Welcome everyone to the 104th edition of Spandex and Suplexes: A Wrestling Review. I cover a month that saw WWE Day 1, NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16, Impact Wrestling Hard to Kill, and WWE Royal Rumble. Let’s get started.
Day 1 was an interesting show. The matches ranged from good to great with both Tag Team Championship matches, Edge vs. The Miz, and Becky Lynch vs. Liv Morgan all being great. The biggest news came in the main event. Due to Roman Reigns contracting Covid, his planned WWE Universal Championship match opponent, Brock Lesnar, was added to the WWE Championship match, making it a Fatal Five Way match. In what was clearly a last-minute decision, Lesnar would go on the win the title by pinning the champion, Big E, unceremoniously ending E’s long awaited WWE Title reign. While the match was good, it was still upsetting to see Big E’s run end that way, especially after the poor way he was booked throughout his reign. Hopefully, Big E will get a second run at the top that is much better than his first.
Wrestle Kingdom is always one of my most anticipated wrestling shows of the year as New Japan always goes all out at their show of shows. While Yoh vs. Sho was a great opening match, Night One didn’t really start feeling like WK until halfway through the show. It was awesome to see Katsuyori Shibata back in the ring in a real match after nearly five years since he was forced into retirement due to injury. I am looking forward to seeing who Shibata faces next and would love to see get a run as IWGP World Heavyweight Champion. Other highlights from Night One were Chaos vs. Dangerous Tekkers, El Desperado vs. Hiromu Takahashi, and Kazuchika Okada vs. Shingo Takagi.
Night Two, however, felt like WK from opening to close. It was great to see the ladies from Stardom get featured on the card and they showcased exactly why Stardom has some of the greatest women’s wrestling in the world. Minoru Suzuki as KOPW should be very entertaining and it will be interesting to see if anyone can take the trophy away from him before the end of the year. Other highlights from Night Two were Sanada vs. Great-O-Khan, Tetsuya Naito vs. Jeff Cobb, Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Kenta, and Okada vs. Will Ospreay (which is My Match of the Month).
Impact Wrestling once again delivered on PPV with Hard to Kill 2022. I had a lot of fun watching this show as it was entertaining from beginning to end. Every match offered something great from awesome highflying action with the Knockouts Ultimate X match and Trey Miguel vs. Steve Maclin, hard hitting wrestling action with Jonathan Gresham vs. Chris Sabin and Josh Alexander vs. JONAH, fun hardcore action with the Hardcore War and Mickie James vs. Deonna Purrazzo, and an excellent World Title match with Moose vs. Matt Cardona vs. W. Morrissey.
The biggest news to come from the show came after the Hardcore War when Ring of Honor wrestlers, OGK (Matt Taven, Mike Bennett, and Maria Kanellis), PCO, and Vincent hit the ring and laid out the winners, Eddie Edwards, Rich Swann, Willie Mack, Heath, and Rhino. In the weeks that followed, the group would refer to themselves as “Honor No More” and attack Impact roster members D’Lo Brown, Matthew Rehwoldt, and Josh Alexander. Scott D’Amore would then announce that Honor No More will take on Team Impact (Chris Sabin, Eddie Edwards, Josh Alexander, Rhino, and Rich Swann) in a Hardcore War at No Surrender on February 19th with the stipulation being that if Honor No More win, they will get to stay in Impact Wrestling, but if Team Impact wins, HNM will be banned from Impact. I am highly invested in this ROH invasion of Impact and think this is a great use of ROH until they make their official return at Supercard of Honor XV on April 1st.
I hate to end this article on a negative, but this year’s Royal Rumble was probably the worst Rumble event I have ever seen, and I have watched them all. While Becky Lynch vs. Doudrop was good, Beth Phoenix vs. The Miz and Maryse was entertaining, and Ronda Rousey winning the Women’s Rumble not bothering me that much, the rest of the show had, in my opinion, highly questionable booking. I was enjoying Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns with Rollins doing some of his best character work of his career when he competed under his old Shield gimmick to get into his former teammate, Reigns’ head. Unfortunately, the match came to an anticlimactic end as Roman got himself disqualified by attacking Seth with a chair. Ending what was a great match with a nonending was disappointing to say the least.
Bobby Lashley vs. Brock Lesnar had similar problems. My biggest issue was how Lashley was portrayed. If anyone should have been booked as Lesnar’s equal it was Lashley. Instead, the match had Brock dominating most of the match with Bobby only winning thanks to interference by Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns. The Beast losing the WWE Championship after only holding it less than a month makes his taking it from Big E even more meaningless. Sadly, this would not be the worst booking decision involving Brock on this night as they would have Lesnar show up in the Men’s Rumble at #30 and squash everyone to win the match.
This was pointless as Lesnar didn’t need to win the Rumble to set up Roman vs. Brock at WrestleMania, making the entire match meaningless. With Lashley having no clear opponent for Mania, it would have made far more sense for his opponent to be the winner of the Rumble. The ending of the match was made worse by not only having a part timer who didn’t need the win winning it, but also having two of the final four of the Rumble being another part timer in Shane McMahon and a celebrity in Bad Bunny.
That’s it for this issue of Spandex and Suplexes. I am looking forward to the next month of action, especially WWE Elimination Chamber and Impact Wrestling No Surrender. 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!