Segunda Caida

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

Friday, May 29, 2009

IWRG 5/21/09

PAS: More IWRG, r0b3rt0x3L14S for El Presidente

Eterno/Galactik v. Mixteca Jr./Vampiro Metalico

PAS: One of the better openers of 2009. Mixteca Jr. is totally garbage, but Metalico is real good and he had good exchanges with both technicos. The first fall was as good as any first fall on this show, there were some really slick Eterno v. Vampiro armdrag exchanges, and Galactik did a really awesome wrist and elbow lock. 2nd and 3rd falls weren't as good, but there was a crazy Eterno bump off the apron. Eterno looks like a guy who should be moved up to the Freelance trios.

TKG: Mixteco Jr didn’t look this shitty last week. Was that all a Jack carry job? WTF? This is a IWRG undercard reunion show as its been years since I’ve seen either Galactik (I or II) or Vampiro Metalico on a Naucalpan show. I’ve made lots of jokes about IWRG undercarders who study JAPW, PWG and IWA-MS tapes: guys with lots of goofy innovative Us indy type offense. But watching this match, I came away thinking that Vampiro Metalico is a guy I’d really like to see in a U.S. indy. He has a bunch of neat standing switch variations, facially sells anger of landing on his ass for arm drags well, his innovative offense is cool without being really overcomplicated (especially liked the double stomp into leg drop combination, his cross arm drop thing seems really safe), eats a front cracker really well and I assume the big bump spot was something he put together. I don’t get the impression that he’ll ever become a great lucha rudo, but I imagine he could carry Kenny Omega, Jack Hades or Chris Sabin to a really good US indy match.

Freelance/Miss Gaviota/Diva Salvaje v. Xibalba/Carta Brava/Avisman

PAS: Pretty much a Freelance show, but it was a heck of a show, only one crazy dive, but all of his armdrags and rana's were breathtaking. Diva Salvaje isn't good in the ring, but he is such a grotesque that you can't take your eyes off him, he looks like Taxi era Judd Hirsch in a bad wig.

TKG: Diva Salvaje isn’t good in the ring in this context but I imagine him and Goleador vs. The Junior Pierroths could be an awesome brawl. But enough fantasy booking. Carta Brava Jr is back too. I kind of like him as a solid if unspectacular rudo. This was the most impressive Freelance has looked in 2009; as he’s the captain here and works like a captain. Freelance’s teammates aren’t much, and the rudo team at best is Carta Brava Jr who is really solid if unspectacular and at worse is Xibabla who is really mediocre but competent. Somewhere in between those two lies Avisman who can be completely hit or miss. And this essentially becomes a one man show as Freelance does all the work to make this match you want to see. Nice opening mat work with Avisman ( Avisman’s normal lost facial expression of “oh fuck what am I supposed to do next” actually works here as it looks like increased frustration), good bumping as FIP for the rudos and his normal highflying. Rewarding one man show.

Negro Navarro/Captain Muerte/Durango Kid v. Dr. Cerebro/Cerebro Negro/Black Terry

PAS: This is the most Navarro v. Terry we have seen so far in 2009, and it was damn good, but not great. They have two mat sections, one at the end of the first fall, and one in the second fall. Both had some super slick stuff, but were done in the hold, release, hold style that most of these matches have been. I think the battle of technique stuff is pretty cool, but there is a point in the second fall where Navarro does a totally sick reversal of a Terry hold, and I remembered how much I miss reversals. The third fall is the brawl fall, with Terry and Cerebros doing a bunch of triple teams, there is this point when Navarro gets back into the ring and the intensity is palpable. He is like Kobe in the fourth quarter, the match really kicked into gear then, with two nice dives by Durango and Muerte, but the fake foul was a bit abrupt. Lots of promise here, but not a great match

TKG: I think Durango Kid is the La dojo guy who taught lucha to Rocky Romero and Alex Koslov but I’m not going to hold that against him.I really liked the dynamic in the Navarro family matches (especially the Xochimilco revancha) where you have this bad ass father who is both proud and very protective of his sons. He’ll attack guns a blazing if he feels they are being taken advantage of. You need to isolate Navarro to beat his kids. There is a neat reverse mirror image in the relationship between the Cerebros and Black Terry. The Cerebros are really proud of their mentor and have his back at all times. First fall ends with them running into ring to protect their mentor after he’s been submitted, second fall really is about them coming in to defend their mentor and support him in the fight, third fall has them taken out and Black Terry left looking (like a guy who starts fights knowing if shit goes wrong he always has tough friends who will back him up) suddenly alone. “Aw shit noone has my back now”. It should be said that the dives that took out the Cerebros in the third fall were just nasty dives that really looked like they’d take a guy out.Both had the hard look of someone dropping a heavy table on you.My guess is that Navarro never gets the trios title but there is a real awesome Dusty chasing Flair feel to this whole series (well back when Dusty chasing Flair was fresh) and this is easily the most exciting feud of the year.

Los Oficiales v. Trauma I y II/Zatura

PAS: This took a while to get going, but by the end it was pretty fun. I had been rough on Zatura last week, but he was pretty great here. Oficiales break out handcuffs and rip open his mask and bloody him. He comes back with some big highspots including a rana into the crowd and an awesome quebrada. Oficiales were bumping around great, baseball sliding, getting ranaed, bleeding. Traumas really are at their best when they are working the mat, and that wasn't going on here, but they were perfectly fine as place holders

TKG:Last week Zatura was he guy who was supposed to bring the fight. And well he can’t do that. Here he’s guy getting beat up which he’s a lot better at. This match made me want to rewatch the two Cerebros/Terrry v Dinastia Navarro revanchas as the Navarros boys were real hit and miss in their brawling. Odd how different both guys are with their strikes. Trauma I in the first fall is all about throwing these real Ron Fuller wild haymakers while Trauma II does lots of handspeed peppering with volume and accurate combinations. In the first fall Trauma II’s stuff looked like he wasn’t putting any force behind it , as though he thought he could win a brawl on Olympic style boxing points, by the end of the match he throws some power shots but for the most part he’s volume accuracy guy. But overall this was Officiales having a brawl against some technicos and they could have worked this match with anyone. I imagine the title match that this sets up will allow this set of technicos to play to their own unique strengths…long term if this is building to Zatura v AK47, I don’t have a lot of hope for that.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

#17: 2 Cold Scorpio

by Eric

Scorpio has somehow been under everybody's radar the last several years. I figured by working for the largest company in Japan throughout all of this decade would keep your name out there, but I've seen so many people talking about how they didn't realize Scorpio was still working and were stunned by his appearances in IWA-MS. Well, even those of us who have been keeping up with Scorpio were stunned by his '08 work. While ROH decided to bring in Jerry Lynn to mentor and teach DA BIZ to their workers, IWA-MS brought in 2 Cold Scorpio. While Lynn was no doubt teaching the youngsters all about the importance of 2.9 roll-up sequences and cool ways to leg drop guys as they lunge at you through the ropes, Scorpio was having great matches with everybody he faced and working different styles each match. He's an amazing flyer because he's a really big guy, and his flying moves have more impact than ANY other flyer I've ever seen. His moves are ridiculously accurate and always dead-on. His aim is insane. Whether he's hitting his somersault leg drop, 450, tumbleweed splash, moonsault, whatever, the move hits and it looks nasty. But he wasn't all about the flying this year. There were matches where he didn't hit one aerial move, and those were great, too! Mixing in some cool punch and kick combos, throwing the elbows and just jiving in general. Scorpio has spent the better part of this decade in NOAH getting headbutted, getting kicked, and getting elbowed, and then giving it all back, so the dude can work indy stiff without any problems. And he did it all without looking like a space pimp from the future.

Recommended 2008 Matches:

~vs. Eddie Kingston (IWA-MS, 3/1/08)
~vs. Mickie Knuckles (IWA-MS, 4/11/08)
~vs. Roderick Strong (IWA-MS, 5/2/08)
~vs. Sami Callihan (IWA-MS, 8/16/08)
~vs. Necro Butcher (IWA-MS, 8/17/08)
~vs. Sami Callihan (IWA-MS, 9/27/08)

Recommended Career Matches:

~vs. Chris Benoit (WCW SuperBrawl III, 2/21/93)
~w/ Marcus Bagwell vs. Steve Austin/Brian Pillman (WCW 5/93)
~vs. Barry Windham (WCW Clash of the Champions 23, 6/16/93)
~w/ Marcus Bagwell vs. Nasty Boys (WCW Halloween Havoc, 10/24/93)
~vs. Eddy Guerrero, ECW, 4/18/95)
~vs. Wild Pegasus (NJPW, 5/3/95)
~vs. Sabu (ECW Cyberslam '96, 2/17/96)
~vs. Shane Douglas (ECW Matter of Respect, 5/11/96)
vs. Chris Jericho vs. Pitbull #2 vs. Shane Douglas (ECW Heatwave '96, 7/15/96)
~Flash Funk vs. Owen Hart (WWE Raw, 2/17/97)
~vs. Naomichi Marufuji (NOAH1 4/15/01)
~w/ Vader vs. Jun Akiyama/Akitoshi Saito (NOAH 12/1/02)
~w/ Yoshinari Ogawa/Richard Slinger vs. Yoshihiro Takayama/Takuma Sano/Takashi Sugiura (NOAH, 12/6/03)
~w/ Eddy Edwards/Mushiking Terry vs. Masao Inoue/Tsuyoshi Kikuchi/Mushiking Joker (NOAH, 9/18/05)
~vs. Yoshinobu Kanemaru (NOAH, 11/5/05)
w/ Eddy Edwards vs. Akira Taue/Takuma Sano (NOAH, 4/24/06)

2009 Outlook:

It all depends on whether he chooses to work or not. So far I have not seen his name turn up on any shows, but I'm sure they're out there. IWA-MS cards in general look less appetizing this year, so they might not be bringing him in anymore. If he gets bookings he will continue to look awesome. If we don't get to see him, his odds of making a list are not good.

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IWRG 5/14/09

PAS: After a three week swine flu hiatus, IWRG makes it triumphant return.

TKG: I feel sorry for the creators of Corridos Marranos as I imagine there is less demand for comic books with covers depicting voluptuous women being sexually ravaged by pigs. I’m sure the Corridos Marranos albulms have also been hurt. Everyone on this show feels a step off, like working off ring rust or something. One of the cameramen wears a facemask. Fantasma de La Opera wears one for cheap heat as well.

Halcon 2000 v. Radamantis

PAS: Since IWRG has shown up on youtube, this is the first time we have really gotten to see an IWRG opener. IWRG openers are always worked in this really basic way. They almost have to spend twice as much time on the mat as they do standing, and you won't be seeing any dives or 2004 US Indy finishers here.

TKG: They actually do tease a dive as Radamantis gets tossed out of ring twice. First time Halcon follows to the floor for ringside brawling; second time he gets up on second rope but doesn’t have his footing. He has repeated problems with hat second rope. Halcon 2000 isn’t a very engaging technico but really liked his hold onto the headlock amateur ride. Radamantis on the other hand is kind of a blast. Everyone in IWRG watches way too much Smackdown, and you get the sense that Radamantis is a Finlay he has nice European uppercuts, nasty elbow drop, and some neat fire man’s carry based throws. He also has a preposterous Zorackish alien mantis costume. I look forward to him hopefully moving up the card.

Goleador/Jack v Misteco Jr/Avisman

TKG: This is odd. After talking smack about Jack, I enjoyed his mat section and after talking smack about Avisman I really enjoyed all his stand up rope running exchanges (and big dive). Goleador is an awkwardly crowbaring mobile heavyweight. It’s hard to tell who is a heavyweight in the ring opposite your normal tiny IWRG regulars, but I think Goleador is around Arlequin's size. My impression is for awkward mobile heavyweights he is a lot greener than Arlequin. Either Avsiman decides to sell like Goleador is constantly fucking him up or Goleador constantly awkwardly fucks Avisman up, including twisting his ankle wrong on a Romero special.

PAS: This is the most I have enjoyed Jack, this is the first time he has looked like a poor man's La Parka instead of a poor man's La Parka Jr.. Goleador is weird, he shows a bunch of agility during parts of the match, and in other parts he looks completely awkward and clumsy. You figure either a guy is a good athlete or he isn't. Avisman had one nice submission and a nice dive, but no one was really up to working the mat with him.

Fantasma de La Opera/ Capitan Muerte/Cerebro Negro v Miss Gaviota, Diva Salvaje, and Sexy Gladis

TKG: I’ve seen Miss Gaviota before but never seen the other two exoticos. Diva Salvaje is an amusing tranny trainwreck. He’s just a hot mess; big ole queen in an unflattering outfit that makes him look even fatter, can’t get his perm right, just can’t get himself together. Other trannys model themselves on Garbo, Cher, Tyra Banks, Hayley Mills, etc…Diva Salvaje is aiming for Abyss’ unattractive sister. It’s an amusing look. This match is clipped to shit and ends after the first fall so I never get any sense of Sexy Gladis. Well the sense I get, is “hey they clipped everything with him out of this”. Captain Muerte takes a bunch of amusing bumps trying to leap to break up rope walking and the Salvaje/Fantasma interactions are amusing but this is clipped to pieces. Miss Gaviota is stretchered after taking Fantasma’s nasty DDT variation and the heels do mic work talking about how they’re not here for kisses but to break people, etc.

PAS: I live off of 17th St. in Dupont Circle here in Washington DC, they have drag races every year right in front of my building, and I have never seen a drag queen look as busted as Diva Salvaje, not even after a full on heels wearing sprint. Fantasma de La Opera coming out with a flu mask to block both the Swine Flu and the Exotico kiss is an awesome heel spot, and Diva Salvaje ripping it off to give him a grim tongue kiss was funny. I also loved the badass heels stretchering the Exoticos, although it didn't appear to go anywhere next week. IWRG booking doesn't seem to ever build.

Officiales v Chico Che, Zakura, Freelance

TKG:Didn’t Chico Che have more of a bowl haircut at one point. His hair is thinning fast. This was a pretty classically constructed match designed to set up either a singles match with the technico captain (Zakura) or another trio with the technico captain’s normal trio (Zakura’s normal trio being him and the Traumas, with this Chico Che/ Freelance/ Zakura being more of an ad hoc team). I’ve seen matches with Chico Che as captain.and matches with Freelance as captain. Both guys can pull that role off well. And both are a blast as secondary guys here. The problem is Zakura really isn’t a guy who is capable of working captain at this point ( I don’t know if he’ll ever be ready). Zakura is fine as secondary guy with dives but can't pull this thing off at all. He just looked like shit in the captain role and it hurt the match. This match had a bunch of neat dives and good performances from the Officiales, Freelance and Chico Che but it needed someone else to play captain.

PAS: Zatura has a real AAA feel to him, as he is a guy with some really pretty spots, but everything in between those spots looks bad. That is fine when he has a secondary role in a match, but his flaws are really exaserbated when he is the focus. I really enjoyed Chico Che in this, as he is one of the better technicos in these midcard trios match. This did have some really sweet individual stuff, Freelances rana into the stands was especially awesome, but not a great match. I think they really need another quality mid card technico in this fed, Freelance rules, and I like Chico Che, but they need to bring back Mickie Segura.

Fuerza Guerrera,Juventud Guerrera, Dr Cerebro v Negro Navarro, Trauma 1, Trauma II

TKG: “Black is black and I want my baby back. It’s grey, it’s grey since she went away.” I want to say the story with Los Bravos was that after one of their members committed suicide, the label forced them to tour with a replacement member wearing a lone ranger mask so as to hide the suicide. As you can imagine the combination of instant celebrity, suicide and on stage masked hiding of the suicide fucked with everyone’s mind. It’s possible I’m confusing them with another Spanish garage rock type band, but I think that’s them. I don’t know what happened to Pirata, Juve at times looked really off and at other times had hints of being the worlds best Andy Barrow (guy more concerned with heat and eating stuff then anything else)I hope he gets his shit together. Dr Cerebro looked spectacular, all his mat work was nasty, his brawling was great and he can eat a tope like nobodies business. The post match DDT on the trashcan was also nasty and Black Terry confronting Fuerza is an awesome development. "Bad is bad, it makes me sad. It's Time. It's time. Time that I found piece of mind."

PAS: Juvi looked really athletically off here, which is weird as you figure he would still be able to hit his spots. Hey looked more physically shot then guys twice his age. I did enjoy him as a totally obnoxious heel, sort of Bobby Heenanish. Like his new gimmick is "guy you want to see Jack Evans Thai knee in the face." Navarro was awesome as usual, kind of directing traffic and sending his kids after Juvi. For a guy who is primarily known as a Maestro mat worker, Navarro may be one of the best brawlers in the world, his section against Dr. Cerebro was great, I love his little short headbutt, it feels like the kind of thing you would uncork in a bar fight. After watching Cerebro and Navarro work the mat and brawl I really want a singles match.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

XCW Midwest Legends of the Garden Night 1 3/3/09

TKG: Pre-show Bill Dundee comes out to do some mic work only to be interrupted by Todd Morton, Shawn Cook and Cody Hawke. Todd Morton demands respect and Dundee reaches out to turn Morton's backward hat frontward. Dundee goes to walk away and is jumped from behind. Bull Pain comes out for the save. I'm going to start turning guys hats around when collar popped backward capped idiots buck at me at in bars. Unfortunately I like to drink alone and don't expect anyone to come in for the save.

PAS: I really don't get why you would run in to save a guy who cuckolded you, but I am glad that Bull and Bill have put their differences behind them.

Robbie Ellis v. Crippler Jeff Daniels

TKG: Ellis at this point looks like a less athletic Danny Kaye. I'm not sure why Ellis is a legend of the Garden, but I'll go with it. They work a roughneck brawler v highflyer with Ellis as your 64 year old highflyer, Ellis is pretty fun working a bunch of old guy highflying including an insane second rope to the floor plancha and a really nice headscissor take over. Jeff Daniels has a bunch of nasty ways to hit an old man and is damn good at selling in a way to make the highflying credible.

PAS: For worker in his mid 60's Ellis isn't as effortless as Dundee or Saint but he hits his stuff really well. Daniels was really great at credibly being thrown around by a really old guy, which isn't easy to do. Great looking elbow drop which looked rude on your Grandpa. There was one blown backdrop which looked like Daniels was going to die, but otherwise a really fun opener.

Tracy Smothers v. Mitch Ryder

TKG: This is a family show and Smothers is a professional, instead of giving the crowd the finger he keeps on giving them the pinkee. He wields his pinkee with such conviction that it actually comes off really crass. They start with a bunch of Tracy stalls and working of the ref before unleashing the bombs in the corner. Tracy chokes Ryder with wrist tape behind the refs backagain and again and eventually pegs Ryder with the roll of tape.

PAS: When Tracy Smothers does his stalling and heel stuff in other feds it comes off as more crowd pleasing ironic heel. Here it does what it is designed to do, piss off the crowd and get them more behind the babyface. I really liked how Smothers used the tape to set up the next nights taped fist match. The booking of the whole show was like a Clash of Champions to set up the next nights Great American Bash, and they did an awesome job of making me want to buy the Bash.

Bull Pain v. Todd Morton

TKG: So I really enjoyed this matchup on the Rollin Hard tribute show but that was a match for Roland, his family and friends and about Roland's kids. This was just these two going at it. Bull Pain is a guy whose offense looks devastating and Todd Morton is a guy who will eat stuff spectacularly well. But in the midst of the Bull Pain run of offense, Todd Morton is able to pull off a nasty chop block. And DAMN can Todd Morton take apart a guy's leg. They do the spot where Pain's leg is draped over the bottom rope and Todd Morton jumps on it, and I've never seen that spot look as nasty. Todd Morton just wrecks havoc on Pain's leg while Pain does real bad ass job of selling being on one wheel. Pain struggles on the floor to get a chair to protect himself and no one wields a chair like Bull Pain. You knew there would be outside interference, but this was Finlay/Booker/Benoit TV title more "outside distraction" setting up finish than actual "interference". I want to see these two guys wrestle an endless series.

PAS: This was tremendous, Morton is as good at working a leg as anyone you have ever seen, and I am pretty amazed at how good Bull Pain is as a sympathetic babyface. Morton is really great here pulling off the switch from stooge to killer which is the true measure of a great heel, it was something Arn Anderson was masterful at and Morton is as good. As good as this match was though, it still felt like a backdrop setting up Morton v. Dundee. This was the right match to work for that role, but I still need to see these two in a main event match where they can really deliver a Match of the Year. It seems like the XCW booking is building towards it, and I am confident if it happens it will be epic.

Sexy Shawn Cook/Cody Hawk v. Irish Airborne

TKG: I haven't liked the Airborne much in the past but they were fine here. There earl tandem-ish face quick tag stuff worked in the context of guys doing quick tags. This was also helped by Cook and Hawke being guys who do a real nice job with the buffoonish eating of the quick tag stuff. The quick tag face section was longer than it tends to be these days. I don't get the sense that the darker haired guy is that good at working face in peril. But it was a well set up FIP section with big bump and big floor move and the darker hair Airborne guy does a great job of selling a sleeper like a guy about to legit pass out. The lighter haired Airborne isn't very good as a hot tag guy. But these two are guys who normally are really problematic as they tend to try to work scramble tag BS when its out of place. They for the most part avoided giving in to their scramble tag tendencies. The were perfectly fine and I dug this matchup. This was a good show top to bottom. Post match Cook and Hawk attack with Morton and Gibson coming out for the save.

PAS: I didn't go into this w high expectations, but ended up really enjoying it. Irish Airborne had previously struck me as guys from the Fantastics/SAT's school of babyface tag wrestling where the focus would be on the fancy moves and double teams they could pull off. I always preferred the Rock and Roll Express style, where the focus is on fighting back against the heels taking a beating and showing heart. In this match they worked more R+R's then Fantastics and it was by far the most I have enjoyed them (although this match did have the same face rolls up the heel, second heel superkicks the face finish of ever Fantastics match of the 1980s). Cook and Hawk are a solid heel team, the kind of guys who could have made a nice living in the 1980's running through this match against local pretty boys from coast to coast. The quality of this kind of match depends on the blowjob team and Airborne were more Mason Dixon Connection then New Fabs, but that is still plenty good enough for me.


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Sunday, May 17, 2009

#18 Negro Casas

by Tomk

In the strange world of internet wrestling fans, Negro Casas is an oddly divisive figure. There are lots of wrestlers who the internet community is split on. But there is a normal shape that those splits take. Critic of wrestler A will point to things that wrestler A does poorly, fans of wrestler A will counter that he either does those things better than people acknowledge or that while he does one set of things poorly there is a whole other set of things that he does really well. Negro Casas is this odd guy where both the critics and the fans pretty much agree on what it is that he does. The Negro Casas critic will complain that Negro Casas’ selling prevents his opponents from doing as many creative things as they are capable of doing as instead they are forced to focus on his selling. His fans will praise that Negro Casas’ selling forces his opponents to work a focused match and not go overboard with all the creative things they are capable of doing. His critics will complain that he is somehow both lazy and selfish: that when he isn’t the focus of the match he won’t do a lot of attention drawing stuff, and that when he is the focus of the match he will go overboard in making the match about himself. His fans will praise him for how he works in matches where he is a secondary character where he always puts the shine on the other guy and doesn’t draw attention to himself, and will praise him when the focus of the match is on him for being a guy who completely holds the focus of the match. Everyone agrees on what it is that he does, just the question is whether it’s praiseworthy or not. I plant my feet on the praiseworthy side of the debate. Lucha is about roles and Negro Casas is a really great minor character actor when he’s called to be one and a super over the top lead actor when called on to do that. Casas turned heel in June of 08 and so his character actor secondary roles became less Jack Lemon and more James Spader and his leading roles were less Al Pacino and more Al Pacino mating with Michael Ironside and Powers Boothe to create a completely awesome over the top monster.

Recommended 2008 matches:

~w/Heavy Metal/Shocker v Hijo del Perro Aguayo/Terrible/Texano Jr, CMLL 5/16/08
~vs. Blue Panther, CMLL Guadalajara 8/3/08
~w/ Atlantis/Ultimo Guerrero vs. Hector Garza/La Mascara/Hijo Del Fantasma, CMLL 8/05/08
~w/ Mr. Niebla/Ultimo Guerrero vs. Blue Panther/Hector Garza/Mistico, CMLL 8/22/08

Career Recommended Matches:
~vs. El Hijo del Santo, 7/18/87
~vs. El Dandy, 7/3/92
~vs. El Hijo del Santo vs. El Dandy, 12/6/96
~vs. El Hijo del Santo, 9/19/97
~w/ El Hijo del Santo vs. Scorpio Jr./Bestia Salvaje, 2/26/99
~w/ El Hijo del Santo vs. Scorpio Jr./Bestia Salvaje, 3/11/99
~w/ El Hijo del Santo vs. Ultimo Guerrero/Rey Buccanaro, 11/02/01
~w/ Mistico vs. El Averno/El Mephisto, 4/14/06

2009 Outlook:

Good. I’m going to miss understated face stuff but he’s getting a huge main event push as a heel. He’s also asked for a hair match with Blue Panther. I really enjoyed their mano a mano in Guadalajara. That match was mostly built around heel ref shenanigans. Local heel ref is essentially the top local heel star, guy who thwarts tecnicos week after week. It’s often hard for heels to get heat on themselves in that type of situation but Casas managed to make it clear that the ref was doing his bidding and that Casas was the rudo thwarting the tecnico. I imagine in Arena Mexico where the match is built around the two guys and not the ref, it could be really great.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

#19: Big Show

by Eric

Big Show took all of 2007 off and after deciding that starting a boxing career at the age of 36 and/or being a part of a fake Hulk Hogan vanity project sounded like bad ideas, ended up returning to WWE in 2008, and what a return! He was way slimmer and had added a lot of punches to his offense, and as you know, a punch from the Big Show is like getting hit with a fucking TYPEWRITER! In the past Big Show has kinda come off just like a big normal dude; so much so that the announcers have had to constantly hammer home the "you just have to see him live, we swear he doesn't look like some normal guy in jeans live", and even though he's a funny guy I have a hard time seeing a goofy giant being much of an attraction for anybody. I like when Big Show is a heel, and his best stuff at the end of the year was him siding with Vickie, just destroying guys. I hate when he's a face and walks down to the ring waving at fans "Hey I'm just a friendly funny guy". He's a really agile guy for his size, and he uses his agility perfectly. Usually when people are deemed "athletic" their athleticism all goes to their offense, which can look bad. Hey, Kofi Kingston jumped really high on his bad looking leg drop! Shelton Benjamin jumped to the top rope! Big Show uses his agility in his selling and bumping, and it looks amazing. He plays a great mighty redwood that when he finally gets chopped down he takes a nasty bump on his side or takes a DDT right on his head or takes a crazy bump to the floor. He doesn't bump early and often, but builds up to these in the stretch run and really puts the opponent over. I also love the one-punch KO power. That'll win me over any day. It really puts over how dangerous every second of his matches are, as guys are taking a risk even doing offense to him, as they could be caught any second with that punch.

Recommended 2008 Matches:

~vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr, Wrestlemania 3/30/08
~w/ Finlay vs. MVP/Mark Henry, Smackdown 5/23/08
~vs. Undertaker, No Mercy 10/5/08
~vs. Undertaker (Last Man Standing), Judgment Day 10/26/08
~vs. Undertaker (Cage Match), Smackdown 12/5/08

Recommended Career Matches:

~vs. Brock Lesnar (Stretcher Match), Judgment Day 5/18/03
~w/ Chavo Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio/John Cena, Smackdown 2/26/04
~vs. Eddy Guerrero, Smackdown 4/15/04
~w/ Eddy Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle/Luther Reigns, Smackdown 9/23/04
~w/ John Cena vs. Carlito/Matt Morgan, Smackdown 6/2/05
~vs. Matt Morgan, Smackdown 6/16/05
~vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Kane, Raw 10/24/05
~vs. Shawn Michaels, Raw 12/12/05
~vs. HHH, Raw 2/13/06
~vs. HHH vs. RVD, Raw 2/20/06
~vs. John Cena, Raw 3/6/06

2009 Outlook:

Strong. His weight has ballooned back up to his pre 2007 break levels, but as long as he's healthy he'll be at the top of the card putting on good main events. He's already had good TV main events with HHH and Undertaker, he was the best man in the Raw 10 man, he had a good match with Kofi Kingston. He could easily be top 20 on the next list.

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

#20: Solar I

by TomK

Phil described how in lucha, guys can go round for years under the radar, putting in anonymous performances and then get some focus put on them and be able to step up to the plate with big resurgent runs. There also are guys like Solar who really never have any lulls in their performances. Technico in his fifties who for the longest time, every time you saw you thought, “Holy shit this guy looks like the best wrestler in the world." Unfortunately you don’t get to see him often enough. But whenever you found footage it was rewarding. He wrestled for the UWA in the 80s, was re-gimmicked as El Mariachi in AAA in the early nineties, in his forties at the end of the nineties he showed up in M-Pro and looked faster and more impressive than the guys surrounding him in their twenties, he’s spent most of this decade in the world of indy lucha often paired opposite Negro Navarro having deliberate throwback technical matches. He also had a pretty masterful title match with the useless Blue Demon Jr. in London. Solar can still work superfast and hard exchanges, has tough looking mat exchanges and comes off really strong with his big demonstrative quebradora. But he’s starting to show some age over the last two years as he now moves less like a guy in his late twenties and more like a guy in his mid thirties.

Recommended 2008 matches:

~w/ Super Astro vs. Negro Navarro/Shu El Guerrero, Monterrey 5/18/08
~w/ Super Astro/Ultraman Jr. vs. Black Terry/Capitan Muerte/Shu El Guerrero, Naucalpan 8/21/08
~vs. Blue Demon Jr., London 12/9/08
~vs. Engendro vs. Negro Navarro, Guadalajara 12/13/08

Career Recommended Matches:

~w/ Super Astro/Ultraman Jr. vs. Sergio El Hermoso/Bello Greco/Rudy Reyna, UWA 1984
~El Mariachi vs. Blue Panther, AAA 10/30/94
~w/ Dos Caras Jr. vs. Satoshi Kojima/Kaz Hayashi, Hustle 1/4/04
~w/ Ultraman Jr./Super Astro vs. El Texano/Negro Navarro/El Signo, IWRG 02/10/05
~w/ Dos Caras Jr./Heavy Metal vs. Negro Navarro/Villano IV/Villano V, AULL 11/2/06

2009 Outlook:

The more Solar footage the better he’ll do. I actually think Solar’s 2009 outlook is somewhat good. The Youtube revolution means we have more footage of Mexican indy wrestling. I have no idea what kind of money is behind UWE. And I may be completely misreading the tea leaves but I get the sense that the Konan’s AAA shakeups will result in kind of a post AJW split up joshi scene with more taped vanity indies, and with more of your Diabolicos style veteran wrestler/agents out I expect better organized indies. All of this works in Solar’s favor.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

BattlArts 2/15/09

( So we watched this show before the 1/10 show, thus our mutual befuddlement at the B-Rules, I get the finish of the Oikawa match now, although it is no less stupid.)

Manabu Hara & Sanchu Tsubakichi vs Fujita "Jr." Hayato & Baisen TAGAI

TKG: Either Baisen TAGAI has gotten better or everyone else is mailing it in here. Tsubakichi looked like the worst guy in this. Baisen TAGAI is a guy with lots of loose body fat, you need to kick him hard enough to get it to shake.Tsubakichi pulled his kicks. The Tsubachiki v Hayato sections were worse than the TAGAI v Tsubachiki sections. And the Hara v Hayato sections were uninspired. A good chunk of this was built around TAGAI and I enjoyed all that. Weird.

PAS: TAGAI was really entertaining, he has almost an American Balloon physique where it looks like he lost 150 pounds just has loose skin, but he did a bunch of cool shit, I especially was into his victory roll legbar. The finish of this was odd as Hayato seemed to refuse to tag TAGAI so he gets beat by Hara, There doesn't appear to be any dissension before that, or any post match angle.

B-Rules: Chihiro Oikawa vs Kana

TKG: I was really enjoying this as all the mat work was crisp and purposeful. I don't get the finish at all. Kana had three rope breaks, Oikawa had two and Kana puts Oikawa in a submission in the ropes to get the submission. I mean if Oikawa had thee breaks I could understand this tribute to ROH pure title finish but as it is I don't get it.

PAS: I wasn't paying a ton of attention to the dots, so maybe the scoreboard operator screwed up, but I really don't understand the booking of this show. Is Ed Ferrerra one of those white guys who gets yellow fever and moves to Japan? Is he teaching English to Ishikawa and mentioned he used to book wrestling?

Alexander Otsuka vs Yujiro Yamamoto

TKG: This was awesome. Yamamoto is becoming one of my favorite wrestlers to watch, he sells really well and does lots of neat scrambling for moves. And well Osuka is Otsuka; a guy who among other things has lots of neat suplexes and throws. They match up really well here with lots of Otsuka beating and tossing Yamamoto around and Yamamoto doing lots of underdog selling and scrambling for hope spots. The finish with with Yamamoto beaten down but trying last leg bar only to be lifted and dropped was just perfect.

PAS: For an undercard match this is about as good as it could get. Otsuka is so great, he may be the most innovative wrestler in the world, and what makes his innovation so great is that it fits the tight constructs of the style he works. There is a point where he tries for his giant swing which Yamamoto counters into a choke, which Otsuka counters into a hellacious brainbuster, just awesome stuff. Yamamoto is also spectacular here, he is just relentless, like a bulldog, he reminds me a little of Uriah Faber, a tiny little guy who is going to overwhelm you with his pace and strength. I am really excited to see what he does this year, he could be truly great.

Katsumi Usuda vs Yuta Yoshikawa

TKG: This is worked surprisingly even. Having seen Usuda v Yano, it took me a while to get comfortable with how even this match was worked. But once I got past that this was a really good even match. Usuda sells the fuck out of his leg and really makes it look like he's in a giant hole as result from leg work. So whenever he has an answer its really exciting. The big choke with bodyscissors that gets reversed into a leg submission by Yoshikawa is especially hot sequence.

PAS: I have not been a huge Yoshikawa fan in the past, and like Tom I initially had a problem with him dominating the early part of the match, I still am not sure how good Yoshikawa is, but I have no question about the greatness of Katsumi Usuda. Just a tremendous performance, as he did an incredible job selling every submission that he got put in, there are multiple frantic scrambles where he appears moments away from a heartbreaking loss. Even when he comes back so viciously (busting Yoshikawa open legit) it still feels like almost a heartwarming tale of overcoming adversity. This really felt like a masterful Fujiwara level performance, which as much as I have liked Usuda in the past, isn't something I would really use to describe him before.

Yuki Ishikawa & Super Tiger II vs Munenori Sawa & Keita Yano

TKG: I have no idea if Yano or Super Tiger II have gotten a lot better or if they're just working each other a bunch on random indies. Are they running this as touring match on Goro Tsurumi fed undercards? Are they training together? I mean these two guys work each other ridiculously well in this. It's completely inexplicable. Not a match with a ton of Ishikawa ( he has a really great infighting section with Sawa at one point and an ok section with Yano). Instead a match with a lot of Yano v. Tiger II and a good match. Who knew?

PAS: This was good, but not as good as the previous pair of matches. You had your two underdog young guys getting worked over by your veteran asskickers. It is a good story, but Yano and Sawa are only okay at the spunky underdog role and we had a bunch more Super Tiger II beatings then Ishikawa beatings, which is fine but not what you would want to see in a perfect world. I hope we get to see a bigger Ishikawa showcase later in the year.

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BattlArts 1/10/09

PAS: This is a B-Rules tourney, which means it is worked with RINGS rules, rope breaks and no striking. These are some guys who can work that style, although it does take the violence out of the Battlarts, which is a big part of the fun.

TKG: Pre-show they all draw slips of paper out of a hat. I don't know if that's how they determine tourney brackets or if they're running a date the wrestler raffle or what's going on.

Alexander Otsuka v. Munenori Sawa

PAS: Otsuka may be the best non old Mexican mat wrestler in the world so he is the guy you are going to want to see in a tourney like this. He didn't really do any holy fuck submissions here, but he is ridiculously smooth, and the finish looked like one of those jujitsu holds that you can believe is a real move. Something that looked real, because it looked fake.

TKG: Sawa didn't look bad at all here either. The stuff where he forced Otsuka to the ropes felt like stuff that would force a guy into the ropes.I think they blew the dot coloring but you still had his neat dynamic where Otsuka was dominating (controlling and driving the action) but Sawa would still find stuff quickly to get Otsuka at a numbers disadvantage.

Yuki Ishikawa v. Manabu Hara

TKG:Good chunks of this had Ishikawa working like Dr Tom Pritchard( always aiming at working wind and head) where even arm work was done to expose the head so Ishikawa would have easier time moving in for the choke. While Ishikawa was going for the head, Hara was always aiming for extremities. In the end Ishikawa changes plans and wins with nasty arm submission.

PAS: I didn't feel like this match had much of an overarching story, lots of cool little parts, but it felt slightly disjointed. I loved how Ishikawa dominated the positioning early with Hara catching him. Ishikawa often works these matches like a guy trained as a pro-wrestler, who will dominate you with wrestling, but is weak on Jujitsu. Even the armbar he caught Hara with at the end had him working over the arm with his elbow to weaken it, which was very pro-wrestling.

Yujiro Yamamoto v. Super Tiger II

TKG: Yujiro Yamamoto works really fast on the mat with everything he does leading to him advancing further up II. He's also the first guy on the show where you get the sense that he's a guy who grew up watching MMA. All the other matches have guys who are trying to control through wrestling. Yamamoto is the guy whose matwork feels most modern, with him trying to get the mount , trying to defend in a guard etc.II is working as the stronger guy and is really slow and plodding. Still Yamamoto is the man and this was my favorite match thus far.

PAS: I liked this a lot too, although this was way more of a one man show then either of the two previous matches. Yamamoto was completely awesome, reminded me a bunch of Ryuki Ueyama, but Super Tiger was kind of a load. This actually felt like a RINGS match with Tamura trying to carry a shitty Dutch Kickboxer. Spectacular one man show, really impressive for a young guy, but I don't know how good of an actual match it was.

Alexander Otsuka v. Yuki Ishikawa

TKG: This is back to actual wrestling based guys, doing wrestling based holds and wrestling based selling. But both these guys are really great at those things. Ishikawa goes for an Indian death lock then leans back to go for choke only to have Otsuka go after Ishikawa's hand. Ishikawa is forced to release and they go for clinch where Ishikawa gets caught in a leg lock because he's defending against the German. This is really short. The constant Ishikawa worry and defense set it apart from what we have seen thus far.

PAS: It is sort of frustrating that these guys keep working 7 minute Velocity matches. Last year we saw their awesome stiff fest 7 minute match, this year we get their awesome mat based 7 minute match. If someone edited those two matches together we would have a match of the decade contender. Don't get me wrong, on it's own this is awesome, their previous matches, were maestros carrying young guys, the shootstyle equivalent of the Black Terry v. Traumas or Negro Navarro v. Cerebero match ups. That is always good, but you want Maestro v. Maestro and this delivered.

Super Tiger II v. Keita Yano

TKG: What the fuck?? So B style is a goofy misunderstanding of ROH Pure Title Rules (in the same way that ROH Pure Title Rules was a weird misunderstanding of U-Style and RINGS). So this is essentially a long squash match with Yano getting nothing in and having to go for rope breaks five times. But I don't know if I get the actual rules here. As instead of it being guy who has to go for rope breaks three out of five times looses, it looks like the two participants have a total of five rope breaks allowed. Not like basketball where each guy gets five time outs, but instead imagine if both teams had a total of ten time outs allowed (one team could go for 7 leaving the other three,or just take all ten etc.)Once all the rope breaks are used up you can go for a finish in the ropes. So Yano uses up all the rope breaks and then wins this with a rope assisted sub. R!O!H! R! O!H! WTF? This really feels like Turkish R&B from the 70s or 90s North Korean Country and Western. Entertaining but a real misunderstanding somewhere along the line.

PAS: This match is a Game Theory problem, the rope breaks are the Tragedy of the Commons, neither actor has any incentive to preserve the rope breaks, so Yano selfishly uses up all of the rope breaks and then wins the match. The problem with this match is that it is a semi-final, Yano has exposed this huge flaw, the main event kind of has to be worked with both guys scrambling to use up the rope breaks now, or it makes no sense. He has kind of killed this match. It is like a Battle Royal, the sensible thing to do, would be to grab the bottom rope the entire match, but if someone did that, you could never run another Battle Royal. It seems like this match ended B-Style.

Yuki Ishikawa v. Chichiro Okiawa

PAS: I was pretty surprised with this match, normally Yuki Ishikawa mixed matches are sleazy pervert fest. For example Yuki putting himself in Yoshida's triangle choke so he can smell her stank. This was worked much closer to an Ian Rotten v. Mickie Knuckles match. Those matches all have this weird Southern Indian specific vibe,with Ian as your survivalist father who always wanted a son, but instead his wife died in childbirth leaving him alone with a daughter. Still the Jews and Mexicans are coming to enslave the white race so he has to be sure she is toughened up. I don't know what the equivalent fear in Japan would be (Koreans maybe) but Ishikawa is surprising great as Ian Rotten . Pretty tremendous performance as his selling is just off the charts, as he makes you actually buy kicks and punches from a tiny girl. I also loved how he slowly started taking the match more seriously, as by the end he was in a fight. Really put over Okiawa as a threat, which I figured would be kind of impossible.

TKG: I like Phil’s analogy as there was a real Sarah Connor training John Connor familial feel to this whole thing. There was a real look of pride in Ishikawa every time Okiawa kicked like a mule and bit like a crocodile. Oikawa has never come across as being particularly tough or vicious before. But fuck does she come across violent and scrappy here. Some of this is Ishikawa selling as really no one can make a kick look better than Ishikawa. But there were lots of moments of just viciousness out of Okiawa that I’ve never seen before, her mounted repeated punches to Ishikawa’s ear were especially violent. I also really liked the finish where she put Ishikawa of all people into an octopus and he went with the finishing counter. Okiawa has never looked tougher or more dangerous. Post match you have the same problem that you have after Knuckles v Rotten matches. Not only did Oikawa come off as a threat but she came off as enough of a threat where you go “Well now I don’t buy any girl being competitive let alone beating this violent bitch”.

Keita Yano v. Alexander Otsuka

PAS: Weird match. Lots of cool individual shit, Yano is really flexible, and Otsuka is really innovative in twisting a guy up into pretzels, but the Russoishness of the B-Rules lost me here. While Yano got the advantage in the previous match by using up the rope breaks and Pure titling his way to a win, here he wins by forcing Otsuka to use 3 rope breaks to his 2 rope breaks, and then winning by decision after a 10 minute draw. So he wins both of his matches by manipulating the rules in different ways. I guess it is an interesting concept, but the execution was bad. Yano basically gets squashed by Super Tiger in his opener, really winning in almost a Scott Hall puts over Hector Garzaish way. Here however he is at least Otsuka's equal on the mat, even getting more advantages. So I am left thinking, if Super Tiger steamrolls this chump, why is Otsuka having so many problems? Then after the rope breaks are all used up, you never get a sense of urgency from Otsuka. Theoretically he knows he is behind on the scorecards, but at the end it is Yano who is desperately scrambling for a submission. I got the sense Otsuka was as confused about the rules as I was.

TKG: The idea of Yano being booked as shootstyle ”Ultimate Opportunist” Edge is amusing to me. Although really if that’s the goal he should have gotten on his bicycle and ran out the time or something. I don’t know if Otsuka got hit with a nut shot somewhere in the early minutes but he was really selling wind like he was trying to recover from being nutted for good part of the match. I don’t understand Japanese micwork, so it’s possible that Otsuka’s prematch mic work was all about how the Yano-Heads had attacked him pre match with repeated lowblows but against doctors orders he was going to come and tough this match out anyway.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

IWRG 4/23/09

PAS: Back to full shows this week, which is kick ass.

Multifacético/Freelance/Bobby Lee Jr. v. Arlequín Amarillo/Bushi/Kushida

PAS; Kind of underwhelming match. The opening Bushi v. Multifacetico exchanges were pretty good, and this is one of the few times Multifacetio has ever looked above average. Freelance also hits a big dive, and I enjoyed him working little man v. big man spots with Arlequin. Still the focus of the match seemed to be on Arlequin brawling with Bobby Lee Jr., which was pretty awful.

TKG: I didn’t have as much problems with the Bobby Lee v Arlequin sections. This is the best that I can remember either Multifacetico or Arlequin looking. Arelquin still can’t really sell well but he hit a nice punch and did some stuff well. He looked less like Shane Mmcmahon and more like Kane here. He’s been doing heavyweight rudo contra rudo stuff for a long time and clearly can’t do that. But he may be fine in an actual face/heel six man. I liked Multifaceticos stuff with both him and Buschi. The real giant hole in this match was Kushida. Kushida really was wrestling the most BS fake stuff I’ve seen in ages. Looked like a pre-schooler who was too un-athletic to play with the other boys and thus was stuck playing house, where he acted role of husband who went to work as wrestler. Buschi was unathletic kindergartner miming going to work as a wrestler. This is me hitting stuff, this is me selling. At no point did it look like he was actually interacting with the other people in the ring, he was just miming his stuff. Freelance was stuck with him for way too much of this match.

Negro Navarro/Trauma 1+2 v. Black Terry/Cerebro Negro/ Dr. Cerebro

PAS: We get yet another really fun match up between these two teams. This started with a matwork fall, but really kicked into gear when they got to the brawling. Dr. Cerebro was running around throwing bombs, he has a great looking right hand and was drilling people with it, this is the best he has looked in any of their matchups. I also loved the spot where Trauma 1 superkicks Black Terry and they do the KO spot. It was a fine superkick, but man was Terry's selling off the chain. I wasn't sure whether he was legitimately stunned. What made this match though, was the fact we finally got to see Navarro and Terry really square off, and it was as glorious as you would expect. Navarro is so fierce when he gets fired up, when he sinks in the choke it like Fedor on your back.

TKG: On the 4/16 show I compared Navarro to Hashimoto, but you watch this match and that feels like an understatement. I can’t think of a more menacing bad ass babyface performance to compare to Navarro here. Not face Brody or Missing Link, there is nothing “crazy” or gimmicky about Navarro’s performance. Navarro is a beast and we finally get to see him fully unload and destroy motherfuckers. . Terry is pretty great here coming off even more like desperate Tully outmatched. He comes across even more outmatched, even more desperate and as a result more dangerous. Cerebro Negro and Trauma 1 also have a lot more to offer in a standing match than a technical one. I think there was some timing problem during the dives as anyone who has seen the Megas v Dr Cerebro series knows that no one eats a tope better than Dr Cerebro, instead the dives were just there. I’m a little less sold on the Naucalpan revancha than some other folks. We don’t get the full Xochimilco revancha match but I preferred that one. Structurally I think all the non Navarro/Terry brawling in Xochimilco came off tighter, and I preferred the whole fake foul set up. Still getting to see Navarro unleash at full force was awesome but this didn’t leave me with the high that I had after the first Naucalpan match.

Alebrije/Fuerza Guerrera/Olímpico v. Veneno/Hijo de Cien Caras/Máscara Año 2000 Jr.

PAS: This match opens with Pirata Morgan looking like the mother from Throw Mamma Under the Train coming out and getting into a brawl with Alebrije, which I assume is a AAA feud continued. This was not much of a match, despite having more talent, this wasn't as spirited as the Arlequins v. Pierroths match a couple of weeks back. I did love the multiple Fuerza low blows as a face move, which reminded me of Ole's hammerlock bodyslam in the Starcade 1984 tag, long time evil rudo traditional move used for good. Still this was really long and not much was worth a shit.

TKG:Pirata comes out prematch and offers his hand to shake to all the heels and faces. Ex rudo Fuerza accepts the handshake, but the other faces reject with Alebrije going as far as attacking Pirata. Fuerza and Veneno were never on the same page and their stuff together looked ass. Fuerza’s stuff with the Jr Dinamitas was fine, but unfortunately a lot of the match was spent with Fuerza matching up with Veneno. Alebrije and Olimpico are both released guys working the indies. I haven’t seen Olimpico as a technico in ages, but he really was working less like a guy on the indies with something to prove than like a EMLL main eventer mailing it in for an indy. Alebrije on the other hand was working like a guy with something to prove. He was really working hard; unfortunately I don’t know how much he has to offer. He's got some fun shtick, a nice DDT, stiff strikes and a Bret Hart style sternum first bump into the corner. I mean that might be enough but I think he is to blame for the shitty AAA style meaningless chair brawling which the refs are forced to ignore. Good shtick, a DDT, stiffness and a nice bump is probably enough if you know how to put that together, but if it’s put together in this really AAA ish way, I can live without it.

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#21: Villano V

by Phil

One of the interesting things about lucha libre, is that you have a huge group of awesome luchadores in their 40s and 50s who can be under the radar for years and then get some focus on them and have huge resurgences. We have seen it recently with guys like Navarro, Black Terry and Super Astro and last year Villano V comes out of semi-retirement and has the match of the year (What is Emilio Charles Jr., doing? I think it's time for his return.). He makes this list based pretty much entirely on the Blue Panther feud, but man was that a great feud. Mask match was the MOTY, and you had a pair of really great revanchas as well. I loved the way he changed from the mask match to the revancha matches. He was clearly working as an underdog in the mask match, but after pulling the upset he was way more vicious, contemptuous and aggressive in the rematches. It was the kind of character growth you don’t normally see in wrestling.

Recommended 2008 matches:

~vs. Blue Panther (Mascara contra Mascara), CMLL 9/19/08
~vs. Blue Panther, CMLL 9/28/08
~vs. Blue Panther, CMLL 9/29/08
~w/ Villano III/Villano IV vs. Black Warrior/Blue Panther/Último Guerrero, CMLL 10/31/08

Career Recommended Matches:

~w/ Villano III/Villano IV vs. Blue Panther/Pimpinela Escarlata/Entredorr, IWRG 4/00
~w/ Villano III/Villano IV vs. Black Warrior/Dr. Wagner Jr./Blue Panther, CMLL 12/15/00
~w/ Villano III/Villano IV vs. El Signo/Negro Navarro/El Texano, IWRG 12/04
~w/ Negro Navarro/Villano IV va. Dos Caras Jr./Heavy Metal/Solar 1, AULL 11/02/06

2009 Outlook:

Not great, as he lost his mask to Ultimo Guerrerro (which I haven’t seen yet, but to put it lightly Ultimo Guerrerro is no Blue Panther). His run is pretty much over, and I doubt he makes a 2009 list.

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Thursday, May 07, 2009

IWRG 4/16/09

PAS: Check it

TKG: So the original idea was that in an internet world where people consume wrestling like 45s, we would review whole LPs. Unfortunately we don’t have a whole show for 4/16/09. But this one match wasn’t so much a 45 as an EP, and needed to be commented on. Hopefully Alfredo will be able to find a source for whatever else made TV. Full show was: 1) Halcon 2000 b Zaico; 2) Daga & Eterno b Chico del Barrio & Comando Negro; 3) Diva Salvaje, Miss Gaviota, Sexy Gladis b Avisman, Hijo del Signo, Mixteco Jr.;4) Arlequin & Arlequin Verde b Hijo de Pierroth (IWRG) & Pierroth II; 5) Black Terry, Cerebro Negro, Dr. Cerebro b Negro Navarro, Trauma I, Trauma II. I assume only last three matches made TV. Miss Gaviota is the only one of the IWRG exoticos that I’ve ever seen before. He isn’t really your normal prancing mincing exotico. He doesn’t really do any of that, he’s just a guy who is really smooth on the mat with a woman’s body. No prancing. You wouldn’t blink if he showed up on a Queen B show. I imagine him and Avisman would match up really well. And well the Arlequins v Pierroths is a feud that really gives you a peak into another universe. I don’t think I spend enough time thanking Steve Austin for saving the WWF. . So a toast to Austin, raise a beer and punch your significant other because without him HBK and Shane v Brothers of Destruction would be main eventing a Texas indy and look exactly like Arlequins v Pierroths. Well it wouldn’t draw as many Hispanics, but still. Spanky, American Dragon and Action Jackson would make an amusing Terribles Cerebros. On to the main event.

Negro Navarro/Trauma I/Trauma II v. Black Terry/Cerebro Negro/Dr. Cerebro

PAS: This is the first match in the Naculpan run of this feud (the Arena Xochimilico series is here and and is worked as a technical battle of one upsmanship. You have two veteran maestros each bringing in their young charges to determine superiority. The structure of the match was a little unusual especially in the first fall, as guys would lock in a submission and would release it, just to show they could get their opponent. This is the best I have seen Trauma 1 look, he was always the Solar 2 to his Trauma 2's Solar 1, but his mat section with Black Terry was the best of the three long opening mat sections. It had more countering then the others, and Trauma I also gets the first fall with an awesome spinning leg lock. Navarro surprisingly looked stronger in the third fall which was exchanges and brawling, then he did in the first two matwork falls. I loved his handshake takedown, but the Terry v. Navarro on the mat was a little underwhelming. However the Terry v. Navarro brawling was great especially his infighting, a sick headbutt and punch countering. The Cerebros also looked great. I think this was the best of three matches between these teams, but I still think their classic encounter hasn't happened yet. They are working each other twice next week, lets hope our youtube peeps hook us up.

TKG: Trauma 1 is still the Solar II of the Traumas as that was all Black Terry. One of the big differences between the stronger mat guys and the weaker ones in this match is the way the stronger ones will wrench the lesser opponent into the submission. Trauma I and Cerebro Negro are guys who will move one leg here and another leg here and an arm here and “look a cool looking submission”. Terry, Trauma II, Navarro and Dr Cerebro will take their opponent down directly into a sub. Their subs all feel like they’re set up by dragon screw moves as they just absolutely wrench a guy to the mat and wrench them into a tight sub. These aren’t so much cool looking subs as they are absolutely nasty ways to put those subs on. I think my favorites were the sub Terry set up in the first fall that’s set up by kicking the inner thigh and then steeping on the hand; and the application of Dr Cerebro’s sub on Trauma I in the second fall which was amazing, as I’ve always liked his goofy submission but I don’t remember any other time where it looked this much like he was applied with this much force and torque. The one point where Trauma I actually sneaks a sub in, it’s the only time any of his stuff has any torque behind it.

The neat thing about getting to watch this match workshoped around is how different the Naucalpan version of the technical match is from the Xochimilco version. In that match they hid Trauma I by having him not have a mat section at all in the first fall. Instead he worked a Coco Verde v Xibalva fast exchanges section. Here he gets walked through the mat stuff with Black Terry. Both matches have the exact same finishing sequence to set up the rematch. But everything before that is completely different. The Xochimilco match starts with both maestros matching up and working pretty even sections with the stronger junior member of the opposite team. Terry and Navarro worked as Mantell v Lawler, two tough guys who can go toe to toe on the mat and standing. They worked a long Trauma II face in peril getting double and triple teamed until Navarro came in upset about the liberties taken with his son and was attacking folks like Bruno after someone got his Italian up. The Naucalpan match is worked nothing like that. The Naucalpan match is worked with no sense of their being any parity in the matchups. Both teams are trying to set up the match up to take advantage of the other team’s weak side. First fall has the two strongest junior members (Dr and II) match up in a long really cool even section, while each maestro gets to work against the weaker member of the opposite team. They play this up and there is no real attempt to hide that Truama I and Cerebro Negro are outmatched. The Terry/Trauma I, Navarro/Cerebro Negro is not the only mismatch that they play up. Terry isn’t working Dutch in the Naucalpan match he’s working almost Gino. There is nothing Mantell v Lawlerish about the Terry v Navarro matchups. Instead they’re really worked like Tully v Hashimoto. Navarro is an absolute beast and Terry is a guy in over his head but a dangerous shitkicker when given the opportunity. First fall is Black Terry toying with Trauma I, Dr Cerebro working even with Trauma II, and Navarro toying with Cerebro Negro until he decides to submit him. Black Terry comes in to even it out and ends up underestimating Trauma I and gets caught in a submission. The playing up of the mismatch makes this feel like a big deal. Second fall has Navarro toying with Terry, Dr Cerebro avenging Terry by subbing Trauma I, and then Navarro underestimating Terry and getting caught in a sub. Third fall is the stand up section and the cheat to win finish. Pretty great match up and completely different than the Xochimilco one. As the announcer says “Si usted, si usted quiere a la lucha…Aqui, aqui esta la lucha” I like the lucha.

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#22: Matt Hardy

by Nick

Returning from five months out in late March just short of Wrestlemania, it’s surprising that Hardy was not lost in the WWE’s frayed afterglow of that season. Better still was his embrace of a brand switch that made him (with Finlay and Mark Henry) the veteran lynchpin of ECW, elevating all he worked with and making that show the company’s best television. His Swiss watch reliability in TV matches would today be legendary if Hardy had broken in at the right decade, billed as a Walking Tall roughneck by Bill Watts, Dusty Rhodes, or Ole Anderson of Hardy’s native Mid-Atlantic territory. The sentimental end of Hardy’s great 2008 in fact came in the first two weeks of ’09: a sharp ECW Title defense against Henry, then seven days later dropping the belt to wunderkind Jack Swagger in as textbook a title switch as you’ll see anywhere this year. But nothing in MH V.1’s year approaches his longstanding rivalry with MVP, a rare modern beef that’s remained in the hearts and minds of a slipshod Vince and co. nearly two years after its start. In ‘08 it was augmented by competition segments of the duo one-upping each another in chess, football, and arm wrestling; Hardy in a worked boxing match with MVP’s ringer Evander Holyfield, and a Summerslam beer drinking challenge refereed by Steve Austin, the logical bookend of their No Mercy ’07 pizza eating contest MC’ed by Tazz.

Recommended 2008 Matches:

~vs. Randy Orton, 3/31/08 Raw
~vs. MVP, 4/4/08 Smackdown
~vs. Chuck Palumbo, 4/11/08 Smackdown
~vs. MVP, 5/2/08 Smackdown
~vs. Chavo Guerrero, 6/29/08 Night of Champions
~w/ Finlay vs. Mark Henry/Mike Knox, 9/9/08 ECW
~vs. Mike Knox, 9/16/08 ECW
~vs. Evan Bourne, 10/26/08 No Mercy

Career Recommended Matches:

~Surge vs. Will O’ the Wisp [2/3 Falls, Mask vs. Title], 7/31/98 OMEGA
~The Hardy Boys vs. The Serial Thrillaz, 1/29/99 OMEGA
~vs. Rey Mysterio, 9/25/03 Smackdown
~Hardys vs. MNM 1/28/07 Royal Rumble
~vs. Joey Mercury, 3/2/07 Smackdown
~w/ Chris Benoit vs. Fit Finlay/MVP, 5/11/07 Smackdown
~vs. Finlay, 6/19/07 Smackdown
~vs. Chris Masters, 7/13/07 Smackdown

2009 Outlook:

Promoted to RAW in his new role as a bellyaching heel, interesting matchups for Hardy emerge: Cena-Hardy is something could have headlined a mid-80s Starrcade. Continuation of the MVP rivalry, with the roles now reversed, also has appeal. To his advantage is the RAW brand’s lack of talented villains, or utility players of any sort. Hardy spent ‘08 making good workers look great. What he can do given a chance with listless burdens like Michaels, Hunter, or Batista, fresh matchups that bastardize the word “fresh”, remains to be seen. Six years ago Hardy nailed his role as a self-absorbed, often hilarious sleaze who dubbed his lackeys MFers (Matt Fanatics), espoused a lifestyle of Mattitude, and wrote trite “Matt Facts” about himself that scrolled over his ring entrances. The success or failure of Hardy’s year then seems contingent on how fully he is able to develop his character’s wide-eyed delusions of grandeur.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Segunda Caida Gets an Incomplete: The Wrestling What I Watched: Week of 4/27/09

Potential new weekly feature's debut canceled due to inexplicable malfunction of Blogger's autosave feature and the author's computer turning against him in his hour of need. Film at never.

It has been a million years since I wrote something for this blog. I mean, I have a couple of incomplete pieces here and there, but haven't actually finished anything to my satisfaction. It is largely a product of poor task management skills. I take on a lot of projects at once, and slows my progress on all of them as my brain flits about from one thing to another rather inefficiently. Anyway, I am trying to streamline my life these days, so to that end, I am going to try this little experiment where I take all my wrestling watching/reviewing projects, throw in the stuff I watched of my own accord, and dump it all into one weekly report. This is the wrestling I watched last week:


I need to sit down and figure out what keeps overriding SmackDown on my DVR, as it hasn't taped the last few weeks. I mean, only other thing I watch on Fridays is Monk, and that's not even in that timeslot. I don't get it. Oh well. There's still Raw and ECW to potentially entertain me.

I am mildly distraught over the Santina Marella gimmick. If there's one thing I learned from The Boogeyman, it's that the quickest way to destroy the eficacy of a comedy act is to take one gag from the routinr and make it the only gag. I laughed really, really hard at The Boogeyman's first TV promo, when he just sort of randomly pulled out a clock while reciting a nursery rhyme, and then he smashed it over his head before saying his catchphrase. It was funny because it was surreal and unexpected. So when they made it a recurring part of his act, it wasn't funny anymore. He added the worms and Little Boogeyman. He wasn't getting a lot of new material for the most part. He stayed over, but the act wasn't as potent as it could have been. Santino is a really funny guy, and he has had better luck in this regard. And I didn't see WrestleMania yet, but I did watch Raw the next night, and I laughed at Santina. Laughed at him using the old Billy & Chuck theme, laughed at his jokes, laughed at his interactions with Beth. But the big laugh in this match came from the Bella twins and Hornswoggle. Santina becomes an afterthought. The joke doesn't feel fresh or interesting anymore, and while Santino is a capable enough worker, it's not like he is Cassandro or Pimpi. Not a guy who I will be sold on because of his work alone. It feels like there are only so many places this can go to keep me interested. Extended courtship by The Great Khali could have been amusing, but they blew that wad already. A feud with Goldust, maybe. A team with Goldust, maybe. Beth Phoenix breaking up with Santino, coming out of the closet, and bringing in her new "girlfriend", Pimpinela Escarlata. Maybe Polvo de Estrellas if you're willing to settle. Beyond that, it's a joke with a pretty limited shelf life, and it seems like a waste of Santino's comic talents.

I'm probably not saying anything you don't already know, but they did quite the job of setting up MVP as a serious main event threat in the opening interview, and then did an even better job of throwing that all away by having him fall into a black hole so Shane could goof around for a while. Hey, remember when Shane was the McMahon who was actually kind of fun to watch in the ring? Him standing in the crowd triumphantly with his kendo stick at the end made me think of Tommy Dreamer, and Shane McMahon as Tommy Dreamer is really inappropriate and really weirdly appropriate at the same time somehow.

I made a really long post back in 'o7 at the DVDVR forums about how I expected the impending boom to go down and who I expected to become major players in it. It is 2009, and looking back, about 90% of what I wrote ended up being dead wrong. Still, it's nice to see I accurately called The Miz as an ideal Cena foe. Well, not even my call. Actually Dukes' call which I seconded. But still. I know conventional wisdom is that Cena is a guy who works best against dominant super heavyweights. But fuck conventional wisdom. I wanna see this.

ECW was a fine show this week. I watch Christian's opening promo and I am still stunned that this is the same guy who used the "what's the capital of Thailand" joke during a World Title feud with Monty Brown. Guy who's previous main event babyface run involved mocking Jeff Jarrett's fashion sense in promos now feels like he is totally at home at the top of the card. This almost feels like a Rocky Maivia-to-The Rock level turnaround. Christian actually seems dignified. His jokes actually fit. Pointing out that he knows Jack Swagger will interupt his promo feels like a relevant diss, and it's made all the better when Tommy Dreamer subverts it by coming out first. Yes, Tommy Dreamer actually made something better. Their match was rock-solid, too. I mean, pretty clearly a Christian carryjob, but Tommy didn't embarass himself, and the match held together pretty well.

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Tuesday, May 05, 2009

#23: Mark Henry

by Eric

It appears people are finally accepting Mark Henry as a great worker, 4 years after he really started getting awesome. Even your average Shawn Michaels or C.M Punk apologist will admit that Henry is awesome now. I know America's climate changed a lot in 2008. We have a new black president with inexplicably great abdominal muscles, so it could be that America is now just used to the idea of black men with inexplicable abdominal muscles. Maybe Henry never had as great a year as this one because every other year he would get rolling, then would get injured within a month and disappear for 8 months. He's got Tony Atlas to travel with now, keep his diet in check, and keep his training on point, and that must be worth something. His offense has really been fine-tuned, and he has different sets of it depending on the opponent he's working and what part of the body he's working. His selling is what's really gotten spectacular, though, knowing how to realistically stumble into and take offense from people smaller than him, knowing when to cut off comebacks, knowing when to look like a monster, and how to sell vulnerability. It took 10 years, but Henry is an elite worker now.

Recommended 2008 Matches:

~vs. John Cena, 2/11/08 Raw
~vs. HHH, 6/23/08 Raw
~vs. Matt Hardy, 8/19/08 ECW
~w/ Mike Knox vs. Fit Finlay/Matt Hardy, 9/9/08 ECW
~vs. Fit Finlay, 11/4/08 ECW

Career Recommended Matches:

~vs. Booker T, 11/17/03 Raw
~vs. Chris Jericho, 1/12/04 Raw
~vs. Rob Van Dam, 1/26/04 Raw
~vs. Rey Mysterio, 1/20/06 Smackdown
~vs. Undertaker, 2/10/06 Smackdown
~w/ MNM vs. Rey Mysterio/Kurt Angle/Randy Orton, 3/17/06 Smackdown
~vs. Bobby Lashley, 4/28/06 Smackdown
~vs. Chris Benoit, 5/20/06 Smackdown

2009 Outlook:

Great, as long as he stays healthy. I think he has a legitimate chance to be higher in '09, with a few really great performances already under his belt on ECW (vs. Dreamer, great 4-way with Finlay/Miz/Morrison). Somebody gon' get they wig split.

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Friday, May 01, 2009

#24: Jimmy Jacobs

by Phil

Jacobs’s 2008 was sort of an interesting failure. In 2007 he was a top 5 guy involved in two great feuds which he booked, that really delivered in both in the ring and out. The Whitmer I Quit match from March 2008 was probably his career match, but that was basically leftover business from 2007. His 2008 was all about the Age of the Fall, which despite some real promise, never really worked out. AOTF was really amusing conceptually, they were a college leftist heel stable. Lacey was your Women’s Studies major who was still a year away from her Lesbian semester, Necro was your older hippy in the Kuchinch T-Shirt who hung around the college kids to either sell or score drugs, Black was your Frat Boy who just read Howard Zinn a month ago and was full of newly formed anger and Jacobs was your manic depressive cutter whose friends confuse his mental illness with profound thoughts. Everyone played their roles really well, and it is a great heel gimmick, but it really only works if your audience went to college and unfortunately your average ROH fan is uneducated. The angle never really went anywhere, and the matches in the Aries and Necro feud were good, but not what they should have been. Basically he was caught in the ROH death spiral, and it dragged down his year. Even so Jacobs is still the best in the world at building an epic brawl, and one spectacular match and a bunch of good ones will get him in a top 25.

2008 Recommended Matches:

v. BJ Whitmer I Quit IWA-MS 3/1
Age of the Fall v. Briscoes/Austin Aries v. Necro Butcher Steel Cage Massacre 9/20
v. Austin Aries Dog Collar Match ROH 11/8
v. Austin Aries I Quit ROH 11/22

Career Recommended Matches:

v. Bryan Danielson ROH 12/1/07
v. B.J. Whitmer ROH 3/4/07
v. Delirious Steel Cage IWA-MS 2/4/05
w/ Colt Cabana v. Roderick Strong/Jack Evans ROH 12/4/04

2009 Outlook:

Not good, ROH is a walking corpse at this point, and he is stuck working fake Raven. It is possible that he can pull a pearl or two out of the shit, or have another good IWA-MS match, but he seems like a guy who will end up lower next year.

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#25: Oficiale 911

by Tomk

The Oficiales were the best unit in wrestling in 2008: three rudos in matching police outfits who attacked in tandems and in sequence. In trios matches they never came across as three individuals but were always a unit. In the past I have mocked the real clear division of labor in many trios teams: the guy who does the flashy exchanges (Coco Verde/Xibalaba), the powerhouse (Cyborg/Coco Rojo), and guy who works more deliberate technical exchanges ( Captain Muerte/Coco Blanco). The Oficiales were three guys all working power forward. None of them fell into the current trap of overly elaborate offense, instead their offense was just relentless. No matter how many times the technicos outsmarted them, how many times they fell, how many times they bumped out of the ring they just kept coming. AK-47 may have been a natural center working power forward, and 911 was a natural swing man working power forward. 911 was the guy you expect to be matched up with Xibalba but instead gets matched up with Captain Muerte, often put in the position of being the team captain which would lead to match ups with Black Terry and didn’t look out of place in either situation.

Recommended matches from 2008:

~Los Oficiales vs. Fantasma de la Opera/Dr. Cerebro/Cerebro Negro 8/28/08

~Los Oficiales vs. Black Terry/Cerebro Negro/Dr Cerebro 9/18/08

~Los Oficiales v Xibalba/Cyborg/Captain Muerte 9/28/08

~Los Oficiales v Rey Cometa/Pegasso/Freelance 10/17/08

~Los Oficiales vs. Jack/Multifacético/Pendulo 12/5/08

Prospects for 2009: Styles make matches and while 911 has impressed in trios title matches, and trios in general, he’s been hit and miss in the big cibernetico and the cage match. The Oficiales have lost one of their two trios titles and not sure how they’re going to be used. Fuerza challenged 911 to a mano a mano sin referi and a mask match. But there has been no follow up and I imagine in the current climate, you need to pay a guy a lot more to take off his mask. It’s hard to make predictions in the world of indy lucha. Guys will show up blow you away, have a nice run and then disappear only to go who knows where or be regimmicked as who knows what. I also have a feeling that as AAA releases more guys, locals may get fewer shots at showcase roles.

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