Segunda Caida

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

Saturday, August 08, 2020

On Brand Segunda Caida: 2020 Kassius Ohno

Kassius Ohno vs. El Ligero NXT UK 11/16 (Aired 1/2/20)

ER: This was a completely different match than their match 7 months prior, and I love when guys do that. That match was really great, but based around Ohno kicking Ligero a bunch in the face and head and kind of gleefully laying in a beating. Here he gets fooled a ton by Ligero's wiles, and works a lot of the match one step behind (while in their previous match he was mostly one step ahead). He gets flustered a lot, and works a fun bit where he eats an early elbow and complains that he's trying to wrestle, not fight. Ohno misses a flipping senton and gets trapped into a headscissors, powders to the floor, and catches Ligero with a chin breaker on the way back in. It's so great that Ohno must have thrown at least 12 kicks at Ligero's head in their April match, and he goes through this one without even lifting his leg up for a kick. There isn't even many callbacks to that earlier, far more violent match, until Ohno attempts to untie Ligero's mask. The last match ended when Ohno loosened Ligero's mask, turned it, then leveled him with an blindside elbow. Ligero stopped it this time, but it didn't really matter, as Ohno's sick arm trap cravat would have popped his head off his shoulders. Not quite the level of their prior match, felt a little more like a fun house show version. But hey, I love fun house show matches.

Kassius Ohno vs. Jack Starz NXT UK 1/18 (Aired 2/27/20)

ER: Jack Starz? I'm confident that's not a name I've heard before. Ohno going into NXT UK and fighting literally any guy that might happen to be on the roster at the moment is probably my favorite thing in current WWE. This is only a 5 minute match but is just about the most complete match you can get in 5 minutes. Ohno is so great at just Ric Flairing himself through Yorkshire and making it seem like anyone can beat him, while also demolishing those same people. He is so good at finding plausible ways to be pinned by 170 lb. Brits, and then punishing those Brits for almost beating him. I liked the way Starz fought in close with Ohno, tripping Ohno up during his multiple kip ups, foiling him with a wristlock, getting a snug crucifix nearfall, countering a rolling elbow with a tabletop trip to take Ohno out at the knees, and not being afraid to sneak in uppercuts when he could (I couldn't tell if Starz had nice uppercuts, but due to the height difference they looked nice as he had a perfect shot under Ohno's chin). But as many of these NXT UK appearances have gone, you knew this was going to be about Ohno wrecking some guy. And I like how Ohno almost acted offended by getting occasionally outsmarted by Starz, so kept his punishment swift. Starz goes for a handstand in the corner, Ohno considers the situation, then just kicks at Starz' hand, keeping his boot there to grind his fingers. Ohno rips at Starz' arm and bends him around by the wrist and fingers, still leaving some openings for Starz to come back, but working quick toward the finish. I loved how he sinks the Kassius Clutch and just bsically wins the match by sheer size. He doesn't make it pretty, he just taps Starz because he can.

Kassius Ohno vs. Kenny Williams NXT UK 3/6 (Aired 3/19/20)

ER: I wish I had one match per week that is merely Kassius Ohno as territory champ Ric Flair making every local 160 pounder look like they have a shot at beating him. Not only does Ohno break out a new trick every single NXT UK match, but he brings such confidence and logic to these 7 minute matches. He has a real honest approach to a match - very much a Finlay in WCW - where he sells and bumps appropriately for the offense actually being performed. If a move doesn't hit flush, he doesn't sell the move as if it landed the way it was supposed to land. It forces his opponent to work honest knowing that Ohno will be giving no quarter, and it can't be an accident that Ohno was the guy in the ring when several NXT UK guys had their tightest match. Williams is a guy who doesn't land hard, so another Ohno opponent that has to rely on quickness and staying one step ahead. The early wrist control was fun, with Williams flipping and rolling any way he could to try and baffle Ohno, getting away with a nice rolling prawn and a headscissors. Ohno is so smart about giving plausible openings to his opponents, like when he catches a springboard crossbody, tosses Williams up into a fireman's carry, and then nearly loses the match when Williams rolls through a tight crucifix pin. Ohno breaks out a neat trick to block a second Williams springboard, as instead of trying to knock Williams off the apron he just waits until Williams grabs the ropes to spring, and places his boot squarely on Williams' hand, holding him in place. I mentioned appropriate-to-the-move-being-done selling, and that's on full display as Williams hits a dive, a nice tope en reversa from the middle buckle, and a missile dropkick back in the ring. Ohno goes down for the reverse tope as even a smaller guy crashing backwards into you from the middle buckle to the floor will knock you down, but doesn't go down for the missile dropkick. I love that Finlay mindset of "You knock me down with a dropkick, and I'll get knocked down by a dropkick", and it makes the shotgun dropkick that *does* knock him down mean so much more. Ohno, however, breaks out another trick, catching a headscissors and kicking out Williams' plant arm, then just levels him with a roaring elbow. Ohno clearly could have won after that elbow, but opts to lock in the Kassius Clutch, probably to punish insolence.

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Friday, August 07, 2020


Rocky Columbo vs. Larry Chene Chicago 9/25/1953

MD: This was one of the most satisfying draws I've seen in a long time. Wrestled incredibly evenly, they made a show of it, one that stands up easily, if with real differences, to a lot of the 50s Catch we've seen seeing. They spent the first ten minutes really going at it before settling into holds that worked into spots for most of the rest of the match. They did a lot of hold-for-hold exchanges, though Chene, who wrestled this clean, was going to be the standout for the way that he continuously managed to bump himself, throwing himself into top rope on a miss, eating a bump off a dropkick while sitting on the top and then missing his attempt at receipt, bumping huge on both an electric chair position (out of a pumphandle) and on a headlock reversal, etc, ending up choked between the ropes, and so on. They kept it sportsmanlike and even, keeping things brisk and interesting so that when the bell finally rang, you found yourself surprisingly okay with the fact the match didn't have a winner.

PAS: I thought this was totally awesome. Larry Chene was nuts in this, taking crazy bump after crazy bump. He has this high back bump where he gets thrown in the air and lands directly on his spine, it is kind of a combo of a back body drop and a high back drop bump. There is also a great spot where Columbo lifts Chene and places him on the top rope, just to dropkick him off with Chene flying backwards and tweaking his knee. Chene tries to return the favor but Columbo jumps off the top and Chene ends up taking a Psicosis bump on the back of his head. Columbo was a solid grappler, and had a crazy TJP style rope fake, but this was mostly the Chene show. What a staggering talent he was.

ER: We've been watching a lot of French Catch this year, marveling at the speed and bumps and physical creativity, because none oF us had any idea that any of that even existed. And here we are, several years before our earliEst French footage, watching our own Chicago boys doing the exact same kind of wild hybrid wrestling that would have been impossible to predict. This is only the second Larry Chene match I have ever seen, and the first match I saw is our 1963 MOTY. Well, a decade prior and Chene is in our 1953 MOTY. Chene is a real marvel, and he and Columbo go at it so quick that the commentator reminds them a minute in that thematch has a 30 minute time limit. Slow down, boys! They do not. Chene has all these crazy spots that find him flying into the ropes the way most people don't fly into ropes, taking big chest first bumps into them like he was being hotshotted. He takes what has to be the absolute earliest recorded Psicosis corner bump, and also winds up missing a dropkick and hanging painfully by his leg over the top rope. Of course, later he hangs himself between the top and middle rope, another spot I never would have guessed happened in the early 50s. These two smack into each other in incredibly fun ways, really hard shoulderblocks that are sold with a nice amount of give, both guys running into each other and then recoiling from the impact. It was a refreshing take on tough guys who just absorb shoulderblocks and collisions, as a lot of these collisions felt like a car accident that sends both cars spinning apart from each other. The match goes to a draw and never loses that pace that the commentator warned them about 10 seconds in, and we're all left better for it.

Fit Finlay/Takayuki Iizuka vs. Mile Zrno/Prince Zefy CWA 9/13/91 - GREAT

MD: This was good stuff while it lasted but probably didn't rise to become better than the sum of its parts. A tag match that only half makes use of the implicit benefits of formula leaves opportunities on the table. Iizuka and Finlay were a great offensive team though. Completely believable that they could take over at any moment. All of Iizuka's stuff looked good and Finlay was a real presence in the corner. I've seen my share of Zrno but I tend to think of him as a cool, tough, technical machine. Here he shined as a more traditional babyface, and the crowd was very much behind him. Zefy's stuff didn't look as sharp but he bumped big (inducing on a ducked rana/dropkick attempt that set up the first fall) and took a solid beating. While they did a good job drawing the ref away so Finlay could cheat off and on through the match, they really just gave away the hot tag for no reason except for maybe heel hubris. Still, lots of good here.

PAS: All of this German Finlay that has shown up has been a real blessing. He and Iizuka are a fun bruiser tag team, with Finlay especially in his ass beating best. This is spunky babyface Zrno and much like highspot Blue Panther he can easily shift back and forth between technical master and guy with a nice dropkick getting fired up. Zefy was fun if a bit raw, and he was taking big bumps. I loved Finlay just chucking him balls first on the top rope with real menace, it got him DQ'd and it lost him the match, but it was a total fuck it moment, and a great one.

ER: It doesn't get more automatic Gem for me than a new Finlay match. At this point it might be a more worthy venture for us to find the Finlay matches that are not at all worth watching. That'll be a short list, but a weird fun project. All of the recently unearthed German Finlay is excellent, and I like how this match was all about Finlay hanging back and really only coming in when Iizuka got in over his head, and Finlay works great in those kind of quick starbursts. Iizuka has always been great at taking beatings but he clearly knows how to dish them, and I loved his interactions with Zrno. Zrno works like a stiff Euro Tommy Rogers, which is a great thing. He had hard uppercuts, a great headscissors, strong energy, and some fantastic (haha) mounted corner punches. Finlay was a great agitator from the apron, and every time he would storm into the ring you knew someone was about to get wasted. I love Finlay's Vader attack clothesline, the one where both of his feet are briefly off the ground as he slams his arm and chest into his opponent. The DQ finish was nasty, with Finlay slamming Zefy onto the top rope with an atomic drop, although it would have played much better if Zefy hadn't acted like nothing had happened to him seconds later. Finlay should have gotten back in the ring and done it until Zefy sold it properly or just burst his sac like he was Tommy Dreamer.

MD: Fun Horowitz showcase. Early going had Horowitz outwrestling Slinger but Slinger outstriking him. The crowd turned on Horowitz after some elbows on the apron and a catapult onto the bottom rope and he played heel for the rest of the match. Horowitz was full of credible and varied offense (neckbreakers, neck whip, northern lights, just grinding Slinger's face across the mat in a headcissors). Slinger was naturally explosive and had an ok hope spot or too but probably needed at least one more, just as the finish probably needed one more time around: Slinger came back with a short spin kick reversal after Horowitz' huge pile driver (an attempt at which led to a hope spot earlier) but a bit of that comeback before the pile driver would have made everything feel more balanced. Still, solid prelim showing from guys who don't always get time like this.

PAS: Man for a guy who spent the vast majority of his career as a jobber, Horowitz will eat someone up if he has a chance. I remember an APW match where he just overwhelmed Donovan Morgan. He takes about 85% of this match, constantly cutting Slinger off every time he tries to get any momentum going. Horowitz has a lot of cool offense and was going to break out all of it. I really liked the headscissors where he dragged Slingers face across the mat, and his northern lights suplex look good. Slinger's final run with a pump kick and huge superfly splash was cool, but this would have been better if it hadn't been so one-sided

ER: Allow me to be the high vote on this one. That is coming from someone who was actually there LIVE for that Barry Horowitz/Donovan Morgan match that Phil mentioned. That match was so weird and unexpected, because it went 25 minutes and 20+ of those minutes were Horowitz controlling Morgan, who was an APW title holder at the time. That match was 25 and felt 40, lots of grounded headlocks and a crowd that was tiring, and Donovan got upset when someone yelled "just wrestle already". Obviously the guy meant "please just DO something" but once that got yelled the plan was clearly "let's rub this mat wrestling in their face". The match seemed to be attempting to rehab Horowitz's TV jobber rep, which is a weird thing to do against one of your top homegrown guys. This match had some elements of that, but didn't approach the weirdness that a 25 minute Horowitz/Slinger match would have.

This starts with Slinger really owning Horowitz, hitting a couple of slick takedowns with fancy control, and some of those hard kicks he throws. Slinger never gets talked about in the same breath as other kickers (Slinger doesn't really get talked about in general, which is a shame), but he has such great whipping kicks, always landing them hard. He hits a couple of great standing kicks and a big thudding kick to Horowitz's back here, also gets great height on his dropkick (which Horowitz kind of leans out of). The Horowitz control segment was way too long, but Horowitz had a lot of cool offense and it became fun seeing what he would break out next. I really liked his mat game, thought he had some super convincing grapevine cradles, and I will third the love for his headscissors that dragged Slinger's forehead across the mat. The most telling sign that Horowitz's control was going too long, is that by the end of it he wasn't hitting moves nearly as crisply as he was 8 minutes prior. You can see his perfect northern lights suplex earlier in the match, but down the stretch he kind of flubs two potentially big moments: there's a fireman's carry on the floor that is supposed to drop Slinger chest first onto the apron, but they both kind of just fall without hitting the apron; then, a piledriver that looks like it's going to be excellent, that sees Horowitz lean WAY too far back, making it look more like Slinger landing on Horowitz than getting his head driven into the mat. Slinger's big comeback was short but finished with a big damn exclamation point, as his superfly splash looked organ rupturing. The structure for this was a little perplexing, but Horowitz had such a deep bag of tricks that I kept getting into it the longer it went. Now lets find the handheld of Taue/Horowitz from a few months later.



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Thursday, August 06, 2020

RIP Mitch Ryder

PAS: I used to buy XCW-Midwest DVDs from Mitch Ryder in the early days of Segunda Caida. We reviewed a ton of them and it sort of established SC as the kind of place that would review a dozen XCW-Midwest shows. Ryder was a breath of fresh air in the "do a bunch of stuff" era of indy wrestling and was always good for some bumping, bleeding, and brawling.

Mitch Ryder/Todd Morton/Tarek the Great/Bull Pain vs. Ian Rotten/Mark Wolf/Tracy Smothers/Sabu IWA-MS 10/20/01

PAS: Overbooked as it gets, but totally awesome. We probably didn't need a surprise partner (although Sabu is always great in that role), a Tarek the Great face turn AND a Tracy Smothers heel turn all in one match. The Tarek turn added nothing to the match and could have been scrapped. Still everything else was great, Pain cracking Ian in the jaw with a baseball bat, Todd Morton doing two crazy cage dives (including walking the side of the cage), Sabu taking a bump off the side of the cage to the floor, and tons of blood. Ryder was mostly on the outside of the cage running interference, throwing Wolf into chairs, brawling wildly with Smothers, punching Ian in his bloody head. Finish was some classic IWA White WorldStarism. Tracy puts on the ref shirt to count Bull down, only to jump Ian, then the Bad Motherfuckers beat Ian down while the fans throw things. Corporal Robinson tries to make the save by walking the rafters to the top of the cage, Ian's wife Patti tries to hit Tracy with a stick. Total Fentanyl clinic riot which is one of the best things about IWA.

JR: When I was in college I had to take an acting class as a general requirement. I was not a strong actor but I remember I did one scene with a partner and our thought process was “if we just cause chaos the entire time, it will cover up our distinct lack of talent”. It worked well enough.

I thought about that while watching this. As a wrestling writer, I’m someone who is constantly trying to identify narrative. I legitimately can’t do that here. There is a story and it’s established well, but I think to mention it or try and define it would in some ways take away from the sheer spectacle that unfolds. Every single person in this is insane. Sabu shows up early and spends almost all of his time bumping from the cage to the floor. Tarek turns face, the sniveling henchman finally growing a spine and standing up to the abusive Bull Pain and paying the price. Pain holds court, despicable and massive from the first moment, at once the center of everything and completely separate from it all.

Almost everyone is wonderful here. Smothers gets to work his greatest hits throughout, working as a fiery babyface and then turning mid match and working as a heat magnet for the rest, trying to start a riot every step of the way. Every single person takes a bump that they absolutely regretted moments after it happened. Todd Morton did two cage dives!

Of course, we watched this in tribute to Mitch Ryder. I wouldn’t exactly call this a showcase for Ryder, but his makes the most of his moments. In some ways, it’s a good microcosm of his career as a whole: while others will certainly have more words devoted to them, more camera time thrust upon them, in the moments that Ryder was the focal point, he stood out. The door of the cage was slammed on his back and he stooged and pranced like Rick Rude after an atomic drop. In the chaos on the outside, he flung himself around. Chairs and tables and fans scattered around him. He talked trash into the camera, filling the frame with his insane, sweaty face. In short, he was a wrestler. He did everything he was supposed to do and he did it well.

ER: When somebody seeks out an "IWA Mid-South" match, this is the kind of match they have in mind. This was undistilled IWA, the kind of grimy bloody violence you want to see, and the kind of match that's impossible to pick a favorite performance. Mitch Ryder's team come out to Eruption like they are zit faced teenagers, and jump Ian's team the second they come out from the back. And from there we got a perfectly messy terror of stiff punches, crazy bumps, and high emotion. Todd Morton was a real loon, doing TWO cage dives, and it's actually amazing how quickly and easily the shortest guy in the match can scramble up to the top of a cage. Morton hits a pinpoint accurate elbowdrop off the rafters ABOVE the cage, and later hits a frog splash on Ian off the top of the cage while fully protecting Ian. Sabu runs into the chaos and every time he pops into frame he is taking a way too dangerous bump, like falling out the cage door onto his head or getting kicked off nearly the top of the cage all the way to the floor. Tracy Smothers was a big Tasmanian Devil, and two different times I had to check and make sure the tape wasn't on 2x speed. tracy was throwing impossible to block punches, the kind of punches that look much more like the punches someone would throw in a parking lot fight. He was beating people around ringside, throwing Ryder meanly into a table and big cooler, and on his way out he clearly hit a fan. Ian bled about 5 seconds into this and didn't stop, then took constant offense from 4-5 guys for the duration of the match. Ryder was the real heel personality throughout this, taking stooging bumps, yelling at the camera, getting tossed into the crowd, running interference to kick guys off the cage as they were trying to get in, orchestrating Ian getting his arm slammed in the door, and that's all important. He wasn't doing the flashy stuff in the match, but he was constantly the guy doing the important stuff to bridge the violence, to kill time with charisma until a big spot from Morton or Sabu. Glue guys are underrated and important parts of big bloody cage matches, and they don't come more underrated than Ryder.

Mitch Ryder vs. Ian Rotten IWA-MS 11/22/01

PAS: This was an old fashioned walking tall babyface match with Ian putting up half of IWA-MS against Mitch Ryder's hair. It was a fans lumberjack match and Ian is seconded by Sherri Martel. Ian Bill Watts himself all over Ryder who bumps and bleeds the way you need to in this match. Ian adds disgusting headbutts to the big punches you would normally see in this type of match, and both guys get soaked by the end. Ryder is great at finding little moments to take over control while mostly giving the fans what they want to see by bumping around. The finish felt kind of blown by the ref, which is my only beef. Finish has the BMFs and CM Punk stop the haircutting, beat up Sherri and shave Ian's head. Keeping this feud going, I am not sure about bailing on stips like this, but the BMF's are always great to watch beat people down.

JR: So the stipulation here is that if Ian loses, Ryder gets 50% of IWA-MS. Does that mean they would then book by a two person committee? I’m really interested in how this would’ve worked.

Am I alone in thinking there is something about Mitch Ryder’s face, especially when it is masked by blood, that is similar in some way to James Van Der Beek? I’m not saying Ryder looks like him per say, I’m just saying that a drunken Ryder probably at one point claimed he looked like him. Anyway, it adds to the whole effect of scumbag heartbreaker.

This match is ludicrous. Ian selects fans to be the lumberjacks, four of whom were obviously pre selected and one was a spur of the moment call because Fanin and Prazak thought it would be funny and yelled loud enough for Ian to hear them. They essentially serve no purpose after some initial lip service that Ryder is trying desperately to escape. In some ways, the early portion of this is similar to what Phil and I wrote about with Methlab BattlArts, but with Ian cast in the role of conquering babyface. Ryder is good at helping Ian project that same sense of foreboding and dread, as though a match with Rotten is always moments away from slipping completely out of control.

Ryder does well enough while on top. A match can go far on simple things when the participants know how to work the margins. Ian is great at bleeding. That may sound silly but it always looks both grotesque and sympathetic. Ryder understands where he needs to be at all times, working the cut, using the sleeper enough times where a finish would be credible but the predictable escape is warranted. While the finish here is obviously a mistake, the work before is hearty enough to still be enjoyable.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2020

AEW Dynamite Workrate Report 8/5/20

What Worked

-AEW has somehow had a poor success rate with big multiman matches. I think a multiman tag with 8+ people should be pretty much a slam dunk good match. You can hide anybody you want and can work at a great pace with frequent tags. But for some reason AEW multimans just have not clicked. The opener tonight clicked. There was stuff I didn't like (I really dislike whenever a big match like this focuses on a spot that involves half or more of the participants, like an 8 man suplex or the silly 3 way spinning toe hold that ended with them all knocking heads), but much more stuff that I thought worked really well. The energy throughout was good, and I especially liked Evil Uno. He's a guy who worked countless multimans like this, so you get a sense he knew right where to be. His chain spots didn't require anyone to wait awkwardly, he took the snap dragon real well, set up double teams great (loved his sit out powerbomb), and hit that nice cannonball under Grayson's 450. Both Bucks knew how to pick their moments and Matt had some great stuff running through a bunch of guys on the floor before getting leveled by a Brodie Lee superkick. Lee also had a cool double lariat and wrecked Kenny with one on the apron (painful bump from Omega), and this was maybe the best Lee has looked in AEW. The important thing here was that everyone was pretty good about choosing their moments, and many worked in smart spots to get out of the action. Grayson flew past the ringpost to the floor and took a big apron bump, Dax Harwood left the match after doing a nasty gutbuster on his bad knee (I do not know if the injury is real, but I hope it is not. He sold it convincingly enough that it looked legit), and that lead to a really great Page comeback when he rejoined the match after taking Harwood to the back. This wasn't bogged down in any way with that comedy that tends to drag these AEW matches down, and that tight pacing kept this real strong throughout.

-Really enjoyed LAX vs. Best Friends, with things really picking up when Trent took a nasty bump on the edge of the apron, getting his legs yanked out from under him. The LAX control segment was really good, thought Santana looked really good in there. They had a real nice double team suplex, and Trent is at his best selling and bumping around. Now, the structure meant that we were building to a Chuck Taylor hot tag the whole time, which was the weakest part of the match (and I did really like his Sliced Bread, thought it looked much better than his various drivers that always see him getting into position too early). He moved through his offense quick, which looked a bit too planned (compared to how the rest of the match looked), but the home stretch had a couple of big double teams and a decent nearfall. It didn't have the result that I wanted, but I can't argue with how we got there.

-Sammy/Hardy brawl was good, Guevara looked like a real maniac. His punches were thrown with the body language of a man trying to injure someone with punches. This wasn't a set of clean punch exchanges, this was a guy jumping someone. He threw an opened chair right into Hardy's face which felt like a crazy moment in an Ian Rotten match, not something that Matt Hardy would take on TV. The twisting dive through a table was sweet icing, but Hardy's deep red gusher was all the cherry we needed on this sundae. Sick blade job, made me wonder how the hell they would top any of that in an actual match, and made me excited to see themselves top it.

-How cool was it that Ortiz javelined that sledgehammer into the windshield to end the segment? That's the kind of one take that would have made me flip out the moment the scene was cut. "You see it stick in the windshield!? Try to defeat me now, God!"

-Wasn't feeling the Cody/Cardona tag, but Reynolds and Silver won me over during the nice, long control segment over Cody. Early stuff felt a little too indy, Cody didn't totally look like he touched the ringpost in the spot where he was supposed to, but he committed to the selling enough that I eventually bought in. Silver is a shrimp but works well with his size. Silver makes up the difference by throwing hard kicks. He is a better thigh slapper than most, really hitting the mark on some very fast timing, but really his kicks look good enough that he really doesn't need the slap. His kicks to a kneeling Cody were what really got me into this. He has good aim and came in with kicks to break up pins to show more of that good timing. But while his kicks look powerful, he is still small, and I like that someone like Cody was able to just power through with a cool powerslam in spite of the damage. Cardona didn't do a ton for me (and it's hilarious that JR was talking about his big action figure collection as something that would presumably get him over) but everyone else made this work.

-I didn't actually expect the Jericho/Cassidy program to have legs. I keep finding myself surprised with every segment. They're drawing it out really well and, not worrying about making each segment more intense than the last, just convincingly pairing them off the right amount each week. I'm not sure they can top their match, but they're doing a really good job keeping it interesting.

8. Darby Allin vs. Jon Moxley

ER: I thought this was great. Unhinged Darby performances are the most consistently high end part of Dynamite since the beginning. Moxley can be a little goofy, but he can also bleed and dish a stiff beating on Allin while Allin finds a dozen different ways to crash his own body. Moxley goes right after him to start but soon Darby is crashing the way he does best, including a brutal run into the ringpost. He dies on a couple of topes, and is one of the best in wrestling at making topes look like devastating offense. He finds great ways to stay just ahead of Moxley, and the match keeps getting hotter because of it. I dug how he set up his Code Red by kicking out Moxley's knee, and I loved how he stomped all over Moxley's hand in the ringpost before coffin dropping to the floor, landing on Moxley's same hand. There is some MJF interference, but they don't let it define the match, and don't let it be the cause of the finish. What it does do, is give Moxley a great chance to blade. Matt Hardy still had the juice of the night, but Moxley's adds to this fight. I liked Darby capitalizing and was actually shocked when the coffin drop wasn't the finish, and shocked again when Darby refused to stay down after a Gotch piledriver. I wasn't expecting the match to go big match epic on me and I enjoyed that twist. The implant DDT that kept Allin down looked sick and should keep someone down. Darby is must see TV, and matches like this one make that an obvious statement.

PAS: This was really great stuff, I didn't care for either of their first two matches against each other, but this was great. Darby might be the single best wrestler in the world at structuring an underdog match, and maybe one of the best ever at it. He is actually taking less insane bumps now than he was in the indies, but the one crazy bump he took was totally awesome looking and perfectly placed. All of Darby's offense is that rare mix of flawlessly smooth and really violent looking. You can get one or the other, rarely do you get both. Eric is right about his topes, they are the most violent dives in wrestling, and really maybe the most violent since Ciclon Ramirez. There was no need for the MJF stuff, and it would help Darby more if he got his near fall due to his own actions, but it is a minor quibble. I do think they are getting a little Lucy with the Football on Darby's big win, and they really need to pull the trigger soon.

What Didn't Work

-It feels cheap putting Swole/Reba here, since Reba is hardly a wrestler and the match was designed to be a Swole demolition. It wasn't meant to be great, and it wasn't. But it wasn't bad, and they gave the whole segment the right amount of time. The rest of the show is all up top! I feel like a real heel putting this here. The show does need segments that aren't just workrate match after workrate match, but it probably would have worked much better in between the opener and the Inner Circle tag. Also, it is a bizarre choice that amid all the "put more women on TV" talk, they put women on TV for a total of 3 minutes.


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Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Tuesday is French Catch Day: Gerber! Di Santo! Pellacani! Dula! Duranton!

Rene Gerber vs. Jean Rabut 12/13/58

MD: Back when we last saw Gerber, a few months ago now, I lamented that we only had one more match with him and it was a JIP one. At least it's one that goes about 15, though. He's a great stooging heel. There's a moment in here, towards the end, that really sums him up. After spending the brunt of the match tossing Rabut out of the ring (and getting tossed out himself) and eating revenge spots tied up in the ropes or eating torpedo headbutts in the corner, he managed to dodge Rabut getting his feet up on some shoulder thrusts. He hobbled back and tapped his head to show his smarts. There was an almost congenial moment between the two of them despite all that had occurred and he asked for a handshake. This was the third of the match, with the first being clean and the second being a cheapshot. After a moment of shared competency and luck, Rabut decided to go in for it though, and he was immediately incapacitated with his arm over the rope and punched hard in the gut twice. That was Gerber for you. Rabut had some great athletic spots we've barely seen, backflips after dropkicks and a novel handstand headcissors takeover. He didn't quite get the chance to fully shine against Gerber though. The crowd wanted more of the rapid-fire elbows to the skull or punches to the gut in the corner, instead. Gerber got great heat, all but brawling with the ref, shoving people in the crowd, having trash thrown at him. Great heel. It's a shame we don't see more of him. We do see more of Rabut though, including against Chaisne, so I'm interested to see what he'll do against a different sort of opponent.

SR: 2/3 falls match going about 30 minutes. It‘s the last sighting of Liano Pellacani (for now, who knows what has yet to be digitalized), who sure made an impression. And this was really worked as a long Pellacani showcase. He did more wrestling than usual, engaging in some greco roman work with Di Santo. He was acting like pure brawler before, so it was nice to see that he had the chops. I also totally did not expect him to just savate kick Di Santo in the throat. After that it was asskicking city as Pellacani was demolishing Lino with those unforgiving forearm smashes. Di Santo was a quite great dance partner too, as his stoic selling really accentuates the nasty beating he was taking, and his comebacks gave back as good as he was taking. This was probably the most asskicking we‘ve seen Di Santo do so far and his forearms and dropkicks looked amazing. These kinda matches can easily get repetitve, but they knew to threw in a number of interesting spots. There was a particularily great rope running sequence that lead to a nearfall, as well as Pellacanis general use of the ring ropes (the slingshot to throat is such an amazing little spot), and Lino Di Santo hitting the most neckbreaking neckbreaker. I should add that anytime Pellacani lands outside is tense as you expect him to get jumped by someone from the crowd. Both guys throwing body punches was great, and Di Santo ducking the savate kick to forearm Pellacani into another dimension felt like a spot that was 25 years ahead of its time. Nasty finish too which ended up a fitting swansong for Pellacani.

MD: Of all the footage we've seen so far, I think this might be the night I would have most liked to be there. Not the best matches but maybe the best heels in back to back matches. Both Gerber and Pellacani in the same night. The crowd was already heated at the start of this and by the end, they were more than happy to throw trash into the ring. A guy like Tony Oliver was a consummate heel, likewise Delaporte who was just incessant. Pellacani, however, had this deep understanding of himself and portrayed a sort of passive aggressive quiet fury about the state of reality itself. It wasn't his fault that he did what he did. It was the world that drove him to it. He feels like the promise of Professor Boris Malenko, like Abe Weissman's evil brother. He wrestled the early bit of this clean, things escalating until he managed two monkey flips in a row, only to eat a running 'rana for his trouble. After that, he flipped the switch, unleashing the wickedest clubbering blows you can imagine. As the match went on, he'd take his advantages and act both offended and furious when called out for them. Di Santo would come back but the cut offs were quick and vicious, merciless even. He was always in the moment, which made every second feel organic and real. Di Santo might hit an atomic drop and his trademark neckbreaker, but Pellacani was quick to grab on to the top rope and jam the second attempt, always thinking, always on. All the way to the end where he had enough and drew a DQ, and the last look we'll ever have at him in this footage, teasing an attack on Di Santo after the bell only to draw back, satisfied at the disdain of all around him, to place his robe back on and give the crowd a bow, unabashedly himself no matter what they thought.

Jimmy Dula vs. Robert Duranton 12/26/58

SR: Jimmy Dula is someone I‘ve only seen a few mentions of on tiny fan pages. I wouldn‘t have thought I‘d ever see him wrestle, let alone in a 2/3 falls match that goes nearly 40 minutes. I guess this was a reminder that sometimes the mythical guys you only see looking badass on one or two photos are sometimes just regular wrestlers. This was solid Catch, very much like the stuff we could see on WoS or IWE. Not super tricked out, but there was some intense hold for hold work. I expected Duranton to bring the heat as we had seen him doing before, but instead it was Dula who assumed the role of the shit stirrer when he took offense to Duranton kicking his way out of a hold. Next thing he did was try to pry Durantons nose from his face. The face attacks looked really nasty, and Dula had really good looking forearm smashes and uppercuts. I also really liked his constant use of the cravate, constantly wrenching Durantons head. It‘s a bit of a long match but the fact Dula kept going back to try and wrestle Duranton kept it interesting and we get lots of cool strike exchanges down the stretch.:

MD: Sebastian might have thought that this was business as usual but this was a pretty odd one to me. Duranton is one of the more unlikable guys we've seen in this project (in a good way). At this stage of his career, I don't think he's the sort to carry someone entirely though. He's been a bit more stylized so far. After a bit of clunky wrestling, Dula started to go straight for the eyes and mouth, however. He had this thing he'd do where after every break, he'd salute to the crowd as if everything was perfectly lovely. Sometimes he'd use it to stall. The crowd didn't know what to make of it. It got a reaction, but it was mainly amused bewilderment. Ultimately, this had a fairly uncooperative feel which didn't bear out positively in the holds but did with the strikes. The saving grace here was that they really beat the crap out of each other. Duranton was especially mean. We'd seen that streak before, but here he was a wall that would not break (at least not too often), and the meaner he got with his shots, the meaner Dula got in return. I think Dula's act probably would have worked pretty well against one of your more standard French babyfaces. It's just that he was paired with Duranton who modified his act to be tougher, maybe, but I don't even know if that's a good thing, as the charm of him is how haughty and arrogantly dismissive he can be. He didn't get much of a chance to be that here while his opponent was walking around and saluting no matter what had just happened.

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Monday, August 03, 2020

2020 Ongoing MOTY List: Bryan vs. Sheamus

17. Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus WWE Smackdown 5/29

ER: Bryan shows up on TV, Bryan has an awesome match. He's the all star of the silent era, lifting up everyone he comes in contact with. I love how Bryan has taken advantage of the quieter arena (although at least WWE has finally picked up on the fact that 30 people of crowd is much better than 0 people), and his uppercuts, body kicks, and leg kicks have never sounded or looked better. And the coolest thing about Bryan is the stiffer he works the more he encourages the same from his opponent, and Sheamus is a guy who is going to be cool with that arrangement. I can get into a contest where two guys try to figure out who has the harder European uppercut (I give it to Bryan), but every piece of contact worked for me. Maybe the nastiest shots of the match were Sheamus rocking Bryan in the corner with a dozen or so back elbows, just dropping him to the mat one inch at a time, then starts dropping knees on Bryan's face. Hell yes. Was that my favorite part of the match? Maybe it was Bryan hitting a great tope and seeing nutbar Sheamus clearly whip the right side of his head into the barricade to ring his own bell going into the break. Sheamus yanks on Bryan's nose and upends him with a lariat (love how Bryan gets dumped by lariats), and we got a couple of solid nearfalls down the stretch. Bryan rolling through a crucifix for a pin looked like it could finish, and Bryan kicking out of White Noise felt like a big moment. I cannot understate how much having enthusiastic noise out there while these two are killing each other was an absolute boon to the match, making this thing work even with the lame "man distracted by another man" finish. These two always match up great, and this is their first singles match in over 5 years. No surprise, that match wound up on our 2015 Ongoing MOTY List.

PAS: I do love how Bryan has just embraced "silent crowd violent wrestling" and Sheamus is the perfect dance partner for a stiff fest. Sheamus has been gone so long, I kind of forgot about him, but he is still pretty great. The ghost white skin shows up every bruise and Bryan shoots to break blood vessels with every shot. I want to second the greatness of Sheamus's back elbows and knees, in a match built around stiff shots, those were on another level. I really hope Bryan's neurologist is top level. I could have used a more dynamic finish, but I will never tire of two guys trying to wallop the crap out of each other.


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Sunday, August 02, 2020

WWF Raw 7/8/96: Three On Paper Bangers

So I threw on this episode of Raw because I wanted to see the main event, a big ol' hoss battle of Vader and The British Bulldog vs. The Godwinns. But then I saw the whole episode was comprised of three matches, all of them intriguing on paper. The whole episode ran 48 minutes long, and I figure watching three intriguing matches in under an hour was a decent enough use of my time. The episode was famously the last WWF in ring appearance of Ultimate Warrior, with Gorilla Monsoon opening the show talking about his suspension, and how he now has to put up a performance bond to guarantee he'll appear. Now, obviously this show was taped before Warrior no-showed one show too many, but it's interesting that they were basically negotiating with Warrior on air, and Vince ends up spending much of his match with Owen saying things like "well we hope we'll get to see more of The Warrior..."

Owen Hart vs. The Ultimate Warrior

ER: This was a real impressive Owen performance, because Warrior gassed hard during his ring entrance. I know that's kind of a thing Warrior is known for, but it seemed especially bad here. The fans liked the entrance, and Owen was really good at filling the recovery time well. He took two big Warriors clotheslines to the floor, ran hard into a powerslam (that Warrior didn't even go down for, just rotated through and stayed on his feet) and got major height on a flapjack. Owen even did a super painful Bret turnbuckle chest bump and staggered back into a Warrior side slam. Warrior was realllly tired, with one incredibly long shot of him just slowly walking around the ring, mouth open the entire time, sucking wind. Owen worked real well with a super tired opponent, and still didn't half ass things like missed clotheslines, cutting low to at least make Warrior duck. Those are the kinds of things you do in a one man performance to make the other guy look like he's contributing, and it works. I liked how Owen finally transitioned to offense, with Warrior catching knees on a big splash, and it's tough work doing your run of offense against someone who can't really move a lot to take offense. Luckily, things like Owen's enziguiri work fine for the circumstances, and when Warrior finally catches his wind his comeback looks good. Owen was really good at setting up hard Warrior clotheslines and his big flying shoulderblock before Bulldog ran in for the DQ. This was 10 minutes of Owen out there catering an entire match to someone who wasn't moving great through much of it, and that's the kind of thing I'll always be impressed with.

Savio Vega vs. Justin Hawk Bradshaw

ER: This was pretty messy, and pretty free of structure, but they tried to overcome those two things by running into each other real hard and real often and that's a good strategy! There was a fair bit of miscommunication, moves that hit when they were supposed to miss, and both being slightly out of position for things. It felt like they got sent out there to fill a LOT of time and didn't have a full plan on just how to fill nearly 15 minutes. It's a lot, and so nothing really stuck, they just kept getting up and hitting each other with something new. Bradshaw had a couple big boots, a couple nice elbowdrops (and a big elbowdrop miss), both hit heavy bodyslams, just a couple guys who have no problem mixing it up. The best part of Bradshaw is when he bites off a little more than he can chew and does a move he doesn't know how to hold back on. An example of this is Bradshaw hitting a killer flying shoulderblock off the top. He doesn't know how to work the move, so he just jams his shoulder flying full force into Savio and then landing just as hard. Savio's corner spinkick is an awesome highlight here, and Vega went into Bradshaw really fast and whipped quickly to the floor. It's such a good visual. The finish is really well done too, as Zebekiah grabs Vega's foot to cause him to stumble, but it was when Bradshaw was already set to level him with the clothesline from Hell! So Vega stumbles under Bradshaw's lariat and Bradshaw does a fantastic miss as he crashes into the ropes, getting hit with Vega's spinning heel kick as he's getting up. Great, great finish. Also, throughout the match Lawler and Vince were speculating on who the mystery partner for Michaels and Ahmed was going to be, and it lead to this bizarre exchange:

Lawler: Maybe it's Anthony Quinn!
Vince: Anthony Quinn? He's 81 years old!
Lawler:...Maybe one of his sons?

Vince responded so quickly, the whole thing played like Jerry and George chatting at the diner.

Vader/British Bulldog vs. The Godwinns

ER: This was a slightly better put together version of the Savio/Bradshaw match. It really felt like none of these guys knew exactly how much time they were going to be filling with their match, making it tough to construct a beginning/middle/end. Owen/Warrior was clearly mapped out for its entire 10 minutes, but this tag was so similar to the prior match in that it had no direction, but with clearly planned finishes. So in both matches they knew exactly where they were going to wind up, but it's as if they weren't told how long they had to get there. That would be really tough to do! But these are all big guys, and so while there was some aimlessness and a little repetition, it's still a ton of beef slamming into everything. Vader and Bulldog felt like they could have been a really awesome team, even thought they only wound up teaming 5 times. Bulldog as the (much) smaller member of a team was a cool vibe, and they had good team chemistry right off the bat. Bulldog would do power spots and Vader would be all about the smashing and flattening. That's such a cool combo. Their finisher here was Vader hitting a lariat to the back of Phineas's head, sending him right into a Bulldog powerslam. Before that we got a lot of these four crashing into each other in cool ways. Dickhead heel Vader is so good, this mammoth man who takes cheap shots without needing to. He gets into the match by throwing a knee from the apron, then comes in and starts throwing body shots. Vader throws one of my favorite elbowdrops in wrestling history, second probably only to Stan Hansen, and he drops a couple of beauties here, the best one to break up a pin. Poor Phineas just eating a Vader elbowdrop to the middle of his back. Vader also throws a mean as hell clothesline, but he also takes a great Henry vertical suplex (probably a little early in the match to eat a big suplex, but that was Vader). This would have been better with a tighter story arc, but I love these four together here and I am saddened at the prospect of so little Vader/Bulldog. Cherish what we do have.

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Saturday, August 01, 2020

All Time MOTY List Head to Head 2007: Rotten vs. Dukes VS. Hero vs. Kingston

Ian Rotten vs. Jason Dukes IWA-MS 10/13/07

PAS: Incredible stuff, the kind of violent unprofessional brawl that Ian Rotten does so well. Ian isn't afraid to both deliver and receive a nasty beating, and Dukes comes forward and meets Ian's aggression with some of his own. We get two crazy bumps by Dukes: a missed tope which landed him into a bunch of chairs, and a crazy Psicosis corner shoulder bump. Ian lands some sick forearms to the jaw, and killer looking jabs, everything he did looked like it hurt so bad. I love some unprofessional crowbarring and Ian always delivers, and Dukes hit back with appropriate force. There was a killer moment where Duke pulls off Ian's boot and does some Eddie Marlin boot punching and some sick looking knee drops right on Ian's exposed ankle, just gross. Finish kind of sucks as we have a ref bump, and a Joey Ryan and Karl Anderson run in. Still, this was super high level violence. IWA-MS ran so much, it is clearly a real vein of untapped gems.

ER: Dukes comes out to Handel's Hallelujah Chorus looking like an Ian Rotten who hasn't yet experienced horrific body scarring, and before Dukes can make it into the ring Ian jumps him, future meets past. Ian has his whole head wrapped in a bandage, busted open on a show earlier in the day, and the announcers do a great job pointing out that Ian has been bleeding for basically 6 hours. Dukes opens up that cut immediately, Ian's face eventually dripping with a deep crimson mask, thick blood rivulets streaking down his neck. Ian swells up Dukes' face with the hardest punches and meanest jabs, taunting Dukes to throw harder by no selling punches directly to the jaw. Dukes is really great at spilling through chairs and grabbing onto fans while staggering through he crowd (made up nearly entirely of clones of the same man). Dukes' two big bumps were placed really well in the match: the first time he even steps foot in the ring he goes for a dive and Ian just slowly walks out of the way, crashing Dukes disgustingly shoulder first into the floor and a chair; later he flies (other) shoulder first into the ringpost on his way to another ugly trip to the floor. It's smart to give Ian a couple of good rally/recovery moments in front of his crowd, bleeding everywhere while going back in hungry after his injured prey. The leg work from both looked really ugly, like they both wanted to do permanent damage, both guys stomping and dropping knees on ankles and the inside of knees, and I'm always going to be into an 80s style brawl with a loose boot. We don't get loose boot spots anymore (which might be for the best as nobody wants to see Gargano emoting while untying laces) but these moments looked like something you'd see in a smoky arena 25 years prior. The run in finish was at least quick and paid off immediately, but it's still not the way you want something this bloody and raw to end.

Chris Hero vs. Eddie Kingston Review


PAS: Really close, and I think a better finish might have pushed it over the top, but we got the finish we got, so I am going with Kingston vs. Hero.

ER: This was a real classic grimy brawl that had been entirely off my radar until the last week. The big tope bump from Dukes may have been a higher peak than Hero/Kingston, but Hero/Kingston came in with a higher floor and felt like even more of a complete brawl. That's why it's the champ. But Ian/Dukes is a real hidden gorefest, more violent than most death matches while not being a death match.

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Friday, July 31, 2020


Máscara Mágica/Olímpus/Silver King vs. Guerrero de la Muerte/Negro Casas/Rey Bucanero CMLL 6/29/96

MD: I love dropping into a moment in time like this, even for a mid-card feud with some great window dressing. This set up a Welterweight title match between Mascara Magica and Guerrero de la Muerte which would then set up their apeuestas match, and I have to admit, this actually made me want see all of that. They worked well together, with Guerrero standing out as a particularly effective clubbering bully that could still turn it up a notch. That's to say I didn't mind that the focus of this one was on them and not Casas and Silver King, not that we didn't get some great stuff from each individually and together. They played Sharp Dressed Man for both sets of entrances and Negro Casas had fun with it. He danced and hugged the ref with the expected audacity and familiarity so the pre-match is great. There are certain wrestlers you don't want to take your eye off in a match, no matter what is happening. Terry Funk is one. Casas is another. For the primera, they paired Olimpus with Casas and Bucanero with Silver King, which made sense. Young Bucanero, as always, was ambitious but not always entirely smooth. I loved how Casas reacted to basically everything Olimpus did (even when in a simple hold, as Olimpus would go for the chin or the hair or an arm, etc., Casas just was totally on all the time in his complaining and reacting). We did get some good Casas and Silver King time in the segunda and tercera, with the usual rope running trip spots that no one did better and some fun brawling through the ropes to clear the ring for Magica and Guerrero at the end.

ER: Great match, I loved this. I haven't seen much Guerrero de la Muerte, and I'm not sure I've ever seen Olimpus, and that already helps make it a great on paper match for me. It has two of my all time favorites in Casas and Silver King, two guys I've seen a ton and like in Magica and Bucanero, and two guys who are new or relatively new to me, one of each category on each side. The guys I loved did things that I loved, it's fun seeing the elements of Bucanero that stayed as he matured and the small things that didn't, I loved the rope work of Olimpus and the overall rounded professionalism of GdlM. Everybody fit into their cog nicely, the pairings all looked good, and we got a couple of things I've never seen. Casas and King were the highlights, with King especially moving blisteringly fast. I love seeing these two move, and they both looked excellent. King broke out this cool looking spot, where he and Bucanero had been working a nice sunset flip sequence. King kicked out of one and Bucanero went for another one, and King just tried to run away during the flip. The spot looked minorly blown when Bucanero nudged by him, and the spot became something unique and special. If it started as Bucanero slightly missing his mark and sunset flipping King after a delay, the moment Bucanero was sliding down King's back to pull him down by the legs, King starts to move with Bucanero on his back! So Bucanero was being blocked by King while King basically held him in position for Omori's Axe Guillotine Driver. It was a cool visual, pulled off quick, and felt like something innovative we'd see in French Catch. All I see now is 50s French Catch in wrestling, even if there is zero chance those wrestlers ever even heard of French Catch.

Bucanero wrestled more like a junior (and was sized like a junior), and he still had his lunatic fast spills to the floor. Bucanero was a longtime favorite of mine for the many ways he knows how to get to an arena floor, and is still capable of surprising. The peak of his powers was around 2001, when he and Christian were having weekly TV contests to see who could take the most bumps over the top to the floor in a match. Here he is not taking high bumps to the floor, but fast beautiful lucha rolls to the floor, the way a veteran luchador knows how to kind of back handspring through the ropes to the floor after taking a dropkick.  Young Bucanero, wearing gorgeous plate glass tights, had veteran level bumps to the floor at age 21. Olimpus had a couple of great ropes moments with a couple of nice tricks. I loved the moment at the end of a caida where Casas ran in to break up a pin, and Olimpus ran in the ring behind him to spring off the middle rope with a dropkick to the back of Casas's head. in ring springboard senton to a standing opponent is a fun signature spot, and it was hit and reversed in satisfying ways here. I don't think Olimpus has much of a rep, but he has few enough matches that maybe I should go through an under 10 match Olimpus run, while also doing an under 10 matches Babe Richard run, since there is some overlap with each in the same match. Is it stupid to go through and review the 20 or so available Olimpus and Babe Richard matches before I go through and review 20 or so available Javier Llanes matches? Almost certainly! Will that make a difference? Of course not. Casas made Olimpus look plenty good in their exchanges, and King worked fast with all the rudos. Seeing King try to actually take out Casas's feet with dropdowns during a sequence is just one of those signs that guys are taking their best shot at making this match a good one, and I grinned the whole time.

MD: At the 22 minute mark here I turned it onto 2x speed so I could just get through this. I was pretty much done after the fourth death valley bomb. I was probably done a minute or two before that. It's a me thing as much as anything else. What I post on the blog is basically what I watch: old French wrestling and what we find for NFF which is basically lucha, German Catch, old Japanese TV and handhelds and occasional territory stuff. The other guys watch things more broadly and much more modern wrestling. The point is that I am not at all mentally prepared for twelve minute excess-laden finishing stretches that end up being more than one third the total length of the match anymore. Wrestling isn't math, but I think that's probably my rule of thumb: while there can be exceptions like anything else, a finishing stretch should be a lot closer to 1/6th the length of the total match than 1/3rd. If anyone wants to engage me on this, I'm happy to write a couple thousand words somewhere. Otherwise, let me just talk about the rest and not drag down NFF.

What I love about Aja, especially Gaea era Aja is that her matches tend to be like thought experiments. Like Hansen and to a degree Brock, what makes them so fascinating is watching how her opponent tries to handle the unstoppable force that she presents. Meiko, obviously, was presented as a force unto herself, but she came in prepared for and experienced against what she was going to face and that let them work in some more early counters. Even so, Aja took most of this on the notion that if she can get her hands on you (and that means running into her hands as well), she's going to cut you off. Her opponents are always working from a point of disadvantage, which with a normal monster heel would be a perfectly fine narrative point, but with Aja means even more. She can attack from all sorts of different angles: my favorite here was when she just sidestepped Meiko and tripped her to cut off a comeback corner charge. I also liked how opportunity-driven Meiko's comebacks were. After getting battered around the ringside area, Aja placed her back on the apron and she used the higher ground for an axe kick in a way that felt perfectly strategic. Later on, Aja dropped her onto some metal with a brainbuster, but the ref demanded the object leave the ring before counting the pin, letting her come back with another Pele kick. She went to that well once too often and the finishing stretch (overextended as it was) was entered by Meiko realizing she didn't have the right distance/angle and jamming herself on launching another which let Aja clothesline her instead. The match was full of little touches like that which kept things both believable (human) and interesting for the first two-thirds. And I'll just leave it at that.

PAS: I agree with Matt, this match really could have used an editor. We only had a clipped version of this match before, and I imagine it might have worked a bit better as a clipped match, as it might night have felt as bloated. Still Joshi has a maximilist style and this is a pair of great wrestlers to watch overeat. Awesome Aja performance as she demonstrates again why she is one the greatest monster heel wrestlers of all time. Violent and brutal offense, mixed with perfectly timed moments of vulnerability.  Meiko is awesome in this match too, she has such credible offense, and is great at finding and taking advantage of openings. She has really good boxing for a pro-wrestler who doesn't throw punches. There were awesome moments where she uses head movement to evade shots, and she fires in these killer fast combos to the face. There were lots of moments when this would have have been an all time classic if they had ended there, and there were just too many of them. I did love the actual ending though, Aja's one count kick out is the best one count kick out I have ever seen. Total hubris, like a fighter who stands up too quick from a knockdown, instead of taking the moment to clear her head she bolts back up, only to get put back down. We just needed less nearfalls before that.

El Hijo Del Santo/La Mascara vs. Blue Panther/Tarzan Boy Monterey 1/1/06

MD: If we were going Epic/Great/Fun/Skip on this, it'd be Fun. Mascara was, not unexpectedly, the weakest link, but that's not to say he didn't carry himself well given who he was in there with. You'd get a 'rana that looked a little off but it'd follow three or four exchanges that hit perfectly. My favorite bits in the match weren't the perfectly smooth Panther vs Santo exchanges or the usual joy in seeing Santo's signature spots, but instead his interaction with Tarzan Boy. They had been on the same side of trios and at least one tag back in 98-00 when Tarzan Boy was much younger and after the tecnicos took the first fall here, Santo patted his cheek and shook his hand only for Tarzan Boy to return the favor. That felt like it really paid off with Tarzan Boy catching Santo with a powerbomb for a pin later on. My other favorite bit was Blue Panther using the drop down double leg nelson move we've been seeing from France so often lately to submit Mascara. The tercera was a little loose and free, feeling more like a local show than something for TV, but there were a bunch of tecnico dives and everyone went home happy. A good match with flashes of excellence from two of the best ever, and we're never going to complain about something like that popping up.

PAS: I love formula lucha libre, as a wrestling style performed well it has the highest floor. A basic househow lucha match is better then any other kind of houseshow wrestling. This is a match with two all time greats, a solid young wrestler and a competent hand, so it is going to be super entertaining. Santo and Panther are two of the most perfectly matched dance partners ever and we get some gorgeous exchanges between the two, some classic Santo dives and nifty interactions between Tarzan Boy and Santo, which had a bit more roughness then the smoothness of Santo and Panther. Mascara was pretty replaceable, but didn't do anything giant to drag down the match.

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

On Brand Segunda Caida: 1995 WWF

Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Matt Hardy WWF Raw 7/10/95

ER: What a squash! A great 3 minute, one-sided, demoralizing beatdown. And yet despite it being one-sided, Hardy never felt quite out of it. Part of that is because 20 year old Matt Hardy is the exact same size as HHH was at 25, so this match reads more like a violently stiff Lenny Lane vs. Kidman match. We get a long cool firm headlock sequence with some nice takeovers, and some big armdrags. But things really painfully leap up to the next level when HHH just waylays Hardy in the corner, laying in some cruel strikes. It starts with a big right hand, and then another, and then HHH throws two whipping chops that graze off Hardy's collarbones and into the underside of his chin, and as HHH throws these two lightning fast knife edges right with his left arm, he follows up with an impossible to block right full arm shot to the stomach. The whipping shot to the stomach lands so hard, just an echoing slap. HHH was working as a real bully and he came off like same era Dave Taylor at times. I don't think I've ever thought to compare HHH with Dave Taylor, so you know this is a tremendous compliment. Hardy takes the Pedigree nearly as violently as Cham Pain took his famous killshot, but I don't think I've ever seen Hardy's take championed. This was a gnarly diagonal landing, the guy who didn't check the pool was empty before diving in. What a great mauling.

Owen Hart/Yokozuna vs. Razor Ramon/Savio Vega WWF Raw 8/7/95

ER: This was a rematch from the week prior, when the show actually went off the air with a classic "We're out of time!" I had no idea they were doing those in 1995! That first match had a pretty cheap moment, where Razor pinned Owen clean after the Razor's Edge, then Hebner - who counted the 3 - decided that Owen wasn't actually the legal man. I'm not sure why you'd actually make the ref go all the way through with the pinfall. Hebner is a really terrible actor, totally the wrong guy to trust in that kind of situation. He counted the 3 and then immediately was just like "no, no, no, you didn't win the match, dummy!" It really needed a referee who could facially take responsibility for the major boner that had been entirely his fault. A second official coming in to alert Hebner to the problem would have been silly, as the second official was almost always an inconsistent crutch to use, but it at least would have made more sense than Hebner counting the 3 and the immediately telling Razor that Razor should have paid better attention. VERY poorly handled.

So they start off the next Raw with an immediate rematch, and the rematch absolutely smoked. This was the absolute best Owen Hart performance I've seen since I started casually skimming my way through 1995 WWF. Owen is a guy who deservedly gets a lot of love, but consider me underwhelmed as I dive back into mid 90s WWF. Literally the day before I watched this match, I was talking to friends about how I was really starting to think Owen was one of the more overrated workers of the era, and how I don't think I could find a place for him on a Top 20 1995 WWF list. I'm still not certain he has a spot in the Top 20 (there were some GREAT performers on the roster that year and he has a tendency to get outshined within his own matches regularly), but with another performance or two like this it would be pretty impossible to keep him off. His timing is so integral to this match, and this match is a killer highlight of the kind of in-ring charisma he and Razor could have together on the right night. Owen and Razor kept working faster the longer the match went, both taking big bumps to the floor (Owen taking a super fast one that almost flings him face first into the guardrail, Razor getting launched so far over the top rope that several kids in the front row actually leapt backwards thinking Razor was going to fly right into them, just insane), and really laying in shots like I haven't seen him do all year. He hits his spinning heel kick so perfectly that it stops Razor cold, to the point that I thought it could have been the finish. It wasn't like he kicked Razor's teeth out either, the timing was just expert (with a wonderful sell from Razor), and you've never seen him crush somebody like he does while Razor is draped over the middle rope. I've seen Owen bounce off a draped opponent countless times, and here he just flies full weight into Razor.

Yoko was really fun from the apron, grabbing at Razor's hair on rope running spots while laughing gleefully. He took some big spills and got lit up by babyfaces when he was in. Savio's hot tag was fire, throwing stiff chops and punches at Yoko in the corner, just immediately making up that 300 lb. (!!) size difference, then pasting Yoko with his own awesome spinning heel kick. I honestly think the two best spinning heel kicks of 1995, from either Owen or Savio, came during this match. It wasn't just the execution, but their placement within the match. Razor was such a strong babyface, and I love matches like these were he plays FIP and works to all sides of the crowd. He really comes off like a proto-Austin or even Cena, as his fired up big babyface punches are thrown into matches the exact same way those two would, and he has that extra crowd connection those two had. There's an alternate timeline where Razor is the top star of the fed going into the late 90s, and performances like this show that it absolutely would have worked.

Sadly, we also get a bad finish on this one, as Razor and Owen suddenly go to the floor to brawl, one of those very obvious "We need to clear the ring so the finish can happen!" moments. It's not a terrible finish if the execution had been better, but Yoko flattened Savio with a Samoan drop and legdrop, right in front of Razor, but Razor had disposed of Owen too early and then had to occupy himself to make sure he was too late to save Savio. So Razor - only 5 feet away from being able to yank Yoko's leg - runs around the ring and comes in much farther away. Poor planning and positioning, really bad. BUT, this match was a real treasure trove, featuring performances that would rank at or near the top of all of these guys' 1995 output.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2020

AEW Dynamite Workrate Report 7/29/20

What Worked

-The visual of Stu Grayson's huge tope con hilo past the turnbuckle, hitting the cameraman on the way down (and running right at the cameraman) was awesome.

-Couldn't be much less interested in Zack Ryder as a new AEW recruit, but at least Ryder showed up ON THE GAS. I am more excited for hulked up juice god Ryder than Woo Woo Woo Ryder.

-This show needed Darby in the main event, because this was a real 2 hour drag if you were looking for good wrestling. This was a quick, under 10 minute sprint with a hot pace, totally unnecessary (but fun) weapons, and some classic Darby crash tests. The whole thing starts with Darby doing the Coffin Drop off the entrance tron, so this rules from go. Any match based around Darby dying is going to be cool, so crashing with a Coffin Drop, eating a powerbomb, a German, a nasty spill to the apron, it's all great. Starks and Cage had decent chemistry as a team, but I like Cage a ton more as "guy throwing two men around at once" than "guy going up easily for everyone's suplexes", and luckily we got a bit more of the former. Darby's late match comeback to save Moxley was great, there were a couple good nearfalls, and the finish was fantastic. You give me Darby smashing tacks into Ricky Starks' back by dropping in off the top rope and planting that deck on his back, and that's a finish I'll be into. Starks' sell was awesome, left leg stuck out straight and lifted off the ground while being pinned, shaking like he had spinal damage or like a man who just got his back tacked for the first time. Thank god for Darby tonight. That's a guy you get the ball to with seconds on the clock.

What Didn't Work

-Dang, that opening 10 men sucked, and it had zero excuse to suck. A 10 man given enough time should be the highest hit rate match out there. Any match with 6+ people where at least four of the participants are capable, should be a guaranteed good match. But this was just a sloppy, unfunny, poorly timed mess. People stood around awkwardly, waiting to take offense, missing offense, or just not doing anything. The dive train started well with a cool tope con hilo from Chuck Taylor (who appears to have lost some of his added quarantine weight), but then a long stint with Marko Stunt getting tossed back and forth between Hager and Luchasaurus while everyone just watched. There was a lot of "just watched" in this and it blew. Any time they tried to string a moves chain together it fell apart by the second move, everyone moving at a completely different pace than everyone else.

-I really love the idea of Cody vs. Top Indy Guys, and I have to accept that most of them are not going to touch Cody/Kingston...but I'd like to think that most of them will be better than Cody/Warhorse. I've never been much of a Warhorse guy, the whole thing comes off forced an unnatural, and let me tell you: if something comes off forced and unnatural on small scale indy shows, it is going to look downright bush on a big league presentation. Warhorse looked like a guy who won a sweepstakes, not a guy who earned his shot at the champ. Cody really busted his ass to make him look good, but it's a two way street. Warhorse throws a nice clothesline, and that's about it. Cody is good at taking lariats, and Warhorse had a big running one and a nice flat foot standing one that looked really impactful. Amusingly, JR called him "offensively minded" in a match where up to that point he had only thrown clotheslines and some stomps. Cody did a good job setting Warhorse to shine, Warhorse just didn't shine. His timing was a step earlier than Cody's, and it pulled back the curtain too much on a lot of his rehearsed pins or missed strikes. There were several times where he was already reversing the move he was set to reverse, while Cody had barely started the move. Grabbing a small package off a figure 4 attempt is a smart nearfall, but it looks bad when you're showing your reversal hand before Cody is even in position. Later, he committed to a missed double stomp off the top after seeing that Cody was 8 feet away from where he was stomping. It wasn't a blind leap, he watched Cody move, then leaped into a double stomp to the mat as if a person was there. There's debuting on national TV the way Eddie Kingston debuted, and there's debuting on national TV the way Warhorse did. This was Dancin' Homer debuting in Capital City. We've set each end of our Cody vs. The Indies bar.

-Man has Omega's stock fallen. The tag match was not a long match, but it felt like a long match. That's never good. Omega looks more and more like a broken man in tags like this, but this thing was mildly cursed beyond Omega. There were unfortunate hiccups that you can't really blame on anyone, yet take a match down anyway. Little things like the ref getting in the way of a Page clothesline, requiring Page to completely stop his momentum before continuing the spot as planned. Grayson doesn't always hit with his stuff, but I appreciate a lot of the stuff he goes for. The slingshot senton to the apron didn't fully connect, but it's something that is crazy enough that I want him to keep trying to make it look better. I like Uno's AEW work and dug him here, thought he took the snap dragon like a beast, loved Page wrecking Grayson with a lariat, but this never quite came together as a match.

-I was curious to see some more Diamante after her match last week, even though I was not into her match last week, but now I think I'm good for awhile. She did not look good throughout much of this. Every Shida singles match always has to have these really bad strike exchange sections, always looking like the most brutal slap play. For all I know those shots sting like hell, but I have yet to see a Shida vs. Opponent strike exchange that actually looked ready for prime time. Several of Diamante's chops hit hard, a couple things looked good, but I'm still waiting on an AEW singles match where the participants actually have chemistry.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Tuesday is French Catch Day: LeDuc! Lamban! Modesto! Teddy Boy!

Nikolai Zigulinoff vs. Robert Gastel 10/30/58

SR: JIP match. Zigulinoff is some Bulgarian sheepherd. He had that kind of aura only some mythical figure can have. Robert Gastel wasn‘t quite Les Matraquer du Rings at this point, he was actually quite the blue eye, although he sure had his dirty tricks already. He reminded me a bit of Dick Murdoch. He was dealing some serious hurt on the Bulgarian madman, who just walked through the punishment. Fascinating little clip.

MD: We get about seven minutes of this. We've seen Gastel before, much older, and he's the same guy here back in the 50s. Mean punches, meaner headbutts and hairpulls (including standing on his opponent's giant fro). Stooging. Zigulinoff is quite the character. Crazy hair. Big stocky body. Bulgarian shepherd gimmick. Bearhugs and overhead clobbers and not too much else. At one point Gastel ties his hair to the ropes, as if he was Octagon. This was pretty goofy but the fans seemed to enjoy it and I don't mind our JIP slots being taken up by a few minutes of this sort of thing where we get to see the variety of the characters that were around in the late 50s.

Gilbert LeDuc vs. Rocco Lamban 10/30/58

SR: 2/3 Falls match going about 30 minutes. Rocco Lamban, El Estrangulador~! It‘s a testament to the greatness of the Spanish workers that pretty much anytime one of them shows up we get a great match. Lamban, like Adolf Kaiser, uses the Dragon Sleeper as a finish. While he is not quite as comically evil as the Doctor of Philosophy (though he does look like a sophisticated fellow), he sure was willing to do every despicable thing not in the rulebook to get the advantage. He could wrestle, too, and that makes this such a compelling match up. They go from some nice wrestling exchanges with Lamban earning the respect of the audience with a nice hip throw to Lamban punching the shit out of Leducs ear and Leduc stepping on his face nicely. Leduc is impeccable as a gentleman technician who will forearm the shit out of you in these matches. You can say it about almost any face worker in France, but damn did this guy have great european uppercuts. We also get to see him play Bridge between the falls and that was really cool and now I‘ll forver dub Leduc as „The Gambler“ in my mind. I loved when Lamban decided to try and bite his way out of a hold, Leduc went Tyson on him biting his ear. Lamban is good enough that he doesn‘t have to rely on choking all the time. When they do get to working around the Dragon Sleeper, its some really compelling work thanks to both Lamban having a variety of ways to get the hold and Leduc having a variety of ways to get out of it. When Lamban finally sinks the hold in deep and chokes Leduc out it‘s gritty as hell. One thing I like in these old French matches is even the referees will get violent to get a heel to break a hold, usually facelocking them like riot cops pulling off protesters, in this case the referee just decided to punch Rocco in the face. The 3rd fall was really great and probably the best build to a finish we‘ve seen in this entire project with Lamban trying everything to get the Dragon Sleeper again and Leduc, being clearly wobbly, throwing body punches and left-right forearms. Actual finish was a thing of beauty.

PAS: This was tremendous. We have seen LeDuc before, he is the master of La Toupie (his Santo style spinning headscissors) and there is some really cool stuff early with Lamban blocking and countering his attempts to put it on. This had some of the most vicious breakdowns into violence that we have seen with LeDuc hitting these incredible one-two short forearm combos and Lamban trying to rip, tear and punch off LeDuc's ear. All of the stuff around the Dragon sleeper was elite, with Lamban just brutalizing him with it to win the second fall, and some really cool spots with him trying to get it on and LeDuc flipping and countering out of it in the third fall. Such a cool match, with Lamban being a great villain and LeDuc looking like an all time great babyface.

MD: This is a match where El Strangulador, Rocco Lamban, another master of the pre-1960 Dragon Sleeper, tries to cheat and shove the ref away for cheapshots, and just outright strangle his way to victory, with Gilbert LeDuc just having none of it. At one point LeDuc has him in that revelatory hold, the double leg nelson, and is just slamming Rocco's face into the mat. Rocco escapes with a bite to the leg. So what does LeDuc do? He bounds up and takes a chunk out of Rocco's ear. Immediately thereafter, Rocco uses harsh whips against the ropes into a knee to the stomach, once, then twice, then a third attempt despite the ref's admonishing. LeDuc catches the leg the third time and takes him down. A little later Rocco grinds a knuckle in LeDuc's eye, so LeDuc punches Rocco directly in his. He's got no time for any of this. He was the sort of guy who would attack first on a heel handshake attempt after a cheapshot. That said, later in the second fall, he didn't, and that's when Rocco really locked in his dragon sleeper. There are certain structural advantages of a 2/3 falls match. Having something win an earlier fall can build the drama of it reoccurring in the next fall. By the time the third fall started, Rocco's dragon sleeper was the most dangerous thing in the world and that let them really struggle over it. Rocco would do anything in his power, including rabbit punches and using the top rope as a weapon to lock it in; LeDuc would go so far as to pull the hair to get out. In the end, Rocco went too far to achieve his objective and the ref would break it at key moments. It was, ultimately, Rocco's only viable path to victory, and that certainty let LeDuc finally counter it for another great, 40 years before its time finish.

ER: Loved this, a match that looks like another fun Catch romp before taking a sudden violent left turn at the end of the 2nd fall. LeDuc came out of the gates showcasing all of his great arm strikes, quick forearms, hard elbows, hooking uppercuts, all thrown with different timing. Sometimes he would do a simple 1-2, next time he'd do a 1-and-a-2-3, next time he'd just come in with one hard uppercut. They all looked great, and what really put it over the top was the incredibly strong selling from Lamban. He had that Finlay-like knack for anticipating how hard he was going to be hit and bumping accordingly. Modern strike bumping has turned into bad stand in place selling or fast back bumps, but Lamban treated each strike appropriately. He would get staggered by some shots, get dropped to a knee on others, fall into the ropes, always looking like he was reacting to the strike being thrown. That has to be incredibly difficult, as you have no idea how well your opponent is going to throw a strike, and yet all of his movements felt like the perfect call and response. Lamban's selling was really important to the pace of this match, as LeDuc was so aggressive that this really could have turned into strike overkill. Instead, Lamban was providing space and breath with his selling, making strikes mean more. He had a couple other unique bumps (is there any 50s French Catch wrestler who doesn't have a couple unique bumps?), with my favorite being his belly flop bump after getting bucked from a full nelson. LeDuc popped his hips back, Lamban flew back and flopped on his stomach. It felt like a slightly straight take on a bump Candido would do.

This was shaping up to be a real LeDuc showcase, until Lamban choked the life out of him with his dragon sleeper to take the 2nd fall. And with excellent selling being the theme of the match, LeDuc sold the dragon sleeper as if he had been waterboarded. He was leaning forward, drooling, coughing, rubbing his throat, while ring attendants rubbed his shoulders and toweled him off. All of them were acting like their fighter was just waking up sitting on a ring with no memory of how he got there, and LeDuc's selling made that dragon sleeper hang heavily over the entire 3rd fall. Seeing how decisively LeDuc was put down, it made a quick 3rd fall finish a possibility every time they came into contact. Lamban had cool downward strike elbows, and every snapmare battle felt like something that could quickly end LeDuc. The finish was innovative and unexpected, a snap reversal of a suplex leading to a reverse suplex, a Sliced Bread finish during a time where actual sliced bread was not yet common. I loved the pacing of this match, a match that felt like it was going to be a LeDuc showcase but turned into so much more.

Janos Vadkerti vs. Roland Daumal 10/13/60

SR: About 12 minutes of this were shown. Largely technical bout, and they had some good stuff going on. Vadkerti was a Hungarian wrestler, and that‘s nice to see. Daumal, who was in the veteran role, looked like a good worker. He had a leg stretch that was either cool or stupid depending on where you stand, and his ranas were slick as hell for a guy who looked to be balding and aging. There was also some nice body scissor work. Vadkerti was here to hit explosive dropkicks and he was good at that.

MD: This was the semi-finals of a lightweight tournament, with Aledo vs Teddy Boy the other semifinals. It was an international affair as one might expect. Vadkerti is Hungarian and we only have one more JIP match with him later. I hope it gets some time. This did, about 12:00, JIP. Daumal is French and I don't think we see him again, and in both cases it's a shame since this was a really solid pairing. Athletic, hard-hitting, with some good holds and escape attempts, especially a Daumal leg nelson that Vadkerti was really fighting to get out of and, of course, this amazing but admittedly ill-conceived leg-splitting mutilation thing by Vadkerti that I've never seen before. Even just the bodyscissors and leg-splitters had a lot of fight to them. Vadkerti was so lean that every time his strained you could all but see his skeleton putting up a fight. There was a running, twisting 'rana by Daumal early on that was jawdropping and another attempt right at the end that led to a completely compacting power bomb and the finish. We are somehow both spoiled and starved by this footage.

Modesto Aledo vs. Teddy Boy 10/13/60

SR; 1 Fall match going a bit over 20 minutes. Another reason why this is the greatest footage find ever: Getting to see a guy like Modesto Aledo. Aledo was a Spanish lightweight champion whose claim to faim is fighting George Kidd in a holy grail match in England. You can easily see how he was world champion material. The holds and moves he used weren‘t a ton different from what everyone else (in France) did, but he moved in a sublime way and had a cool unique way to do things. This is also Teddy Boys first appearance, and he gives a rather impressive heel showing. Aledo is a wrestler who just keeps moving and moving, giving his opponent no breaks, so while Teddy Boy got in some slick moves of his own it soon became clear that he would have to use rough tactics to get the advantage. And that‘s just about what he did, punting Aledo with some hard kicks and then doing the unthinkable and overhead throwing Aledo over the top rope. To say that those apron bumps were insane would be an understatement. Boy pulled that move several times and you could tell the crowd was getting really unruly as he kept attacking Aledos spine. Aledos selling was great, not to mention the insane bumping, he was moving hunched over like someone who had trouble moving. Aledos eventual comeback was like the Euro version of a Jerry Lawler strapdrop as he seized the advantage and blasted Teddy Boy with everything he had before a dramatic finish. Really amazing match that went from graceful to super intense. Just insane that pro wrestling 60 years ago was like this.

PAS: Wow was Aledo impressive, he reminded me of some of the all time great grapplers, like watching Blue Panther or Terry Rudge. He spent the first part of the match showing his skill, just countering and tooling Teddy Boy with all of his counters. It was some all time slick stuff that kept Teddy Boy on his back foot, and he responds with vicious results. His belly to belly throws over the top rope were truly shocking, the kind of crazy shit you would expect to see in a crazy indy match or an All Japan 90s match. Super dangerous, really violent and a hell of an escalation. I loved the finish run too, with Aledo throwing big forearms and ducking under Teddy Boy's legs with an upkick. Then he gets tossed one more time to the floor, only to get tossed back in and press slammed for the pin. Great stuff, super skills, crazy bumps, and a wild violent finish. The hits keep coming.

MD: This was absolutely excellent. It was the second semifinal of the tournament. Aledo, the Little Bull of Valencia, is Kamikaze I, who's considered, by rep, to be one of the best Spanish wrestlers of all time and who we had no real footage of. He's a wizard. I thought Teddy Boy was awesome. He came out with a leather jacket with his name on it. He had this Rebel Without a Cause greaser vibe and was just absolutely cruel. Just pure attitude. He also seemed apt to target a body part more than almost anyone we've seen in the footage, though it wasn't the story of the match or anything. Aledo took the early portions with finesse. There were some roll up exchanges which we'd say were well before their time but by now we know that was obviously just a perception issue due to lack of footage. Aledo did one cool thing after another, with my favorite maybe being his cavernaria style straightjacket submission, but he had some breathtaking through the legs spots too, the best of which being tied to a takedown. When Teddy took over, the match changed completely. For the most part he targeted the midsection: front, back, and side, with stomps and rib-breakers and the ref desperately trying to hold him back. There was a point in the midst of this where I thought he was going for a bear hug but he leaned against the ropes and launched Aledo with a belly to belly suplex over the top instead. Then he did it again. And, following the rule of three, he got jammed on the third only to hit a gut punch and actually get it. Mindboggingly brutal. Obviously the fans were going to be engaged after that (not that they weren't given Aledo's slickness and Teddy's unfurled attitude). The finish followed from everything that came before, with Aledo too exuberant in his comeback and Teddy launching him out one last time so that he could pick at the bones after the overeager crowd helped him back in for an easy pin. Just great stuff.

ER: This was so good! And I would have loved it even if they hadn't had that wild gear shift that lead to Aledo flying over the top to the floor several times in between having his guts dented. I mean, really, the match won me over before it even started once I saw Teddy Boy in his cuffed dark denim jeans and black leather ring jacket. Dude looked like the coolest possible Squiggy or like a cool Sha Na Na bassist. Aledo quickly won me over with a ton of gravity defying headscissors and armdrags. I must have skipped back 10 seconds a dozen different times in this match, trying to figure out how they got into the positions they got into, trying to figure out the physics and who was lifting who. Some of them I couldn't even figure out how they wound up where they did, even though every single moved looked to be executed exactly as planned. There was a sunset flip where the man I predicted would come out on top, was the man who wound up being pinned. It's been 25 years and wrestlers are still aspiring to Malenko/Guerrero roll ups, when there was THIS out there 35 years before THAT! Dream bigger, modern wrestlers, there's a world of possibility on French Catch. Now, the best part of these armdrags and headscissors is that there doesn't appear to be any cheating. They aren't going through with a bump if the move isn't delivered properly, they are bumping according to the move being delivered, and it makes the implausible feel and look plausible. Teddy was a great base for all of Aledo's tricks, but when he took over this got crazy.

Teddy was real mean and threw some punishing strikes to the gut, and just started working over Aledo's core any way he could, really softening him up. But nobody could have expected those belly to belly suplexes. As he gripped Aledo in a bear hug it looked like Aledo was purposely walking him to the ropes to force a break, and instead Teddy just launched him straight overhead to the floor. Aledo slowed his momentum somewhat by getting a hand on the ropes on his way down, but nowhere close to enough to break the fall. And then it happened again. Then, it happened again...except Aledo blocked it...only momentarily, because Teddy Boy punches him right in the liver and throws him anyway. I loved Teddy's punches to the liver, and a hard front kick that Aledo sold like it had ruptured his spleen. I loved how those big bumps over the top played directly into the finish, with Aledo going over one last time before getting pinned. When the violence gets to an unexpected level, it's cool when that violence actually results in the finish. We often see matches where things get violent, but the wrestler taking the violence just goes back to his early match strategy and wins anyway. That didn't happen here, and that made it look even more amazing 60 years later.

PAS: Another big week, and we decided to make Teddy Boy vs. Modesto Aledo our inaugural 1960 champion on our Ongoing All Time MOTY List.

ER: The committee also decided to place LeDuc/Lamban as our NEW 1958 champ, bumping off the Royal/Hessle team after just one week! Two matches placed on our All Time MOTY List the same week is cause for celebration, and these two matches are incredibly easy to celebrate.

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Monday, July 27, 2020

For The Fuck-Its The Sorrow is Worth The Redemption

Jollyville Fuck-Its vs. Sean Harddrive/Danny Todd Beyond Wrestling 10/13/12 - EPIC

PAS: This was a carload of Cincinnati guys who drove to Long Island to steal the show. 12 minute spot fest full of crazy moves and really nasty violence. T-Money was just throwing spuds wasting both of his opponents with forearms and kicks to the kidneys. Danny Todd had that power plant agility, jumping from the ring to the top rope and hitting super high super sharp dropkicks to the face. Some really cool combos including Harddrive slamming Russ into the corner at the same second Todd wastes him with a dropkick and a doomsday double knees by the Fuck-Its which looks like it killed everyone involved. Doesn't wear out its welcome and is exciting from bell to bell. Great example of what makes the Fuck-Its so much fun to watch.

ER: This is the youngest and rawest I've seen the Fuck-Its, and I dig it. Everyone here seems raw and I like the risk taking young(er) stupidity on display. You drive 12 hours to make an impression, you make an impression. Everyone had impressive moments here, not an imbalanced match at all, and one that appropriately ramped up the big spots as they went. Fuck-Its are always good at being a part of matches with some insane spots, where none of the spots that come after feel like letdowns. If there is something nasty early in a match, you can bet there will be something to take its place by the end. Harddrive and Todd have some nice flying moves, with Todd doing a couple of no hands springboards (including a nice TAKA style moonsault to the floor), and Harddrive doing a nice imploding corkscrew moonsault to the floor that managed to nail both Fuck-Its while avoiding the guardrail. Money was really throwing mean strikes the whole match, just winging those arms off bodies with punches and clubbing arms, hard lariats, and a cool short spear. Russ was landing full weight on cannonballs: a standing one, and a massive one off the top that leads Chuck Taylor to exclaim "I am never taking that move" on commentary. They worked opposite Chuck Taylor in 2014, wonder if his statement turned out to be true or not? As crushing as Nasty Russ's cannonball was, he takes a wicked flying knee to the face in the corner, and Harddrive also hits a 450 kneedrop that looks like it gave Russ three cracked ribs to think about on the drive back to OH.


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