Monday, November 23, 2020

WWE Survivor Series 2020

By Steve Ward

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

5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Match

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

Sole Survivors: Team RAW

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

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

Winners: The Street Profits via pinfall

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

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

Winner: Bobby Lashley via submission

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

Asuka vs. Sasha Banks

Winner: Sasha Banks via pinfall

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

Womens 5-on-5 Traditional Survivor Series Match

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

Sole Survivor: Lana

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

Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman vs. Drew McIntyre

Winner: Roman Reigns via submission

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

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

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Sunday, November 8, 2020

AEW Full Gear 2020

By Steve Ward

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

The Buy-In Pre-Show

NWA Womens Championship

Serena Deeb (c) vs. Allysin Kay

Winner: Serena Deeb via submission

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

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

Main Card

AEW World Title Eliminator Tournament Finals

Kenny Omega vs. Hangman Adam Page

Winner: Kenny Omega via pinfall

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

Orange Cassidy vs. John 4Silver

Winner: Orange Cassidy via pinfall

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

TNT Championship

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

Winner: Darby Allin via pinfall

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

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

AEW Womens Championship

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

Winner: Hikaru Shida via pinfall

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

AEW Tag Team Championship

FTR (c) vs. The Young Bucks

Winners: The Young Bucks via pinfall

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

Elite Deletion Match

Matt Hardy vs. Sammy Guevara

Winner: Matt Hardy via pinfall

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

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

Chris Jericho vs. MJF w/ Wardlow

Winner: MJF via pinfall

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

AEW Heavyweight Championship I Quit Match

Jon Moxley (c) vs. Eddie Kingston

Winner: Jon Moxley

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

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