Segunda Caida

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

Thursday, January 23, 2020

WWF 305 Live: Sid! Bigelow! Ohno! Mastiff!

Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Sid WWF Raw 7/3/95 - VERY GOOD

ER: This is high profile enough that I'm surprised they didn't wait to do it on In Your House 2, and then have Sid vs. Diesel at In Your House 3. But I do like it for what it does, and sets up Bigelow vs. Henry Godwinn at IYH2. And this is a match that really benefits from the hot "smaller" crowd. WWF during this era had a lot of 2500 attendance shows in smaller towns that hadn't gotten WWF shows before. And they are dying for this action. And these two are great attractions in a smaller venue like this, two larger than life guys that can work a crowd well. Sid was constantly talking trash to an overly excited teens, and babyface Bigelow really had a huge working class relatable charisma. This is mostly kick punch, but their size reads tremendously in the smaller venue, so the kick punch comes off great. Bigelow's shots are short and quick, with Sid selling by whipping his head back hard; Sid has big boots that Bigelow takes whipping back bumps for. They work a nice spot where Bigelow catches Sid's boot after another big boot attempt, but Sid wisely ducks an enziguiri, and the visual of Bigelow whiffing the enziguiri was cool. There's a messy chokeslam spot where Bigelow gets zero feet of air, but it also comes off more violent, like Sid just grabbed him by the throat and threw him to the mat. Bam Bam had a run in with Henry Godwinn before the match, and Godwinn comes back out and shoves Bigelow off the top rope, causing him to get pinned and powerbombed by Sid. This was good for what we got, but if felt like they were building to a couple more cool moments before the premature finish, and it's a shame this is the only singles match we have of them.


Kassius Ohno vs. Dave Mastiff NXT UK 1/16/20

ER: I've wrestled with how many different ways I can start off this review, but they've all been some variation on "YES they are matching up the biggest tubby boys in the UK and I hope they sit on each other a ton". There's no eloquent way to put it, these might be the two heaviest guys on the NXT UK brand and that's something that will always excite me more than the armies of 160 lb. guys named Albie Hollist who have T-Rex arms and eyes on the sides of their head. No this is quick and to the point, both guys using their weight to win, and Ohno using his arsenal against a uniquely shaped opponent. It's a relatively short match, 7 minutes, but just watch Ohno's 2019 match against Jack Gallagher to see how special a match he can put together in 7 minutes. Ohno works his cravat in a few cool ways, and I loved how Mastiff wouldn't go over for a cravat snapmare so Ohno just dropped to his back with his knees up, dropping Mastiff chin first onto them. Ohno keeps going for the cravat, until Mastiff just throws him with a suplex that leaves Ohno sitting confused on his butt. We got both guys using several heavy sentons, and I liked how both would use them more like Finlay would stomp on someone's hands or rake his boot eyelets across someone's cheek if they weren't getting up quick enough. Mastiff was down on the mat, Ohno jumps on him; Ohno laid out, Mastiff plops on him. It's something every single fat guy should do. Ohno had a really cool counter, where he saw the cannonball coming and slouched further in the corner to deaden the impact and immediately shift into a pin on Mastiff. We get a lot of bad "missed" offense in wrestling that just looks like bad dance steps, but we don't get nearly enough of guys just trying to minimize damage they know is coming, and that is one of many things that sets Ohno apart from most wrestlers. The match was quick and heavy, and I liked how definitively it ended, a big German suplex, a fight on the buckles, and a brutal fireman's carry roll from Mastiff. Might have to run this one back a couple times to fairly gauge who is better.


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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

AEW Dynamite Workrate Report 1/22/20

What Worked

-Is it possible to like a tag match without liking any of the guys involved? Because this felt like it had a really good structure and ramped up much better than a lot of AEW matches (which seem to have no rhyme or reason to their build because it's ALL finishing stretch). This built really nicely, just with guys mostly doing things I didn't care for. But build is important and also yes, JR did compare Frankie Kazarian's headlock to Danny Hodge and Ed Strangler Lewis. Kenny twisted Scorpio's wrist for a long time and contorted his body like he was holding in painful gas, Page throws punches so that his inner wrist is smacking against his opponent's head, and there are plenty of do-si-dos that look dumb. Fans also chant Cowboy Shit at Page after he does a kip up, and I foolishly think they are saying he's a shitty cowboy before realizing they are into it. Gross. Page's lariats actually looked good, Omega's chops and shoulderblocks landed big, Page took a gnarly Kazarian German suplex on his head, and I thought the big suplexes and top rope danger came at a good time in the match. We got a real good save and the pacing actually felt right. This was a very good bad tag match.

-She eats up a ton of TV time, but Britt Baker is in the Bahamas and she got the vacation braids to prove it. Needed some beads to seal the deal, but that is a white woman on a cruise. UPDATE: Janela did it better. THAT is a man committing to being a white woman on a cruise. Goddamn Britt, do SOMEthing right.

-Jericho's body is getting midway between Ishii and Park, and I dig it. Beefier the better. Weight belt to hold in that tummy overhang and love handles? Hell yeah, great damn idea. Jericho and LAX are a fun team, liked them all in their trios. Didn't really love the match itself, that's below, but Santana and Ortiz bring professionalism to a tag like this, and Jericho needs to just start working like mid 2000s Pierroth.

-MJF's grade school play heel shtick is unbearably bad, but I like that he held a tight body vice during the small screen commercial break, really posted up on his arms to sell that he was tightening that vice. That's a nice touch.

-Moxley/Pac was a good main event worked around a silly premise: Moxley had his right eye bandaged, and PAC kept going after it because it's his weakness. Elbows to the eye, great kneedrop to the eye, would always go back to that eye whenever he was in a jam, and the commentary crew (Jericho included) all talked about how smart PAC was by going after Moxley's weak eye. But...IT'S AN EYE!! It is literally ALWAYS a weakness!! If you target somebody's eye throughout a fight, it doesn't matter if the guy's eyeball started at 100%, you're TARGETTING A FUCKING EYEBALL. How many weaker parts of the human body are just sitting out in the wide open to target? "Well, Moxley had a sore throat earlier, so it's really smart for PAC to be stomping right on his larynx like that"..."You know I saw Moxley riding his bike around shore earlier today, and maybe too much. Word is he has a tender groin, and PAC dropping several knees right into Moxley's balls is only weakening his scrotum"...If they all think it's a smart strategy for PAC to be targetting Moxley's dumb eye, and PAC is fine just targetting someone's eye, how is this not his strategy for every single person he faces? Moxley had a bandage on his eye, thus making it a target, thus making me think I made a mistake putting this match up top here. "I think my 'Please Don't Stomp On My Tender Foot Bones" shirt is already making very clear my stance on stomping on my foot bones, sir."


What Didn't Work

-Britt Baker is really really terrible at running the ropes, and a ton of her offense is based around running the ropes. Why do so many of the AEW women look like they're moving in slow mo when running the ropes? They do some misdirection rope running here that was so bad, so slow, and so ugly, Kelly missing a super slow clothesline while Baker power walks right by her, changes direction, slowly passes her again, just awful. She needs to do the Santino power walk spot and figure out a way to get heat from that. Kelly has a great look for TV, but they keep bringing these girls in to debut against Baker, and Baker clodhops all over them without giving them a ton. It's rough.

-You think Hager has a dedicated polo drawer, or hangs them all neatly in a closet?

-Jericho trios was kind of a mess, almost entirely due to the babyface team. Stunt is a charisma machine, but I am getting very very tired of him playing to the crowd for several seconds before any single move he hits. It's the worst of RVD, just making people stand around while you mug to the crowd, then make them stand some more when your move requires other people to lift and swing you into opponents. The babyface team doesn't have enough super impressive spectacular spots (though Stunt's 450 did look great) and none of them are good at gluing any of it together, so the interactions always come off so awkward.


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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Tuesday is French Catch Day: Wiecz, Koparanian, Gueret, Bollet, Al Hayes

Eddy Wiecz/Eddy Koparanian vs. Georges Gueret/Andre Bollet 2/23/56 pt1 pt2

PAS: This is the earliest French footage available, and is a hell of start to this whole project. This isn't the balletic, frenetic, athletic middleweight Catch we have seen. This is four heavyweights pounding on each other. We start off with the top wrist lock lockups which are a Catch staple, and there are some cool flips and takedowns out of those, including a great looking drop toehold by Bollet. The heels (Guret and Bollet) start mixing in some cheap shots,It starts to get chippy, and then just unloads into some absolutely super violent forearm and uppercut exchanges. This is Johnny Valentine level violence from all four guys, including Koparanian doing these super nasty half chop, half eye rakes. We get a first fall win with an airplane spin by Koparanian. There is some really great stuff in the second and third falls as well, although the vicious forearm exchanges at the end of the first fall were the apex. I really liked Weicz working a half crab, and there was this super cool spot where Koparanian kept turing a body scissors into a leg stretch. Finish run of the third fall was really cool with Bollet getting especially viscous with a shot to the back of the head, only to fall to a top rope dropkick/schoolboy combo, which looked more like a Fantastics finish from the 80s, then something from the mid 50s.

SR: 2/3 Falls match that goes about 40 minutes. Our journey into French wrestling begins with Edouard Carpentier of all people. He‘ll be interesting to watch, since he obviously stands out in the US wrestling scene, but in France he might be just another guy. Although I imagine he will definitely get a bump from watching this French footage. This match wasn‘t quite in the super athletic French style that blew all of our minds in the first place anyways, it was instead a classic heat mongering affair. Gueret seemed rather non-descript, but Bollet drew a really loud negative reaction as soon as he was announced. He was a towering guy, he could clearly wrestle, but you could sense that this wouldn‘t be a wrestling heavy match very soon. The match was the type that I imagine sent folks into near riots all across Europe in the post WW2-wrestling boom. It starts with some slick arm rolls and nice wrestling, but they soon get to the real meat. Guys get bitchslapped, cheapshots are thrown, and eventually you have a bunch of heavyweights throwing forearm smashes with abadon. Gueret did look a little bland, but he sure knew how to throw those forearms. The heels would soon start to try and buckle their opponents to the corner to deliver nasty 2 on 1 beatdowns, and the faces would retaliate with ear rakes which the crowd loved. Koparanian was kind of bastard too, he would bitchslap the heels and get in cheapshots of his own. The whole match was worked like this, there would be moments of well executed wrestling, only for someone to throw a forearm or cheapshot and things would fire up. It‘s quite a long match, but they keep the pace up. Add 3 fun finishes and you have one hell of a match.

MD: By all rights, this should have been our first match last week. It is the first match chronologically in the set, but alas, it took a little longer to find the second half. It's 2/3 falls, long, fascinating, dynamic, in many ways, very easy to understand and familiar while also being unique and alien as any new footage can be. There are familiar faces in Bollet (who we've seen not all that long ago vs Andre) and Weicz who would become Carpentier. It goes forty to fifty minutes and there's so much to cover. Look, we could spend a paragraph just talking about how they use handshakes instead of handslaps to tag one another.

Bollet was the real heatseeker and Koparanian, more than Weicz, the charismatic babyface (one excellent at milking a moment). Everyone stood out. We are inundated with footage, but I'm going to remember Guerret's forearms, Weicz' weird slicing chops, and just how much of a goon Bollet was (both in the action itself and how after he won the second fall as he pranced about with some trash flying in the ring). The faces (white trunks) were faces and the heels (black trunks) were heels. There was illegal double teaming and a few measured and over heel miscommunication spots in the corner. It was familiar enough that when you watch it, you won't be lost at sea.

I won't always do this, because it's a terrible way to write a review, but I know the rest of the guys will carry the narrative weight and I just want to make everyone understand just what has been uncovered and why all of you should stop what you're doing and watch it. There were a hundred little details worth noting; we could never get to all of them: Bollet not shaking hands at the start and later avoiding Koparanian to build heat and anticipation; how much French fans seem love the make-a-wish style submissions in this and other matches; how the heels utilized their side of the ring and how Koparanian just pounded his way out of the corner; how dramatic and expressive Bollet and Koparanian were when they were taking and putting on holds respectively; Guerret's hugely credible forearms and fists and how Weicz judo flipped him to reverse one; the endless feet face-twists as super over babyface comeback spots (really all the revenge spots, like Koparanian's rabbit punches after Bollet's examples or the tit-for-tat hairpulls on top wristlock takedowns; revenge spots are the best); the way they used jerk headpokes as an insult; Weicz stopping Guerret's interference shot on Koparanian from mattering by running in with an armdrag to keep Bollet on their side of the ring; the cool Koparanian body-scissors counter that involved hooking his own feet up around the scissoring ones; the heel neck work at the end including Bollet's deep vice and quasi-hotshot; how serious any pinfall attempt was: the finish, a full-nelson set up for a missile dropkick, was preluded by the momentum shift of a mere kickout and it absolutely worked; and the post match celebratory backflips (Bollet had to get into the act and I think the fans were chanting for Guerret to do one too?). This isn't even the half of it. There's so much to see. It's absolutely overwhelming, and it all somehow comes together as a coherent, emotional whole.

Bollet is so fun on offense (both in his underhandeness and how he'd occasionally do something super athletic, like a flip to set up a drop toe hold), so it's a shame he ultimately works from underneath so much. As with what else I've seen so far from this footage, I wish there was a little more selling. It's not that things don't matter, but a lot of limb focusing (be it hand-stepping by Koparanian on Guerret or Guerret taking out Weicz's leg from the outside, etc.) is more to set up the next spot/opening than something that plays into a longer narrative. In general though, it's astounding how far the style had advanced by the mid-50s and how well they filled so much time in entertaining and meaningful ways. 


Al Hayes vs. Guy Robin 3/22/57

SR: This French gem features a 29 years old Al Hayes. Aside from that, there is an obvious thought looking at the matchup: how will a British guy fit into the French wrestling style? The answer is they meet up in the middle and work pretty much a World of Sports style match without rounds, with Hayes working classy British escapes, and Robin bringing the French touches, although the sights of the match were set on a chippy bout from the introductions. There it is immediately noticable how this match is pretty much the Roland Barthes description of wrestling exemplified: Hayes, the clean cut, tall technician who never complains and is never unfair, against the short, balding, somewhat mishapen looking Guy Robin. And Robin really embraces his role to the fullest being a pesky little goblin. And he is a total show here, gesturing big, diving all over the ring like he was Gargamel trying to catch a smurf. His out of control bumping, mannerisms and cartoony stooging were really awesome and may have carried the match. That is not to disparage Hayes, who had some quite beautiful escapes and knew to lay in the european uppercuts when it counts. At one point he did a totally GIF-worthy escape from a cravate that was slow and deliberate like Arkangel de la Muerte, at another he just lifted Robin and threw him, and my favorite may have been his beautiful sweep from the ground. It was almost like carny Jiu Jitsu. The whole match had a slow and deliberate pace, maybe because both guys weren‘t familiar, but they kept it simple and effective, with Robin really bringing the funk towards the end , earning himself a few public warnings and trying to crack Hayes with nasty backbreakers and armbreakers. Hayes retaliated with some nasty face scrapes that seemingly bloodied Robins nose and got sold with BattlARTS style 9 counts. Classic formula match executed extremely well, and it was really cool to see the classy British technical style in place at this stage.


MD: At some point, I'm going to stop being in awe with what we gain in every new match. Not yet though. As noted by others, this was a proto-World of Sport style match, with Hayes as the youthful, intrepid, blue-eye and Robin as the underhanded rogue. We have almost no Hayes on tape: the Veidor match from the 70s, the 80 Heenan manager vs manager match where he's a defacto babyface, and very little else. I love Hayes vs Veidor and I think on some level, despite knowing how unlikely it was, I was hoping for another look at full on heel Hayes here. What we have instead is probably more illuminating, however, because it gives us a more rounded triangulation of Hayes as a wrestler and even some interesting early trappings of "Judo Al" with chops and some of the takedowns. It's also a good look at a very dynamic Robin as the frenetic rulebreaking stooge.

Robin leaned into his role, bounding back and forth early on like a spring, creation motion and energy. He was technically sound, though constantly outwrestled by Hayes, resorting instead to the behind the ref's back rabbit punches that were WoS standard, and adding in a backbreaker variation from that position cool single-arm drops, and pretty nasty knees. There was something almost Backlund-esque to Hayes, with his perfect posture on mares and the way he'd power out of certain holds, to go along with the more deliberate point-by-point escapes and the memorable escalating cravat escapes (first slow and then lightning fast). When he advanced to fighting a bit dirty, whether it be tweaking the nose to allow for an escape or the fisticuffs, it was all with a stiff upper lip. No jury in the world would convict him. The finish was a culmination of what came before, with Hayes bloodying Robin, reversing one of those arm drops, hitting the cradle powerbomb flip and just cinching in a deep accordion pin. Everything was precise enough that you could check your watch by it but it all felt perfectly natural and like a true athlete at work.

PAS: I thought this was absolutely great. Lord Alfred Hayes was a great character actor in the wrestling I grew up on, as sort of a Benny Hill drunk British goof in Tuesday Night Titans sketches. It is so cool to see him young and handsome and incredibly skilled. I loved the contrast in this match with Hayes as an incredibly slick mat master, and Robin as this twitchy aggressive hawk. He was like the guy in a pickup game you hate to play, picking up full court, pushing his chest into you while you are trying to drive, diving at your knees for a loose ball. Hayes worked at his own pace, and had some really beautiful counters, I especially loved all of his escapes from cravates. Finish was really cool with Robin landing these nasty Fujiwara armbar takedowns, and Hayes getting frustrated with Robin's bullshit and messing up his nose, and pinning him deep.


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Monday, January 20, 2020

2019 Ongoing MOTY List: WALTER vs. OHNO

Kassius Ohno vs. WALTER NXT UK 1/27 (Aired 2/27/19)

ER: Big man match that goes under 10 minutes, so they get to the point quick and don't abuse nearfalls. Instead they just hit each other, working in rhythm but doing things to break each other's rhythm. We got plenty big chops, WALTER built to big kicks, Ohno would try to slow him down with a cravate and occasionally he'd hit a nerve and WALTER would plow him over. Ohno takes a big bump to the floor, and Ohno keeps trying to come back firing, with WALTER absorbing a bit while laying in wait. We get a fun sequence where WALTER grabs for a sleeper but Ohno blocks it by grabbing WALTER's arm, he eventually gets it, Ohno runs to the ropes, but WALTER perseveres and drops Ohno with a German suplex. WALTER as weapon is always fun, and it was fortuitous that Nigel was comparing WALTER to young Andre, and not long after WALTER ran and flattened Ohno with a bombs away. Ohno's missed moonsault is an impressive spot, made more impressive when a WALTER dropkick sends him the rest of the way across the ring right after, and I am a huge fan of these under 10 Ohno matches that end with no overkill. They have a bigger war in them, but I was into these warning shots.

PAS: This was a pretty great TV match. Two guys who really hit hard and one guy in Ohno who really knows how to work a hard hitting match in an interesting way. WALTER is a guy who can be a fun dance partner for someone willing to lead. He isn't going vary his match much, but Ohno is such a creative thinker, that a 10 minute TV scrap between the two is going to be great. Lots of little cool moments, Ohno hitting a diving elbow to the side of WALTER's head, Ohno breaking the sleeper by manipulating the thumb, WALTER hitting a big flying dropkick which flips Ohno backwards. Really fun stuff which ends right when it should. There is so much WWE to watch, that weirdly matches like this are way more under the radar then something from IWTV or even an indy lucha match. Very WCWish, although most things on Worldwide didn't get this much time to develop.


2019 MOTY MASTER LIST


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Sunday, January 19, 2020

WWECW 10/30/07

Elijah Burke vs. Jimmy Wang Yang

ER: I don't remember the Yang ECW run, but he's a fun big bumping ECW archetype, and here he dies with a great spill from the apron to the post onto the stairs and into the barricade, and a later shoulder first bump into the ringpost that sets up Burke's great double knees finish. His offense was mostly defensive, like when he hit a hooking spin kick to knock Burke out of the air (replays show Burke jumping face first into boot). But I dig the way Burke moves, like a kind of proto Velveteen Dream, a lot of flair to even the simplest things. Burke works chinlocks and other grounded holds with nice energy, bends Yang's elbow, drops a knee on his triceps, does some nice glancing stomps to Yang's face, and bigger things like a cool shoulderbreaker and an even cooler diving elbow to Yang's back. This was fun, if inconsequential.

Nunzio vs. Tommy Dreamer

ER: This is billed as a Trick or Treat match, with Nunzio dressed as Count Dracula and Dreamer doing a spot on Paul E. Dangerously impression. At least there wasn't a situation where Dreamer has no said in interview that he was going to bumrush a WWE event to murder Paul Heyman and then blow his own brains out live at a PPV. I'm sure Dreamer's accurate and public Paul Heyman costume has nothing whatsoever to do with Dreamer wanting to share Paul Heyman's skin. A Trick or Treat match is apparently two men dressed in good Halloween costumes, hitting each other with items that you would find at a Peanuts Halloween party. There is a table with pies (nothing but pumpkin, it would seem) and an apple bobbing station. There isn't a ton to it once you get past the costumes, but Nunzio bumps around way more than he should have in a stips match designed to be immediately forgotten. He takes a great running banana peel slip bump on the floor, slipping in reddi-wip that Dreamer had already sprayed, then getting the apple bobbing bucket kicked into his face before spiking himself for Dreamer's DDT.

The Miz vs. John Morrison

ER: This is like the last match up I'm interested in seeing from this old WWECW, so the fact this is a #1 contender's match means they're both lingering around the title picture. This is not the kind of wrestling I am nostalgic for. This is the worst elements of 2007 Edge offense combined with the worst elements of 2020 Athleticism Wrestling. They nearly win me over at least two times: Once, when Miz throws three hooking left hands - the first an excellent worked punch - in a better way than he throws that similar punch now. Here he was making it look like a punch; now, he makes sure to make it look like he's throwing a fake punch. That weird bloated theatricality is a thing that keeps me from buying into any Miz hype today. These punches were a good thing, that he should still be doing. The second way they almost got me was a cool sequence with the two fighting in and around the ropes and the apron, stuff they gave a little struggle to, ending with Miz kicking Morrison into the barricade with both legs. But their tendencies always butt their way in and take me back out of things. Mix bunny hops into a hotshot like a goober, there's silly Edge offense where one guy grabs an arm and the other guy falls onto his face, and a general "we learned wrestling from Matt Sydal trainees" vibe.

CM Punk vs. James Curtis

ER: James Curtis is the last name used by KC James, one of those 2000s Smackdown workers I liked, the kind that would show up for 6 months and then never be heard from again. There were a lot of those guys during the 2000s who either worked like or were Cornette fed trainees, and they always stood out as "not quite WWE style" just enough to make me like them and also make sure none of them went anywhere. He's the kind of guy who can throw a nice corner clothesline and a good shoulderblock, who wrestles like a cross between Tim Horner and Kendall Windham. This was a quick Punk showcase, just 90 seconds, and Curtis is a good guy to have a showcase opposite. Punk during his WWECW run was such a pastiche of the worst parts of indy wrestling: Virtual Pro Wrestling 2 puro move aping with sloppy movement. It's weird seeing a guy do Kawada forehead kicks somewhat well on WWE TV, but it's a thing that I sure hated as it continued spreading over the indies. Punk at least keeps his floor high by keeping things like the running headlock bulldog as a presence on TV, when most had switched to the awful hand on back of head method. The match is good for 90 seconds, and Morrison (winner of the earlier #1 contender match) lays Punk right on out with a diving forearm to the back of the head while Punk was still pinning Curtis. It was the coolest offense Morrison threw on this episode, and if there was going to be just one well he picked a good time for it.

Monster Mash Battle Royal: Great Khali vs. Mark Henry vs. Big Daddy V vs. Kane - FUN

ER: What a concept! Throw your 4 biggest goons into the ring at the same time on your Halloween episode, one giant Monster Squad all turning on each other. It's great. It's a great visual to get 4 mammoth guys in there all at the same time. V and Henry crash into each other, Kane throws a potato shot to V's cheek, V misses a big charge into the corner and then takes a big bump to the floor. Khali takes his own impressive bump over the top, and we get a quick violent Mark Henry/Kane interaction: Henry lifts Kane up and flings him over the top! Kane getting manhandled usually isn't a thing that happens in a match, so Henry definitively chucking him to the floor was a great finish. There was a little messiness, V drops Kane on his big spinning slam, and it barely goes 4 minutes (These 4 together is such an impossibly rare treat that I needed twice as much time with them crashing into each other), but what we get is giants gold.


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Saturday, January 18, 2020

The Return People Waited 4 Years For: The Return of Nick Patrick

Nick Patrick/Dudley Boyz vs. Chris Jericho/The Rock/Mike Chioda WWF Smackdown 10/4/01


ER: We're all familiar with Nick Patrick's legendary WCW match against Chris Jericho, so I was dying to revisit how Patrick handled his first match with actual wrestlers (and not just another referee) since that Jericho match. That Jericho singles has a very special place in my heart, and this was special in a different way. This was Patrick's swan song, his final match, and it's cool that if came during maybe the hottest business period in wrestling history (just a few months after the Invasion angle that was the beginning of the end for the boom period). It's smart to structure the match as mostly a straight Dudleys vs. Rock/Jericho tag but leaving some big moments for Patrick and the actual non-wrestler Chioda. Rock and Jericho were sky high babyfaces, and it's great seeing Patrick feed off that. Chioda stays completely out of this until his big moment at the end, whereas Patrick is actively interfering and working from the apron. Bubba Ray was really entering his working peak at this point, and here he handles the bulk of the bumping, going up for a big back suplex from Jericho, two bumps off the turnbuckles (including his big missed senton) and a huge bump over the top to the floor that sets up our fantastic finishing sequence. Bubba also drops two gorgeous elbow drops and follows them up with a cool falling axe handle. But before that Patrick gets in a couple of really good moments, stooging from the apron and acting like he doesn't want to get involved, but then he's the first in the ring to break up a pinfall! That's a fun twist on the "non-wrestler" forced into a match, as you don't typically see Jimmy Hart or Cornette running in just to break up pins.

So Patrick puts the boots to Rock and then takes off running around ringside, filled with regret. He's got his ref slacks with the unflattering ankle break, his little league coach WCW shirsey, and he has no interest in tangling with The Rock. But Chioda chases him back into the ring and Patrick dives right into a Jericho double leg before Bubba Ray makes a great save, keeping Jericho from locking in the Walls. The finish involving the refs was the best part of the match. The match match really had the feel of a classic Smoky Mountain main event trios, and the finish felt like something ripped straight from a Cornette agented OVW match. Bubba gets tossed to the floor in a great bump, and then Jericho follows it up by hitting his Silver King shoulderblock to knock Devon off the apron, leaving Patrick alone on the apron as the only guy to get in the ring and face The Rock. This show was in front of at least 10,000 people in Mobile, AL, and this felt like something that was specifically designed to be expertly played out in front of 70 people in Mobile, AL. Chioda gets tagged in and spears Patrick, throwing awful punches and worse stomps, ripping off Patrick's WCW shirt. Patrick eats a Rock Bottom and a picture perfect Lionsault, and then Rock actually stops Chioda from pinning Patrick and motions for Chioda to do the People's Elbow. The crowd is legitimately going nuts for referee Mike Chioda - in the only wrestling match of his career - to do the elbow, and he somehow pulls it off. It's weird when WWF accidentally lets super southern territory tropes into their main events. Very little of this felt like a WWF main event. This felt much more like a main event of a show in a high school gym, and I wish that was a vibe that WWF aimed for more often.


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Friday, January 17, 2020

New Footage Friday: Recognize GAME

GAME 9/12/94

PAS: This has to be one of the weirder shows in US wrestling history. It is a bunch of LA indy guys working a RINGS style show in a Chinese Restaurant. Outside of hearing about Vandal Drummond from Incredibly Strange Wrestling, and the two guys in the main event, I am not sure who any of these guys are. Thanks to our buddy Roy Lucier for uploading this, hopefully he has some more floating around, I really need to see Shootstyle Super Boy.

ER: I gotta say the Chinese restaurant venue really does add to the vibe of this show. It really gives it that feeling of something out of Bloodsport or the background of a Street Fighter II level.



Vandal Drummond vs. Greg Regaldo

PAS: This was really devoid of highlights, outside of one nice German suplex by Regaldo, this had the feel of a grappling match between two freestyle wrestlers who were just trying to avoid mistakes. Drummond is able to get a choke during a scramble for the win. Weird how dedicated these guys were to making it look real and not worrying about it being particularly entertaining.

RUR 2000 vs. Benson Lee

PAS: This was pretty cool, both guys were wearing lucha masks for some reason, and had some pretty fast and aggressive grappling. Lee was the standout, he had a great looking judo throw and a cool looking sort of calf slicer for the submission. 2000 kept up, and everything moved pretty briskly, it reminded me of an undercard U-Style match, which is a fine standard to reach.

Doug Williams vs. Eric Anderson

PAS: Doug Williams is neither the Redskins Super Bowl winning quarterback or the early 2000s British Indy guy. He is announced as a former California State Wrestling champion, and basically dominates Anderson the way a dull amateur wrestler might dominate an MMA fight. This was pretty long and didn't have many highlights. Everything looks authentic enough but so far we haven't had much that was particularly exciting.

Terry Iwakura vs. Makoto Muraoka

PAS: They list both of these guys as black belts, and this felt like guys with some experience working this style, although all I could find on either guy is Muraoka getting mauled by Ralph Gracie at an EWF show. Really liked the first part of this match which felt like a UWF match, some nice fast submission attempts and sharp kicks. This went too long though, and it felt like both guys lost a bunch of their spark. You really have to a be great performer to have a shootstyle match go 20 plus minutes, and these guys didn't have that in them. Could have been a killer six minutes though.

Vandal Drummond vs. Benson Lee

PAS: These are the two guys who ran this fed, and I imagine came up with this idea while watching bootleg UWF tapes. So it was pretty cool to watch them execute their idea. This was good shootstyle full stop, Lee threw some nasty body kicks, and both guys had great looking takedowns and submission attempts. I loved Drummond's yank down front face lock, and Lee had a really cool judo trip. I thought Drummond really looked good attacking the back the whole match, he really felt like a guy with a jujitsu background even if he didn't have one.  Finish was really cool with Drummond blocking a judo throw by sinking in a side choke and dragging Lee to the floor for the tap.  Only Lee I had seen before was him getting murked by Severn in 2 minutes, but he had some cool stuff, and I kind of want to dig into the lucha and garbage Drummond, because I dug shootstlye Drummond a fair amount.

Dan Severn vs. Al Snow

PAS: This was fun stuff. Severn is clearly in his element, really rough power takedowns, big throws. mat pummeling. Snow kind of brought the pro-wrestling elements. I thought both of the falls out of the ring were cool bits of showmanship, really put over the struggle and intensity of the grappling. I liked Snow getting a little chippy in the last couple of rounds, throwing the cheap shot on the break, going for wilder kicks. Watching a lot of Severn over the last couple of years, he was a really great finish guy, they always looked super violent and conclusive. The overhead throw into an armbar he ends the match with here was super cool looking and credibly violent. Props to Snow for really putting over the pain of the hold. Cool, shit and another notch on Severn's belt.

MD: What an odd match to even wrap your head around. Snow trained Severn. We have footage from January of this same year of Snow and Severn working a MI indy, but Snow's dressed as Shinobi and working the fake Muta type gimmick (down to a missed moonsault to lead into the finish). It's out there on Youtube. Severn works that as your 80s babyface Steve Williams type, mainly from underneath due to Shinobi's kicks and oriental nerve holds or whatever. Then they do this.

Really, at this point, Snow could have been absolutely anything. There's no reason he couldn't have gone to WCW in 96 and replaced Johnny B Badd as the TV champ to feud with DPP. A little later, he could have been in that Malenko/Guerrero/Benoit US Title mix, or feuding with Booker T over the TV Title in 98. He could have done more in Japan with this style and rolled into 00s Inokism or teamed with Johnny Ace in AJPW instead of Mike Barton. I'm not saying the sky was the limit, but it's definitely a testament to the guy and ultimately something of a disappointment that he ended up following the exact path that he did.

Here he's solid, absolutely solid. This is five rounds of dubious length (round 3 seemed really short is all that I'm saying). Snow brought the kicks and a nice throw or two, but mainly this was a Severn showcase and it was up to Snow to feed limbs and realistically struggle and believably stay in it for all five rounds, which I think he did. Occasionally he'd grab a leg, but Severn would almost immediately grab one back. Occasionally Severn would get in a German or some such but it was played mainly as a thundering takedown. Towards the end, they leaned a little more into the pro wrestling sensibilities with a Snow cheapshot and the finish, which was Severn responding by pressing him against the ropes, turning it into a northern lights style suplex, and hanging on to the arm mid-air for the submission once they landed. Snow made sure to yell accordingly which let the fans understand what was going on. I'd label this perfectly respectable, which, frankly, was probably MORE than you could honestly ask for.

ER: I thought this was some high end American indie shootstyle right here. Al Snow is a really cool 1995 wrestler, a guy who was unique enough to show up on WWF, WCW, and ECW TV, have memorable indy feuds throughout the whole year, the great Benoit ECW match, the great SMW run, and here he shows a whole side that makes me want to see a whole career of shootstyle Snow. Dan Severn is one of my favorite recent obsessions, a guy who could have had some absolute classic wrestling matches, had he actually stuck to it as his main occupation. So here we get these two cool shootstyle guys work a long stretched out match, filled with cool submission attempts, sick throws from Severn, Snow trying - and succeeding - with big kicks, and both guys working huge takedowns that had to take the wind out of both. These two worked really great together, super complementary, with Severn going after limbs and working for suplexes. They grappled very convincingly throughout, and had a couple cool moments where they rolled to the floor in a tight grapple. Snow would through big strikes, landing a good deal and knocking Severn down for 10 counts, but when his leg would get caught Severn would make him pay in cool ways. The finish was really great, with Severn getting an armlock and Snow screaming a blood curdling scream for the stoppage. I really love our American handheld indie shootstyle history, and this was a fantastic addition that I had never seen before.


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Thursday, January 16, 2020

Daisuke Ikeda Doesn't Want to Hear It He Knows You're Full of Shit

Daisuke Ikeda vs. Katsumi Usuda BML 9/11/05 - FUN

ER: This is just 5 minutes, a condensed version of these men doing what they do. Usuda gains almost all of his advantage by jumping Ikeda with a knee before the bell, then kicking him around the ring, into the crowd, and back into the ring for awhile, until Ikeda gets sick of it and punches him in the face a couple of times, and then throws the hardest lariat he possibly can. Usuda's comeback rear naked choke is great. He really drags Ikeda down to the mat with it, but Ikeda tries to reshape Usuda's leg with a half crab. There's a shot of Usuda finally reaching the bottom rope after being stuck in that nasty half crab, and as he drapes his arm over the bottom rope his face reads like a man who has made poor decisions. Ikeda manages to hit an even bigger lariat than before, smashing Usuda into the ropes so hard that it probably felt like being run into a wall. The brainbuster is as finisher worthy as a brainbuster should be.

PAS: A WCW Pro version of this match is always going to be worth watching. Although it doesn't have nearly the meat of better versions of this match. I absolutely loved Ikeda's straight right hand, about as nasty a version of that as you are ever going to see in a worked fight. I did think however this had a bit too much no-selling and fighting spirt stuff. I supposed if you can legitimately stand up after some of the shots that vicious, it isn't really no-selling, but the better BattlArts and FUTEN matches don't need those kind of shortcuts to be great.


COMPLETE AND ACCURATE DAISUKE IKEDA


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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

AEW Dynamite Workrate Report 1/15/20

What Worked

-I really liked what Santana/Ortiz brought to the opening tag scramble. Everybody else was worried about what move they were going to not acknowledge while trying to remember the next sequence order, and those guys were the ones who were actually adding any kind of substance. I saw Ortiz multiple times try to grab at guys from the apron as they ran the ropes, liked how they built to drama over kickout saves while most everyone else was just burning through offense to kick out of, liked how they took pratfall bumps and dug their big dives to their floor. They seemed to be the only two guys in there who saw the need for glue in a match like this.

-Guevara is definitely among the most consistent topside guys in AEW, and my favorite part of this match was how he occupied himself during the commercial breaks. He seems to be the only guy who can continue doing worthwhile stuff on a break. Earlier you had MJF saying a bunch of stuff into the camera that nobody but lip readers were able to get, so Guevara brings out his cue cards and knows when to go to that smug chinlock. Everything he did during the mid match break was stooge stuff that played to the fans in attendance, and that's great! If you need to decide which spots to do for the full screen and which ones to do while a Doritos ad is blaring, grabbing a fan's popcorn bucket to beat Moxley with makes way more sense during the Doritos ad. The fireman's carry squats should have been saved for full camera, but that spot is such a great thing for a runt underdog heel to do that it doesn't matter when he does it.

-Six man was a little dry, and the Dustin heat all happened during tiny screen commercial break (Dustin is a great FIP and I like seeing his mannerisms!), but it had enough good moments to get it up here. The first time I saw DDP I thought he was in his mid 50s, and he still basically looks exactly like that. DDP is the Harry Dean Stanton of pro wrestling? Dustin's cannonball off the apron and DDP's very unexpected dive to the floor looked great, and I liked the camera work involved in seeing MJF slip a weapon back to the unfortunately named WARDLOW.

-Give me a Sammy Guevara match and a Darby main event, throw Dustin somewhere into a match, and odds are I'm going to be into the episode overall. Allin is totally fearless and adds a bunch of shine to everything PAC does to him. Loved the coffin drop to the floor, loved his dive plastering Pac into the barricade, and hot damn if Darby doesn't even know how to make a Guerrero/Malenko sequence work and work *well* in 2020. Allin really gets a lot out of roll-ups, and for a tiny guy he's really good about getting into them with force and then actually making them look like legit pinning predicaments. PAC's big finish looked great, no surprise these two matched up so nicely.

What Didn't Work

-Well they sure tried during that opening tag scramble. Kenny point a lot and swung into go behinds like he was doing street dancing choreography, just swinging around street lamps. Matt Jackson doing rolling northern lights across the ring, only for Trent to just hit a tornado DDT on the final one, is one of those really stupid spots these guys are good at. You know, those spots where guys get stronger after taking a move a lot. Page hit a lariat that I liked, and a bunch of backflip stuff that looked awful as usual.

-Is Mel a non-wrestler? She worked that tag with similar amounts of polish as David Flair. I'm not sure the last time I've seen someone on TV with less ring instincts. Literally every single spot she was involved with looked blown. Brandi Rhodes is your partner, and you look like the less trained member of your team? I have no idea what Statlander's backflip off the apron is supposed to be. I've seen her use it in all her matches, no idea what it is. The dumbest way to almost hit a back elbow? It is a bad piece of offense. Shida was ultra exposed in this one too. Her jumping knees look bad, and she had arguably the worst strikes of the match (which covers a lot of ground) with those pitter pat punches (?) she was throwing at Mel's thigh while fighting to her feet. So much of Shida's offense is done in slow motion, looks like someone going through the motions rehearsing spots. I reached around someone at the copier today and accidentally nudged them harder than any of her shots on Mel. The biggest miracle in this was that Shida gave Mel a superplex and they didn't manage to both die. In fact, it was a fine looking superplex.


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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Tuesday French Catch Day: Di Santo, van Dooren, Corne, El Gayo

We have unearthed possibly the greatest find in the history of wrestling footage scrounging. 300+ French Catch matches from the 50s-80s. Every Tuesday from now until we all die, we are going to be digging in and reviewing the motherload. We are bringing on Euro wrestling footage king Sebastian R. (aka Jetlag) to help us dig through this all, along with Matt, Eric, Phil and maybe Tomk.


Lino Di Santo vs. Jack van Dooren 1/11/57


SR: JIP with about 12 minutes shown. This kind of bout probably won‘t stand out in the long run of French watching, but it‘s really cool to check out. Both guys did some neat stuff. Di Santo had some Billy Robinson esque offense, nasty neckbreaker and the big backbreaker. I think of Billy Robinson as someone who had pretty advanced offense for 1970s AJPW, so seeing a guy bust out that kind of offense in 1957 is pretty wild. Both guys took some nasty bumps, especially Di Santo flying into the ropes trying a pin. Both guys had some cool ways to work around the greco roman knucklelock pin, Di Santo bridging out of the with van Dooren on top was pretty freaky. This is our first time seeing van Dooren and he looked good, busting out a cool luchaesque pin and uncorking some nasty looking headbutts that got a big reaction inicluding one from a full running charge, and Di Santo fires back with straight elbow smashes. Pretty cool to see how evolved this style was in 1957 already. Van Dooren keeps finding ways to reverse Di Santos counter attempt, and the finish sticks with this time. Nice stuff.

PAS: I agree that this probably won't stand out with all we have to watch, but this was still really good. Short arm scissors spots and knucklelock spots are two of my favorite time filler spots in wrestling, and they had some really cool variations on both, especially the knucklelock. This had a progression which seems pretty standard in these matches where we start with grappling and lead to big nasty strikes. van Dooren's headbutts looked great, and I loved his running in ring tope. The elbow smashes were pretty nasty, and looked more like a fight then a lot of the tired elbow exchanges in todays wrestling.

MD:  This is JIP and we're still getting our bearings to a degree (though less so Sebastian who can run circles around us in this specific area), but this was still a very complete experience. There are a lot of counters, both in and of themselves, and counters to counters, or counters that are attempted but blocked. There's never a sense of cooperativeness though, even with hammerlock go-behinds or complex double knucklelock or full nelson spots that should come off as more cooperative. Some of that is the setting and the effort that they put into it, but some, I think, is that because all of this is so new to me, you never know exactly what's going to happen.

Eventually the match settles into a really satisfying pattern. Van Doreen holds a slight grappling advantage. Di Santo will try a counter, get blocked. Di Santo will then get something to work, be it a back elbow or a hammering clothesline out of a hold; then he'll try it again only for Van Doreen to expect it and crush him. Whenever he gets frustrated and leans towards fisticuffs, Van Doreen shuts him down immediately with a headbutt and the crowd goes nuts. The match shifts towards the finish after Van Doreen goes for two running, leaping headbutts in a row and Di Santo's able to reverse the second. From there it's more back and forth and plenty exciting, with both strikes leading to more of that headbutting and Di Santo hitting an awesome 1950s frankensteiner. Every lateral press feels like a possible finish here but what we ultimately get of a really snug reversal sunset flip is satisfying.


Jacky Corne vs. Luis El Gayo 1/11/57

SR: A 23 minute contest in 2/3 falls. Luis El Gayo may also be „El Gayo“ or „El Gallo“ (it would fit his hair) or El Galio since the announcer keeps calling him something like that. One of the cool aspects to the old French footage is that there are a ton of Spanish wrestlers featured, so getting to a glimpse at that is really something special and something I never would have hoped to see, since the Spanish scene ended in the 1970s with a few later revival attempts failing. Jacky Corne is someone who shows up in matches all the way to the 1970s and 1980s, so it‘ll be cool to watch him for a nearly 30 year period.

This was the 60s lutte libre style that we saw in Cesca/Cantanzarro, both guys working holds while mixing in cool arm whips and headscissors. It wasn‘t quite at the transcendent level of Cesca/Catanzarro, as they didn‘t seem to have some things fully worked out, but they knew not to expose the business when a spot wasn‘t hit perfectly. El Gayo was right there working the French style, he had some graceful escapes, a cool headwringing snapmare and he did these awesome BattlARTS style 8 count near KOs when Corne started dropping the bombs on him. He also launched Corne to the outside with a cool throw from the ground in a nasty moment, then later took a big bump himself flying over the rope. Both guys were moving fast and really making their hip tosses and body slams look good. The first fall was going nice until Corne caught El Gayo with an awesomely timed powerbomb and then took him to town dropping him with some more before El Gayo would seemingly come back only to be caught. The second fall gets chippy with both guys really cracking each others jaws with thudding european uppercuts and elbows, the high quality audio and video that the French preserved really adding to each exchange. One of the cool things El Gayo does is he will move in like a Greco wrestler, grab a hammerlock behind the other guys back and use that to set up a move, in one case he uses it to drill Corne with a nasty tombstone piledriver which was pretty mindblowing even by 1957 French standards, unfortunately Corne didn‘t go to the Spanish school of selling and just kind of moved on in the match. I liked the feel that El Gayo was pushed to the limit and had to resort to making things chippy. After Corne threw him to the outside in a heated moment that lead to several cigarette smoking fans helping El Gayo back in the ring, both guys shook hands only for El Gayo to start throwing elbows and knees the next moment. Seconds later the Spanish wrestler had to resort to throwing a punch to the mid section, seemingly apologizing to the audience and being frustrated with himself for having to resort to such tactics. Once again, I really liked the rope running sequences and the finishes were good although I was hoping for the match to go a little deeper, I thought El Gayo was done a little dirty here although he did a great job telling the story of the match. Still, good shit and a treat to see.

MD: There's so much to digest in every single one of these matches, especially as, in most cases, this is the first time we're seeing these wrestlers. It reminds me of when I was trying to work out lucha to a good degree, though the narratives are a little more of what we're used to here. It's just being dropped into a strange land with a different language, different wrestlers, a different crowd, and the trappings of a different era all at once. That said, you can tell just how good all of this is easily. I love the amount of positioning. They'll do a complicated flip or twist or throw just to set up a second move. They create openings and they also take any repositioning or grinding by their opponent to work their way out.

Story here, as best as I can see is that Corn has a slight advantage and De Gayo keeps edging towards taking liberties, first with a bit kneelift out of a cravat, and then increasingly so. The crowd reacts accordingly. The finish of the first fall keeps it building with Corn turning a flip up rana into a powerbomb and then hitting two cradle release powerbombs. Every time, however, they defuse things with a handshake. It ultimately comes to a head in the second fall with De Gayo launching Corn between the ropes and out of the ring with a tricked out flipping armbar monkey flip (sic) thing. Corn rushes back in and almost immediately pitches De Gayo over the top rope. When De Gayo comes back in, he lands a cheapshot and as the crowd boos, gives a resigned shrug and a curtsy and it's a great bit of character that's well-received.

From there, they roll into the finish, with De Gayo not looking back. He has this tendency of wrapping his opponent up like the Rainmaker, but then doing awesome things instead, be it his bearhug-Robinson backbreaker or a nasty forearm or an actual Tombstone. The selling in these matches are interesting. They're letting things sink in, but a Tombstone (or a Rude Awakening as in the Di Santo match) stagger more than keep someone down. The traded blows come quick and heavy and the cost tends to be delayed as the crowd comes unglued. That happens here as Corn comes back in a big way. They bring things back down for another minute or so with holds, before bringing them back up for another round of uppercut trading and then finally, a slip through takedown into a bridging pin from Corn. He helps de Gayo up post-match and they hug and you get the sense that all's fair and fiery in the heat of combat.

If all the matches are like these, we've got a hell of a road ahead of us.

PAS: Watching these two matches, you can see the stylistic differences between French juniors wrestling and heavyweight wrestling. This was the same juniors style we saw in Petit Prince vs. Saulnier and Cesca vs. Cantanzaro, it was a little less mindblowingly athletic then those matches but this is a really fun style to watch, and these guys have a bunch of really cool unique stuff.

De Gayo was the guy I most impressed with, his bump to the floor was really crazy, and all of the rainmaker offense was way cooler then anything Okada has ever done. Matt made a good point about the big moves, that tombstone you figure would be at least a near fall, but instead it is usually roll ups that end matches, and big forearms and uppercuts which really lay some one down. I really like uppercuts and stiff forearms though and so I am perfectly OK with that

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Monday, January 13, 2020

On Brand Segunda Caida: Squash Matches!!

Kendall Windham vs. Keith Hart WCW Saturday Night 2/25/89

ER: I really love these young Kendall Windham squash matches. This one goes over 5 minutes, stretched out by Windham continually grabbing smothering chinlocks. It goes long enough that Windham runs out of offense so just starts cycling through his array of powerslams and bulldogs, to my glee. And to be clear this is not Keith Hart, brother of Bret. This is a guy who pulled duty in WCW around this time and always took a big beating, the kind of guy who was undersized but deserved more of a shake just for making guys look this good. Windham had begun working heel around this time - and the aggression suited him - and Hart made sure every single move Kendall attempted was going to look great. Hart was small enough that Kendall was able to throw him around pretty easily, which lead to some really nasty stuff. Hart was the kind of lunatic that would take a huge flipping bump off a big lariat, real nice complementary forces at play here. Kendall had a real nice chinlock, tightened at the wrist, big arm wrapped in tight around Hart's jaw and mouth, not so much killing time as softening that neck up for the killshot bulldog. Kendall and Hart are two of the only people who can make that "hand on back of head" bulldog look awesome, with Hart pancaking himself into the mat and Kendall making it look like Hart had no say in the matter. Powerslams, bulldogs, big lariats, and the kind of chops that send a guy flying up onto ropes? What more could you want? Well, if you find yourself wanting more after this, it turns out that Kendall Windham's extended squash of Keith Hart was so enjoyable that it prompted a YouTube user (found in this very linked match) to write a piece of bully porn fanfic in the comments section. Very Hot Stuff.

The Heavenly Bodies vs. Todd Morton/Larry Santo WWF Wrestling Challenge 3/19/95

ER: I always love it when Tennessee indies make their way onto WWF programming. The mid-to-late 90s Lawler and Cornette influences were a cool way to take guys who felt way more like WCW workers and put them in front of a different crowd. The Heavenly Bodies were such a kickass off the gas southern Steiner Bros., and like the Steiners were one of the great 90s WWF team of crowbars. I tend to think Steiners, Beverlys, Heavenly Bodies, and Headshrinkers, in that order. Those teams always found new and painful ways to destroy jobbers. And Tennessee jobbers are always great to be destroyed, always the perfect jobber for my sensibilities. Todd Morton is a longtime Segunda Caida favorite and here's he's sporting his most accurate Ricky Morton look while he and Santo get taken apart by the Bodies. Prichard is always trying out suplexes and powerbombs, Del Ray grabs Morton way down around the knees in a wheelbarrow and actually lifts him up for an Ocean Cyclone, and just drops him on his face. Santo is a guy who turns up a lot on WCW in job work, feels out of place on WWF TV, but he always has a fun "clumsy guy getting his ass beat" vibe to him. Del Ray always looked like he landed heavy on that moonsault, and this was simple two squash match legends in with two pros. Great junk food.

Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Duane Gill WWF Raw 6/12/95

ER: I'm really falling for these mid90s 150 second WWF gems. The 1995 WWF squash match formula got so much more done than the 2020 WWE squash match formula. 1995 squashes really make 2020 squashes look like sluggish bores. Modern squashes are arranged around three big moves, with a lot of slow walking and growling and camera posing in between. They're no good, and the roster is filled with guys who could be having more engaging squash matches. Every guy on the roster in 1995 knew how to have a killer 2-3 minute squash. It makes for the most easily digestible candy 25 years later. Bigelow showed off his speed and strength here, doing an amusing roll feint to duck a Gill lockup, then just running off the ropes and splatting him with a shoulderblock. Bam Bam throws in cool amateur flurries, fast takedowns, cool floatover on a pin, real agile stuff. Gill bumps real high on a backdrop and doesn't flinch when getting squished by Bigelow. Gill's comeback was impressive too, as he really clubs into Bam Bam and throws the best strike of the match, a hooking right to the jaw that made a surprisingly loud crack. He goes up top and flies directly into Bam Bam, with Bam Bam catching a grown ass man effortlessly over his shoulder, tossing him into the turnbuckles, and hitting one of the best snap vertical suplexes I've seen. I love the specific motion Bigelow used on his vertical suplex here, really made it look like he was whipping Gill into the mat. I love this format.


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Sunday, January 12, 2020

2019 Ongoing MOTY List: Suzuki vs. Shiozaki

50. Hideki Suzuki vs. Go Shiozaki NOAH 7/27


ER: With less free time than ever these days, I watch 2019 Japanese wrestling maybe slightly more than I did in 1997, when I had never seen one second of Japanese wrestling. But there are still guys I like, and I typically check out matches that are recommended to me. If someone says a Hideki Suzuki match will make our list, that's something I'll watch. This ends up going to a 30 minute draw, which isn't something I love in wrestling, but I'll say that it definitely didn't feel like 30 minutes. I was surprised when the bell sounded, not only because they hadn't really built to a big finish, but because the work was still at an engaging enough level to leave me wanting more. I'm not a big Shiozaki guy, and so I liked how this was mostly structured as Shiozaki showing moments of hanging with Suzuki, but mostly Suzuki wearing him down while Go survived. Suzuki's facials and bully nature, worked in a deliberate and sadistic pace, were the stars of this one. Go shone bright during one of the best corner chop sequences I've seen in a long time, really the moment that felt like overcoming Suzuki was possible. But Suzuki was a real meathead jerk here, working over ever joint in Shiozaki's body: loosening a knee cap with twisting, wrecking an elbow and shoulder by yanking it behind his body and locking in a hyperextending armbar, throwing out a back with a bearhug, tossing Go around by a cravate, really wearing him down and working through limbs like a game of Hangman. When Suzuki wore him down enough he started throwing him with brutal suplexes, and going after that taped up arm even more. I dig these kind of matches where the hero comes up against some unstoppable force, and gets ground down and only saved by the bell, and after the match the unstoppable opponent looks calm and cold. Shiozaki seems like he won by default, and that's a really cool way to work the first singles match. It feels like the first chapter, and I'm already wondering how Shiozaki is going to strategize, and he has not been a wrestler I typically think about.

PAS: I really enjoyed this, Suzuki is a really throwback guy strong, slow and violent. He is like an old school post player in today's space and pace NBA. Shozaki is a little dry, but was great as an underdog getting violently picked apart. I also liked the Misawa elbows felt like a cool tribute and also something organic. You have to love a guy coming in with a taped shoulder and having the whole match be about ripping apart said shoulder. I actually liked the draw finish as it came off like Suzuki's deliberate pace coming back to haunt him. He probably has Go beaten if he pushes the gas pedal, but that isn't how he is built.


2019 MOTY MASTER LIST


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Saturday, January 11, 2020

All Japan Battle Royal 1/2/98

1/2/98

ER: Spectacular. Few matches bring me as much joy as All Japan's annual year opening battle royal, and this is a nice weird crew. There is no loyalty in sight, just a lot of guys keeping butts to ropes and seeing who is gonna be dumb enough to step foot in the circle and get pinned by 15 guys. This battle royal is most well known among wrestling nerds for being THEE match where Skull von Crush gets a pin on Misawa. I think 90% of the people reading this site all had some kind of moment where they read or heard that Vito once pinned Misawa, and it immediately sounded like bullshit. I first read it in the 1998 or 1999 PWI 500 issue, and it sounded fishy. It was a trivia tidbit that got repeated a lot online, mainly because many were unfamiliar with the dogpile pinfall style of All Japan battle royals.  And I'm willing to bet upon learning that, most think that Crush was one of 15 guys pinning Misawa. In reality, the moment was much more exciting. It came around the halfway point, several had already been eliminated (big names like Hiroshi Hase and Akira Taue were out first, so the ring had cleared a bit), and Crush got in the middle of the ring and went right after Misawa. Crush hit Misawa with a stunner, Misawa being the only person I've ever seen take a stunner and then do a forward roll bump after, and Crush pinned him with really only a couple helping hands. So the moment was much more than the "one of 15 guys" narrative that became the immediate answer whenever the trivia piece would get mentioned, as it was Misawa getting pinned expressly because of the move he took from Skull von Crush.

Skull von Crush's somewhat validation wasn't the only fun bit we got. Haruka Eigen continues to be the master of big mouth shit talking in these matches; he always lands a cheap shot and then hides behind a bigger ally, this time literally jumping and running behind Baba. It's so great. Giant Kimala is a fun target in this one, people kept running up on him and he would fight back with big head chops and headbutts. He and Dr. Death had a weird thing and kept going after each other. Jun Izumida was the eventual winner! A guy who hung back at the right moments and had hilarious little things like trying to sneak up to cheapshot Akiyama but getting caught. Major guys, most notably Kawada, went after Baba in moments that really lit up the crowd, Baba running down every single one of them, blasting Baba chops and eventually getting pinned after getting dogpiled after delivering a nice Russian legsweep. Baba had this fantastic arms out What the Fuck face after getting ganged up on. "You came at the 60 year old KING? Seriously?" We got the lovely and unexpected final 4 of Akiyama, Izumida, Johnny Smith, and Johnny Ace. The Alliance of Johnnies is extremely short-lived, as Smith hits Ace with his great reverse DDT, the Akiyama palmed the back of Izu's head and threw him melon first into a falling headbutt on Ace. Izu gets a really fun and exciting win, letting Akiyama and Smith have a nice battle before letting one pin the other and then flipping the pin. God I love these battle royals.


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Friday, January 10, 2020

New Footage Friday: TOGO! CAN-AMS! KIKUCHI! BRAZOS! EDDIE!

Los Brazos vs. Eddie Guerrero/Lizmark/Rocky Star  Juraez 1988

MD: There are a hundred reasons that I wish Eddy was still with us, but this match made me think of another. Imagine the ground he could have covered with a podcast. Dives clear the way for finishing encounters and here he could have recounted Brazo de Plata flying off the apron at him to clear the stage for El Brazo vs Rocky Star and the foul that ended this.

That was the focus of the match and well it should have been. Off the top of my head, I can't think of too many matches where El Brazo got to shine as opposed to his more colorful brethren, but he did here, from the cheapshot (with Porky as charismatic bait) to the bloody beatdown on Star (who came off as a star to the crowd) to the initial comeback, begging off and delaying the real satisfaction, to the full on bloody revenge and the toe-to-toe standoff and foul at the end. The Brazos excel at giving you almost everything in every match, and while the early beatdown meant that we got a bit less of the rope running and comedy (though we got some and it was good when we did get it), I'll happily take a balance that leans more on blood and hate anyday.

PAS: When you look at this match on paper, the least exciting feature matchup is El Brazo vs. Rocky Star, but the Brazos can basically do no wrong and El Brazo vs. Rocky Star was a serum soaked war. It was interesting how the match structure was inverted a bit, starting with wild brawling and beatdowns and then having roping running and exchanges in the Segunda, even some Porky comedy. All of the Brazo's were incredible in this match, vicious and buffonish, they are as good as anyone in wrestling history in flipping the switch from clown to killer. Eddie and Lizmark were cameo guys in this, but Eddie flashed some of his genius and we did get to see Lizmark's incredible cliff dive plancha. Every scrap of footage of these guys is a total mitzvah.

Toshiaki Kawada/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi vs. Dan Kroffat/Doug Furnas AJPW 8/27/92


MD: As best as I can tell, only 6:14 of this aired on TV. They had a match earlier in the year as well. If given the choice, I'd watch a Can-Am Express tag over mostly anything else from All Japan in the era. Kroffat's a joy, more of a classic jerk heel wrapped in agility and athleticism (stepping on faces and punctuating it with a spit, dropping knees on Kikuchi's skull while he's in stuck an elevated crab). Furnas is as explosive as they come (the way he hits the frankensteiner out of nowhere, the way he drops to his knees to get crazy torque on the powerslam, the cool waistlock into a side slam).

This builds with heat on Kikuchi and a hot tag to Kawada but the crowd never gets close to the level of the Kobashi/Kikuchi matches. It all builds to a great finishing stretch full of cutting off saves and escalation that feels meaningful and earned but never too over the top to be believable.

PAS: Goddamn is Dan Kroffat a fucking machine in this match. Nasty prickish brutality with just explosive athletic execution. He just brutalizes Kikuchi in this match, and Kikuchi is the greatest tackling dummy in the history of professional wrestling. It is fun to watch Kawada in the Kikuchi tag partner role, and how different he is from Kobashi, instead of an explosion of enthusiasm, it is like Kikuchi tagged in Anton Chigurh. He saunters in and kicks Kroffat in the orbital bone harder then anyone should be kicked in a cooperative performance. Finish run was fun, although it didn't elevate to the heights of the famous Can-Ams tags. Still this ruled, and I am with Matt on Can-Ams tags being one of the coolest things in this period.

ER: Prime Can-Ams are such a treasure, two hyper athletic killers who feel like they would be the machine precise evil European tag team had The Mighty Ducks been about pro wrestling. You think the vibe is going to be different for the first few minutes, as Kikuchi is throwing stiff elbows and landing kicks, and I being to wonder if they sometimes let Kikuchi play the aggressor and not the Ricky on house shows. But then I wake up and Kroffat is stepping all over Kikuchi's face, kicking him in the chest, and Furnas throws Kikuchi's helpless body straight into the air. It was the most vertical German suplex you've seen, and Kikuchi lands folded right on his neck, looking like when Wile E. Coyote would accordion into desert after cutting a cliff side out from under his feet. Furnas works a backbreaking Boston crab and Kroffat drops knees to the back of Kikuchi's head, just coming off like the biggest jerks the whole match. Kawada's big hot tag is fun and he really aims to pay back Kikuchi's beating by mugging Kroffat. This could have benefitted from even more time. I'm not typically one to ask for matches to go past 20, but I think they still could have worked interesting stretches that went untapped. I liked Kikuchi's last burst of a run and the way Kroffat dispatched him (after Furnas separated them by kneeing Kawada through the ropes to the floor), but I think the ever increasing fervor of the infamous Kobashi tag made me think of the ways they could have gone longer. But make no mistake, this left me wanting more in the best way. It feels like I suddenly started typing inadvertant sexual things about this match, so I'm going to stop.

Dick Togo vs. Asykal Singapore Night Festival 8/24/17

MD: Togo as far afield, grizzled and aged local gym master punishing the insolence of youth is wrestling perfection. I liked how the setting meant that Asykal couldn't get distance. I like how hard he had to struggle and struggle for a slam, how it (just a bodyslam) felt like a big, meaningful win, and how thoroughly he paid for the hubris of bowing to the crowd after it.
Short and sweet, pure and satisfying.

PAS: I love wandering monk Dick Togo traveling the wrestling backwaters and delivering a show. This was on a mat on a stage, no ropes, no real elevation, and the restrictions didn't stop Togo from delivering the hits. Asykal didn't look tremendously trained, and it didn't really matter. Togo made him look credible in moments, and then crushed him outside of those moments. That running Senton was nearly as brutal looking as his flying one. Feels like we need to review all of the Singapore Togo. 

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Thursday, January 09, 2020

2019 Ongoing MOTY List: Demon vs. Park

17. LA Park vs. Blue Demon Jr. IWRG 12/15


PAS: So Blue Demon Jr., after basically stinking his entire career, goes ahead and puts out a serious Wrestler of the Year candidacy at age 53. This is a great bloody LA Park brawl, with Demon being right there at every step. Park really might be the best bleeder since prime Tommy Rich, he really gets it red and soppy. We get some classic Naucalpan brawling spots, including some beer cases getting tossed at noggins and using the glass to slice. There is some nonsense with a heel ref, which probably keeps this from the absolute peak of this year, but I did love how Park wasted both Demon and the ref with a huge tope. The Traumas run from the back and hand Demon his trusty claw hammer, which he uses to bang Park on the knee, but Park gets the hammer and KO's Demon (there is a great timber sell from him) there is some more stuff with the Trauma's and Park's kids, but that was basically the finish. Hammer murder is a great wrestling finish.

ER: As a rule I already like any match between two guys in their 50s, but when it's between the greatest tubby skeleton in wrestling history and the guy with the weirdest and most unparalleled career, it gets pretty tough to beat. I keep trying to idly think of any person in any medium who can be compared to Blue Demon Jr.'s career trajectory. Every time I think I come up with someone there are details that just don't compare. Would it be like Nelson coming out with the album of the year in 2020? Maybe, but it's a stretch to call Nelson active musicians for all of the past 30 years. Would it be like Max Landis becoming an actual good person in 20 years? Maybe, but no matter how many people would pay to see him get his head carved open by a broken bottle, it won't happen. So Demon stands alone at the top of his own bruised scarred broken body pedestal, and takes the option of punching Park in the face and getting punched right back. They brawl around Naucalpan, both throwing stiff chops and punches, and I think about how crazy it would have sounded a few years ago to know that I'd look forward to Demon/Park matches in the same way I look forward to Rush/Park matches. There's a lot of BS in the match, some satisfying some not, but even the not satisfying stuff is a means to the great stuff; the combatants age adds to their vulnerability, which adds exponentially to the most violent and crazy parts of the match. I will just react bigger to old man punching, old man diving, old man falling, than I will to the same moves done by a 25 year old. I even weirdly got into the rudo ref fast counts - which is something I'm sick to death of in lucha and especially faux lucha feds - and the payoff to Park crushing that guy into the barricade was a wonderful moment. The hard shots keep landing, Demon gets gouged by a broken bottle and gets that perfect pro wrestler fanned out blood splatter down his chest, and the claw hammer really puts this over the top. Demon smashes that thing into Park's knee and it actually makes an audible thump! If I thumped my knee on the corner of my bed and it made that same sound I would be on the floor screaming. BS happens, but that BS ends with Blue Demon taking a hammer to the head, doing a great tim-berrrrrrrr sell to the mat, and then presumably growing a large cone shaped lump from that spot, so that starry eyed birds may fly around it.


2019 MOTY MASTER LIST


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Wednesday, January 08, 2020

AEW Workrate Report 1/8/20

What Worked

-Christopher Daniels is as mechanical and bloodless as ever, but Sammy Guevara is a total star and one of the guys I most enjoy watching on this show. He is basically a 2020 version of Gino Hernandez. He does the athletic stuff as good as anyone but actually has some great sleazy heel work too. I much prefer him against old man heavyweight Dustin than old man junior Daniels, but this was still fun.

-Dustin Rhodes is going to make this side of the ledger every time he is on the show, but I actually thought this was a bit disappointing. The match flow was a little hurt by having almost all of the heat on Dustin during the commercial break, and shockingly the timing seemed a bit off on the hot tag stuff. Dustin had to stand around a bit waiting for the cutoffs, and the actual hot tag didn't have the resistance needed for real drama. Lucha Brothers don't have much experience working traditional heel tag stuff and it showed. Finish run was pretty fun, and I am surprised that Dustin went over Fenix clean. I could see a rematch really clicking.


What Didn't Work

-I agreed to take over for Eric this week, and they open with a 20 minute Private Party vs. Kenny Omega and fucking Adam Page match. Last good deed I do in 2020. This had one or two cool moments, I liked Marq Queens four consecutive dives, and there was Omega elevating one of the Private Party into a German suplex which was cool. Much of this was really rough though. The Private Party have cool spots, but their in between stuff usually looks bad, and you can still see them working through the dance steps. Also Page and Omega are terrible actors and you have to watch them work through uncomfortable and pensive facial expressions. Poor Dave Brown is stuck calling this, of all matches.

-Rhio vs. Statlander was pretty bad, and the angle during it was also completely DOA. I did really enjoy Brandi saying "They're not hurting anyone" at exactly the same time Rhio and Statlander were exchanging gentle caressing shots. The crucifix bomb where Statlander landed full weight on Rhio and sort of rolled into a pin, was as badly executed as you are going to see on TV. Dr. Luther is an amusing guy to bring in, I don't think he has done anything since that Kickstarter scam fed where the guy was creating "wrestling as a prestige television series."

-Oof the Dark Order is cornball as fuck, it has to be a bottom tenth spooky heel stable in wrestling history (think of all the ground that covers). They desperately need a big guy or two, evil cult full of tiny crossfit guys to feud with non-evil crossfit guys doesn't work at all.

-DDP hopefully sold a few Yoga Downloads, because otherwise this segment really dragged. MJF is still too open mic night for me, and they took way too long to get to the payoff. Also the payoff was MJF running in terror from QT Marshall. They should have done the same thing in a third of the time with Dougie Gilbert.


I am posting this now and adding the last match and segment tomorrow after I get some sleep


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Tuesday, January 07, 2020

WXW Yokozuna Memorial Show 11/29/01

Full Show

I've never seen this show before, but had seen it in match lists, and it always stood out because of all the guys WWE allowed to work the show. Several big WWE names combined with a ton of early 2000s east coast indy guys I dig, seems like a show that might have some good stuff lurking within. There are somehow 36 guys booked onto this 2 hour show across 11 matches, so we're probably looking at a lot of 5 minute matches, and when we get to the end of this I'll likely find myself saying "Well, that's why nobody had written up that show before". But Roy Lucier threw it on Twitter, and it has a Low Ki match I didn't know existed, so let's roll those dice! (Also Reno is on this show, so dice will certainly roll)


Tommy Suede vs. Supreme Lee Great

ER: These are both guys I remember liking in my tape trading days, and wager that I haven't watched either since those tape trading days. But you know out of the gate it's going to be good because the ring announcer announces Supreme Lee Great as "ranked #498 on the PWI 500". Tell me no more. This match is worked fast, both guys running through their lines quick, but it works. SLG is a really good base, and Suede's strikes hit a lot sharper than I was expecting. Both guys threw themselves into their flying, and really didn't come off that differently than 2019 indy fliers. I mean both of them dressing like they're Matrix coders is going to come off dated in 2019, but their flashy styles could each blend in on a modern super indy card. Suede takes a super high backdrop bump, and both are good at landing on their feet after other backdrop bumps, Suede hits hard elbows, Great gets great height on a top rope elbow, their whole thing has aged surprisingly well. Little Jeanie is out accompanying Great, some woman named Arial is out with Suede, and their interference builds to a crazy moment where Arial hits a 450 off the top to the floor into Great, before Great gets pinned back in the ring by an air raid crash. I have no idea who Arial was, but there weren't too many people I had seen break out a 450 to the floor at that point (Low Ki and Extreme Tiger I know for sure, unsure who else) so it should have been a huge deal, but luckily Metal Maniac is on commentary talking about how hot both the girls are, before making poop jokes.

Afa Jr. vs. Nuisance

ER: Afa Jr. was Manu for a brief bit in WWE several years after this, and it was a run I enjoyed (and have no memory as to why it was so short). Nuisance is someone I have not heard of, but someone I enjoyed here. Make no mistake, this is an Afa Jr. showcase and was always going to be that, and Nuisance is good at setting up Afa to shine. Afa had genuine talent at this point and again, I'm not sure why it took him so long to get to WWE, or why his stay was so short once he was there. Though now that I'm looking it up he is apparently only 17 in this match, so I understand why he wasn't on their radar. But he has impressive agility here; his armdrags look a little light and require Nuisance to fly into them just to make them work, but his bigger spots seem fully formed. Afa comes off the top rope easily and lands sturdy, catches Nuisance with the back of his thigh on a spinning kick, finishes with a big frog splash, and generally works a little more daredevil junior than I was expecting. Nuisance doesn't get much but I liked the way he took offense and fed into Afa.

Danny Inferno/Nardo/Reno/Shane Black vs. Billy Dream/Protege/BADD/The Original Doink

ER: You know this is good because the guy doing commentary clearly doesn't know who at least three of these guys are. It's a mix of mostly WXW trainees and Reno from WCW (billed during his entrance as "Reno WCW"). I don't know who this Doink is, but he's only in for 30 seconds or so. All of the students are good and bad in different ways, but all come off like Power Plant adjacent guys getting a showcase match on a dead era episode of Worldwide. All of the trainees threw fixably bad punches, but in a uniquely bad way that doesn't happen often: Shane Black, Billy Dream, and either BADD or Protege had accurate punches with big wind ups, with an impact that slowed to nothing upon arrival. So they kept looking like they were going to be good punches, but consistent speed from wind up to delivery to follow through is really important, or every one of your punches will look overly pulled. But they're probably better off than guys that punch a foot past their opponent's head. Nardo is in this longer than anyone, and he's green as hell, named Nardo, but has a lot of energy and makes weird yip sounds while doing literally anything (leapfrogs, armdrags, dropkicks, all with a bunch of high pitch yelps). A lot of these guys try rope running stuff that is beyond their abilities, and get in a little over their heads, but I like guys getting in over their heads in matches like this. Danny Inferno brings some professionalism, the cameras completely miss Reno rolling the dice for the finish, but trainee multiman matches are always some degree of fun.

The Tonga Kid/The Hungarian Barbarian vs. The Twin Tackles (Gene Snitsky/Robb Harper)

ER: The Hungarian Barbarian looks like 911, so basically he looks like a much bigger Al Hrabosky, which is a cool way for a wrestler to look. He's raw as hell, but that means he's still early enough in his career that he's throwing big dropkicks on the floor but trying to flip and land the same way you would if you threw them in the ring. Twin Tackles are a super green Gene Snitsky (picture him without all of the ring polish you remember from his WWE days) and another guy with lumpy caveman steroid head with odd stringy patches of long hair attached. Robb Harper is wearing football jersey 69, and Snitsky is wearing 67. I would love to know how that conversation went down, and I am curious why Snitsky went ahead and chose a number so close to 69. Hungarian Barbarian had a little of that Rocky Mountain Thunder energy, but this is definitely all built to Tonga Kid's big hot tag (the match was only a couple minutes long, so there wasn't enough time for things to cool down) and 2001 Tonga Kid still dropped a fantastic Samoan drop. He was so young during his WWF run that it's crazy to think he was only 36 here. Feels like a guy who should have shown up on more Japan and US indies for a decade plus after WWF.

The Island Boys (Ekmo/Kimo) vs. Cory K/Malaki

ER: Cory K's valet looks like Aida Turturro, Malaki is working an Amish gimmick, and The Island Boys looks ridiculously ready for prime time, and they elevate this to a real nice big man slugfest. Malaki and Cory K are Afa trainees who are willing to bump around for the Island Boys, Cory taking a big bump over the top to the floor and Malaki going down hard in the ring from strikes. Island Boys moved aggressively, bumping big and hitting hard. Kimo takes a huge bump over the top to the floor off a missed avalanche, and flies just as hard off the top for a rib crushing splash. Ekmo (Umaga) already comes off like a guy with major star potential, just moving with huge confidence. I don't remember them looking this fully formed and exciting when they got called up as 3 Minute Warning, my memory is telling me they were underwhelming compared to what I had seen on HWA tapes. This quick fun brawl made me want to go revisit 3 Minute Warning and look for gems.

Big Dawg Molsonn vs. Eric Cobian

ER: Here are two more large Afa trainees working a green big guys match, and it's not great, but they're stupid and they try some things. Big Dawg looks like if Dr. Death were a sloppy gamer, Cobian moves like and has a similar build to Erik Watts. All of their criss cross rope running stuff looks terrible, but Cobian hits a crazy plancha into the entrance aisle with one foot on the top rope and the other on the ringpost, the camera cuts away to the crowd during what was shaping up to big a Big Dawg overhead belly to belly suplex that I really wanted to see, and Big Dawg finishes the match with a shaky legs moonsault off the top that sloppily lands him knees first into Cobian's balls. So it was about as great as could be expected.

Billy Kidman vs. Low Ki

ER: This was the main match that drew my eyes to this card, a dream match of the era from two guys whose paths wouldn't have otherwise likely crossed. I guess Ki *was* doing frequent syndicated program job work for WWF around the time Kidman came over, so this was basically the best possible version of these two getting a match on Jakked. They would have gotten 3-4 minutes on Jakked, here they get 7, and both make the most of their time by breaking out all their tricks. Kidman was so damn exciting around this time, as he had put on a little size since his earliest WCW days but was still bumping as fast as his WCW cruiser days. So he was hitting harder than he ever had, while still moving around with a death wish. It was literally the perfect time for him to match up with Low Ki. Ki is one of the crazier bumpers in wrestling history, taking some that most guys just wouldn't be capable of taking, but here's Kidman showing that he can outbump Ki. Kidman takes crazy bumps like a guy trying to get noticed by WWF, not like a guy already on WWF PPV with a belt. And so you had two big bumpers, and you had Kidman working as stiff as Low Ki. It's glorious. Ki would be kicking Kidman's chest in, Kidman would throw tight close elbows and a couple of lariats that really looked beheading. Every strike from both guy looked really sunk in, and I loved how they worked the match as equals. Kidman came off like a big confident star and Ki looked like a guy who was outpacing a big confident star. I was just giddy through this little gem, watching Kidman take a big German suplex or Ki fly super hard into a rydeen bomb, it's a total crowd pleaser.

PAS: This was fun, this was right when Ki was at his early peak, a couple of months after the Red classic and right around the Dragon matches. This was pretty formula Ki, but 2001 formula Ki is pretty great. Eric is a little more nostalgic for 2001 WWE than me, as I don't have a ton of love for Kidman. He was fun in this though, as he didn't seem to be working total formula. He did take a huge bump to the floor, and was clearly excited returning to the fed he was trained in. I could have done without the chinlock and the stuff with the heel manager, but I also love a Ki match I haven't seen before.

Shannon Moore vs. Jamie Knoble

ER: This was a super common match up during this era. They constantly matched up down the WCW home stretch, constantly matched up in HWA, these are two guys who have a match and are good at that match. Knoble is a nice No Guilt Benoit, locking in cravats and throwing hard back elbows to get out of go behinds, pressing in on side headlocks, high backdrop bump, quick suplexes, and even cooler stuff like a nifty over shoulder backbreaker. Moore works this like Psicosis, all big bumps and daredevil flying. Moore hits a gorgeous tope con giro to the floor and a corkscrew moonsault into the ring (Knoble makes sure to get flattened by both) but also goes down with a shot for big Knoble moves and even misses a flipping bump off the turnbuckles nearly exactly like Psicosis. They really had an impressive way of working super fast go behinds and managed to do several quick "reversal of a reversal" spots without making it look like untethered dancing, actually throwing in that sense of struggle with their quick reversals. This was only 5 minutes, and they cut to the finish too quickly after Moore took a massive superplex, but it also kind of made sense as Knoble's bump off the superplex looked just as bad. This was like an even faster version of their match, and these two psychos felt like they worked better the faster they went.

Homicide vs. Skinhead Ivan

ER: The way they came out of the gates I knew we were getting a quick match, really felt like they were sprinting through a few things, but even expecting a quick match you want this to be more than two minutes. No idea why they felt they were running long, but we knew from the beginning they had way too many guys spread across way too many matches, but it's ridiculous that out of all the matches to get cut this short, it's two of the guys who actually look fully trained. Homicide and Ivan could have worked an excellent Worldwide 5 minute sprint, what's 3 extra minutes? No, we get a 2 minute match with Ivan taking a couple nice bumps, both working some super fast counters (they felt like they were rushing to the finish right at the bell), big top rope cutter from Homicide, and a nasty cop killa to end it. Homicide looked pissed after the match, rolling immediately out of the ring and not slapping hands with any of the youth who wanted hand slapping.

Kane/Undertaker vs. The Acolytes

ER: You know, this wasn't great, or maybe even good, but I just kept thinking how exciting it must have been for the kids in attendance. This was during WWE's huge boom, and these kids are getting to see Undertaker on the smallest show he worked that year. Seeing some guys in an intimate setting while they're at their recognizable peak is a special thing. Nobody went hard in this match, which would have been fine, if Kane didn't look as bad or worse than literally any of the Afa trainees on this show. There was genuinely no difference between the greenest trainee on the card (Big Dawg Molsonn?) and Kane in this match. Not only was Kane working noticeably slower and lighter than everyone else in the match, but he got crossed up on every single spot he was involved in. If someone had told you "This was Kane's first match" you would have responded "Yes that statement checks out". There was one sequence, with Bradshaw merely trying to get Kane out of the corner with an Irish whip, where Kane looked worse than anyone on the show. He couldn't figure out where he needed to be, and I was still laughing about it when he hit a clothesline on Bradshaw that was essentially Kane falling towards Bradshaw with his arm out. But the fans were flipping out for Undertaker, and that's really all that matters.

The Headshrinkers (Rikishi/Samu) vs. Da Hit Squad

ER: Well this is one of the bigger tragedies in wrestling history. Who would have ever thought these two awesome teams would cross paths? Do you know how easy it would have been for these two teams to just slam into each other for 8 minutes? The match goes 1 minute. There's a Samoan drop, and 30 seconds of the 60 is spent on Rikishi setting up the stink face. This is the worst case scenario for a match that sounds great on paper.


Men who got more ring time than Mack, Mafia, and Homicide on this show: Nardo, Big Dawg Molsonn, Shane Black, and a whollllle lot more guys who are not close to as good as Homicide or Da Hit Squad. Well, that's why nobody had written up that show before. BUT. Ki/Kidman and Moore/Knoble slayed, and those were two of the three matches that brought me here. A tremendous waste of time overall, but those two matches would easily make a perm tape.


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