Segunda Caida

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

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Eddie Kingston Keeps the Chicken's Cluckin, Keeps the Pigeons Buggin'

Eddie Kingston vs. Homicide UWF 6/3/11 - EPIC

PAS: This was a tourney match for the Urban Wrestling Federation title and was quite an awesome spectacle. Homicide was repping Brooklyn and was managed by Uncle Murda, and Kingston was Bronx affiliated and seconded by Melle Mel. Julius Smokes was on commentary along with two other black guys I didn't catch the names of, and all three were great at one point the Play by Play announcer mentions that Homicide is a heavy partier and especially susceptible to liver shots. This one of the those great semi out of control Homicide brawls, felt like a Puerto Rican guy from Brooklyn and a Puerto Rican guy from the Bronx unloading on each other in the middle of the street. Both guys were lacing each other with chops and punches, and there was some epic shit talking in between blows (including Homicide telling Melle Mel to suck his dick). They both threw out some big moves including a back drop driver by King and a Cop Killa by Homicide, only goes about 10 minutes but it is a hellacious 10.

ER: This was fantastic, it was like an all time great WorldWide match given twice the time. Homicide brings stiff work and Kingston provides all the rest, seamlessly saving a couple early spots from Homicide (Homicide comes in high on a cannonball off the apron, Kingston clutches him tight while going down; later Homicide doesn't get both legs up on a top rope rana, Kingston whips over fast to avoid any clunk), bringing big personality and even mugging to a couple fans. The work here was real mean, some of the deepest thudding chops around, rough tosses into the guardrail, Homicide trying to take Kingston's arm home with him, bending it behind his back and over his head in painful ways. The home stretch is great with increasingly bigger and violent moves. Kingston drops him with a huge backdrop and a backfist, then a diving elbow drop. Homicide no sells a bunch of hard as hell chops and then snaps off a headbutt, later drops a big headbutt from the top, and just wrecks Kingston's neck and shoulders with a Cop Killa. This was a brutal drop, no idea how Kingston was able to work after that. One of the most nasty finishes I can remember. AND YES, the commentary team was absolutely incredible. The greatest 3 man booth around. All were as quick with Melle Mel references as they were with wrestling observations, really one of the most energetic, informative, and exciting commentary performances I've heard. With insight like "Homicide downs that Hennessy like it's water, so if Kingston works over the liver he could win this." That's why we watch all of this. That's why.


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Friday, September 21, 2018

New Footage Fridays: Rito Romero, Super Calo, Pedro Morales, Blackjack Mulligan, Rey Mysterio

We had a fun bunch of stuff in the queue for this week, but the network totally overdelivered, with two previously unseen old school matches and a Rey dark match from Nitro

Rito Romero vs. Danny Savich Dallas Wrestling 9/26/52

PAS: Really enjoyable bit of classic wrestling shtick. This was an underhanded cheapshot artist taking liberties with a local hero. We have multiple old ladies expressing their disgust with Savich as he threw punches and stuck his foot under the ropes on a submission hold. Meanwhile Romero would fire back with punches and even a couple of nice dropkicks. Really liked Savich's neck twist and he had a nice grumpy jerkiness, he felt like a soda shop owner who would yell at kids for just reading the comics instead of buying them. Romero is a guy with a legendary rep, and there were moments where you could see it, he took some big bumps to the floor, and had great timing. Really bummed that Savich wasn't going up for the Romero special, I was ready to mark out. The third fall was a nice look at what 1952 out of control brawls looked like, Romero kept knocking Savich to the floor, and when Savich offers his hand to keep it clean, he Fuerza's Romero and starts hurling him to the floor. The both tie up their opponent in the ropes, ending with Savich getting DQed for tying Romero's throat in the ropes and choking him, Savich even punches the ref and the seconds trying to free Romero. Felt like this would build to whatever the 50s equivalent of a big stips match was. Fun discovery

MD: I had three paragraphs written on why the stunt granny who drew Savich onto the apron at the end of the first fall was symbolically equivilent to a dive train that sets up the final bit of rope running in a lucha caida, but it felt like overkill.

Instead, I'll just point out the obvious: these guys were pretty great. Romero's legendary, of course. Savich I was less familiar with, but he was exactly the sort of gritty, underhanded stooge you'd want him to be. This worked a smart pace with a ton of build and callbacks throughout the falls. Romero was emotive and sympathetic and fiery, with punches meant for the last row; everything he did felt dynamic. Savich was mean, grabbing a goozle at a moment's notice to lock in a hold, and the diamond drill (neck) twist was an awesome little gimmick move.

There's a moment where Romero almost locked in the Romero special and it felt electric, the sort of move that we may have seen a million times, but that would have been so special for that crowd to see in that moment on that night.

Pedro Morales vs. Blackjack Mulligan WWWF 3/15/71

MD: This was pretty fascinating. It was probably more down my alley than my fellows but it was deep down mine. Minimalist, full of meaning and crowd interaction and control. Sometimes I threaten to review a bunch of John Studd matches, as I think he's one of the most misunderstood wrestlers in history. He's absolutely no great shakes from a workrate perspective but I love how he worked as a stooging heel, utilizing the dissonance between his size and his behavior in order to aggravate fans through stalling and complaining when they knew in their heart that he actually had an advantage without all of the underhandedness. It's just that we all came up in an environment where workrate was the primary metric to judge a wrestler's skill.

Mulligan works much the same way here, making this feel almost like Memphis in New York. He's got a massive size advantage, but he spends the first five or six minutes delaying lock-ups, missing charges, and constantly going for an object in his tights to load his glove. The fans pop each and every time he tries for it. Meanwhile, Pedro gets two lock-ups out of him and skillfully ducks an arm under to get a hip toss each time. When Mulligan is finally able to load the glove and get a cheapshot out of a headlock, it's established that despite his size, Pedro's the superior wrestler and that Mulligan's loathsome, whining about cheating that's not happening to him and trying to cheat himself (despite the fact he's so much bigger), but there's also the sense that if he does catch Pedro with this, the champ's in big trouble. I love all of this. It's doing so much with so little to such great effect and the crowd is completely on board, to the point that even though Mulligan's only on top for a minute or so, they become unglued when Pedro fights his way back.

This repeats, with Mulligan taking over with a cheapshot and the crowd getting incensed again. The best part of that was Mulligan breaking a hand-claw (yes a hand claw), due to getting hit with a soda (I think) to the head. It was a dangerous precedent to sell that so much but the fans loved it. Honestly? I think at that point, Pedro locked in a long headlock and chinlock (that they still worked and worked in and out of), just to cool the crowd down a bit. Whatever happened, it was pretty fascinating to watch. They went back to the heat/object one last time, but everything seemed on fast forward at this point so that they could go home. Pedro played a trick to make Mulligan think he was thw winner, hit a great super-heated dropkick, followed it with a dive off the top and the quick win and big celebration. Mulligan lost but got to escape with his life intact. I get that sometimes I may read too much into a match but I'm pretty sure I'm spot on there and this wasn't the match they thought they'd be working that night (there would have been a lot more Mulligan control with the claw). Really interesting stuff with an amazing crowd.

PAS: Minimalist is the perfect way to describe this match, up until the finish the biggest move was probably a hip toss, but man did they have the crowd lathered up and ready to go to war. This is super early footage for both guys, we mostly have post prime on both guys, and you can see why both guys were such big stars. Mulligan selling the soda to the head was a great bit of wrestling improv, although I could see being pissed if I was sharing a locker room with him "Now these fuckers are going to chuck things at us every show." Really liked Pedros fake out at the end too, when he tapped Mulligan on the back to make him think he won only to get dropkicked and bombs awayed for the win, totally a spot I could see Eddie Guerrero stealing thirty years later.

Rey Mysterio vs. Super Calo WCW 9/23/96

MD: This was a hell of a nitro-style lucha spotfest actually. If you're going to watch a match like this without a lot of flash and little substance, this is as good a choice as any. Calo was a little over-exuberant on offense (which cost him in the end) but otherwise based really well. Rey was Rey. They did everything imaginable in about six minutes until Calo wrecked his arm or his ribs or something on a stupid top rope turning legdrop. He was an immobile target after that and Rey adapted somewhat (I doubt the finish was a second split legged moonsault) but they still tried a 'rana which really didn't go well. This match was the sweetest candy and it ended with Calo on the mat ridden with cavities.

PAS: Calo was working most of this match as a straight rudo, which is something I hadn't seen from him before. When talking about Super Calo, the first thing that comes to mind isn't his great Buzz Sawyer powerslam or his spinebuster, but he hit both of them. 1996 Rey was crazy, he is in a dark match and still taking a sunset powerbomb on the floor and hitting a great quebrada. Calo is the guy who crashes and burns, and he misses a flipping dive of some sort, and clearly breaks his arm (you can see the bone cracked) it goes off the rails obviously after that, broken armed Calo can't catch a springboard rana. Up until the disaster, this was good stuff though, and I hope we get more dark matches or house show stuff from that era of WCW.

ER: I also thought it was interesting Calo was working actual rudo, instead of a tecnico/tecnico. He and Rey were pretty frequent partners in AAA, so I like WCW instantly making Calo a Rey opponent upon bringing him in. Rey was fairly new to WCW himself, but had the benefit of several showcase PPV and Nitro matches in his first couple months, so was already getting a big reaction from fans in Alabama. Fully agree with how nuts Rey was, there's just no need to be taking a sunset flip powerbomb to the floor in a dark match. It was 1996. I don't think this was something I would have even seen at that point, and here's this crazy small guy getting torched with one in a match that wasn't even going to be seen for another 20+ years? Bless him. Rey really had the feeling of being a guy about to do something that you hadn't seen, and Calo was there with him taking big falls. Calo gets to break out a bunch of tricks, including his nice somersault headscissors off the top, and I didn't actually notice the moment where he got hurt. I saw the weird twisting legdrop (that I still thought hit pretty well, looking more like one of Waltman's low quick slashing legdrops, only off the top rope), so I had no clue what was going on when Calo rolled over selling and Rey was the one dragging him to his feet. The rana was unfortunate, but again I was still confused as to what happened, and I'm happy those fans didn't crap all over the weird finish. It's awesome how immediately the luchadors were accepted by WCW fans. I guess it helps when you have someone like Rey leading the way, but it's cool to watch smaller guys get big reactions while they try to break their necks in dark matches.

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

2018 Ongoing MOTY List: Rousey vs. Bliss

64. Alexa Bliss vs. Ronda Rousey WWE Hell in a Cell 9/16

ER: I like how Ronda has that "I learned something new since my last match" thing going for her, gives her matches a bit of a vibe where you're not sure what might happen. You don't get people as freshly trained as her in major WWE matches, so she's in a pretty unique spot this year. We get some fun smoke and mirrors stuff with Aleza's crew of Mickie James and Alicia Fox, with them saving her from a beating one moment and getting Bliss thrown at them the next. Their presence is a good equalizer that allows us a believably longer Bliss match against Ronda. Bliss is good in control, I like her putting the MMA queen in a classic arm trapped chinlock and then hitting flashy handstand kneedrops. Ronda had a real nice sell of a rib injury when she tried to throw Bliss, and Bliss is great pushing into Ronda's ribs with her boot. I liked the stuff they worked in the corner, Ronda going for a suplex and Bliss giving body shots, dropping down and eating a shot to the eye from Ronda, but winning the battle by yanking her down from the buckles. Bliss working Ronda's ribs around the ringpost was one of the better spots of the night. Rousey's selling was really good, totally bought in. With Mickie in there you KNOW she's going to take a shot or two from Ronda, it is after all what Mickie was put on Earth to do. Mickie takes a great ringpost bump, getting run down the apron into it by Ronda, so thank you. Bliss is great at exploiting Rousey's rib injury, picking her shots, kicking at her, then taking it too far by smashing Ronda's face with her hand while taunting her. Rousey knew how to play the babyface to the back row by slowly standing up while Bliss feebly holds her by the throat. Bliss's facials throughout this sequence were great. I thought Ronda would steamroll from there, but there was a great final Bliss moment where she caught Rousey with a mule kick on a charge. Ronda came back, but I like that they kept Alexa in it until the very immediate tap. Ronda played her comeback perfectly, hitting this vicious gutwrench powerbomb and milking the final submission to great reaction. I loved this.

PAS: Rousey is pretty unassailable at this point. She is one of the most interesting wrestlers in the world to watch. The idea of 5 foot nothing Alexa Bliss being credible against a Judo medalist and MMA champ, who outweighs her by 65 pounds is silly, but I liked how they used the rib injury and Bliss's entourage to equalize it a little bit. Bliss is truly world class at bitchy shit talking, and I really dug how her trash talk led to the Ronda hulk up comeback. The mule kick to the ribs cut off ruled too, my favorite Hogan matches were always when he would get the Hulk Up disrupted, and I loved Dundee dropping Lawler during the strap drop in the 1985 match that just showed up, and Bliss's mule kick did a similar thing. I really want them to build up a more credible threat to Ronda, but they have made the best of this feud.


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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mae Young Classic 2018 Episode 3

Kaitlyn vs. Kavita Devi

ER: This was a showcase for the returning Kaitlyn, out of wrestling for 4 years, and apparently going through a "tumultuous divorce" in the meantime. I remember Kaitlyn getting better during her original run, eventually being a perfectly fine WWE trained fitness model. I liked her here, nice sliding clothesline, hard elbows, nice cannonball. I remember enjoying Devi more last year, in what was apparently her first match. Here she didn't stand out much, hit an okay kick to the back, whiffed a missed clothesline by a mile. This was meant to make Kaitlyn look good, and it did that well enough.

Toni Storm vs. Jinny

ER: I liked this one, and really liked Jinny. I'd never seen her before, and she carried herself great. She's got a bird bones body, like Sweet Dee or a Sikh Summer Rae. She packs a nice wallop with her long limbs, nice thrust on stomps, nice surfboard, great attitude, broke out some cool things (like reversing a charging Storm with a Japanese armdrag into the corner), and her biggest strength may have been her fast bumping. She really SUWA's herself on a Storm lariat and gets absolutely dumped by a Storm German. Storm's running hip attack in the corner looked good, and I expected Storm to advance, but I know we're going to get a few ladies advancing who I don't want to see more than Jinny.

Karen Q vs. Xia Li

ER: Okay, WWE, we get it, only ONE Chinese girl will be advancing in this tourney. And I really liked this. Li has improved a lot in the last year, all of her strikes looked good, tons of tough corner shots to the body mixed in with low kicks, nice palm strikes, and Q had no problem laying things in either. They have a couple moments that looked like a nice take on Red/Low Ki, and I dug Q playing an overt heel, begging off, kicking Li in the face when Li was talking to the ref, stuff that made the match far more interesting than if it had just been "two Chinese warriors going to war!" Q hits hard back elbows and snaps off a nice exploder, tries to ground, and Li's strikes to come back are good. Q misses big on a frog splash and Li hits her cool spinning kick finisher. This only went about 4 minutes, but was really hot, and made really good use of the time. Very into this.

Mia Yim vs. Allysin Kay

ER: Eh, a lot of this felt like every breathe hard indy war you've seen the past few years, and while there were moments I liked, a lot of it felt like a bunch of sequences lifted from every indy card. We even started with a brutally bad phone booth fight spot, big looping punches coming nowhere close to a human. Early on Yim chops the ring post, and they never do a single thing with Yim's hand...and what makes it awkward is all three members of the announce crew talk up that hand as if it were a major part of the match. After chopping the post, Yim never let on that the hand was bothering her in the slightest, but that didn't stop Cole, Renee, and Beth from speculating just how much that hand was bothering her. Even after the match, which Yim - ahem - handily won, the first highlight they showed was Yim chopping that post, which made Cole just keep talking about that hand while clips of other stuff played. Guys, stop trying to make Mia Yim's hand a thing. These two have faced each other tons of times dating back to 2012, so you'd think they'd have a decent touring match down. This was clearly their touring match, something that would not look out of place 3 matches into any indy card across the country. Again, this whole thing just felt like an attempt to pull moments from other matches, and not interesting matches, just pulling sequences from athletic indy contests. It did not feel like their own match, it just took the DNA of other matches and reassembled it here. Kay's 360 lariat looked really good, loved Kay fishhooking Yim in the ropes, Yim threw a couple nice knees, their strike exchange (you knew there would be a strike exchange) didn't linger, but overall I just didn't think they took it anywhere interesting. This was the longest match of the tournament so far, and I think several other matches have accomplished way more in 1/3 of the time (see Li/Q right before).

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Complete and Accurate Eddie Kingston

Eddie Kingston has been a highlight of every card he has been on for a decade and a half. He is getting a pretty high profile run in Impact right now, delivering a wrestling version of Power or Paid in Full, his Impact stuff is as a manager, but he has a had an awesome in ring career too, mostly outside of big Indies like ROH and EVOLVE, a real touring wrestler. We have avoided CHIKARA like a case of the clap, but I am sure there are some gems hidden in there. As always we are breaking these matches down to SKIPPABLE, FUN, GREAT, and EPIC.


Eddie Kingston vs. Super Dragon IWA-MS 10/22/04 - EPIC


Fanin Family (Eddie Kingston/BJ Whitmer/JC Bailey/Mark Wolf/Steve Stone) vs. Team IWA-MS (Ian Rotten/Chris Hero/Axl Rotten/Corporal Robinson/Bull Pain) v. Team NWA (Tank/Eric Priest/Chandler McClure/Sal Thomaselli/Vito Thomaselli) IWA-MS 7/2/05 - GREAT


Team CZW (Claudio Castagnoli/Chris Hero/Nate Webb/Necro Butcher/Eddie Kingston) vs.Team ROH (Samoa Joe/BJ Whitmer/Bryan Danielson/Adam Pearce/Ace Steel/Homicide) ROH 7/15/06 - EPIC


Eddie Kingston vs. Low-Ki PWU 6/22/07- EPIC
Eddie Kingston vs. Chris Hero IWA-MS 9/29/07 - EPIC


Eddie Kingston vs. Necro Butcher JAPW 12/10/10 - GREAT


Eddie Kingston vs. Homicide UWF 6/3/11 - EPIC


Eddie Kingston vs. Eric Corvis Wrestling is Cool 7/20/13 - GREAT

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Tell Eddie Kingston it's August, I'm Gone to November

Eddie Kingston vs. Eric Corvis Wrestling is Cool 7/20/13 - GREAT

PAS: Really enjoyable Kingston semi-squash. He comes out like someone having a rage induced psychotic break, throwing merch on the floor, trying to start fights with fans, spitting at the camera man. This is exactly how you want Eddie Kingston to be acting in a fed named "Wrestling is Cool". Corvis hits some shots, including a great big knee, but this was Kingston kicking his ass, and he can kick someones ass. Kingston is such a great in ring actor, and he really felt like a drunk abusive stepfather about to throw a chair through a TV.  At one point he stares down a little kid, and it wasn't it a cutesy Chuck Taylor way, I almost thought he might punch the kid. Corvis is a NE Indy guy I have always enjoyed, but he was a passenger here and Kingston was a great conductor.

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Lucha Worth Watching: Recent CMLL, Recent Kurisu

Hechicero/Negro Casas/Mephisto vs. Soberano Jr./Hijo de LA Park/Flyer  CMLL 8/24/18

ER: You ever see a match with sloppy execution and some flubbed sequences, but think that's it's good fun despite its flaws? That would be this match right here. A few of the guys didn't have their best night; Flyer worked like a young guy wrestling the top stars for the first time, really hesitant for some reason, Casas having to really telegraph and lead and RE-lead him through some spots. I've enjoyed Flyer, but this wasn't quite his night. There were plenty of misses here, but the energy kept the crowd way into it and played well. Casas got to work with all three young tecnicos throughout and he looked like he was having a ball. Flyer looked like a real choad trading push kicks to the jaw with him, and the fans were getting way more into rudo Casas as he kicked face and mule kicked his way gleefully around the ring, fouhgt on the apron with Parkito, and took a nice crazy DDT from Park right on his head. Hechicero had one of his best performances of the year, and while the match wasn't quite working, well nobody ever told Hech that. He took big flying moves from everyone, took big bumps to the floor (watch him get flung through the ropes and sprawl out on the floor), dropped a cool elbowdrop from the apron to Park draped over the barricade, and covers nicely for some out of position whoopsies: Late in the match he goes to hit his fast middle rope springboard dropkick, only to find Soberano not in the middle of the ring to get kicked, but waiting in the corner. Hechcero lands on his feet off the springboard and hitting the ground running his does a 360 and perfectly hits his mark to strike Soberano in the corner. All the tecnicos got to fly, and Soberano broke out his big tornillo (one in ring and one to the floor), Park hit a big moonsault, Soberano hit his handspring flipping rana to the floor only to get caught and swung hard into the barricade by Mephisot (Mephisto, who was decked spectacularly out in Villano pink/purple), so as I said the heart and energy was clearly full in this one. This thing threatened to fall apart but never did, it just kept chugging ahead with the aspirations of having a classic.

Rush/Cavernario/Bestia del Ring vs. Volador Jr./Matt Taven/Caristico  CMLL 9/7/18

ER: This was a good, fun-sized snack best enjoyed stoned in the dark in the movie theater. It's that fun-sized pack of Reese's Pieces I grab and throw in my pocket on my way out the door to catch a last minute flick. By the time I'm sitting there an hour into the film, those Pieces are little crunchy manna from heaven. The match is about 6 minutes long, is disposable and forgettable like tiny portion-sized candy, but enjoyed to the fullest in its moment. Rush is in full asshole mode, and we peak with Rush high kicking Matt Taven in the balls in full view of every human in Arena Mexico. To describe Matt Taven's look would be to describe a man who looks like he deserves to have his balls kicked in. We get flash highlights: The rudos kicking around a soccer ball head, Volador flying fast over the barricade, Volador hitting a big flip dive, a stiff lariat from Bestia, big splash from Cavernario, a stiff frog splash from Taven to end it; it was a short hot match. The match went 7 minutes, and had plenty of worthwhile fun in 7 minutes. It definitely made me want to see the hair match.

Masanobu Kurisu/Okumura/Felino vs. Solar/Mano Negra/Villano IV Lucha Expo 9/15/18

PAS: I have no idea how Kurisu ends up working a lucha expo at a museum in 2018, but god bless the guy with the handheld which lets me watch it. We get a bunch of the Kurisu greatest hits, he blasts people with that headbutt right to the side of the head, sick body shots and some nasty chair shots. I really enjoyed the Villano IV vs. Kurisu sections that feels like the great bloody apuestas match which never happened. There was also a moment where Solar gets smacked by Kurisu and remembers he is a tough fucker who had a MMA fight in his 50s and starts wailing away. Solar tried a couple of things he could do in his late 50s, but not in his early 60s and nobody was really taking bumps, but it fuck it, its 2018, its Kurisu, its lucha libre, god is great.

ER: I would wager we've never seen any lucha Kurisu, though we can probably assume that the term "lucharisu" clearly came about due to a portmanteau of Lucha Kurisu. I assume every smaller worker from All Japan or New Japan during that era had at least one Mexico tour, and obviously Kurisu's was historic. This was almost exactly what you would expect, although I didn't expect Kurisu to be wearing baggy denim Dockers shorts and a large weight belt. He looked like an old dad doing yardwork on the weekends. He threw headbutts like Kurisu and choked out people with his boot like Kurisu and got a chair involved like Kurisu, so we can confirm that early 70s Kurisu is still Kurisu. I don't think I've ever witnessed Solar wielding a chair before, so Kurisu is responsible for that. He's a bad influence. Kurisu hits guys in the back with a chair, they all get to hit him, we have fun. The tecnicos all seemed to be in really good shape considering their ages, and we got some fun quick exchanges with V4 and Felino, and even though Solar bailed on something a bit complicated on the ropes, he also ran and booted Okumura hard in the stomach, a stomach kick that looks better than most today. This never really gets past a certain level, but maintains its fun and weird pace throughout, and still maintains it's status as "most unexpected thing to catch my attention on a Monday".

PAS: Did a luchablog search on Kurisu, there are a handful of matches between 1979-81(Including a Gran Hamada title match, and a tag with Scorpio Sr. against Brazos Oro and Plata) and then nothing until 2018. Someone said "Remember that guy from 1979, that we haven't seen in 37 years? Does anyone have a contact number?"

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Sunday, September 16, 2018

WWE Hell in a Cell 2018 Behind Live Blog

The New Day vs. Rusev/Aiden English

ER: Weird match, basically worked like a face vs. face tag, and also weird because it started slow and then basically immediately went into a fun extended nearfall finishing stretch. Early parts didn't do much, outside of Rusev saving a sequence that saw Kofi almost land short on a springboard, and instead Rusev nabs him off his shoelaces and slams him. Big E has maybe the best standing splash ever, making up for extreme fat guy girth with unbeaten height and impact. E also hits the insane spear on Rusev to the floor, and every time he does that spot I feel the need to mention what an insane spot that is. The nearfalls all suckered me in, thinking English was going to steal the pin on E, then being shocked when English kicked out of that double stomp from the top rope. Rusev hitting Kingston with a superkick as Kingston was going for a plancha should have been used in a bigger moment, I think. That looked pretty devastating, I would have liked to see that lead to Rusev/English beating down E for the win. Still, the nearfalls got me into the match, turned into something worthy of the pre-show (not totally a sarcastic statement, as I find that pre-show matches deliver more often than not).

Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy

ER: I like the red cell, gives it a weird Argento vibe. I just saw the new flick Mandy and it's possible I just got accustomed to saturated reds. Apparently Jeff is in the mood to "do something crazy tonight", which I'm hoping means that he's aiming to work a sensible, logical Hell match. I don't really care about either of these guys, so it's going to be tough to care about this one. I do like that Hardy seems to bring the best out of Nakamura, which doesn't really make sense, but I've enjoyed both Hardy/Nak matches more than I thought I would. I was kind of playing with the idea of having Rachel write this match up, while I go do something else, but that's a needlessly cruel thing for me to do to someone who is so nice. I liked a Hardy bump into the cage, and Orton was taking some amusing pratfalls into the cage and post (including a silly moment where he pinballs into a couple surfaces), but this started to drag once Orton dragged weapons out. The chairshots to Hardy were nice, Hardy getting tossed on an upside down ladder looked fine, but the tempo really lagged. Tempo lagging, in an Orton match. You read it here. And THEN...Orton turns this into a scene from Hostel. Orton gets a screwdriver from under the ring, traps Hardy's arms, and starts yanking at Hardy's stretched earlobes with his finger, jams the screwdriver into the holes (Hardy clearly wears plus, but not during matches, so he has big holes in his ears that Orton was manipulating), and starts twisting and stretching the lobe with the screwdriver. It looked really unsettling, and Hardy is crazy enough that I was cringing and expecting Orton to just yank right through the skin while the HD cameras were zoomed in. That really feels like a spot you'd see in classic IWA Mid-South. Hardy gets a great comeback afterwards, whipping Orton with his studded belt (which leaves marks) and hitting a stiff swanton off the top, with Orton under a chair. But, we then go into an interminably long prop set up, just way way too long. Two ladders and a table, all while Orton is just stumbling and rolling around. Hardy swings on the top of the cell like he's on the uneven bars and then drops straight down through a table (because Orton had moved some time during the 3 minutes Hardy climbed the ladder and posed). And that's it. Hardy fell through a table, and they're treating it like it was Owen falling from the rafters. Hardy's fall was certainly stupid, dropping fast, basically face first through a table, but it made him look like a dummy. Not a sympathetic dummy, either. Just ended the match on a weird quiet note.

Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte

ER: Lynch is the clear babyface to this crowd, with Charlotte hardly getting any reaction during her introduction. I liked the takedowns, but we hit a patch of clunkiness where Lynch feeds Charlotte her leg, Charlotte whiffs on it, then they stumble around trying to get into the submission they were going for. Looked bad. It's also funny seeing Charlotte work a kneebar on Lynch, which just makes the crowd cheer more for Lynch. Charlotte misses a cool shoulderblock into the turnbuckle, horizontal, the way Berzerker did it, and Lynch accepts the "ugliest submission set-up" challenge by taking forever to get into an armbreaker spot, then loses her grip halfway through. Maybe neither of you should do submissions anymore in this match. Charlotte is not a babyface. Even when she sells a limb she makes these exaggerated Regal scowl facials. Lynch is working her arm but it just makes the fans cheer her armwork more. Charlotte is such a natural heel, every mannerism she does, every move she does, looks like the way a heel would do it. These two really aren't great at setting up offense for each other. Or, maybe they have implausible offense. I'm not sure. I was surprised to see Lynch get the win, wish it would have come in a better match. Or, that Charlotte didn't have to be involved at all. I am very happy that Becky did not shake hands afterwards.

Drew McIntyre/Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins/Dean Ambrose

ER: Well...I like McIntyre! Ziggler can't even do cool stuff right. He tries to worm his way into my good graces by raking Rollin's face with his boot eyelets, but we all know he wears those stupid 1996 Shawn Michaels motorcycle style boots, so he doesn't even have exposed eyelets. Ziggler knows a bunch of cool references to make at a party, but he doesn't actually know anything about the references so he has no conversational ability. "I really like that new album from Yo Soy Tengo!" Dean Ambrose looks almost identical to Santino during his last run. They have the same face, same hair, same little goatee. Dolph does some nice smothering chin and face locks on Ambrose, rubbing his wrist tape across Dean's eyes and mouth, and that's something that actually looks really good. Slingblades by Seth? That's something that never looks good. But we go a bit too long on the Ziggler control sequences, although it lead to a great moments where McIntyre got tossed through the ropes by Rollins, only for McIntyre to yank Ambrose off the apron before a tag. We get another nice non-tag where Rollins actually does tag Ambrose but the ref was distracted. That stuff worked 40 years ago, it works now. The longer this goes and the more they keep this like a southern tag instead of how the Ziggler/Rollins matches were worked, the better this gets. They finally acknowledge that Rollin's tope can't tear through wet paper, having McIntyre/Ziggler catch it before getting toppled by an Ambrose tope. Rollins muscling through Ziggler's leaping DDT and turning it into a Falcon Arrow looked really cool, nice nearfall. I don't love Rollins' home stretch offense, but only because most of his offense doesn't look any good. McIntyre was really great at feeding it, though, and the crowd reactions were big. His frog splash lands with impact, and that matters. The finish is a fantastic way to turn a majorly stupid Rollins spot into a great heel finish: Rollins hits his superplex and rolls through, because Rollins thinks a superplex isn't kewl enough on its own, and as he's rolling through to do another, McIntyre runs in with the shotgun kick. Ziggler still gets suplexed by momentum, but winds up on top. This match really should have sucked, but McIntyre and Ziggler actually knew how to work as a strong heel team, and stuck to a classic tag formula that's worked for decades and still gets the hot reactions. This was good.

Samoa Joe vs. AJ Styles

ER: This whole feud is pretty cringe, having to hear phony WWE announcers say "Well the thing I like about AJ Styles is he's a good father" is very much dumb. Pretending this is just about a title and has no sort of forced family involvement, and I'm into Joe's heel work. He takes AJ's legs out a couple times (once with an awesome legsweep to the shins), grinds the toe of his boot before doing the face wash, lands some hard back elbows, big enziguiri, heavy as hell tope that AJ bumps wildly into the edge of the announce desk, nice solid stuff. Styles is a good guy to get over a hell, that's for sure, as he really makes sure their moves land. He even whips himself into Joe's knees on an Asai moonsault, and Joe's follow up powerbomb looked good. The fireman's carry bomb was a bit much, as Joe kind of had to stand still while Styles got him up, and looked more like he was trying to stay balanced than not get dropped. Sadly none of this really feels any different than any match we've seen between them. This was supposedly after Styles was super insulted by Joe bringing Style's wife into things, but AJ is working this similarly to their match last month. Joe's full speed burning lariat makes me kind of not care about that though, as Joe levels him and AJ goes inside out and upside down. I like the finish in execution, though I don't really want it to lead to another match. We've seen them work similar matches on big shows twice now, without seeming like anything had actually advanced. So what does AJ tapping while also pinning Joe actually LEAD to? A third match? Is it going to just be them doing exactly this for a third time? Or will they do something interesting like a submissions only match? I think that would be the most interesting next step, if they continue the feud.

Maryse/Miz vs. Brie Bella/Daniel Bryan

ER: Miz does a lot of things I like in practice but lacks a lot of the execution. He needs better kicks and stomps to really come off like a punk. When he was stomping Bryan into the corner to start, those were some of the worst corner stomps in the fed. The mannerisms are there, I even like his loopy southpaw punches, but there is other offense that really needs to be tightened up. Bryan looks fantastic in this, as really he's looked fantastic ever since his return. Bryan throws really nice worked punches on Miz in the corner, in a way I don't recall him regularly throwing punches before. I have no doubt he's a guy who can pick up something like that quick. Bryan does a slick crossface attempt out of a Miz schoolboy, and damn does Bryan miss hard into the turnbuckle, really Psychosising himself. I liked Miz' backbreaker/neckbreaker after, with a hard chinlock. They've done a really good job building to the women, earlier having Brie chase Maryse around the ring, having Maryse act like she was going to start but slowly stepping back to the apron. We get a very good hot tag tease once Bryan and Miz start crawling toward opposite corners and Miz just opts to elbowdrop the back of Bryan's neck. But they handle the tag itself great, with Miz getting dumped to the floor and Maryse forced into the ring, Brie getting a louder reaction than almost anybody else so far. Brie can be botch-y, but she's got energy and you want energy like this from your hot tag. The finish was good on paper but ugly and limp in execution. I like Maryse getting the fluke roll up, but they were all so stumbly getting there. I think it was a mistake having Brie hit the knee, as that seems like way too tough a move for Maryse to take and then get a roll up moments later. They got a little complicated with the timing of things at the finish, and it bit them. Before that I would have nominated this for our 2018 Ongoing MOTY List, but things got just a bit clunky there. Still, probably my favorite match of the night.

Alexa Bliss vs. Ronda Rousey

ER: I like how Ronda has that "I learned something new since my last match" thing going for her, gives her matches a bit of a vibe where you're not sure what might happen. You don't get people as freshly trained as her in major WWE matches, so she's in a pretty unique spot this year. We get some fun smoke and mirrors stuff with Aleza's crew of Mickie James and Alicia Fox, with them saving her from a beating one moment and getting Bliss thrown at them the next. Their presence is a good equalizer that allows us a believably longer Bliss match against Ronda. Bliss is good in control, I like her putting the MMA queen in a classic arm trapped chinlock and then hitting flashy handstand kneedrops. Ronda had a real nice sell of a rib injury when she tried to throw Bliss, and Bliss is great pushing into Ronda's ribs with her boot. I liked the stuff they worked in the corner, Ronda going for a suplex and Bliss giving body shots, dropping down and eating a shot to the eye from Ronda, but winning the battle by yanking her down from the buckles. Bliss working Ronda's ribs around the ringpost was one of the better spots of the night. Rousey's selling was really good, totally bought in. With Mickie in there you KNOW she's going to take a shot or two from Ronda, it is after all what Mickie was put on Earth to do. Mickie takes a great ringpost bump, getting run down the apron into it by Ronda, so thank you. Bliss is great at exploiting Rousey's rib injury, picking her shots, kicking at her, then taking it too far by smashing Ronda's face with her hand while taunting her. Rousey knew how to play the babyface to the back row by slowly standing up while Bliss feebly holds her by the throat. Bliss's facials throughout this sequence were great. I thought Ronda would steamroll from there, but there was a great final Bliss moment where she caught Rousey with a mule kick on a charge. Ronda came back, but I like that they kept Alexa in it until the very immediate tap. Ronda played her comeback perfectly, hitting this vicious gutwrench powerbomb and milking the final submission to great reaction. I loved this.

Braun Strowman vs. Roman Reigns

ER: I liked a lot of work in this, both guys are good opposite the other both will bump bigger than they are, but I think they went to "we're having a WAR" death slo mo selling WAY too early, like 7 minutes in. That's preposterous when we've seen what these two have gone through before. Roman hits the cage well for a big guy, and the spot with Braun catching a chair as Roman swung it was cool, Roman runs face first into the ring steps (wielded by Braun), Reigns spears Braun through a table in spectacular fashion, but the match felt a little dullsville.   They were doing stuff that works and has worked, but it just felt a little dry. And, as I said, they went to the dramatic selling way too early. The match takes a weird turn though, as we eventually end up with Ziggler, Rollins, McIntyre, and Ambrose all scaling the Cell and fighting on the top. What Braun and Roman were doing during the several minutes they were all up there? I have no clue. We just cut away from Braun and Roman for several minutes, as if my feed just skipped ahead to entirely different match. The fighting on top of the cage is both gimmicky, but also provides a really cool and unique visual. As many Cell matches as there have been, we really don't see a situation where guys fight REALLY HIGH UP any more. They don't do scaffold matches, which is understandable but sad, so the top of the Cell is the only option. And it looks cool when guys fight up there, even when it's the shittiest punches fucking ever being thrown by Ziggler and Rollins. Just the most breathlessly shitty punches you've seen. BUT, they're thrown really high up on a not totally trustworthy surface. And motherfucking Brock Lesnar shows up when Rollins and Ziggler fall to their death, and nobody can pretend to hate this dude because the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas ERUPTED for flesh beard Brock. Brock got arguably the loudest reaction of the night, and this man is the smartest pro wrestler since Kevin Nash. Brock comes in, Heyman pepper sprays guest ref Mick Foley (who barely was noticed in this match)(and this pepper spraying also seems like a great IWA Mid-South spot), rips a panel off the cell, uses the panel as a ramp to casually stroll into the ring, and wrecks everybody that's still breathing, walks out of there the biggest star of the night for a couple minutes work. The match has to be stopped because Brock beat up both guys too much. Match cancelled on account of BROCK! I guess we build to another monster 3 way? Run it, I'm down.

ER: I thought this PPV overdelivered, as I was really only excited about a couple matches on the card. Not only did those two deliver (the mixed tag and Bliss/Rousey), but matches I was considering skipping (the tag title match) turned out way better than expected. There were enough down moments to keep most of this card off of many MOTY Lists, but a lot of the matches had high floors. They got the big flub out of the way early with Orton/Hardy, and while I didn't like the Lynch match it left on a high impression because her victory was unexpected AND came off well. If some moments weren't always good, there were plenty of interesting and different moments to make the show stand out a bit. Even the so so Orton/Hardy match had that freaky as hell earlobe spot that I definitely won't forget. That's a win, as a show.

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Saturday, September 15, 2018

Mae Young Classic 2018 Episode 2

Deonna Purrazzo vs. Priscilla Kelly

ER: Is there anyone other than original World of Sport guys who can make those "crawling on knees through legs" spots look good? So far I don't think I've seen it look anything but dumb. Early parts of this had stuff I didn't like, the WoS cosplay, and Kelly weirdly looking like she was barely running during spots that required running, but I thought the last couple minutes delivered. Once Kelly locked in a nasty dragon sleeper I was into it, and only got more into it when Purrazzo cracked her with a great back elbow. Finish was cool with Purrazzo rolling into a nasty Fujiwara armbar that really looked like she was ripping Kelly's arm off. They kept it short and relatively timely, and did enough things that I dug.

Zeuxis vs. Aerial Monroe

ER: Zeuxis is easily one of my favorite ladies in CMLL, and her shiny hair makes her look like she's in a lucha Pantene Pro-v commercial. The secret is conditioner y'all. There was some awkwardness here, possibly due to language barrier, the first couple rope running and strike exchange spots didn't look good. Zeuxis can be pretty vicious in CMLL and appeared to be holding back a bit here, and it was a weird spot to be in as she was up against the clear local babyface (and also awkward that the local babyface also really wanted to trash talk during the match), and should have worked more overtly ruda. The best parts were when that ruda side was at the forefront, like when she was fishhooking Monroe or tossed her crotch first on the top rope and immediately smacking her, and I really liked her bridging pin. Monroe has good in-ring confidence, but got a little too cute with some of her offense. It wasn't bad, but I was expecting more.

Kacy Catanzaro vs. Reina Gonzalez

ER: Catanzaro is really tiny, which only makes Reina look bigger, and I'm glad Reina's back this year. I really liked her opposite Nicole Savoy in last year's tournament, and that armbar finish was one of the best finishes of 2017. And I liked her here and am really bummed she didn't advance. Catanzaro is clearly an impressive athlete but I can't get too excited for another CrossFit wrestler with tiny offense that couldn't crack an egg. The structure of this was problematic too, as Reina slammed her around the ring for a few minutes, but Catanzaro was springing around for the finish. I liked all of Reina's offense here, and working against someone who is barely 100 lb. is only going to help that. She had nice stuff aside from throwing around a Lilliputian, had nice stomps and a good elbow drop. I'm fine with Catanzaro winning with a roll up I guess, but didn't think any of her offense looked very plausible with the size difference. The "three cheers for Kacy!" post bell stuff, lifting her up like she was Rudy after sacking a QB, only made me dislike it more.

Ashley Rayne vs. Mercedes Martinez

ER: Not sure why we get the Madison Rayne name change, has she actually signed with WWE? I guess it doesn't matter; Rayne has been around for ages now and she's never really impressed me, and that didn't change here. She gets up for and takes offense fine, but never leaves a lasting impression on me. I've literally been seeing her in matches for over a decade now and barely remember a thing. Martinez looked good, like the delayed vertical suplex (odd that we don't see that often anymore, a vertical suplex somehow seems special now), a knee into a fisherman's buster is a good finish, although maybe not in a match that also saw her doing a nasty cradle driver. This whole thing was worked fairly even, which is problematic as I didn't think Rayne's offense looked even with Martinez's. This one got the most time of the episode, but overall didn't do a ton for me.

ER: Episode 2 moved quickly but won't make much of a lasting impression. As with last year I'm sure the matches will continue to get better in the later rounds, and this episode wasn't bad, more "mostly inoffensive".

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Friday, September 14, 2018

New Footage Fridays: Brazilian Riots, Leon Spinks, Shinobu Kandori

Michel Serdan/Moreto vs. Belo/Mumia Negra Luta Livre (Late 80s?)

MD: Sometimes I'll troll around youtube looking for anything under our community's collecitve radar. There are a lot of countries out there and most of them had some tradition or another of wrestling. I don't know about you but I sure haven't seen a lot of matches from Brazil. This felt like an odd mishmash of Puerto Rico chains, celebratory babyfaces, and groin shots and cartoonish Argentinian Titanes with big, over the top symbolic offense, elaborate entrances and, you know, a wrestling mummy. The cappers on this are worth the price of admission alone, as the crowd is massive, Belo and Mumia Negra's entrance is amazing, with a marching brass band, a giant banner, and the mummy dancing. It's obvious that Serdan and to a lesser extent maybe Moreto are absolutely beloved. The ref is some guy in a hat with a cane. The crowd goes nuts for everything. The entirety of the babyfaces offense are these leaping, driving headbutts. Belo has these amazing chain gloves. The babyfaces control for most of this. Moreto eats a huge bump (with in-the-moment slow motion effects) over the top and gets carried out like a fallen hero. The bad guys take over using the chain and the numbers advantage. Serdan finally comes back with low blows. The ref throws out the match. The crowd riots. Chairs come flying in. Everyone carries Serdan out. It is absolutely nuts, yet at the same time, is the same sort of straightforward injury-heel-advantage match we've seen a hundred of times. The french match from a few weeks ago with a lot of these same elements actually. Old belief-based wrestling is universal and it's a universe I wish we were still living in.

PAS: This was pretty tremendous, even with not a ton of in ring skill. This reminded me of a huge Puerto Rico main event, Sedan isn't as good as Carlos Colon, but he appeared to be just as beloved, and the crowd was enormous and rabid. I really liked the babyfaces diving in ring tope's, Moreto's was especially cool looking. Sedan had a great looking headlock punch too, which got the slow motion camera work. Both rudos were pretty solid bumpers and stoogers, I dug the rudo comeback with some meaty chain shots. Mumia lauched Moreto clean over the top rope buckling his knee and both rudos beat on Serdan until a fan runs in and starts winging punches, leading to an absolutely chaotic fan riot. There are multiple out of control fan fights, dozens of chairs come winging into the ring and a bunch of fans rush the ring. Eventually they carry Serdan out on their shoulders. I don't think wrestling can be this anymore, and it is too bad, perfectly synched up clever chants will never be as fun as dozens of maniacal Brazilians hurling chairs.

Shinobu Kandori/Harley Saito vs. Dynamite Kansai/The Scorpion JWP 8/4/91

MD: Jetlag pushed this our way and I'm glad he did. I'm sure some of you, just for the sake of being completionists or rationalizing your Network subscription, watched the hidden gems FCW Kaitlyn vs Rosa Mendes match this week. Masochists. We watched this. This was action-packed with a burst of violence to begin, an opening third or so which was just full of hard, hard shots, outright struggle on every move/hold attempt, no fat, and still a sense of smoothness and forward motion. I really liked the transition to backwork, with Scorpion locking in a tricked out deathlock and finishing with three super precise and laser-focused shots. They meander off of that eventually allowing for a little comeback, more heat (including a great gear-change assisted dive), and ultimately a fairly satisfying finishing stretch with enough break-ups as opposed to kick-outs to make things cumulatively have some weight to them. Scorpion was a bit of a duel-edged sword, doing lots of cool things but placing some of them poorly within the match and having some trouble with others (like a half-flubbed run up the ropes arm-drag which was out of place in the midst of the backwork). The other three were spot on throughout though.

PAS: Tremendous match. The opening sections were right in my wrestling happy place, lots of brutal shots and exchanges with no one standing down even a little bit. Kansai was a bulldozer here, she would throw these forearms where she seemed to be aiming six inches past the skull of whoever she was throwing them at. She was just displacing people. Kandori vs. Kansai felt like it could have been as amazing as Hotta vs. Kandori or Kansai vs. Aja, hopefully their are some singles matches against each other. Really liked Harley as the smaller bulldog desperate to prove she is as tough as the bigger hounds in the yard. Scorpion was fun as the change of pace, everyone would be throwing big KO shots and she would come in with a springboard dive off of Kansai's back or a moonsault. She was particularly smooth, but I liked her role in the match. Kandori just ending the match by yoking her in a jujigatame was a pretty perfect finish. This really delivered on what I hoped it would be.

Mr. Gannosuke vs. Leon Spinks FMW 8/31/93

PAS: This was pre dye job Gannoseke and that dye job did a lot for his aura, he looked like a total shlub here. Spinks was working this like a 3/4 speed sparring session. He had a great looking technical combos, but wasn't throwing them with a ton of force or speed. Gannoseke sold them appropriately, Spinks did beat Muhammed Ali after all, and much of the match was Gannoseke barely getting up at 9. My favorite parts of the match were when Gannoseke would go for a take down and get waylaid by a hammer fist or hook. Post match, Spinks goes to shake Gannoseke's hand and instead clips him with a sucker punch short uppercut. Total dick move by Leon and a nice way to set up Onita coming to kick his ass.

MD: This is slight but sort of fun as a boxer vs wrestler thought experiment. I just love the nuts and bolts of how this sort of thing is put together, because obviously it's not with the sort of care that something like Spinks vs Onita would be. There are openings and there's just how much Spinks is willing to give (and how many times Gannosuke gets up); in that regard it's a bit like poor man's shootstyle, being all about openings and possibilities and what's given. Most of this is Gannosuke getting beaten around the ring, dropping for a while, and making it back up only to get mauled again. He has a couple of missed kicks. He has a couple of absolutely futile drop toe hold attempts. There's a great little rush across the ring dropkick. Once he even gets a hold on but Spinks just strikes his way out. Past the dropkick the most interesting thing here is probably Spinks getting in a jerk post-match shot. This wasn't much but it's odd enough on paper that we were almost obliged to at least check it out

ER: Phil told me to not bother watching this one because it wasn't very good, but that's crazy. Do you know how many Kandori matches are available for me to see? Only hundreds. Now how many Leon Spinks matches are available for me to see? How many times did Shinobu Kandori beat Muhammad Ali? Probably not as many times as Leon Spinks did. Leon Spinks has probably beaten Muhammad Ali in a fist fight INFINITELY more times than Kandori has. And I'm supposed to not watch Leon Spinks fighting in a tiny gym that's about as far as you can get away from Tokyo and still be in Japan?

Phil is not wrong that Gannosuke's bleached blowback really added to his aura, an aura seemingly only attained by stocky Japanese pro wrestlers (see Ueda, Umanosuke or Saito, Hiro). It makes the Mr. Gannosuke name evoke a narrow eyed yakuza sitting in a dark corner of a bar. You don't want to be summoned by Mr. Gannosuke. If you are ever summoned by Mr. Gannosuke, you know there is a 10% chance you won't be leaving that meeting alive. Here, with Spanx shaping trunks, a clean mustache and dark mullet, the name Mr. Gannosuke evokes something entirely different. Here he is Mr. Gannosuke, substitute English teacher who tries to get the kids to call him "Mr. G". He won't be gauche enough to outright tell a student in a one on one situation, "Hey, call me Mr. G." BUT, if it's the end of the school year, and a student asks Mr. Gannosuke to sign his yearbook, he would definitely write "Never Stop Learning - Mr. G".

There are three great moments in this match. The first is the opening flurry by Spinks, with the penultimate punch convincingly sending Gannosuke down to the mat, and we get a fun bit of drama as the crowd starts buzzing when it looks like Gannosuke won't beat the count. The second great moment is when Gannosuke grabs and ankle pick and Spinks timberrrrs over the way a boxer who doesn't understand takedown defense would. Gannosuke grabs a leglock and wrenches is a bit, and Spinks gets out of it by punching at Gannosuke. Then, while Spinks is getting to his feet, he starts shaking his leg out (the leg that had been worked on), looks like Rick Steiner doing his peeing dog taunt. The third great moment is after the match, when Spinks hates going for a handshake and instead smacks Mr. G. What the fuck. What an asshole jock bully. What a fully borne out heel. If I were there that day, I would be wanting to pay money to see Onita wreck Leon Spinks. This match had three great moments. How many matches have you watched in your life that didn't have three great moments?

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Lucha Underground Season 4 Episode 4: Pain, Love and Sacrifice to the Gods

TL: Catrina trades in the dominatrix starter kit for the Jessica Rabbit dress sans sparkles thanks to a reverse Snow White? I mean, considering the magic threshold on this show, a wardrobe change seems like an odd way to show off your newly stolen lifeforce. Also, I’m sorry, but the dude’s LITERALLY NAMED FENIX. As in, HE RISES FROM THE DEAD. How are we not supposed to see him coming back from the dead after this? “Hey, Mark. We’re gonna call you Big Mac not because you’re super strong and your last name is McGwire, but because you’re a big fan of Burger King.” Zigging when they should zag, man.

Also, we get Striker saying Famous B might need a literal leg amputation due to what Jake Strong did to him two weeks ago, which is less believable than anything that happened with Catrina to open the show.

Big Bad Steve vs. Jake Strong

ER: Damn this was shaping up to be my favorite match of the new season, as it had the pacing of a cool big dude stiff fest (really looking forward to see what Google hits we get from "big dude stiff fest"), but then it kind of quickly flipped switch into full Jake Strong showcase squash. Strong and his flesh beard still come off a little mouth breath-y, but with Steve's bumping he came off pretty badass. Steve threw a couple of thee fucking best punches of 2018 in the middle of this, throwing one corker, and than a wrist bending shot right off Strong's forehead, staggering him. Strong had big shots to the gut, hard back elbows, stiff avalanche, wrestling tougher than I expected from his Impact run. After the match Strong hits a nasty powerbomb on the floor, Steve really getting planted. This was cool, really could have been awesome with a bit more time.

TL: Not gonna lie: Kinda want a shirt with the Big Bad Steve logo on it. The fact they actually made a logo for him is awesome considering a lot of folks in WWE can’t even get a damn shirt made. Steve has some great right hands as previously mentioned, as someone named Big Bad Steve should have, but they just look nasty as all hell, even with Strong’s stiff strikes going right back at him. Really shows how even the simplest of offense can make someone look good like that. We lost our boy Pindar due to beheading at the end of last season, so I’m definitely down to see Steve in his place as burly base with good looking offense. Strong squashes are necessity due to what they want him to be this season, but yeah, I wish this had more back and forth to it. Still, a good piece of business, as the kids say.

TL: As good as lucha masks and sweet suits are, lucha masks and cowboy hats are basically right there with them, and Cuerno makes it look good. Cage gets to flex and flex into a Muertes match next week and yeah, I am on board for that.

Daga/Kobra Moon vs. Johnny Mundo/Taya

ER: Really fun match, Mundo and Taya working full on babyface, and Taya looks to be having a blast with it, and it's kind of infectious. She really laid it in too, hitting some spirited back elbows and strikes, kicking Moon in the back of the head and hitting a sick curb stomp that bounced her forehead off the mat. Mundo hit his timing spots nicely, he and Taya actually come off tas the rare cool "shades of gray" characters, that can work either way one week to the next. Moon took a nice beating here, and Daga runs nicely into Mundo kicks. I liked this a lot more than I expected (just like Strong's performance, I must be in a real good mood, leaded instead of unleaded.

TL: I really want to like Daga because he’s got the athleticism and looks like a guy who can hang either as a tecnico or rudo, but he just doesn’t have charisma like you’d think. Taya was the standout here, doing a good lucha sequence with Daga and just bringing the stiffness with her strikes. That curbstomp was NASTY, as was PJ Black’s kick to set it up. Don’t know if I liked it as much as Eric, but it certainly didn’t suck.

ER: We're definitely into Leaded territory here because I dug that Vibora wrecking ball segment after the mixed tag. Vibora hitting goateed lizard cannonballs and big boots was apparently just what I needed.

TL: So Vibora goes off in the offseason and has some honest-to-god improved offense and looks like way better ring presence. Suffice to say, if this Vibora is the one we get this year, count me in.

Mr. Pectacular vs. Matanza

ER: I didn't feel like seeing Mr. Pectacular (although maybe in my good mood I'd like him in a gassed Power Plant trainee kind of way), and Matanza puts in a nice unlocked and unleashed squash. He hits a cool twisting back suplex after throwing Pecs into the corner, and then hits probably his greatest Wrath of the Gods, stopping, pivoting, feet leaving the mat to slam him the other way. A nice comeback for a person who murdered someone by ripping their face off a couple seasons ago.

TL: Pec just makes me miss Tino Sabbatelli (who, coincidentally has a pec injury right now), but he takes a great beating here. The Matanza body control points have been pointed out time and time again by us, but this was it at the top of its game. Everything had extra oomph to it, and sign me up for an unleashed Matanza, which was my favorite part of Season 2. This was a Mil Muertes-level squash here.

Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. King Cuerno

ER: Wasn't expecting the comeback of Chavo, and it's good to see him still. a guy who should get more credit for what he's done. Chavo can still put on a good show, limps out a tweaked knee, hits a heavy crossbody, bumps hard over the top the floor, eats a chairshot, do some nice balance beam fight work around the raised barrier (which Cuerno hits a great high crossbody off of); Chavo is like the better version of David Sierra, and that's a good thing. We do get an unfortunately messy teeter totter spot, with Chavo setting up way close to the ropes, but Cuerno got through the spot well, and hit his bullet dive right after, which was convenient timing. I thought both came off well overall, but Cuerno came off stronger and that's more important.

TL: It’s funny that Eric waxes strong on Chavo to begin this after what I said about Muertes in our last review. Totally agree that he’s underrated in a way, and that he’s done a lot in a career that’s basically a quarter century long. I think I might be higher on Cuerno than other people, as I always liked his offense, and he shows off some personality here, too, playing to the crowd and helping build to the big spots, like the aforementioned bullet tope (preceded by an awesome top rope sunset flip). Guerrero shtick never really gets old, and Chavo knows how to do little things in matches that stick out. Enjoyable stuff and yeah, a good ending to a good top-to-bottom episode. The further we are away from the season premiere, the more this is turning into a show I enjoy watching again.

ER: My favorite episode of the season so far, We got manageable length matches with big dudes doing cool spots, just a really fun quick moving show. Felt exciting and action packed.


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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Scenic City Invitational 2018 Night 1 8/3/18

Curt Stallion vs. Joey Lynch

PAS: These are two of signature SCI guys, who haven't done a ton for me when I have seen them before. This was a solid US indy near fall, highspot match. Not a style I love, but it is a good type of match to start a show off with. I liked Stallion's in ring tope, stomps and top rope german suplex (although that move was so nasty that it was silly for Lynch to get the roll up after it hit. There were also too many variations of stuff for my taste, every regular move had a spin or ended on a knee. It had a nice pace though, and I never got bored, I imagine I will like other stuff much better.

ER: Yeah not my thing. That kind of get your shit in, GIF wrestling with improbable momentum shifts and a bad finish, with both men holding each other up with an embrace after it's all over. The more I see Lynch the more my thoughts are confirmed that he will have one match, exactly one match, and he will hit all of the dance step timing spots that he knows in that match. I liked a lot of Curt Stallion in this, thought he had some cool offense (that flying headbutt tope in the ring is a great spot) and is super smooth through potentially complicated sequences. But Lynch does little for me. Stallion felt like a guy with good ideas, stuck in a match with southern indy Kurt Angle. It's not like his stuff looks bad (although that thigh slap kneelift never gets quite high enough, and he overshot a moonsault that was supposed to be a dramatic moment of the match, and the fans kind of gave him credit for hitting it flush anyway), it's just that he has his stuff he's going to hit and he usually just opts to go to it. So Stallion will hit a nice DDT or big vertical suplex for a 2 count, and Lynch will just decide that he also wants to do a couple suplexes, so then stands up and does that. The Kurt Angle "my opponent is taking too much time selling" was strong. He also had that Kurt Angle "half ass the first part of this sequence to get to the good part", like when Angle would barely throw a clothesline that was supposed to miss because he was thinking about getting into position for the throw coming right after. Lynch does that a lot, barely hit one kick because he needs to be in position to spin around with another kick. He did hit a nice superkick down the stretch, and I loved how Stallion leaned cheek first into it, but man did I hate that finish. Stallion hits a big suplex off the top, Lynch takes it flush...then just rolls Stallion up with a crucifix. Man that's dumb. Stallion thought he had a good plan by hitting the biggest move of the match, but what he didn't realize is that big moves don't damage Lynch at all. Stallion should have scouted that.

Jake Parnell vs. Darius Lockhart

PAS: Darius is a guy I have liked a lot in CWF, and this is the first time I have seen Parnell. This was another solid opening round match. Lockhart opened the match flummoxing Parnell with WOS spots, including rolling Parnell up into a ball, and doing multiple somersaults to escape. Parnell took over with a double stomp off the apron to Lockhart's back and it proceeded into more of an indy juniors match. There were a couple of big shots I really liked, Parnell hit a really stiff crawling JYD headbutt and Darius landed a big straight right to Parnell's jaw, some of the other stuff didn't hit as cleanly. I liked some of Darius's wobbly leg selling too, especially right before the finish. Nice showing for both.

ER: I think this was a better version of the match before it, with really the only difference being the order of moves. I thought this one built much better and had a better finish (although that wouldn't have been difficult, just have the hurtiest looking move finish the match). I'd never seen Parnell and came away overall impressed. I liked this silly stooge elements like whiffing and hitting the match while trying to catch up to a somersaulting Lockhart, and liked his use of non-canon offense for a guy his size. He hits several hard splashes in a row, which isn't a move used a lot by non-fat guys (Cecil Scott says Parnell goes 195), but a splash in theory would hurt no matter the size of the guy doing it. It's still a body crashing onto a body. So I dug Parnell's aggressive falling splashes with a senton chaser. He also had a nice northern lights suplex, took a nasty hammerlock DDT, threw a great shotgun kick that ended with him kind of tied up in the ropes, went amusingly wobbly on a big stiff arm right cross from Lockhart, all nice stuff. Finish was indy fun and looked like a finish, with Lockhart getting absolutely dumped by a half nelson suplex (and then making the best of the planned spot, which needed him on his feet, and I thought Lockhart handled getting loopily to his feet well) and blitzed by an awesome burning lariat, finished off with a double stomp. This felt the right time, right pace, good match.

Corey Hollis vs. Ike Cross

PAS: This was really great. Hollis is a great sleazy veteran heel, kind of like a 2000s Tony Anthony, perfect guy to guide a green kid through a match Cross is a phenom, he is 6'3 or so, built like a NFL Free Safety, cut, and agile as shit. Match starts with a Cross explosion, he has this massive takedown, a great tope, and a crazy springboard spinning headbutt, he just launches off a springboard. Hollis takes over when he hurls Cross to the turrnbuckle and Cross flies out and lands on his head. We get some Hollis shit talking, and control, until Cross obliterates him with a spear. Cross misses a Superfly splash where he got more height then prime Snuka, and Hollis sneaks a low blow in for the win. Cross will be a big star somewhere, he seems about as can't miss an prospect as I can remember seeing. It almost felt like watching Sting for the first time.

ER: I was super excited to see Cross for the first time, and man oh man did he deliver. I don't ever remember being this excited by Sting. Phenom really does appear to be the best word to describe Cross, and I agree that he's as close to a can't miss wrestling prospect as you can get. Hollis was the absolute perfect opponent for him, the kind of guy who can stall and create space between all of Cross' best stuff, so the moves don't get all stacked up on themselves. Cross launches Hollis with one of the highest backdrops I've seen (really reaching that rarified Rick Rude/Todd Morton air), hits a super fast dive, hits a double leg that looked so strong that he probably could have ran around the building with him a couple times before slamming him, hits a springboard elbow that gets such height that it looked like he could have leapt across the entire ring. Hollis is great at slowing things down and expertly tosses Cross into the ringpost, and Cross takes an awesome painful bump into the post and then down to the floor, really made it look dangerous. Hollis knew how to play the match, focused on setting up big Cross spots, and made his own little things look good, like his pinpoint stomps. A dirtbag like him needs good looking stomps, those kind where he's holding the top rope while lacing into a guy's sternum. Finish was perfect for this match, as how do you stop a runaway train? You distract the ref and punch that train in the balls. Loved this.

Cyrus the Destroyer vs. PCO

PAS: Fun big boy battle, full of thumps and some pretty impressive agility by both guys. Cyrus's Eddie Guerrero flip senton which was totally nuts for a guy 400+ pounds, and PCO's moonsault looked awesome. I think the secret to an entertaining PCO match is the pace. If he works really slow you can see the seams, but if the pace is pushed it can be really entertaining. This was a quicker pace and was just as focused on big bombs as it was on highspots. Really what you wanted this match to be when it was signed.

ER: Not bad, but it kind of bums me out that I've been low vote on PCO since his comeback. I fully respect how he's reinvented himself and created this buzz, but I never seem to end up enjoying the matches as everyone else. This was fine, but if you had told the match was "big fat guy vs. old tough guy" without telling me the names, I'd be starting a 5 stars before the first guy made his entrance. Fat guys and old tough guys are my bread and butter, and I liked this, but didn't love it. PCO is kind of a stiff, doesn't always get into position for things very cleanly, sometimes just stands there with bulging eyes, but he also works plenty stiff and takes/does some crazy offense, so I clearly understand what the appeal is. I really liked Cyrus in last year's Anarchy WarGames, a big guy who has no problem taking a crazy bump, and I liked him here. And Phil is right about the pacing being important in a PCO match, he's someone who actually benefits from a go go go match, just keep moving him to the next set piece or explosion, and that's what they do here. I weirdly think the PCO thing I liked the most here was a kick he threw to a bent over Cyrus. Cyrus was in position to give a backdrop and PCO hit a great extra point kick right across Cyrus' chest and stomach, a really nice kick. I mean, a 50 year old cannonball and moonsault are obviously going to always look impressive, but there's something to be said about a kick that many wrestlers don't go all in on. Cyrus hit a bananas slingshot senton, and it sucks that with his size and that move, 20 years ago it probably would have at minimum got him Roadblock's spot on the WCW roster. Cyrus gets great welts and bruises on his forehead (from his nice headbutts? From stiff PCO shots?) and commits to missing a big IZU falling meteorite off the middle rope, all things I'm into. There were some things I thought didn't quite work, the two PCO chokeslam spots came off a little flat, but overall this was fine. PCO is seeming like someone who would come off better live than on tape. I'm optimistic though.

AJ Gray vs. 2 Cold Scorpio

PAS: Scorpio is basically wrestling's John Witherspoon at this point I expected him to ball up his fists and tell AJ Gray that "These is all you need to be a man.. You win some, you lose some... But you live to fight another day" I loved his Uncle at the cookout dance moves, and his real willingness to lay in bruising shots. He hit Gray with a jump kick that put a cleft in his chin. Gray seemed to hold back a bit at the beginning, but once he knew who he was in with, he let them go. There was some awkwardness in this match which kept it from being a real MOTY list contender, but it really felt like a battle and Scorpio still has a gorgeous moonsault and some real pepper in his blows.

ER: I laughed at Phil's uncle at a cookout line, because I was watching Scorp dance and immediately thought of Sam doing the Detroit Hustle on Detroiters. This match had some problems, but they were mostly cosmetic. Gray doesn't really get up to deliver a rana, they flub a powerbomb reversal spot (but recover well enough), Scorp damn near Picasso's Gray with a Tumbleweed that falls short, Gray kind of awkwardly hold up on a frog splash, things like that. They were all over the match, but it's one of those things where if you had them go out another night and work the exact same match, all that stuff likely hits fine. So I don't get too hung up on cosmetic stuff like that, because I really dug the actual bones of the match. They worked a slower pace strikes match, with flying peppered in, which is a nice combo that most guys couldn't pull off. You need some heft to pull it off, and these two have heft. I love all of Scorpio's kicks (especially those no nonsense yakuza kicks), and this was a rare instance of me not shutting my brain off during a standing exchange. This captured the vibe of what I imagine most wrestlers are trying to capture when doing stand and trade, and the key to it is simple but difficult, because it just has to naturally happen. One guy drills another guy and it's probably the hardest shot of the match up to that point, and the other guy gets that "oh that's where this is, huh?" and drills him back. The back and forth has some meaning, some heft. The elbow strikes landed hard, the kicks and misses were great, and I thought for sure Scorp's moonsault was it (how far across the ring did he opt to set that up!?). Gray had an awesome sell on that short Tumbleweed, but, there's a great chance he was just feeling that numb heat that happens when someone flips halfway across the ring and nearly lops your ear off. Obviously I'm pissed we got robbed of Scorp vs. Cain (or Scorp vs. basically anybody), but wouldn't mind these two running it back.

Cain Justice vs. Gary Jay

PAS: This was a short sprint with a great flash KO finish, that still left me a little bummed. Jay is a guy who works a hard hitter gimmick, with some really stiff chops and Justice is a CWF boss and my favorite young wrestler in the world. Match starts fast with Cain Jumping Jay at the bell, and never lets up. Jay hits a trio of tope's in a row, before torching his chop hand on the ringpost, we have some arm and hand work by Justice interspersed with some shots by Jay. Match comes to an abrupt end when Cain goes for a move off the ropes and gets caught with a driving right hand to jaw, which led to a quick ref stoppage. It was a cool finish and I liked a tourney match having that kind of unpredictable finish, but I can't help but being disappointed that Cain was out of the tourney in four minutes. He was the guy I was looking forward to the most, and hoped he would get a mini run in the tourney, or at least a showcase match.

ER: Well color me a tad disappointed. Let me say that I really, really, really liked the finish. Also, I really, really, really didn't want to see this finish in this match, when it happened. That's tough to reconcile. I think the ending might have been the best part of the match, and yet I also didn't want it to happen. It wasn't the best I've seen either guy: Jay had a few of those thigh slap moments where the shot doesn't actually land, so you end up with a thigh slap on a high lariat or a missed big boot, and while Cain bumped great for both (big flip bump on the lariat and a great staggering slow drop on the boot), it felt a little bit too much behind the curtain. I also thought Cain went to the "take a move, bob back up with glazed eyes sell" wayyyyy to often. He was doing that after almost every move which started to come off more comical than "I just took a big move". Cain jumping him to start was great, I thought Cain was throwing some of his best shots, and I loved Jay hitting the post leading to Cain doing some hand work. Finish was great, but yeah, too many guys I wanted to see opposite Cain, when I'm not sure there would be other opportunities for those match-ups.

Mance Warner vs. Fred Yehi

PAS: Yehi has had a hell of a year, leaving WWN, where he was getting a bit stale, and having cool matches with a different variety of folks. Warner is a fun brawler, kind of works a little like a more athletic Roughhouse Fargo. He has some really fun expressive punches and takes big bumps. Yehi is one of the most innovative wrestlers in the world, in a really cool way, and there is this awesome spot where he jams Warner's arm into the hollow top of the ringpost and mangles it with punches and yanking it back and forth. Totally something I have never seen before and a contender for spot of the year. Whole match had a great energy to it, and I really enjoyed the finish run with Warner faking an eyepoke and hitting a DDT, and Yehi hitting a great folding powerbomb. My favorite match of night one.

ER: I think this is the best Yehi has looked in 2018, and Yehi is a guy who looks great almost every time I see him. He was ruthless here, finding all sorts of cool ways to torture clear local favorite Warner. Everything Yehi threw out looked fantastic, and I fully agree that him shoving Warner's arm into the ringpost to tee off on the arm was amazing. The shots to the arm would have looked vicious without the help from the ringpost, but the post really added something special to the visual. Yehi's low dropkicks hit with a ton of force, his chops looked among best of the night, he had this nasty diagonal strike to Warner's neck, all brutal stuff. Warner has a nice way of tapping into the energy of the crowd, he gets a good local reaction the same way Chet Sterling does. I actually liked how he still used the hand and arm a few times, and Cecil Scott was excellent at pointing out that he's still using it by instinct, but it's not as effective. And Yehi was always there with a stomp to remind him, and he does all these great mean things like stopping short on a snapmare so it's just him yanking Warner's neck forward. Maybe the best thing about the SCI tournament up to this point has been the finishes. We have gotten a night of logical finishes without anybody taking anything stupid on an apron, everyone avoiding excess while treating appropriately big moves as big moves. Yehi running him into the turnbuckles, then hitting a folding powerbomb is a great example of this. He didn't need to spike Warner into the mat, he hit a hard snap powerbomb and then expertly folded the legs over to make it near impossible to kick out of. Simple, effective. There were finishes that could have come off cheap in the wrong hands (Hollis winning with a low blow, Jay winning with a punch) but these finishes have all felt nicely tailored to the wrestlers advancing.

Kerry Awful vs. Nick Gage

PAS: This was built up as a legendary brawler from outside coming in and taking on the craziest guy in the local town. I liked big parts of this, with Awful taking some big bumps, including a suplex on the bleachers and it had some real energy with the crowd brawling. I liked Awful just putting Gage's arm on a chair and stomping on it. I do wish the shots had landed with some more steam. Necro Butcher brawls always had hard punches in between the bumps and stunts, I though Awful's shots had a lot of windup and not much follow though.

ER: The things we've both said about PCO probably being a guy who plays much better live can likely be said even more about Nick Gage. I match up pretty exactly with Phil on this one, as we get several great moments and a nice concise finish, but some of the meat and potatoes of the brawl portion felt lacking. He's totally right about Awful having great body movement and windup, but were lacking that weight, never feeling like they were landing with the expected thud that the delivery promised. He's kind of like an inverted Dirty Daddy. Daddy shots always look and sound like he's killing a guy, he has these great chops and elbows, but he doesn't have a lot of flash before the landing. Awful has all the movement down, but falls short on the landing. I'm someone who has watched more Jerry Lawler than I can remember, and while I'm still regularly amazed at how great he can make every punch look, after getting used to how precise the landing is on the punches you start noticing all the other things he's doing with his body to give his punches style. You could practice for a year to get your worked punches to come in fast and land soft, but there's so many other working parts: you need to figure out what your non-punching arm is doing, you need to figure out your footwork, you need to get your head movement down, you need to properly recoil your body after a punch lands, etc. Awful has all of the other things, but doesn't really have the connection of the strike. It's kind of like how hard Lance Storm tried to work his chairshots in ECW. He was a guy who never wanted to stiff someone and certainly didn't want to brain someone with a chair, so he worked on the windup and actual physical delivery of the chairshot, and then would hold up on the landing. It would get roundly booed by the deviants who wanted nothing more than full force shots to the frontal lobe, but I always saw and liked what he was going for. Awful takes a few really great bumps here, getting backdropped into the bleachers and eating a suplex through a couple of chairs, Gage gets run into the ringpost with a chair around his neck, gets his arm jammed into a chair and stomped on, all that stuff worked great. The brawling really didn't work for me. The finish was a heck of an exclamation point, with Gage just drilling him with a stuffed piledriver to put an instant end to things.

PAS: Fun first night, nothing mindblowing, but I liked how this show had a real variety of wrestlers, old crazy guys, monsters, mat workers. A lot of indy tournaments just have a list of pimped indy workers all doing 2.9 wrestling, this had a real appetizer sampler feel which I enjoyed.

ER: I had a great time with Night 1. They kept things simple and quick, and each of the guys involved stood out in their own way. That's pretty special. We've all sat through enough marathon 4 hour indy shows, and I think it's incredibly refreshing to see that both nights of SCI total 4 hours. It keeps things fresh and moving, keeps the crowd alert, and shows that guys can still do some absolutely crazy things without doing absolutely stupid things. A nice, welcoming and fun night of wrestling, with Cross/Hollis and Yehi/Warner being quality additions to our 2018 Ongoing MOTY List. Night 2 review coming soon.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

1974 Match of the Year

Strong Kobayashi vs. Antonio Inoki NJPW 3/19/74

PAS: This was a big deal semi-interpromotional battle of native Japanese wrestlers. Kobayashi had been a big deal in IWE and challenged Inoki in a period where native vs. native matches were pretty much unknown. Kobayashi looks like the world biggest dwarf, like if a dwarf was supposed to be 6'11 but his dwarfism shrunk him down to 5'9. Inoki is rocking some boss 70s side burns. This was worked interpromotionally, with Inoki being a stiff cheapshotting bastard and Kobayashi fighting back, including really flinging Inoki around in a bear hug. I loved all of the early grappling including some nice back and forth fighting over a grounded Cobra twist. There was this great moment near the end of the match where Kobayashi lands some stiff clubbing blows to the back on the neck and Inoki counters with a big great looking right hand which totally short circuits Strong. Inoki tries to put on the Octopus but Strong counters by flinging them both out of the ring. A posting leads Inoki to start leaking, and the end has Kobayashi working the cut, while Inoki is throwing desperate suplexes. Great stuff the mat wrestling was cool, and it heated up near the end with some great bleeding and brawl.

ER: Cool long-ish match (about 30 minutes) that starts with a bunch of great high stakes minimalism and builds to some big moments. Kobayashi kind of moves like Akira Taue, but if Taue had been a powerlifter instead of a sumo. He has that same low base. Inoki looks like the coolest dude in Tokyo, as if every character in Lupin III had been based on Inoki and his entourage. We get a lot of great momentum shifts on lock-ups and on the mat, Inoki more wily and Kobayashi, well Stronger. The fans are immediately buying this in a big way, and neither guy is coasting on the star power of a first time match-up, Inoki grinds forearm into jaw during mat transitions, both wrench in headlocks and try and trap the other, and Kobayashi gets me into it by accusing Inoki of cheap tactics. Inoki makes great dark-eyed faced back at him, and each tangle gets a little more rough, there's a great headlock takeover that gets blocks, full struggle at all times with both men tensing neck and arm and leg muscles, building to Kobayashi ragdolling Inoki around on a big bearhug. I'll always flip for a bearhug and Kobayashi has a good one. Inoki pays that back with a smothering headscissors, just locking that figure 4 around Kobayashi's neck and sinking it in, Kobayashi tapping worthlessly against Inoki's leg. We don't even get a strike until 15 minutes in, and even then it's an expert tease, as Kobayashi comes up swinging with Inoki backpedaling and throwing shots of his own. Nothing really lands (and it's not supposed to) but it shoves the fans into that blood in the water frenzy. Kobayashi starts bringing clubbing shots to the back of Inoki's neck, and Inoki pops him with a right hand that staggers Strong back and onto his butt. Young Kawada clearly made note of this. The shots and struggle get more intense, and there's this great cocky Inoki moment where he tries to just muscle Kobayashi into the octopus, just tries to jam his head down, and Kobayashi falls towards the ropes to send them to the floor, where he posts Inoki. Inoki is great on the floor, face bloodied, shoving through the tracksuits, fighting back to the apron and getting suplexed in. Kobayashi had mostly been using clubbing blows to Inoki's neck up until now, but once Inoki starts bleeding Kobayashi starts punching face. The home stretch felt necessary, like what the early tense moments were building towards, Inoki bloodied, Kobayashi's 'fro wilted from heat, crowd going nuts.


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Monday, September 10, 2018

20 Minutes of Impact Easily Worth Watching

Kongo Kong vs. Brian Cage Impact Wrestling 6/2 (Aired 7/5/18)

ER: Hot damn, these two go out there and perfectly capture that WCW syndicated lost classic vibe, a tall fat guy against a guy with a classic Power Plant physique, both breaking out their craziest shit. There were some once in a lifetime spots here, the most wonderful use of 5 total wrestling minutes this year. We get two large tough dudes crashing into each other, hard lariats no sold, and a crazy pace. Cage hits a gorgeous flipping dropkick and a 619 as good as anybody 100 lb. less has done and hits a tope con hilo even better because of his added size. Cage looked like a human wrecking ball crashing off of Kong. Kong makes me leap out of my chair when Cage is about to powerbomb him out of the corner and Kong hits a picture perfect rana. That has to be the largest man I've ever seen do a huracanrana this pretty, or at all. Because for it to even be done this well, you would need a dude like Cage who is strong enough to carry Kong in powerbomb position for 3 steps to pick up rana momentum. Just an impossible spot due to the rarity of guys this big these days. Awesome spot. Kong also eats a crazy German suplex, really a huge bump for a guy his size. Every thing in this match was big, all the slams felt ring shaking, just a total blast. Cage is like the best possible Johnny Stamboli and Kong is basically the only guy today who does an actual good One Man Gang. This match was so fun that - immediately after this match, in a show closing segment - Eddie Kingston doing his best unhinged Bobby Cannavale promo, and then bringing back Homicide/Hernandez to do a classic ambush beatdown with anonymous ring crew taking big bumps, did not overshadow the match. This may have been as good Sick Boy vs. Renegade from '98. Or it might just merely be awesome.

LAX promo segment

PAS: I totally loved this. The idea that Konnan was some sort of Proposition Joe to Eddie Kingston's Marlo in the New York City drug trade is pretty goofy on it's surface, (and the recent video segment where the OGz do a drive by and run over a kid went all the way into Lucha Underground stupidity for me)  but both guys sell it so well that I buy in. Kingston giving his version of the "Yes I ordered the Code Red" speech seemed a little implausible, but I loved it as a set up for the return of Homicide and Hernandez, Cide especially is so good at unhinged, and I was waiting for him to pull out a fork or bleach.

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Sunday, September 09, 2018

Cain Justice is a Stone Cold Believer Not a Smooth Talking Man

Cain Justice vs. Kevin Ku PWF 6/8/18 - GREAT

PAS: Cain continues to branch out, heading over to Indiana to fight for the PWF title. Match had a bunch of ideas, some of them they pulled off, some didn't come together, but I appreciate them trying something different. They opened up by taking a collar and elbow tie up all the way out of the ring, and doing some counter wrestling on the floor.  Match picks up when Cain counters a tope awkwardly with a forearm, it didn't come off great but it set up Cain to go after an arm in his traditionally vicious way. Some really nasty stuff including punching the hand and stomping on a crooked elbow. Ku was uneventful in this, I did like him responding to a Tenryu punch by grabbing Cain by the throat and bitch slapping him, but I wanted to see more of his stuff to really make this a MOTY list match. Still I am digging traveling Cain and can't wait to watch his SCI and ACTION matches.

ER: Chalk up another fantastic performance for Cain. This guy has a big ol' bag of tricks and it's only getting bigger, and really the only criticism I have of him here was that he looked so dominating that I didn't buy Ku's comeback at all. Cain just waltzed into Indiana and steamrolled the champ, with Ku's win basically looking like "well he's the champ so here's his victory". Ku's comebacks rang a little hollow to me, because of the torture that Cain put him through. Ku was at his best when he was using Cain against Cain, like when he yanked on one of his exposed toes. But this was the Cain show.  I loved all the ways he was taking apart Ku's arm, stomping his arm, posting his elbow, attacking his hand, loved him tying up Ku's legs, crossing Ku's legs and bending them and stepping on them (I did really like Ku splashing Cain's leg early in the match), Cain was just relentless. My favorite part of the match was this little moment where they were rolling on the mat and Ku gets a little ahead of Cain, and Cain grabs a waistlock and muscles him back up and over. It looked like a position that Cain wouldn't have had leverage from, but he somehow got it. Ku's best moment was definitely when Cain popped him right in the jaw, and I was expecting Ku to sell it like Kawada, stagger around with blinking eyes, plop down on his butt...but instead Ku awesomely grabbed Cain by the throat and just started smacking him. That moment was worth the price of admission. Cain was generous during Ku's comeback, selling his strikes big, going down for a couple throws; but I think Cain was the one who left Indiana looking like the champ.


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