Monday, September 16, 2019

WWE Clash of Champions 2019

By Steve Ward

WWE Clash of Champions emanated this evening from the Spectrum Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, home of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets. 

Aside from eight WWE titles being contested, this pay-per-view carried a supreme level of importance from a business standpoint as well. After the highly successful AEW “ALL OUT” pay-per-view a couple weeks ago treated fans to quite possibly one of the most entertaining shows of the year, the pressure was on for the WWE to step up their game. 

Among the questions to be addressed: 1) Would WWE push - or perhaps finally break - the boundaries of their frustrating PG rating? and 2) Would thousands of subscribers lash out at WWE for continued buffering issues since the inception of their updated streaming platform that ruined Summerslam for countless members of the WWE Universe? 

These are all of paramount importance with NXT debuting on USA this week, Smackdown moving to FOX in October (and still not giving the network the “edgy” product they want), and AEW premiering in a matter of weeks on TNT. These storylines along with eight titles contested would paint the picture for the evening.

RAW Tag Team Championship
Seth Rollins & Braun Strowman (c) vs. Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler
Winners: Robert Roode & Dolph Ziggler via pinfall

The opening contest of the main card pitted the recently crowned RAW Tag Team Champions Rollins and Strowman (scheduled to face each other later in the evening for the Universal Championship) against Roode and Ziggler who earned their shot after coming out victorious from the largest tag team turmoil match in WWE history recently on RAW. In the closing moments of the match, Strowman attempted to knock Ziggler off the ring apron only to have Ziggler pull the ropes down so that he tumbled out of the ring. With Rollins distracted, we received a truly glorious conclusion to the bout as Roode got the upper hand on The Beastslayer and executed a flawless Glorious DDT to earn the pinfall.

Smackdown Women’s Championship
Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
Winner: Bayley

Blink and you would have missed the end of this match. As the referee was distracted with Charlotte Flair while Bayley laid in the corner, the champion removed the bottom turnbuckle cover. As Charlotte went to grab Bayley, she was propelled head first into the exposed steel turnbuckle. The devastating effect of this blow left Charlotte incapacitated allowing Bayley to earn the quick pinfall.

Smackdown Tag Team Championship
The New Day (Big E & Xavier Woods) (c) vs. The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson)
Winners: The Revival via submission

The Revival practiced what they preach and took their old school approach on the road to victory in this contest. First, they strategically destroyed the knee of Xavier Woods and later proceeded to take Big E out of the equation as they executed The Shatter Machine out on the arena floor. With Woods still ailing in the ring and no help in sight, The Revival delivered another Shatter Machine on him and rather than score an easy pinfall, Dawson cinched in a reverse figure four leglock for the submission victory.

Women’s Tag Team Championship
Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross (c) vs. Fire & Desire (Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville)
Winners: Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross via pinfall

In a match that was clearly carried by Bliss and Cross, the only real offense mounted by Fire & Desire was when they executed some brief tandem offense in the form of a high-low on Bliss. This advantage didn’t last long as Nikki Cross hit the swinging neck breaker with Rose’s legs propped up on the top ropes for the pinfall victory.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
The Miz vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (c) w/Sami Zayn
Winner: Shinsuke Nakamura via pinfall

The first few minutes of this match were ruined by Sami Zayn supplying obnoxious commentary as he strutted around the ring until his mic was mercifully cut off and we could get down to business. This match saw The Artist Known As Shinsuke Nakamura attempt to continue his title reign while The Miz was striving to earn his ninth Intercontinental Title. Zayn proved to be the difference in this match as The Miz finally had enough of his antics in the closing moments and proceeded to chase him around the ring. Unfortunately for The Miz, he didn’t see Nakamura laying in wait on the other side of the ring and as he rounded the corner, he was greeted with a jumping knee strike to the jaw. Nakamura then rolled Miz back into the ring and sealed the deal with the Kinshasa for the victory.

RAW Women’s Championship
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Sasha Banks
Winner: Sasha Banks via disqualification

After a lengthy hiatus, Sasha Banks returned a few weeks ago with a vengeance and it was apparent from the get-go that The Man was explicitly in her crosshairs. As Banks became frustrated that she could not put away Lynch with The Bank Statement, she turned to some dirty antics as she introduced a chair into the fray. This soon backfired on Banks as The Man picked up the chair and swung for the fences. Unfortunately for the referee, he took the first shot that laid him out. Lynch then laid waste to Sasha and the fight spilled into the arena. Once the women finally made their way back to the ring, Lynch continued her vicious assault on Banks even though she had long since been disqualified. WWE officials finally rescued Banks as Lynch seemed poised to pop out her shoulder with the Disarmer while using a steel chair for leverage. Needless to say, this rivalry is far from over.

WWE Championship
Randy Orton vs.  Kofi Kingston (c)
Winner: Kofi Kingston via pinfall

After coming up short against Kingston at Summerslam, The Viper was given another opportunity at the WWE Championship this evening against someone who’s had a more improbable title reign than Mr. McMahon’s back in the Attitude Era - perhaps that’s a little harsh but oh well. This was by and far the most lackluster match on the card as Kofi unbelievably dominated Orton for a good deal of the contest and the crowd was not engaged - at least not in a positive fashion as you could hear boos echoing out. The only time the crowd rose to their feet was when Orton nailed Kofi with an RKO Outta Nowhere, however, Kofi placed his leg on the rope to break the pinfall attempt. Orton tried to finish Kofi once and for all with the punt to the skull but Kingston evaded it and landed the Trouble In Paradise to retain his title.

No Disqualification Match
Roman Reigns vs. Rowan
Winner: Rowan via pinfall

After weeks of speculation as to who was responsible for attack after attack on Roman Reigns, it was finally revealed that Rowan, not Daniel Bryan, was the mastermind. Roman Reigns was out for vengeance this evening as he entered the ring with Rowan in a no disqualification match. It appeared late in the contest that Reigns would overcome being put through not one, but two, tables to come out victorious over Rowan. After attacking Rowan with a TV camera at the top of the stage, Reigns seemed poised to run down the ramp for a spear or Superman punch, however, he was intercepted with a boot to the face by a returning Luke Harper! The two proceeded to severely beat down Reigns just before Rowan finished him off with the Iron Claw.

WWE Universal Championship
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Braun Strowman
Winner: Seth Rollins

After coming out unsuccessful in their defense of the RAW Tag Team Championship earlier in the evening, partners became foes as Rollins and Strowman stepped into the squared circle again - this time with Rollins’ Universal Championship on the line. The real highlight of this match was a legit splash that Strowman landed on Rollins from the top rope, however, it wasn’t enough. Rollins had to put work in this evening to keep his title as it took four curb stomps and the Pedigree to finally overcome The Monster Among Men. As Rollins made his way to the top of the entrance ramp in victory, the arena went black. Then a spotlight illuminated “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt holding a subdued Rollins. First, Wyatt put Rollins down with a Sister Abigail just before the lights went out again. This would not be all, however, as the two were illuminated again, this time with Wyatt’s fingers shoved down Rollins’ throat as he choked him out with the Mandible Claw to close the show.

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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Haney wins 23rd as a professional; Serrano too much for game Hardy

By Luis A. Cortes III

Haney wins WBC belt and number one spot by destroying Abdullaev 

After four rounds of Devin Haney (23-0) (15 KO’s) using his speed of hand and foot to completely destroy Zaur Abdullaev (11-1) (7 KO’s), the referee on advice from the ring doctor stopped the fight.  Abdullaev suffered a broken orbital bone after Haney peppered him with jabs and powerful looping right hands. 

Just twenty-years-old, Haney captured the WBC Interim Lightweight title and is the number one contender for the current champion Vasyl Lomachenko.  That fight will likely not take place in the near future, but Haney once again put the boxing world on notice with his dominant performance. 

Serrano is too much for the game Hardy

In a battle for the WBO Women’s Featherweight title, Amanda Serrano (37-1-1) (27 KO’s) was simply too strong, too fast, and too skilled for fellow Brooklynite Heather Hardy (22-1) (4 KO’s).  

Serrano came out guns blazing and nearly stopped Hardy in the first two rounds.  Hardy proved that she is indeed worthy of all the praise of being mentally tough, as she took all Serrano had to offer and gave it her best throughout all ten rounds. 

Hardy had some moments of success, but they would last briefly because Serrano would regain control with her overall better skills.  All three judges scored the fight for Serrano 98-91 twice and 98-92.  Katie Taylor awaits the new featherweight champion, which could be a big fight in New York.  

Hunter outclasses Kuzmin

2012 USA Olympian Michael Hunter (18-1) (12 KO’s), trained by former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman, controlled the early rounds of the fight by using an educated jab and fluid combinations to keep Sergi Kuzmin (15-1) (11 KO’s) at bay. 

A check left hook dropped Kuzmin in the fifth round, but Hunter wisely got on his toes and continued to out box Kuzmin, the much heavier puncher of the two.  Heading into the final three rounds, Hunter was in control of the fight with Kuzmin searching for a big punch to end the fight. 

It was not to be for Kuzmin as Hunter continued his formula for success until the final round clearly winning the fight.  Now placing himself in position for bigger fights in the future, all three judges scored the fight 117-110 in favor of Hunter. 

Ford out points Castillo 

Former 2018 Golden Gloves National Champion and Camden, New Jersey native Raymond Ford (4-0) (1 KO’s) used his superior boxing skills to out box the game Rafael Castillo.  All three judges scored the fight 40-36.

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Mykal Fox: Wise Beyond His Years

By Luis A. Cortes III

To say that world ranked junior welterweight Mykal Fox (20-1) (5 KO’s) heads into his main event fight on Saturday night still needing to prove that he belongs as a ranked challenger, or that he still needs to prove that he needs to get his confidence back after a controversial loss back in February on ShoBox against Shohjahon Ergashev, means that one would simply be using boxing clich├ęs to explain just where the twenty-three-year-old talent from Maryland currently is with his career.  It also means that said person doesn’t really understand the mental makeup of the fighter known as the “Professor.”

It’s truly a moniker that fits Fox.  Fox seems to have the ability that not many young fighters who are trying to prove that they belong fighting the elite in the sport tend to have, the ability to understand just where his career is, what he needs to do to enhance his current situation, and the necessity to remain a professional throughout the entire process.  Often in so many young careers on the rise, a good-looking young challenger is willing to do what is needed of them to excel.  However, many times they tend to neglect one of the previously mentioned three phases of a young career.

“I guess it’s part of my personality.  You see guys like Tony Harrison winning a world championship, someone like Shawn Porter being a two-time world champion after two losses.  Julian Williams shocked everybody, and he came back from a devastating knockout loss to become a unified world champion.  So, after my loss we needed to build ourselves back up to the next big opportunity,” stated Fox.  “That’s what we are doing right now, with fights like this.  Staying active and fighting for the next opportunity.”

Fighting for his next opportunity is also a type of mentality that tends to elude the mental makeup of many young fighters in the modern boxing landscape.  Unfortunately, many young fighters notice what elite fighters can do with their careers to capitalize financially, but fail to realize that those elite fighters are in a position with their careers to make those type of decisions.  Fox takes nothing for granted with his career.  Including one of the most precious things that financial success can’t afford… More time. 

“Being six foot four and a southpaw.  Add to the fact that I can fight on the inside and I don’t just fold like a lawn chair.  Not too many fighters want to step up and fight me.  But I’m not going to wait outside of the ring.  I’m not going to sit around waiting for the big opportunity.  When that opportunity comes, I want to be more than ready for it, by being well prepared,” said Fox. 

What is beneficial for Fox is the fact that he fights under the Kings Promotions’ banner, which is ran by Marshall Kauffman.  Kauffman is one of the promoters in the northeast part of the country that constantly puts out a healthy schedule of fight cards.  He has also fostered great relationships with other high-level promoters to put his fighters in the right positions to enhance their careers.  This is key for a fighter like Fox as he tries to navigate the waters of being a fringe contender, yet still having the understanding that national exposure through television dates by fighting better competition is important to his overall success.  “That’s what I love about Mykal and his father.  They want to fight better opposition because they know that they are going to get better from it.  They ask me to get them better opponents after most fights,” stated Kauffman.

With just five knockout wins thus far, Fox is aware that some fans and insiders may think his style is effective in getting victories, but not in terms of excitement.  Fox takes another out look on the way he fights.  “I feel like my body is still developing, I’ll be twenty-four in October.  I’ll be getting my man strength soon.  But even when that happens, I don’t want to be one of those fighters that start always looking for the knockout.  The plan is to let the skills lead the way.  Another thing [regarding his lack of knockouts] is the level of opposition that I’ve fought.  The guys that I’ve fought don’t just fold over,” responded Fox. 

One look at his record and anyone can see that after just his first year as a professional, the level of opposition rose quickly.  His opponents may not have had the best records, but they were live bodies that came to win against Fox.  Unlike other young fighters, Fox admits that he is also a fan of the sport and doesn’t only view it as his profession.  “I make it my business to know what is going on in the division above me, my division, and the one below me.  I like to keep up with what is going on.  If I see a fighter that I never heard of in any of those divisions, I’ll look him up and learn his background because you never know.  He could be an opponent one day.”

Mykal Fox, along with his father Troy Fox, have created a solid foundation for him to achieve success.  Mentally, he shows the understanding of what it takes inside of the ring having been in tough fights against some tough opposition.  Padding Fox’s record to look good for networks so he can get television exposure is not on Team Fox’s agenda.  Working hard, staying active, remaining focused, and above all, having the patience to trust in fight plans and preparation will help Fox gain and ultimately become successful at the elite level when the opportunities presents itself is what is on Team Fox’s wise agenda.   

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Devin Haney: Don’t Call Him a Prospect

It’s clear that the narrative of Devin Haney (22-0) (14 KO’s) being one of boxing’s best young prospect sis something that the young lightweight sensation was never really trying to achieve.  As a matter of fact, it’s a moniker that Haney seems to evade, like most of the punches that are thrown his way.  Yes, when a fighter turns professional at the age of seventeen and runs through the early part of his career in the fashion that Haney has, seemingly easily, beating all opposition during his rise through the lightweight division, it’s not hard to understand why so many boxing insiders started to gush over his skills, both inside and outside of the ring.  He is a well-spoken young man, with the looks that suggest he could easily transcend the sport to become a popular main stream star. 

Boxing history is littered with the once upon a time prospects that had the same traits that Haney currently possesses.  What seems to be a bit different regarding Haney is that he has always delivered where it matters the most.  Inside of the ring.  At times many of these prospects in the past have not been able to handle everything that comes with a quick rise through the professional ranks.  Some fall to situations outside of the ring in their personal lives, while others fail to live up to expectations as the level of competition increases. 

In contrast, the talent that Haney possesses made many fight fans and boxing insiders pick him as their heir apparent to the throne of boxing’s biggest box office draw.  His speed both of foot and hand are something that can be best described as generational.  Add to that, Haney’s mental prowess and his ability to adapt during fights to capitalize on the mistakes his opponent’s make, along with the knowledge at such a young age to dictate the pace of a fight.  What you wind up having in total is a complete fighter.  The only thing that seems to be missing is how Haney would fair against a tough, gritty opponent that could push him physically and mentally.  Again, those types of boxing intangibles may not be tested until Haney begins to fight the elite level of his division and the sport.  

With twenty-two fights under his belt in his career at just the age of twenty, Haney enters his fight on Friday night against Zaur Abdullaev (11-0) (7 KO’s), of Russia, aiming to capture something that would put the boxing world on notice.  A victory would make him the WBC Interim champion and their number one ranked lightweight in the world.  Currently the lightweight division is one of the most talented in the sport, with the fighter many feel is the best fighter in the world, pound-for-pound in Vasly Lomachenko holding the WBA/WBC/WBO titles.  A Haney win would mean that he would put himself in a prime position to fight Lomachenko, possibly for all those titles.  With Lomachenko fighting under the Top Rank Promotions banner, he has made it clear that his goal is to be undisputed lightweight champion. As a result, he will patiently await the winner of the proposed December 14th fight between IBF champion Richard Commey and his number one challenger Teofimo Lopez. 

This leaves Haney somewhat on the outside in terms of the world title picture.  Although this may be the case, Haney has made it clear that he is glad to continue his path and does not need to rush into a fight with Lomachenko.  “The WBC Interim World Championship means a lot to me.  Being able to fight for an Interim World title means everything.  This not only makes me the WBC mandatory for Lomachenko, but I’m able to do Interim title defenses until Lomachenko is ready to fight,” stated Haney during a recent media day. 

“Some people kept labeling me a prospect when I knew I was so much more.  I know Abdullaev is focused, he’s been at the top of the rankings for a while now.  I believe the winner is in a really good position with the WBC,” asserts Haney. 

Friday night is the type of opportunity that Haney has been preparing for since he first started boxing when he was seven years old.  Not only is it a huge chance to start building his legacy,  It is also the first time that Haney will be the main event at the building known as the “Mecca of Boxing,” Madison Square Garden.  Although the fight will take place inside of the smaller theater and not the main room, the theater is at times known as the proving grounds where future top attractions of the sport first test just how big their box office appeal truly is.  A dominant performance for Haney along with a sizable crowd of paying customers to witness his first major career milestone would be the first step towards him proving to the boxing world that all the praise he has received at such an early age is warranted.  

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Monday, September 9, 2019

Avery Sparrow: Underdog – No VADA Testing, Par for the Course

By Luis A. Cortes III

Avery Sparrow (10-1) (3 KO’s) goes into his fight this Saturday night against Ryan Garcia (18-0) (15 KO’s) (DAZN 7 P.M. ET) in a familiar position, as the underdog.  It’s a position that Sparrow has not only come to expect to be in, but one that he relishes.  One thing that most boxing observers fail to realize about Sparrow and his career is that Sparrow, while being dubbed the underdog or “B side” of his fights thus far, simply does not think of himself as the underdog.  In fact, every time he has taken to the ring as a professional, he has the confidence that his abilities and experience put him on par with any fighter in the world in the super-featherweight and lightweight divisions.  With his dominate victory over one-time prospect Jose Lopez in 2017 in front of a national audience on ESPN, and his recent victory over long time contender (and fellow Philadelphian) Hank Lundy in March, one would be hard pressed to argue that Sparrow shouldn’t feel that he is often over looked by boxing observers when they mention the top talent in his weight classes.

Sparrow takes it in stride while dedicating his life to his career, which he feels is in a perfect position to once again prove to the world that he is indeed an elite fighter.  A natural super-featherweight, Sparrow was unable to secure any meaningful fights in the division and instead opted to fight Lundy at lightweight.  “It’s a little frustrating when you can’t get any fights at your natural weight and you have to move up,” stated Sparrow.  “Being that I’m from Philadelphia, I didn’t get any breaks coming out of the amateurs, and I’m built Peltz tough, having to fight tough opposition its fulfilling that I know I had nothing handed to me and know that the hard work is paying off.”    

On Saturday night when Sparrow climbs into the ring to face Garcia, yet another lightweight, it’s clear that the fighter most of the boxing world will be tuning in to see will be Garcia.  Since turning professional in 2016, the twenty-one-year-old Garcia has built a massive following through his various social media platforms.  It also helps that Garcia is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions, which has set their young talent on a course to become more than just a boxing sensation.  Garcia has matinee idol looks that leads one to believe that a cross over into mainstream popular culture is possible.  Sparrow views things a bit differently. 

“We all know the Golden Boy system; the first fourteen fights are tailor made for their fighter to win.  He was supposed to win those fights,” stated Sparrow.  “Coming from the Philadelphia system and the way we both had to deal with our amateur careers is a difference too.  When I was in the amateurs, we had to fight everyone in the city, then the regionals, then the Mid-Atlantic, and then you made it to the nationals.  Now you can just pay to get into the nationals and fight.  They say oh Garcia beat fighters from all over California, but I’ve been around the world.  I fought in the Junior Olympics and national tournaments.  So, this kid [Garcia] hasn’t even faced that type of opposition.  He was playing baseball when I was fighting in these big tournaments.  I had to qualify for those tournaments, I didn’t just get to walk on.  Also, in the professional fights, I’m always coming in against tough opposition and not easy fights.  I believe that separates me from Ryan Garcia.” 

Much has been made of the union between Garcia and Eddie “Chepo” Reynoso the lifelong trainer of boxing’s current big star Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.  So far, it’s a union that has faired well for Garcia and has many in the sport believing that Garcia is constantly getting better, both as a professional athlete and as a fighter.  When the move from his father being the head trainer was made and Garcia was inserted into the world of Reynoso, many felt it was the type of move that would prepare Garcia for the moment when he would have to step up the level of his opposition.  That moment for him has arrived and it will take place against Sparrow on Saturday night.  “Look Canelo [Saul Alvarez] has like six brothers that are all fighters they train too.  His brother just got starched the other night.  Canelo is a diamond in the rough.  He trained with them his whole life since he was like ten years old.  Their system is embedded in him.  If you know anything about boxing, once you get hit and are in the trenches and get hurt.  Through muscle memory you go back to the fundamentals and everything you were taught, and those fundamentals were taught to him by his father.”

As for Sparrow, his training is done at TKO Fitness, a gym which over the past few years has gained a reputation for being the home of not only top contenders but also world champions.  Current IBF super featherweight champion Tevin Farmer and former WBA champion Jason Sosa ply their trade inside of the walls of TKO Fitness.  Sparrow is currently trained by former top American amateur Rashiem Jefferson, whose professional career was cut short due to an unfortunate motorcycle accident.  Sparrow’s training has been spent working with plenty of the world class fighters that call that gym home.

“I feel so strong right now.  I was off for a year when I fought Hank Lundy.  Only had two and a half months of training for that fight, after that long layoff.  My timing and my power are all there.  Now that my body is always active and I’m sharp from being in the gym, I’m ready both mentally and physically,” stated Sparrow. 

An intriguing curve ball was thrown towards team Sparrow when the negotiations were taking place before the fight was officially announced.  According to Sparrow, he wanted pre-fight steroid testing to take place between the two fighters.  “It’s absurd that they didn’t want to do the testing.  I pushed for it for both of us to have to do.  It just doesn’t make since, because we are both ranked in the top fifteen in the world.  It’s the professional thing to do, especially since you’re coming from a camp that has tested positive in the past.  What Sparrow is referring to is the fact that Saul Alvarez tested positive for a banned substance prior to his rematch with Gennady Golovkin.  It caused a suspension for Alvarez and the eventual rematch date to be pushed back.

Sparrow is not accusing Team Garcia of doing anything wrong in their pre-fight preparation.  He simply feels as though this type of testing is something that should be done once you reach this level of your career.  “It has nothing to do with the cost of the testing.  Everyone is saying that it is so expensive to do, but we were willing to pay for it,” said Sparrow.  “We were willing to take a pay cut out of the purse in order to make sure that the testing was done.  We would have paid for both our side and his side to be tested.  They didn’t want to do it.”

With a victory over Ryan Garcia on Saturday, Avery Sparrow would once again prove to the world that he is not only a talented fighter.  By defeating the highly touted Garcia, Sparrow would prove that his skills and his career should be taken seriously as a contender.  While a victory doesn’t ensure him a title shot, it should however continue him down a path towards bigger pay days.  Unless of course yet another victory as the underdog would in turn have other top-rated contenders continue to shy away from facing him as they pad their records with lesser competition.  All that remains to be seen and these answers will start to come to light after the fight.

Whichever way it turns out on Saturday night, one thing is clear about Sparrow - He is more than comfortable and confident in what he brings to the ring on fight night.  Regardless of who he faces, his opposition better be ready to bring their hard hat and lunch pail to work on fight night.        

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Sunday, September 1, 2019


By Steve Ward

This evening marked another landmark event for the upstart All Elite Wrestling. They made their return to Chicago again with ALL OUT just one year after the highly successful ALL IN that came to fruition on a bet with writer Dave Meltzer. The rumors and hype swirling around this event have been at a fever pitch for weeks, if not months. Questions such as would we witness the debut of CM Punk in his hometown or some other shocker? Would Chris Jericho or Hangman Page be crowned the first ever AEW champion? Aside from these factors, the card was also supposed to feature Jon Moxley (formerly known as Dean Ambrose) squaring off with Kenny Omega, however, a staph infection sidelined Moxley. AEW did find a more than suitable replacement with PAC (better known as Neville from his WWE days) to maintain a more than formidable card that was headlined by Jericho vs. Page to decide the first ever AEW World Champion.

The Buy-In Pre-Show

Casino Battle Royale
(Winner receives AEW Women’s Championship opportunity on TNT debut)
Winner: Nyla Rose

Private Party vs. Jack Evans & Angelico
Winners: Private Party

Main Card

SoCal Uncensored - Scorpio Sky, Frankie Kazarian, & Christopher Daniels vs. Jurassic Express - Luchasaurus,Marko Stunt, & Jungle Boy
Winners: SoCal Uncensored via pinfall

This was an absolutely phenomenal bout to open the show. The high-flying, frenetic action finally came to a close as Kazarian hoisted up BOTH Stunt and Perry into a piledriver starting position as “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels executed the Best Moonsault Ever to complete the tandem piledriver for the pinfall.

PAC vs. Kenny Omega
Winner: PAC via submission

After Jon Moxley had to back out of this contest with a staph infection, PAC stepped up to answer the challenge. This match was an instant classic. These men put on a well balanced display of strong-style and high flying maneuvers as they went toe to toe with reckless abandon. This bout came to a close as Omega attempted to execute the One Winged Angel, however, PAC adjusted himself so that he was up in a fireman’s carry position and proceeded to cinch in The Brutalizer for the shocking submission victory.

Cracker Barrell Challenge Match
Darby Allin vs. Jimmy Havoc vs. “The Bad Boy” Joey Janela
Winner: Jimmy Havoc

Essentially this match was a hardcore match with several cracker barrels at ringside (can you say sponsorship?). Just moments into the action it became apparent that this was not any hardcore match, but pure unadulterated violence. There were tacks, staple guns, tables, chairs, and of course cracker barrels - all used with utter disregard for anyone‘s well being. This match finally concluded as Jimmy Havoc put the pride of Asbury Park, Joey Janela, through a barrel with the The Acid Rainmaker.

The Best Friends (Chuck Taylor & Trent Barreta) vs. The Dark Order (Evil Uno & Grayson)
Winners: The Dark Order via pinfall

This match pit two teams that could not have been any more different in demeanor against each other with a first round bye in the upcoming tag team title tournament at stake. The Dark Order definitely would not pass for PG television as the roughly 250 lb Evil Uno donning a leather mask came to the ring with 8 more leather masked man appropriately donned The Creepers. This tandem took on The Best Friends who, well, their gimmick is that they are best friends. This match reached it’s conclusion as The Dark Order landed The Fatality on Trent Barreta for the pinfall. After the match, The Creepers were carrying Barreta away as the arena went dark and when they illuminated the arena again, Orange Cassidy stood in the center of the ring, hands in his pockets. Without ever removing his hands from his pockets, Cassidy vaulted over the top rope and took out all of The Creepers saving Barreta from whatever The Dark Order had planned for him.

Hikaru Shida vs. Riho
Winner: Riho via pinfall

This match carried great weight with it as it was sanctioned to determine who will face Nyla Rose, the winner of the Casino Battle Royale, to be crowned the first AEW Women’s Champion. This was probably the only match of the evening where the crowd was semi-uninspired and it wasn’t for a lack of action but rather because nobody knew who they were. Riho finally secured the pinfall in this one after a backslide into a rollup pinfall.

Cody w/ MJF vs. Shawn Spears w/ Tully Blanchard
Winner: Cody via pinfall

This match pitted “The American Nightmare” Cody and Shawn Spears (formerly The Perfect 10 Tye Dillinger) against each other in a personal affair. Spears was backed by Dusty Rhodes longtime rival Tully Blanchard while Cody had MJF in his corner. After repeated interference by Blanchard, he proceeded to lay waste to MJF after Spears aided him in getting the upper hand. This didn’t last long, however, as Arn Anderson made his way to the ring and dropped Spears with a vicious spine buster. This allowed Cody the window of opportunity he needed as he landed Cross Rhodes on Spears to secure the victory.

Escalera De La Muerte - AAA Tag Team Championship
The Lucha Bros (Pentagon Jr. & Rey Fenix) (c) vs. The Young Bucks
Winners: The Lucha Bros

Words would not do justice to the carnage that ensued in this contest. Saying these teams put their bodies on the line would be an understatement. When the dust settled, the Lucha Bros stood atop the ladder and retrieved the tag team titles. After the match, two masked men rushed the ring and laid waste to both teams. With both teams dismantled, they removed their masks to the shock of the crowd as it was Santana and Oritz - better known as the latest incarnation of LAX in Impact Wrestling.

AEW World Championship
Chris Jericho vs. Hangman Adam Page
Winner: Chris Jericho via pinfall

Several compelling storylines surrounded this match. This match was set to crown the first AEW World Champion, it pitted 27 year old Hangman Page against the grizzled veteran Chris Jericho who started wrestling two years before Page was born, and it featured the first ever female referee for the main event of a pro wrestling pay per view between two men. Jericho couldn’t put Page away with the Codebreaker or the Walls of Jericho but Page couldn’t stop him either with the Buckshot Lariat or The Deadeye. In the closing moments, a bloodied Jericho seemed like he was moments from suffering a devastating defeat when he countered another Buckshot Lariat attempt by Page with the Judas Effect for the 1-2-3.

In closing, I will say that this may have been the most exciting pay per view from start to finish that I’ve seen in quite a while and WWE should be on notice come October 2nd when AEW debuts their weekly show on TNT.

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Saturday, August 31, 2019

Saturday night is step one for Lara to regain his position at 154

By Luis A. Cortes III

Heading into this Saturday night's fight with Ramon Alvarez (27-7-3)(16 KO’s) (1 NC), Erislandy Lara (27-3-1)(11 KO’s) will set out to prove that he is still one of the top fighters in the talent rich super welterweight division (Fox 8 p.m. ET).  For the 36-year-old former Cuban amateur champion and former WBA champion, a victory in this fight could easily put him back in place to challenge for one of the major championships.  It wasn’t long ago that Lara was the man viewed as the best fighter and champion at 154-pounds prior to his loss to former champion Jarett Hurd in April of last year.  It was a loss that some felt was controversial after what turned out to be twelve grueling and entertaining rounds of action.   

With father time not on his side, along with Hurd all but set to have a rematch with Julian Williams (current WBA/IBF champion) in December of this year, it seems that a victory for Lara on Saturday means future major pay days and the chance to reclaim the number one spot.  It also helps that the WBC portion of the title is held by Tony Harrison, who should be facing the man he beat for that, title Jermell Charlo, in a rematch.  These fighters mentioned compete under the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) banner, which means that making a championship fight for Lara, if he were to be victorious, much easier.

While this fight for Lara is an important moment in his already successful career and may dictate just where the rest of his career goes, one boxing promoter who has dealt with the PBC shed some light as to why so many fighters remain loyal to the PBC and its lead advisor, the always elusive Al Haymon. “Al is a genius at getting fighters paid on a constant basis.  He is great at recycling fighters and putting them back into competitive fights,” stated the promoter.  “Just look at what he did for Chris Arreola.  Most of the other promoters would have felt that his career was over.  That his best days were behind him.  They may have even just used him as a stepping stone for younger prospects in their stable.  He (Al Haymon) allowed Arreola to earn more money with more fights and Arreola proved that he is far from a shot fighter.”

Haymon is technically just an advisor and none of the fighters are under promotional contract with the PBC.  Over the years, many of the PBC fighters have been offered lucrative contracts with large lump sums of money to jump ship and join the other major promotional outfits.  However, most of the fighters remain faithful to the PBC and Haymon due to what the promoter stated above.  In the case of Lara, due to his advanced age and being on the cusp of yet another title shot, and despite the sense of security in knowing that a loss doesn’t necessarily mean that his time in the lime light is over, Lara won’t be taking any chances against Alvarez and doesn’t want to find out what awaits his career should he lose. 

“I came (to the United States) and I achieved almost everything that I have asked of myself,” stated Lara.  “I was world champion for many years and the most important thing is that now I feel very happy because they gave me another chance for the world title and to be crowned again.” 

One can’t really blame Lara for having the mindset that he carries in that he is an undefeated fighter.  All three of his losses have been close decisions.  They include a majority decision loss to former two division champion Paul Williams in 2011 and a split decision loss to the sports current biggest box office draw Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in 2014.  While most felt that Alvarez did enough to win the fight, it was a fight that saw Lara confuse the younger Alvarez at times with his boxing skill.  Aside from Alvarez’s loss to Mayweather and two recent fights with Gennady Golovkin, his fight with Lara was the toughest of his career. 

This adds a bit of intrigue to this fight on Saturday night.  Ramon Alvarez is the older brother of Canelo Alvarez, and is himself trying to capitalize on this opportunity to take his own career to the next level.  For all the praise that his younger brother has received as one of the best fighters and the sports biggest star, Ramon has yet to have a truly career defining victory of his own.  “I will work to make things very clear to Lara that I am not my brother and that this fight will not be the same,” stated Alvarez.  “This is everything for me.  To make my own legacy.  My own path and show I got here with nobody’s help.”

After his fight with Hurd last year, a fight that many felt was the fight of the year, Lara returned to the ring and fought the always dangerous Brian Castano of Argentina.  It was yet another fight that Lara thought he won, but it ended in a draw, which again adds more meaning to this fight with Alvarez.  Despite those constant opportunities to make money that are given to fighters that make them stay loyal to PBC, those types of opportunities and paydays will eventually run their course if a fighter can no longer produce positive results. 

With the added pressure of what a victory would mean for both careers and the underlining story of a type of revenge for Lara against another Alvarez, Saturday nights fight between these two veterans could easily turn into an exciting battle and should have fans tune in to this night of action.   


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Thursday, August 29, 2019

After Saturday the Lightweight picture gets clearer

By Luis A. Cortes III

Heading into this Saturday afternoon’s (ESPN+ 4 p.m. ET) lightweight unification fight, there are many sub plots that accompany this major fight.  WBA/WBO unified champion and top ranked pound for pound fighter in the world, Vasyl Lomachenko (13-1)(10 KO’s) defends his two portions of the lightweight crown against fellow 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist, and England native Luke Campbell (20-2)(16 KO’s).  One of these sub plots is the fact that not only will the winner of this fight stake their claim as the best lightweight in the world with the two previously mentioned titles, the vacant WBC world lightweight title is also up for grabs.  This means that Lomachenko can add a third title to his ever-growing collection of championships.  While for Campbell, with one huge upset victory, he can go from top contender to owner of three of the four major titles in the division. 

While we will take a closer look at the type of fight that Lomachenko-Campbell could shape up to be once the first bell rings out from the O2 Arena in London, what is intriguing is just what this fight means to the lightweight division once the dust settles and a winner is announced.  Earlier this summer the lightweight division and the path towards crowning an undisputed champion was covered prior to the title defense of IBF champion, Richard Commey ("The Road to Undisputed Lightweight King Begins"). 

With Commey successfully defending his version of the title against Beltran, and Teofimo Lopez winning his fight to secure the spot as the IBF number one contender, all signs point to the two men meeting in a championship fight in December at Madison Square Garden.  The victor of this Saturday’s fight in London will be waiting with bated breath for the outcome of the proposed Commey-Lopez fight.  For Top Rank Promotions, the ideal situation would be for Lomachenko to continue to impress the world by proving with a victory over Campbell that he is the best fighter in the world.  It also would make a potential fight next year with the winner of Commey-Lopez much easier to make since both of those fighters also ply their trade under the Top Rank banner. 

As mentioned in the article earlier this summer.  Luke Campbell has attached himself to this scenario as the absolute wild card.  Campbell, unlike the other three fighters mentioned, is not signed to Top Rank and is promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing.  However, something tells me that if he can accomplish the upset by beating Lomachenko, which not many boxing observers or fans on social media seem to give him a valid chance in doing, Team Campbell may in fact be demanding that they as well look no further then December’s fight for their next opponent. 

All of this means that Saturday will go a long way into making the path and picture of crowning an undisputed lightweight champion much clearer.  As for the fight itself, this event does say a lot about the reigning champion.  With the fight taking place in London, it’s not often that in today’s day and age of champions demanding to be considered the “A” side of a promotion that the hometown fighter is the challenger.  Lomachenko is proving that he is anything but a regular champion.  He sees this as an opportunity to display his skills on a large scale in front of an audience that hasn’t seen him compete live since his days in the World Boxing Series prior to turning professional, or since the 2012 Olympic Games (held in London).  One thing is for certain, while Campbell will most likely have most of his native land’s support, with over 18,000 tickets sold and a sellout expected, Lomachenko has been attending fight week events that have been packed with his supporters. 

Already an international star, an impressive victory over Campbell would just add the rest of England to Lomachenko’s growing list of supporters.  Although its rare to see the champion or pound for pound best willing to travel to the native land of the challenger, to his credit Lomachenko had this to say about the task at hand on Saturday.  “Maybe it will be a harder fight, but I can’t answer that until after the fight.  Luke Campbell is not an easy fighter.  He’s a top fighter.  He’s a smart fighter.  He’s a technical fighter, so it will be an interesting and technical fight.” 

What Lomachenko is referring, to aside from showing respect to his challenger and fellow Olympic champion, is the only thing that boxing observers have pointed to that favors Campbell going into this fight, his size and reach advantage over the smaller champion.  Campbell is a very tall lightweight with solid fundamentals and a tough southpaw style.  He also has good professional experience, only losing twice by split decision, one of those fights being a 2017 loss to then WBA champion Jorge Linares.  Although most people thought Linares was the rightful winner of the fight, Campbell showed grit and determination after being dropped in the second round by rising to his feet and adjusting in order to make the fight a close one.  Linares was also the fighter that wound up dropping Lomachenko during their heated fight last year when Lomachenko moved up in weight to capture the WBA title. ("Top Rank Boxing Presents Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jorge Linares Recap")

“I’ve been through a lot having the experience of the London Olympics, the crowds, the pressure of going out there, getting a medal and winning.  My professional career, coming to America to fight Linares for a world title.  I’ve learned from my experiences, and boy, do I love a challenge.  I’ve said for years being in boxing, to be the best, you have to beat the best,” stated Campbell. 

So, while his amateur pedigree and his professional experiences, coupled with his physical traits have many feeling that Campbell will make this a competitive fight, mostly everyone winds up saying that in the end Lomachenko will find a way to figure out the right plan of attack during the fight and make the adjustments needed to chop down his worthy challenger.  What will be interesting to see is if Campbell will also be able to adjust to the champion’s adjustments in order to try and take control of the fight as the challenger, and clearly come out as the winner of the fight. 

A couple things are for sure, whichever way this fight winds up playing out, fight fans will continue to reap the benefits of cross promotion as the best fight the best.  Also, one fighter will walk out of the ring with three of the four major belts, thus taking us closer to an undisputed champion.  Lastly, even if the fight does wind up turning into a technical fight between the two fighters as they jockey for advantages, it will be an intriguing high tense chess match.  If this is the case, pay close attention to the subtle boxing moves done with both the fighter’s hands and feet as they probe for the right plan of attack to be successful.  Enjoy, and let the lightweight picture get that much clearer! 

Image result for lomachenko vs. campbell poster

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