Segunda Caida

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

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Chikara King of Trios Night 2 Road Report

PAS: Tomk and I meet Childs at Greenbelt Metro and head down to Philly for a Chikara show we are as a group pretty hesitant about. Still seeing Johnny Saint live is a opportunity you don't want to miss, and all three of us are excited about that. After driving around Philly a bit we park at the world's most expensive parking meter (8 minutes for a quarter) and grab some damn tasty Cuban food at a chainish Cuban place. Childs wife is Cuban, but he still gives it a thumbs up, we also start drinking which we will figure will make the whimsy go down easier. Get to the Arena early and head off to a dive bar to drink more.

TKG: I drank some sort of embarrassingly fruity rum drink at Cuban place. Watched some college basketball and drank maybe three four or five Yeunglings at the bar. The jukebox plays the Tavares cover of “She’s gone” and I contemplate telling Childs and Phil to go to the show without me. But driving all this way to watch basketball in a bar seems ridiculous. “Everybody’s high on consolation/ Everybody’s trying to tell me what’s right for me/ I need a drink and quick decision/ Now it’s up to me what will be ooh what will be”

PAS: When we get to show we wander about looking at the truly impressive array of gimmick tables. While looking at the IWS table a developmentally disabled guy taps me on my shoulder and mumbles something to me and shakes my hand. I know that Chikara does some work with those kind of charities, and we end up sitting behind that guy and a group of his friends. I would assume they gave a bunch of tickets to a group home, seems like a really cool gesture by Chikara.

TKG: Yeah it’s a nice gesture and kind of adds some diversity to the crowd. It’s a weird crowd in that it is your typical Philly wrestling crowd: pudgy pony tailed guys. But it really is a crowd from one specific age bracket. Ring announcer Louden Noxious comes out doing an Ed Grimly impression. Well not really Ed Grimley since Louden is mohawked instead of being cowlicked and is totally self-aware. So not like Ed Grimley at all. Louden is essentially working the gimmick of being a Park Slope mod who uses Ed Grimley mannerisms as game to pick up hipster barflies or something. Which is an amusing gimmick kind of wasted on wrestling. Anyway, he comes out and announces that Chikara has the right to remove anyone from audience who uses foul language because this is a family friendly promotion. Which brings me back to my original point. He says this and you look around and notice “Family friendly? This audience doesn’t have the age diversity of a CZW show” CZW show will have pudgy ponytailed guys from 15-70 plus a bunch of future pudgy pony tailed guys in the 11-15 range. Chikara crowd is almost completely missing the 15-18 year olds that normally attend CZW shows (both as fans and well backyarders admiring fellow craftsmen), the older guys and fewer kids. Show dominated by one age bracket. It felt odd like I wasn’t actually at a family friendly show but at something along the lines of “The Real Live Brady bunch” shows. Not a show aimed at audience of families but aimed at audience of adults who fetishize youth. I think Chikara wants to be a “family friendly promotion” and not a promotion that solely attracts guys in their 20s-early 30s nostalgic for youth culture. So giving tickets to a group home, having Soldier Ant lead local schools in classes on conflict resolution through creative dramatics, etc, are smart moves that I stand behind.

Fire Ant v. Austin Aries v. Player Dos v. Matt Jackson

TKG: I never liked Gabe’s Austin Aries as “promotional Ace” gimmick. Thought it was a dumb gimmick and not something I ever really bought. But Austin Aries comes out and performed like an ace. He was an absolute ring general. Austin Aries struts to the ring blowing kisses to the crowd and just looks like a really polished wrestler. Aries has kind of spectacular ring presence. Even when he’s on the apron he’s worth watching. When he’s in the ring he’s holding the whole thing together. Everything he does just gets over effectively. And on some level that hurt this match. Rey de Voladores match is a four way spotfest type thing where everyone hits their stuff and that’s really all that’s needed of them. Aries came off as such a complete wrestler, that everyone else looks bad in comparison. Everyone else in this looked backyard compared to Aries. It felt like a mistake to have him in this match. If they replaced him with the other Young Buck, Bandido Jr, Chase Del Monte, etc the rest of participants wouldn’t have suffered as much in comparison.

PAS: Man does Chikara have some tiny guys, Austin Aries towers over Fire Ant. Austin Aries is the most physically intimidating guy in the match, Austin Aries wouldn't even be the most physically intimidating guy in a CMLL minis trios. He isn't as thick as Pierrothcito, he is shorter and less muscular then Mini Halloween, but compared to the other dudes here, he looked like Batista. The spots in this looked okay, but man was the in between spots stuff comic looking. There is a section of the match where Aries and Jackson were doing exchanges and Ant and Dos are taking it to the floor and brawling, and they exchange some of the crappiest forearms I have ever seen, they looked significantly worse then any of the CMT Celebrity wrestling strike exchange, Frank Stallone and the Ian Zierling ex-wife who was brought in to blow Beefcake laid it in more. Smartmark should just make sure Aries is in every camera shot, match would look good then.

F1RST Family v. Team Fist

PAS: This was really the match where the disconnect between me and audience was clear. This was objectively an awful match, execution was terrible, match layout was a total mess, just a travesty. Arik Cannon may have been even worse then he looked when he was stinking up IWA-MS four years ago, and the yutzes he was teaming with looked like green sloppy rookies. I think Jimmy Hart probably managed 50 guys as part of the First Family, and I have a hard time thinking about a worse hypothetical First Family trios team, maybe Man Mountain Link, Rocky Sortor and Jesse Ventura, but Sortor was better then any of the guys on that team, and Ventura and Link were comparable. This was a match where Chuck Taylor looked like the best guy in the match for fucks sake. About five minutes into this we abandoned our plans to go to night 3. I hated this. The crowd though ate it up, every lame comedy spot was treated like Richard Pryor was telling the Freebase story. The F1RST family got a big post match crowd chant. It is pretty clear Chikara is not for me. It actually reminded a lot of going to a College Improv show, the crowd is going to be full of their friends, and it doesn't matter how bad the Oprah impression is the crowd is going to laugh.

TKG: Maybe this is why I’m so uncomfortable reviewing this show. It feels like doing a serious critique of a College Musical. Something almost unfair about saying “The guy who played Nathan Detroit can’t sing and wasn’t believable.”. His suitemates and cousins were enjoying it after all. After the show was over Phil said “Lets not write a road report, people here seem to be having a good time and I don’t want to shit on their fun”. That felt like a real graceful idea and I'm going to try to find the positive and not shit on anyone else's good time here. I mean watching this live I just threw up my hands got some beers and gave up on this match. Came back for another couple minutes gave up again and got another beer. Wandered the arena found a group of actual kids in the audience who were using the match as excuse to make jokes at Icarus' expense, they liked the North Star Express double team where one guy springs the other into a backsplash, yeah that looked neat (there I found something positive), some more stuff happens they go back to mocking the wrestlers, I give up again, etc. Phil said “this is not for me” but the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum, what might be right for you may not be right for some.

LWA Offer Match: Pierre Abernathy and Evan Gelistico v Davy Vega and Gary the Barn Owl

TKG: These guys come out to a ridiculous hostile crowd response. I mean more hostile than I’ve ever seen a WWE crowd respond to unknown developmental guys in darkmatches. This wasn’t just “I want to see advertised stars and not you guys” , it was more hostile than that. Joey Matherws in early ROH hostile, Jeff Hardy v Krazy K in ROH hostile, Cena in ECW Arena hostile, Harlem Heat at WCW Road Wild hostile. But I understand those hostile crowd responses. Those all make sense. ROH and ECW fans were misogynists who hate anything that women like, and bikers are racists. But the Chikara response to the LWA match is inexplicable to me. Everyone in LWA is a good 6 inches taller than the average Chikara worker. Have we gotten to the point in indy wrestling where the crowd goes “You’re too tall for me to buy as a credible wrestler”? I think the heel team may have come out to the “Banana Splits” theme song. Is there some sort of nerd schism between adults who watch “Nickolodeon” and adults who watch “Boomerang”?; “Coming out to Pete and Pete theme is awesome, but Banana Splits…BOOO!” Gary the Barn Owl hoots a bunch and flaps his arms and the crowd boos his gimmick and calls it stupid. Two wrestlers that are the same wrestler taken in a time machine form two different time periods is cool, but guy who thinks he is a barn owl is stupid and deserves contempt? What the heck? Pierre Abernathy facially looks like an evil Tiny Tim, facially sells ok, and has an interesting looking reverse RKO type thing. Evan Gelistico is the less facially expressive heel. He eats a DDT really well fully planting his head and getting hole body upside down vertical on top of head before falling forward. Unfortunately he also has a move where he stands upside down on his head and falls forward in a hard splash.You can either have a really good looking bump or a really good looking piece of offense. You can’t do the same thing for both. Gelistico also shows some ring smarts as the crowd starts a “TAKE IT HOME” chant, he immediately puts opponent in a chinlock and announces “I CAN DO THIS ALL NIGHT”. Don’t get me wrong, this match stank. But I can’t for the life of me figure out why this match was met with such a hostile crowd. It wasn’t any worse than the match before it, execution was comparable if not better here, no one blew anything. On a show with Icarus, Arik Cannon, and Player Dos the LWA guys really didn't deserve this hostile response.I can’t figure out the intolerance.

PAS: Maybe this is the natural progression of all the people who complained about WCW burying their juniors. The Chikara fans didn't want these indy Kevin Nash's burying their indy Radicalz.

Osirian Portal v. Future Is Now

PAS: Show began a slow climb out of the muck with this match. Stylistically Chikara reminds me a lot of 2004 overkill IWA-MS. In IWA-MS you had a bunch of greenish guys who all had a crazy dangerous suplex or flippy finisher, and they all needed to get them in, so by the end it all just ran together. Here every guy has a wacky comedy spot they need to shoehorn into their match and it ends up the same. I actually find some of Ophidian's stuff amusing, but I was totally burned out on jollies by this point. I did like Lince's tope into the crowd, and his armdrags and ranas looked good too. He doesn't seem to have any gags so I can see why this crowd doesn't like him, he really should stick a whoopie cushion down his pants and do a senton or something.

TKG: The comedy line dancing Kid n Play handshake wrestling spot between Amasis and Helios was well done,funny set up and funny punchline, plus rolled out at the beginning of the match. Unfortunately Obsidian Portal aren’t as good at working heel as the Full Force. Amasis did the Abby scream sell that entertains. Ophidian still stinks but did the Elax the Exploited Child first wrestling bump as offense move that I dig. Escorpion Egiptico was supposedly a legit luchador but didn’t look roided up enough to be Rey Escorpion. Still this was a match built around a really good technico team. The last time I saw Lince he was wearing an ant costume and the antennas fucked up his ranas a bit. He looked a lot smoother with all his stuff here. And both Jimmy “Equinox” Olsen and Helios looked really solid. Nothing really great but nothing that made me want to stab out my eyes.

PAS: I think he was exactly roided up enough to be Rey Escorpion.

Kota Ibushi v. El Generico v. Nick Jackson v. Jigsaw

PAS: This was pretty much exactly what this match should be, all four guys went out a million miles an hour and hit all of their crazy spots. These kind of matches only really blow you away if you aren't familiar with the wrestlers. First Red/SAT's v. Storm/XL/Devine match was nuts, rematches weren't much, you had seen their stuff. I have seen Ibushi a fair amount before, he has some amazing spots, but he basically does the same five spots every match, I was calling them before they happened. I imagine if this was the first Ibushi match I had seen my jaw would be dropped, but I was underwhelmed a bit here. I also think it was a mistake to eliminate Generico first, the Ibushi v. Generico match up was what people wanted to see, and while I like Jigsaw way more then I like Generico, it was a mistake to have him be there at the end.

TKG: Yeah this was four guys hitting their stuff clean. Beyond his signature spots I thought Ibushi did an ok job of facially selling other guys stuff. It isn't needed for this type of match but a nice extra. Jigsaw is also a guy with a really expressive face but for some reason they remasked him. I don't get why they'd do that. They could have done the post match loss make up job like Halloween or Espectrito. But like I said this is a type of match where expressive faces is an extra. All you really need is the spots, and they hit them all.

Da Soul Touchaz v. UnStable

TKG: This was my first time seeing the “Urban American Dream” Willie “Da Bomb” Richardson. He makes really amusing almost disinterested facial expressions while his opponent fails to lift him, also similar expressions while doing his huge hanging suplex, had just a absolutely nasty running tackle that you didn’t believe anyone could get up from and a nasty second rope spinebuster. I want to see more Urban American Dream.

PAS: This was an actively good match. Richardson's facial expressions ruled, he really looked, reacted and kind of wrestled like Robin Harris and I want to see him react to the Kid and Play dancing in the earlier match. Really feels like they missed a great opportunity. Marshe Rocket looks like an actual athlete, tall really impressive ups, he has a ways to go before he is a good wrestler but he is impressive and super out of place at this show. The Unstable have this really complicated backstory with Gerard being a failed student who pretended to be a Mexican to get into Chikara (pretending to be a Mexican makes you a heel? In CHIKARA?) and then lost a mask match only to be ostracized. This kind of elaborate Graphic Novel booking is what Chikara gets praised for, and I do think Quack does it well, it was something that Gabe did too. All this elaborate backstory based on knowing all the twists and turns, you don't understand why Cyclops is so upset, unless you remember what Kitty Pride did 14 issues ago. It works for the audience, but it has turned wrestling into something aimed fully at a mid 20's to mid 30's ComiCon nerd audience. When Feinstien ran ROH he had a really good understanding of youth culture, Special K represented rave culture accurately, Rottweilers represented urban NYC hip hop culture (or at least how white kids wanted to see it), CM Punk nicely articulated straight edge culture. You got a sense that given a chance they could catch on with teenagers. Feinstien was a pederast, if you are trying to fuck 14 year boys you understand what 14 year old boys are into. When Gabe took over ROH they became divorced from that, you didn't get a sense that 2004-2005 ROH could catch on with youth, and as much as Chikara talks about family friendly wrestling, you don't get a sense of them catching on with the youth either.

TKG: I don’t know. I think the explanation of the comic book/ science fiction series booking approach of Gabe and Chikara is accurate. That said I thought Gabe did a nice job of appealing to nerd youth culture. I think Gabe understood the nerd comic culture that hooked into 16-20ish audience. Plus he managed to strongly push Cm Punk on top. Building a fed around appealing to a straight edge crowd means you have an audience of teens with extra discretionary income. I imagine if you’re not spending your teen years spending money on drinks, drugs and sex you can buy a lot more indy wrestling DVDs. While my impression is that the comicbook market today is dependant on maladjusted adults for its financial survival, I think there are still youth who get hooked in. You wont hook in youth with comics that are built on homages and jokes about Magnus Robot Fighter, Megaman and the laughing dog from Duckhunt.

Player Uno v. Twiggy

PAS: I initially thought that this was going to be 90's Jersey Indy mainstay and Harley Lewis tag partner Twiggy Ramierez, so I felt baited and switched when a third tier Kirby Marcos (way too short to be a third tier Kevin Dunn.) This was maybe the worst match on the show, my guess is that whoever your Chikara backstage agent was, told these guys that they needed to save the comedy spots for the main event, so instead you had a pair of sloppy Canadian comedy wrestlers trying to wrestle an epic title match full of 2.9 counts and dangerous suplexes. The match actually had a ton of heat, as the group of developmentally disabled fans in front of us were all wearing IWS gear and were super into the match. I am guessing giving free t-shirts to mentally challenged fans is the Chikara version of Lance Hoyt drinking beer with the Impact Zone

TKG: Until I saw people in IWS gear I thought the cheering for this match was ironic. Like people chanting five more minutes after a Loch Ness v Ron Reese match. Felt like an inside joke. Could this have possibly been a U.S. Doglegs match? Back in early nineties I went out with a girl who volunteered with the Best Buddies program. Her best buddy was a tall awkward guy who she told me was going to be in a play. I thought “Good for him” and went assuming he might have a walk on role in Hamlet or something. Instead it turned out to be an all developmentally disabled play. But not just a play with developmentally disabled cast, but rather a play with developmentally disabled cast written by said cast developed out of improv exercises. And not just a play with developmentally disabled cast written by said cast developed out of improv exercises, but a film noir parody built on ethnic dialogue humor and cross dressing with death scenes and torch singing etc. You can’t just clothes your eyes and look away, because you’re going to need to have a compliment ready at the end of the show: “Hey that scene where you were the Irish gangster moll singing ‘Danny Boy’, nice job with the heels”. I’m not a negative person I want to look for the good in everyone. Unfortunately, neither Player Dos nor Twiggy were working exotico so I got nothing. I’m not saying this would have been better if Player Uno was wearing a Princess Peach costume and Twiggy was wrestling as Twiggy. I don’t know if either guy is coordinated enough to pull off heels. But if they did I might have something to compliment. They announced this as being about 8 minutes long but I felt like I lost three years of my life watching it.

Team Uppercut v. Masters of 1000 Holds

TKG: This was awesome and worth putting up with the rest of the show to see. This match was really intended as a showcase for the old masters. A match built on letting them shine. But I left really impressed with the young guys, left impressed by backing band and how they highlighted the masters. Claudio is a guy who works especially well opposite Skyade. I mean the two just are completely in sync. Claudio also worked this awesome section opposite Saint built on tiny Saint climbing up and down Claudio’s back putting on all sorts of nutty octopus variations that felt almost carny ju jitsuish. Both Skyade and Saint are guys who work in mat traditions built around one upsmanship. A sportsmans game of proving that you have superior technique. Danielson is an LA Inoki dojo guy and never let you forget that Inoki/Fujiwara/Fujinami background. And you’d think Animal Hamaguchi would be out of place in a match built around sportsmanship. But Danielson totally makes it work. As he’s sporting to a degree but makes you believe that he’s being taken advantage of and won’t take it lightly. Last time I wrote about Quack I wrote about the way he’s had this career where he’s gotten to play backup for all these cult stars. Had me thinking about him in relationship to Harry Smith (Anthology of American Folk Music not the DBS son), The Cramps and the Wu-Tang Clan; guys who created a coherent aesthetic vision out of collections of ephemeral pop detritus. I’ve seen shitty bands open for the Cramps, guys who were so devoutly retro they had nothing to offer, and guys who were all ironic tongue n cheek. This show felt like Wu Tang Clan with openers of MC Frontalot and several College Acapella groups doing fake Lonely Island Raps about how goofy kung-fu movies and marvel comics are: “HA Ha epehemeral shit is ephemeral”. But you put up with that cause in the end you get the Wu Tang clan and they’re nothing to fuck with. Quack fits like a glove positioned between Skyade and Saint. And him as defenders of their aesthetic v Danielson were some of my favorite points in the match. I normally can’t stand the Danielson’s opponents hit him with his own signature move things, but Quack did it in such a demonstrative way that it really worked. The Quack sits out and crosses his legs opposite Danielson’s ankle to stop an Irish Whip was almost a holy shit moment. Saint was clearly the star of this but walked away really impressed with all the backup singers as well.

PAS: There are a ton of intriguing match ups in this match and we really got to see them all. Much of this match was an exhibition of the cool shit that Saint, Taylor and Skyade can do, and really that would have been enough for me. Danielson however really brought the match to a different level. His constant frustration at being shown up by Saint and Skyade led him to heel it up and he takes it right to Quackenbush and they end up doing some great looking brawling. Danielson even forearmed Saint on the ring apron, and chucked him over the top rope (yup Saint took an over the top bump to the floor.) You came out of this match clamoring for a Quack v. Dragon blood feud. Still as great as really everyone was in this match, this was a Johnny Saint show, lots of crazy counters, and insane submission holds (his octopus variations were especially great), it is such a trip to watch him twist and turn his way out of holds, he looked great against all three of team Uppercut, working each guy subtlety different. You have got to love Quackenbush for putting this kind of odd shit together, and as distasteful as I found most of the show, I imagine stuff like this could make me buy a ticket.


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Phil's Ongoing 2009 MOTY List

1. Jack Swagger v. Christian WWE 2/24
2. Negro Navarro/Claudio Castegnoli/Mr. Ferrari v. Mike Quackenbush/Solar/Kendo LLM 3/8
3. Bryan Danielson/Claudio Castegnoli/Dave Taylor v. Johnny Saint/Mike Quackenbush/Skyade Chikara 3/28
4. Negro Casas/Heavy Metal v. La Sombra/ Volador Jr. CMLL 2/13
5. Rey Mysterio v. Chris Jericho v. Kane v. Mike Knox v. Edge v. John Cena WWE 2/15
6. Necro Butcher v. Hernandez JAPW 1/24
7. John Cena v. Big Show WWE 2/27
8. Bill Dundee v. Jerry Lawler NWA-ME 3/7

2. Negro Navarro/Claudio Castegnoli/Mr. Ferrari v. Mike Quackenbush/Solar/Kendo LLM 3/8

Just a tremendous match. Navarro is a physical specimen live, he is 51 years old, but built like a tank. He really looks like he would kick the shit out of you, which isn't something you would say about anyone else on this card. I have read some people criticize Solar and Negro Navarro by saying that the wrestle in a vacumn without regard to the crowd. That criticism was really shown to be bullshit, I doubt there were very many people at this show who were familiar with either guy, but they both acted like and were treated like stars. The Navarro v. Quack exchanges were truly awesome. The first fall really established Navarro as the superior guy, he would reverse out of Quack's submissions, and when he would he would wrench one on Quack and then release it, the way you might imagine a jujitsu black belt would if he was rolling with a student. Showing Quackenbush who was boss, so when Quack finally catches him in the second fall, you can see why he loses his cool and starts brawling. Such a nifty little story, and so much cooler then if Solar and Navarro just did their mat section. Lucha Libre trios are often focused on one match up, with the other 4 guys being secondary, and I was really impressed with how well everyone else in this match played a secondary role. Riling up the crowd, working cool exchanges, while still allowing the Quackenbush v. Navarro showdown to take precedence. I know Quack is going to be out for a while with surgery, but I hope we get to see that singles match he teased us with.

3. Bryan Danielson/Claudio Castegnoli/Dave Taylor v. Johnny Saint/Mike Quackenbush/Skyade Chikara 3/28

This was the match I traveled to Philly and endured a Chikara undercard to see and it did not disappoint. There are a ton of intriguing match ups in this match and we really got to see them all. Much of this match was an exhibition of the cool shit that Saint, Taylor and Skyade can do, and really that would have been enough for me. Danielson however really brought the match to a different level. His constant frustration at being shown up by Saint and Skyade led him to heel it up and he takes it right to Quackenbush and they end up doing some great looking brawling. Danielson even forearmed Saint on the ring apron, and chucked him over the top rope (yup Saint took an over the top bump to the floor.) You came out of this match clamoring for a Quack v. Dragon blood feud. Still as great as really everyone was in this match, this was a Johnny Saint show, lots of crazy counters, and insane submission holds (his octopus variations were especially great), it is such a trip to watch him twist and turn his way out of holds, he looked great against all three of team Uppercut, working each guy subtlety different. You have got to love Quackenbush for putting this kind of odd shit together.


6. Necro Butcher v. Hernandez JAPW 1/24

These guys feuded at the beginning of the decade in Texas and they brought their old feud to JAPW. This was the crazy Necro brawl you would hope for, with Hernandez more then willing to bring the lunacy. Hell the biggest bump in the match was Hernandez taking a bulldog off the apron into a table, you usually don’t see Necro out bumped in matches like this. Although taking the Border Toss through a thick wood plank is a hell of a second place bump. Necro was actually working heel here, which I haven’t seen him do in ages as he tries to murder Hotstuff with a plastic bag. Post match angle really brings it over the top as Jay Briscoe and Brodie Lee come out to form the Hillbilly Wrecking Crew, they lay waste to LAX and bury Homicide below the Confederate flag while Jay gets on the mike a screams “Fuck Barack Obama and fuck all you dirty Mexicans.” Post match Homicide threatens to be the G.G. Allen of wrestling and take a shit on all three of them, and I am totally amped for this feud.


8. Bill Dundee v. Jerry Lawler NWA-ME 3/7

This may be the greatest match up in wrestling history and it is so awesome that we got to see it again. They may not be able to match athletically what they could do in their primes (although Lawler’s dropkick looked amazing) but the execution on their moves still looked tremendous and they are both masters at working a crowd. This started out face v. face with both guys being cheered but Dundee can turn a crowd, and he mixed stalling and begging off with a vicious attack. Lots of nasty little things, including running clips and nasty stomps to Lawler’s calves. Lawler took some big bumps including getting dropped throat first on a chair. I would have liked to see a bit of a better ending, but this was much more then you can expect from a guy in his late 50’s and a guy in his 60’s. Awesome stuff.


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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Invasion Azteca 3/8 ROAD REPORT

TKG: So an advertisement for a lucha show in Delaware main evented by Solar, Kendo and Mike Quackenbush v Castagnoli, Mr. Ferrari and Negro Navarro shows up on lucha board El Martinete. The poster for the show is accompanied by a youtube clip from Producciones Alexander with Negro Navarro talking about working a Philly show and a Delaware show over the weekend of the 7th/8th. So with a little detective work I figure out that the Saturday show will be held at a skating rink in New Jersey and the Sunday show is being held at a Banquet Hall in Delaware. Phil contacts Dean , Cooke and Childs and we make plans to try to hit both shows. Indy wrestling being indy wrestling I call the promoter on Thursday to confirm everything and discover that the Saturday show has been cancelled as a result of some sort of Junior Hockey Finals, but I’m assured that the Sunday one is still on.

PAS: Dean bails unfortunately, but Tim is a mench and scoops us in DC and we head off to Delaware. We stop in Havre De Grace and end up eating at a fancy Ribs and Steak house. I got some really tender ribs, Tom got some seafood with vodka sauce (he asked for a shot of vodka on the side) and Tim got a Chicken Parm with four giant chicken breasts. It was amazing it was like someone threw a KFC ten piece on a plate of pasta

TKG: We spend most of the drive up predicting the reality of the show. Will it be the real Kendo or Crossbones in a Kendo Mask? Is Kendo a Mascara Sagrada/Hijo del Hurrican Ramirez type gimmick where there is a different one in each state of Mexico? Would we better off getting the Durango or the Oaxaca Kendo? Is Solar going to be Helios in a Solar mask? Didn’t Kendo take Solar II’s mask? Possibly Solar II? Tim questions the idea of their being enough Mexican-Americans in Delaware to justify flying in more than one legit luchador. I point out that we’re going to a Banquet hall that regularly brings in Sinaloan Banda’s; eight piece dance bands from a specific Mexican state. Phil talks about the demographics of company towns, yadda yadda and we find the Banquet Hall but can’t figure out the entrance. Tim drives down the perpendicular road which leads to a dirt road which leads to a mud road which leads to a pile of rocks which leads to the back entrance. Tim does not have four wheel drive but says “Fuck it, LUCHA LIBRE!” and we off road our way into the back of the club.

TKG: Arrive in the place a little before five. It’s pretty empty, beers are three bucks. There were two merch tables, one a Chikara table selling Sarah Del Rey Shirts and pictures, and I don't know who was making the profit from the other merch table. Second merch table was selling gimmick masks for $25-$50, selling AM radio station T shirts, and DVDs of concerts from the same space. They were nice looking masks. I especially dug the half Rayo/half Niebla one that a couple kids bought. On the JC Ice shoot, Dundee mentions that Kendo made the Cyberpunk masks. Maybe these were Kendo products, who knows? Childs shows up we get some beers and sit down and wait for place to fill up and the show to start.

K Atomico “The Ultimo Fantastico” v Payaso Del Futuro

PAS: I think this might have been K Atomico's first wrestling match, and while he looked good early, by the end he looked like a guy in his first wrestling match. Payaso Del Futuro was a super solid old school rudo and he worked the bumps and the shtick around Atomico.

TKG:The Ultimo Fantastico is seconded by "Nuevo Fantastico" Kendo. Both Kendo and Payaso do a lot of jawing with the crowd to get them into the match. I think the finish was supposed to be K Atomico puts Payaso del Futuro in a submission. The ref seemed oblivious to the submission and they had to awkwardly improvise a Payaso escape and lay down for pin. Lesson for future money marks; bring in a lucha ref or make Mr Ferrari ref the opener.

Stigma/Klondike Grizzly v Frightmare/Cometa de Oro

PAS: Stigma and Frightmare are both Chikara guys,Klondike Grizzly was legitimately big, 6'3-6'4 340-360 he bumped well for such a huge dude, but seemed pretty out of place on this show. Cometa de Oro moved like a luchadore, maybe there is a local DE lucha scene where he feuds with Payaso Del Futuro. This was a fun little match, lots of tiny Frightmare trying to avoid the giant Grizzly, there were a couple of awkward moments, but definitly a match the crowd enjoyed.

TKG: I don’t know about Klondike being out of place. This type of local wrestling show aimed at families is going to have one smart ass old man cracking jokes at the heels expense. A guy who makes the kids laugh and mothers blush. You need a big pasty guy to really bring out the best in your smart ass old man heckler. Grizzly did that. I don’t know how good Grizzly’s Spanish was as he didn’t banter back when mocked for how many hamburgers he ate, or how his heart wasn’t going to be able to take any more exercise, or how he better enjoy throwing kicks while he could before the diabetes takes his leg, etc. But Grizzly seemed to understand enough to at least mime responses, “ Look at my fatty muscles”,” watch me rub my tummy”, etc. For all I know, Grizzly knows no Spanish but he just innately understood that he was being mocked and needed to egg it on. On the apron he seemed to understand the perfect ratio between being engaged in what’s happening in the ring and engaged with the audience.

Chivas Riyadas IV v Hallowicked

PAS: This was the best undercard match of the night. Riyadas wrestles in a Goat mask and soccer jersey and has a ton of really amusing soccer spots. My favorite was when the ref red carded Hallowicked giving Chivas a free kick, he brings out his little soccer ball and while Wicked stands there he gives him a dropkick. Riyadas really looked like the best guy on the undercard, and if he isn't a Chikara guy under a different gimmick, they should use him more.

TKG: The Chivas Rayadas are a soccer club from the Mexican state of Guadalajara who use a goat as a mascot. In Banda music the goat is used as a metaphor for cuckolding someone, heroin, and the trigger on a submachine gun. But this is a family show so they stuck to soccer and literal goat spots (lots of butting variations and Rayo matador spots). All of the soccer spots and goat spots were funny and well done and they moved in and out of them well. Chivas Rayadas IV came off as a really polished wrestler. He knew how to work the crowd and had beautiful looking highspots. Phil thought he might have been Quack until intermission when he saw the two at the same time. Hallowicked played role of guy getting constantly outsmarted well too.

TKG: And there is a long intermission, where I think Phil gets “gringo priced” into spending too much on food.

PAS: I ask the lady how much the tacos are, she goes to the back and a different guy comes out and tells me $10. I figure "fuck it the guy flew in Negro Navarro" and give the guy the ten spot. The tacos were pretty damn tasty

Osidian Portal v Fire Ant/Soldier Ant

PAS: I enjoyed the first fall okay, but this match was basically a trainwreck. This was a show with an entirely Mexican audience, full of little kids all of whom came to see lucha. In the first fall, they did a decent job of establishing rudos and technicos and working a basic lucha tag, very similar to what the guys in the first tag did. Then in the second and third falls they decided to work their tape trader/Differ Cup tag match full of big elaborate spots and 2.9 counts, and they completely lost the crowd. There was a 3 year old in front of me, who was super into the show, clapping hands with the technicos, booing the rudos, running around, by the middle of the third fall he was whining to his mom to take him outside, people were texting, a couple got up in the middle of the match to go to the bathroom to fuck. A real example of rookies having no idea how to work a match for the crowd they were in front of.

TKG: The first fall was good, and crowd was amused by Amasis’ Abby in the seventies style yelping sell. We all dug the first fall and then they went on to a second which felt like they were playing more to the camera then the crowd and by the third no one was paying attention anymore. I don’t go to a wrestling show to appreciate a serious lecture, I go because its fun escapism. You go to a show like this one and enjoy being surrounded by families enjoying the fun escapism. So when the crowd sees the face being mesmerized by one heel performing a lap dance on the other heel, I try to explain that the heels aren’t taunting the face’s homosexuality. When the kids loose interest I try to get a handclap started, an anti-snake chant started and later a “Hormigas” chant started. But it’s easier to do those things if guys are doing stuff for long enough to build up a chant. Hard to get either a clap or chant going if it’s just guys going throwing stuff out back and forth. I’m not starting a dueling chant. . I’m trying to keep the kids engaged in the match, but the match wasn’t helping. I’m not a big fan of “Please Don’t stop” 2.9 end runs but I’ll admit that in TNA they at least pop a crowd. But there is no reason to do them when none of the extended traded big nearfalls are getting any reaction. It really was wrestlers working in a vacuum indifferent to the crowd.

Halcon Guerrerro/Sara Del Ray v Lince Dorado/Roxie Cottton

PAS: This was kind of weird match, Lince came out in green ant gear, which I initially thought was foreshadowing, but turned out to be the ground work for a classic carny con, the match was also supposed to feature Annie Social as the technica, but she was replaced by fellow Beatdown Betty Roxy Cotton. I really don't think Roxy Cotton works on a lucha show, I mean Mexicans aren't really into pill abuse, also I really don't get Roxy Cotton as a technica anywhere. Only place I can really see Oxy abuse as a face move is IWA-MS, I dunno does J.C. Baliey's dad still run a fed? Decent match, which I think was hurt by the crowd being killed by previous tag. Also no reason for this to be 2/3 falls, the first part of the show was all Una Caida and then post intermission it was all Dos Y Tres Caida, you needed to mix them up a bit, as the crowd got used to one pace, and as they were getting a bit tired the dragged it out.

TKG: I disagree with Phil on all of this. Completely disagree. I mean first of all an Oxy gimmick as the sidekick to a technica luchadora working a Lola La Trailera gimmick totally would work. Lola La Trailera with Roxie Cotton and Barbie Xurate vs. Female Officales writes itself. Still Roxie Cotton wasn’t working as Roxie Cotton anyway. Perhaps on a Saturday night show Roxie and the Chiva would work more “adult gimmicks” but this was a Sunday family show and the ring announcer announced Roxie Cotton as just “ Roxie”. When she first came out I was skeptical. One would think that ditzy superficial gringa is a heel gimmick. But Roxie pulled off almost face Bernadette Peters befuddled performance. There was a touch of “How did I get into this mess” Lucille Ball. It was practically vaudevillian as she bumped around confused and rallied the kids behind her “c’mon kids help me out”. I also think this worked well as a two out of three falls match. You need a match that introduces the two out of three fall structure and this was a simple story told over the three falls. They maintained the face heel structure, got over everyone’s character, and had simple payoffs for the crowd to get behind. This didn’t build toward Roxie running through all her Meth Lab Exploder variations. No, they were smarter than that. Simple pay offs. Sara Del Rey getting her head shoved into Halcon’s junk got bigger pop than anything in the last two falls of the previous match. Exactly how you work a midcard 2/3 caidas. Well told story that keeps the crowd engaged without trying to be a super spectacular.

Mike Quackenbush/Kendo/Solar v Negro Navarro/Mr. Ferrari/Claudio Castegnoli

TKG: So I have been a Solar fan for ages, and anytime you get to see Solar and Negro Navarro match up it’s a treat. The criticism they get is that they’re guys who just work in a vacuum doing their signature stuff that the crowd doesn’t care about. It’s a weird criticism for matches that end with the crowd throwing money in the ring. And well live these two guys do endless shit talking to get the crowd into it. I’ve written a lot over the years about the sportsmanship structure behind a lot of lucha where questions of cooperation are negated by the basic struggle of trying to show up opponent’s technique. Here that whole thing got played out with lots of shit talking making that point. Navarro does endless shit talking ;“Hey you think that’s nice, well how bout this, Oh I have an answer for that, you have an answer for this, never seen that before have you?, yadda yadda”. At one point Solar gets fed up with the whole thing and just gets up and starts making fun of Navarro for looking like an uglier Lupillo Rivera and then does a little dance mocking Navarro’s lack of smoothness. First fall has Navarro and Solar trading super fast go behinds and take downs. I mean their exchanges were Yoshino fast but with Hansen force. They do a Quack/Claudio section and a Kendo/Ferrari section and then movie into the Quack/Navarro section. Quack matches up with Navarro on the mat and we get long back and forth sections of holds,escapes and counterholds surrounded by shit talking. Kendo is also super charismatic on the apron egging Quackenbush on and slow clapping Navarro when he does something impressive. Solar may think Navarro is an awkward ugly dancer but Kendo will give him his due. Quack is this ridiculous mutherfucker who really has carved himself a neat niche in wrestling. He’s the guy who gets to play bass with Sky Saxon, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Link Wray, Don and Dewey, Charlie Feathers, etc. Not the guy with the hit record but the guy who gets to play with the cult legends. And honestly that’s a bad ass career. The fall ends with a nasty submission that looked like Navarro tore Quacks arm off. I want to point out that it isn’t that Quack is just good at mat exchanges but he’s really good at selling both being wrenched in submissions and the whole process of being pissed that he is caught in submission leading to “a ha” “I think this is an answer” to get out of those submissions. Like the opener there is some gringo ref confusion as Bryce Remsburg looks like a deer caught in the headlights. Solar asks him if Quack was the captain and Bryce takes a minute to decide that the fall is over. Second fall is much shorter although started at same pace. Kendo does his bouncing kip ups which is awesome given how incredibly out of shape he looked. And I think this fall ended with two technico non-captains doing crossbodies on the the two non captain heels. Third fall is your “it all breaks down fall” with everyone pissed. Perfect finish with Claudio having caught Quack in claw (which was a silly submission given all the others that were used in the match but whatever) at the same time Navaro decides to throw an obvious frustrated low blow at Solar. Kind of could have used two refs to get over the finish. Post match there are lots of challenges made over the sound system. And having seen that match, the crowd is salivating for every single one of them.

PAS: Just a tremendous match. Navarro is a physical specimen live, he is 51 years old, but built like a tank. He really looks like he would kick the shit out of you, which isn't something you would say about anyone else on this card. The vacuum criticism about Solar and Navarro was really shown to be bullshit, I doubt there were very many people at this show who were familiar with either guy, but they both acted like and were treated like stars. The Navarro v. Quack exchanges were truly awesome. The first fall really established Navarro as the superior guy, he would reverse out of Quack's submissions, and when he would he would wrench one on Quack and then release it, the way you might imagine a jujitsu black belt would if he was rolling with a student. Showing Quackenbush who was boss, so when Quack finally catches him in the second fall, you can see why he loses his cool and starts brawling. Such a nifty little story, and so much cooler then if Solar and Navarro just did their mat section. Lucha Libre trios are often focused on one match up, with the other 4 guys being secondary, and I was really impressed with how well everyone else in this match played a secondary role. Riling up the crowd, working cool exchanges, while still allowing the Quackenbush v. Navarro showdown to take precedence. I know Quack is going to be out for a while with surgery, but I hope we get to see that singles match he teased us with.

PAS: I totally loved this show, great lucha libre in front of a great lucha libre crowd is my favorite live experience, and I enjoyed this show in a stip mall back room in Delaware as much as I enjoyed seeing a hair match in Arena Mexico. Lets hope we get a come back.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

XCW Midwest Rollin Hard Memorial Show 2/3/09

Suicide Kid v. Drake Younger v. American Kickboxer

PAS: Fine little five minute three way, a couple of awkward spots, but Kid and Kickboxer looked pretty good for a pair of guys who don’t really wrestle regularly. Kickboxer had an especially pretty flipping asai.

TKG: About two years ago Suicide Kid was doing commentary for a couple IWA-MS matches and mentioned that he was thinking about a come back no longer as Suicide Kid but now as a more seasoned Suicide Man. He comes out to a big pop and has nice baby charisma but he is no longer a baby, he is a man and eats the pin from the new generation in Drake Younger.

J Boy Allister Fear, Guido Andretti v Ian Rotten, Chris Champion, Mickie Knuckles

TKG: About a year ago Chris Champion had a stroke. Chris Champion is currently working some sort of almost AAA style middle aged Marilyn Manson gimmick. He comes out wearing white face paint and a fascist military uniform with an iron cross insignia, waving the old Wildside Skull and Crossbones flag while carrying a Misfits lunchbox. Inside the Misfits lunchbox are chemicals which he mixes up to blow fireballs. Before Champion had his stroke the joke I used to tell was that for a drugged up tatted charismatic guy with martial arts offense and goth gimmick, Vampiro was a poor man’s Chris Champion. Post stroke for a charismatic tatted up ex druggie with martial arts offense and a AAA type gimmick Chris Champion essentially is Vampiro. This was a fun lil match. I haven’t seen Fear in ages, Ardetti is a XCW regular and I’ve never seen J Boy before but he really did the bulk of stuff for his team. Post match Ian with heartfelt speech about Roland.

PAS: This was a showcase for the faces, and they all looked great. Ian has an awesome Buddy Landell elbow drop here, and Mickie throws some nasty headbutts. I enjoyed all of the heels bumping and talking shit. Ian is really great at emotional speechmaking.

Sexy Shawn Cook v “Mean” Mitch Page

TKG: Mean Mitch Page is a guy who I think is retired but doesn’t look the least bit rusty in the last two matches I’ve seen with him (Mean and Hard v Vulgar Display of Power and this one). His stuff looks really great and he eats Cook’s stuff really well with his legs going al wobbly in neat ways. Mitch Ryder should try to get him out of retirement and run Mitch Page v Freezer Thompson series. Page/Thompson v Hawk/Cook would also rule. Page and a young babyface partner. I want Mean Mitch Page as a regular.

PAS: This was pretty short but Page did look good. His strengths are clearly the kind of brawls which you wouldn’t do on a tribute show. I was pleasantly surprised how good he was in this kind of undercard face v. heel match.

Mitch Ryder v Tracy Smothers

PAS: This is a show with no great match, but where everything was totally satisfying. Tracey Smothers does his classic shtick, and does it well. Ryder looks good, has the crowd behind him and works well around Tracey being Tracey. I imagine they have a great match in them, this wasn’t it but it was a blast

TKG: Smothers comes out and announces that he loves Roland but hates these fans and we’re off. Smothers with a bunch of nasty combinations in the corner and a match that just puts a smile on your face.

Flash Flanagan v. Chris Michaels

PAS: This was for the title and was worked like a title match. Both guys have been in very good matches on previous XCW shows, but always as the solid hand against a guy with some flash. This was technically good, but a little dry. Flanagan really looked facially like Curt Henning which isn't something I noticed before. Good match with a fun finish, but not a top ten XCW match

TKG: Flanagan eats everything in this really really well. This starts really great and is a fine showcase match. The superplex into roll up finish was executed better than usual.

Bull Pain v. Todd Morton

PAS: These are my two favorite guys in this promotion, and two of the best wrestlers in the world. I imagine that this feud will produce one of my top matches of 2009, and I am going to want to see them all. This wasn't that kind of match, but man was it a total blast. Morton comes out with Sexy Shawn Cook so Bull calls to the back and brings out Little Roland and Crackbaby to even the score. Whole match was Morton and Cook with really nasty cheap shots leading to a Crackbaby low blow and a little Roland shot with the Kill Whitey sign for the pin. Really great moment and so much more heartfelt and classy then your WWE tribute show shtick.

TKG: This was being reffed by Mitch Page with Roland’s kids as Bull’s seconds, and so I was expecting more fun than “classics”. Still the wrestling was really good with lots of neat uses for Brother Pain. Bull is shockingly effective face. But this was a match about the kids. That’s what the whole show was about. On some level I’m used to wrestling memorial/tribute shows as being classless and really exploitative. This show wasn’t that. It really felt like a bunch of guys getting together to entertain two kids whose dad had just passed. Those kids coming out for the main event to take out Todd Morton was really sweet. There was something ridiculously gentle and sweet about the whole show.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Phil's Ongoing 2009 MOTY List

1. Jack Swagger v. Christian WWE 2/24
2. Negro Casas/Heavy Metal v. La Sombra/ Volador Jr. CMLL 2/13
3.Rey Mysterio v. Chris Jericho v. Kane v. Mike Knox v. Edge v. John Cena WWE 2/15
4. John Cena v. Big Show WWE 2/27

1. Jack Swagger v. Christian WWE 2/24

I was pretty surprised how much I enjoyed this. Christian isn’t a guy I ever thought much of at all, and I hadn’t really bought into Swagger either. So this was kind of a bolt out of the blue. It is great to see an amateur guy use his amateur wrestling, and all the early takedowns were really powerful looking, I also loved the head and neck turns later in the match, really violent looking for a freestyle move. He also has a really great C.B. Dollawayish amateur wrestling douchebag charisma. Christian isn’t a particularly appealing character, but you really wanted him to kick this dudes ass. Seriously though, when did Christian get good? The spinning out of the armbar, the counter of the powerbomb, he looked like Angel Azteca. Plus the arm selling, the bumping, the top rope headbutt. He had the look of one of the top guys in the world, and he isn’t a guy I would have ever considered before. I don’t know if this will end up being a fluke, but this was the match of both guys careers.

4. John Cena v. Big Show WWE 2/27

Cena is at his best working underdog against monsters, and Show is the best monster around so you know this would be good. Cena gets bumped around the ring great, that Dustin style bump on the pieface was excellent. He also has a tremendous connection with the crowd, which always helps when a guy is taking a beating. Show’s weight gain and injuries has helped him a bit, when he was more agile he was taking athletic bumps from smaller guys which kind of hurt his gimmick. Now when he takes a bump it looks way more like toppling a mountain. It is pretty hard to throw a punch well enough to have it look like a finisher, but Cena avoiding it all match, only to get wasted by it at the end was awesome. I am really hoping for this to get run back a bunch of times. A long feud between these two would be excellent.


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