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Wrestling Wrecap: A #Historic Main Event

Welcome to Wrestling Wrecap, a column focused on discussing and dissecting the week in pro wrestling.

This past Monday, prior to Raw, WWE officially announced which match would be the main event of Wrestlemania 35 and, to the surprise of few, it was the women’s triple threat. Truthfully, there was never much doubt about it. Regardless of your thoughts on the booking of the feud (which we’ll get to in a moment), Becky Lynch is still the most over superstar in the company currently and a women’s main event is long overdue.

For all the jokes about WWE constantly shilling how “historic” and “FIRST TIME EVER” the Women’s Revolution is, they’ve actually done an admirable job taking a division that was a joke as little as five years ago and making it the most enjoyable part of their shows. There have been screw-ups along the way and the lesser-used women still struggle to get time, but the fact that we’re able to have women in a main event that is widely viewed as the right match to put there is a huge step forward.

The storyline, on the other hand, has left a lot to be desired. It has been said time and again at this point, but this really was a simple story that has been needlessly complicated. My foolish hope was that once Becky officially earned her spot back and the match was announced things would start to be simpler, more focused on the rivalry. That has not been the case. Rousey is still murking fools and making out with her husband, while Becky and Charlotte throw metric tons of shade at each other. Then came Smackdown, where Charlotte won her record-breaking 8th women’s title from Asuka. A title that, as of this writing, is not on the line at Wrestlemania.

Story-wise, this lines up with Charlotte being the favorite and always getting opportunities that others are denied. Still, I’d be lying if I wasn’t disappointed that this was the direction they felt like going in. Asuka’s title reign was constantly overshadowed by Becky and Charlotte, who despite feuding for the Raw Women’s Championship spent equal time on Smackdown, and never really got going. Seeing her lose again to Charlotte is upsetting and not just for the reasons WWE wants.

The Smackdown Women’s Championship gave the other ladies on the card something to fight for. Sure, the match was never going to have a lot of build, but it would showcase more of the woman than a battle royal or multi-person tag team match would. By putting all of their eggs in the basket of this one match, WWE is making it clear that as we head into Wrestlemania only these three women matter. Honestly, it is the same strategy they’ve used for the men for years now. In those terms, the woman truly have made it to equal standing.

The Power of Positivity Perseveres

My planned reaction if Kofi Kingston loses at Wrestlemania.

After a month of constant rug-pulling and a seemingly endless supply of gauntlet matches, Kofi Kingston has finally got his match against Daniel Bryan at Wrestlemania. It’s been a long, arduous storyline with an undercurrent of racism bubbling under the surface. Yet they managed to pull it off, not only that, they got the crowd even more behind Kofi than at the beginning. It is a testament to what can happen when the company really endeavors to make a star.

Kofi did not do this on his own, however, he was bolstered by Xavier Woods and Big E. Quite literally this week, where the duo battled a host of tag teams to secure Kofi’s spot. The story of Xavier and E being so determined to see their friend and tag partner get his opportunity that they would fight for it was an amazing touch. Add in Bryan’s snide remarks earlier in the evening about Kofi not being good enough and you have an expertly built feud.

Kofi Kingston, the man who has garnered the entire WWE crowd behind him against Daniel Bryan, the former audience favorite who rejected them to try and keep his legacy intact. With only one more Smackdown left before Wrestlemania, I know we’re due to get a one-on-one promo off and I cannot wait to see how that unfolds.

The Cup Runneth Over

The look of a man who really wants to pet the dog across the street.

The New Japan Cup is the first big tournament of the year in NJPW. Normally a 16-man, single-elimination tournament where the winner gets their choice of singles title to challenge for (almost always the Heavyweight Championship.) This year, with a huge show in Madison Square Garden looming, the field was upped to 32 and included all champions minus the Heavyweight champ, Jay White. The tournament ran through most of this month, finally reaching its conclusion this past weekend, with the expected winner, Kazuchika Okada.

Okada has been in something of a slump since losing the IWGP Heavyweight title to Kenny Omega in June of last year. He lost out of making it to the G1 finals and got turned on by former ally Gedo, who sided with Jay White. Naturally, this led to a battle at Wrestle Kingdom that the Rainmaker shockingly lost. Now, faced with the prospect of a rematch, and for his beloved belt to boot, the golden boy of New Japan prepares to face his newest foe one more time.

As for the rest of the tournament, while expanding the field gave some competitors (Chase Owens, Shota Umino) time to shine the matches were fairly standard. As with last year’s tournament, the standout was Zach Sabre Jr, who refused to have a bad match with any of his competitors.

The New Japan Cup, more than any other tournament NJPW offers, is built on surprises. As the only single-elimination tournament all year, the company gets a lot of mileage out of established main eventers losing. Whether it was Kota Ibushi defeating Naito only to be eliminated in the next round by Sabre or SANADA managing to eliminate both Minoru Suzuki and Hiroshi Tanahashi on his way to the finals we were given surprises in spades.

Overall, I would say the biggest New Japan Cup ever was a success. It helped elevate new stars while also getting us to the huge main event at the G1 Supercard in MSG. Now let’s see if the Rainmaker has another win in him.

Performer of the Week: Kazuchika Okada

Battle-damaged Okada action figure coming soon

Okada has been off the radar for the last few months as others have taken the spotlight in New Japan, but the Rainmaker proved he still can put on fantastic matches with two potential match of the year candidates in back-to-back nights. First, an all-out brawl with Tomohiro Ishii followed by a slower-paced but equally thrilling contest against SANADA. All leading to Okada’s 2nd New Japan Cup and a main event at Madison Square Garden. Wrestling history awaits!

If you made it down here, thanks for reading! Tell me what you thought about this week’s events in wrestling in the comments and, as always, any feedback is appreciated. Cheers