Segunda Caida

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

Friday, February 28, 2014

Lucha Azteca Workrate Report 2/22/14

Because I'm an idiot I'm continuing to review the Gran Alternativa tournament. Cubsfan even referred to that pointless show as "the better week of the tournament" which means I am a 100% idiot for watching this.  Even mores because I know I'm an idiot *before* I am watching it. Sometimes I like being a completist in life. It's helped me out a lot in some areas, most certainly as an auditor for the county. But then my brain knowingly walks eyes wide open into the wrestling torture porn that is tournament lucha.

1. Reapper & Espiritu Negro vs. Shocker & Herodes Jr.

The one tiny thing I can take away from this is this is the first time I've seen a lot of the junior partners. I've never seen Herodes Jr. before and his segments with Reapper here were fun. Reapper looks really good in this with fun mat scrambles with Herodes, a big double missile dropkick, nice Silver King dive to the floor. Shocker looks good too, working fairly stiff with Reapper. Couldn't really gauge Negro.

2. Rush & Dragon Lee vs. Negro Casas & Canelo Casas

Not one bit of Casas/Rush which is disappointing, but not really what this tournament is about. Canelo Casas doesn't look very good. Rush leans way into his springboard dropkick and makes it look killer. Dragon Lee and Negro segments are kinda boring too. Rush looks awesome here though, kicking the snot out of Canelo. I love all his corner stomps and kicks and his hands free thrust headbutt.

3. Diamante Azul & Black Panther vs. Mr. Niebla & Barbaro Cavernario

Never seen Cavernario before and he looks...okayish. Black Panther hits a wicked tope and I like what I've seen from him in the Blue Panther trios. Niebla gets crazy height on a monkey flip and Azul takes a big bump off the top to the floor. Niebla also hits a sweet middle rope senton so it may be easier for him to put on his working boots when the matches are only 3 minutes long. Finish is fun (if not kinda sloppy thanks to Barbaro) with Azul going to press slam Barbaro and getting dropkicked by Niebla, dropping Barbaro on top for the win. Barbaro didn't really fall right for the spot to work, but hey they tried. I love press slam spots and Azul had Barbaro locked in, really impressive.

4. Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Hechicero vs. Atlantis & Star Jr.

Yeah! Loving that Hechicero is in CMLL now. Good pick up for them. Never seen Star Jr. before and this didn't really inspire me to rush out and watch more. He blows a moonsault twice, slipping off the ropes, but still goes through with it eventually. Hechicero was good bumping around for Atlantis and hitting a weird chickenwing backbreaker thing on Star. This was like 2 minutes though.

5. Rush & Dragon Lee vs. Shocker & Herodes Jr.

Rush throws one of the meatier chops in the biz, and I loved the segment with Herodes saving Shocker from a pin, only for Rush to slowly stand up like "Okay, okay" and then chop, headbutt and facekick the hell out of Herodes. And then he bumps big and manly for Shocker, to give back to the people. Herodes has a cool double planted kneedrop. Rush blasts Herodes with his corner dropkick (which makes Rachel sit up and take notice) and then just spikes him with basically a pedigree piledriver. Can't remember the last time I saw a piledriver in lucha. Shocker boots Rush in the balls for good measure. This was probably the best of the GA tourney.

6. Ultimo Guerrero & Rey Hechicero vs. Mr. Niebla & Barbaro Cavernario

Barbaro takes a lightning fast bump to the floor off a UG clothesline, Hechicero throws some nice body shots to Niebla, Barbaro hits a wild tope and Niebla hits a fucking moonsault off the top!!! When was the last time Niebla busted this much ass? Killer spot back in the ring as Niebla vaults Hechicero over his shoulders to get met with a Barbaro missile dropkick. Dayum.

7. Mr. Niebla & Barbaro Cavernario vs. Shocker & Herodes Jr.

How did I know it would come down to caveman on caveman violence? You guys will never get taken seriously by the learned class of homo erectus if you just keep eating your own young like this. This card is the most ass I've seen Niebla bust in a couple years, blasting Shocker with chops and hitting a nice tope. He slams Herodes on the floor and Barbaro gets the holy shit spot of the night by hitting a freaking giant splash from the top turnbuckle to the floor. Holy lord. Gotta say I dug the caveman tag on this card.

Alright Cubs you're crazy, this was the WAYYYY better Gran Alternativa lineup. Out of the 14 total GA matches I'd say 6 of these would be in the top 7 overall. It's not even close. This was actually a fun show that went by quick. That first night was an absolutely brutal slog that ruined my day. You need to explain yourself buddy.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Rifling Through the Trash: The Unfinished Segunda Caida

We here at Segunda Caida all watch a lot of wrestling. We also start a lot of projects. More projects than we can ever ever possibly finish. We start watching something, write about it, don't finish writing about it, and there it sits. We have about 80 unfinished drafts dating back 4 years. Some of them may get finished some day (IWA-MS show reviews, WAR show reviews), others are kind of pointless to ever finish (old CMLL TV write-ups, reviews of WWE Superstars episodes). Still these write ups all took at least SOME time out of our schedules, and it's only fair that we get SOME use out of them. I mean, we literally took time out of our lives to write about Ruckus and Cryme Tyme. That time shouldn't go to waste.

~More snippets from TomK reviewing ROH "Take No Prisoners" (left unfinished by Phil on 6/23/08):

Between matches they air backstage Age of the Fall promos. With premise being that half of AOF are in Orlando and other half in Philly. I really dig the whole AOF gimmick. A stable of WTO protestors who try to recruit in front of college dining hall isn’t a guaranteed win. But really everyone in it is great. You totally buy Jimmy Jacobs as guy who takes the Larouche pamphlets too seriously, Lacey can do letter perfect complaints about the patriarchy, Tyler Black is totally natural in this role on the mic and you totally buy Necro as this really well read blue collar guy who gets caught up with this group of college leftists. I’m normally a big fan of heel Zach Gowen mic work but his conceitedness ”I’m the greatest inspirational wrestler of all time, I beat the Big Show, made Vince bleed, tagged with Hogan against Piper, etc.” feels like it belongs in Sweet N Sour more than in AOF. But still dug him here. This was first time seeing Allison Wonderland on the mic and for college feminist, she doesn’t know her stuff as well as Lacey did but whatever. The basement space didn’t work for me visually and Jacobs’ stuff works better as guy recruiting than as guy already preaching to the converted.

Phil leaving you to do your joke about how the whole gimmick is too smart for wrestling fans who will never go to liberal arts college or if they do will be too into the anime club to notice anything else.

Briscoes v Necro Butcher/Joey Matthews

HOLY FUCK does Joey Mathews rule!!! I mean he really shouldn’t be doing face first bumps into props, but damn. It was amusing having the valet’s exchange moves in ring. Instead of a catfight spot felt more like they were using the valet’s in role of Scott Steiner wrestling in the ring while Ric brawled outside. It didn’t bother me other than I wanted to see more of the brawling. Necro’s punch to escape the doomsday device ruled. Damn this ruled. There wasn’t any real down time to set up spots, just a really high end street fight. Worth pointing out that even for this type of hardcore streetfight, I didn’t get the sense that there were any excessive kick outs. Felt like they were smartly saving “what will it take to put him away” spots for the underdog main event challenge.

Brent Albright v Erick Stevens

I guess you need a heat killer after that kind of Holy shit brawl. This killed my heat. It may have gone eight minutes but it felt like twenty.

~Snippets from Eric reviewing random matches from 2009 that weren't good enough for Phil to already review (left unfinished 1/17/10):

~Hart Dynasty vs. Cryme Tyme (Smackdown, 11/27/09)

Cryme Tyme are really not that good. Every match of theirs is a battle to see which of them is going to be more awful. JTG does these really distracting hand motions that I'm fairly certain is supposed to be miming "rolling the dice" but it comes off more "wildly ejaculating many dicks with no regard to my surroundings". Shad can throw some really limp shoulderblocks for a guy his size. So while those two stumble around, this match is completely about the Hart Dynasty. I have enjoyed the Hart Dynasty (even though it seems Cryme Tyme is the only fucking team I've ever seen them against...and I've seen alllllllll the matches in their best of 19 series), but November and December just saw them get really good. DH Smith is fairly underrated, and Tyson Kidd is really getting good. They really work like a team.

I don't remember "really" liking DH Smith or Tyson Kidd. The only thing I remember about Smith is that I think that in a year that Finlay got tons of long singles matches, I think the Smith match might have been the weakest one. Maybe the Boogeyman match. 

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lucha Azteca Workrate Report 2/15/14

Phil's favorite!!! It's tournament lucha!!! The dry hump of lucha libre!!! This is the Gran Alternativa tourney from 1/31.

1. Blue Panther & Cachorro vs. Averno & Rebelde

Wow, 5 minutes for a tourney lucha match that isn't the finals? Color me spoiled. This was really fun for what it was. Panther and his kid vs. Averno and Hooligan's kid (which is to say, Averno teaming with Hooligan's son. I don't think Averno and Hooligan have a sexual relationship). This is my first time seeing Rebelde and he breaks out a bananas dive on Panther, almost going vertical before crashing into him. In the ring he hits a cool corkscrew splash off the top. Cachorro gets his own big dive, Panther does some swank armlock on Averno. Really this is the most you can hope for with tourney lucha.

2. La Sombra & Oro Jr. vs. Rey Bucanero & Akuma

And then there's this. 150 seconds of dry indie moves delivered heatlessly and pointlessly. Oro hit a pair of nice moonsault presses, one to the floor. Indie move, guy gets up, other guy does indie move, etc.

3. Maximo & Hombre Bala Jr. vs. Terrible & Guerrero Negro Jr.

Wow. If anybody needed any proof of why tourney lucha is the worst, here we have a 45 second match where they go to nearfalls right out of the gate. Maximo goes to kiss Negro, Negro fights, and then amusingly Terrible forces a kiss on Maximo which shocks him enough for Negro to get the pin. Clever, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a waste of everybody's time (is there anything more lame than sitting through entrances that last longer than the match?).

4. Volador Jr. & Soberano Jr. vs. Mephisto & Espanto Jr.

It usually takes about 3-4 matches into a lucha tourney to make you wonder why the hell you even bothered, but then you know you're half way through the whole thing and you've come this far and you still haven't learned to cut your losses after all these years. Soberano is wearing his dorky spider-man jammy jams and does just about the ugliest standing moonsault you've ever seen. Throw in his sloppy backcracker and you have indie goober Yahtzee. Volador took forever to set up a rana off the top rope, which in a match this short was essentially 1/3 of the match. The best part of the match was when they cut to a gal in the crowd drinking beer, 3 solo cups deep. I'd be getting wasted too if I had shown up for some Friday night wrestling and was presented with a collection of 2 minute matches.

5. Blue Panther & Cachorro vs. La Sombra & Oro Jr.

Cachorro hits another epic tope that just plasters Sombra into the back wall. Panther gets hit with Oro's moonsault press and looks like he's starting to turn the pinfall attempt into some sort of cool crucifix submission...but his son runs in and breaks up the pinfall.

6. El Terrible & Guerrero Negro Jr. vs. Volador Jr. & Soberano Jr.

All of the dated indie spots! I'm starting to think when I put a bunch of old Japan and indie wrestling VHS tapes on craigslist that they somehow ended up in the hands of undercard luchadors. Here was Soberano and Volador doing some throwback Scoot Andrews spots while Negro tried his fucking damndest to make it look plausible. A for effort. Volador looks sluggish and bored.

7. THE FINALS: La Sombra & Oro Jr. vs. Volador Jr. & Soberano Jr.

Sombra dumped himself on his dome a couple times whipping off Volador Code Red variations, Volador absolutely brained Oro with a superkick in the corner. The crowd is usually mic'd down quite a bit and you could hear a noticeable uproar immediately following the kick. The ref even checked on him. It looked nasty. But most of this match was inept 2.9 counts with no heat or drama. The most hilariously inept was towards the end when Soberano and Oro, the two featured young guys in this whole tournament, finally were left solo in the ring to square off. They're both getting their sides of the crowd hyped up, crowd is wanting it, Oro rushes at him...and Soberano just powerbombs and pins him. Waah waah. No exchanges, no flash, just...bloop.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

8. Daniel Bryan vs. Antonio Cesaro WWE 2/18

ER: I have seen a Cesaro/Bryan work-a-body-part match live before (we were there for the infamous PWG headlock match some 8 years ago). The headlock match felt the whole time like a gimmick, like they set out to do something like The 5 Obstructions but within a pro wrestling ring and unsuspecting crowd instead of within experimental Danish cinema. This match is far more gripping than that match, with Cesaro taking advantage of Bryan's injured shoulder/arm, and the fact Bryan had just wrestled Swagger. Cesaro had a bunch of amazing arm stuff, just yanking on it, kicking it into the ringpost, slamming it onto the mat, double stomping it, even doing a Cattle Branding onto it! God that looked great. The Giant Swing looked epic on Bryan since he's one of the only guys in the company with long hair and the long air flying wild looks awesome while he's getting swung around. Bryan gets insane height off the flapjack uppercut. Cesaro's punches and uppercuts are so perfect during all of this. He charges at Bryan with a running uppercut and then dishes great body blows. His charging uppercut may be my absolute favorite strike of his. It really looks like he's throwing his whole body into that swing. Bryan gets an awesome comeback when he charges out with a flash flying knee, which was a nice callback to the Swagger match that had just happened (and won Bryan the match). As the match goes on I start realizing that the match can't really end clean, considering both participants, so of course Kane runs in for the DQ. Even though the DQ was logical in story, it was still a bummer as this was shaping up to be my favorite match of the year. But this was still 10 minutes of great ass beating by Cesaro, with Bryan selling the shoulder and making me believe the whole time. Awesome stuff that would have vaulted way higher with even a decent finish.

PAS; Yeah this was almost a completely awesome match, but only almost. I am not as in love with work the body part matches, as some of my peers. It is a cool way to tell a story, but sometimes almost feels reductive. Like the only thing that matters is working a knee and selling a knee (or a shoulder in this case), still these are a pair of guys who can work a reductive match really well. We have only gotten teased of these guys in the WWE but man alive when it gets to be a RAW main event or a PPV match it is going to blow the roof off. This was a tease of that, like a lightning match in CMLL and the ending was really deflating, but everything in the body was A+


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Monday, February 24, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

6. Wyatt Family vs. Goldust/Cody Rhodes/Rey Mysterio WWE 2/18

ER: Another week, another high end WWEDG trios. Just set aside 11 minutes for any combo of these guys, and then let it fly. This was a nice coming out party for Rowan. He's always looked fine but this was probably his best performance, peaking with his great rag doll bear hug on Rey. Rey was king sized in this, maybe his best performance of the year too, with his awesome sliding splash on Harper and then getting folded sickly in half off a Harper big boot (good lord that was sick). Bray's uppercuts to the neck are so great. Goldust floating and stinging against Rowan was killer. And then the match just kicks up a level on the Goldust hot tag. Goldust's right hands may be the best in a company full of great right hands. He gets to run through all sorts of cool stuff like a top rope crossbody and his awesome powerslam (made to look even more nuts with how large the Wyatts are). Bray runs in and takes a giant bump over the top to the floor, Rey goes for a rana off the apron and Harper swings him hard into the barrier like Matthew McConaughey tossing Woody Harrelson into the back end of a truck, all followed by Cody hitting his out of control springboard onto Harper. Just bananas shit here. Goldust puts a nice exclamation point at the end, getting planted with Sister Abigail and leaving a makeup stain on the mat.

PAS: I watched this with my wife and described the Wyatt family as Reggie LaDoux and his crew cooking meth in the swamp with some dead children in the shack (fuck is True Detective awesome). It is crazy how old Goldust and Rey are for how great they still are.  I love Harper and Rey working together, after years of working the world's worst Rey imitators in Chikara it must be a treat getting to  hang and bang with the original. I love Wyatt's back elbow, it is such a simple spot and it just looks so violent. So great, and it's such a perfect TV wrestling staple to run one of these a show.

ER: I just noticed Phil and I each independently made a True Detective joke. Great minds and all that.


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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Uprising: Lucha Libre Workrate Report 2/15/14

This is appropriate as this match is from their 2/23/13 San Francisco show at John O'Connell high school, which is exactly where I am going tonight to see them. So they're showing the main event to their last show there, right before the next show. That's a cool idea. Good work, guys. They had a couple full commercials advertising tonight's show as well, though oddly billing Rocky Romero as 2nd from the top. You obviously lead with Blue Demon Jr., but I would think Super Crazy would be your 2nd lead. Who even knows who Rocky Romero is?

1. Brian Cage, Derek Sanders & Phoenix Star vs. Blue Demon Jr., El Dinamita & Kafu

Kafu is billed as being 6'4" which is hilarious as that means Demon would be about 6'1", and if you've ever stood next to a luchador you know the odds of them being over 6' are slim. We get a lot of ganging up on Demon to start which is cool, as most Demon matches I've seen don't see him selling or showing much ass. But all the rudos here get to take turns chopping him while he is helpless. Brian Cage is freaking massive at this point. He's close to Jon Anderson levels. He has a look that would work well in WWE, if they didn't do wellness testing. You know who may be a worse wrestler than Blue Demon Jr.? Kafu. I remember when this guy broke into APW and had a silly capoeira gimmick, and then went through his long Brody gimmick, and now is just some sort of semi-Brody who has been working 12 years and can't throw a clothesline. I don't think I've ever seen a match of his where he was anything but the worst guy in the match. Gotta tip my cap to Demon in this one as he clearly has his working boots on in this match. His kicks on Cage look real nice, then he does a nice double dropkick to clear Cage/Sanders out of the ring, and then actually breaks out a spinning headscissors against Phoenix Star! Follows that up with a nice baseball slide dropkick to the floor with a cool uppercut I've never seen him use. Who the hell is this guy? I hope he shows up when I'm there tonight. The match itself was fine, if not a little predictable. Once the tecnicos took over at the 2/3 point there was no real looking back. Not excited at all for the feuding refs things they have going on between Sparky Ballard and Tom Castor. Match ends with Sparky pulling up lame during Blue Demon's likely pinfall victory, but then Tom Castor saves the day by running in and usurping Sparky's authority. Man I don't want to see feuding refs. Maybe if the good guy ref was like a local kid with cancer or something and he got to come in and be the hero. I think that's the only thing that could make me enjoy that spot. I want my refs to be wallpaper, not focal angles during a match.

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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday Night Digging in the Crates

We take a trip to a bullfighting ring in Mexico in the 1980's for a lucha apuestas match which showed up too late to throw on the 80's set

Villano 3 v. Rambo 10/25/87

This arrived on youtube pretty recently and is a true treat. Rambo comes out firing brutalizing Villano with nasty punches and postings. He sweeps the first fall, and dominates the second until Villano is able to make a quick comeback and win with a top rop armdrag. In between falls they show a close up of V3 face and his mask is ripped and he is covered in blood, he looks like a gunshot victim. Third fall has some clipping which makes it a bit hard to follow at the beginning, but once that ends we get an epic lucha apuestas third fall with Rambo taking some big bumps, dramatic near falls and both guys masks getting soaked. Villano has really great headbutts and knees, you can see why he has such a rep as a brawler. I loved all of the submissions by Rambo, Villano is really great at soaking the last bit of drama out of a submission before he escapes. I didn't love the finish, which keeps it out of the absolute elite level of lucha mask matches, but it is pretty close. Great discovery.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

Spotlight on the Indies

Roulette Match: Vordell Walker vs. Dagon Briggs, USWA 1/17/14

Vordell Walker is one of the best indy workers in the country and this match is a tremendous showcase for him if you've never seen him. It's a nice long match (over 20 minutes) and it does kinda fall apart at the end, but there is so much damn awesome stuff here that it's well worth watching. The roulette match means there are different weapons in each corner, and what's cool is they all get used nicely and not ridiculously. They're all integrated into the match really well and lead to a bunch of nasty belt shots and noose (!) chokings. Match starts with cool mat work with Walker cockily working over Briggs and it gets great when we go into an extended brawl section outside the ring. Both guys have cool chops and Vordell is just a monster. He mixes up standard crowd brawling stiff shots by breaking out awesome kicks  that you normally don't see in this type of setting. Both guys plow through chairs and I gotta say the camera work in this is really good. Usually guys can get sorta lost during crowd brawling moments and the USWA handheld camera crew does a great job of getting dangerously close to the chaos. Good work guys. Match slows down more back in the ring and things don't go as smoothly, but there are still great moments like a massive superplex and a cool flash Finlay/Sheamus roll by Briggs that I've never seen before. Usually that spot is done walking around with the guy in a fireman's carry, but Briggs caught Walker with it coming off the ropes, like you would catch a guy in a hip toss. Awesome shit.

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Thursday, February 20, 2014

When Regal Billed You For the Pleasure and Made Your Parents Cry

Lord Steven Regal v. Yuji Nagata WCW 11/1/97-GREAT

Pretty crazy how both guys pulled out all the stops on a random Worldwide taping with Heenan making stupid jokes on commentary. Regal was at his nasty fucker best here, lots of palm strikes to the cheeks and ears and big uppercuts. Nagata's kicks looked OK and Regal sold them like death, we also got some very nifty little pieces of grappling including Nagata reversing a full neslon into a Fujiwara armbar. Also who throws five suplexes between them in a 7 minute syndie match, including ending on a top rope butterfly. Just a great example of classic WCW Syndie goodness.

William Regal v. Dolph Ziggler WWE 4/20/09-FUN

This is a a RAW dark match in London and a nice chance to see Ziggler bump around for Regal. Regal is really over and gets a bunch of chants. Ziggler's offense wasn't much, although he did hit a a nice dropkick which Regal did the Stooges sell for. I did like Ziggler killing himself on a half nelson suplex and knee trembler. Would have been really good if it had gotten more then 4 minutes.


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Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Uprising: Lucha Libre Workrate Report 2/1/14

This is from the 1/27/13 show in Watsonville, CA, so we're at least getting stuff within a calendar year. So, I've done over 15 reports on this TV show. You readers that actually read the reports have probably noticed that I bitch and complain about how lousy (for the most part) this show has been. This is not hate-viewing on my part, I just really, really want this show to actually be good. They're a local fed with some workers that I like and it's rough watching them botch so many things in regards to the TV show and presentation. I don't think they're maximizing their opportunity. Over the last few episodes they've at least advertised the dates of their upcoming shows, which should have been a no-brainer from the beginning. They don't do any interviews or background on any of the wrestlers, the spend WAY too much time showing entrances (more on that in a bit), they often feature workers that haven't worked the fed in 2+ years, they put over the referees way too much during commentary. It's like the only lucha they've watched is Guadalajara, as it genuinely feels like the only episode-to-episode continuity they're building up is a potential Tom Castor vs. Sparky Ballard referees feud. There is no rhyme or reason to the matches they air. The dates of shows jump around wildly. The last three weeks have been one match each from one card in July 2012, the week before was some random matches from May 2010. One of the matches was not even particularly good. I'm unsure the benefits of showing almost 4 year old material, but there can't be many if the material in question isn't even good. "Hey, did you hear this Stone Temple Pilots album from 2010? It was horrible! But you should check out their new stuff!" Who are you? Why are you talking about a bad album from 4 years ago?  Why are you talking about STP? But then add to that the fact this is a PAID timeslot. They are paying to show this stuff. So if you're not showing your most recent stuff and making people want to see your current product, you'd likely want to showcase your best all-time matches. A mixture of both would make a lot of sense. "Here's some of our current roster, and here's a classic example of the kind of action you can expect LIVE!" It seems so simple. And yet...

1. El Mariachi, La Pantera & Ultimo Panda vs. Famous B, Fantasma de la Opera & Persian Prince

Over the last few weeks they've gone in a simple presentation direction, either as a way to focus more on specific guys, or (more realistically) as a way to milk their recorded footage to cover more airings. To do this they've been airing just one match per episode, regardless of match length. Thing is, I don't know if I've seen a match in the promotion go over 15 minutes, which means they have one short match stretched out over a full 1/2 hour of programming. It happened the other week with the Lady Apache match, and here we go again. We get FULL wrestler ring entrances and full announcer introduction. Each wrestler comes out separately. Slaps fives with the fans, walks all around the ring. We see ALL of this. We get to the 11 minute mark. Still entrances. We go to a commercial break. Long story long the first actual physical exchange does not happen until my DVR reads 16 minutes. 16 minutes!! Of a 30 minute show that you PAY TO AIR! How is this even possible!? Even then we get a lot of stalling to start, leading us into another commercial. So essentially most of the first 2/3 of their money was spent on guys walking to the ring, standing in the ring, and then doing "who can get this side of the crowd to cheer louder!?" spots. Good lord.

Match itself was fairly decent, as decent as a 9 minute match hacked by commercial breaks into 3 parts could be. La Pantera is not *THEE* Pantera, so pretty lame choice of name there. Panda is a smart gimmick by the promotion of putting a chubby not-very-good guy into a Kung Fu Panda costume. Doesn't matter that he's not good, the kids love it and it gets easy pops. Smart move. The rudos (team with Famous B) don't really get much offense, which is another thing that's really starting to grate on me about this promotion. Most of the matches are just extended tecnico squash matches. It's fine to have those on the card, give the kids something to cheer for, but 80% of the matches they air are tecnicos running wild on rudos, rudos rolling to the floor, and then tecnicos winning. Hardly any times in peril.

Why am I paying money to see these goofs live this weekend? Well, because they booked Timothy Thatcher and Super Crazy. But also...Rocky Romero Workrate Report coming this weekend!!!

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

2. Antonio Cesaro vs. John Cena WWE 2/17

ER: Okay, so show of hands, how many people expected there to be this many awesome WWE matches 6 or 7 weeks into the year? Yeah, I expected to have about 3 at this point. As it stands, there have been some that would have easily made it in a slower year, but with Raw and Smackdown featuring a lot of high end work every single episode we had to start getting more selective. Shoot, I really liked/loved upwards of 11 TV matches in just the last week! It's getting out of control.

And here we go with another awesome one. This match was just so damn cool and unique. It already felt like a fresh match-up from the bell (even Rachel immediately stated that she doesn't remember these two going up against each other before), and things were going cool...and then Cesaro caught Cena during a leapfrog and turned it into an overhead tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. That's when things started getting great and never looked back. That was like the ultimate "Rick Steiner catches a leaping opponent" spot. Cena is enormous, and Cesaro caught him and muscled him around his shoulders like nothing. I thought that spot was incredible, and then Cena had to go and reverse the giant swing by floating his body up to deliver a DDT. I rewound it too many times, still can't figure out how it was possible. Here's a giant man, who rises from the Giant Swing like fucking Nosferatu from the casket, and just plants Cesaro. Everything about it looked like it completely defied gravity. Completely like nothing else I've ever seen. Cena is always really great in matches where the opponent has good offense, as Cena has always bumped and taken offense incredibly. I loved him bumping to the floor from the top rope off a Cesaro uppercut, and getting unreal height off Cesaro's flapjack into uppercut. Cesaro may have the most freakish wrestling strength I've seen since Backlund. Suplexing Cena from apron to inside the ring when he was at a complete leverage disadvantage was jaw-dropping. Him doing a Giant Swing in DENVER of all places to a man larger than him, and then not even seeming gassed afterwards was incredible. I am a rube and the longer the match went on the more I thought Cesaro had a chance to win, and the crowd felt it too (you can tell the crowds are going insane for all these new match-up main events, and I'm right there with them). The finishing run was beautiful, with Cesaro flipping out of the AA to hit a yakuza kick, then wanting more and getting leveled with a lariat. Cena Oklahoma rolling him into the AA was so damn cool. There was so much in this match that I've never seen before, such a unique clash of abilities and neat strength spots. I loved it (though man I really wanted it to end on that lariat).

PAS: I loved how the announcers kept putting over the similarities of both guys. One of my favorite things about Cena is all of the cool ways he demonstrates his nutty strength and Cesaro is like an even crazier version of that. Eric mentioned a bunch of the specific spots, and they all ruled, I really can't remember ever seeing a match like this before, where you have a match filled with feats of strength highspots. Your strongman wrestlers when we were all growing up, never did a ton of things to demonstrate that strength, outside of a knuckle lock or a press slam. When Dino Bravo faced Hercules they weren't rolling through while carrying full bodyweight, or doing outside in deadlift superplexes. These guys would make an amazing new age Steiners tag team, and they are an incredible pair of dance partners. This really felt like the first example of a classic rivalry, hopefully they just pair off and we get a handful of PPV matches, some great Euro tour handhelds, some more three segment RAW matches, a match which not only did I love on my own, but a match which got me amped for the future.


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Monday, February 17, 2014

Lawler is Looking At You and is Drained Outright

Jerry Lawler v. Brian Anthony NEW 5/2/09 -FUN

ER: Uh oh, we got some cool front row fans  in Waterbury, Connecticut! Whole row of dudes in their 20s, getting into Lawler's face as he walks by and acting mega tough, telling him he fucking sucks, really lame stuff. That must be one of the things guys who have enough money to live comfortably reallllllly love about working spot indy shows. Lawler gets in the ring and handles it admirably by pointing out that the whole front row is filled with guys who are so cool that they're all here on a Saturday night without girlfriends. I always like when wrestlers can handle hecklers without getting blue. It still keeps things fun for families. The match itself was okay, nothing groundbreaking. Lawler's punches were extra awesome as he kept pointing to those guys in the front row before blasting Anthony, and their heckling almost seemed to fuel him. He got some insane height on his dropkick and I couldn't help but wonder if he was thinking "I'll show those pricks who's old". This is essentially an extended Lawler squash. Anthony seemed fine in the punch exchanges. His only offense appeared to be a backdrop, which he busted out a bunch. This kind of feels like the most bare bones Lawler match possible. Might make for a cool 90 second Lawler highlight video.

PAS: Anthony brought very little to this, but I think I liked it more the Eric. We always talk about how great Lawler's punches are, but man is he great at taking punches, I imagine if Anthony was punching anyone else it would look like crap, but Lawler looking like he was getting waylaid by Joe Frazier. I hate the stunner but at least it wasn't a finish here. Anthony did just have a backdrop, but Lawler takes a great backdrop, and Anthony got some nice height on the payback backdrops.


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Sunday, February 16, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

5. Sheamus/Daniel Bryan/ Rey Mysterio v. The Shield WWE 1/28

ER: How can you pick your favorite in a match like this!? Sheamus has been bringing it since his return and here he's killer. Love his trapped arm clothesline, love him punting Reigns in the back, love his shoulderblocks, but I guess I moreso love how The Shield runs into all of those things. I love Ambrose hot tags as he always throws a whole bunch of arms legs and angles into them. He doesn't just come in with a clothesline, he comes in throwing shots to the body, headbutts, elbows, stomps, like a greasy neighbor kid practicing karate on the lawn while having no formal training. Rey of course is ridiculous as well. He and Rollins work really well together (feel kinda bad for Dolph Ziggler as Rollins is just as crazy a bumper as Ziggler but gets to do it in main events) and Rey is a natural fit for the new WWEDG style. I love Rey keeping the Halloween sliding splash bump to the floor alive. Love Rollins leaping knee drop to Rey's face, and his punches right in between Rey's shoulder blade, and taking a header straight into the turnbuckle off a Rey head scissors. Love Bryan kicking Reigns a dozen times, hitting a dive on him and then sprinting back in and across the ring to hit another dive past the turnbuckle. Love Reigns flying recklessly over the top on a bump, and reminding people how cool the Spear can look after they've seen Edge's version the last decade. These kind of matches are just too much fun, impossible to pick a favorite, and I hope it's not just something that's happening to build up to Mania or something. I can't imagine getting sick of this.

PAS: Every week for a year the Shield have been dropping gems, and we get another to end January. It was great to see Rey mixed in her with the Shield and he looked like he shaved off a decade. Whatever he has done to his knees has seemingly brought back his initial burst and prime Rey has one of the fastest first steps in wrestling. Bryan can bring the explosiveness too, and the big difference between Dragons Gate and the WWEDG is that the individual small spots are executed so much better, the punches, the kicks to the stomach all land perfectly and the highspots are being done by huge guys like Reigns, and that finish on Rey looked like he was hit by a crosstown bus. Love televised wrestling


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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Saturday Night Digging in the Crates

We take a trip to Alabama for a wild riot of a cage match.

Tennessee Stud/Robert Fuller v. New Guinea Headhunters-SECW Early 1987

PAS: This is a revenge cage match after one of the more famous angles in the 1980s. In the first cage match between these teams a third Headhunter popped up from under the ring to massacre the face team. This time it starts out 3 on 2, however when the cage gets locked the ref whips off a black wig and it is Jimmy Golden. Really fun turn the tables angle. Everyone beats the crap out of each other, and Golden puts the ref shirt back on to count the pin. However Kevin Sullivan gets in post match and starts stabbing fools and eventually the locker room empties, craziest brawl in Alabama since Bull Conner.

ER: To me, this kind of match is just unhateable, unless you're a weenie who needs highspots. This is all wild chaos with guys taking bumps with no regard to where other guys are standing, people falling off the cage, everybody throwing blows also with little regard for who gets in the way. Headhunters all appear to be about 5 feet even and Golden and the Fullers appear to be about 7 feet tall and everybody just constantly smashes into each other for 5 minutes. And then after the pinfall nobody acts like the match is over and the brawl stays just as wild. Dudes run in with no shirts, a lot of it seemed unplanned, and this is something that if I saw this when I was a kid I'd be hooked for life (and considering I write daily rambling posts on a pro wrestling blog I don't know how much more I could realistically be hooked...but...somehow morrrre?). This felt like a fight that happens at the end of a townies-only BBQ out in the woods.

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Friday, February 14, 2014

Lucha Azteca Workrate Report 2/8/14

These matches were all from the 1/24 Arena Mexico show.

1. Negro Casas, Averno & Mephisto vs. Rush, Shocker & La Sombra

I am immediately confused as Shocker jumps Rush on the rampway so I think they're having a singles match but then Sombra comes out and I have no idea what's going on. Then the rudos come out and Shocker is still stomping Rush in the ring. Before the match Rush had been jumped by Shocker in the weight room, choking him out with the bench press bar. Rush's chest and shoulders are all bandaged up for this and this match definitely plays out much more as angle than match. Every time Rush would begin to make a comeback against the rudos, Shocker would blindside him and the rudos would take back over. Rush had a real great performance against the odds here, constantly getting backed into a corner, and his quick picks of offense were great. I love his thrust headbutt and running kicks. Averno is good in this tying together Sombra's spots and Casas is great as a shark smelling blood and cockily picking apart Rush knowing that Rush has no chance. Him stomping on Rush's bandages while cupping his hand to his ear is classic. So is this an official Shocker turn? The match ended with him punting Rush right in the balls and then lying down for the rudos.

2. Lightning Match: Euforia vs. Diamante Azul

Fun match with Azul hitting his rampway somersault senton (which Euforia catches in a way that makes him look like he was hit with a cannonball) and breaking out a sweet deadlift German. Euforia takes a couple nice spills and in the coolest spot matadors Azul right into the barricade on a missed dive. Naturally this is a lightning match so it's not like the nasty bump counts or anything, as Azul goes right back on offense. But you knew this already.

3. Ultimo Guerrero, Reapper & Niebla Roja vs. Mascara Dorada, Volador Jr. & Mistico

What has happened to Volador. He's so tentative and bland now, and it's even more obvious when he's teamed with someone like Dorada who has a bunch of spectacular spots and can also catch (Niebla gets tossed into an awesome tornillo in the 3rd and Dorada protected him so much it probably felt like landing on a crash pad). Volador even got outshone by Mistico in this one. Some guys just weren't made to be tecnicos and Volador just comes off like a grinning weenie now. But even worse, a grinning weenie with zazzy Hot Topic contact lenses (don't ask me to explain, but they seemed less douchey when he was a rudo. Let's just say that we turn a blind eye and just expect many of our luchador rudos to have horrible late 90s nu metal entrance music and bad mall goth fashion sensibilities). Dorada looks awesome in this, his over the ropes running rana from the rampway to the ring is amazing, and his running springboard flip dive is one of the more spectacular spots in lucha. Mistico gets some nice sequences with UG here, with a beautiful spinning armdrag and the his great slingshot rana from the ring to the floor. Volador clearly had the weakest presence of the 3 which doesn't make sense to me seeing how charismatic he was as a rudo. Reapper was fine but didn't do any of his nutso bumps that he's been breaking out lately.

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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Uprising: Lucha Libre Workrate Report 1/25/14

There's a Pro Wrestling Revolution show in SF in a couple weeks, with Timothy Thatcher vs. Blue Demon Jr. as the main event. Oliver John is also on the card so this kind of acts as a sneak preview of what I'll see if I decide to attend (even though this match was from 7/28/12). This match may also serve as a move-for-move blueprint of the singles match I might see. It would not stun me at all to find out Blue Demon Jr. has exactly one singles match that he works with gringos. Oliver John is a good worker but Thatcher is clearly superior in my book, so if this match turns out decent I'd have high hopes the Thatcher singles could be better.

1. Oliver John vs. Blue Demon Jr.

Demon always does a bunch of rudo things even though he's a constant tecnico, similar to Hogan always using stuff like eye rakes when he's the ultimate good guy. Here we immediately start with Demon slapping John on a clean break and the crowd actually reacts like they're totally confused. John rolls to the floor and in an awesome moment threatens to slap a kid across the face, while another kid belts John in the head with his vuvuzela. He honestly could not have planned that better. Demon is capable enough on the mat and doing leverage exchanges that the opening stuff is compelling. He also is actually showing ass here which normally doesn't happen. I knew as soon as I wrote that stuff about Demon's exchanges being compelling it would bite me in the ass. Immediately after typing that Demon goes into the loooooong portions of his singles matches where he slowly gets his opponent into position for holds that don't look very painful, and then just lies in each of them for minutes at a time. John tries his damndest to make them look dangerous but nobody is buying it. We also go into our long stretch of the announcers talking about referee Tom Castor, who is a referee you would never at all notice if they didn't constantly point out that he's just doing his job. Ending is a rushed mess with the other members of La Migra running in, pulling out the ref, and John winning on a quick roll up counted by a second ref. John has a lot of personality so in the right spot he can look really good, but Demon was giving him next to nothing to work with, so this was what it was.

Still on the fence on whether or not I'll go see them live in a couple weeks. It's only $10, it's about a mile away from one of my absolute favorite restaurants (Papito!!), Thatcher is probably my favorite Bay Area worker, and the show also has Super Crazy and Willie Mac. Buuuuuttttt based on my previous live experience with them, the show will be a neverending hype show for a local hispanic radio station (so many "we'll give a free t-shirt to the loudest section" moments, even during the matches!), and also for every guy I'm excited to see live there's a dud like Ricky Romero or Blue Demon working opposite him. What to do what to do.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Daisuke Ikeda Always Wants to Stay In Touch, Never Wants to Use a Crutch

Daisuke Ikeda/Syuri v. Kenichi Yamamoto/Kana Kana Produce 6/17/12-GREAT

This is the closest we have gotten to new FUTEN in a while, as this is a mixed tag with a very FUTEN flavor. Kana and Syuri are regular dance partners and they are very fun running through nasty leg submissions and punching and kicking each other in the face. Yamamoto is an especially nasty fuck in his interactions with Syuri, there is always an uncomfortable spousal abuse vibe you have to work through in these Kana mixed tags, but the Syuri v. Yamamoto section felt like Casey Affleck and Jessica Alba in the Killer Inside Me.

Much like your classic FUTEN tags this builds to a singles match showdown, and Kana is clearly as big a fan of Ikeda v. Ishikawa as I am. I have seen her in the Ikeda role against Ishikawa before and here she is the Ishikawa role against Ikeda. The end run is as violent as your Ikeda end runs normally are, you have to suspend disbelief a bit and buy Kana can hang in this abbatoir but she brings it, at one point splitting Ikeda's eye with a headbutt, and removing her boot to throw kicks (which I am not sure would actually make them harder, but it was a cool strap drop spot). Ikeda does Ikeda things, one point he just unloads a straight right, and the finish clothesline was up there with the most brutal he has thrown. Only thing that kept this from EPIC status, was the length, 45 minutes is just too long for a match this brutal, kind of requires too much absorption of stuff that should end it, and it can get a bit repetitive especially before the end run. Still anytime I get to see new examples of Ikeda dancing his special dance I jump on it.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

4. Sheamus/Christian vs. Real Americans WWE 2/10

PAS: Man WWE TV has been on fire lately, the Wyatt trios on this same show just missed the cut and this was a damn out of nowhere classic. It starts out good with some fun Christian and Cesaro mat work and then just goes into overdrive as Sheamus and Cesaro just start waling on each other, it's like a WAR match broke out in the middle of random TV tag, after that everyone stepped up their game a ton. Christian was a great face in peril, and the Real American's have developed some cool double teams, and then we get a WWEDG finish which was super, loved Christians DDT off the apron, and that finishing kick was tooth loosening. It's like Kip Frye is handing out bonuses backstage or something

ER: I don't really consider myself much of a WWE mark, but whatever they're doing matchwise right now is working pretty great. I used to be able to DVR an episode of Raw and blow through it in about 30 minutes. There have been stretches over the last couple years where a couple months go by without me really digging a match on Raw. And here we are in 2014 and it's become a must-watch show (well, I still fast forward like hell during most of the angles, Orton promos, HHH/Steph scissor sessions, etc.). I'm not sure when it happened but WWE Dragons Gate is the most fun thing possible for me right now. For years a complaint about WWE is that the matches could be too slow or plodding. Well, that talking point is pretty much dead and buried as now WWE is about as go-go-go as humanly possible for guys this size. The tag and trios format is really perfect for this style as you get to avoid a bunch of awful kickouts and keep the action constantly fresh with tag outs instead of rest holds. It's like the best kind of NOAH trios or yes, WAR tags. Match was fun for a couple minutes and then took off and never looked back once Cesaro and Sheamus started trading uppercuts and Cesaro overpowered him with dual left/right uppercuts like some sort of demon Punch-Out! character. Once we go into 5 minutes of Cesaro/Swagger double teams and set-ups I was losing it. The Cesaro double stomp followed by scream into camera, Christian's right hand sucker punch on Swagger on the apron, Cesaro's flapjack uppercut on Christian (Christian always gets crazy height on that kind of stuff), Cesaro leaping out of nowhere with a forearm to stop Sheamus dead in his tracks in the corner, the tornado DDT to the floor, Sheamus' big bump to the floor with Dutch getting in his face. When this match was over I rewound it and watched it all over again. Also, big props to Ryback, Axel, Swagger, Ambrose, really everybody over the last few weeks who are having a weird competition to see who can be first to get their nose pushed into their brain by the Brogue Kick. Everybody has been leaning hard into some stiff shots this year, as if they haven't been shown in HD for a few years now.


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Monday, February 10, 2014

Fujiwara is a Righteous Judge, Who Expresses his Wrath Every Day

Yoshiaki Fujiwara/Jushin Liger/Koji Kanemoto/Minoru Tanaka v. Masayuki Kono/Ryouji Sai/Rene Dupree/Kazma Sakamoto Wrestle1 1/31/14-FUN

2014 Fujiwara is among us. This was a fun poor mans Shield match, all action brawling match with lots of guys tagging in and out. The heel group was pretty generic especially compared to the volcano of charisma on the other side. Thought Fujiwara was the best looking guy on his side as he really looked like he was having a blast whenever he got in, there was a section where he unloaded on Dupree in the corner which was great. I normally love Koji Kanemoto but he was looking a little loose here which is a little weird considering how much he normally kicks a guy in the face enthusiastically. This could have used a couple of stand out spots, as it was missing the second gear which WWE TV matches are consistently delivering

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Sunday, February 09, 2014

Lawler Looking At You Is Drained Outright

Jerry Lawler/Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart v. Sex & Violence (Dave Danger/Jeff Starr) NEW 3/10/07 - FUN

ER: Lawler teaming up with a Hart? That doesn't make sense. I also don't like that Neidhart was kind of put over as the star of the match. He and Lawler came out together, with Lawler walking out behind him to the Hart Foundation entrance theme. Neidhart got to start the match cleaning house on Sex & Violence (which is kind of a gross name), while Lawler was the one to take a beatdown and build sympathy for the big immobile Neidhart hot tag. I mean, for obvious reasons Lawler was the wise choice to play Morton, as he's good at selling and building sympathy, and also has no problem working the entirety of a match. Sex & Violence was kind of a pleasant surprise, for two guys I had never heard of. Danger was a big guy who kept it simple with stiff shoulderblocks and corner charges, nothing crazy. Starr seemed really good and I'm kinda surprised I haven't heard anybody mention him before this. He had really good punches (good enough to make exchanges with Lawler plausible) and had some personality. Lawler was really good in this and while it was lame playing second banana to Neidhart, the meat of this was like a good Lawler handicap match.

PAS: I liked this a little more then Eric. Neidhart gets to throw some clotheslines and shoulder blocks, but this is pretty much all Lawler, and he is pretty great. The missed fistdrop looked really nasty and was a great transition move. I like Starr working on the arm and wrist after the move too. I also liked Danger's clubbering, his elbow drop was appropriately violent looking for such a fat dude. I kind of understand Lawler playing second fiddle as he was a NEW regular at this point, and Neidhart was the special attraction, I did like Lawler doing the clothesline for the Hart Attack. Still a little short and basic to get to a GREAT rating, but this was high end FUN.


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Saturday, February 08, 2014

Saturday Night Digging In the Crates

We take a trip back to my favorite short lived promotion U-Style and take a look at a couple of awesome dudes who probably had less then 50 matches between them.

Ryuki Ueyama vs.  Hiroyuki Ito U-Style 2/15/03

PAS: This is one of my favorite hidden gems of the 2000s. U-Style was this great little promotion which last a couple of years and had a ton of great shootstyle matches. This was almost a shootstyle Rey Mysterio v. Psicosis match. Ueyama was lightning quick and would just break out these awesome speedy strike combos and submission attempts. Meanwhile Ito was a consummate rudo, he was great at pacing a match, adding drama to the escapes and laying in some big shots himself. A ton of little cool moments here, including a completely awesome finish run. If you missed this a decade ago, go watch it now.

ER: Man the opening minute of mat exchanges was so hypnotic and fast that I wish I could watch it in 1/2 speed to see if I could see in their eyes what was going on, what sequences they knowingly were rolling into, or which they just ended up in. Just some of the coolest transitions that all came off so intuitive and natural and a split second away from danger. That's always the coolest thing about U-Style and shootstyle in general, is that it's always one tiny step away from danger. The standing exchanges show that too, with some shots being thrown to gauge distance, but also knowing that if they connect it's bad news. Finishing run was killer as I felt that armbar more than almost any, with Ito wanting to rip Ueyama's arm off and Ueyama holding on for dear life. I could feel his own nails digging into his palm as he tried to keep his hands clasped. When he bridges out of danger and the crowd sighs in relief it's a great moment, but then flipping into one of the coolest kneebar reversals I've seen was something I didn't expect and looked amazing.

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Friday, February 07, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

2. Virus v. Titan CMLL 1/28/14

ER: Titan is not one of my favorite workers in CMLL. Titan is probably not one of my favorite 40 guys in CMLL. But here he is popping up for the second time on our cumulative match of the year list. And I'm not going to act like Virus and Casas were just working with a mannequin that can do handstands, as that's not the case. He brought it in both matches, but here he's more along for the ride as this is the Virus show. Virus is a total marvel and has been putting on great TV matches since literally the first lucha TV match I ever saw (which was a Virus/Oriental match when I was still in high school 15 years ago. LOLD) and here was another epic. He's a terrific traffic director in there, as you can tell he maps thinks out so well that he's never out of place and rarely misses a step. He cuts low on clotheslines and makes Titan earn his spot, not being easy during mat segments and not holding back on strikes and clotheslines and shoulderblocks. There was a moment where Titan hits a gorgeous no-hands somersault plancha and barrels squarely into Virus, and one of my friends noted the skill it must take to be able to pull off a big spot like that while making it safe, but also make it look damaging. And there were plenty of other Fred and Ginger moments in this. Match hits a furious peak where Virus takes an absurd bump from the apron, getting vaulted over the opposing turnbuckles to the floor. Not long after he exacts his revenge and just splats titan with the most beautiful and violent somersault senton from the ring all the way to the floor. Pure insanity. Really great pass-the-torch match which is no surprise as Virus has been doing this for well over a decade now.

PAS: I actually thought this was more of a Titan showcase then the Casas match. I of course chock that up to the greatness of Virus. Casas is more of flashy showman, Virus is a rudos rudo, he makes the guy he is wrestling look on his level, even if he really isn't. The mat section at the beginning is the perfect example, it isn't Negro Navarro schooling a scrub, but a competitive impressive mat exchange which made Titan look like a capable mat worker. No one puts together finishing runs like Virus, he would have been amazing in WCW PPV Juniors matches, or 2002 ROH. I am not sure if Titan is as good as AR Fox for a flashy guy with nice highspots, but the end of this was pretty edge of your seat. The big nasty apron bump by Titan leading to that insane somersault senton will be a spot of the year contender for sure. Let's hope we get some more Virus showcases this year.


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Thursday, February 06, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

2. Daniel Bryan v. Randy Orton WWE Raw 2/3

ER: Man Bryan has been on an absolute tear so far this year. Heck now that I think about it RAW has been on a tear this year. Seems like there's been a must-see match every Monday in 2014. That may stop once they blow up their tag division (as it seems like they're doing that), but shoot throw Bryan in a 20+ minute main event and we'll call it good, RAW. It's easy to give immediate credit to Bryan for this match, just as it was easy to give it to him in the Wyatt match, and he deserves the credit. He pushed Wyatt to new heights and made his offense seem like some of the most violent stuff ever seen on PPV. And he helped out Orton's stuff here as well...but jeez was Orton a beast in this, especially the first half. Not only was he throwing massive Shoryuken uppercuts (Bryan gets to return the favor later), but he was doing all these little amazing things that I rarely see him do, like rake Bryan's face with his boot eyelets, stomp on Bryan's hands while he's lying prone, and my absolute favorite: ripping at Bryan's beard, and then pulling him BY THE BEARD into a nasty headbutt to the bridge of the nose. Where the hell does THIS Orton spend most of his time!? Because this is a guy I want to watch, a lot. This gets tons of time, with Bryan working over Orton's leg with all sorts of dragon screws, including wrapping Orton's leg around the ringpost and dropkicking it. Orton gets to work over Bryan's shoulder (nice throwback to Wyatt's work in the Rumble match) and does a bunch of cool stuff like stomping on the arm while standing on his hand, and just clubbing the thing around. Bryan kicks him a bunch and man it really is a trip hearing how stoked the crowd was for every piece of Bryan offense. Great match from both guys. Is Orton normally this good? Have I made a bad choice fast forwarding him the past couple years?

PAS: I think I liked this match so much because they really let Bryan go nuts, he probably took 70% of this and he is a guy who can really deliver a nasty beating. Orton seems like he sleepwalks through most of his stuff but he upped the viciousness here, although he would have been overwhelmed if he hadn't. I liked his finger manipulation in this, which I hadn't seen before. I did think his leg selling was a bit on and off which was my only complaint. I really think Bryan has been pushing the pace and stiffness in his singles matches lately and guys have had to step up. Didn't even mind the interference of Kane as it made Bryan's victory even more meaningful.


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Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Lucha Azteca Workrate Report 2/1/14

These matches were from the 1/17 Arena Mexico show.

1. Blue Panther, Diamante Azul & La Mascara vs. Averno, Rey Bucanero & Terrible

Strange match as it was a mixture of sloppy old indy spots (Terrible breaking out a Styles Clash and Bucanero bringing the age old trend of doing normal spots onto his own knee), mixed with cool long Panther segments (cool mat stuff with Averno and really gets to work long sections with everybody) and some (possibly unintentional) pure insane bumps. Azul takes a slingshot hiptoss directly on his head. He lands vertically, planted on his head. Later in the match Terrible dropkicks Panther, and BP takes the Chris Hamrick somersault-off-apron to concrete bump. WHY IS PANTHER TAKING THAT BUMP!? Panther really takes a beating in this match. Mascara and Azul really aren't factors, coming in occasionally for end of falls or hitting dives (though I did dig Mascara in this, but most of it is Panther working bell to bell. Pretty damn impressive performance.

2. Lightning Match: Princess Sugheit vs. Estrellita

Lightning match, so throw any hopes for story, selling or psych out the window, and just hope for cool spots until one of the spots happens to end the match. Sugheit is always good tossing around and punting tecnicas, but something overall felt off here. It was pretty sloppy so even spots that felt like they should have been cool (Estrellita body press off the apron, Sugheit slamming Estrellita on the rampway) didn't really resonate. BUT, Estrellita got part of her weave pulled out, so I mean...that's pretty fucking rad right?

3. Negro Casas, Felino & Mr. Niebla vs. Valiente, Atlantis & Shocker

Weird match as you get Felino and Niebla doing their usual dick around routine that they seem to love doing at Arena Mexico (although Niebla's dicking around is almost always more interesting than Felino's). The standout story here is Casas vs. Shocker. Shocker's a little older and a little slower now but sometimes he can still bring the chubby goods and he delivered over the heads of most of his participants here. Valiente was mostly paired with Felino and they weren't a great match, but Valiente still showed a bunch of fire and obliterated Felino with a dive. Shocker and Casas though really tear it up. They work a bunch of fun reversal segments with Casas using his speed and Shocker catching him with a big yakuza kick. Not great, but had some worthwhile stuff.

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2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

5. Daniel Bryan/John Cena/Sheamus vs. The Shield WWE Raw 1/27

ER: Another good six man from The Shield. If you give those guys 20 minutes I don't really think it even matters who the other 3 guys are. The Shield just pushes all the right wrestling buttons for me. Match does start slow but picks up when Sheamus unleashes his 10 count clubbing forearms on Rollins. I love that spot, one of the cooler crowd interaction spots that nobody really talks about. Then we get Reigns doing a running dropkick onto the apron while Cena is draped over the ropes and shit just gets better. I loved Reigns setting up the Superman punch like he's a character out of SoulCalibur. Him powering out of the STF was epic. I love Ambrose selling the Brogue Kick like he stepped on a rake, and then bumping like Ted Knight falling off the couch in Too Close For Comfort, all stiff-bodied. Bryan is also absolutely on fire in this match. Watching him fly all over the ring and outside the ring is one of the most awesome things in wrestling right now. Real nice two night performance for him with this match piggybacking off the Rumble match the night before.

PAS: I didn't love the first part of this, Cena is normally good at FIP, but this was a bit dull, but man did it kick into gear. Reigns has really developed a series of fun signature spots, I love the jumping apron dropkick, he is a hell of an athlete seems on a different level athletically then most of their big guy wrestlers (outside of Henry and Langston). Bryan is always fun when he breaks out his frenzied hot tag and the end runs of these Shield matches are really the best Dragons Gate stuff around.


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Monday, February 03, 2014

The King Can't Recall, Recall Your Name

Jerry Lawler v. Tazz MCW 11/4/00 -FUN

ER: I mean I had to know the piledriver no sell was coming but this one was annoyed me the most out of the Tazz series, mainly as it was kind of done as a mid-match throwaway, in a match that was already a scant 5 minutes. I mean it was used the same way you would use a ducked clothesline, just a way for Tazz to transition directly back to offense. But the only thing he does to capitalize is just punch Lawler a few times. Pretty big waste of a spot that should be a huge moment in a match against Lawler. I'm actually pretty surprised Lawler would agree to something like that. Seems like something most workers would have an issue with when going over the layout. All that aside, I actually enjoyed the match. Maybe not quite as violent as their brief WWE feud, but Tazz plunked Lawler in the forehead a couple times, Lawler was wearing his boss white tights/black singlet get-up and worked around Tazz nicely. He threw a bunch of cool punches and surprised Tazz from behind with the dropkick. Really great fistdrop that I've never really seen him throw before, as this was more dropping down to a knee the way Roman Reigns punches the mat before the Superman Punch. It looked great. Also gotta love that when Lawler committs to hitting the fistdrop, his missed fistdrops look just as great. Tazz moves on one from the middle rope and Lawler really jams his wrist on it. You can feel the knuckle pain.

PAS: I could easily see this being a GREAT if the either did away with that piledriver spot or placed it better, I did like the announcer attributing the no-sell to Tazz's lack of a neck. I liked the brawling a fair amount, although the finish with a unnecesary ref bump leading to Tazz missing a somersault senton was really weird. Since when did Tazz have a somersault senton? Why a ref bump before he did it? Was he worried it would take him so long to climb the ropes that the ref would count him out?
The entire match was really just a backdrop to a Memphis Power Pro invasion with Bulldog Rains, Brandon Baxter, Randy Hales and Derrick King at ringside. I just wanted to see the King v. Derrick King uncooperative interpromotional matches, Derrick King would make an awesome Tenryu.


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Sunday, February 02, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

1. Daniel Bryan vs. Bray Wyatt WWE 1/26

PAS: One of the more violent matches I can remember in the WWE, especially for a match without any weapon shots. Really a coming out for Wyatt who is a fun character, but hasn't had an in ring performance like this. Loved the stiffness in this match, the curb stomp by Bryan, the crazy DDT, the big kicks, he felt like he was trying to kill Wyatt even more the he did during the cage match. Meanwhile Wyatt was a brutal force, lots of credit to Bryan who was bumping huge on the clotheslines and elbows, but also Wyatt's ringpost smashes and headbuts felt like the kind of thing that would cause concussions. Plus that ending was truly nuts, felt like the right escalation of a move for this kind of match (alot of time the WWE super move thing comes off forced), and the smoothness of the catch into the barricade Sister Abgail was great, it looked like an organic counter a crazy man would come up with.

ER: Wow this was just an excellent match. WWE can botch characters pretty badly, but they've done a good job with Wyatt. Him working a match felt like a really big deal special attraction to me as he rarely works TV, and in 6 mans he's usually on the apron and only comes in for the finish or just hangs back the whole time. So him finally appearing solo and them wisely having Bryan take out Harper/Rowan at the beginning was smart. Both guys gave each other a lot here. Bryan bumped like a lunatic and made Wyatt look like he had the most crushing back elbows and clotheslines in the business. All the big moves and bumps fit really organically into the match without guys having to awkwardly get into position for stuff. You have the great dive spot set up by Bray talking to Harper, Wyatt chopping Bryan dangerously off the top rope, the masterful set up to Sister Abigail into the barrier (a real holy shit moment), Wyatt getting spiked with that insane tornado DDT to the floor, the nasty shoulder wringer into the apron. It's really rare to have a 20+ minute singles match and not feel at least a little overkill, but there's none of that here. Just a sustained attack from both guys that just keeps escalating and peaks perfectly. So far nothing else this year is even close to this match, and if we end up with even a couple better by the end of the year then it will have been a great year for wrestling. Also, if Wyatt can find a way to do the Exorcist crab walk as a bridge out of a pin, he's gonna be #1 on the 500.

5. Blue Panther vs. Negro Casas CMLL 1/21

PAS: A little disappointing, you want this match up to be an all time classic and instead we get a very fun brawl with a run in finish. Still this is Negro Casas and Blue Panther brawling and it is pretty damn great. The pace they set was pretty impressive for two guys in their 50s as they pretty much went after each other bell to bell. I love all of the headbuts, and the dueling limb work with Casas attacking the knee and Panther wrenching at the arm. Both submission finishes were very cool, and it felt like it was building to something great before the Felino kid run in. I do love the constant Casas singles matches we are getting in 2014, although he hasn't dropped a true gem yet.

ER: A match between two all-time maestros would never be able to live up to your own mental hype, and lucha is weird enough that there's equal enough chance for each of these guys to have an excellent match against Euforia or Maximo as they have against each other. So you see two of your all-time favorites against each other and you basically hope for a bunch of cool moments, and this had plenty of cool moments. All of the submission exchanges delivered (Panther violently twisting into the STF being my highlight) and the rampway brawling set a cool tone for the match. This was never going to live up to the hype, but for two guy who have been favorites of mine for as long as I've watched lucha, it's just fun seeing them do their thing.


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Saturday, February 01, 2014

Saturday Night Digging in the Crates

We take a visit to a minor league baseball stadium in Wisconsin, to see friend of a friend of the blog CM Punk who is in the news a bit against a friend to no one Ian Rotten.

CM Punk v. Ian Rotten MAW 9/2/01

PAS: This was a Texas Death Match for the MAW title and is a nifty chance to check out early Punk against one of my favorite severely underrated guys Ian Rotten. This was a nasty bloody brawl, but worked like an old school Texas Death Match not a Indy Death Match. Punk starts out by ripping off Ian's omnipresent bandage, and lands some nasty cut opening punches. Punk is a guy whose stiffness is a little hit and miss over the course of his career, but you bring it against Ian and they both lay it in here. Some really nifty brawling spots, including Ian reversing a whip into the crowd with a great looking monkey flip which sends Punk flying into chairs. They also use the chain link fence in the bleachers like a steel cage. I also really liked the lack of overkill, early 2000's indies could really overdo it, but the finish here felt like a reasonable place to finish. Also loved Ian with the earnest post match offer of a handshake, which Punk takes and then jumps him. No one does earnest sportsmanship like Ian.

ER: Ian the shake my hand/respect/gentleman is so amazing considering 20 minutes before he was comparing Prazak to a used tampon and reacted to being called a fat prick by saying that's the best thing to put in a woman. And he's Ian Rotten. And he was the babyface. All this seems like he perfect kind of thing to be happening in a promotion called Mid-American Wrestling. Match itself went maybe a little too long as it appeared Ian gassed pretty hard (the more muscle you have obviously the more oxygen is needed to feed that muscle) and was having trouble getting up off the mat or climbing ropes. Still there were plenty of great moments: Ian's beastly somersault senton, Punk taking a double underhook DDT right on his head, the aforementioned awesome monkey flip reversal in the dirt through chairs, Ian leaving a bloody stain on a chair after getting it dropkicked into his face. Fun stuff.

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You Should Have Given Your Love to The King, It Couldn't Do You No Harm

Jerry Lawler v. Steven Richards MCW 1/20/01-GREAT

ER: I know I've said it before but Stevie is just a great opponent for Lawler, since he really feels like a nice throwback to an 80s Memphis worker. Here they work a cross between violent arena brawl and studio comedy match, with some fine brawling (loved Stevie's fist drop into kneeling choke) and both bringing some great comedy. Lawler went for his great corner 10 count punches...but then thought Stevie could use some more, so ended up doing about 50 corner punches. Greatest spot in the match - and really one of my favorite spots I've seen in any Lawler match - was him taking the strap down, and Stevie panicking and pulling Lawler's strap back up, as if it would immediately nullify his superhuman strap down powers. So Awesome.

PAS: Yeah I was a big fan of this match too, although it was a bit stally in the middle especially for a short match, and I hate the Lawler stunner and the dumb finish, but man everything else ruled. Stevie is a guy with some really nice punches and bumps and can really do some shtick. I want to second the greatness of the replace the strap spot, such a brilliant spot and can't believe I hadn't seen it before.


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