Sunday, August 11, 2019

Summerslam Recap

By Steve Ward

The 32nd installment of WWE’s biggest party of the summer, Summerslam, emanated from the home of the NBA World Champion Toronto Raptors, the Scotiabank Arena. With less than two weeks before AEW presents ALL OUT, their last major pay per view before they premier on TNT in October, and with the upcoming premier of Smackdown on FOX, one was left to wonder if WWE would take this opportunity to push the envelope further with what they’ve labeled as a move to “edgier” programming. The card certainly had no shortage of star power as it featured Brock Lesnar, as well as, ring legends Trish Stratus and Goldberg - both in competition. The nine match card also treated fans to four title bouts headlined by Brock Lesnar pitted against Seth Rollins for the Universal Championship.

RAW Women’s Championship Submission Match
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Natalya
Winner: Becky Lynch via submission

Canada’s own Natalya Neidhart challenged “The Man” for her Women’s Championship as the two proficient submission experts squared off in a submission match to kick off the main card. After a very evenly contested bout, it appeared Natalya would finally earn championship gold again as she cinched in a picture perfect Sharpshooter, however, The Man was able to avert disaster and turned the tables as she locked in The Disarmer for the submission victory.

Goldberg vs. Dolph Ziggler
Winner: Goldberg via pinfall

For several weeks Dolph Ziggler had belittled several WWE legends, most notably Shawn Michaels. At the contract signing this past Monday, Ziggler under the belief that he was signing up to fight The Miz, neglected to read the fine print and found himself obligated to face the legendary Goldberg much to the chagrin of the WWE Universe. It appeared for a brief moment that Dolph would pull off an unbelievable upset as he hit the super kick immediately after the opening bell. With Goldberg laid out, Dolph stood poised to land another super kick, however, Goldberg returned to his feet and intercepted Ziggler with a body-breaking spear. Goldberg immediately followed up with the Jackhammer as he made quick work of Ziggler.

United States Championship Match
A.J. Styles (c) w/ The OC vs. Ricochet
Winner: A.J. Styles via pinfall

Now reunited with his old Bullet Club cohorts, Gallows and Anderson, A.J. Styles defended his United States title this evening-one which he captured from Ricochet last month. Ricochet earned this opportunity after he prevailed in a gauntlet match recently on RAW. In the final moments of the contest, Ricochet vaulted off of the top rope only to be caught by the Phenomenal One who put him away with the Styles Clash for the victory.

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

Ember Moon controlled the tempo of this entire match with her striking ability, however, Bayley picked her shot as she intercepted Ember Moon on the top rope and executed the Bayley to Belly to put the final stamp on her title defense.

Kevin Owens vs. Shane McMahon
Winner: Kevin Owens

KO seemingly had the victory sealed as he executed a senton and frog splash back to back only to have the special guest enforcer Elias disrupt the referee’s 3-count. After Elias was disposed of, KO proceeded to kick Shane-o-mac between the uprights and finished him off with a stunner for the victory and to ensure he kept his job.

Trish Stratus vs. Charlotte Flair
Winner: Charlotte Flair via submission

Stratus entered this match looking as phenomenal as ever and immediately took the fight to Charlotte. This didn’t last long as the Queen quickly assumed control and controlled the tempo for a majority of the match as she mocked the WWE Hall of Famer at every opportunity. Trish attempted a late rally as she landed the Stratusfaction and the Chick Kick but they were not enough to put Flair away. In the end, Charlotte trapped Trish in the Figure Eight for the submission victory. Needless to say, this match did not leave this writer stratusfied.

WWE Championship
Randy Orton vs. Kofi Kingston (c) 
Winner: No contest

This bout was ten years in the making as Kofi accused Randy Orton of holding him back with his backstage influence back in 2009 - apparently this was the best buildup that the writing team  could come up with for a Summerslam championship match. One of the most entertaining aspects of this match didn’t come from one of the performers but rather the crowd as they repeatedly engaged in the chant, “Kofi’s stupid, Randy sucks!” In the closing moments of the match, the most spectacular moment of the contest was spoiled as Kofi leapt off the top rope and got caught with an RKO Outta Nowhere only to roll out of the ring and avoid a potential pinfall. Orton proceeded to follow Kofi out of the ring where he laid in front of his family at ringside. As Orton attempted to embarrass Kofi, the two men were counted out, however, this was not the end as Kofi proceeded to lay waste to the Viper with a kendo stick as he took exception to his actions.

Finn Balor vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
Winner: The Fiend via pinfall

This evening marked the in-ring debut of Bray Wyatt’s new persona The Fiend. With the exception of some brief offense displayed by Finn late in the contest, this was the definition of a squash match. Finn was finally put out of his misery as Bray shoved his fingers down his throat with a Mandible Claw pinning Balor’s shoulders in the process for the victory.

Universal Championship Match
Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Seth Rollins
Winner: Seth Rollins

This was by far the longest, most competitive match these two men have ever had. The action was fast and furious as each continued to execute their signature moves throughout the match to no avail. The closing moments saw Rollins drop Lesnar to the canvas with a super kick which he immediately followed with a curb stomp as a new Universal Champion was crowned in what may have been Lesnar‘s shortest title reign to date.



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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Sosa Impressive; Adan Gonzales Spoils Cuban Prospect Ramirez's Debut

By Matt Ward, Ringside

Top Rank professional boxing on ESPN+ returned to the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University in North Philadelphia on Saturday night. The main event of this action-packed card pitted super featherweights Jason Sosa (23-3-4, 16 KOs) and Lydell Rhodes (27-4-1, 13 KOs) against one another in a ten round contest. Sosa, a former WBA Super Featherweight World Champion, made a big step on the trail to reclaim a world title by stopping tough veteran Rhodes at the 1:08 mark of the seventh round.

The two gladiators fought a close fight through the opening two frames. In the third round, Sosa opened up on Rhodes with a barrage of effective punches to the head and body. This offensive onslaught was highlighted by hard upper cuts that made Rhodes cringe under the pressure. Sosa again went on the attack in the fourth round when he connected with a left hand to the face of Rhodes. Rhodes rallied at the end of the round, landing a multi-punch combo that let Sosa know he was still in the fight.

In the fifth round, Sosa sent Rhodes crashing to the canvas with a left hook to the head. Rhodes managed to pull himself up from the mat, and fight on until the final 30 seconds of the round when Rhodes was punished with a series of Sosa punches to the head that again sent him down to the canvas. An accidental headbutt in the sixth round opened up a cut near Sosa's left eye. Fortunately, the location of this wound had little impact on the Camden native's fight plan and momentum going forward.

The third and final knockdown came in the seventh round when a well-placed Sosa right hand to Rhodes' head sent him crashing to the canvas. Rhodes recovered from the knockdown, but his corner had seen enough of the beat down, and threw in the towel. Referee Benjy Esteves honored the request by waiving off the fight. 

Gonzales Spoils Olympian's Debut

Denver's Adan Gonzales (5-2-2, 2 KOs) spoiled the long anticipated professional debut of Cuban Olympian Robeisy Ramirez (0-1) in a four round featherweight bout. Gonzales, fighting like a man looking for the upset, introduced Ramirez to a pro boxing canvas in the first round with a hard right hand to the head. Ramirez appeared to struggle with Gonzales in the second round, as he continued to apply pressure to the highly successful former amateur fighter. Ramirez, hoping to salvage his night, unloaded on Gonzales at the end of the third round, having to be pulled off of Gonzales after the bell rang. Ramirez fought hard in the fourth and final round, but it was not enough to salvage a win or draw. The judges scored the bout 39-36 for Gonzales, 38-37 for Ramirez, and 40-35 for the winner by split decision, Adan Gonzales. 

Berlanga Extends Kayo Streak to 12

"Knockout Artist" Edgar Berlanga (12-0, 12 KOs) won his twelfth straight fight by way of knockout over Gregory Trenel (11-5-2, 3 KOs) in the first round of a middleweight contest scheduled for eight. Berlanga answered the bell by landing crushing shots on his French opponent. Trenel hit the canvas after Berlanga, a native of New York, connected with a left hook to the head. Trenel hesitantly pulled himself up from the canvas only to be beaten into submission seconds later. Berlanga landed numerous left hands, at will, on the defenseless Trenel. Referee Benjy Esteves saw enough of the massacre at the 2:24 mark of the opening frame.

Philadelphia's Kroll Wins by UD 

Undefeated welterweights Paul Kroll (5-0, 4 KOs) and Shinard Bunch (2-1, 2 KOs) battled through a six round bout. The two men put on a display of speed throughout the opening frame of the contest in front of a crowd that roared with approval. As the first round ended, the referee had to pull Kroll away from the dogfight that was highlighted by great exchanges of multi-punch combos. In the second round, the two men slowed down the pace of the bout.

Bunch unloaded a three punch combo on Kroll in the third. The fourth round kicked off with a exchange of big shots near the center of the ring. Later in this round, Kroll put the pedal to the metal as he aggressively nailed Bunch with a series of multi-punch combos to the head and body, shots that made Bunch slump into the ropes. At this point of the fight, the advantage was seized by Kroll who landed big shots that were responded to by Bunch clinches and wrap-ups. This was especially the case in the fifth round when Kroll connected with a right hook to Bunch's head. Seconds later, Kroll tee'd off on Bunch with a series of shots, but Bunch managed to dance out of the trap on shaky legs. 

In the sixth round, Kroll went into knockout mode chasing Bunch around the ring and swinging wildly at his opponent, missing more than connecting. To the crowd's dismay, Bunch, clearly beat up from rounds of taking damage, managed to stay on his feet. Referee Gary Rosato had to pull Kroll off of Bunch as the bell marking the end of the round rang. The judges scored the bout 58-56 twice and 59-55 for Kroll. 

Conto Sweeps "Game" Del Rio 

Philadelphia's Sonny Conto (4-0, 3 KOs) defeated a tough opponent in Mexico's Guillermo Del Rio (2-3-1, 2 KOs) to the hometown crowd's delight on Saturday night. Conto went on the attack early in the first of this four rounder as he punished Del Rio with straight left and right hands to the head and body. Del Rio was rocked with a big overhand right to the head in the final 30 seconds of the first round, but showed his grit by staying on his feet and surviving the opening the frame. Conto had to deal with Del Rio's clinching and wrapping throughout the second round. As the round neared its end, this strategy turned into wild swinging at Conto that failed to hit its mark. A Conto left hook made Del Rio drop into the ropes, but the Mexican heavyweight again made it to the end of the round.

Sonny landed shots at will on Del Rio in the third which appeared to have a damaging effect on him. Again, to the frustration of Conto and the audience, Del Rio's body did not hit the canvas. The crowd roared "Sonny! Sonny!" in the final round as the Philly heavyweight clubbed Del Rio. Del Rio deaf to the chants of the Liacouras Center, valiantly fought on. As the round neared its end, Conto finally sent Del Rio crashing to the canvas with a left hand to the head. Del Rio, on wobbly legs, pulled himself up for the unanimous decision defeat. All three judges scored the bout 40-35 for the heavyweight prospect Conto.

Smith Dominates Abdullah in Six 

Philly's Donald Smith (10-0, 6 KOs) won his tenth fight as a professional over Colorado's Raheem Abdullah (3-3). Smith controlled the momentum of the featherweight contest throughout the bout, and answered all of Abdullah's attacks with effective multi-punch combos of his own. Smith closed out his dominant performance by hammering Abdullah with right hands to the body as the fight came to a conclusion. The judges scored the fight 59-53 twice and 60-52 for Smith.

Adorno Wins by Kayo

Jeremy Adorno (2-0, 1 KO) defeated Fernando Robles (2-2) by knockout victory in a super bantamweight bout that was scheduled for four rounds. The knockout shot came at the 2:01 mark of the third round when Adorno dropped Robles with a right hook to the body.



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