Segunda Caida

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

Thursday, January 17, 2019

2019 Ongoing MOTY List: Team Suzuki vs. Team Okabayashi Trios

1. Hideki Suzuki/Takuya Nomura/Yoshihisa Uto vs. Kazumi Kikuta/Ryuichi Kawakami/Yuji Okabayashi  BJW 1/2

PAS: Really fun trios match which felt like the kind of chaotic brawl which was the kind of thing that Japanese wrestling really used to excel at, this wasn't elite WAR level, but it felt like a fun Zero One brawl. We get some wild brawling around the outside which included Okabayshi smacking the crap out of a random trainee at ringside.  I enjoyed Kikuta who was working kind of like one of the old Z1 Karate dudes, I am excited for anyone trying to be 21st century Ogasawara.  Finish was a blast with Okabayashi Gotch lifting Nomura out of an armbar and slapping on a Camel Clutch which looked like it snapped his back like a Kit Kat.

ER: This was fantastic and just about the best advertisement for modern Big Japan. After those 12 minutes I wanted to devour every damn thing the fed had to offer. This felt like a real throwback and had the violence of an old interpromotional multiman. Yuji Okabayashi came off like a real megastar, and like more of a badass than I've ever seen Ishii come off. Once they all brawled to the floor I was hooked in, with Okabayashi thundering chops right past the heads of fans, Nomura kicking him in the head while Yuji echoes bombs off his chest. How kickass would it be to be sitting like 3 feet away from that!? This might be my first time seeing Kikuta, and I want more! He felt like a mid 90s sleaze fed kicker, and that's always going to be a good thing. He rocks Suzuki with a few palm strikes to the chest that will change the minds of 100% of the people who don't view a heart punch as a viable finisher. Both times Suzuki gets punched in the chest he responds by kicking Kikuta right in the balls. It's cheap, but damn those shots probably just reflexively cause that. I like everyone here, and we had no shortage of guys taking hard shots or getting clonked by a chair, but Okabayashi was the star here and man did he shine. He beat men around the arena, he did the most impossibly quick snatch and grab vertical suplexes on every opponent, he chopped some trainee in the throat, and somehow came off like a huge babyface hero even though he was constantly caving in bodies. 2019 Big Japan, here we come!


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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

AIW Hell on Earth 14 11/23/18

Duke Money (Mance Warner/Jock Sampson) vs. The Production (Derek Director/Danhausen) vs. Young Studs (Eric Ryan/Bobby Beverly) vs. Jollyville Fuck-Its (Nasty Russ/T-Money)

PAS: AIW has a lot of really fun multi match workers, and their big clusterfucks are at a minimum enjoyable. This was a little more than that, as we got a bunch of cool big moments, along with a really exciting finish. I love the Jollyville Fuck-Its, they are a great version of the tough guy face tag team a 21st Century version of Bruiser and Crusher. This was an especially great Nasty Russ performance, he hits a standing version of his great cannonball, does a totally unexpected and insane Orihara moonsault, and while attempting to do a cannonball on the Duke, dives from the top rope right into a kneelift which looked like it removed all of middle school from his memory. Everyone else had a cool moment or two, and they really built to a cool crescendo, just a great way to open a card.

ER: I'm officially over the moon for AIW multi man tags. They're the best. I'm not sure who's training all these guys but these matches always have a ton of moving parts and everyone is able to work real fast and real stiff without clogging up the works and stumbling through anything. It's super impressive and there's always a few wild moments and a ton of hard as hell shots. Everyone makes the most of their time in so that everybody leaves looking real good. Mance was hitting hard all match, sprinting in with hard chops and bringing a boot into play (where did that boot come from?) and Mance is really good at corner beatdowns, really made this feel more intense; The Production is a fun stable, dug Derek's avalanche and Danhausen (looking like a spitting image of King Diamond) gets dropped with a nice backdrop driver, and clonks heads at high speed with Derek in a fun spot (T-Money had Derek in a fireman's carry and was spinning him around while Russ punched him on each go 'round, Danhausen ran in to stop it and two melons collided), one of those spots that never looks good but here looked great. The breakdown of the match was pretty crazy, with Ryan hitting a huge cannonball off the apron into Derek (his stuff to the floor is great, earlier he was running into the ring and out hitting spots, including an awesome moment where he slid to the floor to hit a Russian leg sweep into the barricade), Russ hits a wild Orihara moonsault to the floor, Money hits a big pounce on Duke (who looks like Louis CK so the spot is satisfying on a couple levels) and then the spot of the freaking match: Russ goes for a cannonball off the top and eats the nastiest kneelift to the teeth from Beverly, and then Beverly eats a sick running knee from Mancer. These guys know scramble tags, know exactly what makes them work and what keeps them exciting. AIW opening match tags have pretty much become the best guarantee in pro wrestling.

Swoggle vs. MJF

PAS: Swoggle was the surprise replacement for a retired Tracey Smothers, and this was a basic comedy match, with MJF loudly talking trash and taking a pasting. Swoggle was almost too dominant, 30 seconds into the match he is throwing a German suplex, although he does work stiff, and I do buy that it would suck to try to wrestle him. Not really my thing although it was solidly executed.

Dr. Daniel C. Rockingham vs. KTB vs. Dominic Garrini vs. Joshua Bishop

ER: This was weird. Decent, but weird. It only goes about 5 minutes and Garrini/Bishop disappear to the back a couple minutes in, so we mostly get a short Rockingham/KTB singles. But this whole thing is fun enough. Garrini gets a cool release German and a nice running shot in the corner, KTB hits a suicide dive, Asai moonsault, and a nice top rope lariat, but for the life of me I still have zero clue what DCR's trap arm finisher thing is supposed to be, or who it's supposed to hurt, because every time I've seen him attempt it, it always looks like both people fucked it up. Any help on what that is supposed to be? He traps an arm, do-si-dos to the side, grabs another arm, then KTB gets dropped straight on his head while DCR acts like he's taking a's something that can only happen on the indies. A move where neither guy seems to know what he's taking or delivering, at least one guy gets dropped on his head, and the fans have no clue how to react? That's an indy finisher baby. But, the good here was good (not sure why it was so short or why Garrini got brought in to work about 1 minute of a scramble though).

No Consequences (Tre Lamar/Chase Oliver) vs. The Production (Frankie Flynn/Magnum CK)

ER: Another short match, with Magnum's epic ring entrance taking much more time than the actual match itself. And Magnum's entrance is spectacular, so that's not a huge issue. He walks around ringside taking people's hats and throwing them into the crowd, some quickly, taking his time on others, making me laugh when we cut to the hard cam and you can see him running in and out of frame snatching and throwing hats. He gets a massive reaction from the crowd too, and a guy over huge in front of his home fanbase is awesome to see. It sounds like he really went through the shit, and it will always be awesome for someone to go through the weeds and come out the other side bigger than ever. It's an easy thing to root for. We've seen these two teams match up before and they gel nicely, so it's disappointing we didn't get much of a match. There's some cool stuff, I especially dug No Consequences going for a tandem flying knee and crashing their own knees into the other, liked CK's two big spinebusters, liked Oliver's full extension superkicks, but I wanted more than a 3 minute match ending with a quick roll up.

Frankie Flynn/Magnum CK vs. Weird World (Alex Kellar/Evan Adams)

ER: That match leads directly into this match, with Weird World coming out with big trophies that I believe grant them an any time title shot. They bring a ref and start brawling on the entrance ramp and some wildness is there, but overall this didn't work. I liked Weird Body brawling through the crowd with Flynn and Derek Director taking a nice spilling bump through a chair, and back in the ring Flynn hit a cool delayed side slam that really whipped Weird Body into the mat. But this whole thing overall was too short and the champs went down way too easy. Magnum went down after getting press slammed off the top and eats a DDT and not much else to put him down. I would have liked to see an actual match with these teams. A title change should have felt like a bigger deal. But it does all make a ton more sense (and his huge reaction pre-match makes a ton more sense) after the match when CK does a long and heartfelt promo about how his back has gotten worse and he found out that he has always had spina bifida, apparently. I had noticed he really really slowly locked Kellar in a figure 4, but I just assumed he was poor at applying a figure 4. He said spina bifida was supposed to be diagnosed from birth but it wasn't diagnosed. A fan amusingly said that it was probably Dr. D who blew it. His talk is really straight from the heart and the locker room comes out and he gets a lot off his chest. He talks about his difficult upbringing and how he started watching wrestling, tells a couple stories about his career. A real nice moment.

The Philly Marino Experience (Philly Collins/Marino Tenaglia) vs. To Infinity & Beyond (Cheech/Colin Delaney)

ER: This show is almost exhausting in its high quality. The tag scene in AIW is just incredible, these guys can just keep matching up in different combinations and having killer 12 minute matches and I will keep watching these shows. This match had it all in an economical amount of time, fun opening stooging from Delaney and Cheech, great double teams from To Infinity, fun spots from all, really built in a satisfying way and never threatened to overstay. I thought Colin Delaney looked really great here, and he's a guy I've enjoyed plenty before (and really loved his Hero singles) but this felt like a guy really coming into his own. He can do quick spots, innovative-while-not-ridiculous double teams, stooging, hard shots, really moved comfortably around a ring that constantly had action in it. I really dug his sliding in-ring powerbomb to the floor, then running around the side of the ring to hit an under bottom rope dropkick back into the ring, then ran in with a leaping cutter off the middle rope that lead right to Cheech planting Marino with a sick German. Super fun sequence in a match filled with them. He and Cheech worked consecutive running elbows in the corner then follow with consecutive face washes, and every tag team in AIW seems so in sync. Delaney even surprised me later with this awesome springboard cutter that saw him climb over the ropes and stop on the inside middle rope before leaping off. Philly Marino were fun foils, with Marino hitting some nice flying spots (big leap to the floor, awesome rana off the top that sent To Infinity cannonballing into each other) and Philly having a nice fired up babyface comeback hitting some big lariats on Cheech. They all made good use of saves and cut off spots so we didn't have ridiculous kickouts, and while it took a bit to set up the match appropriately ended on a tag team Vertebreaker/Air Raid Crash, which is a suitable way to end a match. Very very excited for this tag division going forward. Also, for whatever reason, it hit me that one of the commentators during this match is basically 0.9 Rick Sanchez. He doesn't do the belching, but the dude sounds exactly like Rick while calling the action.

PAS: This was really fun stuff. Delaney and Cheech are long time staples in AIW and it was really fun to see them work subtle heel here against a pair of young energetic kids. Fat guy and flippy guy is a good tag team template, and Marino took a big beating leading to a great fired up hot tag from Philly.  Loved the springboard plancha, Marino got great height on it and he had an awesome Skyde style roll up which is a great dude to crib from. I didn't think any of the double teams looked goofus (which is always a fear with indy tag team double teams, I see you Lynch Brothers), and that finishing Vertabreaker/ARC was super nasty and I appreciated the lack of kick out. So many good tag teams in this fed, there are dozens of different match ups I am excited about.

El Hijo De LA Park vs. Facade vs. Louis Lyndon vs. Laredo Kid vs. Gringo Loco vs. Flip Kendrick

PAS: Throw a bunch of nuts in a ring and let them try every highspot in their crazed minds. Obviously not everything is going to be hit cleanly, but there is enough frosting to make this a great dessert. Loco is a fucking beast in this match, his exchanges with Laredo Kid are pretty breathtaking, and he just takes offense so well, love the fact he is back in the wrestling spotlight nearly a decade after his IWRG peak. Lyndon and Flip are brothers and have some crazy ideas, including Flip hitting a destroyer into the turnbuckles (unsurprisingly this match had a bunch of Destroyers) and Lyndon hitting double poison ranas on Facade and Flip for the win. Hijo Park was probably the weak link, but this was on the level of any crazy Crash, AAA or indy lucha spotfest.

ER: I love a good spotfest and this, like any decent fireworks show, had a couple nice peaks and then kept drawing out the action, getting to a respectable runtime and leaving before running out of ideas. If I had attended this show and not enjoyed anything on the card so far (not true as this card has whipped) but I would have left happy, saying that Gringo Loco squaring off against Laredo Kid was worth the price of admission. Those two were so good and matched up so excellently that I just kept waiting for the match to get back to more Laredo/Gringo tradeoffs. Loco is certifiably Loco, and he works such graceful fast sequences well with basically anybody, but watching him take the flourishes of Laredo were too cool, especially that absolutely nuts rana that he took onto the entrance ramp. That ramp doesn't provide a lot of room to move - let alone bump - but he caught it and tumbled on down the rampway. Hijo de Park isn't great and he slowed things down when he was in. Slower is a better speed for him as there's still delay with a lot of his moves, but when he works faster he tends to cut corners (sloppily applied ranas, ugly headscissors). Lyndon, Kendrick, and Facade all had moments, every one of them knows how to take a flipping crazy bump off another crazy move, but I still was just waiting around for cameras to show Loco or Laredo again. Because come one. We had Laredo getting flipped into a dragon rana on Loco, Loco taking an MK Ultra from Hijo Park right on the top of his head, Laredo flinging himself off the mat and bouncing around after taking a flipping piledriver, Laredo hitting an insane dive - fast as hell - that crashed him into Loco and the guardrail (with Park hitting an Asai moonsault into him right after, and Facade hitting a flip dive onto Loco) and Loco is just an expert at flying around the ring and getting delicately into position for others' madness. I have a feeling we'll be writing up more available Gringo Loco footage than just about anybody.

LA Park vs. Nick Gage

PAS: There were some moments of miscommunication and awkardness here, but for the most part it delivered on its on paper promise. Gage gets mauled early, with pretty sick chairshots, and belt shots, getting tossed into the ringside. Gage makes a comeback beating on Park some, and we get a great Park dive and spear, before the shticky finish. It felt a little like play the hits PARK, which is fine those are some good hits, but it never reached the intensity of a great PARK brawl, or even a great Gage brawl. This isn't a big main event Apuestas match or anything, and I get why he didn't go nuts and have a classic,  but the PARK ceiling is so high, that it is hard not to think about what could have been.

ER: Phil didn't think I needed to watch this, but I was still curious and like these guys, wanted to see for myself. And I'm glad I did because I thought this delivered. It wasn't clean, it was a little messy, but I thought that dirtiness added to the mean fight feel of it all. Gage looks hungry and angry, Park looks like a larger and larger boss, both look like two guys you *want* to cross paths violently. Park jumping him with a chairshot got everything off to the perfect tone, and I thought that tone was matched through to the beginning. The brawling in this had a good amount of danger, and there were some major moments like Park's colossal dive, and Gage getting powerbombed kidneys first into a couple set up chairs. Park whips him with that sharp belt, but I loved the Gage comeback we built to. I dug how Park was working this almost subtle heel, really made Gage's comeback feel more exciting. I liked the up close hits in the middle of the ring, both guys throwing hard straight arm lariats, fun low blow finish all with great vocals and visuals from Gage. I'm glad I checked out these two kooks doing their thing.

Matthew Justice vs. Tim Donst

ER: This was no DQ and had a fair amount of crazy stuff, but it had a lot of backyard level spot set up and a confusing (which is not uncommon) Donst performance. Donst keeps kind of morphing into Balls Mahoney, and here he really lazily crawls onto tables to wait to be put through them, seems tired all throughout, but has no problem taking some rough spills. He splits Justice's head open kind of early with a brutal hard chair shot, then jabs at the cut with his fingers and scrapes Justice's bullet belt into it. There are a few big table spots, a nasty Jackhammer on the entrance stage where Donst likes like he doesn't really get all the way over, Justice really taking a long time with some of the set up, really dragging out the match time for spots that weren't ever treated like anything close to a killshot. The ref even takes an insane clutched death valley driver through a table after not letting Justice wrap Donst's head in a chair. The absolute craziest spot of the match - and one of the wildest things I've seen in wrestling this year - was Donst hitting a double underhook piledriver on the entrance ramp, and Justice's head splitting that ramp into a jagged particle board hole as it completely broke away and dropped Justice into the hole. A piledriver that literally drove Justice through the surface he was being piledriven onto. It gave us a great visual of Justice disappearing into the depths. Donst dragged him out and it got a 2 count. I lost interest in it the rest of the way (which wasn't much, but everything after felt like it was post a moment they wouldn't be able to match intensity-wise).

Eddie Kingston vs. Tracy Williams

PAS: Eddie Kingston does big Puro epic matches better then anyone in Japan. This was a hell of a battle and a kicker for a great year for both guys. I get a total kick out of Brooklyn street fighter Eddie Kingston training BJJ at American Top Team, but the early rolling here was pretty great, including Kingston with an awesome guard pull. Williams stomps and twists Kingston's fingers and we get some classic Kingston bodypart selling. He is constantly pulling at his finger, trying to pop it back, and get feeling back, it is a part of the match the entire time, nothing he does isn't informed at least a little bit by that bad finger. I have said it a bunch before, but Kingston may be the best seller in wrestling history, he takes a backdrop on the floor and starts groaning like someone who just blew out his knee in a pick up game. Kingston lands some very big shots on Williams, busting his eye open and smashing him with backfists. and Tracy refuses to go down. We get maybe the only good version of the emo Gargano spot, where Kingston makes the sign of the cross before trying to hit the Burning Hammer. Williams is able to flip the switch and hit two piledrivers to put Kingston down, and Kingston does his post match mic work while holding his arm straight out because of neck trauma.

ER: Main Event of a 3.5 hour 10 match show, and following a 6 man spotfest, a No DQ match, an LA Park brawl, and a fan favorite's retirement. That's a spot Eddie Kingston seems to have no problem occupying, and you knew he'd approach that fan burnout with his own unique touch on main event epic. This was a deep bruising war, and there really aren't guys around that do these deep bruising wars better than Kingston. Williams has his shoulder wrapped and Kingston is always nursing something, and that was an awesome story for two guys who couldn't look more different but have super complementary styles. Williams has hard elbows to the jaw, and the impact makes me think of my hands hurting after making bad contact with an aluminum bat. That ringing through your body. At one point Kingston starts gnawing on his tongue to get feeling to his jaw (a weird habit I sometimes do while running). Kingston hits back just as hard as Williams, sometimes Kingston can't help it and forecasts his shots, but it's a fun wrinkle in his game and I always like how he plays it. These guys throw each other around a ton, and each landing was so hard. These landings all looked no give, Kingston taking a back suplex on the floor, both getting dropping in the ring, Kingston unleashing a career shortening head and arm suplex (dumping Sauce directly onto his head and neck); all the suplexes looked tough, fought for, earned. That butterfly suplex by Kingston was something that you could see in a creative playground fight. Now, I do think the match went long. I see why they went long, and I kind of appreciate them going long considering their spot on a very big card. But my absolute favorite Kingston wars do tend to be his somewhat truncated shoot outs. This went a little over on the damage for me, and I'm never going to be excited for a piledriver rendered meaningless. These guys were crushing vertebrae, I'm going to need that to be respected. These guys earned their scars, sheesh we see in real time a cut get opened on the side of Williams' eye for goodness sakes. But these two were mean, they should have protected their killshots.

ER: What a fantastic show, this fed is really ticking off all the boxes on what I want to see on a pro wrestling show. The base style of this fed is very high floor for me, so with that structure and an enjoyable pace these shows really deliver. We're putting THREE matches from the show on our 2018 Ongoing MOTY List, and there were a couple others that were arguable. That's a show that's easy to recommend, highly.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

2018 Ongoing MOTY List: PARK vs. Gringo

115. LA Park vs. Gringo Loco  MLW Fusion #38 12/14 (Aired 1/4/19)

ER: I wasn't actually expecting this to get competitive, especially after the first 5 minutes or so were just Park punching Gringo around the arena. That alone would have been enough for me to recommend, as I thought Park's strikes were among the tightest I've seen all year. His punches look great, he kicked a prone Loco in the head with the toe of his boot, hit him with the edge of a beer can, threw in a nasty short headbutt while they were touring the arena, everything Park threw looked great. We get a weird arena tour that literally resulted in nothing. They must have had something planned but it didn't happen, and fans didn't move, so we wasted time with them walking somewhere, standing somewhere, and then walking back. I assume Gringo is taking the loss shortly after, the way he gets handily tossed upside down into the guardrail, but Park misses a corner charge and takes his great flipping corner bump allowing Gringo to hit a cool cutter springing off the ropes, then a gorgeous (and impactful) tope con hilo. Gringo is a real chubbo now, and it's totally cool he hasn't lost an ounce of his grace or flexibility. We even get a Loco dive off the entrance rigging, all stuff I wasn't expecting. I love how suddenly competitive everything got even though we knew Loco didn't have a chance. Park didn't work quick in this one but he worked a nice steady groove, making his impact count on every spot, and I'm glad they took the opportunity to match up a couple of guys who I don't think would have otherwise crossed paths.

PAS: Loco is a guy who has been toiling in relative obscurity for years, and it is really cool to see him get a coming out party. He was part of the Gringos Locos vs. Terribly Cerebros feud in IWRG which is one of the all time great feuds in wrestling history, but outside of that has been mostly working midwest lucha feds which only sporadically make tape. Really happy to see him signed to a fed with TV and it is awesome he got a showcase match against a legend like PARK. I thought this would be a semi-squash too, especially after PARK started dancing and chugging fake beers, but Gringo got some really big moments, climaxing on that crazy rigging dive. Totally nuts match which exceeded expectations by a lot, this had a very WCW feel to it, where all of a sudden some random match on the Pro could totally own.


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Monday, January 14, 2019

2018 Ongoing MOTY List: Eagles vs. Purrazzo Submission Match

72. Deonna Purrazzo vs. Madison Eagles SHIMMER 4/14

ER: This was a submission match that I think really worked, built really well, and had some nice surprises. I don't believe I'd ever seen a Madison Eagles match before this and I cam away super impressed. They take their time and don't throw a single strike until almost the 10 minute mark, when Purrazzo started integrating a little pro wrestling into her submissions, kicking Eagles away from her and then hitting a headscissors into a Fujiwara armbar. I was enjoying all the mat stuff, especially loved how Eagles used her long legs to reverse or sweep Purrazzo. Eagles seemed really natural on the mat, and was always busy. There where never any moments where they were lying there not making contact, Eagles always looked like she was thinking two moves ahead. The way she would pin Purrazzo's leg down with her leg so she could grab a wrist, or kneel on Purrazzo's thigh while advancing, stuff like that really showed how good she is at details and not skipping steps. And once they started with strikes we opened up a new world of reversals. It's like Purrazzo using a kick suddenly opened that door, and not long after Eagles hit a great lariat (with the arm that hadn't been worked over) and when Purrazzo tried another kick she got caught, with Eagles awesomely stepping over Purrazzo's held leg and dropping her weight down over it to lock her into an STF. Eagles' long limbs added some cool drama to moments too, as she had easily gotten to ropes when trapped a couple times, so when Purrazzo finally caught her just a wee bit far from the ropes in a Fujiwara it felt like a big deal, Eagles stretching her leg and pointing her toe, desperate to hit the bottom rope. The brief strike exchange down the stretch had a lot of shots land hard, nice thudding blows to the chest, and the tapout came organically at what felt like the moment the match built to.

PAS: I dug Eagles in this, she is working as a poor woman's Mariko Yoshida which is going to be more up my alley then women working as poor women's Manami Toyotas. She had a bunch of interesting counters and approaches to holds, moving pretty fluidly from one hold to another and always looking to improve and adjust her position. Purrazzo felt a little more like a passenger in this match, although she had a really nice La Mistica, and I enjoyed the finish with her rolling through on the armbar. This was solid stuff, with all of the new feds starting up I could see both ladies finding their way into bigger things.


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Sunday, January 13, 2019

Daniel Makabe 2018 Dive

I've been meaning to watch a bunch more Daniel Makabe, dig through more of his available 2018 work, and since I'm seeing him this weekend I figure now is as good a time as any to do that. I've not seen many of his opponents, know nothing about the Seattle indy scene, so let's dive in.

Daniel Makabe vs. "Big Cat" Scott Henson 3-2-1 Battle! 1/12/18

ER: Henson is a man who wears tiger tights, tiger singlet, tiger tail, wears fur on his arms and neck, and seems like I guy I would not like. I liked Jun Kasai, he wore a tail; I liked Felino, he dressed like a furry cat; I liked Monkey Magic Wakita, he didn't wear anything like that but you would assume he did based on his name. And this whole match felt like something really impressive that Makabe can hang his hat on. Even though this is my first time seeing Henson I can't actually see him having a better match with another area indy worker. These two have been matched up a bunch over the last half decade, and Makabe was great at feeding his offense and providing openings, and they worked a fairly long match (nearly 20 minutes) without it wearing out its welcome. Makabe controlled a lot with cool mat stuff, which adds up as I am an owner of a chubby cat, and I can totally push him around when he's lying around. My cat son has little mat game and panics when he's on his back. Makabe is really great at moving in and out of roll-ups (great victory roll) and submissions (dig that octopus he effortlessly applied in the ropes), always showing his work and not just heatlessly running through rehearsed sections, and it becomes kind of sick fun watching him take apart this man dressed as Rum Tum Tugger.

Makabe throws these great worked punches, awesome windup shots that are faultlessly worked and land in a sweet spot on the lower jaw, they have a cool battle over a snap stuffed piledriver with Makabe purposely letting Henson think he reversed out of it by slipping his arms free only to realize that was exactly what Makabe wanted him to do, or how Makabe purposely lets him slide out of a high backslide to get him into position for something worse; Makabe also plants him with a nice bridged German after a fight in the ropes, and we build to Henson's nice comeback. Henson has some decent offense: obviously you're going to get claw rakes (disappointing he doesn't do rabbit kicks as my cat son loves grabbing a toy in his paws and kicking it with his long feet), but he also throws some nice knees in the corner (with Makabe draped over the top rope), hits a big sitout powerbomb, an unexpected La Mistica, nice half nelson suplex (loved Makabe drunkenly reaching for the ropes after rolling through to his feet before finding he was just a bit too far away), and the crowd really gets into Henson. The end run had some awesome moments, my favorite being Henson unsheathing one of his arms from it's fur covering in a kind of Lawler strap down moment, only to take too long doing it; Makabe catches his chop, slams his arm to the mat and stomps it. After Makabe is mocking Henson's hurt arm to the crowd and to Henson himself, allowing Henson to grab Makabe's arm and hit a great single arm lariat. That was just one moment that made me appreciate Makabe finding cool ways to set up Henson for a big moment, there were plenty of other big bumps (backdrop to the floor leading to a near count out, big bump on the apron, missed upside down bump into the turnbuckles) that all logically lead to big Henson moments, just a really nicely laid out match. I don't know how many other Henson matches I'll be checking out, but this was a really nice pairing with some really clever moments all throughout, easily worthy of your 20 minutes.

Daniel Makabe vs. Artemis Spencer 3-2-1 Battle! 3/9/18

ER: This whole match was worked as a really frenetic sprint, and it had this unfocused quality that added to the match. Sometimes I say a match is unfocused if it feels like the guys in there had no actual real plan of how to work things out, so they just try a hodgepodge of indy matches and squish them all together. But for this match I think unfocused is a compliment, as it felt like both guys were working for a finish from the opening bell (opening chant?) and kept that up through the finish; the strategies and attacks were manic so you didn't get either of them going for one specific finish, so the unfocused nature benefitted the match as it felt like the whole thing could end at any time. They made good use of rope breaks so neither guy was hanging out in a submission for too long, and they did a great job of constantly butting up against each other to try to cancel each other out during the grappling. They end up in a bunch of cool tangles, like Spencer locking in a kneebar and then locking up Makabe's free leg, or the few cool scraps that resulted from blocked roll-ups (like a triangle out of a Makabe sunset flip) or knucklelocks, Makabe getting a hold loosened by digging his elbow into Spencer's thigh, Makabe always grinding his forearm on Spencer's chin during pinfalls. Makabe gets his arm worked over with some Fujiwaras (liked Spencer getting big leverage on it, bridging up his legs), and I loved how Makabe kept selling his arm throughout, loved how he still used his punch and great elbow as a blunt object with the hurt arm. The finish with a bunch of flipping knucklelock trickery ending with Makabe suckering him into an STF was killer. This match was super fun, almost like a scrambly version of a Hideki Suzuki match.

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Saturday, January 12, 2019

MLW Worth Watching: Gringo Loco! Stunt! Familia Park! Lucha Bros! Ace!

Gringo Loco vs. Marko Stunt  MLW Fusion #32 11/8 (Aired 11/23/18)

ER: This was clearly designed to be a Marko Stunt showcase, and that's definitely the type of guy they should be bringing in and featuring, but I'm happier that the fed was smart enough to be in Chicago and bring in Gringo Loco as a base. That shows me that whomever is running this thing has a good head on their shoulders. I don't know if there is a base in the Chicagoland area that is going to give Stunt a more impressive showcase. This whole thing was worked like a Nitro lucha match, only with Schiavone actually talking about the wrestlers in the ring. Loco flies all around the ring setting up Stunt armdrags, and they do a killer Stunt rana off the top to the floor, which - even with a guy like Stunt who is 120 lb. - always looks impressive. Stunt leaping off the top to the floor onto Loco's shoulders, and we get that brief pause as the pendulum swing of momentum throws Loco. I love it. Loco is really fast and agile for a chubby guy, and really we need he and Steve Pain to just be permanently in NXT as a team. Team Base Gods. Loco really doesn't get a lot of offense, a press slam into a standing moonsault and then a gently overshot moonsault, then a missed corkscrew moonsault. But he wasn't in there to hit offense, he was there to convincingly get tossed around by a tiny human, and that he did.

LA Park/Hijo de LA Park vs. Fenix/Pentagon Jr.  MLW Fusion #33 11/8 (Aired 11/30/18)

ER: There's a lot to like in this match, just as there is an awful lot more to dislike, and yet more to really dislike. Pentagon is just Cero Interes at this point. He'll take a dumb bump and do a dive, and the rest of the time he can't even be bothered to sell or do anything other than his catchphrase. There were many moments here where he was just sitting on the apron or slumped in the corner watching the action, either completely unable to keep active in any way, or just completely uninterested in doing so. This match goes long, too long to keep Pentagon interested when he's not eating up nearly 30 seconds slowly signing his catchphrase (I counted the seconds, my time was appropriately wasted), but Fenix likes eating up time by making up new combos and ways to fly at his opponent, and Park always seems to try weird new things if he's given the time to do so, so both of those things happen and work. Park and boy are wearing their great skeleton leather jackets, and Hijo is wearing the legitimately great blue/red/gold aesthetic. That is a majestic color scheme and makes me gloss over those annoying parts of Hijo matches where there's always a 1-2 second delay between his opponents getting into position for a move, and him doing the move. He's got cold feet or trust issues or something, always leaving guys hanging before any flying move. We get a stubborn table that stands up to Park powerbombing Pentagon and Pentagon powerbombing Hijo, Park laughs at Pentagon's chops that he builds to by taking an eternity to remove his glove, Hijo hits a cool Spanish Fly variation while his pops is holding onto Fenix up top, everyone hits dives (hearing Schiavone flip his lid for Park's fat boy dive was great, as he had spent all match politely tip toeing around the fact that Park was smaller in WCW and Schiavone still sounds somewhat reluctant to believe that this is the same wrestler from WCW) and Fenix caps off the match with his whip fast tope con hilo that sends him into the crowd, Park hits a big spear on Pentagon...basically all the good was really good. But in addition to 2018 Pentagon working like 2018 Pentagon, we got a lonnnnnng and not very interesting Fenix/Hijo circle jerk (...straight line jerk?) where they just hopped around and did flipping piledrivers and other bullshit that apparently doesn't hurt that bad. I liked a lot of this and hated a lot of this. LA Park is eminently watchable. We'll go with that.

PAS: Park ruled in this as usual, he hit his awesome tope, wailed on guys with chairs, threw a crazy headbutt that looked like it legit dimmed his own lights, any time he was doing anything it elevated an otherwise weak sauce match. He also took his belt off and waylaid people, and then ended up eating a receipt belt shot to the mush. There were also some really cool Fenix highlights, with crazy speed on all of dives and a nice spin kick. Still this was at least half stinker, just goes way too long, including some long El Hijo Del LA Park showcase moments which showcased how much he has to learn. He really brought out the worst in Fenix. If this was a bit shorter and PARK had a better kid, this could be something great, instead it was just something OK.

Ace Romero vs. Marko Stunt  MLW Fusion #34 11/8 (Aired 12/7/18)

ER: I'm a big fan of the fatties and they don't come fatter in wrestling these days than Romero. I also like big/little matches and it will be tougher to find anyone bigger than Ace and anyone smaller than Stunt. On paper this looked like a fun mismatch on a Coliseum Video that I'd be excited about even though I knew it likely wouldn't be good ("Oooooooo Giant Gonzalez vs. Doink!"), but it's plenty fun. I don't really buy Stunt yet - couldn't be happier for his "overnight" success and am sad he got taken out so suddenly with a rough injury - but I don't think I've seen him do something that actually looks like his opponent should be selling it. I understand there's going to be some implausibility in play with a guy Stunt's size, but when you're talking a near 4:1 weight difference I'm just not going to be too interested in Ace taking a Code Red. I can't imagine he would even feel Stunt jumping on him. My dad was 300 lb. and one time while we were on a wilderness vacation staying at a cabin I rolled out of a bunk bed while asleep and landed on him and he barely stirred. I think 7 year old me falling onto my dad is a fairly apt measuring stick for Stunt falling on Ace. MLW is a fed prone to overkill anyway (earlier this episode Teddy Hart landed 3 backcracker variations, a Code Red, and a nasty as hell hammerlock DDT within the first 3 minutes of a match that went 9), so we're going to get Stunt kicking out of some silly things.

But I really liked the visuals in this, the size disparity when it's this extreme will always make me smile, and it had a ton of cool moments. Ace sets up a ridiculous spot while Stunt is prone on the apron, Ace starts climbing the turnbuckles like he's going to splash Stunt on the apron. Honestly I don't see a way that it wouldn't have just shattered Stunt's rib cage, but this crowd HAD just seen Jason Cade eat a top rope flipping piledriver. Ace misses his legdrop to the apron from the middle rope and it just looks crazy, like he easily could have snapped his own leg with his landing, and the missed legdrop leads to the most plausible offense for Stunt: A great superkick from the apron while Ace is standing on the floor, and an expertly shot punt, leading to a big tope. And I love that right after landing those things, while Stunt is celebrating, Ace runs up and just avalanches him into the guardrail. Ace has really fun fat guy offense, big running dropkick, big slams, excellent fat guy elbowdrop, and him squishing someone was never going to fail. Some of Stunt's comebacks where pretty preposterous, but you don't want to completely flatten the guy so I totally get it. MLW has made a bunch of smart moves by bringing guys like this in, guys without a TNA stink or who have been overexposed on super indies. It's part of what makes their show so easily digestible. Obviously we won't be getting more MLW Stunt for awhile, but I hope Ace gets bigger opportunities here. And literally as I type "BIGGER OPPORTUNITIES" we get an onscreen match graphic for Ace vs. Barrington Hughes, so....holy shit. Things don't get a whole lot bigger than that these days.


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Friday, January 11, 2019

New Footage Fridays: Gypsy Joe, Hara, Billy Robinson, Ray Stevens, Chic Cullen, Dynamite Kid, Bruce Hart

Billy Robinson vs Ray Stevens AWA 9/13/81

MD: The Ray Stevens Rule is as follows: No matter what wrestlers say about another wrestler, if the footage doesn't bear it out, we have to see it as suspect.

With every new (or more complete) Ray Stevens match, I hope to find some hint that proves every other Ray Stevens match I ever saw wrong. I never do. Yes, he's old. Yes, he's broken down from a life of bumping and partying and fast driving. Yes, there's so much we don't have. None of that matters. Why? Because we have other old, broken down guys and you can see it so clearly in the ruins of their movements. Why? Because we have old Flair, who idolized him, and while old Flair is heavily flawed, the remnants of wonder are still there. Why? because we have plenty of Stevens' partners, Bockwinkel and Patterson, and they are two of the most amazing 40-something wrestlers ever.

And you know what? He's pretty good here. He's pretty good at garnering heat in the beginning through stalling. He's pretty good at stooging for Robinson throughout. He's got some good back and forth punching. He's ok, decent enough, with his King of the Mountain segment. He takes a great beating, both physically and emotionally. I'd say a lot of the rest of the stuff he did on top wasn't very interesting, but he did manage a nice little headbutt to the gut out of the corner.

Unfortunately, he's in there with a far, far more memorable verison of Billy Robinson. This is Billy Robinson the master, Billy Robinson the trickster, Billy Robinson the super-over babyface in a territory that values the idea of wrestling skill more than any other. It's a Billy Robinson who is out there to make a fool of his opponent and then to fire back after he's kept out of the ring by him. He's great. He's larger than life. I've seen some great Billy Robinson matches, but I've never quite seen him so triumphant. He completely and utterly eclipses Ray Stevens in maybe the best Ray Stevens performance I've ever seen and you know what, unless you find me some 1960s footage, I don't think I ever need to see another Ray Stevens match. I've seen enough. He's not that great. Billy Robinson, on the other hand, absolutely is.

PAS: I enjoyed Stevens in this, he came off as a less sprightly Dick Slater, a tough guy who will oversell and stooge but still dish it out. Of course poor man's Dick Slater isn't an all time great wrestler, and it feels Stevens maybe a Sayama/Brody style lie. Any chance to see Robinson do his thing is awesome and he does a ton of nifty little twists and additions to the match. I liked how he got a little aggressive and ended up hurting his own neck, allowing Stevens to get some shots in. I also really dug how he worked his way into the Boston Crab reversal which led to the pin. This felt a little undercardish for a match between two such legendary wrestlers, but I liked what we got.

Davey Boy Smith/Bruce Hart/Keith Hart/Robbie Stewart vs Duke Myers/Kerry Brown/Dynamite Kid/The Great Gama Stampede 10/9/81

MD: Ed Whalen is the king of jerks. I knew when this was announced as a 20 minute clip, it wouldn't be a full match. It made me wonder just how long the original match actually was. This shows us about five minutes of shine early on, another ten of the finish, and a promo from each team. It's still a meaningful chunk of Stampede and well worth watching. The very worst thing about it was Whalen saying "hoo boy, I wish you could have seen that action!" or whatever when it came back. He was the asshole who decided to (litearlly) cut the tape!

Anyway, this was the Chic "Robbie Stewart" Cullen show, and how cool is the idea of that showing up on the WWE Network in 2019? The bits of shine we got were great, but also suffered from diminishing returns. All action, quick tags, just go go go in a way that wouldn't seem out of place today. There's no denying how workrate heavy Stampede was. I will say this though. The crowd was buzzing at the start of the five minutes and they weren't at the end, except for maybe when a groin shot was teased. It was great, but maybe too focused on one heel without enough teased even exchanges. They were pacing for sixty minutes but as five taken in a bubble, it was unsatisfying (but tasty) candy.

The heat was really strong, though a bit too focused on ref ineptitude/chicanery. Instead of them booing the heels (or even JR Foley), the crowd was shouting about wanting a real ref. I'm not sure what they went back with on this, but if it was something with Stu as a special ref, for instance, that's totally fine. In a bubble it was a bit of a shame because there's better way to get heat.

Cullen's a perfectly serviceable, very solid, brit wrestler in a lot of the 70s-80s footage we have of him. Here he got to shine as a highly sympathetic face-in-peril with some really great hope spots (including an absolutely lightning cross body out of nowhere). I'm guessing they put so much of this on him so that the Harts and Davey could be the ones to clean house at the end. There was a great moment where Keith (I think) rushed around the ring on the outside and just brutalized everyone in a mob scene.

The heels were more than capable in repressing Cullen. The tension kept getting ramped up because and in spite of the ref. The hot tag was well timed and hot. The babyfaces got to run riot on the heels to the crowd's delight. The finish was wonky and had to be hugely disappointing for everyone who just sat through 60 minutes, but I bet they all came back the following week anyway. Very fun footage, both ahead of its time and of its time in both good and bad ways, and it's a downright crime that all of this footage was cut and lost forever.

ER: I really loved all the action we got here, and came away super impressed with all of these Stampede babyfaces. Matt did a tremendous job of laying out the joys and frustrations, the ebb and flow, the reasons Ed Whalen can suck it, so I can just focus on how much I loved literally all the action. I have seen hardly any Chic Cullen/Robbie Stewart and he came away from this match looking like an all time great babyface. He was super fiery and fun on offense, loved his piledriver on Kerry Brown. Brown is a big guy and Stewart really looked like he had to strain and muscle him up to hit it, which only added to it for me. Also loved him hyperextending legs and threatening to drop his head to groin, and when the match quickly became him as the FIP it was as good as any FIP work we've seen. He bumped big (look at that grisly suplex over the top to the floor that Dynamite gave him!) and his small stature and teen idol feature hair made him come off like "The Cute One" in a boy band. But I thought all the babyfaces looked great. Apparently Bruce Hart throws the best elbowdrops this side of Hansen, really fast and full weight, and Bruce worked really violent in general, also hit a mean elbow off the top, and came off like a cool asskicking babyface. He always looked vicious when he would come in, and his viciousness made Stewart come off even more sympathetic. Davey Boy looked exactly the same as Dynamite, same size and look, even moved the same as Dynamite. He came in and hit a great jumping headbutt and later in the match Dynamite did one exactly like it. Davey Boy had these long arms and I thought he did a great job every time he tried to save Stewart before being sent back to the apron. Keith wasn't in as much but he also looked good in limited time, hitting a cool dropkick right under the chin. The heels were at minimum serviceable and it was great seeing Gama kick Stewart between the eyes, they all looked good bullying Stewart around. Dynamite was a clear standout for the heels, bumping huge to the floor off a miscommunicated dropkick, dropping Stewart with suplexes and a great high kneelift, and that killer suplex he hit to the floor, and his always strong strikes to a prone opponent (he hit this awesome falling lariat/fistdrop on Stewart that someone should steal). Preaching to the choir, but obviously it is a major crime that so much of this footage is completely gone. What we have here is gold.

Gypsy Joe vs. Ashura Hara AJPW 2/4/82

ER: I love an early 80s AJ garbage brawl, and this one felt like we had a cool layer of "is this FOR REAL!?" Gypsy Joe is almost 50 here and is a total savage, with William Murderface hair and a cinderblock forehead. He has a bunch of great strikes that all seem to land hard, probably because his strikes all land hard. Hara is no pushover, obviously, the dude played professional rugby through his athletic prime (weird he wasn't a Schneider guy earlier) so he's going to hit hard and absorb a beating. Hara surely threw some meaty chops, but Gypsy Joe looked dangerous. Hara would hit him with a shot and Joe would just stare at him and hit him back a couple times, harder. Joe had sharp uppercuts and these whipping shots to the the head and back of neck, and clonked Hara a bunch with headbutts from his big flat forehead. Hara kept getting pissed off and they played it like Joe was being unprofessional, so Hara kept going to the floor for chairs and he absolutely blasted Joe with a couple shots, getting that great Japan seat popping visual as it flies off Joe's head. But you know Joe gets that chair and hits Hara in the face with it, right with the fucking edge, then chokes him over the bottom rope and keeps bouncing Hara's head off it. You knew this wasn't likely to get an actual finish, but who cares as this had all the charm you wanted and even more of the violence than you could have expected.

MD: We've been doing this since May or so. I will admit I get some real enjoyment when I find something I know Phil or Eric will love. This one was totally down Phil's alley and we had to rush it to the front of the pile. It's an iconic Gypsy Joe performance. He's been in all sorts of spatterings of matches over the years, but this feels absolutely iconic. It's violence that doesn't stop and that goes on for a few more minutes than you'd expect. It takes one of my least favorite tropes, the idea that someone would just stand there and brace himself and take a chairshot, and somehow makes it completely and utterly believable. It's not about some sort of manliness or some sort of obtuse turn-taking when Joe braces himself in the corner and awaits the chair to come. It feels more like inevitability, like he somehow how knows this is his fate and his lot and all he can do is weather the storm. The affront offends him and he answers in kind, but he has seen the hopelessness of life and knows that all any one person can ever do is to meet it head on. Or it's just a fifty year old taking unnecessary chair shots. What do I know? It's still a really cool find.

PAS: This two are frequent dance partners (I remember an awesome IWE match between the two from 79, which I have to find and review now, and they matched up a bunch in AJ during this time), and there is no mystery to why it is a great match up. Both guys are willing to dish out and receive grim and grizzly amounts of violence, Joe walks forward and eats these sicko chair shots to his head and shoulders, and Hara absorbs some brain melting headbutts. Joe may have the most unprofessional and violent looking headbuts this side of Kurisu and he wallops Hara with them, along with a nice tasting menu of his famous lung flattening chops. Of course we get a double count out, but it would seem silly for this to end in a pinfall, of course it ends with both guys wandering around in the stands bleeding and hurling things at each other.

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Thursday, January 10, 2019

2019 Ongoing MOTY List: Cain vs. Trevor

Cain Justice vs. Trevor Lee CWF Mid-Atlantic 1/5

PAS: This has been the match I have most wanted to see in CWF for a couple of years, and while it wasn't a stone cold classic, it was really fun to watch these two guys stretch it out for a long match. Cain has just turned face, and this was worked like a mentor student match, with Lee putting over Cain as the future of the company. Much of this was on the mat with Lee stretching and pounding on Cain, and Cain getting some reversals, I especially liked the triangle armbar out of the flipping powerbomb, Cain had a couple of big roll up nearfalls, but I would have liked to see Trevor survive the Twist ending, and Cain get at least one reversal out of the STF. This was an impromptu challenge on an RGL show (their rookie showcase) so it had a pretty small crowd, and it really reminded me of the Regal vs. Brookside Power Plant match which showed up on YouTube last year. If Lee is NXT bound I hope we get a big time version of this before he goes, if it doesn't happen I am glad we got this.

ER: This is a match we've both been waiting to happen, delivered differently than we maybe expected it to happen. It's a long match that was paced nicely and filled time admirably, but both men felt a little lackadaisical so while the moves themselves felt like they ramped up appropriately, the emotion felt the same to me at the 30 minute mark as it did at the 1 minute mark. I'm not usually one clamoring for MORE EMOTION in a wrestling match, we've seen enough heavy breathing Godspell curtain call selling from Gargano this past year, but there was a little something missing here. I lead with that complaint, which is somewhat mean for a match I liked. I don't really think there was a single misstep here, it all just felt a little passionless. And typically Impromptu Gym Shorts Lee matches have plenty of passion. Here, both came off more irritated than anything. Still, these guys can work, and work they did. As I said the time was filled admirably, starting with a bunch of nice grappling, quick mat exchanges, nasty wrist work from Lee, a couple tough stomps to Cain's posted arm, stomping on Cain's fingers, and Cain paying him back with a couple nice stretches. All the mat stuff looked great, and I loved how the strikes were integrated. Starting with Lee going for an apron punt - which I thought was a weird tonal shift - I immediately thought it fit the tone perfectly when Cain expertly caught the punt and made Trevor regret it. The moves are worked in logically and executed great, with a cool delayed brainbuster from Trevor, and a couple of great superkicks from Cain. But Cain never really felt like he was in a position to win, never felt like he even got Trevor close to a nearfall, and it was a little disheartening to see these two go so long and the match to feel so competitive, while also feeling that Cain never really had a chance. These two are great, and the match was a ton of fun, but I've liked several Trevor title matches against lesser opponents more than this one. I say they just do a Best of 7 series so we can just get every single kind of match we'd ever want them to have against each other.


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1. Yuji Okabayashi/Kazumi Kikuta/Ryuichi Kawakami vs. Hideki Suzuki/Takuya Nomura/Yoshihisa Uto BJW 1/2
2. Trevor Lee vs. Cain Justice CWF Mid-Atlantic 1/5


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Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Lucha Underground Season 4 Episode 13: The Circle of Life

ER: I have thoughts on our opening cinematic. I went through a lot of shifting opinions on that thing. So, it was cheesy, but then I started to like it the longer it went on. It moved past typical Lucha Underground locker room fight cinematic and attempted to go full They Live. Obviously there was zero chance they would even approach They Live, and obviously there was very little chance they would even approach a direct to Redbox ripoff of They Live called Aliens Among Us. But they tried to do it and the digital video looked cheap in spots and it had bad early 2000s editing and coloring and they did a bunch of annoying shaky cam on certain impact...but I liked the fact that it took forever. They did something kinda bad but they committed a lot of time to it and that kind of committment means something. There were great moments, like Catrina throwing a freaking chain at Melissa, missing, leading to a great pause in the action as Melissa gives a bitchreally? reaction. You know their acting isn't usually there, but they're going for it and I kind of weirdly like the loving ways they film Melissa and Fenix. It's like when David Lynch makes young love super sunny and optimistic. This last scene felt like a fan made Morrissey video version of that.

TL: LU went from 40 to 22 episodes this season and I feel like the reason that happened was because they needed to budget out this intro sequence. Can’t get over how they use the same sound effects here that they do in the actual matches. It’s truly amazing that they took 11 minutes to tell this story. I do agree they were going for an ode to They Live, but even then, I don’t think I expected this, with Michael Bay-level jump cuts before we get what’s essentially a Power Rangers episode ending at the end with the return of Fenix. These last few weeks, Walk Hard has been prevalent in my meme-like responses to things I’ve been watching, so Fenix coming to and then telling Melissa, “Time travel has changed me” like he’s Dewey Cox coming out of rehab would have absolutely floored me. He had the same vacant look in his eyes, at least. Aerostar obviously repping the Purple Parrots, and he will now head on to the Temple looking for a full pendant. I don’t think there’s a person alive, even the world’s biggest LU fan, who could tell you why this intro happened in the first place. Even if I don’t think it’s good (and it isn’t), I love that it exists. This seems like something that would have been in Florida in the 80’s.

Joey Wrestling vs. Matanza

ER: Joey Mercury on my TV is a great thing in 2018, and he gets a fake Darkness theme song that brings me back to classic WCW straight faced rip off themes and I get a nostalgia kick. And this delivered what I wanted from a Matanza sacrifice match, and that is Joey actually getting a lot of offense and not getting steamrolled in a minute. Wrestling has nice punches and can hit hard on everything, and we get a cool moment were Joey shoulderblocks Matanza through the ropes to the floor. There's a silly spot where Joey no sells a pedigree, which seems a little too 1999 as a competing brand diss (maybe they hired the guy who edited the opening vignette from the same 1999 time machine hiring spree that netted them the guy who laid that spot into the match). Glad they didn't actually murder Joey since they do that now, means I might get to see him again this season and not as a ghost.

TL: Joey had a rough 2018, as he dies here and then fell asleep in his car the morning of All In and was taken to jail, which led to the infamous ending where they couldn’t convince Okada/Scurll to not go 86 minutes and they rushed to a black slate during the main event. I do love he got a good run against Matanza here. Doing the whole blind low blow, then a blatant low blow where there wasn’t a DQ was a hilarious lapse in psychology, but he bumped well enough and was fiery on offense. A no-selling of a Pedigree is fine by me. Best sacrifice match since Vinnie Mass went via death by pizza.

Killshot vs. Big Bad Steve

ER: Steve appears to be walking with a limp and I'm unsure if this dude is just working hurt or he's just got a cool walk, like he installs drywall and also plays on a softball team so has aches, and worries. And it's weird we get a match where Killshot takes more of a match than Matanza took in his match. I don't know what the deal is with Steve's knee or ankle, but I pointed out he was limping and then early in the match Killshot kicks his knee so Steve spends the match selling that leg. A lot of the match was worked around Killshot doing sick experiments on Steve's knee, stomping it and twisting it and doing stupid Killshot kicks to it. It works though, and even the (overly produced) strikes by Killshot work. The sound effects are absurd at this point, but the strikes looked good, even tossed in a nasty backhand. Steve had a big cutter and big powerbomb (yeah yeah the knee) and threw a fantastic overhand right in the corner. Brenda was terrible as Steve's second, even compared to other terrible Brenda performances. Is Steve supposed to be some 50s greaser caricature? He doesn't act like it, but Brenda keeps screeching at him to "Hit him with your hot rod" (which could also be a really confusing attempt at innuendo) and calling him Daddy-o. This got pretty good, though I'm still confused by Steve working a babyface injury from entrance to exit, but also like that we're getting Steve on TV sooo.

TL: THE RETURN OF BIG BAD STEVE, DADDY. The tire rotation tips from Striker during his entrance were terrific, and now I need vignettes of Steve taking care of beaters coming into the shop and grifting folks out of some extra bucks. Meanwhile, Killshot gets the announcers talking about contract kills like he’s gonna be the focus of Season 2 of Killing Eve or something. Finally, Striker uses the word “luchaness.” I dunno, man. Steve sells like hell to get over Killshot’s offense to the previously broken ankle, which I do admit looks better than normal here. Steve’s offense is really good, too, with the cool side suplex reversal off a punch and then a nutty double pumphandle facebuster. Killshot working more like Strickland isn’t bad, per se, but it doesn’t come off as something that looks hurty at all. He’s the guy who benefits most from LU’s overly produced show. Big Bad Steve impresses again, and honesty, him and Havoc as a big/little tag team would be awesome. Promos out by Havoc’s motorcycle with Steve checking his shocks? Sign me up. And sure enough, there’s the play for the apuestas match. Killshot will be Strickland soon enough, methinks.

ER: I had a mechanic a decade or so ago who would offer you a discount if you paid in cash, so he could hide he payments from his ex-wife. That feels like a good bit to have Big Bad Steve doing at his shop.

Pentagon Dark vs. Hernandez

ER: Hernandez is as good a choice as any guy to bring back as Pentagon cannon fodder, but considering we've now seen Pentagon handily dispatch Matanza, Cage (a couple times), the entire roster in Aztec Warfare, and even more than hold his own against Cage/Cuerno in a handicap match, I don't really need to see a competitive match against Hernandez. Pentagon gets the full Sexy Star treatment with sound effects, not taking chances that his light shots won't sound like they're breaking boards. Hernandez tries his greatest hits, hits the big no hands tope which is very much crazy at age 45, hits a nice over the shoulder backbreaker, and tries a cool brick wall spot that Pentagon doesn't help him with at all: Pentagon ran into Hernandez while Hernandez didn't budge, but Pentagon didn't fly off him like he ran into a wall, it made it look like more of a blown spot than a Hernandez power spot. A big part of HHH at peak HHH was getting slightly out of position for opponent's offense or otherwise sandbagging (think him going up slowly for suplexes in his big Eddie singles). Pentagon is truly fulfilling the prophecy. After the match Cuerno attacks Pentagon, and considering he had a tough time with Pentagon while teaming with Cage, and was getting tooled by Ivelisse a few weeks ago, I can't wait to see Cuerno definitely have a chance in this future match!

TL: Triple P out here cutting promos that are longer than they need to be given the guy whose title reign this is patterned off. Hernandez definitely has bigger balls now as he looks considerably smaller than his peak, which, you know, makes sense. He also comes out wearing purple velvet pants, which is definitely a choice. Penta’s off and on offense starts the match, then Hernandez hits his slingshot tackle and his still impressive no-hands plancha. Already losing me and we aren’t even five minutes in after that, though. Just an absolute snail’s pace here, and this is just after what happened in the Killshot match. This is also a perception thing; they’re going for “presence” here by trying to play to the crowd, and it’s just not grabbing me at all. It’s a lucha trope as old as time, but then the work after is important to what they’re playing towards with the crowd work. They don’t have me here with it. Hernandez being gassed here isn’t helping things (as Eric said, he’s 45, and while he’s in great shape, he’s not working nearly as much), as Penta plays really only to what his opponent can do. Eh, who am I kidding. Penta’s on cruise control here. Sudden finish, too. Sure. This was a Pentagon 2018 LU title match. No idea how Penta loses the belt realistically unless it’s to Paul himself, and Cuerno, for being presented as an actual threat? No chance.


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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

2017 Ongoing MOTY List: Gallagher vs. Dunne

27. Jack Gallagher vs. Pete Dunne PROGRESS Wrestling 12/30

PAS: Really nifty match to close out 2017. I loved the matwork, Gallagher is super slick, he has this takedown and almost MMA mount which he turns into an armbar. Most of the match was a stiff juniors match, and a pretty good one, Gallagher hits a flying crossbody into a bunch of chairs, and some sick uppercuts one of which may have broken Dunne's nose. I also loved Dunne catching Gallagher's dropkick with a huge powerbomb. Finish run was dope with Gallagher borrowing Kendrick's Choke Sleeper and Dunne trying to fight his way out.  I really need to dig into all of the WWE Gallagher because he was dope in this. Dunne was fun too, and this would be a great PPV opener.

ER: Phil wrote this early in 2018 and I totally missed it, but this was great. The opening matwork was my favorite part, which is saying something as there were a ton of great parts to this. But watching several cool transitions, Dunne standing on Gallagher's face while locking in an ankle lock, Gallagher floating out of that into a standing kneebar, it all looked cool but violent (Cool But Violent is a script I'm still working on for late 80s Richard Grieco). But Gallagher was a total savage through this whole thing. Dunne is sold as the more powerful wrestler, so Gallagher dutifully sold all of his strikes 3x as much as Dunne sold his, bumping back fast for elbows in the ring and up on the entrance way, but in between all that he was uppercutting and kicking the piss out of Dunne. Gallagher is real mean in this one and that's the best Gallagher; loved his crossbody that sent both crashing through several rows of chairs, and his low thrust kicks up on the entranceway (and later in the ring) look so simple but so perfect. Dunne has a lot of Rube Goldberg slams and suplexes, moves that involve a lift, a hitch, a flip around, before the slam. Some of it seems superfluous but the moves all hit with huge impact and that's the most important part. Too many cool things to list from the last 5 minutes, but I especially loved Gallagher muscling Dunne over with a tough butterfly suplex that almost lands like a brainbuster; loved Gallagher going for his nasty corner dropkick but getting caught by Dunne in a way I didn't expect; loved Gallagher co-opting Brian Kendrick's Captains Hook finish, and LOVED the actual finish with Dunne yanking Gallagher up into a sick and quick tombstone. All of this was awesome.


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Monday, January 07, 2019

Low-Ki Was Just About to Find God, Now Ma$e is Back He'd Rather Find a Menage

Low-Ki vs. Konnan MLW 12/14/18 - GREAT

PAS: This was less of a wrestling match then an angle, but it was a pretty great angle. This was no DQ and they start off nose to nose talking shit and the Ki decks the ref. Konnan pulls out a loaded sock and knocks Ki silly, busts him open and would have won the title if Ricky Martinez didn't pull him out. We get another couple of Konnan near falls until he just gets double teamed by Ki and Martinez, they throw a bottle into the ring and Ki puts it under Konnan's head and stomps the bottle, he uses the broken bottle to carve up Konnan and Martinez and El Hijo Del LA Park hold Konnan, while Ki beat on his kidney's (Konnan had Kidney replacement surgery.) Then Salina tosses Ki a shank and he stabs him right in the kidneys. They have done this meta angle about Ki's unprofessionalism for a while, with the ripping of Daga's ear and Strickland's hair, having him straight try to murder Konnan was a fun, if pretty crazy twist. Konnan wasn't a good wrestler before the kidney transplant and hip injury, but he played his role great and I dug him as a Miami native son (Guantanamara as entrance music and Wade Miami Vice, Heat City Jersey.) Love this feud between Konnan and Salina to dominate the lucha pipeline into MLW and love psychotic Ki.

ER: I'm not really a fan of the angle itself, as someone getting literally stabbed in the kidneys is a bit much. Sure it's a No DQ match but I don't actually want to see someone get shot in the stomach and bleed out for the next half hour in silence. Bringing a knife or a shiv into a wrestling setting, inside a ring, in front of people and cameras...I just can't imagine it not coming off incredibly stupid to me. And if I don't think it worked here, I'm really not sure how it could work, because the execution from all involved was absolutely top notch. The match was structured excellently considering one side had the most athletic wrestler maybe ever, and the other side had a mostly immobile man in his mid 50s who moves like a man who never actually ended up getting that hip surgery. Ki shoves the ref, Konnan blasts him with a loaded sock, Martinez drags Ki out of a pinfall, and Ki spends the next several minutes doing an awesome job of selling that loaded sock and also beating the piss out of Konnan's wrestling fan megamark kidneys. I was wondering before the match if Ki was going to go after the kidneys and holy lord did he go after the kidneys. This seems like a HORRIBLE idea, as in even worse than "let's work over Kobashi's knees in his comeback match" bad. WAY worse. He hits the running dropkick on Martinez by mistake, Konnan gets a low blow and another good nearfall, really loved the selling from everyone. And dammit I really love Salina de la Renta. I think she's my favorite current non-wrestling character. She has great presence, looks like a star, acts like a star, and is maybe the greatest fashionista in pro wrestling history. What other manager in wrestling would ever have the sense to pull off a gorgeous $3,390* Fendi jumpsuit? Paired with that draped belt!! Fucking megastar. If this wasn't No DQ and she threw in a glass bottle wearing that jumpsuit, she could probably convince the ref it's fine. Ki curbstomps Konnan on the bottle and shatters it, Konnan gets great color (Ki had a cool hardway-looking cut from Konnan's sock shot so we get duel color), and then we get the shiv spot. I don't think anyone in that ring could have played it better, and I'm sure I'm gonna love the violent Ki payoff match, but knife stuff is dumb and nobody in the crowd was buying it either. I feel bad for an announce crew trying to get over someone being stabbed in the fucking kidneys while also having to sell Tommy Dreamer as violent. How will they explain Low-Ki not doing hard time? Will his lawyer present a "Your honor, my client was wrestling in a NO DISQUALIFICATION match" defense? Stabbing aside, I cannot wait for more Salina and Ki all over my MLW.

*per Salina, magnificently


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Sunday, January 06, 2019

2018 Ongoing MOTY List: Bryan vs. Brock

2. Daniel Bryan vs. Brock Lesnar WWE Survivor Series 11/18

ER: Well. This completely owned. This is one that I imagine most wrestling fans have been interested in seeing for a long time now. I didn't think we'd ever get this match, and it feels weird that we finally get it. And they take things slow, circling, Bryan mocking Brock, and it feels like Brock is going to wreck him once they make contact with each other. Bryan throws a hard kick but Brock walks through it and wings a lariat at the side of Bryan's head. It's going to be that kind of match. Suplex City comes early, with Brock mocking the chants, and then throwing some ungodly suplexes to Bryan, really sending Bryan crashing in all sorts of ragdoll ways. This goes on for awhile, and the longer it goes the more it genuinely seems like Brock is going to completely steamroll Bryan. He's done that before, and it looked like he was doing it again. But just as the extended Brock thrashing was starting to feel a bit too long, the match gets flipped, when the match gets flipped things get great. Bryan gets F5'd into the ref, which slows it down and allows Bryan to land on his feet, then he punts Brock in the balls behind the fallen ref's back, and they turn a massive ballshot into a fantastic nearfall, like a elementary school playground version of David & Goliath. We get this awesome run of Bryan slipping out of Brock's grasp and Brock getting tricked into a bunch of big bumps (and Brock big bumps are unlike any other), and Bryan laces into Brock with an absolute BEATING. Bryan is throwing stiff kick to the ribs of the grounded Lesnar, then Bryan grabs Brock's arms and starts stomping the hell out of Brock's face. We get a moment I don't think I've EVER seen, as the cameras show BRYAN'S BOOT MARK imprinted on Brock's freaking face!!! This is next level. The stretch run is just killer. Brock gets his leg worked over, gets it wrapped around a ringpost, but is still capable of catching Bryan, and we get an awesome Lesnar moment where he catches a sprinting Bryan up on his shoulders and coming *this* close to an F5, but Lesnar's knee buckles and drops Bryan right down into an awesome Yes Lock. Brock's tap teasing was engaging as all hell throughout, totally looked like they could have given Bryan a plausible win over the beast, and Bryan looked like he was going to flat out knock Lesnar out once he started clonking him with the sickest crossface strikes. Holy shit. Bryan hung with Brock and it was glorious, but Brock eventually smashed him after Bryan looked as good against him than anyone. I really loved this one, thought they knocked it out of the park.

PAS: This was really great, it was definitely in the mix for our #1 spot, virtually a perfect match, except I thought the Suplex city section maybe went a suplex too long. It was a pretty great Suplex city section though, with Bryan taking these monster flip bumps on each throw and the added fears about his CTE added to the danger. Everything after the transition was perfect professional wrestling, Bryan laid in a big enough beating that you totally buyed him going over a Moose like Lesnar, and Lesnar is a world class seller when he wants to be, his ability to turn his face multiple colors works great both when Bryan stomps sole prints into his face, and when he goes Eggplant Hulk in the LaBell lock. That knee collapse into the LaBell Lock was one of my favorite big match transitions ever and I totally bought that they would give Bryan the win especially when he started pasting him with crossfaces, I dig this trend of one amazing Brock match per year at Survivor Series. Brock vs Rey or Brock vs. Riddle would be great to line up for next year.


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Saturday, January 05, 2019

Lucha Underground Season 4 Episode 12: Til Death Do Us Part

ER: What a great return Joey Wrestling made to my television. Mercury shows up out of nowhere and Ricky Mundo immediately gets shunted down to ring bearer, complete with pie face and fart sound from Mercury. This is probably the hardest I've laughed at anything in LU's history. So this episode is already a major win.

TL: Seeing Eric’s review come over, I thought Joey Wrestling was some new not-cool Joey Ryan nickname, and then I realize it’s JOEY MERCURY, and now I need an MNM reunion. I don’t know if Eric has it in him for yet another Complete and Accurate, but MNM was one of the best tag teams nobody ever talks about and I feel like they would hold up incredibly well in a world where the Revival is considered a top tier tag team. Them vs. the Usos. New Day. The Bar. Damn. Let’s go! Also, anytime you get the Bill & Ted air guitar sound effect, you get a thumbs up from me.

ER: Loved MNM, but any MNM C&A will have to come after my Destruction Crew/Beverly Brothers C&A. That is not a joke.

Jake Strong vs. Drago

ER: This wasn't as good as the rest of the glut of short Strong/Hager matches we've gotten lately, didn't feel as stiff as the best of his MLW ones, and felt slower paced too. There was cool stuff, like a big rotating powerslam from Strong, and him catching Drago off a springboard and carrying him around the ring, working him into position for another powerslam only to eat a big DDT from Drago. The best moment was Drago taking a huge backdrop bump into one of the risers filled, fans vacated from their seats so he took a big crushing bump through the open wooden chairs. But Drago kinda got steamrolled here, and he didn't do himself any favors with his fairly weak looking strikes throughout.

TL: Wait, did Striker just call Drago “The Living Legend?” Seriously? Like, you didn’t want to think about that for a minute? This needed to have more snap to it. There was a kick where Drago didn’t even get enough air to whiff on it before the sound effect came in. I don’t get why Strong didn’t try to just end this quickly, and even Striker points it out. This seems like they were told to fill a certain amount of time and that was the best they could come up with. Okay, seriously, none of Drago’s shots are hitting here, making the sound effects come off as absolutely subpar. I agree about the spots themselves, but there wasn’t a thing between them that made me care. Really odd use six minutes.

Jack Evans vs. XO Lishus

ER: This is a No Mas match, for reasons, and outside of some dumb interference this was really fun, and more showcase for Lishus. We know what Evans brings, and it's good. He hits hard, stooges more athletically than anybody, hit a big crash landing balcony dive, big flying knee off the apron, and really put over Lishus. And Lishus more than held up his end of the spotlight. He bumps big including a couple boss bumps on the floor and into the ringside chairs, and he utilizes his sass and athleticism really well in matches. He flies really well and lands with a thud, has nice offense like his cool cartwheel double knee drop, dig his spin kicks, the whole thing works. The Joey Ryan/Ivelisse run in was pointless and added nothing, but these two were bright enough that it didn't matter.

TL: Now Jack is out here calling himself a legend and I feel like we just need to retire the use of the word at this point. Like how this started with XO going right after Jack, and then Jack gets in control and hits a totally nuts 450 off the apron. XO ends up on Striker’s lap. This is at least entertaining between the big spots, which really shows up after the previous match. Jack hits a nutso flip dive off a ladder, too, just to remind you he’s still capable of leaping off things from great heights even 15 years after that ridiculous dive off the top of the cage in ROH. XO’s LeBell Lock wasn’t that tight, and I laughed at Vampiro saying XO should have fish hooked. The trading of submissions down the stretch were fun, even if there was some sloppiness, as I had to like them going for stuff in an I Quit match. Joey Ryan then comes out to do his Omega/Kota Ibushi spot with Evans (watch the Ibushi/Styles IWGP title match for the reference), which leads to XO getting a submission with a cross-armbreaker. I probably wrote too many words for this match. You’re here for the content anyways.

TL: Awww, I wanted Jack to be in the wedding. At least we got another air guitar!

ER: The Wedding of the Century was fine. There were some funny lines, a couple funny deliveries, and naturally the wedding cake did not get eaten. But there was a lot of bad, with some majorly over-produced (over-mic'd? over-scripted? All of those?) Brenda just delivering bad, screechy material over everything (it's gotta be terrible as a performer to go out there with knowingly bad material), and a nonsensical ending that had Ricky Mundo unchain Matanza, and Matanza destroy everybody in the ring. But that's really silly as we already saw Matanza get beaten fairly easily by a chubby Vampiro mentee this season, so I'm unsure why half a dozen members of the Worldwide Underground (Cheerleader Melissa included) couldn't work him over with ease. But now that Matanza has beaten Cortez Castro and Vinny Massaro I guess he's an unstoppable monster again? Pretty lame.

TL: Love the lime green motif. Cool cake topper. Cheerleader Melissa up in this!!!! Alright, I’m all about it. Johnny not needing written vows because he went to the Titan acting classes is fantastic. I wasn’t expecting much here, but Dario ringing the bell only to deliver tacos instead of Matanza was a nice touch. Brenda was gratingly bad here. The Matanza run in was at least fun, Taya getting color was an interesting twist, but Matanza did seem like a plug and play thing here. This would have been the spot for a debut or something along those lines, but it getting back to Ricky letting Matanza out isn’t gonna lead to anything worthwhile until the two probably face off at Ultima Lucha. Even though I didn’t expect much, I also didn’t get much here, so it’s a wash. Predictable angle ends predictably.

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Friday, January 04, 2019

New Footage Fridays: Lawler, Rude, PG-13, Rich, Dougie, Koko, Bruno, Baron, Bruiser, Ladd

Dick The Bruiser/Bruno Sammartino vs. Ernie Ladd/Baron von Raschke WWA 8/25/73

PAS: This was a no DQ match with Sam Menacker the play by play announcer as the special referee. Apparently according to Cagematch the Bruiser/Bruno tag team was called Annihilation Inc. which is a hilariously Progress Wrestling tag name for the early 70s. This a pretty great big star tag match with Bruno and Bruiser walloping the heels and Heenan running around bumping and getting in the mix. It was kind of odd to see Bruno take a subsidiary role, he is usually such a titanic force, but he was definitely the B-Side of the tag team. Bruiser is a trip, super expressive with some fun Stooges spots, including making Ladd punch himself. Finish was wild with Heenan splitting Menacker open with a foreign object and the heel working over both faces with the ring microphone, kind of odd to have such a non-finish in a no-DQ match but it certainly got the crowd into an appropriate lather.

MD: Where to even begin on this one? Apparently Bruno and Dick the Bruiser were called Annihilation, Inc. I sort of loved Bruiser here. He was far enough along that he could be a big ham, but not so far along that he had become a self-parody like he would into the 80s. Bruno might have been the outside attraction but Bruiser was the guy who was the most over with this crowd. He had this way of adding an extra pause to everything, almost freezing time for just a little too long to be believable but just long enough to transcend belief, to push it from faux realism to borderline mythic.

The heel side here was great. Ladd was just larger than life, with an athleticism he'd lose later. He threw himself into Bruno's punches and back out with the bumps. He had this way of maximize his physical presence, not just on offense, but on selling, taking up as much space as possible to get over his writhing and pain, especially by the ropes and on the apron. I also love the idea of a guy so big needing to utilize a loaded thumb gimmick. There's something underhanded and insulting about that. The Baron was more chickenshit than you might expect. I think he was back body dropped about fifteen times in the match.

Menacker was all over this match as the special referee. It was no dq, so he was mainly there to stop Heenan from overtly interfering. If this was a title match or something more serious, it would have grated, but as an over the top tag, it fit perfectly, really didn't take any heat or credit away from the babyfaces, and the fans loved it.

ER: This was a blast and there's so much to cover that I'm not sure where to begin. I haven't seen any Bruiser or Crusher from when either were closer to their peak, so it was wild seeing Bruiser getting reactions like he was all four Beatles in 1964. Every time he would move an inch he would get wild shrieks from the fans, it was insane. I'm not sure I've seen a large crowd in love with a wrestler this much, pure adulation. He clearly loved soaking it up, but I just couldn't get over how much people screamed when he would do something as simple as go for a pinfall (imagine if Bruiser was in the USWA 10 man below, just doing pinfalls! The event would sound like an absolute massacre with all the constant screaming). Due to Bruiser's impossibly huge popularly, Bruno really could have been any man. I don't think I've ever seen a legend as big as Bruno so clearly relegated to second banana status, sheerly due to the popularity of someone he's teaming with. Imagine Hogan and Rock teaming in 2002 and seeing fans flip out for Rock and then look at Hogan as someone who is standing in front of the Rock and could he please move because we can't see the Rock when you're standing there. Bruno is the cute sheep wandering back into frame in front of the cutest sheep in the petting zoo.

The heels basically stooged for 20 straight minutes, which is fine by me. Ernie Ladd looked gargantuan. Obviously the guy is big, but he looked like freaking Andre here. He also took 3 bumps over the top to the floor, was made to punch his own face by Bruiser (and bumped big for it) and was a real great foil for Bruiser. Baron isn't really a great bumper, he has a long awkward body and falls more like 2010 Akira Taue, if Taue was also constantly getting a chair pulled out from under him. But those bumps work tremendously well in a stooge setting, buckling at the waist from kicks to the stomach, falling on his butt after big punches, taking a ton of backdrops, all of it great. Two different times he does this awesome apron pratfall: He's standing on the apron and takes a shot, and his legs fan out so he's basically doing the splits heels first on the apron, holding onto the top rope while his butt is hanging over the floor, before dropping to the floor. The second time he did this bump was when he was holding Bruiser prone and Ladd naturally accidentally clocks him, just an all time great pratfall. Heenan is fantastic at ringside, kicking at officials, running in with sneaky and not so sneaky punches, causing total chaos and distraction, introducing a ringside microphone cord to choke Sam Menacker and others; Menacker got a couple little Walking Tall moments too, got to slide Baron's foot off the ropes during a pinfall, stuff the fans could get into. This was great, real crowd pleaser. Nobody went home disappointed by this one.

Jerry Lawler vs. Rick Rude CWA 8/27/84

PAS: This is from a commercial video tape of USWA cage matches and seems to have fallen through the cracks, no other reviews, didn't make the DVDVR Memphis set, etc. This was worked kind of like a Bruno cage match with Lawler beating the bricks off of Rude for much of the match. Lawler laying in punches to someone is going to be always worth watching and Rude took an appropriate pasting. I am never going to be down with no-selling a piledriver and one of the great things about the Lawler hulk up, is how he remained vulnerable during it, popping up after a piledriver is the opposite of that. Still despite that this was a pretty heated brawl and really fun discovery.

MD: This was just a mauling. Every wrestler in his mid-20s should probably have to take ten minutes of Lawler's offense in a cage while the crowd gets more and more into it. It builds character. Rude already had a lot here, though, and you can hardly belief this is the same guy that started the year off as a bland babyface in Mid-South. I love his attempts to escape, especially the ones that are futile, either trying to go under the cage or in between the two slats. He wanted nothing to do with any of this and it's glorious. His little bit of offense comes late in the match, almost entirely because of Lawler's own hubris, mostly groin-related and wholly appropriate to his character. The no-sell on the pile-driver is fine because Lawler was still so fresh you figure he knows his to protect himself. It's worth it as the place comes unglued with the strap. It wasn't a spot he overused and here it meant a ton. Nice, refreshing violence with Rude coming off as a guy who deserved the comeuppance he received.

PG-13/Spellbinder/Tex Slazenger/Brian Christopher vs. Tommy Rich/Doug Gilbert/Jesse James Armstrong/Tracy Smothers/Koko B Ware USWA 2/6/96

ER: This match was plenty fun and also so so so so so stupid. It's a USWA vs. SMW 10 man anything goes tornado cage match, most pinfalls in 30 minutes wins. If you knew that info, and didn't even know the participants, you'd know that you'd want to see it. And then you see the names. PG-13! Tommy Rich! Smothers! Thicccc affffff KOKO! And then you realize that this is on USWA's home turf so PG-13 and Brian Christopher are working babyface, and you know this is going to be 8 stars. This match seemed too big to fail. These 10 names, in a cage, weapons, anything goes, the easiest win. The match doesn't even go the full 30, comes out to more like 22 minutes, just more condensed violence right?

And then they go and have almost SEVENTY PINFALLS in 22 minutes. That is not a typo. This was a match almost wholly comprised of pinfalls. Every back bump a guy took, that guy would get pinned. This started happening in the 2nd minute of the match, and kept going until the very end, when they hilariously tried to build drama with a last minute kickout. The kickout was absolutely hilarious, a genuine laugh out loud moment, because it was literally the ONLY kickout that happened the entire match. This was a match that had some guy getting pinned in some part of the ring literally every 15 seconds, and most of the match guys would be waiting in pinfalls for waaaaaay too long while a ref finished counting another pinfall at some other part of the ring. The pinfalls were so plentiful that the ref finally just stopped getting down to count some of them. The pinfall kickout was so hilarious because it made me desperately want JC Ice to yell out "Wait...THAT'S an option!?" Whoever it was that kicked out (video is pretty washed out and guys frequently are blocking other guys) was like the first ape in 2001 to learn how to use bones as tools/weapons. More guys got hit with a hubcap AND a cowbell than kicked out of any move. There were more referees in this match than there were kickouts. It was awful. The participants clearly were working under the rules of "Anything Goes, 'Cept Kickouts".

This was the worst All Japan battle royal I've ever seen. Now granted, the All Japan battle royal is one of my favorite gimmick matches, and they always leave a ton of room for personality to shine through. This is like if someone watched a couple of All Japan battle royals, and came away thinking the key to those being fun was the pinfalls. Or a computer noted when the biggest pops occurred on a card and determined that people cheer loudest during ring entrances and winning pinfalls, so the computer spit out some dot matrix paper stating that the most successful crowd reaction would be for a match that is only ring entrances and pinfalls. And for all the guys in the ring, and all the potential action that was happening, and all the guys spending more time on their backs than all the whores in Tennessee, we spend the whole match in a real tight shot from a ringside handheld camera. A match with this match participants needs some distance to put everything into scope, to follow the action. Watching this much action in a tight frame is like showing up late to the movies and having to sit in the front row, needing to turn left and right to follow action across the screen. 

Even with an entire, match long constantly annoying series of pinfalls, there were some small, tiny gold nuggets in this. Maybe not super nice gold, maybe tooth gold, but still it would be impossible to put these 10 guys into any pro wrestling situation and not get *something* out of it. These 10 guys have good enough schtick that you could have made this a "Hands Tied Behind Back, Must Wrestle on Knees" match and it probably would have turned out better than this. But still, there were moments. Tommy Rich looked like a guy who I want to see in more (better) multiman garbage brawls; it was fun seeing PG-13 as babyfaces, their usual (wonderful) schtick being cheered wildly instead of booed; Christopher hits a big dive off the top to the floor, Dougie hits people with a chair, Koko clonks a few guys with a cowbell and drops someone with the ghostbuster, I thought Jesse James actually showed a ton of charisma and was always super active, and we get a cool spirited post match run in with some skinny dirtbag guy in cut offs talking a ton of shit, Miss Texas eating a piledriver from Koko, and coming off far more violent than anything in the actual match. I cannot imagine a worse match featuring all 10 of these guys. I mean seriously put these exact 10 guys in ANY match other than this one, run that fucking simulation a thousand times, and I just can't picture it being worse than what we got here. Literally any singles match combination from those 10 names would have been better. Pick the least enticing singles match (Jesse James vs. Spellbinder?) and I'm positive it would be better than what we got. This was improbably awful. There's no way this match should have been this bad.

MD: Yeah, look, I don't even know what to say about this. Eric's got it covered, right? Ok, I do sort of occasionally enjoy how malleable the rules of wrestling can be. There are norms that everyone agrees upon and when people break those norms, it has the potential to screw up everything for everyone, because it shatters the social contract that allows for suspension of disbelief. Sometimes, however, you can be in a situation so unique that the norms don't apply. Old Survivor Series matches kind of work like that. You can definitely get eliminated on a bodyslam in an old Survivor Series match. This sort of had the makings of that. You had two companies feuding. It was in a cage. It was falls count anywhere and no DQ and chaotic.

Still, this was absolutely nuts. They should have made it so one counts worked as falls. If normal marathon matches are the equivalent of soccer games, low scoring with a lot of defense and very much a test of endurance, this was a basketball game, with everyone hitting layups and running back across the court. There was some cumulative selling as things went on but it was dangerous because anytime you fell down for more than a second, you were going to get pinned. Maybe it was more like Pro Wrestling Calvinball. Of the things I'm fascinated by in this match, it's not really the structure or any specific spots or performances. I wonder how they convinced someone like Tommy Rich to get pinned fifteen times on tape. Was it because he was going to get to pin someone else fifteen times? You know these guys weren't getting paid much for this. How did they put this together? The announcers could barely keep track of the score. It sort of crescendoed to a final moment. It wasn't like a battle royal where you could remember the order of elimination. Somehow they got to where they were going, so more power to them, I guess.

Last thought, this was a cage match where the cage was solely used to corral the participants and keep them in an area. It served a purpose, pushing everyone together so closely that there'd be constant action and constant pinfalls, but it wasn't uesd in any other way.

PAS: This was a mess, such a cool looking match on paper, with all time great guys like Tommy Rich and PG13, plus awesome fun dudes like Koko and Doug Gilbert, hard to fuck it up, but they fucked it up. This reminded me of an All Japan Battle Royal, where Misawa would get knocked down and dog piled to get eliminated, those were light hearted undercard fodder, this was a main event with guys going down to eye rakes and bodyslams. USWA was always trying weird stuff, a lot of times it worked, this time it really didn't. We have very few arena matches from 90s Memphis, so I was amped when this turned up, it could have been left on the cutting room floor.

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