Sunday, September 3, 2023

WWE Payback 2023

The WWE emanated from the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA this evening as they presented Payback. Tonight’s card featured six matches with four titles contested and was headlined by Seth Rollins defending the World Heavyweight Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura. The World Heavyweight Championship was of course brought back earlier this summer because Roman Reigns is essentially a part-timer, despite holding the Undisputed Universal Heavyweight Championship, and WWE needs to have a major title to defend on each Premium Live Event. In addition to the headlining title bout, the show also boasted a grudge match between Trish Stratus and Becky Lynch inside an unforgiving steel cage.

Steel Cage Match
Trish Stratus vs. Becky Lynch
Winner: Becky Lynch via pinfall

Tonight’s card opened with a rare women’s steel cage match pitting “The Man” Becky Lynch against Hall of Famer, Trish Stratus, who made a rather surprising full-time return earlier this year. Initially aligned with each other, Trish became tired of the “sidekick” role and turned her back on Lynch igniting a bitter rivalry between the two. Following an encounter that left Trish Stratus covered in welts and bruises, Zoey Stark decided to become involved in the match. Stark attempted to hold The Man at bay as Trish scaled the cage. Lynch delivered a Manhandle Slam to Stark and then ascended the cage to intercept Trish. Lynch then pulled Trish back down the side of the cage and delivered a Manhandle Slam from the top turnbuckle to solidify the victory. 

The Miz vs. LA Knight 
w/ Special Guest Referee John Cena
Winner: LA Knight

Prior to this match, John Cena made his way to the ring as the host of Payback and decided to announce that he was naming himself the special guest referee for the next match. In the closing moments of the match, The Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale, however, it wasn’t enough to secure the pinfall. Moments later, LA Knight was able to rebound and hit the elbow drop before the Blunt Force Trauma to put away The Miz.

United States Championship
Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Austin Theory
Winner: Rey Mysterio via pinfall

Theory was recently set to defend his title against Santos Escobar until he unleashed a vicious attack on his knee and took him out of the bout. Fellow LWO member Rey Mysterio then stepped in and was able to bring the title home. Tonight, Theory attempted to regain his title as he again squared off with the Hall of Famer, Rey Mysterio. In a rather abrupt match, Mysterio found himself up on the shoulders of Theory in a rather precarious position but turned it to his favor as he rolled up Austin for the pinfall victory.

Undisputed Tag Team Championship Pittsburgh Steel City Street Fight
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn (c) vs. Finn Balor & Damian Priest
Winners: Finn Balor & Damian Priest via pinfall

Sami Zayn and his tag team partner Kevin Owens, who made his recent return from injury, defended their titles against the Judgement Day’s Finn Balor and Mr. Money In The Bank, Damian Priest, in a no holds barred Pittsburgh Steel City Street Fight where victory could only be attained by pinfall or submission. It appeared that Zayn and Owens were poised to defend their titles late in the match as Balor was the recipient of a Helluva Kick from Sami. As Balor was covered for a pinfall attempt, Dominik Mysterio stormed the ring with Priest’s Money In The Bank briefcase and cracked Zayn over the back. Mysterio then rolled Balor on top of Zayn to secure the pinfall and crown new tag team champions.

Following this match, there was another filler segment on the show as there was an installment of The Grayson Waller Effect with guest Cody Rhodes. Instead of Rhodes making any substantial announcement regarding himself, he introduced “Main Event” Jey Uso as the newest member of the Monday Night RAW roster. Uso came out, received a few insults from Waller, and reciprocated with a Superkick to the face.

RAW Women’s Championship
Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Raquel Rodriguez
Winner: Rhea Ripley via pinfall

Rhea Ripley had her most physically imposing opponent to date in Raquel Rodriguez set to go toe to toe with her this evening with her coveted championship gold on the line. This match came to it’s merciful conclusion following interference once again by Dominik Mysterio which opened the door for Ripley to execute the Riptide and retain her title.

World Heavyweight Championship
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Winner: Seth Rollins via pinfall

Nakamura has had the World Heavyweight Champion in his crosshairs for the past month, following a shocking surprise attack on him on Monday Night RAW, which culminated in their title bout this evening. Shinsuke Nakamura controlled the tempo for a vast majority of this match as he continued to target Rollins’ back. Late in the match, Rollins surprised Shinsuke with a Pedigree and quickly followed up with The Stomp to retain his title.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

WWE Summerslam 2023

By Steve Ward

WWE finally returned to the United States this evening following back-to-back Premium Live Events (aka pay per views) in Saudi Arabia and England as Summerslam emanated from a sold-out Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Tonight’s card was scheduled for eight bouts with four titles contested. As the show opened, Michael Cole proclaimed that there would be FOUR main events…really? In my opinion, stating four matches are main events is not only contradictory, but also, diminishes the luster of the final bout of the night. Nonetheless, the final match of the evening pit Roman Reigns against his cousin Jey Uso in a familial civil war with the Undisputed Universal Championship on the line.

Logan Paul vs. Ricochet

Winner: Logan Paul via pinfall

The evening kicked off with the polarizing Logan Paul, who made his way to the ring welcomed by an overwhelming chorus of hatred, to take on the high-flying Ricochet. In the closing moments of the contest, Ricochet seemed poised to claim victory as he ascended to the top rope to attempt the 630. Paul rolled out of harm’s way and as the referee checked on him, a member of Paul’s entourage slipped him a pair of brass knuckles which he used to drop Ricochet to solidify the victory.

Brock Lesnar vs. Cody Rhodes 

Winner: Cody Rhodes via pinfall

Following Brock’s betrayal of Cody on RAW the night after Wrestlemania, the two have engaged in a bitter rivalry that has seen each man claim one victory a piece in each of their two previous meetings with the deciding match this evening. Brock Lesnar dominated the vast majority of this bout as he delivered everything in his arsenal only to have Rhodes continue to ask for more. Late in the match, Lesnar met the dreaded exposed turnbuckle with his head which opened the door for Cody to cinch in Brock’s own patented Kimura Lock on him. Brock managed to escape and attempt the F5 again only to have Cody slip out. Rhodes proceeded to deliver three consecutive Cross Rhodes to slay The Beast.

Summerslam Battle Royal

Winner: LA Knight

In an effort to pack more talent onto the card, an over-the-top battle royal was added to the card with nothing other than bragging rights at stake. The final four men in the bout were AJ Styles, Bronson Reed, LA Knight, and Sheamus. The first to go was Bronson Reed at the hands of LA Knight. Styles was eliminated next by Sheamus thanks to an assist by Karrion Kross. As Styles stood on the ring apron, likely setting himself up to deliver a Phenomenal Forearm, Kross grasped Styles’ leg allowing Sheamus to take advantage and kick him in the face. LA Knight then clotheslined Sheamus over the top rope to reign victorious.

MMA Rules Match

Ronda Rousey vs. Shayna Baszler

Winner: Shayna Baszler via submission

Following Baszler’s betrayal of Rousey during their tag team title bout at Money In The Bank, which cost them their titles, things have gotten ugly between the two former sparring partners. With a long-standing friendship dating back to their UFC days, the two have quickly become bitter rivals as Baszler has felt like she’s been trapped in Rousey’s shadow which has brought us to tonight’s match. Following a rather uneventful match, Baszler cinched in the Kirifuda Clutch to earn the submission victory.

WWE Intercontinental Title Match

Gunther (c) vs. Drew McIntyre

Winner: Gunther via pinfall

Since Gunther overcame McIntyre and Sheamus at Wrestlemania to retain his championship, he has continued his torrid streak as the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion of the 21st Century. Recently, McIntyre made his return to WWE television for the first time since Wrestlemania and immediately confronted The Ring General. That lead us to tonight’s hard-hitting encounter between the two as Gunther entered the night only 32 days from matching the Honky Tonk Man’s legendary reign as Intercontinental Champ. McIntyre gave Gunther a run for his money as he was perched on the top rope and appeared to be in dire straits as The Scottish Warrior seemed poised to deliver a superplex until he was propelled by Gunther onto the top rope in a quite precarious landing position. Gunther then capitalized and delivered the power bomb to solidify his title defense.

World Heavyweight Championship

Seth Rollins (c) vs. Finn Balor

Winner: Seth Rollins via pinfall

Their ongoing rivalry continued this evening as Balor received another title shot against Rollins after he was arguably cost a victory at Money In The Bank thanks to the distraction of his fellow Judgement Day stablemate, Damian Priest. Just as Rollins was building momentum late in the match, Priest made his way to ringside with Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley soon to follow. The distraction was enough to give Balor a temporary edge as he was able to land the Coup de Grace but could not capitalize. Priest then slid the Money In The Bank briefcase in the ring and proceeded to distract the referee. As Balor crawled over to retrieve it, Rollins stopped him with the stomp as he drove Balor’s face into the briefcase allowing him to secure the pinfall.

WWE Women’s Championship

Asuka (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Bianca Belair

Winner: Bianca Belair via pinfall

Asuka looked to continue her title reign following her victory over Bianca Belair at Night of Champions as she engaged in a triple threat affair with Belair and Charlotte Flair who made her recent return. In the closing moments of the match, Flair had the Figure 8 cinched in on Belair. Asuka then sprayed the mist in the face of Flair and attempted to kick Belair in the head. Belair ducked and rolled up Asuka to become the new champion - for a few minutes.

WWE Women’s Championship

Bianca Belair (c) vs. Iyo Sky

Winner: Iyo Sky via pinfall

Just moments after Belair won the Women’s Championship, Miss Money In The Bank, Iyo Sky’s music echoed throughout Ford Field as she made her way to the ring with Bayley. Sky cashed in her briefcase and immediately hit a moonsault on Belair to become the new WWE Women’s Champion.

WWE Undisputed Universal Championship Tribal Combat Match

Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman vs. Jey Uso

Winner: Roman Reigns via pinfall

Following Jimmy and Jey Uso’s election to turn on Roman Reigns, they have become embroiled in a bitter Bloodline civil war which led us to tonight’s Tribal Combat. Essentially this no holds barred match was not only for the Undisputed Universal Championship, but also to determine who would sit at the head of the table as the tribal chief. As Jey Uso seemed poised to pull off the unthinkable late in the match, Solo Sikoa emerged to turn the tides. Jey was able to remove Sikoa from the equation with a splash through the announce table and again turned his attention to Roman. After delivering an Uso Splash to Roman, Jey was pulled from the ring by his brother Jimmy who emerged from the crowd. Roman then capitalized and drove Jimmy through another table propped up in a corner of the ring with a devastating spear to retain his title.

Monday, July 3, 2023

Inside the Ringside with Frank Bartolini - Hulu Theater at MSG

By Frank Bartolini

Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York City:  Matchroom Boxing delivered another superb night of boxing to New York. On top of the card, popular super middleweight contender Edgar Berlanga, Brooklyn, NY, faced Jason Quigley, Ireland. Berlanga garnered an undefeated record as part of Top Rank’s stable. Earlier this year, Top Rank and Berlanga parted ways. Both Golden Boy and PBC showed interest in signing Berlanga, but he chose Eddie Hearn. 

Irishman Jason Quigley, 167.5 lbs., was brought in as the opponent to showcase Berlanga's,167.75 lbs., skills. A big draw in the Big Apple, Berlanga had a house full of cheering fans. 

Anxious to end a four-bout drought without scoring a knockout, Berlanga went straight to work from the opening bell. In round three, Quigley hit the deck after absorbing a Berlanga right to the side of the head. During the fifth stanza, Berlanga scored a questionable knockdown after hurting Quigley with a left hook to the chin. To his credit, Quigley kept himself in the fight with some slick boxing while getting in his licks when he had his chances. As the clock ran out in the final heat, Berlanga got through with a left hook followed by a straight right to his foe’s cranium that resulted in Quigley eating rosin dust. Going for the kill, Berlanga dropped Quigley again with a barrage of punches.

The sold-out crowd roared in approval with the decision when ring Announcer Dave Diamante read the scores 116-108 twice and 118-106, all for Berlanga who’s record is now 21-0, 16 KOs. Quigley gave an admirable effort as his record dips to 20-3, 14 KOs. 

A former junior middleweight champ Jamie Munguia and future Hall of Famer Gennady Golovkin are a couple of names that have come up as potential future adversaries for Berlanga. After scoring sixteen first round knockouts in first sixteen fights as a professional, Berlanga has become a "bombs away" headhunter at times, shots that negate his body attacks. During his streak of kayoes, Berlanga's mid-section assault was a precursor to him tagging his opponents with crushing shots to the head. Berlanga will have to revisit those techniques if he is going to compete against the elite of the super middleweight ranks. 

Bombs away! Nothing better than watching two heavyweights with limited defensive ability take turns clocking one another. Thirteen-year veteran heavyweight Joe Cusumano, Danville, VA, scored the biggest win of an up until now ordinary career. Sadly, Cusumano crushed the hopes of one-time heavyweight contender Adam Kownacki, Brooklyn, NY, resurrecting his livelihood. A Cusumano, 238.25 lbs., right to Kownacki’s face dropped the Polish hammer in round one. Kownacki, 251.75 lbs., found his way back to his corner and continued his losing struggle until he was brutally finished at the two-minute mark of round eight. With the win, a big payday awaits Cusumano, 22-4 20 KOs. Falling to 20-4, 15 KOs, Kownacki has lost his last four fights, three of those by ugly knockouts. Popular consensus agrees Kownacki should never again step foot in a boxing ring.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Inside the Ringside with Frank Bartolini

By Frank Bartolini

As I traverse north on the New York Thruway to this year's International Boxing Hall of Fame inductions, the Hudson River runs alongside me moving in the opposite direction passing by New York City before dumping into the Atlantic Ocean. My mind began thinking about the great island of Manhattan. 

Who is Larry Goldberg? 

Larry is a Ventnor New Jersey native. During Atlantic City’s pugilism heyday Goldberg fell in love with the sport of boxing in grade school while attending fights at various casinos. By the time Goldberg graduated Atlantic City High School in 1996, Larry had been ringside to witness all-time greats Larry Holmes, Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones, Mike Tyson and the list goes on and on. 

Attending Hofstra University turned Larry into a New Yorker, and these days he calls Manhattan home. In 1998, during the early days of boxing websites when most fans were still receiving their timely reports from Boxing Flash and Boxing Update, Goldberg launched immediately became, and still is, one of the most popular boxing websites on the internet. 

In October 2022, Larry delved into promoting professional boxing club shows at the Sony Hall in Times Square NYC. Since then, Goldberg’s promotional company, Boxing Insider Promotions, has promoted an additional three more shows at the venue and each one is better than the last. Helping guide Larry is IBHOF inductee Lou DiBella and seasoned matchmaker Eric Bottjer. 

All of the Boxing Insider shows are scheduled on Thursday nights. Most recently on April 27th, Goldberg took a big step forward when DAZN aired this show globally on their streaming network. 

Boxing Insider Promotions returns to Sony Hall in Times square on June 29th. Sizzling hot prospect junior welterweight Kurt Scoby will face Philadelphian, and former world title challenger, Hank Lundy in a scheduled eight round main event. Back in February, Scoby stole the show on a ShoBox fight card with a stunning second round knockout. 

Nearly a half a millennium ago, legend tells us our forefathers purchased Manhattan Island from Lenape Indians for a few shekels and a pouch of beads. In 1626 when this deal was consummated, the world was full of mystics. Not one soothsayer foresaw what this islet would manifest into by February 4, 2023, when a sold-out HULU theater hosted undisputed world featherweight queen Amanda Serrano, Brooklyn, NY, duking it out with gloves against Erika Cruz of Mexico. 

Determined to attend the Serrano vs Cruz weigh-in on Friday morning, I came into the Big Apple Thursday night and lodged at The New Yorker Hotel. Located across the street from Madison Square Garden on Eighth Ave., The New Yorker Hotel opened in 1930. Nikola Tesla boarded there on the thirty-third floor for the last fifteen years of his life. Upon entering the lobby through the revolving door, you will discover an art deco masterpiece that still maintains an aesthetic appeal.

An exuberant, smiling Alycia Baumgardner captured everyone's heart at the weigh-in on Friday. Baumgardner has never relented in her pursuit of greatness. When Alycia disrobed to mount the scale the "oohs" and "aahs" could be heard. No longer a young prospect with her hair in braids and braces on her teeth, Baumgardner posed with her sculpted figure, head full of beautiful curly hair, and gorgeous smile in a gold bikini. She appeared to be a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model rather than a prizefighter. 

I lodged at the UN Millenium Hilton Hotel, situated on the corner of First Ave and Forty Fourth street with a street address of One UN Plaza, on Friday and Saturday. After having a cocktail at the hotel bar, aptly named the Ambassador Grill and returning to my room, I took in a view of the East River. Frigid temperatures broke all time lows and mighty whirlwinds whisking through the cavernous streets and avenues created a sub zero wind chill. Cutting arctic sting chills did not interfere on whether or not I was going to walk a block and a half up Forty Fourth street to a favorite haunt of Manhattanites titled the Overlook Bar. A unique cast of patrons can always be found there, including newsies who are employed by the various networks in the area. Upon entering, I knew it was going to be an entertaining evening when two friends, the bouncer Mike and the proprietor Mark, were both on the job. Making it back to the sanctity of my hotel bed before sunrise was an achieved goal. 

Since landing on United States soil Matchroom Boxing USA has consistently delivered quality fight cards. All in attendance at the sold-out Hulu Theater would agree as they roared their approval for Amanda Serrano's unanimous ten round decision win over a hard fighting Cruz. 

Matchroom Boxing's next show at the Hulu Theater is on June 24th. Headlining the show is super middleweight Edgar Berlanga, who squares off against Jason Quigley of Ireland in a twelve rounder. Matchroom signed Berlanga soon after he and Top Rank parted ways. Another interesting scrap set for ten rounds; heavyweight Adam Kownacki will be trying to snap a three-fight losing streak when he faces Joe Cusumano in the semi wind up.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Dawejko KO's Vance

By Frank Bartolini

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ: On June 17th, Bally’s Hotel and Casino hosted a night of boxing promoted by Sal Musumeci with Renee Atkins handling the matchmaking. 

A crowd of four hundred spectators cheered on Philadelphia, PA heavyweight Joey “Tank” Dawejko, 266.5 lb., as he starched Dennis Vance Jr., 277 lb., West Branch, Michigan in under one round. 

Dawejko started out quickly and scored solid jabs to Vance's face. A well-placed left hook by Dawejko to Vance's body had a delayed effect. Moments after the blow landed, Vance took a knee. Upon rising Vance went down two more times from left hooks to the mid-section. Showing a huge heart Vance rose and continued to trade punches. Finally, after being allowed to continue after three trips to the canvas, the coup de grace came when Dawejko feinted a left to the body and scored a booming left hook on Vance's chin. After Vance hit the deck for the fourth time, he attempted to regain his footing as the referee waved things off at 2:01 mark of round one. 

Raising his record to 25-10-4, 14 KO’s, Dawejko is scheduled to fight on September 15th at the Live! Casino in Philadelphia, PA. In a post-fight interview, Dawejko said he is staying in the gym to be ready if a bigger opportunity arises. Vance goes back to the Midwest with a stomachache and a record of 4-10, 2 KO’s. 

J Russell Peltz of Philadelphia is guiding Dawejko's career.

Monday, May 8, 2023

WWE Wrestlemania Backlash 2023

By Steve Ward

WWE made it’s pay per view/premium live event debut this evening as they emanated from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Tonight’s card seemed to be overshadowed with the buildup to Night of Champions later this month where a new World Heavyweight Champion will be crowned for the RAW brand as Roman Reigns will be confined to Smackdown with his Undisputed Universal Championship following this year’s WWE Draft. With Reigns out of the picture for tonight, the show would be headlined by Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar. In addition to the colossal main event, the show featured seven matches in all, and three titles were contested.

WWE RAW Women’s Championship Bianca Belair (c) vs. Io Sky Winner: Bianca Belair via pinfall

Despite being drafted to Smackdown last week, Belair still holds the RAW Women’s Championship and would put it on the line this evening against Damage Ctrl’s Io Sky. Sky seemed poised to upset the champ in the closing moments of the match, but one could argue the late appearance by her Damage Ctrl stable mates cost her the title. Belair was laid out on the canvas as Sky ascended to the top turnbuckle for a moonsault attempt, however, Bayley decided to grab the hair of Belair and hold her down only to be caught by the referee. This distraction was enough for Belair to recover and roll out of harm's way as Sky leaped from the top rope. Belair then executed the KOD to retain her title.

Seth Rollins vs. Omos w/ MVP Winner: Seth Rollins via pinfall

Following the announcement recently of a soon-to-be-crowned World Heavyweight Champion on the RAW brand, Seth Rollins made his intentions known for targeting the new title only to be interrupted by Omos. Omos and MVP proceeded to challenge Rollins to a match this evening as a way for Omos to secure a signature win over “The Architect.” Omos proved to be quite the formidable opponent for Rollins in this contest. The Nigerian Giant withstood the frog splash and multiple stomps (the first of which he stopped with his neck), however, Rollins finally overcame the odds in the end as he delivered the Stomp from the top turnbuckle which allowed him to cover Omos for the victory. 

WWE United States Championship Bobby Lashley vs. Bronson Reed vs. Austin Theory (c) Winner: Austin Theory via pinfall

This bout created another interesting dynamic with the recent roster shake-up from the 2023 WWE Draft as new Smackdown Superstars, Theory and Lashley, competed with RAW’s Bronson Reed in a three-way dance for the United States Championship. In the closing moments of the match, Lashley speared Reed after he missed a moonsault attempt on Theory. The defending champ then snuck up on Lashley and tossed him out of the ring allowing him to easily cover Reed and steal another victory in familiar Theory fashion.

WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Zelina Vega Winner: Rhea Ripley via pinfall

In another situation where the defending champion was recently drafted to the brand opposite of the title which she holds, RAW Superstar Rhea Ripley would defend the Smackdown Women’s Title she just won a few weeks ago at Wrestlemania against Zelina Vega who represented the newly reformed Latino World Order, LWO. Despite the overwhelming crowd support for Vega, who’s family was seated at ringside, the size and power of Ripley was too much for her to overcome as she finally dispensed of Vega with Riptide to successfully defend her title.

San Juan Street Fight Match Bad Bunny vs. Damian Priest Winner: Bad Bunny via pinfall

In a battle of Puerto Rican natives, The Judgment Day’s Damien Priest went toe to toe with multi-platinum recording artist and ally of the LWO, Bad Bunny, in a San Juan Street Fight. Late in the match, Finn Balor and Dominik Mysterio came to the aid of Priest until Rey Mysterio, a surprising appearance by Carlito, the LWO, and Savio Vega all evened the odds and restored order to the match. Bad Bunny, moments later, was able to dispense of Priest with a Bunny Destroyer (a variation of the Canadian Destroyer) following a barrage of chair shots.

The Bloodline (Solo Sikoa, Jimmy Uso, and Jey Uso) vs. Matt Riddle, Kevin Owens, & Sami Zayn Winners: The Bloodline via pinfall

The ongoing feud between The Bloodline and Undisputed Tag Team Champions, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens (with the recent infusion of Matt Riddle in the fray), continued tonight in a six-man tag team encounter. The Bloodline was able to overcome several disagreements amongst themselves to dispense of the tag champs and Riddle in the end. The closing moments of the match saw Solo blind tag himself into the match without Riddle’s awareness. Riddle proceeded to focus on Jey Uso as he executed the Bro Derek only to be ambushed by Solo from behind and put down with a Samoan Spike.

Brock Lesnar vs. Cody Rhodes Winner: Cody Rhodes via pinfall

Following his betrayal of Cody Rhodes, the night after Wrestlemania, a bitter feud has embroiled between Brock Lesnar and Cody Rhodes. In the closing moments of tonight’s main event, a bloodied Brock Lesnar seemed to have a victory in his sights after he dropped Rhodes with the F5 and immediately followed it up with the Kimura Lock. Rhodes who appeared to be in dire straits, drove The Beast back onto his shoulders while still trapped in the submission hold to shock Lesnar with the pinfall victory in a rather abrupt match.

Monday, April 3, 2023

WWE Wrestlemania 39 Night Two

By Steve Ward

WWE’s 39th installment of the Showcase of the Immortals continued this evening from SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, CA following a solid overall first night. While night one featured some WWE legends in action and entertaining bouts for the Smackdown Women’s and United States Championships, the star power is much more prevalent across the card for night two with names such as Brock Lesnar, Edge, and Roman Reigns showcased. This evening’s card featured seven matches, three title contests, and was headlined by Roman Reigns putting his 945-day title reign on the line against “The American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes.

Brock Lesnar vs. Omos w/ MVP
Winner: Brock Lesnar via pinfall

Tonight’s card kicked off with one of WWE’s biggest draws, Brock Lesnar, squaring off with the 7’3” Nigerian Giant, Omos. With no title bout for Lesnar this year, WWE decided to pair him up with the largest man in WWE - and one of the largest competitors ever. A dire situation appeared to be afoot for Lesnar to open this bout as he was manhandled by Omos. Lesnar capitalized on a window of opportunity that opened when he ducked out of the way of a charging Omos while in the corner. Lesnar’s evasion lead the Nigerian Giant to slam his head into the ring post. Lesnar then took the massive Omos to Suplex City and finished the massive giant off with an impressive F5.

Wrestlemania Showcase Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Match
Raquel Rodriguez & Liv Morgan vs. Natalya & Shotzi vs. Chelsea Green & Sonya Deville vs. Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler
Winners: Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler via submission

Much like the men’s tag team showcase on night one, the women were featured tonight in an effort to give more of the roster exposure on the stage of Wrestlemania and the winners would put themselves in prime position for a future tag team title opportunity. In the closing moments of the match, Shayna Baszler made a blind tag on Liv Morgan and then Rousey tagged her partner to become the legal competitor in the match. Rousey and Baszler disposed of Morgan and then Rousey cinched in the armbar on Shotzi for the submission victory.

WWE Intercontinental Championship Triple Threat Match
Gunther (c) vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Sheamus
Winner: Gunther via pinfall

Gunther was forced to put his historic 296-day Intercontinental Title reign on the line against both Sheamus and McIntyre after the two men fought to a no contest in their match to determine the number one contender for tonight’s contest. Late in this incredibly hard-hitting affair, that left all three competitors with bruised and swollen pectorals, Sheamus appeared poised to earn the victory on McIntyre when Gunther flew from the top turnbuckle to break up the pinfall attempt. Gunther then hoisted Sheamus up and powerbombed him onto McIntyre and then powerbombed McIntyre as well to secure the pinfall victory.

WWE RAW Women’s Championship
Asuka vs. Bianca Belair (c)
Winner: Bianca Belair via pinfall

After Rhea Ripley elected to use her Royal Rumble victory to challenge Charlotte Flair for her Smackdown Women’s Championship at Wrestlemania, RAW Women’s Champion Bianca Belair was left without an opponent until the Empress of Tomorrow answered her challenge. Tonight, Belair would put her second longest ever RAW Women’s Championship reign on the line against the highly decorated Asuka on the grandest stage of them all. In the closing moments, Belair avoided the dreaded mist and was able to survive the armbar to deliver a KOD to solidify her title defense.

The Miz vs. Snoop Dogg
Winner: Snoop Dogg via pinfall

After The Miz and Snoop Dogg announced the attendance for Night Two, The Miz proceeded to reprimand Snoop for putting him in an impromptu match with Pat McAfee on Night One. Snoop then introduced Shane McMahon as the opponent for The Miz tonight. Shortly after the bell rang, Shane McMahon landed wrong as he leapfrogged a charging Miz and legitimately tore his quadricep. While the ringside doctor attended to McMahon, Snoop Dogg stepped up and dropped The Miz with a couple right hands and then delivered his version of The People’s Elbow to pin The Miz.

Hell In A Cell
Edge vs. “The Demon” Finn Balor
Winner: Edge via pinfall

In what should be the final chapter in the long, bitter rivalry between Edge and Finn Balor, they decided to do battle in the ominous Hell In A Cell tonight. At the end of this brawl, the confines of the cell was littered with chairs, kendo sticks, ladders, broken tables, and blood. Balor appeared to have the match in hand until Edge evaded his Coup de Grace attempt leaving him to crash through a table. Edge then speared The Demon and finished him off with the Conchairto to leave Wrestlemania victorious.

WWE Undisputed Universal Heavyweight Championship
Roman Reigns (c) w/ Paul Heyman vs. Cody Rhodes
Winner: Roman Reigns via pinfall

Cody Rhodes made his shocking return to WWE after leaving the company he helped to build, AEW, at last year’s Wrestlemania but was derailed shortly after with a torn pectoral muscle that put him on the shelf for over six months. Rhodes then made his triumphant return at this year’s Royal Rumble as entrant number 30 and prevailed to punch his ticket to the main event tonight against Roman Reigns. The real question would be whether WWE would elect to end Roman Reigns’ title reign short of 1,000 days. Following a hard-hitting affair where each competitor emptied their arsenals, the difference proved to be Solo Sikoa. Roman’s title reign appeared to be in serious jeopardy late after Rhodes built momentum following interference from both The Usos and the new tag team champions, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Rhodes executed back-to-back Cross Rhodes and was about to try and put away The Tribal Chief with a third when Paul Heyman climbed up to the ring apron to draw the referee’s attention. With Dan Engler distracted, Solo Sikoa snuck into the ring and delivered a Samoan Spike to the neck of Rhodes. This gave the defending champ the opportunity he needed to put away The American Nightmare with a body-crumbling spear to continue his historic title run.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

WWE Wrestlemania 39 Night One

World Wrestling Entertainment elected to go for the mega cash grab business model again for this year’s Showcase of the Immortals once again as they would emanate two nights in a row from SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California - likely because they no longer generate revenue from pay-per-view buys and sold off the WWE Network to Peacock. Nonetheless, what would typically be a five to six hour mega event has now been split into two shows. Night One would feature eight matches with three titles contested and the main event pit The Usos against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship.

United States Championship
John Cena vs. Austin Theory (c)
Winner: Austin Theory via pinfall

The show surprisingly kicked off with the return of John Cena to a WWE ring following another prolonged absence as he answered the challenge of the brash Austin Theory. Cena made a solid showing in the ring with little evidence of ring rust, however, Theory prevailed in the end. Cena had Theory on his shoulders and inadvertently knocked the referee out. Cena proceeded to cinch in the STF prompting a tapout from Theory to no avail as the referee had still not recovered. As Cena attempted to revive the referee, Theory struck him with a low blow followed by the A-Town Down to retain his championship.

Wrestlemania Showcase Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Match
Ricochet & Braun Strowman vs. The Viking Raiders w/ Valhalla vs. Alpha Academy (Otis & Chad Gable) vs. The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins)
Winners: The Street Profits via pinfall

This match not only allowed WWE to fit more Superstars onto the card but also would serve to designate who the next team in line for a tag team title opportunity would be. In the closing moments, Ricochet attempted the Shooting Star Press only to land on Angelo Dawkins’ raised knees and Montez Ford proceeded to dive from the top turnbuckle to drive Ricochet’s face into Dawkins’ knees again setting up the pinfall.

Seth Rollins vs. Logan Paul
Winner: Seth Rollins via pinfall

Logan Paul first eliminated Seth Rollins from the Royal Rumble Match, then cost him a victory in the Elimination Chamber, and has trolled him endlessly culminating in their encounter tonight at Wrestlemania. Seth Rollins withstood outside interference from KSI, the GTS, and a frog splash to turn around and hit the curb stomp to pull out the victory.

Becky Lynch, Lita, & Trish Stratus vs. Damage Ctrl (Bayley, Io Sky, & Dakota Kai)
Winners: Becky Lynch, Lita, & Trish Stratus via pinfall 

Following their shocking victory over Io Sky and Dakota Kai to claim the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles several weeks ago with the backing of Trish Stratus, a bitter rivalry has continued to fester leading us to tonight’s encounter. The crowd seemed disinterested in this match during the early going but in the closing moments they would become much more engaged as Lita executed a Litasault from the top turnbuckle and then Becky Lynch hit the Manhandle Slam from the second rope on Bayley to claim the pinfall victory for her team.

Rey Mysterio vs. Dominik Mysterio
Winner: Rey Mysterio via pinfall

After he abandoned his father to join The Judgement Day, Dominik Mysterio has continued to try everything in his power to goad his father into a match at Wrestlemania. Rey continuously rejected his son’s attempts until Dominik disrespected his mother at ringside recently on Smackdown. That leads us to their confrontation tonight following Rey’s induction into the WWE Hall of Fame last night in Los Angeles. Rey appeared to be in dire straits with the appearance of The Judgment Day at ringside but The Legado del Fantasma and Spanish announce table guest commentator Bad Bunny evened the odds. In the end, Rey hit the 619 and immediately followed up with the frog splash to seal the victory over his son.

Smackdown Women’s Championship
Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Rhea Ripley
Winner: Rhea Ripley via pinfall

Following her victory in the Women’s Royal Rumble match, Rhea Ripley elected to challenge Charlottle Flair in an attempt to avenge her Wrestlemania loss in 2020. Neither of these competitors left anything in the ring as each exhausted their entire arsenals but in the end, Ripley executed the Riptide from the turnbuckle to finally put away Charlotte Flair to become the new Smackdown Women’s Champion.

The Miz vs. Pat McAfee
Winner: Pat McAfee via pinfall

The hosts of Wrestlemania, The Miz and Snoop Dogg, made their way to the ring to announce the attendance and The Miz proceeded to claim he made an open challenge that no one responded to. Pat McAfee then surprised the crowd to accept. With an assist from San Francisco 49er George Kittle, McAfee finished The Miz off with a punt to the head to claim victory.

WWE Undisputed Tag Team Championship
The Usos (c) vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Winners: Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn via pinfall

Following his dismissal from The Bloodline, Sami Zayn pled with Kevin Owens for weeks to team with him to gain revenge on The Bloodline finally wearing him down and bringing us to tonight’s contest for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championship. In the closing moments of the match, Sami Zayn gained retribution on Jey Uso and The Bloodline as he executed three consecutive Helluva Kicks to allow him to cover Uso for the pinfall as new Undisputed Tag Team Champions were crowned.

Friday, March 31, 2023

Frank Bartolini Selected for the 2023 New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame

By TWI Staff

Congratulations to boxing writer Frank Bartolini on his induction to the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame! 

For those of you who are not familiar with Frank's writing career, here is a snapshot of his accomplishments.: 

Frank Bartolini grew up in Jackson, New Jersey, where he graduated from Jackson Memorial High School. He was a boxing columnist, feature writer, and reporter for the The Observer, an Ocean County daily newspaper, from the early to mid 1990s. Frank covered numerous fights in the tristate region, including Atlantic City's biggest fights during this period. Frank went on to contribute to a number of print and online boxing media outlets. His feature stories can be found in boxing media outlets such as the USA Boxing News, Boxing Insider, Boxing Action 24, Philly Boxing History, and The Weigh-In. He is a press row staple at big fights across the tristate area and Florida. Frank is also the president of FB Roofing & Siding, Inc. in Jackon. 

Stay tuned to The Weigh-In for information on the 2023 New Jersey Boxing Hall Annual Dinner and Induction Ceremony.