Segunda Caida

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

THE MOTHERFUCKING INTERNET: Yume Factory v. Shin FMW

Tarzan Goto/Ryo Miyake vs. Shinichi Nakano/Masayoshi Motegi WDF 7/16/1997



PAS: What a sleaze soaked pleasure this match was, the wrestling equivalent of eating a giant roadhouse bacon cheeseburger. Goto is a treasure in this, I can't believe I ever used to diss this dude. He basically works this as a fat grotesque Tenryu as he beats the bricks off of Motegi with chair edges, meaty punches right to the nose and thick headbuts. Motegi bleeds a ton and was pretty great as a fired up babyface, by far the best I have seen him look. Nakano and Miyake were really fun as the secondary dudes too, they would tag in and slap the shit out of who ever was in the ring. I really miss this kind of dirtbag Puro indy, now all Japanese indies seem to be about telling jokes, there was nothing funny about this match at all. 

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Matt & Eric, Two Men Discussing Virus, Separately

2017-03-25 @ Arena Coliseo San Ramón, Puebla, Puebla
Virus vs. Prayer


MD: This dropped a few days ago even though it's from a Lucha Memes show back in March. I couldn't tell you the first thing about Prayer, but Virus was, of course, my #10 on the GWE poll last year, which felt crazy at the time and still feels crazy, but was very much a testament to the power of footage (we've got him almost weekly for the last many years, even if he's just in low card trios). I'll say this: after watching this match, I feel all the more validated with the placement.

We're lucky to have as many maestros matches as we do. In those, what they do is so logical and so intricate and so interesting and (probably most importantly) so full of struggle and commitment, that we forgive the half speed nature of so many of them. We see it as part of the fight, that locking a hold on to someone as expert as Blue Panther or Negro Navarro just takes that much more pressure and effort. It takes longer. In some ways, it's a testament that they can go that much more slowly but still make none of it seem collaborative, like playing a song very slowly and thus having to perfect each and every belabored note. 

This was not that at all. For the first two thirds of the match, they were primarily on the mat. There was struggle. There were intricate leverage moves. There were counters and escapes. It was done at far faster pace, was utterly believable, and didn't miss a beat. They were able to portray that same level of mastery but turned up about three gears. So much of this was Virus. You watch him and you wonder just how he sees the world, if time slows down and he can extrapolate out the ways limbs might twist and contort like an sculptor envisioning a masterpiece or a chess champion looking forward six moves. Prayer kept up well enough; he had to do his part, for Virus just manipulating him wouldn't have allowed for this level of speed or sharpness. Ultimately, though, this was a showcase for El Pequeño Gran Maestro, and since he no longer gets as many singles matches in CMLL as he did a few years ago, it's one we're lucky to have.

A few words about the escalation in the match, too. When they went to spots towards the end of the match, none of them were too excessive. None of them needed to be. Staying on the mat (even while increasing the level of peril) meant that a springboard low dropkick could mean as much as a headdrop or a giant dive. It created believable near-falls when that might not work at all with a less disciplined match. Just the testament of someone who really understands how to imbue meaning into his craft. 

I'm glad Virus is still getting opportunities to have matches like this, even if only on the indies, and I'm glad this dropped, even if it dropped a few months after the fact. Check it out.



ER: Virus has to be the king of noteworthy performances in throwaway undercard matches. This falls apart a bit in the segunda/tercera, and Skandalo kind of stumbles around and gets in the way through much of this, Sagrado is really quite good as a rudo so I enjoyed all of his moments (his rudo offense is really great, especially that sunset flip counter, a double stomp into a few elbowdrops, hell yes)...but this was all about Virus. The Virus/Esfinge mat stuff that opens the match is really cool, subtly flashy, all of it compelling; but him picking on Soberano is the money of the match, as they work some fast sequences that end with Virus hitting a stiff shoulderblock that sends Soberano bumping backwards and upside down to the floor, then we cut to Sagrado clotheslining Esfinge's shins out from him on the apron, and then back across the ring to catch Virus hitting the mother of all baseball slide dropkicks on a just-waking-up-on-the-floor Soberano. We get another fun Virus/Soberano segment in the tercera, but it's a shame the rest of the match couldn't hold up the level of the primera. But a match with a floor of "So how good is Virus, right?" is still something with value.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Nothing Can Stop Ki, He's All the Way Up

Low-Ki v. Penta El 0M Tier 1 Wrestling 7/11/17 - FUN

PAS: Penta 0M is an interesting case, he looks cool, has a ton of charisma, but I am always slightly disappointed by his indy dream matches (still think his best match is that Vampiro LU brawl). I always wish it was LA Park. Low-Ki however does not disappoint, and is just killing it in the last couple of years. Here he comes out in the Hitman outfit and wrestles this match with holstered guns. Pretty much a 12 minute moves exhibition, but luckily Ki has some moves, he still is cat quick and gets great height on his dropkicks and double stomps. There was also a great spot where he leaps recklessly into a superkick that looked like it broke his larynx, totally crazy stuff. There were a few too many flippy piledrivers for my taste, but I did love the finish, Ki's double stomp is Togo Senton level beautiful now, and he crushes Penta with it.

ER: Lucha Underground Season 1 : Pentagon :: ECW : Taz. This dude has been exposed for a year + now, but he had me going all the way. He's a guy I could see putting at 25 on the 2015 SC500, and then the next year we go "what the fuck is wrong with us!?" and have him at 430. His Chi Chi Rodriguez fist pump "Woo!" is one of the lamer things done by a supposed wrestling badass. I've heard some people make fun of Ki in the suit, which is silly to me as I think the suit and gloves and wild offense looks awesome, but I gotta say the double holster looks even more awesome. That is a cool fucking look. He looks like a henchman in No More Heroes. The match devolves pretty quickly into move trading, and PentaGroonXXX's strikes are sorely lacking the LU gunshot sound effects, but he still leans into all of Ki's craziest stuff. One of my favorite things in wrestling is watching Ki recoil after delivering offense. He'll get crazy height on a dropkick or double stomp, and then go banging across the ring like a cueball slamming into the 8 ball. Him flying bent legged into a thrust kick looked great, but I'm getting sick of Penta and his Adam Cole offense. Still, it's Ki, it's gonna be worth watching.

COMPLETE AND ACCURATE LOW-KI

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Monday, June 19, 2017

CWF Mid-Atlantic Wrestling's Superstars of Worldwide Episode 106

Episode 106

1. Dr. Daniel C. Rockingham/Ethan Alexander Sharpe vs. Dirty Daddy/Rob McBride

ER: We talked about the deep talent roster last week but goddamn EAS has been on half the shows we've reviewed. I need more CW, more Xsiris, more Attitude, less 10 minute EAS matches. McBride is a guy I haven't seen in ages and his is a shtick I can sit back and enjoy: no bumps, meaty chops, an eye rake, full weight elbow drop, yes please. I really dug the few minutes where Sharpe and Doc worked over Daddy's knee, the shots to the hammy were rough and I liked Sharpe's mule kick to it. It didn't really go anywhere, and Daddy's comeback didn't look great, but I liked the hot tag, and Sharpe/Doc were game to stooge around, so this was fine.

PAS: I really think Dirty Daddy is good, just a natural babyface with awesome timing, and I could imagine I would like the team with McBride more against a better squad. I could also live with a break from Sharpe matches, especially if he isn't with White Mike or getting beaten by SIS.

ER: Hadn't thought of that Juicy Fruit commercial in years and it's crazy how I remember all of it. There are so many important things that I don't remember anymore. There are actual friends from school - friends who I have fond memories of - whose names I don't remember. But the second I saw that dude stepping into his skis I remembered every word of a Juicy Fruit jingle.

2. Donnie Dollars vs. Kool Jay

ER: Ummmm...holy shit. Did anybody see the same finish that I saw? Everybody acted totally normal, but Jay got his fucking dome press slammed hard right into the mat. He got whipped into the mat at an insanely dangerous speed, at an insanely dangerous angle, and people acted like it was a pretty normal finish. The match was a really fun squash, thought Jay's step up enziguiri and running elbow looked great, Dollars had some mean offense. But good lord that finisher. When you take something more painfully than the worst Darby Allin bumps, I'm not sure that's a threshold we need to further cross.

PAS: Holy shit that finish needs to be gif'ed right now. Feel like it should be a meme, every time Sean Spicer says something dumb they should show Dollars press chokeslamming Kool Jay. Man Jay is great as a bumper, that kid has a future if he has a future.

ER: I had no clue there was a Muppet Babies Live. I know my folks took me to Sesame Street Live, but Muppet Babies Live seems like something they actively hid from me to save themselves from having to attend. I'm sure if that commercial had come on they would have leapt in front of the TV to distract me, like Peggy Hill not letting Bobby find out that competitive eating is an actual thing. Man I loved Muppet Babies. And the Von Erich Pizza Inn commercial is a stone cold classic.

3. Keith Mac vs. Joshua Cutshall

ER: Cutshall does unhinged nutcase really well, he looks like Reverend Smith from Deadwood and has good size and presence. Mac dances around a bunch and Cutshall starts dancing with him and  just as I was thinking "Man I wish Cutshall would punch him in the face", Cutshall unloads this pin straight right hand right to Mac's chin. Sold. Wrestler of the year. Mac hit a nice pancake slam (which might be the first actual piece of offense I've seen from him), and while I thought the straightjacket set-up was a bit much on the finish, Cutshall really cracked him with that elbow. I like that we've established his elbow as a killshot.

PAS: I enjoyed this when Mac was dancing around and Cutshall was killing him for it, but I think it fell apart a bit when Keith Mac tried to do some wrestling moves. Cutshall is one of my favorite CWA guys to watch, and I would like them find something to do with him.

ER: Very excited for Cecil Scott vs. Cain Justice and I really dug Cecil's promo, guaranteeing Cain that he might not be going into the match at 100%, but Cain wouldn't be leaving at 100%, and the story of challenging above his head while Cain picks low fruit. It was all good stuff.

4. PB Smooth/Colby Redd vs. Dave & Zane Dawson

ER: Dawsons are always going to be guys I like, so I'll focus on the other two. We got more of a look at big man PB Smooth, and I gotta say working as a babyface giant is not an easy spot to be in, and when you're as agile as he clearly is, it's tough to not come off "smaller" on your hot tags. It can be argued that working FIP would actually be easier for a babyface giant, much easier to hit a few big spots and then show vulnerability through a knee injury or something. I had never seen Redd before and he seemed fine, but he also seems like a guy I've seen a dozen of on various indy cards. He threw out a couple cool enziguiri variations, but even "nice enziguiri variation" is something I've complimented another wrestler on during this episode. Smooth has some nice offense that integrates his height and leaping ability, loved the high kick on the apron and the slam dunk rope choke from the floor.

PAS: I didn't like this much, no reason for this to go 10 minutes and I didn't think Smooth and Redd looked very good and the Dawsons are better as quick hit guys then working 60/40 in a long tag match. Smooth is big and has some really agility, but is aways away for being a compelling wrestler to watch. I am interested in what Smooth v. Cain Justice would look like.

5. Snooty Foxx vs. The Blue Devil

ER: They really need to make up their minds on whether it's Fox or Foxx, as it feels like they're playing a prank on my website tags every other week. This was a Foxxx squash, Blue Devil ran into a lariat nicely, Fawqs hit a big spear. Blue Devil could be a big time masked white privilege sexual assault gimmick, just a Duke boy run amok, slipping roofies to opponents to get wins, get him a manager who blames his opponents for what happens to them, never getting suspended because he still has a promising future. But this was just a squash.

PAS: The Blue Devil's Rayo De Jalisco mask got me curious about what a Snooty Foxx vs. Rayo De Jalisco Jr. would be like. Feels like Rayo would fit in really well in CWF, maybe better then any other lucha import, big guy, heavy hitter, nice timing, a couple of big spots. Feels like if CWF brought in a luchadore they would bring in Fenix or someone to work Trevor Lee, but Rayo v. Otto Schwanz would be the more intriguing match.

6. Nick Richards vs. Otto Schwanz

ER: I dug this, though thought the finish was a little bit too sudden, would have liked more. Richards blindsiding Otto and not letting up was a great way to start, with Otto doing an awesome job of scrambling just to try to survive and get some space. Richards keeps on him and Otto shoots for a great desperation single leg, and when the tide finally turned it was great, Otto headbutting him with his mask, Richards throwing thumbs to eye to try to get his own space, Otto finally grabbing a big bear hug and dropping some elbows. I was getting pretty damn into it, but thought the missed splash > ace crusher was a pretty weak quick finish.

PAS: I dug this, aggressive mat wrestling Otto is one of my favorite things in CWF, and his scrambles looked awesome here, loved the grounded bar fight headbutt, the ankle pick and the grinding takedowns looked great. I also loved Richards dirty fighting, jumping him from behind, raking the eye, not letting him off the ropes. When this was intense it was great, it would have been better as a killer 4 minute match, as when it got slowed down, it dragged slightly.

ER: I had a great time with this episode. Nostalgia is a pretty potent drug for me, and the commercials were blended in seamlessly and made for a super fun viewing. They even crushed little details like warped tracking and logo blur during the opening, making it look like when it was windy outside and our TV antennae would get turned a bit. I had a great time watching this, hopefully the first of several throwback specials.



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Sunday, June 18, 2017

WWE Money in the Bank 2017 Not Live Blog

I was up at my folks' place swimming all day today (it's 108 degrees here right now) so got home as the PPV was finishing, still thought I would do a write up.

1. The Colons vs. Hype Bros.

ER: PPV Pre show delivers again, these guys all have that 8 minute pre show timing down. Colons are a really good team and I'm glad they stick around. Epico has chubbed up a bit and that just makes me love him more. They craft some nice stuff around taking apart Ryder's leg, I always like the ankle DDT spot. Mojo has a decent hot tag and things peak right at the finish, with Mojo hitting lariats and shoulderblocks and absolutely splatting one of the Colons, which lead to a nice last split second save. Ryder comes in limping and hits a nasty broski boot and gets crazy height on the rough ryder leg drop lariat. This was a fine opener.

2. Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Tamina vs. Carmella vs. Natalya

ER: Tamina has the least flattering ring gear possible. It looks like they took Viscera's old gear and hemmed it. Rachel thinks Charlotte needs to wear some sort of short skirt with her gear, as she finds Charlotte's lack of hips distracting. I'm digging the early parts of this, nice basic ladder stuff. Charlotte nastily bulldogs Tamina into a ladder, Becky and Natalya ram a ladder into her stomach, nice ladder as weapon stuff. Loved Carmella trapping Charlotte's leg in the ladder and lobbing back elbows. Becky climbs a ladder seemingly just to get rana'd off by Carmella. Carmella leans out of a Charlotte yakuza kick. Charlotte takes a sick bump off the ladder from a nice Tamina headbutt. That spear spot right after could not have been uglier. They don't go through, then take forever to continue unnaturally falling to the floor. Tamina takes a nice backwards bump over some ring steps. And my oh my that match finish is incredibly uninspired. "Women can do anything!" Except that one woman needs to help of the literal lowest man on the WWE totem pole to win. And the crowd was clearly expecting things to get reversed or the result thrown out, and it drug on for awhile, and it never got thrown out. This was not very good, that ending felt like it came way early. Even if they wanted this specific finish, they could have done it while making Carmella look better, have her ordering Ellsworth to run distraction for her while she climbs for the case. Something.

3. New Day vs. Usos

ER: Heel Usos are awesome, love Big E, and Kofi bumps his way crazily into my heart by going high and fast to the floor off an Uso low bridge, then gets leveled by an Uso lariat. Usos really ragdoll Kofi around and I have high hopes for this Big E hot tag (earlier he hit his awesome apron splash), and the Usos keep cutting that damn ring off. The hot tag itself was fun, E hits three big belly to bellys, and the spear to the floor is still nutso. Kofi and an Uso both go for kicks and get tangled up in kind of a fun way. The end run has a scary moment where E is supposed to catch Jey out of the air to do a powerslam but Jey falls past him and easily could have gone face first into the mat. They awkwardly do the spot as planned, which involves Jey climbing up onto E. But the pinfall save after they finally do the spot is excellent. Things heat up nicely after that, Usos with another big save, Kofi hits a sweet trust fall dive to the floor...and then Usos just leave with the belts and get counted out. Dude. These finishes are making me salty.

4. Naomi vs. Lana

ER: OOF Lana has some all time bad entrance music. It sounds like a song someone took minutes to make in Mario Paint, just a looped drum beat and sax riff. Lana's movements in the ring are somewhat clunky, but I think she's a total win as a sexy crowbar. Her snap suplexes into the ring ropes were killer, and her little crescent kick through the ropes as Naomi was pulling herself up was nice, and I think she's pretty good at occupying herself and selling during Naomi's wrist-held high kicks. I think the Carmella mid match entrance worked, as she's now just looming with the threat of the stupid briefcase, though I think they went to the finish too quick after that, no momentum was built back up. The finishing submission looked good, but the heat went down with the Carmella entrance. I liked Lana in this, think she looked better than Tamina has ever looked.

And Mike Bennett/Maria are now in WWE and get a debut on a PPV? Have they been in NXT or something? Maria as a character has never done a thing for me, but I'm mildly amused at Mike taking her last name. I'll give both of them credit for however they keep getting paid TV gigs, but I'm not too excited to see them work.

5. Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton

ER: This all starts off good, both guys are working to not show light on strikes, Orton's stomps looked good, Jinder working as a great overpowering juiced up bully, taunting Orton Sr., throwing on a figure 4 in front of Flair; now I want him to do the Baron's claw and some high Gagne dropkicks. This whole thing progressed nicely and then hit a way-too-long Singh Bros. removal...but then we get Orton recklessly throwing them around again (slightly less reckless than last month), and in keeping with the bad finish theme of this show, that insanely long Singh Bros. interlude then leads to Orton losing the match the exact same way he lost the last match. I mean everything played out almost exactly the same. This match started quite good and then went the way of the others. This isn't that good of a show.

6. Breezango vs. Ascension

ER: Dude the Ascension are guys getting in on main show PPV matches!! What a truly unexpected match on this show. I watch Smackdown, have they even been on in the last month? Well, no matter, I actually like Vikto and he confirms my like by hitting a cool jumping knee to Breeze. Breeze takes offense really great, he'll lean up into an elbowdrop and take fast bumps to the floor, sell your resthold for you. Connor also wins me over by having huge muttonchops and hitting a fucking boss spinebuster. Weird match to show up on a PPV, but both teams looked good.

7. Money in the Bank Ladder Match: AJ Styles vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Sami Zayn vs. Kevin Owens vs.  Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Baron Corbin

ER: Big spots to start, Corbin working stiff, and I finally got invested when Dolph ran up a ladder to the ring apron to swipe AJ's legs in the middle of a springboard, like his own stupid ladder Hamburger Hill. I'm so sick of Zayn and Owens matching up, but Zayn at least will take a couple stupid bumps in a big (or small) match. Styles is out of this for too long as when he comes back in you suddenly realize that the energy of that match had been missing. Styles immediately makes the match more interesting, and Dolph awesomely climbs OVER Corbin on the ladder. And Dolph kind of continues worming his way back into my good graces by punching Zayn a bunch right in the fucking ear, while on the top of a ladder. And huge props to him for somehow taking the safest possible bump off a sunset flip powerbomb off said ladder. I mean that as a genuine compliment, the bump looked nasty but you could tell he took it right. It's a good skill. We somehow get a fucking nalf nelson suplex head drop ON THE RING APRON on a WWE PPV. WWE is now a 2001 Dateline NBC Backyard Wrestling highlight package. I now want them to do a tailbone shattering guillotine legdrop off Zayn's stepmom's house. I want Owens to give Zayn a burning hammer on a public park picnic table. Styles is really good at leaping off of ropes and crashing into people. He has precision "crash into stuff" skills. Styles leaping into that chokeslam was great, and Corbin plants him with one. Owens takes a Styles death valley driver off the apron through a set up ladder and holy shit all these guys are insane. This is a fucking amazing IWA Mid-South match right here. Dolph pulls the ladder out from AJ and AJ does all these great "hanging from the case" spots, trying to climb to his safety, trying to get over it for leverage to unhook the case, hanging from the case itself and scrambling to yank it down instead of unhook it; it felt like a bunch of cool tricks that Bill Dundee would work into a gimmick match. Nakamura finally comes back after being jumped pre-bell, and in a cool moment the fans continue singing his entrance music when it gets cut off, and he runs wild with a fresh man hot tag. He throws knees, boots Dolph in the face on a corner charge, kicks more face, knees Owens in the face, does enough in 1 minute to make me blow up. AJ and Nak get a cool little action movie stand off that made both seem like major guys, peering through the ladder at each other like Travolta and Cage in FaceOff. Great fistfight at the top of the ladder with those two...and then Baron Corbin wins it. Wow. Did not expect that...but I like it! Corbin coming out and taunting the champ with the case, playing mind games, would actually give him something to do instead of "This guy is in a bad mood!"

Overall the PPV wasn't a great one. It wasn't really even a good one. But that MITB match was really damn fun to me and felt like something I would see on a 2002 Jersey indy comp tape. And that makes me happy as hell. I wanted the buffering on my Network feed to fuck up so it would look like I was watching the match on a scratched 12th gen VHS dupe. And that ended things on an impossibly joy-filled mood, so thumbs up!

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Saturday, June 17, 2017

Low-KI Kicked the Bitch Out the Room and Gave Her No Breakfast

Low-Ki vs. Andrew Everett Impact Wrestling 4/23/17 - GREAT

ER: I am a-okay with TNA continuing to exist as long as we get bi-monthly Low-Ki showcase matches. Here's another winner, as Low-Ki continues snapping off cool moves and big bumps while wearing a tight suit, and Everett tries his best to outbump him. Ki makes the simplest things look like bomb blasts, spots that a lot of guys just sleepwalk their way through. He takes dropkicks explosively, he delivers dropkicks explosively, he flies into the corner with an elbow like he's on a rooftop chase with a cop and leaping across buildings, he hammers down elbows in the corner like the most violent Whack-a-Mole game and Everett responds by getting bopped down each turnbuckle. Even something like getting a boot up on a charging opponent in the corner is given a violent twist as he vaults up and mulekicks Everett across the ring (and Everett is a guy who always looks pretty great violently bouncing across a ring). How many times have you seen a guy gingerly yank someone off the turnbuckles? Well, Ki yanks Everett off the ropes like he wants to rip his leg off his body. Everett gets a little comeback, but this seemed like a show off arm wrestler letting a guy gain some ground before slamming his arm to the table. Before long, Everett catches knees in a gross way on a shooting star press, and Ki stomps him into the mat, and into our hearts.


PAS: This was basically a Low-Ki semi-squash. Ki is a hell of guy squashing someone, and Everett is a hell of a guy getting squashed.The match is a little dry before the commercial break, but really kicks into gear after. Ki still has so much speed and explosion and Everett flies off him like he is on kung fu movie wires. The finish was especially nasty as Ki hits his John Woo kick and Everett flies head and neck first into the turnbuckle, then Ki goes up to the top and double stomps him full speed into his liver. I am likely never to watch another Impact match, but I am watching all Low-Ki what a treat he is. 

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Friday, June 16, 2017

Lucha Underground Season 3 Episode 16: The Battle of the Bulls

1. The Mack vs. PJ Black vs. Jeremiah Crane vs. Cage

ER: Man these 4 ways are starting to run together. And I don't think this was a very good one, even though I like most of these guys. The set up for stuff showed too many cracks: Cage catching dives and turning them into vertical suplexes is cool, but Crane made it too obvious he was jumping off the apron trying to get suplexed; Mack's flip dive is impressive as hell, but not as much when everybody completely whiffs on the catch and everybody (Striker included) pretends he nailed them all. Obviously there will be fun moments, it would be near impossible for these guys to not do SOMEthing cool. Mack moonsaulting onto a pile of guys or Crane getting powerbombed onto guys is expected 4 way fun. Crane does a sick double underhook piledriver on Black, and then Vampiro says "I saw Misawa beat Kawada with that move so many times when I toured All Japan in the 90s". I mean...almost every word of that sentence is 100% complete bullshit. Misawa never did that move, Vampiro never worked AJ the same time as Misawa, it's literally something that never happened, and something he didn't see happen. Is this like Berenstein/Berenstain Bears or that Sinbad genie movie? People are going to claim Vampiro was in AJ during that one and only tour where Misawa did a bunch of sit out double underhook piledrivers?

MD: As bad as anything else with these four ways is Striker giving one or two word summations of wrestlers. Ultimately, I'm with Eric on this. Lots of cool stuff, especially from Cage and Mack. Obviously, we weren't going to get Cage in WWE, but we came real close to Mack and I kind of wonder what a world where he got in there would look like. He'd probably be rounding out the six mans with Titus and Crews vs the New Day knowing them, but that'd still be a lot of fun. If you watch wrestling for acrobatics and feats of strength, this is for you. We generally don't. I guess, if nothing else, I thought they protected everyone well. Cage looked like he was in a class all his own; Crane got to hang with these guys which is important since he's relatively newly debuted; Black was mainly there to bounce off people. And after all of the spots and chaos, it ended about as anti-climatically as possible, though still in a way that refocuses things towards Mack vs Worldwide Underground. This was fun as usual, not great in the least, and the worst thing about it was definitely the commentary.

ER: Should I read too much into Mexicans warring against Lizard People? I assume if anything had actually come of those Russo rumors we would have already been dealing with a Pepe-masked authority figure.

MD: I can't get past the fact that they were looking for Drago in the stalls. What if they found him? How awkward would have that been? I chalk this up to Aerostar being an alien and not having proper boundaries. What an interminable bathroom fight.

2. Cage Match: Sexy Star vs. Johnny Mundo

ER: The woman who "inspired a generation"!! This is the first cage match in LU history, yes? I cannot imagine a more legendary person getting to honor the gimmick. "Strength, athleticism? I think they're equal." Yeah, Striker. She's probably about as strong as a man twice her size, and certainly isn't the clumsiest person in the fed facing a legit parkour loon. Man, I hate women. Matt Striker and Sexy Star have officially made me hate women. What a predictably awful match with a wonderfully excellent shitheel finish. We spend the whole match with both trying to escape (until Sexy jumped off the top with a crossbody when she could have escaped, then we got Striker retconning how Sexy Star would NEVER want to run away and escape, she confronts all of her problems HEAD ON!!), and if you thought Star's strikes looked bad on solid ground, then brother you better soak in those kicks while standing on the ropes. The sound engineer has never been so shameful with the sweetening. I liked Star's rana off the top in reaction to Mundo yanking her leg. The rest was awful. UNTIL we get to the perfect finish, with Mundo yanking off Star's mask sending her running for cover (you see, millions of young girls Sexy Star has inspired, her mask is her identity), and Mundo escapes with ease, rubbing it in before hopping to the floor. He even throws in a both arms up victory lap run to his belt. The only thing that salvaged this horror.

MD: I watched this on 2x Speed. I'm not going to remind Eric about the season 2 Cage vs Mundo cage match (Cage in a Cage, that's the name of the episode), mainly because I barely remember it. So, slightly different misogynistic take than Eric: the only way this possible could work, and the way it occasionally works, is if Mundo is brutally beating Star with the cage as a weapon. Why? Because she can't actually do anything. She can't hit her spots. She can't sell well. She can't draw sympathy. So it falls on Mundo to drive everything by being mean and cruel. Obviously, that has its own issues as we are fairly decent human beings, so this just had no leg to stand on. The "babyface refuses to win the match and leaps back into the ring instead" trope works better if 1.) there's no title on the line and 2.) the babyface is Jeff Hardy, not Sexy Star, whose entire character is about winning the title again. I will say this though: the great challenge of Season 3 has been to work with her, and I think what we've seen over the last few episodes is that Worldwide Underground, at least, have gotten better at cracking that code. You can learn a lot about a wrestler from how he works in a near-impossible situation and they've done about as well as could be expected. Mack showing up at the end to transition things was almost a relief, as was Sexy Star in the ring Dana Brooke posing her way right out of the main event scene.

ER: I actually do remember the name of that Cage in a Cage episode, but I also do not remember a thing about that match. Looking it up, my first sentence of the review was "This had some nice moments, but overall didn't do much for me." The math on me not remembering this match checks out.


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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Lucha Underground Season 3 Episode 15: En La Sombras

1. Killshot vs. Dante Fox vs. Mariposa vs. Jeremiah Crane

ER: I thought this was one of the more successful 4 way scrambles of the season. Participants don't always matter in these matches, as there's enough down time for everybody that people can be hidden. But layout is important and you need a traffic director, and people need to hit their stuff. It got a little kick-y and way too sound effects-y at one point (there's a spot down the home stretch where everybody is hitting a variety of kicks, back to back, and all of them have the exact same sound effect, so you were just getting that Slim Jim snap every two seconds), but this was a fun 10 minutes. Fox hit a bunch of rabid succession dives, and then Crane levels him with his awesome low tope. We get a ridiculous chair tower spot that leads to Mariposa throwing nasty chair shots at everyone, throwing chairs around like Necro Butcher, hitting guys at annoying angles with unfolded chairs, really fun bit of violence. Crane felt like he was running things in there, hanging back for the flip offense and always there to cut things off and keep it flowing. The postscript of the match was terrible though, with our final image being the continuing feud of Killshot/Fox, and Killshot hitting his finisher. And I still have zero clue what his finisher is supposed to be. He always just stomps both feet next to his opponent's head. Is it supposed to look like he's stomping the guy's face? Is it a bad bombs away? Whatever it is, no part of him makes any sort of contact with his opponent. Is the fear of another human being leaping high into the sky and *almost* landing on your face enough to paralyze one man long enough to get a 3 count? I'd probably be pretty rattled if I were lying around somewhere, and somebody almost landed on my face. So that's probably it. We'll go with that.

MD: I wanted to name this review: "Night of a Thousand Kicks." that's what this match felt like. In general, though, and this might just be me not watching a lot of super indy multimans and tags, I was really impressed by the complexity of the layout of this. There was a ton for these guys to keep track of and they did so pretty smoothly. I'm tempted to agree with Eric and give the credit for that to Crane. On the other hand, when you have this many strikes and kicks, none of them end up meaning anything. As much as I loved the image of the chairs (and it makes sense because Callihan's the world's best Ambrose), the unprotected shot meant nothing and was totally unnecessary. If you're going to do a spot like that, make it matter. On the other hand, Mariposa's shoulder blocks felt like they did matter because it was such a striking image to have the female in the match be the bully. They completely made it work and believable. Striker insinuating on commentary that insane Mariposa was somehow inspired, like the rest of America, by Sexy Star was pretty maddening though. And sure, if the shoulder blocks resonated, her tossing chairs around the ring absolutely did. She was a total bruiser in this match, even getting to finish the Tower of doom spot. I liked how frustrated she was in not winning the match too. Reactions like that are important in putting over the stakes. Killshot was generally as annoying as usual. Fox wasn't much better (and they're both all the worse for being neither heels nor faces; just being there). And yes, absolutely, on a show that's so heavily produced, why would they so clearly show us Killshot whiffing on his post-match finisher?

ER: There's not much worse than slo mo training in a dark gym to soft flamenco guitar plucking, and then finding a spider in your locker. Yucky! Luckily, that spider was in the locker of the woman who has overcome more than any woman in history.

MD: The Sexy Star thing wasn't so bad in 2x speed. She was hitting that bag super fast.


2. Kobra Moon vs. Drago

ER: Not a lot of LU matches end in a DQ, so I guess that makes this one noteworthy? According to Vampiro, Kobra Moon might not have any bones or cartilage, which I suppose could explain some of the clumsiness. I thought Drago looked quite good in the limited time we got; he did this single leg while shrugging her other leg over his body with his shoulder that looked smooth in a nice understated way. The smaller lizard person looks like Dirk Benedict at the end of Sssssss ("Don't say it, hiss it!").

MD: I'm thinking they should probably have done this over a span of three weeks right? Lizard guy one could debut after a normal Drago squash and look good in the debut. The next week, the trios champs could run him off. Then Lizard Kane could show up on week 3? That would have made everyone look stronger. This way Lizard Kane (did they have to give him both the Chokeslam AND the Tombstone?) was the only one who really got over. Drago's trip-based offense looked better than Angelico's trip based offense later in the night at least. His Dominator was brutal. I can't believe they let Ron Simmons do that week in and week out in 1996.

ER: Sexy Star has shown more anger and passion over this spider in her locker than she showed following her six months as a kidnapped slave. I'm starting to think Sexy Star is really bad at this.

MD: Hey, they made the Iron Fist hallway fight look good. Is this the first real time we've heard Mariposa speak? That's a mistake.

3. Jack Evans vs. PJ Black vs. Son of Havoc vs. Angelico

ER: This was quite the worst of stupid multiman spots, with tons of really bad set ups for moves that didn't look great anyway. PJ Black standing bent at the waist holding Angelico's waistband for an eternity, just to set up Havoc doing a double stomp, was a microcosm of this match. But it did peak with a legitimately holy shit spot with Angelico superplexing Jack Evans off the buckles to the floor. He clearly went over PJ/Havoc and took a full superplex all the way to the floor. Crazy, insane spot, taken by an insane man. But it was fine, as Jack was back in the ring for the finish no less than 15 seconds later. Very little to love about this match.

MD: In theory, I kind of liked that they switched up the way the match was laid out compared to the other multimans and made it a bit more of a 2 vs 2 thing. In practice, they didn't lean hard enough into it. Angelico/Havoc/Ivelisse had a real connection with the crowd. They could have done more with that. I don't think this was necessary worse than some of the other Bulls matches with the contrived set ups, but when you add in the lack of (narrative) impact everything had, it was pretty grating. I liked when they dumped Havoc out of the ring and that did set up an Angelico vs the World bit, but the bit itself was so bad that it didn't really earn any lasting goodwill. And hey, Angelico looks like a putz after they set up his return.

ER: This, right here, was a bad episode of professional wrestling.

MD: I'd call it more middling. That first multiman, while not necessarily a good professional wrestling match, was at least an impressive spectacle.

ER: I will compromise and say, "This, right here, was not a good episode of professional wrestling."


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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Lucha Underground Season 3 Episode 14: The Bulls of Boyle Heights

MD: I could watch Dario backstage with people all day. Angelico doesn't portray a tough guy well at all, but there's enough weight built up in his grudge with Mundo from time alone that all of this works. I like that he has to go through one more hoop to get to him. I swear that 2017 WWE wouldn't think through a character enough to run with the Bull theme with Dario like they're doing here. It's obvious that his plan was having Angelico and Matanza in the 4 way next week.

1. Cage vs. Texano vs. Joey Ryan vs. Dr. Wagner Jr.

ER: Oh good, I was hoping we'd get some additional Cage/Texano interactions outside of their best of 27 series. And this got a decent amount of time. And was not very good. We did get a lot of Texano/Cage interactions, which we've already seen just...way too much of, and it's still not working. When Texano is announced, Striker said, "One word: GREAT." Texano may have the biggest gap in "actual output in promotion" versus "how promotion wants him to be perceived" in the fed...if it weren't for one TINYYYYYY person in LU illustrating that same thing times 10. Wagner is one of the most charismatic men I've ever seen live, and I'm wondering why it's not coming through on LU. Is it because they want you to think everybody is a big charismatic star? Is it the differences in lucha filming vs. professional high end LU filming? Is he just being portrayed here like "just another guy"? Is it because he was saddled with Famous B - who is amusing in his role but makes a legitimate star like Wagner come off as bottom rung? Wagner still moves like a star, still seems like he has that charisma, but the way they're using him it could really be anybody under that mask. Cage looked pretty impressive here, that moonsault to the floor was nuts (and everybody was nuts for standing right under it), and for what felt like a throwaway match (even though it's part of a larger match concept) Cage came off pretty big here.

MD: This was a typical Lucha Underground multiman. You can't help but contrast it to the match later in the night and while that one had more fun character interactions, this was less stilted and choreographed. I thought both Cage and Texano came off pretty well here, actually. There's zero hook to Texano in lucha underground and generally seeing him here just makes me wish he was teaming with Terrible in CMLL still, but he stood tall against everyone for a decent amount of time. I get what Eric's saying though. I think the problem with Wagner in LU is that he doesn't really get to be Wagner. Everything about this promotion plays against his strengths. He's not a guy who can just come in and hit spots endlessly and then get out of the ring so the next person can take over. It's those dead spaces between spots where he can play to the crowd and make things mean something (or not mean something in a way that makes him look good, which is a Wagner special) where he excels. Even Vampiro pointed out that this wasn't really Wagner's style of match. These things were made for Cage to hit spots though. He was physically astonishing in this match, to the point where I stopped really caring whether or not this was good. Catching Ryan in mid-air and jackhammering him is insanely impressive. It was nice to see the rope come back into play for the finish as it had annoyed me how little its use mattered in the match itself.

MD: The second she told Reyes that he had to go back to the Temple, I was rooting for her to put him under a mask. That they're actually going with that shows how on point this show can be at times.

2. Sexy Star vs. PJ Black

ER: "You can't help but get behind Sexy Star!" You might think that was the case, Striker, but I suppose I just despise poor downtrodden women. That's something about ME that needs work. After all, if I can't get behind this one brave woman, who am I, and what wrong steps have *I* taken as a human? But this match was probably upper tier for Sexy Star. She has no idea how to transition, and no idea how to make up the size difference, and sometimes it's pretty clear she doesn't know how to fall for certain moves, but Black at least knew how to build to her bigger spots and they crafted a nice nearfall off the Styles Clash kickout. I liked Star's rana, and I liked PJ bragging on the top rope to set up his huge nasty drop onto the turnbuckles, and yeah, this was fine. You know she's going to win, and you know the commentary is going to be ridiculously over the top while praising her contributions to the history of womankind, but the match overall worked.

MD: In general, I wish they just moved Star over to Taya. If this had to happen, hwoever, I'm with Eric that the match overall did work. Most of that was on Black, his arrogance (including cheating when he didn't even have to), and is general unwillingness to sell for her unless she really earned it. He seemed to be putting an extra bit of oomph into everything too, which is not something people do with her. I came out of this wondering if I haven't been undervaluing Black. It's a shame he keeps injuring himself on basejumps or whatever. All that said, I'll be honest: I tend to watch Sexy Star matches at 2x speed, so my views on them are suspect.

ER: So Kobra Moon of all people is getting her own stable of reptilians? They're now building her up as some sort of millennia-long leader, when up til now all she's done is lose short matches and flirt with boys. It's a long con, people.

MD: I was wondering how this meshed with her and Daga from last season too. I think the line is that she ate him whole? Still, I'm all for the expansion of the mythos, and even more so the fact that they rationalized spending the money to actually make a GiJoe Serpentor throne in 2017.

3. Marty the Moth Martinez vs. Dragon Azteca Jr. vs. The Mack vs. Mil Muertes

ER: This didn't end the way I was expecting it to, as with the participants I assumed this would be a guaranteed path for Mil Muertes. And Muertes looked pretty awesome in this, loved his big uppercuts, and the showdown with Moth. Moth standing up to him and getting clocked in the jaw, then later speared through the ropes was terrific. Azteca and Mack matched up nicely, and that tornado DDT Azteca hits is insane. The ending was pretty stupid, with Azteca getting almost a visual pinfall on Muertes, then goes up to hit something else, waits there forever for the Matanza run-in (couldn't they have edited that closer together), and then other people just kill time being inactive while Matanza does his thing. His ragdoll slamming of Azteca was cool, but didn't love how it played into the match, with Mack then kind of just vulturing the win.

MD: As much as I liked Marty interacting with everyone, there was a heck of a lot of him putting his head down for a while so Azteca could leap over him or just hanging out so that he could eat that big spear shot off the apron. Him staring down Mil like a madman was the best part of this. Mil looked a step above everyone else. The guy just exudes star power in this gimmick. He moves just a little slower than everyone but everything feels so deliberate and impactful. Again, I did like how Azteca hit his crazy spinning DDT the first time and then got destroyed on the second. The show uses blood relatively sparingly so seeing Dario come out with the gimmick was a striking moment. I can't wait for Rey vs Matanza. I can wait to see Mack and Cage up against each other again considering they just did that towards the end of last season.


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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Low-Ki Has Been Controllin the Street, Holdin the Heat

Low-Ki v. Trevor Lee v. Suicide v. Sonjay Dutt v. Andrew Everett v. Dezmond Xavier Impact Wrestling 4/20/17 - FUN

ER: At times messy, almost always fun scramble with Ki looking like a megastar and Lee not looking too far behind. We got a lot of dorkiness with six guys either trying to not get in the way, or trying to sync things while other pairings are syncing things, with the match reaching peak fart sound when all six tried to dropkick each other at once. Things got better after that. Ki looked like a total beast here, every move he did look vicious and every move he took made someone else look vicious. His baseball slide dropkick to the floor (to two guys!) looked the best. Lee adds a bunch of little things that these matches don't always get (like leaping to grab for Dutt's leg as Dutt is going for a trainwreck dive), and the best flying was probably done by Suicide. Caleb Konley is under the hood now and he had a nice little match, his stuff looked real crisp and his fast segments came off most fluid (an important skill to bring to one of these clusters). We get dives, we get some stupid and nasty reverse ranas from Everett (hated his slo mo handspring by the way), Dutt worked the match with basically one eye (which is nuts), and this was good. Gimme Ki v. Lee eventually (lotta fucking hard E sounds in that last sentence).


PAS: Too many guys, too much nonsense to be a really good match, but this was certainly fun stuff. Ki looked like a kingpin his moves have such impact, and this match was full of young guys excited to bump like nutsos on Low-Ki spots. Everett especially takes every in ring bump like he is try to shatter his own spine. Xavier seemed to be mostly backflips, but he does get cracked. That double stomp by Ki onto the small of Lee's spine felt like it would either cause permanent back problems, or solve them. Lee v. Ki will hopefully get some really time to shine when it finally happens as those guys could put on a killer.  (lets run in CWF-MA actually.)


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