It’s easy to get bogged down in the negativity that exists online when it comes to the world of professional wrestling. Let’s put a pause on the bad stuff, all the complaints, criticisms, rants, and rundowns. Instead, let’s come up for a breath of fresh air, sift through the week that was, and accentuate the positives.
Here are your top 3 positives from the week that was:
1. Cena vs. Cesaro II
Their first encounter on the June 29th Raw was impressive enough to make the AtP top 3 last week, but the rematch was phenomenal enough to be number one on the list this week. This was far and away the highlight of this past Monday’s Raw, managing to outshine Brock Lesnar destroying a car (more on that below). For 30 minutes, these two absolutely tore the house down and put on quite possibly the best Raw match we’ve seen this decade and a definite Match of the Year candidate.
As I said last week about the first match, I can’t do it any justice with my words, so if you haven’t seen it, go out of your way to do so. I also said last week that I hoped the first match would lead to WWE finding something meaningful for Cesaro to be involved in and I think his being in a half hour match with the “face that runs the place” is a step in the right direction. I’m even more hopeful now that WWE will take this opportunity to push Cesaro in a way that he has been more than deserving of for quite some time.
As for Cena, it is kind of incredible when you look back at how many matches he’s had this year that have just been off the charts. He’s had amazing matches with the likes of Neville, Stardust, Dean Ambrose, and Sami Zayn on Raw, and two jaw dropping matches with Kevin Owens on PPV. Plus, let’s not forget the unreal triple threat match from the Royal Rumble involving Cena, Lesnar, and Seth Rollins. I don’t want this “Open Challenge” era to end. I’ll reiterate once again that these segments are hands down the best thing on Raw each and every week. I can’t say enough good things about Cena right now and just how scary it is that he’s this good in 2015. Everything about the match: the action, the time given, the story around it, and most importantly the people in it, is amazingly positive!
2. Okada, Goto, and KUSHIDA shine at NJPW Dominion
Last week’s AtP came out on Monday due to the holiday weekend here in the States, but I kept the article to my usual Sunday to Saturday time frame (though I break my own rule from time to time). So, the day prior to last week’s article coming out, New Japan Pro Wrestling held the 2015 edition of Dominion in Osaka-jo Hall. Since it falls in my time frame of “the week that was” I’m more than okay with including it in this week’s top 3. The show was very well done and everyone seemed to give a little extra all night, but I feel like Okada, Goto, and KUSHIDA came out as the big winners of the night.
I’ll start with KUSHIDA because, to be frank, he is my favorite NJPW guy so far in my attempt at diving into the company (I just subscribed to NJPW World). Prior to the match, NJPW showed an excellent video from 1991 showing a then 8 year old KUSHIDA doing moonsaults onto pillows and various other wrestling moves. Even though NJPW World only provides shows in Japanese (and I don’t speak a bit of it) I didn’t need to understand the language spoken to connect with the story. It made a guy who lives in a place that is 13 hours ahead of me, speaking a language I don’t understand, and wrestling in a company I’m not entirely familiar with relatable. And that is so important to pro wrestling. I spoke a few weeks back about the power of making the fans Believe, and part of that comes from making a connection with the fans. Seeing KUSHIDA as a kid reminded me of when I was a kid, doing the same exact things, mimicking guys I saw wrestle on TV. How could I not pull for the guy who’s doing what I could only dream about?
The match with Kenny Omega for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title was absolutely amazing. The crowd lived and breathed with every near fall, especially one that followed a super 2K1 Bomb (a modified fisherman’s superplex) by Omega. I even audibly gasped at one false finish at the end. As I said above with Cena/Cesaro, I can’t do the match justice, but I honestly felt like this was the match of the night, and that’s saying a lot considering the other matches on the card. KUSHIDA winning the title was really great, especially after winning the Best of the Super Juniors this year, as Kenny Omega refused to be in it as he claimed to already be the best since he was champ. It was a great story and both men worked like crazy in the match.
Hirooki Goto and Shinsuke Nakamura had a phenomenal match as well, with Goto going over Nakamura after going back and forth for over 20 minutes. It was such a fun match and I’m curious to see where Nakamura goes now that he’s lost his rematch for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship. I would think that with his popularity both in Japan and abroad that this may open him up to chasing the IWGP World Heavyweight Championship, which now belongs to Okada.
And the way Okada took possession of that belt was excellent. Okada and AJ Styles told an excellent story and the finishing sequence was excellent and the counters were nearly flawless. Plus, senior referee Red Shoes got to tell the Bullet Club and Styles to “suck it” which was worth watching the entire event. I really like Okada’s style and think him recapturing the title for a 3rd time is a great move by NJPW. I’ve heard conflicting reports about whether or not WWE might be interested in Okada, but whether they are or not, I think Okada is a guy who could easily transition into a main event role in front of a WWE crowd. I know his run in TNA was the exact opposite of positive, but I think in the right hands (Triple H) Okada could shine on a global stage.
Also, as a bonus, I’d like to point out how much I liked the Katsuyori Shibata vs. Kazushi Sakuraba match as well. I like the MMA/Wrestling hybrid style when done the way these two did. Needless to say, this whole event was a major positive!
3. Brock Smash
Okay, so I went a little long with my little NJPW mark-out moment, so I’ll keep this brief. Brock destroying J&J’s car was just the greatest. I’d like to point out by the way that the fan everyone was worried about didn’t get hit with the actual door, but just the inside panel. Those things have airbags, so you know he’s going to be fine. Seriously though, Brock really kicked off the 3rd hour of Raw in a nice way and it kept going through the New Day segment (which I also enjoyed) into the Cena/Cesaro rematch. I won’t say anything else about Raw, since I only talk about positive stuff (those first two hours though… thank God Heyman cut that promo to kick things off!).
Well, that’s it for this week. Until next time, stay positive!