Segunda Caida

Monday, October 20, 2014

MLJ: Hijo del Santo vs Blue Panther 15(Final): 2004 in the UK, Part 2

2004-10-8 - Arts Exhibition "Arena Mexico"
University of Essex, UK
Hijo del Santo vs Blue Panther (One Fall)

It's hard to believe that this match was just two days later from the earlier one. It's in front of a similar crowd, worked to one fall, and goes even longer than the first one, but it's world's better. This is the last Santo vs Panther match I have for this series and in a lot of ways it's a great one to go out on. It's not perfect, but it was two masters of their craft bouncing back from an awkward (if well-received) situation a few nights before and really showing the audience what they could do.

Even though Panther received his share of cheers when he came out, and spotted Blue Panther chants throughout the match, this time he knew he was the rudo from the first moment. There was a sense of scrambling in the earlier match but here it was all very focused. The match was one fall but had a sense of three acts. In the first, they mat wrestled with Santo taking the advantage but Panther slipping out or getting shots in between superior strength and roughness. It ended in a natural sort of place after a 'rana and nearfall. After that, Panther really started to open up with his rudo stylings, playing heavily to the crowd but falling pery to Santo's technique and determination. This was a somewhat circular process but unlike the first match, it built to something, escalating more and more until Santo finally had enough, and after Panther got a cheapshot in after a rope break, he began to finally fire away, which lead to a surprisingly heated third act with a number of nearfalls, some legwork, and deep fatigue selling.

So there was focus and there was escalation and there was heat, and because of these things, there was a much higher sense of stake. Past one annoying person in the crowd who would shout "rudo" every time Panther did anything less than clean, the crowd was a little more clued in here. They didn't start Santo chants whenever there was a lull in the action to amuse themselves and Panther gave one of the more dickish performances of his career, I imagine, playing to them after almost every move he hit. I think that's been one of my favorite things about seeing him so much in this. He was far more multifaceted than he gets credit for. Yes, he played the technical role in a lot of those classic trios, but that's because Fuerza or Psicosis or Espanto/Pentagon were there. Now we mainly see him as the old man tecnico. When it was his role to play, however, he had this blunt sort of deluded rudo charisma that was very fun, especially when it was coupled with the technical skill.

There was quite a bit of technical skill on the table here too. The holds were more elaborate than in the first match and the jockeying for position during the ins and outs of them were great. This is a fancam from a few rows back so the views are limited but the little strikes they used to soften each other to escape holds or to set them up were plentiful and meaningful, as was attempts to grab a hand or foot or anything else. It was all competitive and all very organic and it's probably the best I've seen Santo on the mat. That might have been the nature of the relatively long match, of his opponent, or just the setting but it was thoroughly enjoyable and way more effort and detail than they needed to put into the match. There were still a couple of flubs on more complex holds but this time around, it felt more like a side effect of the struggle and not old age or sheer complexity flummoxing the wrestlers trying to work together.

This went more than thirty-five minutes on one fall, so there really is a lot to see. I wish the legwork had been a bit more meaningful in the context of the match. It would have fit better into that second act and helped lead to a clearer comeback. That's not the sort of match they were wrestling though, which is an excuse I find much easier to make here than for the one two nights before; here there was a real sense of vision from two absolute masters. If it was not the perfect match, and it wasn't, it was still great proof of just how good both of them were, the sort of proof that was sorely lacking from the match two nights before. Their first match from Monterrey was better, but there was so much to love here too.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lucha Azteca Workrate Report 8/23/14

These matches were from the 8/8 Arena Mexico show.

1. Rey Escorpion vs. Dragon Rojo Jr.

I've been loving the build up to this singles over the previous couple weeks, with Escorpion punching the hell out of Rojo's face and blindsiding him in trios matches. I guess I'm a pretty easy guy to please if I can get excited for a match just by seeing a guy hit another guy. But this match was a major letdown. Everything that made me excited for it during the build was completely absent from the match itself. We had a match ruined by bad quick fall formatting, and a bunch of spots - some of them very impressive - that didn't have too much rhyme or reason to them. We also had a lame and oddly out of place strike exchange. Just an uninteresting match. The first two falls are blink-and-you'll-miss-'em, so even though they have some cool matwork in them, you're already kind of set up to see what kind of match this is going to be. And sure enough, the tercera plays out like the worst kind of lightning matches, with them heatlessly taking turns showing off what neat moves they can do. Escorpion does a dive, Rojo hits a gnarly dropkick off the rampway, Rojo hits a powerbomb, whatever. The move order seems like it was drawn out of a hat, with the moves determined ahead of time. No flow, just moves. The strike exchange was hilariously bad, with it coming out of nowhere to start the tercera. Both men immediately start selling like they'd been in a WAR!! with Rojo selling a chop by staggering around like current Pacino milking a heart attack death scene. The match had two incredibly quick falls, and suddenly these guys are just using the last of their strength to throw kick combos. Which is even more hilarious since they were totally fine afterwards, fine enough to run through the depths of their offense. Just a brutally constructed match, made both guys look awful.

2. Marcela, Princesa Sujei & Goya Kong vs. Amapola, La Seductora & Zeuxis

Fun match although it would have meant a bit more if Blanca had been in it the week after losing her hair. Amapola looked good and continued to be her same under appreciated self. I love the way she flings herself into the Cassandro bump. Zeuxis looked pretty sloppy last week and her she was nasty, hitting big running kicks and a wild moonsault off the top onto Kong. Kong has great charisma and I love how excited the Arena Mexico fans get for her. Plus her apron dive can look pretty great. Sujei and Marcela didn't make a giant impression here, but considering they won a mask and a whole lot of hair the week before I think that's fair.

3. Rush, La Sombra & La Mascara vs. Negro Casas, Ultimo Guerrero & Shocker

Not a bad match but I was expecting a lot more after last week's amazing Rush/Casas showdown. Look at me, watching something with raised expectations. La Sombra has really come into his own this year, but this match was not the one to show somebody if you were trying to prove that point. He was off the whole time, flopping bad on a headscissors and over-shooting a big flip dive that sent him stumbling chest first into the ring barrier. Shocker had some nice moments opposite Mascara, with my favorite being Mascara doing a drop down and Shocker just splatting him with the biggest elbow drop. Ultimo Guerrero integrated Sombra's double flip moonsault about the best way you can, by purposely rolling out of it so that he could make Sombra hit his knees. Now Rush vs. Casas. That was about as limp dick revenge as I could have possibly imagined. It's like both guys were sore from the week before so just agreed to take it easy on the other. Casas' big revenge moment came off so bad, where Rush goes to kick him in the balls again, and Casas just kicks him first, with a glancing blow that Rush just kind of falls over from. And then Casas runs around the ring jumping up and down like he's never beaten anybody in his life. It looked so pathetic. If that was supposed to be a moment I can't imagine many ways it could have fallen harder on its face.

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Lucha Azteca Workrate Report 8/16/14

These matches were both from the big 8/1 Juicio Final show. I actually didn't even realize until this episode that there was a luchadoras mask vs. hair match on the undercard of the Rush/Casas hair match.  I saw there was a Volador/Sombra match and I just assumed they would take the opportunity to show the 300th singles match between those two, so I was very pleasantly surprised that they showed the ladies match.


Marcela & Princesa Sujei vs. Princesa Blanca & La Seductora

Sujei and Seductora are putting up their masks, and Marcela and Blanca are putting up their hair! Again, I actually didn't realize this match happened before watching it, and it was extra exciting going into it not knowing who was going to win. Blanca has probably the longest hair of any gal in CMLL, and Sujei and Seductora have had their masks longer than any CMLL gal I can think of. So in my brain there is a lot at stake here, and I think they more than delivered. Marcela is probably the best luchadora in the fed, and her and Sujei make a great team here. Both take some big bumps (Marcela missing a somersault senton off the apron to the floor, Sujei crashing and burning after getting kicked off the ropes onto the apron and also earlier launching herself spectacularly into the front row), and Blanca and Seductora really work like bitches. Seductora was always dropkicking and stomping throats, and Blanca genuinely felt like a woman who desperately did not want to lose her hair, scrambling and brawling the whole time, throwing woman by the hair, or planting them with the most badass spinning powerbomb I've seen in ages. I really loved this match, a lot of it really felt like a struggle and the stakes felt real. The end potential interference was also really exciting, with Seductora getting thwarted from cheating to win, and Marcela and Sujei gratefully embracing on the mat post victory. Crowd was hot for this too, much hotter than most Arena Mexico crowds. I get it.


Rush vs. Negro Casas

[Note: This match ended up landing at #11 on our Best of 2014 list. My review is reposted below, here's a link to Phil and my co-write up:]

Well this was awesome. Totally lived up to everything I wanted it to be. Rush comes out in a white suit with his hair tied up in a bun, so he can unfurl its majesty on the hate filled Arena Mexico crowd. And then Rush turns into an absolute hulked up bacne covered steamroller. Some matches you can see guys getting into position for parts of the match, purposely moving the match to a specific turnbuckle they need to be in to hit their mark. But here Rush just organically beats Casas' ass all over the ring. Hits a clothesline, pie faces Casas down to the mat, kicks him to the floor, kicks him on the floor, etc. Casas runs and Rush casual chases him down. Casas peppers in his comebacks when Rush gets cocky, and man does Casas blast in his own kicks. I love Casas' short low kicks to Rush's chest, and I love how every time he got his chance he really tried to make the most of that chance. Watch him desperately/shrewdly latch onto Rush's left arm during La Casita, using any ounce of leverage he can to get the pin. Rush plays a vicious game of oneupsmanship here taking what Casas dishes and bringing it back fiercely. Casas kicks him in the corner? Rush kicks him harder and then gloats to the crowd while standing on his throat. Casas hits the big Thesz press? Rush hits a lunatic dropkick off the apron, not giving a shit how hard his own body thuds onto the ground. And then there's poor Casas getting back into the ring, and Rush punting him right in the face. Casas gets a busted lip and few few brain cells taken off his hands, and the crowd goes silent. I'm not sure I've seen anything like that before. Casas still makes great comebacks and as I told Phil a few days ago, I'm not sure there's a better fired up babyface comeback in wrestling than Negro Casas. I love him going toe to toe with Rush, trying to outwit him, trying to strangle him with subs, ripping at Rush's hands. But it wasn't enough. Rush was too much. He even risks losing the match just for the opportunity to punt Casas in the balls, just because. Great, great match.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

MLJ: Rush vs Negro Casas 15 & 16: Tag Title Match and La Máscara, La Sombra, Rush vs Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas, Shocker

A link, first, as I already reviewed the next match in the series. I loved the way they worked the primera caida of it, with a few teases of it being a traditional title match before Rush and Mascara acted like total punks, and thought it was effective overall, even if the back half of the match didn't live up to the front half. Eric didn't like it nearly as much.

This was followed, then, by:

Aired 2014-07-13
taped 2014-07-04 @ Arena México
La Máscara, La Sombra, Rush vs Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas, Shocker

I've watched dozens and dozens of matches in this project, almost 80 I think. Most of them are pretty easy to break down. Lucha is not hard to figure out. It's really not. It's all about setting up a desire for something and then paying it off. That leads to pretty straightforward momentum shifts and matches that are pretty easy to follow. A-B-A. B-A-Reset-Finish. That sort of thing. Matches fit into a few different formulae because they work; they're time tested, effective, and the crowds eats them up, as they well should. They're also a little limiting. Every now and again you get a match like this, a war, and while it's a bit of a mess, it's a frenetic, exciting, visceral and violent mess that shows you what things might look like if they stretched just a little bit more now and again.

The story of the match was that neither side could get the advantage for long. It went two caidas, starting with the Ingobernales having something of an early advantage (though not necessarily due to an ambush as Shocker was just about smart enough, for once, to wait for his teammates to arrive; I assume that his opponents weren't in a rush to attack because they'd just shown off their swank new mafia entrance gear). It was a very solid beatdown with lots of holding of the "rudos" so missile or springboard or just regular dropkicks could be hit. Eventually, Los Ingobernales got cocky and got yanked out of the ring while trying to attack from the outside in and we ended up with a mini comeback, and a spirited one at that (Shocker yanking Sombra's mask and what not). This cycled right what felt like a tercera caida finishing sequence with quick cutoffs and finisher attempts, ending finally with a huge double suplex on NC and the corner dropkick on Niebla.

After this, they staged a reset and tossed structure out the window. Usually in a reset final fall (which is what this would be), they run through the pairings, with one side or another holding a fairly distinct advantage until they start the rush to the finish. Alternatively, they might do a second beatdown/comeback. Either way, it would generally end in big dives, and then leave the captains or the fueding focus on the match in the ring to finish things up. Here it's just chaotic, with neither side allowing the other to get much of an advantage before the other side swarms and fights back. If not for the crowd being so behind Casas and company (and the way they played to them) and how much Los Ingobernales were stalling (and how THEY played the crowd heelishly), it would have felt like some of those crazy rudo vs rudo trios brawls from eras past.

Basically, they did a lot of stuff. They run Rush vs NC a few times. They did some Niebla jiving around, but it didn't really hurt the flow of the match. They did the fun sequence of Shocker vs the World sequence from a week or two before where he clotheslines one opponent, dodges a shot in the corner, stunners Rush, and then gets out of the way so the dodged opponent dropkicks him. They had Rush cut out Casas' leg on his seated senton from the apron attempt even after he gave Rush a great headbutt to get him out. They had Niebla hit his fun back headbutt followed by a really fun Santo style tope out through the corner of the ring.

And they brought it all together by getting Rush and company their heat back after losing the tag titles. Shocker had been going for the Scorpion on Sombra but it ended up as a stumbling pin attempt. Aftewards, Sombra rushed at the ref to complain and Rush slipped into the ring so he could foul Shocker. The ref missed it and Los Ingobernales won. This was a lot of fun. I'll be honest. I was sort of dreading another match between these six at Arena Mexico coming in but they really slipped the reins and the end result was chaotic and a bit of a mess but enjoyable.

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Beyond Wrestling Americanrana ‘14 Review

Tag Team Battle Royal

This was a tag team battle royal, so like you would expect we have lots of guys with pun tag team names throwing clubbing forearms. There was some Johnny Cockstrong comedy spots, although not as funny as it has been in the past. Really hard to get much of a sense of anyone in a cluster like this.  They kept it moving at least so I wasn’t bored.

Pinkie Sanchez/Sugar D (Sex and Candy) v. Dave Cole/Aaron Epic (Fear in Loathing in New England)

This was based apparently on a breakup of a Sanchez/D/Epic stable, so was a little more heated then a lot of Beyond I have seen. I was happy to see that, but I didn’t love this match. Cole and Epic seemed like pretty generic tights and boots indy guys, lots of double stomp double teams and yakuza kicks. I did like Sugar D’s fired up Mr. Wrestling 2 babyface act, but I think Sanchez hurt himself and the finish was a bit wonky.

Nicholas Kaye v. Anthony Stone

This was a loser must retire throw in the towel match. This is a long running feud I am unfamiliar with, I have probably seen both guys before but they didn’t make much of an impression on me. The match started out like a pretty fun garbage brawl stunt show, Kaye catches the side of a chair in the face early and gushes blood which always adds to this kind of match. I also had no problem with the interference which had Kaye’s second Myke Quest (who looks like a sleazier Dean Ambrose, which I was surprised was possible) and Stone’s sister Natalya brawling on the floor. I was all set to recommend this, but the ending was super dumb, Stone handcuffs Kaye to the ring and goes and gets a chainsaw which causes Kaye to throw in the towel. Really silly, and anti climactic,  it almost felt like a comedy spot, he might as well have gotten a bazooka or a bayonet. It felt like they were building to something pretty cool, but the finish took it out of me.

Bryan Myers v. Ryan Rush

Myers is the former Curt Hawkins who is a WWE guy I know existed, but remember very little about. This was student v. teacher and worked as kind of an IWA Mid-South touring exhibition match. I thought Rush had some pretty nice athleticism, he had big time hops on his dropkick for a solidly build dude. Myers was clearly professional an well trained, although a little bland. There was a fun spot where Myers took a bump into the crowd an laid out four fans, that might work better on a show where everyone watching is a wrestler.

Team Tremendous (Dan Barry/Bill Carr) v. Best Friends (Chuck Taylor/Trent Baretta)

I think I have made my feeling about Chuck Taylor wink and smirk wrestling pretty clear, Baretta I remember being a generic Velocity junior in the WWE, but he is in Taylor land now. I have liked Barry in the past but he is along for the yucks here. Finish is clearly improvised as Baretta blew out his knee on a dive. Very much not my thing, although I suppose if you like Taylor’s horseshit, you might enjoy this.

Eric Corvis v. Jimmy Jacobs

This was a first blood match and was one of the two matches which caused me to buy this show, I haven’t seen a ton of Jacobs recently, but he has always been a guy I liked a lot, and someone who is really great at working a gimmicked brawl, Corvis is one of my favorite Beyond guys, I am not a usually a fan of guys working innovator of offense gimmicks, but he does pull out some cool moves and is also a pretty good brawler. This was good stuff for the lions share of the match, I liked all of the teasing  of spikes and there were some nasty looking stuff with chairs including Corvis hitting a spring board moonsault Van Damninator. Then unfortunately the booking kicks in as the TJ Marconi and Darius Carter heel invasion stable comes out and cuts a promo in the middle of the match, as Dany Only in an V for Vendetta mask comes out and stabs Corvis in the throat with a corkscrew, the carving up of Corvis was pretty nasty, but Jacobs totally got black holed as he had to stand around when they ran their angle. Nothing wrong with setting up something for the next show, but it sucks that they didn’t let the Corvis v. Jacobs feud work itself out.

Drew Gulak v. Tommaso Ciampa

This was a European Rules match, and was kind of a mix of a Gulak style match and an ROH indy match, Ciampa was fine on the mat, and the early parts of the match had some very cool matwork, including a bunch of really nifty spots built around knuckle locks. At one point it kind of flipped to a bunch of elbow exchanges and suplexes into turnbuckles and that stuff was a lot less compelling. I liked the end run OK as they did a bunch stuff working around the specific rules, each exchanging low blows to get an advantage, and Ciampa staying down during the 10 count and taunting Gulak. Good match, and a fun Gulak performance, although not at the level of the best stuff he has done this year.

Kimber Lee v. Silver Ant

I am not sure what the point of working intergender matches completely equal, it feels like less of a big deal when the woman pulls an upset. Silver Ant was pretty good, I liked the counter mat wrestling he was doing and kept himself looking strong while putting over a tiny girl.

Juicy Product v. Young Bucks

This was similar in a way, to the main event with the Beyond guys working a match in the style of their opponents. I liked this a little more, as I have more tolerance for Young Bucks Spotfests then Elgin matches, although neither are my thing.  Lots of crazy spots one after another with minimal selling or little downtime. I thought the Juicy Product seemed very comfortable doing this style which has a high degree of difficulty, this isn’t what I look for in wrestling, but I enjoyed it OK

Chris Dickenson v. Michael Elgin

I couldn’t get into this. Really was clear that Dickinson wanted to a work an ROH main event style Elgin match and that is something it is going to be very hard for me to get into. Lots of fighting spirit stuff, diffident selling, very much not my thing. I can see fans of this style liking it, Dickenson looks credible throwing blows with a big dude like Elgin. Lots of interference which didn’t help.

Not my favorite Beyond show, had a handful of matches I was enjoying ruined by booking, and some stuff that was not up my alley. Gulak v. Ciampa might be worth the individual match price though as Gulak is having himself a year

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

11. Rush v. Negro Casas CMLL 8/1

PAS: Really fun violent apuestas match, although a match that the blood ban kept from being an all time classic. Both guys were really awesome. Rush was a total killer in this, he reminded me of classic Vader or Lesnar, he looked jacked to the gills and was just rampaging through Casas, beating the shit out of him with chops and kicks and crushing him with the corner dropkick. Casas really reminded me of Fujiwara, he was this overmatched veteran who still had a trick or two in his book. Finish was great with Rush just killing him and deciding to punt Casas in the balls just for the hell of it. Great facial selling from Casas as he watched Rush celebrate with the fans hurling trash at him. Great post match, when someone finally shaves that punks head it is going to be incredible.

ER: Well this was awesome. Totally lived up to everything I wanted it to be. Rush comes out in a white suit with his hair tied up in a bun, so he can unfurl its majesty on the hate filled Arena Mexico crowd. And then Rush turns into an absolute hulked up bacne covered steamroller. Some matches you can see guys getting into position for parts of the match, purposely moving the match to a specific turnbuckle they need to be in to hit their mark. But here Rush just organically beats Casas' ass all over the ring. Hits a clothesline, pie faces Casas down to the mat, kicks him to the floor, kicks him on the floor, etc. Casas runs and Rush casual chases him down. Casas peppers in his comebacks when Rush gets cocky, and man does Casas blast in his own kicks. I love Casas' short low kicks to Rush's chest, and I love how every time he got his chance he really tried to make the most of that chance. Watch him desperately/shrewdly latch onto Rush's left arm during La Casita, using any ounce of leverage he can to get the pin. Rush plays a vicious game of oneupsmanship here taking what Casas dishes and bringing it back fiercely. Casas kicks him in the corner? Rush kicks him harder and then gloats to the crowd while standing on his throat. Casas hits the big Thesz press? Rush hits a lunatic dropkick off the apron, not giving a shit how hard his own body thuds onto the ground. And then there's poor Casas getting back into the ring, and Rush punting him right in the face. Casas gets a busted lip and few few brain cells taken off his hands, and the crowd goes silent. I'm not sure I've seen anything like that before. Casas still makes great comebacks and as I told Phil a few days ago, I'm not sure there's a better fired up babyface comeback in wrestling than Negro Casas. I love him going toe to toe with Rush, trying to outwit him, trying to strangle him with subs, ripping at Rush's hands. But it wasn't enough. Rush was too much. He even risks losing the match just for the opportunity to punt Casas in the balls, just because. Great, great match.


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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

MLJ: Rush vs Negro Casas 14: Atlantis, Máximo, Rush vs Felino, Negro Casas, Rey Escorpión

Aired 2014-06-08
taped 2014-06-08 @ Arena Coliseo
Atlantis, Máximo, Rush vs Felino, Negro Casas, Rey Escorpión

Atlantis, Máximo, Rush vs Felino, Negro Casas...

This was pretty refreshing. I think I've said it before but there is some feeling of diminishing returns in watching these matches in a row. I think if I was going to have someone see just the essentials of the feud, I'd point them to the Arena Mexico matches. Any sort of innovation they introduced elsewhere showed up in those matches and they just feel more important. That said, the throwaway stuff you get elsewhere can be more fun since there's more chance to have random pairings or partners, or, in the case of match like that, a fairly refreshing set up where Rush was more or less a tecnico and the rudos got to be rudos.

Basically, when you're teaming with 2014 Atlantis and Maximo, there's only so much of an Ingobernale you can be. This was a fairly standard beatdown-comeback-reset with tecnico advantage match, and frankly, that's a fine thing to be. The pairings were Casas/Rush, Felino/Atlantis, and Rey/Maximo, so no big surprises there either. Atlantis and Felino was a little bit interesting since Atlantis wasn't about to put up with much of the grossness, but everything else was old hat, if not very clean and crisp. Rey and Maximo have worked each other a ton over the last couple of years and it shows.

Rush did well as a tecnico, eating a lot of punishment in the primera (getting tossed into the chairs repeatedly). I've said it before but it bears repeating: he's excellent at getting stuff in while he's getting beat down. He'll fight back as much as he can without it actively taking away from the match and he's good at drawing that line, so in the end, he looks tough and his opponents look tough and everyone ends up looking better than if he just limply took the beating. The moment of transition was him coming out of the corner with the dropkick. After that point it was more of the Rush we're used to, biting and choking Casas, pounding on him on the outside, and even sulkily walking towards the back after his team took the caida. I'd say he was a little more over in a positive way than usual, but that might have just been a higher female presence in the crowd.

I'm not sure if it's the Terra production or Arena Coliseo, but there's a more intimate feel to this setting too. Before the match they had the rudos on the ramp for an interview, then they interviewed a female fan (apparently of Fuego), and when we saw Zacarias, he was in the crowd with one of those clapper gimmicks. There was also more interaction with the cameramen, with Rey, Casas, and even Maximo harshly pushing him out of the way.

The tercera was a nice brisk bit of sequence, with a run through the pairings. It should be noted, as part of the role reversal, Rush was the one who got to clap and rouse the fans for his section against Casas. In Arena Mexico, it's usually Casas who does that. Maximo always looks really good in his exchanges though, like I said, having Rey to work probably helped. They finished it off, with Rey breaking up the Atlantida but eating (literally), the oft teased Kiss of Death. Casas tried to break it up, but Rush caught him in his Saito style suplex for three. Post match he shifted back to regular Rush fully, taunting him on the mic and stomping away. Fun, little match with a slightly more classic feel.

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Monday, October 13, 2014

Lucha Azteca Workrate Report 8/9/14

All of these matches were from the 7/25 Arena Mexico show. 

1. Rey Escorpion, Ultimo Guerrero & Shocker vs. Atlantis, Dragon Rojo Jr. & Titan

 Fun match that was quick and violent with lots of mask ripping and stiff strikes. Escorpion has been on a roll lately and here's another match with him dishing a beating to Dragon Rojo. He punches him all over the ring and violently rips his mask off. At one point he was tearing Rojo's mask off with his teeth while also punching his face. Rojo hit a great corner flip dive as a comeback at one point. But the match even ends with Escorpion dragging Rojo around by his mask while stomping the hell out of him. It was odd seeing Shocker as a rudo here since he's mostly been featured on TV this year as a tecnico opposite Rush and his goons, but here he gets dropkicked by Kemonito and it's awesome (has Kemonito not appeared with Atlantis for a really long time, or is that just me…). For the most part Shocker and Titan stayed out of the mix. Most of it was naturally centered around Atlantis/UG, and all of their stuff was nice and snug. Both of them dished it out, with Atlantis ripping apart UG's mask, UG hitting a fast Jerry bump, Atlantis handing out quebradoras to every man in his way. Fun, high energy match with a few stories going on at once.

2. Marcela, Goya Kong & Silueta vs. Princesa Blanca, Amapola & Zeuxis

Decent, if sloppy match. Marcela isn't on TV as much as the other gals even though she's clearly heads above all of them. She always breaks out more daring things than the others and looked good here, with a nice rolling senton off the apron, big bump into the front row, does a cool armbar takeover on Blanca over the top rope. Kong is always somebody I get excited to see. I don't know if she's really that good, but she's always fun and the crowd always responds big to her. She breaks out some big splashes, misses a big elbow, does an apron dive, a bunch of fun stuff from a bigger gal. Silueta is cute and is fairly decent at pumping up a crowd, but she's also not that great. She's kind of sloppy and there's a pretty unfortunate botch that is covered up about as much as it can be by Amapola. Amapola is a good hand, but Zeuxis also isn't very good. She gamely attempts big spots but usually blows a couple, so I guess she gets some points for trying. Blanca is a great ruda, one of my absolute favorites to watch, and her and Marcela always work great together. Here is no different as both of them can really wail on each other. Hilariously, the match ends with a powder to the eyes DQ, with Blanca missing her powder shot and Marcela hitting hers, with the ref seeing and DQing Marcela. I cannot remember ever seeing a powder to the eyes finish in a lucha match. That seems like something so American that it was just weird seeing in lucha. Maybe Mexico has a long history of powder to the eyes finishes, but damn if I can't recall any. Now I want to see some hide the object lucha matches!

3. Rush, La Sombra & La Mascara vs. Negro Casas, Mr. Niebla & Volador Jr.

Awesome short match, full of guys working stiff and with a hot surprise finish. Rush and Casas beat the holy hell out of each other here. I'm not sure how Casas' throat can stand up to some of the stomps that Rush unleashes on it. Both guys throw some nasty kicks to the other's chest and face, shove each other violently into the ring barricade. At one point Rush charges Casas in the corner, stops short, whips his hair back and slaps Casas right across the ear. Great dickhead spot. Niebla is a guy who can wrestle lazy when he's not feeling things, but then we get *this* Niebla and all is well. He slaps guys the whole match, really laying the shots in to a nasty degree, and at one point even breaks out his great back bump to the floor (Rush front kicks him and he falls through the ropes backwards onto the floor). Volador stayed out of most of this, spending a lot of it getting kicked and stomped by Sombra/Mascara, but does hit a spectacular top rope moonsault to the floor. And obviously he plays into the finish which I really dug. Sombra is kinda manhandling him, but Volador gets the surprise flash pin by reversing a Sombra samoan drop into a brutal Sombra head drop. Flash pins don't feel like they get used in lucha that often, and I really love how the match just ended since Volador pinned the captain. Felt like they finally outsmarted the rudos and the cuts to a surprised Rush on the floor were a nice touch since Rush hasn't shown tons of ass in this feud. This could have been epic with more time, but for a straight falls match I can't imagine it being much better. This was some of the stiffest ring work I've seen in lucha this year, and no matter how long it was this was a hot match. (Oddly, the TV version of the match completely edits the 2nd caida down to just the Sombra/Volador finishing run, making the total match seem like 7 minutes instead of 12. This caused the episode to end 8 minutes early, so I have no clue why they edited out Casas' comeback or any of the other fun stuff from the segunda. Really strange.)

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

MLJ: Hijo del Santo vs Blue Panther 14: An Arts Show at the University of Essex?!

2004-10-6 - Arts Exhibition "Arena Mexico"
Colchester Arts Centre, UK
Hijo del Santo vs Blue Panther (One Fall)

First up, I want to thank Eduardo for reposting this for me after it'd been taken down. Also, thanks to Ohtani's Jacket for his review of this match which helped me figure out the context. He came in looking for the missing link of great Panther singles matches and that's not what he got at all. Now then, this was an absolutely fascinating match to watch. It's completely surreal. This was in the UK (this one at the University of Essex) as part of an arts presentation centered around the work of Demián Flores Cortés. Here's a press release on it. It had the most surreal crowd of what I assume are hipster art students and iintelligentsia actual wrestling fans, though not necessarily lucha ones, and kids, and they wanted what they wanted, and to their credit, for the most part, Santo and Panther tried to give it to them.

Unfortunately, it didn't necessarily lead to a good match, even if there were some quite good moments. I'd say that there were a few easily spotted reasons for that. First, you got the sense that they were afraid to engage the crowd too much in some ways, mainly through selling, instead trying to force constant action. I think they were wrong and actually underestimated the crowd a little. This led to both the feel of exhibition at times and a lack of escalation since there were no real stakes. It also led to the next problem: Blue Panther seemed to have ended blown up; maybe even both of them were. Let's face it. This was a match where Santo had something like five dives. It was wrestled as only one fall so there weren't any natural breaks. They tried for constant motion even if it was just working late submission holds and positioning, some of which really didn't work. There started to be real execution issues (both in actually hitting stuff and in the work seeming way more collaborative than usual) halfway through the match which might have been the nature of what they were trying to do or it might have just been the two of them getting older. It was a little shocking to see though. Without much selling or real stakes or a crowd that was emotionally attached to the idea of victory or defeat, even if they enthusiastic, there was just never enough escalation. There was one moment that I might call a comeback, when Santo dropkicked Panther off the top, but it didn't have the emotional weight behind it and there was never a feeling of payoff.

I need to talk more about the crowd. You almost had the sense of this being like Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show coming to the UK over a century ago. There was the sense of spectacle but it was all taken in by a distanced audience. I'm not saying they were sipping their tea and tutting and commenting "Oh, yes, well, then, would you look at that," (in fact it was more like "oh, someone in the crowd teach the kids some spanish words quickly so they can count along with the ref during action on the floor!") but there was a surreal sense of not really knowing what to do at certain points. From the get go, upon his entrance, Blue Panther, in his great jacket and with his awesome mask, was cheered. Then when the Master of Ceremony (and I can't tell if it was Cortés or not), says "from the corner of the bad guys," in front of his name, everyone starts to boo, because they suddenly realize they're supposed to, and Panther, who had been working tecnico all year, changes gears immediately, rudoing it up in a huge way. That's actually the best part of the match. I really like jerk Blue Panther. It's a role he didn't get to play nearly enough in what I've seen since he was always tagging with Fuerza or Psicosis or Espanto. Here he would be really broad, especially once the match hit its second third, trying to get the fans to chant for him and using heel tactics, and just being a jerk. The fans ate it up. On the other hand, whenever there was a lull in the action, a Santo chant would break out. I really think the crowd, even if they weren't emotionally engaged, wanted to play around and if they had gone for a bit more selling in the last third, it would have paid off for them.

That said, there were some pretty masterful moments. My absolute favorite was a course correction by Panther mid match. He had blown a couple of things and they had a miscommunication or two. It wasn't anything horribly egregious, just an inverted surfboard not quite working or Panther barely getting over for a Rana, but suddenly, Panther REALIZED it wasn't working, switched gears, and started to rudo it up heavily, kicking Santo in the back, working the crowd and just being a proper villain, ending it by giving Santo a move to sit up out of, which I swear is the thing Santo does best in the world (it was a knee-assisted lean-back chinlock), and ending it with a dropkick out and the Santo corner tope. I fully believe Panther came into the match half thinking that he'd work tecnico vs tecnico, until that "from the bad guy corner" moment, so that he was able to turn it into as good a performance as it was, and the smartness of that moment was the best of it.

It just wasn't enough to make up for the rest. They were pretty obviously supposed to go thirty and what they ended up with instead was a very good twenty minutes out to be found within that thirty, a very strange crowd that was trying as hard to enjoy and be part of things as the wrestlers, and a match that's well worth watching but can't help but be disappointing. They did it again a couple of nights later (and had some awkward thanking of the crowd through the masters of ceremonies, including Santo thanking all the kids, because he's great that way, to set it up). I'll check that out next week.

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Saturday, October 11, 2014

Uprising: Lucha Libre Workrate Report 10/11/14

Last week's episode was a repeat of the episode shown the previous week, with the really poor Kafu match. Match so nice you had to pay to air it twice. This show was clearly an old one, as it's always easy to tell how old the matches are when the Border Patrol is featured. Since Brian Cage looked to be about 200 lb. here, you have to assume it was about 3-4 years ago. He looked like a normal human being, not one with a gassed up 260 lb. body and a lifetime of kidney problems. So I searched and sure enough, this featured match was from the 5/11/14 show in Turlock, CA, an awful little town right outside Modesto, CA, an awful larger town right outside of Manteca, CA, also an awful town.

I've talked about the poor editing of this show many times before, but this 30 minute show starts with a full entrance from the Border Patrol, and then several long minutes of mic work from Oliver John running down Mexicans. Then Derek Sanders gets mic time to run down his tag match opponents, which is a match that won't even be happening on this episode. There was nothing revolutionary about these promos. And by the time we go to commercial and get Blue Demon into the ring, we're already 12 minutes into the 30 minute broadcast. Just a remarkably poor use of time. I would think that paying money to air something would keep me in check in regards to what I show, really force me to show only the best stuff, only the stuff that was most important. Not bland mic work building a match that I wasn't going to air. It's just lazy, bad editing.

1. Oliver John vs. Blue Demon Jr.

I've talked before about how Demon always uses weird rudo mannerisms in his matches, despite being pushed as the hero to all the fans in the crowd. He sticks to that here by slapping John across the face before the bell rings. Doesn't seem like something a tecnico would do. So there is occasional weirdness like that in the match, but overall I thought the match was really good. John is a guy who has worked Demon a lot, and they pair up nicely. Demon brings a lot to the table in this match, throwing really stiff strikes and some nice suplexes. John bumps around like crazy for him, then cheats to regain control, and that kind of simple stuff always works well when done well. Demon worked stiffer than I've probably ever seen him here, really leaving some handprints on John's face with some nasty slaps. A couple of them wouldn't have looked out of place on a RINGS card. Demon also threw some really great knee lifts, holding John's head in kind of a cravat while kneeing the side of his head. They looked awesome. John took some big bumps including flying through the ropes to the floor of a running knee, and taking a vertical suplex on the concrete. Rough stuff. Finish saw John get a weapon passed to him by Sanders, but Demon kicks out of the weapons shot, and gets the knees up on a big splash attempt from John. A minute before Demon had done a double leg and locked on a half crab and I would have bet money on that being the finish, as it just seemed like the laziest "I want to go home, Imma do a double leg and lock on a whatever" but it ended up being a nice red herring in the context of Blue Demon matches. You see a sudden random lazy submission and it's easy to think "oh he wanted to end the match" and then when it doesn't it's like a shocking false finish. Fun match, would have been real good live.

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