Date: January 18, 2023
Location: Save Mart Center, Fresno, California
Commentators: Excalibur, Tony Schiavone, Taz
We’re about six weeks away from Revolution and that means Bryan Danielson is still on the road to getting his Iron Man match with MJF for the World Title. Other than that, Orange Cassidy is defending the All-Atlantic Title against Jay Lethal and Ricky Starks continues his issues with the Jericho Appreciation Society. Let’s get to it.
In Memory Of Jay Briscoe.
All-Atlantic Title: Jay Lethal vs. Orange Cassidy
Cassidy is defending and there are no seconds, though here are Jeff Jarrett, Satnam Singh and Sonjay Dutt through the crowd to take fans’ seats. They start fast with Cassidy grabbing a small package and backslide for two each before Lethal knocks him outside. Cue Danhausen, who is now an usher, demanding to see Jarrett and company’s tickets. Because reasons, they hand them over, and Danhausen waves over the Best Friends (with concessions) to sit behind them.
In the melee, Cassidy hits a suicide dive but Lethal knocks him back down without much effort. Now Danhausen is at ringside as Lethal drives Cassidy into the apron. A hard posting (great bump) has Cassidy in more trouble and Lethal gets to strut. Back in and Hail To The King is loaded up but Cassidy rolls away, even as Lethal tries multiple buckles.
The Stundog Millionaire and tornado DDT hit Lethal for two but he’s right back with the Lethal Combination. The Lethal Injection connects, only for Cassidy to roll outside. Hold on though as the referee goes to yell at Jarrett and company, allowing Danhausen to steal the guitar. Lethal gives chase and runs into the Orange Punch to retain the title at 9:09.
Rating: C. This was a tricky one as the match itself was entertaining but there is only so much you can do with all of the shenanigans going on outside. I’m not sure why the Jarrett/Best Friends and company stuff was supposed to be entertaining but it felt like we were going into what Danhausen thought of Memphis. The match worked well enough, but the outside stuff was so distracting that it brought things back down.
Post match everyone else gets in and Cassidy gives Dutt the lazy kicks. Dutt has to be held back and we don’t get much physicality. Well Cassidy and Danhausen do have some popcorn if that counts.
Video on Kushida vs. Darby Allin for the TNT Title later tonight.
Top Flight vs. Young Bucks
Brandon Cutler is here too. Nick cranks on Dante’s wrist to start and with the traditional wrestling out of the way, they start trading the flips until it’s a standoff. Dante hits Nick in the face so it’s off to Matt, who gets tripped down by Darius via the blind tag. Everything breaks down and Dante gets caught on the middle rope. Darius gets sent outside and we take a break.
Back with Nick breaking up a hot tag attempt by punning Darius to the floor. A bulldog/dropkick combination hits Dante and a 450/standing moonsault combination gives Nick two. Dante manages to hurricanrana his way out of trouble and the hot tag brings in Darius to clean house. A high crossbody gets two on Matt and everything breaks down again. Dante hits a springboard Downward Spiral on Nick and springboards outside to dive onto Matt.
The powerbomb/Nose Dive combination gets two on Matt with Nick making a fast save. Nick gets to do his rapid fire comeback, with a slingshot Canadian Destroyer getting two on Dante. Matt, after adjusting his JAY armband, loads up a Doomsday Device for two on Darius with Dante making his own diving save. The BTE Trigger is loaded up but the Darius misses so the knees collide, allowing Darius to grab a rollup pin at 12:14.
Rating: B. Top Flight continues to get better and better, as they are becoming that high flying team that you almost need to have on your roster. Beating the Bucks still means something and hopefully this is a sign that Top Flight could be on their way up the ladder. It wouldn’t stun me to see them getting the Tag Team Titles this year and they seem to be on their way.
Here are the Gunns for a chat. The take credit for the Acclaimed’s success (“WE EVEN GAVE THEM OUR DAD!”) and promise there will never be any more embarrassment. Cue the Acclaimed and, after an argument over whether Caster can rap, Caster raps about how the Gunns are the worst kids since Hunter Biden and…something that is censored. Gunn talks about how the Gunns are pathetic and tells the Acclaimed to start acting like champions. Next week: family therapy. Billy leaves on his own.
Hangman Page feels great after last week’s fight with Jon Moxley. Page said he would knock Moxley out if he had to and then he did just that. As for his future, he won’t go into it, but Page does ask Renee Paquette how Moxley is doing and seems sincere. He asks her to tell him….never mind. Nice touch by not ignoring the big personal side there.
Jake Hager vs. Ricky Starks
Chris Jericho is on commentary and the rest of the Jericho Appreciation Society is at ringside. Hager, with hat, starts fast but Starks takes the hat away and they head outside. Hager posts him and Starks tries to dive through the ropes to avoid the contact, only to crash into them to make it even worse (that looked bad).
We take a break and come back with Starks dropkicking him through the ropes to the floor. A springboard crossbody hits Hager and a running clothesline takes him down again. Starks plants him with a DDT but takes a long time posing, allowing the Society to get up on the apron. That fails as well, allowing Starks to hit the spear for the pin at 6:22. Not enough shown to rate, but Starks continues his rise.
Video on Adam Cole’s return. He could be a heck of a mega face if he is given the chance.
The Jericho Appreciation Society wants to end Ricky Starks, so next week they’re facing Starks and Action Andretti. Hold on though as Daniel Garcia wants to take Sammy Guevara’s place. Guevara says cool, but only if Garcia can beat Andretti on Rampage. Guevara, who seemingly had no knowledge this was happening in advance, has new leather pants ready for Garcia.
Bryan Danielson vs. Bandido
They shake hands to start and we’re ready to go. They go to a quick standoff until Danielson headlocks him down. Back up and Bandido takes him down for a change, setting up the surfboard. That’s broken up and Danielson does the double leg stomp. They trade finger guns until Bandido ties up the legs and arms at the same time. Danielson sits up to escape but has to get out of a Texas Cloverleaf attempt as well.
Back up and Danielson knees away but gets hiptossed down, setting up…something where he ties up Danielson’s arms and legs and lifts him up. That can’t last long so Danielson rolls outside, allowing Bandido to hit the running flip dive. We take a break and come back with Danielson striking away at the ribs but getting small packaged for two. Danielson uppercuts him into the corner for the kicks to the chest.
Bandido isn’t having that and hits a springboard twisting crossbody. The delayed vertical suplex takes Danielson down again but he pulls Bandido into the LeBell Lock. Bandido gets a foot on the rope so Danielson fires off the YES Kicks. The big one is blocked and Bandido hits the X Knee. Danielson flips out of the 21 Plex though and la majistral gets two.
Back up and Bandido is sent outside for a dropkick through the ropes. There’s the running knee off the apron and they head back inside, where Bandido takes him up top. The super fall away slam sets up the 21 Plex for two and they strike it out. Danielson can’t pull him back into the LeBell Lock, allowing Bandido to pull him back up. That’s broken up and the running knee finishes Bandido at 17:53.
Rating: B+. This was the chess match that I was hoping it would be as you could see both of them trying to get into the right place to knock the other one off. What made it different though is it felt like they were going through a game plan throughout the match and had planned for everything the other had to offer. Awesome match, but that shouldn’t be a surprise with Danielson these days.
Post match MJF pops up on screen to say he doesn’t like how Danielson is treating him. So far Danielson has only dealt with Masked Max, but the further Danielson goes down this road, the more the mask comes off. Even the Dragon is no match for the Monster behind the mask.
Saraya and Toni Storm aren’t happy with Hikaru Shida screwing up in their match last week.
Next week it’s Bryan Danielson vs. Brian Cage, so MJF offers Cage a lot of money to Cage to unleash the hate. He even intentionally messes with Cage to make him angrier, which has MJF rather pleased.
Toni Storm vs. Willow Nightingale
Saraya is here with Storm. Nightingale shoulders her down to start and hits a spinning belly to back suplex. Back up and Storm slaps her in the face as Hikaru Shida comes out. We take a break and come back with Nightingale hitting a spinebuster, followed by a middle rope dropkick. The Cannonball misses though and Storm is back with the running hip attack. A tornado DDT plants Nightingale for two but she Pounces Storm into the corner. Now the Cannonball can connect for two….but then Saraya gets on the apron for a distraction so Storm can roll her up for the pin at 7:12.
Rating: C. What was that ending? Why would you have Saraya get on the apron after Storm had already kicked out? It makes sense that Saraya was worried, but why make Nightingale look bad in the process? Anyway, Nightingale gets knocked back a bit, which is a shame as she is starting to move up and while it was screwy she probably didn’t need to lose.
Post match Saraya and Storm beat on Nightingale until Ruby Soho runs in for the save. Shida stayed neutral in the whole thing.
Video on Jungle Boy vs. Ethan Page.
Konosuke Takeshita is honored to have fought Bryan Danielson, and now he wants MJF. There’s the next match that Takeshita gets to lose.
TNT Title: Darby Allin vs. Kushida
Kushida, with some students from the Los Angeles New Japan Dojo is here, with Sting in Allin’s corner. Kushida misses some kicks to start and gets pulled into a quick chinlock. With that broken up, Allin sweeps the leg for two and rolls over into an exchange of armbar attempts. The grappling continues until Kushida slips out of an armdrag, setting up the basement dropkick to send Allin outside.
Back in and Kushida kicks him in the arm before cranking on said arm. That’s broken up and Allin hits a fast Code Red, setting up the big flip dive to the floor onto the Dojo students. Kushida uses the distraction to take Allin down by the arm though and we take a break. Back with Kushida kicking at the arm, which only fires Allin up again. A Scorpion Death Drop plants Kushida for a double knockdown but he’s able to send Allin outside.
Kushida goes after the arm, only to have Allin come back with a flipping Stunner onto the apron. Allin knocks Kushida into an open chair and goes up for the Coffin Drop, only to get pulled into the cross armbreaker. Back in and Kushida cranks on the arm on top, setting up an arm crank top rope superplex (egads). The Hoverboard Lock goes on and the students offer Sting a towel to throw in. Sting wipes his face with it and throws it into the crowd. Allin slips out and grabs the Last Supper to retain at 13:40.
Rating: B. Another solid match here, as Kushida is going to be able to have a good one against anyone. Allin gets a win over an established name as he continues his nice resurgence. I could go for more of Kushida around here and that might be the case, though Sting shrugging off students might have been better.
Respect is shown after the match and Kushida wants to do it again. Excalibur gives Jay Briscoe one more shout out to end the show.
Overall Rating: B. This show had a nice mixture of stuff and it made for a rather fun night of stuff. A lot of that was due to a series of good to excellent matches, but there were also some moments of things being a bit overthought. What mattered though is you can see a lot of the Revolution card starting to take shape and this show advanced a few of those stories. Very good show here, with the wrestling carrying things.
Orange Cassidy b. Jay Lethal – Orange Punch
Top Flight b. Young Bucks – Rollup to Matt
Ricky Starks b. Jake Hager – Spear
Bryan Danielson b. Bandido – Running knee
Toni Storm b. Willow Nightingale – Rollup
Darby Allin b. Kushida – Last Supper
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