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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Tuesday Night Digging in the Crates - Santo/Espanto v. Panther/Blackman

El Hijo Del Santo/Espanto Jr. v. Black Man/Blue Panther 3/5/90

During my random internet surfing I find this previously unseen lucha handheld in the middle of a 6 hour file on youtube (1:58). This was listed as the first tag match of rivals Espanto and Santo, and like one might expect it was a a countdown until the turn. More of an exhibition then a great match, it was a cool chance to watch Santo and Panther do their dance, along with some fun brawling by Blackman. Neat discovery

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Monday, January 26, 2015

MLJ: Mocho Cota in 1993 I: Eddy Guerrero/El Satanico/Mocho Cota vs Lizmark/Latin Lover/Solomon Grundy

Taped 8/27/93 @ Gimnasio Olímpico Juan de la Barrera, Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal
Eddy Guerrero/El Satanico/Mocho Cota vs Lizmark/Latin Lover/Solomon Grundy

I started watching lucha through the DVDVR 80s set. It was very much a run before you can walk scenario where I fell right into really incredible matches without the background to wholly understand what I was watching. I'm still working on that now in some ways, as you can see with my stumblings three times a week here. I came to really appreciate a number of luchadores right from the get go though. Two of those were El Satanico and Mocho Cota.

With Satanico, we have a lot more easily available footage in a number of different settings and against more opponents. We have more payoff apuestas matches and everything from trios wars to insane skits. He's absolutely one of my favorites though, incredibly versatile and really owning his character and truly the baddest of the bad. Cota, we have less of, and I don't think he was as well regarded. He had a stint in jail in the early 90s and upon his release in 1993, he really didn't fit into the workrate paradigm (as OJ points out here). I think a lot of us have come a far way as wrestling fans in being able to appreciate performing and character and the more theatrical elements of wrestling as opposed to just workrate, and Cota, especially at this stage of his career, fits into that mold so much better. That's not to say he doesn't pick up the pace when need be, but he could move the crowd with his antics and he's hugely entertaining. Those tend to be traits that I value in 2015 more than how nice someone's execution is or how quick they move. When I saw these matches listed, they seemed to be leading to a Satanico vs Lizmark singles match, so I thought i'd hit two of them and then go with that, but by the end of the watching I knew I wanted to spend the time with a third Cota and Satanico trios instead.

I have no context here. There's actually one earlier Cota match I see online (Villano III/Solar/L. Lover v. J. Estrada/M. Cota/Cobarde II from 8/6/93) but I just don't have time to hit it as well, even though it probably plays into the Cota/Lover fueding. I wanted to start with this one insetad because it had Satanico and it had a relatively young Eddy Guerrero who I just haven't seen much of in Mexico. Granted, the other one had Villano III and Solar so that might have been fun too and I'm sure I'll watch it eventually. I'm not sure I've ever seen Lover outside of a Royal Rumble appearance and Grundy is some massive guy from the states who is there to basically be a grumpy massive babyface in overalls. A prop.

My first takeaway is how much I love AAA entrances during this period. Everyone had an elaborate entrance with their own themed ring girl. Cota had this amazing robe and a hat that kept falling over as he came out to the Imperial March. It segued right into Panama for Eddy and his gringos locos gear (or at least that's what I think it was) was equally amazing. then, of course, Satanico comes out with fire and brimstone and it's all completely of its time but entirely remarkable. We don't get to see the tecnicos come out unfortunately.

Often times these days in CMLL we get a primera that starts hot with the rudos engaging in a beat down but rarely does it feel as visceral as it did here. There's something flashier now, less violent. There are more moves and less brutality. There's plenty of the latter here. One of the few moves was Cota chucking Lover around with a fireman's carry. The rest was mainly him beating him around the ringside area. They managed obscured fouls and using Grundy literally as that prop, tossing Lover into him. Eddy held his own in this but he mainly had Grundy to beat on so nothing was too compelling. They took the caida with a Cota crab and a Satanico standing submission that I should know the name of, the one that's abdominal stretch-y.

I think Cota shined in the beatdown, through his focus and intensity and willingness to interact with the crowd. He spent a lot of the early segunda just choking the life out of Lover or punching him into oblivion as they cut back to shots of Satanico and Eddy clubbering Grundy on the outside or of Eddy hitting Grundy with endless face pokes. Eventually, though, Grundy's girth was just too much and he reversed a whip into the corner, crushing Satanico (who cried foul immediately). The comeback was a little weird, especially for Cota, who sort of just ambled around the ring beating on Lover still even as his partners were getting routed. They were casually waiting their turn until it was Lover's time to take over. I get what they were doing but it didn't quite work. What did work was Cota dashing out of the ring as his partners were defeated, running through the crowd in order to avoid Lover and a chair. It was amazingly craven and hugely entertaining and frankly, the sort of sentiment I appreciate way more than a lot of really smoothly hit back and forth arm drag spots.

Eventually Lover did get Cota in the ring and he slammed him down hard. Cota rolled right out though. He was stumbling around the ring only to get kicked in the face between the ropes in a fit of perfect timing. What followed was an exasperated laugh at the temerity of it all. I don't know if he wasn't expecting it and thought it was hilarious or was just playing a defiant heel but it was a fun character moment.

The brunt of the tercera was Eddy getting to show off but maybe taking a bit too much offense considering the finish. I thought his body language in trying to wrangle Grundy was very good. At one point, though, he was up on his shoulders, and Grundy dropped back and it was brutal. I thought he recovered a little too soon from that. It was an ebb and flow after that. Satanico and Cota destroyed Lover but Grundy came back with big headbutts. The rudos turned the tide again and used Grundy as a weapon against Lizmark, which was followed by Eddy dropkicking him out (Grundy took a surprisingly good bump). Lover rushed in, making his biggest comeback of the match, really taking the fight to Cota, but ultimately getting tricked up in a victory roll counter for three. One springboard dropkick by Eddy onto Grundy and the rudos picked up the win.

Post match, Lover kept trying to go after Cota, who made a hasty retreat to the stage where, after pulling Satanico up, he did one of the most amazing taunts you'll see this week. Ultimately, this had a ton of good stuff, but was way too disjointed. After one match, I think Cota absolutely still had it. It was just that what he had wasn't what a lot of the hardcore fanbase was looking for in 1993. I think his performance here holds up really well in a more post-workrate 2015 though.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

2015 WWE Royal Rumble Live Blog

ER: Well, this show doesn't look that good on paper, but Rumble has been my favorite "big" WWE match since I was a kid so I always go in with unrealistic hopes. I'll do my not-normally-necessary skim through of the kickoff show. I really love Renee Young's short haircut. Looks awesome. Byron Saxton looks like he's animated.

1. The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston w/ Xavier Woods) vs. Cesaro, Tyson Kidd

ER: Well this match would have been much more promising if they had dropped Rose and Kofi. But a 6 man is a pretty hard thing to mess up so we'll see. I haven't seen The New Day as a team before, but I like that their gear looks like a coordinated Christian rock band. I'd like to see promo photos of them on a beach, all facing different directions, one of them with arms lifted towards the heavens. Boy has anybody's stock dropped more than Cesaro's over the last calendar year? He's one of my favorites but teaming with Kidd and Rose (two guys who would be non-shocking future endeavors) on the pre-show is just brutal. And hey I just realized that the match is actually Cesaro/Kidd vs. Kofi/E. I'm gonna go ahead and edit that match description, but leave in my opening remarks so I sound like a doofus. This was a pretty forgettable match with a nice little finishing stretch. Cesaro threw some nice boots and hit a nice uppercut on Kofi leading to the pin, Big E got some nice moments with a massive belly to belly and his cool spear through the ropes. Kofi's offense still can't crack an egg. Crowd was actually really hot for this match, which is a good sign going into the show.

ER: I always actually dig the Royal Rumble by the numbers segment they introduced a few years ago. Though this year when it went "38: Number of participants who are WWE Hall of Famers" they showed a bunch of dead guys, so it made me wonder what the number of deceased participants all time.  Also a lot of dead guys when they were talking about the largest Rumble participants. Also made me remember that every year until I knew better I would always pick the fattest or largest guy to win. Stupid kid.

2. New Age Outlaws vs. The Ascension

ER: I have not seen a whole lot of the Ascension, couple of squash matches. The look like a couple of goons from The Guild of Calamitous Intent. Viktor in particular could make a really convincing cosplay Monarch. Like he could probably get his picture on Buzzfeed or something. Viktor locks on a chin lock 2 minutes in, but then follows it up with a nice fist drop so my heart is torn but neutral. Road Dogg looks like he gassed pretty hard. Really the final stretch when Gunn tagged in was pretty fun. But this was 5 minutes and basically wouldn't even stand out on an episode of Raw. All that goodwill the crowd was giving the kickoff match appears to have dried up. Hmmmm.

ER: Annnnnd my feed cut out. "Error. Cannot play video at this time. Please try again later." I do not have a weak internet connection. But this has happened to me literally every PPV I've tried to watch on the Network.

3. Usos vs. The Miz & Damien Mizdow

ER: Mizdow is really, really over which was something that I wouldn't have actually predicted. I also couldn't really get into this match. Maybe I'm in a grumpy mood or something. I just don't really care for the Mizdow tag team, and would rather see The Usos against practically any other team. The Mizdow stunt double spots don't really have much legs with me, especially in a match that could have actually been good. Miz also rarely interests me. I don't like much of his offense, and for the most part he also takes offense poorly. Miz set up a lot of Uso offense really lazily in this. Half the Usos moves seemed to be "foot gets caught, Uso spun around, ends up kicking Miz on the way back around." Pretty flat overall. This is looking like a horrible Sunday night decision so far. If I wanted to blow an evening I could at least watch The Doll Squad or something.

ER: I was amused by Jamie and Joey's poor read while playing WWE Immortals (is that like WoW but with WWE guys?).

4. Bella Twins vs. Paige & Natalya

ER: I really enjoyed the first 2-3 minutes of this. Things kind of went to hell when the crowd started singing and Brie blew a reverse somethingorother driver. I always enjoy Nikki Bella and think she's underrated as a worker. Always does nice kicks to the stomach, throws nasty back elbows, has surprisingly good timing a lot of the time. But yeah this was pretty much 3 good minutes and then 5 minutes of sputtering to a finish. I liked Brie's running Brie Mode knee, but Nattie wasn't a very engaging person to watch take a beating for half a match. And I'm still not sure what Paige is.

5. John Cena vs. Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar

ER: Well this match was completely bonkers, and I completely loved all of it. Total show saver right here. Usually I hate 3 ways but Brock may just be the answer to this type of match as his offense is so destructive that it makes sense for guys to be out of the match for minutes at a time. There was so much great stuff in this. Lesnar basically wrestles a match the way somebody would win at King of the Coliseum. Match starts, immediately just starts throwing people as far as he can. I love it that John Cena is still powerless against his Germans. Cena always takes the Germans really great and seeing Brock toss him violently never gets old. Then you add in Brock double suplexing Noble and Mercury, Rollins taking suplexes in the most painful ways possible (jeez one of the Germans had to have jammed his shoulder). Brock is just an incredible personality to watch. I never want him to go away. Then they go and spectacularly take Brock out of the match by Rollins leaping a million feet to elbow drop him through an announce table. Brock obviously has freakish strength and it was on full display throughout, but he's also always been an incredible bumper, and not just bumper but always makes stuff look great. I'm not sure I've seen anybody make Rollins' curb stomp look as good as Brock made it look. I also love Brock being the one guy to just sell the AA as a standard back bump and just get up from it. This whole thing was a ridiculously fun blur of large men getting dumped on their heads. There were a bunch of great saves in this with my favorite being Lesnar emerging from his table to do a mighty deadlift German on Rollins. Loved all of this.

6. Royal Rumble Match

ER: Oh good, was hoping I would get to maximize my Miz viewing for the evening. R-Truth is #2. These two starting would lend creedence to somebody's "The Rumble is actually booked with guys drawing numbers out of a hat!" theory. If these two were main eventing Superstars it would seem like an off week. Bubba Ray Dudley is #3 and that's a fun surprise. Miz took the 3D nicely so I'll give him credit there. #4 is Luke Harper. Harper/Bubba Ray is a fun match up I never realized I wanted. BRD works a little light against Harper though so I am disappointed. He threw those Mick Foley punches where he kinda aims for above the forehead. #5 is Bray Wyatt. Miz, Truth and BRD are gone at this point. #6 is Curtis Axel and I can't imagine a quieter reaction. But apparently Rowan takes his spot which is very much better. #7 is The Boogeyman. Hey. How about that. One of the only men to not have a good match with Finlay. Wyatt stiffs him with a hard clothesline and is all alone. #8 is Sin Cara. I take back what I said about Axel's quiet elimination. Since Axel never made it to the ring does that mean he's still in this thing? Surprise finalist!!! #9 is Zack Ryder. Wow the WWE has a lot of guys I do not care about. #10 is Daniel Bryan so I do love he and Wyatt getting the ring to themselves.

#11 is Fandango. #12 is Tyson Kidd. Rachel points out the stupidity of Bryan putting Wyatt on the top rope to do a rana, instead of just pushing him off the top. #13 is Stardust. Crowd is pretty quiet even though Stardust comes in with a bunch of stiff shots. #14 is DDP who comes in throwing a bunch of Diamond Cutters. #15 is Rusev and I want him to go on a run. I dig Bryan doing his big dive as you really don't get many legal dives in the Rumble. And Bryan gets hilariously eliminated because HA! I guess they just really wanted Bryan chants the rest of the night. Even Rachel assumed Bryan was going all the way to the end, and she basically only watched Total Divas and doesn't know how booking works. #16 is Goldust. #17 is Kofi Kingston. Goldust looks awesome upon entering, hitting his powerslam on Rusev and getting into it with Cody. The Rumble is pretty much the only reason to keep Kofi around as it's basically the only time I find myself enjoying him. #18 is Adam Rose. Boy. This guy still has a job. Obama could use him as an example of just how much employment is on the rise. But his horribly named Rosebuds to get an awesome spot by catching Kofi's fall on a potential elimination. #19 is Roman Reigns. #20 is Big E. Rusev does his really fun cannonballs.

#21 is Mizdow. I do not care about their storyline. #22 is Jack Swagger. #23 is Ryback. #24 is Kane. #25 is Dean Ambrose. Good, we've had a bunch of people just milling about in there for a bit. #26 is Titus O'Neill. Looks like they were trying to do a "new quickest elimination" angle with Titus, but somebody botched something and Titus didn't go over cleanly, so they had to re-do it. Yeah, JBL immediately goes "Did he just break Santino's record!?" It would be amusing if Titus were booked to break it, and then accidentally didn't go over properly. Getting eliminated in 4 seconds instead of the 1 he was booked for would be arguably the most amusing reason to get cut. #27 is Bad News Barrett. #28 is Cesaro. It makes me sad how audibly disappointed the crowd was when they figured out who it was. What did the poor guy do wrong? #29 is Big Show. #30 is Dolph Ziggler. I hope there was some dummy out there who wanted Rock. Are they really doing Reigns/Brock at Mania? They're doing Ambrose/Brock next month anyway, right? So that would be weird if Ambrose wins even though I would love that. Still time for Curtis Axel to make his triumphant return. Damn I wonder what cut Reign's mouth up. That's some good blood and nobody is really mentioning it. "Bullshit" chants starting, crowd is turning on Reigns to the shock of not one person. This is a horrible and totally predictable reaction to Reigns winning. And then Rock comes out and I'm pretty much not interested in Rock at this point. I would be interested in Rock/Rusev. That is about it. Wait Rusev is still in the match!? Oh. There he goes. Huh. Let's cut to the "Roman Reigns in the shot look at Wrestlemania sign" (they cut to that shot while I was in the middle of typing it). Man. Bryan didn't even get eliminated by any nefarious means or anything. Dude just wasn't good enough to hang.

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

2015 Lucha Overview - Arena Coliseo 1/17/15

My main man Black Terry Jr. dropped an belated Christmas present to his customer base by sending us three matches from an Saturday CMLL Arena Coliseo show. Coliseo are shows where they are letting their young guys work longer stuff, kind of an untaped CMLL NXT, and it was neat to get a look at guys working in a different environment.

Astral v. Pequeno Nitro

One fall minis match given about 13 minutes which would have been right at home as a showcase Nitro or fun Lucha Underground match. Starts out a bit slow, neither guy is a stellar mat worker and the first 3 minutes or so felt a little time killerish. When they start breaking out big spots though it picked up. Astral hit a nice tope, a couple of minutes later Nitro lands a really pretty plancha to the floor. Then Nitro nukes himself on a Psicosis/Estrada style ringpost bump and Nitro hits a Taka double jump plancha which was always one of my favorite dives. Finish was also a crazy roll up into a submission. Not a MOTY level match, but a really nifty spotfest I am happy got documented.

Virus v. Star Jr.

Really enjoyed watching Virus work with Black Terry Jr. filming. The camera work really let you see the nastiness of Virus's stuff, kidney shots, super stiff clotheslines. The early matwork was pretty fun, Virus was leading him, but Star Jr. threw in some fun stuff too, including an elaborate roll up, and a Navarro style pin reversal via ankle hook. Would have liked to see a little more flash from Star Jr., but this was a very fun 10 minute match, and a great chance to watch Virus do his thing.

Misterioso Jr./Negro Casas/Sagrado v. Delta/Guerrero Maya Jr./La Mascara

I like watching Negro Casas and this is another opportunity to check out a master work a house show style match. Still the non Casas parts of this were pretty forgettable, and this really felt like a bog standard house show match. On the positive side of average, but not by much

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New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV Episode 2 Workrate Report

I enjoyed the first episode last week so see no reason to not keep this party going.

1. Minoru Suzuki, TAKA Michinoku & Lance Archer vs. Shinsuke Nakamura, Tomohiro Ishii & Jado (3/23/13)

The above is a list of guys I like or even love, and Lance Archer. So I see that guy is still around, and still very much not good. This match seems pretty clipped down (end said 14 minutes but this barely goes 4), so we mostly don't see Jado. We do get a lot of Nakamura looking awesome and kneeing Archer in the face and stomach many, many times. I have still yet to be blown away by Ishii. Several friends whose wrestling opinions mostly match up with mine absolutely love Ishii, but he always comes off like a lumpy WAR guy with sub-WAR clotheslines and stiffness. His clotheslines and shoulder blocks and forearms look okay, but seem a little light for a guy built like a tank. Something just seems to be…missing. Hadn't seen TAKA in ages so that was nice, even if what we saw was mostly him taking offense, although I loved his high cradle majistral. And boy, Lance Archer. Even in limited time the guy just looked like junk. He's so unnatural in the way he gets in position and throws guys in turnbuckles or ropes. There is no subtlety with him getting where he needs to fall. Nakamura kicks him in the face but he needs to be in the turnbuckles and ends up falling diagonally to his side to get to them, in a way nobody would ever fall after being kicked. Later he needs to throw someone into the buckles, is out of position to make it look convincing, so walks all the way around him to properly whip him. There are just a shocking number of mini time stand still moments with this guy. Also, Minoru Suzuki booted the ring boy who held the ring ropes for him. I love that man.

After the match we get a brutal promo from Davey Boy Smith Jr. Awful stuff. Just clunky language and spit shouting.

2. Hirooki Goto vs. Kazuchika Okada (3/23/13)

Well this match right here is a pretty microcosm of why I don't typically seek out New Japan stuff. This was just junk. I actually liked the beginning leg work grappling, even assuming it wouldn't go anywhere. From there Goto dominated, until Okada just kinda decided it was his turn to go on offense. That's arguably my least favorite way to structure a match, when one guy takes a bunch of stuff up front, and then a switch gets thrown and the other guy goes on offense at full strength. The transition to Okada's control was real weak, as he takes a bunch of offense from Goto, then just reverses a whip and goes on offense, with Goto now suddenly having to sell a bunch. I guess he was tired from dominating Okada? We get to our forearm exchange that we all knew was going to happen, and then we take turns doing big moves until the finish, with Mauro Ranallo grating on every last nerve by screaming over the last 6 minutes of the match. Screaming does not make it epic. Rachel was in the room while I was watching this and she was laughing at how idiotic Mauro was sounding. We have a lame submission exchange with Goto barely making the ropes and using his last bit of strength to get there…but then after they break he just locks on his own submission. A lot of convenient selling in this one. Mauro reminds me many times that that's Fighting Spirit. We also get a real obnoxious muggy referee, cupping his ears and and flapping his hand in a "Bring It!" motion, just begging to hear a guy verbally submit. Bleeeech. Awful match. At least the Rainmaker looked good. I also liked Okada's reversal of the Goto shiki.

Well two episodes in, dug the first one, really disliked most of the second one. We get a throwaway clipped up 6 man and a horrible "puroresu EPIC". I enjoyed Mauro and Barnett on the first show, could not stand Mauro on this show. By the end of the Okada match he was unbearable. Fingers crossed for a strong third show.

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Friday, January 23, 2015

MLJ: 2010: Invasores Interlude 2: Gran Alebrije, Histeria II, Psicosis II vs Hijo del Fantasma, La Mascara, La Sombra

Taped 2010-04-26 @ Arena Puebla
5 of 5: Gran Alebrije, Histeria II, Psicosis II vs Hijo del Fantasma, La Mascara, La Sombra

A couple of weeks after the initial attack and we have the first match between Los Invasores and the CMLL regulars, in this case, the same trios that they initially attacked, which is amazingly well put together for CMLL if you ask me.

Psicosis II is Ripper, of course. Alebrije is Kraneo (and he has Cuije with him), Histeria is Morphosis now. At least Alebrije and Histeria (along with Latin Lover) were right out of a legal case against AAA over the potential use of their names, though I'm not entirely sure how that worked out. Maybe more interesting still was the fact that Alebrije and Cuije were just back from the King of Trios (which was mentioned). Unfortunately, Claudio/Cesaro vs Alebrije/Kraneo wasn't QUITE the amazing match up that it looks like on paper. Here it is though.

Back to Mexico, this was a hell of a first outing for the invaders. Maybe due to the fact they were in Puebla, they had a ton of time, and it really had a big match feel. There were tons of fans with camera around the ring to begin. Both side had interviews to lead off. The rudos had such unique looks with the purples and the pointed masks. They were outlandish, real invaders.

I want to lead off by saying that this match was really more than the sum of its parts. The opening matwork wasn't all that high end. The transition was just there. The beatdown was quite good, though, but then the comeback was spirited but not all that interesting. After that, they pulled it all together well but not well enough to make it sublime on its own. It was the feel of it all though, the hot crowd, the unique nature of the invasion, the build from the previous ambush, and a lot of interesting if not entirely smooth work. I liked this a lot but it's not technically the strongest match I've seen lately. In that regard, it reminds me a lot of something like Atlantis vs Ultimo Guerrero, though not on that level.

The crowd was definitely into it. They started it smartly with the rudos taking the ring only for the tecnicos to retake it. Fantasma had a chant straight from the get go, paired off against Histeria (Captains were Sombra and Psicosis), and this was fun, at least, with a nice rolling leglock and a solid sense of struggle. Mascara and Psicosis followed things up, picking up the pace, but we didn't get a chance to see too much before everything broke down (robbing of us Sombra vs Alebrije).

From there the rudos picked up the advantage and the beatdown began. They had quite a bit of interesting tandem offense and pressed the advantage to the point of really ramping up the pressure for the comeback. Cuije even beat up Kemonito. There was a tree of woe. Sombra had his mask ripped. There were double kicks. Tecnicos were isolated. And the primera ended with a wheelbarrow lift up and a double dropkick before a facebuster, then an elaborate sequence of corner shots and tandem offense before a brutal Alebrije spear. Showy stuff. They followed it by making a wish and more Cuije offense.

The comeback was short and sweet and not quite heated enough and more important than that, felt earned. Mascara was outnumbered but managed to roll under a double clothesline to hit a superkick on Alebrije, before getting knocked out. Fantasma flew in but Psicosis took him out. Finally, Sombra evened things up and hit a huge dive. This allowed Fantasma and Mascara to lock in a leg submission and a Casita for the fall. Afterwards, before the reset, Kemonito got some revenge on Cuije.

The tercera had a lot of time and while it had its moments of sloppiness, it was ultimately a lot of fun. It was back and forth, with everyone hitting their spots and endless teasings for the dives that should finish the match. The tecnicos were able to do their sequences vs all three rudos and frankly, they seemed motivated by having some new opponents. The rudos hit their cut offs when needed only to get overwhelmed again and again. Kemonito had his comedy spot with the shirt coming off and Cuije got to dropkick him to end it.

The match ended exactly as it should have. Everything broke down in the end and it looked like the tecnicos were about to finally hit their dives. Mascara went for either a seated senton or a rana off the apron but got caught and powerbombed right into the post in a really nasty spot. Then Fantasma went for a tope only to for the rudos to move at the last second and the brutalized Mascara to be thrust right into the path of it. Despite all that Sombra almost pinned Psicosis, but Cuije broke it up. Kemonito charged in and in the chaos that followed, Psicosis fouled Sombra and pinned him. It was a great ending because it set up matches to come. The satisfaction of the dives never came to fruition and the rudos still cheated to win. I hope this drew money because it deserved to.

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

38. Shield v. The Wyatt Family 3/7/14

PAS: This is a house show version of my favorite match up of the year, and had a bunch of the fun elements I loved in their more high profile stuff. We started out with a cool staredown and brawl which included Rollins doing a super fast, really crazy for a house show dive. Two long face in peril segments one with Rollins and one with Ambrose, Wyatt's were a really great bully trios team, cutting off the ring violently working over someone with a mix of simple violent slams and throws and some very quick high impact stuff. Ambrose was the star of the Shield team, he was at his best during their brief run as a face trios team, he had an awesome crazy man hot tag, and followed it up with a great Terry Funkish face in peril where he keep begging the Wyatts to hit him harder. They kept Reigns on the apron until the end where he unloaded all of his cool offense in the crazy bang bang finish. Such a bummer we never really got a big blowoff to this feud, as even in this format it was some of the best stuff all year.

ER: Fun match and really it's matches like these that made me not care about going to TV tapings when WWE rolls through town, only the house shows. House shows seem to bring out more excited screaming kids, less people trying to get over with their signs. And the crowds seem hotter because there's no down time for commercials or promos. Here the crowd was hot before the bell, as a "This is Awesome" chant started while the teams were just staring each other down. I could see that kind of thing annoying me most of the time, but here I was kinda with them as in my head I was like "*squeal* a Shield/Wyatts trios I haven't seen!" so I can only imagine how much I would be flipping out live. And, sure enough, this ended up being a Shield/Wyatts trios. We do lose a lot with the fancam aspect as these are all guys who add stuff with their facial expressions, so seeing just white blurs for faces isn't as engaging, but since it means we actually get to see this match instead of never seeing it then I'll obviously take it. There's still enough high end work in here that shines through without the mugging. I thought Harper looked fantastic here. The crowd seemed to respond to him more than any of the Wyatts, and his stuff with Ambrose was great. I loved them trading blows, Ambrose getting repeatedly knocked back into the ropes. All the strikes looked great, and Ambrose is such a house show pro because you know he was teasing the rebound clothesline every single time. Harper would uppercut him, Ambrose would stagger backwards into the ropes, the whole crowd expecting the rebound...and then he ends up hitting it several minutes later when people aren't expecting it. Bray was good with the house show crowd and he even added a new little wrinkle to the crab walk, flopping to his back for a couple of beats before springing up on all fours. It looked creepy and the crowd was delighted. It's weird seeing Wyatt in brown sweatpants instead of white slacks. He looked like Mick Foley at an autograph signing. The finishing run was really hot with a couple great saves and nearfalls, and all the guys seamlessly running in one after the other and believably cutting the others off. Wish I could have seen these teams live. At least we have this.


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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

2015 Ongoing Match of the Year List

1. Kota Ibushi v. Shinsuke Nakamura NJPW 1/3

PAS: Solid start to the year, with Ibushi curtailing a lot of his more obnoxious juniors stuff and wrestling this like a nasty fight. I especially loved all of the stomps. elbows and knees both guys landed on the back of the head which really added a different level of viciousness absent from a lot of the endless New Japan elbow smashes. I also liked how they snapped and started throwing right hands, which was put over nicely by Jim Ross as something outside of the New Japan rules. I was let down a little by the finish, the crazy springboard german was an interesting idea, but didn't land well at all, and the finishing blows by Nakamura looked a lot weaker then the earlier stuff, you always want a match like this to build to something big, and this didn't really. Still very good and a fine match to lead off 2015.

ER: Awesome stuff overall but it's a shame the nastiest stuff all happened in the middle of the match. I loved that there were no "we take turns elbowing each other and scream" moments, and all the strikes all came off looking like illegal MMA. Nakamura does a cool front suplex and immediately starts blasting Ibushi with north/south knees, Nakamura locks on a slick rolling arm bar and Ibushi gets to his feet and breaks it by stomping on Nakamura's nose and face. At some point you can see visible boot scrapes all over Nakamura's forehead. The misses in the match were very important too as there were tons of nice kicks that came flying full speed, really lending to the fact that if one of them didn't duck things would have been over. I loved how that played out later with Nakamura ducking a low kick and Ibushi almost expecting him to duck and immediately hitting a standing corkscrew moonsault. Ibushi has some cool offense with effortless flying that can land with impact (sometimes) and cool little snap suplexes that he rips off so quick they're near impossible to block. The build up showed him surprising Nakamura with one of these and sure enough he snaps off a couple here. Nakamura has a great unique style, real slithery and jellybones. I love seeing his limbs flop around when he takes a powerbomb or rana, and loves how he uses that stuff to goad Ibushi into striking a couple times which then backfires for Ibushi. The strike breakdown in towards the end was awesome, with Ibushi throwing full follow through palm strikes that buckled Nakamura into the ropes, with Nak shoving the ref into Ibushi and then just blasting him with a right hand. So many great strikes throughout this, with nasty elbows and knees to the back of the head, kicks to the neck and little annoying stomps. If only things happened in just a slightly different order. Even so, a very good start to the year.


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1. Kota Ibushi v. Shinsuke Nakamura NJPW 1/3
2. Drew Galloway v. Roderick Strong EVOLVE 1/9

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MLJ: 2010: Invasores Interlude I: Shigeo Okumura, Taichi, Virus vs Hijo del Fantasma, La Máscara, La Sombra

Taped 2010-04-12 @ Arena Puebla
Shigeo Okumura, Taichi, Virus vs Hijo del Fantasma, La Máscara, La Sombra

3:03 in

I know what you're thinking. Why the heck am I watching a Taichi match for no apparent reason? There's no Volador here at least (I'm on anti-Volador, Jr, kick right now and will avoid him when possible), but Taichi is definitely there and Mascara is looming too. Even 2010 Virus isn't enough to offset that. There's a method to my madness, though. This isn't any match but the start of a fairly big angle (I say fairly big because while it had a big footprint, it started in Puebla and there just seems to be something off about that).

The entrances were pretty great. Virus' look back then was awesome. He had this cool robe, a mask over that, some spiky arm things. I get that there's a sort of maestro feel he has now, where some of this might take away from his skill or distract from it, but it was a really great look and it's a shame he went away from it. Kemonito, carried by someone, came out wiht Mascara, wearing a shirt. More on this later. Sombra and Taichi were captains. I have no idea how Taichi gets to be captain of anything.

I quite like Fantasma; he never really wows me but he's always more than solid, someone who was ideal in matches like this because he could really serve as the glue, as someone who knew his role and could play it well and by doing so, helped to keep everything together, usually without going into business for himself like Wagner or someone. He was fairly young at this point too. I've said it before but it's a shame that they didn't keep him around (he jumped to AAA in 2013). Okumura, on the other hand, never really makes an impression on me.

The structure was a little weird here, which is quite often a red flag for the finish of the match. I've seen people complain about the typical CMLL structure lately, but I've kind of come to love it over the last year. It's the ebb and the flow and it provides a great point of comparison because you get to see how a number of different wrestlers work within the same constraints; more often than not, to reach this level, they know how to do great things within it.

Whenever the match diverges, it changes the mood because it raises your attention a little. That was the case here. They went through the motions of a standard back and forth opening with a rudo takeover. Fantasma carried Taichi to something halfway tolerable. Sombra and Okemura turned up the pace a bit,  but the rudos swarmed immediately thereafter so we never got to see what Virus would have done with Mascara.

At this point, in a normal match, we'd skid to a relatively quick rudo taking of the fall, ride the beatdown into the segunda, have a tecnico comeback, an then reset for a lot of tecnico-vs-the-world antics, some posturing, and a few dives for the finish. Instead, Virus, directing traffic, set up Fantasma for an Okumura missile dropkick and the pin, but then Sombra ducked past everyone to tope Virus and planchaed his way back in off the top onto Taichi. He ducked a double team kick and hit his split legged moonsault on Taichi (still inexplicably the rudo captain) to take the fall. They basically rushed through the beatdown to the comeback in one fall. It was a sign that either this was going to go two falls or that it was going to have that added loop of a second beatdown.

As it was, the segunda was mostly everything you'd want in a tercera from these pairings. Virus got to stooge a bit. We had those tecnico-vs-the-world spots where one tecnico fought off all three rudos. There were dive cutoffs to cycle to the next tecnico. Kemonito got to do the shirt-take-off spot where he can't get it off and then recovered to hit a legdrop. Someone hit that lightning flip over backdrop counter sunset flip I really like. They made Taichi look stupid, and finally, Fantasma and Mascara hit tandem topes. That left Taichi and Sombra in there and almost immediately, the former fouled the latter and the tecnicos got the DQ win.

All well and good, right? Once the match was over, the real fun began. Out of nowhere ran in luchadores who had, until recently, been working for the independents, Perros Del Mal and other places: Psicosis II(Reaper/Ripper), Histeria, Manico, Alebrije(Kraneo) and his mini Cuijo. The post production called this the "Invasion en Puebla" and the fans were unsurprisingly going nuts for it. This was about as formula breaking as it got, a mauling from a group of wrestlers not even in the company.

Eventually, the tecnicos set to wrestle the next match, Strongman, Porky, and Mistico hit the ring to chase them off (with Mistico being so good and aware of the situation that he was quickly able to get all attention himself by press slamming Cuije to the outside; he had a chant shortly thereafter). In one of the biggest Crash TV segments I've ever seen in CMLL, the rudos they were to face: Terrible, Averno, and Texano, Jr. followed them right out and started the match. I decided that Strongman and Porky together were probably not something I was up to perusing and decided to move on.

This was certainly a match rushed through to set up an angle, but as such things went, it was an enjoyable one and I thought the angle came over extremely well, the mood set by the weirdness of so sudden a two fall match.

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