to evade the high-flying moves. As the pair engaged in a chop battle, the match turned once again into a dominating showcase from Son of Havoc, whose speed and agility outmatched anything Wagner could produce. This proved to be vital for Havoc, as he picked up the victory following a shooting star press. This meant that Son of Havoc can pick the stipulation, in which he picked a ‘believers backlash’ match. Son of Havoc also added that the believers can bring the weapons, as anything goes. Believers Backlash means that fans surround the ring as lumberjacks equipped with leather straps.