Segunda Caida

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

Saturday, May 31, 2014

En Busca de un Idolo - Week 5

4/29

Cachorro v. Guerrero Negro Jr. -Spare Moment

The weakest Cachorro match so for, Guerrero Negro is just so bland. Here he tries some stuff, a plancha and a Canadian Destroyer, but nothing jumped out and his little stuff didn't look good. Cachorro had a cool springboard rana to the floor which I hadn't see him do before, and he is good enough that he is always worth seeing but Negro did his best to make me not care.

Dragon Lee v. Cavernario - Must See

The more Dragon Lee I watch, the more I think he belongs in the same discussion with the other finalists. He has some very nice opening matwork here before they start throwing bombs, and boy do the bombs comes. We almost had violence overkill here, Cavernario powerbombs Lee on the floor, and into the turnbuckle, Lee murders Cavernario with a tope, and hits him with a sunset flip bomb to the floor, just a ton of nasty shit for 8 minutes. Finish was great as Cavernario breaks out of a powerbomb attempt with a nasty headbutt and brutal knee, before hitting a flapjack and submission. Almost felt like the last 7 minutes of a epic Puro match.

5/2

Dragon Lee v. Cachorro - Must See

The Dragon Lee train rolls on. Another great match and great performance. Right away they get in each others faces and this almost immediately feels like the beginning of a great rivalry. Lee backs him into the ropes and lands a hard chop, and Cachorro responds with a big double leg tackle. Dragon Lee continues to get killed on the floor, as he takes a running Liger bomb on the concrete. There was a great near fall here, as Cachorro whips out his flash Fujiwara, but too close to the ropes. The crazy Manami Toyota suplex Lee uses to win this match takes a bit too long to set up, but it was still pretty cool looking. I want to see these two guys match up consistently, this was their great sprint, I want to see their great title match and their great apuestas match too.

Soberano Jr. v. Guerrero Negro Jr.- Spare Moment

I got to give these two some credit, there were execution issues and lots of stuff didn't hit clean, but they left it all out there. Some crazy shit here, Negro catches a rana attempt and just chucks Soberano into the barricade, Soberano tries a six twist plancha to the floor, after Negro just flies out of the ring onto his head. Like I said, they were off on a lot of their timing and moves, but at least it wasn't dull.

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Friday, May 30, 2014

En Busca de un Idolo - Week 4

4/22

Super Halcon Jr. v. Star Jr.-Spare Moment

Fun poor mans version of the Star Jr. v. Dragon Lee spotfest. Halcon isn't going to hold up his end as much, but Star Jr. was even nuttier. Flying around with ranas and headscissors, including a top rope asai moonsault. He also lands a great left hook. Halcon pretty much runs through the same spots in each match, and they are fine, but I am getting tired of them already.

Hechicero v. Soberano Jr.-Must See

Man was this a blast. This was a real Hechicero as rudo maestro performance. Soberano Jr. has some spots and some athleticism, but is probably the greenest guy in a tournament of green guys. They start the match by running through some very nifty and pretty complex mat and standing exchanges. Hechicero is leading him through it clearly, but Soberano is contributing some moments of his own. Soberano gets flipped on to the apron and as Hechicero runs in he goes to flip up kick him, it is a spot that you have seen in a million lucha matches, but the Wizard isn't having it, he grabs the leg and uses it to tie the kid up in the ropes and kick his ass, it was very Finlayish. There were lots of moments like that in this match where the expected thing wasn't what you got.  Soberano hits one dive a beautiful corkscrew plancha, but goes for a rana to the floor, gets caught, powerbombed into the ringpost and chucked into the front row.  Then we get Soberano trying to survive an onslaught, until he is able to roll up Hechicero into a leg lock. Lots of cool moments, a great individual performance, lots of things to like in this match.

4/25

Hechicero v. Star Jr.-Must See

Another very fun Hechicero vs. flyer match, he is a really great base, takes ranas, headscissors and dives really well, and isn't afraid to get nasty. Star Jr. tries his entry in the craziest bump contest as Hechicero powerboms him on the top turnbuckle, bouncing him all the way to the floor. He also corked out a top rope springboard twisting moonsault. Hechicero caught a rana and folded him with a nasty powerbomb. This only goes about five minutes, but it is a nifty five minutes.

Super Halcon Jr. v. Soberano Jr.-Don't Bother

Had a couple of moments, Soberano went really high on a monkey flip and had a nice tope con hilo. Still not much else was good, there was one badly blown spot, and Halcon did his same stuff which I am tired of. He has this really awkward looking tope con hilo where he has this pause before the leap like Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon trying to get courage to leap across a building. It never looks good and he keeps doing it.

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My Lucha Journey: The Marco Corleone Experience 2: Vs Ultimo Guerrero and Parejas Increibles 2012


aired 2012-03-03
taped 2012-02-28 @ Arena Coliseo Guadalajara
Marco Corleone vs Último Guerrero






10:47 for a three fall match with entrances (albeit shortened ones) doesn't necessarily bode well, and at the very least invites the idea of clipping. This was actually pretty good for what it was though. I'll catch Ultimo Guerrero however I can in the process of whatever I'm working on and there aren't THAT many mano a mano Marco matches out there. This was on CMLL Guadalajara and I'm not entirely sure what that was but the announcers seem to be enjoying themselves. I just figured out that this was RIGHT around the parejas increibles tournament for the year and I'm actually going to make a quick sidetrip to watch the Marco/Guerrero matches since they were paired for some context. Bear with me for a moment.

A few thoughts: Marco could fill time really well in short matches. The eightfinal vs Hijo del Fantasma and Misterioso Jr. was less than four minutes but he started it with a fun, shticky big vs little exchange with Misterioso Jr. I'm happy that Fantasma actually had a Phantom mask, in 2012. It also had probably the best dive I've seen out of Marco, as he just propels himself, no hands, over the top to the floor. They even worked in a little call back spot involving a sunset flip reversal. Not bad for four minutes. The quarterfinal vs Black Warrior/Rey Escorpion got a whopping two minutes. This was my first look at Black Warrior and it was just a glimpse. It was cute though, as Ultimo set up his foes for the Superman dive and Marco landed on all three (and pinned all three, which annoyed Ultimo). I know this tournament lucha is really slight, but you do get some extremely distilled character work at least. The semi was vs Rush and Terrible and clocked in under six minutes. Rush and Terrible were feuding at the time, I think. I've actually yet to see any Terrible of note. This was 2012, but Marco and Rush were part of a trios already. There was this awesome moment of hesitation where Terrible was holding Marco's leg in the corner and Rush seemed like he wasn't going to kick him and then he just unloads. What a jerk. He even followed it up by choking Marco in the corner. Rush is Rush. Marco's comeback was a lot of fun as he ended up leapfrogging everyone twice, it seemed. Unfortunately, Ultimo and Rush were paired off again so Marco didn't get revenge. Instead, he ran right into a huge superkick as Rush reentered the ring. They did a call back to the Superman leap on all three guys but this time, they all kick out. I love continuity within a tournament. Anyway, Rush and Terrible worked better as a unit and ultimately won the thing (after Rush held down Marco so Terrible could splash him). That was a nice little diversion and showed me what I pretty much already knew, that Marco works real well in a tag setting, especially in short falls where he can work to his strengths and really stand out.

Back to the match at hand. I'm not 100% sure if this was right before or right after the tournament but it doesn't really matter. All three caidas were understandably short, but the first, which was shortest of all but had good intensity, did raise one of the major problems I have with Marco. He took the thing with this goofy modified leg-sweep, and yeah, he hit it with some impact, but I don't think it's the sort of move that a giant in the land of lucha should be doing to take a fall. He should have used something that accentuated his stature a bit more. Sometimes he doesn't work as big as he should. It's a necessity, I think, in a setting where he has to continuously give his opponents at least a fall and make them look good and where he also has to face the same guys week in and week out, and often times he hits the balance really well, with some of his more aerial and fancy moves awkward in a way that works towards his character. Sometimes, however, it misses the mark and here I think it did. The flip side is that he's very good at giving his opponents quite a bit and making them look good. Case in point was the end of the short and fairly back and forth segunda caida where he goes up really high for a huge powerbomb that allowed Ultimo to put his feet on the ropes and pick up the pin. Also see his frequent spot where he does a missed body press into the corner and ends up stuck on the top rope in one movement, which he did do here.

That was part of a pretty heated tercera caida, where he also wasn't afraid to eat a pretty visually striking second rope goardbuster. There's good stuff in here, like a momentum shift when Ultimo capitalized on Marco gloating too much, or a nearfall off of Ultimo luring Marco in to do a flying body press and then reversing it. It felt organic, not just happenstance but like Ultimo was savvy and using his wits against Marco. The finish worked well too, as Marco hit a powerbomb of his own and used the ropes, in yet another call back spot. When I was watching a lot of Portland, which is all 2 out of 3 falls matches, I noticed that they used them quite a bit. I had thought that it was maybe just Buddy Rose being so good a pro wrestling, but I'm starting to think it might be a trapping of the medium. It's one of my favorite things in pro wrestling so I consider myself lucky that it shows up so much in lucha. Again, this wasn't a match of the year candidate for 2012, but it was a great way to spend ten minutes and another sign that Marco can hold his own in singles matches too.

The parejas increibles matches are below:








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Thursday, May 29, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of Year List

7. Daniel Bryan v. HHH WWE Wrestlemania 4/6

PAS: I dislike Helmsley about as much as I dislike anyone in wrestling, but I have to give him a bunch of credit here. He was really nasty tearing at Bryan's arm, he was really deliberate, showing each part of the application of the hold, it is a really effective performative tactic in a big stage like a Dome. I also thought his cutoffs were really awesome, Bryan is great at working at pace and every time Helmsley would stop him it would be like a car speeding into a wall. I think a lot of that is how great Bryan bumps, he totally wipes himself out on the clothesline and goes really high on the spinebuster, but a big part was knowing the right time to bring the match back down. HHH isn't very flexible and that made the submission attempts by both guys guys a little awkward, but that is really my only quibble. Totally shocked Bryan didn't get eaten up here, I knew he was going to win, but I didn't think he would come out looking good.

ER: I'm sure most internet wrestling fans assumed going in that this would be a total HHH show, doing all those subtle obnoxious things like sandbagging Bryan on suplexes, taking forever to make planned pinfalls, and basically making this look like Bryan lucked his way into the main event. And if somebody told me  in 2013 that there would be a 25+ minute Helmsley singles match in the upcoming year that I would really really like then I'm sure I would have been doubtful, regardless of opponent. But man I really liked HHH in this. This was not some sort of Bryan miracle carry job. HHH wasn't trying to work his usual awful Flair cosplay epic, and he didn't do his regular silly stuff like setting up all his offense by starting with Irish whips. He used his usual range of offense, but it was actually functional within the confines of a great wrestling match. No goofy Flair tribute rolling knee drop out of the corner, instead he dropped a bunch of knees right into Bryan's temple. He bumped big on dropkicks, took a tornado DDT with Bryan leaping off the apron, tossed Bryan with a freaking Tiger suplex right onto Bryan's bum shoulder. There was no misplaced touring NWA champ stuff, usually copied with no regard for context, no banana peels, no screwiness, just an excellent long, well-worked match that holds up nicely upon rewatch. Great match.


2014 MASTER LIST 

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En Busca de un Idolo - Week 3

4/15

Cachorro v. Soberano Jr.- Spare Moment

Soberano Jr. is the best of the tourney also rans. He has a really good vertical leap which adds something to his leapfrogs and dives, I imagine he would have made a good Jr. College 2 guard. Cachorro is the other contender for wrestler of this tourney. He doesn't do anything mind blowing here, but he is great at adding little beats, and seasoning to his moves. Only thing that kept this from being higher is the brevity, this only goes about four minutes which is even short for this tourney.

Star Jr. v. Dragon Lee- Must See

These are the two craziest flyers in this tourney. Often flyer v. flyer dream matches don't live up to expectations (I remember being super disappointed by Red v. Jody Fleisch back in the ROH days), however this is pretty much what you want from two crazy lunatics given 8 minutes to kill themselves. Star Jr. wins the bump contest as he dives at Lee who straddling the top rope, Lee moves and Star Jr. does a flip dive splat on the floor, and as he stumbles up he gets cracked by Lee. I actually thought Lee had a couple of nifty mat moves at the beginning including breaking out of a Indian deathlock with a nice forearm. He also put on a cool submission after a top rope armdrag. I would lose my shit if this was on Nitro in 1998 which is my standard for these matches.

4/18

Cachorro v. Cavernario- Must See

Another absolute corker of a match. There are two of the three best guys in this tourney and this is the best match I have seen. We open up with a bunch solidly wrestled exchanges and then the hot death starts. Cavernario opens up with a great through the ringpost tope. A bit later he takes a fun Dick Murdoch back first bump after his legs get caught in the ropes, before getting smashed by Cachorro's bullet tope. Then we get almost as great a one two punch pair of spots as in the Hechicero match, as Cachorro tries another tope, gets bealed head first into the barrier and then eats the Superfly to the floor, which looks like it smushes him like a grilled cheese getting sat on by a fat kid. Another big in ring splash looks like it will finish him, but as Cavernario picks him up for more, Cachorro throws on a flash Fujiwara for the tap. About as good a 9 minute sprint as you are going to see. I have been down on young CMLL for a while, but with guys like Rush, Terrible and Rey Escorpion plus these guys in this tourney, my optimism is rising.

Dragon Lee v. Guerrero Negro Jr.-Must See

Speaking of bright futures, Dragon Lee is 18 years old and debuted in 2014, and is already pretty damn great. I really dug this match, it felt a little chippier then other matches in this tourney, both guys were throwing nasty shots at each other in between spots. Lee hit a great looking Ohtani boot in the corner for example. Lee also absolutely smashed Negro with a tope. There was one awkward moment where Negro went for a double stomp to the floor (after Lee takes a sick clothesline bump on the ring apron) and I can't tell if he hits it or misses it. Lee breaks out a nice Spider german and bridged german to win the match and the more I watch of him, the more he belongs in the top four

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

En Busca de un Idolo-Week 2

4/8

Super Halcon Jr. v. Guerrero Negro Jr.-Don't Bother

No real execution problems, but really vanilla uninteresting wrestling. Felt a little like an undercard black trunk New Japan juniors match in the early 2000's. Super Halcon Jr. hit a tope con hilo but it didn't have the speed or height on the really great looking dives we are seeing in this tourney. Finish was a solidly executed moonsault which also lacked pizzaz. Forgettable stuff, I really prefer the home run or strike out approach of guys like Star Jr. and Dragon Lee.

Hechicero v. Cavernario-Must See

Both of these guys were kind of local cult heroes, Cavernario was a guy you would search out being crazy in Guadalajara, while Hechicero was the local mat wizard of Monterey. Pretty cool to see them both get a shot at the big time, and both perform so well. The opening matwork was a step above what we had seen before, that is Hechicero's calling card, but the caveman was really solid too. Then we get one of the crazier back to back spots in the history of professional wrestling. Hechicero had last years bump of the year with his chair leg tope, he tries for the 2014 title as he attempts to dive on Cavernario from the ring apron, catches the barrier with his feet and smashes the back of his neck on the floor. Cavernario one ups him, with his crazy top rope to the floor Superfly splash. They battle back in the ring for a bit, and we get some nasty Cavernario headbutts and a great counter into a spinning submission by Hechicero. These guys really set the bar on day 3, not hard to see how they ended up doing so well in the judging.

4/11

Hechicero v. Guerrero Negro Jr.-Spare Moment

I enjoyed the early parts of this a bunch. It was really fun to watch Hechicero eat up Guerrero Negro Jr. with really cool standing counters and leverage arm twists. Negro is about the most generic maskless luchador ever, even his name seems like it comes out of a random lucha name generator. He is fine when asked to do simple things, but when he tries to get fancier the match falls apart. He tries a slingshot double stomp to the floor, but only grazes Hecheicero, then tries an octopus and ends up falling into the ropes. By the time Negro wins with a power bomb, it felt like a mercy killing. Worth checking out for the first part, but it got messy.

Super Halcon Jr. v. Cavernario- Spare Moment

Similar to the previous match, as we had one of the best guys in this tourney trying to pull something out of one of the dullest. This didn't have the high points of the previous match, we got some cool Cavernerio brawling, but nothing as cool as Hechicero's judo,  but it didn't fall apart either, just kind of chugged along. I really like Cavernario's shoulder scars, it looks like he was swiped by a sabertooth tiger. Unmemorable, but inoffensive.

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My Lucha Journey: The Marco Corleone Experience Part 1: Marco Corleone vs Mr. Niebla

Now that I'm done with Rush vs Shocker, I thought I'd go back and take a look at another wrestler that I can't get a great handle on. No one really talks up Marco Corleone, except for in some odd amazement that Mark Jindrak ended up where he ended up. I think people don't talk enough about Maximo but they talk even less about Marco. He's the third guy in his trios and maybe the Superman Body Press can be a little awkward at times, sure, but I think he plays his role extremely well, both takes offenses and dishes it out (especially his punches) pretty well, and works a lot of his character into his matches. I just don't remember him being all that great in the early 00s when I last saw him. You can learn a lot about a wrestler just by watching trios, but you learn something different in singles matches where more of the structuring and execution of the matches will fall upon his and his shoulders alone. I'm going to take some time and look at both.

aired 2013-09-21 
taped 2013-09-15 @ Arena Mexico 
Marco Corleone vs Mr. Niebla 


This was an interesting match. I'm not entirely sure how they got to this point. Youtube's amazing translation features makes me see that Niebla was pushing hard the fight for Mexico and his neighborhood and what not against the foreign interloper, even though said interloper was the tecnico. That meant we got a much more serious Niebla than usual. I've seen these two work their shtick against each other a bunch of times, so this was actually a bit refreshing. Of course, there are limits. Niebla still came out with the fro and he still took his through the ropes bump and fell off the ropes once. It was only once though and while yeah, it led to a transition, it came right after a dive and wasn't the least logical thing in the world.

One of my favorite things about watching Marco is the way that other luchadors have to deal with his size. You can get comedy sequences with Casas or him going toe to toe with someone larger like Kraneo (and I want to look at some of those), or you can have a fall end with someone rolling through his giant awkward body press, like Niebla did to win the primera caida after an equally awkward but still sort of impressive top rope clothesline (he later hit one from the apron outside too). I saw him lose to that reversal in the parejas increibles tournament too. Here, it set up a small litany of body presses and reversals throughout the match. I liked that when he hit his next one, off the top rope, he rolled through so that Niebla couldn't reverse it again. This led right into the end of the fall as he was able to powerbomb Niebla immediately thereafter. It also meant things mean more when he finally hit the superman version (after two of his spin out belly to backs, making him earn it) to win the match.

Even with the good punches, my guess on why we don't hear more about Marco is that he's fairly awkward. That's something I'm still getting used to with lucha. Most places I talk about wrestling look at execution as a secondary trait. With lucha, it seems a primary one, if not THE primary one. His character stuff, however, remains really fun. Here, he was great at portraying attitude when taking ineffectual chops or when Zacarias was menacing his leg. He kicked out the Rick Rude swerve at the right time to pop the crowd. There was another awesome callback, one that sort of led into the finish of the tercera caida: after the powerbomb, he had used his height to get his feet on the ropes for advantage. This played into the slight heeling he was doing here after Niebla made it about nationality and because the Arena Mexico crowd doesn't love him, but it was also visually interesting and sort of appropriately shtick worthy. Later on Niebla tried it but came up (literally) short. I think it was a sign of how just a little bit of the funny CAN go a long way even in a more seriously worked match like this.

In the end, no one is going to mistake this for a Match of the Year contender but it was smartly worked and entertaining while still having more weight behind it than if it was just a comedy match. So after this first glance, my feeling is that while he's not a maestro, and while his execution is a little awkward, I think he can more than hold his own in a setting like this.  I liked a lot of what he did in this match more than I liked, for instance, a lot of the far smoother and more artful things I saw Valiente do in his singles matches, not because of what they were but because of how they were used.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Dan Aubriot is the Brainwasher

Dan Aubriot v. Pierre Bernaert 9/11/62-EPIC

PAS: This project just keeps churning out classics with guys I have never heard of. Aubriot is the flashier of these two guys, he moves really quickly, super fast ranas, headscissors and the quickest spinning toe hold I have seen. Sometime I think the video might be a bit sped up things are so fast. He also takes a crazy bump getting slammed into the turnbuckle pad and flying over. Bernaert really starts shining when things break down and get nasty, he ends an uppercut exchange with a straight forearm which dims Aubriot's running lights, and as things get chippier he sneaks in nasty stiff cheapshots, by then end he almost feels like a proto-Terry Rudge or Finlay. I still haven't gotten a sense of how these matches end, as it felt a bit abrupt, but the work here was off the charts and we get to add two names to the list of forgotten French maestros. 

ER: This stuff is just impossibly cool. The ref looks like Michel from Breathless, and all the matwork looks like stuff Jackie Chan could have stolen and milked for several more movies. The headscissor reversals at the 4 minute mark alone are worth the price of admission. Seeing these two skinny French guys throw knees makes me realize how poorly the modern knee lift has been appropriated. Aubriot throws a couple quick variations to the side of Bernaert's face, and Bernaert throws one short and fast to the stomach that looked better than any Mr. Wrestling kneelift I've seen. The stiffness of these guys continually surprised me as they throw finer uppercuts and forearms than any of the modern tiny overcompensating indy guys. This whole match had a different feel to the others that had popped up so far, as it still had all the cool ranas and armdrags and reversals that you've never seen before, but by the end had devolved into a real slugfest. Soak these up while we got 'em, people!



La Complète et Exacte French Catch

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En Busca de un Idolo -Week 1

The CMLL En Busca de un Idolo tourney is the most fun non-WWE thing in wrestling in 2014. Pretty much fun WCWSN lucha style 8 minute matches. I like tourneys (although not lucha tourneys usually), and most of these matches are nice and short, so I figure I will review it all, hoping to catch up by the finals. My Complete and Accurate grades don't really work here (I don't think there are going to be any EPICS for example) so I am going to review them with a Must See, If You Have a Spare Moment, Don't Bother.

3/25

Qualifying Cibernetico (Black Panther, Cachorro, Canelo Casas, Cavernario, Dragon Lee, El Rebelde, Espiritu Negro, Flyer, Guerrero Negro Jr., Hechircero, Herodes Jr., Metalico, Oro Jr., Soberno Jr., Star Jr., Super Halcon Jr.)- Spare Moment

These matches are like Ice Cream Sundae's for the most part. Sweet, will give you a head rush, but not a ton of substance and you definitely don't want too much. This goes 30 minutes +, and while the first couple of bites are great, you are going to have a stomach ache when you are done. It is hard to really focus on one guy, or one crazy dive when the match has 20+ dives. Watching them all, I decided I am pretty much a fan of a simple tope, and there are some great ones here, especially by Panther's kids. Star Jr. gets the most height on his dive and Hechicero takes the biggest bump. It seems like the picked the right 8 guys to advance (although I would have liked to see more Black Panther), but this is a hard platform to judge people on. Plenty of crazy individual moments, and if you just want to see crazy kids do every spot they know this is fine in an ROH scramble kind of way

4/4

Cachorro v. Star Jr. -Must See

Cachorro is the son of Blue Panther and one of the most exciting young wrestlers in the world. Star Jr. is a 20 year old technico with all of the nut up testosterone of a kid that age. Star Jr. looked a little tentative in the exchanges, although he hit them all fine. What you want from Star Jr. is one crazy bump and one crazy dive and you get both as he flies through the ropes head first to the floor and hits a springboard flippy twist. Cachorro throws out his tope although it isn't as crushing as it has been, he also ends with a rana counter leglock which would make his daddy proud. Fun stuff.

Dragon Lee v. Soberano Jr.-Spare Moment 

Parts of this were a bit of a mess, Soberano kind of blows his first big dive, an inside to out asai moonsault which he doesn't clear cleanly and looks like he clips Dragon Lee. There are also off a bit on some of their in ring exchanges. Still this had some cool stuff, Lee is a really graceful flyer and that signature hip toss to the floor bump is one of the crazier signature spots I have seen. Not much to this, but it had enough moments for a mild rec.

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Monday, May 26, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

6. AJ Styles v. Chris Hero ROH 3/22

PAS: Hey ROH, I remember ROH, good to see they can still toss out something great every once in a while. Both of these guys are guys with tendencies, and they mostly kept those tendencies in check. With the overkill limited, they put on a corker of a match. Hero was absolutely killing Styles, almost FUTEN level big boots, elbows and some disgusting thai knees. Styles did a great job of selling, constantly checking his dental work, and folding himself up on big blows. Meanwhile he had some great hit and run counters, using his speed to evade and crack Hero, I especially loved how he worked in the Pele kick. Finish was great too, as it looked like they were going to devolve in fighting spirt nonsense, and instead we got a very cool flash calf slicer tap out. I really liked this, reminded me of a time I liked indy wrestling.

ER: I, too, remember ROH and this also reminds me of when I actively used to purchase ROH DVDs; as opposed to right now, when I do not even actively look up results of ROH events. This is a nice, tidy match that never threatens to overstay its welcome, and both guys looked great. I could watch Hero straight front kick dudes all day, and for 20 minutes here I get my wish. I loved how he would cut off a bunch of Styles moves with a front kick, somehow utilizing a big boot almost like an "out of nowhere" Diamond Cutter type move. Even though Hero leads with that big boot more often than not in this match, he still managed to surprise me some of the times he pulled it out. It was just so damn satisfying seeing him kick through Styles' chest or plant a heel through his forehead. I loved the opening mat work here, and both guys added some cool touches to stuff you've seen a million times (I especially loved Hero grabbing a chinlock and leaning all his weight forward on Styles' body). Selling from both guys was great, with both guys really knowing how to make the other's offense look awesome. I loved Hero plopping down on his butt after the Pele kick. Then Styles goes and one-ups that selling by getting folded damn near in half of a big boot, like that sheriff that Jason snaps in half in Friday the 13th: Jason Lives. This whole thing builds great and the finish really satisfies. Great match.


2014 MASTER LIST

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Sunday, May 25, 2014

My Lucha Journey: Rush vs Shocker Final! Cabellera vs Cabellera

aired: 2014-03-29
taped 2014-03-21 @ Arena México
Rush vs Shocker, cabellera vs cabellera




And here we are. Eight matches leading up to this for me and plenty that came before my initial cut off point or that I didn't have access to. There are some seemingly cool things on youtube like the contract signing with Negro Casas standing off to the side overseeing things and a sit down interview with both guys before the match but my mileage didn't go too far due to my lack of coherent Spanish. They're not hard to find but if anyone can't, leave a comment and I'll point you that way. Also, I've seen this match two or three times now. I saw it very shortly after it happened, before I watched all of the matches leading up to it and when I was far less familiar with both luchadors. This time around, having seen the build, I got a lot more out of it.

First and foremost: the match delivered. It felt important, had a really great, hot crowd that was deeply behind Shocker, though that also had pockets of Rush supporters, and both guys not only worked their butts off but also paced and sold the tercera caida well which is so key to a match like this actually MEANING something. I've been avoiding two things while doing these write ups: writing while I watch and play-by-play. I usually tackle these the morning after I saw them and while I had been taking notes at first, I've gone away from that as my familiarity has increased. I'm tempted to go with play by play here, just because there was a lot of cool stuff, but I'll try to distill it into the broad story and how they got it across.

Shocker is 42. Rush is 25. Shocker was this huge up and coming heartthrob superstar. Rush is sort of there now. Shocker was 1000% guapo, had never lost a hair match, and he wrestled this match like a fiery veteran making a stand against the years and against a younger force that really already had superseded him. Rush, as I'm getting used to saying, was Rush. I don't think he's the best wrestler in the world though he is very good (and again, only 25), but I do think he's the truest character. Every single thing he does seems entirely genuine. He's a dynamo of smarmy, brash and brazen, self-obsessed deluded tecnico fury. Here, that made the crowd visceral for him to lose his hair, and even though Shocker had been losing support over the last match or two at Arena Puebla, this is Arena Mexico and they know what they want as much as any crowd in the world.

The Primera Caida was brisk, no more than four minutes, but they packed a lot in and set the tenor for the match. It wasn't the most violent first fall of an apuestas match you'll ever see, but it was action packed and with purpose, from two guys who had spent a few months working against each other. After going toe-to-toe and trading shots from the get go, I rather liked how Rush did his usual reverse course transition off the rope with his dropkick instead of the clothesline, which led right into a pair of dives. Shocker fell back to experience and finesse by tying Shocker up off of a clothesline attempt with a complicated roll up for the pin. He kept pressing the advantage into the Segunda Caida, but there's no one better in wrestling at changing momentum than Rush since he can hit that dropkick out of nowhere which he did. It was only a hope spot of sorts, though, as Shocker cut him off with a big clothesline. When he went for a second, Rush was able to hook him in the same exact roll up reversal that he lost to in the primera caida, and pick up the fall. Irritating and precocious, Rush was able to shift gears and do what Shocker did just as well.

The tercera caida was very well balanced, with a good mix of action and exhausted full body selling. It didn't go way over the top into big moves like some of these tend to, even though they were still there, just enough. I liked it a lot. There were definitely exciting highlights like Shocker German suplexing Rush onto the ramp, a huge senton from Rush and elbow drop from Shocker, or a massive belly to belly off the top, followed by a senton by Rush, but they were spaced apart well and had enough selling to make everything matter. Shocker was even bleeding from under the eye, just to help the mood. The best part was the finishing sequence which had a great call back to the trios a few weeks before: after Rush escaped the Reienera attempt, he stomped on Shocker in the corner repeatedly. Then, just like that trios match, Shocker stood up and powerbomed  him out. That got him the pin the trios. It only got him two here, and led to proper escalation, first the corner Rush dropkick and then, after one failed attempt to set it up, the double underhook piledriver from Rush. I imagine he's used this before, maybe frequently, but in all the Rush matches I've seen, I hadn't seen him do it yet, so there was a "super finisher" sense of it to me, which made everything feel even more monumental. Shocker is great after the match, letting the fans cut his hair and presenting it to them. I know that on a scale of importance, this paled relative to what something like Casas vs Rush might be, and that Shocker had sort of been pushed out of a relatively obsolete status in order to be back at this level, but in context it felt like a very big match and really like the turning of a page, from one chapter to the next, even if maybe one had already ended a few years before and the other had found its beginning a while back as well. I know there are better apuestas matches out there, but this was great fun and worth the ride and instead of putting it down relative to those other matches, I'm just all the more excited to get to them.

Extra bonus: Here's some fan cam footage from the show, the last five minutes of the match or so. It's really worth watching just to see how into it the crowd was. You could pick that up from the professional shot but not quite as much. It's kind of a joy to watch.


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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Lucha Azteca Workrate Report 4/26/14

These matches were all from the 4/11 Arena Mexico show.

Blue Panther, Valiente & Diamante Azul vs. Terrible, Vangellys & Rey Bucanero

Primera gives us a bunch of Blue Panther/Terrible mat work and it rules. This is maybe the most I've ever seen Terrible hit the mat, and definitely one of Panther's longer mat rolls of the year. It's all really good stuff too, with Terrible working around a keylock and Panther finding ways to reverse out of it. Panther breaks out a cool British style backspin wristlock and a smooth arm drag into a headscissor lock. Terrible yanks on his arm a bunch and BP does simple little things to relieve pressure such as grab his own wrist. Terrible at one point floats over out of a BP head scissors to grab a headlock in one motion. Just a bunch of cool mat stuff from two guys I don't recall going at it on the mat (Terrible almost always sticks to brawling so him looking so damn good on that mat just makes me a bigger Terrible fan). We cut to a Mexican girl in the crowd wearing an Arctic Monkeys trucker hat. That's weird. The match overall is shorter than I would have liked, but was crammed with a bunch of cool moments, even after the awesome Panther/Terrible twisting. Terrible did leaping punches to guys in corners, Valiente plastered Bucanero into the barricade with a dive, Comandante looks slimmed down and was on point with the interference, Terrible kicked some guys in the taint in vicious style (Panther even sold it like he was guesting on Chavo, with an incredible Ay Dios Mio hard sell eyeroll into the back of his head, right at the camera). Killer match.

Puma, Misteriso Jr. & Boby Zavala vs. Fuego, Triton & Sagrado

This might be the absolute shortest three fall lucha match I have ever seen. Maybe Lucha Azteca clipped it (I can't get Dailymotion to play at the moment to see the real match time) but this whole thing was 3 falls in 5 minutes, and that's including the replays of how each fall ended. What in the actual fuck? Misterioso had a cool inverted powerslam, Zavala caught a Triton rana from the ring to the floor, Triton took a cool apron-to-floor bump, Sagrado continued to hold his crown as worst CMLL wrestler (going on several years now), Puma is great and we're done. Where was the fire? (aside from on Fuego's pants)

Rush, Rey Escorpion & La Sombra vs. Negro Casas, Maximo & Volador Jr.

Relevos Increibles matches are almost always fun, as you get to see tecnicos working like rudos and some cool match dynamics. And this match is a blast. Rey Escorpion is a dickhead, you knew that. Rush is a dickhead, you knew that. But La Sombra working rudo is a new favorite of mine. He chose to work rudo not long ago in a singles match against Volador which took a match I was expecting to dread and turned it into something that was super fun (until Volador invincibility took over). Casas is such a joyful rudo that I forget how sympathetic he can be as a tecnico, and how killer his triumphant comebacks can be. You come for Rush stomping and kicking Negro Casas a bunch, and you stay for Sombra being a jerk. At one point he teased taking his shirt off, and when squeals started up he slowly rolled his shirt back down. Yes. Sombra is a total shit kicker here, at one point just destroying Volador into the corner with rapid fire successive left and right elbows (which Volador threatened to ruin with his goof troop dazed selling). Sombra needs to be a rudo NOW. Ever since Volador turned tecnico and also turned horrible the promotion has been missing a highflier/rudo presence. As advertised, Casas took a big beating here, with Rush and Escorpion stomping on him with glee, all leading up to a brief but fired up Casas comeback that saw him thrust headbutt Rush to the floor. Alas, as he's going for his Thesz press off the apron Rush catches him and plants him with a powerbomb on the floor, taking him out of the tercera. Sombra tapes Volador to the corner in real menacing fashion and I like Volador fighting back by catching him with one last superkick, before he gets ganged up on and wins by DQ.  I really dug this. Strong rudo/tecnico dynamics from some real charismatic guys.




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Friday, May 23, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

23. Cachorro v. Barbaro Cavernario CMLL 4/18

ER: Short match, but all killer no filler, like what all Lightning matches should be. This match essentially reminds you just how lame almost every single Lightning match is. These two are both young early standouts of 2014, and their hungriness shows through here as they actually come across as if they're fighting for reasons other than just doing cool moves. Which is not to say there aren't cool moves here, as there are. The opening mat stuff is real clean and slick, and things escalate quickly after that with Cachorro taking a wild bump over the turnbuckles and Cavernario hitting an insane and totally rewind-worthy dive from the apron, through the ropes past the turnbuckle. Wow. Back in the ring and Barbaro is a total caveman savage, pounding on Cachorro and tossing him around. Cavernario does the great Dick Murdoch "feet caught on the bottom rope" bump to the floor that…for whatever reason just makes sense to my brain for a Caveman to do. "I don't understand your modern ropes!" I loved Cachorro's high speed dive, and loved even more that when he went for a second one Cavernario ole's him right into the barricade. Cachorro gets full credit as he doesn't hold back, he commits to that dive just like he would one that hits flush. This missed dive of course sets up Caverario's maniac splash off the top to the floor, and I challenge you to find a splash that hits as powerfully as this one. It looked like it shifted Cachorro's internal organs. My only real complaint with the match is that after this splash and another beastly one back in the ring, Cachorro really should have been toast. His armbar finish seemed plenty plausible, but damn Barbaro's splashes need to end shit, not leave any doubt about the finish.

PAS: I have been loving this run of Busca de Idolo matches. There are three really great well rounded young wrestlers in Cachorro, Barbaro and Hechichiro and a bunch of crazy kids doing crazy moves. Really reminds me of the old WCW days when we would get awesome short workrate lucha matches on WCWSN or Worldwide. If I saw this match on Thunder in 1998 I would have lost my shit. Some cool early matwork just moves into hot death. The missed dives were nuts as were the hit dives and Cavernario just kills folks with his splashes. Almost all of these matches are worth watching, especially when the top scorers match up


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Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Lucha Journey: Rush vs Shocker Part 8: Marco Corleone, Máximo, Rush vs Euforia, Shocker, Último Guerrero

aired 2014-03-23
taped 2014-03-10 @ Arena Puebla
Marco Corleone, Máximo, Rush vs Euforia, Shocker, Último Guerrero




Home stretch now. There's one more trios match left after this one but that's a Negro vs Rush one. While they face off and rouse the crowd up no less than three times, it doesn't really fit into this narrative like the previous ones did, so I'll probably skip it, even if it would give me a chance to say something about Kraneo. I'm sure I'll have more chances. This was another story driven match, admittedly somewhat less substantial than the one the week before, but still quite good for what it was. Honestly? I'd take this sort of a match over most of the crazy high impact lightning sprints with big spots and dives that people are going crazy over right now. I'll fully admit that I couldn't tell Ultimo and Euforia apart well, though, so what do I know, right? This was close to my first time of seeing Euforia. He had a few matches in the parejas increibles tournament this year but my bearings were even less then than they are now. Euforia's got the longer hair, Ultimo has the pointier mask. La Tercia Sensacion (or are they El Bufete del Amor?) remain one of my favorite things about lucha in 2014 (and I got a kick whenever they happen to do their super pose mid match like they did here here). I'm thinking after I get through these next few matches, I'm going to go back and look at some more of Marco. He's reached a point where he's very effectively utilized in the trios matches(here, for instance, he's got this great moment of bemused crowd interaction as he's getting his legs hugged by a rudo during an ambush set up) but I don't have a good sense for whether or not he's actually good and I'd like to work that out, especially in singles matches.

This trios was definitely more straightforward and brisk then the last, but it turned the page nicely towards the hair match on a story level and was certainly effective at achieving its goals and entertaining to boot. Here, Shocker ambushed Rush once again, beating him around the ringside area. This time, however, it lasted all the way through the primera caida, letting Guerrero and Euforia dominate in the ring and pick up the fall. Shocker wasn't afraid to be a rudo here, using his partners to hold Rush and beat him liberally right up until the comeback. It's always such a great visual when the camera swoops forward, and you catch Rush's feet flying in from the side of the screen, ESPECIALLY when the crowd is behind him. They were here too, which might have been, in part, the fact they weren't at Arena Mexico, but a lot of it had to do with how both Shocker and Rush were working. I still believed it was them, relative to their work over the last many months, but at the same time, they were much more clearly locked into rudo and tecnico roles. Again, this was straightforward: Rudos pressed the ambush and took the first fall. Tecnicos came back and quickly took the second (and celebrated with the pose right into Shocker getting pecked by Maximo).

This all led back to a tease of Shocker vs Rush after the tercera caida reset, and Shocker shifting back to that awesome chickenshit stalling. It was all for naught as Maximo quickly came in and hit all of his stuff as smoothly and fluidly as he always does to take out Shocker's partners leaving him no one to hide behind. I honestly don't get why people don't talk about Maximo more. Yes, his stuff is mostly comedy but its still very physically impressive and he utilizes it really well within the context of the matches; it feels so natural and effortles and organic. Back on point, once Shocker realized he had no choice but to fight Rush they killed each other here. They brought a metric ton of hatred and violence, a really solid exchange, until Rush got the better of things and Shocker escaped again, allowing the tecnicos to press their advantage and leading right on to the finish.

In the previous trios the week before, Shocker had gotten the better of Rush through the stalling and frustration tactics. Here though, he was ultimately outmatched, and, with his partners paying the price for his failings, he was left with no option but to blatantly foul Rush. He may not have won the match, but at least he could finish the thing as the one standing. It provided a nice piece of punctuation for the big match's build, as Rush's stubborness and purity of purpose, self-obsessed to the point of both obliviousness and empowerment, drove Shocker further and further towards desperation. Now there was nothing left for him but to make his last, compromised stand at the apuesta match.

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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

22. Dean Ambrose vs. Sheamus WWE Smackdown 5/9

ER: This match felt like the best possible Worldwide match to me, but got more of a story than WW matches would ever get. Ambrose was beat up but wanted his title back, and we got some more great babyface FIP Ambrose. The match was really stiff and I'm sure both guys presently have some nice bruises. You could really feel Ambrose's shots to Sheamus' stomach, Sheamus' kicks to Ambrose stomach, and Sheamus' 10 count clubbing forearms were especially nasty (also love how organically Ambrose got into position for them. He's the Chavo to Rey's 619). I loved all the count out spots and how they worked in the simple drama around them. You hear announcers throw out "desperation" a lot to the point where it's really cliche, as they just call every comeback move a "desperation move". But Ambrose was the personification of desperation here, with his wild Thesz presses, awesome rebound lariat, and overall scrambling. Awesome short match.

PAS: Ambrose was so good in this match, I had never seen the top rope chopblock before, and it was such a cool addition to his offense. It really feels like the kind of thing a crazy person might pull off in a street fight "this guy is kicking the shit out of me, I am going to just fly into his leg." I also loved everything about the finish. Ambrose was totally KO'ed, but he flung himself to the floor to avoid the three count and try to regroup, he rolls back into the ring knowing he is going to get merked, but desperate to die with his gun in his hand. Great character moment. Sheamus did exactly what he was supposed to do, be the shredder that Ambrose dives into


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My Lucha Journey: Rush vs Shocker Part 7: Diamante Azul, La Máscara, Rush vs Rey Bucanero, Shocker, Último Guerrero

aired 2014-03-16
taped 2014-03-03 @ Arena Puebla
Diamante Azul, La Máscara, Rush vs Rey Bucanero, Shocker, Último Guerrero




I have two or three trios matches to watch before coming in for a landing with the Luchas de Apuestas match. I know this was sort of a roundabout way to get at it, but I have really been enjoying watching everything in context for once. I think you do get a lot out of doing things this way and while I know it's going to be tricky to do so with every big match I want to watch, I'll go back to this format now and again. With wrestling, a lot of times the journey IS worth as much as the destination, if not more so, and that's very true with this match.

This was a tecnico team I wasn't super familiar with. I kind of like Mascara's music since it's the only thing the ring girls can properly dance to. I'll fully admit that I still can't differentiate him and Sombra well. They're both masked tecnicos with hoodies to me. I know Sombra's been tweenering it up a bit more lately, so that will probably do it, if familiarity in and of itself wouldn't. I'm not sure I had ever seen Diamante Azul before this, but I did like him here. He worked pretty well with Mascara in tandem. Rush, as always, was Rush. Likewise, Bucanero is a guy I'm not sure I had ever seen though I'd heard about him and thought he played his role pretty well here, tossing himself around the ring and doing some pretty smooth tandem stuff with Ultimo Guerrero, who yes, I need to see loads and loads more of. I was just reading about the various trios he's been in over the years and some of those matches/feuds sound really great.

Shocker worked this match much differently than he had the earlier matches in the feud. He was super aggressive to start but once things got going, he turned on the full, beautiful, Buddy Rose-esque chickenshit heeling. It was this massive, character driven, crowd-manipulating, effective breath of fresh air. In this match, and the trios that aired a week later, he was so good at playing his role that the fans were actually really behind Rush, as much as I've ever seen them. To me, it played out like this: Rush and Shocker were both tecnicos. Rush continued to insult Shocker. Shocker, far more self-conscious than Rush due to age and wisdom both, was affected by this. He walked the line for as long as he could, expecting that Rush would be the first one to blink. CMLL wasn't big enough for both of them to be tecnicos and he was the one who was exhibiting the rudo tendencies. Rush, however, was so self-assured and so full of himself and his leanings, so deluded, in truth, that he was utterly unshakable. Therefore, Shocker blinked first, turning on his teammates and going rudo. It meant that he could draw things to a conclusion, could force Rush towards the hair match, but it also came at a cost. Shocker could no longer lie to himself or anyone else about who he truly was. Rush actually believed it about himself, but Shocker couldn't fool himself, and while he was full on aggressive in the first trios after his turn, there's a moment here where he just snaps and starts really heeling it up, dodging Rush, hiding behind his partners, using them as interference (both literally and figuratively) and as goons and to hold Rush so he could hit him and even jawing with the fans. It's really primal, terribly enjoyable pro wrestling. The whole thing ended with Shocker having Rush so pissed at him from his antics that he made a mistake and let himself get powerbombed out of the corner and extra-leverage-on-the-rope pinned. There was a real sense that Shocker's rudo mindgames won his team the match.

The rest of the match was plenty enjoyable. Shocker's antics meant that things were a little less formulaic than usual. He'd mess up the combinations by ducking out of the ring at key moments. The transitions were pretty great too. The rudos took over after a very subtle shot to the back of Rush from the outside by Guerrero during the first real Shocker vs Rush exchange. It punctuated a great tease and let Shocker continue to heel it up, mauling Rush on the outside and allowing his partners to take the fall on the inside. The second transition had a tease of Rush fighting back, a cut off, and then Rush countering his way out of the corner feet-first. It was the most I'd ever heard the crowd behind him which was a real testament to the match and Shocker's rudo work. Rush, with the crowd against him, is fun to watch but there's a real energy to Rush-With-The-Crowd-Behind-Him that doesn't always transfer to the tweener role.

All in all, this was a really enjoyable trios, one of the best I've seen for 2014. It was more story-driven than action-driven, and works best in context, but the action supplemented the story and everyone played their roles well.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List



17. Blue Panther/Black Panther/Cachorro v. Felino/Puma/Tiger CMLL 3/24

PAS: I have really enjoyed all of the Casas v. Panther family feud matches, but this was the best. It is in Arena Puebla and they get a chance to stretch out and riff a bit more then they would in Arena Mexico. We get an awesome long matwork heavy opening fall, with Blue Panther and Puma ripping it up, and an awesome Felino v. Black Panther section. Felino has been mainly horeshit for so long it is great to see him actually strut his stuff, and Black Panther looks like he is going to be awesome. There is a cool meta story here as the Panthers dominate when it is wrestling based, while the Casas boys get the advantage when it gets a bit rougher. Third fall has a bunch of nifty near falls, a couple of awesome dives and a great finish. Just a high quality lucha trios which got me nostalgic for the past and excited for the future.

ER: So I can't decide if it's a great and magical thing when Felino hits the mat and busts ass for a whole match and shows that, yes, he is indeed still Felino; or instead a giant slap in the face for making me watch an armpit licking goober 95% of the time. Is it better to not know? No matter, because this match is awesome and Felino is awesome in it. Puma and Tiger have gotten real good over the last couple months with Tiger getting all bump crazy and now Puma getting a great mat showcase. Sometimes Panther can kind of go into Atlantis mode and just sorta run through some bare minimum spots and hang back in a 6 man. And then you get a match like this where he does everything that Blue Panther does and everything is okay. I probably would have thrown this match on if it ended after the primera, just because shit remember when CMLL gave you 9 minute primeras? I've seen so many damn 90 second opening falls that it's just maddening. There were so many nice little touches throughout this match, things like Tiger kicking the middle rope as Cachorro starts to get back in the ring, or Felino in-ring leaping to try and prevent a dive. Little things like that don't always happen, but thrown into a match that's already good it just bumps it up that much more.


2014 MASTER LIST

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Monday, May 19, 2014

My Lucha Journey: Valiente Interlude 4: Valiente vs Mephisto

aired 2014-05-10
taped 2014-04-29 @ Arena Coliseo Guadalajara

Mephisto vs Valiente for the Mexican National Light Heavyweight Championship


Sometimes wrestling provides. I was just saying in my last post how I really wanted to see more Mephisto as well as Valiente in another title match and, through pure luck, what aired this last week but Mephisto vs Valiente for the Mexican National Light Heavyweight title? Again, this wasn't from 2013 which was the target period I was most curious about, but it hit a lot of other marks, so I dove in.

It actually followed the Casas match to a good degree, to the point where I'm willing to make some comparisons and conclusions. In the Casas match, the primera caida had some pretty good mat work. A lot of the best stuff wasn't overly complicated but character based. Here, they again didn't get very complicated. Instead, there's a very crisp set up where one would get the other in a move/pin attempt, but it would ultimately fail and leave him open for a reversal or counter or new move/pin attempt. This was very steady and had a pretty good sense of struggle. In the Casas match, Valiente switched gears and hit a reverse press off the ropes, allowing him to lock in a move to finish the fall. In the Mephisto match, he pretty much did the same thing, just less effectively since it was a less of a callback. The submission itself was more interesting though.

Both matches had very slight second falls, which seems to be an unfortunate trademark of modern CMLL. Here, it was a bit more built up than the Casas match at least, with Mephisto taking over after a missed charge in the corner and launching a bunch of kicks off the ropes. He does just enough that it passes "repetitive" into "effective", but it's only a minute or two before he ties up Valiente in a submission for the fall.

While the tercera caida in the Negro Casas match lacked broad selling, I thought it was actually better than the action-fest that was the Mephisto match's tercera caida. The fall is full of excitement, highlighted by a really nasty dropping Demon Drop, two giant dives by Valiente, a Demon Drop off the top, and two of Valiente's super goofy facecracker finishes. It's exciting, but it's all a bit much, especially when the thing ends with a barely hit dropkick off the ropes. In general, I think that Valiente pops up a bit too much in general. He doesn't seem big on the late match, full body selling I've seen in other lucha matches. It was pretty bad here, though I do like how it kind of led to the finish, wherein he popped up, tossed Mephisto into a corner, and celebrated, not realizing that Mephisto had flipped about and was ascending the ropes. In general, I could have used a title match tercera caida with a bit less candy and a bit more nuance.

The verdict I have on Valiente after seeing what I have is that he can be very effective in trios matches where he can rouse the crowd, play a role and hit his spots and dives, or serve as a powerhouse in the match either for tecnico dominance (he can bully people around and his matwork is pretty good) or in a comeback or to end a fall as he can hit his convoluted but visually effective finisher very quickly. In these situations, he doesn't have to carry the brunt of the narrative, which I do not think is a strong point for him. I do wonder if he might not be a bit overrated in general because of his ability to hit flashy dives and the general level of excitement he can bring.

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

The Shield v. The Wyatt Family WWE Raw 5/5


ER: Well, this is what we asked for and so far we're getting it. All of the Shield/Wyatt matches, given all of the time. We're 4 matches into their series and they keep finding cool new things to do and cool new approaches. This time we had Ambrose playing the FIP which usually goes to Rollins, but Ambrose was in a fun battle royal earlier in the evening that left him more susceptible to damage. As usual with these 6, I had a hard time deciding who my favorite was here. But damn does Rollins continue getting more star making spots, as I was initially afraid he would be buried if the group ever broke up. Here he gets to fly all over the ring and crash into both the Wyatts and Evolution with big dives. I especially liked earlier in the match when he kicked a charging Bray in the face from the apron. He also takes some major bumps, getting shoved off the top rope by Harper when attempting a springboard, spilling over the announce table, and slickly flipping out of the corner only to get immediately leveled by a Harper superkick. Even if there were no sort of storyline matches and they were just worked in a bubble, these matches would be really good just on quality of work alone. None of these guys half asses in these six mans, they all really work up to the time given them. Love these guys.

PAS: I really enjoy face Ambrose, it might be my favorite thing currently in wrestling. He has this awesome punch drunk Terry Funk selling, and he has these wild Piper style wild punches. I loved the double pulling down the ropes, to set up the hot tag. Rollins has some great hot tag spots and takes a bunch of crazy bumps. So cool to see how over and good Harper has gotten, I used to love his tag team with Necro Butcher (who would make an awesome Wyatt family member) but I never imagined him being as big a deal as he become. Reigns isn't in this much, but his one burst of offense was pretty electric, he isn't much of a singles wrestler, but he is great in trios.  This is a great match up, although not being part of a feud took some of the steam out of it, compared to the other three. I really hope we get another big run between these two teams once their feuds run their course.


2014 MASTER LIST

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Saturday, May 17, 2014

CMLL on LATV Workrate Report 4/20/14

These matches were from the 4/6 Anniversario show at Arena Coliseo. I got higher than normal hopes for this one as I know guys historically have pulled out all the stops on big Anniversary shows, so I'm hoping for some better than average stuff here. I'm watching the show with my buddy Charlie who is always fun to watch wrestling with, as he loves it enough so that when I visit him he requests I pick out cool wrestling for us to watch…but at the same time he would never and has never watched any wrestling on his own (past the age of 12). It's always great watching wrestling with Rachel or somebody like Charlie, as they are watching this stuff with completely different eyes and always make some fresh-faced observations from a perspective that I wouldn't consider. It makes me appreciate things in a whole different way.

Averno, Ephesto  & Dragon Rojo Jr. vs. Mistico II, Valiente & La Sombra

This was really fun, not so much flat out great as past Anniversario spotfests have been, but really fun nonetheless. The tecnicos all got to do tons of spectacular stuff, with Valiente especially shining by hitting a crazy fast tope and a somehow even faster Valiente Special. It is probably the craziest spot in wrestling, two crazy fast springboards into a no-look moonsault. He did it so fast here my brain could hardly process it, meaning I can't imagine actually willing my body to do it. Sombra and Mistico each do a couple big flip dives, Averno catches a bunch of Mistico ranas, Sombra breaks out some cool tilt-a-whirl floppy armdrags. So, a bunch of fun stuff, but not quite bumping up to that next level.

Mr. Niebla vs. Atlantis

First two falls were way too short, but the tercera was worked a little bit more like a longer lightning match. It was funny as Atlantis took so much of the match that it turned Niebla tecnico, as after seeing Atlantis control so much the fans spontaneously starts a Niebla chant! Niebla is great at catching onto that and using it to hulk up. Atlantis can kinda hold back in trios and blend into the background, so it was nice seeing him forced to break out enough offense for a singles match. Few guys do roll-ups and old school lucha ranas as graceful as Atlantis, so it's always a treat to see. Niebla takes a big bump to the floor and mans up to catch a big Atlantis tope. Niebla also works some fun comedy in at appropriate times, such as doing the most blatant ropes hold on a rolling reverse cradle (picture Andre stuck in the ropes with both arms draped over, and that was Niebla holding the ropes while pinning Atlantis with his legs). Not much drama in this as Atlantis wins the first with a roll up, Niebla wins the segunda after a splash after Atlantis misses a dropkick, and then even with all the fans newly behind Niebla in the tercera, he doesn't really even get any sort of pitfalls. It just eventually ends up with Atlantis winning, as everybody assumed he would.

Minis Cage Match up next, loser unmasks!! I don't think I've really seen a very good multi-man lucha cage match, as escape rules matches don't usually do too much for me. Mini matches are usually made spectacular by their crazy spots and awesome rudo bases, but a cage takes away all spots to the floor, and escape rules make doing top rope spots psychologically stupid, as the guy should just climb over the top.

Pierrothito vs. Pequeno Olimpico vs. Fantasy vs. Stukita vs. Ultimo Dragoncito vs. Electrico vs. Astral vs. Acero vs. Pequeno Halcon vs. Pequeno Nitro

Yeah this match was pretty much what I was afraid of. Ten people crammed into a cage, more worried about climbing over the cage than doing cool stuff. I'm sure some have to exist out there, but is there such a thing as a good multi-man lucha cage match? I'm thinking 6 combatants or higher. I have no doubts there could be a good singles cage match, or even a tag team. But at 6+ people I'm asking you, tell me the good lucha cage matches. I'll watch those motherfuckers right here. So we had a long series of assorted guys jumping up to turnbuckles, only to be pulled off of those same turnbuckles. Moreover, we had a series of assorted guys jumping up to turnbuckles, only to evade capture, climb to the top of the cage, flex muscles in celebration at the top of the cage, and then escape. Escape rules do not leave much room for highspots, unless the psychology is all out of whack (he wanted to hit a gigantic move off the top sooooo badly that it overrode his desire to escape!!), and there are not many here. Stukita tries to fit some stuff in, and in cramped quarters is somewhat successful. I applaud his effort. Pierrothito is a standout at working with the match constraints, as he is one of the only ones who manages to show some sort of personality while working escapes and battle royal-type bullshit. It comes down to Pequeno Halcon and Astral. They work some pretty decent submission exchanges, in that both guys were able to get across the consequences of tapping out. Astral wins, Halcon unmasks. He looks like many Mexican men you have known in your life. He was my pick to lose from the beginning, as he had a) the most boring mask, and b) the least interesting look and gimmick. I don't think losing the Pequeno Halcon identity will make any difference over his long term career. I may not know the whole story, but I'm failing to see the Halcon identity being a huge boon to his career. Are there many Halcon fans out there still? People going "I used to watch Super Halcon. This man is dressed much like him, but smaller. He looks somewhat like a smaller Halcon."







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Friday, May 16, 2014

My Lucha Journey: Valiente Interlude 3: Valiente vs Negro Casas

aired 2/11/13
taped 2/4/13 @ Arena Puebla
Negro Casas vs Valiente for the NWA World Welterweight Championship



I was going to soldier on with Rush vs Shocker, especially because I found a trios match that I really liked, but in trying to date it, I realized I had missed one that had come before it, so we're back to my exploration of whether or not Valiente is as good as people would seem to indicate.

Therefore I'm still looking for that Valiente exclamation point. The Virus match was definitely AN exclamation point, but not the one I was looking for. This was, on paper, what I would consider to be a ringer: a title match with Negro Casas from the date period that we're looking at. As a side-note, while looking through the history of the belt, I do want to go back and see how Mephisto did during his 213 days as champion. He's a wrestler I don't have a great sense of. Anyway, back to the task at hand. This was a Casas title match, with a pretty lively crowd and was absolutely a chance for Valiente to shine.

And it was okay. I've seen it called disappointing and it probably was, but it's hard not to have high expectations for a match like this. I am still not totally sold on Valiente yet, but he unquestionably brings some very definitive skills to the table and Casas is a guy who's good enough to make use of those. Even though this match wasn't the smoking gun I was looking for, it was still worth watching.

The opening matwork was fairly interesting as it wasn't quite what I expected and now, I immediately want to see another Valiente title match to see if he always works this way. I would not say that there was any great level of complexity here, save, maybe for a few exchanges and reversals that looked like Casas physically led Valiente through. What there was instead, however, was a thoroughly character based sense of struggle. Valiente utilized a lot of stretches and cranks and pulls. He has a different body type, one that emphasizes strength and that really came through in his matwork. On the one hand, it meant less complexity, but on the other I bought into it completely. Even his chinlock (a rare sight in lucha?) seemed dynamic somehow. Casas, of course, had both the technicality in his matwork and the character in his theatrics, kicking outside the ring at the second or grabbing a quick advantage by going for a cheapshot in the midst of the noble counter-wrestling. You can't mention everything he does. There was one killer elbow for instance that just took Valiente's head off, but it was really a blip in the grand scheme. I especially loved when he set up for a chopfest and then ducked the first one in order to launch a sneak attack. He was then caught in a fairly impressive looking feat of strength by Valiente before getting plopped down and stretched, but it was the effort that counted. I liked the finish of the Primera Caida a good deal, as Casas tried something screwy on a chop exchange again only to get outfinessed, flipped, rolled, twisted, and finally ground into a nasty enough submission. It was a fine first fall, not a lot memorable, but all mostly sound. Thing would get shakier from there.

The segunda caida was a very slight chunk of nothing, a bit of arm wrenching, the dropkick to the knee, and the casita. The dropkick to the knee, however, unlocked a fun bit of legwork that started off the third fall. Unfortunately, it was shrugged off completely when it was time for Valiente to run around the ring and hit his stuff. As a general rule, I try not to let dropped limbwork bug me in lucha. It's something where, when the selling is good, I give a few more points, but I don't take away when it isn't. I might say "it's a shame," especially in title matches, and it was that here. I will say that Casas' legwork/controlling was fun, all the way to the ending with its awesome cutoff clothesline, great reversal/transition clothesline and the giant Valiente tope suicida. The rest of the tercera caida is full of some memorable stuff, like a big plancha by Valiente from the turnbuckles out and a giant superplex. I could have done without the double powerbomb nearfall though. 

The finish was pretty nebulous to me. Valiente went for a moonsault, fell, tried again, and ate a great boot to the face from a prone Casas, who then tossed on the Casita again for the win. It's one of those cases where I have no idea if it was a flub or not. It worked into the finish, especially considering the advantage Valiente had at the time, and it absolutely worked with the earlier legwork (as did Casas recovering first after an earlier dive), but it wasn't sold that way by Valiente, so I just have no idea. All in all, I was glad to see how Valiente hung for the better part of the primera caida especially how he let his strengths shine instead of falling into a more cookie cutter approach, but ultimately, I don't think this match was any great evidence of a banner 2013 for him.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Fear Will Always Make Anton Tejero Blind

Anton Tejero v. Walter Borders 8/29/67-EPIC

PAS: We last saw Tejero as one of the awesome Peruvians tag team. Here we get to see him work a long singles match and he was kickass. This was worked a lot like a classic lucha title match. They start with some very maestroish matwork. They have a nice mix of slow deliberate reversals, and fast counters. I didn't get a huge sense of Borders, but he was very athletic and had some cool ranas and headscissors. Tejero eventually lost his temper and started getting nasty, ripping at Borders eyes and really working over his neck. The neck work was great with a tombstone, forearms to the back and front and a great looking neck crank. Borders would get the advantage with ranas and dropkicks, including a couple which spilled Tejero to the floor. Tejero is an awesome bumper and he flings himself to the floor like a crazy person. Finish seemed a bit abrupt but this was a great addition to the canon

ER: I really liked both guys here. Borders immediately reminded me of Johnny Saint, not only in the way he moves but in specific things he does. It's not too much of a stretch to watch Borders and assume he had a major influence in how Johnny Saint wrestled. I think Phil is kind of underselling Borders a bit here. He has all sorts of cool escapes and will occasionally surprise you with some stiff shots. At one point he hits a mean shoulderblock that sends Tejero sprawling into the ropes. Both guys are super athletic here, doing all sorts of cool roll ups and escapes that need to be stolen by some non-lousy indy worker. Tejero's athleticism is surprising, as at first glance he looks like my old landlord. Then he does intricate armdrags and takes crazy bumps and he seems nothing like my old landlord (who admittedly was really good at landlording). At one point he flies ass over elbow into the top and middle ropes off a monkey flip, like an absolute lunatic version of the bump Eddy used to take. My favorite thing about their exchanges is how natural they come off. Not necessarily uncooperative, but somehow done without looking like rehearsed-to-death dance recital. Somehow they're able to weave these intricate exchanges and make them look like the natural course of action. I'm not sure how it's possible to move at the speeds these guys do without each guy knowing exactly where the other is supposed to be and how he's supposed to get there, but there's no tell in either guy's face. It really breaks down everything I've experienced in wrestling, as they're able to make silly things like leapfrogs look like something that would believably happen.

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My Lucha Journey: Rush vs Shocker Part 6: Marco Corleone, Máximo, Rush vs Felino, Negro Casas, Shocker

aired 2014-03-01
taped 2014-02-21 @ Arena México
Marco Corleone, Máximo, Rush vs Felino, Negro Casas, Shocker





There was a trios match with Shocker teaming with Ultimo Guerrero and Mr. Niebla right after the turn but I don't see it online. Therefore, this is the first 2014 rudo Shocker we have easily available. It fit well into the storyline since this was the match where Rush, who had just lost the Mexican National Trios belts to La Peste Negra, took out Negro Casas. Frankly, there's a lot going on here in the midst of some pretty fun, if sort of slight, trios wrestling.

I like La Tercia Sensacion quite a bit, now that I've seen more of them. They work very well as a trio, with each one playing his role. Maximo's flashy and can handle a lot of the brunt of the comedy work while also being spirited in comeback and able to take a beating when the rudos are in control. Marco is someone who I might not like in singles matches (I haven't seen enough to know) but that really serves a purpose in trios. He's a physical force that the other wrestlers have to work around in interesting ways, can hit a big move at any point to turn the match around, and holds up his end of the comedy shtick too. Rush is Rush.

The purpose of this match was twofold. First, it was one of Shocker's coming out parties as a rudo. He doesn't cheat heavily, but the change was pretty unmistakable past that. He walked out with his mask momentarily on in the entrance and went right after Rush, who had been brawling with Casas on the ramp. In general, he was pretty well protected during the match, not backing down from Marco, effectively trading strikes with Rush, and working well with his partners, including pairing with Felino to take a rather uneventful first fall where he submitted Maximo, whose kiss of death he even survived later on.

The second bit was eliminating Negro Casas from the immediate proceedings. Rush accomplished this deep into the second fall, after a number of heated exchanges between the two. Exchanges between Rush and Casas are almost undoubtedly the best thing in wrestling in 2014. Maybe the Shield/Wyatts matches would be in second place, but it'd be a far second. The speed, brutality, knowledge of each other, and sheer character that bleeds through make them can't miss wrestling, and the fans know it. There's ten effective seconds of each wrestler hyping the crowd up before almost every exchange. The injury was worked well. Rush caught Casas when both were on the apron, fighting with the post between them, by dragging Casas over the second turnbuckle and unloading. This set him up for Rush slamming his arm into the post. He then locked on a cross-armbreaker and refused to let go, pushing the ref away when he tried to break it. The Rudos took the victory in two straight falls but perhaps lost the war.

There were a lot of other moments to like in the match. Marco had enjoyable exchanges with Felino and Shocker, with a delayed punch spot with Felino standing out as both gross and kind of hilarious. Maximo and Marco got their dives in. There was one distracting cut which left us with different people in the ring and little explanation.

Post match, Rush gloated in his unmistakable fashion, even as Casas was stretchered out, selling like a king the whole way. Shocker fired back on the mic during a slow retreat, demanding a cabellera vs cabellera match. This time, now that he had turned on Rush and escalated things, he got his way. This was fun, with a very solid injury angle and served as a good outing for rudo Shocker but given its nature, it never really had a chance to get out of second gear.

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I Felt Like Watching BattlArts

So, Rachel is on the phone with her mother, I have bourbon in my hand, can't watch Veep until Rachel is off the phone. I felt like watching BattlArts.


Alexander Otsuka vs. Katsumi Usuda, 8/3/96 (?)

Otsuka is young and slender here, like a young Yul Brynner. Otsuka is one of my all time favorite mat guys as he's always super squirmy and he always winds up in weird positions and angles from which to yank limbs and slap face. This is filmed in a weird little TV studio with a backdrop that kind of looks like a sunset. They also did pre-match pre-filmed interviews with both guys wearing tweed sport coats. Cameras film too high up so we cannot confirm elbow patches. Usuda's conservative jacket makes him look like Alex P. Keaton going on a date. So in other words everything about this is flawless from the word go. We're just a few minutes in and both guys have hyperextended each others' elbow joints and Otsuka has thrown 3 of the gnarliest deadlift belly to belly suplexes you've seen and a killer Dead End german. Usuda throws furious knees to the stomach and gets a cool roll through choke for the win. Otsuka bows in defeat. This was like 7 minutes and the most pants shittingly great Worldwide match ever. The white shirted fanny pack wearing crowd would be in stunned silence by the violence brought forth here.

Daisuke Ikeda vs. Shoichi Funaki, 8/26/96 (?)

Ikeda comes out to Fight for Your Right (to Party) so, well…this is on. Ikeda, to the shock of many, throws a kick at Funaki's face to start, but Funaki has watched tape and knows that Ikeda kicks face. So he ducks it and takes him down with a super cool single leg roll through. Ikeda's leg ended up on Funaki's shoulder, and Funaki rolls through it with a weird Rolling Olympic Hell, but as a leg takedown. Funaki takes a mean german but is crafty and holds Ikeda's arm on the way up and over so Ikeda can't capitalize. Rachel just got off the phone and walked into the room and said "why are these guys fighting in the Memphis TV studio…with a sunset in the background? It looks like a yearbook background." I love her. Funaki can go on the mat but damn is Ikeda such a bully with him, with the kicks and the forearms grinding the face. Rachel thinks Ikeda looks like an Asian Paul Koslo. Holy god Rachel needs to write for Segunda Caida. Funaki is really good in this (truthfully Funaki is the Kaientai member I am least familiar with, pre WWE run) with a kind of "barely hanging on" body chemistry, where he tries to shoot for any tiny advantage he can find whether by just tying Ikeda up so he can rest, or scrambling for any limb he can grab on the mat. Eventually though Ikeda levels Funaki with one of many from his fount of kicks, dropping Funaki to his knees. There Ikeda throws one straight to the temple for the KO and rides off into the sunset (background) to the strains of young NY twenty-somethings sleeping in, not wanting to go to high school, and high end pornography periodicals being maliciously thrown into the garbage by mothers.

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Monday, May 12, 2014

My Lucha Journey: Valiente Interlude 2: La Sombra, Mistico, Valiente vs Gran Guerrero, Niebla Roja, Último Guerrero

aired 2014-05-04
taped 2014-04-21 @ Arena Puebla
La Sombra, Mistico, Valiente vs Gran Guerrero, Niebla Roja, Último Guerrero




I figured I ought to look at something a bit more up to date, especially as the Shocker/Rush series gets further and further away from "Current." Here's a more current Valiente match (very much so actually) that also lets me see the Guerreros Laguneros/Los Guerreros del Infierno. I've seen extremely little Ultimo Guerrero and he's another guy, much like Virus, that I really intend to watch a lot more of in the upcoming months.

From the get go, there was something weirdly refreshing about this. I hadn't seen Gran Guerrero or Niebla Roja at all before and their gear matched pretty well; it had actually been a while since I came into a match not able to tell the luchadors apart well and it brought back a nostalgia of, what, four months ago? Also refreshing was how thoroughly primal/tecnicos vs rudos this match felt. There's been a lot of shades of grey stuff going on this year with Casas and Rush and La Sombra and what not, so the fact that the rudos here were brazen and dickish and the tecnicos were flashy and daring and had the crowd behind them was nice to see.

It was also nice to see, now that I've got a bit more lucha under my belt, that the formula does work. This was by the numbers. The tecnicos started out with an immediate finesse advantage. The rudos lured Sombra into their corner and the mauling began. One by one, the tecnicos would end up out of the ring and the next one would valiantly go up against the odds only to fall to the numbers game. Finally, the Guerreros locked on a couple of finishers and took the primera caida. The mauling was perfectly fine, varied and interesting, even if the whole affair was just a little sloppy (though not ineffective). The tecnico fire was believable. A lot of character came through from both sides.

The character kept on coming through the transition too. There was little time between falls, as the Guerreros did a great triple vault onto Sombra using the ramp, followed by some awesome stooging. When they tried it again on Sombra a minute or two later, though, Valiente was recovered enough to break it up, leading to a hiptoss over the top rope in, a couple of pretty spectacular acrobatics from Mistico, and a quick knotting up/split-legged moonsault allowing the tecnicos to even the falls. It wasn't an extended comeback by any means but it did sort of hit the spot and set things up for a reset to start the tercera caida on equal terms. The tecnicos came out the better of the early action, the cheer-off, use of rudo miscommunication, and even the big dives, but Ultimo's able to slip Mistico onto the top rope and hit his reverse superplex for a quick win.

This was all very straightforward but no less enjoyable because of it. It's funny. I said that the Valiente vs Virus lightning match from 2009 was what I might have thought lucha to be back then, but this trios was a lot of what I would explain it to be now, structured with an opportune rudo mauling leading to a big tecnico comeback and a tercera caida that gave some closure to the pairings and some big moments, with an exclamation point at the end. It's what I might call middle of the road but not in a bad way; it's a road that I'm really enjoying to walk down, after all. As for Valiente, he's got the best tope suicida out of anyone I've seen recently: he's like a bullet given his body type and the speed he can manage. He's also one of the best tecnicos on the roster at rousing the crowd and playing to them in the heat of the moment. Sombra might have led them in a bit of a cheer-off here, but it was Valiente who was able to make it feel all the more natural and organic. I still need to see more of him though, both him and Ultimo.

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Gilbert Cesca doesn't get a Chance to take a Break this Often



Gilbert Cesca/Ben Chemoil v. Anton Tejero/Inca Peruano 3/12/65-EPIC

PAS: Just an absolute classic. Much more of a freaky lucha hybrid match then the Black Diamonds tag. The opening armdrag and rana exchanges looked like they were being shown in fast forward. Tererot and Anou, who the announcer called the Peruvians were an awesome heel team. They were great at mixing nasty violent double teams with great stooging. That balance is one of the hardest things to pull off, Daniel Stern was great at slipping on toy cars, but you never believed he was going to murder Macauley Culkin. The Peruvians would flip the switch from comic foil to violent bastards. There is a great spot where they tie Chemoil in the ropes and just mug him, beating on him with punches, flying off the top rope, all of a sudden it turns into a gang beating. They were both crazy bumpers too, flying insanely over the top rope on multiple occasions and getting thrown into a Cactus Jack hangman bump and Andre rope tie up. Cesca really feels like Truffaut Rey Mysterio. Just a tiny guy who moves at a breakneck pace and throws lunatic ranas and armdrags. Finish was great too, with one of the most credible looking double KO spots I have ever seen. Spectacular tag match, so happy this showed up

ER: WOW. My brain still isn't processing how this kind of thing is possible. Before the 80s project I had kind of a vague assumption that pre-1985 wrestling would be mostly headlocks, crowd work and punch exchanges (you know, but in a bad way). The more wrestling I watched obviously that notion got blown out of the water, but that concept of every pre-80s wrestler lying around like Dory Funk still lingered in my brain. Just slow motion forearm exchanges and endless headlocks. But then something like this existed 50 years ago and suddenly everything and anything is possible. There's so much amazing stuff to see here that my jaw was literally dropped in amazement for most of it. So many cool little moves you've never seen, and moves you've seen for years delivered in ways you've never seen. I loved Chemoil's kip up fluidly transitioned into a drop toe hold. I loved seeing honest to god actual engaging Malenko/Guerrero roll up sequences. The death knoll on those things happened sometime around Torrie Wilson doing them, and here they are done as actual believable pinfalls. You can actually see the leverage being applied, see how the legs are holding down the arms, see how a guy could get flipped and rolled over. It's done in a way that doesn't seem cooperative, and it's just mind blowing. These guys all work so fast that I can't imagine many people having the gas tank to keep up this workrate. And this is France in the '60s! So you know earlier in the day for lunch they had a whole baguette, full bottle of cabernet and a block of rich creamy cheese, then spent the rest of the afternoon until the match smoking hand-rolled cigarettes. You also get all these fascinating juxtapositions, like a man taking a mammoth high speed bump over the top to the floor, while a slender man with crossed legs and a tight turtleneck sits emotionless in the front row smoking a pipe. It's like some absurd Jacques Tati romp. Everything about this is spectacular, eye opening, and amazing. A true gift for wrestling fans.

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