Segunda Caida

Friday, July 31, 2015

MLJ: 2015 Volador, Jr! Wrestler of the Year? Still Sort of Crummy? 6: La Máscara, Mistico, Volador Jr. vs. Bárbaro Cavernario, Negro Casas, Shocker

Taped: 03/17/2015 @ Arena Coliseo Guadalajara
La Máscara, Mistico, Volador Jr. vs. Bárbaro Cavernario, Negro Casas, Shocker


As best as I can tell, this is my 200th MLJ. I might be one or two off, but I'm close enough that I'm going with it. That's a lot of them. I've kept up the 3x a week schedule which is a minor miracle. Once again, thanks to Phil and Eric for letting me do this. I'm not sure if we've kept up the everyday posts over this year like we did for last, though we've got to be close. In the midst of the kerfuffle over my first Volador match last week (and I finally got to look at things on Twitter a few days after the fact, even though I don't have an active account), one thing that Rob (and still, no hard feelings, Rob, I mean it) said stood out. He likened what I was writing and the impetus behind it to Segunda Caida not being on the Mistico bandwagon years ago. I got a kick out of that. I write here because I like and generally agree with what's been written on this site over the years, so thanks, Rob, for doing more than anyone in making me feel like I belong here.

So, we've got a throwaway 10 minute trios match as my 200th. That's great. Some of it was the timing. I tried to tack on the Leyenda hair match too but I just didn't have time, and you know what? I'm okay with that, because this match sums up a lot of things I've written about so far and a lot of things that I associate with CMLL.

First off, the rudo side is Shocker, Negro Casas, and Cavernario, who I have spent a ton of time on collectively. It features Shocker and Casas vs an Ingobernable in Mascara. It also represents, so very well, just how screwed up and nonsensical CMLL is. Mascara is a tecnico who is absolutely a heel. It has Casas and Shocker who are rudos that are cheered. Shocker went rudo just to be able to fight with Rush. He didn't really change anything he did, just who he teamed with. Casas is probably the most over babyface in the company.

And maybe there's something to all that. On paper, there's something interesting about the lines drawn and the contradictions inherent in Mascara teaming with Mistico and Volador, about Mascara being booed because he acts like a terrible jerk and Mistico being booed because they just don't like him and the whole dynamic therein. The problem is that over time, and this has run over so much time, everything becomes muddied and things that might stand out and snap just become an ooze of meaninglessness.

It was true in this match too. Mascara, for his failings, has done much better in his role as an Ingobernable, maybe not as well as Sombra has, but still, he's such a dick in this match. He spends the initial beatdown in the crowd with the fans. He teases going up against Shocker and then ducks right back out of the ring. He argues with his partners. When Shocker finally gets his hands on him, it's a big moment, even in such a small match. Except, then everything inverts again because Mascara's in the tecnico role. Shocker getting his hands upon him is a near catalyst for the tecnico comeback and almost immediately thereafter, Mascara gets to have a pure tecnico "vs the world" segment where he rope runs and ranas and faces off against hardship as he goes through the rudos one at a time. It's maddening, because the character needs of the match are absolutely different than the structural needs and the match tries to fit both. This isn't something that would happen anywhere but CMLL because at some point someone would step in and point this out and explain how it doesn't make any sense, how it is painfully (as in it causes someone pain to watch it) dissonant.

Yet I kind of say it with love, because even after months and months of it, it's this amazing trainwreck, and one where everyone does his job as he's supposed to, but it's like building an underwater bridge, or a stairway to nowhere. It's this incredibly misguided construction, one that is just fulfilling old contract obligations, worked hard upon, with some artist flourish, but without direction or thought. An earthquake changed the landscape two years ago and they keep on building like nothing's changed. That's CMLL. It's wrestling for wrestling's sake, but it's glorious in its own excess.

Anyway, this was ten minutes long. The rudo side was great, hard hitting, with Cavernario perfect in his role. Casas took a couple of bumps that no one his age should take. The tecnicos were spirited. I thought Volador was very good at fighting against odds during the beat down, which is something he often does well, though it doesn't usually translate into the comeback. It had the world's worst backcracker on Shocker, which in and of itself wouldn't matter but CMLL, wonderful CMLL, showed it THREE times from three different angles. In slow motion. Just amazing. There was even a callback spot to transition with Zacarias which I thought was very well done.

Of course this wasn't a great match; it's ten minutes long and deeply flawed, but it was a match with so much to love. Love's the right word too, because following CMLL is an act of love. There's so much to have affection for, to have feelings for, to be engaged with and that will make you happy, but you don't get to pick what you love most of the time, and there are so many traits that you wish would change but probably never will. Love is hard. CMLL is a brutal mistress.

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Ring of Honor on Destination America 7/29/15 Review

So last week was a real dud of an episode. Let's hope for a wee bit better show this week? I already had a laptop blow up, fiscal year end kicked my butt, and I need a good show here.

1. The Kingdom (Mike Bennett & Matt Taven) vs. Corey Hollis & Jonathan Gresham

This was a decent enough extended squash, got over the Kingdom as it intended. Gresham took some nice bumps into the railing, and man is he tiny. I kind of hate how Hollis bumps. I had never seen him before. I'm okay with that. We go through a long awful stretch where Bennett is repeatedly duped by Gresham essentially running back and forth in the ring. Taven on one side, Bennett on the other, Gresham running between them and getting grabbed by Taven, then slipping out with Bennett chasing him back and forth. It looked terrible, just an awful run of cat and mouse. They did it so much it looked like the moment when you noticed HHH set up every single one of his moves with an Irish whip. But, that was just the middle. It was fine. Not fine to the literal dictionary definition; but fine, as it's most commonly used. Which is to say, it was okay.

Destination America regularly pushes a show called "Killing Bigfoot" which...I gotta say I do not understand. Destination America has (no less than) 9 shows dedicated to Bigfoot. A cursory check of some well known science journals confirms that as of this writing we have still discovered zero Bigfoots. But apparently there is an entire show dedicated to killing a Bigfoot. I am looking forward to watching "Sanding Down Unicorn Horns" or "Shitting Down the Long Neck of Loch Ness".

2. Caprice Coleman vs. Brutal Bob Evans vs. Silas Young vs. Cheeseburger vs. Moose vs. Dalton Castle

God hearing Kevin Kelly try to explain Silas Young's gimmick is the worst. "He's in a baaaad mood...and...he's angry...and he thinks people like Dalton Castle are what's WRONG with society." Really? That's what you got? This wasn't that good, but really who was expecting it to be with these participants. I liked some of Castle's cut off spots. Coleman had some nice moments like a weird little moonsault to the floor that Bob and Cheeseburger whiffed on catching. Moose is one of those guys like Uhaa Nation who is a large impressive black man who has improbably soft offense. His little flipping spear looks so super gentle (and really to use that as the finish directly after Mike Bennett used his spear to set up the finish, come on). Highlight was pretty easily Castle hitting his hardway German on Moose, really slooooowly lifting him up and over. Really impressive spot. Cheeseburger continued his run of terrible by being way late for a pinfall break-up, so Sinclair had to stop the count for no reason before the 3. Evans had his feet on the ropes, but Cheeseburger was clearly supposed to break up the pin. He was way late, Sinclair just stopped counting the pin. And it was immediately before the finish. Tough spot for Sinclair to be in, and after he tried pretending like he had seen Evans' feet on the ropes, but he clearly stopped while still looking down. Yuck.

Corino and Kelly are so bad during these Whitmer segments. I don't know what they think they're going for when they do reactions shots, but they're failing. Kelly is sub-Tenay when it comes to expressing realistic outrage, and Corino does some sort of weird fake cry/trying not to laugh face.

3. ACH vs. Bobby Fish

Hey this was fun, and pretty easily the best match on a show with zero competition for that title. ACH's apron kick looked great and his handspring moonsault was crazy, also liked a couple of his kicks to Fish's calf. End got a little sloppy with kicks landing when they were supposed to miss and then subsequently not sold because they were supposed to miss, and things getting overall way too cooperative. But, I like Fish and ACH has some fun athletic spots, and for a short little TV match this was much more of what I was hoping for.

Better show than last week, but it would have to be historically bad for that to not be the case.




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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

MLJ: 2015 Volador, Jr! Wrestler of the Year? Still Sort of Crummy? 5: Rey Bucanero & Volador Jr. vs Máximo & Terrible in a National Parejas Increible Tournament match

Aired: 2015-03-21
Taped: 2015-03-06 @ Arena México
Rey Bucanero & Volador Jr. vs Máximo & Terrible in a National Parejas Increible Tournament match


I thought about skipping this, and really skipping everything up to the hair match. I had for the title trios after all, but A) the hair match was a bigger main event so I should try to catch some of the build and B) I'm a sucker for the parejas increibles stuff, especially with this line up. The matches aren't conventionally good and if you're watching them in sequence, a whole bunch at once, they're a lot of the same. Thankfully, I'm not, and because of that, I can catch some fun character stuff and not be overwhelmed by crummy tournament lucha.

I mention this pairing because three out of the four guys, being Maximo, Terrible, and yeah, Bucanero, are really solid with their shtick. I like Rey best when he's being a dickish, chickenshit heel. Terrible's sort of a gruff straight man but he's had a thousand matches with Maximo and they do their stuff well together. Maximo is talked about so little, but he does what he does so well. I think part of the problem is that exoticos in the past probably do tower above him, but likewise, he towers above a lot of the tecnico roster. He hits his stuff cleanly, makes things matter within the context of the match, but most of all, is actually over with any crowd he gets in front of for being a good guy (albeit an exotico one) when most of the tecnicos aren't over at all.

So the Leyenda match was already set, putting an odd spin on this. Were it not for that, you'd expect the rudos to care more about who won. As it was, what mattered was getting one over on their upcoming opponents. It was hair match upcoming after all and that's serious business. This started with Volador vs Maximo, with some quick-paced matwork and I actually liked it a lot. It felt more organic and natural than usual for Volador. Some of that was the bits of routine Maximo was tossing in and Volador having to respond to them in a way that he doesn't usually have to. I liked it though. It's always a bit of a novelty, whether in a match like this or in a cibernetico to see tecnico vs tecnico and both this, and when they did it again later in the match, was fun.

Of course, when Terrible and Bucanero faced off, they refused to wrestle and immediately attacked the tecnicos, and in this, both here, and later in the match when they teased it again but instead hugged, I thought that the match very much served its purpose in building to the apuestas main event at the bigger show. Almost every other match I've seen like this eventually has the rudos break down and dissent. This didn't and their solidarity was very welcome. I'm not going to say it put into question the result of the Leyenda match, because that was never in question, but if CMLL's booking was better (or existent) in general, it might well have, just through the ringwork alone. In fact, the back half of the match had Terrible and Bucanero trying to give each other the win with the partners breaking it up, like so:


including a very funny moment of Rey hitting a foul and then dropping down himself so that he could let Terrible pin him.


Shortly thereafter, after a Commandante leg pull, Rey interfered again, distracting Volador and letting Terrible pick up the win. I thought this was a bit of a mess, but really quite fun given expectations, and it set up the rudos as being absolutely on the same page for their upcoming match, which was a worthwhile idea on paper at least.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Lucha Underground Episode 34: Gold and Guerreros Review

1. Delavar Daivari vs. Texano

ER: These two always manage to do some of the absolute worst phone booth fighting that I've seen. Daivari especially just throws the most mournful strikes. Things get a little better with the knee work portions, as I liked Daivari's repeated dropkicks with Texano tied up in the ropes. But it's all a fairly big waste of time as Texano just brushes it off to do a bunch of moves that involve lifting with the legs. Daivari is dead in the water as a character and even worse as a worker, and Texano going over even with Ryck's interference should hopefully spell the end of him in LU.

PAS: I liked some of the chops and Texano's powerbomb but otherwise this was a big batch of nothing. This feud started out with some real promise and ended like a wet fart.

2. Hernandez vs. Drago

ER: Weird running this the week immediately following Drago's brutal beatdown from Muertes. I mean he really got the piss kicked out of him, and then he's just back to normal and getting revenge on Hernandez the next week? They tape this shit months in advance, just bump the match back a week. He certainly didn't work the match any differently than he would normally work. I'm not expecting him to do Kikuchi levels of selling long term damage, but Hernandez jumped him last week, causing him to take a nasty beating from Muertes, and here he is like nothing happened. Pretty poor. He looked really good, his tornillo was incredible, but within context this was all just dumb. Hernandez really does not hold back on him here though, with the apron powerbomb really smarting and then then cool spot with him stealing a belt from a ringside fan and whipping/choking Drago to DQ. I really dug the match in a vacuum, but within story it was foolish.

PAS: I don't have a huge problem with Drago not selling for a week like Eric, it's wrestling, you usually don't see long term weekly selling. Match itself is clearly just setting up the fans strap match, and I think they did a nice job making me want to see that. Hernandez does a nice job as a smarmy prick, and I want to see a bunch of fans strap the shit out of him

3. Marty The Moth Martinez vs. Alberto El Patron

ER: This was exactly what it should have been. Moth has got kind of a surprising amount of offense in his other matches, but really AeP needed to steamroll him here and I'm glad they let it happen. And then he follows it up with arguably his best ever promo (his promo work in LU has really been high end). I mean this was really one of the best wrestling promos you will hear. It was simple, well worded, got over his motivations perfectly, had nice little touches ("Juanito Mundo"), really just all you would want out of a pro wrestling promo. Awesome stuff.

PAS: Yeah this was an asswhooping. I am surprised they used Martinez who they seem to be pushing as the squashee rather then Vinny Massaro or Famous B, but it does make Alberto looking like a bad motherfucker that he cleaned a semi-pushed guy out that quick.

4. No DQ: Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. Prince Puma

ER: Well this wasn't much. Chavo looked like he hyperextended his knee pretty early in the match, then we had The Crew and Texano coming in to essentially work their own match for the next couple minutes, leading to the 630. Seemed like this could have been edited down, not sure. If the knee injury was not planned it certainly looked legit.

PAS: It was a bummer Chavo got hurt as this was building to kind of cool match, and Chavo hurting himself kind of blew any future angle with Texano. Mess of a match, and kind of weak sauce show.

ER: The closing segment with Chavo and Blue Demon was bittersweet, as I actually really really loved it. Demon actually came off like a badass, had some nice lines ("I don't attack people who are hurt...I'm not like you"), Chavo got to laugh him off and call him a has been, Demon lifted him up in the air with a choke like he was fucking Darth Vader. Loved all of this. Buuuuuuuuuuut it means that there is still a Chavo vs. Demon feud. It means Demon is still here. It means we have to see more Demon in the ring, still vs. Chavo. This promotion does a good job of getting me psyched to see things that are certainly going to be horrible.

PAS: I dug it too, it isn't setting up a Chavo v. Demon feud, it is clearly setting up Demon v. Texano as Chavo was using mind games with Demon to get him riled up, which is why Chavo was smiling. I liked Demon saying "I am a good man" like every shades of grey protagonist in a cable drama. Low Winter Sun would have been a lot more watchable if all the cops were wearing lucha masks.


COMPLETE LUCHA UNDERGROUND REVIEWS


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2015 Indy Wrestling That Caught Our Eye(s)

Iceberg & The Highwaymen v. Tama Tonga/Luke Gallows/Meng SFCW 4/11

PAS: This was a falls count anywhere match in Gallows GA indy fed with the Bullet Club as hometown heroes. This was a handheld so the main problem was that he could only focus on one match up at a time, so you end up thinking "This Gallows v. Jake Davis punch off is great, but I want to see Meng and Iceberg hit each other with chairs."  Very simple southern brawl, where guys wander around and throw each other into walls and banks of chairs. Meng makes a totally awesome "Walking Tall" Bill Watts, as you totally believe he is still by far the toughest guy out there. Nothing mind blowing, but the kind of out there fun match which this list is made to discover

ER: I know what Phil's saying, you see something fun happening but somewhere off camera you hear and nasty CRASH and the sound of scattering chairs. It felt like Homer getting pulled inside during the big Mafia/Yakuza showdown and just listening to what he's missing. I like weird indies, and this had an odd feel to it. It's in a large gymnasium that looks more like a bathhouse or mausoleum, and if you look the entire front rows are made up of children under the age of 7. All the adults are in the bleachers, and it's all tiny children lining the ring. Tiny children, lining the ring, for a falls count anywhere match featuring Meng. This was short and sweet, Meng looked great for a guy near 60. Dished one of the prettiest piledrivers I've seen this side of Lawler, and could still hit a mean Kick of Fear. Gallows was a fun guy to follow though it's a shame we didn't see more Tonga. Iceberg is still a guy I dig (who I'm surprised is still going) and I love little moments like him going up into the crowd and seeing people scatter. God bless tapers man, so happy little tiny moments like this pop up amongst the YouTube morass.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

MLJ: 2015 Volador, Jr! Wrestler of the Year? Still Sort of Crummy? 4: Volador Jr. vs Último Guerrero

Aired: 2015-02-28
Taped: 2015-02-24 @ Arena México
Volador Jr. vs Último Guerrero


This was an interesting match with a few wrinkles you don't usually see in an Ultimo Guerrero singles, but that was ultimately flawed. I think it was a fairly good showing for both wrestlers, despite the flaws, especially compared to the singles with Bucanero, which was more balls to the wall action but ended up meaning a lot less than this did.

The biggest problem with the match was the end of the primera. Volador was going over. Because Volador was going over (and I'd assume he was going over to help build him up for his Leyenda main event, but it's CMLL so who the hell knows) and Ultimo Guerrero is a very savvy wrestler who understands how to keep his heat, sometimes to the detriment of matches,
there had to be some BS. Here the BS came in the form of UG (who had carried the whole caida after taking an early advantage) getting DQ'd at the end of the primera for stomping repeatedly in the corner. Now, the stomps looked good, but the camera didn't catch the ref admonishing Guerrero and frankly there just wasn't enough of them, so it all came off as very disjointed. The moment came after the stomps as well, as he was going for the Senton de la Muerte in the corner and ended up hanging, upside-down, in limbo, as the ref pulled Volador out of the fire to raise his hand.

The moment was redeemed immediately thereafter, at least to an extent, as UG went right back for the move again to start the segunda. That's the sort of clever usage of the two out of three falls format you don't see a lot and I would have actually, for once, been happy if the segunda pinfall happened immediately like that. It sort of reminded me of the Rick Rude ironman match where he hit a top rope move, drawing a DQ in Watts' WCW, only to immediately get a pinfall thanks to the move that had gotten him DQ'd. This wasn't quite the same, but I still thought it was interesting. In fact, I would have expected an immediate pin in a UG singles match, which are generally known for short segundas. Here, they went around with it a bit, staging the sort of comeback that's only possible in a match where the rudo is DQ'd in the primera but maintains the advantage. It was sudden, with a whip reversal and a couple of superkicks, but I can let it go as UG seemed to be playing with him too much.

The finish leads me to the second problem with the match. There was something like five to seven ducked clotheslines. It went from being frustrating, to feeling clever (at this moment, actually, as Volador ducks one, maybe the third or fourth in the match at this point, but Guerrero is ready for him, does a pick up/drop down and locks in a sub), to being way over the top. I don't get how two guys who are so experienced couldn't figure out more ways to transition from one spot to the next. The third problem would be that there was just too much jumping up in the tercera. Volador was the main culprit. He went from laying to leaping to the top rope to counter maybe three times and that was probably two too many. It was a good attempt at selling out of him but he shot himself in the foot in the name of getting stuff in and really, you can't do that against Ultimo Guerrero or you start to babyface him a bit.

I thought Guerrero looked good in general. He really portrays himself as a power wrestler but not an outright gimmicky one in a way that's made him stand out over the years. I think that, the bandit attitude (and yeah, the cool mask), were what kept him as a top level player for so long. He feels like he belongs in ways a guy like Jon Anderson or Marco or even Thunder never do but he really is able to be distinct in what he does. The problem is that he can be lazy, either in execution or, more often, in design.

And then sometimes he can do something like this (or change his usual segunda structure around) and surprise you:

I wish the finish had been a little hotter. The jumping up hurt it and it came on yet another ducked CL. All in all, this was one of the stronger Guerrero singles performances I've seen in the last few years and Volador matched up against him better than he had Bucenaro a month previous.

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

15. Tomoaki Honma v. Katsuyori Shibata NJPW 8/3

ER: So, so, so so great! I loved every second of this one. Honma is just the best and really gets that underdog mentality over to an insane degree. Here he got just as much offense as Shibata, but always came across as the underdog. And it's not like he kept lucking into his offense, he's just really great at conveying his character. Shibata was great here too as a more skilled, cold asskicker who is not necessarily underestimating Honma, but at the same time almost in disbelief that he is having *this* much trouble with him. The crowd is just so into Honma here and it's incredibly infectious. I can't remember an underdog character I get this invested in, get this genuinely excited about the outcomes of his matches. Honma just commits to everything, and it makes all the difference. His shots hit big, and they miss bigger. His headbutt flying straight into Shibata's boots was heartbreaking; his hooked legs and high cradles are the most hope-filled pinfalls possible. Shibata hits tons of nasty shots in this, and his elbows with a dropkick follow up in the corner was just brutal. But it was key that he did not view Honma as a joke, and he most definitely made Honma look like a competitor here. He sold a Honma slap like Kawada taking the nastiest Misawa elbow, actually showed struggle when kicking out of Honma's high cradles. And I could have sworn he hesitated just a moment before nailing Honma with the match-ending Penalty Kick. I really did love every second of this. One of my absolute favorite matches of the year.

PAS: Yeah this was really fun, it is about the best possible version of a New Japan forearm exchange match. Both guys have established characters and hierarchies, so it isn't just two even guys 50/50ing it, it is a sprint so it doesn't out stay it's welcome, there is selling, it is just two guys standing there and making faces and both guys lay it in which distinguishes it from what ever Okada and Tanahashi are trying to do. Homna is awesome here, although he does the same kind of thing in every match which can wear a bit thin, still this is about the best Homna formula match I have seen. Loved his in ring tope to take control, and him trying to go all out for big moves and failing. Meanwhile Shibata was really good as the overdog, kicking his ass convincingly, and still portraying those moments of doubt and fear.


2014 MOTY MASTER LIST



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Saturday, July 25, 2015

New Japan Pro Wrestling on AXS TV 7/24/15 Review

1. Tomoaki Honma vs. Katsuyori Shibata (8/3/14)

So, so, so so great! I loved every second of this one. Honma is just the best and really gets that underdog mentality over to an insane degree. Here he got just as much offense as Shibata, but always came across as the underdog. And it's not like he kept lucking into his offense, he's just really great at conveying his character. Shibata was great here too as a more skilled, cold asskicker who is not necessarily underestimating Honma, but at the same time almost in disbelief that he is having *this* much trouble with him. The crowd is just so into Honma here and it's incredibly infectious. I can't remember an underdog character I get this invested in, get this genuinely excited about the outcomes of his matches. Honma just commits to everything, and it makes all the difference. His shots hit big, and they miss bigger. His headbutt flying straight into Shibata's boots was heartbreaking; his hooked legs and high cradles are the most hope-filled pinfalls possible. Shibata hits tons of nasty shots in this, and his elbows with a dropkick follow up in the corner was just brutal. But it was key that he did not view Honma as a joke, and he most definitely made Honma look like a competitor here. He sold a Honma slap like Kawada taking the nastiest Misawa elbow, actually showed struggle when kicking out of Honma's high cradles. And I could have sworn he hesitated just a moment before nailing Honma with the match-ending Penalty Kick. I really did love every second of this. One of my absolute favorite matches of the year.

2. Yujiro Takahashi vs. Kazuchika Okada (8/3/14)

Hey this was better than I expected. I don't love either man, but Yujiro was pretty good here. I really liked his delay german, but then did not like how slowly and feebly he fell into the corner after a Okada dropkick. With these guys it seems like for everything they do that I like, they do something not long after that I dislike. Rainmaker looked good because Yujiro flew into it gloriously, but right before that he holds a tombstone too long which only makes it clear that Yujiro's head came nowhere close to the mat. These two give, and they immediately take away. But, it was better than I expected, and was overall perfectly acceptable televised pro wrestling.

3. Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Hiroshi Tanahashi (8/3/14)

This was pretty much the match I was expecting, with fine execution and problematic layout. Tanahashi talks about his injured neck before the match and how that will affect him and how he'll have to change his style, but nothing about the way he worked this match made it seem like he was changing up his style in the least. It's like those horrible band interviews where they're talking about recording their new record, and how they've been listening to a lot of Neu and Harmonia and Phil Manzanera guitar patterns, and how they're really getting influenced by these sounds....and then the album comes out and it's the same trash they've released on their previous two records. I mean Tanahashi did not do one thing differently. I hate that.

Nakamura seemed a bit hesitant in spots, and Tanahashi is clunky about getting into position for things at times. Sometimes he's just sitting there, arms at sides, waiting to be kicked. I will give him credit for always leaning face first into Nakamura's mean knees and kicks, so there's that. Finish run was pretty bad with a rote forearm exchange, then Nakamura hitting a nasty Bom Ba Ye that looked match finishing, but Tanahashi was up doing his moves just seconds later. That was a repeat trend. This was real disappointing.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Ring of Honor on Destination America 7/22/15 Review

Episode 200 is a pretty special accomplishment no matter the program. Looks like we're going to look back on some very special clips to remind us of all the magic we've experienced over these 200 weeks.

Hanson vs. Styles seemed pretty fun from the highlights. I really liked the logic behind the Styles Clash set up, with Hanson up top and Styles hitting the Pele kick, then being able to grab Hanson in position from the top rope.

But they also show some real weird highlight clips to celebrate a 200th episode. They showed a Lance Storm singles match! Was Lance Storm vs. Mike Bennett a real highlight of the previous 4 years of television? That's...terrifying. Also, two ReDRagon matches. And a Donovan Dijak singles match. Those all seem like weird things to show as highlights of your prior 200 episodes. I know these are all guys still affiliated with the promotion, I get that. But...this did not make it look like I missed a whole lot by not watching the first 195 episodes of ROH TV. 200 episodes is clearly something worth celebrating, so it's just odd that they didn't actually do anything to celebrate it at all.

1. House of Truth (Jay Lethal, Donovan Dijak, J. Diesel & Truth Martini) vs. The Briscoes, Roderick Strong & ODB

"A match that could main event any building in the world"~Kevin Kelly

Yep. I mean, I guess it technically *could* main event any building in the world. He did not use any sort of "and also make money and/or be successful" qualifier.

And this match really was not good for the time allotted. Martini could have stolen any Jimmy Hart schtick to stooge while being stuck in a match, but really he brought nothing to the table. It shouldn't be a shock that Truth Martini brought nothing to an appearance, but this should have been a shining moment. How easy is it to be the puny manager forced into a match? You've seen all these spots a million times and they always work, but he just does nothing. He's like any other guy in a multi man, he's just not good and can't actually wrestle. Major missed opportunity. Roderick Strong looked really great in this, so things weren't a total waste. I always love seeing Briscoes but they were just kind of killing time here. We get each guy hitting a flip dive and Mark crashing into the guardrail, and then the match climaxes with House of Truth all surrounding ODB and awkwardly implying some sort of weird rape vibe as they all lick their lips and high five. Then she just hits really piss poor forearms to everybody's chest and *spoiler alert* she doesn't actually get raped on TV guys! Man most of this match stunk.

This was pretty easily the worst episode of ROH I've seen on Destination America. I'm sure there have been worse over 199 other episodes, but man this clunked.



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Thursday, July 23, 2015

MLJ: 2015 Volador, Jr! Wrestler of the Year? Still Sort of Crummy? 3: Euforia, Niebla Roja, Último Guerrero © vs Mistico, Valiente, Volador Jr. for the CMLL World Trios Championship

Aired: 2015-02-21
Taped: 2015-02-13 @ Arena México
Euforia, Niebla Roja, Último Guerrero © vs Mistico, Valiente, Volador Jr. for the CMLL World Trios Championship


This was a tough one. Normally, I'd have watched the 2-3 matches in the build to this one and really get a sense of things. I just don't want to spend a month watching these matches though. I have other things to watch. I half thought I'd do a Kraneo trios today and then two of the matches to set this up but that'd mean a second week of things before I even got to this. I'll just for the highlights instead.

This was a trios title match with the new, assumedly quite marketable Sky Team getting the big push. Granted, I don't get why they were all in Ingobernables black. That sort of defeated the purpose of appealing to kids. Los Guerreros Laguernos had them since the previous March (almost a year) and had beaten Valiente and Mistico (along with Mascara Dorada) to get them. Volador, Jr. had actually never held them before. I'm not saying that the outcome was really not a big question coming in, but it sort of wasn't. That said, this match had a ton of time, and for the most part was something I'd go so far as to call borderline great.

The primera started with Guerrero vs Valiente and they did a really strong job setting the mood of a title match. There was a real sense of feeling out here, as well as struggle, and frankly, I was surprised. I know UG's had some good indy showings in the last year when it came to this sort of thing, but it's some of the best title match primera caida work I've seen out of him. I liked Volador vs Euforia less, with Volador putting him in position more and having more of a sense of moving on to the next spot, which I didn't get nearly as much with the other pairings. They ran through said pairings before UG swarmed and by doing so and giving things time, it all felt weighty. That's so, so important in a title match and CMLL Gets it wrong more often than they get it right (Though I feel they've been better about it lately. That might just be a selection of what I've watched though). It ended with this silly but still awesome UG spot (And I'm stealing cubs' gif on this one because I actually found his review of this:


Again the segunda got just enough time to go over the line between not mattering and mattering and it was hugely appreciated. Too many of these modern title matches have a flash pin out of nowhere after thirty-five seconds to even things. This had a real comeback. It meandered for a moment but got me back too. There were two GDI alley oops first including a twisting one on the floor and then the comeback came with a dodge after a whip and the sky team diving (Valiente's fireplug tope, Mistico's huge shooting star press, and then Volador finishing things up). They meandered back into the ring after that, but it was to hit the superkick, backcracker, Valiente Special combo which really worked for me once I realized what they were going for. Could have used another minute but that's almost always the case.

They reset with a ton of time left in the match for the tercera so I was a little worried but they delivered. I'd call Ultimo Guerrero both the star and the biggest perpetrator of the tercera as he hit some great power stuff, had an awesome sense of weariness in his selling, and was generally in the right place at the right time all the time, including an amazingly timed corner knee out bump to help set up the finishing stretch, but he also fought against the odds a little too much for a rudo and took just a bit too much which meant that I was inclined to cheer for him, not the response you want in a match that's there to set up your tecnico superstars.

Volador hit his stuff and was a cog in this high spot machine. My only real complaint about his work here past him draging down the primera matwork a bit was that he, more than anyone, recovered too soon to get the next spot in. Usually that's not a huge issue in a trios match because, by its nature, guys sell and take a breather so that the next person could hit a spot, but he took some crazy, crazy things and recovered way too soon. Maybe it's because I'm watching him with a closer eye, but he seemed the one to do it the most. There were a few two-count kickouts that I wish had been broken up by a partner, but more often than not, they did that, protecting everyone's moves while still maintaining a hugely exciting bunch of nearfalls.

If you haven't seen this one yet and like high-octane title matches, you should go out of your way for it.

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