**This week’s edition of Review-A-Raw “Happy New Spear” is up on the site with Wai Ting and I reviewing the first Raw of 2017 with Bill Goldberg’s return, more names for the Royal Rumble, the best match of Braun Strowman’s career and we chat “Bring it to the Table” on the WWE Network, UFC 207 and take your feedback. The show is available for download at http://fightnetwork.com/law/jan-3-review-a-raw-happy-new-spear/ and on iTunes by subscribing to Live Audio Wrestling.
**New Japan presents their biggest card of the year with Wrestle Kingdom 11 from the Tokyo Dome early Wednesday morning. The show will be streaming on New Japan World with Kevin Kelly and Steve Corino providing English commentary. The pre-show match will take place at approximately 2:30am Eastern and the official show begins at 3am. Below is the full card and preview:
*New Japan Rumble – The names they have announced are Yuji Nagata, Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Manabu Nakanishi, Ryusuke Taguchi, Tiger Mask and Jushin Thunder Liger. There will be lots of surprise entrants. I could see Nagata winning the match and leads to something at one of the New Beginning shows.
*Tiger Mask W vs. Tiger the Dark – These are characters from the anime show with Kota Ibushi playing Tiger Mask W the last time the character was used and ACH expected to be Tiger the Dark. If those are the two, this could be a really great match considering their styles.
*The Young Bucks vs. RPG Vice for the IWGP junior heavyweight tag titles – I’m glad this is a straight tag match as opposed to usual multiple team match for the titles. RPG Vice has been teasing a split for months and it would make sense for them to come up short and then do the actual split at New Year Dash on Thursday.
*Satoshi Kojima & Ricochet & David Finlay vs. Will Ospreay & Yoshi-Hashi & Jado vs. Sanada & Evil & Bushi vs. Bad Luck Fale & Yujiro & Hangman Page in a Gauntlet Match for the NEVER six-man tag titles – There is a lot of talent in this match and is one of those matches designed to get everyone a spot on the biggest card of the year. Given the length of this show, there could be some rushed falls and then a length final between the remaining teams. I would expect they build to an interaction between Ricochet and Ospreay at some point during the match.
*Cody vs. Juice Robinson – This is Cody’s debut match for New Japan and the biggest match of Juice Robinson’s career. The struggle will be winning over the audience and also following what should be some hot action in the gauntlet match. I can’t see any other outcome than Cody winning and regardless of the crowd, should be a fine match as Robinson has improved significantly during his time here.
*Kyle O’Reilly vs. Adam Cole for the ROH title – I’m looking forward to this, Kyle O’Reilly had an excellent year and has endeared himself to the Japanese audience from his performances, especially with Kushida and Katsuyori Shibata last year. If Cole wins the title, it probably means Ring of Honor is not confident they are re-signing O’Reilly. Without knowing the figures he is being offered, on paper it feels as though the combination of Ring of Honor and NJPW is the best direction for O’Reilly’s career at the moment.
*Guerillas of Destiny vs. Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma vs. Tomohiro Ishii & Toru Yano for the IWGP tag titles – This could be the sleeper of the show and should be great, especially with the addition of Ishii to the match. Tama Tonga and Tanga Roa have improved a ton as a team over the past few months. If this show is built around the coronation of Kenny Omega, they could go with the direction of The Bullet Club owning all the gold and a likelihood that the Guerillas retain.
*Kushida vs. Hiromu Takahashi for the IWGP junior heavyweight title – There is lots of anticipation for this match and looks like a killer match on paper. It’s their first major singles match for the title and Takahashi’s biggest match since returning from his lengthy excursion. There is a strong argument to switch the title in this match and these two become big rivals for the top spot in the junior heavyweight division.
*Katsuyori Shibata vs. Hirooki Goto for the NEVER Openweight title – These two have had some phenomenal matches in the past and the bar is set high for this one. Goto eventually needs to win the “big one” and has never won the NEVER title. Shibata should be in the heavyweight title picture and they have never pulled the trigger with him in that top echelon. A win by Goto really cements his move into the CHAOS group and gives him some much needed direction and allows Shibata to be elevated after dropping this title and is the direction I would lean towards.
*Tetsuya Naito vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi for the Intercontinental title – I think this match will be great. Tanahashi has stated that he is prepared to be booed against Naito and go with the reaction if that is how they react. No matter what state Tanahashi has been in, for big matches he is always there and this one should have lots of time to build and climax. Naito was a huge player for NJPW in 2016 and needs to be a big focus this year. There is also the backstory that when Naito challenged Okada for the IWGP title at the Dome show in 2014, it was a fan vote that put Nakamura vs. Tanahashi for the IC title in the main event slot above Naito. Naito winning feels like the right move.
*Kazuchika Okada vs. Kenny Omega for the IWGP title – Omega has cut some excellent promos to build this up and positioned himself as the agent of change by winning the title and making New Japan a global company as opposed to a Japanese one. They are following some incredible matches and have exceedingly high expectations to live up to as a result. This will probably be one of the best matches of the year and it’s not even a lock it will be the match of the night. It feels like Omega’s time to win and make a loud statement with a foreigner winning the G-1 and then winning the major title on the biggest card of the year. There seems to be a lot more roads you can take with Omega as champion as compared to Okada at the moment. The final 4-5 matches on this show should all be stellar.
**The Smackdown and 205 Live tapings take place tonight from Jacksonville, Florida at the Veterans Memorial Arena. They have announced The Miz vs. Dean Ambrose for the Intercontinental title for Smackdown tonight along with a contract signing between A.J. Styles and John Cena for their Royal Rumble. 205 Live will feature TJ Perkins vs. Neville and the return of Yoshihiro Tajiri.
**There was an incident involving Alberto el Patron (Alberto Rodriguez) over the weekend in Austria involving both Alberto and his brother, Guillermo. It was first reported by the Krone.at outlet that the brothers were arrested after getting into a fight with a man at a bar in the country and led to the man being taken to hospital and later was released. The Rodriguez brothers were taken into custody and got into a fight with each other at the police station with Alberto breaking out of zip ties that were used after the hand cuffs were too small and then placed in ankle shackles. The LAW has contacted a representative with the police in Austria and are awaiting confirmation if in fact charges were laid against the brothers and if they were released on bond.
**TNA’s marathon taping session kicks off on Thursday with a live-to-tape episode of Impact from Orlando. The taping is scheduled for 7pm Eastern and will be airing on a delay on POP TV and Fight Network in Canada that night. On Friday night, they have a One Night Only pay-per-view at 8pm Eastern with nothing announced and will continue with tapings through Thursday January 12th, which should take care of all Impact episodes and other commitments through the end of March.
**Below is the updated card for the Royal Rumble on January 29th at The Alamo Dome in San Antonio, Texas:
*Kevin Owens vs. Roman Reigns for the Universal title with Chris Jericho in a shark cage
*A.J. Styles vs. John Cena for the WWE title
*Charlotte vs. Bayley for the Raw women’s title
*30-man Royal Rumble participants: Bill Goldberg, Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, Braun Strowman and New Day
**Jim Ross turns 65 years old today.
**Northeast Wrestling has announced a steel cage match between Kurt Angle and Cody Rhodes for their March 3rd event in Waterbury, Connecticut.
NEW JAPAN REWIND
Wrestle Kingdom 10
January 4th 2016 at Tokyo Dome
*Jado wins the New Japan Rumble
*The Young Bucks over reDRagon and RPG Vice to win the IWGP junior heavyweight tag titles
*The Briscoe Brothers & Toru Yano over Bad Luck Fale & Tama Tonga & Yujiro to become the first NEVER six-man tag champions
*Jay Lethal over Michael Elgin to retain the ROH title
*Kushuda over Kenny Omega to win the IWGP junior heavyweight title
*Togi Makabe & Tomoaki Honma over Karl Anderson & Doc Gallows to win the IWGP tag titles
*Hirooki Goto over Tetsuya Naito
*Katsuyori Shibata over Tomohiro Ishii to win the NEVER Openweight title
*Shinsuke Nakamura over A.J. Styles to retain the Intercontinental title
*Kazuchika Okada over Hiroshi Tanahashi to retain the IWGP heavyweight title
REVIEW-A-RAW: “Happy New Spear”
(John Pollock & Wai Ting review the first Raw of 2017, Bill Goldberg returns, more names for the Rumble, “Bring it to the Table” thoughts, UFC 207, your feedback and more)
THE LAW: THE BEST OF 2016
(Jason Agnew, Dan Lovranski, John Pollock and Braden Herrington make their picks for the best of the year in 21 categories, plus Dave Meltzer joins us from the Wrestling Observer Newsletter to reflect on 2016)
THE MMA REPORT – UFC 207 Post Show
(John Pollock runs through all the fights from UFC 207, including Amanda Nunes’ 48 second win over Ronda Rousey and Cody Garbrandt defeats Dominick Cruz for the bantamweight title)
KEEP IT 2000 – Episode 1: “Slappy New Year”
(Brian Mann & Nate Milton begin their reviews of Monday Nitro from 2000 with the January 3rd 2000 episode to kick off the year)
whtsNXT – The Best and Worst of 2016
(Jason Agnew, Braden Herrington and Bartender Dave are together to rundown the BEST and the WORST from NXT in 2016)
REVIEW-A-SMACKDOWN – Dec. 28th
(John Pollock & Wai Ting review Smackdown with the return of John Cena and American Alpha winning the tag titles, Talking Smack with JBL filling in and 205 Live with Neville pinning Rich Swann)
To pick up any of The LAW’s branded t-shirts check out http://www.prowrestlingtees.com/law