Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Top 10 wrestlers of WWE, December 2015 edition

We close off the Top 10 lists for this week with another look at the stars of WWE and where they fall as the year ends and Royal Rumble season begins. Remember to keep these listings in mind while making your votes for the ten best wrestlers of the year.

And it all kicks off with someone that came in near the top of the NXT list earlier this year...

Image credit: WWE.com.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The NJPW Top 10

As we close out 2015, I continue my look at some of the top wrestlers in various promotions as the year draws to a close. This time around, the focus turns to New Japan as it ramps up for its January 4th Wrestle Kingdom 10 event.

Coming off of the World Tag League, New Japan seems to be firing on all cylinders with amazing talent, great import stars from Ring of Honor and a bevy of talent itching to put on the best matches they can. This is New Japan's Wrestlemania season and even in their smaller events they are really showing that fire in six and eight man tags. 

Image credit: NJPW

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The ROH Top 10

I don't follow Ring of Honor as regularly as I once did now that the regular late night broadcast of the show I used to watch here in Eastern Iowa has became very late night. I do occasionally watch the streamed episodes after they air, but I often find the promotion to be incredibly weak booking wise. Often I feel like they hold off on pushes of hot talents until they grow cold while pushing many stars that the ROH faithful just feel flat about. That doesn't stop the company from having some amazing matches still and as they recently closed out their year with Final Battle it seemed like a fitting time to introduce their inaugural top ten.

Remember, all these talents are available for your voting pleasure in the year end Top 10 list!

So without anymore ado, let's get to the countdown!

Image credit: TheWrestlingMayhemShow.com

Monday, December 28, 2015

Announcing the Wrestling Weekday Top 10 Wrestlers of 2015... and a call for your vote!

The Wrestling Weekday has been presenting Top 10 lists for the better part of its existence as we look at the top stars from WWE, NXT and even 1985. But as 2015 comes to a close, we open up the voting ranks to the fans to give everyone a chance to make their own personal best wrestlers list as we seek to crown the ten best wrestlers of 2015. I will then compile them into a complete list of the ten biggest stars of 2015, as ESO PRO Presents the Wrestling Weekday Top 10 Wrestlers of 2015.

It is a pretty simple process: all you have to do to put in your vote is to send me your list of top wrestlers anywhere in the world. You can make your list short as one or as long as twenty, but it needs to be ranked in order of best to worst. Send your choices to wwfmegs{at}yahoo{dot}com (or leave them in the comments below) and I will tally the full list mixed with my own top ten to give a full list of the top stars of 2015.

The only requirement for a wrestler to be eligible for the list is if they were active in the calendar year 2015 as an in ring worker. Promotions, gender and age are not limited, just as long as they wrestled a match at some point in the year 2015. Wrestlers should be rated on quality of match rather than out of match promos or shenanigans, all though those can be taken into account as an overall reason for your choice. Tag teams and units must be listed separately on this list. If you feel they had equal levels of performance in your list of twenty, please put them one after another.

Though it is not required, any commentary on the wrestlers you chose and why you chose them would be appreciated, as it will be included as thoughts on the wrestler in the final Top Ten list. The full list will start counting down on January 4th with number 10 and countdown daily after that, ending on January 15th with number 1. All lists must be sent in by midnight January 3rd Central Standard Time.

We welcome any and all lists as we set out to make the ten best wrestlers in the world known for 2015! And we will talk more about our official sponsor for this event, ESO PRO, when the list goes live with number ten a week from today!

 And thanks again for reading The Wrestling Weekday!

Top 10 image designed by Sam Churchill and used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 license

Friday, December 25, 2015

Celebrate Christmas with Xanta Claus

The NXT Advent Calendar is over and today will be filled with holiday cheer for my family. But twenty years ago, Christmas wasn't so bright in WWE, because that was the debut of Xanta Claus, the real Santa's evil twin brother, as he attacked Savio Vega.


While he wouldn't last in WWE long, Xanta would change his name to Balls Mahoney and make quite a career for himself in ECW, even if his family heritage never really came into play.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 24: The NXT Top 10 for the end of 2015

Another Takeover is behind us, and that means it is time to take a look at the top ten stars in NXT once again. Last time Bayley took the top spot. This time several new stars and teams have changed the complexion of the list entirely. Just a reminder: The first number in parentheses is the wrestler's previous rank (a U means unranked) and the second number is their number of times ranked on this list consecutively.

  1. Sami Zayn: Having just returned to NXT during the UK tour, Zayn's position as part of NXT's future is still a bit unclear. But just his presence changes the complexion of NXT for the better. (U/1) 
  2. Apollo Crews: After an amazing run since Takeover: Brooklyn, it is hard to argue that his first in ring loss to Baron Corbin hurt a lot of Apollo's momentum. It remains to be seen whether he can pick himself up again and re-enter the NXT title picture sooner rather than later. (5/2)
  3. Emma: Takeover: London can only be described as a success for Emma, even in a loss. For the first time since Arrival, she looked like a seriously contender for the NXT Women's Title. She might not be first in line, but that opener cemented her as an important part of the current NXT roster. (U/1)
  4. Jason Jordan & Chad Gable: The mat wrestling masters are in a great place now as the fan support since Takeover Respect has transformerd them into a team everyone wants to see. They have nothing but upside going into 2016 and the Assistplex is easily the move of the year in 2015. (6/2)
  5. Dash & Dawson: Dash & Dawson proved their ability as an old school wrestling machine in their battle against Enzo & Cass in London. And while they might not be the biggest stars NXT currently has, more moves like the amazing Super Shatter Machine they pulled off could up their profile even more. (U/1)
  6. Baron Corbin: Love him or hate him, Baron Corbin finally looks like a superstar rather than a man being forced down fan's throats. While his attitude both in ring and out of it (as shown on Breaking Ground) is the kind of thing that rubs people the wrong way, he certainly seems ready to take his place in a main event feud with Finn Balor. (9/2)
  7. Asuka: The fans love her, she's completely convincing in the ring and her crazy demeanor makes every move work to perfection. The former Kana is poised to innovate women's wrestling in WWE come 2016. After a potential battle with Nia Jax, she seems poised to challenge Bayley at Takeover: Dallas come Wrestlemania weekend. (7/2)
  8. Bayley: After two classic matches against Sasha Banks, her match with Nia Jax can only feel like a demotion. But her fight from behind babyface win over Jax continues to help Bayley grow as a top star and finally gives her a submission move to match the other Four Horsewomen. (1/2)
  9. Samoa Joe: Samoa Joe looked dominant against Finn Balor with only luck seeming to allow the champ to walk out as the winner in London. While it is anyone's guess where their feud goes next, I suspect Joe and Balor are not done by a longshot. A future program with Apollo Crews could also serve to make both men shine brighter in 2016. (4/2)
  10. Finn Balor: Back atop the NXT roster firmly after his Jack the Ripper entrance and astounding victory over Samoa Joe, Finn is in a strange place in NXT. No one can argue he's not ready to become a massive star on the main roster with an entrance second only to the Undertaker at this point and a wrestling style that could make him the next Daniel Bryan or CM Punk in ring. Now it seems to be just a waiting game for Finn to take his place as a top star of the main brand as he has NXT. (3/2)

Finn takes on Jack the Ripper. Image credit: Uproxx via WWE Network.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 23: The future is bright for NXT

While NXT is always in flux thanks to the nature of WWE call ups, it is also a promotion that is now frequently bringing in great independent talent to heighten the action. While folks like Finn Balor, Kevin Owens and Apollo Crews have made huge impacts in the last year, the company still has more hires waiting to make their debut.

Rich Swann still doesn't have a WWE ring name, but he's easily the most accomplished of WWE's non-televised talent. A regular in Dragon Gate USA, EVOLVE and CZW, he made a name for himself both for his amazing high flying style but also for his love for fun and a bit of humor. I've got two great matches featuring him below, the first against unsigned NXT talent Johnny Gargano and the other against three other future WWE/NXT talents: Sami Callihan (formerly Solomon Crowe), Luke Harper and Neville.




Athena was one of the top female stars on the indies, wrestling both men and women and finishing them with the incredible to watch O-Face, a top rope diving corkscrew stunner. Here she is in a battle with indie superstar Mia Yim, otherwise known as TNA's Jade. Now signed and working live events under a variation of her real name Adrien Reese, I would expect her to get a new name before she debuts.


Biff Busick was signed with Swann and Athena, and has also made his live event debut under his real name. A regular in both EVOLVE and CZW, his highly technical style brought him the most recognition in PWG. He even made the painful acquaintance of a woman that made her WWE debut at this year's Wrestlemania, one Ronda Rousey.


PWG has fun pretending they don't know their famous fan, but Busick was a guy that could be serious in the ring. Take a look at this technical classic against current EVOLVE champion Timothy Thatcher, from another Busick regular stop, the Beyond Wrestling promotion.


With all three of these stars likely to make their television debut in the next few months, I suspect 2016 will only continue NXT's rise as the best pro wrestling brand in the world today.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 22: Asuka plays with sexuality in SMASH

I first learned of Kana during her time working for the SMASH promotion in 2010 through 2012. Her high impact style quickly drew my interest. Already a fan of the deep American independent women's wrestlers regularly competing in Shimmer, she sparked my interest in modern Japanese joshi. Her character was pure evil, but it also introduced some undertones that were not very traditional in wrestling, especially when she came into contact with Lin Bairon.

Bairon was a longtime independent female star as Ray, but she unmasked for SMASH as a supposed international traveler returning to Japan to wrestle for the company. She even spoke English to hide her background as Ray. She worked for awhile as one of SMASH's core stars alongside Tajiri, Akira, Syuri and Kushida. But she would soon turn on that unit after jealousy for Syuri got the best of her and joined the Finnish star Michael Kovac. She actually used the nickname "Bitch" at the time as she tried to get over her international bad girl image.

Unfortunately for her, she ran into an even badder girl in the form of Kana. Kana had named herself the one true great female wrestler in the world with only her Triple Tails partners as even close to her equals. Calling herself the World Famous Kana, she beat several men on the SMASH roster before she entered their Divas title tournament. This brought her into battle with Lin Bairon in a match that would emphasize the more sexual side of Kana's gimmick.

Image credit: JoshiFans.com

Throughout the match, Kana clearly shows interest in Lin, even if she wasn't going to let Bairon leave with the victory. It was after the match though that things got really strange. Kana wanted to embarrass Bairon and she decided the best way to do so was to take the jumpsuit off her opponent. It's a weird scene and if you're interested in it, you can watch the video of it on Youtube.

The lesbian overtones of Kana's style aren't completely gone from Asuka's gimmick, but they've certainly been downplayed. But with WWE hiring their first openly lesbian talent in Daria Beranato, it remains to be seen if that might change as Asuka becomes more and more of a fixture in NXT.

Monday, December 21, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 21: Tyler Breeze's long road to WWE superstardom

Back in 2007, a young Canadian by the name of Mattias Wild started to wrestling for companies like Extreme Canadian Championship Wrestling, Power Zone Wrestling and the Prairie Wrestling Alliance, all small Canadian independents. But while he never became a name of note on the independent circuit outside his home country, he did train under Lance Storm. And he happened to do so at just the right time.


As he started under Storm's tutelage, Lance had a television series about his training on Canadian television called World of Hurt. Emma and Sylvester LeFort were hired by WWE shortly after the series and several other Storm trainees would get the call as well. Mattias would be one of them.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 20: Hideo Itami versus a WWE star that stole his finisher

Before Hideo Itami made his way to WWE's developmental roster, he had two finishers very different from the Shotgun Kick and double foot stomp he used as his finishers in NXT. The more famous of the moves is one he innovated and helped popularize, a fireman's carry drop knee strike called the Go To Sleep. When CM Punk came into WWE, he adopted the move and the GTS became a hugely popular move the world over.

But it wasn't his only finisher stolen by a major WWE star. His striking finisher long before the Shotgun Kick was a running single leg high knee which was as fast as it was brutal in appearance. The Busaiku Knee Kick put down a ton of opponents in the physical sport-oriented Pro Wrestling NOAH.

Image credit: wrestlinghurts.tumblr.com

Saturday, December 19, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 19: Two huge stars at war

Before Kevin Owens ripped his way through NXT, Kevin Steen ripped his way through Ring of Honor. And while his run with that company was often contentious, he helped revive the brand quite a bit in the days after the loss of Tyler Black and Bryan Danielson.

He stuck with the company until mid-2014 which was a boon for fans of great wrestling. With ROH's deal with New Japan Pro Wrestling, crossover matches started to happen and none were bigger in this blogger's humble opinion than the battle between the rebellious star of ROH against the rebellious star of NJPW: Kevin Steen versus Shinsuke Nakamura.


Shinsuke Nakamura vs Kevin Steen 17/05/14 by justkeesethings

And while the match didn't have any deep storyline behind it, it still gave us a fifteen minute classic between two men we may never see meet again.

Friday, December 18, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 18: The wrestling career of Corey Graves

Since debuting at NXT Takeover: R Evolution last year, Corey Graves has proven himself time and again as a stupendous member of the announce team. But before that, he was a solid wrestler with a decade long career before frequent concussions forced him into retirement after three years in development.

Image credit: WWE.com.
Before that time, he was a star of the independents with the less than stellar ring name of Sterling James Keenan. A regular for Pittsburgh-based IWC, he made his way from Indiana to Florida as a independent talent, but never managed to get more than sporadic appearances in Ring of Honor nor did he ever appear for EVOLVE. He also made frequent trips to the UK, where much of the influence in his style can be seen.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 17: Takeover London review

Takeover London closed out NXT's special event schedule for 2015 with five explosive matches. And while the show lacked for surprises or big reveals, it did bring two full hours of solid wrestling action from top to bottom.

Image credit: WWE.com.
The show opened with an impressive fifteen minute battle between Emma and Asuka. While Emma and compatriot Dana Brooke tried to pull out every shady tactic they could to pick up the win, including a chain and a distraction during the Asuka Lock, but Asuka continued her streak of dominance in NXT with a win after an explosive kick.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 16: Back to the beginning

As NXT prepares to close out a second year of like Takeover specials, it seemed time to look back at the very first such special, just days after the launch of the WWE Network. Arrival is the only NXT show not to carry the Takeover handle, but it certainly kicked off the brand's penchant for great cards. It did so with an amazing opener that ran over twenty minutes as WWE superstar Cesaro took on a man that was quickly becoming the face of NXT, Sami Zayn.

Cesaro and Zayn already had a couple really stupendous battles on the weeks before the event, but it was at Arrival they pulled out all the stops to put on a match for the ages. Every indie encounter they had seemed to lead up to an amazing moment for both men as Cesaro ended his NXT run and Sami Zayn prepped for his slow rise to the main event.

Check out the full match below.


Antonio Cesaro vs Sami Zayn 27-02-14 by bestwrestlingintheworld

Did I mention that I miss Renee Young calling matches?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 15: Takeover London preview

Takeover London finishes up the NXT event calendar for 2015, but much like R Evolution last December, it looks to send out the WWE's top brand with a huge end of the year event.

Image credit: WWE.com.
The card is shorter than most recent Takeover cards, shortened from the usual six matches to five despite a longer showtime of 2 hours 30 minutes. This could mean an added match or it could mean an extended Sami Zayn return segment or it could really mean just about anything. But with only five scheduled matches, I would expect each of the announced contests to get at least ten minutes of in ring time, certainly up from a lot of match times at recent NXT supercards.

Monday, December 14, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 14: A young Bayley teams... with her future trainer?

Image credit: WWE.com.
Today, we all know Bayley as the NXT woman's champion, a leader of an entire division of amazing female wrestlers, a member of the Four Horsewomen and a future main roster megastar. But she's been around a lot longer than that.

Bayley has been in NXT since 2012, but despite playing a plucky young star, she's actually been wrestling since 2008 when she was just eighteen. As Davina Rose, she came up through several California indies before branching out to SHIMMER and Shine.

She considered Big Time Wrestling her home promotion and in May 2011 at their sixth annual Wrestlefest event, she teamed with none other than Sara Del Rey to take on the  team of Amber O'Neal (now Amber Gallows) and Sassy Stephie. The four women would put on an explosive tag team contest on the card where most of the matches were highlighted by wrestling veterans. (Kevin Nash and Sean Waltman wrestled a local team in the main event.) They were given an impressive length of time, and Davina was able to show why she belonged in a match with the more seasoned competitors.


Just over a year later, Sara Del Rey would retire as an active wrestler to take on the role of a coach for NXT (under her real name, Sara Amato.) Six months later, Davina Rose would become one of her students and take the ring name Bayley.

It must have been a strange experience for Bayley to suddenly be training under one of her former peers, but her time on the indies saw her regularly working with a WWE alum already, former Straight Edge Society member Serena. In the three years since her signing, Bayley has become the face of the NXT women's division and a true testament to how much good Sara's training and the presence of Bayley and the other Four Horsewomen have done for women's wrestling in America.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 13: Six NXT veterans explode at Elimination Chamber 2014

The Wyatt Family came into their own in NXT (after a much weaker run with just Wyatt and WWE footnote Eli Cottonwood in FCW) while The Shield dominated the earliest days of the promotions, albeit as singles competitors. When both factions made it to the main roster, they quickly gained a name for themselves. But it wasn't until the teams started to battle one another that the potential of the two units started to shine. While they went at each other on several occasions, it would be at the 2014 edition of Elimination Chamber that they would have their best contest, an epic battle that received a "This is awesome" chant before the match ever began. It would also serve to cement Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose as babyfaces leading into Wrestlemania XXX and their subsequent battles with Evolution.


Shield vs Wyatt family (720p) by aleem771

All six NXT veterans involved in the battle have become WWE pay-per-view regulars and that shows no sign of ending anytime soon.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 12: Neville & Finn Balor as a great tag team

Long before Neville and Finn Balor came to NXT, let alone wrestled at NXT Rival, they both regularly worked in Japan. Neville was PAC, a regular of the Dragon Gate promotion, while Balor used his real name Fergal Devitt (or alternately Prince Devitt) in New Japan Pro Wrestling. Both found tons of success, winning both solo and tag team gold in their respective companies.

Image credit: WWE.com.
But they didn't always remain apart. Japanese wrestling companies are far more likely to lend out their talent to other companies than American ones which brought about PAC into the NJPW Best of the Super Juniors tournament and Devitt into Dragon Gate as an infrequent tag partner with PAC. This gave us a chance to see the two master high flyers with great technical prowess team to take on some of Dragon Gate's regulars.

Watch below as the team of Neville and Finn Balor take on Dragon Gate veterans Ryo Saito and Genki Horiguchi.

Friday, December 11, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 11: Proof of NXT's power with the TLC card

One look at the TLC card shows exactly how far former NXT talent have came in WWE. Out of the twenty-three talents announced as wrestling on the card, a full thirteen of them have served as NXT regulars at some point in their careers. Of those thirteen, four are former tag team champions, two are former women's champions and two are former NXT champions. 

Image credit: WWE.com.


So here is the rundown of the card from bottom to top and a few thoughts on the NXT talents involved.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 10: The long road to a Perfect 10

The man currently known to us as Tye Dillinger has been wrestling for nearly fifteen years. Debuting in 2001, Shawn Spears was trained by TNA veterans Eric Young and Cody Deaner. For five years, he regularly worked every Canadian indie imaginable as he tried to make a name for himself, frequently coming into battle with the stars of that era from Canada and the US.

Nor is this even his first rodeo in WWE. Shawn Spears signed with WWE nearly a decade ago. Arriving in Ohio Valley Wrestling in the second half of 2006, "The Canadian Sensation" made an impact on the roster with wins over Simon Dean, Cody Rhodes and Idol Stevens (now better known as Damien Sandow.) He won the TV title from a pre-comedy gimmick Santino Marella, which lead to battles with Colt Cabana, Paul Burchill and a very young Wade Barrett.

But when he was finally called up to the ECW brand in 2008 as Gavin Spears, he saw none of the success he had in OVW. Debuting within days of one Scotty Goldman, he followed Colt Cabana's path of barely getting a cup of coffee on the main roster before he was unceremoniously released.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 9: The former CJ Parker takes Japan!

Image credit: Wikipedia.
I have a ton of respect for Juice Robinson, the artist formerly known as CJ Parker. A talented independent wrestler before his time in NXT, he realized early in 2015 that any push he had was completely stalled. He was already serving as little more than a jobber for incoming talent, with losses to Kevin Owens and Solomon Crowe during his final few weeks with the company. So he did something very few people have the balls to do: he asked for his release so he can go out and make his name elsewhere, with the door to be open to possibly return in the future.

Few people would give up the guaranteed paycheck a WWE superstar gets, one that is usually more than most folks can make on the indies. But Parker did and for a brief time had quite a run on the indies as CJP ranging across the Midwest, Northeast and Florida. When he announced his retirement a couple months later, people were shocked, only to find out he was only retiring the CJP and gimmick. His old name Juice Robinson was back and he was going to Japan full time under contract to NJPW.

And Juice seems to be doing it right in Japan. He's frequently in the first one or two matches on the card, but his fun loving babyface character has captured the Japanese fans' imaginations. Few gaijin get to play the face in Japan, but he does it to perfection, even when he's in peril from some of the dastardly villains on the roster.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 8: Dean Ambrose in a brutal battle with... an NXT referee?

Before Dean Ambrose came to NXT and joined The Shield, he was Jon Moxley, wild child of EVOLVE and Combat Zone Wrestling. His run at the top of CZW brought him into conflict with one of the longest running stars in CZW history, the legendary hardcore warrior Drake Younger. Younger had switched to a more technical style by the time this match took place in 2010, but that didn't stop both men from brutalizing one another.

Image credit: Wikipedia.
Of course, just as Dean broke up with his Shield brethren on WWE's main roster, Drake signed his own WWE contract. But the accomplished world-traveled independent star signed with WWE not as a wrestler, but as a referee. Since that time, Drake Wuertz has been a staple of the NXT referee pool and proven he's every bit as good in his new role as his old one. While he may never be the star of a Wrestlemania main event, he now has a chance to stand in that ring as he calls it right down the middle.

Unless of course, it involves Dean Ambrose. Then, who knows what will happen.

Monday, December 7, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 7: Back when Becky Lynch managed Paige... and Paige's mom

Interesting cross sections have started to appear on WWE programming now that the promotion has signed so many independent female wrestlers. With Shimmer serving as an amazing showcase for so many of these talents, it often becomes a very odd cross section where future WWE stars first make their connections.

Image credit: WWE.com.
We all know Paige and Becky Lynch were partners in Team PCB, but I am not sure how many people remember their original alliance from four years ago with a very different talent than Charlotte.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 6: A six-man ROH match featuring 6 future NXT wrestlers

It is often quite interesting to look at all the major stars from Ring of Honor's past that eventually found themselves in a WWE ring. Back in the promotion's earliest days, it seemed only a handful of stars could ever attract the attention of the world's largest promotion, but that time has changed. Now as we look back at a main event from ROH on HDNet in 2009, we see six men that have found their way into NXT at one time or another.

The American Wolves are top stars in TNA now, but they
had one brief grand NXT moment. Image credit: Wikipedia.
The heel team has a far less storied history with WWE. Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards seemed like they would be the next huge signing for WWE when they made a single appearance on NXT against The Ascension. But The American Pitbulls of Derek Billington and John Cahill would never sign a full contract with WWE and moved on to TNA.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 5: The 5 count

Big E floated around WWE developmental literally for years. He started with the company way back in 2009 but waited for three years before he debuted on main WWE television. But during the earliest days of NXT as a brand on its own, he quickly became one of the promotion's most beloved talents.

Big E in NXT.
We all know about Big E's natural charisma but it was an ingenious but simple gimmick that really got him over with the Florida fans. Because Big E was so dominant in his matches, he declared the referees should count until five before they counted a pinfall after his finisher.

Friday, December 4, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 4: Sasha Banks wrestles.. her boyfriend?

Before Sasha Banks was the internet's favorite female wrestler, she was simply Mercedes KV. She worked all over the northeast for a couple years from a very young age before her signing with WWE in 2012 at the age of just 20.

Sasha Banks with fiance Mikaze. Image credit: uproxx.com.
But one of her most interesting pre-NXT battles came in Beyond Wrestling, a brand known for intergender wrestling. I know very little about two of her opponents: Fury and Fahrenheit, but the fourth individual in the match is none other than Mikaze. Some fans might know Mikaze as WWE's official costume maker, but he also happens to be Sasha's fiance and a wrestler. Earlier this year, an NXT tryout match with him went very wrong and left him injured, but before that he was working on the indies including in this match with a very young Sasha.

Now I have no idea if the two were dating at the time or not, but it is an interesting footnote in the career of perhaps the best female wrestler in the world today.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 3: James Storm and Rhyno get elevated

One interesting thing about the cross pollination of older talents making a new name for themselves in NXT is their previous encounters. Over the last several months, Rhino has become a staple of the promotion with brutal battles against Finn Balor, Baron Corbin and Samoe Joe. James Storm arrived more recently in NXT but in his battles with Danny Burch and Adam Rose earned him a "You belong here" chant from the crowd.

James Storm and Rhyno (then, simply Rhino) had a prolonged feud during Storm's first singles run with TNA. The two men were brutal to one another with the nefarious Storm trying everything to pick up a win over "The Man-Beast". All of it would culminate in one of TNA's least safe matches ever, their incarnation of the Scaffold Match they called Elevation X.

How ill advised was it? After Rhino competed in two of the matches over two years, it never returned, officially being retired after this battle. It was probably for the best as neither Rhyno nor Storm needed to risk a career threatening injury with another match in the style.

Watch the battle in its full insane glory below.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 2: The Shield debut

I don't think it can be underestimated how important this moment was to the future of WWE. Seth Rollins, Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns are clearly three of the superstars that would take the promotion to the next level. They both spent their share of time in FCW (where they had their only match featuring all three against one another) but it is in NXT they came into their own.

The skull masks didn't last long, but they were cool. Image credit: Wikipedia.
Seth Rollins was the very first NXT champion while Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns both had significant places on the development brand's roster before they made the leap to WWE during Survivor Series 2012. They interrupted the triple threat match where CM Punk defended his title against Ryback and John Cena. Ryback became the first victim of their dreaded triple powerbomb in a moment that shook the foundation of WWE.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

NXT Advent Calendar Day 1: Finn Balor vs. Daniel Bryan... in 2007

Throughout the month of December, we will ring in the Christmas season with a special advent calendar made up by the stars of NXT, from before, during and after their runs in the company. 

What better way to kickoff the NXT Advent Calendar than with NXT champion Finn Balor? And how many matches can you think of that are bigger than Balor versus Daniel Bryan. Well, the two men that have wrestled in front of tens of thousands have met exactly once as far as I can tell. They fought in 2007 in front of maybe 200 people at an NWA event during their Reclaiming the Glory tournament to crown the first post-TNA era NWA World Heavyweight champion.

Check out the full match below!

Randomly found #DanielBryan vs #FinnBalor from the indies don't know what year but ENJOY!

Posted by THE SpOtLight on Sunday, August 30, 2015