Every wrestling fan hoped for it, but never thought it would happen, it felt like it wasn’t possible, considering he competed with Ring of Honor in December.
But it has been announced that Alex Shelley is coming to the NXT to partner with Kushida in the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. A tag team specialist, an aerial artist and a phenomenal wrestler who pioneered ROH, TNA, and NJPW. He had a good solo run but has been more well known as part of a tag team, whether it was beside Kushida as part of the Time Splitters or with Chris Sabin as part of the Motor City Machine Guns, winning multiple tag team titles across every promotion he worked for.
His matches are captivating and exciting, one of the original wrestlers to adopt the ‘indie style’ and bring it to the mainstream as evident in the following five matches and every other match he ever competed in. I wanted to put in a singles match, but his tag bouts are just that damn good, it was hard to pick one. I’ll put in an honourable mention, that being his match against Prince Devitt at NJPW Road to Invasion Attack in 2013.
Motor City Machine Guns vs Generation Me – Bound for Glory 2010
Before they were Matt and Nick, they were Jeremy and Max, two young but talented tag team wrestlers whose series of matches against the veterans, Sabin and Shelley, was phenomenal. The chemistry between the two teams was evident from Generation Me’s tryout match, which was against MCMG which gained the future Young Bucks praise from TNA management, as well as TNA contracts. The match I’m choosing is their bout from TNA’s version of Wrestlemania, Bound for Glory in which the now heel Generation Me challenged for MCMG’s TNA World Tag Team Championships. Generation Me had replaced London Brawling in a match at No Surrender against MCMG unsuccessfully challenging for the tag titles which led to a post-match attack injuring Shelley, something that Max and Jeremy used to claim they were the rightful champions because Shelley couldn’t defend his title. Obviously, he did, returning two weeks after being injured to compete in this match.
The match itself was fast-paced, as you’d expect with these two teams, giving more exposure to the future of tag team wrestling even though Generation Me lost the match. Gen Me portrayed the heel role perfectly, focussing on both members of MCMG’s necks after their attempts to injure them in the prior weeks. It counterbalanced brilliantly against the super over MCMG who have always been huge fan favourites, mainly due to their skills in the ring as well as their ‘cool’ persona. Shelley was the member of the Guns that was in this match, for the most part, he kept GenMe at bay before they cheated to get the advantage which gave the chance for Chris Sabin to be the hot tag who came in the match like a ball of fire alongside Shelley and they’re beautiful tandem offence.
Thanks to Generation Me’s cocky attitude throughout the match, constantly slapping their opponents around the face, their loss gave the fans something massive to cheer about as the Guns hit Skull and Bones onto Jeremy.
Motor City Machine Guns vs Beer Money Inc. – Victory Road 2010
Two staples of TNA during the noughties going head to head for the vacant tag titles created a fantastic tag match, as you’d expect when it involved four stalwarts of the company. There was less of a background to this match, the tag titles had been vacated by The Band due to the legal issues of Scott Hall. This was surprisingly the only time MCMG won the TNA World Tag Championships, considering how brilliant they were, you’d expect them to have more reigns.
The smaller men in this match against two bruiser wrestlers in the form of Beer Money didn’t give Sabin and Shelley much of a chance. However, it felt like it was their time, they had been together for three years in TNA at the point of this match. The Guns used their speed to keep Beer Money off balance as well as taking the partner out of commission by hitting moves onto both men to keep the advantage in their possession.
Again, like their match against Generation Me, Shelley was in this match more than Sabin as he was targeted by Beer Money and isolated from his partner. Shenanigans did pay a part in the match as Storm spat beer into the eyes of the referee, aiming for Sabin, which brought down Earl Hebner from the back to cover for his son, Brian. As we had two referees, a member of each team was pinned causing a restart in the match. It came to an end as The Guns hit Skull and Bones onto Bobby Roode for the pin and their first and only TNA World Tag Team Championships, holding them for 182 days before dropping them to Beer Money.
Motor City Machine Guns vs The Addiction vs The Young Bucks – ROH/NJPW All Star Extravaganza VIII
One of my favourite matches involves these three teams from the Conquest Tour in 2016, this match is the same but it involves ladders and titles on the line. All three teams are ROH favourites and three of the best to ever grace a wrestling ring, you have the uber-athletic Bucks and Guns as well as the ring savvy Addiction. It was The Bucks night, they were on fire and everyone in the building knew it, they hit big move after big move and just wowed the live audience and those watching at home. This match is not exactly boasting at how good Alex Shelley can be on his own, it’s boasting at how good he can make an already great match.
The Guns are uncharacteristically not in any gear, but in tracksuits, showing how serious they’re taking this match in terms of the hardcore element. An absolute melee between all six men, including many tables spots, ladder spots, Christopher Daniels being covered in blood and just all-out mayhem. Nick Jackson is pushed off the top of the ladder, turns it into a springboard to the outside where Matt is holding Alex Shelley ready for the second gnarliest Indytaker you’d see in this match. It’s not first because the one on Kazarian through a table with Matt on the second rope and Nick at the top of a freaking ladder, that spot wins them the match, obviously, no one is getting up from that. It is just an all-out war and at the time, a huge middle finger to WWE’s version of a TLC match.
Time Splitters vs The Young Bucks – NJPW Dominion 6.21
As you can tell from this entry and the prior two, The Bucks and Shelley have some insane chemistry, although this match was with Kushida, not Chris Sabin. Kushida had always been somewhat overlooked until he and Shelley started to team up, giving Kushida more exposure tagging with someone of Shelley’s experience. Again, like the Generation Me vs MCMG’s match, the Bucks were the heels representing the gaijin faction, Bullet Club. Kushida is a natural babyface, he is just extremely likeable and you want to get behind him and support him.
Shelley had an injured shoulder in this match, evident by the tape on there, even though it was skin coloured and relatively hard to see unless you were in the building, but it was really focused on by the Bucks. Mainly by Matt midway through the match in between two periods of speedy tag-team offence by both teams, The Bucks continued their high flying and quick-paced offence to keep control of the TimeSplitters. There was no team that was on top, each team shared a lot of offence and time on top but when TimeSplitters was in defensive mode, Shelley was the isolated man. He makes a brilliant babyface in peril, especially against a tag team who can heel it up like Nick and Matt. His selling and facial expressions give the fans someone to cheer for hoping he’ll get the tag to his partner.
Eventually, Shelley uses his speed to avoid a knee from Nick, who hits Matt in the corner, and gets the tag to Kushida, coming in like a bull in a China shop hitting every move perfectly on Matt and avoids the double team offence from his opponents. Even when he’s not the legal man, Shelley is still in the action, takes out Nick with a knee before gathering both Bucks for Kushida to hit a dive from the top rope onto both men before getting into the ring to hit some sweet double team action for some near falls. After avoiding More Bang for Your Buck, Kushida and Shelley are able to neutralise the Bucks and get the win via submission as Kushida taps out Nick with the Hoverboard Lock.
ReDragon vs Time Splitters – NJPW Power Struggle 2014
A match we will be seeing in a few weeks, as I can only see Time Splitters defeating Grizzled Young Veterans and moving on to face Bobby Fish & Kyle O’Reilly, now part of the Undisputed Era. We could also potentially see this match for the NXT titles as the winners of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic get a title shot, that is something I’m not complaining about because this match from six years ago is fantastic. ROH Tag Team Champions vs IWGP Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions with only the latter’s belts on the line. There is only one thing I dislike about this match and that is Bobby Fish’s man bun, does not suit him at all knowing what he looks like now. A slow start to the match, expected as we all know the mat based game the Fish & O’Reilly compete with, surprising to see Kushida match Kyle in the early going.
ReDragon attempt to get control with heelish fashion taking out the leg of Kushida before using their submission prowess to control Shelley. Any time Kushida tries to get in the match to assist his partner, he is immediately taken out by either Fish or O’Reilly putting more emphasis on Shelley’s position as the babyface in peril. Great spot in the match where Fish is attempting a top rope move on Shelley who keeps rolling to the opposite corner whilst Fish and O’Reilly pose, eventually he is slammed in the middle of the ring but sits up and avoids the tandem splashes by ReDragon and gets the tag to Kushida.
Time Splitters put a lot of attack on O’Reilly’s arm, trying to soften him up for the Hoverboard Lock which he manages to lock in until Fish interrupts. Any time it looked like Time Splitters were getting the upper hand, ReDragon immediately put them in the place, usually through illegal means but the defending champions kept fighting back to get the three.
Eventually, Time Splitters succumb to the onslaught as Fish hits an Avalanche Falcon Arrow and Chasing the Dragon to win the IWGP Junior Heavyweight Titles. Even in defeat, the Time Splitters kept the audience on the edge of their seat and put on an absolutely fantastic match with one of the best tag teams in the last 20 years.
Shelley is a phenomenal competitor and a massive get for WWE to get, not only for his in-ring abilities but for his experience as I can guarantee he’ll transition into a trainer and/or agent role if he stays with WWE long term, I can see him working alongside Triple H to take NXT to the next level, hopefully putting a larger emphasis on tag team wrestling, the biggest downfall in WWE.
You can find the author of this article on Twitter @George_Geal_. Thanks for reading!