Lackluster Backlash leaves pro wrestling fans frustrated – Baltimore Sun (blog)

Backlash is an awkward pay-per-view.

Let’s just acknowledge that going in. The first PPV after WrestleMania is always a little bit awkward. Generally it’s about wrapping up any WrestleMania feuds that need to be wrapped up, or it’s about establishing something for the new wrestling year. That makes it very difficult for anything major to happen, as WWE is not likely to reverse anything from Wrestlemania, or it’s the very beginning of a longer feud.

Even taking that into account, Backlash on Sunday night was a disappointment for fans. After a superb opener that featured Seth Rollins successfully defending his Intercontinental title against The Miz, everything went downhill. Nothing of importance really happened in the show — no title changes, no meaningful story moments. While that can be salvaged with a good show overall, it’s hard to say that happened with Backlash.

The one other overall good match on the card, Shinsuke Nakamura vs. AJ Styles, was marred by an unfathomable booking decision. After a strong outing from the two that really allowed Nakamura to show off what he can do as a heel, the match ended when neither of them could beat a 10-count after they simultaneously kicked each other in the groin. In a bubble, a no-contest isn’t horrendous.

However, this comes just nine days after another no-contest because of a double count-out at the Greatest Royal Rumble. Because in storyline the no-contest was so unsatisfying, this match was made No DQ. To have them not be able to get up sent the crowd into a frenzy, and not the type of frenzy the WWE wants. Boos and shouts of legitimate anger came from the crowd who wanted to see some sort of payoff one way or another, and instead got another nonfinish. While perhaps logical in the storyline, really what it did was just allow the storyline to advance another week without anything happening. Which really is a microcosm of Sunday’s show as a whole.

The return to co-branded pay-per-views was hyped before as a way to make every show important and get the biggest matches on the card. For one night at least, the show couldn’t have been much less important.

The rest of Backlash:

» While people hated the finish of the WWE title match, what first raised fans’ ire was the fact that it wasn’t the main event of the night. Instead, that went to Roman Reigns and Samoa Joe. While the match started hot, with Joe attacking Reigns before the bell, that fire quickly went away as the middle of the match devolved into long headlocks and other rest holds. The fans, who already weren’t pleased with the match, completely lost interest, and despite a frenetic finish that ended with a Reigns comeback win, they never got the crowd back.

» Braun Strowman and Bobby Lashley beat Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. This match ended with Zayn, afraid of the bigger man, leaving Owens out to dry. Zayn even rolled Owens back in an attempt to escape the faces. He did get his comeuppance after the match, though as Strowman got his hands on him and delivered a power slam.

» Carmella beat Charlotte fairly cleanly. Charlotte started to sell a leg injury midway through the match, and then missed a moonsault, landing on that bad leg. Carmella took advantage of the injury and got the pin to retain the title.

» Daniel Bryan forced Big Cass to tap out to the Yes Lock, getting his first singles win on a PPV in four years. However, after the match, Big Cass attacked him, leaving him lying.

» Jeff Hardy successfully retained the U.S. title against Randy Orton. The finish came when Hardy blocked an RKO and was able to hit a Twist of Fate and Swanton Bomb of his own.

» Nia Jax beat Alexa Bliss in a bit of an awkward match to retain the Raw Women’s Title. Alexa got in a lot more offense than she did at WrestleMania, which almost at times positioned her as an underdog trying to chop down the giant Nia. Nia is doing a good job at creating sympathy for her character in nonwrestling segments, but it’s becoming tricky for her to stay as a face in the ring.

» In the preshow, Ruby Riott beat Bayley with help from the Riott Squad. Earlier in the night Sasha refused to come down to ringside with Bayley.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave them in the comment section here, email me, or find me on Twitter: @TheAOster. You can also hear my podcast, Jobbing Out, at

Flathead's Trae Vasquez Picks Cal Poly Wrestling – Flathead Beacon

Trae Vasquez lay on the turf and was crying.

It was Oct. 13, 2017, and on the newly installed field turf at Legends Stadium, on a routine attempt to make a tackle on a routine kickoff, the Flathead High School senior’s bright future suddenly clouded.

“It was honestly one of the scariest things that’s happened in my life,” Vasquez said on May 1, just days after being cleared to return to competition following major left knee surgery and six months of rehab. He had to learn to walk again, to ride a bike again and had gained a new perspective, staring down the kind of adversity he’d rarely faced in football, in wrestling, in the classroom or in just about anything else he’d ever tried.

Vasquez has (or had) the kind of resume that makes college coaches drool. He proudly carries a 4.0 grade-point average, is an all-state football player, a two-time state champion wrestler and a five-time track and field state placer. He is devoted to his family, his studies and his training, so much so that when healthy he would regularly rise before dawn to squeeze in an early morning workout.

So it wasn’t surprising that, before Oct. 13, Vasquez was one of the most sought-after wrestling recruits in the country.

“Going through football season, I was getting calls and texts from coaches (all the time),” Vasquez said. “But when I dealt with my surgery it went away. I kind of felt abandoned … from being a highly recruited kid to pretty much falling off the face of the earth was hard.”

Not everyone left, however, and after he watched his teammates win a second consecutive state wrestling title in February, he still had a handful of Division I options. One of those was at Cal Poly, where Vasquez committed on April 30.

Two weeks earlier, the Kalispell native flew to San Luis Obispo, California for his official visit. He spent an afternoon on the beach and stayed with an Oregonian who agreed that the area’s rolling hills were reminiscent of the mountains back home. Fate, or perhaps a skilled recruiter, led him to breakfast at the Big Sky Cafe, and Vasquez even appreciated the program’s blue-collar facilities.

“Everything I saw I really liked,” Vasquez said. “Their weight room and their wrestling room are nothing fancy, but that’s how I like it — you get in there and you grind.”

Flathead’s Trae Vasquez grimaces as he lifts weights on May 4, 2018. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

Vasquez called his dad, Rich, less than 24 hours after he arrived in California.

“I said, ‘Dad, I’ve got to go here,’” he said. “I love all the guys, I love all the coaches, I’m on the West Coast; I can’t find one negative thing about this. They believed in me and I believed in what they were telling me. It felt like home.”

Cal Poly’s reputation as an elite academic school didn’t hurt either, nor did the fact that the Mustangs’ wrestling team posted the highest GPA of any men’s program on campus during the winter quarter. Vasquez plans to study kinesiology as an undergrad, and his experience over the last year has led him to consider a future as an orthopedic surgeon.

“We’ve talked about going D-I but we were always focused on grades — wrestling being a means to an end,” Rich Vasquez said. “All the work that he’s done, to get this type of education is everything he’s ever dreamed about.”

Vasquez’s commitment is a heartwarming end to what has been a trying last six months. After surgery, Vasquez needed help putting on his socks in the morning, and for weeks afterward his dad and his younger siblings — both of whom are also acclaimed wrestlers — would spend their evenings in Trae’s bedroom, watching movies together while the eldest child iced his throbbing knee.

“There were definitely days where I was super depressed … there were some dark days,” Vasquez said. “It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through in my life, but I’m way stronger for it and I’m appreciative for it.”

Ever the competitor, Vasquez boasted that he received a clean bill of health one day ahead of schedule, and he will run for the Flathead track team starting at the Archie Roe Invitational on May 5. He leaves in June for Cal Poly to begin training for July’s Junior Nationals in Fargo, and after that his attention turns fully to Cal Poly’s difficult schedule as a member of the Pac-12 Conference.

And while Vasquez says he harbors no ill will toward the coaches and schools that went silent last year, a chip on his shoulder can’t be something his future opponents look forward to seeing.

“I’m super grateful that (Cal Poly) never gave up on me and they believed in me,” Vasquez said. “I don’t have any harsh feelings, but on the mat I’ll show (the other schools) what they’re missing.”



Police: Off-duty officer accidentally shot firearm during wrestling meet at Fowlerville – Lansing State Journal

FOWERVILLE – An off-duty Flint police officer accidentally discharged his off-duty firearm while watching a wrestling meet at Fowlerville High School on Saturday, officials said. 

The incident happened around 12:40 p.m. while the off-duty officer was standing on the gym floor, Fowlerville Police Chief John Tyler said in a news release. 

He added that a police report will be referred to the Livingston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office once the police investigation is complete.

The bullet was fired into the gym floor and there were no injuries from the gunshot, Tyler said, although one person was treated at the scene for a twisted ankle. 

The wrestling meet resumed about 50 minutes later.

More: Threat put Laingsburg Middle School dance on temporary lockdown Friday night

In an email to parents, students and staff, Fowlerville Athletic Director Brian Osborn said the off-duty officer is licensed to carry a firearm weapon legally in the district.

In an interview, Osborn told the State Journal that the wrestling meet wasn’t a Fowlerville High School event, but that a third party had rented the gym. 

Contact Matt Mencarini at (517) 267-1347 or Follow him on Twitter @MattMencarini.

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Iowa high school wrestling: Eight preps from 2020, 2021 classes to watch this summer –


Take a look back at some of the top moments and winners in the 2018 state wrestling finals.
Register Staff

As many as 25 wrestlers from Iowa’s 2018 senior class will wrestle Division I next year. That’s a solid number, and a handful more may yet join them.

The 2018 seniors were a talented bunch, but the next crop of elite Iowa prep wrestlers now get to stake their claim.

Specifically, many current Iowa freshmen and sophomores are already on the national radar or among the country’s best. Three sophomores are halfway to four state titles. Seven freshmen were in the state finals in February — including one champion.

In short: The future of wrestling in Iowa looks very bright — and it will also be on display at the freestyle and Greco-Roman state championships this weekend at Southeast Polk High School.

As such, the Register talked with various high school coaches, wrestlers and recruiting contacts to form this list of eight wrestlers in the 2020 and 2021 classes worth following this summer. These are wrestlers who will be juniors and sophomores in the 2018-19 season.

Some names will look familiar. Others may not.


Adam Allard, West Sioux (Hawarden)

One of the three sophomores who are now two-time state champions after the 2017-18 season. Allard, who won the 113-pound title in Class 1A in February, has been plenty busy since — he competed in a Greco-Roman tournament in the Netherlands late last month, going 4-1 and placing third. Not too shabby.

Allard turned many heads when he beat Valley’s Nick Oldham — the 3A state champ at the same weight, 113 pounds — at the War at West Gym. Allard will be at state this weekend, the Northern Plains Regional later this month, and might also compete at the UWW Cadet World Team Trials in June, according to West Sioux coach Mark VanOort.

Cody Fisher, Woodward-Granger

If not for West Liberty’s Bryce Esmoil, Fisher could also possibly be a two-time state champion. The sophomore has finished second at 195 pounds in 2A each of the last two years behind the nationally ranked Esmoil, who is responsible for two of Fisher’s nine career losses.

Nevertheless, Fisher flashed his stellar freestyle and Greco-Roman ability last summer, winning double All-American honors (seventh in freestyle, eighth in Greco) at the Cadet national championships in Fargo, North Dakota. He allowed last February that he had more confidence when taking the mat, which could bode well for him this summer, too.

Cael Happel, Lisbon

The second of three sophomore two-timers. Happel has already competed in a handful of freestyle and Greco-Roman competitions, finding plenty of success — including an 8-4 win over Waukee’s three-time state champ Kyle Biscoglia at Gilbert last month.

Happel qualified for the 2017 Cadet freestyle national championships through Northern Plains, and went 4-2 at 120 pounds. Add that to his 8-0 showing at the Cadet National Duals, and he’s proven he can hang with some of the best nationally. We’ll see if he can make some real noise this summer.

Cullan Schriever, Mason City

The third of three sophomore two-timers — though Schriever is perhaps the most-credentialed of the trio. A 2016 freestyle national champion and a 2017 All-American, Schriever is among very best in the country, ranked No. 3 at 106 pounds and No. 31 overall in the 2019 class by Intermat.

Schriever is in for another busy summer. After state this weekend, Mason City coach Dusty Rhodes said Schriever will try for the UWW Cadet World Team. He reached the semifinals and ultimately finished fourth at the Cadet trials last year. 


Drake Ayala, Fort Dodge

Ayala was a national champion before walking the halls at Fort Dodge Senior High, winning the 88-pound Cadet freestyle title last summer. He responded with a second-place showing at the 3A state tournament at 106 pounds, finishing behind Schriever. He was nationally ranked at various times throughout the 2017-18 season.

Already this spring, Ayala has kept busy, placing third at the NHSCA freshman nationals and second at the USA Wrestling Cadet folkstyle nationals. Another strong summer will likely push him further up the ranks on the national level.

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Matthew Lewis of Centerville, top, wrestles Keaton Zeimet of Central Dewitt during their first round 2A 106-pound match on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, in Des Moines. Lewis won the match with a 15-1 major decision. (Photo: Brian Powers/The Register)

Matthew Lewis, Centerville

Lewis became Centerville’s first state champion since 2015 this past season when he won the 2A 106-pound title. The freshman put on a show all year, posting a 41-2 record that included 27 pins. 

None of this should come as a huge surprise. Lewis won both the Cadet freestyle and Greco-Roman state titles at 100 pounds last year, then came within one win of becoming an All-American at the freestyle national tournament up in Fargo. 

Brandon O’Brien, Linn-Mar

Wrestling is a sport that allows the little guy to shine. In the case of O’Brien, that’s especially true. The Linn-Mar freshman got some mat time this winter, posting a 22-5 record at 106 pounds while often weighing in around 85 pounds.

Now that it’s freestyle and Greco-Roman season, O’Brien can wrestle at 88 pounds as a Cadet — at least that’s where he plans on wrestling at state this weekend. He’s been pretty successful in the Olympic disciplines, taking sixth last year at Cadet freestyle nationals and even winning a gold medal at the Pan-American Schoolboy Championships in Colombia in 2016.

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Ankeny’s Caleb Rathjen wrestles Iowa City West’s Hans Von Rabenau during the first round of the Iowa high school state wrestling championship on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018, in Wells Fargo Arena.  (Photo: Kelsey Kremer/The Register )

Caleb Rathjen, Ankeny

Rathjen battled through injury this past season en route to a silver-medal finish at the 3A state tournament at 113 pounds. Now healthy, the Ankeny freshman has kept busy, taking fifth at the folkstyle national championships while also wrestling at local freestyle and Greco-Roman tournaments.

Last summer, Rathjen reached the quarterfinals at the Cadet freestyle national tournament and ultimately finished seventh. This year, he plans to return to the Fargo and even take a swing at the UWW Cadet World Team Trials in June, according to Ankeny coach jack Wignall.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.


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Klein ISD wrestling coach accused of inappropriate relationship with student –

A Klein ISD wrestling coach was fired after being accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student, district officials said.

Matthew Moses, a wrestling coach at Klein Oak High School, was fired after he and a student were allegedly involved in an inappropriate relationship, district officials confirmed Thursday. Moses taught PE and coached wrestling, according to an archived version of the school district’s website.

“The safety and security of our students is always our top priority in Klein ISD,” the district said in a statement.

BUST: Undercover cops bust Cypress-area gambling hall

The Klein ISD Police Department is investigating the accusation.

Moses has not been criminally charged.

Jay R. Jordan is a breaking news reporter at Follow him on Twitter at @JayRJordan.

Wiggins names Easton Ramirez new head wrestling coach – Fort Morgan Times

Wiggins senior Cael Croissant (center) embraces his father and head coach, Dave Croissant, after defeating Santino Mendoza of Rocky Ford by decision 8-4 in

Wiggins senior Cael Croissant (center) embraces his father and head coach, Dave Croissant, after defeating Santino Mendoza of Rocky Ford by decision 8-4 in the quarterfinals of the 2A state wrestling tournament on Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 at Pepsi Center. (Brandon Boles / Fort Morgan Times)

Wiggins High School announced on Wednesday that Easton Ramirez will be named the next head coach for the wrestling team in 2018-19, replacing longtime wrestling coach Dave Croissant.

Easton had previously coached at University High School the last couple of seasons and has helped with the Wiggins High School baseball team and middle school football team this school year.

“It feels great,” Ramirez said. “I enjoyed watching Wiggins at the Pepsi Center fill up a section and have success at state before. It was an eye opener, and to know that I’ll take over a program with that history is great.”

Ramirez took a student-teaching position with Wiggins and was later given a full-time teaching position in the community. He said getting the chance to coach where he works was a big reason he decided to pursue the coaching job in Wiggins.

(Easton Ramirez)

“I was working here already but commuting to University (High School) to coach,” Ramirez said. “I would lose about two hours a day on the road just traveling.”

Ramirez said he was one of a handful of candidates being considered for the position. Now named the head coach, he hopes to bring a buzz back to the program that was similar to what they had in their heydays.

“I’m looking forward to building this program up,” Ramirez said. “I know they were down in terms of numbers last year, so that is where to start. I want to get interest in the sport with the younger kids to have them join.”

In an interview with the Fort Morgan Times, Croissant said the decision was made as a chance to pursue chances to stay close with his family in the future.

“A little bit of it was Cael (Croissant) graduating and my youngest, Cole, will be a seventh grader,” Croissant said. “(Cole) will go to Eaton next year, so that was part of it. I’ll have the freedom to see what Cole does, and I can also take off if I can to see Cael.”

Cael Croissant recently announced his commitment to Hastings College to play baseball after graduating this spring.

With a long history coaching in Wiggins, Croissant said he enjoyed his time coaching with the Tigers and the success the program had during his tenure.

“What we’ve done here is amazing,” Croissant said. “It’s been awesome to win a few state championships and to coach a few state champions. We were able to finish second two years in a row in 2009 and 2010, and even this year with three kids we were in top-15 at state. Those are huge accomplishments.”

This past season was one of his most special years, he said, due to coaching his son to a third-place finish at the state tournament in February.

“That was something that was unlike anything else,” Croissant said. “When I coached my first state champion, that was incredible. But coaching Cael at state and seeing his determination and being in the moment is something I’ll never forget. It was an incredible experience.”

Wiggins qualified three wrestlers to compete at the state tournament in February and saw two place under Croissant in the 2017-18 season.

Brandon Boles: 970-441-5102, or