Sunday, November 26, 2023

WWE Survivor Series: War Games 2023 Recap

By Steve Ward

WWE’s Thanksgiving weekend tradition, Survivor Series, emanated this evening from Chicago’s Allstate Arena for its 37th installment. This year they would again incorporate the War Games component, adapted from WCW’s annual Fall Brawl events, in place of the traditional Survivor Series bouts. The event featured five matches with two titles contested and would be headlined by two War Games matches.

Women’s War Games Match

Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Shotzi, & Bianca Belair vs. Damage Ctrl

(Asuka, Bayley, Iyo Sky, Kairi Sane

Winners: Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Shotzi, & Bianca Belair

The War Games match, for those unfamiliar with the concept, takes place within two adjacent rings with a colossal cage encasing them. The match begins with one competitor from each team in the ring with a new participant entering the fray in three-minute intervals alternating between teams. A winner can only be determined by pinfall or submission after ALL competitors have entered the match.

The women’s War Games began with Becky Lynch and Bayley going toe to toe. The subsequent order of entry was Shotzi, Iyo Sky, Bianca Belair, Kairi Sane, Charlotte Flair, and Asuka. Once Asuka entered the imposing War Games structure, the match officially began meaning the first pinfall or submission would crown a winner. The closing moments saw Bayley singled out as Becky Lynch climbed to the middle turnbuckle with a table set up in front of her. Bayley then was hoisted up on the middle turnbuckle by The Man’s teammates where Becky Lynch delivered a Manhandle Slam to her plunging through the table setting up the pinfall.

WWE Intercontinental Championship

Gunther (c) vs. The Miz

Winner: Gunther via submission

This evening the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion in history, Gunther, put his 533-day title reign on the line against The Miz who sought to capture his ninth Intercontinental Championship. The Miz gave a valiant effort and was able to land several low blows, while distracting the referee’s attention, but in the end, Gunther was too much as he cinched in the Boston Crab to capture the win.

Santos Escobar vs. Dragon Lee

Winner: Santos Escobar via pinfall

Over the past several weeks, Santos Escobar systematically took out each member of the LWO after he decided he no longer wished to remain in Rey Mysterio’s shadow. Escobar was supposed to square off with the last man standing in the LWO, Carlito, until he was brutally attacked on Smackdown last night. Following the assault, Dragon Lee stepped up and pleaded with Smackdown general manager Nick Aldis to put him in the match bringing us to tonight’s bout. Santos Escobar proved to be too much for Lee as he hit the South of the Border Destroyer and then the Phantom Driver to solidify the victory.

WWE Women’s Championship

Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Zoey Stark

Winner: Rhea Ripley via pinfall

Zoey Stark showed some brief flurries of offense, but Ripley was simply too formidable of an opponent. Ripley finally vanquished Stark with The Riptide to retain her title.

Men’s Wargames Match

Drew McIntyre & The Judgement Day (Finn Balor, Damian Priest, Dominik Mysterio, and JD McDonagh) vs. Cody Rhodes, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Jey Uso, and Randy Orton

Winners: Cody Rhodes, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Jey Uso, and Randy Orton

The same rules would apply for the men’s match as the women’s earlier in the evening.  The key storyline to follow in this match would be whether Randy Orton, who’s been on the shelf injured for over a year and a half, would show after being announced as the final member of Rhodes’ team this past Monday on RAW. The first two participants in the match were Finn Balor and Seth Rollins. The order of entry following the first two competitors was JD McDonagh, Jey Uso, Damian Priest, Sami Zayn, Drew McIntyre, Cody Rhodes, Dominik Mysterio, and Randy Orton.

When it appeared Orton would no show, Rhea Ripley ran to the ring with Damian Priest’s Money In The Bank briefcase after Rollins, the World Heavyweight Champion, was put through a table. Just as Priest was going to cash in his contract, Orton interrupted and made his way to the ring. Orton helped his team run roughshod on the opposing team culminating in Cody Rhodes hitting the Cross-Rhodes on Damian Priest for the win.

As they celebrated in the ring, the shock of the night came as CM Punk’s music echoed throughout the arena and he made his return to WWE after his termination from AEW in August following a backstage altercation with Jack Perry.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

November in the New York and New Jersey Boxing Scenes

By Frank Bartolini

The second week of November was very active and entertaining for the fight game. Getting things started was promoter Lou Dibella of Dibella Entertainment. Edison Ballroom in the heart of Times Square, New York City, hosted this event on November 7th. A first-rate affair that had cadets from West Point greeting well-dressed guests on arrival, former U.S. Marine junior lightweight Jamal Herring, Cincinnati, Ohio, returned to action after a brief fifteen-month retirement. He stopped and outclassed undefeated Nicholas Molina of Lowell, Massachusetts in round one. A packed house saw Herring raise his record to 24-4, 12 KOs, as Molina slipped to 13-1, 5 KOs.

Two nights later, the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame (NJBHOF) had its fifty-third annual inductions at the Venetian in Garfield, New Jersey. Held at an opulent banquet hall, the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame dinner is a formal event just shy of being a black-tie affair. Notable guests included the Commissioner Larry Hazzard, former heavyweight contender Chuck Wepner, heavyweight contender Otto Wallin, and world-renowned officials, boxing judge Steve Weisfeld and Referee Benji Estevez. Inductees this year were former world rated middleweight Omar Sheika, one time world rated light Anthony Fletcher (who was recently released from prison after serving 29 years first degree murder that was reduced to aggravated manslaughter by the Innocence Project), and heavyweight journeyman Maurice Harris. NJBHOF President Henry Hascup devotes countless hours to the Hall, and also handles the master of ceremonies duties for the annual event.

On Saturday, November 11th in Newark, NJ at The Robert Treat Hotel, the number one promoter in the Garden State, Rising Star Promotions, entertained a sold-out crowd. This was Rising Star Promotions' fiftieth fight card since starting the business in December of 2015. World ranked middleweight Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna is the CEO of the outfit. LaManna has been a key player in reviving the sport in the Garden State.

That evening, super bantamweight Emmanual Rodriguez got back on the winning track after losing two out of his last three battles. Rodriguez of Newark NJ is a popular boxer who sells a ton of tickets. Gilberto Mendoza was flown in from Modesto, California to face Rodriguez. Rodriguez has solid skills but is not a heavy hitter. Winning every round Rodriguez went home with an eight round unanimous decision victory.