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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

EVOLVE 58 4/1/16 Review

1. Drew Galloway & Johnny Gargano vs. Caleb Konley & Anthony Nese

ER: This is one of those tags where guys run in random directions for the sole purpose of setting up somebody's offense. After awhile you find yourself asking for the 10th time, "what was Konley's plan if Gargano hadn't been there to cut him off with a kick?" Galloway is wasted in stuff like this, which is a shame. Nese takes a nice bump to the floor and I love how he takes a DDT. But this match was victim to some poor move set up, with again, guys going where they shouldn't go just to take offense. On top of that the promotion appears to have totally lost their ring bell. I noticed it at the beginning when the ref called for the bell multiple times, and when it didn't come Gargano just started the match. Well the big finish comes and Konley taps and the Premier Athlete Brand is forced to break up...except there's no ring bell, and half the wrestlers don't know what's going on, and the crowd doesn't know what's going on. Galloway is confused, gets in and immediately repeats the finish and now he makes Konley tap. And the ref says the match is already over. But there's no ring bell. And the fans, being shitheads, all chant "This ref sucks" even though somehow a major promotion started a show with no ring bell. Really embarrassing stuff all around. Post-match Galloway does a decent job saving things by doing a reenactment of what the dramatic climactic finish was supposed to be like, calling in some bearded goober who's trying to ape the legendary style of Dylan Hales. Match wasn't good, but Galloway at least got the fans to stop being assholes.

2. Matt Riddle vs. Timothy Thatcher

ER: Awesome stuff from these two, which shouldn't be too surprising. There are some moments where you see a couple seams in their style with split seconds of waiting for one another, but I'm stunned that type of thing doesn't happen more with these guys. Thatcher dominated most of this and was really mean, throwing big strikes to Riddle's ribs and neck and ear, tossing him with gut wrenches, making his ankle bend at a disgusting angle with an ankle lock, locking on a brutal sub where he yanks Riddle's leg back while pushing into his knee with his boot. Damn that should be a finisher. Riddle doesn't overdo the selling, but he doesn't no sell either. Watch him lift his ankle after nailing Thatcher with a fisherman's buster. I'm sure many will hate the finish, which I get, but I liked Riddle hyperextending the arm after Thatcher thinks the ref broke the hold. It's a nice Gerard Gordeau dick move that adds another wrinkle to the Thatcher/Catch Point feud.

PAS: I really loved all of the infighting in this match, both guys laid in some vicious shot to the ribs and stomach and I am shocked that non of the shots to the ear popped an eardrum. Both guys come off as naturally tough dudes and parts of this felt like they took it a bit far. I thought the multiple arm bar reversals at the end might have been a bit much, although I did love how each guy found a different way to reverse and counter. Finish was pretty cool, although I think both the ref and Riddle needed to be a bit more demonstrative. I can totally see how it would have come off confusing to the crowd, Riddle need to wait a beat before torquing the arm, so it was obvious he wasn't breaking clean, and the ref really need to over emphasize that he needed to break the hold.

3. Fred Yehi vs. Marty Scurll

ER: Another awesome Yehi performance. Truly one of the must see workers today. This match had plenty of his weird, quick grappling and odd movements that you don't see from others. He finds cool ways to do spots we might not think much about. The way he slides into an ankle pick while Scurll is running, or grabs a single leg off a go behind, it's unexpected and almost foreign and so awesome. I loved all of Yehi's stomps here, loved him stomping hands Finlay style. And I love how him stomping Scurll's hands eventually leads to Scurll finally being villainous and going after Yehi's fingers. Yehi has shown he's a great salesman, and he puts over a finger break really excellently. And then Scurll finds amusing ways to work that hand and finger, even throwing in a thigh slap off a finger break, and then wedging Yehi's finger in between his boots before kicking. I love the trend in Yehi matches of limb work or body work not leading to the finish you expect, but instead leading to someone's focus being drawn away so that they don't see the real finish coming. Yehi is dealing with his hand injury which allows Scurll to leap on him for a nasty falcon arrow into chickenwing submission. Really cool stuff, really awesome finish.

PAS: I thought the beginning of this match was a bit formless, Scrull has never done much for me, his Villain stuff always felt like a big put on, more Chikara then Regal. Yehi is always going to be worth watching, and his weird stomps are some of my favorite things in wrestling. The last couple of minutes were truly excellent though, I loved all of the hand break spots and though Yehi's selling was awesome. I want to second Eric's observation about the coolness of the finish, loved how it came out of nowhere. Yehi really can do no wrong.

4. Ethan Page vs. Sami Callihan

ER: Not bad but below your standard Callihan match. Page isn't really defined enough as an opponent. He does a lot of big moves but tends to be better when he plays up his frat charisma more. This was odd as they seemed to skip several steps to get to the "we're in a war" moments, but they ran really hollow and undeserved once they got there. Callihan screams "QUITTTTT!" at Page, when up to that point at had been a very even match, and the announcers tried putting over the "what is it going to take to put him away!?" when really it was just 8 minutes into the match. I liked Callihan's powerbomb with him already grabbing Page's ankle to set up the stretch muffler, and thought Page's selling of the muffler was impressive. It was just strange and felt like 6 minutes had been clipped out of the middle, suddenly Callihan is lying on the mat begging off Page, one minute after screaming at him to quit. They kept jumping around like that, and everything up to that had essentially been move trading. This felt more like a thigh slap faux epic, even if parts were good.

5. TJ Perkins vs. Ricochet

ER: Sometimes guys like this do so much stuff that it's easy for me to get lost. I prefer Evolve to PWG as they have no problem having matches go 10 minutes. I think an excellent match can happen in 10 minutes. In many cases I think you're asking for trouble if you go too far past 10 for a singles match, as I don't think most workers are capable of filling that much time without things getting at least somewhat problematic. Ricochet is a super talented guy and I'm sure I'm in the minority when I say I don't care about the extraneous goofing around and mugging he does in his matches. It's always the reason I prefer him as Puma to just being himself. Just being himself always adds to much bullshit to matches, matches that I think would be tighter without the bullshit. And that's why I eventually liked this, because Ricochet did his bullshit, and TJP got pissed at the bullshit and wanted to kick his ass. He didn't play along and have a comedy circle jerk (though I guess with two guys it would just be a straight line jerk), he took offense at the jerking around and took it out on Ricochet. These guys both do super fast sequences effortlessly, impossible to keep up with as a viewer. But I loved how TJ kept going after that leg. And how it kept paying off. His grapevined heel hook is a really nasty sub and Ricochet set it up great by doing a show off missed moonsault, landing on his feet, and having that worked over knee buckle. It's a simple formula, take the legs out of the flier, but usually indy guys aren't good enough to pull it off, because they still want to get their shit in. But the match structure was tight enough that it allowed both guys to get their shit in, and still be truthful to the story they were telling. And I appreciate that. I appreciate your wrestling, TJP and Ricochet.

PAS: This was pretty solid, it got a little dancy at times, which is to be expected with these two guys. These are two of the most polished, athletic wrestlers in the world so if we have to watch a dance this is a pretty good dance. Ricochet has one of my favorite kip ups in wrestling, he flies up so fast it ends up looking barely human, like CGI or something. I enjoyed the knee work by TJP it did give the match some structure, although Ricochet really only sold it at the end.


6. Will Ospreay vs. Zack Sabre Jr.

ER: I went into this one expecting to not like it much, assuming that each man would bring out the worst in the other. BUT it actually turned out to be an awesome match (that went on a couple minutes too long). To me this felt like a cool modern twist on classic World of Sport, with both guys (especially Sabre) pulling from a bottomless bag of tricks with fast exchanges and updated WoS transitions. I loved all the slippery headlocks, with one going for a headlock and it seamlessly getting reversed into a wristlock and back into a headlock. We also had reversals based out of snapmares which is something directly lifted from WoS. They would often do a snapmare with a guy handspringing forward onto his feet, here we get Ospreay turning a snapmare into his own handspring elbow, and it was done quick enough that it looked great. Sabre was killer here, dropping Ospreay with a couple of rough suplexes, including a wheelbarrow roll through turned into a tiger suplex. Then he would come up with all sorts of ways to work over Ospreay's neck, legs, arms, whatever. Ospreay worked a lot of flying moves to counter and Sabre was often there to catch him with something. This was incredibly fun, incredibly quick counter based wrestling. It's something that doesn't work but damn did they make it work here. Where I wish it would have ended was when Sabre caught a triangle choke while Ospreay was going for a standing shooting star. Right before that Ospreay had kipped out of a tornado DDT which I think is an exceptionally stupid spot that athletic wrestlers do. All it does is show how a DDT is just rolling through at the right time. "See? My neck wasn't impacted at all! I was able to just hop out of it!" It's needless. But it would have been great if he had done that, tried his SSP and immediately met his doom in a triangle. Buuuuut we get a 80s WWF hulk up as his arm doesn't drop (since when does Evolve even do that spot? Don't they just call submissions as if they were MMA?), and we have to see some Ospreay tropes like trapping Sabre's head against the turnbuckle. The finishing sub by Sabre is absolutely vicious and almost made the match continuing worth it, as Sabre ends up sitting down on Ospreay's head and neck while yanking both of his arms up and behind his back. It's something Negro Navarro would be jealous of. Even with the extra pointless final two minutes, match was still awesome and a great representation of this style.

PAS: I was also not expecting to like this very much, and was looking forward to shitting on Eric for digging it, but I confess it won me over. A match like this is all about doing cool stuff and not wearing out your welcome, and they did a bunch of cool stuff and kept from dragging on. I loved Ospreys shooting star press, it a spot I haven't seen in a while and he added a cool tuck in the middle of it, I also liked a bunch of the quick counter which is something can bug me. Finishing submission was truly awesome, as was the Liger bomb that set it up. I am still not sold on Osprey, some of his stuff is still pretty stupid looking but I think I need to give up the ghost and embrace Sabre.

7. Chris Hero & Tommy End vs. Drew Gulak & Tracy Williams

ER: Great tag between two teams who complement each other wonderfully. Hero at this point is like the big fat king of the indy scene. He worked hard to get to the top, and some that want to dethrone him point to his cosmetic laziness, and so he gamely gets off the throne to demonstrate why it's still good to be the king. And Hero absolutely is king at this point. He and End are a great team and Hero especially makes it his point to pick on Williams as the weak link, as if he were the Kikuchi of Team Catch Point. And damn do they murderize him. I love End/Hero's spin kick/elbow smash double team, and after that at one point Hero is just toying with him; kicks, chops, elbows, and always capped off with his killer roundhouse pump kick. I loved little moments like Williams finally catching a Hero kick, only for Hero to laugh before dropping back and kicking Williams with his other leg. But Williams would keep coming back and fighting and it was awesome. The match was long and because of that they were allowed to stretch out and do some fun stuff. The opening lucha armdrag stuff with Hero and Gulak was a trip. Hero does a sweet 360 armdrag off the top and Gulak follows with a beautiful tilt-a-whirl variation. We get a couple nice cut off the ring sections with both teams, plenty of cool double teams on Williams (loved when Hero kicked him off the apron onto End's shoulders, and then kicked him again), and great apron performances from both Hero and Gulak. Hero was great rooting on End, Gulak was great pleading for Williams and sneaking in for saves when needed. Hero is cocky but he's smart with his cockiness, and it never came across like Catch Point was only making comebacks due to his own cockiness. Catch Point looked strong by making their own comebacks, on their own merit. And that's important. There was plenty here that you could trim and make it a tighter, better match. But you could trim out a good portion of the White Album, too. Part of the fun is in its bloat. And I'm glad we got the extra minutes of bloat.

PAS: I didn't like this as much as Eric, I love Hero and Catch Point, but I thought the bloat was a bit too much. The long section of Hero and End using Gulak and Williams against each other was a bit SATish. End is a guy who looks cool and has awesome looking strikes until they land, if he could hit his stuff cleanly more I would love him, but a lot of his shots look violent as hell on their way and gentle when they get there. I thought Gulak was awesome as usual, his lucha armdrag challenge against Hero was nifty, and I love his out of nowhere dragon sleeper. Still this lost me by then end, which kept it from being great.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

PWF 5/22/98

ER: PWF was a Carolinas based 90s indy operated by Italian Stallion (probably). PWF stood for Pro Wrestling Federation which is almost impossibly adorable. This was a handheld of a show they ran in West Virginia, with Eddie and Hector Guerrero inexplicably working a tag match, while Eddie was still very much employed by WCW and to my knowledge not suspended. 1994-2000 indy wrestling is kind of a fascinating thing, as once the change to DVD happened a lot of these cards never got transferred, so there's an absence of this era online. It was also a time when main federations were far more innovative than indys, and indy feds were still trying to be more like territory feds from years before instead of figuring out what the next big thing was going to be. So you have crowds with mullets watching wrestlers with mullets, wrestlers who all kind of wrestle like bad body WWF and Crockett jobbers, while actual bad body WWF and Crockett jobbers were working the main events.


1. Russian Assassin vs. The Breeze

ER: One immediate thing of note is entrance music hadn't gone through that terrible period of change, with the change happening just a year after later. Here we have the crowd getting excited listening to Assassin (who has nothing whatsoever Russian about him) coming out to late period Alice Cooper and Breeze (looking like Opie from Sons of Anarchy, but wearing a tie dye shirt) coming out to Skynyrd's cover of JJ Cale's "Call Me the Breeze". A year later nu metal would hit and half the workers of every southern indy would enter the ring to "Down With the Sickness" for the next 16 years. It's like that song immediately replaced "When the Levee Breaks" for all of the lamest reasons possible. And let's be honest, this guy is only called The Breeze because he really likes that Skynyrd song. I'm sure he's been a part of a tag team called The Street Survivors (which, isn't a terrible tag team name). This match is 3 minutes long and starts with an alarmingly bad punch exchange, and a missed clothesline where Assassin looks like he's miming throwing a football, poorly. It was the kind  of exchange where neither punch lands and The Breeze holds up his arm to block Assassin's punches long before the punches are thrown. And then, somehow, Breeze has really good corner 10 count punches, a shockingly good delayed powerslam, and drops two legdrops, with at least 50% of those legdrops looking good! Then he hits a kind of cool diamond cutter with him coming off opposite ropes like he was setting up The Pounce. 


ER: There's something really wonderful about the simplicity of indy names 20 years ago. I mean, The Bodyguard? Plenty of men have worked a bodyguard gimmick, but nobody has just said "you know what? My name ain't important. Just my duty." He comes out to Bad to the Bone, because someone had to. Ted Dibiase is his manager. Or client? We don't know because we're too busy being disappointed he could not choose one of the multiple smash hits from the eponymous soundtrack as his entrance theme. Gibson is coming off his ill-fated WWF run, still rocking his NWA duster. Oddly I recently (within the month) sought out Gibson vs. D-Lo Brown from Shotgun Saturday Night, as one night I got curious and wondered if Ricky/Robert had an singles matches during their few month late 90s WWF run. Turns out Gibson worked D-Lo Brown, Ricky worked Marc Mero. Just one singles match apiece. Couldn't find Ricky/Mero, but the Gibson/Brown match was plenty fun. Anyway. I'm not sure who the Bodyguard is but he has height and a workably decent build, the kind of guy who you'd think get a shot at some point. But Gibson was really great in this. He found a bunch of cool ways to work around Bodyguard's limitations. Bodyguard did not have a great shoulderblock, but Gibson sure made it look good. First one he takes a standard back bump, next one he does a great sell I've never seen where he runs into The stationary Bodyguard and just drops straight down to his knees, just hitting that brick wall and crumpling. Another shoulderblock sees him take a great bump through the ropes to the apron and floor. We get a couple bearhug spots (which I love) with Gibson escaping them first by boxing the ears and second by biting Bodyguard's forehead. Seriously Gibson was awesome here. Bodyguard has one surprisingly decent punch, some silly overhand tomahawk chops (I don't think I'd personally employ a Bodyguard who used overhand chops in a fight situation, but I am just one man). Dibiase grabs Gibson's leg and holds onto it for the finish, so that's his payday. And now I want more late 90s indy Gibson.


ER: What a weird little match. Meng was still in WCW at this point, but apparently has bills to pay. The Overlord looks nothing like what you'd expect any kind of Overlord to look like. For starters, he's wearing a singlet. He has that late 90s gassed Power Plant look, but also kind of lean around the waist. Think James Earl Wright. And the Overlord is not as good as your average gassed Power Plant guy. Gassed Power Plant guys always had at least one thing they did shockingly well, like a nice press slam or nice elbow drop. The Overlord had nothing that looked good. Early on he botches an arm drag and tosses Meng into the ropes, the type of thing that Finlay would have wrecked him for in front of a Universal Studios audience. But Meng plays along and even sells for this guy. Meng is really fun in his parts, throwing an axe kick to the downed Overlord's balls, and hitting a brutal overhand chop that sounded like it had Lucha Underground sound sweetening. And then, suddenly, 6 minutes in, The Overlord reveals his gift: He can bump really great on the floor!! I mean, really, really great. So I had him pegged as gassed Power Plant grad, but really he was a gassed UPW grad this whole time! Meng casually tosses him through the ropes to the floor, and Overlord decides to just wildly fly through the ropes and onto concrete. Meng follows and chucks Overlord into the announce table and he flies violently into that! Overlord tries to get back in the ring and Meng punches him on the apron.....and Overlord does an awesome Harley Race "feet catching the bottom rope" bump landing back first on the concrete. Who the hell is this Overlord!? Once he gets back in he continues to suck, but damn, we'll always have that minute of awesome bumping.

4. Jimmy Snuka vs. American GI

ER: American GI doesn't seem like your typical indy heel gimmick. The guy has an Army shirt, a crew cut, doesn't bark orders at the crowd like a drill sergeant, is just a standard issue army guy wrestler. One who is clearly booked as a heel because the crowd isn't going to boo Snuka. Is West Virginia against the troops? Is this a smart local gimmick playing off of Virginia's world renowned Antimilitarism? This feels like a pretty standard 90s Jimmy Snuka indy match. It goes about 4 minutes, GI takes most of it. GI didn't look that good. I'm not sure who GI's manager was, but HE was good. He violently choked Snuka in the ropes, and later took a vicious bump off the apron from a big clothesline from GI. So Snuka took some middling offense, and then decided to go home: Hit a backbreaker, then went up to plaster him with the Superfly Splash, totally unprotected because his knees were shot at this point, brudda.

5. Eddie & Hector Guerrero vs. Black Angel & Super Ninja

ER: Holy cow. You guys. Eddie. Eddie Guerrero wrestled so damn well on a strange Virginia indy show. Also, Hector! Man what a killer match with essentially just 2.5 out of 4 wrestlers. I have no clue who Super Ninja or Black Angel are/were, but Black Angel gets a real nice reaction coming out. He gets kind of mobbed by fans, truthfully. Why? I do not know. He takes a snapmare nicely? Super Ninja is a guy who is at least workable. He has better timing than Angel, has better ring awareness (seems like every move Angel did would either wind up with he or his opponent lying in the ropes), and did a couple decent spin kicks. But you guys. Eddie. Holy cow. He was so damned good here. Fans are on him right away with the Eddy Sucks chants that were all the rage at the time, and he feeds them great. This match was a wonderful example of his stooging ability, showing genuine frustration (watch the intensity as he slams his hands on the apron after getting armdragged out of the ring), his comedy (watch him get excited and slap Hector after getting too fired up, then immediately beg off), and just his incredible wrestling ability. The way he took offense, the way he would slyly get into position for stuff, the way he would work the crowd from the apron, the big bumps he took to the concrete, the snap he would deliver his own offense with, the way he would feed the offense of people with pretty bad offense. Eddie was just really special. I'm not sure what circumstances lead to him working this show, but I'm glad those circumstances happened. And in all this Eddie talk it would be easy to forget about Hector, but Hector busted ass in this too! Hector was doing all sorts of cool suplexes, trying to set up complex roll ups that Black Angel would botch, and playing a great toned down second to Eddie. Eddie is a marvel down the stretch, taking increasingly impressive bumps to the floor while Ninja/Angel try to finish Hector, with Eddie's best bump coming as he takes a superkick on the apron and bumps backwards from the apron to the guardrail. Seeing kids leap in shock as Eddie flies into the rail in front of them was glorious. No clue why the Guerreros worked this show, no clue why they won the tag titles which I would guess were never ever defended by them, but I'm so glad that some guy sitting in a balcony decided to record this.

6. George South vs. Italian Stallion

ER: Man, I love George South. I watched a current George South match within the last 6 months and I still love super old even more Jesus-y George South. I love that he's a God fearing man, but also a bad guy. Like Jesus loves him, and he loves Jesus, but he's a bad guy. George South was one of those guys you could slot into a suddenly empty spot on the 500. "We have Black Buffalo on there twice? I guess put George South at 205." Italian Stallion gets a stunningly loud reaction coming out to the ring. Everybody wants to slap him five. He and South have two of the most incredible faded glory mullets you have ever seen. And I really liked this. It doesn't take much for me to like a South match, but Stallion was surprisingly game too, and I always love a couple of old dudes fighting. South is so good at the little things, he throws a couple of different great punches (really like his short uppercut), bumps big on armdrags and clotheslines, and can brawl. Stallion threw a shockingly good overhand right, cut really low on a missed lariat, had a big press slam and nice powerslam. And this was good! We get some amusing wandering brawling on the outside, as South would punch Stallion, Stallion would wander halfway around the ring, Stallion would punch South and South would wander back around a couple lengths of ring. But man I dig this kind of stuff. If I could be guaranteed a match as decent as South/Stallion on every indy card I went to, I'd be a happy live wrestling fan.

What a neat little time capsule of late 90s indy wrestling. I could watch stuff like this all day.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Satanico v. Ultimo

20. Satanico v. Ultimo Guerrero Cara Lucha 4/23

PAS: Infernales explode!! Satanico in his late 60s and looks as good here as any footage we have of him. Guerrero continues his fun indy run, he still wrestles most of his CMLL matches exactly the same, but when he works indies he mixes it up a bit. Loved how smooth Satanico is on the mat, it is more basic then the tricked out stuff Navarro or Virus does but the execution is stellar. I also loved the out of ring brawling, Satanico still throws a hell of a punch. Finish was a bit goofus, and this was a bit short, but so awesome to see Satanico still rocking it out in his twilight years.

ER: Satanico is the same age as my father. Several years ago my father finally bought a riding lawn mower because he was sick of physically pushing his regular mower. And here's Satanico, looking limber as can be on the mat against a 45 yr old youngster. I really liked the mat game here, nothing was super flashy, but nothing looked rehearsed and still showed the old man could go. There was some amusing silly stuff, like Ultimo's weird crucifix surfboard, but Ultimo on these indy shows is awesome. He always breaks out little tricks he doesn't do at Arena Mexico. The last year of Ultimo indy matches has probably given us more Ultimo matwork than we've seen in his last decade in CMLL. And it's clear he's a guy who should be incorporating more matwork, because he wears it well. But I liked the pace this advanced, and I loved I spilling to the floor with Satanico dodging out of the way as Ultimo ends up doing his flying hip attack to a fan. Reminded me of when I was second row at an indy lucha show headlined by LA Park vs. Shocker, and two fans in front of me hightailed it out of the way right as Super Boy and his massive body crashed through their plastic chairs and onto my leg. It was awesome. Back in and Ultimo really headhunts Satanico on a lariat, and I actually liked the finish. Satanico was the maestro of the faulta when I first started watching lucha, seems like every week he was ending a fall of his trios matches with a nasty ball kick, so here we get a nice Cats in the Cradle moment with Ultimo kicking him in the balls to drop him, and Satanico returning the favor from his knees, then both guys lying there holding their balls for a few minutes.


2016 MOTY MASTER LIST


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Sunday, May 22, 2016

THE MOTHERFUCKING INTERNET- Baby Fuerza v. Baby Casas

Negro Casas v. Fuerza Guerrera WWA 9/20/86



Dataintcash delivers again!! Here is two of the all time greats popping up with a previously unseen match which is the earliest footage we have from either guy. It is a little strange to watch a pair of consummate rudos work this kind of fast paced juniors style, but no surprise, they are really great at it. Two pretty solid initial falls with Fuerza doing some especially nifty armdrags where he never loses contact with the arm, and then a final nutso fall. Fuerza takes his signature bump to the floor at warp speed, and Casas follows it up with an out of control tope. They then exchange electric chair drops and bow and arrow counters, before Casas hits a Rita Romero slam and Casita for the pin. This is the kind of match which would have blown minds in 1986, although this kind of highspot juniors wrestling doesn't age as well as other styles. Still a true out of the blue treat and a great chance to see a pair of legends as athletic young guys.

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Saturday, May 21, 2016

WWE Cruiserweight Classic: Yehi v. TJP

Fred Yehi v. TJP EVOLVE 5/7

PAS: I really like that EVOLVE booked Catch Point explodes matches for these qualifiers, love all four guys and love when they wrestle each other. This felt a little like a TJP showcase which makes sense with him going over in the match. Yehi was awesome, but took a bit of a backseat so TJP could shine. TJP has a different feel to these kind of grappling heavy EVOLVE matches, he can hang with the guys on the mat, but throws in some more luchaish counters. Love his Santo headscissors and how he slips it in to counter a harder edged series of takedowns. Yehi really had his moments, I love his stomps on the cuniform bone, just vicious looking and he is great at using them to chain into other cool stuff, he also has some really explosive takedowns, I am really enjoy watching Yehi improve week after week

ER: I love Yehi, but was really not into TJP in this one. I'm officially tired of him shoehorning his "stuck in the ropes" feint into every match, because then everybody just has to charge at him. They always miss. What was their plan if he hadn't moved, to just do a running headbutt for the first time in your career? I've seen him insert it more organically into matches before, but here it was glaring and felt disconnected from the rest of the match. The worst part about TJ in this match was his constant spot calling during all of the mat stuff. It was first year John Cena bad. He was just making ultra casual conversation the whole match, sometimes leaning right into Yehi's ear, other times just leaning back in a hold and suggesting the next reversal to Yehi. And lo and behold, then a reversal would come. It was a level of not-giving-a-fuck that I haven't seen in some time, and something I haven't seen at all from any of the other Catch Point guys or Thatcher or others who use more grappling.  Yehi really can't do any wrong at the moment and I really liked him here. His body part specific stomps are great, I love how he just plants the foot, and I love how he uses stomps to distract a guy while he's about to lock something else on.  I dug his sub that got the (inadvertent) false finish, and the ring bell miscue actually added a little accidental drama for me as I avoided knowing who advanced. So once the bell accidentally rung in Yehi's favor I thought maybe the timekeeper knew Yehi was winning but wasn't sure when. But then I also thought it may have just been a mistake. But it made the finishing run a little more interesting. I also thought Phil made up "cuneiform bone". I thought Cuneiform was an experimental jazz record label.


WWE CRUISERWEIGHT CLASSIC GUIDE


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Friday, May 20, 2016

IWA Mid-South Top 18 Matches, #8: Chris Candido/Steve Stone/Nigel McGuiness/Claudio Castagnoli v. CM Punk/Ace Steel/Danny Daniels/Matt Sydal 10/22/04

Chris Candido/Steve Stone/Nigel McGuiness/Claudio Castagnoli v. CM Punk/Ace Steel/Danny Daniels/Matt Sydal 10/22/04



ER: IWA-MS advertises this match as "the funniest match in the history of [the promotion]". "Funniest" and "pro wrestling" are typically words I don't care to seek out when they're together, like "saltiest cocktail" or "silliest guitar solo" or "leakiest gas tank" or "most pleated khakis". And it's tough going into a match knowing that it's advertised as "the funniest pro wrestling match", because it's definitely something that is going to work better in a live setting, within the context of the other wrestling you had already seen that night. This match was the THIRTEENTH MATCH of this specific card, some type of "Strong Style Tournament" (whatever that means) that also featured non-tourney matches such as an Abyss singles match and a Chad Collyer 3 way. Fourteen matches on the card, and this match went on thirteenth. So it was probably a long night of wrestling, and we can assume that with a name like "Strong Style Tournament" all of the tourney matches were probably pretty serious business. So live, at the end of a long night of wrestling on a Friday night (Friday night is the night I most often crash early, tired from the end of the work week), the crowd got a comedy match that was probably much needed. For me at home, watching the match in a vacuum, it was merely okay. We get a pre-match pat down where several forks, a dumbbell, and a jumprope are all found on member's of Candido's team. Candido gets his trunks pulled down (dangerously low) on a sunset flip, and stumbles around getting bodyslammed by everybody, including ref Bryce Remsburg. There is a chicken fight with Sydal and Claudio fighting on top of Punk and Candido's shoulders (ending with Claudio taking an unexpectedly nasty bump on the back of his head), Nigel had a bulky foreign object stuffed in the bulge of his trunks that eventually backfired when he got atomic dropped, and we got some yuks involving multiple guys assisting an abdominal stretch. Truthfully the only time I actually laughed was seeing Ace Steel dance to "Early in the Morning" before and after the match. But Candido was really on fire throughout, his passion for all the bullshit of wrestling really shining through. He stooges like the best John Tatum you've seen, takes some big bumps while still horsing around, worked the apron and the overall match gimmick better than everyone else, a real showcase. Steve Stone looked much better than I remember Steve Stone looking, CM Punk looked much worse than I remember CM Punk looking, and I wish we got more Ace Steel vs. Candido during the match.

PAS: I could have sworn I did a draft of this, Eric wrote this up and I am in the unenviable position of having to watch this match twice. I enjoyed Candido in this, as he worked this more like a SMW match then a indy winkathon. Outside of Candido I also enjoyed Steve Stone doing World of Sport armwork and forcing Nigel to give himself the finger. Otherwise I found this rather mirthless. Sydal's actual wrestling looked cool, but otherwise this was long and dumb

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Thursday, May 19, 2016

2016 Ongoing MOTY List: Rush v. Casas

20. Negro Casas v. Rush Elite 5/4

PAS: So much fun to watch these guys back and mixing it up again. They had one of my favorite feuds in years back in 2014, but haven't really matched up since. This had some of the same dynamics as those matches, Rush as the cocky muscle bound bully and Casas as the tough wily veteran. Casas takes a thumping here, the final corner dropkick was totally brutal looking, but is so great at sneaking in shots and playing the role of the game, but outclassed old guy. Rush is still magnetic, and I loved him posing and being a dick, tossing a drink in Casas' face, cussing out Shocker, just a marvelous asshole.


ER: This is a fun "greatest hits" WorldWide match, only 6 minutes, but you get all your favorite spots and a hot crowd and the energy these two bring opposite each other. Rush is really a force of nature in these matches, his posing and posturing, spitting water, it's really larger than life. He's like if HHH wasn't so insecure. Rush will drill Casas and then take an exaggerated back bump just because, just constantly taunting the crowd with his body. Casas always works stiffer with Rush, and this was the first time these two have caved in faces in a singles match since their hair match almost 2 years prior. They've matched up in trios since then, but not like this. The dropkicks to the face are just a sick spot, and these two always just go in hard.




2016 MOTY MASTER LIST



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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

3. Hardy Boys v. Young Bucks NEW 8/2

ER: Wow, I'm kind of in shock about this match. Like the whole time I was watching it I was in disbelief at how great it was. Not that either team isn't capable, but the whole time it was just feeling TOO good, and it kept getting better, and I kept praying it wasn't going to fall off the rails or have a lame finish. Do you ever do that? You're watching a match and you're rooting to yourself for them to keep it up, to not blow it, wanting them to reach the level of great match that they're promising as they set out. And this match totally delivers in every way possible. The timing is just incredible, all four guys work as if they're intending to have the match of their careers, the pinfall saves are great, the false finishes are great, the ebb and flow of everything is great. This is just great tag wrestling, great pro wrestling. The Young Bucks persona works so wonderfully in front of genuine indy crowds, as opposed to people who are "in on the joke". And the team's personalities collide so well in this. This is clearly the hardest and wildest Jeff Hardy has worked in ages, and Matt looks as good as he did on his WWE TV singles match run in 2009. Bucks tone things down and perfectly use their superkicks only 3 times, both in super important parts of the match, always to cut off potential threat of Hardy offense, always used as not a big move but as a reset, something to turn the tide back to the Bucks.

There were so many great moments where each team would mirror each other, sometimes one upping the other, other times leading to their downfall. Hardys hit their nice fistdrop/rolling senton combo, Bucks later do their springboard moonsault/standing moonsault combo. Jeff catches knees on a swanton, and Nick immediately holds him prone on his knees so Matt J can hit a swanton. Bucks just trying to do little things to update Hardy's signature offense to get under their skin. There were so many great sequences throughout, tons of great saves, tons of stuff where timing is imperative, but there were no moments of somebody waiting for someone to get into position, everything ran like a well oiled machine. At one point Matt J cuts off Matt H with a superkick, hits a Fuerza bump dropkick and as he's skinning the cat he gets clotheslined from the floor by Jeff, which causes him to flip back onto the floor, Jeff goes to the apron to fly but gets leveled by Nick making Jeff trust fall into everybody, and then Nick hits a flip dive on all of them. Everybody was always right on point with pulling the ref out of a count at just the right moment, knocking someone off the top to save their partner, the saves and false finishes were so expertly done that it made a 23 minute match feel like it needed every second of that time. Jeff was a total maniac in this, hitting a huge crossbody off the apron, a couple reckless dives, always doing big splashes to break up pins, I mean I literally don't remember the last Jeff Hardy match where he looked this good. Matt stalked around the ring great, trying to slow the Bucks down, threw some of his perfect right hands (with a flawless fist shake on one) and trying to set up the Bucks for Jeff. Bucks were great too, knowing exactly when to break out the flash, knowing when to let something peak and when to cut it off, and the stuff piledriver finish was nasty and a great false finish. Jeff makes the save and Matt doesn't have to go wild hitting moves after taking the piledriver. He falls off Matt Jackson's shoulders to deliver the twist of fate, and falls on him for the pin after Jeff hits a swanton. This is a flat out excellent match. Literally my favorite match of the year.

PAS: Really great stuff, an out of nowhere classic. I can't believe how good Jeff Hardy was in this, he is a guy who had his moments over his career, but I think the consensus was that he was completely shot by 2014, a casualty of drugs and bumps, but I cannot remember him ever looking this good, not only was he bumping like crazy but all of his offense looked really good. When has Jeff Hardy ever thrown good punches? He was cracking the Bucks here, spin kicks looked great, just a unbelievable performance. I really loved how the Hardy's incorporated all of the Bucks stuff into a traditional hot southern tag. Their taunts came off more like douchey heeling and less like meta wink wrestling. More John Tatum less Chuck Taylor. I was also really impressed how the Hardys were able to keep up with the Bucks fancy shit, there are some elaborate sequences in this match, and they looked great, the speed was still there, but they way it was slotted in, made it look less like a dance routine then if the Bucks ran them with Ohio is for Killers or the Addiction. Eric is going so nuts for this match so I feel like I have to throw a little water on the fire, I did think the Meltzer Driver should end a match full stop, I just don't buy Matt putting on a move 45 seconds after selling it, even if he did a nice job of selling. I also think that the Hardy's are a little short on offense, so they spammed the side effect and twist of fate a bit, I loved Matt's gutwrench suplexes, and I would have rather he used more of them or even just some bodyslams. Still those are very minor complaints on what is otherwise a remarkable match. No one could have predicted this.


2014 MOTY MASTER LIST

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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Big Time Wrestling TV 5/13/16

1. Nicole Savoy vs. Beatrice Domino (2/19/16)

I've been interested in seeing Domino, as she's working a fairly edgy and unique gimmick for wrestling. Now, she paints her face like the Marvel character Domino (not sure how long she'll be able to work this gimmick) but has a BlackLivesMatter slant to her character. Her shirt for this match said "Trayvon - Don't Shoot" and walks slowly around the ring with her hands up in an I Surrender pose. The fans seem really receptive to it and didn't respond to it as a heel gimmick like I assumed.  I'm not sure how far you can really take the message within a wrestling context, but keeping the awareness there is worth something. The announcer instantly shits the bed with a "Shades of the Nation of Domination". Ugh. Early on she at least does her part to fight black stereotypes in wrestling, as she delivers a headbutt and staggers herself. Savoy is really good, easily one of the best bay area ladies. Domino hasn't been around nearly as long so show some awkwardness in spots. Savoy broke out some cool Indian deathlock subs, had some big chops and kicks to the chest, hit a big dive; Domino was a little tentative and clunky, but overall the match worked. Finish was a little sloppy though with Domino turning a snapmare into a small package for the win, but Savoy's shoulder could not have been farther off the mat.

2. Victor Sterling vs. JR Kratos (1/22/16)

They started the show by saying this episode was going to be all lady matches, but I guess that promise only lasted 10 minutes. Still, Sterling is my boy and I was interested in this match when I saw it happened. It didn't quite live up to expectations but it wasn't bad. Kratos worked heel and Sterling worked face, and I think they're each better as the opposite. There were a couple awkward moments where either Sterling got into position too quick, or Kratos wasn't in position early enough, so you had some time stand still action. There was a long weird top rope struggle where a lot of stuff missed but was sold, and it ended with Kratos suplexing Sterling off the top and dumping himself on his head. I think both guys would have matched up much better if the roles were reversed. Kratos doing his power offense as a babyface would have been more effective, and I've seen Sterling's heel stuff and know it's good. Him sneaking in offense against Kratos would have been better than him valiantly fighting back. Kratos hits a decent piledriver that I wasn't expecting, and takes a good bump into the ringpost, Sterling hits a really cool dropkick across the ring corners under the bottom rope after the post shot. I liked the finishing powerbomb-turned-Sterling sunset flip. Sterling whipped over on it real nice and held a high cradle which looked believable.

Well, I really liked Savoy on this episode, I like how current the matches are, and I like how packed the half hour is with wrestling. There's one commercial in the middle, only the necessary parts of matches are shown (meaning most of the entrances and long ring announcements are trimmed) and there are only a couple of cutaway bumpers to the announce crew. It's nicely edited for content, and that's a plus for a self-produced indy wrestling show.

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Monday, May 16, 2016

PREMIER XI: Embrace the Grind Tourney 11/28/15

PAS: I reviewed the Tetsujin Shoot style tourney from England earlier this year and this is sort of the US version of it. A promotion in Northern California ran a three man round robin tourney focusing on grappling, the matches were in rounds and had three judges giving scores. I like all three guys and thought it would be worth checking out.

ER: Premier always has grappling based matches, but this was their first actual time addressing the style as such. It also has arguably the worst name ever for a wrestling show. PRIDE Man Fest might actually be dethroned. I didn't even want to risk googling Embrace the Grind. But the Premier show I went to last year in September (PREMIER X, sadly not online as it had a cracking Graves/Thatcher match that would certainly make the 2015 MOTY List) was one of the most fun shows I've been to in a couple years. I wish I could attend them more but their shows are *just* far enough away from me to make it inconvenient to attend. But I do love their product, and I love how into it the crowd gets when it's easily a style that a traditional pro wrestling crowd could turn on.

Joe Graves v. Jeff Cobb

PAS: This was really fun. Graves looked great his transition between leg locks are arm locks were really cool, at one point he put one a totally plausible looking shoot figure four leg lock. There was much more of an amateur wrestling base then a Jujitsu base in the grappling which makes sense as Cobb was an Olympic wrestler. Cobb is at his best as kind of an athletic freak suplex machine, sort of a lost Polynesian Steiner brother this kind of real mat based match tamps down what makes him special a bit. Last round was especially exciting with Cobb smacking Graves with his big headbutt he rushes him to finish Graves off and gets clipped in the knee, which Graves jumps on. Loved that Graves move, such a great out of nowhere transition. Match goes to the judges which I didn't like, it didn't really have a finish, and even though the mentioned a ten point must system, we never got scorecards. Don't think this tourney needed this gimmick, and if you are going to do it, you should at least have countdowns, time clocks and scorecards.

ER: Joe Graves is legit, and Cobb gets to show off some of his incredible amateur based throws. I think the rounds really hurt this one as almost every round ended moments after a neat twist had happened and some drama was starting to build, and the end of rounds killed it each time. First round ended with a hot kneebar reversal that looked to be going somewhere, and the third ended with an awesome battle of wills as Graves maneuvers somehow into a plausible shoot figure 4 (was excited to mention that right when it happened and saw it was the first thing Phil jumped on as well) while Cobb suffered through it but also lock on a heel hook. So you had two guys in an awesome Frye/Shamrock battle where one has a rough figure 4 on his hurt knee but it may get dropped due to the heel hook...but then the bell rings. With no countdowns or anything it was impossible to build to any natural excitement, they just always acted like an immediate match cooldown. Still both guys are awesome and the great spots were there. I love Cobb's pro wrestling suplexes, but his amateur takedowns and throws are even better. Watching Graves try to do a go behind and seeing Cobb just pop his hips into a mean belly to back takedown, or seeing Graves try to tie up and Cobb just grabs him in a head and arm butterfly suplex, really makes you appreciate Cobb's close range power. Graves is a guy I know little about, don't know who trained him, where he started, where he typically calls home. I first saw him in Premier against Thatcher and instantly dug him, later saw him pop up occasionally on that weird Paragon fed out of Vegas, but really haven't seen him a lot outside his work in Premier. He's strong and always seems to know exactly where he's headed during a mat scramble. All his work on Cobb's knee built nicely and it felt like that joint was just going to pop when he was bending Cobb's calf back against his thigh. It feels like only a matter of time before Graves is recruited by Evolve/WWE.

Jeff Cobb v. Timothy Thatcher

PAS: These guys had a fun match against each other a couple of years ago, and a match I found from Utah, but otherwise they have been circling each other without matching up. They missed each other in the APW KOI last year, and unfortunately this is more of a tease then a great match. Cobb comes in limping from the previous match, and they have a first round of solid but unspectacular rolling, it was fine, but felt very much like a warm up. Early in the second round Thatcher gets a scissor take down and twists the leg for a tap out. Felt abrupt which is fine for this kind of match, but I still want to see Cobb and Thatcher really go at it.

ER: This really was a cruel tease. The first round rolling was really good, I liked little things like Cobb kneeling on Thatcher's arm, but yeah the second Thatcher targets Cobb's knee the match ends. I know these two have wrestled plenty of times, but only a couple have made tape which is just inexcusable in 2016.

Joe Graves v. Timothy Thatcher

PAS: This was excellent stuff and well worthy of a final. The final went five rounds instead of three and they worked a nice pace right into the final round. Thatcher is so good at infighting, throwing kidney shots from the mat, cracking fingers, twisting ankles. Graves also looked very good he really does some interesting transitional things on the mat. I loved how the match got chippier with some shots thrown after the bell. Liked the finish too, with Graves countering an armbar, into a half nelson choke which Thatcher tried a bunch of different counters out of before finally tapping. Graves feels right on the level of Thatcher, Gulak ect. and really should get a shot at a bigger stage.

ER: Really good final that was longer and added more striking and heel dynamics than the previous matches. Graves comes off strong and does little things like neutralize guys in a sort of hogtied fetal position before pouncing into his next wear down hold. Both guys' grappling is on point and the struggle through some of this has to be exhausting. We get both trying to work the other's arm, and Thatcher starts to lean towards dickish by kneeling on certain parts of Graves while trying to work a hold. We see him kneel on his arm, even kneel on Graves face to maneuver into a go behind into a crossface. Graves starts taking apart the arm and Thatcher gets pissed, kicking Graves well after the bell. Things get more heated after that and we get some grounded knees to the chest, a standing exchange where Thatcher suckers Graves into a single leg, and both guys getting their arms bent behind them at angles that terrify my tennis elbow. Both guys move through reversals and counters so naturally, no guy has to dangle a limb out there for the other to pick up on a signal, felt like a gym sparring session that turned into something more serious, like Oliver Reed and Alan Bates' fight in "Women in Love" (but with much less penis). I think I preferred their fight at PREMIER X, as even though much shorter (about 11 minutes if memory serves) it had proper build and was go go go. But it's tough as I was there live which often can kick a match up several notches. Hopefully we get that one hitting YouTube eventually.

***Graves/Thatcher was good stuff, and an easy choice for our 2015 Ongoing MOTY List. Check out the tourney, and check out some other Premier stuff (they have a lot of their shows uploaded). ***


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