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Welcome to the Silverdome. A place where one man looks at the wonderful and intricate world of Professional Wrestling.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Silver Report: August 2018

Every so often, usually at the end of a main roster WWE PPV, I wonder to myself: "Why do I still watch this?" As I grow older and mature as a wrestling fan, that question becomes harder to answer.

It may be nostalgia, but I can't think of a time where I've been so disengaged by Raw and SmackDown. I don't even watch them live anymore. To be honest, my time isn't worth wasting five hours on a subpar to bad episode. If there is something worth watching, I have the episodes saved on my PVR to check out at a later date — if I even get to them.

Getting back to my conundrum, I'd say I keep watching out of loyalty. I got into professional wrestling because of WWE and originally, I felt an obligation to support them due to that. Over time I came to realize how little WWE as a company cared about their fans — despite what their executives may say — and my loyalty shifted. Nowadays, it's a loyalty to the great men and women, like AJ Styles, Asuka, Bayley, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Samoa Joe, and Shinsuke Nakamura, that put their bodies on the line for our entertainment.

So in conclusion, as long as WWE employs wrestlers that I like, then I will still watch and cheer on, no matter how much I want to tear my hair out sometimes. Guess the frustration has become part of the fun.

You Can't Beat God

After 90 grueling matches, Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi were the two left standing as block winners of the 28th G1 Climax. Tanahashi held Okada to a 30-minute draw in order to win A Block, while Ibushi won B Block, thanks to having wins over the three men (Kenny Omega, Tetsuya Naito, and Zack Sabre Jr.) he ended up in a four way tie with. 

Despite their taxing journeys to the G1 finals, only one of them would get the chance to main event WrestleKingdom 13. The question is: will Ibushi overcome the man he considers God or will Tanahashi move one step closer to regaining his position at the top of New Japan?

With Omega in Ibushi's corner and Katsuyori Shibata in Tanahashi's, both men waged war for 35 minutes. As they hit each other with hellacious strikes and devastating moves, Ibushi seemed to be on his way to conquering the biggest obstacle in his wrestling career. Unfortunately for the Golden Star and his fans, the Ace was far too resilient. Tanahashi took everything Ibushi dished out, even some incredibly violent strikes later in the match, and hit three High Fly Flows in a row for the victory. Like Icarus flying too close to the sun, Ibushi tried to reach God, only to come crashing back down to Earth. The disgrace of this defeat was too much for Ibushi as he would run to the back covering his face. 

While some may be confused why New Japan management wouldn't go with the huge money match of Omega vs. Ibushi to main event WrestleKingdom, especially since it seems to be building in the background for a while now, New Japan does long-term storytelling better than any wrestling company today. They book their major storylines around grand character arcs. Much like Omega needed to fall to his lowest point (the Bullet Club civil war) before finally winning the IWGP Heavyweight Championship from Okada, this major setback will be the catalyst for any even greater triumph in Ibushi's future.
Source: Sports Illustrated

The Reign of Terror Is Over, Let the New One Begin

FINALLY, Brock Lesnar's year and a half reign as Universal Champion is over! So, why am I not happy?

This should be one of the best moments of the year. No more BS to explain why Raw has no heavyweight champion, no more five minute or less championship squashes whenever Brock decides to grace us with his presence, no more protecting a lazy champion because he's a supposed draw — I can go on. Unfortunately, WWE mucked things up with a smoke and mirrors show in order to protect their image.

First, Braun Strowman came down before the main event to declare he would cash-in his Money in the Bank briefcase against the winner of Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns. Stowman's explanation was that he didn't want a to be as cheap as those opportunistic cash-ins. While Strowman's logic was faulty at best, everybody let it slide since we all thought it was only moments away from Strowman hoisting the Universal Title. Well, it turned out to be a bait and switch as Strowman never got the chance to cash-in.

Leading into the finish, Lesnar incapacitated the Monster Among Men with one F5 on the floor and a few chair shots before he hurled the briefcase up the ramp. Distracted by his attack on Strowman, Lesnar walked into a spear by Reigns for the win. Immediately following Reigns' win, Summerslam would go dark before the crowds' negative reaction to Reigns and the main event as a whole was caught on-camera.

While I wasn't too keen on another Reigns coronation, what made this one sting was how WWE sacrificed Strowman in order to keep the crowd from turning on the main event. Stowman, one of the biggest stars in the company, was made to look like a complete idiot for not cashing in at the beginning of the match. While Strowman may not have won the ensuing triple threat match that would've followed the cash-in, at least, he could've been protected if Lesnar took the pin.

Now, we're left with the next chapter in Reigns' never-ending push and my emotions are mixed. While I am sick of Reigns being shoved down our throats, I can tolerate this title reign as long as we get good Universal Title matches. The defense against Finn Balor the night after Summerslam is a good start. Now WWE needs to keep the ball rolling and re-establish the Universal Title. If not, we could be in for another terrible reign.
Source: Independent

Must-See Matches of August

8/4/2018
G1 Climax Night 14
Kenny Omega vs. Tomohiro Ishii

8/10/2018
G1 Climax Night 17
Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

8/11/2018
G1 Climax Night 18
Tetsuya Naito vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Kenny Omega vs. Kota Ibushi

8/12/2018
G1 Climax Final
Kota Ibushi vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

8/18/2018
NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn 4
Undisputed Era vs. Moustache Mountain
Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa - Last Man Standing Match

8/20/2018
Raw
Finn Balor vs. Roman Reigns

8/27/2018
Raw
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins

8/29/2018
NXT
Undisputed Era vs. Pete Dunne & Ricochet

Monday, August 20, 2018

The Silver Report: July 2018

Ever since I started the Silver Report back up, I've had one problem: I can't watch all the wrestling that I want to in a month.

With the accessibility of the Internet, it has made watching wrestling easier than ever before. Where you would be stuck with what was available on TV or at your local DVD store back in the day, you now have so much wrestling at your finger tips. With a constant source of wrestling nowadays, you run into my problem more often than not, especially when you report about the industry professionally or for fun.

Personally, I am so behind on a lot of wrestling. I have a months' worth of Raw and SmackDowns saved on the DVR and 40 matches of the G1 to still work my way through. That's not counting my huge backlog of wrestling DVDs and getting around to finally watch Stardom for the first time.

While this may seem like a little concern for many, I worry about it because I want to try to encapsulate the world of wrestling in a month through the stories I feature and the matches I label as "must-see." Despite my backlog of wrestling continuing to grow, I will always try to watch as much wrestling as my eyes can take in order to provide you all with the best Silver Report each and every month.

Making an Impact in the T-Dot

It has been a turbulent few years for the company formerly known as TNA. Plagued by years of horrible management and horrendous wrestling, everybody wrote them off. Everybody, myself included, thought that there was no way Impact Wrestling could come back from all the setbacks.

Well, Impact Wrestling has been proving everybody wrong for the past four months and it was hammered home with the excellent Slammiversary XVI. From the opening match to the closing moments, no match on Slammiversary felt the same — even with three hardcore matches on the card. From the all-out spotfest of the opener to the gruesome brutality of the Mask vs. Hair match, each bout told a unique story. While a couple matches, mainly Eddie Edwards vs. Tommy Dreamer and Madison Rayne vs. Su Yung, fell flat, they were much better than anything WWE's main roster is doing.

Considering Slammiversary took place in Toronto, yours truly made the trip to watch the show live. Despite a few criticisms I have over the mishandling of general admission seating in the balcony, the show well overshadowed any misgivings I had. The smaller venue made the show feel much more intimate than any wrestling show I've been to and the balcony view gave my friends and I a perfect angle to see the ring and ramp area. 

I cannot stress how good this show was. It quite literally made me forget that I stood for four hours straight. So, if you are a lapsed fan of Impact or are curious considering all the positive buzz surrounding the promotion, I highly recommend making time to watch Slammiversary XVI. You'll be happy you did.
Source: Uproxx.com

Women's Evolution? I Think Not

The weekend before the July 23 edition of Raw, WWE started teasing a special announcement by Stephanie McMahon to open said show. Considering how the company has done everything to make Stephanie seem like the patron saint of women's wrestling, it was easy for many to deduce that the announcement would have to do with the women's division. What exactly the announcement was to be was a toss up between a women's tag division and an all-women PPV. Come time for the announcement, it turned out to be the latter. 

Along with some speeches talking up the journey to this "historic" announcement, Stephanie and Triple H shared a few details about the show. First of all, the PPV, WWE Evolution, will take place at the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island on October 28. It will include over 50 women from WWE's past, present, and future. Plus, all women's titles (Raw, SmackDown, NXT, and NXT UK) will be defended on the show, along with the finals of the 2018 Mae Young Classic.

While you can't discredit how huge this announcement is for the women of WWE, let's remember the truth of how we got to this moment. The reason for this so-called "Women's Revolution/Evolution" is because of a problem that the WWE created. They were the ones that emphasized looks over wrestling ability, thus holding down their division, and quite possibly women's wrestling in North America, for decades. 

Yes, they're making efforts to fix the problem now, but it rings hollow when WWE puts themselves on a pedestal for doing it. And in the case of #GiveDivasAChance, they're literally rewriting history in order to not give credit to former employee — and advocate for this change — AJ Lee. Plus, there have been plenty of all-women wrestling shows from the likes of Shimmer, Eve, and Stardom. Even, TNA ran all-women PPVs from 2013 to 2016.

While I can go on about the problems and fallacies of WWE's portrayal of their women's division, you don't have all day. So in summation, I find it hard to trust WWE's promise of an all-women wrestling show when the most visible part of its women's division — the main roster — is so poorly handled and they seem more concerned with hiding that fact rather than fixing it. How am I supposed to believe that WWE Evolution will be a step in the right direction, instead of more baseless "Women's Evolution" propaganda?


Source: CBS Sports

B is for Best

Well it's time to talk about the G1 Climax, New Japan's huge 91-match round-robin tournament which takes place from mid-July to mid-August. Much like the Best of the Super Jr. tournament, the G1 is known for its match quality. In fact, some of the top Match of the Year contenders usually come from this tournament. And if you have been following along with this year's tournament — correction: this year's B Block — you'd understand why.

Not to devalue the match quality or effort of those involved in A Block, but B Block is stacked this year. Just look at the Must-See Matches I listed from the G1, all of them are from B Block. Other than Tama Tonga, who seems more concerned with making a statement through interference and DQ losses than putting on quality matches, the guys in B Block brought their A game. Even Yano has been putting on good to great matches!

But if I have to single out two wrestlers that are the stars of this year's B Block and the G1 as a whole, I'd say Tomohiro Ishii and Zack Sabre Jr. While these two might not be the biggest stars of the company, they are certainly the workhorses — and a long tournament like the G1 allows them to flourish.

Individually, each one has their own unique style that can easily adapt to any situation. In the past year, Sabre Jr. has learned how to perfectly adapt his unbelievable grappling and submission skills to the New Japan style. What were once slow plodding affairs during last year's G1 are now expertly paced wrestling clinics with an added pinch of body horror. On the other hand, Ishii is the epitome of strong style. The man deals out the stiffest and strongest strikes you'll ever see and he can take an exceptional amount of pain. Ishii's best matches, such as this year's showdowns with Goto and Ibushi, are literal wars of attrition.

Despite my problems with A Block's over-dependence on stretching the rules and the BC OGz constant interference in Bad Luck Fale and Tama Tonga matches, this year's G1 has been loads of fun. Now to watch the last 41 matches before the end of August.

Source: ProWrestling.com

Must-See Matches of July

7/7/2018
G1 Special in San Francisco
Young Bucks vs. Evil & Sanada
Hiromu Takahashi vs. Dragon Lee

7/11/2018
NXT
Mustache Mountain vs. Undisputed Era

7/15/18
G1 Climax 28 Night 2
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Toru Yano
Kota Ibushi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Kenny Omega vs. Tetsuya Naito

7/18/2018
NXT
Candice LeRae vs. Kairi Sane vs. Nikki Cross

7/21/2018
G1 Climax 28 Night 6
Sanada vs. Zack Sabre Jr.
Hirooki Goto vs. Tomohiro Ishii

7/22/2018
Slammiversary XVI
Fenix vs. Johnny Impact vs. Petey Willaims vs. Taiji Ishimori
Pentagon Jr. vs. Sami Callihan - Mask vs. Hair Match
Austin Aries vs. Moose

7/26/2018
G1 Climax 28 Night 8
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

7/28/2018
G1 Climax 28 Night 10
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Kota Ibushi

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Silver Report: June 2018

All throughout the month of June, there was one statement I heard repeated by the media and friends alike. It was that we are in the middle of new golden age for professional wrestling. And it's a statement that I have to agree with wholeheartedly.

Other than the poor state of WWE's main roster product (although SmackDown has drastically improved recently despite some stumbles), there is so much great wrestling being churned out on a weekly, maybe even daily, basis. You just have to be willing to step out of the casual wrestling bubble that is WWE. Or if you aren't willing to take the plunge yet, take a little deeper dive into the WWE Network and give NXT, 205 Live, and the yearly tournaments a try. They can serve as the gateway to New Japan, Stardom, Ring of Honor, Impact Wrestling, Pro Wrestling Guerrilla, RevPro, and the hundreds of other promotions out there.

Although I can't watch everything, I hope what I highlight in these reports from the major storyline developments to the must-see matches helps you broaden your view of professional wrestling and entice you to try give these promotions not named WWE a chance. You never know, you might love what you find.

Omega Wins the Big One!

How long have we all waited for Kenny Omega to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship? Was it from the moment he won the G1? Or was it from the match that broke Dave Meltzer's five-star scale? Or was it from the 60-minute draw in Osaka a year ago?

No matter how long it took, the payoff to Omega's nearly two year journey to the top of New Japan was absolutely incredible. I know I couldn't hold back my tears when Red Shoes' arm came down to record the final fall. While it was part pride for a fellow countryman, the tears came from a deep emotional connection that Omega established with the New Japan faithful, myself included, through incredible matches, unbelievable selling, and next level storytelling.

While the result may have been the biggest takeaway, the 2 out of 3 Falls match that led to it was nothing short of spectacular. Running for a grand total of one hour and four minutes, Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada put on a match that lived up to their incredibly high standard and in some cases, surpassed what came before.

If you're not watching New Japan already, there is no better time than the present to give the best wrestling promotion today a chance.

Did Gargano Go Too Far?

A week after New Japan wowed wrestling fans with Dominion, NXT told them to hold their beer with the wonderful TakeOver: Chicago II. Undisputed Era's Strong and O'Reilly beat Burch and Lorcan in one of the finest tag team matches this year. Velveteen Dream continued his streak of strong performances in a losing effort against Ricochet. Even, Aleister Black got a great heavyweight brawl out of Lars Sullivan.

But all of those great moments couldn't compare to WWE's crown jewel of storytelling — Johnny Gargano vs. Tomasso Ciampa.

Although many fans dismissed the Street Fight beforehand for being a similar stipulation to their Unsanctioned match in New Orleans, this match was completely different. Instead of being a visceral wrestling match with little weapon use, this match was the closest thing to an old-school hardcore match we'll ever see in the WWE nowadays. From chairs to kendo sticks to steel stairs to the ring boarding, Gargano and Ciampa used every weapon at their disposal to maim one another. You felt the personal escalation of this feud with every punch and weapon shot.

The match built to a callback to the very beginning of this feud, which poetically began at the very first TakeOver: Chicago. Ciampa took Gargano over to the entrance way to reenact the assault from a year earlier. Unfortunately as Ciampa was setting up Gargano for an Air Raid Crash through a table, he spat on Gargano's wedding ring before throwing it away. Ciampa's final act of defiance caused Gargano to snap as he put Ciampa through the table with the Air Raid Crash instead. But that wasn't enough for the crazed Johnny Wrestling as he pulled Ciampa away from being stretchered out of the building for more punishment. In the ring, Gargano handcuffed Ciampa's arms behind his back before laying in with thrust kicks to the face and a vicious Garga-No-Escape submission. Since Ciampa was defenseless, security ran into pull Gargano away, but in the commotion, Ciampa would catch Gargano middle-rope DDT on the exposed ring boarding for the win.

While some may not have enjoyed this match compared to the TakeOver: New Orleans main event, I loved this from bell-to-bell. It was another phenomenal entry in this feud, which has catapulted both wrestlers in new directions. Ciampa looks poised to solidify himself as the number one heel on NXT by challenging Aleister Black for the NXT Title, while Gargano's obsession with Ciampa could have this beloved babyface deal with some inner demons before finally ousting his outer ones.

Must-See Matches of June

6/3/2018
Best of the Super Jr. 25 Night 13
Flip Gordon vs. Will Ospreay
Hiromu Takahashi vs. Kushida

6/4/2018
Best of the Super Jr. 25 Finals
Hiromu Takahashi vs. Taiji Ishimori

6/9/2018
Dominion
Hiromu Takahashi vs. Will Ospreay
Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega - 2 out of 3 Falls Match

6/13/2018
NXT
Pete Dunne vs. Kyle O'Reilly

6/16/2018
NXT TakeOver: Chicago II
Undisputed Era vs. Oney Lorcan & Danny Burch
Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream
Johnny Gargano vs. Tomasso Ciampa - Chicago Street Fight

6/19/2018
Smackdown
Big E vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Samoa Joe vs. The Miz vs. Rusev - Gauntlet Match

6/25/2018
United Kingdom Championship Tournament
British Strong Style vs. Undisputed Era

6/26/2018
NXT UK Championship
Pete Dunne vs. Zack Gibson

6/27/2018
NXT
Mustache Mountain & Ricochet vs. Undisputed Era 

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Silver Report: May 2018

May was a busy month for yours truly. In between watching the insane amount of wrestling programming week-to-week, I made it out to a live show in my general area. The show was ROH's annual stop in the Great White North for War of the Worlds, ROH's joint tour with select wrestlers from New Japan.

As my third time going to the Toronto stop of the War of the Worlds tour, I knew what to expect in terms of quality, but what made it special this time around was going with my friends (two of which had never been to a ROH show before). As fun as it was see the Young Bucks and Super Smash Bros. tear the house down and how funny it was to watch Colt Cabana pick a fight with Darryl Jr., seeing my friends enjoy it with me made my night.

Well that and meeting Tetsuya Naito. I still can't believe I worked up the courage to meet him.

Lucky Number 12

Kazuchika Okada's fourth reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion has broke a number of records for New Japan. At just shy of two years come June's Dominion supershow, Okada has the single longest reign in the championships' 31 year history, along with ousting Hiroshi Tanahashi for the top spot for total combined days as champion by 200 days. While those records are incredible, there's one record that New Japan's golden boy wanted to overcome — Tanahashi's 11 straight defenses as IWGP Heavyweight Champion.

When Okada tied the feat with a victory over Zack Sabre Jr. at Sakura Genesis, there was no way Tanahashi would just stand aside and let his greatest rival break the record that established his legacy. So, Tanahashi made the challenge for the title at May's Wrestling Dontaku. Wouldn't it be poetic for Tanahashi to end Okada's reign in Okada's 12th defense of the title, just like Okada did the same to Tanahashi in 2012?

The stage was set for Wrestling Dontaku. With the crowd in Fukuoka clearly behind Tanahashi, the former Ace hit Okada with everything he had from his signature Slingblade and High Fly Flow to Okada's own Tombstone Piledriver and Rainmaker lariat. Despite Tanahashi's best efforts, Okada overcame his offense to hot a single desperation Rainmaker for the win and Tanahashi's most cherished record.

Despite the heart-breaking loss, Hiroshi Tanahashi put on a phenomenal performance that showed to many newer New Japan fans, myself included, that he is truly as legendary as his "Once in a Century Talent" moniker proclaims. As for Okada, he's got one hell of a 13th title defense set for Dominion — a two out of three falls no time limit match against Kenny Omega. But I'll talk more about that match next month.

3,000 Times Better

Beginning on May 18, the Best of the Super Jr. 25 took up the last weeks of May and continued into early June. For those not familiar with New Japan, Best of the Super Jr. is a round robin tournament which pits 16 wrestlers from the Junior weight class (pretty much New Japan's Cruiserweight division) to determine the best of the division. The 16 competitors are broken into two blocks of eight wrestlers, and the two that score the most points in their respective block will compete in the finals for the Best of the Super Jr. trophy and a Junior Heavyweight Championship match at June's Dominion.

Considering the nature of these style of tournaments, there is a whole lot of wrestling to watch. 57 matches if you want to watch the tournament in its entirety. While it's understandable to not have the time to watch it all (I am currently halfway through at the time of writing), doing so paints a great picture of the talents on display. One phenomenal performance or a string of high-quality matches can raise anybody's stock.

This year's tournament saw some established stars, like Will Ospreay, Hiromu Takahashi, and Marty Scurll, solidify their positions on top of the Juniors, strong performances from foreign talent such as Chris Sabin, Flip Gordon, and Dragon Lee, a dangerous new threat in Taiji Ishimori, and two dark horses steal the spotlight.

These two dark horses, which I'd like to highlight, were Sho and Yoh of Roppongi 3K and what a tournament these two had. As their first time in singles competition since their return from excursion, these two showed that they are two to watch in the coming years. Sho, in particular, put on one intense bout with Dragon Lee that stole the show on the first night of B-Block competition. Plus, Yoh had a great match with Will Ospreay which came very close to being among the best of the tournament; it just needed a few more minutes of back-and-forth action in my opinion. Despite their current ties to the Junior Heavyweight tag division, both members of Roppongi 3K showed that one day they will be among the top of this division.

Must-See Matches of May

5/4/2018
Wrestling Dontaku
Will Ospreay vs. Kushida
Kazuchika Okada vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi

5/6/2018
Backlash
Seth Rollins vs. The Miz

5/8/2018
Smackdown
Jeff Hardy vs. The Miz

5/11/2018
Epic Encounter II
Keith Lee vs. Tomohiro Ishii

War of the Worlds: Toronto
Young Bucks vs. The Super Smash Bros.

5/16/2018
NXT
Pete Dunne, Oney Lorcan & Danny Birch vs. Undisputed Era

5/18/2018
Best of the Super Jr. 25 Night 1
Will Ospreay vs. Taiji Ishimori

5/19/2018
Best of the Super Jr. 25 Night 2
Dragon Lee vs. Sho

5/22/2018
Best of the Super Jr. 25 Night 4
Kushida vs. Marty Scurll
Hiromu Takahashi vs. El Desperado

5/24/2018
Best of the Super Jr. 25 Night 5
Will Ospreay vs. Yoh

5/25/2018
Best of the Super Jr. 25 Night 6
Chris Sabin vs. Marty Scurll
Hiromu Takahashi vs. Dragon Lee

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Silver Report: April 2018

You can't talk about April without talking about the biggest weekend of the year for pro wrestling, WrestleMania Weekend. Thousands of wrestling fans descended upon New Orleans for a weekend full of wrestling, not only from WWE, but promotions across the world. There was so much wrestling going on that no normal person could watch everything available. Personally, I only got a chance to watch the main WWE shows and some of the ROH and RevPro matches highlighted on NJPW World.

But with so much variety, there was something for every type of wrestling fan.

Forever Fighting

With an insane ladder match for the new North American Championship, Roderick Strong turning on Pete Dunne to finally join the Undisputed Era, and Aleistar Black claiming the NXT Title in a great bout, NXT TakeOver: New Orleans was well on its way to becoming the best show of WrestleMania Weekend. Then the main event took the show to a whole new level.

The third five star match for WWE in 2018 (the second being the aforementioned ladder match) and the second for Johnny Gargano, this unsanctioned fight between Gargano and Ciampa was nothing short of perfection. Building off of the last two years of their WWE careers, Gargano and Ciampa clashed in an emotionally draining main event that referenced everything from their match at the Cruiserweight Classic to Gargano's sacrifice in their ladder match with the Authors of Pain to Ciampa's recent crutch attacks. Unlike the last five star TakeOver main event which was a fast-paced wrestling clinic, this match built slowly to its intensely emotional climax as Gargano locked in a crossface with Ciampa's knee brace for the win.

When all was said and done, Gargano and Ciampa delivered a match that lived up to immense hype and proved yet again why NXT is so special. In all honesty, we would never have gotten a feud this visceral and thoroughly planned out on the main roster with its short-term booking and ever-changing politics. Although this match felt like the blow off for this feud, Ciampa attacked and subsequently injured Gargano before his NXT Championship match against Black, meaning this personal war is far from over.

The End of the Elite?

Unfortunately, the Bullet Club Civil War couldn't compete with the emotionally draining NXT main event, which happened 30 minutes before. Although Cody and Kenny put on a very good bout that weaved in plenty of stories from Being the Elite, it just didn't live up to the hype in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, the story during and following the match was top-tier. Sadly, the in-ring action just didn't have the same emotional weight and fluidity as past bouts in this feud.

Despite my feelings on the match, Cody vs. Kenny served its purpose of moving the Bullet Club Civil War storyline forward. The most significant story beat happened at the end of the match when the Young Bucks went to superkick Cody only to accidentally hit Kenny. Immediately following the Bucks' interference, Cody would hit the Cross Rhodes for the win. Emotionally distraught by the Bucks being the ones to cost him the match, Kenny later told the Jacksons that there was no more Elite and that they're no longer friends.

This devastating break-up and Cody standing victorious with no Elite to stand with him to celebrate were the two somber moments that ended the landmark 100th episode of Being the Elite. As for when this story should continue, the Bullet Club Civil War was the focus of the first night of Wrestling Dontaku. Plus, April ended with the tease of Being the Elite coming back, but does this signify the reformation of the group or are things too far broken to fix?

Time for the Roman Reigns Experiment to Die

If you've followed WWE for the past few years, you know the story surrounding Roman Reigns. He's been pushed as the new face of the WWE since 2015, only to be rejected by the audience again and again. While Reigns has improved drastically since first being chosen by management, he's still seen as tainted goods by the audience despite WWE's best efforts to change said reaction. Long story short, it's been a trying few years following WWE's main event scene, which has been exasperated by everything that happened this past month.

Leading up to WrestleMania 34, WWE spent a full year building up Brock Lesnar as an unbeatable champion and the F5 as a one-hit KO in order for Roman Reigns to be the only person to kick out of the F5 and take the Universal Title from the self-proclaimed Beast. Well, one of those feats came true as Reigns kicked out of five F5s in the main event of WrestleMania 34. Surprisingly, Reigns fell to the sixth F5 in one of the most baffling decisions in wrestling history. In a mere three seconds, WWE wasted a year of build just to swerve their fans. How's that good storytelling? Plus, how does WWE expect us to get behind a top babyface that can never win the big one?

As bad as Roman's WrestleMania loss was, that wasn't the end of this lunacy. Three weeks later, Reigns got one more chance at Brock Lesnar and the Universal Championship in a Steel Cage match at the Greatest Royal Rumble. Although leaps and bounds better than their WrestleMania encounter, the match ended in one of the dumbest finishes in a long time. In the final moments of the match, Reigns speared Lesnar through the steel cage with Lesnar landed on the cage panel while Reigns rolled onto the floor. Instead of naming Roman (the rightful winner of the match) the new Universal Champion since his feet touched the floor, the ref called Lesnar the winner.

This controversial ending may have worked as the first or second match in a series, but not as the third and hopefully last match between these two. Just like the WrestleMania match, this finish did no favours for Roman. Although it has given WWE a new "uncrowned" champion angle to take Roman's character in, it didn't endear him to the audience as Roman's pleas come off as unjustified whining and complaining.

It may have taken three years, but WWE might have finally booked Roman Reigns into oblivion.

Must-See Matches of April

4/1/2018
Sakura Genesis
Will Ospreay vs. Marty Scurll
Kazuchika Okada vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

4/2/2018
Raw
Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins

4/6/2018
RPW Live @ WrestleCon 
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

4/7/2018
NXT Takeover: New Orleans
Adam Cole vs. EC3 vs. Killian Dain vs. Lars Sullivan vs. Ricochet vs. Velveteen Dream - Ladder Match
Johnny Gargano vs. Tommaso Ciampa - Unsanctioned Match

Supercard of Honor XII
Adam Page vs. Kota Ibushi

4/8/2018
WrestleMania 34
Asuka vs. Charlotte Flair

4/23/2018
Road to Wrestling Dontaku
Hiromu Takahashi & Bushi vs. El Desperado & Yoshinobu Kanemaru

4/24/2018
205 Live
Mustafa Ali vs. TJP vs. Drew Gulak vs. Tony Nese vs. Kalisto - Gauntlet Match

4/27/2018
Greatest Royal Rumble
50-Man Royal Rumble Match

4/30/2018
Raw
Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins


Sunday, April 8, 2018

The Silver Report: March 2018

Although the build to WrestleMania and all the big shows happening that weekend was a big part of March, tournaments were the flavour of the month.

205 Live continued its Cruiserweight Championship tournament with a stellar semifinals. Despite not watching it myself, ROH continued their Women's Championship tournament to great fanfare. But it was the 2018 New Japan Cup that stood tall with two weeks of high quality matches and one great star building performance which I will go into more detail a little later.

So let's get to it!

Do Something

I have to get something off my chest. I hate the build to John Cena vs. Undertaker for WrestleMania. It is redundant, annoying, frustrating, and any other negative adjective you can throw at it. 

It is insulting for WWE to think that their audience would believe that John Cena couldn't get a match for WrestleMania. This is John Cena we're talking about here — the face of this bloody company for over a decade — many would kill for a match with him on the biggest PPV of the year. So, WWE tell me why I should believe this premise when it has more holes in it than a pasta strainer?

If you can get past all the holes in the premise, the entire build for the last month has been nothing more than John Cena calling out the Undertaker to no response ... each ... and ... every ... bloody ... week. Maybe the payoff will make it all worth it in the end. Unfortunately, it is test of patience to sit through a 20-minute John Cena promo where he spews on about how a retired Undertaker should feel sorry for letting down the fans and being a coward because the Undertaker is retired. Not the fact that it hurts Cena's massive ego to be continually denied the match HE wants the most.

And that leads into my final point, the build has been so frustrating because of all the wasted potential. WWE could of easily built this match in a similar fashion to Shawn Michael vs. Undertaker from WrestleMania 26. You have the same story starting from the beginning of the year to Fastlane where Cena is desperate to main event one more WrestleMania, but you change the build from Fastlane onward.

Instead of the redundantly long promos, explore Cena's psyche and how Undertaker's silence affects him on an emotional level. Have other wrestlers, like Kane or Goldust, put aside the gimmicks and talk to Cena about his obsession with calling out the Undertaker. Hell, make mention that Undertaker is retired, so there is no way this match will happen. And when John Cena is at his lowest, the Undertaker answers the challenge. Not because he wants to fight, but to put Cena out of his misery.

Maybe I put far more brainpower into this feud than WWE ever did, but it's so frustrating to see WWE and namely John Cena do nothing to evolve his character after all these years. This reluctance to change has plagued WWE's main roster for a very long time now and this John Cena vs. Undertaker build is just another example of why it isn't working.

WWE should take Cena's pleas to the Undertaker to heart and actually "do something" next time.

The American Dragon Rises Again

March 20 was just a regular Tuesday. Well until WWE dropped a bombshell of an announcement in clearing Daniel Bryan for competition.

As the Internet exploded with pure excitement and elation, I felt conflicted. Seeing Bryan get a chance to finally wrestle again after all his trial and tribulations of the last few years made me feel so happy. At the same time, a part of me was worried that all his issues with concussions haven't fully healed even with his clearance. Also the selfish part of me was disappointed that we wouldn't see Bryan compete in the indies again.

All that worry melted away in the final segment of that SmackDown Live. After firing Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for their assault on Shane McMahon the week prior, Bryan was forced to get physical with the two former roster members. Bryan fired off his signature kicks and corner dropkicks with such force and passion that it made me remember how much I missed watching him perform. Plus, the devastating apron powerbomb Bryan took at the end of the segment showed that WWE has faith in him to take big bumps again.

Bryan's return to the ring couldn't have come at a better time as it revitalized my excitement for this feud between Owens, Zayn, and SmackDown's authority figures, SmackDown Live, and even WrestleMania. It really seems poetic that the spot of Bryan's greatest achievement will be place he makes his triumphant return. Onward to New Orleans!

Just Tap Out!

Debuting just over a year ago for the company, Zack Sabre Jr. made a splash by aligning himself with Suzuki-gun and dispatching eventual 2017 New Japan Cup winner Katsuyori Shibata. Despite the immediate success in New Japan's heavyweight division, Zack didn't make much of an impact during the rest of 2017. While he did challenge for Hiroshi Tanahashi's Intercontinental Championship in September and got a few noteworthy wins in the G1 Climax, Zack was mostly used fill out a spot in tournaments and tag team matches.

Well that all changed this past March when Zack tapped out Tetsuya Naito, Kota Ibushi, Sanada, and Hiroshi Tanahashi (some of the best wrestlers that New Japan's heavyweight division has to offer) on his way to winning the 2018 New Japan Cup. In just four unbelievable performances, Zack Sabre Jr. cemented himself as a viable contender to the IWGP Heavyweight Championship and a force among New Japan's heavyweights.

This major push came alongside a chance for Zack to build his character from a skinny British submission wizard to a sharp-tongued torturer. His post-match promos throughout the New Japan Cup were phenomenal, especially the one on Ibushi's recklessness. Add in Taka Michinoku as Zack's hype man for the Japanese crowd and you got one incredible package.

So like Taka exclaims before every match. "He is submission master! He is Z-S-J! He is ... Zack Sabre Jr.!" And New Japan locker room, he's coming to tap you out!

Must-See Matches of March

3/6/2018
46th Anniversary Show
Kazuchika Okada vs. Will Ospreay

3/9/18
New Japan Cup Night 1
Tomohiro Ishii vs. Michael Elgin

3/11/2018
New Japan Cup Night 2
Tetsuya Naito vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

Fastlane
AJ Styles vs. Baron Corbin vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. John Cena vs. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn - Six Pack Challenge

3/13/18
205 Live
Cedric Alexander vs. Roderick Strong

3/16/18
New Japan Cup Night 7
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Juice Robinson

3/18/18
New Japan Cup Night 8
Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Sanada

3/19/18
Raw
Matt Hardy vs. Bray Wyatt - The Ultimate Deletion

3/20/18
205 Live
Mustafa Ali vs. Drew Gulak

3/21/18
New Japan Cup Finals
Hiroshi Tanahashi vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

3/25/18
Strong Style Evolved
Golden Lovers vs. Young Bucks

3/27/18
205 Live
Akira Tozawa vs. Buddy Murphy vs. Kalisto vs. TJP

Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Silver Report: February 2018

With past Silver Reports, these introductions can get a little long-winded when summarizing a week or month of wrestling into a paragraph or two.

From the New Japan debut of Rey Mysterio to the launch of ROH's HonorClub streaming service to end of Johnny Gargano's NXT career, February was packed with huge developments in the world of pro wrestling. While I can't get to everything, I got three big stories to talk about in this month's edition of the Silver Report.

Tournament Breathes New Life into 205 Live

From its inception, it was an uphill battle for 205 Live. No matter the talent of its roster or the amount of quality matches it laid witness to, it was the home of a division that was poorly booked from the moment it debuted on Raw. Eventually, all that talent and quality match-ups gave way to redundant feuds of the cartoonish variety and silly theatrics.

Well that all ended this past January, when former Cruiserweight Champion Enzo Amore was fired due to sexual allegations he kept from WWE upper management. As January became February, 205 Live got its very first general manager in Drake Maverick (the former Rockstar Spud of Impact Wrestling fame), a new show runner in Triple H, and a tournament to crown a new Cruiserweight Champion.

For the first time since the Cruiserweight Classic, WWE's Cruiserweight division is must-watch television and it's all thanks to this tournament. From crazy spot fests to technical showcases to hard-hitting affairs, every match has been a delight to watch. Even the matches on the lower end of the spectrum are better than your average Raw/Smackdown match.

With new faces running the show and serious, more wrestling-oriented direction, 205 Live has finally found its footing after a year and a half on air. Now, fingers crossed that Triple H and company can keep this show on the right course. If so, 205 Live may be able to compete with NXT as WWE's best weekly program.

Monday Night Rollins, Sunday Night Strowman

One week. Two superstars. Two unbelievable performances.

It all started on the February 19th edition of Raw. WWE announced a Gauntlet Match featuring all seven men in the Elimination Chamber, but nobody expected the nearly two hour match we got.

Although Braun Strowman stood tall at the very end, it was Seth Rollins' iron man performance that left a huge impression. Lasting a total of one hour and five minutes, Rollins dispatched both Roman Reigns and John Cena in two hard fought matches (a feat comparable to Chris Jericho beating the Rock and Steve Austin in the same night back in 2001) before falling to a fresh Elias. Despite the loss, Rollins came out more over as a babyface than he has ever been.

The next incredible performance came from the very winner of that Gauntlet Match, Braun Strowman. While Strowman was the second last competitor to enter the Men's Elimination Chamber, he left the biggest impact. Adding to his long list of amazing feats, Strowman would go onto eliminate five men before losing the bout to Reigns. Which came after kicking out of a quadruple powerbomb, Attitude Adjustment, Curb Stomp, Coup d'Grace, and Frog Splash off the top of a pod! For lack of a better term, it was bonkers. Even with the formulaic Super Roman ending, Strowman looked like the true face of the company at the end of this match.

Bullet Club isn't Fine

After all the turmoil that January brought to the Bullet Club, things only got worse in February as Kenny and Cody's feud ravaged the faction.

The month started with the announcement of Kenny Omega vs. Cody for the leadership of the Bullet Club for ROH's Supercard of Honor show on WrestleMania weekend. From there, Cody planted seeds of dissension among the Young Bucks and Marty Scurll (the three members that were conflicted by Cody's power plays). By the end of the month, the conniving Rhodes convinced Scurll to break off and form the Villain Club. Plus, he slowly worked the Young Bucks into moving up to the heavyweight tag division and in the process, turning on Omega.

On the other side of this conflict, Omega made strides in renewing his relationship with Kota Ibushi. The two were featured in a mini-documentary on New Japan World, which gave fans an inside look at their first practice back as a team and built excitement for their first matches back as the Golden Lovers.

All this turmoil came to a head at NJPW and ROH's joint Honor Rising shows at the end of the month. The Golden Lovers faced the likes of Cody and Marty Scurll in the main event of both nights (first in a six-man tag with Chase Owens and in a regular tag match the next). Despite ending the weekend with a 1-1 record, the Golden Lovers showed the world that they haven't lost a step with their unbelievable tag team offence and high energy. Plus, the fans in Korakuen Hall showed their appreciation tenfold as their cheers were deafening.

Although the Golden Lovers were successful, they didn't leave Honor Rising unscathed. Cody continued his mind games with Omega by planting a kiss on Ibushi in the middle of their tag match. Plus, the Young Bucks cutoff the Lovers' celebration to officially announce their aspirations in New Japan's heavyweight tag division and challenged to the Golden Lovers to a match, which New Japan later booked for March's Strong Style Evolved show in Long Beach.

In summation, February was an insane month for this ongoing Bullet Club saga and March should be even crazier as tensions build to Strong Style Evolved and Supercard of Honor respectively. So if you want to follow the best storyline of 2018 so far, best to keep up with the latest and greatest episode of Being the Elite.

Must-See Matches of February 

2/6/2018
205 Live
Roderick Strong vs. Hideo Itami

2/7/2018
NXT
Sanity vs. Undisputed Era - Six Man Tornado Tag Team Match

2/10/2018
New Beginning in Osaka
Will Ospreay vs. Hiromu Takahashi
Kazuchika Okada vs. Sanada

2/19/2018
Raw
Seth Rollins vs. Roman Reigns vs. John Cena vs. Elias vs. Finn Balor vs. The Miz vs. Braun Strowman - Gauntlet Match

2/21/2018 
NXT
Andrade "Cien" Almas vs. Johnny Gargano - Title vs. Career

2/24/2018
Honor Rising Night 2
Hangman Page & The Young Bucks vs. Jay White, Chuckie T & Yoshi-Hashi
Golden Lovers vs. "The American Nightmare" Cody & Marty Scurll

2/25/2018
Elimination Chamber
Women's Elimination Chamber
Men's Elimination Chamber

2/27/2018
Smackdown
AJ Styles vs. John Cena

205 Live
Roderick Strong vs. Kalisto