RADICAN’S Playlist Vol. 2 – Big Match Highlights from AAW, ROH, Beyond Wrestling, Stardom

By Sean Radican, PWTorch columnist


ROH 14th
ROH 14th Anniversary PPV - Las Vegas - February 26

RadicanSean_profileRADICAN’S PLAYLIST (Vol. 2)
AAW, ROH, BEYOND WRESTLING, STARDOM
JULY 21, 2016
BY SEAN RADICAN, PWTORCH COLUMNIST

Every so often when time gets tight, I will take the time to review matches that have gotten a lot of buzz in lieu of watching an entire show that I might not have time to get to during a given time period. These matches have gotten some great buzz, so without further ado, lets dig into the action!

Mat Fitchett vs. Drew Gulak, AAW, “Homecoming,” March 18, 2016

I haven’t seen Fitchett work in quite some time, so I’m looking forward to watching this match. The announcers say this is the first time these two men have met in the ring.

It appeared that Fitchett took an accidental knee to the head while they were doing some chain wrestling during the early going. That had to suck. Fitchett tried to go at it with Gulak on the mat, but Gulak got a hold of his leg and grabbed a nerve hold for a second before working a more traditional neck crank. The announcers questioned Fitchett’s strategy, as he went after Gulak’s leg on the mat. Fitchett got a Muta lock, but Gulak countered it by grabbing his head in a nasty head crank.

Fitchett got the Mutalock back and they went back and forth on the mat as the fans applauded. Fitchett eventually got to the ropes to break a submission attempt from Gulak. The fans chanted for Gulak and then wrestling. Fitchett his a dropkick to Gulak’s knee and followed up with a standing moonsault for a 2 count. Gulak got the upper hand and went after Fitchett’s arm. Gulak went to work on the mat once again a short time later and worked over Fitchett on the mat. He eventually got an anklelock. Gulak then modified it into a single leg crab/stranglehold combination that looked sick. Wow!

Fitchett eventually got to the ropes and the fans applauded. Fitchett kicked his way out of a leg submission and then nailed Gulak with some big kicks to the back, but hurt his own leg in the process. They battled up top, but Gulak shoved Fitchett off and then obliterated him with a leaping forearm off the ropes for a near fall. Wow! Gulak got a really sick looking Boston crab variation on Fitchett. He then turned it into a Liontamer, but Fitchett managed to nail Gulak with a forearm to break it up. Fitchett is super flexible.

Fitchett nailed Gulak with a pair of superkicks and a rolling kick to the head, but Gulak got his hand on the bottom rope to break up the count at 2. They went back and forth exchanging strikes in the middle of the ring. Fitchett went for a moonsault kick, but Gulak caught his legs and applied an ankle lock. The fans fired up and some chanted for Fitchett to tap. Fitchett tried to fight Gulak off, but Gulak got the anklelock again.

Fitchett finally got Gulak off of him, but he got the ankle lock once again. Gulak got another ankle lock and then grapevined it. Fitchett screamed that he will never quit. Fitchett finally got to the ropes as the announcers joked that he should get booked in EVOLVE. Fitchett spit at Gulak. Gulak then nailed him with several strikes and a big forearm for a 2 count. Gulak got another leg submission, but Fitchett once again got to the ropes. Fitchett screamed at Gulak and said he’s still standing. Both men began exchanging big blows as Fitchett limped on his injured leg. Fitchett did some kind of crazy head scissors takedown that spiked Gulak on his head. He then rolled Gulak up and it was good for the win. Wow!

The fans stood and applauded Fitchett winning the match without doing a high-flying maneuver. Both men got a “That was awesome” chant and a standing ovation. Gulak shook Fitchett’s hand before heading to the back. Fitchett was left alone in the ring to pose for the fans before he headed to the back limping.

WINNER: Matt Fitchett

Star rating: (****) – This was a fantastic match. It was supposed to be a high-flyer vs. a technician, but Fitchett never went to his high-flying offense up top. The story the match told was fantastic, as Fitchett tried to go toe-to-toe with Gulak, which had mixed results. Gulak then began to dominate the action and Fitchett used his flexibility to avoid tapping out to some nasty looking leg submissions and ankle lock variations. Fitchett telling the ref that he wouldn’t quit was awesome down the stretch. I also loved how he sold intensity and really brought the crowd into the match late.

FYI: You can purchase AAW’s “Homecoming” on DVD/MP4 by clicking HERE or by visiting SmartMarkVideo.com. You can also purchase this show on VOD at SMVOD.com. For more information on AAW, visit AAWPro.com.

Adam Cole vs. IWGP Jr. Hvt. champion KUSHIDA in a Non-title match, ROH, ROH TV Episode 237, Feb. 27, 2016

This match was taped during the 14th Anniversary TV tapings. The lighting for this show is great. I wish ROH would ditch the useless blue lights. KUSHIDA got the better of Cole on the mat during the early going and then mocked his pose much to the delight of the crowd. They went at it near the apron and Cole nailed KUSHIDA with a big enzuguri.

They came from commercial break with Cole in control. KUSHIDA fired back and snapped Cole’s arm over the top rope before wiping him out with a big clothesline. KUSHIDA and Cole went back and forth before KUSHIDA caught Cole with a handstand kick. He then followed up with a big flip dive to the floor that fired up the crowd. KUSHIDA went for a moonsault a short time later, but Cole got his knees up. The fans fired up with a this is awesome chant. KUSHIDA got the hover board lock. Cole managed to shove the ref with his free hand and then he raked KUSHIDA’s eye while the ref was recovering to free himself.

They went back and forth exchanging blows in the middle of the ring as the fans fired up. KUSHIDA nailed Cole with a baseball punch, but appeared to hurt his own hand in the process. KUSHIDA went back after Cole’s arm and got the hover board lock. Cole rolled through, but KUSHIDA managed to counter it into an arm bar. Cole finally stacked up KUSHIDA for a 2 count and he had to release his arm. KUSHIDA went for a handspring, but Cole nailed him with a superkick to the back of the head and then a neck breaker over his knee for the win.

WINNER: Adam Cole

Star rating: (***3/4) – This was a really good TV match. The Las Vegas crowd was hot for the back and forth action between Cole and KUSHIDA. At this time, Cole was still trying to find himself as a character, as he was left alone without The Kingdom around to help him. They worked a smart match with KUSHIDA going after Cole’s arm the entire time until Cole managed to mount a comeback and get a rare win for ROH over a NJPW talent on TV.

FYI: You can purchase “ROH 14th Anniversary TV Tapings” to watch this match on DVD by clicking HERE or by visiting ROHWrestling.com. You can also watch it by accessing the ROH TV archives with a ringside membership at ROHWrestling.com. For more information on ROH, visit ROHWrestling.com.

IWGP IC Champion Kenny Omega (w/The Young Bucks) vs. A.C.H., ROH, ROH TV Episode 238, Feb. 27, 2016

The fans lost their minds for Omega’s entrance. Omega did no wear the IWGP IC Championship to the ring. Omega refused to follow the code of honor. The fans were pounding the guardrail to the tune of The Terminator theme. ACH dominated the action early. He did a back flip off the apron to avoid a charge from Omega. Nick Jackson then nailed him with a superkick as Omega distracted the ref. Nick then put a banana peel on the mat and when the ref turned around he told him ACH had slipped. Lol.

Omega then got a broom and swept the banana peel under the ring and the fans applauded. They came back from commercial break with Kenny working a headlock on ACH inside the ring. ACH finally mounted a comeback and they went back and forth. ACH eventually caught Omega up top with a running shooting star dropkick. The fans chanted for ACH and The Young Bucks got up on the apron. Omega tried to surprise him with an attack from behind, but ACH sent him to the floor. ACH then followed up with Air Jordan to the floor to wipe out Omega and the Bucks. The fans fired up and chanted for ACH once again.

They battled up top a short time later. ACH shoved Omega off once and then again before connecting with a double stomp to Omega’s back for a near fall. Omega fired back and hit a dragon suplex on ACH that made the crowd gasp. He set up for the one-winged angel, but ACH countered and hit a brainbuster for another near fall. ACH went up to for the midnight star. He missed, but landed on his feet when Omega got out of the way. They went back and forth trading big strikes in the middle of the ring. Omega flipped ACH over the ropes and he crumpled to the apron. That looked brutal!

The fans fired up as Omega regrouped in the corner. Omega set up for sweet chin music, but ACH blocked it. ACH eventually hit a stunner and Omega sold it like he was The Rock at WrestleMania 15! ACH got a near fall and went up top. He went for the midnight star again, but Omega got out of the way. Omega wiped out ACH with a running knee to the side of the head. Omega then hit the one-winged angel for the win.

After the match, Matt swept ACH out of the ring with a broom.

WINNER: Kenny Omega

Star rating: (***3/4) – This was a fantastic match that bordered on excellent at times. It got off to a bit of a slow start, but the second half was really good. ACH got some believable near falls down the stretch and the crowd was red hot for the action leading up to the finish. The good news is that the crowd got behind ACH even though he always loses to talent on Omega’s level.

FYI: You can purchase “ROH 14th Anniversary TV Tapings” to watch this match on DVD by clicking HERE or by visiting ROHWrestling.com. You can also watch it by accessing the ROH TV archives with a ringside membership at ROHWrestling.com. For more information on ROH, visit ROHWrestling.com.

Donovan Dijak vs. Keith Lee, Beyond Wrestling, “Gigantic,” May 29, 2016

Dijak got a huge pop during the formal ring introductions. Lee is a big guy that has gotten a look in ROH in the past. Dijak is undefeated in Beyond Wrestling. Beyond seems to be pushing Dijak as the next face of Beyond to replace Biff Busick and carry the banner of the company. Lee backed Dijak into the corner and teased a cheap shot, but ended up patting Dijak on the test. Dijak got mad and both men began shoving each other before going head-to-head.

They both went for shoulder tackles at the same time, but neither man went down. Dijak invited Lee to the floor and both men got a big running start on the floor. They rammed into each other once again, but neither man would go down. Dijak tried to get even more of a running start in the back of Aurora. Both men charged at each other and this time Lee sent Dijak into the merch table. The fans popped big for Lee getting the upper hand. Dijak wobbled on the floor as Lee set up in the ring. Lee went for a dive, but Dijak ran into the ring and grabbed him by the throat. Dijak eventually hit a forearm and Lee smiled back at him.

Lee hit several lefts and rights, but Dijak fired back with a big kick to the chin. The announcers mentioned that Lee wrestles out of Inspire Pro. Lee never went down and went for a military press on Dijak, but he managed to slip out of it. Dijak finally got Lee on a knee with a big knee lift to the gut. They went to a fast exchange off the ropes and Lee fired up the crowd after catching Dijak with a dropkick off the ropes. Holy s—t. Suge D and Denver Colorado sold shock at Lee’s ability to execute that spot given his size.

Dijak fired back on Lee with some big blows and talked some trash. He went for a rolling kick, but Lee caught him and hit a big spine buster for a 2 count. Wow! Lee went for a military press and landed it successfully. He then hit a standing moonsault on Dijak for a near fall. Holy s—! The fans fired up, but Donovan got Lee on his shoulders and hit a sit-out slam for a 2 count. The announcers didn’t hit home that hits was the first time Dijak had gotten Lee on his back in the match. The announcers said there’s no way Dijak could hit feast your eyes on Lee. Dijak set Lee up and went up top. Lee got up and Dijak ended up nailing legs first right on Lee’s head for a 2 count. Ouch! That looked brutal.

Dijak set up to get Lee on his back, but Lee countered him and hit a DVD out of the jack hammer position for a near fall. Holy s—! The ring literally looked like it was about to break when that move landed. Dijak rolled to the floor and grabbed Lee’s leg when he set up for a dive. Lee fought him off and the ref ended up getting bumped accidentally. Lee then wiped out Dijak and several other attendants with a huge flip dive. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

Dijak caught Lee with a rolling kick a short time later. Dijak was about to hit feast your eyes as he taunted Lee, but Lee fired up and hit a last rights sit-out power bomb and Dijak BARELY got his hand on the bottom rope to break up the pin. WOW!. The fans lost their minds as Lee dragged Dijak to the middle of the ring. Lee went up top, but Dijak caught him with a kick to the head. He then lifted Lee up off the topes and hit feast your eyes for the win. OH MY GOD!!

The fans went nuts after the match and chanted for both men. Lee got a huge chant and Dijak raised Lee’s hand and left the ring. The fans chanted please come back at Lee to end the segment.

WINNER: Donovan Dijak.

Star rating: (****1/4) – This was an awesome match. Lee is amazing for his size. He’s a large man that can not only perform impressive feats of strength, but he can also do some high flying. The back and forth exchanges and the power moves from both men really got the crowd fired up down the stretch. Lee dominated the bulk of the match and Dijak, who has run through most of his competition in Beyond, looked to be in trouble before getting the win in impressive fashion. If you haven’t tried out BeyonDemand, it’s definitely worth getting a trial subscription to see this match. Beyond Wrestling has broken out a lot of talent over the years and this match is a perfect example of one of the things that the company does best, which is showcase new talent before they hit the big companies.

FYI: You can purchase Beyond Wrestling’s “Gigantic” to watch this match on DVD by clicking HERE or by visiting SmartMarkVideo.com. You can also watch it by subscribing to BeyonDemand on YouTube.com. For more information on Beyond Wrestling, visit LookMaNoFans.com.

Goddesses of Stardom Tag Team Champions Thunder Rock (Io Shirai & Mayu Iwatani) vs. Oedo Tai (Kagetsu & Kyoko Kimura), Stardom, June 16, 2016.

Pre-Match

Shirai and Iwatani cut a promo backstage. They both said they don’t want to lose and have Oedo Tai give them afros by cutting their hair after the match.. Shirai says they’ve battled them many times recently and they always win. They then shouted “Thunder Rock together. Oedo Tai then cut a promo. Kagetsu and Kimura were annoyed by having to talk about the match. Kimura said everyone wants to see Thunder Rock afros after they beat them.

A little boy was with Oedo Tai and he was directed to flip off Thunder Rock during the flower presentations.

Match commentary

This match is the result of the fallout of the tremendous Shirai vs. Iwatani match that I covered in my last playlist column. This show took place at the famous Korakuen Hall in Tokyo, Japan. Kimura apparently has powerful wind in her lungs as she blocked Iwatani’s strikes and then decked her by blowing wind at her. Kagetsu and Kimura then grounded her with a rapid-fire series of maneuvers. Iwatani fired back and hit a springboard double arm drag off the top.

Shirai set up for a dive, but Kimura tossed a chair at her. Wolf then tossed Iwatani was perched up top to follow Lo’s dive, but Wolf dragged her from the apron to the floor. Kimura dragged Shirai through the crowd and slammed her into a sign in the back of the arena that read east several times. Oedo Tai was shown working over Iwatani at ringside. Iwatani ended up back inside the ring and Kagetsu began working her over.

Kagetsu locked in a variation of sol naciente and Iwatani screamed in pain before getting to the ropes. Kimura and Kagetsu tagged in and out to work over Iwatani’s arm as she screamed in pain. Iwatani tried to mount a comeback, but Kagetsu swatted away her dropkick attempt off the turnbuckles. Iwatani finally hit a sling blade and made the tag to Lo a short time later. Io was quickly double teamed by Kagetsu and Kimura, but ended up wiping them both out with a springboard splash. She then wiped them out with an Asai moonsault to the floor that fired up the fans. She hit a running double knee strike on Kagetsu a short time later, but she managed to kick out at 2.

Kagetsu finally fired back and caught Io with a Samoan drop. Kimura got the tag and went to work on Shirai. She went for a brainbuster, but Shirai countered it. Shirai got tripped from the floor and then took a huge kick from the floor from Kagetsu. Kimura then followed up with a big spinebuster for a 2 count.

Oedo Tai definitely have their heel act down pat. Shirai no-sold a kick from Kimura and they began exchanging big shots in the middle of the ring. Both women hit forearms at the same time over and over. They continued to go back and forth until Shirai got a hurricanrana for a near fall. She kicks Kimura in the head twice and she wouldn’t go down. She then hit a third kick to the head and a German, but Kimura kicked out at the last second!

Shirai bounced off the ropes a short time later, but Kimura decked her with a big kick to the head and both women were down. Iwatani got the tag and nailed Kimura with a HUGE missile dropkick. Kimura countered a suplex and got a guillotine choke. Shirai tried to run in, but Kagetsu wiped her out. Iwatani struggled, but eventually managed to get to the ropes to break the hold! The fans tried to rally behind Iwatani. Kimura took out a blade and the ref stopped her.

Kagetsu ran into the ring with a big blue P sign and hit Iwatani with it several times. She was about to hit Shirai with it, but the ref stopped her. Kimura bumped the ref from behind and Shirai got hit with a chair. Kimura then tossed the chair to Iwatani and the ref admonished her. Kagetsu then wiped out the ref with another sign. Oedo Tai got into the ring with the ref down and went to town on Thunder Rock. Iwatani took a series of running moves in the corner capped by a spear from Vaughn as the fans booed. Shirai tried to make the save, but she was booted down to the mat.

The big beating on Thunder Rock continued, but there was no ref to count the pin on Iwatani. They stacked up Shirai and Iwatani in a chair and decked them with a triple kick. Another official got into the ring and stopped Kimura from hitting Iwatani with a big metal sign. He then kicked the sign to the floor. Kagetsu and Kimura shoved him, but he fended them off. Kagetsu then went back to work on Iwatani. Kagetsu made the cover on Iwatani, but pulled her head up to break the count. She hit her with several light slaps and Iwatani began to fire back. Iwatani finally wiped out Kagetsu with a superkick and both women were own on the mat. They got up and had a big exchange of counters until Iwatani caught Kagetsu with a pair of big kicks.

Shirai was nowhere to be seen and Kimura cut Iwatani off with a knee from the apron as she bounced off the ropes. Shirai finally surprised Kimura and Kagetsu with a springboard dropkick. She then wiped out Oedo Tai with a big dive through the ropes. Iwatani then hit a big step-up splash off the turnbuckles to the floor to wipe out Oedo Tai! Shirai and Iwatani then hit the IndyTaker on Kagetsu. Iwatani hit a dragon suplex on Kagetsu with a bridge, but Kimura broke up the pin.

Kagetsu hit Iwatani with a huge falcon arrow for a good near fall. She then got a pinning combination, but Shirai made the save at the last second. Shirai lifted up Kimura for the IndyTaker, but Kimura reversed it. Kagetsu nailed Iwatani with the blue sign up top. Kimura then hit a tombstone on Shirai and Iwatani hit a super falcon arrow off the top and it was good for the double pin. Wow!

Post-match

Oedo Tai celebrated in the ring, as the numbers advantage was too much for Thunder Rock to overcome. Kimura put a blue afro wig on Iwatani. She put Shirai next to her and put a red afro wig on her. The Stardom authority figure was then dragged into the ring and they put a black afro wig on him and forced him to sit with Thunder Rock. Wolf sang “The sun will come out tomorrow.” Kimura cut a post-match promo. She said they had won. She told the people to shut up and got home. She says they won’t go home because they love it, which is funny. Kimura told the fans to get used it because they will be around for a long time. Kagetsu got on the mic and called the fans losers and idiots. They then taunted Thunder Rock in the corner and told them they look like idiots, but at least the afros matched their gear. Kagetsu said this is funny as hell. Kimura said they were all complaining about them in the beginning, but now they want to cheer a little. She said the fans expected them to be happy, but they shouldn’t hold their breath. Oedo Tai then posed with the tag titles to end the show.

WINNERS: Kagetsu & Kimura to become the new Goddesses of Stardom Tag Team Champions

Star rating: (****1/2) – At certain times during the match I watched Shirai and wondered if she was the best female wrestler on the planet. She has to be up there. She’s just so dynamic with her striking, flying, and timing. This was a great match with the deck stacked against Thunder Rock, as they had to try to overcome long heat segments during the first half of the match and then interference and all sorts of shenanigans from Oedo Tai down the stretch. The last several minutes of the match were downright fantastic. This was one gem of a babyface vs. heel tag team match. Go out of your way to see it.

FYI: You can watch this match by subscribing to the new Stardom-World.com streaming service.

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