Segunda Caida

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

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

WWECW Workrate Report 5/22/07

1. Snitsky vs. Tommy Dreamer

The dream match everybody was waiting for! Snitsky posts Dreamer and works over his shoulder to start, until Snitsky misses a big boot and crotches himself over the top rope. He did the exact same missed spot last week against RVD, so it appears this is going to be his "Andre stuck in the ropes" spot. He doesn't make it look very good, though. Dreamer's comeback was really cool but then he went up top for no reason other than getting caught by Snitsky. Man that's dumb. Tazz also overdoes the "Snitsky had BAD intentions behind that shot!" as he also drove it into the ground last week. I fucking hate that phrase when MMA announcers use it, and it's no less stupid here. What other intentions would ANYbody have when he is fighting someone? You have two guys trying to win a fight. OF COURSE a punch will have bad intentions. I guess that are rare instances like "Man, I had to hit you with that chair to save you from yourself! I was trying to help you! My intentions were good."

Elsewhere in 2007, Timbaland did a music video with the Hives, and it featured Layla and Torrie Wilson. That's weird.

2. Kevin Thorn vs. Wyatt Laro?

90 second squash, but a good one. Wyatt...something (Styles and Tazz kept pronouncing his last name slightly different. Laird, Lara, Lahro, Layro. I have no idea what it was supposed to be as he didn't get an onscreen graphic) bumped nicely for Thorn and Thorn didn't dawdle and busted out a nice clothesline and a fine yakuza kick. Fans actually get amped for Wyatt's comeback but it's shortlived and Thorn hits his finisher, which Styles now calls Original Sin. Also, no Ariel with him this week, so I assume she got canned out of nowhere and never mentioned again (because they sure weren't talking about why she wasn't there this week).

3. Matt Striker vs. Brett Major

So, this wasn't very good at all. Ryder is so-so now, so imagine how polished he was 6 years ago. He had some big bumps, and then some of the worst punches you've ever seen which I suppose means he's   supposed to be the new ECW Chris Chetti. It was weird seeing him break out offense that I don't associate with him, like a rolling senton (once he started getting somewhat over his offense became more locked in). I still like Striker and he looked good here. They spent so much time putting over how he's the weak link of the New Breed that I was positive he'd lose here, which really made me buy into Major reversing a vertical suplex into a small package. So that was a good pinfall fakeout, but Major just wasn't that good overall.

4. RVD & CM Punk vs. Elijah Burke & Marcus Cor Von

Wow, what a dud. This was one of the more boring matches I've seen in some time. They get plenty of time to do something, and this couldn't even hold my attention for 14 minutes. I had to break it up into two parts. A couple minutes in we get Burke and Marcus isolating RVD and working over his legs for what seems like an eternity. The leg work looks good (especially liked Burke knee dropping RVD's legs and slamming his knees into the canvas over and over) but my god they work his legs over for 8 minutes. There are never any teases to tag in Punk during this whole time, just the two guys working over RVD. No missed hot tags, not even any attempts. Just RVD having to sell leg work for a long time. RVD as a salesman always brings plenty of unintentionally funny facials. Eventually after the longest 8 minutes of my month, Punk tags in and the crowd is going crazy. And then Cor Von hits another awesome Pounce (I don't think I'll ever tire of this move) and Punk goes flying into the ropes and...the ref calls for the bell. You see, Cor Von was not the legal man. Oh, my god. Was this during that period when the refs were supposed to call things "as if they were a shoot"? Because a couple weeks back when Vince pinned RVD Scott Armstrong waited way long to count because one of RVD's shoulders were up, and now this match ends out of nowhere in the flattest way possible, over something that rarely ends a match in WWE. This was a horrible waste of 15 minutes right here.


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Monday, September 23, 2013

WWECW Workrate Report 5/15/07

Vince starts us with a sit down interview wearing a white doo rag (to match his suit) and doing a kinda bonkers promo about how much he likes his "skull caps", and thinks they look cool, but what he likes more is not wearing anything on his head at all and how Bobby Lashley took that privilege away from him. For anybody that was sick of MacMahons on TV, I think Vince is so incredibly awesome once you're removed from the situation.

1. RVD vs. Snitsky

On paper this does not look great, but RVD's best opponents are usually immobile roid guys. He bumps around big for their moves and makes them look better than they really are (and bumping has always been his strongest suit). When he's against another "athletic" guy they just become mindless jerkoff sessions. RVD still has plenty of problem spots in this match (his forearms have always been a train wreck) but this match is definitely greater than the sum of its parts. They've both been in with "better" workers, but this is a good match up. It's not a good match, mind you, but a good match up. All of RVD's spin kicks land nice and snug and he peppers them in at the right times. Snitsky doesn't blow anything and controls with acceptable power offense. Match ends when Snitsky hits RVD with a chair, so apparently that is not a thing you can do in the new ECW.

2. CM Punk vs. Steven Richards

They do a Punk video before the match highlighting all of Punk's martial arts expertise, and it shows footage of him just hitting his awkward spinning mule kick and slapping somebody. He also calls jiu jitsu "jits" which is just about the most annoying 'breve you can use. I did not realize Richards was still a WWE employee at this point but I'm stoked as I always liked his WWE work. The Bob Holly matches from Heat were two of my favorites from that time period. This match was really great and about as awesome a match as you could do in 4 1/2 minutes. Punk has his ribs taped up from getting hit with the Pounce last week, and Richards immediately eye rakes Punk and starts ripping at the tape. He starts working the body with punches and stomps, snapmaring Punk and just booting the shit out of his back. Nice, satisfying THUD there. Richards works him over with a cool bow and arrow and keeps to those ribs. Richards always had really great body part specific match layouts, depending on what the match called for. Punk's comeback was nice and quick, with Richards getting into place for everything really well and flying face first into the GTS. God I wanted like 2 more minutes at least, but they filled the time they had really well.

3. Kevin Thorn vs. Nunzio

Thorn seems pretty boring, just making a bunch of scowly faces and plodding around. Nunzio looks GREAT here. His bumping was always pretty spectacular, but his evasive offense here was really satisfying and his stick and move style worked nicely. He had a really great dropkick to Thorn's ankle and then hit a sweet dropkick off the top. Then Thorn just kinda brushed it off and hit his admittedly cool finisher (like a Stunner but with the guy draped over the top rope, called the Dark Kiss). I imagine most guys don't take it as well as Nunzio, though.

Extreme Expose is up now, and okay Kelly does legitimately seem out of place during a bunch of this, and even takes a kick to the head from Layla at one point (Layla does a lot of high kicks and was lying on the apron doing them, when Kelly tried to walk through the ropes mid-Layla kick. Whoops.) which they admirably move on from somewhat smoothly. Layla looked so damn tiny and skinny during this, much less curvy than present.

4. The New Breed (Matt Striker, Marcus Cor Von, Elijah Burke) vs. Bobby Lashley

Boy, sure are a lot of 3 on 1 handicap matches on the new ECW. They're even building one up throughout the show for the upcoming Judgment Day PPV. This match is pretty much nothing until Cor Von hits the Pounce a few minutes in and Lashley spills spectacularly over the top rope to the floor. For a move that seems really hard to make look good, a lot of guys seem to make the Pounce look really good. Burke looks really good working over Lashley. He had a bunch of nice body blows, a cool Kabuki right uppercut, and a great fistdrop off the top to Lashley's ribs (was Burke a guy getting pimped in 2007? He looks really good here). Lashley's come back kind of comes out of nowhere, like they just got the call to go home. They go from Lashley selling a beating to just immediately going back on offense, dispatching Burke and Cor Von, and then hitting his finisher on Striker. Striker gets more height on a chokeslam/power bomb type move than anybody I've ever seen. Holy lord. This match could have been really good if Lashley's transition to comeback was worked in sensibly. Instead they just flipped a switch and it was "Okay, my turn to do stuff" and the whole thing ended up rushed.


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Sunday, September 22, 2013

WWECW Workrate Report 5/8/07

So I did not have SyFy when ECW originally started. I didn't get it until a like mid 2009 so really didn't start watching it until it was towards the end. So realistically I've probably only seen 20% of the actual WWECW run, all of it from the end when guys like Christian and Finlay were working it. I'm not familiar with any of the stuff from the first year (or second or third year), don't know if there are any hidden gems or recommended matches, don't know any story lines, nothing. All this stuff is new to me so I'm hoping something fun jumps out. And again, all this stuff is new to me so if I say anything that sounds like I don't know what I'm talking about, it's because I don't know what I'm talking about.

1. CM Punk vs. Marcus Cor Von

This is all so bizarro universe to me, as I was obviously watching WWE during this same time period, but here's Monty Brown coming out to theme music I've never heard while Joey Styles talks about him.   Cor Von seemed massive in TNA and here seems about 15 pounds larger than Punk, maybe. Still Cor Von (gosh this is a stupid name) works over Punk's back nicely by posting him  and tossing him with a sweet overhead belly-to-belly. Punk transitions to control by dodging a Cor Von charge, and instantly Cor Von is selling as much damage as Punk so that's odd. Punk is still selling his ribs in between doing offense, which includes an awful springboard clothesline. I don't remember digging early WWE babyface punk at all, and this is reminding me why. Styles is selling Punk's "broken" ribs in that really fucking obnoxious way that Styles sells things. But holy shit Cor Von hits the Pounce and THAT move still looks great as Punk flings himself into the ropes neck first (with his neck hitting the bottom rope in a nasty way). For a 10 minute match this wasn't very good.

We get Raw highlights all dealing with the Edge/Mr. Kennedy feud which is about as much eyeball poison as a person should be able to handle. If I asked you to name a shittier sounding match off the top of your head, I don't know if you'd be able to.

2. The Sandman vs. Snitsky

Gene Snitsky was a guy who was bad at pro wrestling, but some people enjoyed him because he was "so bad he was good", even though "so bad it's good" isn't actually a thing. What was really annoying about all that, is a few of us who enjoyed Mark Henry around this time got lumped into the same crowd of people ironically liking Snitsky, as if we were only liking him to be kewl or something. At least 95% of those assholes know how awesome Mark Henry is now. For all I know Snitsky may have died a couple years ago. I do remember that when he moved to ECW he changed his look, which meant shaving his thinning/receding roidz 'do (and his eyebrows) and purposely making his teeth yellow and jagged. I may only remember one Snitsky match I thought was good (I think I liked a TV match against Matt Hardy) but I gotta give him credit for fully committing to a look. The dude looks gross. Oh, and this match goes 1 minute as Snitsky hits a couple clubbing blows and then whiffs on a big boot and Sandman gets zero offense. So I assume a few original ECW guys were signed to 1 year deals and this was like the end of that 1 year and they just gave not one shit about them anymore?

Extreme Expose are dancing in the ring. I have never witnessed EE but it seems to be perfectly fine in a Nitro Girls type of way. The only thing I remember about them was Meltzer always harping on how bad Kelly Kelly looked compared to the other two (I assume Layla and the other one have more dance training). The crowd - to my surprise - doesn't completely shit on this, which is probably due more to them not overstaying their welcome. I'll take 2 minutes of foxy ladies dancing to "Toxic" over 15 minutes of Abraham Washington.

3. Brian Major vs. Elijah Burke

Well, I have zero memory of Zach Ryder and Curt Hawkins wrestling as "Brett and Brian Major", even though they apparently had a bunch of matches on Smackdown. How is it that I can remember all the Manu matches but not these guys? The first time I remember seeing them was when they were Edge lackeys. I assumed they had never appeared on TV before that. Huh. This was a good short match as Burke stiffed Major up and Major flopped well and leaned into things. I really liked Burke's knees and he had some great kicks to the stomach. Major misses big on a crossbody and then the match ends on a weak note because instead of using his awesome Elijah Express running double knees, he ends it with what is apparently called the Elijah Experience, which is basically The Stroke. So he just grabs the back of Major's head, and throws him to the mat, but it really looks like Major flinging himself face first into the mat. Wah wah.

4. Vince MacMahon, Shane MacMahon and Umaga vs. Rob Van Dam

That is great. So apparently Vince put the title on himself and proclaims himself Mr. Extreme. His strut coming out for this match is epic as he has full on Vince legs, and big swinging arms, occasionally throwing in a pimp limp. He's also wearing his all black gear and doo rag. Shane really is just the best pudgy backyarder. It seems like a miracle he doesn't blow any sequences. When you think back to how horrific David Flair was then Shane practically comes off like prime Misawa. He and RVD actually work really well together and it's satisfying seeing reckless RVD kicks catch Shane in the chin and forehead. Shane throws a couple nice elbow drops, RVD takes a big bump to the floor when Umaga pulls the rope down, and I'm digging this way more than I should be. Vince is great as a Jimmy Hart/Bobby Heenan "forced to compete" guy, except he chose to compete so has an extra layer of hubris running parallel to his chickenshit routine. He's fun running in and trying to pin RVD after Umaga beats him up, scrambling back to the apron while making Vince faces and Don Knotts mannerisms. We get a hot fake finishing sequence with Shane doing a big bump over the top to the floor, and RVD countering Umaga offense in cool ways. The MacMahons cheat to transition back to offense, and Shane actually hits a superplex! Once Umaga hits the big splash off the top and Samoan Spike, Vince freaks out wanting the "hot" tag and then struts around with the belt after the match. I couldn't really say it was a good match, but it was plenty fun for 10 minutes and peaked nicely.


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Sunday, September 08, 2013

My Favorite Wrestling! WCW Saturday Night 6/20/98

1. Yuji Nagata vs. Hardbody Harrison

Hardbody Harrison was like the least surprising sex trafficker in the history of sexual slavery. I'm assuming most people who watched WCW around this time just thought that he was working a "forced sexual slavery" gimmick. It was like Clay Aiken's interview announcing he was gay. I assume most people in attendance were expecting actual news, not something that everybody had known immediately when they first found out who Clay Aiken was. It would be like B.B. King holding a press conference to announce he has hypertension. All that aside, match itself was really fun. Nagata kicked a dirtbag around the ring and Harrison bumped around really nicely. That's pretty much all I wanted.

2. Van Hammer vs. Reese

This wasn't very good at all, but WCW's match structure made bad matches better than similar WWE bad matches. WWE matches are much slower paced and always have to feature a chinlock spot before the babyface starts his comeback. WCW lower card matches were usually just guys go-go-go for 3 minutes. So even if their offense wasn't very good, at least there wasn't much lying around building to a heatless comeback. You had guys rushing through spots and bad matches seemed more action-packed than they probably really were. I get the freakshow aspect of Reese and probably wanted him to be better than he was. It was stunning how bad Van Hammer looked here since he'd probably been wrestling 8+ years at this point.

3. Stevie Ray vs. Mike Tolbert

So this was better than it should have been. Maybe it looks better because it immediately followed a Van Hammer match. But Stevie Ray actually looked pretty decent here, with some nice elbow drops and big right hands. Mike Tolbert was not very good here, but I have a new weird appreciation for him after a recent Segunda Caida review drew some well-worded, humorous and most importantly informative criticism from a gay interest blog. I'm planning an actual response to the Mike Tolbert = mega hunk post, so I'll go into that more when I eventually write that. Tolbert is a green bodybuilder type who isn't very good at getting into position for things, so that results in some chinlocks with Stevie Ray trying to get him on track. The guy is not very good. But this was one of the better Stevie Ray performances (whatever that means).

There's a commercial for an N64 baseball video game and the player in the ad is Ken Caminiti. Phil is gonna have no clue what I'm talking about, but there is literally no more perfect baseball player to have during an ad featured on pro wrestling than Ken Caminiti. The ONE baseball player whose heart exploded due to steroid and drug use, and he's promoting a video game that's sponsoring a pro wrestling program. It is too 100% perfect. Ken Caminiti does pro wrestling better than most pro wrestling (including nailing the death spot).

4. Eddie Guerrero vs. Diamond Dallas Page

Really good fast-paced 6 minutes here. Eddie is maybe the wrestler I miss most (out of those that have died, not just retired). It's a treat watching him here as he hams it up with the crowd the whole time and challenges DDP to keep up, which DDP seems pretty game to do. There's a fun armdrag mirror sequence with Eddie stooging a bunch. Eddie bumps big for DDP and the crowd is way into both. Match ends with an awesome DDP powerbomb into Diamond Cutter and the crowd loses it. Surprised to see Eddie go down fairly easily, but DDP was becoming a pretty massive star at this point.

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Saturday, September 07, 2013

My Favorite Wrestling! WCW Saturday Night 6/13/98

1. Saturn vs. Damien

Quick match but really fun. Damien gets exactly one move (running up the turnbuckles into a crossbody) but Saturn is a total beast here, never letting up and working pretty stiff. Saturn just plants Damien with the DVD and also throws out a crazy half nelson duplex that has Scott Hudson going bonkers. Would have liked some back and forth but they were working "Saturn is mad and taking it out on some poor sucker" and it worked.

2. Evan Kourageous vs. Dean Malenko

Oh my lord Evan was so lost in the ring. Why the hell was he even put on TV so damn soon? Evan stumbles pretty early and from there it's mostly Dean stiffing him all over the ring and on the mat, so this is awesome. Dean's mat stuff looked really great, much closer to his mid 90s internet rep than you remember. It probably helps that Evan is basically a sack of potatoes that Dean just did shoot mat transitions with. Really looked like Dean had to do every move legit because if he let up a little bit, Karagias would immediately screw it up and fall the wrong way. So you get cool stuff like leg scissor takedowns where you can tell Dean is really tripping him to the mat. Karagias eventually gets his comeback run and immediately blows it, reversing an Irish Whip and then forgetting to do anything when Dean runs back at him...so Karagias just runs to the opposite ropes while Dean is still running...and eventually stops and squares off. And then Dean just says fuck it and kicks him and clotheslines his throat. Watching Malenko put the Texas Cloverleaf on Karagias was a thing of hilarity and beauty. Karagias acted like he had never seen this move applied in his life and had no idea what to do, so it ended up looking more like me struggling to get my cat in his cat carrier to go to the vet. Karagias keeps rolling the wrong way so Dean finally snaps, forces it on him and then bends the poor guy almost in half as Evan noticeably yelps and starts tugging at Dean's leg to get him to stop.

3. Booker T vs. Barry Horowitz

90s Booker has aged so badly, he really needs a quality opponent to drag him through stuff. Horowitz is a good guy to do that as he leans way in to Booker's elbows and silly side kicks and snaps hard to the mat for them. They had some nice go behind sequences to start with Horowitz getting a cool leg pick but Booker gaining leverage with a nice back elbow. Horowitz got into place for all of Booker's big moves, although Booker was rushing through everything way too fast and getting into position super early. Post match Fit motherfucking Finlay comes out in khakis and a black tank top and boots Booker hard in the side of the knee, then locks on a sick half crab. Weird to think they'd also feud in WWE almost 10 years later.

4. Chavo Guerrero Jr. vs. Chris Jericho

Well this was a little surprising, as Jericho wins clean in less than 2 minutes and Chavo gets zero offense in. His ribs were taped up, and Jericho went after the ribs, but you'd expect some sort of comeback or something. I think I remember a period where Chavo feuded with Eddie and Chavo went crazy and would not use offense during matches, or something. But it's odd for a guy to get completely squashed right before a PPV where he's in a featured match.

5. Kidman vs. Juventud Guerrera

Lodi is holding an awesome sign that says "Kidman vs. Juvi Best of 467 Series". These matches are basically as strong as the amount of blown spots contained within, and everything hits in this match so it's a win. It's 7 minutes of a bunch of moves that hit, with cool slams and big missed moves off the top. When Juvy is on he is my favorite non-Rey cruiserweight to watch. He bumps huge and moves so damn fast. Here he just whips all around Kidman and all his moves have some great extra oomph to them. He really makes his plancha to the floor look like full contact. Kidman is good here, too, doing something different than his usual bump machine specialty. Here he cuts off a lot of Juice comebacks and does little things like missed clotheslines really well. Juvy does his cool missed 450 spot where he lands on his feet, and then plants Kidman with the Juvy Driver for the clean win. He was facing Reis at the PPV, ya know. Really awesome 90s WCW cruiser match, one of the reasons I was so into this style when I was an innocent teen.

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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

SEGUNDA CAIDA DECLARES WAR!!! 2/12/93

WE DECLARE WAR

ER: This is a handheld, and I can't think of a much nerdier way to spend a Saturday morning than watching a camcorder-documented recording of a small Japanese wrestling promotion from 20 years ago.

PAS: People have been going nuts over New Japan slugfests lately, but Ishii v. Shibata would be the third stiffest match on an average WAR show, so we are bringing back WAR Wednesdays!!

1. Yuji Yasuroka vs. Bestia Salvaje

ER: This match is joined in progress so we only get 3 minutes or so, but even in 3 minutes of matwork, a lightning fast majistral and a big dive you could tell how amazing Salvaje was in the 90s.

PAS: This would have been a fine CMLL tourney lucha match, but hard to get much of a sense of a 2 minute finish

2. Yoshiro Ito vs. Koki Kitihara

ER: This is also joined in progress and then we also get the back of an Asian man's head in the way of the camera for the first couple minutes. He was in the way of all the punches, and then moved in time for the chinlock sequence. Good gag, dude. But we still get a few awesome minutes of no-cooperation suplexes and hard kicks to the face and chest. Felt like something if we got even 7 minutes of it uninterrupted, could have been a lost 90s gem.

PAS: I am not sure about a gem, as Ito has never shown me much, but Kitihara is perfectly willing and able to face kick and clothesline and I enjoyed it.

3. Chavo Guerrero/Masao Orihara vs. Kodo Fuyuki/Nobukazu Hirai

ER: Fuyuki and Hirai beat the piss out of Orihara which is what you wanted out of this because Fuyuki and Hirai can dish a beating and Orihara can die. But then it grows into something much more and gets GREAT. Once Chavo tags in Hirai starts bumping all around and we get all sorts of great sequences with Orihara tagging in and getting beaten up in between trying death defying stupid moves to the floor. Orihara is obviously a bump machine but also has really great offense, dishing out a brutal clothesline and piledriver and a mad senton. Hirai dishes out the chubby frankensteiner and holy shit this gets goooooood. I really liked the team of Fuyuki and Hirai (Fuyuki especially is really awesome in this, as even though he was a part of some awesome Footloose tags a few years earlier I really love tubby Fuyuki the best), and Chavo works stiffer here than I recall him working in any of the 80s sets (though not a shocking thing to see happen in WAR). The dead lift suplex that Chavo ends the match with would impress Karelin.

PAS: Yeah this was totally badass. Total treat to see Chavo do his thing, he was still really agile and impressive at this later part of his career, the finish run was pretty intricate and fast and he worked it perfectly, in between wandering in and slapping dudes in the mouth. Orihara takes some nutty bumps and unloads quite a bit, Hirai hit all of his stuff which he doesn't always do, and fat pissed off Fuyuki was great. I loved him running in to break up a pin and just smashing Orihara's head into the mat like he was trying to break a coconut. Very good match

4. El Samurai vs. Ultimo Dragon

ER: This right here would have been the reason I bought this show if it were 1998. Now I'm far more interested in watching the barrel chested guys punch each other in the neck. This ends up going full 30 minute draw and it's pretty damn good and more proof that Samurai was the most underrated junior of the 90s. The opening matwork is really engaging as they trade submissions and reverse holds in cool ways. It never really felt like they were just filling time. Samurai goes full on dick city and Garvin stomps every inch of Ultimo's arm, then wraps him up in all sorts of triangle variations that probably seemed pretty far out 20 years ago (and still look cool today). Dragon eventually don't give no damn about it, but you all expected that so oh well. Ultimo still does some cool and unexpected things, like muay thai knees from the clinch and a sweet dive past the turnbuckles, so I can't hate too much. Crowd goes nuts for the home stretch, and this didn't feel anywhere close to its 30+ minute run time. FAR exceeded my expectations.

PAS: Yeah I was dreading watching these guys go 30, but this was pretty good. It reminded me of the really great Eddie v. Dragon WCW houseshow match I saw back in the day. All the matwork early looked good, and they had some fine midrange stuff too. I thought the end run was pretty great as both guys showed a ton of desperation trying to get the win.  You don't normally see juniors go this long, but they filled the time.

5. Takashi Ishikawa vs. Curtis Iaukea Jr.

ER: Dull match format is dull as Iaukea controls with chinlocks and stomps, before Ishikawa takes it home by getting all his fun old sumo man offense in, with cool falling clotheslines and uppercuts. There may be a good match here if you switch up some move order and control segments. This wasn't it. I hate 50/50 move trading matches, but one guy taking his 50 up front, when the other guy takes his 50 on home is pretty pointless.

PAS: Some OK Ishikawa stuff, but this was a waste of that awesome dude

6. Ashura Hara vs. Masashi Aoyagi

ER: This was really cool and was probably the match I was most looking forward to on paper. Aoyagi brings an "invader" vibe to a pro wrestling ring and the fans are amped for him as he kicks at guys wearing WAR track suits. Hara comes out to Van Hagar and the fans are down. And then we get 10 awesome minutes of a karate guy kicking Hara around the ring while Hara worked in comebacks. Hara worked this match as a cool fusion of Fujiwara and Tenryu, really taking a beating and selling like Fujiwara, just trying to avoid kicks and stumbling all around before launching back with headbutts. But then carried himself like Tenryu, throwing nice clotheslines and attempting to bully Aoyagi. Aoyagi showed tons of charisma and the fans were way into him, throwing a chair at Hara and launching all sorts of kicks and strikes at him. He built up to an awesome spot where he tore off his gi, a really cool strap lowering spot...but then followed it up with backing away from Hara. Huh. Needed some work on his timing there. I like the gi tearing in theory, then. Aoyagi was good at showing shortcomings in his style, as he would go for big kicks and miss, which would always allow Hara to get back in the game. Ending felt like it needed one more big move, but overall this delivered big.

PAS: This is a match which on paper could go one of two ways, it could be a lumpy violent enjoyable potato fest, or it could reach that next level of transcendent brutality which makes WAR, WAR. This was closer to the first then the second. I love the awkward recklessness of Aoyagi's style, every kick doesn't land clean, but when it does it lands with an explosion. I did also think this ended a bit abruptly, it didn't need an endless finish run, but a couple more exchanges might have pushed it.

7. Genichiro Tenryu/John Tenta vs. Great Kabuki/Haku

ER: Hashimoto shows up at ringside before the match and the fans go apeshit as Tenta holds Tenryu back. They desire Hash's amazing brand of asskicking. This is a 17 minute match that almost seems too short. I would have loved this as a 30 minute draw. You really get a sense of how massive Tenta is when he matches up against Haku and just towers over him. Tenta works a little too soft at first for WAR but soon realizes where he's at and dishes some great elbow drops and knee lifts. Haku and Kabuki more than make up for any early softness by dishing a fierce beating to Tenryu. Kabuki's short left uppercut is a thing of beauty and Tenryu sells every shot to his ear and/or throat great (there is an above average chance that Tenryu was just getting hit in the ear and/or throat). Haku busts out some neat stuff too, just unleashing an insane slap/chop attack on Tenryu at one point, just flying at him with both arms before dealing a great sit out powerbomb. Kinda looked like he may have been pissed at Tenryu for kicking him with the toe of his boot one too many times. Kabuki and Haku make an awesome team of two asskickers, hardly ever using moves, just being vicious ear/nose/throat specialists. Tenryu's comebacks are the best, throwing some of the hardest chops I have EVER seen him throw. The last 5 minutes are just incredibly great with Kabuki decimating Tenryu's ear some more, Tenta tagging in and beating down some dudes (GREAT spot included Tenta setting up the Earthquake splash and the crowd going nuts, but then Kabuki hitting him with the mist after Tenta runs the ropes). This was all awesome stuff and pretty much exactly what you'd want.

PAS: I loved this match, this was that next level shit the previous match didn't get to. Haku is a really hit and miss guy during his career, you get flashes of the psychotic ass kicker you want him to be, but sometimes that guy isn't there. He is the distillation of all your hopes and dreams here, and Haku and  Tenryu just tear into each other and it is glorious. Kabuki is great too, I love his little uppercuts and Tenryu sells them like he had a roll of dimes in his hand. Finish run got really exciting and I loved the Kabuki mist counter of the Earthquake splash, felt like something which would have been a legendary spot if 1989 Muta worked 1990 Earthquake at a Summerslam.

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