Monday, September 28, 2020

WWE Clash of Champions 2020

By Steve Ward

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

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

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

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

WWE Smackdown Womens Championship

Bayley (c) vs. Asuka

Winner: Asuka via DQ

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

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

WWE Championship Ambulance Match

Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Randy Orton

Winner: Drew McIntyre

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

WWE Universal Championship

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

Winner: Roman Reigns

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

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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Pandemic Knocks Out Annual Boxing Banquet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This story also appeared on Patch

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Sunday, September 6, 2020


By Steve Ward

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

The Buy-In Pre-Show

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

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

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

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

Main Card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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