Monday, April 12, 2021

WWE WrestleMania 37 Night Two

By Steve Ward

WWE returned to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida this evening for night number two of Wrestlemania 37. This also marked the second WWE pay per view exclusively offered on the Peacock streaming service and, while I’m a bit disgruntled by some of the edits they’ve made to classic content and the fact that the entire library is not yet available, I can say it was nice to watch an entire show without a pause for buffering (not as a result of my internet provider). This evening’s card arguably brought a greater level of star power with seven matches, five of which were contested for titles, and was headlined by the triple threat match for Roman Reigns’ Universal Championship.

Randy Orton vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt w/ Alexa Bliss

Winner: Randy Orton via pinfall

Randy Orton believed he had finally put The Fiend to rest several months ago after he “set him on fire” only to find himself tormented by Alexa Bliss until last month’s Fastlane pay per view where a charred Wyatt made his return by busting through the bottom of the ring to attack Orton. That leads us to tonight where Orton sought once again to finally rid himself of The Fiend. I’ll be honest, I just didn’t care for this match at all. After Wyatt made his entrance out of a giant jack in the box at ringside, the ring was illuminated in red lights for the duration of the match in quite annoying fashion. This bout arrived at it’s merciful conclusion after Wyatt was distracted by Bliss sitting atop the jack in the box allowing Randy Orton the window of opportunity he needed to hit the RKO for the win.

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship

Tamina & Natalya vs. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax (c)

Winners: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax via submission

After their win in the women’s tag team turmoil match last night, Tamina and Natalya earned their shot at the tag team titles this evening. This match quickly restored the momentum of the show as Tamina and Natalya put forth a spirited effort in their quest for tag team gold but sadly came up a little short. The closing moments saw Nia Jax in dire straits as Natalya seemed to have victory within reach, however, she did not see a blind tag by Baszler before Neidhart knocked her off the ring apron. Neidhart proceeded to lock in the Sharpshooter on Jax, however, unbeknownst to her, Baszler climbed back into the ring behind her and cinched in the Kirafuda Clutch. Natalya had nowhere to go and passed out crowning your winners, and still tag team champions, Baszler and Jax.

Sami Zayn w/ Logan Paul vs. Kevin Owens

Winner: Kevin Owens via pinfall

Sami Zayn has believed for several months now to be the victim of a conspiracy which prompted him to invite Logan Paul as his special guest to observe the said conspiracy unfold from ringside as he battled his former best friend Kevin Owens. Sami Zayn put forth a solid effort as he showcased the Michinoku Driver, Blue Thunder Bomb, and the Helluva Kick but these weren’t enough. Zayn saw the tide turn late as Owens reversed a top rope superplex attempt into a Fisherman’s Suplex which opened the door for the Stunner moments later. Following the match, Paul tried to congratulate Owens only to find himself also at the receiving end of a Stunner.

United States Championship

Riddle (c) vs. Sheamus

Winner: Sheamus via pinfall

This was a truly hard hitting affair that saw former UFC competitor Matt Riddle’s striking ability matched by the veteran Sheamus. The closing moments of the match saw Riddle attempt a middle rope moonsault only to be met with a Brogue Kick in mid flight. This allowed Sheamus to secure the pinfall as blood poured from Riddle’s mouth.

WWE Intercontinental Championship Nigerian Drum Fight

Big E (c) vs. Apollo Crews

Winner: Apollo Crews via pinfall

Apollo has continued to challenge Big E for the Intercontinental Title for several months and has continued to fail. In seemingly his final attempt at the title, Crews challenged Big E to a Nigerian Drum Fight. No one had a clue what this would entail until this evening when we discovered it was simply a hardcore match with kendo sticks, drums, a gong, and tables surrounding the ring. Big E was in control for the majority of this match and seemed poised to retain his title after Crews put himself through a table on a failed frog splash attempt foiled by Big E rolling out of harms way. Big E followed up with the Big Ending, however, a monstrous man emerged from nowhere to take him out allowing Crews to cover him for the pinfall crowning a new champion.

WWE RAW Women’s Championship

Asuka (c) vs. Rhea Ripley

Winner: Rhea Ripley via pinfall

Asuka’s continued quest for competition saw her challenge for this evening answered by “The Nightmare” Rhea Ripley - a woman who steamrolled the competition on NXT and made her Wrestlemania debut last year against Charlotte Flair. This was another fairly entertaining match as both competitors used a full array of strikes and submission holds, however, it had a rather anti-climatic conclusion. Asuka was poised to deliver the Asuka Kick only to be intercepted by Ripley who delivered the Riptide for a quick pinfall.

WWE Universal Championship                                                                                    

Roman Reigns (c) w/ Paul Heyman & Jey Uso vs. Edge vs. Daniel Bryan

Winner: Roman Reigns via pinfall

This was originally supposed to be a one-on-one affair between Reigns and Edge after The Rated-R Superstar’s triumphant win at the Royal Rumble, however, Daniel Bryan worked his way into the match after feeling slighted following his losses at the Elimination Chamber and again at Fastlane. This match essentially began as a tag team affair as Jey Uso quickly interjected himself into the fray until Edge restored order and executed a DDT to him planting his skull into the steel ring steps. In the closing moments, Edge seemed poised to become Universal Champion as he brutalized both of his opponents with a steel chair. This wasn’t enough for Edge as he then set up both men for a Conchairto. After Edge delivered the first to Daniel Bryan, Jey Uso reemerged to supply a distraction just long enough to allow Reigns to deliver a spear to Edge. Reigns then dragged Edge’s limp body and draped him over Daniel Bryan. Reigns covered both men simultaneously for the decisive pinfall to retain his title.

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Sunday, April 11, 2021

WWE WrestleMania 37 Night One

By Steve Ward

WWE finally welcomed fans back as the “Showcase of the Immortals” emanated from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida for the first evening of WrestleMania. While AEW has welcomed fans for several months in nearby Jacksonville, one must assume Vince McMahon simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to generate some additional income - especially after selling the U.S. portion of his WWE Network streaming service to Peacock. Nonetheless, Night One featured a relatively stacked card featuring seven matches and three titles contested with Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair battling for the Smackdown Women‘s Championship to close the show.

WWE Championship
Bobby Lashley (c) w/ MVP vs. Drew McIntyre
Winner: Bobby Lashley via submission

Following a 30+ minute weather delay, WrestleMania finally kicked off with the WWE Championship on the line. This evening McIntyre sought to regain the title he lost to The Miz who cashed in his Money In The Bank briefcase at Elimination Chamber with the help of Lashley. As compensation for his assistance, Lashley received a title shot from a reluctant Miz on RAW and did not waste the opportunity as he attained his first WWE Championship. Fast forward to this evening where an enraged McIntyre was out for revenge and to regain his championship. The two combatants wasted no time coming to blows following the opening bell and showed zero respect for one another. Lashley withstood a trifecta of Future Shock DDTs from McInyre and avoided a Claymore Kick with the assistance of MVP late in the match. This opened the door for Lashley to cinch in the Hurt Lock which caused McIntyre to pass out solidifying the victory.

Women’s Tag Team Turmoil Match
Lana & Naomi vs. Carmella & Billie Kay vs. Riott Squad vs. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke vs. Natalya & Tamina
Winners: Natalya & Tamina

The stakes were high for this bout as the winners would earn a shot against Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler on Night Two of WrestleMania for the Women’s Tag Team Championship. This was essentially a gauntlet match as the teams of Lana & Naomi and Carmella & Billie Kay kicked things off with Carmella and Billie Kay making short work of their opponents. The next team to make their way to the ring was the Riott Squad (Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan). Ruby Riott secured another quick pinfall on Billie Kay which opened the way for the third team, Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke, to enter the match. The Riott Squad earned another quick elimination as Liv Morgan rolled up Dana Brooke for the pinfall. The final entrants were the formidable team of Natalya and Tamina. In the conclusion of a rather uneventful match, Tamina Snuka hit the Superfly Splash to secure the pinfall and book a title shot for Natalya and herself on WrestleMania Night Two.

Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro
Winner: Cesaro via pinfall

This match pit two main event caliber wrestlers without a main event spot against each other - Seth Rollins who has been reestablishing himself following paternity leave and Cesaro who finally has earned a WrestleMania singles match for the very first time in his 10-year run with WWE. Cesaro achieved arguably the biggest victory of his career as he executed the Cesaro Swing for an impressive 23 rotations before he put away Rollins with The Neutralizer for the 1-2-3.

RAW Tag Team Championships
The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) (c) vs. A.J. Styles & Omos
Winners: A.J. Styles & Omos via pinfall

A.J. Styles had the opportunity to add some WWE tag team gold to his illustrious resume as he teamed with his bodyguard, the towering Omos, who made his in-ring debut. A.J. Styles kicked off the bout and the New Day made their ultimate goal to keep Omos out of the match using a plethora of two-on-one tactics. This strategy was successful for a while but as soon as Omos finally entered the contest, it was all over. The seven foot three, 400 pound giant absolutely decimated the New Day and concluded the match by simply standing on the chest of Xavier Woods to score the pinfall.

Steel Cage Match
Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman
Winner: Braun Strowman via pinfall

Following weeks of ridicule from Shane McMahon, Braun Strowman finally got him cornered him this evening in a steel cage. In an attempt to even the odds, McMahon recruited the aid of Jaxson Ryker and Elias who ambushed Strowman while wielding steel chairs before he made his way into the cage. This appeared to work…for a couple minutes. Shane did have a few flashes of offense throughout the match, including his patented Coast to Coast, however, it was not nearly enough. Shane attempted to escape the cage late but instead was thrown back down to the ring from the top of the ominous steel structure. Strowman then finished McMahon off with the running powerslam for the victory.

John Morrison & The Miz vs. Damian Priest & Bad Bunny
Winners: Bad Bunny & Damian Priest via pinfall

After Bad Bunny declined The Miz’ offer to collaborate with him at the Royal Rumble, he appeared that he would be outmanned as the target of Miz and his cohort John Morrison until the recording artist recruited the assistance of Damian Priest. Miz and Morrison controlled the tempo of this match until Damian Priest finally made his entry and suddenly halted all of their momentum. This match reached it’s conclusion after Priest hoisted The Miz up on his shoulders allowing Bad Bunny to hit a Doomsday Device inspired cross-body splash and secure the pinfall victory.

Smackdown Women’s Championship
Sasha Banks (c) vs. Bianca Belair
Winner: Bianca Belair via pinfall

Bianca Belair found herself in the main event of Wrestlemania, following her victory in the women’s Royal Rumble match, against the Smackdown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks - someone who had never tasted victory in a Wrestlemania match. Bianca Belair’s power was on full display for the duration of this match as she had her way with The Boss and even withstood The Bank Statement. The match reached it’s conclusion as Belair executed the KOD to secure the pinfall.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

'Australian' Jim Kelly: New Jersey's adopted bareknuckle boxer son

Our very own Matt Ward has teamed up with our friends at to bring you another great boxing history article from the Jersey Shore! 

No photo description available.
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Monday, March 22, 2021

WWE Fastlane 2021

By Steve Ward

This evening marked the final pay per view on the Road to Wrestlemania, as well as, the first pay per view on the Peacock Network and the final one on the WWE Network in the U.S. The event emanated from the Thunderdome at Tropicana Field and should mark the final pay per view in the Quarantine Era as each day of Wrestlemania is expected to host a significant number of fans. This evening’s card featured seven matches with titles defended including Roman Reigns squaring off with Daniel Bryan for the Universal Championship.

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship
Bianca Belair & Sasha Banks vs. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax (c)
Winners: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax via pinfall

The opening contest of the evening presented an interesting dynamic as Wrestlemania opponents became partners for one evening as Belair and WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion, Sasha Banks, teamed up to challenge for the Women’s Tag Team Titles. As expected, this match closed with a meltdown between Banks and Belair. After Belair allowed herself to be shoved into Banks as she had the Bank Statement cinched in on Baszler, Sasha blamed Belair for preventing the submission. While the two were distracted, Baszler rolled up Banks for the pinfall.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
Big E (c) vs. Apollo Crews
Winner: Big E via pinfall

Big E’s power was on full display for much of the early part of this match as he dismantled Crews while delivering a pair of brutal splashes out on the ring apron. Crews was able to build some late momentum but could not capitalize as a series of inside cradle reversals finally settled in favor of Big E. Following the match, Crews proceeded to assault Big E until he was beaten senseless so it would appear this rivalry has not concluded quite yet.

Elias w/ Jaxson Ryker vs. Braun Strowman
Winner: Braun Strowman via pinfall

This bout was originally supposed to feature Shane McMahon going toe to toe with Strowman, however, he suffered a training injury to his knee early in the day. Following a conversation backstage between Elias and Shane regarding his Wrestlemania involvement, Elias found himself as the substitute for this match. Strowman essentially mauled Elias like a bear attacking it’s prey until he mercifully finished him off with the running power slam.

Seth Rollins vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Winner: Seth Rollins via pinfall

As Rollins continues to find his footing following paternity leave, he has lately been on a mission demanding respect. This match came to fruition on Friday Night Smackdown after Nakamura delivered a kick to Rollins’ face creating a contest between two top tier stars who WWE creative have no clue what to do with. Nakamura appeared in prime position to overcome Rollins late in the match, however, a failed Kinshasa attempt was the only opening Seth needed. Rollins unleashed an offensive onslaught that included a well executed Falcon Arrow before he finished off Nakamura with the Curb Stomp.

No Holds Barred Match
Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre
Winner: Drew McIntyre via pinfall

After Sheamus turned his back on his longtime friend several weeks ago, the two have become embroiled in a bitter feud that would culminate this evening in a No Holds Barred Match. Sheamus appeared to be in dire straits early in the match as he was thrown through a bay of the dystopian fan screens which ignited in sparks, however, he did turn the tables to give McIntyre all he could handle - most notably a White Noise through the announce table. In what ended up being a surprisingly brutal match, McIntyre finally persevered in the end as he put the Celtic Warrior down with a Claymore Kick.

Randy Orton vs. Alexa Bliss
Winner: Alexa Bliss

After Orton “burned” The Fiend alive three months ago, he has found himself repeatedly confronted by Wyatt’s sidekick Alexa Bliss in encounters that are just flat out weird. This brings us to tonight where the two were scheduled to square off. The first few moments of the “match” saw Orton stalking Bliss around the ring dodging things such as falling scaffolding and fire. Once they returned to the ring, a hand punched through the ring and grabbed Orton by the ankle. After flames shot up through the ring, The Fiend emerged sporting attire that appeared to have been singed in the spirit of Jason Voorhees after he was sent to hell. The Fiend proceeded to deliver the Sister Abigail to Orton which allowed Alexa Bliss to pin The Legend Killer.

WWE Universal Championship
Roman Reigns (c) w/ Paul Heyman vs. Daniel Bryan
Winner: Roman Reigns via pinfall

After Daniel Bryan overcame the odds by surviving a grueling match against five other men at Elimination Chamber last month, he was immediately thrown into his title opportunity with Roman Reigns that of course became an impossible task. Bryan then found his way into a rematch which Edge took exception to and subsequently lead to his position as the special ringside enforcer for this contest. Late in the bout, Bryan continued to bring his A submission game as he repeatedly tied up Roman Reigns. Bryan then attempted the running knee but Reigns ducked out of the way leaving the referee to take the full blow. Edge then stepped in for the referee and failed to count the pinfall on Reigns first attempt to cover Bryan. Next, Jey Uso made his way to the ring and delivered a super kick to the face of Edge and then Bryan.

Uso then introduced a chair into the ring which ended up backfiring on him as he was quickly disposed of. Daniel Bryan proceeded to grab the chair and attempted to take out Reigns who again ducked and left Edge to take the shot this time. Bryan then took out Reigns and trapped him in another Yes Lock. As Edge recovered, he cracked Bryan in the back with the steel chair while Reigns was tapping out. Edge continued to lay waste to both men before storming out of the Thunderdome. Another referee made his way to the ring just in time for Reigns to roll over and cover Bryan to retain his title. 

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Thursday, March 11, 2021

Boxer Who Defeated Ali to Sign Autographs this Saturday

Larry Holmes will be on hand this Saturday, March 13th from 1 PM to 4 PM to sign autographs at Carl's Cards and Collectibles in Havertown.

HAVERTOWN, PA — This Saturday, March 13th from 1 PM to 4 PM, former World Heavyweight boxing champion Larry Holmes will make his autograph signing debut at Carl's Cards and Collectibles in Havertown. Autographs are $49 for flats up to 16x20 and $69 for premium items (i.e. gloves, trunks, and larger flats). Inscriptions cost an additional $15 for short inscriptions and $25 for longer inscriptions.

“As a local living legend from the Lehigh Valley and an International Boxing Hall of Famer, we thought Larry would be the perfect autograph guest. Larry not only had one of the best left jabs in boxing history, but was also one of only five men to defeat Muhammad Ali,” said Lauren Henderson the PR and Marketing Director of Carl’s Cards and Collectibles.

Holmes' professional boxing career spanned four decades, compiling an impressive record of 69 wins (44 by way of knockout) and six losses between 1973 and 2002. His legendary career included victories over a "who's who" list of boxing superstars in the heavyweight division. Holmes’ 1980 victory over Ali was the only time the boxing legend was stopped in a professional fight. This fight ended when Ali's trainer Angelo Dundee, having seen enough of the one-sided affair, stopped the fight after the tenth round.

Considered by boxing analysts and insiders as one of the all-time greatest heavyweight boxers, "The Easton Assassin" was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York in 2008.

When asked what Larry Holmes means to her as a sports fan, Lauren Henderson told Patch, “Larry has so many amazing boxing accomplishments, from winning his first 48 bouts to being inducted into both the International Boxing Hall of Fame and World Boxing Hall of Fame; but when I think of Larry Holmes I think of all of the great things he’s done for his community in the Lehigh Valley and specifically Easton.”

Following his long boxing career, Holmes invested his winnings from the ring in the Lehigh Valley by starting businesses in the region that employed hundreds of people. He is so beloved in his hometown that a statue was erected in 2015 to honor him.

Henderson told Patch, “He’s more than just an athlete. When I think of Larry, I think of a great community representative of our area.”

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, selfies and photos with Larry Holmes will not be allowed. All customers are required to wear masks inside of the store.

Carl's Cards and Collectibles is located at 22 W. Eagle Road in Havertown, Pennsylvania. For more information on this weekend's autograph signing, please visit the Carl's Cards and Collectibles website, or call the store at (610) 789-4996.

This story also appeared on Patch.

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Tuesday, March 9, 2021

AEW Revolution 2021

By Steve Ward

All Elite Wrestling returned to pay per view this evening with a star studded show from a sold out (or as sold out as they were permitted) Daily’s Place in Jacksonville, Florida. I can safely say that I haven’t watched a pay per view from this company that I haven’t enjoyed and this one was poised to continue this trend. Some of the most anticipated matches headed into this event included the icon Sting’s return to the ring, as well as, one of the most notoriously violent matches in the history of pro wrestling - an exploding barbed wire deathmatch - for the AEW World Title.

The Buy-In Pre-Show

Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. w/ Rebel & Maki Itoh vs. Thunder Rosa & Riho
Winners: Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D & Maki Itoh via pinfall

The Buy-In certainly amped up the crowd by featuring some of the most talented women in AEW. This highly entertaining bout came to an abrupt end as Rebel cracked Thunder Rosa over the head with a crutch while referee Paul Turner was distracted allowing Dr. Baker to roll her up for the pinfall.

Main Card

AEW Tag Team Championship
Chris Jericho & MJF w/ Wardlow vs. The Young Bucks (c)
Winners: The Young Bucks via pinfall

The main portion of the card wasted no time getting off the ground as “Le Champion” Chris Jericho teamed with his Inner Circle cohort Maxwell Jacob Friedman to challenge The Young Bucks for the tag team titles. The ageless wonder Chris Jericho, a 30-year ring veteran, put forth a phenomenal effort, however, it wasn’t quite enough as Le Champion succumbed to the Meltzer Driver at the hands of the Young Bucks to secure the pinfall for the defending champs.

Casino Tag Team Battle Royale
Winners: Death Triangle - PAC and Rey Fenix

AEW put a unique spin on their traditional Casino Battle Royale by introducing a tag team incarnation. The rules stated a new team would enter every 90 seconds and a team would only be eliminated when both members were eliminated by being thrown over the top rope. If that weren’t enough, the winners would earn a shot at the AEW tag team titles. The competitors (in their order of entry) included The Natural Nightmares, Dark Order members 5 and 10, Santana and Ortiz, Matt and Mike Sydal, Dark Order’s Evil Uno and Stu Grayson, The Gunn Club, “Pretty” Peter Avalon and Cezar Bononi, The Varsity Blondes (Brian Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison), Bear Country, Jurassic Express (Jungle Boy and Luchasaurus), Butcher and the Blade, Private Party, SCU (“The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian), Death Triangle’s PAC and Rey Fenix, and Dark Order’s John Silver and Alex Reynolds. The final four in the ring were John Silver, “Jungle Boy” Jack Perry, PAC, and Rey Fenix - leaving the Death Triangle members as the only intact team remaining. Jon Silver was the first eliminated by Fenix who walked the ropes and delivered a kick to his jaw as he hung on for dear life from the ring apron. PAC was the next to go as Jungle Boy ducked and pulled down the top rope down allowing the charging PAC’s momentum to propel him from the ring. Finally, in a blazing fury of action, Jungle Boy’s momentum was halted by a stiff kick in the face that allowed Fenix to clothesline him over the top rope to earn the victory.

AEW Women’s Championship
Hikaru Shida (c) vs. Ryo Mizunami
Winner: Hikaru Shida via pinfall

This match came to fruition after Ryo Mizunami shocked the pro wrestling world by surviving the Women’s Title Eliminator tournament and overcoming Nyla Rose in the finals this past week on Dynamite. Ryo gave Shida all she could handle and withstood multiple Falcon Arrows before she finally fell victim to a brutal kick to the head that allowed the champ to retain her title. Following the bout, a brief melee ensued as Nyla Rose, Dr. Britt Baker, and Rebel jumped Shida and Mizunami until Thunder Rosa came to the rescue and cleared the ring.

Miro and Kip Sabian w/ Penelope Ford vs. Chuck Taylor and Orange Cassidy
Winners: Kip Sabian and Miro via submission

Before this match could even begin, Cassidy and Taylor were ambushed by their opponents backstage. After Miro used Taylor’s head and forearm to break a glass window, he dragged him to the ring where the contest began as a handicap match until Cassidy stumbled out to the ring several minutes later to even the odds. The closing moments saw Miro assert himself as an unstoppable force as he finally finished Taylor off with The Game Over for the submission victory.

Big Money Match
Matt Hardy vs. “Hangman” Adam Page
Winner: “Hangman” Adam Page

Following Hardy’s failed attempt to persuade a drunk Page to sign a contract with him that would financially benefit Matt, an interesting stipulation arose for this match as the winner would collect all of his opponent’s income from the first quarter of 2021. In the closing moments of this bout, Hardy’s associates, Private Party, made their way to ringside to serve as a distraction. It appeared their efforts would prove to be the deciding factor as Hardy executed the Side Effect and Twist of Fate, however, it wasn’t enough. The reinforcements for Adam Page then made their way to the ring in the form of The Dark Order. Adam Page shortly thereafter hit the Buckshot Lariat to put Hardy away.

Face Of The Revolution Ladder Match
“Platinum” Max Caster vs. Lance Archer w/ Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Scorpio Sky vs. Penta El Zero Miedo vs. Cody Rhodes w/ Arn Anderson vs. “All Ego” Ethan Page
Winner: Scorpio Sky

This contest had five of the six competitors designated prior to this evening with the final surprise entrant revealed as former two-time Impact Tag Team Champion, as one half of The North, Ethan Page. The winner of this match would be crowned after ascending to the top of the ladder and retrieving the literal brass ring suspended above the ring earning him a shot at Darby Allin for the TNT Championship. The closing moments saw Cody and Sky face-to-face at the top of the ladder trading blows. Cody and his battered left shoulder could only hang on for so long as he was dropped to the canvas allowing Scorpio Sky to retrieve the brass ring setting up a title opportunity this Wednesday.

The next segment revealed the “hall of fame worthy” wrestler who would be signing a long term deal with AEW, as alluded to by Paul Wight this past Wednesday. After a countdown on the screen, he was revealed as none other than Christian Cage! Cage made his way to the ring with a contract in hand where he signed it, left it in the center of the ring, and departed.

Street Fight
Sting and Darby Allin vs. Brian Cage and Ricky Starks
Winners: Sting and Darby Allin via pinfall

Darby Allin had found himself with a target on his back for the past several months following his rejection of the invitation to join Team Taz until he found some backup in the form of the icon Sting. Their rivalry finally came to a head this evening in the form of a street fight at an undisclosed location. The fact this was a “cinematic match” made perfect sense being positioned just before the main event as it allowed the ring crew to set the stage for the Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match. As far as cinematic matches go, this ended up being one of the better efforts I’ve seen. Sting and Allin overcame the numbers game when Powerhouse Hobbs and Hook came to the aid of Cage and Starks as the great equalizers proved to be the signature baseball bat and then a shovel in the hands of Sting. The match reached it’s conclusion as Sting executed the Scorpion Death Drop on Ricky Starks to earn the pinfall.

AEW World Heavyweight Championship Expolding Barbed Wire Death Match
Kenny Omega (c) w/ Don Callis vs. Jon Moxley
Winner: Kenny Omega via pinfall

The main event of the evening saw Jon Moxley attempt to regain his title from Kenny Omega in an Exploding Barbed Wire Death Match. In this match the ring ropes were covered with barbed wire rigged with explosives that would be triggered on contact on three sides of the ring and if that weren’t enough, the ring would “explode” if the match reached 30 minutes. Additionally, the referee for the bout was dressed in a flame retardant hazmat suit with a face shield to add to the narrative for the gravity of the situation. This was a bloody, visceral affair that sadly saw its conclusion come with the interference of The Good Brothers who allowed Kenny Omega to gain the upper hand. Omega used this advantage and proceeded to execute a One Winged Angel that broke Moxley’s body over a chair allowing him to secure the pinfall retention of his title. Following the match, Omega, Gallows, and Anderson left Moxley handcuffed in the ring as the timer was displayed in the arena counting down to the detonation of all the remaining explosives. 

As Omega and The Good Brothers exited with Don Callis, Eddie Kingston made his way to the ring to rescue Moxley. In what ended up being a truly comedic moment, that drew an onslaught of boos from the crowd, Kingston covered Moxley (as if to protect him from the imminent explosion) only for sparklers to fire from the ring posts and firecrackers to go off on the ropes - but give credit AEW for putting forth their best effort to sell it as Kingston remained on top of Moxley seemingly rendered unconscious from the “devastating” explosion, the commentary team responded with shock and terror, and the medical team swarmed the ring. Despite this development, it was a solid and entertaining main event to conclude the show minus this blunder.

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Monday, February 22, 2021

WWE Elimination Chamber 2021

By Steve Ward

Despite the remainder of Florida essentially being completely open, WWE continues to utilize their virtual Thunderdome at Tropicana Field in what I’ve again rebranded the WWE Dystopian Era. Perhaps a blessing in disguise will be that the WWE will need to locate a new home following MLB Spring Training as the Rays will be taking over the facility - perhaps they have secured an outdoor venue where they will allow limited attendance since they are already believed to be allowing fans to attend Wrestlemania. On another significant note, this evening would also mark the final WWE pay per view on the WWE Network for those residing in North America as all of the WWE library and future pay per views will be exclusively streamed on Peacock beginning in March following a multi-billion dollar deal that was agreed upon recently. Nonetheless, we continue on the Road to Wrestlemania with the first to last pay per view stop in the form of Elimination Chamber. This event should solidify the world title picture for The Showcase of the Immortals, Wrestlemania, as both world championships were on the line among the five scheduled bouts on the card - including two elimination chamber contests.

Smackdown Elimination Chamber Match
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. King Corbin vs. Jey Uso vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Cesaro
Winner: Daniel Bryan

The opening contest of the main card delivered the first chamber match of the evening and would determine Roman Reigns opponent for his Universal Championship later in the show. The bout commenced with arguably the two most talented combatants, Daniel Bryan and Cesaro. After trading some vicious blows for several minutes, the men were finally joined by King Corbin who was the first to be released from his pod. Corbin managed to gain the upper hand on the two competitors using his size advantage to manhandle Bryan and Cesaro until the fourth Superstar entered the fray in the form of Sami Zayn. The first elimination of the match was delivered by Cesaro as he cinched in the Sharpshooter on King Corbin to secure the submission. Just after Corbin’s departure from the match Kevin Owens entered the fray and introduced Sami Zayn’s skull to the chamber door before delivering his patented cannonball to each of the three men in the chamber.

With Owens in control of the contest, the final competitor, Roman Reigns’ cousin Jey Uso, entered the match. Owens continued to dominate the bout as he delivered a moonsault from the top of one of the pods that left the other four competitors in a pile of visceral carnage. Owens then delivered a slew of Stunners including one to Zayn who he subsequently pinned. As Zayn left the chamber, Uso achieved the upper hand on Owens from behind and immediately capitalized with a Frog Splash for another quick elimination. As Cesaro seemed poised to attain his second submission elimination of the evening as he cinched Bryan in the Sharpshooter, he was unceremoniously greeted with a super kick to the jaw from Jey Uso who immediately scaled the turnbuckles to deliver another Frog Splash to solidify the pinfall. Uso quickly attempted another Frog Splash, this time from the top of one of the pods, to Daniel Bryan, however, he was met with a pair of knees to the stomach. Daniel Bryan promptly delivered the running knee to punch his ticket into the Universal Championship Match with Roman Reigns.

Universal Championship Match
Daniel Bryan vs. Roman Reigns (c) w/ Paul Heyman
Winner: Roman Reigns via submission

A bruised and battered Daniel Bryan had no opportunity to recover as the chamber immediately ascended to the rafters and Roman Reigns music echoed through the Thunderdome marking the beginning of the Universal Championship Match. Roman attempted to spear Bryan at the opening bell, however, Bryan sidestepped him and cinched in the Yes Lock. Bryan just didn’t have enough left in the tank to maintain the hold as Reigns broke out and pummeled him unmercifully before he finally choked him out for the submission victory. As Reigns celebrated in the ring, Edge emerged to deliver a spear to the champion and proclaimed that he would be challenging him for his title at Wrestlemania.

United States Championship Triple Threat Match
Bobby Lashley (c) w/ MVP vs. Matt Riddle vs. John Morrison
Winner: Matt Riddle via pinfall

Keith Lee was originally supposed to be a participant in this match, however, he suffered an injury on Monday Night RAW and needed to be replaced. John Morrison fought his way in as he emerged victorious over Ricochet, Mustafa Ali, and Elias in a Fatal Four Way bout on the Kickoff Show. Bobby Lashley absolutely dominated this entire contest and was seemingly poised to earn a submission victory as he had John Morrison trapped in the Hurt Lock until Riddle procured MVP’s crutch and shattered it over Lashley’s back before tossing him from the ring. This opened the door for Riddle to take advantage of Morrison as he executed the Bro Derek allowing him to earn the pinfall crowning a new champion.

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

Following the events of Friday Night Smackdown, Belair found herself teaming up with one of her potential Wrestlemania opponents with the women’s tag team gold on the line. In another “exhilarating” Sasha Banks match, the conclusion came shortly after Reginald made his way to ringside with a bottle of celebratory champagne. Reginald passed the bottle to Sasha with the intention of her using it on Nia Jax. As Sasha lashed out at Reginald for such a suggestion, Jax seized the opportunity to hoist Banks up in the Samoan Drop to retain the tag team titles.

RAW Elimination Chamber WWE Championship Match
Drew McIntyre (c) vs. A.J. Styles w/ Omos vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Sheamus vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Randy Orton
Winner: Drew McIntyre

Unlike the Smackdown Elimination Chamber match, the stakes were even greater for this one as Drew McIntyre was one of the participants with his WWE Championship on the line. One last minute change occurred for the lineup in this match as The Miz removed himself on Monday night and was subsequently replaced by Kofi Kingston. 

The first two men pitted against each other were ring veterans Randy Orton and Jeff Hardy. Jeff Hardy surprisingly brought the fight to the Viper and controlled much of the opening of the match until the champion, Drew McIntyre, entered the fray and immediately asserted himself. Kingston entered the match next and quickly trapped Orton in a surprise pinfall. Before departing the chamber, Orton delivered a pair of RKOs to Kingston and Hardy. Seeing a window of opportunity, Styles directed the towering Omos to rip the outer wall of his pod off so that he could prematurely enter the match with hopes of stealing a pinfall on one of the incapacitated participants. Unfortunately for Styles, his plan did not go as he intended and WWE officials removed his muscle, Omos, from ringside. The defending champ then proceeded to reestablish his dominance as he laid waste to all of the other participants. With bodies scattered around McIntyre, Sheamus made his way into the match as the final entrant released from his pod. 

Shortly thereafter, Kingston seemed to be in prime position for at least one elimination as he took out the other four competitors with a dive from the top of one of the pods until his head was blasted with a Brogue Kick from Sheamus for the elimination. Jeff Hardy was the next victim of the match as he was met with a Claymore Kick from McIntyre who was able to easily pin him leaving us with three participants. The next elimination arrived after Sheamus leveled McIntyre with a Brogue Kick only to be surprised with a Phenomenal Forearm that lead to his swift exit from the match. Styles then attempted another Phenomenal Forearm on the champion but this time found himself on the receiving end of a Claymore Kick which allowed McIntyre to retain his title.

After the chamber was lifted from the ring, Drew McIntyre was ambushed by Bobby Lashley who cleaned the arena up with him in a vicious assault. With an apparent deal in place between The Miz and The Hurt Business, Miz promptly made his way to ringside with his Money In The Bank briefcase in tow.

WWE Championship Match
Drew McIntyre (c) vs. The Miz
Winner: The Miz via pinfall

As soon as the bell rang, The Miz pounced on the champion and immediately delivered a DDT followed by a failed pinfall attempt. With his hopes of winning the title appearing to be in dire straits, The Miz unrelentingly followed up with a Skullcrushing Finale to shock the WWE Universe and walk out of the pay per view as the newly crowned WWE Champion!

WWE Elimination Chamber Results 2/21/2021

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