Segunda Caida

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

Sunday, August 31, 2014

MLJ: Hijo Del Santo vs Blue Panther 7: Negro Casas, Felino, & Fiera vs El Hijo del Santo, Scorpio, Jr., & Blue Panther

1997-11-28 @ Arena Mexico
Negro Casas, Felino, Fiera vs Santo, Scorpio Jr Blue Panther

Lots to see here. This was during Santo's rudo run, but on the back end. We've got a younger (33-ish which is younger than 50!) masked, tecnico Felino, a sort of forgettable-in-this-match Fiera, who was only 37 himself. Wiki tells me that Fiera means "The Beast." I always thought it meant the fiery guy. Ignorance rearing its ugly head again and again, to my endless shame. Tecnico Casas was here too, and yes, this wasn't actually a Santo vs Blue Panther match but a Santo & Blue Panther match, as they're teamed up. Finally we've got Scorpio Jr., and I'm not sure how he's generally received but he was a fun addition here. Outside the ring, in the crowd, an ever looming presence, was Bestia Salvaje.

This is the second match I've seen of rudo run, and the first was also on the back end. Both sort of felt like they heading towards a tecnico turn, too. That's not too surprising as looking at the dates of it all, it almost feels like the turn back lasted half the entire run. I've read that he was only rudo mainly at Arena Mexico, there are some extreme examples. He would be wrestling as a Rudo at Arena Mexico two weeks after he teamed with him as a tecnico in Tijuana. That sort of thing. They were clearly heading in that direction here, to the point that this match was more story-driven than anything else, but as best as I can tell, the full tecnico turn didn't happen for almost another year. That's CMLL for you.

I think I like primera caidas from the 90s more than from the 00s. I know that's a broad and general statement and that I do watch more current, or nearly current stuff, but there was just this great sense of escalation back then. One exchange would bleed into the next, and then when it was its turn again, repeat but more heated this time, and then would crescendo towards a finish. There's less of that now, I think. Here we started with Casas vs Santo which is a fun match up no matter the affiliation. They did some basic but quality holds that the crowd was into. It moved on to Panther and Fiera hitting some more high impact stuff, and then Scorpio and Felino really going at it. It was great to see a younger Felino, who literally bounced all around the ring. He stooges like crazy now but back then he was able to add a sort of ridiculous athletic flair to it. Scorpio had a ton of intensity in this match and some of that was probably because of the story they were trying to tell but it made a great impression on me. Ultimately it turned into Casas vs Santo again, with slightly more advanced technical work. The second that Casas gained an advantage, Scorpio rushed, much to Santo's frustration, and as he kept hammering Casas in the corner the ref DQed the rudos.

This did let the rudos take over though, and it all turned into a well-executed mauling. Santo was hesitant to double and triple team with his partners, but he did get on board, and, in the midst of the chaos, to add more fuel to the fire, Bestia jumped out of the crowd and posted Casas' knee while the ref wasn't looking. There was a powerbomb on Casas and a great Panther quebradora on the outside and Scorpio showing great fire. Ultimately it looked like the comeback was starting when Panther tried a second flapjack on Felino, who reversed it into a Rana and then sent him towards the corner, but Panther reversed the whip and Santo hit a body press off the top and almost immediately thereafter a huge tope into the crowd. Panther followed by hitting one of his own on Fiera, leaving Casas and Scorpio in the ring. Casas took the advantage but Bestia charged back in and attacked the leg again (which Casas really hadn't been selling, which was a shame), leading to the DQ and the tecnico win. To say that Santo didn't take this well was an understatement, as he, more frustrated than heroic, cleared the ring of both Bestia and Scorpio much to the fans' delight.

This was a fun, story driven match with a few good exchanges, that gave the fans at least a taste of being able to cheer Santo. I would have liked to see Casas sell the leg a bit more, and really, I'm still itching to go back and fine a deep rudo performance from Santo. I hope that there are some Scorpio vs Santo matches from after the tecnico (re)turn since I bet those would be heated and a lot of fun.

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Octagon and Mascara Sagrada in Fight to the Death (1992)

Was looking for some Paul Naschy movies on the old TV schedule and saw this was on (again, just one of the benefits of living in an area with a high hispanic population). I looked up the cast and outside of the two stars billed in the title (and what a great serial title that is! Be sure to join us next week, same time, for Octagon and Mascara Sagrada in…Ring of Fire! It makes me imagine a cool film noir starring luchadors, and this actual film I am presently watching will certainly have zero chance of being anywhere near as cool as this fake film I've just imagined. I have a feeling there's a reason why nobody talks about any of the luchador films post 1970s), the rest of the luchadors featured reads like a who's who of early 90s Segunda Caida favorites: Solar, Blue Panther, Fuerza Guerrera, Angel Azteca, La Parka, Universo 2000, Fishman, etc. I mean hot damn right?

We open with some guy picking up 3 ladies at a weird Flintstones-inspired bar. All the decor was fake rock and stone, with all of the tables inset into the floor, so while you walk through the place your feet would be at patrons head level, and you'd have to step down into your seat. One of the ladies is exceptionally foxy (this is likely Lina Santos) and really has the figure to pull off a slutty early 90s cocktail dress. You know she's sexy because when she takes off her sunglasses she bites the earpiece of them. That's like Sexy 101.

Elsewhere, presumably in Mexico, Octagon and Mascara Sagrada pull up to a hitchhiker on matching motorbikes, wearing windbreaker jogging suits the same color as their ring gear. Windbreaker jogging suits can really only look so cool (which is to say, as cool as your nana's retirement community friends) but Octagon's black suit with red and white paneling looks infinitely cooler than Mascara Sagrada's white jogging suit with teal and yellow. He desperately tries to salvage the outfit by wearing Keds style white sneakers with no socks. It somewhat works. Not long after they are working on their bikes in the countryside, where dozens of children are gathered, for reasons. The children are approached by a couple masked goons with guns (!), so our heroes run in to save the day. And this was the kind of shit I was hoping for, as Octagon and MS do great lucha exchanges in a real fight setting, all in the middle of a grassy field. Watching both of them hit body presses off of dirt mounds is too great, and MS works especially hard, even doing a high dropkick. Let me tell you, until you've seen a luchador hit a big dropkick in a field, brother you haven't lived. Once they sufficiently beat up the goons, many horseback cops with machine guns ride in and escort the goons off. Now, this field appeared to be very much in the middle of nowhere, so I have no clue why 6 cops on horseback happened to be riding by with machine guns and assault rifles, other than Mexico. I think the answer to many questions I will have in this film will be "Because Mexico".

To treat themselves for rescuing hundreds of orphans, our heroes go on a long and improbably gay hang gliding excursion. They literally ride their bikes up to a place that sells motorized hang gliders (the kind where you sit on a seat while flying, making it impossible to look like anything but a dingus), and we get a real time hang gliding sesh, while a twinkling piano instrumental (think the first 10 seconds of Tears for Fears "Head Over Heels") plays on a loop. I'm sure this movie was made as a way to market a new generation of stars, and what better way to get guys over than some pastel jogging suit hang gliding?

~El Tornado, Universo Dos Mil, & Fishman vs. Solar, Mascara Sagrada, & Octagon

Never seen Tornado before. He has a cool mask with a cyclone (or derp, possibly a tornado?) going up one of the cheeks and over both eyeholes. Sagrada is super fast and spry here, really funny that I saw a match just last week (a 2014 match) where he's literally twice the size as he is here. Octagon throws a cool spinning armdrag and Universo bumps big for him. Sadly there's no mat stuff and Solar is kinda portrayed as the weenie of his team (since he's teamed with the two stars of the movie) so mainly just takes abuse from the rudos. Just noticed that the referee is a super young and slender Tirantes. I really dug Sagrada throughout this whole match. He broke out a bunch of neat things (cool somersault dive from the top, big crossbody from the top to the floor, a cool move where he jumped up for a headscissors but just clapped Tornado's head with his legs). Tornado was a guy I've never seen before but took some big bumps, knew how to put Octagon over, and seemed like a good catcher. And I've never seen Universo so slim! Fun stuff all around.

Those three ladies from the beginning of the movie are back at some drug lord's (I assume) compound, and Octagon and MS are busting in on that shit. Octagon just jumps over a brick wall in his jogging suit, but Sagrada comes in driven by fucking boat! And he's standing on the front of the speed boat while some other sucker drives it! Just picture a boat approaching some sort of island fortress mansion, being driven by a shirtless man with a big fluffy mullet, with Sagrada standing on the bow of the speed boat, white/yellow/aquamarine windbreaker suit fluttering in the breeze. Onita fucked up by not riding the boat out to the ring in the same way. These rich assholes aren't gonna know what hit 'em.

Before the next match we cut to outside the arena and the three ladies are all in black catsuits, and they all have their hair up so you know business is about to be handled. They're getting tons of equipment strapped to them in a van, so I assume some sort of espionage or diamond heist is about to take place. The guys equipping them with their headsets and gear are also wearing black, much of it leather. However, they are parked directly under the one streetlamp in the entire alley, so really I have to wonder about their commitment to truly blending in with the night.

~La Parka, Fuerza Guerrera & Blue Panther vs. Angel Azteca, Mascara Sagrada & Octagon

Pepe Casas and Tirantes are back as the refs for this one. This match is more cut up than the other one, and it's intercut with diamond heist scenes. This match was much more of an Octagon showcase, with Panther bumping all over for his cool leg drag headscissors. Fuerza stooges all over for him as well, which is none too shocking for anybody who's watched 1992 AAA. Skinny Parka takes a real high backdrop bump, and Octagon does a bunch of silly bulldogs (the kind where you gently tap the back of the guys head) that BP tries his damnedest to sell. Match falls apart into a DQ as Fuerza gets his mask twisted backwards and accidentally hits Parka, who starts kicking Fuerza's ass all over the ring. Parka actually took a crazy amount of backdrops in this, so I'm sure this was a joy for him to film. I especially love the one where he essentially takes a Jerry bump but on a backdrop, so he hit Sagrada's shoulder with his ankle and then flips extra high up and over.

We get another extended hang gliding sequence, and this time the score has a looped sound effect of a woman's pleasure-filled moans. So that happened. "That last hang gliding scene was too gay! We need to sex this one up a bit more, in a suuuuper hetero way. ADD THE SEX MOANZ!" It's all done as Octagon and Sagrada are scoping out the evil drug lord's beach-front mansion, so they just casually hang glide around his pad while the drug lord and all his buddies are just out on his deck watching them hang glide. Bold move, heroes.

The ending of this (pretty flat) movie is…pretty flat. As Octagon and Sagrada scuba dive to retrieve the jewels (and that must have been joyous to film a scuba sequence while wearing a lucha mask) and do the old swaparoo and trading out the trash bag of jewels (right?) with a trash bag of empty jewel cases. When the drug lords go to sell their jewels and find all the cases to be empty, our heroes spring into action and do more awesome lucha sequences in a field. Nobody can ever convince me that a giant crossbody off the top of a car is less cool than one off the top rope into a ring.

So that's that. Again, there's probably a reason why you don't hear about lucha movies from the 90s.

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Masashi Aoyagi is Lean Mean Big and Bad Lord Pointing that Gun At Me

Masashi Aoyagi/Ryuji Hijakata v. Masa Fuchi/Yoshinobu Kanemaru AJPW 8/13/14- FUN

Really cool to see my man Aoyagi show up in 2014. He is a guy like Fujiwara who always looked old, but hasn't looked like he as aged. He looked 60 when he was 30, and still looks 60. This was a pretty disposable undercard tag, but had plenty of enjoyable moments. Fuchi was really great here too , the young guys (sort of young guys, Kanemura has to be pretty old too at this point) did some juniors stuff, but the match really pick up when it became an old bastard off. Aoyagi was knotting up thighs and Fuchi was poking eyes and it was a blast. Really liked the finish as Kanemaru put on a cross armbreaker which Fuchi countered only to be met by an Aoyagi kick in the mush, knocking him back into the submission. Not anything I will remember in a week, but a perfectly nice bit of business.


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Thursday, August 28, 2014

MLJ: Rush vs Negro Casas 2: Atlantis, La Máscara, Rush vs Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas, Shocker

CMLL on Fox Sports (Mexico): 2014-04-12
taped 2014-04-04 @ Arena México
Atlantis, La Máscara, Rush vs Mr. Niebla, Negro Casas, Shocker

Hey, I've seen this match before. So, after doing the Rush vs Shocker run, I wanted to take a look at the next Shocker match. This was back a few months ago, when I REALLY didn't know what I was talking about. I took a look at this, saw how much Shocker's hair had already grown back relative to how short it usually is, and got really confused if this was in fact post-hair match. I went to ask good-friend-of-the-blog Kris Zellner and then felt like an idiot when the date was in fact accurate. What can I say, Shocker's hair restoration powers are pretty damn guapo. 1000% Guapo even.

Moving on, this was, as I stated, right after the hair match, and it's really a lot of fun. For one thing, as the year went on, there were less and less chances to see Rush (and to a lesser extent Mascara) in a match where he was at least arguably the tecnico. We're getting into the Onset of the Ingobernales slowly but surely and to see two of them teaming with the eternal idol of the children (except for, you know, that long rudo run we just covered) Atlantis, was a little jarring, but in a good way. So, there was that. More so, though, this thing was just more heated than a throwaway Arena Mexico TV match should be. Both Niebla and Atlantis brought far more to the table than I was expecting, Casas vs Rush was Casas vs Rush, and Shocker had a fire lit under him after the hair match, as you'd expect.

Case in point, he did something pretty rare. We see ambushes happen all the time before all three combatants on one side make it out. This was the opposite. The rudos came out after the tecnicos and La Pesta Negra came out after Shocker, but before they arrived, he launched himself right at Rush. That was the spirit of the primera. Sometimes those who dare, succeed, and when his partners arrived, they really took over. That earned them the primera, making this a B-A-B sort of match.

It was a little more complicated than that, though. Here's why. The crowd was split on this match, more so than what would come before. Atlantis being in there gave the tecnicos more of a tecnico feel. Rush and Mascara almost seemed subdued, like they were in their with their dad and they could only be dicks when he wasn't looking. More than that, the heat in the primera was very much on Atlantis, which made the comeback more heated and sympathetic. The crowd still loved the rudos here though, so they got to have a comeback of their own leading to the finish after the tecnicos took over in the second fall and carried the momentum (with a slight reset here or there) in to the tercera.

The actual transitions were fun. The rudos took the primera with fireman carry set ups and top rope moves from Shocker (elbow) and Niebla (amazing senton). They did it one and then the other which was a shame because if they hit at the same time, it would have been even better. Tecnicos came back with this great running Quebradora from Atlantis. Usually the guy comes to you but this time, he ducked a double clothesline and hit it, while his partners swarmed back in. Mascara and Rush then hit tandem corner dropkicks. Add in an Atlantis roll up and that was the fall. The tercera had some good stuff including a pretty good Mascara/Shocker exchange and a very good Casas/Rush one, including some crowd brawling, but the key turning point was a callback, when Mascara and rush were going for the corner dropkicks again and the rudos burst out of the corner to meet them head on and pick up some quick pins. Fun stuff, and once again, a way to change things up.

Atlantis was more than effective in his role as a punching back, but it was Niebla who really impressed. You always get the sense he's very talented and extremely charismatic, but he usually tosses a whole chunk of his bullshit into matches to drag them down. When paired with Felino, that becomes massive overkill, as it does when he's in a more serious match instead. Here, he seemed happy to be working with Atlantis. From what I understand, he's a guy who always wanted a big apuestas match in the back half of his career and he never got it. No matter the reason, he was punching and chopping Atlantis all around the ring and ringside area, laying in a few choice headbutts and a great slam onto the guardrail too. Late in the match, they had a more measured exchange, one that showed Atlantis' age, but it was followed by a missed dropkick, Niebla doing his ridiculous over spit act and then paying for it by getting dropkicked out of the ring and one tope suicida later, out of the match.

Good stuff with Shocker getting a bit of revenge, Niebla looking maybe as good as I've seen him in 2013-2014 and Atlantis giving Rush and Mascara a nice tecnico sheen.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sometimes Phil and I Disagree

Phil and I like each other and have very similar tastes in wrestling. We do not, however, have identical tastes in wrestling. If we did then our site would be a little more pointless. We agree on matches the majority of the time, and have for as long as we've known each other (some 12 years at this point). Our working Match of the Year list is a two person democracy. If one of us loves a match but the other doesn't think it's list-worthy, then it doesn't make our list. I think over the course of the year that will make the list more unique than others. For example if many people, including one of us, think a match is ****, but the other thinks it's **, then it won't be on our list. At the same time, if both of us think a match is good and ***, then it's on (we don't really work in star ratings, just using that as an example).

Recently there were two matches that one of us found list-worthy, and the other did not. One match that Phil really dug and I did not, and another that I dug and Phil did not. Again, this is not extremely uncommon for us, but it usually doesn't happen this close together, with opinions varying to this degree. Often if one of us thinks a match is list-worthy, the other likes it, but doesn't feel it's quite good enough to make a list. In both of these instances though, each of us just flat out didn't like the match presented to us. So we thought it would be interesting to present each match and our opposing views on each of them.

Titan v. Niebla Roja 6/1

My original thoughts from the TV review:

ER: Damn, I thought this was pretty great, and it was kind of unexpectedly so. Not an insult to each guy, but I wasn't too excited for this one on paper, but they shut my face up. Roja is a guy I find fine in trios but I couldn't tell you much about him. He doesn't stay in the old memory banks too long. I don't think I've ever had a problem with him in a trios, but I've never come away telling Phil he needs to check out some Niebla Roja. Titan is a guy who can be alternately impressive and frustrating in trios, often one within seconds of the other. So the thought of them having a long title match just brought up bad memories of awful Volador singles matches. But I thought this was awesome. Even with all of the great Busca matches happening this year, a lot of CMLL singles matches have been lacking a certain drama, and I thought this match had that in spades. Nearfalls were actually used great, with the most engaging submission tease I remember seeing in lucha in ages. We get some snug matwork to start which I wasn't really expecting, especially cool was Roja forcing Titan to the mat by holding his wrist and stepping down on his arm. Once they went into "big spot" mode I fully expected it to devolve into awful "Big move -> 2.9 count -> Lie on mat breathing heavy -> Repeat" that so many lucha title matches have fallen victim to, but it never did. Drama kicked in and there weren't just meaningless pinfalls, it really felt like both guys pulling out all the stops to try and win the Mexican Welterweight title. Titan has some beautiful ranas and headscissors and he breaks one out from apron to floor that was a real beauty. They work in a convincing knee injury spot and honestly I can't remember the last time any sort of "work the limb" spots in lucha ended up actually going anywhere. But this comes up as a theme throughout the whole match. Roja flapjacks Titan and kicks him on the way down, in a spot that both make look great. Roja does it again right after, and Titan catches the kick on the way down and snaps off a nasty dragon screw. Roja's knee keeps coming into play for the rest of the match, leading to some cool submission attempts from Titan. Titan ramping up the tightness of knee submissions trying to break Roja was one of my favorite wrestling moments of the year. He starts with a cool roll through knee bar, but Roja makes the ropes. He pulls him to the center, locks on a modified figure four, Roja doesn't give. Titan just keeps adjusting the submission, moving into more painful and painful submissions, and it's awesome. There are plenty of impressive dives and flips, and Roja is great at playing off Titan's occasional silliness with rudo tactics. At one point when Titan is doing a bunch of "here hold my hand while I bounce on the ropes a bunch", Roja just lets go and leaves Titan standing on the middle of the top rope. They pause and Roja does a funny "well get on with it!" and Titan ranas him. On the down side the match did peak a little too early and went a couple minutes too long. If it had ended with the submission attempts it would have been better, but instead they worked through those and ended a little flat just moments later. Still, not only did this more than exceed my expectations, I thought it was a great match.

PAS: I didn't see much of the positives that Eric did here at all. Titan has some pretty spots, but when he isn't in there with a master rudo, he gets very much in a do something.. look around.. do something else.. no real flow. Roja isn't particularly good either and the in between parts of this match looked really amateur hour. I thought some of the early mat work looked good, but it was worked at 3/4 speed like they were trying to practice it for a later match, it wasn't slow counter matwork like you might see Panther or Navarro do, but fast exchanges done a beat too slow. I did like the knee submission stuff, but the finish run was not good and felt like the emotionless stuff you seen in your lesser muscled up US Indy wrestling.

Virus v. Fuego 6/15

Phil's original thoughts:

PAS: Nothing I love more in current wrestling then a Virus title match, and this is a great example of that genre. Fuego is a pretty generic technico, but is skilled on the mat and the opening mat work was very good, with Virus spinning Fuego around into multiple submissions and pinning attempts and Fuego looking like he belonged there. I really Fuego hitting two topes in a row in the second fall, both looked great and I dug the idea of going right back at him after cracking him the first time. The finish run was great too, with both guys going for roll ups and submissions before Virus hits a gory bomb and rocking chair submission for the duke. Really hoping I get to see Virus mix it up with the new group of Busca de la Idolo guys, I think we could have some classics.

ER: I did not love this match. What's cruel, is that I loved the primera. It had some of Virus' best matwork of the year, really established his dominance over Fuego, and had other great moments like Virus plastering him with a brutal thrust headbutt from the apron. I was into it. I was excited for it. It was as advertised. But then my god would it just not end. And through most of this match Fuego just looked flat out bad. I thought he was a fine counterpoint to Virus' early mat stuff, and the two dives were a cool touch. But by the end of this Virus had to put himself into Fuego's submissions. I really hate matches where one guy takes his 50% up front and the other guy goes on his run right after. The tercera especially felt sluggish to me, with none of the momentum shifts making sense. And it wasn't just Fuego in the tercera, but Virus looked downright bored. No emotion, no rudoing, just mindlessly going through the moves waiting for his turn. I felt zero drama whatsoever in the tercera and it felt like all of the heatless 2.9 count lucha main events that I can't stand. This match was even more disappointing to me since it started on a high and was just a slow and painful death afterwards. Did a Fuego match really need 20+?

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

MLJ: Rush vs Negro Casas 1: La Máscara, Marco Corleone, Rush vs Negro Casas, Ripper, Shocker

Aired on Terra: 2014-03-28
taped 2014-03-28 @ Arena México
La Máscara, Marco Corleone, Rush vs Negro Casas, Ripper, Shocker

Well, I couldn't stay in 2006 forever, though there still was more to see. I had some ideas on what I wanted to tackle next, but really CMLL decided it for me when they went ahead and ran with the Rush vs Negro Casas hair match. People seemed to like the Rush vs Shocker series, so I'm going to carry on from the immediate point after and run through the matches with both Casas and Rush in them between then and the hair match on 8/1.

This was a fun little match, full of character work and hard-hitting, a way to sort of transfer the fued back from Shocker to Casas, though really it never left the latter and it would stay with the former. It was also my first look at Ripper (Reapper, Psicosis II), who's someone that if I do go back to 2010, I'll see more of. Here he came out with a snake and the little alien mascot, so that was pretty cool, and paired up with Mascara most of the match, which was fine but hardly memorable. The entrances were all great, actually. They gave them five minutes and it gave the match more of a big feel. Shocker, bald, had his full entrance with the tron and everything. Casas came down with Zacarias and was in his full glory. The ring girls were really jamming along to the Benoit theme for Rush.

This just went two falls. We rarely get such matches for obvious reasons. If one side goes over two in a row then, at least on paper, they really crush their opponents and make them look bad, which sort of defeats the parity advantage to multi-fall matches, necessary when you have to keep heat going week to week in front of the same crowd. In the matches I've seen, there's one great way to get past that, to allow for things to be occasionally switched up, to feel different, and to also make sure the losing side not just keeps their heat, but maybe gains some.

In lucha, the beatdowns are sometimes so dominant that the refs will call a fall off, with the dominant side the winners. I've never seen this for a final deciding fall, but it feels a lot like a lack of forward momentum stopping a play in football. If there's nowhere to go, that's it. It can be a confusing moment. In fact, probably about half the time I get completely lost, still, it's when this happened and it takes me a little bit to figure out why the ref is suddenly raising hands. The flipside is that if the dominant side continues to attack after the refs try to call a fall off, it will get disqualified and lose the fall. This is a little more common in the US (Shamrock and Rock got months of feuding out of it, for instance, and for Lawler and Bret Hart, years), but not generally as part of a 2/3 falls match. The idea is simple. You can put one side over in two straight falls while making the other look strong and vicious. Sometimes this is to make the rudos look reprehensible and fearsome while still letting the tecnicos beat them. Sometimes it's to give the tecnicos an overly fiery comeback but not the satisfaction of winning the match, which makes the fans want to see another rematch. Here it was sort of in the middle given the shades of grey affiliation of the sides.

It was fun because the nature of the match meant that we had two long falls instead of two short ones and a longer one. So, even though Shocker and Casas rushed Rush during the introduction, it wasn't just a beatdown in the primera. The brawling early on was great. Shocker looked very good as the humiliated old bastard looking for revenge. Towards the end of the fall, Rush was able to fight back with some dropkicks, there's no one more explosive in wrestling than him. Mascara hit a perfectly acceptable tope on Ripper but then was accidentally hit by a clothesline off the apron by Marco. This allowed for the rudos to outnumber Rush, with Shocker hitting a German on Rush from behind. The best moment here was Ripper desperately trying to get Casas and Shocker to stop beating on Rush so the ref wouldn't DQ them. He failed.

The segunda kept it all rolling. After beating on Marco and Ripper a bit, they reset to give us Rush vs Casas and Shocker vs Casas, with chops all around and Rush ending up with a massively red chest. Some of this was pretty wild, and it was contagious, with later Casas vs Mascara exchanges feeling particularly heated with hair and mask pulling because of it. In the end, Mascara and Marco were paired up against Casas and Ripper and after Marco got back body dropped onto the ramp, he rushed back in with the superman leap, tossed Casas into a sort of standing octopus hold, and Mascara rolled up Ripper for the win. The post match was great as Rush got to gloat in the ring with his music playing in the background.

An enjoyable start to the mini-project. Shocker came out with something to prove, Casas and Rush were as great as ever, Mascara and Ripper were fine, and Marco, while not doing much, served well in his role as catalyst. Add in the slight structural change and I liked this quite a bit.

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Monday, August 25, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

13. Biff Busick v. Timothy Thatcher Beyond Wrestling "Secret Show" 4/13

PAS: These are two of the three (along with Drew Gulak) of the most exciting new group of guys in Indy wrestling. They are working Euro style matches, although Euro style that owes more to Billy Robinson and Terry Rudge then Johnny Saint and Mark Rocco. Tight agressive mat wrestling and nasty uppercuts and punches. Nothing fancy just hard hitting and rough.  The big highspot was an uppercut that knocked Busick into the wall, and came off as a bigger deal then any of the crazy shit in earlier matches. I loved Busick finish here too, great sensible counter to lock in the choke nastier and looked really tight, I bought Thatcher going out. I could watch these guys work each other a ton of times.

ER: We've talked before about what an exciting trend this is in indy wrestling, and it really was something that was mostly lacking in modern pro wrestling for a long time. I remember having to seek out random 2000s Osamu Nishimura matches if I wanted to see a guy lock on a slick side headlock on the ground while pushing off the mat with his legs to get extra leverage on said side headlock. Now with plenty of Thatcher, Gulak and Busick matches floating around and these guys going all over to pick up dates, I assume it's just a matter of time before this style gets more widespread. These guys all look and work like they learned grappling and physical fitness exclusively from Farmer Burns' Guide to Young Men's Good Health. I dug Busick finally being the first one to go to blows, and this throwing Thatcher to a degree and kind of sending him scrambling to mentally regroup while figuring out what kind of fight it's become. My favorite stuff here was Thatcher bending around Busick's wrist and posting his elbow, really wrenching on stuff and making my joints scream just watching. These matches all breeze by really quick, as they're persistently competitive with minimal breathing room. The matches are a constant struggle for the two guys involved which always seems to glue my eyes to what's happening. I'm always watching for little momentum shifts or tiny openings. It's been some fascinating and exciting stuff (that will be impossible to rank by year's end).


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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Uprising: Lucha Libre Workrate Report 8/23/14

For this episode we go back to the 2/22/14 SF show that I was at live. My favorite match of the card was a trios featuring Drake Younger and Willie Mack, and then of course there was the main event of Timothy Thatcher vs. Blue Demon Jr. which was an interesting performance seeing one of the absolute best workers in the world go up against one of the laziest.

Oliver John & Brian Cage vs. Rocky Romero & Vaquero Fantasma

Few things can make me less excited for a match than the words "And their opponents....Rocky Romero!" Babyface Rocky is even worse as he doesn't have a very likeable face and just does more goofy faces and dancing in between his random move generator offense. But if they insist on putting him against Cage and John then obviously it wouldn't make sense to have Rocky as a rudo. Oliver John has a pretty belligerent personality so really only makes sense as a rudo and Brian Cage works well as his bloated, gassed up enforcer. But there is just not going to be anything remotely interesting enough about Rocky to make me get behind him in any way. Fantasma is most often on rudo teams in this fed, so here he's just kind of thrown onto the tecnico side (I assume due to lack of other bodies?) and doesn't really work any differently than when he's a rudo. Except that from what I've seen he has more rudo strengths than tecnico strengths. Not necessarily through personality, as he wears a mask and doesn't really bother to emote anything through the mask, but more in his actual work technique.

Live Oliver John got on the stick before the match and called the audience a "bunch of wetbacks" which is a bit too mean and a not too clever racist insult. I mean, there's going to be some blatant racist schtick when you're working a border patrol gimmick in front of a crowd that's 80% hispanic. I'm about as Caucasian as you can get (Swiss-German ancestry) so it doesn't offend me, but the use of the work "wetback" is just lazy and an obvious attempt to shock. There are so many more inventive ways to insult an audience, and this just came off as uncreative and hack. I mean if you're going full on over the top racist hack, might as well just find a couple old Blanche Knott books at the Goodwill and at least fit some structured jokes into your routine. It would at least come off a little more prepared than just red-face screaming "wetbacks!!!" into a mic. Although the hispanic teen girl in front of me was clearly not expecting to hear that word, silently turning to her friend with her mouth and eyes wide open. So...mission accomplished, I guess? Wisely, the TV actually leaves off the opening mic work, which they normally include (you GOTTA include full entrances and middling heel stick work when you're paying for the time!).

Match itself was as okay as a match featuring Rocky Romero is going to be. Cage has packed on so much mass that he's not nearly as mobile as he was even a year ago, but he can still occasionally surprise, like when he bumped nicely for a Romero rana. Romero for his part hit a real nice dive. As with a lot of PWR matches there just isn't a lot of substance. The matches always seem to take a long time to get going, and then they end right when they seem like they're going to roll. There's often a lot of bullshit and rudos taking powders on the floor, some threatening to walk out, some regrouping, and then rudo control segments with holds. The formula works to a degree, and sometimes it doesn't take much more than that. But there needs to be a certain quality level of the workers involved and a lot of guys in PWR aren't at that level. Oliver John is a good heel and I've enjoyed his work in the past. Brian Cage is gassing himself to full Scott Steiner levels of immobility. I mean like he's literally bigger and bigger at every single show I see with him. But he's still young and has ability, so he's still athletic enough to overcome things like not being able to put his arms down all the way. But these two just had nothing to work with opposite Fantasma/Romero. Romero had one hot 15 second bit with a nice rana and that dive, but the rest just shows he has no idea who he is or who he's supposed to be within a match. Him at one point doing horrible "he's standing right behind me, right?" comedy, blindly feeling behind him and discovering Cage was there, is not even normally a babyface spot and yet still was so badly executed that it was embarrassing to watch. I mean this isn't exactly news in 2014, but Romero is just completely clueless as far as working any sort of compelling characters to build drama within a match. Just an awful worker. I could see Cage/John working well with more capable faces. These weren't they.

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

MLJ: Hijo Del Santo vs Blue Panther 7: Blue Panther, Black Panther y Fuerza Guerrera vs Hector Garza, El Dandy y El Hijo del Santo

1995-11-03 @ Arena Mexico
Blue Panther, Black Panther y Fuerza Guerrera vs Hector Garza, El Dandy y El Hijo del Santo

Honestly, this is starting to feel like cheating. These matches have all been so much fun, and so good. I thought I was going to get at Santo in a sort of esoteric way by using Panther as a lens, and that I'd miss a lot of the classic matches until I was ready for them and knew what I was talking about a little better, but it doesn't feel like that had happened at all. I don't think I'm going to complain though. This stuff may not necessarily be gold, but it's definitely silver.

Here we have a switch to CMLL. Wikipedia says that Santo followed Casas back there. Diving into some old Observers, it looks like Santo gave notice to AAA early in August, 95, in part due to his family's legal action against AAA for the Santo Negro character, which was what they tried to do with Espanto before they settled on Pentagon. Apparently, this had been long expected and he'd been booked accordingly by the company. They used him to put over younger talent and booked him less dates than he wanted because they thought he could leave at any point, so he left. At that point, he was apparently less of a draw than Konnan and Perro Aguayo, and making less money than them too. He told AAA that he mainly just wanted to book himself, but he was back in CMLL before the end of the month. This was a couple of months later.

Fuerza and Blue Panther ending up in CMLL is an even more interesting story. I imagine it's all out there on the web by someone who really knows what they're talking about like Dr. Lucha or someone, but just going through these Observers, it looks like in late September, 1995, Panther and Fuerza tried to create their own rival promotion and got fired by AAA. Panther had two titles at the time and was the head agent for the company. Fuerza was head of the AAA wrestlers union. There's a lot more to the story than that, but this is more background than I usually put in these (because like I said, my writing is not where you should get the history). I just thought it was curious that all of these AAA guys were suddenly back in CMLL, which they were, in this case, because their new promotion, PROMELL had a working relationship. This was, if I'm not mistaken their return to Arena Mexico after a couple of years.

Black Panther is Blue Panther's nephew and had been Vegas in AAA. When he jumped, he lost the right to the character, which is why Black Panther was created for him. He's still in the mix these days teaming with his family, and of course, there was a run as Black Warrior in the 00s as well. El Dandy is awesome and this is my first time looking at him for the blog. He's a guy who absolutely could take over my Monday slot once I move on from Santo. Garza and Black Panther were both twenty-five or twenty-six here and both of them, Black Panther especially, had a ton to prove in the match. This was another match with a lot of good exchanges where it didn't necessarily come together due to a lack of focus in the comeback.

As a very quick aside, I think they had just gotten the music machine in Arena Mexico because the entrances were sort of hilariously botched in when they played Santo's song and when they played the rudos' and what not. Moving on to the match, the primera was great. It's full of escalation and good match ups. Like I said, Black Panther and Garza really felt like they had a lot to prove. They went all at it, with some nice competitive matwork. Dandy and Panther matched up really well too, with Panther showing me a lot more intensity and grittiness than I was expecting. There's matwork as well, but it felt totally different from the Garza/Panther work. Fuerza and Santo then came in to do a broader sequence. All good stuff. It led to Garza taking a crazy handstand corner bump to the outside which allowed the rudos to use the numbers game to take over, including a great dive from Black Panther and a total mauling of Dandy's forehead. They took the caida with a really brutal looking double underhook backbreaker by Blue Panther.

Lucha, to me, is all about pressure and anticipation. A great back and forth primera can lead to you wanting to see the rudos really take over. A great rudo beatdown, on the other hand, starts to make the comeback meter rise and rise. It builds up pressure until the fans and the view are just ready to pop for the comeback. I was starting to feel that here and they just decided to move on with it. The rudos were celebrating in the ring. The tecnicos got Garza (who had eaten that dive from Black Panther) back on his feet and they all swarmed the ring. The tecnicos had sort of an abbreviated comeback. There was mask ripping but I could have used a lot more violent revenge from Dandy.

That'd be the story of the rest of the match really. They'd tease more Dandy vs Blue Panther but once it started to get good, there'd be a cut off from outside or something would happen. Now, some of that stuff was really cool like a double tope suicida from Santo and Dandy and another another fun little exchange from Black Panther and Garza which made both of them look really good and ended with a bit corkscrew dive, and of course the finish which was a Steiner Bulldog of all things leading to the roll up win for the tecnicos.

Lots of fun, memorable stuff, and a great return to Arena Mexico for Fuerza and Blue Panther, but the comeback just wasn't worth the build and while it was a triumphant win for the tecnicos, it wasn't necessarily a satisfying one. Most of all, it made me want to see more Dandy vs Panther and I just don't think that exists. Lucha rewards and disappoints. It is a cruel mistress.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Uprising: Lucha Libre Workrate Report 8/16/14

Another match from the 5/18/14 Morgan Hill show.

Atlantis, Gallo Tapado Jr. & Mascara Sagrada vs. Damian 666, Zokre & Vaquero Fantasma

Gallo Tapado Jr. may be the weirdest lucha fly-in I've ever seen. I'm unsure how big a star his dad was, but his dad likely retired in the 80s or early 90s. I think I've seen this guy on an IWRG undercard, maybe. But that's a weird way to bring in guys. "I think this guy may have worked an IWRG undercard before! Fly him in!" Damian gets on the stick and talks for a few minutes, and literally 80% of what he says is muted. Then Sagrada grabs the mic and the same thing happens. I have no clue what they said, but apparently it was a) bad enough to be unsuitable for TV, and b) so important that it had to be left on the broadcast, even if you couldn't understand what they were saying. And so here we are, 10 minutes into a 30 minute broadcast, with no wrestling having occurred. This would be like Raw starting their first match at the 40 minute mark. Is this why the "Revolution" is in Pro Wrestling Revolution? I'm still completely unclear about what exactly is supposed to be revolutionary about any of this. It's a name that's dumb enough to get angry about if you actually think about it. How, in any way at all, is anything they do revolutionary, or even just a change from the norm?

Match itself was not great, but decent. Sagrada looked enormous here, and I've seen him before in this fed and he was as lazy and selfish as you remember him being. But here he really busts butt and seemed like he was really trying to not dog it. He was slow (his majistral took forever) but he took some big bumps for a fat guy crammed into a bodysuit (nice backdrop bump and a nice spill into the ropes) and while he didn't look great, he tried and that's worth something. Gallo Tapado was probably the best of the bunch here as he really worked from bell to bell, always doing something. It was not a performance I was expecting and he really tried to make this match into something more than "let's work around Damian stooging for Atlantis". He really worked hard to turn it into a tecnicos vs. rudos battle, threw some fine armdrags, nice apron work, did a nice springboard body press onto Damian onto the ground (which always looks extra great when it's outdoors and into dirt, like this was). So yeah, sorry for making fun of you up above Tapado. Damian kind of worked like 2014 Damian would work, which is wander around and punch people, take a couple spots from Atlantis, and then hit the floor to jaw with fans. Zokre had a weird billy goats beard sticking out of the bottom of his mask (unsure if it was real beard or beard on mask) but Atlantis had several fun spots involving him ripping at the beard. I especially liked Atlantis holding the beard while climbing up to the top, then doing a cool leverage "beard drag" jumping off and flinging him. The whole match is essentially arm drags, leading to multi-man pinfall attempts (the estrella, the triple sunset flip, etc.), with the big springboard body press by Tapado being the big high spot. Not a mind-blowing match, but fun enough to air for sure.

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Thursday, August 21, 2014

MLJ: Atlantida Rising Final: Ultimo Guerrero vs Dos Caras, Jr.

Aired 2006-07-29
taped 2006-07-23 @ Arena Coliseo
Dos Caras Jr. vs Último Guerrero

So with this, we leave 2006 CMLL and head somewhere else for a while. I really wanted to go out on a higher note than being disappointed by Rey in his two big singles matches. This was a Dos Caras, Jr. match, so it can't be that good of a match, but I do think it was effective and a very solid performance by Ultimo Guerrero with super strong layout. There was more that I could have seen in 2006. Just looking at my list of GdI matches that we have online towards the end of 2006, another Santo trios, a chance to see more Black Warrior, to see Leono, more Perros del Mal, some younger Volador, Jr., and a few other guys. There were some big gaps, though, and not quite as many big matches to be built to for the sake of this project. There are a couple I might bounce back to at some point, and I do want to focus on Perro, Jr., later on in the project too so we'll see. For now, though, let's take a look at this mano a mano match.

One of the real joys of this series of matches has been to see Ultimo Guerrero at his prime. I think he was a great rudo both in physical positioning and timing and in having a presence and a character to him. Sometimes, he took the bandit mentality a bit too far and ate up cheers, but I haven't seen that to be the case as we moved into the summer here. Maybe it was just that the crowd was more behind Caras but he was more than willing to do all the stooging necessary here. Caras was a bit of a mess. He had size and the lineage and the crowd, but in general, he'd ham it up at the cost of the emotion of the match. I like crowd interaction twice as much as the next guy but there were places to do it and places not to. Here, the primera was pretty gritty with a lot of mask work from UG before he got cocky and Caras got a quick submission with the armbar. The segunda ended with UG's feet on the ropes after a powerbomb which infuriated the announcers. After that, the tecera probably shouldn't have started with a hammy pose off, especially when a lot of the premise for this match up was how Caras was excited to get in there with UG without his back-up.

That concern aside, I liked this more than either of the title matches I've seen in the last couple of weeks. The stakes weren't there, but past the errant posing there was intensity, and the call backs and moments of anticipation were a lot of fun. There was a real escalation, the sort that allowed for some of those longer selling moments in the tercera. In this match, they felt more earned and meaningful. The 'rana attempt that UG turned into his pinning-with-the-ropes finish for the segunda paid off with a 'rana in the tercera. Likewise the dive that was just teased earlier. They repeated the power bomb spot, with the ropes, this time just for two. They teased a nearfall on Caras being rolled up while complaining to the ref. UG kicked out a giant super powerbomb reversal. Then, after Caras hit the press into the German, only to have UG's foot on the rope, he complained again, was attacked from behind again, but this time, ready for it, blocked a corner roll up and got his hands on the ropes for a revenge three count. Lots of build and parallel spots here which can make up for little execution issues (like Caras barely making the final pin work due to his positioning) or a lack of ring presence from the tecnico.

When people ask what Dos Caras Jr.'s best match in CMLL was, I think this could be a safe choice. There was a decent amount of heat to begin and they worked both hard and smart to end it. Therefore, it makes a good ending point for 2006 for me. Obvious now, many years later, Caras is back in Mexico and making huge waves for AAA. Ultimo Guerrero continued to team with Altantis for another couple of years and really, they've been fueding since, with the mask vs mask match finally on its way. After that, you have to wonder if UG isn't going to be the big rival to Rush that will take CMLL into the new year. All in all, I don't regret going back and watching these matches. The promotion was a pretty fun place in 2006 and I got to really expand my knowledge through watching. Next week, after our Santo vs Panther Monday, we're going to jump forward to right after the last of the Rush vs Shocker series to chronicle Rush vs Negro Casas on the road to their hair match.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

10. Dean Ambrose v. Seth Rollins WWE Raw 8/18

PAS: About as crazy an ECW weapons brawl as you are going to get in todays wrestling. Ambrose has established himself as a nut job and this kind of all around the ring brawl fits his character perfectly. Rollins was fine as a cocky bump machine, but this was Ambrose as a more athletic Necro Butcher. Lots of little great moments along with the big nutty moments, I loved Ambrose catching the kendo stick and shit talking, Rollins ducking the rebound lariat and cracking him with enzigiri, the total car crash double bodypress. I could have easily see the match ending with that running powerbomb on the chairs, or on the in ring dirty deeds, or on the curb stomp on the table, although I didn't think the match dragged on like some indy matches. Finish itself was pretty unique and looked totally crazy, I guess they are writing off Ambrose for a while and this was a hell of a way to take a break.

ER: This really had the feel of a wild Necro vs. Jimmy Jacobs match. If WWE allowed blood for this type of thing this match really could have been legendary. I really loved all the escalations of things here. I dug the failed first attempt at the rebound lariat as I actually wasn't even thinking about it anymore when he actually hit it later on, and Rollins takes one of the best flip bumps ever off it. Usually you can see a guy really preparing for his flip bump, and it can look like a guy just independently doing a standing shooting star press instead of a guy getting leveled. Well Rollins looked like he got leveled here. And then he took the Dirty Deeds on the side of his head. All the stuff on the floor was nuts. Not only did they never fall into the "lead guy around by the hair" chasm, but man did they do some violent stuff. The crazy across two tables dive by Ambrose, and then the sick curb stomp on the table. How could it get worse than that? Well, only by doing one of the most visually stunning finishes to a WWE match I've seen. Rollins curb stomping Ambrose' head through freaking cinder blocks, with the cinder blocks crumbling and Ambrose' head getting buried in them was too insane. It's like they were watching old Jun Kasai matches and wondering "how can we fit this into a TV match?" Ambrose lying there with his head sunk into the rubble will not be a visual I forget any time soon. Wild match.


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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

MLJ: Atlantida Rising 15: Atlantis vs Rey Bucanero

Aired 2006-07-22
taped 2006-07-16 @ Arena Coliseo
Atlantis vs Rey Bucanero for the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship

What the heck 2006 CMLL? Come on now. It's like you want the poor bastard to fail. Rey did fail, too. Not entirely, of course. He kept the Light Heavyweight title until May, 2009, which is a long time to keep any title, even an occasionally ignored one. He ended up rejoining Los Guerreros too, teamed with La Pesta Negra where he got to debut (or repackage at least) Zacarias. He won the NWA Historic Light Heavyweight Title and even as late as last year the World Tag Team Championship. From what I've seen though, he never really sustained the top-of-the-card success that this turn and the push that came along with it would have suggested. Frankly, I don't entirely understand the mechanics of how drawing and pushes work in Mexico, but I really don't think these two matches, the first with Ultimo Guerrero and the second with Atlantis, helped.

The first of the two, with UG, I feel comfortable blaming on the two competitors. It was a massive disapointment relative to the build, abrupt, lacking a lot of the necessary trappings of a successful title match, with selling that was absolutely not earned, big moments that felt anticlimactic and ultimately, a celebration that was enthusiastic but empty. A week or two after the match with UG, Rey was pushed out again, on TV, with a sudden and surprise change to win the NWA World Light Heavyweight Championship, what, if I'm not mistaken, was later on replaced with the Historic title that he won later in his career. If Wikipedia is correct, Atlantis had just won the belt from Wagner, Jr. Apparently he thought he was supposed to be defending against Niebla, and the "championship committee" or suitable CMLL equivilent, switched things up so he was defending against Rey instead. All of this lead to hugely entertaining chickenshit Atlantis antics. Unfortunately, we've got no idea if it led to the sort of classic title match that Rey probably needed at this point. They decided to show a mighty eight minutes of the match, bell to bell, with most of the clipping seemingly taking place at the start of the tercera.

What we got followed the UG match pattern for the most part. Two incredibly brisk caidas followed by a mostly unearned tercera. This time, though, it felt even more so because we're missing a chunk of it. The primera was basically just Atlantis, edgy due to the switch, charging at Rey and after a minute or so getting rolled up. It wasn't the worst sort of vulnerable heel champion moment in the world, but it's maybe not what Rey needed here, especially due to the clipping. The segunda being Rey hitting a quebadora and then running right into the Atlantida (even a great looking one) didn't help things.

The tercera made Rey look like a chump, Lizmark, Jr. look ineffectual as a second, the refs look moronic, and well, at the least, it let GdI get some of their heat back after the title loss, but not much of it. The clipping came in at a Rey superplex, which at least rationalized some of the selling for both wrestlers, maybe even more so than in the UG match, which wasn't clipped. They went back and forth with hitting and missing a few moves before Rey escaped another Atlantida and hit the Buca Storm. At this point, when he had the match won, UG pulled the ref out and in the confusion Atlantis hit a powerbomb counter with UG adding extra leverage for the win. What they actually did was fine, even the short primera since it played into the story of Atlantis not being prepared for the match. The fact that they clipped a match that already was set up to be sort of slight was a problem though. Maybe I just hold title matches in higher regard than the fanbase and the company do? I don't know, but these two matches, coming at so close a time together, really seemed like they should have been a way for Rey to put a stamp down and establish a tone for his tecnico run and that didn't happen at all.

At this stage, despite liking a lot of the matches I've had about my fill of 2006 for now. Depending on how long I can keep this up, I might do another sweep for the Perros del Mal stuff, including some of the back half of the year. For now, though, I've got one more match that feels sort of topical and that I liked a lot more than this, even if it had one less talnted luchador, and then I think I'm going to bounce back to 2014 for a while.

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Monday, August 18, 2014

2014 Ongoing Match of the Year List

33. Mark Henry/Big Show vs. Luke Harper/Erick Rowan WWE Raw 8/18

ER: Well on paper this seems pretty much like a Segunda Caida-booked tag match. I was hoping for 5+ minutes of 4 giant bosses thudding and smacking into each other, and I got 7+ minutes of just that. Yes please. Henry was a monster here, and between this and the Rusev tease later on he had a heck of a night. Loved how hot he went out of the gates here, really lacing into Rowan with stiff shots and headbutts, and then dishing a Harperesque big boot to Harper himself. I exercise regularly and can hardly kick over my head, so watching a guy like Henry kick up that high looks amazing. Harper and Rowan are a great team and it's cool watching them work differently against two of the only guys physically larger than them in the company. Harper is always a bumper but usually it's off his own momentum when a smaller, quicker opponent moves out of his way. Here he gets physically tossed by Big Show and takes a wild bump over the top where I wouldn't be shocked to find out he didn't know up from down until he hit the ground. We get a cool nearfall with Harper booting Henry as he's about to deliver the World's Strongest Slam, woulda bet money on that being the finish. But it's awesome that it wasn't, as then we still get two Big Show punches leading to the Henry WSS finish. This delivered everything I wanted it to.

PAS: Henry and Show looked like such beasts in the beginning of this match, totally bumping around the Wyatts, that I thought it would have been improbable for them to back down even a little. I figured this would mostly be a fun power squash (after watch Lesnar v. Cena last night, that seemed possible), loved how they got the advantage on Show and their offense on him was nasty looking, including Rowan's crazy looking bodyslam. The big finish run was super exciting, and I loved the punch, WSS combo finish. I love Godzilla v. King Kong matches, and this was a great tag version of that.


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Sunday, August 17, 2014

MLJ: Hijo Del Santo vs Blue Panther 6: Hijo Del Santo, Rayo de Jalisco Jr., Tito Santana vs Blue Panther & The Headshrinkers

1995-10-06  WWO Triple Power 2
Hijo del Santo, Rayo de Jalisco Jr, Tito Santana vs Blue Panther, Nikozuna, Wild Samoan (Head Shrinkers)

Ok, so this might have been at TRIPLE POWER 2, which was a joint UWA, AAA, and WWO show. Triple Power 1 had Doink The Clown, La Parka & Villano IV vs. El Hijo del Santo, Gran Hamada & Tito Santana so basically why the hell can't be Triple Power 1 that I'm watching? If that was Matt Borne as Doink, it's basically the coolest match ever. It was probably Keirn though. Ah well. Wait, I just checked the WON from the time because I couldn't find this show on cagematch. There's a Borne + Fuerza + Fishman match on Triple Power 2 and I bet that's on youtube too. I need to go watch that. I'll be back.

Yeah, so everyone go watch that Doink match. The primera wasn't so great except for the Solar vs Fuerza exchanges (unsurprisingly), but the rudos took over in the segunda and Borne was amazing as a fish out of water, just trying to figure out what the hell he's supposed to be doing and filling time and when Fuerza and he finally started to sync, it was pro wrestling beauty. The comeback was nothing to write home about though. Still, thing of beauty:

On to the match itself. For tecnicos, we have Rayo, Tito, and Santo. Nikozuna is Fatu, working a pre-Sultan Yokozuna gimmick, and from all indications Wild Samoan is Samu looking gaunt and mostly bald. They bill them with a Headshrinkers image in the pre-match introduction. Rayo I've seen back in the 80s. This was a very different setting however. The match was broader, more of a spectacle than what I'm used to. There's a sense of tightness and formula and, I'm not going to say sameness because that's not the right word, routine to a lot of the more polished lucha, the 90s AAA and the 00 CMLL that I've been watching. This feels a little more like the wild west which is both the interpromtional setting and the fact you have a couple of non-lucha guys in there, as well as Tito who is very much his own creature.

You know what? I want to talk about Tito for a bit. There are a couple of Tito Santana interviews online if you go looking for them. I talk about formula here sometimes, but Tito, more than any other wrestler I've ever heard talk or really watched in the ring, seems to believe in the sanctity of it when it comes to a wrestling match. He outwrestles his opponent. The opponent cheats or gets in a cheapshot to get an advantage. Tito sells. He makes his comeback. One. Two. Three. Shine. Heat. Comeback. If you were going to distill wrestling into its most primal form, it would probably be Tito Santana vs Tully Blanchard and it would be a hell of a match. Now that's not the only thing wrestling can be, of course, but there's a beauty in the simplicity of it all. Tossing him into a setting like this, where there were all sorts of other cultural nuances and then teaming him with Santo who was the epitome of a tecnico and Rayo, who felt here almost like a prototype in the tradition of the overblown tecnico like Wagner, Jr., looked to be fairly interesting on paper.

I'll be honest, though, for the most part, and even though this does follow a pretty straightforward A-B-A formula, Tito was just kind of there there. He had an exchange in the primera with Fatu and one with Samu in the segunda, but past a very nice dropkick nothing stood out. He did seem to try to put on some weird stretch plum submission in the tercera. That's not to say there weren't fun exchanges in the match, though. Fatu cosplaying as Yokozuna made for a great foil for Santo and it was nice to see. I hoping there's more of Hijo del Santo vs Monsters out there. I got the impression that Santo saw a wrestler like Fatu and just saw all of the opportunities in what he could do with him. The Headshrinkers also hit the best double clothesline I've ever seen, stiffing the heck out of Rayo's chest to get rid of him so they could take the segunda on Tito and Santo. There was a fun little comedy moment to end the primera with the rudos all splashing each other and the tecnicos jumping on top.

Really, though, Rayo vs Blue Panther was what stood out. Sure, Panther had a nice sequence with Santo early on, but we've seen that before we'll see it again. What I hadn't seen before was the level of stooging and comedy work he was able to pull together against Rayo, with ridiculous selling for butt bumps, even more ridiculous attempts to pull off a but bump of his own, where he ends up sailing over the top, and just extremely expressing selling and taunting from Panther. It was a breath of fresh air to see him break out of his mold a bit. In the matches I've seen so far, he really hadn't had to because he had Fuerza as a partner. Here, he almost acted as comic relief, which made for a great showing of versatility and range.

The finish was fairly unsatisfying but then this match felt like it existed in a vacuum, so that made it somewhat more forgivable. The tecnicos took the primera. The rudos took the segunda. In the tercera, chairs were bandied about and the comeback was decent enough, even if the camera missed Santo's dive. It ended with Fatu nailing his own partner by accident and then crashing into the ref for the DQ. A fun match, mainly for Panther stooging and Santo getting to work against a wildly different sort of opponent. If you're going to watch one match watch the Doink one though.

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Saturday, August 16, 2014

Uprising: Lucha Libre Workrate Report 8/9/14

More matches from the 5/18/14 show in Morgan Hill.

1. Los Campesinos vs. The Persian Dynasty (Kia and Cyrus)

I'm not sure I've seen either team here before (although I have seen Welsh indie pop band Los Campesinos before…), but I immediately appreciate that the show starts with the Persian Dynasty attacking Los Camps at the bell. No ring entrances, just brief intros. That's maximizing your short time! Good. Campesinos are called Numeros Uno y Dos. Not sure which Persian guy is which. One has a mask and the other doesn't. Camps wear full red and white body suits, and I think I've maybe seen the chubby one before. Match itself wasn't much to write about. It went about 6 minutes, nobody looked very good. The fed really pushes itself as lucha libre, obviously, but it's weird as most guys in the fed don't work anything close to a lucha style. It's pretty standard wrestling, only the guys wear masks most of the time. I mean…I guess Los Campesinos did dropkicks at one point, but they were kind of sloppy. Both teams were pretty sloppy in general. Persians controlled with bodyslams, Kia (I think) hit an ugly leg drop at one point, and some not good chops and wimpy elbows in the corner (but they kinda looked like the type of elbows that look really bad, but probably actually hurt the other guy). Kia hits a nice yakuza kick at one point. On the hot tag one of Los Camps does these goofy uppercut things, that I'm not actually sure what they were supposed to be, and the match ends shortly after with double sunset flips. Huh. This was not good.

2. Battle Royal!

Bunch of people coming out for this, with Ultimo Panda, Famous B, JR Kratos, both of the tag teams from above, Savanah Riley and another woman. Kratos immediately goes after a woman, which is a really odd thing for the biggest face in the match to do, considering there's at least a 120 lb. difference, and there are several actual males in the match. But yeah, good guy, you go grab that woman by the hair! The ring announcer also regularly states over the mic for parents to keep their children in their seats so they don't get hurt. Where would both the children and wrestlers be going during this battle royal that would involve children getting hurt!? This was a pretty standard battle royal (read: not interesting to live crowd or television viewers) with people wandering around until it was time for eliminations to take place. Pistolero tried bringing extra stuff to it by attacking women, and then women getting their revenge. Famous B also tried bringing some personality by hiding behind Savanah. Spot of the match was probably JR Kratos press slamming the other gal out of the ring onto one of Los Campesinos to eliminate her. So…I guess all the good spots involved men beating up women, which…yeah.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

ECW One Night Stand 2005

Wow. This was 9 years ago. I guess without counting some of those weird 1997 Raws (also from Hammerstein) or that weird business where Tazz as ECW champion lost to HHH on Smackdown (which prompted some guy from back east to call into my college radio show at the time and rant about it for what felt like a very long 15 minutes), I think that most would agree that this is the first WWECW show. It's weird to think that this started a long, sad parade of ECW reunion nostalgia that is impossibly still being milked today on actual real television by a somewhat real wrestling company. I remember watching this show years ago when it came out on DVD, using the JBL commentary track which featured a drunk JBL throwing every ECW worker under the bus in hilarious fashion (and if you didn't think it was hilarious, maybe you would by the 8th time you heard one of his repeated jokes).

1. Lance Storm vs. Chris Jericho

Jericho is nerdily announced as "Lionheart" Chris Jericho, and is wearing his old tights and vest. Crowd is crazy hot for this, flipping out after an opening arm drag sequence. They also are so desperate to shit all over women that they immediately chant "She's a Crack Whore" at Dawn Marie, who decidedly looks nothing like a crack whore. Jericho levels Storm with a face high dropkick and this is starting really good actually. They're pretty good at working Storm ECW nostalgia spots (high dropkick, springboard back elbow from the turnbuckles) into the match with a more modern indy style worked in. Old ECW had a lot of exhibition style work, with guys doing their familiar spots without so much regard to segueing smoothly into those spots. One moment a guy would be taking offense, the next he'd be on his run of signature offense. Here Storm hits his long vertical suplex, but Jericho kicks his legs a bunch to try to reverse it, and when Storm runs up for his back elbow, Jericho dropkicks him on the way down. We do eventually merge back into classic exhibition style, and Storm's comebacks leave a lot to be desired here. His comebacks mainly just involve him standing up after taking moves, and then doing moves. Jericho plants him with a mean Tiger suplex and some nasty knees in the clinch, Storm just shrugs it off with a spinning heel kick. Jericho reverses a piledriver with a backdrop, Storm just pops up and hits a superkick. Jericho tries to glue this together, but Storm just wanted to hit all of his moves. He hit them all nicely, but his insistence on hitting all of his moves made the match mean less. Storm wins when Jason and Justin Credible interfere and Joey Styles hilariously starts using JR's Owen voice, talking about what a horrible shame it was that Storm had to win things that way, in what could possibly be his last match ever. Styles goes on for well over a minute. "Shame. Just a shame. Why did it have to be this way, Lance? You're better than this."

Pitbull Gary Wolfe gets a weird payday for showing up in full Pitbulls garb to introduce a tribute to the fallen stars of ECW, and shockingly there aren't too many at the time this show happened. I wish I knew what song originally played behind this package (since I assume most music has been changed for the Network airings) as I really want to hear some Sarah McLachlan playing while they show slow motion clips of Big Dick Dudley flexing through clenched teeth.

2. Tajiri vs. Little Guido vs. Super Crazy

FBI comes out to an instrumental loop of No Sleep Til Brooklyn, and Smothers is awesome waving the flag and doing all his weird Smothers mannerisms. This show needs more Smothers in the ring, but I'll settle for Smothers at ringside. Full props to Tommy Dreamer for managing to get JT Smith a WWE payday in 2005. Mick Foley is absolutely horrible on commentary here, playing up a folksy late career James Stewart persona. "Aw shucks Joey, they're going to be doing a lot of moves I've never seen here, but I-I-I I'll just try to keep up, best I can." Actually, now that I think about it, he may be just mimicking Terry Funk. Re-read that sentence in Funk voice. That adds up. That awful commentary is a running theme throughout the match (and the show) "you know I've known Tajiri for 11 years and he's just the nicest guy you could imagine". Kewl insight. This match is really fun for the first few minutes, as every single person at ringside (Sinister Minister, Mikey Whipwreck, Smothers, Smith, Tony Mamaluke, Big Guido) all interfere at some point in the match, but it's actually done in a way that's integrated perfectly into the match. Big Guido goes to powerbomb Tajiri, gets low blowed by Minister, Tajiri sprays mist at Little Guido, Smothers runs in with karate and gets leveled with a superkick, Mikey hits the big top rope Whipper Snapper on the misted Guido, all the while Mamaluke and Smith keep Crazy busy by sweeping his legs on a rope run and crotching him around the ring post. Interference doesn't usually add to the match but I can't think of a way to better integrate 9 people in one match within 1 minute. Match as a whole is fairly short, at barely 6 minutes, which had to disappoint most. Tajiri looked somewhat lost at points and was kinda awkward getting into position for his offense, but Crazy and Guido were on point. Guido did some of his big silly bumps, and Crazy's stuff looked good, hitting some big moonsaults with heft (including a wild one off the balcony) and nasty seated dropkicks. Still, too short to mean much. Also, I couldn't tell if it was two unfortunate tongue slips, or if Styles was throwing out hack racial humor, but two different times in the match he distinctly said "soo-prex" after Tajiri threw a suplex. The first one could have been an accident…but twice in the same match?

3. Rey Mysterio vs. Psicosis

I remember a lot of people being disappointed in this match at the time, but the match was perfectly fine. If this was on WorldWide it would definitely make a WCW B-Sides comp. Psicosis takes some nutty bumps as you hoped he would, doing an insane guillotine legdrop off the top to Mysterio (who was draped over the guardrail), doing his trademark missed corner attack that ends with him dumped on his head, and taking a nice Cassandro bump, wrapping himself around the post and flying into some ladies in the front row, which Mysterio follows up with an awesome Thesz press from the top into the crowd. Psicosis also draws boos by locking on a headlock. I didn't put on my good hockey jersey to go out and see Mexicans do rest holds!

Then we get JBL and Angle coming out to plenty of boos and chants, JBL stiffing Gertner with a mean shove and kick to the ass, and RVD coming out and cutting the best promo of his life. He had a knee injury and couldn't compete which was tearing him up inside since this show was something he worked years to make happen. I mean, I fast forwarded through some of his promo, but it was about the most life-affirming promo you can get if you were ever an ECW fan. RVD showed actual real passion and it was nice to see. Joey Styles threatens to ruin everything with his awfulness: "Gotta love a shoot promo on live TV!!" Ugh. And then Rhyno came in and absolutely folds RVD in half with a Gore. The lights go out and while everybody hopes for a return of Midnight, Joey dorkily starts going "we blew a generator! We lost power!" Which naturally leads us into...

4. Sabu vs. Rhyno

…which starts out awesomely, with Rhyno hitting a big belly to belly and going to the top rope (for reasons?) so that Sabu can just brain him with a chair. Rhyno takes a massive bump off the top and Sabu hits a sweet chair assisted springboard dive. The whole match was pretty crazy, and both guys complemented each other nicely. Sabu threw a bunch of great right hands, tossed chairs at Rhyno's face and hit all the spots you'd want to see Sabu hit. Rhyno was a monster, not only taking all of Sabu's stupidity, but dishing out a bunch of cool stuff you don't remember Rhyno doing. I remember he had a nice piledriver and he really spikes Sabu with it here, but he also does a cool running yakuza kick on Sabu, and leans way into all of Sabu's stuff (including a bunch of neat Sabu legdrops and springboard stuff). Sabu throws Pee Wee into the way of a Gore and he takes it like a man, almost bouncing his neck off the bottom rope. At this point RVD gets in the ring in real awkward length jorts (not baggy, but not ironically short, just that horrible relaxed fit/above the knee jort style), white socks and cross trainers, limping horribly on his bad knee. I have to assume his knee is absolutely wrecked, or else it's the only time he's ever consistently sold a body part in his career. He comes in and actually works spots with Rhyno, including nuttily skateboarding a chair right into Rhyno's face and setting up a table spot for Sabu. Sabu drops a chair through Rhyno and the table just explodes, and this whole thing was a great spectacle. Awesome stuff that I have to believe is the best possible match that could have happened .

Eric Bischoff and the Raw crew arrive, including future ECW superstar Gene Snitsky. Joey does uncomfortable and sad and just plain poorly delivered play by play as they walk to their seats. "There's Raw superstar Edge. I'm glad I didn't bring my wife tonight [long pause]. Because Edge is a wife stealer."

5. Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero

Well speaking of uncomfortable. Mick Foley immediately completely misreads the room "This is the match that never got to happen in ECW. The dream match that never happened because Bischoff lured both of them away. And now finally the fans get it and want to see nothing more" as the fans proceed to direct all of their attention to Edge in the balcony while chanting things about Lita being a whore for over half of the match. Seriously at any given screen shot about 2/3 of the crowd is turned totally away from the ring. Eddie is pro enough to get at least some of the fans to actually watch the match, and damn does he look great here. His mat exchanges are quick and powerful and he really snaps the fans into it by outstiffing Benoit on chops and grinding his boot over Benoit's face. Benoit bumps maniacally through the ropes to the floor on a missed charge and Eddie really seems pissed at the crowd. Mick and Joey really put over just how suicidal Benoit is after he does the diving headbutt, talking about his neck surgery and really putting over how he has a real death wish. Good grief. Thankfully they didn't point out the hanging vertical suplex he did earlier. Match ends fairly abruptly with Eddie tapping to the Crossface. Match was really weird. Eddie seemed genuinely pissed the whole match (and understandably so, if it was directed at the crowd), and purposely ground the match to a halt on a few occasions with chinlocks until the fans stopped chanting at Edge in the balcony. Things were short and didn't really flow, although Eddie looked really good and to a lesser extent so did Benoit. This is probably the most recent Eddie stuff I've seen since it originally aired (by recent I mean within 6 months of his passing) and his body is just shockingly freakish. He was freaking huge here and just looked like he had no flexibility whatsoever. Watching him take suplexes and bump was painful as it looked like he physically couldn't bend his spine or bend at the waist. I remember at the timing reading how riddled with injuries he was and how he needed time off, but damn 9 years of not rewatching him during that period really opened my eyes to just how bad off he looked.

6. Mike Awesome vs. Masato Tanaka

So this is a pretty famous match - I think - within the WWECW canon. People were pretty split down the middle on this one when it happened. Some thought it was incredible and that both men would be hired immediately by WWE, others thought it was a laughable collection of dangerous spots thrown together with no build-up that ensured neither man would *ever* be hired by WWE since they wouldn't want reckless workers like that on the roster. Both sides make sense. I certainly sided much closer to the latter at the time. The match has major flaws, and neither guy would have made sense in WWE as anything crazy they did in this match they would not be allowed to do in a WWE ring. JBL infamously mocked the match the whole time on commentary, repeatedly stating that Tanaka looked like his doorman, and after Tanaka had kicked out of several finishers started shouting at other people about what a badass doorman he had. But watching the match within the context of the show, within the context of the crowd, and keeping in mind who both men are in regards to their feud (which I'm sure many ECW fans would rank as a favorite from the fed) then I think the match totally and completely works. It's probably very hypocritical of me, as I've seen plenty of matches like this on the indies where guys kill themselves with no rhyme or reason, no selling, no build to anything, and then at some point the match ends because of a move that for whatever reason made a guy keep his shoulders down for one extra second. And I've hated all of them. Even while watching this match and enjoying two men try to cripple each other in the name of fond memories, I pictured some clown like Davey Richards doing a match like this, and I would certainly hate that match. But in the moment it came off more like a violent and entirely stupid (but awesome) IWA-MS match. If this match happened in front of 60 people in the back patio area of a rural bar, between two guys named Dick Nasty and Tony Sack, I'd be yelling at Phil to go out of his way to watch the Tony Sack match.

I've criticized plenty of matches that I thought were garbage, but worked for the crowd they were presenting to. This match could easily fit into that category. "Bad match, awful structure, crowd loved it." But I'm with the crowd on this one. Despite being unreasonable and selfish, I remember the complaints at the time about Rey, Benoit, Eddie, etc. not working "like they were in ECW". Rey was booed for doing his 619, Eddie didn't...I don't know, do any Malenko/Guerrero roll-up sequences? Whatever it was, fans were agitated that some guys looked like they were working the show like any old TV taping and not the GREATEST EVENT OF THEIR LIVES. Again, it's wildly unreasonable, and illogical. They had real wrestling jobs and would go on to those jobs after this show. So within context of this show, Tanaka and Awesome going out there and just completely destroying themselves for the crowd, for ECW, to try and get a job, to stick it to JBL in the balcony, whatever they had to prove I don't know, but they clearly pulled out everything within their abilities and threw it out there. And I thought it worked for that reason. Again, stuff that's context-dependent doesn't always hold up, but I can say I enjoyed this match more now than I did at the time. Granted, there were still moments I laughed out loud during the match, and I fully get why JBL was laughing about it in the balcony (his fake cheerleading and shock when they keep kicking out of stuff is still funny to me), but on this show, at that moment, with these guys, this was the best they could have possibly done, and they did more than they probably should have, more than anybody else on the card, and more than anybody probably needed. Within a minute or two of the bell Tanaka gets powerbombed from the apron through a table, head and shoulders first. Things get more ridiculous from there. Both guys get brained with chairshots, more tables explode in insane fashion, Awesome hits one of the nastiest gores I've seen, and then more tables explode. Awesome's knees had to be pencil shavings at this point, and he's still doing his big splash off the top and dives into the crowd. Tanaka's brains had to be mashed potatoes at this point (still unclear how he's managed to work more than most Japanese workers for the last decade) and he willingly takes every stupid powerbomb and finisher Awesome pulls out of the hat. Match ends spectacularly with another powerbomb from the ring through a table on the floor, and then Awesome ridiculously following up with a straight up nosedive of a plancha, just dive bombing Tanaka and coming in vertical. Ridiculous structure, none of the moves meant anything, both guys needlessly killed themselvs, but it was the perfect match for this show.

We get a long, fairly lame Heyman promo (with SHOOTS!) filled with a bunch of flat disses (yelling "Matt Freaking Hardy" at Edge, which Joey Styles points out is a SHOOT because Matt isn't even employed by WWE!!!!!!!!).

7. Dudley Boyz vs. Tommy Dreamer & Sandman

This was a chance to get more guys a payday, and it was fine for that reason. Sandman takes years to come out, which is certainly an accurate ECW throwback. The bWo comes out and Styles over laughs the whole time, worse than the absolute worst possible Jimmy Fallon bit. While the bWo are just walking to the ring, just normally walking to the ring, Styles literally says "This is the funniest thing I've seen in my life". This guy is terrible. We get Balls & Axl, The Impact Players (with Francine looking better than at any point during the original ECW), Spike Dudley comes out, Kid Kash hits a wild and awesome flip dive on about 10 people, Beulah makes her wrestling return, and people got hit with trash cans. At one point Bubba raked Dreamer's forehead with a cheese grater which is just the grossest. I don't know if it was worked or not, but Dreamer had tons of color and Bubba made it look great. God thinking about a cheese grater on flesh is just disgusting. Beulah and Dreamer have the most revolting hug I've seen, with Dreamer covered in blood and Beulah pulling away when it's over with blood caked in her hair. Yuck. Match ends with a flaming table spot, and then all the Raw and Smackdown crews get called out and there's a big schmozz. This is where JBL infamously roughed up Blue Meanie (even though it wasn't really caught on camera). Tracy Smothers stood out to me during the brawl as really looking like he was having a ball out there, jumping in and punching people at will. The crews get run off and Bischoff ends up alone in the ring with the ECW guys, but it's pretty anticlimactic as he takes a couple finishers but still gets to yell "Fuck ECW!" Really should have had him take more finishers, or not allowed him to look so fearless and never say die.


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Thursday, August 14, 2014

MLJ: Atlantida Rising 14: Dos Caras Jr., Dr. Wagner Jr., Lizmark Sr. vs Olímpico, Pierroth, Último Guerrero

aired 2006-07-22
taped 2006-07-16 @ Arena Coliseo
Dos Caras Jr., Dr. Wagner Jr., Lizmark Sr. vs Olímpico, Pierroth, Último Guerrero

I've worked on my context over time. I know way more about lucha than I did six months ago. I know way more about the people in this match. I know way more about CMLL in 2006. Etc. I'm still not watching this in full context. I sort of get the impression that Lizmark, Sr. showing up in a match in 2006 would make most people, in the moment, groan heavily. For me, though, it was a positive surprise because he's sort of a fresh and legendary face, and a good counter to Pierroth. Whether it be good or bad, it'd be a slightly different element at least. Really, Pierroth too, even though I hadn't been too impressed the last time I saw him, which was a year or two later, admittedly. I like the fact that he somehow ended up with the late era Paul Jones gimmick (with the PR twist) as the Commandante.

The match was pretty straightforward. A solid rudo beatdown, with UG, pissed off from his title loss, ambushing Caras as he came out, and Olimpico hiding behind the stage and really ambushing Wagner as he entered. UG was on fire, fighting with the crowd over a sign, going right after Caras' mask, taking it off repeatedly when the ref couldn't see it, just looking like a beast. Pierroth made himself useful by hitting Wagner a few times with his own belt. They finished the tecnicos off with a couple of submissions. Between falls, they kept on Caras while Wagner posed with a fan and a sign in the crowd. What a dick. The segunda kept the beatdown going. I do quite like how in lucha, you can just pick up your opponent and wait until your partner comes over and hits him. Sometimes it gets amusingly awkward as no one's paying attention or in position. GdI variation time as first they hit the leaping body splash (Olimpico version) on Caras and then after UG's catapult, Olimpico hit this awesome running  somersault senton on him as he's being held in the post-catapult position. It looked way better than Tarzan Boy's legdrop.

The comeback came when they went for the body splash again (after the huddle, those overconfident Guerreros), and Caras sidestepped it. Fairly fiery comeback with Wagner posing a lot and kicking the crap out of Olimpico after he ripped up the sign from before. Tecnicos took it with a Wagner power bomb and a really-nice-for-his-age somersault senton followed by a rana from Lizmark onto Olimpico. Tercera was back and forth with some stalling to keep UG and Caras apart, a pose off that was sort of lame, Wagner being Wagner, including hitting his big tope con giro and finally Caras almost hitting the body press on UG only to get fouled by a desperate rudo for the DQ from ref #2 after ref #1 counted the pin. This set up the mano a mano match the following week. Perfectly fine lucha trios match.

I was definitely glad to see Olimpico back. He had been out with an injury apparently and his absence had been felt. I think in some ways he's everything I wanted Marco to be, though he does have the advantage of being a rudo which means he doesn't have to hit as many contrived aerial moves and can be more of an ass in general. He did have a great mix of size, presence, personality, and athleticism, though. For instance, he'll have a great stooging moment of teasing a handshake and forcing a hug to get a cheapshot in one moment, and then eat a big monkey flip or catch a dive the next. He had a ton of zing and agility moving around the ring during sequences but was still quite good at working the crowd and getting in his taunts.

Dos Caras felt almost exactly the opposite. He had the size and a sort of charisma, but it felt like he learned it out of a book or something. He'd do these pose offs that were stiff and empty. Really that summed up his crowd interaction in general. You'd get a spark now and again but most of the time it just felt robotic. There was a definite sense of physical awkwardness in his movements, too. I had the impression when he went to WWE that there really wasn't a buzz to him at all and I can see why. Still, up soon is his singles match with UG, so we'll see what he did there. I know that he turned into a wrestler I quite often like and at the point of writing this, right after his release from wWE, I'm itching to see him back in CMLL. I just don't think he made that transformation in 2006.

On the absolute other end of the charisma scale was Wagner.  I thought he was just an amazing force the first time I saw him. Now that I've seen more of him though, I think a little bit goes a long way. He had a tendency to make whatever match he was in seem less serious and more cartoony in a way that probably worked extremely well with the live crowd but hasn't aged well. It's the stooging when getting hit, or how he focused more on pointing out a sign than helping his partner. It's posing for three times too long before hitting a dive and making his opponent look like an idiot. The first time you see it and how engaged the crowd was, it seemed great. The third or fourth time, it starts to wear thin. I'm still excited when that music hits in a match I'm watching, but the cracks show up very quickly with him, even if they don't completely mar his performances.

Like I said, another fun match and one that was pretty effective in setting up a singles too.

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