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.