Sunday, October 4, 2020

WWE NXT TakeOver 31

By Steve Ward

Just one week following Clash of Champions, WWE returned with NXT Takeover 31 from the brand new Capitol Wrestling Center at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. Essentially, the Capitol Wrestling Center is a scaled down version of the Thunderdome as WWE has again implemented the virtual fans with the primary difference being Performance Center athletes, family, and friends also surrounding the ring. The event also marked the debut of Wade Bad News Barrett on commentary with Vic Joseph and Beth Phoenix - a much needed infusion of life since the departure of Mauro Ranallo. The concise card featured five bouts with four titles on the line and was headlined by Finn Balor going head to head with Kyle OReilly for the NXT Championship.

NXT North American Championship

Damian Priest (c) vs. Johnny Gargano

Winner: Damian Priest via pinfall


Takeover kicked off in electrifying fashion as the man formerly known as Punishment Martinez in Ring of Honor defended his North American Championship against Johnny Gargano. This hard-hitting contest fired on all pistons from the opening bell. One of the most brutal spots of the match evolved as the two men battled in front of the announce table where Priest hoisted Gargano up into the Razors Edge and propelled him so his spine collided with the edge of the ring apron. Following a low blow that caused a momentum shift late in the match, Priest was still able to prevail as he executed The Reckoning to solidify the victory.


Kushida vs. Velveteen Dream

Winner: Kushida via submission


This grudge match evolved after each man essentially cost the other their respective title opportunities for Takeover. Like the opening contest, this one also got off to a ferocious start as Kushida ambushed Dream in the midst of his entrance. The advantage did not last long as Dream was able to assert control over the contest by engaging in his well known mind games. Kushida was able to withstand the Dream Valley Driver and The Purple Rain Maker to systematically dismantle Dreams left arm. The final moments of the match saw Kushida cinch in The Hoverboard Lock as Dream attempted another Dream Valley Driver and he sustained the hold throughout as he forced Dream to tap out.


NXT Cruiserweight Championship

Santos Escobar (c) vs. Isaiah Swerve Scott

Winner: Santos Escobar via pinfall


Since the demise of 205 Live, the Cruiserweight Championship has been adopted by NXT. Tonights bout featured two men who had their personas manipulated in typical WWE fashion shortly following their arrivals. First, we had the champion, Santos Escobar, who may be better known as El Hijo del Fantasma. In his case he debuted under that moniker until he unmasked himself and formed Legado del Fantasma. Escobars opponent, Isaiah Swerve Scott, was formerly known in Ring of Honor as Swerve Strickland. Swerve was able to execute the impressive 450 splash late in the bout, however, it wasnt enough. The two proceeded to jockey for position on the ring apron as Swerve was knocked down and inadvertently struck his head on the steel ring post. This opened the window of opportunity for Escobar who hoisted him up in a double underhook and drove Scotts cranium into his knee to allow him to earn the pinfall.


NXT Womens Championship

Io Shirai (c) vs. Candice LeRae

Winner: Io Shirai via pinfall


Late in the match Shirai appeared to be in dire straits after the referee was inadvertently knocked out and LeRaes husband, Johnny Gargano, made his way to the ring in a referees shirt. As the referee came to, Johnny Gargano was able to distract him while LeRae took the title and decked Shirai with it. This just wasnt enough as Shirai first executed a perfect Spanish Fly and then immediately followed through with the Over The Moonsault to retain her title.


NXT Championship

Finn Balor (c) vs. Kyle OReilly

Winner: Finn Balor via pinfall


After Karrion Kross was forced to relinquish the NXT Champinship immediately after he defeated Keith Lee for it due to injury, Finn Balor quickly emerged as the new champ. This evening he was pitted in his first defense against the Undisputed Eras Kyle OReilly. This opportunity was substantial for OReilly as he has been known throughout his career as a tag team specialist primarily alongside Bobby Fish and has never competed in a singles match at a Takeover event. Kyle OReilly certainly brought his A-game this evening as his submission prowess was on full display, however, The Prince was able to withstand the challenge as he finished him off with the Coup de Grace to retain his title.



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Monday, September 28, 2020

WWE Clash of Champions 2020

By Steve Ward

For the September installment of the WWE Quarantine Era, Clash of Champions - Gold Rush (apparently adding a tag line to the name of each pay per view is a thing in WWE much like the days of each In Your House having a special subtitle) emanated this evening from the Thunderdome within the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. I find it interesting how the state of Florida has allowed events to admit masked spectators while operating at 25% capacity yet WWE has not followed suit like AEW and the Jacksonville Jaguars still electing for virtual fans and what I suspect, based on tonights audible crowd reactions not exactly syncing with the virtual fans on-screen behavior, to be manufactured fan noise. Nonetheless, this evenings seven match card only featured title bouts so names such as Seth Rollins, Rey Mysterio, Bray Wyatt, and Braun Strowman were noticeably omitted from the show.

WWE Intercontinental Championship Triple Threat Ladder Match Jeff Hardy (c) vs. A.J. Styles vs. Sami Zayn Winner: Sami Zayn In the midst of Jeff Hardy and A.J. Styles’ recent feud over the Intercontinental Title, Sami Zayn made his return from injury recently with the title he never lost in tow. With Zayn declaring himself the true champion since he vacated the title due to injury and Styles being the next in line for an opportunity, what better way to settle the score and declare an undisputed champion than in a triple threat ladder match? The most awe inspiring moment of the match came late as a ladder was suspended between the ring apron and announce table with another towering ladder standing beside it. With Sami Zayn laid out on one ladder, Hardy scaled the other and executed a picture perfect Swanton Bomb from the top that broke Zayn in half and obliterated the ladder. In the closing moments, Zayn procured two sets of handcuffs from his jacket. First, he handcuffed Jeff Hardy to a ladder on the floor at ringside, not by his hand, but by the gauge in his ear - let that sink in a moment. Zayn then took the other set and first handcuffed himself to Styles. Styles decided to scale the ladder with a beaten Zayn on his back in a fireman’s carry. Halfway up the ladder, Zayn pulled a key from his mouth, unhooked himself from Styles, and attached the Phenomenal One to a lower rung on the ladder. This allowed Sami to ascend to the top of the ladder and retrieve both belts suspended above the ring crowning a new champion in what was sadly a rather pedestrian match for the most part.

RAW Women’s Championship Asuka (c) vs. Zelina Vega Winner: Asuka via submission Quite frankly this match materialized out of nowhere. Asuka had been begging for more competition for several weeks and following a successful defense of her title against Mickie James on RAW a few weeks back, Vega came out of nowhere to challenge the Empress of Tomorrow two weeks ago. In the closing moments of the bout, Asuka cinched in the Asuka Lock to retain her title.

WWE United States Championship Bobby Lashley (c) w/ MVP & Shelton Benjamin vs. Apollo Crews w/ Ricochet Winner: Bobby Lashley via submission This bout marked the latest installment in the ongoing feud between Apollo Crews and The Hurt Business. Aside from losing his title recently to Lashley, things became even more personal as Apollo’s cohort Cedric Alexander betrayed him and subsequently joined MVP’s ranks in The Hurt Business. Bobby Lashley was able to withstand an impressive frog splash from Crews as he solidified the defense of his title by locking in The Hurt Lock, his version of a full nelson, for the tap-out. RAW Tag Team Championship The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) (c) vs. Andrade & Angel Garza Winners: The Street Profits via pinfall In a rivalry that’s been ongoing since before Wrestlemania, Andrade and Garza challenged for the RAW Tag Team Championship…again all while claiming things would be different this time since parting ways with Zelina Vega. It was also entertaining to hear the commentators allude to the fact that the Street Profits were tired of facing this team considering the fact that WWE has dismantled their tag team division this year with the releases of The Revival, Gallows & Anderson, Hawkins & Ryder, and The Authors of Pain (AOP). That coupled with a serious injury to half of the Viking Raiders and the division is now in shambles. In the closing moments of a rather uneventful contest, Dawkins executed his version of D’Lo Brown’s Sky High on Andrade and proceeded to pin him. Andrade kicked out after two, however, the referee blew the count and struck the canvas a third time for the pinfall - whether this was a legitimate error or work should become clear tomorrow night on RAW.

WWE Smackdown Womens Championship

Bayley (c) vs. Asuka

Winner: Asuka via DQ

Bayley made her way out to the ring and announced that Nikki Cross was unable to compete and therefore forfeited her title opportunity. After proclaiming a half-hearted open challenge, Bayley proceeded to celebrate her “victory” when no one initially answered the call. Suddenly Asuka’s music echoed through the arena to challenge Bayley’s 349 day championship reign. As Bayley felt she was losing her grip on the title, she assaulted the RAW Women’s Champion with a steel chair leading to a disqualification and abrupt end to the match.

Following the bout, Bayley was ambushed by Sasha Banks who emerged from “the crowd” with her neck brace on and a steel chair in hand. The two proceeded to brawl in the ring until Banks ended the confrontation with some semblance of revenge as she peppered Bayley with several kendo sticks strikes.

WWE Championship Ambulance Match

Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Randy Orton

Winner: Drew McIntyre


The bitter rivalry between McIntyre and Orton entered another chapter this evening in the form of an Ambulance Match. The purpose of this match is quite simpleincapacitate your opponent to the point where you can shove him into the back of an ambulance and shut the doors. After Randy Orton incapacitated McIntyre early, he sized him up for the RKO, however, a hand grabbed him by the ankle from outside the ring. The masked individual revealed himself as The Big Show, a man victimized by Orton over the summer. Big Show dragged Orton out of the ring and chokeslammed him through the announce table before exiting. Later in the bout, the brawl spilled to the backstage area where once again Orton was ambushed as the tide turned in his favor, this time by Christian, allowing the champion to take control again. As the fight gravitated back towards the ambulance, Orton again found himself in control standing alone on top of the vehicle. Before Orton could act, Shawn Michaels greeted him with a Sweet Chin Music and shoved him off the ambulance. The final moments saw McIntyre first execute a Claymore Kick and then throw Orton into the ambulance. Rather than immediately close the ambulance doors, Drew first exacted revenge by way of a punt to the head. After closing the ambulance doors, the final victim from Ortons summer Legend Killer tour, Ric Flair, was revealed as the ambulance driver as he hauled Orton out of the arena.


WWE Universal Championship

Roman Reigns (c) w/ Paul Heyman vs. Jey Uso

Winner: Roman Reigns


Following an injury to Big E, Jey Uso found himself in a fatal four way match recently on Smackdown with Sheamus, Matt Riddle, and King Corbin. Jey pulled off a stunner as he emerged victorious hence pitting him against his own real-life cousin, Roman Reigns. Now I understand that WWE was trying to tell a story while establishing Roman Reigns as the top heel in the company as he beat and berated his cousin but it was a bit of overkill and quite frankly translated into the worst match on the card. This bout came to its merciful conclusion as Jimmy Uso hobbled to ringside and threw in the towel for his brother calling an end to the match.


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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Pandemic Knocks Out Annual Boxing Banquet


The 2020 New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame's annual induction and awards ceremony has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the first time in its 52-year history, the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Dinner has been canceled.

The annual early November induction and awards dinner, held in recent years at the Venetian in Garfield, has attracted upwards of 650 people. This year's banquet was officially canceled as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to pose a health threat to New Jersey residents.

In a recent press release, New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame President, Henry Hascup, stressed the need for attendee safety, and to have maximum support for those being honored by the hall of fame. "Right now the [New Jersey] Governor has opened it up to 25% of the venue's capacity, but that would mean that ONLY 250 people could attend, which wouldn't be fair to the honorees," Hascup said.

The New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame was established in 1968 to honor persons who made significant contributions to boxing in New Jersey. Inductees span the various roles involved with the sport ranging from fighters to medical professionals.

This year's 14 inductees include a variety of boxers and non-boxers. Bob Rooney Jr. and David Toledo headline the list of boxers from the Garden State. Non-participants joining the hall of fame include sports photographer, Ed Mulholland, and boxing training camp owner, Madame Bey.

The Turkish-born Hranoush Sidky Bey, commonly known as Madame Bey, ran her training camp in Chatham Township, New Jersey from 1923 to 1942. Notable visitors to her camp included Max Schmeling, Primo Carnera and Lou Ambers. Madame Bey's life in and outside of her boxing camp is chronicled in New Jersey boxing historian Gene Pantalone's 2016 book, Madame Bey's: Home to Boxing Legends.

The class of 2020 inductees will be honored on November 11, 2021 with the class of 2021.

The New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame is a 501-C3 charity. Notable past inductees include, Mickey Walker, Jersey Joe Walcott, Mike Tyson, James J. Braddock, Gerry Cooney and Marvin Hagler.

For more information on the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame and the class of 2020, please visit their official website and Facebook page.

This story also appeared on Patch


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Sunday, September 6, 2020

AEW ALL OUT 2020

By Steve Ward

All Elite Wrestling returned to pay per view this evening from Dailys Place in Jacksonville, Florida. The outdoor, stadium seating venue, attached to TIAA Bank Field, the home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, has been the residence of all of the promotions programming for the past few months and recently has been permitted to welcome real fans (unlike WWEs virtual Thunderdome) with an operating capacity of 10% - which translates to about 500 spectators. This evenings stacked card was headlined by Jon Moxley defending the AEW Heavyweight Championship against MJF in addition to the 21-man Casino Battle Royale to determine the future number one contender for the Heavyweight title.

The Buy-In Pre-Show

Joey Janela w/ Sonny Kiss vs. Serpentico w/ Luther
Winner: Joey Janela via pinfall

The pride of Asbury Park, New Jersey, “The Bad Boy” Joey Janela, opened the evening with a match against the enigmatic Serpentico. This entertaining opening bout concluded with the delivery of a devastating top rope elbow drop solidifying the victory.

Private Party vs. The Dark Order (Alex Reynolds and John Silver)
Winners: Private Party via pinfall

Following a very physical display from The Dark Order, Private Party were able to execute Gin and Juice to escape with the pinfall victory.

Main Card

Tooth and Nail Match
Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. w/ Rebel vs. Big Swole Winner: Big Swole The opening contest pit Dr. Britt Baker appearing in her first match in several months against Big Swole in the confines of what was allegedly Dr. Baker’s dentist’s office. I interpreted this match as a way to ease Dr. Baker back into action as she is an outstanding in-ring performer who didn’t have the opportunity to display her abilities in this contest. The underwhelming bout ended as Big Swole pinned Dr. Baker down on a dentist’s chair and placed the mask to administer knock-out gas on her face until she was unconscious for the win.

Jurassic Express (Luchasaurus & Jungle Boy) w/ Marco Stunt vs. The Young Bucks
Winners: The Young Bucks via pinfall The first match of the main card to be held in the ring pit two of the top five ranked tag teams in AEW against each other. Blink and you would’ve missed some of the fast and furious action in this contest. The final moments left Jungle Boy exposed after Luchasaurus vaulted into the collective of wrestlers at ringside. The Young Bucks solidified the victory after they executed the BTE Trigger on “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry.

Casino Battle Royale
Winner: “The Murderhawk Monster” Lance Archer

This 21-man battle royale presented extremely high stakes as the winner would earn a future shot at the AEW World Heavyweight Championship. This star studded match included “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels, Jake Hager, Brian Cage, Lance Archer, The Lucha Bros, The Butcher and the Blade, Frankie Kazarian, Billy Gunn, and Darby Allin to name a few. The match also featured the debut of Matt Sydal (also known as Evan Bourne from his WWE days) as he drew the wild card for the match. The final four participants in the bout were The Butcher (also known as Everytime I Die guitarist Andy Williams), Matt Sydal, Lance Archer, and Eddie Kingston. The Butcher was the first to be eliminated by Archer. Kingston eliminated Sydal as the two battled on the apron. Finally, Archer and Eddie Kingston found themselves fighting on the ring apron while Kingston’s cohorts, The Butcher and the Blade, attempted to pull Archer to the floor. Archer’s manager Jake “The Snake” Roberts distracted Kingston enough with his trademark snake in the bag so The Murderhawk Monster was able to propel Kingston into Butcher and the Blade for the victory.

Broken Rules Match
Matt Hardy vs. Sammy Guevara
Winner: Matt Hardy

Following several weeks of feuding between Hardy and Guevara, the two competed in a Broken Rules Match this evening. Essentially, this was a last man standing match which meant the winner would be declared after he could incapacitate his opponent to the point where he could not answer the referee’s ten count. This contest held potentially severe repercussions as Matt Hardy declared he would end his AEW career if he were unable to defeat The Spanish God. The match started near the football field and quickly proceeded to the backstage area of Daily’s Place. It appeared the match was cut prematurely short as Hardy took an ugly fall through a table and bounced his head off the concrete floor after which referee Aubrey Edwards called for the bell. Hardy then stalked Guevara back to the ringside area where the match was restarted at the ringside doctor‘s discretion. The two men then battled to the top of the ring entrance scaffolding where Hardy launched Guevara through the stage below. Guevara was unable to respond to the referee’s ten count hence proclaiming Hardy the victor.

AEW Women’s Championship
Hikaru Shida (c) vs. Thunder Rosa
Winner: Hikaru Shida via pinfall Hikaru Shida put her 105 day reign on the line this evening as she squared off with the current NWA Women’s World Champion, Thunder Rosa. On a side note, Thunder Rosa may have one of the best billings upon her entrance to the ring as Justin Roberts announced her from the graveyards of Tijuana, Mexico. This match was absolutely phenomenal and was quite possibly the best women’s match I’ve seen in a while. They displayed excellent technical prowess as old school moves such as The Pendulum used by Thunder Rosa and the Stretch Muffler by Shida were on display in this match, as well as, some proficient striking. Shida finally put Thunder Rosa away with a devastating sliding knee strike for the pinfall.

The Dark Order (Brodie Lee, Evil Uno, Stu Grayson, & Colt Cabana) vs. The Natural Nightmares (Dustin Rhodes & QT Marshall), Matt Cardona, & Scorpio Sky
Winners: The Natural Nightmares (Dustin Rhodes & QT Marshall), Matt Cardona, & Scorpio Sky

This match came to fruition after Brodie Lee decimated Cody Rhodes on Dynamite a few weeks ago to become the new TNT Champion and the rest of the Nightmare Family rallied for him. In the closing moments of this frenetically paced match, Colt Cabana begged for a tag back into the ring from Brodie Lee. Cabana then ascended to the top turnbuckle and attempted a moonsault, however, Dustin Rhodes rolled out of the way and quickly captured Colt in a rollup pin for the victory.

AEW Tag Team Championship
Kenny Omega & “Hangman” Adam Page (c) vs. FTR w/ Tully Blanchard
Winners: FTR via pinfall

Following FTR’s (better known as The Revival in WWE so one could speculate that FTR stands for F&ck The Revival but I digress) shocking debut on Dynamite earlier this summer, they immediately solidified themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the tag team division and set their sights on the champions, Page and Omega. One had to wonder entering this match how Omega and Page would co-exist after weeks of failing to remain on the same page despite managing to retain their titles. The descent within The Elite finally culminated recently as The Young Bucks kicked Page out of The Elite on Dynamite. Late in the contest, Page received a V Trigger from Omega after half of FTR ducked out of the way. Omega was then rewarded with a chop block that incapacitated him for the remainder of the bout. Page finally fell victim to the number’s game as he suffered a pair of spike piledrivers labeled The Mind Breaker as new tag team champions were crowned.

Mimosa Mayhem Match
Chris Jericho vs. Orange Cassidy
Winner: Orange Cassidy

Following a quite entertaining feud between two of the most charismatic wrestlers in the industry, Chris Jericho and Orange Cassidy’s rubber match would be in the form of a Mimosa Mayhem Match where the winner would be declared by pinfall, submission, or submerging his opponent in a mimosa-filled vat. The closing moments of the match saw Chris Jericho teetering on the middle turnbuckle with the mimosa vat just beneath him as Orange Cassidy executed two consecutive superman punches - the second launching Le Champion into the vat.

AEW Heavyweight Championship
Jon Moxley (c) vs. MJF w/ Wardlow
Winner: Jon Moxley via pinfall

The undefeated MJF spent the past several weeks “campaigning” his way into this contest for his first title shot in AEW. During his campaigning, he did manage to implement one key stipulation for this bout where Moxley would not have the luxury to utilize his signature finisher, The Paradigm Shift. In the closing moments, Wardlow distracted the referee and tossed the Dynamite Diamond ring into MJF, however, this created the window of opportunity that Moxley needed. With the referee still engaged with Wardlow, Moxley executed his patented Paradigm Shift allowing him to pin the bloodied MJF to retain his title and solidify his future date with Jake Roberts’ Murderhawk Monster, Lance Archer.

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Monday, August 31, 2020

WWE Payback 2020

By Steve Ward

Just one week after Summerslam, the Quarantine Era continued as WWE returned with Payback from the Thunderdome (aka The Amway Center) in Orlando, Florida. The composure of the card bears a semblance of what WWE wished last weeks event had been and they decided they wanted a do-over. Tonights show featured seven matches with three titles defended. This event also marked the return to in-ring action for Roman Reigns after an extensive layoff due to concerns over COVID-19 and his compromised immune system stemming from his battles with leukemia.

United States Championship Bobby Lashley w/ MVP & Shelton Benjamin vs. Apollo Crews (c) Winner: Bobby Lashley via submission

Weeks of feuding between The Hurt Business and Apollo Crews came to a head this evening. After Crews successfully defended his title against MVP last Sunday, he met a more formidable foe tonight in U.S. Army veteran Bobby Lashley. Lashley overcame Apollo in a hard fought contest as he locked in the Full Lashley (his rendition of the Full Nelson) for the submission victory.

Sheamus vs. Big E Winner: Big E via pinfall

In a match described by the commentary team as one to help potentially propel the winner into a future title shot, we were presented with the first card-filler bout of the evening. With virtually no real buildup, Sheamus, who recently concluded his program with Jeff Hardy a few weeks back with a loss in their barroom brawl, was pitted against Big E who has been acclimating to singles competition again with his New Day cohorts on the shelf. Sheamus appeared he was in a prime position for the submission victory as he had Big E locked into a heel hook, however, Big E fought his way out with several strikes to the head. Sheamus proceeded to size up Big E for the Brogue Kick but was welcomed with a power bomb followed by the Big Ending to solidify the victory.

King Corbin vs. Matt Riddle Winner: Matt Riddle via pinfall In the second card-filler bout of the evening, arguably the most hated man in WWE, King Corbin, was pitted against former mixed martial artist Matt Riddle as he continues to acquire his footing following his promotion from NXT to Smackdown. As the match approached it’s conclusion, Corbin executed the Deep Six, however, it wasn’t enough to seal the deal. Riddle was able to turn the tides by first executing the Bro to Sleep (his version of CM Punk’s Go to Sleep) and then the Floating Bro for the upset victory.

Women’s Tag Team Championship Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax vs. Bayley & Sasha Banks (c) Winners: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax via submission

Two women who were conspicuously omitted from the Summerslam card last week were thrown together this week as a rather imposing duo to challenge for the tag team titles. It appeared that Banks and Bayley were going to skate by after Banks executed a frog splash but Jax was able to kick out. In the final moments of the match, The Queen of Spades displayed her submission prowess as she locked up Banks with a Muta Lock and Bayley with the Kirifuda Clutch simultaneously! As Sasha tried to fight her way out, Baszler used Banks’ arm to further choke out her partner leading to the tap out and crowning of new champs.

Randy Orton vs. Keith Lee Winner: Keith Lee via pinfall

This contest pit two men coming off of main event losses last weekend against each other in an interesting encounter. Randy Orton’s meteoric momentum came to a screeching halt last Sunday at Summerslam as he lost his bid at the WWE Championship to Drew McIntyre. On the other hand, Keith Lee suffered defeat and the loss of his NXT Championship last Saturday at NXT Takeover XXX to Karrion Kross which opened the door for his debut this past Monday on RAW where he interrupted the Legend Killer as he addressed the WWE Universe. This interruption lead to a bout between the two that was prematurely ended by a McIntyre interruption bringing us this rematch tonight. This exceedingly physical match concluded in absolutely shocking fashion. Orton’s attempt at an RKO was foiled as Lee reversed it into the Spirit Bomb for the upset victory.

Rey & Dominik Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins & Buddy Murphy Winners: Rey and Dominik Mysterio via pinfall

The ongoing saga between the Mysterio family and “The Monday Nigh Messiah” Seth Rollins added yet another chapter this evening. Following Dominik’s loss to Rollins in his debut match last Sunday, he teamed with his father tonight to do battle with Rollins and his disciple, Buddy Murphy. After Murphy accidentally struck Rollins in the head, the opening presented itself for the Mysterios to take control. Rey kept Rollins at bay outside the ring as Dominik first executed his father’s patented 619 and then the frog splash for the victory.

WWE Universal Championship “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman Winner: Roman Reigns via pinfall

After The Fiend defeated Strowman last Sunday for the Universal Championship, Roman Reigns shocked everyone as he emerged to lay waste to both men. This week it was announced that the title would be defended in a triple threat match, however, at the conclusion of Smackdown this past Friday, Roman was found discussing the contract for the match with Paul Heyman - could he be the latest Paul Heyman Guy?? The early moments of the match were absolute carnage as Roman Reigns did not make his appearance in the match while Strowman and The Fiend destroyed each other and the ring - literally. After The Fiend suplexed Strowman off the top rope, the ring literally collapsed. Reigns found this to be his window of opportunity to make his way to the ring with Paul Heyman in tow. Roman was unable to put away The Fiend and could have succumbed to the Mandible Claw if he hadn’t kicked Wyatt in his manhood. Reigns then turned his attention to Strowman who he speared to reclaim his Universal Championship.

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Monday, August 24, 2020

WWE Summerslam 2020

By Steve Ward                                                                                                                                              

As we approach the end of month six of the “Quarantine Era,” WWE Summerslam emanated this evening from their new temporary home - the WWE Thunderdome (can you say copyright infringement?). The introduction of this new venue came from the boss himself, Mr. McMahon, this past Friday night on Smackdown. For those who are unaware, the Thunderdome is actually the Amway Center in Orlando, the normal home of the Orlando Magic, with large video screens lining the arena seats with the faces of fans watching from home on their webcams - if I’m being honest, I appreciate the effort and it is nice to see a show held in an arena, however, it also reminds me of a ‘90s sci-fi movie set in a dystopian future. Nonetheless, the show which held the tag line “You won’t see it coming” featured a card of seven matches with five titles defended.

Smackdown Women’s Championship Asuka vs. Bayley (c) Winner: Bayley via pinfall

Over the past two weeks, Asuka found herself earning an opportunity at not only one, but both, of the top women’s titles in WWE. First, she defeated Bayley recently on RAW to earn a shot against Sasha Banks for the RAW Women’s Title and then a women’s battle royal on Smackdown to also earn an opportunity at Bayley’s Smackdown Women’s Title. Asuka clearly controlled the tempo of this entire bout, however, the number’s game proved to be the deciding factor. In the closing moments, Bayley was in dire straits hung up on the ropes as Asuka propelled herself at her. At the last second, Banks pushed Bayley out of the way and took the shot for her. This opened the opportunity for Bayley to roll up a distracted Asuka for the pinfall.

RAW Tag Team Championship The Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) (c) vs. Andrade & Angel Garza w/ Zelina Vega Winners: The Street Profits via pinfall

Late in the contest Vega climbed to the ring apron to attract the attention of the referee as Ford was propelled into the ropes by Angel Garza knocking her to the floor. This prompted Andrade to attend to Vega leaving his partner high and dry. Garza was overwhelmed by The Street Profits with Ford ascending to the top rope for an impressive splash that solidified their victory.

Loser Leaves WWE Match Mandy Rose vs. Sonya Deville Winner: Mandy Rose via pinfall

The months of drama between the former Fire & Desire cohorts finally culminated this evening in a Loser Leaves WWE No Disqualification Match. Sadly, the most entertaining part of this match was Mandy Rose’s futile effort to flip a table upright after opening the legs. This bout reached it’s merciful conclusion as Rose drove a running knee into the cranium of Deville allowing her to secure the pinfall victory and sending Deville packing - could she appear in AEW in 90 days???

Street Fight Dominik Mysterio w/ Rey Mysterio vs. Seth Rollins w/ Buddy Murphy Winner: Seth Rollins via pinfall

Over the past few months we’ve witnessed the unfolding of an ugly rivalry between Rey Mysterio and Seth Rollins that not only saw Rey “lose his eye” at Extreme Rules but also have his son Dominik drawn into the fold. Following a vicious kendo stick beating at the hands of Rollins and Murphy recently on RAW, this bout came to fruition and also marked the in-ring debut of the young Mysterio. Dominik Mysterio made a solid showing in his debut WWE match including the execution of a frog splash early in the contest, however, it wasn’t enough to overcome the Monday Night Messiah. In the final moments of the bout, another window of opportunity opened for Dominik as Rollins and Murphy became preoccupied with Rey and handcuffed him to the ropes. Dominik proceeded to take down Rollins and scaled to the top turnbuckle for another frog splash attempt. This time Dominik was met with a pair of knees to the midsection followed by a curb stomp that sealed the victory for Rollins.

RAW Women’s Championship Asuka vs. Sasha Banks (c) w/ Bayley Winner: Asuka via submission

After losing her bid at championship gold earlier in the evening, Asuka made her way back out to the ring to square off with Sasha Banks. As we approached the conclusion of this match it appeared the number’s game would again be the determining factor in the contest as Bayley this time saved Banks from Asuka. Banks proceeded to cinch in the Bank Statement, however, Asuka was able to roll through and reverse it into the Asuka Lock for the submission victory.

WWE Championship Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Randy Orton Winner: Drew McIntyre via pinfall

Following weeks of revisiting his “Legend Killer” persona with attacks on Christian, The Big Show, Ric Flair, and Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton found himself in the position for a shot at his 14th World Championship against the man who dethroned Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania, Drew McIntyre. This hard-hitting contest ended in rather shocking fashion. McIntyre couldn’t land the Claymore Kick, then Orton’s attempt at an RKO was thwarted only to see McIntyre win with an underwhelming backslide pin to retain the title.

WWE Universal Championship Falls Count Anywhere Match Braun Strowman (c) vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt Winner: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt via pinfall

Following the Swamp Fight at Extreme Rules last month, we saw the reemergence of The Fiend and the darker side of Braun Strowman. After weeks of mind games between the two, we arrived to a Falls Count Anywhere Match for the Universal Championship tonight. Braun attempted to pull out an additional stop to put away Wyatt ass he used a box cutter to remove a portion of the ring canvas and padding to expose the wood planks, however, it backfired as he was met with the Sister Abigail as Wyatt regained the title. After the end of the match, Roman Reigns emerged from out of nowhere to lay waste to both Wyatt and Strowman after several months out of action declaring that he was the true owner of the title.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Snips and Snipes with Eric Armit

By Eric Armit

It takes a lot to upset me but I am really disappointed. I have realized that everyone else has been mentioned as the next opponent for Saul Alvarez except me. I threw my hat into the ring but it seems it was just too much trouble to dig through the 999 other hats to find mine. What have I done wrong? How hard can it be to pick out an opponent who is no threat and cheap? I qualify on both of those criteria so came on “Canelo” make your choice before it become a bore and we lose interest in who you are going to face next.

Boy it has been a depressing couple of weeks. We have Mike Tyson talking about fighting; we have Oscar De La Hoya “training” for a fight. We have Floyd Mayweather Jr apparently ready to fight again and Michael Nunn at 47 appearing in a MMA exhibition and in the ultimate exhibition of hypocrisy we hear the poor WBA whinging that it is so very difficult to cut down the number of titles. That’s like some guy driving whilst using his mobile phone complain about the number accidents caused by people driving and using their mobile phone. If you are not part of the solution then you are part of the problem. Here’s a hint WBA try to stop inventing more. That would be step in the right direction. Lock down madness rules, OK!

Jarrell Miller will hear his fate on 5 August when he is called in front of the Nevada State Athletic Commission to explain his latest positive test. After his positive tests before the Anthony Joshua fight I was surprised Top Rank gave him another chance to save his career but Bob Arum has made it clear that Miller betrayed the trust they placed in him so even if his career is not over finding someone else to trust him is not going to be easy and if his career is over he only has himself to blame.

To be honest boxing does not need Miller. If there is one thing there is no shortage of it is heavyweights. Putting aside such as Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Dylan Whyte etc. there is a huge list of unbeaten heavyweights active right now. We have Joe Joyce, Daniel Dubois, Filip Hrgovic, Efe Ajagba, Tony Yoka, Agit Kabayel, Jermaine Franklin, Junior Fa, Frank Savage, Guido Vianello, Petar Milas, Cassius Chaney, Jared Anderson, Darmani Rock and Viktor Vykhryst all unbeaten so the future of heavyweight boxing is in safe hands.

Both Joyce and Dubois have matches coming up as they look towards one of the biggest heavyweight fights in the history of British boxing. In two Britain vs. Germany bouts Joyce faces Michael Wallisch on Saturday and Dubois takes on Erik Pfeifer on August 29. If they both come through those bouts then Joyce and Dubois are paired in a fight for the vacant European title with the winner mandated to fight Marco Huck. I can’t see the winner being interested in a Huck fight. Whilst there is plenty bubbling up at heavyweight with the talk of two or three fight series featuring any two of three from Fury, Joshua and Wilder and with Dillian overdue a chance those guys have a stranglehold on the four titles and boxers such as Joyce, Dubois and Oleg Usyk could find themselves still waiting for a title shot this time next year.

Boxing is slowly shaking off the effects of the COVID-19 virus. Top Rank has led the way. Golden Boy re-launches on Friday with Vergil Ortiz vs. Samuel Vargas in Indio. German promoters are continuing action there with a clash between Jack Culcay and unbeaten Abass Baraou set for 28 August in Berlin and Tyron Zeuge tackling Giovanni De Carolis on 27 November. Culcay vs. Baraou is a real 50/50 match. Another big fight will see Jeff Horn and Tim Tszyu exchanges punches in Brisbane on 26 August. There are signs all over that the sport is stirring. Queensberry staged the first show in Britain, Miguel Cotto has asked for clearance to stage a show in Puerto Rico on 22 August. Gyms are scheduled to reopen in South Africa on 1 September. European title fights featuring French fighters will see Samir Ziani making a voluntary defense of the super featherweight title against Alex Dilmaghani on 22 August in Redditch with the winner to face mandatory challenger Martin Joseph Ward and Maxime Beaussire challenging champion Matteo Signani in Caen on 10 October. There will be a show in Aarhus, Denmark on 19 September. It will be mainly amateur matches with on professional fight. There was a small show with spectators in attendance in Okinawa on Sunday and Oleg Usyk is reported to be staging his first promotion on 1 August.

Filipino Eumir Felix Marcial has been signed to a professional contract by Manny Pacquiao’s MP Promotions. He won a gold medal at the World Youth Championships and a silver medal at the World Championships and had qualified for the 2020 Olympics. He has reportedly received a $200,000 signing bonus and the intent is to still have him compete at the rescheduled Games as well as fight as a professional.

The last few weeks have seen some tragedies hit boxing. Three promising members of the Kazakh amateur team who had recently advanced from the Youth squad to the Senior level died in a car accident, and unbeaten American super welterweight Travell Mazion was killed in another car accident this one outside Austin, Texas. The 24-year-old Mazion was 17-0 and had won the NABF title in January. Javier Gonzalez was another unbeaten young fighter to pass away recently. The 21-year-old from Gomez Palacio was 15-0 and was ready to move up to eight rounds when cancer ended his young life.

Let’s hope the outcome is better for retired Nigerian heavyweight champion Ngozika Ekwelum who is fighting cancer of the bladder and is about to start another series of chemotherapy. He faced British heavyweights Billy Aird and John L Gardner in the UK in the 1970’s.

From a personal point of view I was so very sorry to learn of the death of Dickie Cole. Dickie was a great referee and was the head of the Texas Commission, but for me he was a much loved friend who was head of the WBC Ratings Committee when I was a member. Dickie would often attend the Ring Officials and leave me in charge of the Ratings. Later Dickie would catch up with me and say “Jose wants to see me-what have you done to the ratings I can’t leave you alone for a minute." He was such a lovely man and any time I met with him was a good day for me. My thoughts go out to his family. RIP Dickie, the world is a poorer place without you.

South Africa’s former WBA featherweight champion Simpiwe Vetyeka, who saw his career ended in 2018 when he was hit by a passing vehicle, has made a successful return as a trainer of amateur boxers and has already produced some local champions.

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