Sunday, November 10, 2019

AEW Full Gear Recap

By Steve Ward

AEW presented us with their first pay per view since the debut of their weekly show Dynamite on TNT this evening from the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore. The stacked card featured eight bouts and was co-headlined by “Le Champion” Chris Jericho (the youngest champion in AEW history) defending his title against Cody and Jon Moxley squaring off with Kenny Omega in an Unsanctioned Match. AEW continues to present wrestling fans with an experience not witnessed on such a large scale in many years, one so polarizing that it has brought masses of hibernating fans back to the forefront. This evening did not disappoint as the appreciative fans in attendance relentlessly showered the performers with chants of praise, hate, and unsettled delight (read on to see what I mean) with an energy that was unrelenting until they went off the air.


The Buy-In Preshow

Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D vs. Bea Priestley
Winner: Dr. Britt Baker D.M.D. via submission
The ladies of AEW got the raucous Baltimore crowd warmed up on the free pre show on the AEW YouTube channel as the doctor defeated Priestley with the Lockjaw.

After the bout, Brandi Rhodes lead Awesome Kong to the ring. Kong proceeded to lay waste to Bea Priestley and cut a lock of her hair off as some sort of trophy which resulted in a rather entertaining “You sick fuck” chant from the crowd.

Main Card

The Young Bucks vs. Santana & Ortiz
Winners: Santana & Ortiz via pinfall
The crowd was at a deafening pitch throughout this phenomenal opening bout on the main card. Superkicks weren’t enough for the Young Bucks as Santana & Ortiz of the Inner Circle solidified a hard fought victory with the Street Sweeper for the pinfall.

PAC vs. “Hangman” Adam Page
Winner: “Hangman” Adam Page
PAC and Hangman competed with reckless abandon leaving both covered in welts and bruises. In the closing moments of the match, PAC attempted to kick Page between the uprights with the referee’s view obstructed, however, The Hangman was ready and quickly countered with The Deadeye for the pinfall.

“The Chairman” Shawn Spears w/ Tully Blanchard vs. “The Bad Boy” Joey Janela
Winner: “The Chairman” Shawn Spears
Shawn Spears used the numbers game as this bout reached it’s conclusion. Spears removed the turnbuckle cover which lead referee Earl Hebner to become distracted with an attempt to replace it. Spears proceeded to pick Janela up for a pile driver as Tully Blanchard jumped off the ring steps for the spike. Spears then rolled Asbury Park’s own Janela back into the ring where he executed the Death Valley Driver for the win.

AEW Tag Team Championship
Private Party vs. The Lucha Brothers vs. SCU (Scorpio Sky & Frankie Kazarian) (c)
Winners: SCU via pinfall
This contest marked the first title defense for SCU, winners of the AEW Tag Team Title Tournament which crowned them inaugural champions of the promotion after defeating the Lucha Bros in the finals. Private Party made a name for themselves in the tournament as they shocked the world with an upset of the Young Bucks in the opening round and then defeated The Dark Order in the third place match to earn a spot in this match. This fast-paced bout reached it’s conclusion as Kazarian withstood a perfect shooting star press delivered by Marq Quen of Private Party and he and Scorpio Sky subsequently averted disaster as they reversed the Gin and Juice to land the SCU Later for the victory. After the contest, The Lucha Bros proceeded to attack SCU from behind. Before the attack could get out of hand, the lights in the arena went out and as they illuminated again, another man dressed as Pentagon Jr stood face to face with the real Pentagon Jr. After the real Pentagon Jr was dropped with an STO and Fenix was laid to waste with The Angel’s Wings, the man revealed himself as “The Fallen Angel” Christopher Daniels!

AEW Women’s Championship
Emi Sakura vs. Riho (c)
Winner: Riho via pinfall
This match pit teacher versus student as Riho faced the woman who trained her, the Japanese legend Emi Sakura. The 98 lb Riho overcame the odds with a fundamental pinning combination to retain her title at the culmination of a bout that truly demonstrated the champ’s resolve and deceptive strength and durability.

AEW World Championship
Cody w/ Maxwell Jacob Friedman vs. Chris Jericho w/ Jake Hager
Winner: Chris Jericho via submission
After weeks of intense buildup that culminated with Cody cutting one of the most impressive promos of his career and Jericho treating us to a vignette that featured “The Olive Garden Meatsauce Messiah” Soultrain Jones (better known as Virgil/Vincent) on Wednesday, the time finally arrived for two of the biggest names in AEW to compete for the World Championship - all on Chris Jericho’s 49th birthday. Cody was put through a war in this bout that included having his forehead gashed early on leaving him temporarily with a crimson mask. Cody finally appeared to turn the tables as the match progressed when Jericho’s corner man Jake Hager was banned from ringside. As the match reached it’s climax, Jericho cinched in the Liontamer but Cody was able to escape. Jericho quickly locked it in again and suddenly a white towel landed in the ring, courtesy of MJF, which prompted the referee to call for the bell. After the match, MJF pretended to be apologetic initially only to end up kicking Cody in his manhood and yell “It’s my turn!” in his face.

Unsanctioned Lights Out Match
Jon Moxley vs. Kenny Omega 
Winner: Jon Moxley
This match was supposed to happen at ALL OUT until Jon Moxley ended up with a staph infection that took him out of action. One word describes this match - visceral. There were barbed wire bats, barbed wire brooms, and even a barbed wire webbed platform type structure. If that’s not enough for you, throw in tables, chairs, an icepick, and broken glass. All of these instruments of pain were used with unimpeded violence. With both men already broken and bloodied, Jon Moxley proceeded to remove the ring apron, canvas, and padding leaving only the wood planks exposed. Moxley finally put “The Cleaner” out of his misery as he performed a brutal Paradigm Shift for the pinfall. The former Dean Ambrose has certainly elevated himself to heights once unimaginable as he continues his meteoric rise in AEW. Needless to say, this is not the pink-haired Jon Moxley who once jobbed out on WWE Velocity many years ago.

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Saturday, November 2, 2019

Berchelt-Sosa: Many reasons why this should be a classic

By Luis A. Cortes III

While the bright lights of the strip in Sin City may be the focal point for most of the boxing world tonight, 275 miles southwest of the strip (about a 4-hour drive), a battle will take place that has all boxing fans salivating.  Jason Sosa (23-3-4) (16 KO’s) a former WBA super featherweight champion of the world reaches for a type of glory that has seemed to slip away from him in recent years, against Mexico’s Miguel Berchelt (36-1) (32 KO’s).  These two warriors are set to go to war over the WBC super featherweight title at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California (live on ESPN at 10pm ET), a site that over the past generation of championship boxers has become synonyms with some of the most memorable fights.

Future Hall of Famers over the past generation have left ounces of both blood and sweat on the canvas inside of the ring in that stadium. In some cases, like in the first and third fight of the brutal classic four fight series between Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez, fighters have left pieces of their souls.  Timothy Bradley, who will be calling the fight as part of the ESPN broadcast team had one of his most memorable victories of his future Hall of Fame career against Ruslan Provodnikov at that venue.  A fight in which, Bradley the more superior athlete and boxer, elected to trade power punches with the heavy fisted Russian.  The result proved to be Bradley suffering concussions during the fight in such a brutal manner that he admitted that there are portions of that fight he doesn’t remember.


Fighters with the type of temperament of a Sosa or Berchelt are aware of the venue and the recent history that has been made there.  Venues like this with the type of history that it has created, at times, inspire fighters making their first venture into its confines to reach deep within themselves to allow for their names to create new history.  Fight fans are hoping that’s what takes place tonight between Sosa and Berchelt, and it seems as though both fighters are in the perfect position in their careers when they are finally meeting not to disappoint.


Yes, the venue does inspire and can bring out a vicious competitive streak from the fighters calling it their office on any given fight night.  However, what does get overlooked at times is the reason why the fighters give fans so many classic performances.  When Bradly faced Provodnikov, he had just defeated Manny Pacquaio in a fight that most had felt he lost.  It was a disputed decision that left a bad taste in the mouth and mind of the prideful champion.


After suffering from depression and even contemplating suicide, he took on the tough Russian in his next fight.  Bradley gave the many of the undeserving fight fans who were critical of his previous victory a classic performance by risking his life, and by going toe-to-toe and blow-for-blow with the stronger challenger that night.  He did it in many ways because maybe he needed to prove to himself that he was the warrior and champion who he thought he was.  Or maybe it was his way of showing the world what he already had no doubt of.  Either way, his legacy was cemented on that night.


In the case of Sosa and Berchelt, both men, regardless of challenger or champion status see this as the type of fight that with a victory can position their career for a different level of financial possibilities.  As the WBC champion, Berchelt is on the cusp of getting bigger pay days against some of the other champions in the loaded super featherweight division.  One of those other champions is the IBF titlist, whom also happens to be a stablemate of Sosa, Philadelphia’s Tevin Farmer.  Fights with the other champions such as Jamel Herring, should he retain his title, and Andrew Cancio, should not be difficult to make.  For Berchelt, should he get by Sosa, the road for the Mexican champion,who is in his physical prime, to becoming undisputed champion at super featherweight is open.  There is also the chance for him to move up in weight into the talent rich lightweight division and try his luck at wining a world title in another weight class, which also has the types of names that would equal life changing money if he were to fight them.


As for the challenger Jason Sosa, unlike his younger opponent, at the age of 31, he is coming to the point in his career where the well of opportunities for that life altering money may be starting to run dry.  One thing can never be said about Sosa and his career, and that is that anything was handed to him.  Everything that he has earned has been through a determination level that few fighters possess.  Unfortunately, the success that he has gained inside of the ring, which offered him new financial opportunities, didn’t translate into business ventures away from the sport.  Part of it was due to the devastating path of destruction laid out across his native Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria.  Other personal reasons have also played their role in him finding himself back in the position he was before he won his first world championship.


Both fighters have the incentive of an even bigger set of brass rings available to them if they come out victorious tonight.  Add the extra spice to this fight that both fighters represent one side of one of the best and most historic ethnic rivalries in the history of boxing.  Mexico vs. Puerto Rico.  All these reasons: financial reward, glory, and national pride, are just added gas to the fire that burns internally of both fighters.  Again, Berchelt and Sosa are two fighters that always come to fight no matter what.  With those added pieces, fight fans should have felt no shame for having to wipe the dribble off their chin when this fight was signed.




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Friday, November 1, 2019

Dylan Price Interview


Dylan Price (10-0) (7 KO's) defeated Elias Joaquino (12-5-2) (6 KO's) by TKO in the sixth round of a scheduled eight round contest this evening in Las Vegas. Following his victory, I caught up with this 2017 Briscoe Award winner and Mayweather Promotions' prospect tonight in Las Vegas. 


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Ernest Gabion Interview


I caught up Ernest Gabion, Fighter Relations for Golden Boy Promotions, at the media roundtable for welterweight contender Vergil Ortiz Jr. We discussed the prospect's career as well as today's big promoters, including GBP. 

You can stream our interview on both SoundCloud and iTunes:

Ernest Gabion Interview with Luis Cortes on SoundCloud


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Blair Cobbs: Boxing is his Sanctuary

By Luis A. Cortes III

Saturday night’s mega fight card live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas is indeed being headlined by the historic showdown between Canelo Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev.  While this matchup between the reigning middleweight king and the current WBO light heavyweight champion has brought members of the boxing media to Sin City from all over the country, Blair “The Flair” Cobbs (12-0-1) (8 KO’s) is aware that this is his moment to establish himself, make believers out of everyone watching, and prove he is the future of boxing. Tomorrow night, Cobbs will meet Carlos Ortiz (11-4) (11 KO's) in a 10-round fight for the NABF welterweight title. 

This is the type of opportunity (being in the opening fight of the main portion of the televised card) that Cobbs has been working towards as a professional fighter for the past six years.  Not only will a victory for Cobbs announce his presence to the sport, as he makes the transition from welterweight prospect to championship contender (this fight will be for the vacant NABF title), it’s the first step that he needs to take in trying to do what all fighters crave to ultimately do... Become a bankable transcendent star.

As he stands inside of the MGM Casino with his team at his side just outside of a casino bar moments after finishing an open workout for fans and media, this version of Blair Cobbs is a much more subdue man than the one who was just entertaining the crowd and shouting that he “is the baddest, most exciting man in boxing today.”

With a frenzy taking place and fans screaming for free promotional gifts as other undercard fighters shadow boxed and skipped ropes to help promote Saturday night's event, Team Cobbs arrived for their turn. The polite, soft spoken, and thoughtful twenty-nine-year-old flipped a switch as he stepped through the ropes.  By the time his feet landed inside of the ring he had transformed into the “The Flair,” and started shouting into the cameras and towards the fans.  Instantly understanding and showing the world that inside of the ring is not only his sanctuary, but also his stage.

Cobbs even showed off one of his unique training techniques to the crowd.  After spinning around in a circle to off-set his balance, Cobb was tossed three balls that he started to juggle.  The thought process being that he can train his body and mind to successfully juggle three balls while dizzy.  This form of training will lead to an improved ability to fight and maintain coordination if he is ever hurt and dazed from a punch.  Once his time inside of the ring ended, Cobbs left the ring and the public workout area.  Minutes later, he had internally flipped the switch back off and was once again, Blair.

The road for Cobbs arrival to fight week has been nothing but unorthodox, even for the often-crazy unpredictable world of boxing.  His backstory and road to the sport is something the best screenwriters and producers in Hollywood couldn’t even come up with.  “There are many chapters that explain my life.  I was born in Philadelphia and lived in Beverly Hills where I went to high school.  Another chapter was having to move with my father and sister to Guadalarja, Mexico.  That’s where I learned to box.  Boxing and that ring became my sanctuary,” stated Cobbs.

It was back in 2004 that Cobbs and his sister were suddenly moved to Mexico by their father.  Eugene Cobbs was a prime target of the FBI who were searching for him in connection with an air plane crash in West Virginia.  Eugene had allegedly crashed a private plane and fled the scene because inside of the plane was 525 pounds of cocaine.  With the U.S. Marshals closing in on him and his family, Mexico became home for the Cobbs family.

Once in Mexico, Cobbs tried his best to adapt to his new surroundings by picking up the language, which he speaks fluently.  He wandered into a boxing gym and took to the sport like a fish to water.  Cobbs would keep a low profile to keep his family together everywhere except for inside of the gym.  “I was fighting like every weekend and it was great.  I was in some real knockdown drag out fights,” recalled Cobbs.  In 2007, Eugene was captured and Blair was set free as he was able to return to his home country.  He found himself back in Philadelphia after a stint in New York, but with no money and no prospects for financial gain.  Cobbs once again found sanctuary behind the walls of a boxing gym.

“I was unprepared for the streets of Philadelphia.  I was all over the city, West, North, Germantown.  Surviving those city streets is hard.”  Through boxing Cobbs was able to make his name in the city in the same fashion that he did while fighting and trying to survive in Mexico.  After turning professional in 2013 he found some success in and out of the boxing ring.  Cobbs still had no financial stability but was training locals at the Joe Hand Boxing Gym and using whatever money he could put together to eat properly and train.  While living out of his car, he finally received a break when he was noticed by former associates of Bernard Hopkins.

Once again, Cobbs decided that it would be best to try and establish himself in a new environment to continue his path in boxing, so he moved to Las Vegas.  This move occurred because, despite knowing associates of a legend, he couldn’t get a fight on the grounds that no one wanted to face him.  His career was at a turning point, thus the move out west.  Former WBA bantamweight champion Clarence “Bones” Adams was serving time and met Cobbs' cousin.  They spoke about Blair and Adams agreed to meet with the young talent upon his release.

They immediately connected not just through boxing, but through their shared experiences and similar backgrounds.  Adams was so convinced that Cobbs was a special talent that he got Brandon Woods, his former trainer, to return to Las Vegas to help with training and Cobbs' development.  Finally having a steady home in Las Vegas and a stable team to support his growth as a fighter and man, Cobbs won several fights in a row. He reconnected with the former associate of Bernard Hopkins in Vegas, and after a few more wins, signed a promotional contract with Golden Boy Promotions.

With boxing being Blair Cobbs' sanctuary in Mexico, New York, Philadelphia, back to Mexico wining professional fights, and now in Las Vegas, at 29, Cobbs needs to make a splash before his physical prime runs its course.  After all, father time waits for no man, not even the Flair.  He is aware of this and along with his back story, his ability to speak fluent Spanish (which opens him up to the Latino market), his fan friendly fighting style, and his willingness to interact with fans, Cobbs has finally reached the moment for his career to start taking off towards bigger fights, which also means bigger pay days.  The first step for Cobbs to take towards his ultimate goals starts tomorrow night when he steps through the ropes and into the ring, which after all, is the place he also calls his “sanctuary."


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Photo - BoxRec.com


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