By Rockin’ Reese
2023: Summer Sports
Though it ended a few days ago, another summer has come & passed. Like many people do with summer, I decided to relive some of my favorite sports highlights, while I still had some relatively nice weather. There were some baseball, basketball, tennis, & some action sports. Let’s take a look a some of my favorite summer highlights. (NOTE: These events did take place from the first day of summer, June 21st, to the last day, September 22nd).
Being a big wrestling fan, my first 2 memories start with “AEW/New Japan Forbidden Door” (June 25th). Though it’s mostly associated as a hockey city primarily, Toronto has usually turned out for big wrestling events. This event was highlighted by 2 matches. The main event saw “The American Dragon” Bryan Danielson defeat “The Rainmaker” Kazuchika Okada via submission. Two matches prior, “The Commonwealth Kingpin” Will Ospreay (leader of the United Empire) defeated “The Best Bout Machine” Kenny Omega to regain the IWGP US Heavyweight Championship.
Then, on July 1st (my birthday), “WWE Money in the Bank” was live from London. Damian Priest & Iyo Sky would respectively win the men’s & women’s “money in the bank” ladder matches to earn a championship match, whenever they chose. However, the main event saw the Usos defeat (Undisputed WWE Universal Champion) “The Tribal Chief” Roman Reigns & Solo Sikoa, when Jey Uso became the first man to pin Reigns, since December 15, 2019 (at “TLC: Tables, Ladders, & Chairs).
Also, my birthday happened to start the 2023 Tour de France. After a grueling 3 weeks of cycling through Spain & France, Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark would achieve a rare feat in the 120-year history of the endurance challenge. He would become only the 22nd man to have legally won at least 2 Tour de France events, as well as be the 14th recognized man to win the Tour in consecutive years. What made Vingegaard’s victory impressive was that he earned the yellow jersey in stage 6, but the only stage he won was stage 16.
Then, there was the Home Run Derby on July 10th. History was made twice in Seattle. First, Julio Rodríguez (representing the hometown Mariners) set a new record for most home runs in any round of the derby, when he blasted 41 in the first round. The second was made by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays. By winning the derby, he became part of the only father-son duo win a derby.
On July 14th, as part of the WNBA All-Star Weekend in Las Vegas, Sabrina Ionescu of the New York Liberty (who is playing in this year’s WNBA Finals…coincidentally against the defending WNBA Champion Las Vegas Aces) put on a clinic in the 3-point contest. Her 37 points in the finals were the most in any round of any NBA or WNBA 3-point contest. Just for comparison, the previous WNBA record for points in any round was set in last year’s final by Allie Quigley (30 points). In the NBA, the previous record for points in a final was 29 by (Minnesota Timberwolves center) Karl-Anthony Towns.
For points in any round, that was 31 set by (Golden State Warriors guard) Stephen Curry in 2021 preliminary, then tied by (Indiana Pacers guard) Tyrese Haliburton in 2023 preliminary. Ionescu’s 25 baskets in the finals were also the most made in any round of any 3-point contest in history. The previous WNBA record was 20, set by Quigley in the 2018, tied by Jonquel Jones in 2021 & by Quigley again in 2022. The previous NBA record was 21, set by (2-time NBA Champion) Craig Hodges in 1986 & 1991, then tied by Curry in 2021. Ionescu’s 20 consecutive baskets were the most made in any 3-point contest. The previous WNBA record was 9 by Quigley in 2017. The previous NBA record was 19 by Hodges in 1991.
From July 16th-23rd, the summer edition of the X Games took over Southern California. Colin Varanyak won Real BMX Best Trick & Alec Majerus won Real Street Best Trick at Rincon Middle School in Escondido. Ryan Williams won BMX Megapark & Edouard Damestoy won Skateboard Megapark at Elliot Sloan’s house in Vista. The rest of the competition took place In Ventura at the County Fairgrounds. Kevin Peraza won BMX Street. Jimmy Wilkins won Men’s Skateboard Vert. David Rinaldo won Moto X Best Trick. Chloe Covell won Women’s Skateboard Street.
Brady Baker won BMX Dirt. Colby Raha won Moto X Quarterpipe High Air. Jagger Eaton won Men’s Skateboard Park. Williams won BMX Dirt Best Trick. Arisa Trew won Women’s Skateboard Vert. Jose Torres won BMX Park. Yuto Horigome won Men’s Skateboard Street Best Trick. Tyler Bereman won Moto X Best Whip. Mariah Duran won Women’s Skateboard Street Best Trick. Trew won Women’s Skateboard Park. Peraza won Dave Mirra’s BMX Park Best Trick. Horigome won Men’s Skateboard Street. Gui Khury won Skateboard Vert Best Trick.
From July 20th-August 20th, I had to do some sleepless nights to cover the FIFA Women’s World Cup. There was plenty of amazing goals being scored, dominant performances, dramatic endings, & surprising victories, all throughout the competition. When all was said & done, Spain would celebrate the ultimate victory, led by (Golden Ball recipient) Aitana Bonmatí.
From July 23rd-30th, the 2nd Tour de France Femmes took place. For the 2nd year in a row, the championship went to the Netherlands, but this time, Demi Vollering would be recognized as the champion. She earned the yellow jersey, after stage 7 (the only stage she won). She placed fast enough on the 8th & final stage that she was able to be declared the overall champion.
August 27th, seeing over 80,000 people at Wembley Stadium was a crazy expereince for “AEW All In”. The main event featured MJF defeating Adam Cole to retain the AEW World Heavyweight Championship. What was interesting about this match was on the “All In Zero Hour” pre-show, MJF & Cole defeated Aussie Open to become the new Ring of Honor World Tag Team Champions. Other highlighted matches featured (IWGP United Kingdom Heavyweight Champion) Will Ospreay defeat Chris Jericho and FTR defeat the Young Bucks for the AEW World Tag Team Championship.
Sep. 9th & 10th, history was made on the courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City. In the women’s finals of the US Open, Coco Gauff became the first American teenager, since Serena Williams to win the championship. Gauff would be the 10th female teenager to win the US Open and the oldest female teen (eclipsing Maria Sharapova by 36 days). In the men’s finals, Novak Djokovic won his 3rd major of the year (he also won the Australian Open & French Open). More importantly, he tied Margaret Court for the most major championships in the Open Era by any player. As this was his 24th championship, Djokovic wanted to celebrate it by paying homage to a deceased friend who wore #24…(Los Angeles Lakers guard) Kobe Bryant.
This was a Hell of a summer. I can imagine what next year will be like, especially with the Olympics happening in Paris, from late-July to mid-August. All I know is that I hope the sports action in summer 2024 will be hotter than the weather.