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Sermon on the Mat (July 3): CMLL International Gran Prix 2016, Freelance vs. CZW matches announced, Aoki to New Japan?, and more!

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Hello, Cageside Seats! You know me from generally saying too many words in comment sections around the site, especially the Daily (c'mon down sometime, get some awesome wrestling shoved in your face!), as well as my regular Evolve coverage but we're gonna go ahead and try something new here.

You want to know what's going on in the wider world of wrestling outside of the big cable TV monoliths that get all the coverage, but you don't have the time to actually keep up with 'em. So I'm gonna stop by once a week and drop some fresh knowledge on y'all, from upcoming shows, to results and recaps, to free matches worth your time, to profiles of folks that are gonna be on your TV screen in the next couple months, and all points in-between.

In the news

In case you missed our dedicated coverage, Evolve have announced a series of WWE Cruiserweight Classic Spotlight Matches for their remaining summer shows, and Roderick Strong is making his return in a dream match against Matt Riddle.

Freelance vs. CZW

Freelance Wrestling is going head to head with Combat Zone Wrestling on 7/8 and they've announced a full slate of matches for the show.

Team CZW (Brittany Blake, Connor Claxton, David Starr, & Joe Gacy) vs. Team Freelance (Arik Cannon, Chris Castro, Sally Stitches, & Space Monkey)

GPA vs. Kenny Sutra

DJ Hyde vs. Suge D

Bryce Benjamin vs. Stevie Fierce

"All Ego" Ethan Page vs. Robert "Ego" Anthony (2 Out of 3 Falls Tables Match)

Isaias Velazquez vs. Matt Tremont (c) (CZW World Heavyweight Championship)

Jonathan Gresham vs. Mustafa Ali (c) (Freelance Championship)

Particularly notable to my eye there is the Battle of the Egos, a match delayed due to Page's responsibilities in Evolve that should be, going by their prior clash, a real wild brawl, but Gresham/Ali should be a hoot as well. Gresham is probably the top American technical grappler not appearing regularly for a major promotion, and Ali is not only quite good himself, but appearing soon in the Cruiserweight Classic.

Plus talent like "Chainsaw" Joe Gacy, Sally Stitches (who is definitely not Heidi Lovelace), and Bryce "Swiss Mist" Benjamin in action, it's gonna make for a really fun card. Freelance will be streaming the show live on their website with low-cost pricing details yet to be announced.

New Japan Pro Wrestling Kizuna Road results for July 3rd

Chase Owens over David Finlay

Hiroyoshi Tenzan, Jushin Liger, Ryusuke Taguchi, & Tiger Mask IV over Chaos (Kazushi Sakuraba, Roppongi Vice, & Tomohiro Ishii)

Bullet Club (Hangman Page & Yujiro Takahashi) over Hunter Club (Captain New Japan & Yoshitatsu)

Manabu Nakanishi & Yuji Nagata over Juice Robinson & Togi Makabe

Matt Sydal, Ricochet, & Satoshi Kojima over Bullet Club (Kenny Omega & The Young Bucks) (c) to win the NEVER Openweight 6-Man Tag Team Championship

Chaos (Hirooki Goto, Kazuchika Okada, Will Ospreay, & YOSHI-HASHI) over Los Ingobernables de Japon (BUSHI, EVIL, SANADA, & Tetsuya Naito) (Elimination Tag Team Match)

Katsuyori Shibata (c) over Tomoaki Honma to retain the NEVER Openweight Championship

Some real quality fast-paced high flying action in the trios match, as you'd expect, a good elimination match built around all the logical feuds (and kind of surprisingly climaxing around the junior heavyweights), and Honma coming up short yet again in another excellent hard-hitting match.

Highlights included the Elite making their way to the ring decked out in New Day gear doing a riff on their entrance, the power of friendship winning the day as Satoshi Kojima gave up his G1 spot to long-time tag team partner Hiroyoshi Tenzan, BUSHI straight-up trying to murder Will Ospreay by choking him out with a t-shirt, and Shibata's disdain for Honma reaching critical mass following his victory and chucking him out the ring like a sack of potatoes.

NJPW Going Shoot Style?

MMA arm breaker Shinya Aoki was seated at ringside last month at Dominion and had everybody wondering if he wasn't New Japan President Takaaki Kidani's secret weapon agaist Tetsuya Naito, but the match came and went without incident. Now, thanks to further comments from Kidani, we know why he was there, and that, naturally enough, is because Kidani wants him to wrestle for New Japan.

The NJPW chief floated matches against Kyle O'Reilly and (partnered with MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba) reDRagon, and stated that he'd like New Japan to be a home to all kinds of wrestling, not just strong style, high flying junior heavyweights, and the fresh American influence that's seen New Japan run their first ever ladder match recently.

I'm all for it-- diversity is a real boon in our sport, and I personally love shoot-style pro wrestling. As long as Aoki takes to it, and I can't see why he wouldn't given the success of so many others with similar backgrounds, he should have a great run in New Japan. Sign me up for Aoki/Shibata for the NEVER title ASAP, please.

Chip Day vs. Jimmy Rave

Atlanta Wrestling Entertainment recently released this tournament final clash for the inaugural GWC Championship from To Be the Man! for free, and it is worth your time.

You might remember Jimmy Rave from his time in TNA or ROH, but he's still kickin' ass on the independent scene, and here he is wrestling Chip Day, a top shelf southern independent wrestler whose kicks sound like gunshots.You know it's a good time when a match video starts with a suicide dive and takes three minutes to actually get in the ring and hit the bell.

CMLL International Gran Prix 2016 Recap

Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre came back into the internet pay-per-view arena on Friday, July 1st, with their first International Gran Prix in 8 years. The titular Gran Prix started out as a 16-man single-elimination tournament, but in 2002 changed to the torneo cibernetico elimination tag format it follows to this day.

Blue Panther, Blue Panther, Jr., & the Panther over El Felino, Puma, & Tiger, two falls to one

Right from the start you can tell this match is a great idea because they're all cats. In addition to the feline aspect, what you have here is a battle of families, Blue Panther and Felino here both teaming with their sons. A somewhat tentative first fall goes to the Panthers when Blue Panther taps Felino with an ankle lock. Pace picks up in the second with Puma hitting a sweet backbreaker into a leg-trap Stretch Muffler before Tiger gets the fall on Blue Panther with an elevated inverted figure four leglock.

And yet more action into the third, with the whole Felino family hitting dives, including 52-year-old Felino himself with a crossbody off the top to the outside! Not to be showed up, 53-year-old Blue Panther hits a series of three snug suicide dives to cap off his own family flying sequence! The Panther family wins after taking Puma out with a missile dropkick.

Really fun opener, set a great pace and it's always a joy watching the two cat patriarchs sling themselves around at their age.

Match is followed by a very nice tribute to the recently deceased Thunder.

Atlantis, Místico, & Stuka, Jr. over Ephesto, Euforia, & El Terrible, two falls to one

This is the second Místico here, not the man who used to be Sin Cara and is now Carístico, just for the record. Also, El Terrible, despite the name? Pretty alright.

Some grappling to kick off the first fall, as Atlantis and Ephesto jockey for position before Stuka and Terrible come in and Terrible tries to eat Stuka's fingers! Of course Místico comes in and we're off to the proverbial high flyin' races, culminating with a diving frankensteiner on the outside and the fall is won for the tecnicos after pinning Terrible and Euforia.

Místico starts the second fall off hot with a crazy twisting headscissors takeover and a step-up senton atomico from the ramp over the turnbuckles and back outside! Things go from bad to worse for the rudos as their communication breaks down and lets Atlantis drop Euforia with three consecutive backbreakers. The tecnicos continue to be a step ahead until the rudos catch all three simultaneously with their finishers to even the falls.

Third fall is drama heavy early, as Atlantis gets worked over in the corner and the ref refuses a series of tags on minor technicalities. The tecnicos eventually clear house and Místico and Euforia fight up the ramp before Místico makes a break up the entry steps to hit a plancha off the elevated stage! High flying intensifies, up to and including a huge moonsault to the outside from Místico, before Atlantis finally traps Euforia for the third fall and the win.

A bit pacier and maybe a little longer than it "needed" to be, but we're two-for-two on quality trios matches on this card.

Bárbaro Cavernario over Rey Cometa, two falls to one (Hair vs. Hair Match)

First two falls are fairly perfunctory, Cometa taking the first with the Canadian Destroyer after starting out hot with a dive off the stage before Cavernario can even finish his entrance, and Cavernario returning the favor with a hammerlock capture suplex soon enough.

Things heat up even further in the third, Cavernario quickly ending up outside where Cometa wipes himself out on an Asai Moonsault, leading to a crucifix buckle bomb and a sick series of stomps and a dropkick for our first really tight nearfall. Cometa clearly out of it but he refuses to die as a folding powerbomb comes up empty. Lo Mein Pain and a more conventional running C4 bring Cometa back into it before a kick from Cometa sends Cavernario straight into the worm, which I believe he actually invented back in his home era.

More strikes follow as both men deplete their energy reserves. Cavernario puts Cometa up in the corner and more-or-less punches him in the taint, but Cometa sends him to the outside and follows with a tornillo! Goes for a second in the ring but Cavernario catches him. Moments later, yet another huge dive from Cavernario, this time a double jump springboard crossbody!

Cavernario goes to a special place and starts drooling and licks it up off the mat before Cometa gets successive nearfalls off a 450 splash and a second Canadian Destroyer. A tope follows but Cavernario swats him aside into the barricade! Cavernario with a diving splash before he collapses against the apron for a moment, trying to figure out what he can do to put Cometa away. He gets back in the ring and Cometa comes out of nowhere hitting Bárbaro's own submission, La Cavernaria! A second and he's really wrenching Cavernario's neck back but it's not enough! Neither is a third Canadian Destroyer! La Cavernaria! Cavernario wins!

Well that was a hell of a match. Maybe a few elements of the third fall (that third Destroyer, for example) were a bit overblown, but still, thoroughly entertaining. These two dudes have a lot of chemistry, and their match at Fantastica Mania last year was what piqued my interest in CMLL in the first place.

Team Mexico (Diamante Azul, La Máscara, Máximo, Rey Escorpión, Rush, Shocker, Último Guerrero, & Volador, Jr.) over Team International (Johnny Idol, KUSHIDA, Marco Corleone, Michael Elgin, Okumura, Sam Adonis, Tama Tonga, & Tanga Roa), with Volador, Jr. as the last man standing (CMLL International Grand Prix Torneo Cibernetico)

Sam Adonis (Corey Graves' brother!) has Donald Trump painted on the leg of his tights. Oh boy.

Off to a hot start with literally everybody in the ring brawling the minute the ceremony with the military band is over. Brawling intensifies on the outside before the referees finally get things under control. Quick tags move through both teams to set a pace, with Máximo getting the first elimination fairly early, taking Okumura out. A brief snippet of Guerrero/Elgin follows and burrows its way right into the wrestlemost parts of my heart.

Rey Escorpión dropkicks Adonis to the outside and drops the ol' Steve Austin Salute on Team International on his way through. All 15 remaining men face off in the ring again and the referees have their hands full. Marco Corleone eliminates Rey Escorpión with Air Corleone! Tama Tonga squares off against Máximo and has no idea what to make of him but quickly eliminates him with a huge Gun Stun anyway. Rush cuts Sam Adonis out of dive with a dropkick and eliminates him with Martillo Negro!

Johnny Idol makes a solid effort at eliminating Shocker with a moonsault and a diving lariat, but 1000% Guapo proves too much for him and he eliminates Idol with an abdominal stretch slam. Big Mike eliminates Shocker with a Liger Bomb and jumps around outside to celebrate! Diamante Azul eliminates Marco Corleone with a bridging fallaway slam and the eliminations keep coming hot and heavy as Tanga Roa eliminates Azul in turn with a Blue Thunder Driver.

La Máscara turns on his former stablemate Rush and allows Michael Elgin to eliminate him with another Liger Bomb! KUSHIDA nearly eliminates two himself, catching Volador in an O'Connor Roll and German Suplexing La Máscara before getting caught out by Máscara's La Campana.

Volador hits a Poison Frankensteiner on Big Mike! But Elgin catches him on a followup diving headscissors attempt and powerbombs him! Samoan Drop on Volador and Último Guerrero at the same time! Big Mike can fly! But Último eliminates him with Pulpo Guerrero!

Rush comes back out and rips La Máscara's mask off, allowing Tama Tonga to eliminate him with Headshrinker! Último eliminates Tanga Roa after a second rope gourdbuster and Tama eliminates him in turn with a Gun Stun.

Down to Volador and Tonga and Volador steps on the gas with a huge tope con giro but Tama cuts him off and is able to hit a barricade-hung spinning neckbreaker. 2.99 nearfall off an avalanche Frankensteiner! Volador wins with a top rope Spanish Fly!

Always hard to balance that many guys in the ring at once, and it definitely meandered at points, but overall a fun main event and a strong show that I'd recommend in general. Especially Cavernario/Cometa, if you get a chance to check that one out, do so. Unfortunately I'm not exactly sure when or where you might be able to see it on demand later, but if any of this sounded interesting you're always welcome to swing by the Daily on a Tuesday or a Friday night to hang out and catch one of CMLL's weekly shows with us.

As always...

Remember folks, no matter what type of wrestling you like, no matter how down you feel about the state of WWE, TNA, ROH, or any other "big-time" pro wrestling, there's something out there for you. There's a pro wrestling product that can hit you in the right spot and make you love wrestling like you thought you'd never be able to love it again. It's there, I promise. You just gotta reach out and find it, and that, my friends, is what the Sermon on the Mat is all about.

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