Super Duper Pro Wrestling Weekend:Death Before Dishonor XIV, TakeOver: Brooklyn II and Summer Slam 2016
This past weekend was jammed packed with pro wrestling, with ROH, NXT and WWE putting on their annual events. For the casual, strictly WWE fan, it may not have been much of a weekend beyond Sunday’s Summer Slam. For the fans of the art and sport of professional wrestling, where the indie scene reigns supreme, this weekend spoke volumes. There were debuts of indie stars and the crowning of two champions who got their start on the indie scene. It was a great pro wrestling weekend for some, but not all. Below are highlights from the three pay per views. CONTAINS SPOLIERS.
Ring of Honor
Death Before Dishonor XIV
Las Vegas, NV
19 AUG 2016
This was Ring of Honor’s (ROH) 14th installment of Death Before Dishonor (DBD) and they did it big — in Vegas! Despite some issues with audio, the event went off rather successfully. The event showcased many stars from New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW, whose weekly show can been found on AXS TV with Good Ole JR providing commentary) including IWGP Heavyweight Champion “The Rain Maker” Kazuchika Okada, IWGP Intercontinental Champion “Big Mike” Michael Elgin, and NEVER Open Champion Katsuyori Shibata.
This event showcased three things; the collaboration and integration of NJPW and ROH, the rise of new talent, and the relevance of the entire Bullet Club stable.
The ROH and NJPW deal isn’t just a talent swap, but rather a talent share. The organizations share both talent and the titles that they may hold, which are defended on either promotions events. This provides a level of importance to all matches where a champion is involved. The ROH TV title match, Bobby Fish v. Mark Briscoe set off a visual cue that it wasn’t champion v. challenger but rather ROH TV champion v. IWGP Heavyweight Tag Champion. A great match indeed.
The rise of new talent was exhibited in the four corner survival match for the #1 contender for the ROH TV title which featured Donovan Dijak, Jay White, Kamaitachi and Lio Rush. Both Dijak and Rush are ROH Top Prospect tourney winners (Dijack 2015, Rush 2016) and displayed exactly why. Dijak’s athleticism at his size is something to be marveled. Rush’s quickness and unique offense is reminiscent of a young Rey Mysterio. Jay White and Kamaitachi added to the mix, but did not necessarily stand out. Dijak, the victor, looked great. I do suspect that if Lio Rush, current CZW Wired Champion, continues doing what he is doing, ROH may slap a title on him and sign him to an exclusive contract.
Finally, the Bullet Club did make an impression at DBD, albeit, none of the Elite members (Young Bucks and Kenny Omega) were present. In six man tag team action, Bullet Club members Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga & Tanga Loa) and the “Tokyo Pimp” Yujiro Takahashi took on Chaos (Roppongi Vice and GHC Tag Champion Toro Yano) with Chaos escaping with a win. Not a great match, but did showcase the non-white Bullet Club members.
In the ROH World title match, new Bullet Club member Adam Cole took on “The Greatest First Generation Wrestler” Jay Lethal. After a great two weeks of buildup featuring Kyle O’Reilly catching a beat down and Jay Lethal having his cornrows shaved by Cole & the Young Bucks, this match did not disappoint! Fast paced at times, slow and methodical when need be. Adam Cole, after taking the Lethal Injection, somehow survived and becomes the two-time ROH World Champion. His victory, along with the Young Bucks being IWGP Junior Tag Team Champions adds to the Bullet Club stable of international gold.
Overall, a great PPV, worth the buy. Get it on the FiteTV app.
TakeOver Brooklyn II
20 AUG 2016
This was NXT’s second TakeOver event in Brooklyn and the promotion wanted you to remember it. It was complete with a vignette of NXT stars sharing “where they were during last year’s
TakeOver.” It was a little hokey, but that’s creative for ya!
Two things made this show a success; new wrestler debuts, and the championship matches.
Althena, former three-time Anarchy Championship Wrestling (ACW) American Joshi Champion, and Shimmer alumnus, debuted as Ember Moon. One can speculate that her admission to NXT is via Booker T advocacy (since she trained at his school) but watching her perform, one can see she is worthy of all the accolades. Ember Moon has a strong fan base that will expand with her signing to WWE/NXT. More importantly, with Bayley heading up to the main roster, Asuka needs QUALITY opponents and Ember Moon fits the bill.
Noted as a “TNA Original” Bobby Roode made his long awaited debut and it did not disappoint. From the “Glorious”, Jesus Christ Superstar-esque entrance to the finish, Roode had the crowd in the palm of his hand. Chants of “Glorious” rang through the arena feeding Roode as he took on, and defeated Cien Almas. On paper, the match seemed ludicrous, however, Almas displayed why he can be a top guy (as evidenced in Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) and NJPW) if given a legitimate opportunity. He made Roode earn the victory and the NXT audience was very entertained.
The first title match of the evening was for the NXT Tag titles, The Revival v. Ciampa and Gargano. It was a nice blend of The Revival’s smash-mouth style versus the finesse of “Johnny Wrestling” and Boston’s Own, Ciampa. It was highlighted multiple times by the broadcast team that the duo fought each other during the WWE Cruiserweight Classic tournament and that it may impact their cohesion. That’s was not the case. Great match with The Revival squeaking out a win.
The NXT Women’s Division is hemorrhaging with the sweep of stars heading up to the main event roster. Bayley took on undefeated champion Asuka and lost. Her loss was accompanied by chants of “Thank you Bayley”, who the fans know, is heading up to Raw or Smackdown. Hopefully Smackdown, since their pool isn’t as deep. I can see her launching whatever Women’s championship the brand will develop.
Finally, NXT Champion Samoa Joe took on the “King of Strong Style” Shinsuke Nakamura. For some, Nakamura is purely an amazing wrestler to watch, but not necessarily WORLD championship material, a high mid-carder at best. Those people are wrong. Considering that Nakamura is a former five-time IWGP Intercontinental Champion, fighting on the big stage is something that he is accustomed to. He and Joe brought the best out of each other for over 20 minutes, with Nakamura scoring the victory as the new NXT Champion. This may be a sign that Samoa Joe will get pulled up to the main event roster.
NXT TakeOver II was a great event. I dare say it can be argued that it stole the weekend. Get the WWE Network, just for this!
World Wrestling Entertainment
Summer Slam 2016
21 AUG 2016
The penultimate WWE Big Four event of 2016, Summer Slam was not without controversy. Whether it’s the Brock Lesnar fiasco with the UFC or Eva Marie’s Wellness violation days before, Summer Slam ran into some issues from the jump. Let’s get to the highlights!
The WWE Women’s Champion Sasha Banks took on Charlotte. The match was full of high risk maneuvers that rival many of the matches from their male counterparts. Sasha and Charlotte have been down this championship road multiple times before. They have fought both for the NXT and WWE Women’s titles. This wasn’t brand knew, but it wasn’t stale. It was the definition of wrestling to the point where the crowd chanted “This is Wrestling.” Charlotte showcased her skills as a competitor without the aid of Dana Brooke and regained the title. With the return of Nikki Bella, the division is pretty deep and the championship will continue to increase in worth.
Gallows and Anderson would face the New Day (Kingston and Woods) for the WWE Tag Team Championship. Retired Daily Show host and pro wrestling fan Jon Stewart served as the guest manager/Big E substitute, in the corner of the New Day.
The match was good, although Big E’s presence was clearly missed. The “Unicorn Stampede” did not have as much flare without the sound effects. Big E did emerge at the end when it appeared that Jon Stewart was in danger, causing the New Day to lose, via DQ. The highlight would be when the crowd, all 15K strong, chanted Big E’s entrance introduction with Jon Stewart.
The rematch between AJ Styles and John Cena is arguably the best match on the card. It can be substantiated by it being the longest match at 23 minutes. Much like the Sasha-Charlotte match, these two men have been here before and like the finish to the Women’s Championship match, the victor is the one who took a shortcut to victory in a previous matchup, but won “fairly” this go around. Interestingly enough, Cena took off his “Never Give Up” armband and left it in the ring at the conclusion of his defeat. I hope this leads to a shift in his character, like Jericho did; not the same character, but the same gimmick.
The last great match of the event was for the Inaugural WWE Universal Championship between the “Demon King” Finn Balor and Seth Rollins. [SIDE NOTE: I hope they drop the moniker for Balor, he doesn’t need it!] Outside of the hideous title [see below, you be the judge] the match was great! With both competitors being similar in size, it allowed for better spots and a lot of believable selling. Despite losing to Balor, Rollins put on a show that made him look great. The crowd seemed to understand that Balor’s victory isn’t a loss for Rollins, but rather a victory for the future of the Raw brand.
The controversial moments of the event are tied into the two final matches. The United States Championship match between Rusev and former three-time WWE Champion Roman Reigns was over before it started…literally. During a pre-match ringside scuffle, Rusev was injured. Although it was left vague (whether or not it was kayfabe), the spear from Reigns implied that it was and the fans were left without a match.
The Main Event, “The Beast” Brock Lesnar v. “The Viper” Randy Orton was a strongman power match up. The biggest highlight prior to the finish is Lesnar tossing Orton all over the announcer’s area, and Orton hitting an “OuttaNoWhere” RKO. Eventually the match would return to the ring where at some point, Lesnar would hit Orton in the forehead with an elbow, leading to blood gushing out. The match would be awarded to Lesnar as a TKO after a little more than 11 minutes of action. Needless to say, outside of Orton showing color (and needing 10 staples afterwards) the match and entire PPV ended on a low note.
Overall, this event is not worth purchasing. You can watch some highlights on YouTube and get the gist. I’m sure Raw and Smackdown will show you the still shots this week, and the footage next week.