Segunda Caida

Phil Schneider, Eric Ritz, Matt D and occasional guests write about pro wrestling. Follow us @segundacaida

Friday, October 18, 2019

New Footage Friday: Kerry, Race, Murdoch, Gino

Harley Race vs. Dick Murdoch Tri-State 4/2/77

MD: I'm glad we got this, especially for the post-match turn and the start of the years' long Akbar vs Murdoch feud, as well as for Murdoch's awesome leg selling and the Harley headbutts and what have you, but it's a shame we didn't get a whole match here. Murdoch was so present, just completely in the moment at all times, making everything he did seem so believable despite being heightened and unreal in a way other wrestlers of the era may have avoided in an NWA title match. I have to admit I was a little confused by things, because Murdoch was working like a local hero against the visiting champ despite Akbar being out there for him. It all made sense in retrospect with the turn. Anytime we pick up a classic territory angle like this (especially one I barely knew existed), it's a gem. Here at SC, we're always hoping for the full match though.

PAS: This was more of an angle then a match (at least what we got), but the last couple of minutes of the match were great stuff with Race and Murdoch really teeing off on each other with some especially nasty stomps by Murdoch, and great Harley headbutts. Akbar and Dr. X beating down Murdoch post match was pretty great, I especially loved the carniness of them cutting away to basically a green screen while the action got described because of the brutality (and Murdoch did seemed to have opened one up)

Kerry Von Erich vs. Gino Hernandez Houston Wrestling 2/22/85

Previously we just had the last few minutes. All the cool stuff is at the beginning so I'm glad we got this. It's pure Houston, just six or seven years later, with Gino returning and Kerry challenging. Gino as the reviled hometown villain was great. Dibiase as his inexplicable second was great. Gino's the greatest rat pack member that never was. Taylor was just sort of there seconding Kerry. This ended up as a good TV title match where everyone knew the BS was coming. I don't think this set up a Dibiase/Gino vs Kerry/Taylor match but if it did, I would have wanted to watch it.

Mid-South 11/11/85

Bruise Brothers vs. Steve Williams/El Corsario

MD: Not every upload is a winner. This was one of the matches I was most looking forward to. Williams was young and game and eager to bump. Who doesn't like seeing the Bruise Brothers? Especially over babyface Bruise Brothers? This lasted seconds though, and a match can be fun when it lasts seconds but there's not much to write about it.

Jake the Snake Roberts vs. Humongous

MD: In a way, Jake did it to himself. He's so outspoken about his method that you examine him more harshly than you would other people. Sometimes he lives up to the (his own) hype, sometimes he doesn't. I think he's done pretty well with the new footage we've gotten though. Here, he's just tremendous in the opening minutes. I love thought experiment wrestling, namely "how will wrestling X deal with situation Y" and here Situation Y is Humongous being a monster who will clubber Jake whenever he gets a hold on. Him trying to chop the tree down from the top down and facing that struggle is really good wrestling. Likewise, the transition (namely Humongous hitting one big legdrop after setting it up by missing earlier on) worked for me, as did the start of the head (those falling headbutts with the hockey mask are really good). It all ended up being too long with the bearhugs and what not, and then had the most late 80s WWF style finish ever with Jake leaving the pin for absolutely no reason. They went pretty heavy on the heel dominance between this and the tag match that followed (which we already had).

Dick Slater vs. Butch Reed

MD: This felt like a trial balloon for the eventual Slater title win that would come a month or two later. It was a bounty match but also a title match and while the post-match was wild and fun, the match itself was worked far more towards that title end than the bounty end. That made sense given the main event, just like the first tag made sense being so short given the long tag title match later in the show, but it wasn't really what I wanted from this. We also lost the first many minutes, which is not something you want to lose in any title match really.

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Thursday, October 17, 2019

2019 Ongoing MOTY List: Makabe vs. Thatcher 3

27. Daniel Makabe vs. Timothy Thatcher 3-2-1 Battle! 7/12

PAS: One of the best series in this decade has been happening at punk club in Seattle. This is their third match, and is as good as the previous two. The first match had Makabe working underdog babyface pulling off an upset, the second match had Makabe as a heel, arrogant about the win, but still at a level below, here Makabe has worked Mania weekend and traveled the country and works it more as an equal. The matwork in these matches is always slick, but I really loved the striking, Makabe was always going back to the body in between all of his head shots, and I especially dug the straight punch to the kidney. Thatcher also threw some huge uppercuts, forearms from the top and sick slaps.  They played nicely off the finish of the first two matches, with Thatcher getting a rope break on Makabe's cattle mutilation variation, and Makabe reversing the Fujiwara. Loved how Makabe just demolished Thatcher's neck and back of the head to loosen him up for the final Mutilation. Great match, Makabe is a treat to watch, and I love that Thatcher is still doing his thing.

ER: This was unsurprisingly really good, and I can't decide if I like the matwork more or the strike game more, it's too tough to choose! I loved the dueling leg attacks, every single thing done to a leg felt uncalled for. Thatcher had some of the best ankle locks I'm seen, a move killed for years by Angle's boring/reversed every time application, here looked like something that will have Makabe's achilles aching as the weather gets colder. Makabe off his back was always trying to hook Thatcher's standing leg, always kicking at his patella, and in the closing moments he flat out stomped down on top of Thatcher's extended leg. Thatcher's natural reaction to it made it look immediately hyperextended, just a super nasty spot with a stomp going against the natural bend of the leg. The striking was great too, Makabe throwing in various body shots over the duration. He never looked to finish with anything body related, but he was so damn good at using body shots to set up other attacks. Early on he was mashing the heel of his hand right into Thatcher's ribs, hooking Thatcher's arm while pushing hard downward with that heel, and late in the match he landed a strike to almost the exact same spot. Thatcher rocked him a couple times with uppercuts, and they both had great intuition about selling strikes, selling each one how it actually landed, not treating them all equal. So many individual moments to like, heavy suplexes thrown by both, hard knees, a nasty half crab from Thatcher, Makabe's enziguiri counter to set up a German, and the finish is just fantastic. I really liked Thatcher getting to the ropes immediately for the first Cattle Mutilation, and the body wrecking cruelty that Makabe unleashes onto Thatcher (including that stomp right to the top of the leg) to tie up his legs and THEN lock in the Mutilation dead center? Hell yeah. Keep giving me more of this.


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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

AEW Dynamite 10/16/19 Workrate Report

What Worked

ER: Scorpio Sky's shoe getting thrown back to him was pretty funny

ER: The inclusion of squash matches is a good thing. Not everything needs to be a workrate classic, and LAX deserve to look strong as hell.

ER: A lot of stuff looked bad in the Omega/Moxley tag match, but I thought the structure was good and served its purpose very well, and they hit all of the moments that needed to hit. Nearly every single transition strike in the match looked horrible; none of these guys can throw a halfway decent kick to the stomach or reasonably get their opponent into position for anything. Hangman Page routinely looks terrible doing everything. He has this weird way of throwing his whole body into everything he does, while also looking like he is putting absolutely nothing behind anything he does. However, his bullet tope looked fantastic, and came late in the match so it actually left an impression. I think it was good to have Moxley attack and walk out on Pac after Pac threw the weapons out (and seemingly grabbed a barbed write bat...BY the barbed wire?), and again, the big moments hit well.

ER: Hell yeah, Darby Allin taking his geek show stunts into the big time and he should be a mega star. Jericho matches are much more interesting ever since he realized he shouldn't try to keep up with younger, faster opponents. Here he lets Darby do all of his amazing flash, and is there to hit him when he lands. Darby takes one of the crazier bumps past the ringpost that I've seen, but saying "Darby did a crazy bump I haven't seen" is pretty form letter Darby match review at this point. Hands behind back Darby is still just as crazy now as the first time I saw it. It feels insanely dangerous, and here he is just a fearless lunatic. That tope con hilo with taped hands is just shut it down levels of absurdly dangerous (and even more dangerous when Jericho catches dives as if his hands were also tied behind his back), and every bump Darby takes feels like broken bones and a neck injury waiting to happen. The match ends when a Honda Sales Consultant runs in and KOs Darby, but Darby's performance here felt BIG. As long as he doesn't die, he will be HUGE.

What Didn't Work

ER: SCU got jumped with a pretty weak beat down, somebody missed their cue and left Fenix standing there pretending to be setting up a piledriver for too long, and it lead to a Chuck Taylor match. That's a cursed series of events. I did think a lot of the match was laid out well enough, but there was some lousy execution throughout. At one point Taylor makes no contact on a double stomp, right into making no contact on an elbow. When the match ends on a blown spot, that's just the sweetest icing.

ER: I like the video where Cody is playing a depressed dad sitting at the kitchen table doing his taxes. And then DDP casually appears and slips in and out of a Dusty impression but in a weird way where he does a Dusty voice for a couple words and then a normal voice, like he's typing a sentence with random capitalization.

ER: That women's singles match was rough. Both of them looked completely lost at several points, terrible at setting up offense for each other, one of the worst collar and elbows I've seen. These two seemed almost constantly confused at what the other was going to be doing next. I liked Baker blocking a small package and hitting a fisherman's neckbreaker, but Riho even ruined that by no knowing when to get into position for the next move, so just sat there seated and making a dazed face, frozen in time. The went to the your move/my move well really early, so much dazed selling into immediately being the one getting a nearfall. Fans were crazy into it, but at this point I have to assume they will literally be into anything that involves people running back and forth and hitting moves they recognize.

ER: The disconnected floating body match graphics are still bad. Why do they float? Why do they all float down her in AEW?

ER: Lucha Bros. tag felt like it went way too long, had several spots missed by the cameras (Fenix did what looked like a spectacular dive, and half of it was completely missed), and a typical sluggish Pentagon performance. Pentagon is a shtick wrestler who doesn't actually know any shtick. He's so brutal. Jungle Boy is still really sloppy, always seems like there is way to much foot shuffling before hitting a so so flip spot. Marko Stunt is now in prime time, and he clearly has breakout star potential. I don't care if his wrestling doesn't move the needle for me, he connects with people, and will take a beating. The follow through on his dive was really nice, and he moves with more charisma than anyone else in the match.

ER: Jesus, Jericho, catch a dive.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Lucha Worth Watching: El Hijo Del Santo & Juvy in London! Arena Neza Highflyers!

El Hijo Del Santo/Hijo del Fantasma vs. Juventud Guerrera/Laredo Kid LLL 5/11/19

ER: We've been getting a little more current Santo footage poking its head out, an occasional handheld, and now he's actually doing more of a US tour. Phil got to take his son to see Santo live, and I saw him work a singles match against Ultimo Dragon a week ago. This tag was from London and I dig how Santo is a guy who finds a dance partner he likes, takes them around the horn, lays low for a couple years, then does it all over again. He did it earlier this decade with Mystico de la Juarez, did the same with Angel Blanco Jr., and Laredo Kid appears to be the new Santo dance partner, and that's cool. And the match is really fun, though I was left wishing they mixed it up more. Outside of one brief attempted unmasking, Santo and Juvy steered clear of each other, and after awhile I assumed the big match ending blowout was going to be the two of them finally going at it. They never did, and that's a shame because Juvy looked game as hell throughout, and outside of a post WCW rush of luchadors back into Mexico there aren't a ton of times we've seen Santo across from Juvy. Juvy still has an argument for best strikes in lucha (and easily in the discussion against anyone), as he's a guy with good enough chops, punches, and elbows that he could survive as a wrestler even when he body eventually begins to fail. I absolutely love how Juvy throws a chop, it's one of my favorite wrestling motions. He works well with Fantasma, hits a nice rana off the apron and really stays fired up throughout (though I was amused by him bumping to the floor and then getting of dodge to not take a potential Fantasma tope). Santo looked like Santo, rolled a bit with Laredo on the mat, hit a few wild pendulum armdrags, hit a great baseball slide dropkick to the floor, and hit his rolling senton/dive past the turnbuckles. His knees buckled after the senton and I believe that's the only time I've seen that happen, it's crazy to me that he's still doing that spot around the horn. This whole thing was clean and professional, but needed a hotter tercera to get bumped up to list. Santo squaring off and brawling with Juvy would have gotten it there. Somebody book that.

Neza Kid/Dragon Bane vs. Aramis/Auzter AAA 6/1/19

ER: I love seeing flyers go nuts on a lucha undercard, and here are four guys pulling off some bonkers spots while hot Neza crowd goes nuts. I will seek out any Freelance/Neza Kid stuff, and thanks to him I also got to discover the joy that is Dragon Bane. I'm confident I've never watched him before, but he impressed me here and I'll be watching more. He and Neza are technically the rudos, though this isn't muddled up by cheating or fast counts or anything like that; this is much more about the four of them hitting weirdo headscissors and flying into the crowd on dives. Auzter was pretty raw and had a little uncertainty, didn't quite know how to get from a to b, but the b usually looked good when he got there. Neza and Dragon were much more the glue, and Bane especially did a pretty awesome job of reining in Auzter, going over for some of his less thought out ideas, taking big hard bumps and spilling to the floor far too quickly. I dig this guy. Neza brings his unmistakable aim and grace, and he and Bane work overtime as we get a zillion superkicks from Aramis and Auzter, but a bunch of them look good! But people want dives and they deliver dives! Boy do they. Neza hits a couple of doozies, a huge Asai moonsault off the top to the floor that bends Aramis over the barricade, and later hits his gorgeous springboard hilo, bending both Aramis and Auzter over that barricade. Auzter hits a wild springboard tornillo, Aramis hits a crushing bullet tope that threatens to literally collapse the barricade while at the same time Dragon Bane hits a crazy multi jump moonsault, and later Dragon hits a huge twisting press off the top, crashing into everyone before the video just fades to black (disappointingly leaving us with no visible finish). So yeah, the dives were spectacular, and if we got an actual ending this would have likely landed on list.

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Monday, October 14, 2019

2018 Ongoing MOTY List: Missing AIW Match 1/19/18

PAS: While putting together the AIW Complete and Accurate I realized that Eric reviewed every match on the Death Rowe show except for this multi man tag, which is of course our favorite thing in AIW. And guess what? It ruled.

ER: I have no clue why I wouldn't have reviewed this tag match. As Phil said, I reviewed EVERY OTHER MATCH on that show, EXCEPT this one. And that makes no sense, because AIW tag scrambles are one of my absolute favorite match types in wrestling. Usually I just cherry pick 2-3 matches I want to watch on any given indy show, and this would have been one of those 2-3! For some reason I did the opposite and wrote up everything but the match that excites me most on paper. I can only assume there was something wrong with the video and the match was glitchy or missed. I got nothing.

43. To Infinity and Beyond (Cheech/Colin Delaney) vs. Philly Marino Experience (Philly Collins/Marino Tenaglia) vs. Young Studs (Bobby Beverly/Eric Ryan) vs. Excellence Personified (Dr. Daniel C. Rockingham/Brian Carson)

PAS: AIW has mastered these multi man tag matches, and I really think To Infinity and Beyond are the glue that holds them together. This is really early PME, they have really developed in a great team, but this match was 18 months ago and they are still pretty seamlessly integrated into the match. This is the most I have enjoyed Dr. Dan, as he cuts out the comedy and just takes bumps. I think TIAB are just conducting a complex amount of traffic. Philly Collins's fat boy moonsault to the floor is one of the more impressive highspots around, he gets great height and lands with tubby force. Brian Carson has a crazy bump to the floor where he cracks his head on the top of the metal post, we get a bunch of cool double teams, and some really well timed cut offs. Just such an enjoyable bit of craziness.

ER: Yep, this ruled, easily my favorite match of the show. I'm never going to know/remember why I didn't watch this match with the rest of the show. AIW has my favorite tag scene in wrestling, and they do these wild action multi mans SO much better than anyone else, and Delaney/Cheech really do seem to be the consistent denominator in all of them. But this match was filled with star performances. Yes, Cheech and Delaney are constantly a part of that, and seem to trigger each new momentum change, while looking explosive as hell. Delaney runs into guys faster and with harder elbows than anyone in this thing, he has gotten so good in the past couple years. PME looked great too, with Marino dropping a great underdog babyface performance. Every time he would come in it lead to something exciting. Philly built to his big moments nicely, and that moonsault to the floor was like a strike that sends every single pin exploding backwards. But my favorite thing he did might have been when he got accidentally tied up in the ropes, to set up Delaney's sliding German. I'm a big fan of guys finding cool ways to set up someone else's trademark offense, anything other than just standing there and waiting. Brian Carson takes the bump of the match, missing an avalanche and hitting the ringpost, and then continuing to tumble over the top and off the ring steps to the floor. Young Studs looked good as ever, Beverly delivers his slams super fast and Ryan threw the best punches of the match, and threw them often. This whole thing was 8 guys running hard and running into each other, taking big bumps, finding fun ways to break up pins, just the best, most thoroughly mapped out tag. These matches are the best versions of those Dragons Gate scrambles that got acclaim over a decade ago.


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Sunday, October 13, 2019

On Brand Segunda Caida: 600 Words on Hardwork Bobby Walker vs. Ice Train, By Request

Ice Train vs. Hardwork Bobby Walker WCW Worldwide 2/19/00

ER: Here we have a match requested by David Bixenspan, featuring two workers who presumably nobody reading this even realized were employed by WCW as late as the year 2000. It's WCW, so it's possible this match was taped in 1996 and didn't make it to air until early 2000. I remember the MI Smooth character, somehow, but I do not remember Ice Train AS Ice Train this late. And I also presume that it is not an accident that this aired during Black History Month. Ice Train has great braids, like he's an updated Iceman King Parsons; Walker has a sensible mustache and doo rag, and they both have undisputedly great wrestling gear.

And this match is entirely Up. My. Alley. This is an example of a Great Wrestling Recommendation for me. You guys telling me "okay, you haven't liked these other Orange Cassidy matches at all, but *this* one you'll like" need to realize that I want to watch a 4 minute match with one great punch, one big bump, and one unexpectedly gigantic spot. That's it. If your recommendations are not that, then you are just pranking me. This match was extra special because both men were at peak In The Year 2000 Levels Of JUICED WRESTLER. This was essentially John Cena vs. Brock Lesnar and I don't believe I've seen either man looking this large, ever.

This match consists mostly of so-so kicks to the stomach, except that it's great. These two jacked guys slam into each other, the crowd goes absolutely bonkers the entire time (save for one racist man wearing a garish tiger striped all over print button-up, arms crossed up, refusing to clap for these black men while everybody else in Oklahoma was losing it), and it's wild how WCW was drawing this big of a crowd in Oklahoma City IN 2000 and yet the whole thing would be shuttered within a year.

Walker whiffs on a punch in the corner and drops down on his butt hard - a great sell for a decent Ice Train jab - and the meat of this is Ice Train having no problem running his massive frame (and again, he was never more massive than he was right here in this match) as hard as he could into Walker, and that is always going to come off great. Train runs into Walker hard, Walker bumps hard, that's just a winning formula. Walker does his (frankly incredible) rope walking, getting an appropriately loud reaction. He jumps backwards onto the middle buckle, steps to the top rope, and takes several large steps out onto the tope rope before flying off with an axe handle. Oh, but one tiny detail: he does all of this with no hands. It's amazing. He also hits a kind of slick armdrag out of the corner, while appearing to get tied up in his singlet straps. He did a move while also accidentally gets trapped inside his own singlet. That happened!

And when you boil this match down, outside of that top rope flash from Walker, it's as simple as you can get. There are a couple shoulderblocks, a couple punches, an axe handle, a leapfrog, a few kicks to the stomach, and Ice Train wins with a bodyslam followed by a standing splash. And yet it had a real explosive energy, some hard bumps from Walker, and I honestly thought both guys exuded total star potential.

This was Walker's last match with the company, and Ice Train would disappear for six months before returning as MI Smooth. This was WCW at its best and worst.

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Saturday, October 12, 2019

WWE Big 3: Lorcan, Gallagher, Gulak 10/6-10/12

NXT 10/9/19

Drew Gulak vs. Lio Rush

ER: I don't think this hit the heights of Lio's singles match with Lorcan, but it shows that Rush is a great addition to the cruiserweight division, even though I'm still pretty surprised they put the title on him (though maybe I shouldn't be since they opened the show with a title match which is kind of unique). I liked how Rush would use his flash to get ahead, because Gulak showed early that he was going to catch him and punish him whenever possible. Gulak tries to fight that aggression at the bell by matching it, and Rush just sidesteps him. I thought Gulak was great at selling his own missed dropkick, rushing to his feet but being out of sorts, and it almost costs him a quick loss. Rush hits a standing shooting star, nice tope, but I was definitely more about Gulak in this one. I love how he would move things to each new sequence, and really liked him reversing a roll-up into the Gu-lock, and stretching Rush's limbs behind his back, stomping and dropping elbows on his arm. Rush has cool body control, and it makes matches against stretchers like Gulak even more fun, because Gulak can sit there and twist and turn and flip Rush's body in the coolest ways. I really loved with Gulak picked him up in a fireman's carry, then quickly flipped him into a torture rack position before dropping him with a neckbreaker. I don't know if I've seen someone maneuver into a torture rack so easily, without it looking super cooperative. But Rush is a total loon and that means we get awesome moments like Gulak dropkicking him off the top and Rush crashing into a couple of NXT ring boys in their folding chairs. They did a nice set of reversals around the Gu-lock, with Gulak catching Rush in it again but Rush escaping to get his own dragon sleeper. The best part of it was that they weren't having Rush go hold to hold with him, as Gulak expertly spun through the dragon sleeper within seconds. Too many matches make the mistake of going into a brainless reversal sequence where both guys skillset is suddenly equal, and I like how they kept Gulak as the one whose submissions could finish. I do think they hit the ending a little quick (and I think we missed several minutes of commercial break action), even though I liked how they set up the top rope fighting and Gulak eating the frog splash. But the bow got tied a little too neatly at the end for me. I was hoping for another false finish or two.

PAS: I thought this was pretty great, and I do think that shorter matches will fit these guys better. I love a lot of 205 live, but the bloat is real. I thought the opening flurry was great. Lio has one of the best topes (non-lucha division) in the world, and I loved how Gulak trying to match pace with Rush cost him, and Rush trying to match holds with Gulak backfired on him. The big bump before the commercial break was great, although I hate when someone new is on offense after coming back. Rush has incredible body control, his springboard stunner should be dumb, but looks awesome, and I love how he sells the collision of his own offensive moves. A frog splash should hurt both guys, and Rush always reacts to the contact. Finish did seem a bit abrupt, but I think Rush is the right guy for the belt as it moves to NXT. Love Gulak, but Rush has WCW Rey Jr. potential, and with the right care can mean something on a TV product. Feel free to run this back a bunch though.

205 Live 10/11/19

Oney Lorcan/Danny Burch vs. Drew Gulak/Tony Nese

PAS: This was another solid tag match between two teams which really match up well. Nese kept the Neseness down, we got one bit of kip up breakdance nonsense, but mostly he was fine. Burch is the other guy in this match I am hit or miss on, and he was solid too, nasty uppercuts, and straight punches and nothing too complicated. You are in this for Gulak and Lorcan and they both delivered, Lorcan especially was totally amped, and his big offensive run of uppercuts and a pair of reckless dives was really breathtaking. I did think the finish felt a bit decisive and I would hate to think Gulak is being marginalized after losing the belt, but otherwise this was the kind of entertaining match which I hope we can keep getting.

ER: Yeah I thought this was really good, even if I thought it petered out at the end and came dangerously close to losing me when all four guys wound up standing around hitting each other and then paired off for bad looking phone booth fighting shortly before the finish. I didn't like that. But I liked most of the rest of this! As Phil said, this was all about Lorcan and Gulak, and those guys owned in this match. I don't have the same level of problems with Burch as Phil does, I think he's a good complementary player to Lorcan, and feels like when Doc Dean or Robbie Brookside would show up on WCW syndication. I didn't like them anywhere near as much as I liked Finlay, Regal, or Taylor, but they were a welcome stylistic presence and added nicely to the mix. Burch throws hard shots, has no problem getting hit, throws a nice missile dropkick and uppercuts, and plays like a nice complement to the guys I really like. But I dug Gulak and Nese cutting off the ring and working over Burch, especially loved how Gulak tagged in and hit a nasty headbutt and slammed Burch into the bottom rope (later there was a cool moment where Nese . This was all building to the exciting Lorcan hot tag, easily one of the best hot tags in the game, and it's impossible to not love him  flying sideways and horizontally into guys with uppercuts, hitting bananas dives (I love his cannonball to the floor where he seems to not care who he hits), and doing his Catch Point Ultimate Warrior routine. Nese's 450 always ends with him practically faceplanting, and as we always say Nese is at his most interesting when he's putting himself in danger. I didn't love the ending, agree that it felt too definitive, and my least favorite moments of the match all happened towards the end. Still, I like this format, and the specific things I disliked about it have not been commonly used by them so I'm hoping they abandon them. 

And I'm mainly talking about 4 man standoff spots, obviously, because when has that spot EVER looked good? It's a bad spot to steal from the indies, because I cannot point to one instance of that spot ever looking anything but stupid, anywhere. At least we know why people still do the Frye/Takayama spot, it's a spot associated with a famously brutal and insane fight moment. What moment is associated with 4 goofs standing around waiting to see who gets hit next? These 4 actually made that spot look BETTER than it typically looks, at least throwing headbutts into the mix. But who has made 4 people standing around taking turns hitting each other look actually good? I've never seen it.  

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Friday, October 11, 2019

New Footage Friday: WCW Festival de Lucha

ER: This is one of those shows that I've heard about for 20 years, one of those shows that someone on a message board would pretend to have a copy of, cause a stir, and of course never actually follow through on getting the footage to anyone. It's one of those shows where people just wanted to see it more and more because they thought they would never get to see it, which is the best kind of Hidden Gems gift. And, excitingly, Super Boy is now officially on the WWE Network. Blessed. We get the fantastic mission-front set with traditional dancing, great pueblo set, ring valets all in traditional garb, and what sounds like a loud crowd who is into this. I'm there with them.

TOMK: It’s about time this showed up. You would have thought they would do this in September as some sort of Hispanic Heritage Month deal…but I’m not complaining about October.

MD: I'm dealing with some shifting watching situations that make annotations tricky currently (as in, I watched this show on a commuter bus over a few days), so the comments I provide will be general. Hopefully, Phil and Eric have the heavy lifting here.

I'm not going to say "Nitro lucha" is my least favorite lucha but it's certainly not my favorite. So many things that I've learned to love about lucha libre just aren't present. My remembrance with them is that you didn't really get memorable captain feuding or character driven pair-offs or momentum shifts with builds to comebacks. Clearly defined segments. Dives as means to a bigger end instead of ends in and of themselves.

It was distilled one-fall Lucha with some of the wrong things distilled.

That said, this entire show was a blast. So much of that was due to the setting, the dancers, the fact that they really just embraced this stuff instead of having it off to the side as a sideshow. On this show, these guys felt like stars. Top to bottom, too. You had Disco Inferno main eventing for maybe the only time of his career up until that point, and he felt natural in that role. Jericho felt larger than life, like a Buddy Rose type figure, and almost all the more charismatic or memorable luchadors felt like big deals.

And that was most of them. The talent pool here was great. You had a lot of the usual suspects: Villano III and V, La Parka, Psicosis, Juvi, Halloween and Damien, Hector Garza, Super Calo, Konnan and Rey, and the WCW contingent with Finlay, Smiley, Swinger/Lane etc. but you also had guys that didn't really show up in WCW like Felino, Pirata Morgan, Texano, Rey, Sr., and freaking Super Boy. Maybe coolest of all (not as cool as Super Boy, but...) we had new Blitzkrieg matches, and a bunch of unique pairings that you just didn't think you'd get.

Everything basically worked, from Jimmy Hart's Boricua first family to Jericho's foreign legion, to the fact guys seemed to trade between being rudos and tecnicos depending on the match. There was some sense of overkill or a lack of agenting. For example, I really liked the Juventud Guerrera, Pirata Morgan & Psicopata vs. Hector Garza, Konnan & Rey Mysterio Jr. There was a pretty key story in there with a big fight for the top rope rana through the pairings and ultimately, a bigger fight for the Juvi driver, but in the next match on the taping, someone hit a top rope rana almost instantly, like it was nothing, and then I think a match later, someone hit a Juvi driver, of all things, just as a move. Even if these matches weren't all taped in the order they'd be filmed, that would have been a long term problem. That's not to say the matches didn't vary at all. Some had more thorough beatdowns (Especially the Damien/Halloween ones, I think), and others more comedy, but the general tenor of Nitro style lucha is "good action" and that's a lot of what this was.

Other random thoughts: Psicosis might have been the best masked rudo of his specific generation (guys born in the early 70s). He's so emotive, such a dick, able to play to the crowd, but also able to base so well and hit so much stuff. Juvi just really got it too. He integrated a lot more of US heel mannerisms and it was a good mix. I'm not super familiar with Salsero, but I'm amazed he didn't get himself more of a job out of this. He was playing a unique role and would have probably gotten over on a weekly basis in WCW as a clowning, joke-spot guy that could still go. Lots of clotheslines and DDTs on the show. It's a joy to watch the differences in the selling though: Blitzkrieg folds in half, Hector sails across the ring, and yeah, Disco makes sure to flail sell for quite a few seconds. There was at least one VIII decapitation of someone too. I thought Konnan worked surprisingly well in his trios match. I don't remember him working nearly that spritely in the late 90s. He also gave a lot for Disco who was giving his all. Heel Big Wiggle era Norman Smiley was a lot of fun and Jericho as a corner man made it all the better. I've seen rudo Rey Sr a few times lately (had mostly seen him as a tecnico) and he's just a great stooging pug base. I wanted to see Finlay, Blitzkrieg and Super Boy against literally everyone else on the show. I'm glad we had a few more matches than listed because it would have been a crime not to see Finlay in this setting.

I guess my biggest takeaway from it all is that I wish it had gone on for a while. 

Silver King/Venum/Kendo vs. Super Boy/Villano V/Felino

PAS: This would probably land in the lower half of WCW lucha trios, but it was still a ton of fun to see different guys work in this environment. Kendo's stuff fit in great in the sped up WCW lucha style, and his big tope looked awesome. Super Boy and Felino both looked great too, Felino was fully in his fastest luchador in the world prime, and Super Boy is an amazing short fat agile revelation. I have no idea why this didn't at least get them both WCWSN filler gigs. Venum Black looked not ready for prime time, he was tentative, and awkward, and even his big dive felt unsure.

TOMK: The EMLL announcers used to talk about Felino as one of fastest wrestlers in the world but you kind of forget how fast he could make an exchange look. Not sure if he’s actually “stop watch fast” or just knows how to make every move look sudden. It is a blast to watch Felino and Silver King working their fast exchanges. I think Super Boy and Silver King tried to do a ridiculous exchange near the end that had a 1/50 chance of working but if it did it would have blown every one’s mind and they were completely prepared for it possibly not working. Venum Black may have blown his leg on his dive near end.

ER: The Felino/King sections of this were really hot, and if this match just had their cool trips and ankle picks it would have been worth it. All of the Felino stuff was really great, and then you have Super Boy coming in and being the fast flippy fat guy who looks even more awesome taking falls, because his beautiful round belly looks great on the mat and his shirt always exposes it. It makes him look like when you'd KO King Hippo by punching him and making his pants fall off. Venum looked a step behind everyone but he did hit a wild dive at the end (which Tom thinks may have wrecked his leg). I have no clue what King and Super Boy were going for at the end, but it doesn't happen, and it was fun to see them pick up the pieces. I saw Super Boy work a flea market in the early 2000s, and he did a huge dive, crushed the two chairs in the row in front of me, and landed on my leg. It was great. 

ER: I am LOVING the Jimmy Hart Festival de First Family. What a great bunch of weird dudes, with American Wild Child mugging the whole time, Psicopata dragging around a blow up doll, and Pierroth yelling on the stick. I love Pierroth, and this late 90s period of Pierroth was really great. This was a stable I would have killed to see go up against the LWO. I'm just picturing Pierroth whipping everyone with his belt and hitting hard lariats on everyone. This is great.  

TOMK: Jimmy Hart comes out with his stable, Ricky Santana, Fidel Sierra, Pierroth, American Wild Child and Psicopata. Holy shit why couldn’t this have been a regular WCW stable. Pierroth gets the mic and explains that he is going to wear the Puerto Rican colors. And fuck it Pierroth really is the guy who I didn’t get at first but now when I see old footage absolutely can’t take my eyes off of him in a ring.

La Parka/Super Calo/Salsero vs. Halloween/Damien/El Mosco

PAS: Total fairgrounds lucha match, lots of classic shtick you can see at any small arena around Mexico, except performed by masters of the craft like Familia de Tijuana and Parka. Great stuff by Salsero too, who turned every move into a shake of the hip, and threw out a crazy top rope quebrada to the floor. Loved everyone missing an in ring dive, all of the stuff with the Kendo stick and Parka making the rudos dance to his tune. Usually WCW lucha wasn't this traditional, so it was a fun look into some stylistic differences between the matches.

TOMK: Salsero? Salsero? Of all the guys they brought in Salsero. I guess Salsero and Kendo come as package. But why would you want that package? For a little dancing followed by in ring tope and slapping rudos confusion comedy spots, Rayo is right there. This is mostly a match made by Halloween/Damien heel miscommunication spots and pretty much they are absolute kings of building a match around that.

ER: Damn this was fun. You show me this list of 6 names and Salsero would not be the guy I'd expect to be featured the most, but here we are. This whole match was full of schtick, and it was super welcome. And the pairings were all real fun, starting with Mosco and Calo. Mosco has a big high spinning heel kick, and later takes an amusing bump over the top off a Salsero dropkick. Salsero got to work a bunch of classic schtick, getting the rudos to attack each other (loved FdT ganging up on Mosco and Mosco swinging a chair at them), and boy did I not expect him hitting a gigantic top rope quebrada (to seemingly no reaction, on a show getting loud ass reactions from everything, that's weird). Halloween and Damien looked as good as usual, loved them getting outsmarted by La Parka at nearly every turn, and La Parka was so great at leaning into every single strike. I loved Parka's long  dance evasion from Halloween, ending in a perfectly timed mean slap from Halloween, and Parka was running so fast into Damien's corner boots, catching them right in the neck. This really got to unfold in a great way, and while it didn't hit anywhere near the peaks of WCW lucha sprints, it had a nice traditional charm that was felt throughout. 

Rey Mysterio Sr./Villano III/El Texano vs. Blitzkrieg/Piloto Suicida/Raul

PAS: Damn is Villano 3 a beast in this match, just a violent lucha machine, hard shots, great looking DDT, internal organ flattening senton, just a monster. Your tecnico team felt like a green tecnico team being carried by awesome rudos, and we had awesome rudos. I am surprised Blitzkrieg was as subdued as he was in this match, my memories of him were always just a lunatic breaking out crazy highspots, here he wasn't much crazier then Raul (whoever that was). Excited about the run in setting up a killer rudo battle later on the show.

TOMK: Who is Raul? Is that Zorro? Facially kind of looks it. I thought Zorro was a tad taller than that. Anyways this is a fucking Texano showcase match as he just beats the fuck out of everyone and throws himself around bumping and setting up face comebacks. Jimmy Hart’s team runs in at the end attacking both faces and heels and we get an awesome tease of Pierroth vs. Texano. Is Psicopata actually Mando at this point? He doesn’t really move like Mando…If WCW only had been willing to air this show we might have gotten a WCWSN main event Psicopata/Bad Street vs. Psycho/Killer and that would have turned everything around.

ER: Damn check out this Rey Mysterio Sr. showcase, what a brute who knew how to make green fliers looks formidable. He's someone who throws in extras, fills time nicely, a guy who needs to be spoken about in the same sentences as other era workrate lucha gods. I like how he throws in an extra spin while getting into position for a Piloto Suicida armdrag, and on the floor he eats a rana and purposely throws himself into the legs of the guardrail to make the bump look better. Oh but then you had his excellent rudo partners looking like all time asskickers. Villano III gets Blitzkrieg a WCW contract by crushing his ribs with a top rope senton, and Texano was the most explosive guy in the match throwing strikes as hard as his bumps. The thing falls apart in absolutely glorious fashion, I mean three tecnico dives that all miss in increasingly spectacular fashion, terrible catches and botched dives and the most incredibly ugly trainwreck you've seen. Raul (yeah who the hell IS Raul?) slips and dives head first straight into the floor, Piloto apparently pilots the plane on the cover of License to Ill, and Blitzkrieg takes a flip dive into nothing when Rey whiffs. I was so damn into this rudo team, but this ending was too funny. Post match Pierroth run-in made everybody in the match look like a lesser luchador though. It's unfair to people in the match to let Pierroth come in and beat the shit out of people as the last visual. 

Juventud Guerrera/Pirata Morgan/Psicosis vs. Rey Mysterio Jr./Hector Garza/Konnan

PAS: Juvy/Psicosis/Pirata Morgan is a absolute killer rudo team, and it is really cool to see all three of them have matchups with Rey Jr., all great exchanges worked at a high level. Konnan is also working super hard on this show. This was his big opportunity to headline a show, and he was delivering at the peak of his abilities (admittedly a low peak). Run in was fun, although weird they had run ins at two different matches.

TOMK: You forget how amazing Juventud was. Just the entire fucking package, has the crowd in the palm of his hand, able to do the workrate midcard lucha spotfest that was asked of everyone while also just slowing it down to get little things across. It is WCW, so of course they are going to do two matches with invading foreigner heel teams attacking Mexican faces and rudos for a finish. The heel stable of Finlay, Lenny Lane, Jericho, Kaz, Norman Smiley, Chavo and Johnny Swinger is bizarre but would have also liked to see that as a regular WCW stable. Well maybe not Swinger.

ER: Damn now look at THIS rudo team! This is definitely the high profile main event of episode 1, because that's a big time tecnico team too. Tecnicos were fine but this was a rudo bump showcase. Psicosis and Juvy are among the greatest most explosive bumpers of all time, and this was them compressed and burning bright. The way Juvy takes whip snap somersault bumps looks so great, he rolls up tight like Samus and just bounces off that mat. Psicosis bumps to the floor, onto his head, onto his stomach onto the floor, onto his head again, just dude being who he is. Even Pirata takes a totally preposterous somersault back bump to the floor after getting dropkicked off the apron; the bump felt completely disconnected from the dropkick, sending him the totally opposite direction of where he should have bumped, but the dude somersaulted to the floor so who gives a fuck. No padding on the floor, no logic to the bump, but Morgan is here taking a hard bump to the floor on this taping.

The run in was totally badass and I LOVE the invading foreigners stable!!! What a kick ass gang of everybody-but-Mexicans. They're wearing light wash jeans with cuts ranging from "dad" to "Kaz Hayashi's Jncos", black sleeveless crop tops, woven belts, just throwing stomps and beating ass. This is what the stunt doubles would have looked like if there had been a Backstreet Boys Movie. It's so perfect. You can already see the hierarchy of the stable, with Lane, Swinger, and Kaz being the underlings who would actually get their asses kicked in trios matches before either Finlay or Jericho came out to cheat for them to win. Also Tom isn't excited for Johnny Swinger? Swinger is a guy who ate some of the worst beatings on 1997 WCW TV, he's the perfect guy to be the lowest totem pole guy in a stable. Somebody needs to take the ugliest beatings while the top guys escape. I hate that I never got to see this stable until now, and not more.

Juventud Guerrera/Felino/El Mosco vs. Piloto Suicida/Salsero/Raul

TOMK: Is El Mosco really wearing “Live Drug Free” on the back of his tights?” Really?

ER: This was pretty messy, and probably the weakest of the show so far. Felino doesn't vibe really well with Piloto, Salsero breaks out a nice tope con giro and STILL gets no reaction (his dives are like the only ones that get met with silence, it's like people enjoy his shtick but then get mad when he breaks out actual impressive highflying), but this is 100% a showcase for Juventud. Juvy is a genuine frontrunner for best chops in wrestling history. That sentence is not hyperbole. Juvy's chops are the fastest and feel like the best representation of the term "knife edge". His chops absolutely slice and hit harder than the chops of men twice his size. He does have the curse of overly visible frustration when things go wrong, and things can go wrong with a green face team, but there is still gold here. Juvy hits a real hard missile dropkick and Piloto takes a nice classic rolling lucha bump through the ropes, Juvy drops a great springboard legdrop, hits his great spinning rana off the top, basically Juvy on offense could do no wrong. But we do get a real bizarre finish, as Juvy calls for the Juvy Driver, picks up Piloto Suicida, and then drops him twice in a row. Maybe it was supposed to look like Piloto was blocking it? He did eventually get a kinda roll up nearfall, but it just looked like Juvy kept blowing the spot. I really don't think that's what they were going for. 

Kaz Hayashi/Psicosis/Ron Rivera vs. La Parka/Blitzkrieg/Kendo

TOMK: Why is Kaz in this match? He’s in the Jericho outsider stable but just a regular rudo here? They only had one taping and still couldn't keep booking straight? Kaz really leans into all of Kendo’s stuff nicely and the two RPW guys work match up and know how to work their spots together. Parka is over and kind of weird to see him getting this much of a showcase in all these matches when I don’t think he ever got this much of a taste at any other time in WCW. Wait, they were aware that he was super charismatic and can carry a face team on charisma? They knew?

ER: Parks was given a WCW showcase in several ways that other luchadors were not. On the WCW/nWo Revenge game - the highest selling wrestling game on the Nintendo 64 - La Parka was one of only a few luchadors included in the game (Rey, Psicosis, Juvy, Chavo and Eddie if you count them as luchadors), which had a really large roster for video games at the time. And Parka was presented as separate from the "cruiser" luchadors, the only luchador other than Konnan who was lumped in with the heavyweights in the game (tantamount to guys like Barbarian, Stevie Ray, and Yuji Nagata). He was presented separately and as a potential breakout star, and they seemed to know it was a good idea to feature him more in matches and give him side angles to work his gimmick...and yet they seemingly had the coldest possible feet about pushing him as an actual singles star. It made no sense. They knew, but they didn't know. Highlights of this match were Kaz really making all of Kendo's headscissors look great, a great Blitzkrieg dive followed by a big twisting La Parka dive, and Blitzkrieg hitting a big phoenix splash for the win. Blitzkrieg was a cool part of wrestling 1999, and I love that we're getting a little more added to his story. He's a total cult fave, indy white guy shows up as an out of nowhere unknown in WCW one episode of Nitro, gets over immediately when he's treated like a peer by Misterio, and has maybe 30 matches total on tape. He was a nostalgic part of my teen wrestling fandom, and now we get like 10% more Blitzkrieg appearances than previously existed. That's awesome.

Rey Mysterio Sr./Villano III/Villano IV/El Texano vs. Pierroth Jr./Fidel Sierra/Ricky Santana/Psicopata

TOMK: There was some nice Pierroth and Fidel Sierra stuff, but this wasn’t going to live up to my expectations. I was also expecting a big Hart bump, and instead Hart was subdued. He felt like a watered down Andy Barrow.

PAS: I loved this, it was rudo vs rudo and kept up a really killer pace. Pierroth is rocking an amazing Soul Glo Jheri Curl and every time he throws a chop activator juice flies all over his opponent. Psicopata was all over the ring and the outside, stooging, flipping to the floor, bumping huge, total barrel of energy. Really different from a normal WCW lucha match, and I dug that difference.

ER: This lineup is far and away the match I am most excited about on the show. Tom is right that it couldn't possibly live up to my expectations, but damn did I think this was just great. This was our Pierroth showcase match of the evening, and this was an evening that benefitted from a Pierroth showcase match. He was throwing the best punches of the show, kicks to dicks, and the best non-Juvy chops. He came off like a total boss against a very badass team. We got a lot of simple brawling, and it was satisfying as hell. Villano III gets some nearfalls that the ref keeps missing, including a gorgeous small package off of a delayed vertical suplex, and we get an actual powder in the face spot for the finish!! Hell yeah! There was so much powder!!

Rey Mysterio Jr./Silver King/Hector Garza/Konnan vs. Chris Jericho/Norman Smiley/Johnny Swinger/Lenny Lane

TOMK: I think there may have been a good Black Magic vs. Silver King exchange but this was messy.

ER: My god who is the Festival de Lucha girl accompanying Rey? Jesus. And this foreigners stable is so much gold. I love every single stable at the Festival de Lucha tapings!! Every single stable in this 75 minutes has been something I want to watch weekly!

Felino/Psicosis/El Mosco vs. Super Calo/Blitzkrieg/Venum Black

TOMK: Venum Black’s leg is fucked and he comes into this match hobbling. The whole match is just super impressive to watch this guy work a match on one wheel. Should he have worked this match? Should an agent have put someone else in? Whatever. Super Calo does my favorite Super Calo thing where he eats a clothesline by landing on the top of his skull.

Fit Finlay/Kaz Hayashi/Norman Smiley/Johnny Swinger vs. La Parka/Hector Garza/Kendo/Raul

TOMK: I really liked this match. This is hidden gem that you didn’t know you wanted. Kaz’s offense looks great and he sells and bumps to make Raul look like a bad ass. Eats a real nasty piledriver from Raul. Parka gets extended exchanges with Finlay and a dance off and exchanges with Smiley and hits a tope that takes Swinger’s head off. Garza gets some cool stuff in opposite Smiley as well, Swinger and Kendo keep each other occupied, and it’s a cool finish.

PAS: This was really fun, so awesome to watch Finlay and Parka beat on each other. I can imagine an alternate universe where this show was successful and these two had the greatest Apuestas match in wrestling history. Jericho was really fun as a douche on the outside heat seeking. Parka and Smiley had a fun dance off too, honestly Parka is so great he can have dope exchanges with everyone on this roster.

Super Boy/Halloween/Damien vs. Rey Misterio Jr./Piloto Suicida/Salsero

TOMK: This I liked too. A bunch of Halloween/Damien stooging, miscommunication stuff, and you get to see the California guys match up and showcase what they can do together. I really wish Rey vs. Halloween was a WCW series at any point cause it is a cool match up…plus there was an ESTRELLA!!!!

PAS: Really fun stuff, Super Boy has to have some of the biggest missed potential of anyone in the 90s, and it is cool that we get to see a little more of what he could do. Halloween and Damien are such pros and they make everything the tecnicos do look great.

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Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thursday Shoot Indy Show: WXW Ambition 8/8/19

Timothy Thatcher vs. Alexander James

PAS: James couldn't really hang with Thatcher on the mat here, but they made up for that by focusing the match around hard sharp forearms and upkicks. James really blasts Thatcher with some shots, including some nasty spinning back elbow to the throat. Kept it short and kept it stiff.

ER: This felt pretty base level for an Ambition show. We had some nice uppercuts from both, and a killer back elbow from James (my favorite part of the match), but the matwork was pretty lacking. James felt a little fish out of water off his back, and things felt fairly inevitable because of that. The standing strikes were as snug as the triangle was loose, and that's fine. I do like Thatcher's awesome single crab being used as an actual finisher. I bought it as a potential finish in Thatcher/Makabe 3, looks great.

Daniel Makabe vs. Bobby Gunns

PAS: This was fun stuff, with Makabe constantly attacking the back and limbs and Gunns trying to keep up. The constant motion is one of the things I like the most about Makabe, he never stops looking for an advantage. Gunns goes for a kneebar, and Makabe is attacking his ankle and foot, he tries for the back and Makabe is spinning away. I liked the finish, with Makabe landing an uppercut to the ribs, which Gunn's sells like a KO body shot, with Makabe able to sink the rear naked choke for the tap.

ER: I agree with Phil about Makabe's constant motion being a great part of his game. I've never watched one of his matches and thought he was ever resting on his laurels. Here he looked like he was really wearing Gunns out, and I especially loved the deadweight struggle over a waistlock, with Gunns trying to lift him into a German, shifting hips, eventually kind of getting a forward trip, but being completely surprised by Makabe's go behind into a quick German. That uppercut to the body was such an awesome spot. I loved how Gunns sold it, like he instinctively flinched to dodge it but then wound up taking it worse, like he just absorbed it with his whole torso and left him stunned, a sitting duck for Makabe to sink in the choke.

Daniel Garcia vs. Buck Gunderson

PAS: This had some cool moments and some stuff which didn't work as well, I thought both Gunderson and Garcia had cool looking takedowns, Gunderson lands a calf slicer out of nowhere, and Garcia finishes with a scissors kick takedown into a sharpshooter he just wrenches back. Still a match like this is make or break based on the strikes, and neither guy was throwing with much oomph. Garcia threw some stinker slaps, and you got to slap the shit out of someone in an Ambition fight.

WALTER vs. Mike Bailey

PAS: Short but energetic, Bailey tries to dance his way away from the charging Rhino. He even gets a knockdown with a nasty shot to the liver, but WALTER is just too big and and eventually overwhelms Bailey and gets him to tap to a boston crab. A little dry for two guys who are normally full of flash, but it was fun while it lasted.

ER: This was a little underwhelming for me, mainly because it felt like WALTER kept going down relatively easy on some strikes that didn't look great. He went down for practically every flurry from go, didn't feel like we built to any kind of surprise knockdown since we established early that anything was going to knock him down. The good shots were good, and the Boston crab finish was great, easily the best part of the match. It's like WALTER decided he didn't want to be hit anymore and just bumrushed his way into grabbing the first couple limbs he could and leaned wayyyy into it.

Timothy Thatcher vs. Daniel Makabe

ER: I really liked how this paralleled their third match from a couple weeks prior, but also had some cool shoe on other foot moments. I thought Thatcher's half crab in their match was really nasty, and now Thatcher won his first round match with that crab, and here he goes right back to it. And much like that prior match he works for Makabe's leg, grabs a heel hook after Makabe blocks the single crab attempt, lands a couple of vicious heel thrusts to Makabe's ribs while working that angle, and even goes back to his ankle lock he used in that prior match. Makabe went for the arm and the series of the two of them sinking holds and grabbing desperately for ropes was exciting as hell. Makabe's armbar looked sunk and I thought for sure it was going to finish things, but I really liked the way they moved from one mat strategy to the next. Thatcher even grabs him at one point and dishes a headbutt to just flatten both. It felt like they threw in some callbacks to that last 3-2-1 match, with Thatcher going for an enziguiri but Makabe blocking (Makabe had hit an enziguiri that lead to him hitting a snap German) and here Makabe hits an enziguiri to Thatcher's face. I did think the finish needed more mustard to be a TKO, as they ended on a couple Thatcher slaps that may have hurt but didn't really read well, and really Thatcher's running dropkick and slap were his weakest looking offense of the match. I don't want my dude out there eating a disgusting beating to make the finish look better, but it was a bit of a letdown after providing so many plausible submission finishes just a few minutes earlier.

PAS: I thought this was the least of their matches against each other, although they have set a pretty high bar. This being sort of a touring version of their 3-2-1 battle matches it missed some of the nuance and history that Makabe has with that crowd. Plenty of neat moments, lots of leglocks, and a really good example of what people can bring to the leglock table. Loved Makabe figure fouring his own legs around Thatcher's knee cap, and how Thatcher brought Makabe into his body to relieve the pressure. The finish was disappointing. I have seen Thatcher hit much harder and Makabe get hit much harder for me to buy that as a KO. Just felt pulled and weaker than it should be for that kind of finish. Cool to get to see these guys work their stuff in a different atmosphere though. They both deserve this spotlight.

Daniel Garcia vs. WALTER

PAS: They sure weren't paying WALTER by the minute here, as this was another quick one. I really like Garcia's energy and he has a meathead charisma, but man he needs to throw with more force. Him jumping WALTER at the bell would have worked way better if his stuff landed with some thud. I liked Garcia meatheading up only to get kicked in the mouth, and this was overall a fun two minutes, I just want to like Garcia more then I do.

ER: This was a much cooler short WALTER match. I dug Garcia's scrambly aggression, just swarming WALTER in an attempt to overwhelm him. And of course I love how WALTER put an immediate stop to that with a boot right to the face, then a couple to the chest for good measure. Those three kicks were arguably the nastiest three strikes thrown on the show up to this point. The finish was fantastic, with Garcia rushing in for a desperation double leg, and WALTER not budging an inch as he graciously accepts Garcia's invitation to "please, sir, please powerbomb me" and then sinks that backbreaking crab. Short but dynamite.

47. Yuki Ishikawa vs. Tyson Dux

PAS: God what a pleasure it is to watch Ishikawa work his magic. He is so slick on the mat, just finding multiple parts of the body to grip and twist, and always finding a way to reverse whatever Dux tries. Dux is fun as a jacked strong guy who would try to use his power to counter Ishikawa's technique. I was a little disappointed with his standing, he was throwing these big demonstrative elbows with a big foot stomp, this is Ishikawa you have to bring it more. That was pretty much the only flaw of this match though,  Dux hung well on the mat, and Ishikawa looked as skilled as ever. I loved this finish with Yuki dragged Dux to the mat and incredibly quickly reversing a choke into a grounded chicken wing crossface. The speed of that reversal was crazy for a guy that old, Ishikawa doesn't seem to have lost any of his pop, which is incredible.

ER: I love that Yuki Ishikawa is still putting out some of my favorite work of his illustrious career, into his 50s. His transitions look as quick as ever, which breaks my brain. This is a guy who would be fun as hell working the Champions Tour, and yet here he is still capable of wowing. I was expecting Dux to be a tomato can on the mat, but he looked more capable than a lot of people on this card. He definitely tried to brute his way through some of Ishikawa's game, and sometimes it worked. His mounted elbows looked good, but Ishikawa is a guy who has taken some grounded elbows. This whole thing was just a Yuki mat clinic. He was going to find any opening he could, and was clearly able to tap Dux in any number of ways, and it continues this cool trend of old man Ishikawa being the aggressor in fights. So many of his best matches during his "prime" saw him as the Fujiwara-esque underdog who would hang in fights long enough to catch his opponent and finish it quick. Now he's just a dude outclassing guys and forcing them to survive. That sequence of Dux working a body vice, thinking he finally had the advantage, only for Yuki to apply pressure to Dux's ankles with his thighs, allowing him to pass into a gnarly ankle lock? Brilliant. That felt like the biggest moment on the card, with Dux appropriately panicking and trying to get to the ropes while Ishikawa kept shifting wait to drag him and that bent ankle back to center. And I love when this kind of match hits that narrow escape, only for a pro like Yuki to sweep effortlessly into a killer body vice chickenwing. Ishikawa vs. Tyson Dux was not a match-up I ever expected to happen, but I'm certainly glad it did.

13. WALTER vs. Timothy Thatcher

PAS: Now that is how you do a KO finish. Thatcher barely makes it up from the powerbomb while selling paralysis in his arms, only to get met with a cricket bat swing of a clothesline for the direct KO. I really though this was Thatcher's match to win. He was able to sneak in some cool counters into Fujiwara armbars, including one while in guard after Walter punched the mat, and I also liked Thatcher wailing away at his organs with bodyshots. Still WALTER ended up being too big and strong and was able to put him down. This lacked some of the structural problems of their individual matches earlier in the show, and was a really banger way to end a tourney.

ER: Hell yeahhhhhhh THIS was what I wanted from these two. Yes yes yes yes yes. This kicked too much ass. It was 10 minutes of brutal strikes and sick twisting, and I was here for all of it. It's odd within context of the show that WALTER got weirdly overwhelmed by Mike Bailey, because the WALTER in this match was the best version of WALTER. I dug the story of WALTER coming into the match far fresher due to quicker finishes, as he looked like a guy who had saved all his strength to exact unholy punishment on Thatcher, and Thatcher was still the guy smart enough to pick his spots and hope he could hang on long enough to catch an arm. Thatcher's Fujiwaras looked finish worthy, and I loved the times he would sucker WALTER into throwing a downward strike only to grab the arm and yank, and Thatcher was throwing some absolute shots in mount, really raining down on him. I really dug the callbacks to the earlier matches, Thatcher twice going for that great single crab and WALTER aiming to snap Thatcher in half with that full crab (that I thought for sure would finish). And we got the best suplexes of the night, WALTER just chucking Thatcher in sick fashion with a killer butterfly suplex and a downright EVIL throw using only Thatcher's head. That was not a vertical suplex, that was WALTER locking in a quick guillotine choke and muscling Thatcher most of the way over by only his head and neck. Good god. WALTER was such a raging bull, really throwing full weight behind everything, and the finish was really disgusting. WALTER hits a couple powerbombs and Thatcher does this great sell where his arms straighten out and his neck strains forward, unable to sit up but sorta able to roll over, and as he staggers to his feet you see WALTER already angling off the ropes, and just wrecks Thatcher with an instant KO lariat. This was all I wanted, and it ended the show on the highest high possible.


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Wednesday, October 09, 2019

AEW Dynamite 10/9/19 Workrate Report

What Worked

ER: Bucks might be the only team out there that I hate when I like them. And I liked big chunks of that opening tag. Matt plays a great "bully version of his mirror image" against teams like Private Party, and his dropkick through the ropes and running powerbomb on Kassidy on the ramp were cool as hell. They could have layered things differently, as Nick Jackson was already running back up on the apron moments after taking a Gin & Juice. It's a move I don't always love as it breaks wrestling physics, but they snapped the best version of it that I've seen, yet because of when they hit it Nick basically had to shrug it off. Quen's shooting star looked fantastic and made a great false finish, and PP's win came off really well.

ER: I've been hit and miss on Jericho for some time, but that was a major league promo. He threw in shoot stuff without stopping for breath or waiting for reaction or acting like he was cool for the sake of throwing in shoot comments, he cut down the genuinely puzzling We The People chants with a quick pro takedown as good as I've ever seen anyone shut down a crowd, and was getting the whole crowd to eat out of the palm of his hand. The promo was quick, it had impact, he made his point and then got the hell out of there. Not many people could have handled that, and a short attacking promo like that is so much more valuable than a neverending slow talking WWE promo.

ER: Excalibur namedropped Terriers, which is not a thing I expect on a wrestling show. Let's get that Terriers blu ray already!

ER: Darby Allin is awesome, managed to look good against uber goof Havoc, and this guy deserves it all.

ER: Emi Sakura's vinyl overalls just made me want a Sakura/Chico Che team. I don't like most of Britt Baker's offense, but I liked her bump into the railing and I do like a dentist ripping at someone's incisors for a finish.

ER: Pac's running chairshot to the back of Omega's head looked really good.

ER: I really wish we could have gotten a Dustin/Sammy match. Jericho wasn't in much, and while Page's offense didn't look as bad as I've seen it look, his mannerisms are downright awful. What the hell was he even doing on the mat after hitting his rolling lariat? Guevara was bumping big, Dustin looked great, would have loved to see what they could do with a singles.

What Didn't Work

ER: Can we not have JR doing the "could Private Party score what many would consider a MAJOR upset?" stuff? He was a negative almost the entire show, with Schiavone hanging back WAY too much. Last week I thought the trio worked really well be limiting JR's contributions, this week JR took the bulk of commentary and Schiavone was left in the Beth Phoenix awkwardly wedged in soundbite role. The balance is all off.

ER: I still cannot believe people getting this excited for fucking Jake Hager. Again, we have at least 600 recorded matches of this guy. Bring in Nathan Jones. I'd be excited for Nathan Jones. I'm not excited for Jake Hager.

ER: Jimmy Havoc is a freaking dweeb. One of the weakest guys in a major American fed. Marvel at badly he misses offense that is supposed to miss, stare in wonder at how unnaturally he moves into position for opponent's offense, watch him  kill his own offense by throwing out a dangerous Tiger Driver that gets kicked out of, he just stinks.

ER: Can the onscreen graphics not float? It looks ridiculous to have the specters of the women's tag bobbing and floating there. It is Halloween season, I suppose. They all float in AEW.

ER: I'm pretty sure Shawn Spears' entrance was about as long as Jericho's promo. Dude is a total tuna can. But whatever agent decided that Spears should take 80% of a match against Moxley does NOT have this company's best interests at heart. Nobody needs to see Spears throwing out sub-Rollins topes and it's great that this man who is actually older than I am  is no longer burdened by the shackles of WWE, but this match needed to be 5 minutes, with Moxley busting him open and coming off like a sadist. Instead they worked this like HHH giving someone a house show rub in their home town before escaping with the win.

ER: Kenny looked like such a goof with his barbed wire stick. There's a greater chance of that rat's nest hair getting tangled in the wire than of him using that barbed wire in a cool way

ER: I like the WCW vibes of Schiavone, but I like the "knock off Jimmy Hart knocking off 90s alternative rock" themes a lot less. Darby has bad Manson music, Dustin has Green Day's "Brain Stew", I'm sure one of the ladies had a Seven Mary Three riff that I missed.

ER: You give me a TV Dustin match...that is also a TV Hangman Page match? Fuck you guys.

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Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Matches from Beyond All Hands on Deck 9/22/19

KTB vs. Erick Stevens

ER: Real nice 7 minute sprint, both guys felt like they were really pushing pace. It's like when a starting pitcher throws one inning in the All Star game, and suddenly he's added 4 MPH to his fastball because he knows he's not going to be throwing 110 pitches. This was a great showing for KTB, with Stevens taking plenty of tough bumps of his own, but really shining a light on KTB. I didn't realize this would be worked so quickly, but they started fast with hard shoulderblocks and never really slowed down. KTB had a couple of big slams but also wound up in the sand, and Stevens took zero seconds of hesitation to nail him with a great bullet tope. I'm sure the guys and gals on this show will be finding sand in their gear for the next several gigs, but I bet doing a crazy tope is made that much easier knowing that sand is there to catch you if your opponent doesn't. We even get some sand thrown in the eyes, which feels like something Finlay would have done had he worked any of the early Bash at the Beach shows. And one of the commentators makes me laugh with an Actual Good "shades of", as he drops a "Shades of Paul Orndorff vs. The Renegade from Bash at the Beach '95. I was there, you were there," to which the other commentator replies, "...I wasn't there." Loved it. KTB hits a picture perfect Asai moonsault, Stevens hits a German when KTB goes up top for another (I like when guys establish offense early, leading to openings for their opponents later when they go back to the well), and I kept digging all of KTB's running attacks. It felt like he would run into the ropes and feel like he wouldn't necessarily know what he was going to do when he hit Stevens, but in a good way. I loved the way he caught Stevens on the top rope, hit a running elbow into him, and then just shrugged him over his shoulders. Stevens' comeback was fiery, really I dug all of this.

Team Tremendous (Dan Barry/Bill Carr) vs. Bear Country (Bear Bronson/Bear Beefcake)

ER: This show appears to be full of hot sprints, and I am always going to be cool with that. This is tornado rules, so the ring was constantly filled with big dudes crashing into each other. I really like Dan Barry, he's the smallest guy here but hits harder than the others, his offense always focuses on results rather than style (look at his nice impactful dropkick through the ropes), and he's the guy who typically ties things like this together. This had a ton of fun action, with Bronson hitting a tope early and Barry following that up with a slingshot senton to the sand. We get plenty of lariats and avalanches from the real big men, Carr and Beefcake, nice big boy sentons, big ass Bossman Slam from Carr, and cool power spots like Barry getting powerbombed into Carr (with Beefcake impressively deadlifting Barry off the mat), or Bear Country setting up a tandem electric chair spot only for Barry to do a simple inside cradle and topple their bear stack. It would have been easy to see everyone getting in each other's way due to the tornado format, but they did a great job at looking reckless while nicely building things. I'm not sure why I slept so long on Team Tremendous. They have several years of stuff that I skipped past on Evolve shows (I think the whole cop thing came off too Chikara for me and I never gave it a full chance) but I have dug Barry in everything I've seen him in the past couple years. I ain't missing any more.

Chris Dickinson vs. Kenn Doane

ER: Dickinson is an established property at this point, and it's cool seeing a former WWE come in and not be treated as a holy entity because they were on TV a decade prior. So many times a former TV guy will be brought in as a special attraction on indies, and the local guy he's fighting will treat it like the fight of his life and it plays as a showcase to the former TV guy with the local guy narrowly getting a win. Now, Doane is obviously different from someone like D'Lo Brown, he's still a premier athlete and can provide something other than nostalgia, but it's cool that he would come in and work a show like this and Dickinson is the one rightly booked to look like the big deal. Doane is good at wrestling, but also doesn't seem to want to do it full time, and he's a cool opponent for Dickinson. We also get the addition of Christian Casanova and Cam Zagani running interference for Doane, so Dickinson is in there against essentially three guys and comes off even cooler for it. Doane has some nice athletic stuff, real nice dropkick and crazy vertical leap on his flying back elbow, but also throws a mean right hand, and I love his cocky athletic guy persona. If he wants it, he feels like someone who could be a major name on the indies. And it was great that he came in knowing that the best thing for him to do would be to highlight Dickinson's star. And Dickinson looked great. He hit hard and missed big, everything he did looked like he was 100% committed to wrecking Doane. But he really came off like a big deal when he was finally wrecking Doane's lackeys. Hitting a running Pazuzu bomb on Zagani to the floor is a great holy shit spot, as it's not a move that's easy to hit clean, plenty of bad landings possible. But the visual of Dickinson running across the ring with him, wearing the captains hat, tossing him to the masses, was awesome. I loved how Doane put over the finishing leg lock, really reaching desperately for the ropes, getting pulled deeper into the ring with each desperate grasp, before finally tapping. I'm curious to see more of Doane outside of Beyond, and Dickinson just looks like a star at this point.

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Monday, October 07, 2019

2019 Ongoing MOTY List: Dickinson vs. Thatcher

51. Chris Dickinson vs. Timothy Thatcher Beyond Wrestling 7/24

PAS: Beyond has been running a Dickinson challenge series leading up to his match against Sekimoto at the end of the month.  They bring in Thatcher and they have exactly the match that is promised on paper. Really minimalist thudding professional wrestling. Lots of nasty slaps and hard forearms, uppercuts and kicks. I really liked all of the work in Thatcher's leg lock, the leg lock can be a time killer hold, but Thatcher kept adjusting and twisting the ankle and Dickinson turned red with pain and constantly made little attacks to reverse or escape. The announcers kept talking up Dickinson's second wind, and he took a pretty big beating, before firing back and winning with a nasty piledriver and Pazuzu bomb. I liked the idea of Dickinson being a hard enough hitter that he can win a match even if he is down on the cards.

ER: This was a nice, boiled down, compact version of what these two can do, and it's pretty clear that we like what these guys do. Both guys are so good at conveying struggle and at making time killer seem important, that I like a shorter match length on them as it just adds more weight to everything they do. We don't need Dickinson dropping several nasty death valley drivers, just one in the right sequence can be enough. Both guys work hard on the mat so that it always feels like things are advancing, and I dug a couple of Dickinson's reversals; it's like the sweatier he got the more dangerous he got, as there were at least two times Thatcher had him in something potentially dangerous and Dickinson expertly slipped out and locked on something nastier. Dickinson grabs an armbar at one point that I thought looked finisher-worthy, and early on he rolls through into an awesome kneebar. It really felt like he knew where to keep his limbs farthest from Thatcher while still working for his reversal, loved that moment where Thatcher was blindly reaching for Dickinson's free arm and Dickinson kept it away long enough that he was able to reverse due to Thatcher's tunnel vision. Both guys lay in uppercuts and kicks, thought Thatcher's uppercuts looked especially jarring and I loved Dickinson's whipping kick to a kneeling Thatcher. Dickinson's straight drop death valley driver (almost like a northern lights bomb), and the piledriver rolled into the Pazuzu Bomb was a great exclamation point finish. And what put it all over for me was that awesome high leverage pin by Dickinson, with him bringing backslide energy to a straight pin, sliding down Thatcher and putting all his weight on Thatcher's legs.


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Sunday, October 06, 2019

WWE Hell in a Cell 10/6/19, Not Live But Not Bad

Lacey Evans vs. Natalya

ER: Lacey's yellow outfit is fantastic, easily the best gear she's had. And this has become a feud that I have enjoyed far more than I ever thought I would. Tamina is probably the only woman on the roster I would want to see Natalya over, and Evans felt like someone who was a slightly better Eva Marie, but not only has Evans improved seemingly quite quickly, but their ring chemistry is genuinely really good. They have worked several matches this year, but I wasn't paying attention to them until one caught my eye on Raw a month ago. And this was definitely the best of their recent series, and what felt like a career making performance from Evans. Evans comes off really nasty, and has a ton of different attacks to the body and face. I'm not sure what it says about the state of WWE that Lacey Evans' strikes are top 5 in the company right now. She dropped some indy aspects of her offense and instead has focused on stomping limbs and throwing elbows to throats. I love how she stomps Natalya's arm just to get it out of the way, and when the action rolls to the apron she starts slamming her leg into the apron, kicking her in the knee, slamming her into the ring steps, and strangling her with the ring skirt. The moment Natalya rolled to the floor, Lacey met her on the floor with a straight kick right to the chest, and was still dropping those kicks later. Natalya seems to tighten things up opposite Lacey, her elbows hit more snug and she puts actual personality behind slaps, a bad actress that is suddenly able to look like she cannot stand Evans and wants to hit her hard. The finish is quick and satisfying, with Evans missing her really nice double jump moonsault and tapping quick to the Sharpshooter, then getting waylaid by one last Natalya elbow post match. I love the way they played up the personal elements of their ring feud, and wouldn't have guessed these two would have matched up so well. The best pre-show match this year. It's extra impressive to come out and have a nasty little match the crowd gets behind, on a card filled with gimmick matches.

Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch

ER: Ever since Becky Lynch reached main event feud status, the singles matches that feel like they should be great with the build, haven't been great. Most have fallen short. I don't think I've actually been that into a Becky Lynch match all year, until this one. And even this one was mostly for the big time Sasha Banks performance, easily Sasha's best performance since the Ronda match earlier this year. Sasha had an awesome violent cage match performance, getting thrown painfully into the cage several times, flinging herself back on hard dropkicks and flying into it with big splatting bumps. Sasha built to her big garbage moments well, with the Meteora off the apron into Lynch/a ladder looking great (and impressive how she aimed her knees safely between ladder steps and also not into Lynch's face), and the one into the ring was a nice mid-match nearfall. Lynch doesn't always throw weapon shots with enough force, and some of her loaded chain punches and chairshots looked a little light. Luckily Sasha was there to violently throw herself into everything, with Lynch taking plenty of mean shots as well, including a big bump through a table. Sasha set up a chair, wedged into the cell, fairly early in the match, and I love how they paid that off late in the match with Sasha reversing an Irish whip to send Lynch face first into it. The violent escalation was handled really well, the spills looked good, and they actually opened the show with a superplex into a messy pile of chairs. Awesome.

Roman Reigns/Daniel Bryan vs. Luke Harper/Erick Rowan

ER: This took a bit to get going, and it was weird how much they were overshadowed by the 4 ladies who wrestled before them. Reigns and Bryan in the same match should always be a big deal, but they found themselves with some surprisingly big shoes to fill. And this turned into a real good, exciting tag match, that was still somehow the weakest match on the card. Somehow, indeed. Things seemed a little jumbled at first but when they moved into the Bryan heat segment I was into it. Bryan is good at eating a beating, Rowan and Harper are fun to watch deliver one. They had some big spots to compete with in just the prior match, and I think they did a good job getting to them. The big ones, Bryan getting powerbombed through a table and Roman spearing Rowan through the other announce table, looked great and got their own reactions. But there were other big spots like Harper hitting Roman with a tope and nearly smashing his face in the edge of a table. The second half of this really brought the heat, and it would be a shame if they matched these teams up a couple more times to see if they have a full classic in them. This could have possibly stood out more on a weaker show, but this match overall delivered.

Randy Orton vs. Ali

ER: See, this is turning out to be another no buzz underbooked WWE PPV that ends up delivering big fun. This is a match I would probably fast forward through on Raw, but I gave it a shot and liked what they did with the time. It played as a nice gimmick free palate cleanser after the two openers, just  solid simple ring work with a no fuss finish. I'm sure people could be upset that Ali didn't go over, as Orton isn't a guy who needs wins and Ali sure could use one. But as a match in a vacuum (which is all I really care about if it's guys I'm not super interested in) it was good. Ali took big bumps and Orton came off like a dick. I like when Orton uses unnecessary stuff like eyepokes, things he clearly doesn't need to do to win. Ali took big bumps, Orton knocked him off of high places, this was fun.

Alexa Bliss/Nikki Cross vs. Asuka/Kairi Sane

ER: Asuka has been majorly lost in the shuffle ever since the winning streak stopped, but the crowd is still clearly into her and I'm glad. And this match continues the good vibes of this show. I LOVE when they go out and actually work to exceed expectations. The whole roster has felt really energized tonight and maybe that's even a happy byproduct of the new competition. Asuka came off as fresh as she's looked all year, totally dominant in all her moments and instantly tapping back into her unique charisma that has just been absent from TV. Bliss was great on the apron, really one of the best apron workers in WWE (which is a cool, undertalked about skill), and Cross was really good at running headlong into the Warriors offense. Sane throwing a full body weight elbow drop right into the feet of Cross was an awesome moment, and I was way into Asuka cutting everyone off with kicks throughout. This was real fun, and I hope it leads to more Kabuki Warriors on TV, freshen up some match-ups.

AJ Styles/Karl Anderson/Luke Gallows vs. Viking Raiders/Braun Strowman

ER: I thought this continued the streak of really great to really fun matches on this card, even with an impossibly uninspired finish. A match that just ends because another team got disqualified for unfairly kicking ass is never going to be an interesting finish. Unless you go so extreme with the one sided beatdown that it builds to a blood feud. But this just ends because of stomping, and that's pretty lame. But the rest was good! Vikings are both going to bring fun hoss moments, Styles took a bigass backdrop bump and then got leveled some more during Braun's great hot tag, Gallows brought nice uppercuts, this was a perfectly fun six man. It felt a little more TV match than PPV match, but the action was good nonetheless.

Baron Corbin vs. Chad Gable

ER: I love how the consensus opinions are turning on Corbin. He's still divisive but you can see more and more people getting into his specific brand of annoyance, because his brand is pretty undeniable at this point. He's the only guy on the roster really allowed to work this slow methodical actively trying to piss off the crowd style, and it's fun. And I really liked this one, thought they effectively laid this out for Gable to take a big bumping beating and still able to come back in the second half and start plausibly hitting some big things. Corbin was slow but explosive on control, and Gable would fly hard into his stuff. The slide in running clothesline hit big (and nicely set up an important moment in the closing stretch), and Gable was taking hard bumps for everything including a nasty rolling tumble into the ringpost. But Gable's comeback was fun as hell, and he really seems like someone who the crowd has been wanting to get behind. The "Shortly Gable" stuff on commentary comes off pretty lame, but if they actually let him go in there and kick ass like this then it won't matter. I dug him flying into Corbin, countering the sliding lariat, nailing the cannonball, hitting a big crossbody, and nailing the Chaos Theory. There was nothing screwy at all about the finish, and it made Gable come off like a cool threat. Corbin is deceptively large (he looked like he towered over the Rock on Smackdown) but he's good with working smaller guys and making them seem credible. Both guys could come out of this feud looking great.

Bayley vs. Charlotte

ER: Gotta say the first thing that impressed me with this match was how vocal the crowd still was. They were loudly Wooing along with all of Charlotte's chops, and that's a testament to this being a hot show. It's impressive that we're 7 or 8 matches in and the crowd hasn't burnt out. The good stuff has been constant, the Great stuff has been peppered in, and it's had a great vibe that's held interest the whole night. Even as the match was feeling a little slow or a little too dry, the crowd was right there breaking out the loudest chant of the night, people loudly split between Charlotte and Bayley. This was the weakest match of the night, but the crowd was still hot for it, and that's cool. It felt a little too basic, felt too anticlimactic, and felt like a match that Charlotte definitely should not have won. Sasha lost in nasty fashion earlier, and then Bayley kind of just goes down easy like this was Charlotte vs. Dana Brooke in the last hour of Raw. That seems kind of dumb. Charlotte worked a basic attack the knee story, and that looked good, and it logically lead to her winning with the figure 8. But I wanted a more interesting journey on the way to the destination.

Seth Rollins vs. Bray Wyatt

ER: So, I don't care enough about either guy to waste much energy going off on how bad this was and how stupid the booking was. I was at least curious to see where the whole Fiend thing was going to go, but goddamn am I just tired of seeing Seth Rollins matches. The dude stinks. I have skipped several of his main events on nights I wasn't digging the PPV, but I was so into the rest of this show that my mood was strong and I wanted to see if we could implausibly knock it out of the park. Obviously, they didn't fully, because this match blew. Bray losing dumb, Rollins matches bad, the end.

ER: The last match sucked in ways that people are loudly and justifiably complaining about. It is fair. But since I really don't care in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't affect how much I enjoyed this show. This was one of the most fun overall shows of the year for WWE, and if only 85% of it is good then I don't honestly care that the lame 15% came in the last 15%. The rest of the card kicked ass, with Evans/Natalya being my favorite pre-show match of the year, Sasha delivering her best performance of the year, and Gable/Corbin being a great non-gimmick match. This was a blast of a show, even if I do wish Seth Rollins was not a thing.

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Saturday, October 05, 2019

WWE Big 3: Lorcan, Gallagher, Gulak 2019 Catch-Up

None of the Big 3 appeared on WWE TV this week, so I will continue looking back at matches of theirs I missed in 2019, filling in those blanks.

Drew Gulak vs. Eric Bugenhagen NXT 1/30 (Aired 2/6/19)

ER: This was my first time actually seeing Bugenhagen, and I dig the vibe. A less grating, more natural fit Adam Rose. This was obviously going to be a Gulak showcase, and it was that, while also giving Bugenhagen a couple decent moments. He wanted to rock, Gulak wanted to throw boots, both got their wish. Holding an abdominal stretch while doing a Pete Townshend windmill is a good spot for the gimmick, I like his look and I like his era appropriate tights. Gulak was the sadistic parent filled with Satanic Panic worry, jumping off the ropes with hard stomps to Bugenhagen's chest, tossing him with suplexes, locking on that sick body vice dragon sleeper for the win. This was short, and the right mixture of violence with goof off.

Oney Lorcan/Danny Burch vs. The Forgotten Sons (Wesley Blake/Steve Cutler) NXT 2/20 (Aired 3/6/19)

ER: Cool go go go match with Forgotten Sons working over Lorcan's back early, and then continuing to take their shots at it whenever they could. Lorcan is a fun guy to fight through a back injury, and I liked the ways it extended the match. Lorcan and Burch always felt like they were fighting from underneath, a regular role for them, and one they excel at. The back work was simple, just Blake throwing forearms at Lorcan's back, working some big stomps off the ropes, and I dug how it kept paying off the longer the match went. It's easy to work a simple moment like Lorcan not being able to lift an opponent, leading to Burch getting waylaid, and the Sons have a lot of offense to waylay someone. Burch had several impressive moments, mainly working his schtick around members of the Large Adult Sons getting in his way. There was on section where he dropped both of them with German suplexes, noticed one of them had rolled into the way of where he was throwing the next one, so pivoted his hips and threw his next German diagonally so he wouldn't cause a brutal crash landing. That's pro. Cutler also rolled into the way of Burch's kip up, and Burch spun slightly on his back to change the kip up direction. It's impressive when a guy is that aware of his opponents' replacement and doesn't just go stumbling through everything. Lorcan had a cool comeback where he flew hard into uppercuts and hit his wild flip dive, but I dug how things wrapped up by him getting caught in a powerbomb, throwing him right into knees. Forgotten Sons have some cool double teams, I liked this match up a lot.

Jack Gallagher/Drew Gulak/Humberto Carrillo vs. Gran Metalik/Kalisto/Lince Dorado 205 Live 3/26/19

ER: This was okay, but Lucha House Party came off pretty sluggish in spots, really low energy for guys who are supposed to be super fast exciting spot machines. Even their Lu-Cha chants felt like they were moving their arms through cement, and the layout wasn't very interesting at all. The LHP showcase moments were pretty bland, even with an occasional nice spot (like Metalik's always nice tornillo). It got interesting for a bit when Gallagher made Dorado slip on the apron by yanking on the ring skirt, allowing Gulak to dropkick Dorado to the floor, where Gallagher threw a couple punches to his ear. The Gulak control portions were the only part of this I was really into. Gallagher felt really underused, and when he was in he was always opposite Lince Dorado, who kept throwing off the timing of everything. They tried for a big car crash moment to end things, and they couldn't even do a lot of that right. They build to a big tower of doom spot where Carrillo and Gulak get powerbombed by Metalik which also sends Kalisto taking the worst of it with a massive superplex. But of course, due to the way they laid out the car crash spot, Kalisto was right back hopping into action about 10 seconds later. Dorado flinches while taking Gallagher's big headbutt, so even Gallagher's big spot in the match doesn't end up looking like much. This was another 15 minute 205 Live match that fell way short of what it should have been. The 6 man tag feels like one of the easier formats to deliver a banging 15 minute match, and most of the 205 Live 6 mans are just a drag. You should, in theory, be able to throw any 6 people from the WWE roster in a match, give them 15 minutes, and have a fun match at the other side. But somehow this is rarely the case on 205. It's really weird.

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