Welcome to the 65th edition of Spandex and Suplexes: A Wrestling Review. I cover a week that saw NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 15, NXT New Year’s Evil, Night One of AEW New Year’s Smash, and three WWE championships on the line. Let’s get started.
NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 15:
Night One Results:
1. Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale, Bushi, and Toru Yano won the 21-Man New Japan Rambo to determine who will challenge for the Provisional KOPW 2021 Trophy on night 2
2. Hiromu Takahashi defeated El Phantasmo to determine who will challenge for the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Championship on night 2
3. Guerrillas of Destiny (Tama Tonga and Tanga Loa) defeated Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi and Zack Sabre Jr.) (c) to become the new IWGP Tag Team Champions
4. Kenta (c) defeated Satoshi Kojima to retain the IWGP United States Championship challenge rights certificate
5. Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated Great-O-Khan
6. Kazuchika Okada defeated Will Ospreay
7. Kota Ibushi defeated Tetsuya Naito (c) to become the new IWGP Heavyweight Champion and IWGP Intercontinental Champion
Night Two Results:
1. Toru Yano defeated Chase Owens, Bad Luck Fale, and Bushi to win the Provisional KOPW 2021 Trophy
2. Suzuki-gun (El Desperado and Yoshinobu Kanemaru) (c) defeated One or Eight (Ryusuke Taguchi and Master Wato) to retain the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Championships
3. Shingo Takagi (c) defeated Jeff Cobb to retain the NEVER Openweight Championship
4. Sanada defeated Evil
5. Hiromu Takahashi defeated Taiji Ishimori (c) to become the new IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion
6. Kota Ibushi (c) defeated Jay White to retain the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and IWGP Intercontinental Championship
Thoughts: Once again, New Japan Pro Wrestling delivered yet another spectacular Wrestle Kingdom event. From the comedic antics of Toru Yano to the Match of the Year candidates in Okada vs. Ospreay (which is my Match of the Week) and Ibushi vs. Naito, both nights were highly entertaining from start to finish. While Tetsuya Naito is my absolute favorite wrestler in NJPW, I was glad to see Kota Ibushi finally get his chance to shine as the top champion in New Japan by capturing both the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and IWGP Intercontinental Championship. Ibushi continued his success from night one to night two were he managed to retain his two titles against Jay White in another great match. New Japan almost never disappoints, and I am looking forward to seeing what they have in store for us in 2021.
Other major highlights from the two-night event were Takagi vs. Cobb, Sanada vs. Evil, and Takahashi vs. Ishimori.
1. The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) defeated The Miz and John Morrison
2. AJ Styles defeated Elias
3. Peyton Royce and Lacey Evans defeated Charlotte Flair and Asuka
4. Matt Riddle defeated Bobby Lashley
5. Dana Brooke defeated Shayna Baszler
6. Randy Orton defeated Jeff Hardy
7. Lucha House Party (Gran Metalik and Lince Dorado) defeated The Hurt Business (Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin)
8. R-Truth defeated Angel Garza (c) backstage to become the new WWE 24/7 Champion
9. Drew McIntyre (c) defeated Keith Lee to retain the WWE Championship
Thoughts: After a great WWE Championship match between Drew McIntyre and Keith Lee that saw McIntyre come out on top, The Scottish Psychopath would be interrupted by the legendary Goldberg. Goldberg made his intensions clear as he challenged Drew to a match at WWE Royal Rumble for the WWE Championship.
While I am sure there are those out there groaning at the idea of a part timer like Goldberg getting another World Title shot, I personally do not have a problem with this match as long as it ends with the former four-time World Champion putting over the current WWE Champion. Both men are known for their strength and devastating finishers, though McIntyre showed in his match against Brock Lesnar that he is more than tough enough to handle even the most hard hitting of moves. The real question will be how long the match will be considering the length of past Goldberg matches.
Overall, this was a good episode of Monday Night Raw with the highlights being Styles vs. Elias, Orton vs. Hardy, and the main event.
1. Karrion Kross defeated Damian Priest
2. Santos Escobar (c) defeated Gran Metalik to retain the NXT Cruiserweight Championship
3. Xia Li defeated Katrina Cortez
4. Raquel Gonzalez defeated Rhea Ripley in a Last Woman Standing match
5. Kushida and Shotzi Blackheart defeated The Way (Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae)
6. Finn Bálor (c) defeated Kyle O’Reilly by submission to retain the NXT Championship
Thoughts: This was the NXT New Year’s Evil special. The main event match between Finn Bálor and Kyle O’Reilly was an absolute barn burner as these two men beat the hell out of each other for the right to call themselves the NXT Champion. WWE and USA Network made the right decision at making this match be commercial free as the lack of breaks improved the match’s quality. During the match, Bálor made clear his intentions as he targeted O’Reilly’s jaw due to being put out of action with a fractured jaw courtesy of Kyle back at NXT TakeOver 31.
After a hard hitting back and forth, Finn would be the one to pick up the win by locking O’Reilly in an abdominal stretch and yanked at his damaged jaw until The Undisputed Era member was forced to tap out. The question now is who the next challenger for The Prince will be as Pete Dunne had watched the match from the crowd and Karrion Kross is waiting in the wings to try and regain the title he never lost.
Overall, this was a great episode of NXT with the highlights being the Last Woman Standing match, Xia Li and Boa’s reintroduction, and the main event.
1. The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson) and SCU (Christopher Daniels and Frankie Kazarian) defeated The Acclaimed (Anthony Bowens and Max Caster) and The Hybrid 2 (Jack Evans and Angelico)
2. Wardlow defeated Jake Hager
3. Cody Rhodes defeated Matt Sydal
4. Hikaru Shida (c) defeated Abadon to retain the AEW Women’s World Championship
5. Kenny Omega (c) defeated Rey Fenix to retain the AEW World Championship
Thoughts: After Kenny Omega successfully retained his AEW World Championship in an awesome match against Rey Fenix, Omega decided to try and end Fenix’s career for daring to oppose him. Jon Moxley would then make the save and take out The Cleaner. Unfortunately for Moxley, he would be blindsided by the surprise AEW debut of the Impact World Tag Team Champions and Omega’s allies, The Good Brothers (Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows).
Multiple AEW stars that were watching from ringside tried to help Jon against the outsiders, but all of them would be taken out. Eventually, Kenny’s fellow Elite members and former Bullet Club stablemates of The Good Brothers, The Young Bucks (Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson), ran out to try and calm the situation and question the AEW World Champion about why The Good Brothers were there. In an interesting cliffhanger, after Omega, Gallows, and Anderson threw up the “Too Sweet” hand sign that all of them used to do while they were members of Bullet Club, The Young Bucks reluctantly (?) threw up the sign as well, making everyone wonder if the band was back together.
This was a fantastic way to end the first AEW show of 2021 as it will have people tuning in for next week to see the fallout of this possible reunion. This segment also showcased another example of how well the AEW/Impact Wrestling working relationship has been going so far. Overall, this was a great episode of Dynamite with the highlights being Wardlow vs. Hager, the main event, and its aftermath.
Between NXT and AEW this week, I am going to have to give the close win to NXT as while the ending to AEW was great, NXT had the overall better match quality. This brings my personal 2021 WNW rankings to: NXT – 1 and AEW – 0.
1. Big E (c) defeated Apollo Crews to retain the WWE Intercontinental Championship
2. Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode defeated The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) (c) to become the new WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champions
3. Adam Pearce defeated Sami Zayn, Rey Mysterio, Shinsuke Nakamura, King Corbin, and Daniel Bryan in a #1 Contender Gauntlet match last eliminating Nakamura after interference by Roman Reigns and Jey Uso to earn a shot at the WWE Universal Championship at WWE Royal Rumble
Thoughts: The next challenger for Roman Reigns’ WWE Universal Championship is an interesting one. After being called out by Roman Reigns at the start of the show, WWE Official Adam Pearce was wrongly blamed for what Reigns and Jey Uso did to Kevin Owens last week. Roman then verbally harassed and threatened Pearce due to Adam booking a Gauntlet match to determine Reigns’ next challenger rather than letting Roman choose his own opponent. Later backstage, Pearce refused to book himself into the Gauntlet as he said that it would be a conflict of interest and that he also had no interest of returning to the ring as being inactive for six years. The former five-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion would be given no choice however, as Paul Heyman used his pull to have Pearce added to the match anyway.
After a series of four matches in the gauntlet that saw Shinsuke Nakamura put on a hell of a performance as he eliminated Rey Mysterio, King Corbin, and Daniel Bryan, the final match came down to Nakamura and Pearce, who was forced to come out by Reigns, Uso, and Heyman. Uso would then attack The King of Strong Style from behind followed by The Tribal Chief knocking out the man formally known as Scrap Iron. Roman would then demand that the final bell ring and pulled Adam over Shinsuke’s body for the 1, 2, 3, making Pearce the man who will face Reigns at the Royal Rumble for the WWE Universal Championship.
Ever since Pearce was made an on screen official, I wondered if WWE would ever have him compete in the ring considering his past as a great in ring competitor. That time is now here. Of all the people he could have faced first I would not have thought it would be against The Big Dog, let alone for his WWE Universal Championship. However, I am glad to see a man as talented in the ring as Adam get what will probably his one and only big break in WWE. His current character makes him a perfect underdog to go against the self-proclaimed Head of the Table. While it is very unlikely that he will win, I do hope Pearce gets to show off against Roman the skills that once made him one of the most respected in ring competitors in the world.
In another note from the gauntlet match, Nakamura had an excellent showing, especially during his battle with Daniel Bryan. He was made to look better than he has in a long time and his decision to shake Bryan’s hand seemed to be teasing a face turn. The Artist being screwed out a WWE Universal Championship shot also makes me hope that he will get a shot at the title down the line.
Overall, this was a great episode of Friday Night SmackDown with the highlights being the opening segment with Roman Reigns and Adam Pearce as well as all three matches.
That’s it for this week’s Spandex and Suplexes. I am looking forward to McIntyre’s answer to Goldberg’s challenge on this Monday’s Raw and Night Two of AEW New Year’s Smash on Wednesday. While you are here on Florida Geek Scene, be sure to check out the second episode of my spin off series, Spandex and Suplexes: The Interview Series, where I interviewed veteran pro wrestler, Randy Hogan. Until next time, I’ll see you at ringside!