Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

CWF Mid-Atlantic Worldwide Episode 150

Episode 150

John Skyler/Mace Li vs. Aaron Biggs/Keith Mac

ER: This started out rough, with none of the stuff featuring Mac looking good. He threw a bunch of bad hiptosses, the kind that looked like a local high school PE teacher got in the ring to pop the crowd while the wrestlers bumped around for him, and then Mac capped it off with an ugly dropkick. Bad start. But Skyler willed this thing from the grave with a fast sprawling bump to the floor, and once Skyler/Li take over on Mac I get into it. Mac takes a great bump to the floor thanks to Skyler holding the ropes open, and Skyler/Li don't do anything spectacular to pick apart Mac, but they keep things engaging, keep Biggs away, Skyler is good at things like that. I especially liked how he occupied himself to allow Mac draw out the hot tag to Biggs: Skyler had eaten a facebuster and wandered around the ring holding his jaw, in total disarray, going to the wrong corner to tag in Li, all good stuff to let Mac build to that tag. And Biggs is a super fun hot tag, obviously, smooshing the other two and ending things once Li gets whipped into his rib crushing Thesz Press. This recovered quite nicely after

PAS: This is a good example of how a classic southern tag structure has a really high floor. Mac wrestles like a veteran in his 70s still working nostalgia shows (does Thunderbolt Patterson work Georgia indies, imagine that), good shtick, but utter inability to execute offense or take bumps, he is the Ricky Morton in this. Despite that, some good bumping and shtick by Li and Skyler and an awesome looking hot tag by Biggs make this a plus match. Get the crowd behind someone, and delay the gratification for a bit and it is going to be entertaining.

Otto Schwanz vs. Chet Sterling

ER: Is Otto the best (only?) guy to pull off a "tough guy/goofball" persona? He comes out in his velour Fila track suit and comically large chain, jump scares little kids, gets in the ring and does some combination of amateur rolling and warm-up break dancing, looking kind of ridiculous and yet kind of dangerous. "Kind of Ridiculous and Kind of Dangerous: The Otto Schwanz Story". I really liked this match, and loved Otto tossing Sterling around. Sterling would fire back with punches and I thought Otto did a good job picking and choosing which ones to take seriously, and which ones to storm through and ignore. Sterling rushes in with some body shots, Otto chuckles and doesn't slow down a bit; Sterling pops him in the jaw, Otto gets rattled, eyes widen, he cracks Sterling back harder. Otto has this one punch that I really love - and a few big guys use punches like this - where he throws one big shot horizontally across the jaw. It's a cool angle, stands apart from normal stand and trade punches, reminds me of the visual of when Andre would punch across his opponents face and body. I thought Sterling was good firing back with hard overhand chops, loved Otto sinking in bearhugs and elbow drops, thought Sterling bumped around great for Otto (and love that Otto charging shoulder in the corner, that sent Sterling through the ropes to the floor), and the nice high cradle is a believable way to get a pin on a bigger dude.

PAS: This was pretty good, Sterling has some dodgy offense, but is a good bumper and good at getting the crowd behind him, so having him eaten up by Schwanz is a good match structure. Otto is great at making simple things look devastating, nasty bodyslam, really great ragdolling bearhug, nice straight punches, nasty backbreaker. He reminds me a lot of Mark Lewin, who would be the answer to Eric's question for tough guy/goofball combo. Great match for the crowd, who really got into Otto's shtick and Sterling's comeback.

Dave & Zane Dawson vs. Dirty Daddy/Kool Jay

ER: At this point, every Dawsons tag feels longer to me than it actually is. I thought this match went 20, was shocked to see it was just 14. I don't know why, but it feels like there are rarely any changes in pace throughout their matches, they just kind of continuously operate at one level, and the Dawsons are just a bit too dry. They've shown flashes, they've had decent matches, but there's zero nuance to their performance. They sell for opponents in minute one of a match the same as they sell in minute 13, so there's never the impression that a babyface time is making headway or falling behind in a match. They're essentially always equally about to win or about to lose, and that makes things drag. Teams never gain or lose ground against them, they just do stuff to them until the match ends. They're not great at setting up offense for their opponents, but I still enjoyed Jay and Daddy here, thought both had nice punch combos. Daddy had some nice moments showing his really excellent attention to detail, and it's a shame he's been kind of lost at sea for the last few months. He'd be a far more interesting guy with a tag belt than these two. A great detail moment I loved from Daddy was him getting caught by the Dawsons in a crossbody, leading Jay to missile dropkick him, sending him into a pinfall on the Dawsons. But Daddy comes up selling his back, which is huge, as it rarely happens with that spot. Somehow in wrestling physics, if you get hit with friendly fire you don't have to sell it. But Daddy is a smart worker and it really lends credibility to his matches. Dawsons on the other hand make taking a headscissors look about as plausible as Kenny Omega bumping for a blow up doll. I liked Jay taking big bumps and getting planted by the Dawsons, Zane threw a great punch in the corner at one point, but overall the match dragged for me.

PAS: Kool Jay is a great pinball and takes some big time bumps by the Dawsons, and I actually think this would have been a pretty good match, except for Dirty Daddy's lethargic hot tag. He is usually so good as both the hot tag and the face in peril, here it felt like he mailed in the big comeback a bit, which took some steam out of the crowd. Dawsons title reign has taken a bunch of steam out of the tag titles, not sure I have really liked any of their title defenses, this had some moments, but was too long and never hit third gear.

Donnie Dollars vs. Trevor Lee

ER: I've never seen Dollars come out in his button up and 1994 gaudy tie, and I like it. He looks like an IRS/Big Bubba cross, and the IRS look makes sense with his name. If he's supposed to have been some kind of equity trader then I have totally missed that. I dig Lee dismantling big guys, and I've been waiting for a longer Donnie Dollars match, so I was excited for this one and thought it delivered, although less than other Lee main events. Dollars was fun using some shortcuts that a huge dude shouldn't need to use, but I love seeing a heel cheat just to cheat, so Dollars pulling the ref in between he and Lee so he can blast Lee with an elbow, or Dollars kicking the ropes while Lee steps through them. Lee never really felt in danger in this one, which lands this lower than other title matches. Lee was mostly one step ahead of Dollars, with Dollars being the one to get occasional hope offense (like a big running boot), which is kinda backwards. But Lee is fun working ahead on a big guy, stomping early on Dollars' elbow, which Dollars never really recovers from. Dollars was really good at keeping that elbow stomp present, even though we never went back to it. His selling was good enough (without being constant) that it played as a rough move that set him back early in the match, that gave Lee the advantage the rest of the match. Lee would be kicking at Dollars' body, and he would be holding his elbow and leaving himself mostly defenseless against kicks, and it really made it seem like his elbow was messed up if he was willing to take these kicks to protect his arm. Lee amusingly baited him a couple times, like hitting a running elbow in the corner and duping Dollars into following him so he could hit him again. The end was never in doubt, and I wish Dollars had a bit more of a showing, but it was fun.

PAS: I tend to really like lesser Lee title matches, he is more interesting when he works around a formula worker, then just having an indy classic. The structure of this was kind of unique with Dollars playing a heel underdog big man, not a combination I can remember seeing before. Lee almost comes off heelish here, do you really need to break Donnie Dollar's elbow to beat him? I agree that Dollar's elbow selling was great and I thought the built a couple of nice near falls for Donnie. I think this match would have been better if Donnie went on a bit of winning streak before it, so the crowd might buy him a bit more, or if it had just been a sprint. Going this long without Dollars having any chance of winning was kind of odd.

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Monday, November 12, 2018

2009 Match of the Year

Daisuke Ikeda/Takeshi Ono vs. Manabu Suruga/Takahiro Oba FUTEN 4/26/09

PAS: The kind of harrowingly violent shootstyle tag war which FUTEN mastered. Oba is kind of a lanky goofy guy who has some big impressive throws, kind of like Otsuka stretched out on a rack, Surugu is the former Manabu Hara, who was never the most electric BattlArts guy, but perfectly willing to engage in a war, and Ikeda and Ono are Ikeda and Ono, two of the best to ever do it. Lots of great tag work early by Ikeda and Ono as they work over Suruga and Oba's legs like hyper violent Anderson's. These matches usually build to long one on one violent war of attrition sections. We get two of them here, the first is a great Ono vs. Oba battle with Ono fighting off his back, locking in submissions while dodging Oba's stomps and leaps, it ends with a big fight over a grounded octopus, while Manabu is fighting desperately against Ikeda to make the save. We then get a violent Ikeda vs. Suruga section with both guys landing hellacious shots and both end up glassy eyed and spent. FUTEN maybe my favorite wrestling promotion ever, and this was the best thing going in 2009 for sure.

ER: This was a match with a lot of little stories going on throughout it, with some cool shifts in control, and all four guys getting great moments in the spotlight. I've seen this tag several times, but not for a few years now. For some reason this time I got really invested in Oba's arc. Oba is pretty easily the weakest contributor in the match, but I think that's more a testament to how strong the match is, that his performance here is the weak link. He starts the match as a bumbling goof, erases that image with a great hot tag that makes him look like a real badass, then by the time he's doing comedy stuff again he's practically a folk hero, the comedy coming from a place of confidence now instead of incompetence. It was a cool mid match transition and really added to things, but the others got those moments too. Ikeda was confident veteran who got a couple of awesome late match fighting babyface moments, the first after Suruga savagely drops him with a Tiger Driver '91. It looked like something that someone shouldn't get up from, but Ikeda barely does and his new vulnerability makes him more of a hero. Ono is the great lost BattlArts guy who basically started working only quarterly after Batt, and always looked as good as ever. Here he gets to show off his great speed and precise striking, and contributes huge to the drama with an awesome save for Ikeda. Suruga came in at the end of the Batt run and is much younger than Ikeda/Ono, but here he gets to show that he can hang with the vets, and peaks with the stretch run where he looks like he can destroy Ikeda singlehandedly, dropping him mightily with two German suplexes and that crushing Tiger Driver. All men work cool submission moments, like Ikeda muscling his way out of a headlock by moving his neck behind Oba's back, or Ikeda getting his arm stomped on, or Suruga getting his knee yanked around; but we got cool pro wrestling moments too, none more pro wrestling than Ikeda and Ono pulling off a Doomsday Device in a shootstyle match, and Ikeda dropping one of the nastier post-Hashimoto brainbusters, or Suruga dragging his body to finally tag out after taking some ruthless shots, and then collapsing on the ring apron to recover. And of course every moment in between these moments is peppered with hard leg kicks, clonking Ikeda headbutts, fast Ono rabbit punches, and full body Suruga strikes. A match where everyone came out of this looking powerful, a unique and awesome tag match deserving of being the 2009 champ.


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Sunday, November 11, 2018

Dirty Dick vs. Slick Ric: 1996 Syndie Series

Our buddy TomK found an odd two match Syndicated Series of these two matching up in 1996. It is a classic WCW 90s puzzler. It's heel vs. heel, totally random and pretty fun.

Dick Slater vs. Ric Flair WCWSN 3/27/96 (Aired 3/30/96)

PAS: This was a World Title match, Slater's first World Title match since he worked a house show series of Texas Death Matches against Flair in 1989 (CageMatch is the best). This was heel vs. heel with Flair accompanied by Miss Elizabeth and Slater by Col. Parker. This was brawling Flair mostly with a lot of chops and his fun downward punches, and he gives Slater a bunch of offense. Finish was a classic piece of horseshit: Elizabeth tells Parker that Woman wants to see him in the back and he struts to the back in full Robert Parker mode, Woman is tremendous as a soap opera temptress, asking Parker if his ring was really Elvis's ring. While Parker is in the back ready to pull it out, Flair rolls up Slater and puts his feet on the ropes for the pin. No idea why this match happened, no idea why they ran such a goofus angle around the finish, but it was totally great stuff.

ER: I loved Schiavone calling this match like Slater had a genuine shot at the title, and I like Flair in control mode with a guy with some clout. It's fun because Flair would come on the B shows and work stooging matches against guys like Joey Maggs or JL, but then brawl like a heavy with someone like Slater. We get some cool Flair punch angles that we don't often see, like his cool right uppercut that he rarely throws. Sadly we get a weird clip in the middle, not sure how Slater got Flair into the figure 4, but we get an awesome moment with Slater fighting for a backslide for a good 2 count. It looked like something Slater specifically did to make it more dramatic, just act like it's tough to hook Flair into it and then fight it over. We see so much slick execution these days that seeing a guy milk a backslide is just incredibly satisfying. Slater takes a nice bump to the floor and a nice heavy backdrop, and that finish was definitely a Col. Parker-specific WCW finish. I don't think there was another non-wrestler during this era of WCW who got more camera time during matches. At this point when I see one of Parker's boys is in a WCW match I just assume we'll get a few long shots of him being distracted by a wily female. They at least go to a split screen while he's getting conned by Woman (I've seen several matches where they just cut away from a match to see Parker trying to get his dungus wet), and I loved Slater flipping out on him after the loss, but you have Parker as your manager and you know that snake is gonna bite you occasionally. Not intentional Parker/snake reference.

Dick Slater vs. Ric Flair WCW Pro 5/11/96

ER: This is a much more complete match than their prior encounter and had a constant back and forth, with Slater reeling from hard Flair knife edges and throwing some nice punches back, and Slater trying to out-Flair Flair and work the leg by yanking it and locking in spinning toe holds. We get Woman likely driving ringside males crazy with interference while wearing a 90s gothy minidress, looking like if you took all of the hottest qualities from every girl in The Craft. Chris Cruise talks about how hobbled Slater is after 20 years as a wrestler, doing a nice job of building a little sympathy for the guy, and we get plenty of cool moments like Slater kicking Flair in the face from the apron with his cowboy boots, or Flair really planting his knee on a missed kneedrop. Finish was nicely set up by everyone throughout the match, as Slater goes back to the spinning toe hold but leans his face in too close and gets poked in the eye by Dirty Ric, then popped with a weapon from Flair's trunks. I dug how the announce crew was talking about how this match would be a battle over who was the dirtiest player, sounds like a fun weekend show title they could have changed hands a few times.

PAS: I don't really remember seeing Flair work this kind of hide the object match before and it was a fun finish. I love how this was sold like a series, with Dusty mentioning the WCWSN match, and how this was a battle to see who was the dirtiest player in the game. Slater worked this more like a babyface, not really cheating but brawling and taking it to Flair, often preempting Flair's attacks, catching him up on top and blocking his punches. Flair was full heel and had Woman interfere and eventually won with a knucks shot. I feel like a face Stud Stable versus heel Horseman feud could have been awesome and this was a little taste of that.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

MLW Worth Watching: Yehi! Holliday! Hart Foundation! Stud Stable! PCO! King!

Fred Yehi vs. Richard Holliday  MLW Fusion #21 7/19 (Aired 9/7/18)

ER: This works as both a cool showcase for Yehi, and a nice introduction to Holliday, of whom I know nothing about. Yehi doesn't squash him but never feels in trouble, and Holliday has a nice undeserved smugness to him, like a guy who would make sense teaming with MJF but taking all the pinfalls; a good entitled stooge. Yehi blocks a lot of his shots in fun ways, hits a hard shoulderblock, stomps his hand, does a couple leg sweeps that nobody else does, the kind of stuff you want to see Yehi doing. Holliday bumped around and acted perplexed by all of it, but still nicely worked in a couple pieces of offense; I really liked Yehi grabbing him with the trapped arm kicks to the chest and pushing him off, put Holliday blazing back off the ropes with an elbow. Holliday showed his egotistical charisma while clearly on the losing end, and I love a big mouthed jobber. Yehi grabs that Koji Clutch and Holliday starts tapping the second Yehi starts throwing shots. Nice touch.

The New Hart Foundation vs. The Stud Stable  MLW Fusion #23 9/6 (Aired 9/21/18)

ER: I would have liked to see this twice as long, but what we got was as good as I hoped it would be. Teddy Hart has been so great everywhere he's turned up this year, that right hand is just lighting everyone up. Pillman is green as hell but a good lackey for Davey Boy and Teddy, and I dug them basically using him as a way to distract Parrow, basically throwing him to the wolves so they can get in their licks. Parrow took a nice Nestea plunge bump off the apron into the Blondes and Hart hit a huge moonsault off the top onto all of them on the floor. Both Blondes take big suplexes well for big dudes (and Patrick takes a brutal Saito suplex from Davey) and they both throw out some nice offense. I'll pretty much be completely in the boat (is that a phrase? I don't know what the fuck I'm doing) for any tag team that does a tandem elbow drop, that kind where both guys are dropping elbows one after the other. It always looks great, and it looks ever greater when it's two guys (like the Blondes) with great elbow drops. We get a kind of goofus finish with Parrow wanting the pinfall all for himself, but Pillman breaks it up and Parrow gets pinned like right after. Blondes were each up on the top rope when Parrow opted to go for the pin, and I really wanted to see what the heck they were going to do. But afterwards they give Parrow a beatdown, and I kinda just want them to start getting actual tag matches. We've already wasted time feuding them with the already broken up Team TBD, now they're starting up something with Parrow, but they still don't feel established. Just give these guys a run already.

PCO vs. Brody King  MLW Fusion #23 9/6 (Aired 9/21/18)

ER: Phil pointed out that one of the keys to successful PCO matches is to keep the pace fast, and the more we see of him we realize another key is keeping things short. There's a set amount of material, and that material is fantastic at 10 minutes or under. Brody King is kind of similar, so you give these two 5 minutes to lace into each other and pull out some crazy nonsense? Then that's absolutely going to be something worth taking time out of your day to see. These are two big dudes who have no problem sending shivers to the jaw, and taking man size spills that aren't typical of guys their size. The whole match was filled with hard elbows, big clotheslines, headbutts, and hard knees. That alone would have been enough to make this good, but PCO breaks out a huge and impressive dive early, King drops him with a brainbuster, launches him into the buckles with a backdrop, misses a rolling senton that lands him on his head, PCO hits a big powerbomb and running knee; the match is just packed with cool stuff and hard shots. King pie faces the ref when he gets in the way of two adults beating each other's ass, and we get an awesome postmatch melee with other officials running out to separate, and PCO hits a flat out GREAT moonsault off the top to the floor, crashing through everybody. This is exactly what this match should have been.

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Friday, November 09, 2018

New Footage Fridays: Spoiler, Jose Lothario, El Halcon, Mark Lewin, Baba, Robley, Kawada, Misawa, Hase, Sasaki

Spoiler/Mark Lewin vs. El Halcon/Jose Lothario Houston Wrestling 6/1/79

ER: A decent minimalist punch and kick affair that is short, but takes awhile to get rolling, and ends with a bunch of great mayhem. The low point comes fairly early as Halcon does just about the world's slowest hot tag somersault I've ever seen to get to Lothario. It was a comically slow somersault. When Ricky Morton eventually hot tag somersaults into the grave, it will be faster than this one. I'm sure Phil has seen his kid do a faster somersault at baby gymnastics. I think he may have been doing it purposely slow because someone may have been out of position...but the effect was not great. The match never ramps up to high from there, but it chugs along nicely. Spoiler and Lewin both acted afraid of hot babyface Lothario, who bleeds and punches away to loud reaction. There's a great moment where Spoiler keeps running into fists from Lothario while Lothario is on the apron. Spoiler feels like one of the great stooges, which is amusing due to his size. But he and Lewin are a fun sneaky punch tag team, and the finish is a blast as Lewin starts twisting the turnbuckle loose on the top rope, freeing it to use as a weapon, leading to the top rope going limp as more bodies flood the ring.

PAS: I was excited to see Halcon, who is a lucha legend we don't have much footage on, but this wasn't much of a showcase for him. This was really Lothario doing his awesome Lothario thing, he comes in with a pressure bandage on his head which is alway exciting to see, and he takes a big time walloping from Lewin and Spoiler. I love Lewin's overhand chops to the head, he looks like he is breaking boards in a Tae Kwon Do class, and Spoiler has really cool forearms. We get to see Lothario, sell, bleed and fire back and he is great at all of it. Finish was a lot of fun with Lewin unscrewing the top rope and trying to use the buckle bolt, but Halcon getting it from him and swinging it like a club. This never hit the levels of the all time great Lothario matches, but it was a good showcase of what he does well.

MD: In 2018, every new Houston match is a treasure. Every new Lothario match is a treasure. Look, we have context with this. This was the night Gran Markus came in to be Gino's heater. We have these matches. We have the two of them breaking up. We have some of the Americas Tag Title matches before and after this. This isn't just some random throwaway minimalist match, it's one more piece of a puzzle where NWAonDemand had already given us parts of it.

The match itself was generally good. I thought Halcon was a step slow, which only matters because he was doing things that you can't be a step slow for. Spoiler is always amazing, twenty years before his time, the mix of size and just sheer oppression off the second ropes. Lewin serves his purpose (woundwork is down his alley) and Jose is that center of gravity, bleeding and building up glorious anticipation for when his fist will hit someone's skull. I agree that this doesn't hit the peaks of certain other matches, but watch the crowd at the end. They'd disagree with us, certainly.

So thanks to Roy Lucier for posting these best of Houston Wrestling episodes. RIGHT after this match is an amazing PSA by Boesch about what to do if someone is following you on the highway. It's so great. Roy, I have no way of contacting you otherwise, so hopefully someone tosses this your way. It's nice you're uploading the NWAonDemand stuff now, but most of that is already elsewhere on youtube between a couple of accounts. Out of the 8-9 Best of Houston Wrestling shows you posted we came out with 2-3 new matches that we didn't get on the service, some older clipped footage, some promos, some commercials, some great Paul Boesch moments. All of that is way more valuable to the community than reposting the NWAonDemand matches again. If you have more of these episodes, please go back to posting them instead. Even if we come out with just a few more Houston matches we didn't have before, that's a boon. Thanks.

Giant Baba vs. Buck Robley AJPW 3/19/82

ER: I LOVED THIS!! This is the most WCW Saturday Night match in the history of King's Road. Buck Robley showing up in Japan and facing Giant Baba on his first day in town is like Bull Pain showing up on a taping facing Lex Luger on a sunny afternoon in front of vacationing Florida families wearing No Fear shirts, Big Johnson shirts, fanny packs, elastic waist band shorts, and square frame glasses. It is an indisputably perfect 150 seconds of professional wrestling and there's literally no argument you can make against that fact. Nobody within shouting distance of Korakuen thought Buck Robley had a snowball's chance against Baba that night, but Robley comes out of this whole thing looking like a total badass who beat the shit out of Baba before losing. Baba gives up offense to Robley as if Robley were Hansen, and Robley hits I think every part of Baba's head and neck with a strike: downward strike elbow to the head, chop to the Adam's apple, elbow to the cheekbone, punch to the underside of the chin, Robley was just putting a strike clinic on Baba's long dome. Baba was the best here, I fucking love fired up Baba, love him putting some mustard on his Baba chops, raining down on Robley's head and chest, and I thought it was cool how we got a show of Baba strength with his Irish whips. Robley was good at properly bumping for Baba, not overdoing it on the chops but stooging around great for all of them. Baba's Russian leg sweep looked like an impossible tangle of limbs, and Baba executes it really fast, then really slugs Buck with that big Baba boot. I would always love when Flair would show up on Worldwide and have a competitive match with Joey Maggs, and this felt like the best version of that.

PAS: This was a hell of a sprint, Robley came out knowing he had four minutes and was going to make it count. He comes in with his awesome "Nobody Calls Me Yellow" shirt looking like a backwoods hillbilly trying to gut someone with a rusty can lid. He unloads on Baba with these big forearm smashes to the head and neck, Baba looks simultaneously powerful and fragile, Robley's shots look like they are going to smash his bones and every Baba shot propels Robley back. That big boot feels like a finish and the post match Brody run in was appropriately chaotic (Brody is at his best in chaotic run-ins, then you don't have to watch him wrestle.)

MD: Robley in the states is always sort of hit or miss for me. In Japan, there's something outlandish and out of place to him that really works. Baba doesn't get nearly enough credit for how much he gives. I don't think he gets enough credit in general. He's Andre-like in that his very touch can destroy an opponent but also incredible capable of garnering sympathy, almost from his appearance alone. He could easily swallow the entirety of the space in any match he was in like an Inoki or Verne often does, but instead he understands how to reach the hearts of his audience, even while submerged in an environment where there's a real risk/fear to selling.

He gave Robley space to shine and Robley used it to the fullest, coming at him like an ornery honey badger. I've been watching a ton of these 1982 matches, but the image of Baba hanging upside down between the ropes and Robley battering him is going to stay with me even among all the noise. I bet it stayed with that crowd for a long time too.

Genichiro Tenryu/Hiroshi Hase vs. Toshiaki Kawada/Kensuke Sasaki AJPW 1/28/01

PAS: This is from the 2001 AJPW Dome show, and was only recently available outside of clips. AJPW post Misawa and pre-Muto was basically WAR, and this was a WAR style slugfest. It was four big stars beating the bricks off of each other, Sasaki blistering chests with chops, Tenryu punching people square in the jaw and toe kicking folks in the eye, Kawada throwing thick thudding kicks to the chest and Hase hitting as hard as I have ever seen him hit. It feels a little like a super violent exhibition then a match with a ton of build and story. We never really had anyone take an extended beating or a super progression to the end, but man it is hard not to enjoy Kawada and Tenryu trying to cave each others face in, or Sasaki slapping his good buddy Hase hard directly in the ear.

MD: We all have the things we go for. While I can meet certain matches half way, this wasn't for me. There's a period in the middle where Kawada and Sasaki have an extended period of control on Hase. I'd call it a real peril or heat segment, though there wasn't really that sort of face/heel divide. Hase's comeback attempts mainly consist of attempting the same sort of strike exchanges that litter the match, but losing each one because he's increasingly hurt and beat down. I thought the way he portrayed that, with increasing desperation and pride, but also decreasing levels of success, was actually pretty excellent and easily the best part of this match. Otherwise, this was just guys beating on each other without rhyme or reason. I'm a lot happier watching that for ten minutes than twenty-five.

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Thursday, November 08, 2018

Jose Lothario Wished He Weighed a Thousand Pounds, So He Could Crush All Those Bullies and Demons Down

Jose Lothario vs. Tonga John WCCW 11/19/83 - FUN

PAS: Tonga John is the future Barbarian and it is interesting to watch him this early. He is pretty much a punch and kick guy at this point, and you don't want to try to punch it out with Jose Lothario, even at this point. This was very much an opening match on a TV card with all that entails, but Jose threw some really great looking hooks and even went up top twice, once with an axhandle, once with the bombs away to win. Lothario still looked great at this point, and if Tonga John had a little of the seasoning he was going to get, I could see this theoretically being a banger but in actuality it was more of a curiosity.

Jose Lothario vs. Jim Cornette WWF Mind Games 9/22/96 - FUN

ER: This match is only 1 minute and basically worked like the Bossman/Heenan matches a few years prior, with Cornette's lumpy body elegantly squeezed into tights, talking trash before the match (loved him shoving Finkel as he grabbed the mic away) until Lothario comes out to shut him up. Cornette naturally gets no offense, it's all Lothario haymakers and that downward chop to Cornette's nose. Cornette is a really great stooge bumper, we've seen dozens of enhancement guys over the years who couldn't put over an opponent this well. I do wish Lothario would have laced into Cornette on his final two punches. They were worked well but thrown too open handed. But I liked Lothario decking him with a right and thinking about going for the pin, but then calling for one more and decking him with a left. It's so weird that this PPV had a Vader/Sid match as a dark match, but aired this. I'm glad they did, but it's gotta be a major sign of Michaels' pull with Vince. I mean who at home was buying this PPV for Lothario/Cornette when Vader/Sid could have been on the table?

PAS: Obviously not a ton to write about a 90 second match, but Cornette is a really athletic bumper for a guy who looks like he doesn't have an ounce of athleticism, and Lothario still threw a mean punch into his 60s.. We got to see all the variations, the right, the left and the uppercut and Cornette took them all like a champ.


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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Jose Lothario Has Scrapes to Prove, Proves it Was He Who Fell

Jose Lothario/Shawn Michaels vs. Jim Cornette/Vader WWE Raw 9/23/96 - GREAT

ER: You knew this was going to mostly be a Vader/Michaels match, but it's a pretty fascinating anomaly that they would even put Lothario in the ring. This was before they were frequently using AARP members in the main events of shows, so seeing an old guy main eventing Raw was more odd in 1996. The show isn't even in San Antonio, it's in Pennsylvania, so it's odd they'd choose this show to have Lothario in a match at all, but the crowd is hot throughout. Cornette knows what he's doing and comes out in a Vader red lycra top and is great on the apron throughout, while Vader is mugging Michaels. Vader was great in this, squishing Michaels with avalanches and throwing big headbutts and does a couple of fun almost lucha teases, setting up Michaels for the Vader Bomb and teasing crowd reaction by acting as if he's thinking about going to the top rope and then waving them off. Michaels' offense still looks below Vader, but it's alarming how much better it actually looks than the Michaels offense we grew accustomed to a decade later. It helps that '96 Michaels moved fast, so at minimum was running into Vader with some speed and force, and we got a big moment where he went for a fast crossbody with Vader ducking out of the way, sending Michaels into a big bump over the top to the floor. We also got a great moment where Vader ducked the superkick and just leveled him with an awesome left arm clothesline for a convincing nearfall. The Lothario hot tag was short but sweet, with Cornette tagging in first with the advantage, but squandering that advantage by shadowboxing with Vader. Michaels gets to Lothario and the crowd reacts big, and Cornette reacts big. Lothario drops Cornette with a couple punches, then Lothario smacks him downward over his nose and Cornette takes a big comical back bump. I was going to type how it was great seeing an old non-wrestler like Cornette bumping big for Lothario, but then I realized that Cornette in this match was younger than I am now, and it just made me melancholy. Also, annoyingly, Lothario just completely disappears after his hot tag. Not just that he isn't in the match again, but I don't think the camera even showed him again. Vader got the win and then Sid ran in, and by this point Lothario may as well have been backstage. But this whole thing was good. And kind of weird. It was good and kind of weird that they did this.

PAS: I would have liked to see more of the Cornette vs. Lothario stuff, even though this had a bunch of big Vader vs. Micheals main event exchanges, I enjoyed the sideshow stuff the most. Cornette coming in and working the mitts with Vader was a great bit of heel horseshit (although Vader could have moved the mitts a bit, let Jimmy work on his combos), as was Cornette swinging for Michaels' legs with the racket, only for Shawn to jump over it like Super Mario. The brief Lothario in ring stuff was fun, he still had a great punch and Cornette bumped like Jim Cornette, I will have to check out their singles match for sure. Vader looked like Vader in this, wailing on Shawn in the corner, beheading him with a clothesline and smashing him and pinning him clean. Michaels takes some bumps and flies around the ring well, but I have a hard time buying him denting Vader at all. Still this was exciting television wrestling.


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Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Jose Lothario Fades Like Vapors You Actual Traitors

Jose Lothario vs. Gino Hernandez Houston Wrestling 1/9/79 - EPIC

PAS: Lothario who passed away earlier today was probably best known as the trainer of Shawn Michaels, but he was an absolutely tremendous professional wrestler, one of the great 80s babyface brawlers we have footage of. This match was one of his masterpieces, a gritty bloody brawl with both guy bumping huge, spraying blood, flying into the cage and throwing big hard powerful blows. Lothario was a great puncher, with each shot being dramatic and landing with a thud, he also threw a bunch of different versions, jabs, over hand rights and lefts, and nice side hooks. Every fall ending was violent, including Lothario nearly ripping Hernandez's arm off. I loved the final fall, with Gino hurling Lothario tailbone first into the turbuckle post violently, and coming off like such a badass surviving this kind of war. Great stuff and it is a minor tragedy that so much of this stuff is being held hostage by dollar store Layne Staley.


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Monday, November 05, 2018

Lucha Underground Season 4 Episode 9: A Match Made in Heaven

ER: This may be an odd question...but was that actually Melissa playing Mariposa in the opening segment with Cueto? Her voice sounded completely different from how I remember her sounding (not merely the absence of her minor speech impediment, her voice just sounded different), and the mask covers enough that I actually have no idea.

TL: Was that…a competent set up for the main event? Like, did they actually lay out the consequences in a cogent manner for us to understand? Wild, man.

Mala Suerte vs. Matanza

ER: So now we've established bunny hop "boings" and speed bags SFX to our LU SFX canon. This was short but nobody died. Suerte hit a great baseball slide dropkick to start, Matanza hit a nice headbutt to cut off bunny hops and hit the Wrath of the Gods. But again, nobody died, which seems important to point out now.

TL: I literally cannot add anything to what Eric said about this match when those SFX were involved. Peak pro wrestling production, that.

Joey Ryan/Jack Evans vs. XO Lishus/Ivelisse

ER: I really liked this, especially as a showcase for Evans and Lishus. I wasn't excited for Joey opposite another woman, but I liked the turn into Joey being a full blown sex addict, just wanting any kind of touch and contact with any human (at minimum, any human). I think him being into getting slammed into XO Lishus' juicy hot ass and liking it is an important thing to happen. Sex addict is far more interesting than overt pervert. Lishus is a ton of fun, a great take on an exotico. The splits legdrop is good, and I also realized with his outfit, butt stuff, splits...he's basically cosplaying as Naomi. That feels like a level of exotico we haven't had in wrestling, an actual drag routine paying tribute to a fan favorite. The cartwheel slap is great with the character, and there was a hilarious moment with he and Evans, where Lishus ducked a clothesline and landed in a crabwalk, Evans overran him with the miss, ran back, but was chased into the corner with a quick burst of crabwalking from Lishus. Evans played it great, the timing was down, a genuinely funny and unique moment played perfectly. They went way too heavy on SFX for Ivelisse, she had a couple weak shots that came off comical with the loud thigh slap sound, but stuff like armdrags and ranas looked fine and she ate Ryan's offense well. Evans is still finding his place without WU, and I hope he's featured more from here now that he's away from WU. But he and Lishus owned here.

TL: I want to be a part of the conversations Joey has had with other folks to try and figure out how he could evolve his character. As Eric said, the climb from pervert to sex addict seems like the natural next step for him and who better to bring it out of him than Lishus, who has the athleticism that makes it look like he can hang with Jack F’n Evans step for step. Evans’ athleticism never ceases to amaze me; his springboard moves look out of control but also look like they kill folks. Yeah, the Lishus/Evans stuff was terrific, which led to the absolutely disgusting finish with the omoplata that really looked like a chokeout as opposed to all the other loosely applied MMA finishes you’d see in wrestling today. Stoked to see this get a longer feud, too. Ryan and Ivelisse were definitely in this match.

Mariposa vs. Dragon Azteca Jr.

ER: This was so short and really a nothing match. It was presented as an obstacle for Azteca but he didn't have too much trouble with Mariposa. It's a Lucha Underground update on an old early 90s Wrestling Challenge squash match. In one of those matches the enhancement talent would maybe get a dropkick or a couple elbows that get no sold. In a Lucha Underground squash match the enhancement talent still gets to break out a Kudo Driver moments after taking a huge 450 splash. The times they are a changin'.

TL: Love the foul to start the match during the belt presentation, love the kick to the inside of the thigh even more. Also love how in 2018, a 450 splash and a fucking KUDO DRIVER get 2.9s, but crossing the legs on a rolling prawn hold? Can’t get out of that, no siree. But hey, I’ve never wrestled before, so I don’t understand psychology, I guess.

The Reptile Tribe vs. Worldwide Underground

ER: So Striker says that Vibora is "striking in his absence" meaning nobody else knows about Vibora's death, but you'd think his absence would be focused on a lot more if that was the case. Instead they're just immediately cool with lizard Jeremiah Crane being the replacement. Also, could we have maybe done a little better than Jeremiah Snake? Here are a few off the top of my head with similar vocal patterns: Jereboa Crane, Jereviper Crane, Jereconda Crane. They aren't rhymes, but the syntax is the same as his original name and they roll off the tongue similarly. Or, they could have embraced their ridiculous side and further have their cake and eat it too, and he could have been Janaconda Cobrane. Also, I like that even in a rare 4 on 4 match, Ricky Mandel still isn't good enough to make the cut. I want them do have a 10 man tag to see if he has a shot at getting some playing time.

And I really liked this match. It was the right amount of fun and action, and really the fed should run more 8 man tags. I've gotten tired of their go to singles match style, but throw any 8 people from the roster in a ring and they should all have enough material to work a fun 10 minute match. You get less reliance on kickouts and more reliance on saves at that point, and a well timed save is more exciting to me than a big kickout. We get a ton of big dives, some complicated (like Kobra Moon getting launched into everyone by Jeremiah) and a couple impressive Aerostar ones, and a huge cannonball into everyone by Jeremiah. The pacing was kept brisk, and the whole thing was kept light which is a good thing because serious matches typically feature Striker reading a bunch of lousy copy about the Fates of Worlds and the Calamity of Man. The post-match worked for me too, even though the Macho Man stuff was all really obvious, I loved the Pomp and Circumstance playing while Mundo had Taya up on his shoulder. Taya's reaction to the proposal was good and as I've been wondering the past couple weeks this surely throws WU into full babyface, which isn't a bad twist. I somehow didn't notice the relevance of the episode title, which now seems like it should be saved for the inevitable wedding episode of LU, and I also somehow foolishly never considered a wedding episode for LU. We're well over 100 episodes at this point, and if we actually want to pretend that this is an actual TV series and not wrestling, then we're already into syndication and we're overdue for a wedding and a baby. We've already gotten to the point of the show where it's consistently going downhill from its peak, so now we need a couple of classic ratings poppers!

TL: The graphic leading into this match looks like it was made for an ECW TV main event in 1997, which is terrific. Big wet fart for the return of Crane as part of the Reptile Tribe. Don’t care enough to even make fun of the name. Aerostar wearing the bandana over his mask is as goofy looking as Klay Thompson wearing the bandana during his 14 3-pointer game last week, which means I love it. Vibora had been getting better so I’m a bit sad he’s not a part of this, because this seems like the type of match where he’d really stand out.

More wild atomicos match than I would have thought with this set up, as I figured there would be more pairing off than a whole bunch of dives, but they wanted a frenetic pace from the start. PJ Black’s hot tag that began with a bunch of first week training offense after the springboard was amusing. Nothing like armdrags and shoulder blocks to fire things up. The more I hear “Jeremiah Snake” the more I cringe. He also gets a lot of the match here, which is disappointing. Would have loved to see more Moon and Drago, especially considering Aerostar was brought in specifically because of his past with Drago. Instead, Drago gets to watch Aerostar hit his second ridiculous dive of the match and then take the fall. Postmatch was actually cool for the fakeout, Johnny being magnanimous, and the two-bit Savage aping. It was ELIZABETH who did the “Ooooohh yeah” part, man. C’mon. I’m not sure what wedding day shenanigans will occur to hold it up before it actually happens, but I’ve been entertained by WU skits to the point where I’d at least enjoy it. Can’t remember too many happy RobRod movie marriages, but maybe they’ll make an exception here.

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Sunday, November 04, 2018

2018 Ongoing MOTY List: Ronda vs. Nikki

14. Nikki Bella vs. Ronda Rousey WWE Evolution 10/28

ER: Now this totally owned. I thought the layout was super smart, the use of Brie was smart, and Ronda's selling was awesome. Match starts with Ronda completely toying Nikki, showing her several ways that she can toss her ass over elbow and break her arm, repeatedly letting her get up after having her likely beat. And as you're wondering if this is just going to be a total Ronda mauling, Ronda eats two of the best shots to the ringpost you've seen, I mean full Lawler, just fantastic looking post shots on the floor (and another great one inside the ring) and the spends the rest of the match shaking off the cobwebs. Ronda made those post shots so important, not just by making them look as great as they did, but really treating them as a big deal throughout the match. I had just watched a match with several potential big moments that could have been treated this way, that were moved on from pretty easily. Seeing Ronda taking the postings so seriously, and really turning in an impressively evolving sell throughout the rest of the match, was a real treat to watch. Nikki takes over and Ronda feels like she's in it but also struggling to stay focused, working like she got her bell totally rung and went spaghetti legged and was now fighting from behind. The Bellas throw her around ringside, into the barricade, Nikki hits her big kick off the buckles and locks in an abdominal stretch, Ronda misses a huge crossbody when it looks like she was possibly turning it around, all of it was handled really well and turned what could have feasibly been a 3 minute match into an exciting 15 minute match, great turns and build. Brie finally gets hers when Ronda rolls through an ankle pick into a fireman's carry (and I LOVED how she did it, playing up her dizziness and looking fully unsure if it would work, relying on muscle memory, awesome spot), and when Brie has to reach too far over the ropes to stop it, Ronda uses that leverage to her advantage and also drags Brie in to dispose of them both. Brie gets tossed over the announce table and we get an awesome nearfall as Ronda takes a nasty Alabama Slam and the Rack Attack; easily could have seen the match ending there. But Nikki goes up and Ronda rolls through shakily (which, seeing as how she was selling during that rolling fireman's carry, easily could have been more of the same selling paying off those postings) and yanks that arm. I thought this was completely awesome, a really terrifically laid out match, and a killer main event. I cannot imagine this match being better than what they gave us.

PAS: I agree that this was stellar. I didn't pay much attention to Women's wrestling during the Bellas era, so I was very impressed that Nikki Bella could pull off something this good. Ronda provided most of the sizzle, but Nikki was right there with a nice portion of the steak. Her pushup taunt leg scissors, and abdominal stretch looked great and I dug all of the the double teams with Brie. I loved all of Ronda's early taunting, she has some of the best looking judo takedowns in wrestling history, total examples of elite skill with a wildness and athleticism to them. I totally freak out every time she throws one. I agree with Eric talking up those post shots, Ronda is totally reckless throwing her face into the post, she ended up with scratches and bruises which made her look like she had been in a domestic dispute or a brawl with an alley cat. I loved cocky shit talking Ronda making her comeback only to get caught in a near fall, and that roll through off the top into an armbar was incredible looking. Ronda is a total must watch at this point and a great choice as the face of the non-terror-state propaganda shows.


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Saturday, November 03, 2018

MLW Worth Watching: TEDDY HART!!!

Teddy Hart vs. John Hennigan  MLW Fusion #17 7/12 (Aired 8/10/18)

ER: So I'm not sure I could call this a really good match, but teddy Hart is eminently watchable and Hennigan is a guy with freaky athletics who you know can be coaxed along into a bonkers Teddy Hart match. And both guys bring exactly what I was hoping they'd bring. Hart is a fun highflier and I love his aloof faces, a guy whose gimmick is that he wants to put on a great show for everyone and doesn't care if he comes out a winner or loser. That type of thing can easily be turned a bit and become the traits of a really annoying wrestler, but Hart works with such a shrug that he never comes off overly serious, which is what plagues most of those "putting on a MOTY for the fans" types. Plus Hart brings stiff strikes and a general unpredictability, and those are key to him standing above the rest. Here he brings out the crazier side in Hennigan as I hoped, and they went through some sequences you won't see from most. I dug the opening counter stuff, all weird flips and angles, vaguely lucha, vaguely parkour, vaguely silly, but then Hart will throw a hard right hand and snap everyone awake. Both guys hit big moonsaults into the fans, crashing through the front rows (Hennigan not even both to tell people to move, just crashing through fans). We get a bunch of big moves, Hart breaking out a bunch of cool and weird piledriver variations, leaping off the top and catching Hennigan standing before flipping into a piledriver, and a great leverage piledriver when Hennigan is getting back into the ring and Hart grabs his head in his knees and sits back with it. That's a variation I don't really see a lot, and as indy as it seems I think it actually makes a ton of sense. Your opponent is climbing back through the middle ropes anyway, meaning his head is right where it needs to be for a piledriver. We've seen several DDT variations from that spot, but not really a piledriver, even though they make equal sense. Hart always makes me laugh when he climbs up to hit a crazy move, as it's almost always accompanied by him making Fericito Ay Dios Mio faces before plunging to failure or success. So sometimes he'll make the face and get planted with a Spanish Fly, other times he'll make the face and hit a couple of gorgeous late rotation twisting springboard sentons. The finish of a match between these two is almost never going to be very satisfying, as they do so many big moves throughout that whatever wins is going to seem like any old move. Hart hits a nutty powerbomb onto his knees and a harsh hammerlock DDT, but I don't dislike Hennigan winning by blocking a sunset flip and leaning forward with his own pin. Something has to end a match like this, and the journey getting there was exactly what I wanted.

Teddy Hart/Davey Boy Smith Jr. vs. Rich Swann/ACH  MLW Fusion #18 7/19 (Aired 8/17/18)

ER: This got a little messy at the end, which is a shame as it started out like it was going to be easily the best tag match of the resurgent MLW. Smith is a guy billed as a catch as catch can master but who wrestles like Test, and Hart is really great at utilizing Test into a tag setting. Hart is so adept at all the grappling we start with that I really want to see him against any of the Catch Point alumni, he works real snug with Swann, fast armdrag while bullying him into a Rings of Saturn, great right hands, big snap powerslam; Hart would really be a fun third man in a Dickinson/Jaka stable. Hart is dominating Swann, hits his cool surfing Code Red out of the corner, and we get great involvement from ACH as Hart has him locked up and ACH's leg comes in out of nowhere with a great superkick to Hart's jaw. Smith follows suit with a nice running big boot to save his boy, and we get some cool stuff like Smith tossing ACH from the ring to the floor with a bodyslam, onto Swann. Pillman Jr. starts getting involved, and Smith has some simple, nice ref distraction as Swann goes up top and Smith gently shifts the referees positioning so he can't see Pillman smashing Swann's groin with his cane. This felt like they were well on their way to a great tag match, but kind of went into the finishing stretch too quickly, which is a common quibble with MLW TV. A lot of the matches seem to have a pretty firm 10 minute time limit, but a lot of the matches I've liked would have benefitted from a few more minutes. Still, this made me want to see a lot more of the New Hart Foundation.

Teddy Hart vs. Vandal Ortagun  MLW Fusion #20 7/12 (Aired 8/31/18)

ER: This post didn't set out to be a post highlighting all of the Teddy Hart, he just happens to be bringing it every damn time he shows up on MLW. The first two matches here are full matches, and this one is a squash...but mah god what a squash! The opening of the match is almost uncomfortable as Hart unloads some hard punches right at Ortagun's forehead, each one looking like a KO blow. Hart is a legit tough SOB but after the second punch you can really see Ortagun's head start to turn bright red from the shots, and as I'm waiting for Ortagun to go limp Hart starts putting a hole through his chest with stomps. But don't worry as Hart goes back to working over the face by trying to smash his skull with a curb stomp. Jesus, Teddy. Ortagun gets a one count schoolboy and Hart rolls right through it into a sick Rings of Saturn/crossface, yanking Ortagun's arm while meanly tugging at his beard and mouth. A couple of Hart's crazy lungblower variations end it pretty easy (electric chair into knees always looks like such a tough landing) and Hart as violent badass is awesome. I'm unsure what Ortagun did, but I can only assume that he definitely deserved it. Later in the episode he, Smith Jr., and Pillman Jr. got into it with Kevin Sullivan backstage. It got a bit too shooty, but it was a pretty intense segment with all of them eventually jumping Sullivan and Sullivan blading. Not sure where it's going, but they did it well.

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Friday, November 02, 2018

New Footage Friday: Billy Black, Wahoo, Kobashi, Misawa, The Eagle, Tenryu, Tiger Jeet Singh

Genichiro Tenryu vs. Tiger Jeet Singh AJPW 5/14/82

PAS: This match a fair more pop to it then your normal Jeet Singh affair. I am going to give the credit to Tenryu who keeps this moving, and adds some real pops of drama to Singh's stuff. He jumps him at the bell and tosses the sword aside, and works him over only to get stabbed in the throat. Singh breaks a bottle on the ringpost and stabs Tenryu with it causing our boy to start leaking. It breaks out into mayhem from there, with Casual Friday Ueda hitting Tenryu with a sword and both Singh and Ueda fighting various ringboys and menacing the crowd. Not much wrestling although this had the heat and out of control feel to make it pretty enjoyable. Odd feather in young Tenryu's cap for sure.

ER: This is the best Jeet Singh singles match I've seen, and I like Singh more than most. I like the excitement and weirdness he brings to a professional All Japan setting. He's a fun disturber, and he's a big guy so when he doesn't play by the rules he's tough to rein in. Singh is all twitchy and has maybe one bump in him per match, so it always seems like a big moment when someone fights back and takes him off his feet. From the moment they're both in the ring it's chaos, and the whole thing is paced excellently by Tenryu who bumps all over the ring and floor to put over Singh's attacks. Singh gets his sword yanked away but finds a bottle pretty soon and cuts Tenryu up. Tenryu takes a big tumbling bump off the apron after a shot and comes up nice and bloody, and we get Singh finally leaving his feet after Tenryu hits him with the enziguiri off the ropes. A lot of these 80s Tenryu singles are him selling and building to an opponent bump off the enziguiri, so you kind of have to rate the quality of the chaos and beating leading to that, and then the bump off the enziguiri. If you look at something like Tenryu vs. Kimala, that had a lot of Kimala holding Tenryu by the boob, but built to a fantastic Kimala bump through the ropes to the floor. Singh isn't going to do that. Ueda eventually breaks through the ringboys in his Kim Chee cosplay gear and the whole thing gets thrown out, but damn this is how you work a hot Singh match. Tenryu was fantastic here.

MD:  I'd say this was my revenge on Phil for the hour Survival Tag, suggesting a Tiger Jeet Singh match, but really I wasn't too sure what I thought of it and had put it to Eric first instead. If the network delivered this week, this wouldn't have been here. It didn't, so here we are.

I've seen discussion about Singh as the worst wrestler ever recently and this probably won't convince you otherwise, but it was very effective and very fun. I'm all about anticipation and payoff in my wrestling, and so much of that is the babyface comeback after a ton of heat. As such, this is an abridged version of a bloody Puerto Rico Invader I or Colon match. Tenryu holds the advantage. Singh gets a shot in. Tenryu bleeds. Singh works the wound with whatever he can find and menaces the crowd. Tenryu valiantly and furiously fights back to the crowd's delight. It's pure distilled pro wrestling, powered by blood and selling and the rage of the crowd. While this was the Tenryu show, selling huge, bleeding all over, tapping the rage of the crowd in his comeback, Singh still played his role perfectly, breaking bottles and brandishing them for all to see before diving in to deepen the cut. On this night, at least, there was palpable menace to him, one that was backed up by his actions. While the finish was chaotic in the early 80s AJPW way you'd expect, this is one where the babyface being ultimately triumphant in a pool of his own blood would have taken it over the top. As it is, the build is effective, but we only get a taste of that payoff.

Mitsuharu Misawa/Kentaro Shiga/Satoru Asako/Kenta Kobashi vs. The Eagle/The Lacrosse/The Patriot/Johnny Ace AJPW 1/22/96

PAS: Totally oddball match which goes over an hour and is a survival tag match. It starts as a standard 2x2 tag match, in this case Asako/Shiga vs. Eagle/Lacrosse and when someone is pinned, they are replaced by another member of the team. Eagle (George Hines aka Jackie Fulton) and Lacrosse (Jungle Jim Steele) are a fun roided spot team, kind of a poor man's Steiners and have some fun high impact suplexes and a great big superfly splash by the Eagle. Asako and Shiga are a couple of the duller undercard All Japan guys, although Asako does have a nice top rope rana. The match really is a lot of preface to set up Kobashi/Misawa vs. Patriot/Johnny Ace and when we get down to that, we have a typical big workrate mid-90s All Japan tag. Patriot really has nice looking flying shoulder blocks and he hits them from all over, and the neckbreaker/powerbomb double team they do is really nasty looking. I loved Misawa's fired up entrance into the match where he throws bunches of elbows from different angles, and the finishing stretch was pretty great. Ace pinning Kobashi seems like a big upset, but that top rope cutter really should finish even Kobashi.

MD:  We've been doing this for a while. There are certain things I should know by now. For instance, if I tell Phil about an hour long match I found that sounds weird or out of the ordinary, he's going to want to watch it. This is weird and out of the ordinary. It's actually a lot of fun too.

On paper, despite being the one to point it out, this felt like a hard sell. The American side is no great shakes: Lacrosse is Jim Steele, which is basically enough said there. I've got a soft spot for the Patriot, but not necessarily in an hour long match. By this point, Ace was pretty good at filling space and keeping things tight (because he would get eaten alive by Misawa and Kobashi in a hundred matches otherwise) but that doesn't always make for enjoyable wrestling. Eagle's admittedly generally a lot of fun with a ton of stuff. I was not super familiar with Kentaro (blue tights) or Satoru (light ones with knee pads) but they seemed, coming in, to be lower card guys who'd probably eat falls in the first half.

By the way, that's what this was, a 2 on 2 team battle where eliminated wrestlers were replaced until a final tag would begin with the last four guys. The format really helped this. Nothing breaks up an hour like falls. Every time someone was eliminated, it allowed for a restart and a slightly different dynamic. Lacrosse/Eagle vs Kentaro/Satoru was a big vs little battle with the Japanese just trying to contain their opponents and stay in it. Again, Lacrosse wasn't great by any means. He was clunky, but he did bring power and some presence and an attempt, appreciated even if not successful, at big bombs. Once Kentaro was eliminated, the dynamic completely shifted because you had Kobashi/Satoru vs Eagle/Lacrosse, more of a star/underdog vs monsters format, with the fans instantly hot for Kobashi. This might have actually been my favorite section of the whole thing until the end, as there was just a lot of stuff (including an assisted legdrop and a deadlift powerbomb and some great throws/suplexes by Eagle and Lacrosse absolutely killing Satoru on a botched power bomb) and a lot of heat before they finally eliminated Satoru.

That brought us to Misawa and Kobashi vs the World for around half an hour and suddenly it feels sort of a shame that something this novel was lost for so long. They got Lacrosse out of there pretty quickly and what followed was two tag matches, one of about ten minutes and one of about twenty which did feel part of a larger whole. The first one had more direct heat on Kobashi before he made a hot tag to Misawa. The second one had more of an ebb and flow with the Americans maintaining advantage in the face of larger comebacks and momentum shifts. My favorite part of this was probably Kobashi's hulk up and then Patriot (who again, is a guy that I watched on ESPN as a 10 year old and that I buy having a hulk up in his tank) returning favor with hulked-up headbutts. The finishing stretch had maybe a few too many kickouts (as opposed to break-ups) for a match of this length (though that was to protect Kobashi ultimately) but did feel like escalation and felt like something that people would make sure to watch as part of the broader canon of mid-late 90s AJPW, if that makes sense.

Ultimately, the fans loved the whole thing and as unique house show situations go, this was a winner. As WWE struggles with revamping their house show format, this is the sort of thing that they should steal because it immediately felt different and special and it never really wore out its welcome, despite the length, even if maybe the format limited it from being absolutely great as well. Perfect house show fodder.

Wahoo McDaniel vs. Billy Black ASW 9/3/96

MD: This is apparently Wahoo's retirement match and I've got no reason to believe otherwise. Black is kind of a weird guy for Wahoo to end it all with (I doubt Manny was busy that weekend) but he was more than game to do what he had to. In truth, it was a good little showcase for him. Wahoo held court in the center of ring and Black provided motion, feeding, bumping, stooging, jumping out of the ring to kill time and rile the crowd. Wahoo took some cheapshots in the corner, including a dissonance inducing leg lariat, and bumped himself on an elbow drop, but past that he just acted as a center of gravity and let Black do all the work. It made for something slightly more enjoyable than you'd expect and something that showed proper reverence to Wahoo while still protecting the guy (probably honored to be in that spot) who had to be in the ring the following month.

PAS: Wahoo in his last match isn't going to be doing much more then throw stiff chops, and 96 Billy Black is a great guy to work someone who isn't going to do much more then throw chops. Black bumps all of over the ring for every shot, misses a moonsault and a top rope elbow and makes a pretty immobile Wahoo look fearsome. I am not sure why the match ended with a small package, Wahoo didn't really have the flexibility to pull it off this late in his career, and it feels like a more definitive finish would be fine to send off a legend.

ER: This was on the same show that had that legitimately great Mr. Hughes/Barbarian vs. Steiners match we reviewed a few months ago, a stacked indy card with a big crowd who was going nuts for Wahoo. Billy Black comes out looking like off tour summer BBQ shape Travis Tritt, the referee looks like Alan Belcher's Johnny Cash tattoo, Wahoo looks like the world's toughest egg, and this delivered in the ways I wanted it to. Black was great here, really made me want to see more of him (any Wild Bunch tags worth checking out?), and at a certain point I kind of hope Wahoo would just stand still in the center of the ring to see how cool of a match Black could craft around that. Wahoo does move, a little, but this is all about Black running into chops and rolling through the floor coughing and holding his throat. Black sold a solitary Wahoo downward strike to his forehead as well as Tenryu sold Singh jabbing a bottle into his head (seen up above in this very same review). Black eyerakes Wahoo and hits a big flying leg lariat in the corner, Black dishes a lariat and Wahoo essentially, eventually bumps it by getting off his horse onto a smaller horse, and then onto a smaller horse, and then onto a large dog, before landing on his back. From there we go through an amusing stretch where both guys miss the biggest moves of the match: Black whiffs on a moonsault AND a top rope elbowdrop, Wahoo drives his elbow into the mat on his own missed elbow, and Black takes a small package headfirst into the mat for the abrupt finish. After the match a bunch of the boys come to the ring to celebrate Wahoo and present him with a plaque. RVD is wearing his super short leisure kimono, Adam Bomb is there, someone else is wearing pajama pants, and the promoter shows everyone that he has absolutely zero idea how to do a tomahawk chop. The promoter's chops looked like he was working events staff parking and motioning to a car to turn down the aisle on his right. I love 90s indy wrestling.

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Thursday, November 01, 2018

1995: UWF-I Can Love You Like That, Vader

Super Vader vs. Gary Albright  UWF-I 1/16/95

ER: The biggest dudes in UWF-I finally square off one on one, but the crowd didn't react in the same swelling and crazed manner they did during the Vader/Albright tag team face offs of a few months prior. Perhaps the match these two chose to work was not the match this large crowd wanted to see. Perhaps they were burnt out after a long evening of pro wrestling. Perhaps there needed to be a native in the match to get their very best reaction. And the match is a bit of a disappointment compared to what we've seen from Vader's UWF-I run, and compared to Albright & Vader's interactions in those two tag matches. In a bubble, unaware that Vader had no other matches in UWF-I and no other interaction with Albright, it is still plenty of fun. Let out of that hypothetical and yet stifling bubble, you would notice that it did not have quite the same drama of Vader's big main event title matches, and didn't have the same electricity as their tag match showdowns. It's still plenty of fun, I mean it's two hosses squaring off, what could be bad? Albright works a lot of the match to bully Vader into the ropes and work for control, but Vader works some rope a dope and appears to try to gas Albright out. Albright keeps bulling him around the ring, landing strikes when he can, some hard elbows rights and body shot lefts, and Vader sells his stomach better than maybe anyone. Albright lands a shot around the pancreas and Vader slumps into the ropes holding that big gut, moaning in pain. Albright is smart to try tying Vader up, working for underhooks, and the biggest moment comes when Albright gets a huge belly to belly. I didn't think he'd be able to, as his grip didn't look right, but I forget that Albright is the greatest suplex wrestling in history so he flings Vader as easy as he could fling anyone, then works for an armbar. The ground work could have been more engaging, and maybe that turned the crowd off a bit, as Vader is much more about working for chokes in this match than pummeling, and it's like the crowd didn't really know who to cheer for. It's still fun, though much more anticlimactic than Vader's other UWF-I matches, and Albright's.

Super Vader vs. Nobuhiko Takada  UWF-I 4/20/95

ER: Our trip down Vader's cool UWF-I history comes to a close with a fun, if underwhelming, match against UWF's big star, in front of merely a fraction of the people who were there for their first match against each other two years prior. The buzz had clearly died way down by this point, and those 1993 Vader in UWF-I matches had a constant buzz and inarguable energy to them that was missing here. Vader himself seemed almost bored at points during these later matches, whereas in '93 he felt absolutely vital to the brand. If this was our only instance of Vader vs. Takada in UWF-I, it would come off better, but compared to the prior matches this (and the Albright match) felt like a house show touring match between the two. Vader bumps over the top to the floor off a kick right at the start of the match, but things feel a little listless at points after. Vader tones down the striking compared to earlier matches, instead concentrating on chokeslams or powerbombs, and whenever he lands one of those Takada always spills out in nasty ways, taking a powerbomb on his shoulder and getting folded roughly on a chokeslam. Takada targeted Vader with a bunch of cool leg kicks, all looked really precise and he wisely sticks and moves, but Vader also just comes off way less aggressive here. In other matches, guys weren't really allowed to stick and move, Vader would just maul them. Here there isn't always a ton of life to what's happening. Takada's leg strikes look good, and there was a great moment when Vader literally howls in pain from them, and I liked how Takada would move up the body with kicks as Vader would be going down. Takada's final attack was good, he came storming  out of the corner practically shoving past the ref, snuck in a punch, threw a ton of kicks, and the fans got really excited when Vader got down and didn't get up too quick, counting along with the 10 count. It was a good enough match to go out on, and Takada gave a great emotional performance, but the bloom was off the rose at this point.


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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

WWE Evolution 10/28/18

ER: Nita Strauss and Lizzy Hale start us off with some shredding, which is a cool touch, but I am already a bit worried that every single woman who is on this show is going to be called a trailblazer and a groundbreaker. Which is fine. But it feels like they say this about everyone, which makes them come off more like them talking about how inspirational it was for someone in a wheelchair getting pushed over the finish line of a marathon.

Trish Stratus/Lita vs. Mickie James/Alicia Fox

ER: Lita and Trish are Team MOB here, Mesh OverBoard. I know a little about fashion, and it's weird for Lita to want her outfit to have an intentional whale tail. Bliss/Fox/James definitely smoke them with their Queen of Hearts attire. And a lot of this is really James and Fox doing an excellent job at setting up offense for two non-active wrestlers. They're both really great at stooging; Fox has been the women's division bumping MVP for a couple years now at least, and James has had one of her absolute strongest wrestling years ever, and I think her contribution in getting Ronda over has been really undersold. Here James handled a 2 count kickout as well as some of these great Meiko kickouts we've seen in the MYC. I really thought they were giving Trish and Lita a quick feel good win do go a different way after Bliss was no longer involved. After a fairly one-sided run of offense, Lita misses the ALMOST GED STUDENT OF THE SKY moonsault to allow our favorites to finally control. I wish James and Fox got more control though, as it was good but still made them feel way inferior to two women who aren't going to be around much. Lita and Trish wrapped things up way too neatly, the end stretch could have used a couple more momentum shifts, and with Bliss on the floor there was no need to have Trish and Lita be so dominant, overcoming essentially three women with very little trouble. Fans were into seeing Trish and Lita, so if the point of the match was to give them a strong showing leading to a double comeback, then it was a huge success. I'm pretty sure they aren't planning on that though.

ER: Just noticed Beth's Bull Nakano shirt and I want it.

Battle Royal

ER: Big battle royal with practically every single WWE women's wrestler returning. We get Molly Holly, but through in Layla and Bull Nakano and this PPV gets 10 stars for me. Molly still looks exactly the same. And I loved Iiconics telling the old timers that they were going to throw them over the top rope and back into obscurity. It's also funny how Tamina is lumped in with the present since she's just been around for almost a decade, and was in WWE longer than most of the women in "the past". Who would want Tamina on their side, though, is the predicament. Carmella is dressed up as an all time great GLOW worker, love the gear. Torrie Wilson takes an unexpectedly big bump off the apron from a Mandy Rose knee, and Rose eliminates Deville too. If Rose gets the win here this will be the best. They are really desperately trying to Make Tamina a Thing. She won't ever be a thing. There is literally nothing they can do that will make people interested in seeing Tamina. She is 40 years old and she has been doing this for a decade. I totally forgot about Zelina and liked the stuff with her at the finish, LOVED Nia's huge press slam to eliminate her, chucking her far into Tamina on the floor. They were giving Moon some big moments and when she eliminated Asuka I really thought she'd be winning, but am excited to see Nia back in the title scene.

Toni Storm vs. Io Shirai

ER: This was about the level of match I was expecting from these two, and just makes me more annoyed that we didn't get Meiko/Ripley. This was fine enough, and you could tell both busted ass and wanted to have a really good final, and they were able to pull out some tricks that nobody got to use in the regular tournament. Shirai hit a moonsault to the floor, and Storm gave her a German suplex on the apron, don't think we got a top rope to floor or apron spot in the 8 MYC episodes. So if so I liked that they mapped things out to be that way. They didn't do anything wrong here, really, only it was a structure that I'm really bored with, as it was basically the structure of a lot of 2018 wrestling: we're in a war, a finisher gets kicked out of to a shocked face reaction, both have moments where they can barely get to their feet but are up on offense a moment later, there's a strike exchange in the middle (and Shirai just doesn't have very good strikes. Dawn Marie had better strikes. Shirai's might be closing in on heel Torrie Wilson. She's probably above face Torrie Wilson), a big move hits knees; it all looked pretty good, it all just felt way too familiar. I do agree with them that Storm has potential to be a big star, so I fully get why she was season 2 champ.

The Riott Squad vs. Natalya/Sasha Banks/Bayley

ER: While watching this Rachel shows off her gamer dork knowledge and says that Liv Morgan should go as (Liv) Morgana from Super Puzzle Fighter II, saying she already has the pink hair and just needs a black bodysuit. She says this will solidify the 30-and-Up nerd fan category, which I told her is the last category of fan these girls would want obsessing over them. Those are the guys who would show up to her house with a knife concealed inside a teddy bear. This match was also decent enough, and was getting great reactions from the crowd, but just felt like a longer than normal Raw match, and there were some pretty rough spots like Sasha barely tumbling to the floor with a flip dive, or a really dumb spot where Natalya puts the Sharpshooter on Morgan and Logan at the same time, even though Logan alone is larger than Natalya. Plus this show feels a little too intentionally feel good, 4 straight face victories and everyone having this weepy overly smiley ugly cry finishes for all of them, every face acting like they simultaneously won the Hunger Games and also were retiring from wrestling after the match. It's all a bit thick. However, Rachel thinks that a lot of the emotion the girls are showing post-match is genuine. She makes a lot of sense in her defense of why, and it genuinely feels like she's gee, Riott Squad really feel like a team they should run with, Riott has been impossible to ignore the last 6 months, they're just wasting so much time keeping Natalya inexpicably strong. Everyone knows she's the biggest heel on Total Divas, because she is awful but thinks she's the nice one. The Squad could be a way bigger deal than they are. Natalya  cannot. I liked the Squad launching Sasha into the barricade, liked Bayley's fast tope con hilo at the finish, but I wanted something very different from this.

Shayna Baszler vs. Kairi Sane

ER: This was a nice tough fight that went longer than I thought it would, but also made really good use of its time. It does require you to think that Sane could stand and strike with Baszler in an exchange, which is a bit much, but I think that while small Sane is still really good when she's using her body as a weapon, so it makes up for the overall size difference. Shayna dominated for much of this, but Sane never really felt out of it. Sane was valiantly getting beaten down, while getting in some stuff, but it felt like Baszler was always dominant. Baszler ran her into the steps, then we get several different nasty Baszler knee strikes, a cool as hell gutwrench slam, starts working over Sane's arm including a nasty stomp. Shayna handled the Sane strike exchange portion well, threw a kick at the arm to end an exchange, but ate a nice spinning backfist from Sane. I do really like Sane as cannonball, and she's convincing on a suplex, and we go into some bigger spots. Shayna drops her arm first over the top rope to the floor, Sane winds up hitting a hard crossbody to the floor, really smashing into Shayna, Sane takes a big bump into the crowd right into Shayna's squad. We get a big interference portion that I think they make work, timing it well enough and making it fit in. We get a really tight nearfall that fooled me, with Shayna locking in a tight rear naked choke and Sane rolling through like the Bret Hart/Austin finish. I could buy Shayna losing with that and it wouldn't make me upset. But Jessamyn Duke sneaks in a shot just behind the ref's back and immediately allows Baszler to lock in the clutch again. Both rear naked sequences were handled really well, by both parties. Baszler made it look like something that should finish a match, and Sane looking like a person getting choked out. I really liked this one.

PAS: Really great performance by Baszler. I don't think Sane is particularly good,  she is a stylistic daughter of Manami Toyota without Toyota's otherworldy athleticism. She can take a good beating though, and Baszler delivers one. That arm work was so vicious, that Sane should almost be out six months with surgery, rather then delivering offensive moves (the selling issues were what damaged their last NXT match, it wasn't as bad here, but still present). I just loved the way Shayna would manipulate the arm, the set up for the stomp on the elbow looked almost as painful as the stomp itself. The move where she hung her over the top rope by the arm was so violent looking, and I loved the mock salute afterwards. Some of Sane's offense looked ok, the plancha was nice, and I love a good backfist (and like an OK one, and this was OK). Finish angle sets up some cool stuff, although both Shafir and Duke have the same horse girl straightened long hair and thus are hard to tell apart, one should get a different haircut unless they are going to do Killer Bees tag spots. Still I am excited for a distaff Makai Club running shit.

Last Man Standing: Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch

ER: You know, I've never been a major fan of either, although Lynch has really won me over since the turn, and I really like how both of them are playing their face/heel dynamics. Charlotte is playing it up perfectly smug, cold bitch straight-facing those boos, snottily bouncing off the ropes to steal a little thunder from Lynch's name being announced. Lynch, the champ, holding up that belt knowing she's going to get cheered? I'm into it, and they have immediately got me into this match without locking up. They know exactly what they're doing. And this sauce has some heat to it. Both of them look downright pissed when the other comes out ahead and it is simmering fire.

But overall I thought the match was pretty so so. I thought it was overly sloppy, had an abundance of time stand still moments (and not just during prop set up moments), had some glaringly bad ref involvement, had weapon shots that looked piddly, and jacked a big moment from literally the last Last Man Standing match in WWE (and didn't do it anywhere close to as effectively). However, the reactions they got for nearly everything was tremendous. The crowd was extremely invested in this from beginning to end. There were some pretty nasty spills and the intensity was a plus at times, but for every intentional nasty spill (like Becky taking a back suplex into a big pile of chairs) there was something that looked bad, like Charlotte overshooting a moonsault and knocking over a table leading to Lynch landing right on top of her, and then both selling because neither knew what to do. We got a too long segment of Lynch lying perfectly still while Charlotte could do a convoluted figure 4 set up with Lynch's leg for a stretch of leg work that doesn't really go anywhere interesting. We got Lynch absolutely burying Charlotte through a table with a huge legdrop, but then we get a total repeat of Ciampa burying Gargano in anything he can do keep him from getting up, except Becky gently lays down several things on top of Charlotte and we get an odd ref count as Charlotte inevitably gets up before 10. I remember Ciampa wasting Gargano with these weapons as he buried him in them, and  this was just Becky tipping over a chair onto Charlotte and then placing things on her the way someone might see how many flip flops they could put on their sleeping cat to get the best Instagram picture. We get the cliche reaction of Becky being terrified when Charlotte feebly stands up from the rubble, and Becky eats a spear really nicely, but Charlotte fights back with a bunch of weak looking cane shots and middling chops (I've said before that it's a shame she's forced to cosplay her dad as she's really clunky with a lot of her Flair cosplay offense). The fans were still fully along, and I'll give them credit for that, and I was happy Lynch kept that title and Charlotte really flew through that table to the floor...but this whole thing I thought was decent enough, but underwhelming in a lot of ways. It's possible I missed some nuance, but I was pretty stunned to see some of the hype that was being thrown on this, as I thought there was just too much awkwardness to ignore.

Nikki Bella vs. Ronda Rousey

ER: Now this totally owned. I thought the layout was super smart, the use of Brie was smart, and Ronda's selling was awesome. Match starts with Ronda completely toying Nikki, showing her several ways that she can toss her ass over elbow and break her arm, repeatedly letting her get up after having her likely beat. And as you're wondering if this is just going to be a total Ronda mauling, Ronda eats two of the best shots to the ringpost you've seen, I mean full Lawler, just fantastic looking post shots on the floor (and another great one inside the ring) and the spends the rest of the match shaking off the cobwebs. Ronda made those post shots so important, not just by making them look as great as they did, but really treating them as a big deal throughout the match. I had just watched a match with several potential big moments that could have been treated this way, that were moved on from pretty easily. Seeing Ronda taking the postings so seriously, and really turning in an impressively evolving sell throughout the rest of the match, was a real treat to watch. Nikki takes over and Ronda feels like she's in it but also struggling to stay focused, working like she got her bell totally rung and went spaghetti legged and was now fighting from behind. The Bellas throw her around ringside, into the barricade, Nikki hits her big kick off the buckles and locks in an abdominal stretch, Ronda misses a huge crossbody when it looks like she was possibly turning it around, all of it was handled really well and turned what could have feasibly been a 3 minute match into an exciting 15 minute match, great turns and build. Brie finally gets hers when Ronda rolls through an ankle pick into a fireman's carry (and I LOVED how she did it, playing up her dizziness and looking fully unsure if it would work, relying on muscle memory, awesome spot), and when Brie has to reach too far over the ropes to stop it, Ronda uses that leverage to her advantage and also drags Brie in to dispose of them both. Brie gets tossed over the announce table and we get an awesome nearfall as Ronda takes a nasty Alabama Slam and the Rack Attack; easily could have seen the match ending there. But Nikki goes up and Ronda rolls through shakily (which, seeing as how she was selling during that rolling fireman's carry, easily could have been more of the same selling paying off those postings) and yanks that arm. I thought this was completely awesome, a really terrifically laid out match, and a killer main event. I cannot imagine this match being better than what they gave us.

ER: A fun, fresh PVV, if a little overrated. But I liked the concept and it was nice not having to write up a Rollins or Ziggler match. Nikki/Ronda was white hot fire, far exceeded my already high expectations, and we dug Baszler/Sane as well. Both land on our 2018 Ongoing MOTY List.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Pro Wrestling Revolution Live Report 10/27/18

Tim Livingston Reporting:

Pro Wrestling Revolution Road Report – 10/27/18

I made a day out of my trek to east San Jose to see LA Park at a high school gymnasium, getting matcha soft serve at Matcha Café Maiko in San Francisco and finishing my scenic trip down Skyline Blvd with a pizza cheesesteak at Amato’s in west San Jose. I still remember Delco’s when I was working with the Blue Jays in Florida and it’s difficult to find a good cheesesteak anywhere out here; Amato’s is basically the only place to go in the bay area for your cheesesteak needs.

Pro Wrestling Revolution has been around for over a decade and does a good job with its presentation. My first exposure to them was going down with Eric to a high school gym in the Mission District in SF to see Timothy Thatcher literally carry Blue Demon, Jr. to a very good match years ago, and they have a good following with the Latin fans in the Bay Area. The gym had the entrance across from one section of the bleachers with a ramp (short version of the old WCW ramp) and a full lighting setup that made it look pro. Gym was pretty dang full, probably 750-1000 in total. Sartorial choices were of the Bullet Club variety if they weren’t lucha-themed shirts. PWR is always good for bringing in a big name or two, and bringing in LA Park in 2018 certainly qualifies, along with Silver King (with his mask) in the semi-main. No-brainer $15 ticket here.

Card was subject to change here as it looked like Misterioso was unable to make the show which set a domino effect all the way down the card.

Show began with La Migra interrupting the Mexican National Anthem to cut a promo on how they’re gonna send Park and Damian 666 back over the wall and the Lucha Horsemen were gonna take the tag titles. It’s cheap heat, but damn it, it was good heat. Colt Stevens was looking jacked here, as was former Phoenix Pro Wrestling champ JR Kratos. You also had Sparky Ballard out in his suspenders looking like guero Tirantes (referee hate became a theme throughout the show). But it set the tone, got the crowd off to a hot start, and allowed the show to grow from there.

Cu Cuy/Grappler III/Fuerza Azteca vs. Mariachi Jr./Pantera Jr./Ultra Hashi

Fun opener that did a lot of basic stuff well to build off the promo. Hashi is basically a mini, billed at 120 and if he’s any taller than 5 feet, he’s lying. Cu Cuy is only a few inches taller than Hashi but weighs nearly 300 pounds. Does well moving around for all of Hashi’s armdrags, and has great fat boy offense, including a running splash that looks like it crushed poor Hashi. Grappler is Rik Luxury (the ¼ pound during the intro gave it away) and he gets some cool stuff in as he always does. The other three were kinda non-descript, with the tecnicos trying all types of armdrags but not landing them in the most graceful of ways. Pantera’s big high spot was him doing a pescado onto everyone for the stretch run, leaving it down to Hashi and Cu Cuy for the finish, where Hashi gets the win with a crossbody off the top. Kids were doing his pose to him as he left the ring post-match, which is basically everything you want out of the fan experience for an opener.

Ultimo Panda vs. “The Flying Lion” Marcus Lewis

Lewis wasn’t on the original card so I’m guessing he’s the Misterioso sub as he lives in San Jose, which is cool because I love watching him work. Panda is, of course, Vincenzo Massaro working under the hood, and he comes out to Gangnam Style and is over with the kids. Comedy stylings to start out as they get to do the ol’ “Panda gets tired running the ropes sequence” bit, but when it breaks down into a 50/50 match, it gets fun. Panda using his size against Marcus, Marcus using his speed and his strikes, and then some good nearfalls down the stretch. Marcus even gets sat on attempting a sunset flip. Panda wins with his FFF variation with him seated on the top rope, which Marcus bumps big on for the finish. Then they do the Gangnam Style dance together afterwards. Crowd has been hot all night and on that kick, they’re 2-for-2.

PWR Jr. Heavyweight Title: Bestia 666 © vs. Vapor

Vapor is sometimes PPW hand and DDT hand Royce Isaacs, who’s worked the gimmick in a few spots in California and it’s a good look, kind of like Bane but not on the gas. Bestia is Bestia and I kinda figured he might phone it in here, but they really go at it for a good 12 minutes or so. Vapor controls and hits a bodyslam on the hardwood before leering out into the crowd (I can’t undersell how much the crowd went after the rudos during this show). Also counters a slam into a nice Island Driver variant for a near fall. Bestia eventually comes back and hits a DVD on the apron before retaining, which is the only finish of the match I can’t seem to remember offhand. I remember liking the stretch run, but the finish didn’t stick with me. Odd.

PWR Tag Team Titles – Jungle Boy and Prostipirugolfo © vs. Lucha Horsemen

The Horsemen are Papo Esco and Arkady, with Esco’s tights literally saying “Fat Boy” on them as if they’re booking this show specifically for me. He hits a chokebreaker on the referee during their entrance so that Sparky HAS to be the referee, as he’s the only other guy who could do it, but the champs jump them before the bell to take advantage. This was the Jungle Boy show, as he was flying around and hitting his offense really crisp (along with good basing from Esco and Arkady), and then plays a good face in peril before Prosti gets caught for the longer section. When he gets the hot tag, he takes it up even another notch, clearing the ring and hitting a nice tope to the hard camera side. Of course, the match is full of Sparky shenanigans with either slow counts or not counting or derisively pointing out who the legal man was. That did lead to the finish, where a distraction by Sparky leads to a foul and a quick count pinfall and there’s new champs. For the shenanigans, at least it played into the finish. Jungle Boy was fantastic in this, though, and he seems to be getting a good run in the bay area and with good reason. Slight of build, but he can go. Also of note is the fan next to me continuing to razz Sparky throughout the match, offering him and Esco to eat some chicken nuggets. Popped some of the folks around me, but he did it literally the entire match, which got annoying pretty quickly with me. We get it: Fat guys like fast food.

Silver King vs. El Hijo de LA Park

King comes out wearing the mask, which I was a bit confused about because I remember him without his mask way more than with it. This is where they lost me with the ref stuff, as King and Parkcito take turns trying to coerce him to hit the other one, only for both of them to gang up on him and chop him down. Some matwork to start, where I hope King would work more maestro stuff than try and go 50/50, but Parkcito can go and they trade some nice holds. King starts trying to lay in the strikes but most of them whiff, sadly. Parkcito hits a tremendous tope that pushes King right up against the guardrail. King rudos it up during the second half and unties the mask which leads to him whipping the mask off on a charge and rolling Parkcito up for the win. I have this feeling it might have come off better on tape. Might be worth a second look if I can find it out there.

Cole Stevens/JR Kratos vs. LA Park/Damian 666

Place comes absolutely unglued for Park, who plays the chair as a guitar on his way down the ramp and just absolutely oozes charisma from every pore, posing on the chair in the ring and looking like the legend he is. There isn’t too much structure early on (spots were easily visibly called here) but the chaos adds to it, especially with Sparky having been involved in the shenanigans earlier on. Kratos mauling on Park is a good visual, and Damian is cool just brawling with Stevens wherever he can. Sparky gets run off (complete with going through the crowd to escape Park), which leads to the ref from the previous match coming in and becoming a part of the match AGAIN (kinda tired at this point), but he at least bumps huge on a corner charge and goes back to doing his job. Park’s belt gets involved and everyone gets whipped with it, with the ref taking the most punishment, of course. Park and Damian hit stereo topes right in front of me which makes my year. After a big miscommunication spot, Park grabs the chair, hits Kratos with it, and spears him for the pin. Folks throw money into the ring afterwards and Park acts like he’s ready to Chippendales it up for even more. He then gets on the mic and cuts a promo thanking folks for coming out to support the show (even with his “terrible fucking English” as he put it). Fun, chaotic brawl that was completely charisma driven and held up by everyone just going for it with the molten crowd, a great way to end the show.

I mean, it’s LA Park in 2018 working a high school gym in Northern California; I’ve now seen both him and PCO in the flesh in high school gyms this year and they both come off as huge presences even in that setting. Pretty sure him being there galvanized the entire card because this was good top to bottom. Nobody wanted to go out there and have a stinker with Park ready to show everyone why he’s the man, and it paid off. Well worth trying to find if the tape shows up somewhere.

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