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Sunday, October 04, 2015

Paragon Pro Wrestling 9/19/15 Review

1. Leather Strap Match: Whirlwind Gentlemen vs. American Gunz (Ethan HD & Mike Santiago)

Hey this is probably the best match in the fed so far! That's not meant to be a backhanded type of deal, I genuinely liked this and thought they had some cool violent strap spots. It was tornado style obviously so you had guys beating each other around the ring, choking each other out and most of it worked. Santiago was really good at little things, like wrapping his fist in the strap before throwing punches, or getting choked violently with the strap wrapped painfully over his nose or fishhooking his mouth. All of the guys eat rough strap shots, everybody somehow avoids getting in the way of the others. Ending kinda stinks as it's that same 4 corners strap ending where the heel is dragging one of the faces around while he touches the corners, unaware the face is also touching the corners. But aside from that this was really fun.

2. Kevin Kross vs. Gentleman Brawler Eric Right

I like both of these guys and this was as good as expected, but it all lead to a pretty lame DQ finish. Kross has some of the best strikes in the fed, and knows how to do some cool throws, and Right knows how to work within his abilities and get a lot out of a smaller moveset. The match doesn't really have much time to flesh out, as Kross dominates him, Right gets a nice hope spot leaping onto Kross' back with his sleeper, and also almost gets to his tonic. I really appreciate how Right doesn't go for his miracle tonic every single match. He's really only gone for it a couple times during their TV run. It actually makes it work way better as a final desperation spot, establishes that he's confident in his abilities but understands when the situation is getting dire. Right gets the tonic and Kross barely gets it away from him, considers taking some himself, but opts to put it down in the corner. I like that. I like the sci fi element of him curious to try it, but nervous what would happen to him if he went down that path. Then Kross just gets DQ'd by hanging Right in the corner and kicking him a bunch. Lame.

Amusing Caleb Konley promo where he says he's gonna knock Crash Test Cody's good eye out of his head.

3. Crash Test Cody vs. Caleb Konley

It is humorous that they're now pushing Cody as a guy "with one good eye" as they've never mentioned that before, but I noticed weeks ago he had one weird eye. I dig it. And damn, maybe THIS is the best Paragon match they've done. Both guys kick the hell out of each other and it's awesome and relentless. No dull moments, just both guys going after each other with super stiff shots. CTC brought it and Konley responded in kind, hitting some real sick elbow shots. And that's the story of the match. Every move each guy did had some real stiffness and immediacy to it. Cody hits a mean cannonball in the corner, take a nasty throat first bump in the ropes, comes back with some cool wrenched in submissions (which one of the announcers refers to as the "Crippled Crossface". Eeeeeeeeesssh) and more nice strikes. Both guys looked really good here, and the whole thing was no bullshit. This fed loves doing bullshit finishes, so it's awesome that here we just get asskicking, with one guy winning decisively with his finisher. How about that? What a concept. So right now we have the fed's best and second best match, all on one show. Am I just having really great coffee this morning or am I crazy? (Shout out to Philz Coffee Jacobs Wonderbar dark roast. It's goooooood.)

I use the power of fast forward to skip allllll the way past Wes Brisco's heartfelt sit down talking about....well, whatever he was talking about. Whatever it was, I had zero interest in watching him say it. Even if he was confessing to all of his probable assault charges I would rather just read about that confession later.

4. No DQ: Hammerstone & Chamberlain vs. Wes Brisco & Jessy Sorensen

The announcers inform us that "this match will get physical". I mean...I hope so. It would be weird if a pro wrestling match somehow avoided getting physical. It's probably the one actual guarantee when watching pro wrestling. And boy this match stunk. Talk about killing all my lovely positive lovey dovey feelings for this episode. This is a No DQ match, that is worked the entire time like a totally normal, boring tag match featuring four boring-to-bad wrestlers. Even the announcers are confused as one guy regularly comments on how he was expecting this to break down at any moment, or wondering why guys were still tagging in and out and why the teams weren't just going at it. All of his thoughts were all legit questions. It's like nobody involved with the match knew that it was No DQ. So as a No DQ match it couldn't have failed more. But as a normal tag match it also totally failed, just because it wasn't good. The ending was maybe the dumbest possible ending the promotion has done, and there have been some monumentally dumb endings in this fed. Let me lay this out for you: Hammerstone and Chamberlain control almost the entire match. Brisco gets dominated (not bad as then we don't have to see Brisco offense, but at the same time that means we have to see his FIP face which is just horrifying) and then as Sorensen tags in, Chamberlain lays out Brisco with a belt shot. This is a thing that has been established for the team of H&C. When things go poorly in their matches, they bail with a belt shot. So this makes sense, and since it's a No DQ, it's obviously expected. Why weren't they beating these chumps with their belts from the bell? But then, instead of pinning Brisco, Chamberlain demands to be DQ'd. The ref shrugs, Chamberlain gets rolled up by Sorensen. Yuck. None of this made sense, and not only did it not make sense, but they went far out of their way to actually try hard to make it nonsensical. This was bad, awful, visibly stupid pro wrestling right here.

Two really fun TV matches, followed by maybe the dumbest match in the fed's history. What an emotionally confusing episode of television.

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Saturday, October 03, 2015

My Favorite Wrestling: WCW Worldwide 10/27/96

1. Kevin Sullivan & Konnan vs. John Peterson & Johnny Boone

Well this was a sloppy massacre. Sullivan drags Boone into the MGM crowd and throws him over the top row railing into the entranceway. Boone later takes a splash mountain powerbomb on his shoulder and took a big flip bump off a Sullivan clothesline. No idea who Peterson was but he took a big snap bump off a lariat. You knew what this was.

2. Juventud Guerrera vs. Eddie Guerrero

Oh shit yeah this was great. I cannot imagine more stuff being crammed into 4 minutes. Juvy does every single move he knows and Eddie makes them look amazing. Both guys were fast and violent, and say what you will about MGM crowds but they literally screamed "Go Eddie!" the whole time. Juvy pulls some wild stuff out of his ass for a '96, hitting a springboard rana into the ring and with Eddie on the top rope, and then breaking out a 360 corkscrew springboard splash. Eddie gives Juvy tons of offense here, even getting dumped with a snap brainbuster. Juvy is constant motion here, never letting up, dropping Eddie and following up with elbow drops, leg drops, always throwing punches and elbows while standing; Eddie hits a mean slingshot senton and huge superplex before just planting the frog splash. When you see this match on paper you hope for something as spirited as this. These guys were great.

3. Ron Studd vs. Rick Steiner

Match only went a minute, and had a classic WCW syndie finish where a guy kicks out on the two count and everybody is confused for a while until the bell just rings. Studd hit a pretty decent big boot and Steiner took his knee out with a chop block. He finished with the Steiner Line and Studd kicked out, but Steiner stood up holding his arms up like he won, so nobody knew what to do. How the hell did this happen so much!? Studd was even more mammoth than I remembered; he was literally tall as Steiner while he was kneeling. That's crazy.

4. Disco Inferno vs. Rey Misterio Jr.

Short little match with Rey hitting a flurry at the end to win it. Disco does some fun exaggerated punches and shakes his fist out after. Love that. Rey threw himself wildly into all of Disco's moves, taking a high speed hotshot and whipping himself into a swinging neckbreaker, gets planted on a powerbomb. Disco admirably tries to busy himself while being draped over the middle rope as Rey hits a springboard legdrop. Disco also misses a nasty kneedrop off the middle. Quick Rey springboard dropkick and rana roll up for the win. Watching this show it's kind of crazy how Juvy may have been *this* close to being the crossover superstar instead of Rey. Does anyone know what specifically made them choose Rey over Juvy for that spot?

5. Jerry Lynn vs. Chris Benoit

Some girl wearing a gigantic football jersey at ringside touches Benoit on his entrance, and he turns and just stares a fucking hole through her. What a creep. The girl looked genuinely frightened. Some really old woman is also booing him. Double thumbs down. And then Benoit proceeds to beat the shit out of Jerry Lynn for 3 1/2 minutes. Lynn gets a nice tilt-a-whirl armdrag and a rana roll-up, and the rest is all Benoit throwing brutal chops, nasty kicks to the stomach, stomping Lynn in the back of the head, hitting one of his all time brain damage causing headbutts, just really annihilates Lynn.

6. Dean Malenko vs. Chris Jericho

Wildcat Willie is warming up the crowd with some hot moves. Heenan, on Malenko: "He seems like the kind of guy who would walk you to the electric chair, and then beg to pull the switch." I mean, he'll at least make excuses for you after you murder your family. So there's that. And this match is killer. It's worked fast like a 3 minute match, except it goes almost 8. Jericho is in full on fired up babyface mode and Dean is cold calculated murder(er apologist). Dean breaks out every little trick he knows, doing all his counter wrestling porn. Some of the sequences get a little to rehearsed with Dean focusing on when to somersault bump instead of waiting for Jericho's enziguiri to actually connect. But who cares? A lot of that 90s workrate counter wrestling hasn't aged well, and this match holds up shockingly well. The pace was tight, they didn't go for an absurd amount of nearfalls, and they tossed in a couple of large unexpected bumps. Malenko at one point was out on the apron near the turnbuckles and Jericho hit a running forearm that sent Malenko sprawling. Jericho followed it up with a stiff springboard shoulderblock to the floor. Back in and Jericho got two real good nearfalls off roll ups, and they lead to a smart finish where Malenko rolls through a Jericho crossbody and only wins by holding the tights. Malenko had just the right amount of heel work here, and the crowd was rabidly behind babyface Jericho. This was not Malenko working 2.9 nearfalls and random leglocks in a silent vacuum, this was an actual competitive match with the fans really loving Jericho going tit for tat with Malenko. Awesome stuff.

Huge thanks again to CubsFan for not only donating to a great cause, but making me go back and watch some really fun '96 WCW. There's still more to come :)

***I'm still desperately trying to raise money for my friend and coworker whose home burned down, completely disappearing every single one of her possessions. The donations are coming in and the requests are getting weirder and I fear they're going to start purposely torturing me. BUT NO MATTER! I'm matching every contribution and will continue writing above and beyond for those who donate. This means SO MUCH to me and you all are making me so happy***

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Friday, October 02, 2015

NWA Classics On Demand -Price Tag Reviews #7

Dusty Rhodes/Junkyard Dog v. Ted DiBiase/Kamala 4/12/83 -$1.00

This was a bullrope and dog collar tag match. Dusty and DiBiase were tied together with the bullrope while JYD and Kamala had a dog collar on. Pretty much a classic example of a babyface walking tall blowoff match. This is your pair of super charismatic super heroes getting their hands on the dastardly villains and making them pay. DiBiase flies around for both guys and bleeds a ton, Kamala does some great weeble wabble selling of big shots. There is a little glory for the heels, and Dusty bleeds because of course he does, but this is mostly just comeuppance.

Harley Race v. Gino Hernandez 12/12/80 - $3.00

Another true hidden gem. 2/3 Falls NWA title match, with Gino as the local heel challenging a heel champion. It was a pretty great performance by Gino as he turns the crowd over to his side by the end, kind of a devil we know better then a devil we don't situation. I am not the world's biggest Harley fan, but he looked pretty boss here, all of his offense was super nasty looking, his big headbutts looked like they smooshed skulls and he had this awesome looking big right hand in the corner. Gino was a total boss, jumping Harley at the bell, piledriving him on the floor, spraying blood as he goes for his giant back elbow. He was so good as the local heel, it really makes me want to see more Southwest Tully to compare them in those rolls. More Gino please!!

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MLJ: Misterioso/Volador 5: Misterioso, Rey Misterio Jr., Volador I b Rocco Valente, Tony Arce, Vulcano

1993-04-30 @ Plaza de Toros Ciudad de México, Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal
Misterioso, Rey Misterio Jr., Volador I b Rocco Valente, Tony Arce, Vulcano

(This is all of TripleMania: Match starts at: 37:45)

So this is Triplemania I, or at least part of it. I've tended to avoid this stuff because it's well-trodden. I'm not saying that people new to lucha immediately gravitate towards it now, but there's certainly a history of that. This was an under card match, third of eight, and I think it was very well received at the time.

I don't have a lot to say about Valente, Arce, and Vulcano right now. They were Los Destructores and as best as I can tell, they were very good at what they did. Amongst other things, they were the rudos that Rey cut through early on in AAA. They're also really hard to tell apart in the ring, this being my first time seeing them. When I watch these matches, I often find things that I want to delve deeper into later. They're one.

So, Rey, Volador, and Misterioso apparently teamed enough to be called La Tercia Del Aire. I'm not sure how many matches they had together but they'd been teaming since September (and feuding with Los Destructores for about that long it seems). Rey was a good addition to their act, since he could take a beating but also be a spark that could help light up a comeback. He was still billed as a "super nino" here.

Pairings here were Volador and Arce, Misterioso and Vulcano, and Rey vs Valente. Of the three, I thought Rey's was probably the weakest, just maybe a step off in some of the execution, without the higher level of difficulty I was expecting. It wasn't bad by any means, but I've seen better from him from around this time. I'm not sure if he was nervous or what. My favorite spot in this initial feeling out/quasi-shine was Volador doing that armwrench/backflip thing that sometimes goes along with a rocker-dropper fake out, but flipping backwards into a headscissors/arm drag combo onto two rudos. I'd never seen that before and it was well done. It's amazing how many spots you see in matches from twenty-plus years ago that you don't see at all now.

Rudos eventually had enough, swarmed, and took over. Rey took some nasty shots here, especially face first into the turnbuckles, just lawn darts, and a pressed-up spike super powerbomb. It didn't last long, however, as the tecnicos came back on the wings of this great run up moonsault press (as in Volador ran up the chest of one rudo and moonsaulted another). With spots like that, you can see why people praised this match so much at the time (the time being the much more spot-starved 1990s). This led to a triple tandem tope and a few tecnico-vs-the-world exchanges and a fun finishing stretch of cutoffs and action until the tecnicos rolled through for the win. Enjoyable match that, once again, seems to highlight the feeling of an era. I need to cehck out more of Los Destructores.

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Thursday, October 01, 2015

My Favorite Wrestling: WCW Pro 4/6/96

We continue down the CubsFan requested journey through some randomly selected 1996 WCW syndicated television.

1. The Barrio Bros. (Fidel Sierra & Ricky Santana) vs. Sgt. Craig Pittman & Jim Duggan

I have no memory of Sierra and Santana actually being called "Fidel Barrio and Ricky Barrio". I mean I have no memory of Ricky Santana in WCW, let alone as Ricky Barrio. And this was not good.   Sierra leaned out of all of Duggan's clotheslines (which were not thrown with much authority anyway), and then Pittman/Duggan just worked arm wringers on Sierra for what felt like 3 minutes. This has a classic WCW syndicated finish. The call to go home happens right at the 4 minute mark, except only the ref and Duggan know about it, so Santana breaks up the pin at the 2 count and Nick Patrick just calls for the bell anyway. This really seems like it happens every few shows. I mean Santana literally pulled Duggan by the leg off of Sierra, and Patrick didn't even count the 3, just called for the bell after 2. Usually it seems to happen in Konnan matches.

2. Scott Norton vs. One Man Gang

I had no idea these two ever matched up, and right when Gang came out I realized it was a match I REALLY wanted to see without having ever thought about it existing before. Like, Norton walked out and I was like "oh okay, a Norton singles match. Didn't realize he was getting singles matches this early in WCW." and then Gang came out and I was like "I WANT TO SEE THIS SO BAD!!!" I had no idea Gang was still working WCW at this point. The Konnan US Title loss was a few months before, and I don't remember much of him after that. So was surprised to see him pop up here. And it was awesome. BUT only 3 minutes long. Heartbreaking. But these 3 minutes are really good with both men working stiff with big clubbing blows and punches. Gang towers over Norton here which shocked me. I mean Gang looked enormous here, a good 6" over Norton. Rachel, not knowing the size of these two relative to others, thought Gang was Big Show size. Really carried himself like a giant, but worked really quick here. He took a huge bump off a Norton lariat, hit a super fast avalanche in the corner, really able to both bully Norton around while also look vulnerable. Norton will never have a problem clubbing a dude, and the match-ending powerslam he hits on Gang was epic. Picture Norton doing his normal fast high arc powerslam, but to a guy as large as Gang. Crazy finish. Two more minutes, shoot probably even one more minute and this would be a great find. As it is, it's wonderful, and they cram a lot of stiff action into three minutes, but just needed a *bit* more.

3. Men at Work vs. Public Enemy

Boy there were a lot of Public Enemy tags on syndicated WCW TV. Many of them not good. This one? This one totally worked. PE just throw out nothing but clotheslines, and Mark Starr and Kanyon bump all over the place for the clotheslines. Men at Work would gain a minor advantage, stop and mockingly do the PE dance for all the white-shirted losers, and then PE would hit another clothesline. Clotheslines all around! Sometimes double clotheslines! There were no less than 13 clotheslines in this match. Clothesline, flat back bump. Then Rocco hit the asai moonsault on both guys, and put it away with the Drive-By. There must have been some kind of in-joke here. Or, Grunge and Rock just wanted to throw all of the clotheslines, and Men at Work had no problem with that. Men at Work did throw a nice double elbow drop at one point. Whatever, this all worked for me. Most of these guys are dead now.

4. Shark vs. Pez Whatley

Tenta...doesn't give Pez a whole lot here. There's a good leapfrog segment that allows Pez to show off his hops, Tenta crushes him with a nice elbow, hits a real nice falling slam, steps on him a bunch. After Shark gets the never-in-doubt win, Chris Cruise says " would appear...that maybe Pez Whatley never had a chance." It would appear so.

5. Ice Train vs. Lex Luger

So before you know what happens in this match, let me ask you how you would have guessed this match going. I would have guessed "test of strength, couple of shoulderblocks where neither man goes down, Ice Train gets a miniscule advantage, Luger calls for it to go home out of nowhere 2 minutes in." That sounds like exactly what you were picturing, right? Don't act like you expected this - what actually happened:

The match went almost 10 minutes, Luger gave Ice Train practically the WHOLE match, Ice Train won by DQ when Jimmy Hart attacked him with the megaphone, then Luger got punked out by Norton and Train after the match. Seriously. That's what happened. Luger stooged for Train the whole match. Train worked over Luger's arm and Luger put it over huge, sold his left arm, clutching it to his side, even setting up runs for Ice Train by doing things like missing a corner charge with his bad shoulder/arm. He gives Train everything. He even puts over Train's strength by going for a pinfall and then comically launching himself off of Train on the kickoff. And Ice Train really really really does not make the most of this gift. He looks so bad throughout so much of this. His punches are just impossibly bad. His arm work and Fujiwara armbar are surprisingly good, even tossing out a legdrop to Luger's wing at one point. But then he went and hit the worst drop toe hold I've ever seen. Luger didn't know what it was supposed to be. None of the announcers had any idea what it was supposed to be.

Actual exchange after the alleged drop toe hold:

Chris Cruise: Well I...believe that may have been some...maybe a drop toe hold?
Larry Z: Well we might never know unless we get...Quincy on the case.
Cruise: Quincy!?
Dusty: Quincy!! Quincy hasn't been on the air in 10 years!
Cruise: Maybe 20!
Larry Z: Look...with 80 cable channels you can find anything...
Dusty: Quincy Adams! Quincy Jones!
Larry Z: You know what...

Norton runs in after the interference, Luger clubs him and Norton completely no sells it, then Luger BEGS OFF!

I mean, this was awesome. Luger just totally stooged the whole time for a guy who really didn't deserve it. 1996 Luger has been just so consistently good.

***I'm still desperately trying to raise money for my friend and coworker whose home burned down. The donations are coming in and the requests are getting weirder and I fear they're going to start purposely torturing me. BUT NO MATTER! I'm matching every contribution and will continue writing above and beyond for those who donate. This means a lot to me and you all are making me so happy***

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ring of Honor on Destination America 9/23/15 Review

1. Silas Young vs. Michael Elgin

Elgin hasn't been on TV in awhile so he goes over pretty strong on Silas here, but Silas is more of a regular so might have been nice to give him more. Although when he did get more his stuff looked kind of weak, including an incredibly goofy slingshot double foot stomp...thing, that doesn't really look like it touches Elgin. But Young at least takes Elgin's stuff nicely, especially a massive powerbomb on the floor into the guardrail. Kevin Kelly was doing his horrible style of announcing, where he doesn't so much do play-by-play as he does just yell out random nouns that he sees. When Young went for a backbreaker on Elgin, Kelly just yelled "Surgically repaired KNEE of SILAS!" Not anything about the backbreaker, just decided to point out Young's knee, which had nothing to do with any part of the match. It's like he spends 80% of the match looking elsewhere, and then occasionally looks up and points out the first object he notices. Maybe it's some sort of creative writing thought exercise? Needed more underlying homosexual shame and rage, like the other Silas Young matches.

2. Caprice Coleman vs. ACH

Well this didn't do a whole lot for me. All thigh slaps all the time. Just a buncha slappy sounds with legs extended in kick like motions. Legs not touching opponent's bodies, but slappy sounds happening anyway. If a superkick missed in Philadelphia, would it still make a slapping sound? Always. Always.

3. RPG Vice & Kazuchika Okada vs. Hirooki Goto & Briscoe Bros.

This started out not very good, and by the end I was on board. Jay started with Okada and it's not shocking that Okada had bad looking strikes, but Jay looked like he was holding waaaaay back. No clue what was going on here because a few minutes later he's beating the hell out of Trent. Maybe Jay was just being a slow starter, because by the end he's tossing out headbutts and big lariats and looking like a monster. But if this match works, and eventually it does, it's because Mark was absolutely on fire throughout the entirety of this. I couldn't take my eyes off that crazy caveman. Yeah Trent can take a big bump and Goto threw a nice spinning heel kick in the corner, but this was the Mark Brisco show. All of Mark's palm strikes looked great, he flung himself into offense, all his combos looked cool while also looking like he was just making them up as he went. He looked awesome, one of my favorite Mark performances. And after Jay's stumble early with Okada, he went out on a wild note just killing Baretta. Briscoes make everything better.

This week's show went by quick, even if looking back I didn't love a lot about it. That's...good, right? All worth it for Mark Briscoe.

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MLJ: Puebla Hotshot: Negro Casas, Barbaro Cavernario, Kamaitachi vs Dragon Lee, Maximo, Blue Panther

2015-9-28 @ Arena Puebla
Negro Casas, Barbaro Cavernario, Kamaitachi vs Dragon Lee, Maximo, Blue Panther

1:15:00 in

I'm messing up my schedule for the next couple of weeks (again) in order to hotshot this. It was from the Monday Puebla show this week and I was higher on it than most of the comments I saw live, comments that I'll get to and that I think were fair and don't even disagree with. Two hundred-plus matches into this project, I've learned some things about myself and my own proclivities, however, and this is a good match to look at for the sake of generalities.

First and foremost, the match was a disappointment. Of course it was. On paper, this is one of the best trios matches that CMLL can put on right now. Unfortunately, it was put on with no real stakes, no major program to build to (though maybe they'll run Casas vs Maximo again?), in front of a really sparse crowd, and on a stilted 2 hour show. They played around with the pairings so that other than a far too brief opening exchange (more on that in a moment) we didn't really get Blue Panther vs Negro Casas, and there wasn't the sort of spotfest destruction we've come to expect from Kamaitachi vs Dragon Lee. There wasn't even a lot of standout character moments between Cavernario and Maximo (though there was a promising moment between Cavernario and Kamaitachi). It was a match that, in another setting, should have been spectacular. That said, for a match without much of a primera and with a rushed I do think it was very solid and I want to talk about why I feel that way.

I'm very forgiving on CMLL trios matches in general. I think that has to do with what I look for in wrestling. A lot of people want brilliant matwork or lightning fast sequence in a primera or spectacular dives and spots in a tercera, and I like that stuff too, but it's a means to an end for me, not the end in and of itself. I'm into this for the build up and the pay off. That can come in a number of forms in these trios matches. It can be in the primera as an escalating series of mat exchanges or rope-running sequences leading to the tecnicos gaining advantage and picking up the fall. Alternative, the pressure could start building that way leading to an underhanded rudo swarm. It can be in the segunda, with a beatdown stemming from either the start of the match or the end of the primera and culminating with a big tecnico comeback. Or, it can be in the tercera, with the whole match building to a specific pairing, the dives clearing the ring of the tertiary luchadores so that the match can end on its real focus.

That's the part of the journey I love, and the best matches give us multiple iterations. That's something I've noticed watching 90s footage relative to now. They'd often give us a really complete primera (for isntance one with escalating tecnico shine), a really complete segunda (with a long beatdown), and then a comeback into a really complete tercera, with a lot of action, a lot of cuts off, and a finishing stretch which highlighted an ongoing feud and paid off the emotion of the entire match.

Rarely now do matches get room to breathe in all of those ways. Personally, if a match is only going to breathe in one, however, I want it to be the beatdown. I think this speaks to my background in wrestling. I love southern tag matches. I love that heat building and building, with hope spots and cut offs, with false tags and ref distraction and cheating heels and overzealous babyfaces. Lucha is generally broader than that, with its own tropes more focused on widescale momentum shifts, but wrestling is wrestling and there are more commonalities than differences.

I thought this match had a good beatdown, one that got enough time and led to a solid comeback (though not an ideal one). I don't love how they went into it. Casas and Panther had really just started to show their maestro wares when the rudos swarmed. That can work, even so early in a match, but it has to be the right situation. I think Ingobernables' title matches are a good situation, for instance, because they're spitting in the face of title match tradition when they do it. Here, it felt more due to time constraints, or because in 2015, for most trios matches, something has to give. You just can't have a complete primera, complete segunda, and complete tercera. I suppose the card has to have variety and this was only second from the top.

No matter how they got into it, it was a good beatdown. Casas, Cavernario, and Kamaitachi are great at keeping things moving and engaging. There was even a little cut-off-the-ring face in peril section on Panther, who's someone skilled enough to pull that off. It took me a long time to really figure out the tendency for these, but so long as there's just one rudo in the ring, they can play to a hot tag instead of just cycling tecnicos in and out. It's a subtle difference but it works. Usually it lasts for a few minutes focusing on one tecnico and sort of provides the best of both worlds. Once he's sufficiently beaten down without having made the tag, they cycle him out and start the double teaming in more force since they have the numbers game. That's exactly what they did here and I think it was effective and compelling, even if there weren't a lot of big spots or moments.

I can't say I liked the comeback quite as much, but some of that was down to familiarity. I made two real comments while watching this (and it's nice that CMLL on Youtube or Claro lets a number of us watch this at once. It adds to the sense of community), the first being that they really needed to let the beatdown go for a while (and they did) and the second being that I really didn't want the comeback to be centered around Maximo's butt stop spot (where a rudo runs into his ass as he runs up to the second rope). It's fine once and a while but Maximo goes to that well far too often. Well, that's what they did. I think it made the crowd happy, that, the Dragon Lee dive that followed, and the tercera which was heavily focused on Maximo's spots, but there were a number of more interesting ways they could have gone with it.

And that's the most damning thing about the match. It could have been more interesting. It should have been more interesting. Still, I'm glad I watched it and I'm glad I watched it live. There's something primal about the ebb and flow, the build up and the payoff, the beatdown and the comeback that really draws me to trios matches, even the disposable ones. There's something broad and mythic about it, and even a match that doesn't live up to its promise can tap into that just by the nature of its structure. Plus, while this was paint-by-numbers, it was some of the best paint CMLL has to offer and numbers that almost always come through.

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Fire Fundraiser: Buddy Rose/Curt Hennig vs. Dynamite Kid/The Assassin

Buddy Rose & Curt Hennig vs. Dynamite Kid & The Assassin - Portland Wrestling 11/12/83

Another 2/3 Falls Portland tag, requested by Pete who was nice enough to donate to my co-worker Jan's cause.

Last Portland match we watched saw Dynamite looking like a fairground demolition derby speed dealer, here he looks more like the sergeant at arms for the Creativity Alliance. He has a bulked up body, Bic'd head and red lightning bolt tights (ohhhh so close to having to little lightning bolts right next to each other), but it was another fine Dynamite performance. His work with Hennig was real good, especially once he started with the leaping headbutts. He hits his perfect middle rope knee drop, really probably has the greatest flying kneedrop in pro wrestling, and here it actually wins a fall! That was wonderful. I've seen plenty of matches where he hits this skull crushing knee drop, far and away the most violent thing on the whole card, and it gets a two count. Here he launches into camera frame with a middle rope kneedrop right into Hennig's stomach, really looks like Hennig is going to start coughing up blood. And - as it should - it ends a fall.

Assassin was a real revelation here, again. I did some digging and realized it was likely not Jody Hamilton, but more likely David Sierra. That would make sense as Assassin is super spry in both these matches, really flies into moves at a crazy speed. I doubt a 45 year old could be moving like this...but I've also never thought "Cuban Assassin? Oh yeah, super fast bumper." But I've also never seen Sierra when he was 23, so maybe he had a young masked deathwish. I am more used to differently enjoyable chubby bullshit artist Sierra. Either way 1983 Assassin was awesome.

We really don't get a whole lot of Buddy in this, which is disappointing. We do get him during the smart/unique/horrible finish. I didn't really understand what happened during the finish, or more what was *supposed* to happen. Depending on what was supposed to happen it was either executed perfectly, or one of the worst ways to end a match. It started awesome. Assassin grabbed Buddy in a waistlock, with Buddy ducking just in time to allow a Dynamite missile dropkick to nail Assassin right on the point of the chin. It looked brutal. So Buddy locked Assassin in a waistlock after dumping Dynamite, then Hennig hit his own dropkick. I assumed Buddy would then German suplex Assassin, but instead he just fell backwards and awkwardly lay there with his legs in the air while Assassin lay on top of him. So, either Buddy was supposed to act knocked out, which is kind of a good finish even if it looked awkward...or it was supposed to be a "both men get their shoulders counted down" and instead it was just Assassin lying on Buddy. It looked weird. I don't get it.

Sandy Barr, like he does, looked like a dental lab technician showing up for work.  

Also, one of the announcers had a call that made me laugh just because it was such a failure and he still kept committing to finishing the horrible train of thought. Hennig launched Dynamite into the buckles and the announcer went "THAT'LL reset your...uh...clock...back to uhm...daylight savings time...or whatever." I love how he started out excited for his declaration and by the end, just one sentence later, he just kind of loathed it.

Thank you again PETE for the donation! You're awesome.

***I'm still desperately trying to raise money for my friend and coworker whose home burned down. The donations are coming in and the requests are getting weirder and I fear they're going to start purposely torturing me. BUT NO MATTER! I'm matching every contribution and will continue writing above and beyond for those who donate. This means a lot to me and you all are making me so happy***

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Digging in the Crates Podcast #4

Will returns for a special all NWA Classics 24/7 episode of the show.

Digging in the Crates #4

We talk about Andre v. Harley, Fantastics v. Midnight Express, Jose Lothario v. Hecto Guerrero and JYD v. Butch Reed chain match. If you haven't subscribed to NWA Classics, what are you waiting for???


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Monday, September 28, 2015

My Favorite Wrestling: WCW Main Event 7/7/96

If that date sounds familiar, it's because this is the pre-show to Bash at the Beach, where something *kind* of huge would go on to happen.

1. The Steiner Bros. vs. Harlem Heat

This match works just fine, until it inevitably turns into the continuing saga of Col. Robert Parker and Sherri, as practically every Heat tag from this era did. In rewatching a lot of this era it was surprising how terrible a lot of the Heat matches were. I remembered them as a decent team but man were they sloppy and man did their tags have horrible structure. But Booker was on during the first part of this, flying into Scott with a huge shoulderblock, working him over with a nice bearhug that Scott turned into an even nicer overhead belly to belly. Rick came in and hit a great powerslam on Booker, and things (shockingly!) slowed down quite a bit once Stevie Ray tagged in. Stevie hits a nice elbowdrop, and then locks on a neverending chinlock until the Parker interference. For his part Parker takes a big hip toss bump into the ring from the apron. On the previous show they were advertising Steiners vs. Rock n Roll Express which would have been awesome. Instead we get this. And this...was probably better than I expected.

2. Billy Kidman vs. Hardwork Bobby Walker

So let's start off by saying that this match gets 90 seconds. Let's go on to say that these guys clearly knew they were only getting 90 seconds, and proceeded to do as much as they possibly could in 90 seconds. Something seemed up right from the beginning as both guys are just working lightning fast. It looked like things were on double speed and I'm thinking "man how are these guys expecting to work a full match at this pace??" Oh, they weren't. But it was fun seeing a noted schlub like Walker going fullspeed, with both guys doing these super quick dropdowns and leapfrogs, Kidman taking a wild bump to the floor off a dropkick, and both working in kooky offense I've never seen either do before. Kidman hit a quadruple jump Asai moonsault (follow me here) starting on the apron, leaping to the middle rope, then the top rope, then the inside middle rope 90 degrees to his left, and then the moonsault. It's like a crazy Aerostar move, with about 70% of the grace of an Aerostar move. Walker jumps to the middle turnbuckle, leaps BACKWARDS from the middle buckle to the top, almost loses his balance and falls backwards to the floor (because it's fucking crazy to jump backwards from the middle to the top) and then hits a crossbody/headbutt block from the top to win. Weird little match with the circumstances dictating unique work.

3. Rock N Roll Express vs. Fire & Ice

Another 2 minute special that really could have been a good tag match if it had been given just a few more minutes. Norton rushes Ricky to start and hits some pretty stiff shots, a couple pretty big slams. Ice Train tags in and hits a rough avalanche. This Morton guy is pretty decent at playing Ricky Morton. Finish is clever but would have loved for it to come after more of a match, as Norton tags back in, picks Ricky up in a gutwrench and Ricky's legs hit Ice Train on the apron causing Norton to stumble. Gibson runs in and takes out Norton's knee allowing Ricky to hit the backslide. That's a pretty decent finish, but yeah didn't get a whole lot of match before it happened.

4. Eddie Guerrero vs. Steven Regal

Now this is the kind of thing you hope for when you pop in an old WCW disc. Is it too short? Yes. Does it have a lousy finish? You betcha. Is everything awesome before that? Well of course. Regal looks so damn good here, with he and Eddie doing all sorts of cool grapples and take downs. Eddie lands on his feet after a monkey flip, hits a cool armdrag off a Regal butterfly suplex attempt, Regal starts lacing in elbows and then Eddie takes a super fast bump to the floor off a Regal toss. Weirdness ensues when Regal fakes a knee injury, suckers Eddie in for a double leg for what you think is going to end it. But something weird happens as Nick Patrick just stops counting at 2, even though Eddie didn't kick out. It looks like Regal was supposed to have his feet on the ropes, but he never puts them there, so Patrick just has to stop the count for zero reason instead of stop the count after witnessing the cheating. The Eddie just rolls up Regal for the win. Folks you won't see a finish worse than that one. But god that first 90 seconds of the match was all the stuff you want in pro wrestling.

Okay, Cubs, that one was a whole lot more...interesting as an episode. Still waiting for an actual good match as so far we've gotten some big time potential that was cut short with bad finishes. We'll keep trying until I think your donation has been worth it for you. Again, thank you SO MUCH for your help.

***I'm still desperately trying to raise money for my friend and coworker whose home burned down. I'm matching every contribution and will continue writing above and beyond for those who donate. This means a lot to me, guys***

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