Monday, November 23, 2020

WWE Survivor Series 2020

By Steve Ward

The month eight pay per view of the Quarantine Era emanated from the Thunderdome in Orlando, Florida as WWE presented the 34th annual Survivor Series. This evenings card was labeled Best of the Best as each contest pit RAW against Smackdown meaning there were several champion versus champion matches with nothing at stake. The most significant event of the evening, however, was the Final Farewell of The Undertaker after 30 years with the company. Personally, I think its a metaphorical slap in the face to the Deadman to commemorate the legendary career, of arguably the most loyal performer who is largely responsible for keeping WWE alive during the Monday Night Wars, in front of the dystopian virtual WWE Universe instead of in a sold out arena.

5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Match

Team RAW (AJ Styles w/ Omos, Matt Riddle, Keith Lee, Braun Strowman, & Sheamus) vs. Team Smackdown (Jey Uso, Kevin Owens, Otis, Seth Rollins, & King Corbin)

Sole Survivors: Team RAW


The first elimination of the match came in bizarre fashion as Rollins “sacrificed” himself to a Brogue Kick from Sheamus leading to his pinfall. Team RAW continued their momentum as a series of Stunners delivered by Kevin Owens was abruptly halted by AJ Styles with a Phenomenal Forearm followed by a pinfall. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse for Team Smackdown, King Corbin fell victim to a moonsault delivered from the top turnbuckle by Matt Riddle for the third consecutive elimination of a member of the Blue Brand team. Otis then gave Strowman a run for his money but it wasn’t enough as The Monster Among Men hoisted him up before he could propel himself from the top turnbuckle and delivered a ring shaking power slam leaving Jey Uso alone. Jey Uso under the impression that Styles was the legal man had not seen the blind tag made by Keith Lee. As Uso dove off the top rope with Styles in his crosshairs, Lee intercepted Jey by catching him on his shoulders and proceeded to break him in half with a Spirit Bomb to solidify a clean sweep for Team RAW.


The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford)

Winners: The Street Profits via pinfall


The second bout of the main card pit the Smackdown Tag Team Champions, The Street Profits, against the RAW Tag Team Champions, The New Day. If Im being honest, the most entertaining aspect of this match was when it dragged on way too long and it became apparent that fake crowd noise was being filtered in as the audible reaction did not match that of the demeanor of the virtual fans. The conclusion to this clash commenced as the Street Profits executed a Blockbuster on Xavier Woods which allowed Angelo Dawkins to seal the victory for his team with the pinfall.


Sami Zayn vs. Bobby Lashley w/ The Hurt Business - MVP, Shelton Benjamin, & Cedric Alexander

Winner: Bobby Lashley via submission


The third contest of the evening saw the United States Champion, Bobby Lashley, square off with the Intercontinental Champion, Sami Zayn, in yet another non-title contest. The majority of this match was comprised of Zayn complaining to the referee about The Hurt Business at ringside in between spurts of Lashley absolutely dominating the Intercontinental Champion. Lashley finally trapped the constantly fleeing Zayn in The Hurt Lock for the submission victory.


Asuka vs. Sasha Banks

Winner: Sasha Banks via pinfall


The struggle for brand supremacy continued as the RAW Womens Champion, Asuka, battled the Smackdown Womens Champion, Sasha Banks. The primary question posed by this match would be if Banks could finally conquer the Empress of Tomorrow - a woman she had never pinned or submitted dating back to their days in NXT. In a match riddled with a plethora of knee strikes and submission attempts by each competitor, the conclusion arrived after a flurry of pinfall attempts by each woman which ended in Banks finally rolling up Asuka for the victory.


Womens 5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Match

Team RAW (Shayna Baszler, Nia Jax, Lacey Evans, Peyton Royce, & Lana) vs. Team Smackdown (Bayley, Bianca Belair, Ruby Riott, Liv Morgan, & Natalya)

Sole Survivor: Lana


The first elimination of the match finally arrived as Peyton Royce hit the Déjà Vu on Bayley for a rather shocking pinfall. Next, Natalya promptly evened the odds as she cinched in the Sharpshooter on Royce for the submission elimination. Natalya then became distracted by Baszler which allowed Lacey Evans to hit the Womans Right on Neidhart for yet another elimination. Shayna Baszler next tied up Ruby Riott with the Kirifuda Clutch during which she passed out allowing The Queen of Spades to pin her. Another quick elimination evolved as Liv Morgan quickly pinned Lacey Evans with a Crucifix rollup. Morgan, unable to carry any momentum moving forward, was no match for Nia Jax who then entered the bout and quickly laid waste to Liv with a Samoan Drop. Belair, now on her own, was quickly trapped by Baszler in yet another Kirifuda Clutch. Belair proceeded to carry Shayna on her back to the ropes to prompt a break. Baszler refused to break the hold by the referees five count hence leading to her swift disqualification. Following Baszlers dismissal from the match, Nia Jax and Belair proceeded to brawl outside the ring and ended up being counted out so Lana, who had been banished by Jax and Baszler to stand on the ring steps and not participate in the match, ended up as the sole survivor.


Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman vs. Drew McIntyre

Winner: Roman Reigns via submission


Drew McIntyre shocked the WWE Universe this past Monday on RAW when he defeated Randy Orton to regain the WWE Championship he just lost last month at the Hell In A Cell pay per view. This set the stage for the main event of the evening as WWE Champion, Drew McIntyre, went toe to toe with the Universal Champion, Roman Reigns. Reigns appeared to be in dire straits late in the bout as he was met with a Claymore Kick when attempting another spear, however, he was propelled into the referee who was knocked out of the ring. Romans cousin Jey Uso then made his way to ringside causing enough of a distraction for Roman to hit McIntyre with a low blow. Reigns then cinched in a guillotine choke that knocked out the WWE Champion and solidified the submission victory.


The show concluded with the final farewell to the Undertaker. Before the Deadman made his way to the ring, several legends were introduced including Ric Flair, Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels, Kane, Triple H, Rikishi, The Godfather, Savio Vega, Mick Foley, and The Godwinns, in addition to a few words offered by Vince McMahon. The Undertaker spoke briefly, said it was time for The Undertaker to rest in peace and slowly exited the arena. In my opinion it was rather anticlimactic and, while he made his debut at Survivor Series, one could say a more fitting farewell would have been in front of a record-setting crowd at Wrestlemania - the event that made him famous with the streak. With that being said, one can never say never in the world of professional wrestling.



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Sunday, November 8, 2020

AEW Full Gear 2020

By Steve Ward

All Elite Wrestling returned to pay per view this evening as Full Gear emanated from Dailys Place in Jacksonville, Florida. As has been the case for the past couple months, AEW continued to make WWE look bad as they allowed a limited number of fans to attend - whereas WWE continues with their dystopian virtual fans. Aside from the impressive card for this evenings event where five titles were defended, rumors have also run rampant as of late that The Villain Marty Scurll and/or the legendary Sting could make their presence known. This is yet another reason why AEW has continued to build momentum - they have successfully maintained a strong blend of veteran stars while still developing younger talent all while treating fans to the element of surprise, something that is quite difficult today with everything spoiled on social media.

The Buy-In Pre-Show

NWA Womens Championship

Serena Deeb (c) vs. Allysin Kay

Winner: Serena Deeb via submission


Following Serena Deebs shocking victory over Thunder Rosa in a non-televised event a couple weeks ago, AEW again elected to have the NWA Womens Title showcased on pay per view. Deebs challenger this evening was former Impact Wrestling Womens Champion and recent NWA star Allysin Kay (formerly known as Sienna). It was noted by the commentators that Kay recently parted ways with the NWA hence providing her with a strong platform to put her in place for a potential signing with AEW. Kay put forth a solid showing in this contest, however, Deeb was able to cinch in the Serenity Lock allowing her to walk away with the submission victory.


Following the match, former champion Thunder Rosa made her way to the ring for a face to face with Deeb as one would expect an eventual rematch between the two.


Main Card


AEW World Title Eliminator Tournament Finals

Kenny Omega vs. Hangman Adam Page

Winner: Kenny Omega via pinfall


As was expected when the bracket was released for this tournament with these competitors on opposite sides, they made their way through the field of eight to face one another in the finals. The stakes were high in this contest as the one to emerge victorious between the former co-tag team champions would earn a future world title opportunity. In a phenomenal opening match to the main card, Adam Page gave Kenny Omega everything he could handle. As the match approached its conclusion, Page hit the Deadeye and then attempted the Buckshot Lariat. Unable to connect on the Buckshot proved to be his fatal flaw as Omega countered with the One Winged Angel to seal the victory.


Orange Cassidy vs. John 4Silver

Winner: Orange Cassidy via pinfall


In what has become a newly budding rivalry the past couple weeks, Freshly Squeezed Orange Cassidy was pitted against John Silver of Brodie Lees Dark Order faction in a huge spot on pay per view for #4. John Silver put on what was quite possibly his best match in his AEW career but it wasnt enough as Cassidy finished him off with the Orange Punch and Beach Blast to earn the pinfall victory.


TNT Championship

Cody Rhodes (c) w/ Arn Anderson vs. Darby Allin

Winner: Darby Allin via pinfall


These two men met each other this evening for the fourth time with Cody prevailing in each of their previous three encounters. This time was different, however, as it was for Codys newly regained TNT Championship. Cody also hoped to not only retain his title but also silence Allins claims that he could never be the face of TNT. Prior to the beginning of the match there were two significant occurrences. First, Mike Chioda was introduced as the referee - making his second appearance for AEW since falling victim to WWEs budget cuts in April (despite being with them since the late 80s). Second, Cody was finally able to be introduced as Cody Rhodes as WWE finally dropped their trademark on his name. Cody absolutely dominated this bout, however, he was unable to put away the relentless Allin. Rhodes allowed Darby to hang around too long and it ended up costing him in the end. The final moments of the match saw a series of back and forth rollup pin attempts that finally saw Allin shock the fans in attendance and win the title.


Following the match, Rhodes presentation of the title to Allin was interrupted by Taz. As Taz belittled Rhodes and Allin, Brian Cage and Ricky Starks of Team Taz ambushed them from behind and laid waste to the men until Will Hobbs came to their rescue with a steel chair in tow.


AEW Womens Championship

Hikaru Shida (c) vs. Nyla Rose w/ Vickie Guerrero

Winner: Hikaru Shida via pinfall


These two women finally met again this evening following Shida leaving victorious with Roses title in a no holds barred match months ago. Hikaru Shida put forth an impressive display against The Native Beast. After overcoming a kendo stick strike to the knee at the hands of Vickie Guerrero early on, Shida demonstrated exceptional strength headlined by not one, but two, Falcon Arrows - one of the avalanche variety off the top turnbuckle. After executing the second Falcon Arrow, Shida finished off Rose with several knee strikes to the head.


AEW Tag Team Championship

FTR (c) vs. The Young Bucks

Winners: The Young Bucks via pinfall

The Young Bucks earned their shot this evening after prevailing in a four way dance with The Butcher and The Blade, The Lucha Bros, and Private Party on a recent edition of Dynamite. The Young Bucks, who have yet to taste championship gold in AEW, proclaimed they would never challenge for the titles again if they could not win this evening. Another substantial factor in this bout was the banning of Tully Blanchard from the corner of FTR as he often serves as a significant distraction, if nothing else. This match started slow but certainly didnt end that way. In the closing moments, The Young Bucks overcame the Mindbreaker as Nick Jackson first executed a 450 splash and then Matt Jackson avoided a subsequent springboard 450 splash from Cash Wheeler and answered with a super kick to earn the pinfall and the tag team titles.


Elite Deletion Match

Matt Hardy vs. Sammy Guevara

Winner: Matt Hardy via pinfall


After months of feuding between these two men, including their match at All Out where Hardy took an ugly bump, this evening should prove to be the climax of their rivalry. What is an Elite Deletion Match? Your guess would have been as good as mine as no details were divulged in advance of this encounter. The match kicked off at the Hardy Compound in Cameron, North Carolina as Sammy drove his golf cart onto the grounds only to have it run over by a monster truck driven by Hardy. This then immediately turned into hardcore, backyard brawl before it spilled into the wrestling ring in Hardys yard. The bout quickly turned to a three on three melee as Sammys Inner Circle cohorts Santana and Ortiz came to his assistance, however, Hardys protégés Private Party soon assisted him. As Hardy appeared primed to put away Guevara, he was distracted by a masked man attacking The Hurricane! The masked man was then revealed as Gangrel - make it a four on four affair as The Hurricane sided with Hardy and Gangrel with the Inner Circle.


Hardy and Guevara then found themselves segregated from the other men inside the shed on the Hardy Compound which contained yet another ring with a ladder and table set up within. Guevara found himself in control briefly as he laid Hardy out on the table. Sammy then proceeded to scale the ominous ladder and propelled Matt through the table with a Swanton Bomb. This couldnt put Hardy away as he got back to his feet and hit the Twist of Fate. Sammy also kicked out of this so Hardy proceeded to brutalize Sammy with several chair shots before he finally covered him for the pinfall.


Chris Jericho vs. MJF w/ Wardlow

Winner: MJF via pinfall


This match held significant implications as the stipulation indicated if MJF were to come out victorious, he would earn membership in Jerichos Inner Circle. Jericho pulled out all the stops and then some as he continues to amaze in the ring at age 50. Jericho executed a perfect Lionsault and Frankensteiner, however, MJF was able to cheat his way to victory in the end. MJF had Wardlow make his way to ringside and distract the referee as he attempted to strike Jericho with the Dynamite Diamond ring. After MJF missed, Jericho was tossed a baseball bat by Jake Hager who emerged at ringside. MJF saw the strike coming and preemptively dropped to the canvas to make the referee believe Y2J struck him. As Aubrey Edwards reprimanded Jericho, MJF rolled him up for the pinfall to become a member of the Inner Circle.


AEW Heavyweight Championship I Quit Match

Jon Moxley (c) vs. Eddie Kingston

Winner: Jon Moxley


In arguably the biggest match of his 18 year career, Eddie Kingston found himself in the main event of the evening vying for the AEW Heavyweight Championship against Jon Moxley. This match became personal due to the extensive history between the two dating back to the independent scene and Kingstons claim that he never gave up in their previous encounter (as he passed out from the submission hold applied by Moxley) - hence its evolution into an I Quit match. This was a brutal, bloody affair complete with barbed wire, tacks, and chairs - Kingston even poured a full bottle of rubbing alcohol on the back of Moxley after it was punctured with tacks as the result of a suplex into a pile of them. The conclusion of the match saw Moxley wrap his forearm in barbed wire and proceed to cinch in a chokehold that prompted Kingston to utter the words, I Quit.



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Friday, October 30, 2020

Female Boxing Pioneer Finally Gets Monument in Chatham Cemetery

By Matt Ward

Hranoush Sidky Bey, known as Madame Bey, ran a successful boxing camp in Chatham that was frequented by the legendary fighters of her day.

On a cool day in September, a private ceremony was held to honor female boxing pioneer, Hranoush Sidky Bey. The small gathering, at the Fair Mount Cemetery, included family members, representatives from the New York Turkish Consulate General, local boxing historians, Chatham Township Historical Society members, and local elected officials. 

Commonly known as Madame Bey, she came to the United States at the age of 16 with her future husband, Mehmed, a Turkish diplomat. Prior to becoming an important figure in professional boxing circles, Bey was already a "Renaissance woman." She was well-educated, spoke seven languages, sang opera, and was a fixture in the Washington, D.C. social scene. It was in Washington, D.C. that she and her husband became friends with President William McKinley. She was just a few feet away from McKinley when he was assassinated in Buffalo in 1901. 

Madame Bey ran her training camp in Chatham Township, New Jersey from 1923 until her death in 1942. Notable visitors to her camp included world champion boxers Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Gene Tunney, Max Schmeling, Lou Ambers, Primo Carnera, Joe Louis, and Floyd Patterson. Madame Bey's life inside 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.

Since publishing his book, Pantalone has been a vocal advocate for honoring Madame Bey's contributions to the boxing world. His research, writing and talks have made him a "go to guy" for all things Madame Bey, and his efforts have brought her contributions to the history of boxing back to the forefront of the sports world. 

"Imagine, a woman in the 1920s, just 3 years after the 19th amendment gave women the right to vote in the US, running a successful business in a man’s world in a sport thought of as only men could be involved in. Throughout its existence, the camp saw no fewer than 14 world heavyweight boxing champions and 80 hall-of-famers. It was the most famous boxing camp at the time. It is a feat that would be hard to duplicate even in today’s world," Pantalone told Patch. 

While researching his book, Pantalone, a resident of New Providence, discovered that Madame Bey and her husband were laid to rest in nearby Fair Mount Cemetery without a grave marker. Soon after making this discovery, Pantalone and the Chatham Township Historical Society became actively involved with Bey's descendants, local historians and the Turkish Consulate General to raise funds and plan for the placement of a tombstone for Madame Bey and her husband. The project to place a tombstone over the previously unmarked grave was completed on September 20, 2020. 

Madame Bey was also honored earlier this year by the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame when she was selected to be inducted into the hall of fame with the class of 2020. Unfortunately, this year's induction ceremony and banquet was postponed until November of 2021 due to restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

When asked what Madame Bey means to the history of boxing, New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame president Henry Hascup said, "Madame Bey's induction into the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame is long overdue! Here's a lady who knew nothing about boxing, and then went on to build one of the top boxing camps in the history of the sport. There were times when there were ONLY eight recognized World Champions, and she had over half of them training at her camp."

This story also appeared on Patch

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Monday, October 26, 2020

WWE Hell in a Cell 2020

By Steve Ward

The Quarantine Era continued into month number eight this evening as Hell In A Cell emanated from the Thunderdome (Amway Center) in Orlando, Florida. This continues to be an interesting decision in my opinion as not only AEW, but also other professional sports have embraced a limited return for fans - after all, you would think there has to be several outdoor venues in Florida that would gladly host WWE with limited capacity. Nonetheless, this evening’s card boasted six matches with four titles contested and was headlined by Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre going toe to toe in the ominous Hell In A Cell. 

Universal Championship Hell In A Cell I Quit Match

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

Winner: Roman Reigns


Following last months embarrassing loss to his cousin where his brother Jimmy threw in the towel for him, Jey found himself in a rematch for the Universal Championship this evening. This time the match would be escalated to an even greater level of intensity as the cousins battled within the carnal Hell In A Cell with the brutal addition of an I Quit stipulation where you must make your opponent give up. Sadly this match was another abomination with more of Roman preaching to his cousin than anything else. After Jey was beaten senseless but refused to quit, the ring was rushed by WWE officials. Following their futile efforts to get Roman out of the ring, Jimmy Uso came to his brothers aid. Roman seemingly listened to some sense but instead proceeded to put Jimmy in a guillotine choke for his efforts. Jey finally proclaimed the words I quit to save his brother leading the anticlimactic end to this contest. Following the match, Roman was met on the stage by his uncle Afa and father Sika (the legendary Wild Samoans) where they anointed him the new head of the table.


Elias vs. Jeff Hardy

Winner: Elias via DQ


Elias made his return from injury during the WWE Draft a couple weeks ago following a five month layoff that was attributed to being hit by a car driven by Jeff Hardy during the DUI angle they were involved in with Sheamus at the time. Elias immediately targeted Hardy leading to their first ever meeting in the squared circle this evening. Just as the contest was building momentum, Jeff Hardy followed Elias to the outside of the ring where he retrieved his guitar. Hardy intercepted Elias, took his guitar, and demolished it over him leading the referee to call an abrupt end to the match.


Otis w/ Tucker vs. The Miz w/ John Morrison

Winner: The Miz via pinfall


Following a courtroom segment on Friday Night Smackdown with JBL presiding, it was ruled that Otis would need to defend his Money In The Bank briefcase against The Miz leading us to their showdown this evening. Otis controlled the tempo for the majority of this bout which prompted John Morrison to attempt to intervene with the briefcase, however, the referee put a stop to it and he was banned from ringside. In a shocking turn of events, The Miz was laid out on the canvas and Otis proceeded to propel himself off of the ropes but was met with a strike to the back with the briefcase by his best friend Tucker. This allowed The Miz the opportunity to cover Otis for the pinfall as he became the new holder of the Money In The Bank briefcase.


Smackdown Womens Championship Hell In A Cell Match

Bayley (c) vs. Sasha Banks

Winner: Sasha Banks via submission


Following the nuclear fallout of their friendship, Sasha Banks challenged Bayley and her 380 day reign as champion to a Hell In A Cell Match. This match was better than the Hell In A Cell which opened the show, however, that isnt saying much. In the closing moments of the bout, Bayley seemed to be moments from retaining her title as she brutalized Banks with several chair shots and the Bayley To Belly, however, Sasha kicked out of the subsequent pinfall attempt. Bayley then attempted the Bayley to Belly again with the use of a chair but Banks pulled off a sloppy reversal that propelled Bayleys head into her own chair. Sasha took advantage of this as she trapped Bayleys head in the chair and cinched in the Bank Statement for the submission victory as a new champion was crowned.


United States Championship

Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Slapjack

Winner: Bobby Lashley via submission


The developing feud between The Hurt Business and Retribution picked up steam recently as Mustafa Ali was revealed as their leader. This evenings title contest came to fruition on the Kickoff Show as Ali challenged The Hurt Business to a match. MVP accepted the challenge and proclaimed that Bobby Lashley would defend his United States Championship against Slapjack (yes, you read that correctly) of Retribution. Bobby Lashley dominated Slapjack from the opening bell and with the exception of some brief offense on the part of the Retribution member, this was a very one-sided contest that ended with Lashley cinching in The Hurt Lock for the victory.


WWE Championship Hell In A Cell Match

Randy Orton vs. Drew McIntyre (c)

Winner: Randy Orton via pinfall


Following his loss last month to McIntyre in the Ambulance Match at Clash of Champions, Randy Orton maintained his fixation on the WWE Championship and vengeance as he has continued to focus all of his efforts towards a rematch with the champ. Orton wasted no time taking the fight to McIntyre this evening as he disguised himself as a ringside crew member allowing him to get the jump on Drew. This didnt prove to pay the dividends Orton had hoped for as McIntyre controlled much of the early going. Orton finally turned the tide as McIntyre was met with a steel chair when he attempted to close out the bout early. The Viper then took the opportunity to unleash his sadistic side as McIntyre was forced to endure attacks with chairs, the ring steps, and his face being grated against the cage. As Orton felt his advantage slipping, he used bolt cutters to escape the cage and lured McIntyre to the top of the imposing structure.


As this plan didnt progress as Orton hoped, he again baited McIntyre to climb down the side of the cage aligned with the announce table. As they were halfway down the side of the cell, Orton pried the champs fingers loose and launched him off the side of the cage and through the announce table below. McIntyre willed himself back into the cage and alluded an RKO which he answered with a Claymore Kick. Orton managed to roll out of the ring to avoid the pinfall and recover. After slowly rolling back in, he dodged a second Claymore Kick attempt and answered with an RKO which allowed him to pin McIntyre crowning himself as the new world champion for the 14th time.


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