Segunda Caida

Friday, May 29, 2015

MLJ: Cavernario vs Titan 6: Ángel de Oro, Stuka Jr., Titán vs Bárbaro Cavernario, Felino, Pólvora

Aired: 2015-01-04
Taped: 2015-01-04 @ Arena México
Ángel de Oro, Stuka Jr., Titán vs Bárbaro Cavernario, Felino, Pólvora

The next two matches have Angel de Oro, which is good since I don't have a great sense of him and I always like broading my luchador base. This one has Polvora and Stuka Jr. The next one has Negro Casas and Dragon Lee. I have to admit I'm looking forward to the next one more, even if I'm not exactly dreading this one. I'll be able to have a better sense of Oro after next match so I'll hold off judgment of him til then. For now, I find the wings on his crotch a little dubious. On the other hand, I love Felino and Cavernario dancing on the way in. Felino has his problems but I'll take him over Niebla for the most part.

The pairings for the primera were Stuka vs Cavernario, Felino vs Titan, and Oro vs Polvora. I thought Cavernario looked good against Stuka, making things a struggle and moving himself and his opponent around well. Titan had to feign annoyance and frustration at Felino's antics (probably wasn't very hard actual). Ultimately, he lost a cheer off, which is not uncommon for poor Titan. Insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Polvora played much more of a traditional rudo role in this and the fans booed him accordingly. My gut says that so many of CMLL's problems would be solved by turning Pesta Negra tecnico and Ingobernables full on rudo but who knows. Some of CMLL's problems seem to stem from the sheer fact that it exists in the first place.

Anyway, the primera turned the corner when the rudos tried to swarm, but it all felt a bit off. That's because instead of being a tidal shift, it just led into an Oro vs the world section and some tandem topes from Titan and Oro. This left Stuka to hit a fireman's carry drop onto Felino and his big splash. After the fall Cavernario tried to eat the camera, which was awesome.

In case I hadn't established this yet, Titan and Cavernario work well together. They did the fun back monkey flip spot. At some point in the last year, Cavernario developed a really nice superkick out of nowhere to cut off his opponents' athletic bs and he hit it here (and then recoiled at Felino's armpit so yeah). Titan (during his "vs the world" exchange) went for the Titanics on Polvora but turned it into a headscissors instead. Little switches like that make the world go round and make it a little less egregious. The crowd still booed him and that's starting to get painful though. Eventually Stuka and Felino picked up the speed with Stuka getting the best only to get swarmed by Cavernario and Polvora. Check out this flurry:

The beatdown led to the Polvora Bomb and the alley oop Cavernario dropkick to let the rudos take the segunda.

The tercera had some mask untying, good control of the tecnicos by the rudos, and some fun comedy with Oro doing a Three Stooges routine in the corner getting chopped. Stuka eventually reverses a double armdrag off the ropes and  ducks a double clothesline to allow tecnicos fight back. Everyone goes down one after the next and this leads to Titan majestically moonsaulting Felino from a springboard. I'm not a big high spot guy or dive guy. It's one of the least important parts of lucha to me, but I like Titan's huge moonsault. He usually works out ways to be clever about it or to set it up well (or to set up the decision on which way to go at least) and then he just gets a ton of hight from the apron out. Anyway, this had followed a Stuka roll up of Polvora and leads to Oro turning a roll up into his swinging suplex on Cavernario.

The fans boo the finish since they weren't really behind the tecnicos, but that's a shame because they deserved some acclaim here.

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Thursday, May 28, 2015


Genichiro Tenryu/Koki Kitahara v. Shiro Koshinaka/Kengo Kimura

PAS: This is your first Tenryu vs. NJ match in this feud and it was a barnburner. Neither Koshinaka or Kimura are super workers, but they are pretty great a being nasty shits and kicking someones ass. The NJ team were clearly the heels in the crowd even though this was a NJ show, and they start out by mauling and double teaming Kitahara. Throwing him into chairs and tables, dropping him on his head. We get an awesome hot tag from Tenryu, who gets so excited he almost falls out the ring on a clothesline, but eventually he gets overwhelmed and busted open. When the WAR team gets the advantage they lay in a beating too, including Tenryu lacing Koshinaka with chops and kicks to the eye. We also get great moments where all of the seconds start brawling with each other. Finish has Tenryu powerbombing Koshinaka, and continuing to powerbomb him after the bell, until Masa Saito gets up from his commentary desk to put a stop to it. Such great stuff, why isn't wrestling still like this.

ER: Holy shit Phil is right. Why isn't wrestling still like this. This is one of those matches I feel like I can show someone with minimal interest in wrestling, and then watch them get instantly hooked. No language barrier, no idea who the combatants are, just soaking up the bitch glares and ass beating and body language and crowd noise. This is probably my favorite performance ever from Koshinaka and Kimura. They are both just spiteful little pricks throughout this, especially Koshinaka. The glances that he shoots Tenryu are frightening in their lack of fear. And then we cut to Tenryu and he is expressionless, no doubt staring off at a middle distance thinking about what horrors he will unleash once he's tagged in. Kitahara is an able babyface throughout this, and Koshinaka/Kimura really lace into him. His hot tag is great and Tenryu just mows down Koshinaka with an all time great lariat (who, as Phil mentioned, hits Koshinaka with such crazy speed and force that he himself almost flies over the top to the floor), but K&K start double teaming him, and soon we get the great visual of Kimura holding Tenryu while Koshinaka busts him open with straight knuckle shots to the forehead and eyebrow. Of course this whole time we have all the opposing ring crews at each others throats, looking like a Slayer mosh pit with a gi dress code. We get a couple of boss showdowns between Tenryu and Masa Saito (who I still think looks like the most unfuckwithable man in wrestling history), who looks impossibly badass in slacks, button down blue shirt and suspenders. This kind of shit is just flawless pro wrestling. The best. 

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

2015 En Busca De Idolo Qualifying Cibernetico

Not as excited about this years lineups as I was last year, but I figure I will cover it again, and see if anyone breaks out. Like last year, I am going to rate everything either Must See, Spare Moment and Don't Bother

Blue Panther Jr./Boby Zavala/Canelo Casas/Delta/Disturbio/Esfinge/Flyer/Guerrero Maya Jr. v. Akuma/Cancerbero/Gallo/Joker/Pegasso/Raziel/Sagrado/Stigma-Spare Moment

This was less lunatic then last years qualifier, it had less awkward blown stuff (really the only awful thing was Maya Jr. blowing a dive, which is weird because he is the most experienced guy here), but also less holy shit moments. I liked Joker's brawling, and Cancerbero is always good, they were the two stand outs for the non-qualifiers. Flyer looks like he will take the Star. Jr./Dragon Lee role of young guy embracing hot death, will be interesting to see if he has anymore to show. Casas, Maya and Panther Jr. have the genetics and Maya has been pretty good for a long time, although he did look off here. Hard to get much of a sense of anything in a match like this, but I am going to remain optimistic.

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MLJ: Cavernario vs Titan 5: Blue Panther Jr., The Panther, Titán vs Bárbaro Cavernario, Boby Zavala, Mr. Águila

Aired: 2015-01-03
Taped: 2014-12-23 @ Arena Coliseo Guadalajara
Blue Panther Jr., The Panther, Titán vs Bárbaro Cavernario, Boby Zavala, Mr. Águila

I'll admit that I came into this one with some hope for a fun match. Titan and Cavernario obviously pair off with each other well. I wanted a look at Zavala since he might be in the Busca this year, and hey Panthers are Panthers, right? Plus Aguila is a game veteran. It was all a bit of a mess though, with one of the most brutal (in a bad way) comebacks I've seen.

All of the problem stemmed from Blue Panther, Jr. I've seen him in just a few matches where he's not paired up against an opponent he's very used to wrestling or in matches where he didn't have his father to help direct traffic. Or maybe he just hadn't been given too much responsibility as he was here. Or maybe I just don't pay enough attention. I know there wasn't a lot of excitement for him being in this year's Busca, potentially, and you can kind of see why here.

I'll talk about the things I liked first. Zavala was very earnest with his character. There's an eager jock rudo feel to him. Not everything he did was good, but everything he did seemed to fit a character and a personality and that's a great base for everything else. Aguila rounded out the rudos and I don't get to see him all that much in 2015. He brings a lot to the table, generally, a sort of off-beat offense and way of handling things that isn't quite what most of the CMLL rudos do. He played well to the crowd but he also brought the biting and mask pulling that you rarely see in a match on this part of the card. Maybe they can get away with a bit more at Guadalajara too. That's the stuff I wish I'd see Cavernario do a bit more though. He also did my favorite thing that I've seen all year, something I was actually begging for, but we'll get to that later.

The match was structured well enough. They ran through the pairings and everyone looked well enough, with Panther, Jr. having just a few clumsy moments, like a leg pull against Zavala. The rudos swarmed when he locked on the Fujiwara and it all felt a little more disjointed than usual, not that clean tidal shift. The rudos took it with the Caveman Vader Bomb.

The comeback in the segunda was where it all fell apart. The rudos had been controlling things with double teaming ambushes. Zavala and Aguila were in the ring here, Aguila having just ambushed Panther, Jr. They tossed Panther, Jr. into the corner. Aguila charged after and Jr. went up too soon.

Aguila had to stop, wait for Jr. to run around him, and dive into the corner shoulder first for no reason as Panther lamely charged into the other rudos. A botch is a botch and it's not the end of the world. It just goes to show the level of difficulty in spots that we take for granted all the time. A lot of times, a good recovery can even seem more impressive than if they hit what they meant to the first time.

This was not a good recovery. Everything just fell to chaos after that. The fans turned against it. Aguila ran into a terrible quebadora. Cavernario whiffs way too big on a missed clothesline. Titan hit his nice moonsault in the midst for this. Maybe more on that next match, but it was followed by Cavernario being sort of clumsy again though hitting his run up plancha out of the ring well. All of that left the ring clear for Jr. to put a lifting submission on Aguila.

They tried but the match never really recovered. I'll admit that it came closest to recovering due to Titan hitting a lot of stuff nicely and having some good sequence. Zavala seemed absolutely winded throughout this caida, but to his credit, not only ate a lot of offense with gusto but really played his character well throughout. Cavernario even did a bit of mask pulling which is what I wanted forever out of him.

Then came a moment that made the match almost worth it despite it all. The Panther hit a huge tope on Cavernario who had just gone out on a body scissors over the rope. That wasn't it, though. Following that, Titan went for his Titanics, getting in his goofy late match handstand. Aguila dropkicked his gut in half. So great. Maybe they've done that spot thirty times but it was the first time I saw it and I loved it. One moonsault later and the rudos picked up the very satisfying win. I was satisfied at least.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Lucha Underground Episode 27: Ancient Medallions Workrate Report

1. Aerostar vs. Jack Evans

ER: Vampiro informs us that Jack Evans literally worked 385 dates in past years, by working Japan and Italy as well as Mexico. No doubt Jack Evans has access to Hulk Hogan's magical space time continuum machine. I enjoy Jack Evans, even though he does focus so much more on spins and twists than on actual landings or selling or the point of it all. But really this fed has some guys that do flips and flops, and while his actual flips might be more impressive, and flops are often to far up his own ass. There's a hesitance, a disconnect. Moves rarely look like they are causing him to flip, rather, he often looks like he decided to do a bunch of flips after he happened to receive a move. There was some neat stuff here, the Evans 450 off the raised seating railing, Aerostar selling his knee fairly convincingly, but it was pretty jerk-offy. Every person watching thought the flipping piledriver from the top was going to get kicked out of. That it ended the match, was a pleasant surprise.

PAS: I agree with Eric about Evans selling, his fall to the floor was disconnected from the move, it almost looked like one of those awful Bob Backlund bumps. Still a lot of crazy shit, in a match designed for crazy shit. I think Jack will end up being big in this fed. Also this match ended when it should have, that means a lot to me in these spotfests, knowing when to take it home.

2. Pentagon Jr. vs. King Cuerno vs. Cage vs. Killshot vs. Sexy Star vs. The Mack vs. Fenix

ER: Maybe it's not this way, but I've been conditioned from decades of wrestling TV that the big stars get the entrances, and the losers are just waiting in the ring when we come back from commercial. So not only are Pentagon and Cuerno tossed into a random 7 way, but they're waiting in the ring with a scrub like Killshot while Sexy Star of all people gets an entrance. This is for one of Dario's "Aztec medallions" which is really getting a little too close to Legends of the Hidden Temple. Will Pentagon win a trip to Space Camp or an Eastpak backpack? Also, WHY IS KILLSHOT ON TELEVISION SO MUCH!? Who is going to the wall for this guy for him to be getting so much damn screen time!? He is completely dreadful through much of this, with his trademark offense that always ends with him taking a bigger fall than his opponent. You've never seen worse waistlock go behinds during a mat sequence. It was stunning. It looked like an uncle wrestling with a nephew he hadn't seen in a couple years. BUT, I will give him credit for two things later in the match, as even though he landed on his face his wild dive into Cage (who was suplexing Fenix) was a glorious sprawl, and after that he manned into Cuerno's tope. I fully expected him to wuss right out of the way. And he didn't. Sexy Star also existed horribly in this match. Every time things reallllly got going there she was, trying her damndest to muck things up and slow things to a crawl by falling over when she was supposed to land on her feet, making others futz around while she tries to gain her balance before hitting a trademark sloppy rana, and somehow always managing to sell offense less than any other person in a match. So those two are horrible. But 5 out of 7 ain't bad! I mean, if it were a test you'd have a C-, but here you can mostly work around it. I thought Fenix looked GREAT. All his kicks looked cool, his flying was crisp, he leaned into everything, really came out looking like a big deal in every exchange. It's easy to get shuffled over in this type of match, but he managed to stand out. The booking was tough as there were guys in this (Pentagon, Cuerno) who should really be kept separate and not tossed in with a bunch of guys, as Cuerno especially seems generous to a fault and really gives guys tons while kind of disappearing. We will see where the booking goes with this. For all of my complaining, the match was a real blast. There were tons of great spots, tons of neat sequences, and while a couple of duds hogged too much time, there was more than enough great stuff here.

PAS: I thought the guys that are good, were really good in this, Pentagon and Fenix looked awesome, Cuerno got to shine a bit and Cage hit his big spots and looked cool. The Mack was a little subdued for a guy who had been a world beater in his previous outings. Killshot and Sexy Star sucked but this kept moving enough to hide them a bit, and Pentagon trying to kill her does add a craziness to his character. Fenix has had a hell of a 2015, he seemed like an overpushed dude when this fed started, but he has been killing it this year, along with some fun indy stuff he may be growing into his push.

ER: Dario slapping Ivelisse down with some logic was awesome. "I only need my arms to beat their punk asses." "Yes...well, you will also need your legs if you want to retain your trios titles."

ER: So Catrina's plan was for Fenix to bury that he can come back stronger than ever before...I'm probably going to need more of an explanation. I am fairly clueless to the restorative powers of losing casket matches. Although I guess within wrestling Undertaker *did* always come back stronger, this like the Reviving Elbow Logic or something?

3. Hernandez vs. Albert el Patron

ER: I figured something was up when the match went on with just 5 minutes left in the program. My Nitro Main Event red flags were going up. Match really wasn't much until Mundo comes out and launches AdP through Dario's office window. The move got actual heat and it looked awesome. Dario played it unexpectedly, but awesomely, laughing at AdP before walking over to his bar to pour a drink. Awesome segment to end the show. Plus Mundo's excessiveness works better as a smirking asshole than as a giving it all he's got babyface.

PAS: I thought the match was fine before the angle, I wouldn't mind watching those guys hook up for a real match. Angle was pretty awesome, looked super brutal, and I loved Dario in the office. Just basic wrestling booking at its best and it got me really excited to see a Alberto Del Rio v. Johnny Mundo grudge match and I wouldn't have guessed that a month ago.

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Segunda Caida Watches the Troops

It's Memorial Day, I'm a government employee so you KNOW I'm not working today. So far all I've done is eat a banana, watch Price is Right, and an episode of Wonder Woman that had Harris Yulin as a movie producer and Debra Winger making one of her few appearances as Wonder Girl, watched the Giants beat the Brewers, and ate some eggs with coffee. Phil told me that he was making a pipe cleaner diorama to honor the troops, I figured I would watch a couple things with wrestling's most popular Sergeant. I challenge you to think of a more popular Sgt. in wrestling. It can't be done.

Craig Pittman vs. Aleksandr Karelin, 1989 FILA Wrestling World Championships

Karelin had just won his first gold medal a year prior, and here he was 22 years old, going up against a 30 year old Pittman. Karelin looks like a machine manufactured to separate heads from bodies. We get a couple good minutes of grappling with the smaller Pittman showing impressive speed and not getting completely bullied around by Karelin. Things are actually pretty even for awhile, but before long Pittman gets tossed onto his stomach and Karelin latches on. Pittman tries his damndest to just sandbag his body, practically clawing at the mat while Karelin begins to deadlift him. Karelin has him held up in the air for several seconds before taking him up and over, and then immediately grabs him again - this time in a gutwrench -  and dumps Pittman straight up and over onto his head and shoulder. Karelin wins. Pittman stays down for a loooooong time.

Here is another video where Pittman claims to have "unofficially" beaten Karelin in a later match that took place in Sweden, you know, due to them only giving him only 1 point after THROWING Karelin. It's a shame no video or record or any other witnesses of that match exist. Also, Karelin was 6'8" apparently. Also not found on YouTube: video of Pittman plowing prime Phoebe Cates, video of Pittman intimidating a police officer into not giving him a speeding ticket, and evidence of Pittman ghostwriting much of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours.

Ric Flair vs. Craig Pittman, WCW Saturday Night 3/23/96

I thought this match was awesome, and a lot of things happened in it that were just perfect within the context of their characters. A lot of Flair's signature bumps made more sense opposite Pittman's offense, and a Pittman no sell made tons of sense when you think of who he was. So, let me explain. Match starts cool with Pittman grabbing a knuckle lock and Flair selling it as if Pittman were breaking his hand. My hands hurt just watching them. Pittman has really impressive throwing strength, and so whenever Flair would Irish whip him into the ropes Pittman would easily reverse it and send Flair flying. There was none of this ridiculous "Shane MacMahon out-grapples Kurt Angle" business. Every time Flair tried to throw him, it would backfire, because of course it would! This was one of the only times I've seen Flair's over the turnbuckles flipping bump to the apron make sense, as Pittman whips him so hard into the corner that it actually looked like something that would cause you to flip over the buckles. Flair is also completely powerless against Pittman so regularly has to go for eyepokes, which makes sense as something that would immediately stop the Pitbull. Flair takes a couple big bumps here, first with the turnbuckle bump and later when Pittman grabs him and does a deadlift suplex, ending with Flair getting crumpled up and landing on his side. Gross. Right before that Flair had given Pittman a back suplex of his own that got immediately no sold by Pittman, but it makes sense within the context of Pittman's character. I mean, this guy got up after Karelin slammed him into the mat! Of course he's going to get up after taking a suplex from Flair! Finish looks great and also logical, with Flair taking another nasty whip into the corner, and Pittman charging in with his flying shoulderblock. Flair moves and Pittman takes a cool horizontal chest first torpedo bump into the top turnbuckle, like Mike Modest's old Ray Stevens bump into the buckles, and then Flair rolls him up for the win. Both guys characters and styles meshed real nice here. This was easily one of the best Pittman matches. Also of note, this was the peak foxiness of Woman. Post match she takes all the focus off Flair's promo by just staring at the camera, even while Ric is taunting Macho Man by screaming about shagging Elizabeth. Just could not stop staring at Woman.

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MLJ: Cavernario vs Titan 4: Titán © vs Cavernario for the Mexican National Welterweight Championship (2014)

Aired: 2014-08-02
Taped: 2014-07-29 @ Arena México
Titán © vs Cavernario for the Mexican National Welterweight Championship

This match received a lot of praise last year and it deserved it. It ranked fairly highly on year end polls and what not. I liked it a lot, but it had some flaws, and I think that it received a bit too much credit for the spot and bump heavy tercera when it was the segunda that really shined.

Part of the problem is diminishing returns. The modern CMLL title structure has an even primera with someone getting a slight advantage in the matwork, the pace getting picked up in response and then a flash pin, a very brief segunda with usually another flash pin (or submission) to even the falls, and then a very long, selling-heavy tercera with lots of near falls, submissions, and the dives. It means that even a spot-filled tercera, while admirable and exciting, doesn't stand out as much as it could otherwise. This match had a good version of one, with some crazy spots and pretty good selling that wasn't just senseless laying around. Cavernario and Titan worked very well together by this point and when there were slight physical miscommunications, they added to the match because it just made things seem more genuine somehow. A lot of times, instead of things being super smooth, it felt like the wrestlers were jockeying for position.

What really made the match work, however, was the segunda. I've seen enough title matches, both current and older to understand how they work. They're cleaner, generally, there's less heat and more sportsmanship. There's an art to them, and that leads to more subtle matches. Well, Cavernario is a freaking Wrestling Caveman, and it's not his goal in life to be subtle. It's his goal to beat the crap out of people with fury and chaos in his heart. That was the segunda and it added emotion and stake and meaning to the match. Without it, the tercera would have been just another spotfest.

Primera did what it had to do. Titan does the little things fairly well on the mat, peppering in punches or utilizing the hair. He is a good package in that regard, since he can be flashy but also bring enough to the table when it comes to substance. That's my sense of him so far. He tries to work the crowd a bit too but they're not really buying what he's selling. This was set up as you'd expect, just with the volume turned up a bit. Matwork, picking up the pace, and ending with a big split legged Asai moonsault to the outside. I really like when they do this spot because Cavenario always tries to charge in first and has to get kicked a few times to create the distance. He makes Titan earn it. The fall ended with Titan flying too much too early and getting caught with a powerbomb followed by the Vader Bomb off the ropes.

That started an outright beatdown that was the segunda. There was no quick recovery pin to even things up here. Cavernario did what he does, moving around the ring, working the crowd, picking his spots, methodologically tearing Titan apart, including a bit of mask ripping. He had an awesome stomp in the corner, a really deep STF, repeated clubbering and paintbrushing, this great arm trap suplex. Titan sold all of it really well and that increased the tension and built up the anticipation for the comeback. A title match doesn't need that necessarily, but if it has it, especially when combined with the better part of other title matches, you can get something pretty special. I'm not sure if this match completely made it there, but it definitely came close.

Eventually, Cavernario got cocky, putting Titan up on the top rope and setting up a rolling leap of some sort. Obviously, this backfired and Titan spent a minute using his own body as a weapon, leaping from any direction he could, before hitting the split-legged moonsault in the ring for the fall.

As I said, other people have focused a lot on the tercera. I won't say much. It was what you'd expect, spot-filled and exciting. I really liked that the crazy over the top to the apron DDT didn't actually connect to the apron this time. It worked more as a takedown than something that should have ended the match. It was followed shortly thereafter by Cavernario's death splash to the floor. Maybe they did these two moves a little bit early into the fall, but I think it was important to sort of justify Cavernario's selling being on the same level as Titan's for the nearfalls to come and it did the job. I'm not going to run through everything else. It's far better to see these submissions and nearfalls and big spots than for me to write them, but it was all well done with some of it being clever call backs and some moves you don't usually see. The finish was a Cavernaria block followed by the Titanics.

I really hate Titanics. I've made a gif or two of it, but the idea is that Titan does a flip to surprise his opponent and a backflip from a handstand to catch his head so he can sort of short victory roll him. I actually think it's a very solid way to end a primera or a comeback segunda in a throwaway trios match. Not every one he's in, but now and again it's a move he can surprise an opponent with. I don't think that Titan should be ending the tercera of a title match that had been an absolute war with a goofy handstand. Wrestling is symbolic but some symbols are more appropriate than others.

That aside, they got a huge score for excitement and effort. I think Titan won over the crowd. It was a war but the escalation was paced well and the near-falls were believable. These guys were young. I think Titan was 23 at the time and Cavernario was 20. So to put on a match like this was a huge feather in the cap of both guys. It has me looking forward, in a big way, to getting to watch their recent match. Also, good on CMLL for giving them the time in the segunda. That makes all the difference in the world and it's one of the thousand things I wish the promotion would realize when it comes to these matches.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

CMLL Worth Watching 2/6/15 & 3/22/15

Ultimo Guerrero, Euforia & Niebla Roja vs. Mistico, Volador Jr. & Valiente (2/6/15)

Fun quick and dirty spotfest. Ultimo has been so much fun ever since losing his mask. I love when guys get a new lease on life like that. I love how the match starts with Volador taking the Sombra bump asshole over elbow into the crowd, then Ultimo high jumping the barrier to crash into the recovering Volador. Rudos mostly set up nice spots for the tecnicos in this. Volador actually looked much better here than usual. Roja was doing the lord's work catching some Mistico ranas and making them look good. Euforia is always an admirable bumper. Valiente has one of those matches every several months where he just has no balance, and that was this match. Poor guy. Everybody else looked about as on point as possible, and he fell a couple times and seemed rattled. Nice recovery though for the big finish as the Valiente Especial looked wonderful. This is 3 falls in well under 15 minutes, and as lucha junkfood it worked just fine.

Virus, Okumura & Bobby Zavala vs. Dragon Lee, Pegasso & Fuego (3/22/15)

You see that team of tecnicos and instantly think "those are three guys I like watching opposite Virus"  and that is not only accurate, but fun. I would have liked to see him opposite Pegasso more, as they don't seem to pair off that much. But Virus/Lee is a guarantee win and he usually brings some extra spice out of Fuego. Bobby Zavala is a unique presence who never really gets talked about, but he feels like he has Rush breakout rudo potential. He always has the false modesty to him, a real "who, me??" face. He plays to the crowd using some old Hector Garza tactics and that attitude has been missing from CMLL. Okumura works really nicely with Pegasso here, taking some complicated armdrags and flinging himself into the barricade off a rana from the apron. We get some big dives, and while you know these same six guys could have an epic match, they weren't given the time to do so, but still had a fun one. Come for the opening Virus/Fuego matwork, stay for the rest!

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV Episode 14 Workrate Report

1. Taichi vs. KUSHIDA (6/8/14)

Well, these two have a bunch of offense that doesn't look very good. KUSHIDA almost seems to be working a parody of high flying gimmicks, as he'll do a springboard but just lightly tap Taichi with a chop on the way down. He also busted out some amusing double axe handles. It's like he's a junior flyer implementing a 70s territorial heel offense. Before the match Taichi attacked KUSHIDA with a chair in some pretty convincing ways, and the match had tons of interference from TAKA, then Alex Shelley came out to even things out. But that pre-match interference led to some good early pinfalls as KUSHIDA wasn't as beaten down as Suzuki-gun thought. A lot of KUSHIDA's strikes don't look great, but he oddly has a bunch of great missed strikes where he cuts close and looks like he woulda just knocked Taichi's block off. At one point we get a nasty moonsault where Taichi gets his knees up and KUSHIDA basically crashes his knees and shins into Taichi's knees and shins. It looked sick. Buuuuuuuut it wasn't a part of the finish so neither man really acknowledged how painful it looked immediately afterwards. Eh. This was what it was.

2. Ricochet vs. Ryusuke Taguchi (6/8/14)

Taguchi took most of this which made it pretty clear that Ricochet was moving forward to the finals. Taguchi looked good in his moments, with a big dive, nice kicks, couple big vertical suplexes, took Ricochet's kicks on the chin. But he also rushed through his moves the way a guy losing a short match rushes through his moves. I've seen Ricochet look better than he looked here, but hey, this was short and designed to make Taguchi look strong in a loss so whatever.

3. Ricochet vs. KUSHIDA (Best of the Super Juniors 2014 Finals)

Hey this was fun! Not that I was expecting it to be bad, but for a 24 minute match this thing just cruised right on by. I enjoyed it all, too, just a fun little match. The opening felt like early 2000s indy stuff, but in a good way, like the first time I saw Low Ki vs. Red. And the handsprings and backflips actually got integrated well, instead of feeling like a well-rehearsed dance routine. And it led to our first great moment, when Ricochet went for a handspring elbow and KUSHIDA hit a low dropkick right into his arm mid-handspring. Great spot, followed by KUSHIDA hitting a massive and accurate flip dive over the buckles (and Ricochet did a good enough selling his wing the rest of the way). KUSHIDA's Hoverboard Lock is a cool/goofy/fun/effective submission and I dug how it kept playing into the stretch. Ricochet goofed around maybe a little much during this, but that is his personality and the fans over there like him so it's probably a nitpick. Tons of good stuff in this, a real satisfying addition to a tournament that used to be one of my favorite yearly things and is now something that I don't really care about.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

66. Rey Hechicero v. Caifan 7/5

PAS: Hechicero is a master, we have gotten to see him work on the big stage in shorter matches, so it is a treat to see him in a garage work a longer crazier match. This was against his long time Monterey opponent and tag partner, and was kind of the equivalent of Dean Ambrose going back and working a crazy match with Sami Callihan in IWA-MS. The mat work here was awesome lots of cool twisty counters and takedowns that had real violence to them, every leg lock looked like it was going to rip out a knee, every takedown looked like it was going tear out a shoulder. The finish run was a little indy, but Hechicero smashing a plastic chair with a powerbomb, and the finishing armbar were pretty spectacular. Great match, so happy this showed up.

ER: This match had a pretty difficult task, which was filling 33 minutes of time with no real rest or breaks, and it did that admirably. 30+ minute, una caida lucha matches are pretty rare. Normally you get the breaks in between falls to kind of reset things, but these guys really just go go go for the duration. It's pretty impressive. At times it did give the match a kind of aimless feel, not quite filling time, but more that there was no real ebb and flow, not always rhyme or reason for the comebacks or dominance transitions. But this was quite a nice little feather for Hechicero. He plays into Caifan perfectly and finds plausible ways to deal with some of his stumbles. Caifan takes far to long to get Hechicero into a pendulum? Hechicero bides his time, waits for it to be locked on, and then immediately grapevines a leg, hooks Caifan's arm and reverses things. Caifan taking a bit too long to do a rope walk rana? Hechicero busies himself with his own hubris. Hechicero's subtle hubris led to some logical Caifan comebacks throughout this, with Hechicero easily having the upper hand, but waving Caifan to keep going, to come at him. I really loved all of the submissions throughout this, especially the first 8 minutes. Hechicero really gets to show off his full arsenal of subs and I get the feeling he could have kept going. Caifan eventually brings strikes, using some Moe Howard type stuff, like grabbing Hechicero's nose and smacking downward. The powerbomb tease was awesome as there was no way I thought Hechicero would take a powerbomb on the floor, and he made the struggle look sooo great, really clutching those ropes and hugging them tight. When Caifan finally broke him free and planted him through a chintzy plastic chair it felt like he had just plain worn him out. Good match that never lagged, impressive with what they had to fill. The referee had the worst pants.


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