Segunda Caida

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

Monday, April 07, 2008

Smackdown Workrate Report 4/42008

WHAT WORKED:

-Hey, it's MVP, the best wrestler on free TV! And his opponent is Matt Hardy, the best wrestler on free TV! Logically, this should be the best match on free TV, and well, it is. I seem to remember thinking the first part of this match was too slow on first viewing, but I don't feel that way now, probably because my opinion was tempered by how the rest of the match played out. There's more than one way to work a hate-filled brawl. I think I came into this like I came into Finlay/JBL, where I expected a lucha type brawl where the focus was on the intensity of the brawlers. Instead the focus of that match was on the degree of punishment the brawlers wanted to dish out. That was much the case here, too, only without plunder, that punishment was doled out with fists and feet. Crux of this match wasn't two guys who hated each other so much that they totally lose control and start wailing on each other, crux was two guys who hate each other so much they focus what little self-control they have left into throwing the biggest bombs they possibly can at their opponent. Effectively, that means it's Matt's right hand against MVP's right foot, and there ain't nothing wrong with that. MVP's boot is more devastating, but Matt nullifies that somewhat by tearing apart MVP's leg, which MVP sells like a motherfucker. I've mentioned in these how awesome MVP is now, and how that's due in part to finding a really effective formula that works for him. This might be an even better illustration of MVP's greatness. This is a match where he diverts from his formula, but does so convincingly and compellingly, shifting from "skilled but arrogant and lazy" to "skilled, arrogant, and pissed off". Match where he shows he is as good as he claims to be, but still gets outdone by his opponent, which opens up a couple of different stylistic possibilities for the inevitable title rematch. I can't wait. My MOTY so far.

-Festus squashing Zack Ryder was pretty fun, I guess.

-There were certain positive aspects to the Michaels/Batista confrontation. For one thing, I've been begging for a Batista heel turn for a year-and-a-half now, and it looks like I'm finally going to get it. For another, framing the "Michaels won't job" stuff in the context of the Flair match - where he could have actually laid down as part of the storyline - as opposed to making it a more general, actively kayfabe-breaking statement. And....well, that's about it.

-Show vs. Khali is intriguing to me. The match before it was unremarkable....um......

WHAT DIDN'T WORK:

-Okay, okay. Hardy/MVP aside, this show was pretty much ass. I've padded out the top half enough, let me tell you how I really feel.

-One of the few bright spots of Edge's overblown, Victoria-esque psycho heel behavior that he's been employing the last few months was that at least he wasn't doing the fake-ass Nick Bockwinkel shit that he was doing when he first jumped to Smackdown anymore. Well, I'll be damned if he isn't doing it again. After months of unrelenting evil and treachery, he's back to being a fighting (ex-)champion, apologizing to the crowd for letting them down and whatnot. Maybe his gimmick is that he has a multiple personality disorder? That would explain why I don't know him, despite constantly thinking that I do. Whatever the case, Edge seems to be to gimmicks what Rocky Romero is to offense: if it looked cool on tape, use it, regardless of whether or not it actually works or makes sense in context or you're any good at it at all.

-Man, just when I thought I had found and thoroughly mocked every flaw in Shawn Michaels' game, and I could finally move on and focus on Edge-bashing, here comes this nonsense. I know Shawn doesn't want to be a heel, but at least when he threw a fit about it during the Hogan feud, it was because they were actually trying to turn him heel. That's not the case here, but he's still so shook by the prospect of getting booed, he needs to go on the "Shawn Michaels Apologizes for Retiring Ric Flair World Tour 2008", just to make absolutely, positively sure nobody even begins to consider the possibility that he's even slightly heelish now. Which, personally, is not something I would've considered until AFTER he started apologizing up and down on every show like he's got something to hide. I realize this segment was mainly a vehicle for Batista's (much needed) heel turn, but do you really want to use one disingenuous, aging closet case badly in need of a heel turn to set up the turn of another?

-It always amazes me how The Simpsons has created a situation to illustrate just about every feeling I've ever had. Watching the blow-off to the Diva Contests took me back to "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochy Show", the kids in the audience watching Itchy & Scratchy drive towards a fireworks factory, waiting for the violent hijinx that will ensue. And then along comes Poochie, and suddenly you're off in a very different, more aggro direction that takes you nowhere near where you wanted to go. I've said it a million times before, and I'll say it a million more - just because something is predictable doesn't mean it's bad, and just because is unpredictable doesn't mean it's good. Now I have the perfect contemporary example. Anyone could've seen Michelle McCool winning the contest, Chuck Palumbo trashing the bike, and Jamie Noble trying to avenge her coming from a mile away. Predictable? Yes. Satisfying? You better believe it. And then, while Michelle is celebrating, and I'm getting amped up for Chuck to roll down and wreak some havoc, out comes Victoria. Don't tease me with Palumbo and deliver Victoria. She calls Michelle "McDrool", wordsmithery the likes of which I haven't heard since the heyday of Larry Zbyszko and the New World "Odor". Then, after a minor scuffle which Victoria seemed to have the upper hand in, Nattie Neidhart inexplicably debuts and beats up Michelle some more. Don't tease me with Jamie Noble and deliver Nattie Neidhart. Where's Jamie Noble? Where's Chuck Palumbo? When are they going to get to the fireworks factory?! (sobs loudly)

-Man, don't debut your mediocre new power guy in a squash match on the same show where an actual good power guy like Festus has a squash match. It just illustrates how little Kozlov brings to the table other than his inability to pronounce the name of the promotion.

-Okay, it's official: Kane sucks again. That main event was one of the worst matches in recent memory. I understood the psychology of them not really trying to hurt each other that badly, but does that mean they had to do - for lack of a better term - quick workrate exchanges executed very, very slooooowly? I've seen Kane chain wrestle The Big Show. I'm sure Taker was entirely capable of doing that. Fuck, 'Taker's a big MMA mark, he could've easily put together some decent worked shoot-flavored matwork if he was inspired to. Why were they doing the same faux Malenko/Guerrero shit that everyone on the indies has been aping to minimal effect since the mid-90's? And those guys are at least doing it at full speed. This felt more like a parody of that style than an actual match, but they didn't seem to be aiming for laughs, here. Even if they were, there's been so many developments in indy wrestling since then that it wouldn't really even be a timely parody. It would require that segment to be immediately followed by both men kicking out of Tombstone piledrivers, lengthy strike exchanges, the appropriation of several Japanese finishers for nearfalls, and a Burning Hammer that gets a win the second time. Done really slowly, of course. And if you're going to do the dual sit-ups leading to them fighting off the heels, why the fuck would you do it during the match itself, right before the heel beatdown starts, no less? Good lord, this failed on every level.


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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Phil's Ongoing 2008 MOTY List

1. Floyd Mayweather v. Big Show WWE 3/30

The angle to set this up was pretty FUBAR'ed, although they did a nice job making it look good in the video package. I wasn't sure how you were going to work a tiny heel against a giant face, but this was put together perfectly. Floyd was so great dancing around the ring and landing shots, the initial body shot combo was so fast and impressive, and he was tagging Show with those jabs. I also loved the Pimp Cup. He came off as such a little prick, that when Show got his hands on him you wanted to see him step on his chest. You also have to love Floyd going over basically clean, but still coming off like he stole a victory. Brass knucks on the bling was pretty spectacular, and you wanted Floyd to get his so badly as he left. Too bad Vince doesn't have points in the De La Hoya rematch. A total spectacle, which I enjoyed more then anything else I saw this year.

2. Mitsuhara Misawa v. Takeshi Morishima NOAH 3/2

Omar didn't get to do go down in epic fashion, I understand why David Simon didn't give him a big send off, but I am glad 2008's other worn down gun slinger got to go down in a blaze of glory. Misawa had been limping around the streets of Tokyo for the last year and a half, wanting to just lay down, but needing someone to knock him off.

Early parts of this match were worked like a game of King of the Hill. One guy stood in the ring, throwing and pounding his opponent to the floor, often with a little added smack when he got there. The Misawa senton off the ring apron was especially nasty, but there was lots of cool outside stuff. Morishima even broke out a tope, with was almost Super Porkyesque in it's flying fatness. The match had a typical NOAH big match ending, which didn't go too long, but didn't blow me away either. I wouldn't put this ahead of the best of the Nigel and Dragon Morishima matches, but it was better then the lesser lights of that feud. Misawa can still deliver when needed.

3. Finlay v. JBL WWE 3/30

One of the problems with most current WWE streetfights is that they are more about setting up elaborate ECWish garbage spots, then two guys beating the shit out of each other. This match had some spots (Finlay topeing into a garbage can lid was especially nutty), but what I enjoyed about this so much, was two nasty dudes pounding on each other. Sure it didn't have gobs of blood, but it had the violence I want from those two guys.

4. Shawn Michaels v. Ric Flair WWE 3/30

I think I will get some heat for putting this match below Finlay v. JBL, but if we are talking about a match based around emotion, I will take a match based around hate over a match based around love every day. Shawn Michaels still has some stinky looking offense, the run of offense starting with Shawns wiffed Orihara moonsault, leading into his awful chops, comical over hand punches and impactless inverted atomic drops, will probably be the worst looking sequence in any match to make this list this year. Still outside of that this is a pretty great match. Flair breaks out multiple suplexes and a crazy bump to the floor, and your last ten minutes were spectacular. I loved Flair taking advantage of emo Shawn by kicking him in the balls, and that was a hell of struggle in a figure four. This whole match was built around Shawn realizing that Jesus required Judas, and "I am sorry, I love you" is a great finish to that kind of match.


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