Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

1980 Match of the Year

PAS: This is for the vacant PNW tag titles and is a master class in tag wrestling.  First falls opens with the heels doing some off the charts stooging, both Rose and Wiskowski are great in-ring bumpers and fly all over the ring for both babyfaces. Then the heels take over and Piper has one of the best Face-In-Peril sections I can remember seeing,  frantically spinning and tumbling and leaping to try to get the tag, just awesome intense timing. There is a wrestling multiverse where Roddy Piper is the great 80’s babyface tag worker, and Ricky Morton is doing Ricky’s Rountable and smashing Snuka with a coconut. Second fall has the heel team working over Martel’s back, including using the broken bottom rope bolt to jab him in the kidneys, the rings in Portland must have been really flimsy because Rose was a maestro at improv work with a busted ring. Third fall is an awesome wild brawl with it all breaking down and the ref throwing out the match. This had all the parts you want in a great tag match. I could easily see this being a legendary feud which spanned decades like MX v. Rock and Rolls.

ER: Simple match, and a real good match. I have never seen fired up underdog Roddy Piper before and it's a blast. We've all seen fired up Piper, but context is key and Phil is right: He was a really great Ricky Morton. You really could see the alternate timeline. Although after the match you hear him screaming unhinged into the mic and you knew he was going to be more than an underdog. I so wish I lived in Portland in the 80s. The personality of the city bleeds into it's wrestling and it's so charming. Sandy Barr was wearing a colorfully striped shirt even by Sandy Barr standards, both large heels have ridiculous Prince Valiant haircuts, women bring flowers for their favorite hunks (with one women bringing flowers for Wiskowski AND Martel!), and these women are rabid from the opening bell despite just the basics being on display. Buddy and Ed get bumped around early, with Wiskowski especially taking an awesome stooge bump into the turnbuckle and then flipping feet over crown all the way across the ring. But pretty soon Wiskowski takes over on Piper with a snug body scissors, and Roddy trying to fight to Martel is so great. They draw it out soooooo long, with Piper inching closer and closer, going crazier the closer he gets, wildly swinging his arms to try and get to Martel. The heels were great at cutting off the ring the whole match and later there was a spot I loved just as much  with Martel knocking Rose down, but before Martel can tag in Piper Rose just punches him in the gut, right off the apron. It made so much sense, as the way Rose was positioned it was far easier to knocked Piper off the apron than it would have been to stop Martel. It reminded me of SUWA pushing the ref into the ropes to stop KENTA's springboard. It's just logical quick thinking from the heels. We get plenty of great moments the longer this goes, like Martel taking the nastiest catapult into the ropes, dropping back down across Buddy's knees, or like Buddy and Ed bumping all over the place (with Buddy taking two fast and hard bumps over the top to the floor, one of them almost off camera but looking nuts), and then a wild brawl around ringside with Martel and Piper looking legitimately one of the best American babyface tag teams you've seen. Don Owen comes out and talks about being sick of all this and sets up a No DQ lumberjack match and Rose flips out and grabs him by the jacket and almost swings at him until he's belted and then things break down again. You got Barr holding down Martel, Piper flipping out, Wiskowski getting popped, great stuff.


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Monday, October 24, 2016

NXT 230 7/10/14 Review

1. Bayley vs. Summer Rae

This is just about the most natural of personality match-ups, as Bayley is inherently likeable, whereas Summer Rae has a face of someone who should never be booked as likeable. It's pretty basic, and both are good at what they do. Bayley is good at frustrating Summer with her kind of playful sloppiness when doing amateur rolls on the mat (with Summer hilariously kicking her legs in a tantrum), and Summer does mean unnecessary things like palm Bayley's face during pinfalls. Neither thing would make a victory more likely, but they were perfect character moments that illustrated why this was a nice match-up. Albert is back on commentary and as awful as ever, unable to make satisfying points from a logic or kayfabe perspective. "She didn't get all of that kick!" he was quick to blurt over everybody, after a Summer kick that mostly hit fine and was sold as such. After saying Summer earned a title shot because she was in a movie, he then compares her to Trish Stratus. None of his points make sense within a storyline or any other sense, his allegiances switch mid match, he's just really really bad at his job. Sometimes he goes for comedy, other times he supports a heel, none of it lands. But Bayley/Summer is a fun match and Albert is NOT going to ruin it for me! Summer is someone who really wasn't utilized much on the main roster as a wrestler, which is a shame as she's really not bad, and has more personality than most. Her role on Total Divas has made me laugh more than most on that show. And here I liked the struggle over the finish, with Summer blocking the Bayley to Belly a couple times before planting her with her axe leg drop. So far all the people coming back to NXT after a "demotion" have been really fun and nicely integrated into the existing NXT roster.

2. Sin Cara vs. Wesley Blake

I think I may be the biggest Wesley Blake fan. I like keeping mostly out of the present day NXT loop, so it's fun watching and enjoying a guy like Blake and not knowing what is going to happen to him. Maybe he's released before 2014, maybe he's repackaged and super popular now. My only real insight into NXT beyond the stuff I've watched so far, is the guys who show up on WWE TV. I obviously know guys like Aiden English, sadly Big Cass, sadly Mojo Rawley, etc. will continue to be in these reports because they eventually made the main roster. But a guy like Blake? I have no clue, and that's fun for me. Blake is really good at constructing 3 minute matches, with him on the losing end. Cara is in to hit all his shit, and it can't be a coincidence that this was the best I've seen some of Cara's spots look. Blake got into position for runs of Cara offense better than anybody I've seen on the main roster, ate those springboard crossbodys, took a huge bump over the top and then sprawled big into the entrance ramp catching a dive. For his part he made his brief moments count, blasting Cara with a great uppercut and surprising him (and me) with an even greater right hand. His single arm DDT was swank and lead to him stomping the arm and yanking on it, and Cara was kind enough to sell it for him. Super fun match, did tons with the time. I think with 90 more seconds this would land on my "Recommended NXT" list.

They're kind of bonering up this Tyson Kidd bitter vet angle with the inclusion of Nattie. Kidd as the dickhead falling from grace relegated to developmental vet? Awesome. Nattie asking him about his moral compass? Death. Unless it's building to a Nattie heel swerve, her presence is just muddying waters. We already see them on Total Divas and know they're essentially a normal married couple, her inclusion tries to bring too much real life into a great wrestling angle, and it's coming out worse on the other side. They're overthinking this thing.

CJ Parker comes out to offer a somewhat loaded apology to Xavier Woods, and "I'm offering you peace. I suggest you accept it," is a quote that perfectly nails the annoying heel nuance of Parker's character. The manipulative dirt fuck hippy is a great heel character, and Parker gets the finer points correct. A guy who makes good points but has a smug and self righteous way of delivering those points is the kind of character who works great on a show like this, and something that would get immediately clipped to hell on the main brand. On Smackdown he would just be a hippy heel, and the crowd would just be expected to boo him because he's a hippy. His apology to Xavier is somewhat sincere and that's what makes him jumping Xavier even better.

3. Bull Dempsey vs. Angelo Dawkins
At first all three announcers were laying it on real thick about Dempsey's body, really putting over that he's unique because he doesn't have abs. Just within this match it was already making me want to dislike Dempsey, and that's crazy if any of you know how much I love fat wrestlers. And yeah having a guy who looks like Dempsey on your roster is much more rare these days, but announcers didn't have to point out just how fat Blackwell or One Man Gang or Tenta were, because they were clearly big awesome fat dudes. And maybe that's part of the problem with Dempsey, is that they're spending so much time talking about how unique his round physique is, but truthfully he's not that far away from being in fine cosmetic shape. Those other guys either died fat or - in the case of OMG - spent the last 20 years slowly slimming down so that he now suddenly looks like Richard Moll. Dempsey looks like a guy who can go on a 6 month crossfit binge and look like a hairier version of every other physique in NXT. So it comes off like them trying hard to point out just how unique he is, because the thing that they say is unique isn't really special. He comes off more as an out of shape guy than a wild fat guy. The guy needs to pack on another 50 lb. to actually look wrestler fat. BUT. But. Eventually everybody shuts up, and I can just enjoy Dempsey beating up Dawkins, and that is very enjoyable. While he might not totally live up to how they're billing him, he comes off very well in the ring. Loved him turning a Dawkins' armdrag into a slick side headlock, his body shots are great, his elbows are great, really carries himself like a tank throughout the whole thing. He's a guy I would have liked anyway, without all of the spoon feeding from the announce crew. This match was basically a Dempsey showcase, but also gave us by far our longest look at Angelo Dawkins. We've seen him get zero offense against Big Cass, zero offense against Tyler Breeze, and not even get tagged in against the Vaudevillains. We know he's tall. That's about what we know. But this match filled things in a bit! He took a nice beating from Bull, threw an insanely high dropkick, seemed like a guy you wouldn't mind seeing more from; another guy like Wesley Blake who for all I know was never used again after this taping. I'm excited to see where he and Bull go, and I liked all of what I saw here from both.

4. Sami Zayn & Adrian Neville vs. Justin Gabriel & Tyson Kidd
I was really liking this, even through a couple of clunky Kidd cross-ups, but Natalya's involvement in the veteran dickhead Tyson Kidd story is just the pits. She's a lousy actress, and there were too many moments where she acted all over the place. She's too over the top when she's supposed to be subtle, and I just really wish the storyline had not included her. Unless it leads to a Natalya NXT heel turn, which it probably won't. But I enjoy heel Natalya far more. But I really this was just a straight up tag with two demoted assholes up against a couple top NXT guys. That's all that this needed, the simpler approach. Is there anybody watching out there that would see that tag, and then go "I liked it, but I wish the tag could have furthered some sort of collapsing marriage storyline." It's always a bummer when a person not in the match takes a match you would recommend, and makes it less recommendable. That's Natalya's tombstone right there : "Made Things Less Recommendable". Zayn and Neville are a fun babyface tag team, wouldn't mind seeing both utilized currently this way. It's not like they do tons of double teams (outside of a nutty sky twister press that Neville did off a kneeling Zayn), they just complement each other nicely; just as, Gabriel and Kidd complement each other nicely. Kidd has been a standout as a heel, though he had a couple stumbles in this one. Gabriel turned in one of his better performances though, he's also a guy who makes a better heel than face. And so this was a real nice 10 minute tag, something I easily could have added to the recommended NXT list. But Natalya man. Natalya as TJ's moral compass is just awful.


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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Lucha Worth Watching: Older Man Belt Whippin'

LA Park vs. Cibernetico (Liga Elite 4/13/16)

This was a great fat Elvis performance from Park: Missing half the words on Suspicious Minds, a lot of catching his breath, playing to the crowd too much, letting them sing the words so he can catch his breath more, looking even more unhealthy since the last time you saw him...yet you can't tear your eyes away from one of the most captivating performers ever. Park is the biggest I've seen him, and Cibernetico still wrestles like Cibernetico. But it's an Arena Mexico main event, big crowd, and they love Park. Cibernetico jumps him on the rampway and kicks him into the ring. Cibernetico runs this thing for awhile, rips at Park's mask, rips Park's belt/girdle off. Park ends up hitting a big dive, splatting onto the floor, and whips Cibernetico with that belt. I love belt whipping in lucha, the mannerisms and crowd play just make it the best. Ref keeps trying to stop him and Park keeps going yeah yeah yeah I'm still gonna whip him. Eventually we build to Park hitting a mammoth plancha off the top to the floor, filmed from below so it looks like he's jumping off an apartment building. Both men lie dead on the floor, with medical staff coming over to potentially stretcher Cibernetico away, after having just witnessed him being crushed by a dropped piano. Park makes it back inside and looks vulnerable. I can't imagine being that heavy and doing a big dive like that. He drags himself back in and still manages to play to the fans. Finish is a mess with Park getting unmasked then fouling Cibernetico, but they did a weird double pin with both men supposedly covering each other but with it only looking like Park is covering. We get hair and mask challenges after and the fans flip out, and the whole time I was just sitting there slack jawed in admiration of the big fat king.

Ultimo Guerrero vs. Volador Jr. (CML 8/30/16)
ER: You wanna double down on your old man lucha whippings? Of course you do! Here UG jumps Volador on the ramp and begins whipping him around with his plastic-y vest. First we get some standard shots to the back but before long UG is juts whipping Volador right across the face with this vest. Have you ever been snapped by a towel? It stings like hell. And it's usually to the hip or thigh or buttock. But here UG is essentially towel whipping Volador in the face and it sucks for Volador and is awesome for us. UG whips him to the floor and knocks him into the front row (CMLL tecnicos have really perfected that quick head over heels bump over the railing into the crowd) and launches his hip attack. Match peaks with Volador going for a flip dive to the floor and getting caught, lifted into powerbomb position, and flung sideways into the barrier. Good gracious. Later on UG would one up Volador's bump over the barrier by taking a fast Jerry bump to the floor before getting nailed with a Volador flip dive. I don't typically care for the terceras in these kind of main events, and before long we're in the morass of 2.9 counts after big moves and a transparent fake fault finish. The big moves down the stretch built fine, and there was especially impressive moment where Volador was going for a top rope rana, UG blocked it, lifted him up for a top rope powerbomb, and while UG was jumping off the ropes to deliver the bomb Volador reversed it back into the rana. Crazy/impressive stuff. Come for the nasty vest whipping, stay around for a couple pros doing their thing amid some impressive shows of strength.

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

All Time MOTY list HEAD to HEAD: Hash/Yasuda v. Inoue/Honda VS. Rock v. Jericho

The Rock v. Chris Jericho WWF No Mercy 10/21/01

PAS: I came into this match with an open mind, I definitely hadn't seen it since 2001 and may not have even seen it then, early 2000s WWF wrestling isn't a style I love, but was perfectly willing to enjoy something different. This wasn't it though, I honestly thought this was a below average match.

There was some stuff I liked, I really enjoyed Rock's selling and bumping, nothing super violent or athletic but he has great timing and made Jericho's offense look better then it should have. I also enjoyed how he got more peeved as the match went on, this started face v. face and I though the Rock did a nice job conveying how Jericho got under his skin.

Jericho had nice knife edge chops, but otherwise his offense looked pretty awful, he barely got The Rock up when he did his trite "early 2000's do the other guys finisher" Rock bottom, his punches looked awful, he did his stupid no contact bulldog. Meanwhile he was doing some really over the top bumping, flying over the top rope a couple of times with very little contact from Rocky. There were a couple of badly blown spots, including a dragon screw leg whip that was lucky not to tear Jericho's MCL. Rock also had some Diva level chops, he looked like Candace Michele when he would fire back. Also there was a point where a clearly gassed Rock threw on a time killer chinlock which both guys laid in catching their breath.

Finish run is where most WWF main event matches are made, and this had some cool stuff in it, I especially liked Jericho countering the people's elbow with the Liontamer, it was a nifty looking move and nicely took advantage of Rock's cockiness. However they can't just have a finish without legendary all time heat suck Stephanie McMahon coming out and horseshitting all over it. This was 15 years ago and they are still doing this same shit. I guess Jericho fans look at this nostalgically because this was his first big win, but this wasn't good.

ER: I must say I am very amused as I think this is literally the most I've ever seen Phil write about any one match. Phil and I overall agreed on the match itself, but had some major disagreements on moments of the match. I came in to this the same as Phil: either I haven't seen this match since 2001 and don't remember much about it, or I've never seen it. So going in with fresh, 2016 eyes. This is for the WCW title, which is something really dumb that I don't remember happening, and combine that with Charles Robinson's awful softball jersey, I already had a bad taste before the bell. But I actually really liked the match up until the long Rock chinlock, and still enjoyed it after that. Phil mentions they were working face/face, and that's certainly how JR was calling it, but it looked to me like Jericho was working subtle heel throughout. A couple minutes in he slaps Rock which was definitely a different tone than the match had been up to that point, and as the match goes on he brings out more of his mocking slaps, more of his little mocking annoying kicks to a downed Rock, shoving the back of Rock's head with his boot, stuff he only does when he's working heel. The whole time he's doing those things JR is too busy talking about his athleticism and getting in digs at WCW for never giving him a title shot the whole time he was there, 96-99. I thought Jericho looked good through most of the match, much better than the Rock. I have no use for current Jericho matches, but really liked him here, thought he glued this whole thing together nicely. I was really surprised how Rock basically played underdog undersized babyface up until that awful chinlock. Jericho was really dominating him, and I liked Jericho's offense like backbreakers, that great senton, great chops, some stiff low kicks, big hotshot, all of it looked good, and I strongly disagree with Phil that it was the Rock's bumping that was making it look good.  Rock was peppering in some fun babyface comebacks, loved his super hang time flying clothesline off the ropes, and his slap style punches were at their peak here (Phil is right about his chops though, yeesh. He looked like a drunk mom feeling a muscular stripper's chest at a bachelor party). Eventually he goes and locks on that never ending, gasping for wind chinlock, and boy that was weak. Jericho had been working heel all match and now suddenly he's in the lonnnnnng chinlock fighting up to his feet. Totally threw things off. End stretch was solid if unspectacular. There were things I liked about it, things I disliked about it. The Stephanie run in was bad but it was weird seeing Stephanie take bumps. Her bump getting pulled into the ring was impressive. Maybe it's because it's been so long since she's gotten any kind of comeuppance, but it was surreal seeing her take bumps.

Now to address the things I disagree with Phil on:

1) Phil says Jericho "barely got the Rock up" when he gave him a Rock Bottom, but I honestly have no clue how it looked any different than any rock bottom delivered by Rock or anybody else. Rock jumped into it. That's how everybody takes the move. It looked like the most normal Rock Bottom. Jericho took a rock bottom through a table later in the match, that looked exactly like this one, only through a table. Very confused by what he saw that I didn't see.

2) Phil says "his punches looked awful", but for the life of me I only remember one very brief moment of the match where Jericho even used punches. It was when he was rolling Rock over and had him in a kind of side mount, and threw only a few. And from that position (a tough position to throw nice worked punches from if you're not Lawler), they looked about average. I don't think he threw a single punch the rest of the 25 minute match. He did throw a bunch of chops and a couple of elbows, and his chops were far better than I ever remember them being, and the elbows (one in particular) landed great. Calling out a couple punches like that during a transition moment as awful seems like a major nitpick.

3) Phil says "he was doing some really over the top bumping, flying over the top rope a couple of times with very little contact from Rocky". I don't see the reason for complaint here. Jericho took two big bumps to the floor. The first was a traditional WWE heel bump in the corner. Rock backed him fast in the corner with punches, had him whipping his head back, did the dramatic pause and Jericho bumped to the floor off that final big punch. It's the same way Perfect did against Bossman, Michaels did against Undertaker, Ziggler did against Kane. Now the running thread of those guys is that they are all guys Phil hates, doing an athletic style of bumping that he also hates. But it's a cannon heel bump in the company, and one that never fails to get a huge reaction for the babyface. It felt appropriate here, and while I understand a criticism of the style itself, it feels unfair to criticize Jericho for the bump as it's almost surely exactly how the Rock wanted him to take it. Jericho was putting over the offense of a superstar. The other bump is even weirder to criticize, as it was from Jericho getting thrown over the top after Rock uses his Irish whip momentum against him. Jericho comes off the ropes, Rock runs along side him and tosses him over. Pretty normal Royal Rumble kind of bump. Phil states that Rock barely touches him, but I fail to see how that's Jericho's fault. His job was to come off the ropes, run in a straight line, and go over the top. Rock's job was to act like he was throwing him over. Should Jericho have called a split second audible? "It doesn't feel like Rock has a believable grip on my head, better not go over the top". That's a call nobody can make in that little time. You assume the other guy is doing his part, and go through with the moment as planned. Something tells me if Jericho had slowed to so that Rock could better throw him, he would be criticized for that as well. It just comes off odd to me to praise Rock for "making Jericho's offense look better than it should have" but then turn around and criticize Jericho for doing the same with "barely any contact from Rocky".

4) Phil says "There were a couple of badly blown spots" but I genuinely did not see one thing that looked botch, let alone badly blown. When I think of badly blown, I think of those time stand still moments, where both guys are lost, or have to stop doing what they're doing. Nothing close to that happened here. The ending was a little clunky with Jericho trying to hide a chair but the chair not playing along and getting hung up on the apron, but nothing else looked "badly blown" to me. The dragon screw did look rough, but it didn't look like a botch. It looked more like Rock didn't properly follow through on it, leaving Jericho nowhere to bump. If the complaint had been about how pointless the dragon screw was to the match, I could agree with that. It was merely there to set up Rock's famously awful sharpshooter and meant nothing to the rest of the match. That's the one he mentioned, and I honestly have no clue what the other move could even be. Nothing looked "badly blown" here.


PAS: Not close, the Puro tag has just as much heat, just as many charismatic wrestlers and actually contact on the moves landed. I admit the tag won't hold this title forever, but this isn't the match to beat it.

ER: So, I liked the match more than Phil - and disagreed with him wildly on specific moments in the match - but our verdict is still the same. I thought this was a decent match, maybe even a good match. But our current champ was much better to me.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

DVDVR Puerto Rico 80s Set: Carlos Colon vs. Abdullah the Butcher (March 1986)

Disc 2: Match 6: Carlos Colon vs. Abdullah the Butcher (March 1986)

I've watched this one twice now, more by accident than anything else, and I'm still not entirely sure what to say about it. There is a lot of sameness in the Abdullah vs Colon matches we've seen so far, but I think that it becomes more of a strength than a weakness. There's a level of familiarity between the two of them that lets them maximize their narrative opportunities.

There are two specific moments I'd point out here where it's obvious Colon knew how to work with Abby. The first is early on, in the shine/opening back and forth, where Colon takes the fight to him once again and Abdullah tries to fire back with the throat shots when he can. At one point, Colon has him staggered, but positions him perfectly in the ropes so that he can sit on the second rope and get a breather while he's being beat upon. It makes it seem like he's being rocked all the more when he's actually taking a second for himself. The second is much the same, but on the floor and in the comeback, where Colon positions Abdullah in a chair outside to better beat on him. It's obviously to let Abby catch his breath but they're able to work it in as an almost iconic moment of Colon unleashing righteous fury upon him.

I think it's also worth noting, at this point in the set, how Colon's selling is different than Invader's. Whereas Invader's goal seems to be to draw sympathy and build to his comebacks, Colon's is laden with him bouncing back against the ropes to score another hit, even from underneath, and constantly struggling to get back into the fight. It's more aggressive and aimed to portray his toughness and how he's an ace.

Ultimately, this was as solid as anything else. They showed the usual intensity and weight in the opening exchange. I liked Abby working over Colon's eye and Colon getting revenge later on. The comeback beating on the floor was good. It loses a few points for an overly BS-heavy finish but some of that probably has to do with context I don't have. It's a great rivalry but I'm not entirely sure I need to see it six times on a set.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Lucha Underground Season 3 Episode 5: The Prince and The Monster

1. Ivelisse vs. Mariposa

ER: Striker is stunned Moth is out with Mariposa, because Moth was in a BRUTAL match against Killshot. Moth must not remember too much about that as he was not acting any differently than he did before that match. And really, he shouldn't be. That was three weeks ago. Guys have come back from getting their arm broken by Pentagon quicker than that. If there's any shocking returns from that weapons of mass destruction match, it's Striker being allowed to return to commentary. I liked this match, even if it didn't really feel like a "Lucha Underground" match, whatever that means. I think Ivelisse is a real good underdog, even if Mariposa could have been more punishing. Ivelisse is always really good in submissions, and I dug the inverted cloverleaf used here. Also really liked the finish (even if it was pretty stumbly), with the top down camera actually being useful as it showed Ivelisse trying to kick her legs to slip out of the Gory special, finally doing so, and then leaving Mariposa in a perfect position to hit the sunset flip powerbomb. I like that moved used as a flash pin. Match had execution problems, and was a little slow, but I thought it worked.

MD: It's almost pointless to harp on Striker at this point, but he just has that special ability to grate. Here he talked about past Ivelisse opponents Mil Muertes and Sexy Star on equal footing. Those two, very similar, very difficult opponents. This promotion hitching their wagon to Sexy Star is really one of the more bizarre  things any fed has ever done. They could have admitted their mistake any time and bumped her back down the hierarchy, but they just keep digging in their heels. As expected Marty the Moth was a great valet presence throughout this, but almost too great compared to the presence of those in the ring. It's tough to have him affiliated with Mariposa as it's too easy for him to outshine her. I think she's been overall good with what she's given, and think she's hit a good note with her surreal body language. But the body language could be distracting her from actual ring work, as her offense seems more subdued than what we've previously seen from her (as Melissa).

ER: Dario's reaction to Mundo's abs reveal was perfect. It was a combination of disdain for him showing his abs in his office, combined with an undeniable admiration of Mundo's abs, all while feigning disgust. The appropriate reaction.

2. Brian Cage vs. Texano

ER: This is the 2nd match of the 5 match series that did not need to happen. If you could choose a 5 match series between any two guys in LU, how many combos would you have to make before you got down to Cage vs. Texano? Match wasn't very good, either. Texano really is a total zero in LU. I'm sure there are many viewers who have no clue he's any kind of deal in Mexico. I like Matt's use of the word "weightless", because as I was watching this I was thinking about how nothing they did had any weight to it. It was like that Eric Bana Hulk movie, with Hulk just jumping and bouncing around off things. The weight was wrong. Obviously they were in there doing the moves, and I liked Cage's bump to the floor and big suplex into the ring, but they were both selling things like Petey Williams. And lucky us, we'll get to see 3 more chances to get it right!!!

MD: Texano isn't a big deal? Isn't he the youngest and longest-holding super mega ultimate champion ever or what not? Is that better or worse than being Rey Cometa and having the company you work for forget you're a champion? I'd rather see Rey Cometa vs Cage, though. That's for sure. Here, the most painful thing is either Vampiro hyping this up or the dueling chants. Or maybe the This is Awesome chant. Or the Ridiculously Huge Package reversal out of the suplex by Cage. I did think this built better than the first one, but I lament that Texano isn't teaming with Terrible and Rey Bucanero against Stuka, Angel De Oro and Guerrero Maya, Jr on the third match of a Tuesday Arena Mexico show and wish that someone hadn't given Cage this specific set of Create-A-Wrestler offense just to see if they could break the game's graphic engine because he's so massive.

ER: "What we have, is a lot stronger than what you and Son of Chaos had." Ivelisse makes poor choices in men, but it appears that Sami Callihan at least has a name (Jeremiah). Unless he is Son of Jeremiah. I'm glad people don't refer to me as Son of Franklin.

MD: I am morbidly fascinated to see Sami Callihan vs Sexy Star too. Actually, an eventual Sami Callihan vs Son of Havoc match would be fun. Wait, are we getting Sami vs Marty soon? This is a rare time on LU where I'd rather see a match than a skit.

3. Prince Puma vs. Matanza

MD: I think we all knew where this one was going. More often than not Lucha Undeground booking will take the path of least resistance. Obviously after last week (and the week before) this was ending with Muertes coming out. In the meantime, however, they made the most of the time that they had and this felt like a big main event, one of the biggest they could put on. Puma comes off like both a star and a world-beater. Matanza is an absolutely force of nature. Everything that Puma did to Matanza felt earned and credible. There wasn't the suspension of disbelief issues we saw in some of the other wheel-made matches this season. At the same time, Matanza created the palpable anticipation that he could take back control at any moment. There were two instances where he picked up Puma like he was a baby and there was absolutely nothing Puma could do (except for get lawn-darted into the metal). The dangling ragdoll German is probably the best move of 2016, with Wrath of the Gods a close second. In some ways this match was fortunate for not needing a finish. It meant that they could tell a story of Puma overcoming the odds through strength and skill and sheer will power without having to actually go through with it. Him basically deadlifting Matanza up after the Northern Lights was a really memorable moment and it was matched shortly thereafter by Matanza just eating a kick to the skull so that he could cradle suplex Puma. I ran high on this as an incomplete match but a great spectacle. One note on commentary: Vampiro, while amiable and often entertaining is the absolute death of analysis; Striker will feed him a thought about strategy or try to make sense of something they just saw and Vampiro will shrug it off with some empty platitude about just surviving or something.

ER: I really loved this match, an easy standout in season 3 so far. I even liked the run-in finish as I didn't want either guy to lose definitively, thought it set up more Puma/Muertes nicely, loved how Dario shouted at Marty Elias about it suddenly being a DQ; yeah, that last part felt Austin/MacMahon-y but I thought Dario's execution made it. And I thought the match itself was really really good, easily the best Cobb LU match. Match was smartly worked and had some wonderful big moments, with Matanza doing his relentless Olympian Michael Myers bit while Puma scrambles to stay ahead. I loved Puma's body language as he dodged Matanza and nailed the punt from the ring apron, loved his kicks and strikes to keep Matanza at bay and loved what Matanza would do when he would get ahold of him. Cobb/Matanza's multi lift German is my favorite move in wrestling, just as Tamon Honda's Dead End suplex was my favorite the first time I saw it. Making a man think about his own body's imminent accordioning obviously appeals to me. Matanza could very well just be watching a lot of early 2000s NOAH while lounging in his cage during his downtime, as he catches a Puma high kick with his neck and then destroys him, right out of the "Things Tamon Honda does that make me flip out" handbook. But I really loved how these two matched up, was into the match enough that I had actually stopped thinking about Mil Muertes' inevitable run-in. The northern lights into a deadlift suplex was such an unexpected holy shit moment, and I had just gotten sucked into the thing. Once Puma hit the 630 I actually thought he could win this thing. Loved this.

MD: With Joey Ryan's "What am I, a detective?" line, I've decided that it's a writer and not the wrestlers coming up with the one-liners. Outside of Jerry Lawler's jokebook, wrestling hasn't had consistently good one-liners in twenty-five years. And hey, it's only twenty years since the Craig "Pit Bull" Pittman vs Cobra left behind storyline. I wonder what Pittman's doing right now, actually. I'd watch him over Killshot any day.

ER: (Silent praise and admiration for Matt invoking memories of the Craig Pittman/Cobra angle. This is what that "hands together with sparkles around it" emoji was made for)


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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

DVDVR Puerto Rico 80s Set: Carlos Colon vs. Jos LeDuc (Barbed Wire Match) (2/22/86)

Disc 2: Match 5: Carlos Colon vs. Jos LeDuc (Barbed Wire Match) (2/22/86)

It's a little bit hard to follow an Invader match with a Colon match. It's not that Colon's lacking. It's just that Invader borders on selling transcendence. Here, though, it doesn't really matter. This was all about Leduc. I love watching these big stadium shows and looking for how the wrestlers work a crowd that big and that distant.

Leduc was absolutely brilliant here in using his body language and the barbed wire. First, they set up just a little anticipation as he came in with his lumberjack shirt on and that protected him for a moment. It let Colon take an early advantage, however, as he pulled it up over his head and blinded him, before yanking it off. From there, the shine was all about Leduc having nowhere to go and trying desperately not to stagger into the ropes after every shot from Colon. It's something very easy to take for granted as I had to stop and think about how much a normal might move someone in a normal match. Less than this. Leduc was exaggerating how out of control his body went after each shot in order to build up the possibility that he might go crashing into the barbed wire. Just great stuff.

The heat wasn't quite as compelling. That's only half true, actually. On camera, it was pretty good, with a lot of close ups of Leduc tearing at Colon's mouth with the wire, but it probably wasn't doing much for the crowd considering only one quarter of the stadium could probably see it and then without much detail. There are some times where things aren't better left up to one's imagination. I did like, in the attempt at escape and recovery, that Colon just had nowhere to go. He needed the ropes to help him back to his feet. The ropes were radioactive and he couldn't touch them. The way he portrayed that crisis within the match was very strong.

During the comeback, I was wondering whether or not he was going to go with the cartwheel. He did. It was just slightly off camera. I just don't know. Obviously, it was ritualistic. It was something the crowd expected. It was symbolic. There are times that I love it, like after a hot tag or against a guy like Flair. I'm not sure it was entirely appropriate in a blood barbed wire match, but that's me thinking about it in a vacuum and out of context. I do think this was hurt by the fact we couldn't hear the crowd noise. The crowd was probably coming unglued on the comeback and we just couldn't hear it.

Anyway, despite a few things I wish they did differently on the heat, this was another strong match. I particularly loved that they treated the barbed wire with so much respect. It shouldn't be gratuitous or just supplemental. It was front and center here and every time it was used it meant something.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

1999 Match of the Year

El Hijo Del Santo/Negro Casas v. Scorpio Jr./Bestia Salvaje CMLL 3/19/99

PAS: This is one of the last great bloody Arena Mexico apuestas matches. Scorpio and Bestia are a pair of awesome grizzled ugly rudos who come out smoking. They totally bum rush Santo and Casas slam them into the seats and the barricade and bloody them up. Santo is one of wrestlings great bleeders, but it is rarer to see Casas leaking like this. Total one sided violent domination by the rudos in the first fall. The tide turn is awesome Santo is getting double teamed, and as the rudos whip him into the ropes, Casas grabs his torso, throwing off the timing and allowing Santo to hit them with a double clothesline and take control. Technicos take over and get revenge cutting up both rudos. Third fall is a classic with lots of crazy dives, near falls and gritty violence. All four guys are amazing, but man alive is Casas on another level here, he is one of the most expressive wrestlers in history, just watching his face is such a pleasure. Pain, discouragement, glee, anger it is all there, just a maestro.

ER: Wonderful lucha tag match with two legends versus two goons. Bestia Salvaje has a face that lucha masks were invented for, Scorpio the same but had the sense to wear a mask. Bestia and Casas both have their 1989 Lou Reed hair on the line, Santo and Scorpio have their masks up. I have actually attended a Santo mask match live, versus Super Parka in 2003 almost 13 years ago to this date. I talked to tons of fans around us and asked them who they thought was leaving with their mask, and none of them thought Parka had a chance. Several of them all said their wives even asked why they were even attending, as even they knew that Santito was keeping his mask. One guy said he told his wife, "I know he's going to win. But I want to see HOW he wins." Another, in explaining to me what a big deal Santito was, told me, "You have HHH. We have Santo." Yes, that response sounded as awful in 2003 as it does now, but that was the perception at the time, at least to this one man in Tijuana. And another man was my hero, as he basically got me to believe in Santa Claus. He said, "I know Santo is going to win. But you never know. Parka could change his mind in the ring and something might happen." Holy shit. Masks on the line. What if Super Parka pulled a fast one?? It couldn't happen, right? It didn't. But damn if I didn't hang on every 2 count. What if Parka held him down on a cradle and the ref didn't know what to do?? It added a layer of drama that I felt from the 2nd row. And somehow that one guy made me a sucker for lucha stips matches for life, no matter how seemingly in the bag they are.

A few of the little and big moments I loved: 1) Santo's comeback kneelifts were the best. Bestia took each one as if it were caving in his sternum, and most of them looked like they were doing just that. The kneelift is a Santo staple, but often it's a move done on the run, more back slap than knee to chest, slowing down an opponent to set up something bigger. Here he's landing them like he's prime Anderson Silva. 2) The end of the segunda was such a tremendous Bestia emotional performance. He cheated, he uppercut low on Casas and got caught. But he baaaaarely got caught, and he knew he barely got caught. There was no appeal to the ref, no appeal to the crowd, just a man slumped in the corner knowing he was *this* close to getting Casas out of the way, and here he was coming to terms that things are evened up on paper and the momentum may be shifting. 3) That misguided tope was one of the best ever, not just for how it hit, but for what it meant and for how it played on our collective expectations. Casas grabbed and held onto Scorpio on the floor while Santo dispatched of Bestia, and then I'm thinking "jeez Casas has been just holding Scorpio still for quite awhile..." and then Santo does his beautiful tope...and Scorpio moves, sending Santo into Casas and Casas into the front row. And it's a beautiful moment as Bestia and Scorpio had been looking drained just before this, not just physically tired but they looked like the spirit was getting drained out of their bodies by their imminent defeat. And once Santo crashed into Casas their body language just changed. They knew this was their last chance and they jumped on it. It didn't last long. But in that moment you couldn't have asked for more from them. Great stuff all around.


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Monday, October 17, 2016

DVDVR Puerto Rico 80s Set: Kamala vs. The Invader (2/22/86)

Disc 2: Match 4: Kamala vs. The Invader (2/22/86)

This was awesome. It's also a sign of how screwy this set is. This wasn't at all a complete match in a conventional sense. You can't easily compare this to Flair vs Colon or whatever. That doesn't mean it wasn't excellent, because it was! They had a goal. They executed it. It was compelling, not just due to what they were trying to do but due to the unique talents at play, but the points of comparison are just tough to sync. This is why I like comparing wrestlers way more than comparing matches. You can isolate what Kamala and Invader I did here, why it was special and how it created a total effect (and I'm about to) but what they were shooting for just can't easily compare to a more complete narrative that had more time and was meant to serve as a full main event.

The narrative, put simply was this: Kamala is a monster. Invader I (the character of, at least) is a valiant homegrown fighter. He's come in with an obvious disadvantage made even worse by preexisting injuries, bandaged, one poke away from bleeding. Kamala would have been a great challenge at his best. Here, the monster was insurmountable. They start off toe-to-toe, Invader matching him blow for blow. Kamala's overhand chops target the injury. Invader fights back equally. Kamala tears off the bandage and opens him up once again. Invader starts to stagger as he fights back, weakening. Kamala keeps up the targeted onslaught and Invader goes from fighting back to trying to fight back to just trying to stay on his feet. Finally, he can no longer stand. Kamala drinks in his blood, walks around with his belly-slapping taunt and Invader's roused to one last attempt at fighting back. It's valiant as can be, but not enough, and the ref throws out the match. After the match Kamala ascends to launch a top rope splash but the ref pulls him away (the threat of it more than enough) and the doctor checks on Inavder.

It's an unusual story. We don't generally see something so one-sided. That it was effective was all in the execution. Invader's selling isn't just unique; it's singular. The way that he gradually shifted his body language to show his burgeoning weakness was amazing. He was selling not just from the blows, but in showing the effects of them any time he tried to fire back, often tossing his entire body desperately into an attack. At one point, he was gasping up his own blood, making sure to milk it for all that it was worth. Kamala was as vicious as you'd ever seen him. I'm sure someone out there with knowledge of "real fighting" would laugh at the overhand chops, but this is wrestling and they are symbolic: Kamala is a monster so everything he does is more dangerous through presentation; he's targeting the bloody forehead so the blows are better through focus; Invader is selling them like death. That's everything that makes wrestling wonderful. Through collaboration, presentation, focus, blood, and committed reaction, they create the illusion of truth.

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Brian Kendrick Moves So Fast on Me

Brian Kendrick vs. TJ Perkins WWE Raw 10/3/16 - REALLY GOOD

They sure managed to fit a lot into 6 minutes, and this is the return of the more assertive, wild Kendrick that we saw in the CWC. He rushes in a lot like he might not have a plan, but he clearly has an endgame. It's that kind of assertiveness that keeps TJ off balance, so even when Kendrick is taking spills to the floor, he's still acting unpredictably enough to make TJ give him side eye. Kendrick has the great iridescent houndstooth pants and takes a nasty bump to the floor on his hip (which he has taken before, meaning he is intending to bump that way, which looks super painful). And we get a bunch of great scrapping and choking, with him jamming TJ's fingers into the ring post tightener and stomping all over them while TJ hangs there from his hand. Brutal stuff. I like TJ's chickenwing facebuster as if his opponent kicks out it leaves them immediately open to the kneebar, and Kendrick is great selling his knee the rest of the match. He never is obvious about it, but runs with a limp a couple different times and once when scrambling for a pin he even kinda hops on his good knee. Neat stuff. The Captains Hook looks good and him clawing at TJ's nose and mouth to get back to it is vicious. Love the finish with him expertly position TJ in the middle, love the choke being kept strong,  love Kendrick somehow breaking out at age 37.


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