Segunda Caida

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

Saturday, January 21, 2017

All Time MOTY List HEAD to HEAD Honda v. Kobashi V. Honda v. Saito

Tamon Honda v. Akitoshi Saito NOAH 3/30/03

ER: This is a match to determine the #1 contender to Kobashi's GHC title, and it's a killer game of Saito unloading more offense than he's probably ever unloaded in a match, while Honda was desperately trying to survive. Both men went hard, harder than usual. Honda isn't really a guy known for his strikes, more for his grappling and freaky tendon strength. But here Honda lobbed stiff elbows and stiff arm lariats in a way I've never really seen from him. They start with some nasty-as-expected shoulderblocks and from there Saito mostly takes over, ripping into Honda's knee with kicks, going after him with elbows and chops, cutting him to the mat with an axe kick, even getting to hit the Dead End before Honda even attempts it. Honda fires back with occasional headbutts, lariats and elbows but his knee keeps getting kicked (and him propping Honda's leg on the ropes and kicking it looked brutal), and Honda makes that knee injury look great. So as Saito keeps dishing a beating, Honda's muscle memory kicks in, and he just starts grounding Saito with the Olympic Hell. He turns pinfalls into it, tosses in his rolling version, even throws in an Olympic Hell suplex that I don't recall seeing (and thanks to the doofus camera work we didn't even see Honda hit his Dead End, as the director chose to cut to a 10 second shot of bored ass Kobashi at commentary. Thanks guys!), and Saito starts to wilt. After everything else fell short, Honda just spammed the Olympic Hell and wore Saito out. And while the finish does kind of come out of nowhere, and somewhat feels like Saito controlled 75% of the match, Saito passing out unexpectedly nicely put over the OH as a submission that should not be taken lightly, and one that could make for an immediate comeback.

PAS:  I really loved this when it happened and loved it again each time on rewatch. I didn't remember Saito using Honda's moves, but early in this he hits both a Dead End and an Olympic Hell, which was odd but kind of cool, you didn't really see that kind of thing in early 2000s NOAH. Saito was also really brutal with his kicks to the knee, Honda has these big lumpy looking knee braces under his tights and Saito was teeing off on them. I loved Honda's run of Olympic Hell variations, he feels like a anaconda who just tightens and tightens his grip, he can hit that move out of anywhere no matter how hurt he is, and if he locks it tight, you will be blowing spit bubbles. Though that it kind of came out of nowhere made it even better. Great match, career match from Saito and a notch in Honda's belt.

Honda v. Kobashi review


ER: I really loved this match, but it has nowhere near the drama of the title match a couple weeks later. And not just the crowd really getting behind Honda, but the build itself within the match felt larger. Kobashi's star power combined with the fans finally viewing Honda as a threat, and the drama that comes with a title bout, makes the champ an easy winner for me.

PAS: I think I might have liked the actual work in this a little better, I really loved Saito as a crowbar and Honda fighting through the asskicking to grab a choke was cool stuff, plus the right guy went over. Still the big matchiness of the Kobashi match has to win in a MOTY battle.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Ishii v. Shibata

75. Tomohiro Ishii v. Katsuyori Shibata NJPW 2/11/16

ER: I don't typically go out for Ishii stuff, but this one kind of ended up entrancing me. It was this weirdly worked, cooperative match, professional match...but with both guys agreeing to do every "worked" move as hard as they possibly could. So the match started almost immediately with the two just standing in front of each other, taking turns elbowing each other. It's stupid at first, but then it keeps going, and it keeps going, and it seems stuck on an endless loop of shots that keep getting harder and more ill-intentioned. Ishii is taking shots to the throat, Shibata is taking shots in the neck and trap. The shots look crippling. And they keep happening. And the whole match is essentially move trading, and dick swinging...and it kind of takes you over. It's like Bad Lieutenant: Harvey Keitel's cop starts the movie at rock bottom. And new, rockier rock bottoms keep presenting themselves. This match starts with men hitting each other as hard as they can, and moves into clotheslining each other as hard as possible, kicking each other as hard as possible. The shots to the neck and throat keep happening, every Ishii clothesline looks like it should cave in Shibata's chest. Even the missed moves missed with meanness. A Shibata soccer kick, a low cutting Ishii lariat, these moves are dodged and ducked, but if they somehow weren't they would have been devastating. So the whole match has this vibe of one-upsmanship and "I'm tougher than you", except it's never unprofessional. It's an almost surreal vibe, and I dug it. Maybe the first "Ishii stiff fest" I've enjoyed.

PAS: I though the first part of this match was pretty terrible. Both guys hitting each other and making goofy faces, the worst of this kind of lame-o New Japan dick swinging. Lots of the shots weren't even that nasty, some of the shots to the throat were, but the elbows weren't that nasty, and the chops weren't Tenryu or Wahoo level or anything. The spot where each guy invites the other dude to suplex him was some dump ass Chikara shit, I almost excpected Ishii to hypnotize Shibabta or throw an invisible grenade. The second part of the match was an actually wrestling match with selling and transitions and everything and was pretty good. I liked Shibata going for the triangle choke and how he kept adjusting it, and the Ishii lariats were super nasty and were actually sold. I also loved the headbutts, it got a little Futenish near the end which I am into. I do think the PK is a weak finisher especially compared to some of the stuff which didn't finish the match from both guys. Liked the end enough to stick this on the bottom of the list, but it isn't going any higher.


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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Brian Kendrick is So Messed Up He Wants You Here

Brian Kendrick/Paul London vs. The Young Lions (Lucky Kid/Tarkan Aslan) (DWA 4/5/14) - FUN

ER: What a confounding match; one which, while I was watching, had a feeling would completely break Phil. The next day when I told him about it, Phil sure enough proclaimed that he had watched enough professional wrestling in his life, and that he was done. His first act as a human who doesn't watch pro wrestling will be to start watching Ray Donovan, where he can enjoy modern performances by great old guys like James Woods, Stacy Keach, Dabney Coleman, and Elliott Gould, and not have to listen to me tell him about matches that he would hate. Because this was a confounding match. The good was really great. The bad was the exact kind of thing I hate in wrestling. This was in Germany at what appeared to be a tiny hunting lodge. The building was small, and there couldn't have been many people in attendance. The match begins with them playing musical chairs for 5 minutes. WAIT NO KEEP READINGGG!!! All four men played musical chairs, Aqua's Barbie Girl played (and stopped, intermittently, per the rules), and it was actually 5 minutes. Paul London made a lot of really lame gay jokes ("I like girls dude!" as the music stopped and Aslan sat on his lap), and they completed the musical chairs, the match actually started.

And it didn't take too long to get really good. Paul London, especially, was awesome. He matched up with Lucky Kid, who appeared to be basically working like 2007 Brian Kendrick or Paul London, complete with overly baggy vinyl shorts. They both did some shoot shoulderblocks with London challenging to hit him off the ropes as hard as possible, naturally building to London hitting a dropkick. Their mat work was fast and landed hard, especially a great go behind waistlock takedown from London. The clubs to the back looked good, and Kendrick/London were great at cutting off the ring. The musical chairs bit was becoming a distant memory, something I could easily tell people "Just start the video at the 5:00 mark".  And then, out of nowhere, the match reverted to comedy, and stayed that way until the end, 7 minutes later. It's like they had all planned on working a normal match until the got a signal, and once that signal hit, the actual match was over. All four men got into the ring, stood in a circle, and just took turns chopping each other. For 5 minutes. Everybody just chopped the person to their right. For 5 minutes. Then the ref got involved, clotheslined London and Kendrick, everybody involved collapsed into a pile, more gay jokes happened, and then the match ended with a sunset flip. That 7 minutes in the middle was so much fun and was really going to a great place. And then they had to go and make Phil finally quit professional wrestling for good.

Brian Kendrick vs. TJ Perkins (WWE Raw 1/2/17) - SKIPPABLE

ER: Alright, bringing some fresh match-ups into the new year! Been waiting for these two to lock horns for awhile now. Wait AND it's under 3 minutes long?? Yeah you don't need this. Even in a total throwaway match Kendrick drops in a few cool moments, especially his weirdo little leap through the ropes to send TJ recoiling back into the ring. The sliced bread reversal was fine and there was nothing terrible about it, it's just that the whole thing was unnecessary.

Brian Kendrick vs. Cedric Alexander (WWE Raw 1/16/17) - SKIPPABLE

ER: These short TV matches have been some pretty uninspiring stuff, and I'm someone who likes short TV matches. This mostly felt like a Cedric showcase, which is a shame as he wasn't on his A game. He does this ugly split legged moonsault to the floor that looked like he was trying it for the first time on a lark, sloppily crashing knees first into Kendrick's head. That was the worst offender as none of his stuff looked very good. Match picks up when Cedric goes for the lumbar check and Kendrick rakes his eyes and yanks at his nose to drop down into the bully choke and I'm digging it...but then Alicia Fox runs out to continue the confusing and poorly acted love triangle plot, made slightly more bearable as I believe Kendrick calls her "toots". We get one more cool bully choke finish tease, but Cedric hits the lumbar check fairly effortlessly after that. Kendrick takes it really nasty, less spring than other guys but his landing looks more brutal, like parts of his body all landed at different times. Nice Kendrick performance, poor Cedric performance, lame angle continuation.


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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: America Alpha v. Wyatt Family

1. American Alpha v. Bray Wyatt/Randy Orton WWE Smackdown 1/10

ER: Fun little gem from SDL, worked like a mid 90s Rock n Rolls/Heavenly Bodies match. Orton and Wyatt have been putting in their best work in a couple years (maybe more in Orton's case) as a team, and I'm glad they got a nice long TV match against AA. They were really fun cutting off Gable, loved the sequence with Bray allllmost hitting Sister Abigail. Orton was working like his dad, hit a killer slingshot suplex, and really looked revitalized in the ring in a way I haven't noticed in ages. Bray too as he was looking really explosive, getting big height on his senton, running super fast on his avalanche. Gable hit an unexpected somersault senton off the apron and was doing anything to get ahead of the Wyatts, and while Jordan is a fine hot tag we all knew it was building to a big Gable hot comeback. We'll avoid talking about his punches (because man were those some bad punches) but Gable was awesome using his body as a weapon. Big crossbody, boss german suplex, just tearing around the ring flying into fools. Harper was integrated well and that guy really needs a singles push, and I could really get used these kind of tags on SDL every week.

PAS: Orton may have really found his lane as a heel tag worker, Heavenly Bodies isn't the right comp, as there was no stooging and comedy here, this was more like an Andersons tag match with both Wyatt and Orton being simple and vicious. Orton's chinlock and Garvin Stomp work way better in a tag setting, than as time killers in singles matches. AA are both still pretty green, but they have some great suplexes and a lot of energy and great suplexes and energy will go a long way. Too bad they are moving towards a Wyatt breakup because this tag team is the most I have enjoyed these guys in years.


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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

1981 Match of the Year

Andre the Giant v. Stan Hansen NJPW 9/23/81

PAS: The greatest King Kong v. Godzilla match in wrestling history and that is one of the most fun styles of wrestling ever. Worked exactly as you want it to be, both guys hurl right into each other, Hansen is so awesome here, you can't turn a sledgehammer into a scalpel, so he going to smash right into Andre even if a monster comes calling. One thing I noticed re-watching this was how great Andre is at working simple holds, when he grabs an arm it really feels like he is going to rip it off and floss with it. The restart and Andre killing the ref for a DQ were perfect spots for this match, no reason to think this war would be contained by the rules, and it made perfect sense that this would end with both guys smashing the ring boys trying to keep them apart. Andre getting hit with the lariat and spilling outside only to come back to kill the ref was a great bit of business. Hansen finally hit Goliath with the slingshot (although this match was more Goliath v. smaller Goliath) and when you wound a maddog he is going to lash out. Not an enormous fan of Face Andre, but Evil violent Andre is one of my favorite wrestlers ever, and this is one of his masterpieces.

ER: My #1 match from the New Japan 80s set! Monster vs monster, hoss vs. hoss, two enormous men bashing the hell out of each other. There's too much I love about this and it's no different from what everybody else loves about it. Andre ripping at the arm is so amazing to see in this modern day of Catch Point, because as he was bending and wringing out that lariat arm it looked exactly the same as somebody like Gulak or Thatcher doing it. Andre as Billy Robinson just seems unfair. The Hansen elbow drop that Andre turns into an armbar just incredible. I love all of Andre's bumping. As I watched it I tried to think why Big Show's bumping never hit me on the same level as Andre's did. Big Show was bigger, it should be more impressive! But I think it never hit me as much because Big Show is taking bumps, whereas Andre looks like a man trying not to fall. Big Show bumps like a giant version of anybody. Andre looks like a real time avalanche. The bump to the floor off the lariat was perfection, his fall into the ropes from Hansen's opening match short lariat was perfect (with him falling into Hansen, into the ropes), his teetering and lumbering and stumbling were perfect. Hansen would batter him with these short strikes and every time Andre would eventually grab at him and just knock him silly. Both men completely understood everything about what would make this work: They knew how fans saw them, Hansen knew he was a monster, Andre knew Hansen was a monster, Andre knew he was the bigger monster, Hansen knew Andre was the bigger monster. Seems easy, but there are so many wrestlers that work the same match regardless of opponent, that seeing two guys with massive presence, that both fully grasped WHY they both worked so well, is just a wrestling gift. This match will be hard to beat.


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Monday, January 16, 2017

Lucha Worth Watching: Overkill!!

Since overkill is the new canon best style in professional wrestling history, I thought we'd look at a couple recent lucha matches that had both had a) overkill to the nines, and that b) I enjoyed a lot.

Valiente vs. Ultimo Guerrero (CMLL 6/17/16)

ER: Real quality Arena Mexico singles match with a hot crowd that made the big moves feel like a big deal. CMLL singles matches typically disappoint me, as those neverending terceras filled with heatless near fall trading until something inevitably finishes things just make me completely impatient. This managed to work within that formula, while surpassing the same old tired feelings that formula creates. This actually felt like a big stips match to me, despite going into it not knowing why Valiente got a title shot, and despite never having cared about any sort of lucha title reign. But I got sucked into this one. We get a bunch of fun mat stuff, like Ultimo does in his indy matches, but more importantly Valiente actually got a chance to shine on the mat, something we don't often get to see (and those watching TV would not get to see, as Lucha Azteca cut 4 minutes of his mat stuff out of the match). I loved the leg bar stuff and that weird freaky Backlund-ish arm lift. Valiente's weird single leg indian deathlock sub looks really painful and I have zero problems with Ultimo screaming the second Valiente leans back with it. I like the direction things take as they spill to the floor, with Valiente wildly getting out there by Fuerza-ing himself, leading to Ultimo tossing him into the crowd and then nailing him with his hip attack. Valiente came off more like a star in this match than I've seen him in some time, and his big moves all looked spectacular. Those fast and stocky topes, that gorgeous Valiente Special moonsault to the floor, even his sometimes silly offense looked devastating, like his tombstone jawjacker that catches UG in the teeth. There was certainly overkill, but I think it built in a far more satisfying way than typical CMLL singles. It really felt like Valiente was pulling out all the stops and he was able to convey that great.

Rey Escorpion vs. Teddy Hart (Liga Elite 7/21/16)

ER: Super flawed but super fun match, with so much overkill that some jersey metal head is blaring it from his 1989 Nissan Sentra. Teddy Hart is a tough bastard who is usually too interested in bullshit to be tough. Escorpion is a guy who likes to punch people and Hart is a guy who you want to see get punched. We do some fun roll-y stuff, and you can see the moment where Rey lets Teddy know what kind of match this is going to be. They're working some arm stuff and Rey is pinning him, and kicks the heel of his boot right across Teddy's face. From there Teddy takes plenty of stiff shots, runs into boots, and delivers a couple nice punches of his own. Teddy comes off like an aloof douche, but he has no problem leaning into shots so who cares! Rey drops a huge leg, and all his covers are extra nasty in the way he grinds his forearm into Hart's face. The overkill gets ridiculous with both dudes getting dumped on their heads with flipping piledrivers and Rey getting powerbombed in sick fashion over Hart's knees. But while the kickouts got silly, I liked so much of their stiffness and attention to little things, that I still really dug the match overall.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

I Also Watched Omega vs. Okada

So this has pretty easily been the most talked about wrestling match of the new year, with some wildly divergent opinions. Phil watched it last week and didn't like it, and he and I tend to match up on opinion 80+% of the time. But since so many are talking about this match I just had to see it for myself. Also, I wanted to see if I would get one of those giant cardboard checks for being the one millionth person to write an opinion on this match on the internet.

And I ended up liking this match more than I expected to. Also, I hated this match more than I expected to. Instead of writing a couple of supergraphs going over match analysis, I figure I'll just toss out some shorter observations in no order of importance.

Omega put on an athletically freakish performance, the type of performance we may be able to look back on and pinpoint exact moments where he body started to die. His bumps were insane, and not just the epic backdrop through a table, but all of his bumps off of almost any Okada strike. Now, what's really absurd, is the VAST disconnect between Omega's bumps, and Okada's shitty, shitty strikes. Okada's the champ, he's the man, sure. But Omega bumps for him as if Okada were Stan Hansen. But a Stan Hansen who was an astronaut, whose body was rebuilt with bionic parts by OSI. I guess it would have been easier to make a Stone Cold Steve Austin joke right there. ANYWAY, by the end this started to feel like the Hulk Hogan/Shawn Michaels match, with one guy throwing a shitty back elbow while the other guy launches himself 10 feet across the ring, lands on the back of his neck, flips into the ropes and then rebounds off the ropes. It's like Omega was fighting against fucking Iron Man. All of Okada's offense is built around his opponent making it look good. It NEVER looks good otherwise. He needs guys to take dangerous bumps off the top rope from a floaty dropkick, needs guys to dump themselves on their head after a lariat, needs guys to sell his awful strikes. And Omega's bumping was so damn violent the whole match, that it looked almost comical when you watched what was supposedly causing him to get bumped like that. Standard dropkick? Fly backwards as fast as you can into the corner! Omega was killing himself out there, while Okada looked like a guy who would have gotten his jaw kicked in on a WAR undercard.

The 6 star rating is going to mean it gets compared instantly with matches like Misawa/Kawada, which isn't going to do any favors to Omega/Okada. When you essentially call a match "perfect" you're practically begging people to look for imperfections, which isn't really fair. And I did not try to do that. But one major thing I noticed about this match was just how often a guy did something only so his opponent could do a move. There were so many moments of Omega running at Okada, only to get hit with a backbreaker or elbow...but Omega had nothing planned himself. Was he just planning on running into Okada? They weren't even attempting to make these things look like a reversal, even though the whole match was built around reversals. It's sloppy move planning, something you never saw in Misawa/Kawada. If Kawada was going to run into an elbow, he wouldn't just run full steam across the ring with his arms at his sides.

For a match built around two guys obsessively trying to hit their finishers, goddamn do they have two of the most convoluted finishers in wrestling. Okada just can't lariat his opponent, he has to do a 7 step polka before doing so; Omega can't just do a Michinoku driver, he has to bury his head up Okada's ass to lift him up on his shoulders in a seated position, fumble around to lock a couple of arms, drape his leg a certain way, it's absurd. This isn't Misawa dropping to a knee and doing everything he could to sandbag a folding powerbomb, this was two guys working together to perform needlessly complicated moves. Do you know how hard it would be to get someone seated on your shoulders, if that person even slightly didn't want to? And this is just talking their awful finisher set up, there are plenty of other moves that you'd really have to think hard to figure out who performed a move, and who was supposed to be impacted by the move. The worst offender was Omega hitting some sort of large leaping leg lariat/bulldog, but just leapfrogging over Okada's head while Okada just kind of fell on his face. I have no clue what it was supposed to be, but apparently it hurt one of them?

We don't need to go into how fucking terrible Red Shoes is. He turned in another all time worst performance in this one. His mannerisms are so distracting. I don't understand them. Omega takes a move and both men are lying on the mat, and he just gets right in between them and waves his arms toward Omega, like he's just saying "Cover him! Cover him! Cover him! Okada! Cover Omega! Omega is on the mat! Cover him! Now! On the mat!" just waving his arms like he's trying to fan away the biggest fart. He gives these hand directions the entire match. "Pick him up! Lift him! Do a move!" He's the absolute worst.

To end on a more positive note, I really liked Omega's kneelifts and knee strikes. Knee attacks can be a tough sell, and Omega's looked as good as Chris Hero's best. They certainly looked more devastating than anything Okada did. Also, for a 45 minute match, I must say it didn't feel nearly that long. I think that's a major compliment. Despite how flawed I thought the match and execution were, the time flew by. That's not necessarily what I look for when watching wrestling ("This thing I watch for fun didn't feel like a chore to sit through!") but it's a definite feather in the cap for the match. 45 minutes of wrestling CAN be a chore, and this wasn't.

I would love to see Omega work someone who could tone him down, as he has a lot of things I could really like about him. And for his own sake, he should tone down the bumps, for his own health and from a match psychology standpoint. Once you bump huge for every move big and small it starts going down that "everybody reverses the Angle lock 5 times in a match" path. Once you're flying across the ring and landing on your neck for shitty Okada strikes, it makes the actual big moves in a match look less important and less dangerous by comparison.

I'm glad I watched it, glad that I saw for myself what was getting all of this hype. I'm excited to see just how much is still memorable to me by the end of the year.

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

All Time MOTY List HEAD to HEAD: FUTEN War V. IWRG bloodbath

Black Terry/Dr. Cerebro/Chico Che v. El Hijo Del Diablo/Avisman/Gringo Loco IWRG 3/7/10

PAS: Black Terry Jr. HH are one of my favorite things in the history of wrestling, and this was one of my favorite examples of the art. His filming style is so great, especially for this kind of out of control bloody brawl. You get these great close ups of bloody faces, with each shot looking like it could be a pullout in one of those grittier non-Apter wrestling magazines I used to read at DeLauers newsstand in Downtown Oakland. The Gringo team dominates the first part of this match bloodying up all three luchadores. Nasty stuff including pulling out cacti and digging them into the open wounds. We get a great fired up technico comeback with Chico Che looking especially awesome. He had this one year or so run in IWRG where he was incredible, and then he disappeared. It was right up there with Hiroyuki Ito's U-Style run as one of the great short periods in wrestling history, he was like lucha John Cazale. Che has these super heavy right hands that look like he is putting all of his considerable weight behind each shot, he also ran through this incredible signature run of headscissors and armdrags, nothing I love more then fat luchadores who can fly. This was another awesome Terry performance as well. He is so emotive in brawls, he is amazing as the old broken down warrior who keeps fighting because that is all he knows.

 I can just see him retired on a ranch somewhere, and Dr. Cerebro showing up "we have some American's down here causing trouble", "I don't do that anymore Doc, I am done", "They are calling you out Terry, saying you don't have the guts to strap on the boots, I came down here looking for a legend, I guess an old story is all I found, I leave you be." "Wait Doc, you bastard, let me get my trunks."

ER: This is a flat out lucha classic, a true gift to the community from BTJr. His handheld work is majestic and makes this feel more out of control than it even was, and it was plenty out of control. To use an already sadly dated reference, the whole match felt like that amazing chaotic tracking shot from season 1 True Detective, just chaos and brutality lurking around every turn of the camera. When I hear people say they don't get lucha, or just don't like lucha, I have to assume they haven't seen matches like this. Bloody brawls are like the universal wrestling language and this had it all. The disrespectful foreigners, valiant hometown heroes, a fat guy, an old guy, and blood. If you take any 3/5 of those things and throw them into a match, I'm probably going to love it. My favorite in this was Dr. Cerebro. Chico Che brings the awesome fat guy moves, Black Terry brings the old man grit, but there's Cerebro having the best brawling segments, gluing all the transitions together. Every time the camera would pick up Cerebro brawling with Loco it looked like some of the best wrestling brawling you've seen. There was zero light between their shots, and they always mixed them up in cool ways; you wouldn't just see turn taking punches, you'd get punches and slaps and kicks all thrown at different angles at odd timing. PLUS, he gushed twice the blood as his partners. But Terry was great at rallying the troops and bringing every awesome thing he always brings to these matches. To think even just 6 years ago that he would still be having these wild brawls today would have sounded nuts. Chico Che was real unique, and this match was a great example of his peak. He really moved differently, didn't throw punches like anyone else I've seen, and had some great agility. His missile splashes were both painful and gorgeous; seeing him get launched off the top with his arms by his sides was an amazing visual. The rudos could have really coasted here and the match still would have come off pretty classic due to the strength of the tecnico side, but none of these rudoes coasted. Diablo came off like a lanky cheapshotting creep, Loco turned in an excellent brawling performance, and Avisman brought great execution to even the most basic things. The match didn't necessarily need them to be this great, but a great rudo performance in something like this just elevates it sky high, and we got three of them. A true gem for lucha and wrestling fans.

FUTEN Review


PAS: I loved this match, bloody brawl lucha is one of my favorite things, and this a great example of it. However the FUTEN match may be one of the few matches I would give 5 stars to, it is pretty perfect and will be damn near impossible to beat.

ER: Sadly this match is a victim of our calendar endpoints. If we were doing half years, this would likely win for the first half of 2010, with FUTEN tag winning the second half. If we were doing March to March, this match would likely win March 2009-2010. But we use calendars and it drew just a brutal opponent. I could see this match eventually winning, if we revisit this in a few years. Who knows, Ikeda and Hashi could die of concussion related causes and we'd feel super bad watching them clunk their brains together in gross ways, and a straight up bloody war would make us feel better about vampiric selves. As it is, it's easily good enough to be #1, just drew a brutal opponent.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

MLJ: 8/1/1997 Torneo Cibernetico

1997-08-01 @ Arena México
Torneo Cibernetico

There was a moment where I thought we were looking at a MOTYC here. Then, after a major detour, there was yet another moment where I thought the match could still pull it out. Ultimately it didn't but it's still well worth watching. In some ways it's late 90s CMLL at its best.

First of all, look at the talent involved. For tecnicos, you had Negro Casas, Felino, Ultimo Dragon, Shocker, and Fiera. For Rudos, it was Hijo del Santo, Scorpio, Jr., Bestia Salvaje, Dr. Wagner, Jr., and Satanico. Shocker and Wagner weren't fully developed yet (though they had years under their respective belts). Fiera wasn't what he had once been. Dragon has some definite flaws as an all-around wrestler, but ciberneticos were made to smooth out all of those things.

More importantly, there were two major feuds here, and there would be, in the subsequent weeks following this, two major apuestas matches, the Fiera vs Bestia Salvaje one a couple of weeks before the Anniversary show and then the long-overdue Casas vs Santo match at the Anniversary itself. That brought the heat and the structure of payoff, with Salvaje dodging Fiera until the very end (mainly using Scorpio as a shield), and with Wagner and Santo targeting Casas. It's what's so often lacking in modern cibeneticos. They're all action and usually worth watching, but they're rarely grounded with any sort of substance to them.

Here there was plenty of that, on top of a lot of fun pairings. Satanico looked great as a base for Felino. Dragon was at his explosive best. Santo and Casas differentiated their feud with that of Salvaje and Fiera by actively going at it. Fiera, on the other hand, seemed amused by Salvaje's stooging cowardice:

Great action and quality workers buoyed by two storylines is more than you can ask for from any CMLL cibernetico. Unfortunately, it veered too far into the realm of story progression. Just before the commercial break, Wagner dropped Casas with a brutal sit-out martinete. He and Santo continued on him in the corner and then as he was being brought to the back as Felino and Dragon tried to provide interference. It was super heated but both took a number of the best wrestlers out of the match and caused a distraction where we didn't see the action in the ring for a few minutes. Casas continued to sell it on the ramp but with Felino's help, he fought back enough where he was able to appeal to the crowd and make it to the back on his own power.

Even then, I thought everything would work out because we'd have a string of falls followed by some assuredly heated Salvaje and Fiera exchanges. They both had it in them after all. We did get the former, but the latter was a non-starter. They went at it a bit before an inadvertant ref bump ended the match. Fiera wanted things to continue and Salvaje, having tasted blood and also knowing that he had a DQ loss if things stood as they were wasn't playing chicken anymore, but they only got a few shots in before the ref separated them again. Deferring gratification is part of what makes lucha tick but in this case I wish they had been allowed to go at it a bit more first.

So this wasn't an all-time classic but it is a solid cross-section of what CMLL had to offer going into the Anniversary show. If nothing else, you'll get to see a deranged Lucky Charms commercial if you watch it (I'm sure Phil will love this gif being on the site):

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Casas/Ultimo/Euforia v. Atlantis/Mistico/Valiente

63. Negro Casas/Ultimo Guerrero/Euforia v. Atlantis/Mistico/Valiente CMLL 5/20

ER: Really fun Arena Mexico semi main, with Mistico getting to shine more than ever, Ultimo and Euforia putting on a catching clinic, and Casas showing off more of that criminally underseen matwork that we saw in the Hechicero match. I loved Casas and Atlantis rolling in the primera, with Negro showing off a couple variations on that neat pop up spin ankle pick that he used on Hechicero, here he keeps getting pushed off of Atlantis and every time Atlantis uses his legs to push him off Casas hangs on to an ankle. It's fun seeing a couple old dogs fighting and still coming up with new tricks. Segunda starts with some rudo bragging as they bend Valiente into a pyramid photo up, and as Euforia is standing on his back flexing Mistico springs in with a big rana. The rest of the match is a blur of wild Mistico spots with Ultimo and Euforia catching crazier spot after crazier spot: a springboard rana to the rampway, a HUGE leaping rana from the top to the floor (he really leapt crazy far too), a major flip dive that Euforia totally absorbed; none of them were easy catches and these two made them look flawless. Mistico doesn't get to have all the fun though as Valiente plasters Negro with a huge dive as well, and this was just a fun, consequences-free trios.

PAS: I enjoyed this as well. Nueva Mistico isn't a guy I have seen a ton of, and is clearly the least of his brothers, but I thought he was pretty great here, hitting nutty dive after nutty dive with some very impressive height on all of them. I especially loved his springboard rana counter to the pyramid spot, really flew out of nowhere to take Euforia down. Casas is really fun to watch even in small roles like this, he is amazing as both a star and a character actor, and this was the equivalent of Dennis Hopper coming in to True Romance for two scenes and stealing the movie.


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