Hello wrestling fans, this week we will look at the results of recent WWE and AEW shows, Brock Lesnar’s winning of the WWE Championship and its possible future, the AJ Styles-Omos feud, Goldberg’s final match, Athena (Ember Moon) eagerly awaiting her freedom,  the result of Ruby Soho vs. Jade Cargill for the AEW TBS Title, AEW taking their belts seriously, a Triple H/AEW Japan idea, and Japan news.

WWE

RESULTS

WWE Day 1

1/1/2022

Sheamus and Ridge Holland defeated Cesaro and Ricochet

WWE SmackDown Tag Team Champions The Usos (Jey & Jimmy Uso) defeated The New Day (Kofi Kingston & King Woods)

Drew McIntyre defeated Madcap Moss (w/ Happy Corbin)

WWE RAW Tag Team Champions RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle) defeated The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford)

Edge defeated The Miz (w/ Maryse)

WWE RAW Women’s Champion Becky Lynch defeated Liv Morgan

Brock Lesnar defeated WWE Champion Big E, Seth Rollins, Kevin Owens, and Bobby Lashley (w/ MVP) in a “Fatal five-way” match to become the new WWE Champion.

Brock Lesnar becoming WWE Champion at WWE Day 1 was a big change in plans, as he was originally scheduled to wrestle Roman Reigns for Reign’s WWE Universal Championship. However, Reigns announced on the night of the event that he had tested positive for COVID-19. WWE is keeping the Championship with Reigns, which is a possible sign that the plan was for Reigns to retain it in his match with Lesnar, otherwise, it could have been forfeited to Lesnar.

Also, Lesnar’s win possibly indicates that the original plan was for Big E to retain the WWE Championship since Lesnar being added to the WWE Championship match didn’t mean that Bobby Lashley, Kevin Owens, or Seth Rollins couldn’t still win the Championship if the original plan was for one of them to win it.

In any case, Brock Lesnar is the new WWE Champion, and since he was feuding with WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns before Reigns tested positive for COVID-19, this would be a perfect opportunity to unify both championships. Whoever holds the top singles title in WWE is supposed to be considered the best- yet WWE has two top singles titles. This devalues both championships.

I think there should be one top singles champion, and that champion should defend the title on both brands, which is the closest that WWE can get to having a touring champion. This would raise the value of the championship, as the champion defends it against the best of both brands, not just one.

I will even go as far as saying that it would be the perfect opportunity to bring back the World Heavyweight Championship, one of the most prestigious titles in pro-wrestling history, and a title that I feel should not have been retired. Besides, one of their current top singles titles is called “WWE Championship”, and the other is called “WWE Universal Championship”. So technically, WWE doesn’t have a World Championship right now. With WWE being the largest company in the industry, this should change. So, book it WWE: WWE Champion Brock Lesnar vs. WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns at WrestleMania, the winner becomes WWE World Champion and the holder of the Big Gold Belt.

RESULTS

WWE RAW

1/3/2022

Alpha Academy (Chad Gable & Otis) defeated WWE RAW Tag Team Champions RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle) in a non-title match.

WWE 24/7 Champion Dana Brooke & Reggie defeated Akira Tozawa & Tamina in a, “WWE 24/7 Title Mixed Tag Team” match.

WWE Women’s Tag Champions Carmella & Queen Zelina defeated Nikki ASH & Rhea Ripley

The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins & Montez Ford) defeated Apollo Crews & Commander Azeez

WWE United States Champion Damian Priest defeated Dolph Ziggler (w/ Robert Roode)

Omos defeated AJ Styles

Bobby Lashley (w/ MVP) defeated Big E, Kevin Owens, and Seth Rollins in a, “WWE Championship #1 Contendership Fatal Four Way” match, winning a shot at Brock Lesnar’s WWE Championship at the Royal Rumble this month.

When it was clear that AJ Styles and Omos were going to split, I disagreed from the beginning with how it was playing out. Styles being a face doesn’t help either one of them. He’s one of the best performers in the business and is successful as a face and as a heel. Meanwhile, Omos has been in the business for 2 years and is still learning how to be a successful performer in the business- throwing Styles around as a monster heel is making fans continue to take notice of Omos, but it’s not helping him.

Back when they lost to The Street Profits on 12/6 was when I would have done the split. With Omos losing for the team via countout, Styles should have gotten mad at Omos and chewed him out: “I’ve spent all these months mentoring you, and you screw up like that?? I knew I was wasting my time teaming with you.” And then walked out and left Omos standing there. Styles was a strong heel, so it wouldn’t seem unusual for him to react like that. And Omos has a lot less experience and constantly had his back- and then Styles ditches him over that mistake? So the fans would get behind Omos out of sympathy, and Styles would have gained points as a heel.

Then, I would have put both of them in new storylines. Styles is best utilized in the main event scene, where he could be working with someone like Edge. As for a face Omos, I think Austin Theory would be a good choice for him to work with. Theory constantly wants to impress Vince McMahon, and a way to do it would be by trying to defeat the 7 ft 4, 400-pound giant Omos. And then Styles and Omos would have a brief interaction during the Royal Rumble- Styles is alone in the ring, and then here comes Omos, who has a couple of minutes to try to get his hands on Styles and dish out some revenge for being abandoned two months earlier. And then that would be the end of Styles-Omos angles.

 

RESULTS

WWE NXT 2.0: New Year’s Evil

1/4/2022

WWE NXT North American Champion Carmelo Hayes defeated WWE NXT Cruiserweight Champion Roderick Strong in a, “Unification” match

 MSK (Nash Carter & Wes Lee) & Riddle defeated Imperium (Fabian Aichner & Marcel Barthel) & WALTER

WWE NXT Women’s Champion Mandy Rose defeated Cora Jade and Raquel Gonzalez in a, “Triple Threat” match

Bron Breaker defeated WWE NXT Champion Tommaso Ciampa to become the new WWE NXT Champion.

I feel that the WWE NXT Women’s Championship match should have been Mandy Rose defending against Io Shirai & Kay Lee Ray. The direction of NXT has changed, with more focus put on younger talent, which is probably why Cora Jade & Raquel Gonzalez defeated Shirai & Lee Ray for the title shot (Jade is the youngest of the four and Gonzalez was her partner). But no matter what direction is chosen, the importance of viewership needs to be remembered. Not only are Shirai and Lee Ray two of the best wrestlers on the women’s roster, but Shirai is more over than most of the wrestlers on the entire roster.

 

MORE WWE

With Goldberg having one match left on his current deal with WWE, who do you think his final opponent should be? I feel it should be someone who is popular, yet not someone who would be better utilized in a title scene or in a program with someone else on the roster. Right now, I think Kofi Kingston would be the best person. 

Athena (Ember Moon) recently stated on Twitter that she will soon be “free”, most likely referring to the fact that her 90-day non-compete clause will soon be ending (Athena was released on November 4th). She had a successful run under the WWE banner, particularly while she was in NXT, where Athena became NXT Women’s Champion. I have no doubt that she is interested in going to AEW next, where talent tends to be both better utilized and better paid. However, as AEW’s impressive roster continues to grow, it’s becoming more difficult for individual talents to stand out. With that said, a promotion that is notable but with a smaller roster, like Impact Wrestling, for example, would be another good option for Athena. I wouldn’t be surprised to see her quickly enter the Impact Knockout Championship scene, and I think fans would be interested in seeing Athena have matches there with Mickie James and Tenille Dashwood, two talents who she is familiar with.

 

AEW

RESULTS

AEW Rampage: New Year’s Smash

12/31/21 (taped on 12/29/21)

Darby Allin (w/ Sting) defeated Anthony Bowens (w/ Max Caster)

Tayjay ‘(Tay Conti & Anna Jay) defeated Penelope Ford & The Bunny in a, “Tag Team Street Fight”

AEW TNT Champion Cody Rhodes (w/ Arn Andrson) defeated Ethan Page (w/ Dan Lambert & Scorpio Sky)

 

RESULTS

AEW Dynamite

1/5/22

AEW World Champion Hangman Page defeat Byran Danielson

Captain Shawn Dean defeated MJF

Wardlow defeated Anthony Zambrano

Jade Cargill defeated Ruby Soho in the AEW TBS Title tournament final to become the new AEW TBS Champion

Malakai Black defeated Brian Pillman Jr.

AEW World Tag Team Champions Lucha Bros defeated Jurassic Express

I was very surprised by the result of the AEW TBS Title tournament final- I assumed that Ruby Soho was going to win since both in AEW and WWE, Soho has always consistently been a good midcarder, and that is the perfect type of wrestler to hold the AEW TBS Title. Good midcarders are just as valuable as good main eventers, and they should be utilized to their fullest extent. In any case, Soho can still become champion later down the line. Meanwhile, with Jade Cargill currently the champion, this is an opportunity to spotlight Jade Cargill and other talents who are usually not in title matches in AEW, such as Abadon and Red Velvet for example.

 

MORE AEW

This Saturday at 8pm ET on TNT, AEW will present AEW Battle of the Belts live, and AEW EVP Cody Rhodes is doing a good job at promoting this event. He recently appeared on FITE In Focus, where he put over the name of the event and stated, “I am really excited that Tony [Khan] named it Battle of the Belts, because it’s right there in the name. I disliked this in wrestling, this is really across the board, not speaking anything specifically, when a belt has been tarnished and they have lost to their value. If you talk to wrestlers, we love our belts. Most wrestlers who are worth their salt have their own display of the belts they have ever won and it’s a significant thing. No different than Hollywood when you win an Academy Award. It’s unique in that sense. And him naming it Battle of the Belts and put the emphasis on the titles.” In an age where even people within the pro-wrestling industry refer to its titles as props, it’s refreshing to hear that AEW and its roster take their belts seriously. At AEW Battle of the Belts, Dr. Britt Baker, D.M.D. will defend the AEW Women’s World Championship against Riho, and Cody Rhodes will defend the AEW TNT Championship against Sammy Guevara.

Bill Apter, who is best known from the period that he was an editorial staff member for Pro Wrestling Illustrated during the 1980s and 1990s (it was called an “Apter Mag” in fact) recently wrote an article for Sportskeeda in which he writes a hypothetical story about Triple H leaving WWE and going to AEW as a wrestler. It’s an interesting read, and it makes me think about my own, “What if…” scenario regarding Triple H- what if Triple H left WWE and went to AEW, not to wrestle for him, but to help them carry out the “Global Localization” plan that he had for NXT? I think it was a great idea, and I think it’s a plan that AEW should embark on, especially in Japan. Remember we have already seen a sample of an, “AEW Japan” concept during the AEW Women’s World Championship Eliminator Tournament last year. And they have a partnership with NJPW, so AEW already has a foot in the door (or as AEW founder Tony Khan perhaps would say, “a forbidden foot in the door”) to Japan. AEW Japan could be done without Triple H’s help, but since he did increase interest in the concept of global localization (a concept that was previously carried out by the NWA from the 1950s-2016), hiring Triple H to help create AEW Japan is a realistic situation. However, just like Apter’s idea of Triple H wrestling for AEW, it’s very unlikely- he is a WWE lifer….But then again, a common saying in pro-wrestling is, “Never say never.”….

 

JAPAN

On 1/4 and 1/5, NJPW and NOAH presented the first two days of their three-day Wrestle Kingdom 16 event. Wrestle Kingdom is NJPW’s annual biggest event of the year and is taking place over three days for the first time.

RESULTS

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16

1/4/22

Tokyo Dome attendance: 12,047

Chase Owens, CIMA, Minoru Suzuki, and Toru Yano defeated Aaron Henare, Bad Luck Fale, DOUKI, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Kosei Fujita, Master Wato, Ryohei Oiwa, Satoshi Kojima, TAKA Michinoku, Tatsumi Fujinami, Togi Makabe Tomoaki Honma, Yoshinobu Kanemaru, Yuji Nagata and Yuto Nakashima in a, “New Japan Rambo” match

YOH defeated SHO

BULLET CLUB (El Phantasmo, KENTA & Taiji Ishimori) defeated Hiroshi Tanahashi & Mega Coaches (Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi) via disqualification
United Empire (Great-O-Khan, Jeff Cobb & Will Ospreay) (w/Aaron Henare) defeated Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, SANADA & Tetsuya Naito) 
Katsuyori Shibata defeated Ren Narita 
EVIL (w/ Dick Togo) defeated NEVER Openweight Champion Tomohiro Ishii to become the new NEVER Openweight Champion.
CHAOS (Hirooki Goto & YOSHI-HASHI) defeated IWGP Tag Team Champions Dangerous Tekkers (Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.) (w/Miho Abe) to become the new IWGP Tag Team Champions.
IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion El Desperado defeated Hiromu Takahashi 
Kazuchika Okada defeated IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Shingo Takagi to become the new IWGP World Heavyweight Champion.

It’s good to see Kazuchika Okada finally back at the top of the NJPW mountain. He didn’t have a title run during 2021, even though Okada is the top name in NJPW and has been for years. His fourth reign as IWGP Heavyweight Champion lasted 720 days, the longest reign in the history of the championship, and it was well-earned.

 

RESULTS

NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 16

1/5/22

Tokyo Dome attendance: 6,379

Great Bash Heel (Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma) & Yuji Nagata defeated BULLET CLUB (Bad Luck Fale, Gedo & Jado) 

Master Wato & TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) defeated Suzuki-gun (El Desperado, TAKA Michinoku & Yoshinobu Kanemaru) 

Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi & Shingo Takagi) defeated Suzuki-gun (DOUKI, Taichi & Zack Sabre Jr.) 

IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions Flying Tiger (Robbie Eagles & Tiger Mask) defeated BULLET CLUB’s Cutest Tag Team (El Phantasmo & Taiji Ishimori) and Mega Coaches (Rocky Romero & Ryusuke Taguchi) in a, “Three Way” match

Saya Kamitani & Tam Nakano defeated Mayu Iwatani & Starlight Kid 

Minoru Suzuki defeated Chase Owens and CIMA (w/El Lindaman & T-Hawk) and Toru Yano in a match to decide the NJPW King Of Pro-Wrestling Champion.

NEVER Openweight Six Man Tag Team Title Champions House Of Torture (EVIL, SHO & Yujiro Takahashi) (w/ Dick Togo) defeated CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, YOH & YOSHI-HASHI) (w/Tomohiro Ishii) 

SANADA defeated Great-O-Khan (w/Aaron Henare) 

Tetsuya Naito defeated Jeff Cobb 

IWGP United States Heavyweight Title No Disqualification Match
Hiroshi Tanahashi defeated IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion KENTA in a, “No Disqualification” match to become the new IWGP United States Heavyweight Champion.

IWGP World Heavyweight Champion Kazuchika Okada defeated Will Ospreay (w/Aaron Henare & Great-O-Khan) 

 

The 1/8 Wrestle Kingdom 16 event will be taking place at the Yokohama Arena, which will be the first time that a Wrestle Kingdom event will be occurring outside of the Tokyo Dome. Below is the card, which features NJPW vs. NOAH matches:

Yasutaka Yano (NOAH) vs. Kosei Fujita (NJPW) 

TenKoji (Hiroyoshi Tenzan & Satoshi Kojima) & Yuji Nagata (NJPW) vs. Funky Express (Akitoshi Saito, King Tany & Mohammed Yone) (NOAH) 

Atsushi Kotoge (NOAH) vs. SHO (NJPW)

BULLET CLUB (Gedo & Taiji Ishimori) (NJPW) vs. Stinger (HAYATA & Seiki Yoshioka) (NOAH) 

Suzuki-gun (DOUKI & El Desperado) (NJPW) vs. Los Perros del Mal de Japon (NOSAWA Rongai & YO-HEY) (NOAH) 

Daiki Inaba, Daisuke Harada, Hajime Ohara, Kinya Okada & Yoshiki Inamura (NOAH) vs. CHAOS (Hirooki Goto, Tomohiro Ishii & YOSHI-HASHI), Master Wato & Ryusuke Taguchi (NJPW) 

WAVE (Naomichi Marufuji & Yoshinari Ogawa) (NOAH) vs. Suzuki-gun (Yoshinobu Kanemaru & Zack Sabre Jr.) (NJPW)

Suzuki-gun (Minoru Suzuki, Taichi & TAKA Michinoku) (NJPW) vs. Sugiura-gun (Kazushi Sakuraba & Takashi Sugiura) & KENTA (NOAH) 

Go Shiozaki & Masa Kitamiya (NOAH) vs. House Of Torture (Dick Togo & EVIL) (NJPW) 

Hiroshi Tanahashi & Kazuchika Okada (NJPW) vs. Kaito Kiyomiya & Keiji Muto (NOAH)

Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, Hiromu Takahashi, SANADA, Shingo Takagi & Tetsuya Naito) (NJPW) vs. Kongo (Aleja, Katsuhiko Nakajima, Kenou, Manabu Soya & Tadasuke) (NOAH)

 

In Michinoku Pro news, their Tohoku Junior Heavyweight Championship singles title is increasing in value in Japan. Champion MUSASHI successfully defended his title against former AJPW World Junior Heavyweight Champion Kaz Hayashi at the December 30 GLEAT event in Tokyo. Michinoku Pro is based in the Tohoku region of Japan, where their Tohoku Junior Heavyweight Championship matches usually take place. However, MUSASHI’s successful defense at the GLEAT event can potentially be the beginning of MUSASHI being a touring champion. At the 12/17 Michinoku Pro event at the Korakuen Hall, the attendance was 700. The highest of the largest promotions in 2021 was 760, the lowest was 280. Making MUSASHI a touring championship would be another step in the direction of Michinoku Pro being viewed as a major player in the pro-wrestling scene. 

 

Jun Kasai, who is most recognized by fans of Japanese pro-wrestling from his hardcore matches in BJW, captured the King Of FREEDOM World Championship on 12/25. This is the top singles championship in FREEDOMS, a hardcore promotion that has been active since 2009. Kasai is in his fifth reign, which is more reigns than any other wrestler in FREEDOMS history. At the 1/3 FREEDOMS event at  Shinkiba 1stRING, Kasai made his first defense of the championship in this reign, defeating Rina Yamashita. While Kasai is a hardcore legend, Yamashita has developed into a great hardcore wrestler as well, wrestling in wild and bloody matches in a variety of promotions (she is a freelancer), and I doubt that this will be the last that we will be seeing Yamashita receive a shot at the championship.

It remains to be seen who the next challenger for the championship will be, but there are a number of possibilities. Kasai defeated Violento Jack for the championship, so perhaps Jack should be next in line, being given an opportunity to regain it. Or perhaps it should be Toru Sugiura- one of the young futures of the industry and current co-holder of the King Of FREEDOM Tag Team Championship. Sugiura has been King of FREEDOM World Champion in the past with a reign of 643 days, longer than any other reign in the history of the championship. And as a side note, Sugiura is the man who ended Kasai’s fourth reign. No matter what direction FREEDOMS goes in, their World Championship scene surely is about to become even more interesting.

 

Website: Harold-Williams.com

Twitter: @HWilliams13