Segunda Caida

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

Saturday, August 27, 2016

DVDVR Puerto Rico 80s Set: Disc 1: Carlos Colon vs. Bruiser Brody (Chain Match) (Summer 1984)

Disc 1, Match 9: Carlos Colon vs. Bruiser Brody (Chain Match) (Summer 1984)

Let me just state something to begin: I am not turning a corner on Brody. He is, by far, the most egregious case of the footage not living up to the myth. Sure, it generally wasn't due to lack of talent or skill, but instead how he chose to use the talent and skill. Even then, much of the dissonance comes from the fact that a big majority of Brody that we have is from All Japan, where he was apt to give the least in order to, in his mind, keep his gimmick up. It just came at the extent of dozens and dozens of matches that could have been excellent otherwise.

That said, there are specific matches I like, and specific performances I like (though less of those), and even an era or two that I've come to enjoy. Most specifically, the 1977 Houston footage that's popped up on NWAOnDemand had him inexperienced enough that he didn't "know better," maybe? With the face turn that year, however, he starts eating up matches to their detriment.

This match, however, I'd put pretty firmly in the "Enjoyed" category. It might be that he was fighting his boss for the night. I tend to chalk off certain good Hansen performances (including ones that are the odds on favorite for #1 on this set) to the fact he's wrestling the guy who's paying him. Part of it was the chain gimmick too, though.

Brody sold, and he sold quite a bit here. It wasn't just his usual back flailing followed by immediate recovery either. He'd stay down, he'd let Colon move him about, and he'd even sell emotionally, expressing the crazy idea that he, with his head bloodied, fists crashing against him, a crowd wanting him dead, and a chain around his throat, was actually in danger. That's more than half the battle right there and it was one that Brody's performance actually won here, as in it won me over. That was right from the get go where he didn't want anything to do with the chain. It was the opposite of the usual languid apathy I expect from his reactions.

I think the chain helped, both in allowing him to credibly sell without feeling like he was hurting his character and its invulnerability, but also in making his usual lackluster offense feel all the more potent. Yes, his fist drop wasn't all that dynamic, but when you took into account that he had a chain wrapped around his fist, it was hard to mind. Not only did he choke with the chain, but he did it both inside and outside of the ring, the ability to move around like that, even while doing the same thing, at least giving the illusion of action to the match. And some things, like wrapping the chain around Colon's eyes, were actually inspired.

Any match where a wrestler wins by touching the four corners has the deck stacked against it, but they used the gimmick well here, with transitions based around one of the wrestlers stopping his assault in order to try to win. The finish had maybe one too many flourishes. If they had gone to it sooner after Colon touched the third turnbuckle, it might have worked. It wasn't just Brody knocking him into it but it was Brody knocking him into it after interference that should have helped him and it all seemed a bit much. The post match brawling and bloodying was almost enough to make it forgivable though. As weird as it is to have a Brody match in this position, this one might have topped the set, up til this point, for me.

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Friday, August 26, 2016

Dick Togo's Got No Retirement Plans, No Derek Jeters

Dick Togo/Kaz Hayashi/Great Sasuke v. Shuji Kondo/Toru Owashi/YASSHI Wrestle 1 8/11/16-FUN

PAS: This is a battle of MPRO vets vs. Toruyman outcasts and it probably should have been better. Seems like a lot of Japanese juniors have acquired goofy Chikara gimmicks. Sasuke keeps sitting in meditation poses, YASSHI will bite you in the dick ect. First part of the match felt like everyone needing to shoehorn in their bit, like bad improv comedians, Bob has an effeminate southerner voice and no matter what the audience suggests an effeminate southerner will do it, look an effeminate southerner works at the DMV, an effeminate southerner is serving soup at this soup kitchen so on and so forth. Match picks up a little bit when they get the nonsense out of the way, Togo and Owashi have a cool exchange with Togo lacing into that big dude and looking just as tough as Owashi even though he is five inches shorter. We also had Hayashi and Sasuke remind you of the old days when they ruled as they broke out their signature dives. Still much of this was bad junk, and me being so happy to see Togo back might have been the only thing keeping me from rating this skippable.


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Black Terry Dreamed He Walked in a Field of Flowers

Black Terry v. Judas El Traidor IWRG 8/10/16-FUN

This is the Super Libre battle setting up a hair match. Terry is great on offense, opening up Judas in a nasty way, throwing great looking headbutts and right hands. Judas couldn't really deliver the nastiness required to respond, although I did like his running dive over the barricade onto a seated Terry. Judas is probably 20+ years younger then Terry but he looked like the broken down old man for much of this. We also get a really dumb double pin finish. Had it's moments, and bloody Terry is a great version of him. Still hoping the mask match is the one that delivers


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Thursday, August 25, 2016

CWC Throwback Thursday: The Fantastics

Bobby Fulton vs. Tommy Rogers (WWE Raw 6/16/97)

Oh sure, the CWC is all the rage right now, but almost 20 years ago the WWF was starting their big Light Heavyweight division and bringing in some pretty fresh names: Great Sasuke, Taka Michinoku, Tajiri, Scott Putski...okay, three fresh names. And also a famous tag team who were apparently only 36 (jeez is that right!?) but looked about a decade older. Yep, almost 20 years ago the Fantastics made their only career WWF appearance, and it was against each other, in New York (real hot bed of Fantastics fans up in NY), in a 3 minute match.

And the match was about as awesome as a 3 minute match can be. Bobby Fulton comes out wearing some of the least cool tights you've seen (those one-legged atrocities that Zack Ryder shamelessly wore) and Tommy Rogers comes out with his fluffy mullet (18 months after the mullet was mostly phased out of televised American wrestling). Rogers goes for the handshake and Fulton immediately points to his head (he's too smart to trust this Rogers jerk) and hits a surprise dropkick on Rogers. And boy do I love Bobby Fulton in this match. 1997 Bobby Fulton would have been one of my top 5 (top 3?) favorite guys in the CWC. He starts throwing weird low angle elbows in the corner, then starts throwing much nastier elbows to Tommy's jaw, hits a great flash spinkick, and when Rogers rolls to the apron and drops a great elbow on him. Fulton is wrestling like a southern Dave Taylor. Fulton decides that Rogers hasn't had enough so hits a great high speed dropkick that sends Tommy crashing from the apron to the barricade. This whole time Vince is having JR bring him up to speed on the Fantastics, asking them about their history, asking JR how they would have done had they competed in WWF. The ending comes quick, as we had to get to a Headbangers match (vs. Jerry Lawler and Rob Van Dam!?), so Bobby gets his feet on the ropes for a pin, argues with the ref when it doesn't work, and Tommy hits the Tomikaze for the win, which the camera mostly misses while showing the replay of Tommy flying into the barricade. What a weird, wonderful little match. The true torchbearer for the CWC.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

DVDVR Puerto Rico 80s Set: Disc 1: Abdullah the Butcher vs. Andre the Giant (9/17/83)

Disc 1, Match 8: Abdullah the Butcher vs. Andre the Giant (9/17/83)

This disc is going the way of the other 80s sets I've seen: spotty earlier footage from an era where we don't have much, filling in gaps to make sure that the set is complete, with some real novelties that round things out; basically a lot of solid stuff that will get eclipsed by things on later discs. That's what this was. I'm definitely glad Andre made the set, though and this was another of his smart, balanced performances, just another notch in his considerable belt where he does so many things right.

Structurally, we're looking at shine, heat, comeback, with the heat and the comeback both centered around Abdullah's fork (and/or other object). One of the coolest things about Andre is that he enables monster heels to stooge to an extent that they don't often get to. He lets their inner Memphis shine. That's how this one began, with Abdullah taking a shot and then ducking out to stall. He then came back in and ate any number of nasty looking Andre blows, including one chop that was so massive that the momentum almost carried him over.

When it was time for Abdullah to take over (and again, when a little younger, he was one of the best when it came to handspeed for blows to the throat), Andre's selling was just awesome. He made full use of his frame, flailing about and throwing himself back, making everything Abdullah did, no matter how ginger or theoretically unimpressive (for there is nothing in the world less impressive than a nerve hold) look deadly. They ran through some simple comeback attempts and cutoffs, but simple was fine. At one point, Andre tried to elbow back and Abdullah grabbed his hair and pulled him against the ropes to cut it off, and on paper, there wasn't much to it. Andre's bellow in pain, however, made the moment into far more than it should have been. He had so much capital to spend and was so good at spending it.

This ultimately devolved into a countout. It kept moving, never wore out its welcome and the crowd was into it, but it certainly didn't break any new ground. Really, other than Andre's initial bit of selling for Abdullah in the heat, what stood out the most in the match was how fun a passive aggressive Hugo was on commentary.

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They Hang Black Terry's Name in the Fool's Hall of Fame

Black Terry v. Judas El Traidor IWRG 8/3/16 - FUN

This was the first of a three match series ending in a hair match. Terry is in the middle of a killer 2016 run, but this wasn't at the level of the high end stuff. Judas has been around for a while, and during parts of this he didn't look like he could bring the heat needed to hang with Terry in this kind of blood feud. Shortish match, which only got good at the end. The end of the match had the ref get bumped and it got pretty good with both guys throwing bombs. It intrigued me enough to get excited about the Super Libre and the hair match.


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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

2016 Hideki Suzuki Deep Dive

After reading some reviews on PWO I decided to check out some Hideki Suzuki. He was always a guy I dug fighting MMA guys on occasional IGF shows and have really dug checking out what he is doing now. With all of the BattlArts dudes AWOL, and New Japan pretty much being pin up models doing near falls,  Suzuki matches might be the closest thing to my kind of Puro out there.

Hideki Suzuki/Yoshihisa Uto v. Yasufumi Nakanoue/Yuji Okabayashi BJW 5/30

PAS: Not sure why Nakanoue and Suzuki want to murder each other, but they sure as shit do and this was totally awesome. They start potatoing each other in the aisle and can't be pulled apart with the ref throwing the whole match out 50 seconds in. They scream at each other on the microphone and they restart the match and they go back to beating on each other with concussion causing headbutts and leaping headstomps, eventually Suzuki beats up his partner because he was trying to keep him from slaughtering Nakanoue. I love this kind of stuff, felt like a classic WAR v. NJ match or a Kazunari Murakami fight.

ER: I couldn't begin to explain to you what exactly the hell is happening here, other than Suzuki looks like such a nice man in still photos - what with his parted hair and a little goatee like you'd typically see on that guy who wheeled the TV/VCR cart into your classroom - but he clearly has a major problem with possibly every man, and wants to elbow them hard in the face and then kick them  in the face like a real snot. Nakanoue, Okabayashi, his own partner Uto, random ring boys, his elbows want nothing more than to feel their faces. Okabayashi is a big dude and I loved him ripping apart Uto to end the match, almost taunting Suzuki (who was on the floor kicking face) and locking on one of the nastier camel clutches you've seen. This kind of match doesn't happen a lot so we should all soak it in when it does.

Hideki Suzuki v. Takuya Nomura BJW 6/29

PAS: Really fun kicker v. grappler match, Nomura has fast hands and nice kicks and Suzuki responds by just beasting him with wrestling. He has these great looking takedowns and amateur wrestling small packages, where he folds Nomura like a blanket he is putting in a hamper. Nomura had his moments, but this was all about Suzuki as an old school MUGA asskicker, headlock takeovers, Boston crabs and a backbreaker which looked literal rather then figurative, a little one sided, but cool shit. I am going to have to go on a Suzuki binge.

ER: Fun WorldWide match worked nothing like you ever saw on WorldWide. I like Suzuki putting a somewhat angry twist on young lion style. His elbows really rattle, his Boston crab made my back hurt (seriously if he had slipped and lost his footing it looked like he would have snapped Nimura right in half), and as Phil mentioned all the simple stuff like small packages just look so snug and more painful. He's like Osamu Nishimura crossed with Yuki Ishikawa, which made me kind of drool just by typing that.

Hideki Suzuki v. Takuya Nomura BJW 7/9

PAS: Ok I am in on this little mini feud. Nomura is a rookie and this is a nice progression for him after their match in June. Suzuki is still chucking this kid around, but he has a little harder time keeping a grip on him. Nomura lands some nice kicks, and there is a very cool counter where he slips an uppercut and gets a great backslide which Suzuki rolls through right into a Nomura kick. Nomura even survives the backbreaker which put him down. I am in the bag for Suzuki, and think this Nomura kid might get pretty good.

ER: Really fun rematch with Nomura coming back more aggressive, and the crowd picking up on his aggression and encouraging him. Suzuki is a bully to him without ever coming across overtly dickish, just holding him down with his weight advantage but not taking cheap shots. Felt like those old Pancrase matches where a guy could go for the kill but would rather have an exciting fight, and then almost ends up getting caught. Nomura having Suzuki scrambling for the ropes to break a sub was a great moment, a thing that took me from watching a match to see Suzuki administer a beating, to seeing a rookie pull off an upset. But Suzuki is too tough and you can see him kinda casually turn it into overdrive, laying back on that Boston crab and half crab, slamming that backbreaker, and then deciding things should just be over with a crazy swift and violent butterfly slam. I think I may be watching more Big Japan this year...

ER: Well, Phil went on a deep dive and he dragged me under the water with him. Suzuki really does scratch an itch. Evolve needs to start bringing him in, in a move that will surely sell few extra tickets. Anyway, the awesome and wild tag match landed on our 2016 ONGOING MOTY LIST. But if you got a spare 20 minutes, you'll be able to watch every match in this review.

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Monday, August 22, 2016

DVDVR Puerto Rico 80s Set: Disc 1: El Gran Apollo vs. Buddy Landel (5/8/83)

Disc 1, Match 7: El Gran Apollo vs. Buddy Landel (5/8/83)

I know we're going to get more into the bloody brawls as we go in this set; I've seen the match list. At this point though, I feel like we're judging between which matches had the best worked chinlock segment. That said, this one had a pretty great chinlock and I'm more inclined towards that stuff than most.

So unless I'm wildly mistaken, it seems that Landel really developed his heel act in PR in 82-83. I'm not going to post the weightlifting contest that helped set further this fued,  as it's a bonus on the set, but I am going to post a promo where Hugo spoke and Landel pretended he was Flair in the way he stood and presented himself. Usually in the states in 84-85, he'd have much more of his own spin on the Nature Boy thing. 

And I'm going to post this jobber match vs Angel Diaz which the video says is from 82, namely because Landel just killed the guy and people should see it.

The match itself was pretty much what you'd expect. Landel's an amazing, emotive stooge, and he'd already worked all of that out here, flailing about, bumping big, putting his own little twist on familiar spots. He did a flat back dropdown in the cross-cross, managed to Flair Flop into the second turnbuckle, and had the world's most beautiful high knee cut off on a chinlock hope spot. 

Apollo did his part here too. Puerto Rico fans were endlessly hot and they would chant along to grinding headlocks, which makes them better than fans today. He worked well from underneath in the chinlock too, but that was assisted by Landel's teeth gritting, jawing with the fans, and picture perfect cheating cut offs. He had one of the best dropkicks you'll see in 1983, though, and that was all him. 

The final comeback was a callback on that knee, with Apollo dodging it this time, getting some rabbit punches in, and taking over. Hugo interfered on the finish and one thing I've noticed on the set so far is that the heels don't seem to get away with things quiet as much in PR. That could have easily led to Buddy going over, since it was just a leg grab and nothing overly blatant or highly visual, but I guess they were afraid of angering this fanbase too much. Short and simple but a good match nonetheless and a nice way to gauge just where Buddy was at this stage of his development as a heel (he was far along).

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

WWE Summerslam 2016 Live Blog

ER: Figured I would do a live blog of this since I'll be watching it, at least until I get too annoyed at the Network freezing on me (I think it really runs like garbage on my PS3, likely would run better on a PS4, but fuck that support my old media!). PLUS, we gotta leave at some point to go see Chastity Belt and So Pitted in SF. Seem to remember we were also going to a concert during the last WWE PPV (that's right, Gun Outfit. Sheesh that was already a month ago!?) but I swear we usually aren't this interesting. The idea of going out on a Sunday night usually terrifies me into thinking I'll be a work zombie the rest of the week. So who knows how much of this show I'll be getting through, but I'll try.

(Apparently there was some sort of a tag team scramble even earlier than the awesome Sheamus/Cesaro match, guess I didn't rewind far enough. Probably won't be going back for that one.)

2. Sheamus vs. Cesaro

ER: Really like the hot fast start with some big Cesaro uppercuts, Cesaro flipping out of a Sheamus powerbomb, a big Sakuraba leaping double stomp by Cesaro, and Sheamus getting clotheslined to the floor. Cesaro nicely blocks the apron forearms by muscling Sheamus' arm off his chest and tossing a headbutt to the neck. Sheamus goes after the taped up arm and shoulder and Cesaro is always good at selling a limb. These two are laying it in nicely. Love Sheamus blocking a short arm lariat by just tossing out a back elbow. They do some really fun struggles around a vertical suplex and end up both tumbling over the top off the apron and to the floor. These two are really laying it in on the pre-show! Sheamus gets dropkicked off the top, and the struggle keeps happening throughout. Guys going up halfway on moves, forcing the other to lift the weight, not the type of stuff you can do with just anybody. Sheamus hits the rolling senton off the middle rope for somehow only a two. These two are getting ridiculous on the pre-show and the crowd is picking up on it. Cesaro hits a beast of a lariat, then climbs up to the RINGPOST, jumps from the post to the ropes and does a springboard crossbody. What the hell! Finishing sequence is cool too, with Cesaro dropping down to his back during a brogue kick to try and catch the leg for the sharpshooter, but Sheamus kicks him away, tosses him into the post and hits the brogue kick anyway.

PAS: These guys really killed themselves on a pre-show to get over, especially on a show filled with such BS. It had a very WCW vibe to it. Hope this best of 7 is as good as Booker v. ?, and I hope Finlay gets involved somehow too. That turnbuckle springboard was awesome looking and I can't ever remember seeing it before, I wonder if Cesaro is going to break out something new for every match. Sheamus sure isn't because he has been doing the same stuff for a decade, still it is pretty cool stuff done with some real violence. Liked the catching of the brogue kick and the thumb to the eye. Fun stuff and I imagine all seven will end up on our list somewhere.

3. Enzo & Big Cass vs. Chris Jericho & Kevin Owens

ER: Not a big fan of the two teams but I'm digging it after the first 3 minutes, especially the Owens/Cass stuff. Cass lands some great body blows in the corner and then Owens starts kicking him right in the knee cap. Jericho's douchey facial hair works for him and Owens making fun of Enzo's shitty footwork made me laugh. Enzo seems like a guy who has only been wrestling for like one month sometimes, but he makes a real effective FIP. Owens' trash talking is used nicely when he's taunting a FIP, and he makes Enzo's stuff look plausible by charging into boots. Jericho intercepting the hot tag was killer. I could see him setting it up but I love Enzo getting knocked silly in mid air, inches from a tag. Jericho also realizes Enzo landed too close to Cass, so kicks him hard back out of the corner, so Owens can fly out of nowhere with a frog splash. Cass hot tag is pretty clunky, not entirely his fault as Jericho is super sloppy in his set ups. Cass does hit a nice big boot on Owens and later takes a fantastic ring post bump. Jericho looked horrendous once the hot tag portion set in (you know, once the match start moving quickly) and nearly beheaded Enzo on the finish. Owens flapjacked him into a codebreak and Jericho was slightly late, Enzo basically had to get his head snapped back over Jericho's knee.

4. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks

ER: That is an excellent robe on Charlotte. I was really liking their fighting on the top rope, LOVED Charlotte stretching Sasha out and jamming that boot under her neck, loved Sasha kneeing her way out....but have no clue what the hell happened after that. I have no clue what move was supposed to happen, or what it was supposed to look like, but Charlotte goes for a side slam off the middle rope and looks like Sasha's legs catch and Charlotte just bails, like when I dropped a butcher knife in the kitchen and all my limbs go out as I just leap bakwards away from the dropping knife. Sasha's legs bounce off the top and send her headfirst into the mat, because I guess you can't have a big Sasha match without her dumping herself or getting dumped onto her neck at the worst angle. They have another ugly little flip over reversal segment not long after and maybe they need to slow it down a bit or something. But then they kind of shut my mouth a bit by doing a few fun quick segments in the corner, and build to a wild splash mountain rana reversal off the top. Loved Charlotte doing the Flair flip in the corner onto the apron and then kicking the hell out of Sasha's leg as she charged in, and jeez then Sasha does the double knees from the middle rope to the floor? Nuts. Kinda wish the finish would have happened when Sasha reversed natural selection in the Banks statement. I really loved the fighting over it, loved Charlotte trying to reach the ropes while also trying to break the hands over her face, loved Sasha pushing off the bottom rope. The stuff immediately following it felt a little formless. But, I did like Charlotte rolling the BS into the pin, even if I think putting the title back on Charlotte this quick is tremendously stupid.

5. The Miz vs. Apollo Crews

ER: Maryse's outfit is awesome. Not many people can pull off essentially a white swimsuit with a police hat. Damn this is an IC Title match? This feels like a pre-show opener if I've ever seen one. I don't know much about Crews, but I like how he leans into Miz's kicks and plants on that fast DDT. Ohhhhhhhhh Crews is Uhaa Nation. That makes sense. I don't know why I didn't recognize him. Stupid me. Crews' standing moonsault is really impressive and while it was kinda dodgy I liked his little cradle roll through pin. And then Miz hits the skull crushing finale for the clean pin. That move never fails to look like the weakest move of any match.

6. AJ Styles vs. John Cena

ER: Really liked the first few minutes of this, loved AJ getting cocky and outquicking Cena, loved Cena catching a bragging AJ with the soupbone right. I think they went to an apron suplex way too early but I like all the stuff immediately after that, with AJ taking a big backdrop and Cena punching him around, and I love the sloppy Cena dropkick (helped no doubt by AJ flying into it like AJ). The Pele kick was placed great and the crowd is way into this. Cena's doing that weird thing where he just starts pulling moves out of his ass, lifting AJ up for a powerslam but doing basically Big E's finisher. Loved Cena's doing a drop down to try and grab AJ into the STFU, and AJ dropping Cena across his knee looked great. Cena's so damn big that it just looks wild to see a big lug getting dumped neck first onto a knee, he really just crumbles differently. AJ misses the 450 like a champ, like a guy who was practicing it into a swimming pool instead of actually just doing it onto a hard surface. Good lord AJ.

So I'm loving this match, and we gotta be like 20 minutes in.......and I can feel them losing me. We go into some hardcore move trading sections. And it's tough because I keep going back and forth, as sometimes something looks really great, but then it's just immediately ignored because the other guy has to do his move right back. I love Styles' calf crusher, but then Cena just rolls into the STFU as if he hadn't been in the calf crusher for 30 seconds. Styles hits the big forearm, but Cena lifts him into the AA. The fans are going apeshit so they're obviously doing something right for the 15,000 paying human beings, and the pop for Styles reversing into the clash was great.....but it seemed like a switch kinda flipped and they went into the "make a bug eyed shock face after every kickout, breath hard after hitting your big move" without much of a warning. It was weird, because it was really good in a lot of ways. Both guys are stars, and the crowd was reacting to them like stars, and the moves themselves looked incredible. Styles got tossed a mile with the AA, the forearms looked awesome off the top rope, everything looked great....but it's also a style that bugs the holy hell out of me. I'm chalking it up as a win. It felt like a great version of a style that usually turns me off. But I never got completely turned off. The first half was great, and the finishing run was a big match finishing run.

Now, the fact that it wasn't the main event, and tons of matches still have to follow the match, that's a whole different bundle of problems. If the crowd manages to stay hot through the rest of this show, more damn power to them. I'm conflicted, guys. But my gut still says thumbs up on this one.

7. Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods vs. Doc Gallows & Karl Anderson

ER: I will always love Jon Stewart, even when he goes out there knowing he's going to bomb. There's something quietly dignified about delivering material you're supposed to deliver, knowing it's going to be bad, and doing so professionally. I also skipped past any promos or build or anything so have zero clue why the Club came out with jars of urine. The tag match itself was put on in a death spot on the card. Crowd is predictably exhausted after the last match. Gallows is working like Barry Darsow which is amusing because I notice this right as Cole is talking about Demolition. Kofi's unicorn shoes are great and Woods has been on fire in the match, dug his fast dropkick to a draped-over-the-ropes Anderson and that long distance springboard elbowdrop. I really have no idea what any of the storyline stuff is going around this, not sure why Stewart is back, not sure what the pee jars are (Corey Graves called it formaldehyde?) but Gallows gets obliterated by Big E and I'd want to see a singles match. Him taking the belly to belly on the floor and then flying into the barricade was the best part of the match. Match was nothing.

8. Dolph Ziggler vs. Dean Ambrose

ER: Boy this one ain't holding my attention. I am wondering if any match will be able to resurrect the post-Cena/Styles crowd. They do some things I like, both can take a ringpost bump, their missed crossbody was sloppy and good, Ambrose's punch chop combo looked nice, the way Dolph kinda spiraled into the center of the ring while taking them; but overall it's not doing a whole lot for me. Though I do like Dolph setting up a superkick with a headbutt. That's...a million times better than setting it up with his usual shitty flailing. Ziggler's 12 to 6 elbows look horrible. Rebound lariat is such a fart sound spot at this point. I hate so much that it's in every match, and I don't think I've seen anyone do a decent job of occupying themselves while they wait to get hit with it. I didn't care for most of this.

9. Naomi, Carmella & Becky Lynch vs. Natalya, Alexa Bliss & Nikki Bella

ER: Oh man the Eva Marie stuff is genuinely funny. I had no idea how they would acknowledge Eva Marie's suspension, but I'm very happy they kept doing what they're doing. Watching the women's matches with Rachel is always great, as she somehow knows more about what's going on with their lives than I do, and also adds fine commentary on their looks and gear choices. When I said "Man that's a big reaction for Nikki" she goes "well she's been out rehabbing a really serious injury" right as Ranallo starts explaining the same thing. Then she points out how horrible Becky's mesh body suit is, combined with the unfortunate crotch area of her pants. She's also a huge Naomi fan, and I can't blame her for that one. I love Naomi. Bliss hits a killer back handspring double kneedrop. Silly set up but love the end result. Carmella seems very much not good. At least Nikki is smart enough to switch her finisher and stop doing the rack drop. This match mostly did nothing for me. I'm getting more excited for Chastity Belt and So Pitted with every match.

10. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor

ER: So as some of you know I'm currently two years behind on NXT, so I have no clue what the hell this whole Demon King thing is about. It feels about one tick removed from some of the more embarrassing Jeff Hardy entrances. And does he really wrestle any differently than just regular non-Al Jolson Finn Balor? He seems like he wrestles the same. The announce crew says it's him tapping into a dark side but....yeah, not seeing it. Same ol' Balor/Devitt, same loose elbows, same flimsy shoulder tackles. I liked a couple of Rollins' knee counters, but these two just seem like a bad match for each other. And it looks like Rollins broke out the small package driver but right after that Balor is up and running around like a dungus. All moves for everybody!! Superplex no sold! How can I be expected to buy anything when nobody is selling!? This stunk. No drama, no build, feels like all the complaints about Cena/Styles are tenfold more appropriate for this. This was just each guy tossing out every move they know and not bothering to structure them in any sort of interesting order.

Alright, Miz in a chicken suit removing his chicken glove to slap Col. Ziggler made me laugh. And Ziggler's tearaway suit and Col. Sanders ring gear (with cuffs!!) made Ziggler so much more interesting than he's been in ages.

11. Rusev vs. Roman Reigns

ER: Well I'm sure this is what most people wanted out of this one, right? So weird to have them work a PPV main event on Raw, and then have their match thrown out on PPV. The pre match brawl was awesome, Rusev jumps him and as they tumble to the floor Reigns nails a backfist, stairs get thrown, Rusev gets dumped into the ring crew corral, then the superman punch as Rusev was getting resurrected. I was getting into it. But there must be some sort of "insider" hoo ha that I don't know about. And Lana wore her finest ice princess attire and everything. But hot shit that might have been the greatest spear in the history of spears. We have Goldberg folding Kanyon in half....but yeah this one tops it. Reigns flying down the ramp and just blasting through him.

12. Randy Orton vs. Brock Lesnar

ER: Alright, next day and I just watched this, and I liked it. I think a lot of people hated it. I don't know how I feel from a booking standpoint, but from a presentation standpoint I liked it. Lesnar gets a lot of hate now, and the barrage of Germans can be disappointing when I know he's capable of more, and he gets certain benefits that nobody else gets...but I love the differences that he brings to the table, and I'm not sure what will stop me from loving the differences. Eventually I assume we'll get a Brock opponent that is more competitive within the match structure. I have no idea who that person will be, but the moment will be enormous. I love the ways Brock has been "taken out" so far in matches where he did go down, like how he essentially got blown up during the 3 way earlier this year. I thought this match had some killer moments, including all or Orton's comeback moments. The RKO on the announce table was awesome. The draped DDT was awesome. I was really hoping to see the punt land, see how Brock reacted to it, but alas. Orton took a furious beating here. Both of those tosses into the announce table looked nasty, the clubbing looks like he will be as tenderized and bruised as a human can get the next day, and then there's the matter of those two elbows right to the side of Orton's head. I can't even explain them. Was the plan for Orton to get busted open? There's no way that elbows thrown that violently wouldn't bust a person open. Brock looked like he was treating Orton's head like a watermelon that needed to be opened without utensils. Just the biggest arm possible crashing into it, and Orton bled and bled, dripped blood. Is Orton such a crazy wrestler that he said "hey bruh, the match has to end in a stoppage, so just blast me with elbows!" That...couldn't be what happened, right? And I guess I like that kind of mystery that Lesnar brings to things. The foolish 8 year old questioning if something is real or not. But the main differences I love about him is he doesn't wrestle like the accepted WWE Performance Center style. He falls differently, he strikes differently, he moves differently. Orton hit him with a dropkick and Lesnar kind of spun out on a knee. No rapid flat back bumps. He tosses mammoth knees into the corner, and throws strikes without predictable timing. The timing of stuff just looks so much different than everybody around him, that I can't help but be entertained. There IS an ingrained disappointment, because I know the guy has a smart wrestling brain, and I know these matches COULD be better. I know he has it in them to craft a better overall match that still delivers the end, pre-decided goal. He could have taken the punt here, but been positioned to get a foot barely on the ropes, or could have been punted while one  leg was already barely under the ropes. There was more they could have done, and it can be frustrating since it would have been easy to add those extra moments to the match. But I can't deny how excited I still get for the vibe Lesnar brings.

Well, Sheamus and Cesaro killed themselves on a pre-show that I'm not even sure WWE keeps available on the Network after it airs, and for their effort they easily landed on our 2016 ONGOING MOTY LIST. I really wanted Phil's opinion on Styles/Cena, but he refused to watched it :)

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Saturday, August 20, 2016

WWE Cruiserweight Classic 8/17/16

1. Akira Tozawa vs. Jack Gallagher

ER: Really fun performance from both guys, really fun match. Part of me was grumpy that Gallagher didn't advance, but at the same time I really thought Tozawa turned in a killer performance. It would have been really easy to let Gallagher's performance steamroll him. Gallagher was the clear crowd favorite and had them in the palm of his hand from before the bell. "But American indy crowds go nuts for all things Japan!!" thought Tozawa, bewildered. But he sucked it up, was a game sport through all of Jack's awesomeness, through all of Jack's silliness, and Jack was more then willing to take Tozawa's nastiest stuff. I loved Jack's progression through the match, as he's super goofy to start, doing little things like licking his thumbs to easier slip them into and break a waistlock, setting up a comedic Indian deathlock, trapping him in a Nieblina before kicking his butt to break it...the more comedy happened the more restless I got and the more I wanted limb wrecking Jack. And lo and behold the leg work gets increasingly mean, and Tozawa starts working increasingly stiff. Jack keeps finding all sorts of awesome ways to take apart a leg, attack a hip or knee joint, roll into a surprise single crab when Tozawa takes too long to do a move; Tozawa blows Gallagher up with a flying kick out of the corner (replays look like Jack took it right under the chin), big senton, hard forearms and those awesome snap German suplexes. Tozawa sells the leg really great, Jack rips apart the leg really great, and by the home stretch I was left saddened that one of these two wouldn't be advancing, while one of Noam Dar or HoHo Lun would be.

PAS: I really loved this match. Gallagher losing in the second round is the biggest booking blunder in this tourney, as I think he might be the most impressive and most over guy in the whole thing. I think the difference between the Gallagher comedy spots in this match and the kind of Chikara bullshit I hate, is that this didn't require Tozawa to be a good sport. He didn't have to pretend that there was a real grenade or that he was hypnotized, he could actually get more and more pissed that he was being clowned, which led to that big short left hand and the second part of the match. Gallagher switched into killer mode awesomely and I loved how he mixed in vicious submissions with selling all of Tozawa's stuff. The ankle pick counter may have been one of the coolest submission counters I have ever seen, I must have rewound it five times. Loved the finish too, with Tozawa fighting for the German as Jack fought for the leg. It is totally nuts that Gallagher was the only British import out in the first round as he totally smokes Sabre and Dar.

2. Noam Dar vs. HoHo Lun

ER: So, I haven't been following tapings for these at all as I don't want to be spoiled, but were these taped in order? Did these two seriously just try and work a worse version of the previous match? Are there agents working this tourney? I imagine there would have to be. No matter where this match was taped relative to Tozawa/Gallagher, somebody must have said "Hey maybe don't all of you go out and work leg based matches". This match had exact spots practically lifted from Tozawa/Gallagher, like that slower, shittier single leg that Dar did. Lun looked better than his first match, but his facial selling is really embarrassing. I enjoyed the match more than I expected to, but it was just terribly placed after the first match, and whoever did the bracketing really pulled a boner on this one. Also, any wrestling that inspires singing from the crowd is almost always inherently shitty.

PAS: Yeah this was taped in order, the weird match placement is really my only beef with this tourney, no idea why you run asian with a german suplex v. brit with leglocks right after vastly superior asian with a german suplex v. vastly superior brit with leglocks. Better then either guys first round match, but Dar is clearly the turd in the punch bowl.

3. Brian Kendrick vs. Tony Nese

ER: Man alive do I love Brian Kendrick. Is this how he's been working for the last few years!? Who's doing the Kendrick 2014-2016 deep dive? Because Kendrick has been my favorite guy in this tournament. I've always liked him, but never anywhere near as much as his two matches in the CWC. He's wrestling completely different than I remember, like a cornered raccoon. And this whole match was just really exciting for me, because I assumed Nese would be advancing, and I didn't want Nese to advance, and I knew there was at least some chance that Kendrick would advance. So the fan in me really took over and I just really wanted Kendrick in and Nese out, so every Kendrick kickout was exhilarating and every Nese rope break was crushing. When the first bully choke failed to put away Nese I thought Kendrick was a goner for sure, that he had gotten a good showing and almost beat the muscled up guy, but couldn't pull it off. All of the spots with Kendrick fighting over his armbar, kicking at Nese's face, hyperextending that arm, I was hooked in and dying with every second. Phil totally nails it by comparing Kendrick to both Finlay and Tarek the Great. He's been a super accurate fusion of those two in all of the best ways. He has the inventiveness and tightness of all the little things, just like Finlay. Finlay wasn't just about tight strikes, he was also one of the best at setting up opponents' offense and getting into position for things, making the misses plausible and making the hits expected and nasty. Kendrick sets up Nese better than anyone I've seen, adding credibility to stuff that has looked less so in other Nese matches I've seen. Kendrick doesn't cheat. Not cheat in the way that a heel cheats, but cheat in a way that the wrestler knows what move is coming next because they've planned things out. You don't get a sense that he's cheating to set himself up to remember the next sequence, he's just unbelievable and making every sequence seem unplanned and natural; doesn't cheat by ducking early on spots that are supposed to miss, or sitting up early on Nese's missed moonsault, just genuinely comes off as a guy who's escaping by the skin of his teeth. He's this scrappy underdog who's going to use every part of the ring and every part of his body to win, and it's kind of amazing to watch. Kendrick has just come completely out of nowhere to be one of my absolute favorite wrestlers. I love it.

PAS: This was very good. Kendrick didn't appear to be wrestling at all in 2014-2016 and he has come back like Jordan wearing the 45. Neese is a goofy bum, and he made him mostly look great. I loved the idea of Kendrick trying to jump him at the bell and getting drilled. Then its Kendrick trying everything he can to survive Neese until he can get his head cleared. Loved all of the crazy Finlay style rope and turnbuckle attacks and that bully choke reversal sequence was awesome. Not sure I liked Neese tapping so quickly on the finish, felt like it would have taken the match to another level if Kendrick made him pass out while gripping him like a junky holding on to the last vial. So weird that Brian Kendrick is basically working as 2002 Tarek the Great but I love it.

ER: So this was another great hour of wrestling TV, and the Tozawa/Gallagher and Kendrick/Nese matches were both easy additions to our 2016 ONGOING MOTY LIST, which again seems like it has potential to be full pf CWC matches by the end of the tournament.


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